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Gay & Lesbian City Living | august 2014


The politics of



open house love-ing it


More to

books: Nothing

Looks Familiar

San Fran

than The Castro

Easy Breezy staying cool in the dog days of summer



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, 2014 3 1 R MBE UARE EPTE




EDITOR Alan A Vernon Art director Nicolรกs Tallarico CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Gordon Bowness, Paul Gallant, Michael Pihach, Krishna Rau CONTRIBUTORs David Bateman, Accute Styling Inc, Sutherland Models, Velocci Models, Adam Segal, Riley Stewart, Meghan Victoria, Adam Webster, Jason Yantha, Teresa Young

ON the cover Photography Adam Webster Senior Account Directors Woodrow Monteiro Ryan Lester Marketing/sponsorship co-ordinator Patrick Forestell DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS Reggie Lanuza Controller Miki Ogiri OUR MISSION Inspire gay men and lesbians to live life to the fullest. Expand the gay and lesbian community by valuing diversity and individual choice. Celebrate Toronto. Provide readers with compelling news, information and entertainment. ADVERTISING & OTHER INQUIRIES 416-800-4449 ext 100 EDITORIAL INQUIRIES 416-800-4449 ext 201 PRODUCTION

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issue 51

august 2014

views | living & design | insight | events | Arts & entertaiNment


16 30

living & design


12 | open house Wigging out at Gaelan Love’s tony townhome

Arts & entertaiNment

06 | travel Discovering a different San Francisco

16 | fashion Making it shorts and sweet 22 | relationships Taking your rainbow journey a few steps further


24 | The Screening room HIV/AIDS prevention messages loom large. Some say they’ve distracted us from cancer awareness. The Canadian Cancer Society aims to change that

26 | get out Places to go, people to see

delivered with style.


28 | stage David Benjamin Tomlinson’s Gash takes on gender with wit and intrigue at Summerworks. Plus other picks

30 | art T-shirt activism at the Textile Museum of Canada 32 | books Review of Shawn Syms’ kaleidoscopically queer Nothing Looks Familiar

out on the town 34 | caught in the act Party pics


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t r av e l

Sightseeing sans Fisherman’s Wharf, Telegraph Hill or Alcatraz → Eleven things San Francisco isn’t really famous for (but which make the city fun to visit, anyway) Story Paul Gallant


he first time I visited San Francisco’s famed Castro neighbourhood, I half-expected to run into Harvey Milk at a bacchanalian club night brewing with radical politics and unexpected pleasures. But it was the mid-1990s, and what I found were bric-a-brac shops offering more rainbow candles that I could fit in my suitcase. San Francisco’s red-hot gay utopia had much earlier congealed into a pleasant bourgeois enclave. Despite the city’s beauty, I felt like I had shown up on the sidewalk long after the parade had passed. Since then, the Disneyfication of San Francisco has grown even more intense. Downtown is occupied primarily by tourists, the very rich and the very poor. But whatever money has done to the city’s social fabric, it surprisingly hasn’t torn its urban fabric. Rather than raze neighbourhoods for glass condo towers, filthy rich San Francisco has polished up what it has— quirky low-rise houses and apartments that sit right on the sidewalk, historic trams, lush parks, quaint neighbourhoods with offbeat shopping—to a mesmerizing sheen. On a visit this spring, I just couldn’t bring myself to spend time in oversold tourist haunts like Fisherman’s Wharf,

Telegraph Hill or Alcatraz. Castro was under construction, getting new sidewalks, trees and fancy benches, expected to be in working order by this fall. So I went looking for some sort of alternative San Francisco, hidden in the cracks of the obvious. I can’t say I went off the beaten path—San Francisco has so much beaten path to get off of. But I learned 11 things about the city that I couldn’t have learned from mainstream depictions of the city by the bay. 1. Health mania For almost an hour, I eavesdropped on the four attractive women in their mid-20s who occupied the table next to me at an Indian restaurant in the Castro. They do not talk about their careers, politics, boyfriends, girlfriends, TV or pop music. They don’t gossip or tell jokes. Instead, they talk about their health concerns with excruciatingly dispassionate detail. And it wasn’t like they had gonorrhea or were sharing fad diets. It was all cancer all the time. “So you’re saying it might be precancer?” one asked. “No, but it could be pre-pre-cancer,” said another. Is pre-pre-cancer actually a thing or just “life?”

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Living & Design

2. Constant testing In fact, Californians talk about their health all the time. In gay bars, men talk about disclosing their HIV status much like gay men used to tell coming out stories. And it seems that all gay San Franciscans know exactly what their status is. With places like Out of the Closet (, an AIDS charity thrift store, offering free testing, few sexually-active guys seem to go more than two

weeks without it. And the city’s emphasis on “test and treat” seems to be working. The number of new HIV diagnoses in San Francisco declined between 2007 and 2011, levelling off in 2012. 3. Groceries galore In Canada, we see Whole Foods as a fancy splurge. Pricewise, Whole Foods is San Francisco’s bargain basement grocery store. But the novelty and quality of what’s available

is worth it. California does food like no other place on Earth. What’s fresh is super fresh and what’s processed is… stuff you’ve never encountered before. Many big grocery stores are devoid of Nestlé, Unilever and Procter and Gamble products. Locally produced fizzy water brand Hint is sometimes easier to find than Coke. Here’s a real hint: Eat as many avocadoes as you can when in California; you’ll find none better.

4. Distinctive districts Although downtown shopping is Main Street anywhere (oh, what a surprise, Banana Republic!), neighbourhoods work hard to keep themselves indie. Camp franchise Hamburger Mary’s, for example, is currently trying to prove it’s not a generic chain outlet in order to open a Castro location. 5. Windswept beaches To be honest, the local beaches

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Living & Design


aren’t so great. They’re big and sandy, sure. But the weather on the city’s Pacific side is much foggier and colder than in the rest of the Bay area. The beaches are about bracing, meditative walks—not tanning. 6. Old media Considering that Silicon Valley is doing its best to put booksellers, DVD and music stores out of business with digital media devices, San Francisco,

perversely, has an enviable selection of independent oldmedia retailers. Amoeba Music ( has massive locations in Berkeley and The Haight selling new and used CDs and vinyl. In the Richmond neighbourhood, jampacked Green Apple Books ( might be the most fun bookstore I’ve ever set foot in. Though Castro’s A Different Light is no more, Books Inc. (

→ Urban fabric intact Rather than raze neighbourhoods for glass condo towers, like some cities we know, San Francisco has polished up what it has: quirky low-rises, historic transit, lush parks and quaint neighbourhoods with offbeat shopping. (Clockwise from left) San Francisco’s F Line carries passengers along Market Street; Amoeba Music; beaches are more for meditative walks than tanning; and the hippie culture in the Haight thrives.

and Aardvark Books offer, respectively, new and used LGBT literary treats, including more Armistead Maupin than you ever imagined. 7. Tall Tales Speaking of Armistead Maupin,

a visit to Macondray Lane, upon which Tales of the City’s Barbary Lane is based, is required for any book-loving queer visitor, if only for the cardio (Anna Madrigal couldn’t have staggered home in heels). Walk past some rather unromantic garage doors to find

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Living & Design

SF BEST BETS NIGHTLIFE Castro bars sort clients strictly by age and sexual predilection. While Lookout ( is mid-20s to early 30s, anyone under 45 is going to look like chicken at The 440 (the440. com). Badlands (sfbadlands. com), with its early ‘90s resorttown vibe, is the closest thing to come-one-come-all. OFF THE BEATEN PATH

A short tram ride from downtown, Sunset District’s 9th Avenue, between Lincoln and Judah, has a wide array of good restaurants and coffee shops. In a city full of burrito joints, Nopalito (nopalitosf. com) offers a sophisticated and organic twist on Mexican classics. And the focaccia at the worker-owned Ariz Mendi Bakery ( may change your life.

a hidden footpath where you might imagine Michael Tolliver successfully persuading Mary Ann Singleton to smoke a joint.... 8. Historic spirits … And then Michael Tolliver wandering over to cruise nearby Polk Street. A hub of gay life in the 1970s, when Maupin’s series began, Polk is now home only to three gay bars. Two of them, Cinch Saloon and Gangway, are the oldest in the city and probably the two least glossy establishments you’ll find in present day San Fran. Across the bay, Oakland’s White Horse Inn (, an ideal spot for a mid-afternoon bourbon break, bills itself as the nation’s oldest gay bar, having opened its doors in 1942. 9. Happy hours In a city where an okay onebedroom in a so-so ’hood can set you back more than $3,000 a

month, San Francisco’s happy hours provide brain-addling value—and perhaps a welcome reprite from sharing a basement apartment with four other people. Regularly running from 4pm to 9pm most days of the week, the happy-hour culture fills Castro dance floors as early as 8pm on a Friday night; your one-night stand could be over by midnight. 10. Beer busts As if the happy hours weren’t enough, Castro Saturdays and Sundays are dominated less by brunch than by fundraising beer busts, with all-you-can-drink beer for about $10. I swung by a softball team beer bust and before I knew it, a drag queen was measuring my arm span for some sort of raffle. In such a boozy town, no wonder San Franciscans are so obsessed with their health (see item #1). 11. Eccentric curation With the San Francisco

→ oddly cool (Clockwise from left) Strange art at the de Young museum; gay ideas propagate their way around the Bay area; a treasure trove in Chinatown.

Museum of Modern Art (sfmoma. org) closed for renovations till 2016, art lovers must find another way to spend an afternoon with objects of beauty. I tried the de Young museum (, passing by the tai chi-ers and salsa dancers of Golden Gate Park to enter into a prison-like building filled with one of the most eclectic collections I’ve ever stumbled across. Paintings of American war history and arts and crafts furniture share space with sculpture and “exotic” artifacts from Papua New Guinea, eastern Sudan and other parts of Africa, as well as textiles from Central Asia and glass fantasias by Dale Chihuly. This is what art curation must look like after a beer bust too many.

GOLDEN GATE IN STYLE Why throw yourself off the Golden Gate Bridge (which, incidentally, is to get a suicide barrier) when you can pedal across it in a bikes-only lane? Once on the other side, it’s a short cycle to Sausalito, a charming waterfront suburb where it’s impossible to find parking on a sunny day. PUNCH DRUNK LOVE

Little has changed since the 1960s in The Haight, where tiedye is still work casual. Drop by hipster/hippy hangout Hobson’s Choice ( for a daytime bowl of punch, a tradition that allegedly goes back to Victorian times. Three fruity flavours to choose from.

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Living & Design

a i d me

O pe n H o u s e


SOcial animal → Microsoft marketer Gaelan Love accessorized his home with abstract art—and a house full of wigs Story and photography Michael Pihach


hen Gaelan Love bought a three-storey, 1,200 square foot townhouse near Allan Gardens, the neighbourhood became a little more fabulous. The 27-yearold full-time marketing pro at Microsoft wasted no time adding his own personal touches to his new home, ranging from a colourful collection of abstract art to creating rooms inspired by RuPaul’s Drag Race where his friends could properly check in on social media when stopping by for a visit. Love might as well be the gay neighbour you’ve always wanted… just as long as the “wig parties” he hosts on his spacious rooftop terrace stay under control. You’re a first-time buyer. How did you wind up in a townhouse at Jarvis and Carlton? When I returned to Toronto after living in Montreal for university for four years, I told

myself I wasn’t going to live near The Village. But it’s funny how it happens—you just kind of end up living there. This place has everything I need, including two bedrooms, ample storage and a private rooftop patio, which is like another room. I also love that there’s no concierge or elevator. I have a front door. Is it true your friends can actually “check-in” to your house on social media? My friends and I are huge fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race. So I created two online rooms inspired by the show. My living room is called the Interior Illusions Lounge (which is the name of the room where contestants on the show “spill the tea” after showing their runway looks to RuPaul). My rooftop patio is called the Exterior Illusions Lounge. Friends can check-in to either location on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

when they come to visit. Your townhouse complex sounds very gay-friendly. It’s a five-minute walk from the gay village so what do you expect? There are a lot of gay people I know in the complex— so much so that my friends have dubbed it Melrose Place (minus the dead body floating in the pool). Where did you live before moving here? I used to live in a tiny apartment above a bar at Yonge and Isabella. Rent was $500 a month and I had a great view of the Church of Scientology building. It was super cheap, which ultimately allowed me to buy my own place. You don’t live alone, either. I’ve recently assumed responsibility for the family dog. Her name is Rosseau, a 12-yearold black lab named after the lake where my family’s cottage

is located. Rossy (for short) has lived with my parents her whole life. When I bought my home, I had the space and was close to a park so now she’s become my roomate. There’s hair everywhere and she’s not exactly a guard dog, but I bought this place on my own, and it’s nice to know I have someone else here breathing. What was the most challenging part in buying your first home? It all happens real fast. I went from seeing five places one day, then 10 places the next. Going from “I want to buy a place” to “buying a place” is a real leap in your mind. But once you do it, you don’t regret it. You also have to get used to unexpected costs. When you have a landlord, you can say, “Fix this,” and it’s fixed. But when you become your own landlord, you have to get used to fixing things yourself.

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Living & Design

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Living & Design → love online Two rooms of the townhouse are inspired by RuPaul’s Drag Race where friends can check-in on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: The living room (left) is called the Interior Illusions Lounge; the rooftop patio (bottom left) is the Exterior Illusions Lounge.

You’ve worked in marketing at Microsoft for the past three years. Is your job as fabulous as your house? Microsoft is about providing solutions that enable people to get things done whenever and wherever. And so I use my home office a lot. Being openly gay at work is a non-issue and that translates into Microsoft’s advertising as well. One of my favourite ads the company released depicts a series of moments from people’s lives, one of which includes a lesbian wedding. It’s one of the best examples of being LGBT-friendly I’ve seen. Showing everyday people in their everyday lives. It doesn’t always have to be about showing rainbows. You bought a house before turning 30. What’s the secret to your success? If purchasing a home is an

investment you want to make, then your lifestyle should be a reflection of your intention to save. It’s not about having lots of frills. Life isn’t about always having a plan but doing your best at what you do. Take your career seriously no matter what and have fun along the way. You know a thing or two about having fun. You have a wig collection? I bought seven wigs of different colours for Halloween a couple of years ago (like I said, I love RuPaul’s Drag Race). Once in a while I’ll have friends over and we’ll have a “wig party.” There’s nothing more fun than hanging out with your friends in a wig. And all your wigs have names? Each wig is named after a celebrity. Pink is Pink, brown is Ja’mie King (from the Australian comedy Private School Girl), blue is Katy Perry, blonde is Amanda Bynes, green is Nicki Minaj, the black bob is Rihanna and red is Lindsay Lohan. But I lost Lindsay at a wig party at Business Woman’s Special at ROUND venue in Kensington Market a couple of months ago, so if anyone has found her, please let me know. know.

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16 outlooks Month 2011

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A Shorts Story Photography: Adam Webster Styled by: Accute Styling inc. elliot and matthew (velocci models) Callum gunn (sutherland models) Makeup and grooming: meghan victoria & teresa young location courtesy of acton manor

dog days of summer jacket, shirt: paul smith shorts: H&M shoes: bed Stu outlooks

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18 outlooks Month 2011

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room for vroom

(Far left) shorts: paul smith shirt: Mark jacobs shoes: H&M

(middle) Shorts: h&m Shirt: french connection (right) sunglasses : banana republic shirt: club monaco cropped pants and shoes: topman


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20 outlooks Month 2011

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pretty buff (left) t-shirt: banana republic shorts: hugo boss (right) shorts: park and roen Shoes: Topman outlooks

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Living & Design

relationship advice — with Adam Segal → I’m a 35-year-old gay man and came out to my family and friends about six years ago. I’ve been seeing my boyfriend for about a year now and I’m hoping you can help me out here. I feel like we get along just fine and I love him quite dearly. A constant source of conflict, however, has to do with how we are with each other when we’re out in public. He consistently gets angry with me and tells me that I’m less affectionate with him than when we’re at home, and has accused me of being ashamed of him and my sexuality in general. It’s so bad that I avoid being out with him and that just makes him more upset. While I did wrestle with my sexuality for a long time, I feel I’ve moved past any lingering shame and simply prefer to be more private about my affections. Why does everyone need to know my personal business or who I love? Why can’t the love we share at home be enough... is there something I’m missing here? Pierre


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In short... yes, there is something you are having difficulty grasping here. The good news is that I don’t blame you. The most pervasive coming out narrative that is shoved down our throats (see: any Glee episode) enforces a notion that coming out and self-acceptance are one and the same thing. The story typically goes something like this: repressed queer individual hides in the shadows, reaches a breaking point and ultimately in a single act of bravery conquers the closet door in one fell swoop. The reality of being a queer person in this world is a lot more complex and somewhat less charmed than that fairy tale purports. Growing up in most parts of our world has meant being bombarded with shaming, heterosexist and oppressive messages about being gay. While what you did six years ago in coming out to your friends and family was a truly brave act, there may very well still be a young boy in you that hasn’t quite caught up with the evolved person you are today. So when you walk down the street with your guy, you might be engaged in an internal tug of war with kid Pierre who’s desperate for approval and still carries a

2014-07-22 10:17 AM

self-hatred from an earlier time. From the sounds of it, your frigidity when stepping out with your BF could very well lead to a breakdown of the relationship you say you hold dearly. Yes, there is a chance that even if you were straight, you would still shy away from random public displays of affection. Either way, the reality is that you have a partner who feels like your show of affection stalls whenever someone else is around. Ironically, you’re going to have to be adult enough to acknowledge that there is a younger part of you that’s still terrified of being judged and shunned by the world around you. This current conflict is giving you an opportunity to take your rainbow journey a few steps further—from identifying as a gay man to thriving as one.

Adam Segal The writer and therapist works in private practice in downtown Toronto. Ask him your relationship or mental health question at

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H ea lt h

Testing testing 123 → HIV/AIDS prevention messages loom large in our community. But have they distracted us from awareness and action around cancer? Story Paul Gallant


t a session on queer health at the WorldPride Human Rights Conference this summer, mostly a friendly affair of cross-border discovery and solidarity featuring speakers from Colombia, Kenya and Canada, there was one itchy moment. Joseph Erban, a smoking cessation counsellor in the oncology department of Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital, raised the ire of several people in the packed classroom when he suggested that smoking kills more LGBT people than HIV. The discussion until that point, like many discussions about queer health, had focused mostly on HIV/AIDS—its effect on how gay blood donors are treated around the world, access to treatment in Kenya, and the link between HIV/ AIDS and human rights laws. Erban’s tone struck some as disrespectful of the particular toll HIV/AIDS has taken on the gay community. Even if 36 per cent or more of LGBT people smoke (according to the most recent Toronto study), compared to 16 per cent of the adult Canadian population, doesn’t that tie into the prevalence of depression in the community because of homophobia and issues around HIV/AIDS? One participant pointed out the importance of tobacco in Aboriginal cultures. It seemed like the cancer-causing effects of smoking were expected to take a backseat to other queer concerns. Awareness of cancer among LGBT people, Erban told me after the session, “it’s off the map.”

Yet cancer affects LGBT people as much as the general population. In some cases more. Common social behaviours in the community, like smoking and drinking, increase the risk of other kinds of cancer. HIVpositive people are at higher risk of certain kinds of cancer. As well, a new US study, by Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute, suggests that cancer patients with HIV are up to four times less likely to be treated for their tumours, reducing cancer survival rates. The pre-existing relationship many HIV-positive people may have with the healthcare system doesn’t seem to do them much good when it comes to cancer treatment. “In my clinical experience, I have seen uncertainty surrounding treatment of HIVinfected cancer patients,” states the study’s lead author, Gita Suneja, in a news release. “Patients with HIV have typically been excluded from clinical trials, and, therefore, oncologists do not know if the best available treatments are equally safe and effective in those with HIV. Many oncologists rely on guidelines based on such trials for treatment decision making, and in the absence of guidance, they may elect not to treat HIVinfected cancer patients due to concerns about adverse side effects or poor survival.” HIV/AIDS prevention messages, and HIV/AIDS treatment issues, loom large in our community. Rightfully so. But have they distracted us from

awareness and action around cancer? “I’ve found that the doctors in our community are more focussed on sexually transmitted diseases. Their time is occupied by that, they’re preoccupied by that,” says David Arnold, a Torontonian who has been HIVpositive for almost 25 years. “Their learning curve is more related to that, and that gets talked about more when you’re with your doctor. It comes ahead of cancer. They don’t mean to do it, but the doctors run out of time.” Arnold, 52, is also a rectal cancer survivor. His HIV diagnosis, half a lifetime ago, was a surprise that happened

suddenly: “I left [the clinic] having no sense of what to do at that moment. I was so alone.” His cancer diagnosis, five years ago, was prolonged, complicated and exhausting, despite his own suspicions that something was wrong. It took almost a year to get the treatment underway. But Arnold figures that his HIV experience made him a better cancer patient, partly because it made him a better self-advocate. “I’ve had practice.” So when Arnold had the opportunity to become a poster boy for an Ontario campaign encouraging LGBT people to get screened for colon cancer, he jumped at the chance, taking Kate Winslet’s position in a

“I’ve found that the doctors in our community are more focussed on sexually transmitted diseases. Their time is preoccupied by that. that gets talked about more. It comes ahead of cancer.” — David Arnold, an HIV-positive rectal cancer survivor

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cheeky riff on the Titanic movie poster. “I wanted to be involved somehow.” The poster, targeting gay men over 50, is part of a larger campaign in Toronto, Ottawa and Hamilton by the Canadian Cancer Society to promote screening for colon, chest and cervical cancers amongst LGBT people. The project, which just wrapped up this spring, was prompted by a study that showed certain communities, including the LGBT community, were being screened for preventable cancers at a much lower rate than everybody else. For example, bisexual women who are eligible for mammograms get screened at a rate of 40 per cent, compared to 70 per cent for straight women, says Kevin Linn, the health promotion coordinator at the Canadian Cancer Society who shepherded the project. To build the campaign, the team borrowed from a US program that was first adapted in Canada for Ontario native communities, then South Asian communities. Although the look of the program differs from community to community, the strategy is flexible, using trained peer-group ambassadors, and relevant language and images to get people talking about cancer. “This is the most awkward conversation you can bring up at a dinner party,” says Linn. “So we’d talk with ambassadors about how to bring up coloncancer screening, say, when you meet a friend for coffee. It’s not us telling people how to do it, but the community telling us what the community would respond to.” (Of course, this discomfort applies to straight people, too. Only about 20 per cent of Ontarians over 50 get screened for colon cancer; the provincial target is 90 per cent.) It is possible, you could argue, to target LGBT people at specific venues (public service ads played at the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival this spring, for example) or with a queer “look” (community members

on posters and in commercials). But practically speaking, each letter in LGBT has dramatically different cancer risks and obstacles to being screened and accessing treatment. Doctors often neglect giving pap smears to women who don’t have sex

who are not sensitized to trans issues, trans men also face a significant policy barrier when it comes to getting screened for chest cancer: they need an F, not an M, on their health card to qualify. Unlike HIV, where diagnosis

Talking about cancer doesn’t have to be a disaster.


PUT THE SPOTLIGHT ON EARLY DETECTION. Being over 50 PUTS YoU AT A greATer riSK For colon cAncer. Screening SAveS liveS. Find oUT more AT cAncer.cA/geTScreened #geTScreened

→ knowledge is power This poster targeting gay men over 50 is part of a larger campaign in Toronto, Ottawa and Hamilton by the Canadian Cancer Society to promote screening for colon, chest and cervical cancers amongst LGBT people.

with women on the grounds that they’re supposedly not having penetrative sex. Though it’s important for women, cervical cancer isn’t a concern for gay men—except trans gay men. In fact, trans people are regularly left out of conversations about cancer. In addition to frequent misunderstandings by doctors

has been simplified to, in some cases, an anonymous test providing results in just a couple of minutes, cancer screening can seem much more intrusive and require so much more communication than merely ticking boxes. Erban says health educators need to borrow the techniques of the tobacco

industry, which, historically, has done an effective job of plugging its products. “Everything depends on how you pitch the message,” he says. But sometimes it feels like it’s not the community that needs to be educated, but the healthcare practitioners who are supposed to be looking out for us. “I had to educate my doctor. I did a mammogram two years ago, ultrasound. This year, mammogram, ultrasound and colonoscopy. I started doing it 15 years after I should have started doing it. I didn’t know,” says Shoshana Pellman, a 67-yearold trans activist. A skin cancer survivor, she’s also signed up as ambassador with the Canadian Cancer Society project. “Doctors don’t see us as a whole person, just trans. They don’t see other health issues and there’s not always a dialogue.” Often, it’s having others near and dear to us fight cancer that increases our awareness and desire to take care of ourselves. For example, Arnold’s mother died from cancer when he was in his early 20s. “I remember how helpless I felt when my mother had cancer and it was so clear she was going to die,” says Arnold. “I would say still today it’s the saddest moment in my life, despite the fact I have a list of over 50 people I knew that died of AIDS. They’re both really profound experiences.” Obviously, it’s not fair to pit one healthcare issue against another—death and ill-health from HIV and cancer are too awful to be placed in competition. But it is fair to treat ourselves as whole people. And be treated as whole people. Our sex lives affect our mental health, which affects our behaviour around drugs and alcohol, which affects our sex lives, our eating habits and many other risk factors. To pick one killer—AIDS, smoking, breast cancer—above all others is to forget how they interact with each other. And to forget that we are humans, not demographic blips on a chart.

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Get out August Events 7



This three-month-long outdoor summer art festival, created by No.9: Contemporary Art & the Environment in partnership with the City of Toronto, includes public art installations by leading Canadian artists, live art and musical performances, docent-led tours of the Don Valley Parkland, an organic beer garden, organic food stations, access to the surrounding public art installations and an urban agriculture demonstration by the Bowery Project. This unique celebration of arts and culture promotes sustainability and environmental awareness. Participating artists include Dean Baldwin, John Dickson (work pictured above), Sean Martindale, Penelope Stewart, Ferruccio Sardella and Labspace Studio. To Sep 21. Todmorden Mills. 67 Pottery Rd.



The Bicycle Opera Project brings Canadian contemporary opera to communities across Ontario by bicycle with a focus on contemporary issues. These Toronto-based rising opera stars present a program of contemporary Canadian works that include Bianchi: A Five Minute Bicycle Opera, (What rhymes with) Azimuth?, A little rain must fall, L’homme et le ciel, Airline Icarus, Rosa, and The Brothers Grimm. To Aug 8. Heliconian Hall. 35 Hazelton Ave.


More than one million people each year attend this celebration of all things Caribbean. From the mas bands to the costumes to the soca, calypso and steeplan music, it’s a street festival like no other, culminating with the annual grand parade. Exhibition Place. 15 Saskatchewan Rd.


Art › summerworks

As the largest juried theatre festival in Canada, featuring predominantly new Canadian works, SummerWorks uniquely reflects Toronto and Canada’s cultural zeitgeist. This year’s program includes Gash (pictured), by David Benjamin Tomlinson, a gender-bending play that finds a whole new respect for the hag horror film genre. (See page 28 for our Tomlinson interview and other plays to see.) To Aug 17. Various venues.


festival › Dusk Dances

This outdoor dance festival, now in its 20th season, brings contemporary and traditional dance to public parks, and features the artistry of internationally acclaimed dancers and choreographers. This year’s program features new and remounted works from Canadian artists like Sylvie Bouchard, Peter Chin, Julia Aplin (her Inner City Sirens, pictured) Milan Gervais, Sis Robin Hibbert, Kate Franklin and Meredith Thompson. To Aug 10. Withrow Park (South of Danforth between Logan and Carlaw).

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fashion › tom

The first official Toronto Men’s Fashion Week, joining the ranks of London, Paris, Florence, Milan, Singapore, Vancouver and Los Angeles. Toronto Men’s Fashion Week, is a celebration of the best in menswear design, showcasing established and pioneering Canadian and international menswear designers and brands. To Aug 14. Evergreen Brick Works. 550 Bayview Ave.

Carole Pope (pictured) performs at the closing party for Over the Rainbow: Seduction and Identity, a group exhibition of artworks by Stephen Andrews, Attila Richard Lukacs, Public Studio, Justine Kurland, Betty Goodwin, General Idea, Andy Fabo, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Annie Leibovitz and Herb Ritts. Also closing is Par Amour/ Paramour, an intimate portrayal of gay male sexuality and beauty in the face of mortality. From Stephen Andrews’ iconic Facsimile drawings that memorialize men lost to AIDS-related illnesses in the early ‘90s to Robert Flack’s ornate depictions of the male body as a vessel of tantric power in response to his own HIV diagnosis, the exhibition features drawings, prints, photography, and an ambient audio soundtrack by Andrew Zealley that together etch a moving and emotional record of a community that came of age through its adversity in the face of loss. Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. 952 Queen Street W.




Enigmatic, flamboyant and unpredictable, with a passion for philosophy and the arts, Sweden’s Queen Christina seeks to make her country the most sophisticated in Europe. But her personal aspirations—and her unconventional sexuality— put her profoundly at odds with her culture’s expectations of her, both as a monarch and as a woman. To Sep 21. Studio Theatre. 34 George St E. Stratford, Ont.


From rooted recipes to renewed culinary delights, this annual food fest offers a range of culinary delicacies (including our very own art director’s empanadas), as well as hot rhythms and spicy grooves. To Aug 17. Various venues in and around Harbourfront Centre. 235 Queens Quay W.

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This unique project in association with the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives features 100 T-shirts from the 1970s onwards that represent the fight for visibility and recognition of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) communities. This array of T-shirts, from organizations such as ACT UP, Queer Nation and LGBTQ Pride events in North America, demonstrates a diversity of messages from expressions of identity, political and social struggles, to the celebration of community, love and pride—all set against a backdrop of images from 1970s Toronto gay pride marches. To Sep 1. Textile Museum of Canada. 55 Centre Ave. (See page 30 for more.)

26 15


FESTIVAL › ashkenaz

More than 200 artists from more than a dozen countries showcase the vibrancy and brilliance of Jewish artistic traditions, from traditional styles to cutting-edge, cross-cultural fusion. The fest’s programming includes music, film, theatre, cabaret, dance, literature, panel discussions, crafts and visual arts—with the majority of events free to the public. International headliners include Jewish-Afrobeat pioneers Zion80 (New York), Yiddish psychedelic rockers Forshpil (Russia/Germany), genre-busting DJ Simja Dujov (pictured) (Argentina) and Iraqi-Jewish roots rocker Dudu Tassa (Israel). To Sep 1. Harbourfront Centre. 235 Queen’s Quay W.

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Arts & Entertainment

s u m m e rwo r ks

Taking ‘hag horror’ seriously → Gash confronts gender with wit and intrigue Story David Bateman


riter and actor David Benjamin Tomlinson (pictured above) was raised in a family of strong women. So how fitting that he used his passion for female power to create Gash, an actionpacked play that takes on gender with wit and intrigue. The seeds of Gash, one of the few queer plays at Summerworks this month, were cultivated by Tomlinson’s own

portrayal of a strong woman in Sky Gilbert’s Shakespeare Experiment. As Audrey, the lusty country bumpkin from As You Like It, Tomlinson was dressed to the nines. “I wore a huge curly blonde wig, had massive boobs and a big skirt,” says Tomlinson. “Prancing around in rehearsals, people were intimidated.” Tomlinson fondly recalls that even Gilbert called his character a mute gypsy slut and had trouble

directing him dressed that way. As a lively, sex-crazed character Audrey herself at one point says, “I am not a slut, though I thank the gods I am foul.” This kind of double-edged self-awareness is a trademark of the kind of female character Tomlinson is attracted to and has seen portrayed over and over again in film, theatre and television. He refers to what he calls the “hag horror” movies of the 1960s,

his primary touchstone for this decidedly melodramatic genre. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane are the quintessential hag horror role models who’ve spawned countless fabulous interpretations ranging from Crystal and Alexis in Dynasty to Jessica Lange in the more recent American Horror Story. But Tomlinson insists that these are not simple re-creations

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Arts & Entertainment

of campy, melodramatic stock roles from the annals of entertainment history. “It’s difficult for women,” says Tomlinson. “When Joan Crawford goes bananas in the classic hag horror film Strait Jacket and hacks her way through the scenery and the characters, she is working her ass off as a serious actress contained within a decidedly campy role. “I love women so I never loved the term fag hag. I prefer gal pals for my friends, but for these movies there is something powerful in those words. I don’t feel it’s demeaning. The weird power they have is part of the term hag, and they are able to embrace and transform into something else.” Expressing a concern for the imbalance in gender perceptions between the sexes, Tomlinson asks important questions about the representation of women. “Why did it take [the success of] American Horror Story and Grey Gardens to remind us that Jessica Lange is a great actress? The horror of aging is projected onto women yet men remain handsome and debonair. Men are the rational ones. Women are driven crazy by deceit, aging, whatever.” And Gash has the entire cast taking the hag horror genre very seriously. Tomlinson, as writer and cast member explains: “We’re not trying to camp it up, that’s the audience’s job.” As two sisters battle it out on the anniversary of a mysterious family death, eerie puppets, dashing doctors and befuddled neighbours waltz in and out of murderous intrigue. A character from Gash epitomizes the way in which the hag horror genre transforms, at a moment’s notice, from camp intrigue into effective social commentary regarding the status of women. An excerpt from the play sums it up best: “Do you think it was easy? Do you think a woman finds that kind of courage in any old place? You have to go to the cold dark reaches of the human heart to find that special kind of fortitude. You have to be able

to reach past all the razor-sharp doubts in the human mind to be able to find that degree of strength.” Gash promises to be a wild and crazy ride of good filthy, campy fun, and most assuredly a titillating murderous treat. On a more soul-searching and serious note, exploring aspects of aboriginal identity and male sexuality, T. Berto’s Row looks at the world of the kept boy. It already played at Edmonton’s Loud and Queer Festival under the direction of Ed Roy. But for Summerworks, Cole Alvis, utilized his Métis heritage to further develop the script. Gifted singer and performer Dillon Chiblow takes on the lead role of Sonny. Fresh from his powerful performance as the queer cowardly Lion in Darren Stewart-Jone’s Emerald City—a clever and charming take on The Wizard of Oz at last month’s Fringe Festival—Chiblow is joined by Billy Merasty, Jani Lauzon and Brandon Oakes. The queerness of the script, according to Berto, lies within the specific context of marginalized relationships. Says Berto: “While kept boys are found in both hetero and homo narratives, kept boys in the queer world can include and devolve into far more aberrant or marginal relationships. As youth wanes and their value declines, their primary asset can often be their willingness to endure, to be traded, to be punished... to ‘take’ what their keepers ‘give.’” Row examines the psychology of how power is maintained across a relationship where one man “owns” another. “This power dynamic,” says Berto, “resonates with all sorts of queer relationships, especially where partners are from diverse backgrounds and have different levels of agency.” Row is a powerful interrogation of the ways in which sexual relations can become enmeshed with particular identities and life experiences.

a side of summerworks: Romance, perversion and a mermaid A Quiet Sip of Coffee (or, this is not the play we’ve written)

Created by Anthony Johnston and Nathan Schwartz with Anita Rochon In 2004, Anthony Johnston and Nathan Schwartz—selfproclaimed gay/straight best friends duo— wrote a prank letter to a fundamentalist “ex-gay” organization asking for funds to produce their play Never Cry Wolfman. To their surprise, the letter was answered and they were invited to workshop the show at the group’s retreat in rural British Columbia under the condition they spend two weeks participating in gay conversion therapy. Years later, the friends reunite to tell their story as a piece of theatre. The result is part docu-theatre, atonement ritual, melodrama, exorcism and half-mask musical.

Fuck You! You Fucking Perv!

Created by Leslie Baker A solo performance, Fuck You! You Fucking Perv! is an erratic immersion into the psychological damage caused by mature sexualization. It bombards the senses with shocking imagery, invasive sound score, tap dancing and tasteless jokes. Combining elements of performance art and visual theatre, Fuck You dissects one night in the life of a woman who struggles against forces real and imagined. Enter a world of destructive energy, surging forth in search of meaning in the irrational, illogical exploration of sexual predation.

Sea Foam Blue 3

Created by Wives All-woman performance trio Wives lead you deep into the uncanny with the oceanic enchantment of Sea Foam Blue 3. In Trinity Bellwoods park, a reallife mermaid anxiously awaits a worthy partner. But finding love, sex and respect can be complicated when you’re a hybrid being. Does Tinder even work underwater? Sea Foam Blue 3 touches upon everything from ocean fetish fandom and internet dating to their own slumber party secrets to flesh out the anti-romance and eventual existential peace of a lonely mermaid.


Created by Cliff Cardinal Dave and Madly are hopelessly in love with being hopelessly in love. Dave, the drug and sex-addicted fraudster, and Madly, the bulimic, klepto chef, have become needy and selfish. Enter the spark that ignites the flame: Rochelle, the transgendered crack addict fighting to clean up. When Dave and Madly break up (and get back together), and Madly dubiously announces she’s pregnant, Dave careens into Rochelle and the two begin the most enveloping love affair since cocaine met baking soda.

summerworks. Aug 7-17. Various venues.

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Arts & Entertainment


the garment movement → The T-shirt was one of the earliest ways gay activists got their messages across to the masses Story Jason Yantha


kay, you’re sunburned

more like a window display at

friends at the Canadian Lesbian

tell their own stories,” says



a Queen West vintage boutique.

and Gay Archives had the idea to

Medaglia. And these garments

many trips to Hanlan’s

But on closer examination, you

showcase these T’s, giving them

really do tell a story.

Point. So get out of the heat

realize that this room full of


and into the A/C to see To See

short-sleeved shirts is saying

attention they deserve. Starting


& Be Seen: T-shirts from the

something very important. But

with more than 700 different

jogger, garner viral fame and



this is one time you can’t say

ones that were in storage at the

be heard across the country.

Archive at the Textile Museum

been there, done that, bought

archives, Medaglia and his team

But decades ago when the gay

of Canada. It’s an eye-opening

the T-shirt since they’re not for

sifted through piles and piles

rights movement began in North

exhibit that uses pop culture as


to find 100 with the strongest

America, activists didn’t have



the internet and smartphones





fashion statement to document
















our 40-year fight for equal rights.

professor at Ryerson’s School of

was to let the T-shirts speak

to get their messages out to the

At first, the exhibit looks

Fashion Joseph Medaglia and his

for themselves and let them

masses. So they decided to be

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Arts & Entertainment

→ cultural icons Forty years ago, before internet and smartphones, LGBT communities took to the streets in Ts to get their messages out to the masses.

seen instead. And with a silk screen, some paint and a lot of courage they took to the streets. “Back in the ‘90s with ACT UP and Queer Nation, a lot of these T-shirts were used during protests,” says Medaglia. “Wearing





different than holding a sign. If you’re holding a sign and somebody comes to attack you, you can throw the sign away. You can’t really throw your T-shirt away [that easily]. So you’re physically at risk.” Helping to bring these shirts to life, the exhibit’s walls are lined





photographs of the first Toronto Pride marches of the early 1970s, long before an official Pride

parade was even conceived. The

and that people lived through

work of famous visual artists

pictures give you a sense of what

[these protests] and experienced

like the late Keith Haring, and

these shirts were really used

those struggles to get to where

some just celebrate the LGBTQ

for and the important history

we are now. Considering where

community with a wink.

that’s attached to them. All of

LGBT rights are today, a lot of

which happens to be Medaglia’s

our histories are forgotten, or

main goal with the exhibit:

haven’t been relayed to the


didn’t avoid T-shirts that were


marked or stained or had holes

While some of the T-shirts

in them, so we could show that

have strong political and social

people actually wore these shirts

messages, others highlight the

To See & Be Seen: T-shirts from the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives. To Sep 1. $15 (PWYC Wednesdays between 5-8pm). The Textile Museum of Canada. 55 Centre Ave.

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Arts & Entertainment

F i rs t f i c t i o n

Kaleidoscopically queer → New story collection cuts a wide swath through Canadian society and brazenly reconfigures the pieces Review Gordon Bowness


treet-involved youth, bullied kids, drug-addicted single mothers, working-class immigrants, sexual predators… marginalized people of all stripes are drawn efficiently and effectively in Nothing Looks Familiar, the impressive debut story collection by Toronto author Shawn Syms. The 11 short stories (the longest is 20 pages) display an astonishing range of characters and settings believably drawn: a young Sudanese woman in some remote Alberta meatpacking plant sings that “life is unfair” while carving giant carcasses into supermarket-ready cuts of beef; a wheelchair-bound young man in Toronto is unabashed in his lust for rough sex; an embittered widow in a BC seniors home resents her chipper roommate of a sister. In each of these mostly hardknock tales, risk is ever-present. But Syms has a wonderful way of subverting expectations—the risks, the vertiginous choices, the perilous outcomes, are often not what the characters, nor we, the readers, expect. I found “Four Pills” to be one of the more haunting, disturbing stories in the book. Set in and around Allan Gardens in Toronto, “Four Pills” tells the story of Adam, a young, unemployed man on welfare, hoping for kicks one night once his mysterious friend Shaggy shows up. On the hunt for cash and crack, the two embark on a couple of sleazy but at times comical muggings. Then things start to go awry. You know trouble is near but, I, at least, didn’t see it coming. Many of Syms’ stories involve this kind of quick turn at the climax, a surprising choice or revelation that illuminates afresh

what’s come before. Not all the stories hold together. I found “Snap” unsatisfying. In this piece about a social worker running a counselling group for sexual offenders, Syms does a great job of building tension. But the story’s ending seems unwarranted or unearned. Perhaps there are too many points of view; perhaps not enough detail about the relationship on which the story pivots; perhaps it’s just me. The concluding quick turn might be the point. The collection is not all grim and grimy. One of the more lighthearted stories, “Taking Creative License,” features a female painter in Toronto obsessed with a gay singer in Alberta. Her fantasy life wonderfully captures the casual scattershot sexualities of a generation raised on social media. In this story the biggest danger is procrastination. And even the tougher-edged stories are cheered by acts of resistance both great and small, choices to fight back, that send protagonists off to face their futures with greater selfconfidence and power. The sex—and there’s plenty of sex, or at least, sexual attraction—is as varied as the characters. Confused proto-gays, horny women of all ages, shapeshifting fantasies, anonymous sex, adultery, unprotected sex, a fetish for being treated as a baby…. Nothing Looks Familiar

presents a dizzying display of desire. And while readers less exposed to the diversity of human carnality might be shocked by Syms’ no-nonsense approach to perversity, his aim is not to shock. The stories exhibit a refreshing absence of judgment. Violence, cruelty and despair are the real shockers, never sex. It’s at this point I should mention my conflict of interest: Syms, a freelance journalist for 25 years, has written for me in the past, both for this magazine when I was editor and for Xtra where we were colleagues. It was at the latter, working at a pro-sex media company among mostly queer co-workers, where Syms and I were immersed in a wholly unique work environment. Every fetish imaginable was advertised or editorialized about in the paper. We were delighted, not shocked, when discovering little photocopied “ABDL” (adult baby diaper love) flyers tacked to our bulletin board. Self-denial, a lack of self-knowledge, was considered the real “perversity,”

a kind of violence, not weird sex. Which is a long way of explaining why I can call “Man, Woman, and Child,” Syms’ story about a couple’s unexpected encounter with an adult-baby fetishist, quite simply, charming. Kate has a thing for mail carriers, male or female. Her dad, who’s gone off to New Zealand to be gay, left Kate and her husband a house and a secretive tenant in the basement, Les. The arrival of Les’s adult-sized crib propels the story to a surprising and deliciously ambiguous conclusion. In this story, like a number of others, perversity is beside the point. While it might add a certain frisson, the real threat stalking this wonderfully accomplished collection never originates with sex, but with intimacy. Nothing Looks Familiar marks Syms as a writer to watch.

Nothing Looks Familiar. Shawn Syms. Arsenal Pulp Press. $15.95. Releases Sep 15.

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out ON the town


Starry Night at Cawthra Square Park (renamed BarBARA Hall Park)




Spencer Xiong

Spencer Xiong

caught in the act by Michael Pihach



Casey HOuse Art With Heart preview at HOlt Renfrew





Pride By Design at Shangri-La Hotel





→ 1. Jennifer Hollett, Danny Glenwright 2. Mathieu Chantelois, Kathleen Wynne, Jane Rounthwaite, Pascal Dessureault 3. Steven Sabados, Olivia Chow, Chris Hyndman 4. Darryl Mabey, David Hawe 5. Bianca Del Rio 6. Peter Didenko 7. Pietro Pantanella, Zachary George. 8. Bill Coulter, Florent Bernier 9. Noah Kiani 10. Courtney Act 11. Maha Rishi 12. Sebastian Guarin, Megan Shepherd. 13. Devine Darlin, Richard Ryder 14. Yasmin Warsame

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Your passport to WorldPride.

Shoes Haircut



Speakers Madrid 2017

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