CELEBRATING CANADA’S LGBTQ2
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2021
THERE IS A BEAUTIFUL, QUEER YEAR AHEAD MEET PELOTON INSTRUCTOR EXTRAORDINAIRE CODY RIGSBY HOW THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM IS STILL FAILING LGBTQ PEOPLE YOUR FAVOURITE QUEENS ARE ON ONLYFANS, BUT WHY? THE STIGMA WITH THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY IN TODAY’S CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM 1
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JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2021
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98 Issue 98 January / February 2021
On January 1, Drag Race’s 13th season will premiere and with it will come the first transmasculine contestant to enter the Work Room. That performer will be Gottmik, who follows Season 9’s Peppermint as the second trans performer ever to compete on the regular season on the show who has spoken openly about their gender since the casting announcement.
06 | HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR SKIN WHILE WEARING A MASK Masked moisture management… It’s what your winter skin needs
16 | DOUBLING DOWN ON THE PHENOMENON OF BOYFRIEND TWINS Why do so many gay couples look alike?
08 | THE QUESTION OF THE RAINBOW RESUMÉ Should queer and trans job seekers out themselves in job interviews? 10 | SMOOTHIES VS JUICES When it comes to drinking to your health, which is the healthier option? 11 | HOW REXALL CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER Every little convenience counts 12 | AUTONOMOUS DRIVING COMES OF AGE Is the future really self-driving cars? 13 | TORONTO’S BLUE DOOR CLINIC IS CHANGING LIVES The Regent Park clinic promotes social justice and health equity for HIV-positive people in Toronto 14 | CALGARY PRIDE EXTENDS LEARNING SERIES TO 2021 It’s an opportunity to grow in your own learning journey alongside one of Canada’s largest Pride festivals 15 | YES, IT’S OKAY TO BE LONELY This pandemic may be reconnecting us emotionally with prior moments of helplessness
18 | POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT: WE OWE IT TO OURSELVES AND TO FUTURE QUEERS 30%: Are we really only that engaged? 20 | DISCUSSIONS OF CHOPIN’S SEXUALITY SHINE LIGHT ON LARGER ISSUES IN QUEER HISTORY The Polish composer may be the latest in a line of historical figures whose evidence of queer experiences has been lost to history 22 | BLACK BOY RISING It’s not easy to survive and thrive in a world determined to keep you down 24 | HETEROSEXISM IN TODAY’S CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM The stigma associated with the LGBTQ+ community is multifaceted 26 | YOUR FAVOURITE QUEENS ARE ON ONLYFANS, BUT WHY? Practically everyone is on the subscription site these days 28 | MEET PELOTON INSTRUCTOR EXTRAORDINAIRE CODY RIGSBY Expect to hear “is the wig still awwwwwn?” at least once a class 32 | TIME FOR A LITTLE DUFF LOVE Sexy crooner John Duff wants a little TLC
34 | LGBTQ PEOPLE EXIST OUTSIDE DOWNTOWN. THEY MATTER, TOO The LGBTQ community needs to look at its metronormativity 46 | HOW THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM IS STILL FAILING LGBTQ PEOPLE Some professionals don’t understand us well enough to do a good job taking care of us 48 | GET OUT OF DODGE ‘Friends with benefits’ takes on a whole new meaning in a travel-in-place kind of winter 52 | FLASHBACK: JANUARY 20, 1993 IN LGBTQ HISTORY Melissa Etheridge comes out as a lesbian 53 | 5 POWERFUL LGBTQ QUOTES THAT MADE HISTORY These inspirational quotes are certain to help brighten your day FASHION 36 | MAKE WAVES Trapped at home and dreaming of vacation? These daydream fashions, wild colours and in-your-face prints will let you create your own personal getaway in the comfort of your home THIS ISSUE OF IN MAGAZINE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY
H o w To Ta ke C a re O f Yo u r S k i n W h i l e We a r i n g A M a s k Masked moisture management… It’s what your winter skin needs By Adriana Ermter
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2021
“Just wanted to come on here to lose some Instagram followers by telling you all to continue to wear masks,” said Dan Levy. “Science is real. So…” Shared on Instagram, captured in a tiny square all the way from Los Angeles, the Schitt’s Creek creator and star, Canadian and all-round good guy was crystal clear with this universal appeal about the importance of wearing a face mask. And he’s even got one with rainbow-coloured letters spelling “Ready” superimposed on it to prove it. Because, as Levy reiterated recently (as well as explained last May), while sporting a mask and being told what to do can be frustrating, it is also “one of the simplest acts of kindness you can do for others.” We couldn’t agree more – which is why we’re giving back to all mask wearers. Not with cash, flowers or even a socially distanced elbow bump, but with expert-approved insight on how to give the skin behind the mask some much-needed TLC.
to start wearing the now-must-have clothing accessory, no one was prepared for the havoc it would play on our face (never mind the political hoopla!). Trapped behind a mix of polyester and/or cotton and subject to the heat and humidity created by warm breath and body temperature, your nose, cheeks and chin are now the perfect breeding ground for sweat, bacteria and acne. Factor in winter’s icy cold outdoors and overheated indoors and, well, your masktrapped skin is playing a game of eeny-meeny-miny-mo between oily skin with a dehydrated surface, dry skin and dehydrated skin. “It’s all about moisture loss,” explains Deanne Zirker, a natural beauty expert and skincare advisor for Weleda in New York City. “The skin can be affected by humidity in the air, the temperature and your skin barrier’s function. Winter’s colder temperatures and lower humidity levels can also cause moisture in the skin to evaporate more quickly, leading to skin that can feel tight and dry and in need of extra moisture.”
So while exposure to both hot and cold elements often causes water The hydration facts to evaporate from your skin – leaving it feeling dry, tight and itchy When the world’s health leaders – including Dr. Theresa Tam, – mask wearing only adds fuel to this skincare conundrum. And Canada’s chief public health officer and the person behind the none of it’s pretty. Skin irritations like bumps, flaky skin, rashes, federal government’s COVID-19 containment strategy – advised us excess natural sebum (a.k.a. oil) and inappropriate skin care can 6
“The epidermis can react to small changes too, compensating for fluctuations in your skin’s lipid level,” adds Zirker. “However, during more harsh weather and extreme temperature changes, your skin can’t adjust as easily. Therefore, extra care is important to keep skin in balance.” Yet, different skin types have different needs, not to mention your skin type and needs can change over time, oscillating from one day, one month or one season to the next. So regardless of what your skin is going through, it demands and benefits from proper hydration with the appropriate formulation – all to keep it looking and feeling balanced once the mask comes off. Here’s how to better understand your skin’s moisture loss and what you can use to hydrate it properly. Oily skin with a dehydrated surface While oily skin is caused by an overproduction of sebum and is most typically associated with teens, acne and puberty, adults can have oily skin too and are particularly prone to oily skin with a dry surface. “Oily skin can easily become dehydrated during winter, which simply means your skin is lacking in water,” says Maxine Ryan, a senior trainer for Eau Thermale Avène in Ontario. “When your skin is dehydrated, it triggers a higher production of oil to compensate for the water loss. So you can experience oily areas, dry patches and breakouts all at the same time. Plus, your skin looks dull, is rough to the touch, and fine lines and wrinkles look more pronounced.”
protect your skin from drying elements (such as hot forced air indoors, the humid conditions beneath a face mask and freezing cold outdoors) is to use a daily moisturizer. Take action: Your first step is to make sure your cleanser is gentle, soap-free, PH-balanced and designed for dry skin. And, just an FYI, the foamier your cleanser is, the more it can strip your skin of its essential sebum, causing it to go into sebum production overdrive. On top of that, “your skin loses more than 25 per cent of its ability to hold moisture in the winter, whether it’s behind a mask or not,” adds Zirker. “Without proper care, you may find yourself suffering from dry, chapped and flaky skin.” So, your next step will be to hydrate. Try: the Avène Gentle Milk Cleanser and Gentle Toner ($23 each, available at Shoppers Drug Mart), as they both contain high concentrations of skin-softening silicates and hyaluronic acid and have a neutral pH; Olay Deep Hydration Serum (from $40, available at Shoppers Drug Mart) with vitamin B3 and hyaluronic acid to penetrate the skin’s surface for optimum moisture and glow; and Burt’s Bees Honey Lip Balm ($6, available at Shoppers Drug Mart) with nourishing oils, butters and beeswax to moisturize and soften your lips. Dehydrated skin Considering that your skin is made up of 70 per cent water, dehydrated skin is not a skin type, but rather a state of being that is not only temporary but reversible. “Dehydrated skin can affect all skin types and all ages,” says Ryan. “It can be caused by internal factors such as our diets, our lifestyle [smoking, alcohol consumption], certain medications and illness. It can also be caused by external factors such as cold weather, wind, sun exposure, pollution and mask wearing. The skin will look dull, feel rough to the touch and even appear aged. Drinking lots of water is key for maintaining plump skin, but skin care plays a role by replenishing its water levels instantly and preventing water loss through the skin.”
Take action: with skincare products featuring formulations with a lower lipid content, containing astringents that sweep away excess oil without disturbing the skin’s natural barrier. But make sure to steer clear of heavy creams; opt for lightweight, water-based lotions instead. “Your skin already produces too much oil, so adding more will cause a greasy film on your skin that may lead to more breakouts or little white bumps called milia,” explains Ryan. Take action: Dehydrated skin is craving moisture, so “take the time “As a bonus, products designed for oily, dehydrated skin usually to carefully assess your skin and the environment or conditions it have oil-regulating and antibacterial agents to rebalance your skin, is currently experiencing dehydration from,” recommends Zirker. prevent breakouts and add lots of moisture.” “You will want to switch up your routine and products as seasons change. If you’re not sure what to do, book an appointment with Try: the Weleda Clarifying collection containing plant willow bark a dermatologist or professional aesthetician for advice.” and witch hazel to keep skin looking clear and balanced, especially the Weleda Sheer Hydration Daily Dew Lotion (all from $15 and Try: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration ($55, available online at www.weleda.com) for weightless, breathable available online at www.sephora.com), containing shea butter, moisture; and the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask in Berry ($26, allantoin, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids to hydrate, available online at www.sephora.com) for its overnight dose of protect, calm and soothe your skin; Doll 10 Smooth Assist Skin hydrating hyaluronic acid and antioxidants. Energy Daily Renewing Souffle ($63, available online at www. doll10.com) with its oil-free formula of green tea and ceramides Dry skin to replenish skin’s moisture; and Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy “The way I describe dry skin is like a brick wall that is lacking in Treatment Lip Balm in Translucent, ($34, available online at www. cement,” says Ryan. “When the temperature drops, the surface of sephora.com) with sugar, sea fennel and orange extract to protect this skin type is compromised, the brick wall (a.k.a. your epidermis) your lips and provide 24-hour moisture. is exposed and the lipids between your cells are depleted.” This can make your skin look dull, lack radiance, feel tight and itchy, and present with fine flakes around the creases of your nose and mouth. “If you already suffer from dry skin conditions like eczema, then your skin is naturally deficient in lipids already so the colder/ drier air will cause micro-fissures and cracks, so flare-ups can occur quickly,” she adds. The best way to avoid it, prevent dryness and ADRIANA ERMTER is a Toronto-based, lifestyle-magazine pro who has travelled the globe writing about must-spritz fragrances, child poverty, beauty and grooming.
all escalate moisture depletion, resulting in fine lines and wrinkles, redness, rosacea, eczema, acne, and a tight and dry surface.
PRIDE AT WORK
THE QUESTION OF THE RAINBOW RESUMÉ Should queer and trans job seekers out themselves in job interviews? By Colin Druhan
Amar Yogeswaran knows what people say when they think queers aren’t listening. “People assume that they can make homophobic jokes with me. The way I look, this is always the assumption: I’ve got to be someone married, straight,” says Yogeswaran, who has over 17 years of work experience and identifies as a South Asian queer nonbinary person who uses they/them pronouns. Now happily with an inclusive employer, they have observed homophobic language and bias in previous positions because colleagues don’t immediately identify them as queer. This has made Yogeswaran careful about how vocal they are on platforms like LinkedIn, especially when looking for a new job. “At one point I was just questioning if this was the reason I wasn’t getting any calls back. It made me think: Am I giving a bad impression?” says Yogeswaran. Many queer and trans job seekers ask whether they should out themselves in job interviews. But what if some, most or all of the experience in your application does it for you? What if you have what I’ll call a Rainbow Resumé?
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Sean Waite is a professor of sociology at the University of Western Ontario who studies labour market inequality. He says research from the United States shows that people who include work or volunteer experience with queer organizations and community groups on their resumé are less likely to receive interview offers than people who don’t. His preliminary research in Canada, which has yet to be published, reveals the problem is not unique to the US. An audit study found that job applicants in Canada who are outed by their previous job experience are 17 per cent less likely to receive an interview offer. Waite, who has a long history of researching economic outcomes for queer and trans people, says he isn’t surprised by the statistics: “It’s really sad to hear, but I believe it.”
“If you view the queer community as a group of people you don’t relate to, it leaves you ill prepared,” says talent acquisition professional Amanda Spakowski, who focuses heavily on inclusive hiring practices in her work. Spakowski says the common concerns she hears from hiring managers are that they will not be able to interact with queer candidates effectively in interviews and that current staff will not be welcoming of LGBTQ2+ hires. It might be surprising for some to hear that so many Rainbow Resumés get dropped into the ‘no’ pile. After all, an increasing number of employers are setting diversity objectives and rolling out expensive ad campaigns targeting LGBTQ2+ consumers. But Yogeswaran says that based on what they have observed, there is often a schism between what companies say publicly and what happens in hiring processes. Hiring managers too often depend on their own homogeneous networks because of the daily pressures of their jobs and their interest in filling vacancies quickly. They look for candidates who will blend in, no matter how many Pride parades the company itself buys into. Even if they appreciate their employer’s stated commitment to inclusion, they either don’t have the tools to deliver on it or don’t see themselves as having a responsibility to do so. “The motto is ‘Be yourself;’ then they say they want someone less complicated,” says Yogeswaran, who asks, “Are you saying I should just tone it down? Not talk about who I am?”
It is common for company representatives, especially those who are queer themselves, to encourage authenticity in applications. You may hear great applause when these folks say things like, “If someone is going to discriminate against you in the hiring process, that’s not somewhere you want to work, anyway.” Based on interviews he’s done with LGBTQ2+ job seekers, Waite says those professionals should be careful what they preach. His research shows that white cisgender gay men often come out in interviews if they feel it will give them a “strategic advantage” in the competition. Other members of the LGBTQ2+ community, Aeryn Pfaff, a communications professional with a degree in particularly those of colour, are more likely to actively conceal journalism and a postgraduate certificate in public relations, has first- who they are because of past experiences with homophobia and hand knowledge of this issue. His experience is almost exclusively other forms of discrimination. “That tells us something about how with LGBTQ2+ communities and he has been actively looking for privilege operates in the LGBTQ2+ community,” he says. a full-time job for over three years, to no avail. Pfaff even worked with a career coach, who told him that if he wanted to get his foot in Waite points out that LGBTQ2+ unemployment, poverty and any doors, he’d have to play down his 11 years of producing events housing insecurity disproportionately impact trans people and that and developing social media campaigns for queer communities. not all job seekers are fielding enough offers to be selective. He “The coach told me, ‘I can see why this isn’t working for you; you cautions that “the gut reaction might be to tell people to be their talk about all of these topics that aren’t professional. You shouldn’t true authentic selves and to put all of this LGBTQ2+ stuff on their bring sexual orientation into it,” says Pfaff, who was encouraged resumé, but if we know that leads to disadvantages, I don’t think to keep one of his greatest achievements off his applications. “I that’s a fair thing to say to somebody who needs to make ends meet.” organized an alternative Pride festival last year. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of in my life. It was a huge undertaking,” When it comes to solutions to this problem, Spakowski leaves the says Pfaff about how difficult the advice was to hear, adding that ball squarely in the employer’s court. She cautions that it isn’t as “straight people don’t have to think about things like this.” straightforward as putting diversity statements on job postings 8
PRIDE AT WORK or placing ads on specialty job boards. Queer and trans people clients, which prompted her to find ways to improve. “That meant know where to look for jobs, after all. Many don’t read statements being proactive about learning,” she says, adding that she’s grateful about “encouraging applications from marginalized communities” for the people who pointed out how she could do better: “I didn’t as genuine, and might not bother putting together an application know how to improve until someone was compassionate enough if they think the hiring process and work environment won’t be to tell me I had blind spots.” inclusive or, worse, will be actively discriminatory. Employers need to recognize what the issue of Rainbow Resumés For employers that want more diversity in their applicant pool, is really about: systemic homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. Spakowski recommends a balance of look and feel: messaging a “It isn’t always with a pitchfork and a slur,” says Pfaff, explaining desire to be inclusive while arming employees with proven strategies that the LGBTQ2+ community continues to be a support for him and tools to deliver on that desire with their actions. “The look is as he looks for a job. “I have never been hired in a meaningful way what gets someone to apply and what gets them in the door, but by a straight person,” he says, adding that “everywhere I have been the feel is what gets people to accept the offer and what keeps brought in, there was someone queer strongly vouching for me at them as employees.” the top level or it was by someone queer directly.” Spakowski, who identifies as a queer cis woman, says her initial lack of familiarity with the reality of gender diversity got her in some uncomfortable situations with some trans and nonbinary
So while Canadian employers figure out their blind spots and what to do about them, our community will do what we’ve always done: rely on each other.
COLIN DRUHAN is the executive director of Pride at Work Canada/Fierté au travail Canada, a not-for-profit organization that empowers employees to foster workplace cultures that recognize all employees, regardless of gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. For more information, visit prideatwork.ca.
HEALTH & WELLNESS
SMOOTHIES vs JUICES
When it comes to drinking to your health, which is the healthier option? By Karen Kwan
If you’ve been indulging in quarantine snacks a little too often, have set a goal to lose weight this year, or simply want to consume more fruits and veggies, you may be toying with the idea of incorporating smoothies or juices into your diet. Is one better for you than the other? It turns out there’s no cut-and-dried answer.
to approach how to make your smoothie? “Think of your meal plate: fruits and vegetables; some healthy fat like almond butter or hemp hearts; and a protein, because a smoothie without protein is just a snack,” she says.
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As for juice, is there no place for juice in your diet? Since it hits your bloodstream quickly, says Nielsen, a juice in the “We hear so much about the benefits of juicing daily or about morning could give you the same jolt a cup of coffee might; the daily morning smoothie, especially when it comes to plant- however, that burst of energy won’t stick with you very long. based diets,” says Desiree Nielsen, a registered dietitian based Juices can work well when they’re enjoyed as part of a meal, in Vancouver. The way she looks at it, a well-crafted smoothie though. Given that smoothies are nutrient-dense, having one is a meal replacement, whereas a juice is not. “In a smoothie, on top of a meal will be too much for most people. you get the whole foods with their fibre. You can also add in healthy fats, slow-burning carbs and the protein you need to To sneak more fruits and vegetables into your diet, you can try keep your blood sugars on an even keel,” she says. “Juice has juicing. Add a small green juice to your breakfast, or enjoy one had all of those fibrous cell walls stripped out of it, so what as a snack to give yourself a boost. One benefit of juices is that you get is pure energy that will digest very quickly and hit the while they do concentrate the natural sugars of the fruits and bloodstream very quickly.” veggies, you’re also concentrating the vitamins and minerals. “This can be helpful if you’re trying to heal from something But even with smoothies, you have to be careful with what or if you’re lacking energy,” says Nielsen. “It’s a way to get you (or the restaurant) are putting in them. If you’re picking those phytochemicals into your body in a way you couldn’t one up at a counter, ask about the ingredients before ordering. do by eating cup after cup of broccoli and carrots.” You may find it’s composed of juice concentrate and sherbet, she says, so it’s definitely something to be wary of. “The word ‘smoothie’ has been co-opted now for ‘milkshake,’” says Nielsen, but adds that when done well, it is a great vehicle for what you need to consume in a meal. Realistically, most of us won’t prepare and cook an entire balanced meal every morning – with all of the proteins, vegetables and grains you should have – and a smoothie simplifies this step. An easy way
To better manage the natural sugars when crafting a juice, dietitian Desiree Nielsen recommends this rule of thumb: stick to a ratio of three veggies to one fruit. “If you’re new to green juices and need to ease into it, you can start with 50/50, but work towards three to one,” she says.
KAREN KWAN is a freelance health, travel and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter at @healthswellness and on Instagram at @healthandswellness.
Every little convenience counts By Courtney Hardwick
We all spent the better part of 2020 navigating uncertainty about everything from our health to when we’d finally be able to see our loved ones in person again. This year has started out with a little glimmer of hope with the new vaccine for COVID-19. That being said, how Canadians shop has gone through a complete overhaul, and that will probably be sticking around for the foreseeable future. That means drugstores like Rexall, as an essential service, have had to find ways to provide a little extra convenience wherever they can. Although adapting to a new normal that is constantly changing isn’t easy, Rexall is dedicated to doing just that. With 2020 in the past, Rexall is looking forward and continuing to come up with innovative ways to help Canadians. Here are a few ways Rexall can make your life a little bit easier. Ongoing safety enhancements for COVID-19 Since lockdown procedures began in March, Rexall has been constantly evaluating and adjusting to changing requirements. As an essential service, stores remained open at reduced hours and capacity to allow for social distancing. Rexall also dedicated the first hour of each day to customers aged 55 and up and to individuals living with disabilities, so they could shop and refill prescriptions without having to worry about crowds or waiting in line. Measures were also taken to keep employees safe, including providing training on proper sanitizing protocols, putting up plexiglass barriers at cash registers and making hand sanitizer available at all times. Face masks are, of course, mandatory for all staff, outside contractors and customers while in the stores. Rexall will continue to stay agile and adjust the in-store shopping experience as needed. Growing into a one-stop shop Now that every store has capacity limits in place and waiting in line has become the norm, being able to get a variety of different things in one place is invaluable. Rexall has been hard at work expanding its strategy of partnering with well-known brands to offer products you wouldn’t normally find at a drugstore. A partnership with M&M Meats has been successful since before COVID-19 began, and Rexall recently launched a similar partnership with Staples. According to Nicolas Caprio, president of Rexall, the pandemic has magnified what they were already working towards, which was greater convenience for the customer. “At Rexall, we are always looking for new opportunities to expand our service offering and provide patients and customers with convenient, accessible products,” says Caprio about the Staples partnership. “Not only are we enhancing our best-in-class offerings, but we are also providing customers with quality office products that meet their day-to-day needs.” Rexall now offers Staples products at 317 of its 414 locations across Canada.
Rexall is actively looking for opportunities to partner with more brands and expand their product offering even further in the future. Going digital Rexall has been working on ways to expand beyond just a brickand-mortar presence. This work includes providing more ways for people to manage their prescriptions, including refilling through the newly launched mobile app – Be Well. This past summer, Rexall began offering PrescribeIT, Infoway’s national e-prescribing service, at more than 250 locations across Canada. PrescribeIT enables prescribers and pharmacists to electronically create, receive, renew and cancel prescriptions, while improving overall patient care through secure clinician messaging. “PrescribeIT is a great opportunity for us to continue strengthening our digital offering, allowing pharmacists and physicians to increase their communication and ultimately positively impact patient health,” explains Caprio. Rexall launched Virtual MD Services in March of this year in response to the onset of the pandemic, ensuring convenient access to virtual medical care for their patients and to help relieve the burden on the healthcare system, specifically emergency rooms and hospitals. These services now include partners, Tia Health, MD Connected and Rocket Doctor. Patients can talk to a doctor from the comfort of their home by video chat or phone call, and receive safe and effective medical care. Virtual care is covered by the provincial health plans in Ontario and British Columbia but in other provinces may require payment through employer-subsidized healthcare plans. Home delivery options To reduce the need for frequent in-person pharmacy visits, customers and patients who have chronic conditions and are using maintenance medications can access free home delivery for their pharmacy needs within three to five days, through RexallDirect. For customer convenience they can buy Rexall products online at well.ca and have their order delivered right to their door. Customers living in Ottawa and the GTA can also shop online using Cornershop
... Even though we’re all working towards an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, the drive to find more convenient ways to shop is here to stay. Rexall intends to keep prioritizing consumer needs and finding ways to making everyday life just a little bit easier for everyone.
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COURTNEY HARDWICK is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Her work has appeared online at AmongMen, Complex Canada, Elle Canada and TheBolde.
HEALTH & WELLNESS
How Rexall Can Make Your Life Easier
AUTONOMOUS DRIVING COMES OF AGE Is the future really self-driving cars? By Casey Williams
The past and future of driving belongs to computers – and maybe humans. At its zenith in 1956, General Motors showcased the Firebird II, a sparkling turbine-powered concept car designed for future highways on which cars drive themselves. Over the decades, automakers reached for that Jetsonsonian future through a progression of technologies that brought forth great advances in safety and convenience.
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The dreams tack from the ’50s, but have been realized through advancements like anti-lock brakes in the ’70s, traction control in the ’80s and adaptive cruise control in the ’90s. Add to those lane keep assist, lane centring steering and automatic emergency braking over the past decade, and you have dance cards for self-driving cars. Today, you can buy Teslas with Autopilot and Cadillacs with Super Cruise. While Tesla’s system is not officially hands-off, Cadillac lets you rest your digits on specifically designated highways curated by the navigation system. Automation levels fall into six classes, ranging from none in a Ford Model T to fully independent from human intervention à la KITT from the 1980s TV show Knight Rider. If a Model T is Level 0, then Level 1 includes the adaptive cruise and lane-centring steering that are commonplace on today’s luxury models. These systems employ cameras and radar to assist the driver. Level 2 brings Super Cruise and Autopilot, where the driver must remain vigilant but computers control steering, brakes and throttle. The ‘big bang’ in autonomous driving arrives next March, when Honda introduces a Level 3 version of its Legend luxury sedan. It requires a driver, but one who doesn’t have to monitor the environment as sharply as today’s drivers do. As cars progress 12
through Level 4 and Level 5, they will take on all tasks of driving under virtually all conditions. Many of these vehicles will not even have steering wheels. Tesla claims it is very close to achieving Level 5 autonomy. Combined with electric powertrains that place most system components below the floor, autonomy allows cars to become mobile lounges where passengers while away the time conversing rather than watching the road. Consider the recent Mini Urbanaut concept, which carries passengers in an open tube adorned with lounge chairs and a daybed. Or there’s the Rolls-Royce 103EX electric concept, which spoils two passengers in a leather- and wood-lined cabin with fibre optic artwork where a steering wheel isn’t. Anything is possible, although challenges remain. If the idea of letting a vehicle completely drive itself makes you nervous, it should. As Tesla has proven with accidents involving its Autopilot system, achieving automated driving on controlled highways is considerably easier than making that vehicle safe in a complex urban environment where vehicles and pedestrians can dart from anywhere. Still…imagine travelling in 2030. You summon your autonomous crossover from the garage to your doorstep via smartphone. Once inside, you tell it where to go. As the vehicle travels, you catch up on reading, work on your computer, or watch last night’s movie. It won’t matter if you are 19 or 90: the car will get you safely to your destination. It’s going to be a tremendous ride.
CASEY WILLIAMS is a contributing writer for Gaywheels.com. He contributes to the New York-based LGBT magazine Metrosource and the Chicago Tribune. He and his husband live in Indianapolis, where Williams contributes videos and reviews to wfyi.org, the area’s PBS/NPR station.
Toronto’s Blue Door Clinic Is Changing Lives
The Regent Park clinic promotes social justice and health equity for HIV-positive people in Toronto Toronto’s Blue Door Clinic is a walk-in clinic for people with HIV who do not have health insurance or immigration status in Canada. The dynamic community-based health centre provides short- term care focusing on HIV treatment, social support and assistance, and links to ongoing services.
them to a healthcare provider. Unfortunately, it has been hard to find enough healthcare providers who understand how to care for HIV-positive patients and who will accept patients with precarious – or no – insurance, or without the means to pay for their own care.
Tell us more about Blue Door. Where does the idea for this project come from? In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of people living with HIV/AIDS [PHAs] who don’t receive adequate health care because they’re not eligible for public health insurance. This includes temporary workers, people without Canadian immigration status and international students.
Many of our clients are not English-speaking, and finding services in a client’s spoken language has been another big challenge. We prioritize providing free interpretation for clients who come to the Blue Door Clinic, either through peer workers or healthcare interpreters. That is often not available once the client is referred on to other healthcare providers.
At a Gay Men’s Health planning forum in 2017, a working group came together to discuss this growing concern, and from there the Blue Door Clinic was formed. Following dialogue among service providers, community groups and members of the PHA community, 10 community agencies and groups came together to launch the Blue Door Project. Our founding members are the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention, Casey House, the Centre for Spanish-Speaking Peoples, the Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment, the Hassle Free Clinic, the Ontario HIV Treatment Network, Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre [CHC], Regent Park CHC, Sherbourne Health and Toronto People with AIDS Foundation. What were the main needs that led to the creation of the clinic, and how did you meet them? Thanks to the generosity of ViiV Healthcare and the in-kind contributions from our founding members, the Blue Door Clinic – which opened in August 2019 and runs for only a half-day every other week – has served 91 PHAs. Of those, 67 have already been connected to other services that help them overcome the barriers to good health they face. These barriers can be medical in nature: being able to afford basic lab tests or not, being able to find an affordable healthcare provider with the knowledge and confidence to provide HIVspecific care. Clients also face non-medical barriers that affect their health, such as being able to afford the healthy foods we all need to maintain wellness, getting help with their immigration applications, substance use issues, or securing safe and reliable housing. The Blue Door team include doctors, nurses, intake and linkage to care coordinators, and peer workers from our partner agencies. What were the main difficulties you encountered during the development of the Blue Door Clinic? Our mandate is to provide a short-term, interim solution to help stabilize these clients’ health situation, and then connect
The demand for Blue Door Clinic services is far greater than our capacity. When we first planned the clinic, we anticipated the need would be half of what we have seen since the clinic opened. The team has stretched themselves to serve as many clients as possible, but more help is always needed! What are the gaps in patient care? How do we fill them? Many healthcare providers need support to feel comfortable caring for patients who are HIV-positive. Community providers may not know how to help clients navigate the barriers they face as a result of not having health insurance or immigration status. One way we fill that gap is to enhance the education of healthcare providers on these fundamental issues through workshops, trainings and consultations. The biggest gap is that the public healthcare system denies care to people without any or adequate health insurance. While a few services like CHCs do get funding to care for people without insurance, that funding is limited and does not cover the full range of healthcare costs. Some people we serve, like temporary workers and international students, are not eligible to get care from CHCs, and as such have to find their own way to pay for what are often prohibitively expensive but essential healthcare services. Ultimately, the gaps will remain until everyone can access publicly funded health care. What’s next for the Blue Door Clinic and Regent Park Community Health Centre? The Blue Door Clinic continues to grow! We plan to expand our services to weekly clinics, and are working on securing more funding to support the expansion. We will also be participating in research on the health outcomes of our patients, and we are launching a formally accredited workshop for healthcare providers on the ins and outs of serving PHAs without adequate health insurance. Stay tuned as the hard work continues. The Blue Door Clinic is part of the Regent Park Community Health Centre at 465 Dundas St. E. in Toronto. The clinic is open weekly and appointments can be booked by calling (647) 730-3222. Visit www.bluedoorclinic.org.
Extends Learning Series To 2021 The Calgary Pride Learning Series is an opportunity to grow in your own learning journey alongside one of Canada’s largest Pride festivals By Dani Spady
Now in its 30th year, Calgary Pride is the fastest-growing major Pride festival in Canada. Located in a city that has experienced a number of economic ups and downs since the birth of Calgary Pride in the early ’90s, the organization has faced sudden and significant growth in the past few years. Growth, positive as it may be, comes with the challenge of change. Seeking to continue their own learning journey in support of the genderand sexually diverse community, Calgary Pride has launched the free, online Calgary Pride Learning Series, and everyone is invited to join. The Learning Series is another initiative in addition to a number of Calgary Pride community events and activities that serve all kinds of individuals and families each year, with a mission to represent and celebrate all members of the gender- and sexually diverse community. In the holiday season, Calgary Pride hosts the annual Queerly Festive Dinner, welcoming people to share a meal together in the warm spirit of belonging. An annual fundraising gala, Evolve: Pride Amplified, celebrates and supports queer youth programming. The Reading with Royalty series is one of the most popular programs Calgary Pride offers. Created in partnership with the Calgary Queer Arts Society and the Calgary Public Library, Reading with Royalty features drag monarchy reading children’s books, supporting inclusive narratives for families and children in their early years.
workshops and panel discussions on a whole host of topics affecting the gender- and sexually diverse community. Like many other cities, Calgary has been a hub of learning and growth in response to political and social issues brought forward in the past year. The initial run of the Calgary Pride Learning Series was accessed by over 3,500 registrants in 102 workshops leading up to September 2020. The popularity of the program, and funding support from the Canadian Red Cross, have extended the program from its original time frame into 2021. The Learning Series includes topics ranging from the very basics of LGBTQ2S+ identities to writing and storytelling, financial literacy, disability justice and more. Along with the extended Learning Series, Calgary Pride will be presenting drag monarchs reading children’s books online in the upcoming year as part of their Royalty Realness series, so the whole family can continue to learn and grow alongside one another. Wherever you are on your learning journey, Calgary Pride invites you to join them on theirs, as they learn how to better support our community after 30 years of change. Check out the full listing of Calgary Pride Learning Series events at www.calgarypride.ca/learning-series.
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In early 2020, when COVID-19 put an abrupt hold on all inperson festivals and events, Calgary Pride began exploring how it could continue showing up for the community despite the restrictions on gathering. The annual Pride Parade & Festival, scheduled for early September 2020, was only the beginning. With COVID-19 restricting the plausibility of hosting that festival, Calgary Pride switched to a fully online format and new programming possibilities in celebration of the organization’s 30th anniversary. Thanks to the support of community, partners and local #OurPride initiatives, the 2020 Calgary Pride Parade and Festival went online in the first week of September, with 231 LGBTQ2S+ artists, 61 hours of content, and 31,000 viewers virtually attending. New programming included the Calgary Pride Learning Series, featuring free community-led
DANI SPADY (she/her) is a writer, a musician, and an advocate for the power of art and compassion in healthy communities.
YES, IT’S OKAY TO BE LONELY This pandemic may be reconnecting us emotionally with prior moments of helplessness, and that can knock us off our stable ground By Adam Segal
After more than eight months of navigating this ongoing global pandemic, we have all found methods to cope with, survive, and adapt to the myriad ways our world has changed. I have been struck by our resilience as a species – our capacity to flex into an ever-changing landscape of masks, restrictions and economic hardships. But in all of this coping, it can be easy to lose sight of the significant burden this pandemic has placed on so many. As COVID-19 continues to spread and death tolls rise, the impact on our individual and collective emotional health is only beginning to become clear. The significant loss and isolation this viral beast has imparted can be especially tough for those of us in the LGBTQ community, as many of us experienced childhoods that were marked by loneliness, a lack of freedom, and painful uncertainty. So many queer folks have fought hard to feel a sense of liberation (from shame, small towns, family rejection, etc.), and this pandemic can do a good job of making us feel trapped all over again – even more intensely for those living in invalidating environments without the usual moments of reprieve. What might seem like boredom or a generalized melancholy could really be a kind of grief that sneaks up and weighs us down. Without us realizing it, this global event can reconnect us emotionally with prior moments of helplessness and knock us off more stable ground.
Something that’s become very clear during this mess is that loneliness is both a universal emotion and one that we find really hard to acknowledge within ourselves – let alone talk about with others. Part of what makes loneliness an especially tricky human emotion is that it often arises alongside a kind of shame – a belief that feeling lonely is a sign of something deficient and something that only ‘inadequate’ people have to confront. The shame can act as a big heavy blanket that masks loneliness, leaving us alone with the loneliness itself. Here’s the good news: when we can really stop and allow ourselves to respect how truly tough this time has been (and how it can resurrect some old pain), we can move towards some self-compassion and, from that, towards greater compassion for one another. This pandemic might force some of us to ‘come out’ all over again – this time as a human who can feel lonely. Simply acknowledging loneliness, and sharing it with someone we trust, can serve as a potent antidote to the faulty belief that our pain makes us separate when really it connects us to everyone. Don’t get me wrong: there’s a place for sourdough bread making, for copious Netflix viewing, and even for some good old emotional eating…but we’ll need to find ways to move beyond simply coping to connecting if we want to feel like ourselves again.
ADAM SEGAL is a Toronto-based psychotherapist working in private practice. He also likes to write, take pictures and listen to heartbreaking music.
Doubling Down on Boyfriend Twins Why do so many gay couples look alike? By Jesse Boland
At first you think you’re seeing double. Have they finally perfected human cloning? you wonder. Not quite. Was the movie Us based on a true story? Not exactly, but you’re getting warmer. Has fascism become so hegemonically embraced in Western culture that we are all slowly blurring into one idealized image of beauty to conform to Eurocentric standards of presentability and respectability in an oligarchical consumerist society? I mean…probably, but that sounds like a much smarter article and we won’t be talking about that here. No, this strange spectacle you’re bearing witness to is a far more terrifying manifestation of mankind’s twisted narcissism ripping the fabric of our existential being: the phenomenon of boyfriend twins. Boyfriend twins are the colloquial term for two men in a romantic relationship who bear uncanny visual similarities to one another, rendering them virtually identical – minus the obvious signifiers, of course; Brandon has light-brown hair whereas his boyfriend Brendan has dirty-blond hair; Steven’s eyes are blueish-green unlike his partner Stephen’s, which are greenish-blue. Well, duh.
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This bizarre mitosis between Mike and Otis may at first appear to be a temporary fluke of two guys who simply happen to be of equal heights and who fell in love while shopping for black bomber jackets in the same size at Zara. But there are many more complex and nuanced reasons for men dispelling the notion of opposites attracting when searching for a partner. For one obvious factor, dating someone who is your exact physical double can be an indicator of shared lifestyles and routines. While the concept of dating a man who is absolutely shredded and muscularly sculpted has been sold as the gold standard of desirability in men, it is essential to be reminded just how time-consuming a routine it is for men to dedicate hours of their lives in the gym away from home. If their partner does not share such a dedication to spending hours upon hours exercising, this can cause a massive rift and it (ironically) may end up not working out for the two of them. Contrasts in personal grooming and fashion sense can be another indicator of juxtaposing lifestyles as well as differing values in the importance of self-presentation. While these are all surface-level signifiers of one’s sense of vanity, a shared commonality in superficiality can at the very least set a foundation of mutual interests in establishing a relationship during its early stages. With that being said, boyfriend twins are not simply two men with similar body types who share clothes and synchronize their 16
hairstyles; they are men who indeed look eerily similar, right down to their facial features, skin tones and even mannerisms. This is where things tend to get a bit more serious, as it is almost impossible to talk about the politics of desirability and beauty standards in Western culture without addressing white supremacy. Simply put, we as gay men have always been taught through media that the ultimate tier of male beauty is a ripped, peach-skinned, smoothcheeked, twenty-something, blue-eyed, blond (or light brunette if you’re feeling zesty), white dude. When gay representation was first being introduced into film and television, it was decided that if the world was to be exposed to queerness, it would need to be as palatable as possible to appease the masses. Sadly, there has been hardly any progress from the earliest Tom of Finland illustrations to the casting choices of a present-day Ryan Murphy production. Identical images of male sexual attractiveness are perpetually being recycled to maintain this impossible standard, with no room for advancement: for all we know, Sean Cody could just reuse the same roster of 10
Even for those who feel secure enough in their own appearance to stand proudly by their Adonis boyfriends, there is, tragically, the glaring scrutiny of the bitter public adamant to remind you of your place. While horrendously hideous men dating gorgeous women miles out of their league is a trope as old as time itself, and the visual of a non-typically attractive woman linking arms with a himbo boy toy in turn feels somewhat empowering and rectifying, for same-sex couples there is only blaring criticism for which partner is immediately labelled the hotter-one and the less-hot-one. In same-sex relationships it is not a matter of comparing apples to oranges but rather Macintosh apples to Golden Delicious apples. This creates room for very noticeable and “justifiable” comparisons that can create an unhealthy imbalance in power dynamics over who is deemed the superior in the relationship, often planting the seeds to an imminent doom. With that in mind, it can be understood why so many gay men tend to gravitate towards men they find to be their better match in a more literal sense. By dating someone who could be their nearidentical twin – finding a balanced pairing in their equilibrium of tangible attractiveness – they are protecting themselves from the unhealthy comparisons and scrutiny of both the public and themselves. Furthermore, dating someone resembling themselves allows them to embrace their own beauty, which they perhaps had once struggled to accept. For a man who has throughout his life struggled to accept his oddly shaped nose, finding love with a man who has an almost identical nose – and happily celebrating that unique feature in the loved one – can serve as the first step in him embracing that beauty within himself. Sometimes we need to see the beauty of our own body reflected in someone else before we can celebrate it in ourselves. One of the most common of conundrums for homosexual men and women is frequently asking ourselves when we see a hot person, “Do I want to look like that person, or do I want to date them?” And as we’ve come to see, sometimes the answer is both! There can be any number of reasons to explain this bizarre trend of gay men so blatantly desiring to find a partnership with their own carbon copy: narcissism, insecurity, racism, practicality, egotism, or just Now, much of that is assuming that we all live in a fantasy world or simply wanting to double your wardrobe. Perhaps many of us have CW Network original series that sadly sets us all up for unrealistic simply been told to go fuck ourselves enough times that we finally expectations of both our ideal lovers and ourselves. Yet in the unusual, said, Bet? and actually followed through with it. For some, the old but certainly not uncommon, circumstance that someone who cliché of “opposites attract” in finding a partner truly does allow doesn’t quite fit the typical criteria of conventional attractiveness them the opportunity to embrace an entirely new walk of life that finds themselves dating a man who many would perceive to be a makes them feel complete, while others simply want to be with their exact double so their next Halloween’s couple costume can be to 10 out of 10, that too can carry a certain baggage with it. go as both versions of Mariah Carey in the “Heartbreaker” video. Jealousy certainly exists within heterosexual relationships as well, but with same-sex relationships it carries with it an added weight, After all, when searching for love, many of us tend to have a type given that the two partners are held to a much closer standard to that, for some reason, we gravitate towards. Is it so wrong for you one another. While you may find yourself absolutely enamoured to be your own type? models, simply changing their names every six months so no one catches on. For gay men – who since early development have been shown a singular idealization of attractiveness that they should not only desire but also emulate – it’s easily understood as to why this homogenization of homosexuality is so prevalent in our community’s dating pool.
JESSE BOLAND is that gay kid in class who your English teacher always believed in. He’s a graduate of English at Ryerson University with a passion for giving a voice to people who don’t have data on their phones and who cases his dreams by foot because he never got his driver’s licence.
by the beauty and perfection of the beloved beau you are proud to call yours, it is not uncommon for such infatuation to occasionally cross over into feelings of inadequacy when comparing yourself to someone whom you, in your own words, describe as being “perfect.” It’s not easy to constantly be wrestling between feelings of pride and envy when looking over at the mesmerizing beauty of your dearly beloved’s soft eyes, chiseled face and flat stomach while simultaneously comparing and contrasting that to your own questionable appearance. The cliché “how did I ever get so lucky?” may read in a very different tone day to day.
POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT: WE OWE IT TO OURSELVES AND TO FUTURE QUEERS 30%: Are we really only that engaged? By Tristan Coolman
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The queer community and their allies are largely recognized as a politically engaged bunch of folks. When negative actors attempt to engage the community, we never hesitate to stand up for ourselves. Local queer history both past and present is dotted with these examples: from essentially ‘locking down’ our Village from a group led by self-proclaimed pastor David Lynn to protesting the Toronto Public Library hosting Megan Murphy (a feminist whose support for the movement is only limited to cis women). In just under a month, our queer community in Toronto will be confronted with an anniversary of one of the more noteworthy acts of discrimination against our community: the 40th anniversary of Toronto’s 1981 bathhouse raids. When any one group or individual dares question the legitimacy of queer-lived experiences, we are quick to organize and act. You would think that in today’s world, where organizing is much easier thanks to social media, we would attract more queers to the cause to act and remain engaged. But perhaps that’s easier said than done. In October 2020, at the height of elevated political discussion and awareness in the closing days of the US presidential election, there was a federal by-election – one of which was for the seat vacated by Liberal Bill Morneau in Toronto Centre, which contains the Village. I attempted to engage by text with some friends who I knew lived in the riding: “Hey! There’s a by-election in your riding. Make sure you and your partner vote!” Their response: “What’s a by-election?” 18
Early results for that by-election indicate a voter turnout that was in the low to mid-30s. I, for one, was a little shocked by that number. Dare I say it – are we less politically active than we think we are? The by-election sent another Liberal MP to Ottawa. Not to discredit the contributions of this Liberal government to our cause: they have done their best. But as a collective, they’re almost like the allies many of us have in our lives who are very well intentioned but are not yet ready to advocate without a queer chaperone.
But our Village is struggling to survive. Our community, home to some of the most vulnerable in this pandemic, has been impacted immensely. Yes, there are movements at a local level to ensure the survival of the Village and its businesses and gig workers, like the fund set up by Glad Day – and these are all incredible signs that the fight to keep queer culture alive within these few city blocks
There are signs an effort for change was made. Annamie Paul, the new Green Party leader, came in second, beating out the traditionally second-place NDP by a large margin – but it was not enough to really stir the pot enough to make our most privileged and established political leaders pay a little more attention. What happened? There is, after all, a novel coronavirus whose spread is at the centre of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in last fall’s US election, voter engagement reached record numbers, with estimates that it was as high as 72 per cent. Those who wanted to remain safe from the virus voted by mail by significant margins – significant enough that the election could not be called for days because of the sheer number of mail-in and advance ballots that had to be counted. With the multiple ways available to vote here in Canada – in advance, by mail and in person – our turnout in the low 30s just doesn’t make sense. The US is very polarized and passionate right now, so folks from both sides came out to support their candidates and clearly emotions ran high. Some might say they were voting for their very survival. Are we a less engaged bunch of folks than we think we are? As a still closeted teenager, my first interaction with queer media and visibility was in coming across an episode of Queer As Folk. It looked gay, sounded gay, and caught my eye because of that. The first episode I watched was about Michael Novotny overcoming his resistance to marching in Pride alongside Debbie, his mom and proud Pflag member. To this day, I still watch that series from start to finish, in all its imperfect glory. At the time, I assumed Pflag was a fictional organization: it wasn’t until I was 29 years old that I discovered it was real. Now, four years later, I lead a Pflag chapter in York Region. Speaking as someone who has voted in every election I could since I legally could and who considers myself to be politically engaged, I didn’t know about the existence of this amazing institution in queer history until just a few years ago. I am only beginning to see how difficult it is to become, and remain, engaged. The more you put into it, the more it takes from you. However, it doesn’t have to be this way if we all engaged as much as possible. Those of us who engage more than others owe it to our community to share our passion as much as possible, as it’s through those shares that we create awareness.
is far from over, despite the slow but steady encroachment of gentrification. Yet still, folks in precarious lines of essential work are risking their safety to pay their rent. I think that if there had been some negative sentiment that not enough is being done to ensure these queer-owned businesses and institutions survive, we would have had a different by-election result. We would have sent an MP from a different party to help us fight for our Village. And in a minority parliament, it’s the minority voices who can sometimes have the most impact.
Not everyone can engage on that level, but there is a classic and traditional way to engage, perhaps the most casual and easiest way of all – and that is to vote. An election turnout in the 30s – whether we are in a pandemic, whether it was a by-election – is not acceptable by any means. The Liberals and their new MP, Marci Ien, won with 42 per cent of the votes cast – but the reality is that only 13 per cent of all eligible voters in Toronto Centre voted for a Liberal victory. Though democratically that needs to be accepted given that the time to vote has come and gone, it should be a sobering reminder that we shouldn’t let our foot off the gas for even the easiest and the most casual of methods to engage in daily political life.
TRISTAN COOLMAN is based in the suburbs of York Region north of Toronto. He works full-time in retail by day, volunteers with Pflag York Region in his spare time, and desperately tries to keep his succulents alive in between. Follow @pflagyorkregion on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook; follow Tristan at @iamcoolman on Instagram, @tristancoolman on Twitter.
Yes, the Liberals have decreased the waiting period on blood donations for men who have sex with men (calling their move a “big win!” even though this discrimination is still active); they did celebrate the 1969 decriminalization of homosexuality and released a coin with the word ‘equality’ inscribed on its surface (which worked to embolden systemic discrimination against queer folks rather than support them). And, to their credit, they did fund a first-of-its-kind study on queer health in Canada, and have acted on many of those recommendations.
D is c us s ions O f C h o p in ’s S e x u a lit y S hine L ig ht O n L a rg e r Is sue s In Q ue e r His tor y The Polish composer may be the latest in a line of historical figures whose evidence of queer experiences has been lost to history By Steven Greenwood
Rob Picheta, writing for CNN, recently discussed debates surrounding composer Frédéric Chopin’s sexuality, highlighting their relevance to larger issues of oppression and homophobia in Poland. Picheta referenced studies by journalist Moritz Weber, who claims that biographies and other accounts of Chopin’s life intentionally distort and change facts about history – allegedly changing the genders of the subjects of his writings and forging fake letters between him and women – in an attempt to hide his relationships with men.
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This all may seem quite shocking: allegations that people would forge, alter or otherwise distort historical documents to hide someone’s sexuality seem like a conspiracy theory or something out of a Dan Brown novel. However, for anyone familiar with the study of queer history, this sort of situation is much more common than one may think. In 1996, scholar José Esteban Muñoz outlined the many ways in which oppression leads to the suppression, distortion and destruction of evidence about the existence of queer communities throughout history. Chopin may be the latest in a line of historical figures whose evidence of queer experiences has been lost to history – or even intentionally destroyed – as a result of a heteronormative and oppressive society. On the one hand, part of the issue of missing or distorted evidence comes from the fact that queer communities have had to hide proof of our own experiences, living our lives in secret to avoid persecution. Muñoz states: “Queerness is often transmitted covertly. This has everything to do with the fact that leaving too much of a trace has often meant that the queer subject has left herself open for attack.” When being open about who you are means being vulnerable to violence and discrimination – both state-sanctioned and otherwise – it makes sense that queer communities have intentionally avoided leaving too much of a visible trace of their experiences with gender and sexuality, as this evidence would directly threaten their safety. However, even when queer communities do choose to publicly declare their experiences, forces are always actively working to silence these declarations. Sometimes, this happens in obvious and explicitly violent ways. In 1933, the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft 20
(or the Institute for Sexology), which contained extremely valuable research on gender and sexuality (including that of sex and gender studies pioneer Magnus Hirschfeld), was destroyed, along with its resources and research, by Nazis. The Institut provided genderaffirming surgeries, and contained a wealth of information on the historical experiences of trans people, all of which was destroyed by an oppressive regime. In other ways, the violent destruction and distortion of queer historical evidence is not as obvious or explicit as book burning and the destruction of institutes. It can come in the form of family members or descendants of queer people going out of their way to disguise the truth in a misguided attempt to “protect” their family’s legacy. Cheryl Dunye famously drew attention to this sort of practice in her film The Watermelon Woman, the story of a woman trying to find evidence that an actress she admires from older films was a lesbian. In one scene, the protagonist meets with the sister of one of the actress’s lovers, only to find that the sister aggressively fights to actively suppress and deny her sister’s relationships with women. This violence against the preservation of queer history is also not limited to the distant past, but is still actively happening. Transgender people are still misgendered and misnamed in obituaries and at their funerals, as families begin to erase their identities and experiences immediately after their deaths. If people are willing to publish false information about family members in obituaries and official funeral documents now, erasing their gender identities from the historical record even in the so-called “information age,” it’s really not that surprising that they were willing to similarly falsify and alter documents throughout the rest of history. This, of course, raises the question: how do queer communities find ourselves in history if oppressive forces are constantly at work to erase evidence of our existence? Part of Muñoz’s argument is that we should invest more in what he refers to as “ephemeral evidence.” This type of evidence consists of things like personal stories, anecdotes, informal documents, fragments, and even things
like gossip that aren’t often considered “legitimate” evidence. An ephemeral approach to evidence looks for innuendo, hints, clues, implications, subtext, and coded and subtle expressions of queer identity, desire and life, and takes these things seriously as evidence of historical queerness.
the Museum of Transgender History and Art, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art and the Transgender Oral History Project are actively doing this work, archiving and preserving both formal and ephemeral evidence to protect it from those cultural forces that would work to destroy it.
For anyone who is used to a telling of history that requires more conventionally accepted types of formal evidence, this may be a hard approach to swallow. However, when heteronormative society has gone out of its way to destroy and distort official evidence of queerness, there is often no other choice; it seems unreasonable to destroy queer evidence and then criticize queer historians for not having that evidence. It’s the equivalent of stealing someone’s shirt, and then criticizing them for not having a shirt.
We also need to recognize intersectionality and the ways in which some queer communities actually end up destroying each other’s history. Dunye’s film explores a moment where she attempts to navigate a lesbian information centre, only to find that structural racism has led to the neglect of Black lesbian history in the centre’s archives. Queer history is often told through a white, cisgender perspective (including a recent New York Times article on gay theatre history that was prominently criticized for focusing almost exclusively on white, cis men) that erases other queer voices.
In this situation, taking innuendo and coded subtext seriously as a sign of queer life that has been otherwise silenced can be a powerful and meaningful choice. Furthermore, acknowledging the ways that more official documents and forms of evidence are often distorted, intentionally framed for conservative purposes, and even falsified, can bring an important level of criticism and skepticism surrounding accounts that claim to be objective. Appeals to statistics and science have historically been used to further oppressive political agendas, and can be as misleading or inaccurate as personal anecdotes and stories. This isn’t, of course, to say that all ephemeral evidence should be accepted uncritically, or that all forms of official discourse are inherently suspect and wrong: this sort of thinking leads to dangerous things like climate change denial, anti-vaxxers and Holocaust denial. There are some cases when facts are facts, and more official sources need to be trusted. There is a level of negotiation and complicated work required on both of these fronts that mindfully navigates both official and ephemeral evidence to ensure that they’re being used responsibly and ethically; discerning historians know to take official forms of evidence and ephemeral forms of evidence with appropriate amounts of both skepticism and trust to navigate the murky waters of history. In addition to investing in ephemeral evidence, queer communities can also engage in archival work to recover and unearth queer history that has been destroyed, and work to preserve our own history now to resist it being destroyed in the future. Projects like
Susan Stryker’s book Transgender History highlights how the Queens Liberation Front was established within a year of Stonewall in response to efforts to erase drag queens and trans people from the history of the riots. Trans people of colour continue to be erased from accounts of Stonewall in film and in history books. If we want to protect queer history from the violence of oppressive forces, we also need to recognize the ways in which people with more privilege within queer communities need to stop erasing the history of other queer people. For anyone interested in the complicated work of learning about a history that has largely been destroyed or suppressed, this was a common issue explored in queer cinema of the 1990s. The Watermelon Woman, as well as John Greyson’s Zero Patience and Todd Haynes’ Velvet Goldmine, all provide a good representation of this complicated journey through a fragmented history. The Transgender Oral History Project and Museum of Transgender History and Art are also both available online, and provide a good starting point for better understanding the work of preserving and uncovering queer histories. To end with a Sasha Velour quote on the value of ephemeral evidence in all its instability and beauty: “Drag queens have always been the keepers of our queer history. We make it, we tell it, we remember it, we misremember it, and we love it.” As much as heteronormative culture tries to keep our stories hidden, we will always find ways to make sure they resurface.
STEVEN GREENWOOD is a PhD candidate at McGill University, where he researches the relationship between queer communities and popular culture. His dissertation explores queer reception of musicals, focusing specifically on how this reception has changed (and hasn’t) since the turn of the 21st century. He also writes and directs for stage and screen, and serves as the artistic director of Home Theatre Productions.
Black Boy Rising
It’s not easy to survive and thrive in a world determined to keep you down By Jumol Royes
Sometimes a hood is more than just a hood. Let’s say you want to go outside for a walk, but it’s a characteristically cold winter’s day – so you dress warmly and pull a hood over your head without giving it a second thought as you hurry out the door to brave the elements. Sounds like a fairly straightforward process, right? For Black boys like me, it’s a little more complicated than that.
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I live in Vaughan, a city located just above Toronto. It’s lauded as a family-friendly place with a multicultural population, and according to Maclean’s 2019 ranking of Canada’s richest communities, Vaughan comes in at number 12, with an average household net worth of $1,767,338. But none of that is enough to insulate me from implicit bias or systemic racism. When I decide to go for a walk around my neighbourhood, I usually make the conscious decision not to pull a hood over my head, even on days when it’s bone-chillingly cold outside. I’m well aware that society often sees Black men wearing hoods as being menacing and more dangerous. In some cases, that perception can lead to violent confrontations with deadly consequences (may the memory of Trayvon Martin forever be a blessing to all those who knew and loved him). Even though I’ve lived in my community on and off for the past 20+ years and am friendly with most of my neighbours, I try my best to avoid being viewed as an outsider – or, worse yet, as an intruder who fits the description of some imaginary suspect in some unknown crime. The extra mental energy and effort required to think about all the ways in which I could possibly be perceived because of the colour of my skin, and then adjusting myself accordingly depending on the situation, is exhausting, but it’s nothing new for me. What’s in a name? When I was applying for jobs in my early 20s, I put together a resumé highlighting my education, skill set and experience, submitted as 22
It got me thinking: maybe the reason I wasn’t hearing back from anyone had less to do with the substance of my resumé and more to do with my ethnic-sounding name. Being the savvy problem solver that I am, I decided to swap out my stereotypically Black first name and use my more Caucasian-sounding middle name. Within days of sending out new job applications, my phone started ringing off the hook and I received emails inviting me to participate in in-person interviews. A seemingly small action
like changing my name had suddenly yielded positive results. When I finally landed a job, I used my middle name for about a month before reverting back to my given name. It became too tiring trying to keep up the facade of asking co-workers to call me by a name I wasn’t really accustomed to responding to. For all the naysayers: name discrimination is a thing, and racial bias in hiring is all too real. Following a two-year study, researchers from Harvard Business School, Stanford University and the University of Toronto reported in 2016 that when resumés were ‘whitened’ or scrubbed of racial clues, “employer callbacks for resumés that were whitened fared much better in the application pile than those that included ethnic information, even though qualifications listed were identical.” The numbers don’t lie: 25 per cent of Black candidates received callbacks with whitened resumés, compared to only 10 per cent who received calls when ethnic details were included. One step forward, two steps back Moving through the world in Black skin sometimes feels like a rigged game of snakes and ladders. When you add being gay into the mix, it ups the ante. The intersectionality of my lived experience means that on those extremely rare occasions when my Blackness isn’t top of mind in terms of how the world sees and perceives me, my gayness somehow manages to become the prevailing issue. The truth is that whenever it seems like we’re making progress and moving forward, something inevitably happens to put me in my place and bring me back down to earth. Last summer, I discovered that the City of Vaughan is named after a notorious plantation and slave owner in Jamaica who once defended slavery as a member of the British Parliament. Learning the news hit me like a gut punch, and part of me wishes I were still blissfully unaware of this painful fact. As a proud JamaicanCanadian, it hurts my heart on a level that words can’t possibly describe to know that the city I call home is named for a man who owned Black boys just like me. Chalk it up to just another case of one step forward two steps back in the grand cha-cha of life.
Photo: Andre Hunter
Black boy rising To survive and thrive as a Black boy in the world today, you’re obliged to carry the heavy yoke of oppression without allowing it to break your capacity for optimism; you must become intimately familiar with the steady drumbeat of struggle while at the same time building a robust reservoir of resilience; you have to be able to navigate your way around what can oftentimes feel like insurmountable obstacles while still managing to believe in yourself and hold on to your dreams; you need to find the courage to confront systems and institutions designed to keep you pinned down while simultaneously reaching for the stars and realizing your full potential; you have to learn how to harness your own unique power and then use it to uplift yourself and your community; you must constantly defy society’s low and limited expectations of you and be a shining example for the generation following close behind. It’s not easy and it definitely takes a toll, but it’s possible… and I believe it’s worth it. So, to all the little Black boys out there, keep rising; strong backs, open hearts.
JUMOL ROYES is a Toronto-area storyteller, communications strategist and glass-half-full kinda guy. He writes about compassion, community, identity and belonging. His guilty pleasure is watching the Real Housewives. Follow him on Twitter at @Jumol and on Instagram at @jumolroyes.
many applications as I could, and anxiously awaited a response. But nothing happened. So I reformatted my resumé and applied for more jobs. Still nothing. I scratched my head trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. While I admittedly didn’t have a ton of work experience under my belt at that point, I was more than qualified for the positions I was applying for. Surely I merited at least one callback, didn’t I?
THE PROBLEM OF HETEROSEXISM IN TODAY’S CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM The stigma associated with the LGBTQ+ community is multifaceted By Olivia Nuamah
The criminal justice system struggles with sexual and gender identity and has become bound by obsolete ideas of masculinity masked as a cultural norm. Both the criminal and juvenile justice systems have stuck so rigidly to the pseudo-science of heteronormativity that they have become unable to grapple with the real reasons people commit violent crimes, especially towards or by the LGBTQ+ community. “Homosexuality and gender nonconformity have been viewed through a lens of deviance since the inception of modern criminology,” Jordan Blair Woods wrote in 2015’s Journal of Homosexuality. “Cultural, political and social transformations may have caused the lens of deviance to change focus over time, but this lens has continuously shaped the treatment of LGBTQ people in criminological theories and research.” I was going to write an opinion piece about lifelong violent offenders, with a particular focus on LGBTQ+ hate crimes committed by young people. This article intended to explore the internalized homophobia that young people who have suffered severe childhood traumas experience due to their sexual and gender identity. Of particular interest were young people who engaged in brutal acts of violence towards the LGBTQ+ community, who were queer themselves. The theory is that internalized homophobia drove their acts of rage and excessive violence towards the community, and that their violence was simply the outward manifestation of their rejection from both the straight and queer worlds.
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The more background reading I did, however, the more disconcerted I became. Theorists pathologized the relationship between LGBTQ+ communities and crime; they othered queerness too. The predominant theory was that internalized homophobia accounted for acts of violence by young people, especially those convicted of extreme violence against LGBTQ+ communities, especially if they revealed that they themselves were LGBTQ+. But why couldn’t they just be violent and also be LGBTQ+? If they were community members (and closeted), was it only internalized homophobia that explained their behaviour?
further examination it is clearly having a harmful impact, robbing the community of its humanity and the ability to be both good and bad. The men and boys of this community are seen to be too ‘effeminate’ and ‘weak’ to be meaningfully violent. The stigma associated with the LGBTQ+ community is multifaceted: always the victim, never the perpetrator. Those who have dealt with the criminal justice system as victims of domestic violence in a samesex (or queer) relationship would know this experience intimately. The omission of LGBTQ+ populations from mainstream theories of crime and delinquency has facilitated a lack of knowledge about how sexual and gender identity might relate to the causes of crime and the LGBTQ+ community’s experiences with Western criminal justice systems. Baseless stereotypes and social biases have shaped definitions of ‘criminal behaviour’ and ‘criminal populations,’ obstructing any service’s ability to protect this community in the ways it should. Dire consequences of this misunderstanding The inability of criminal justice to engage with nuanced explanations of the causes and effects of crime, allied with its heavy emphasis on sexual and gender norms, has had dire consequences for both the criminal and juvenile justice systems as they relate to the LGBTQ+ community. The current system cannot support both the victims and offenders of violent crime inside and outside of the LGBTQ+ community. Laura Fishman was one of the first researchers to examine lesbian relationships among female gang members. Her account of the 1960s Vice Queens of Chicago (the African-American female auxiliary to the male-dominated Vice Kings), who reported being in same-sex intimate relationships, talked about those relationships as an avenue out of chronic sexual violence and forced prostitution. She concluded that it was likely that girls involved in gangs resist and negotiate their gender roles outside of traditional femininity; the gang provides a social space to do gender differently. Their participation in violent crime had little to do with internalized homophobia and more to do with a rejection of the hyper-masculine, hypersexual cultural norms of which they were a victim.
In my research, I never found any attempt to question the boundaries imposed by the heteronormative cultural definitions of masculinity, sexuality and gender in the criminal justice system. Crime studies “Gays in the Gang,” a 2011 study out of Ottawa, told a story of never confront the normative ways in which cultural definitions gang crime in Canada. All of the 25 participants were hardcore of masculinity underpin both the investigative process and the gang members at the time of the research. They had committed outcomes of violent crimes. Worse still, most conclusions were extreme acts of violence, including murder, aggravated assault, biased, skewed towards masochistic notions of ‘male’ and ‘female’ assault causing bodily harm, sexual assault, armed robbery, home and the cultural characterizations which we are all forced to live by invasion and hostage-taking. Sixteen were male, eight were female, (or consistently negotiate with). Still, to be a part of this community and one identified as trans. Of the 16 young men, 15 reported that meant being treated as deviant, even if ‘good’ deviant. they were gay, and one said he was bisexual; all of the young women identified as bisexual. Four of the people in the study had children, The relationship between perpetrators of violent crime, and sexual although none had custody of their child. Five were Indigenous, and gender identity, is ignored because of the assumption that 10 were racialized, and 10 were white; all were economically and LGBTQ+ communities don’t commit violent crime. When they do, socially marginal, had poor family connections, and received little the traumatic effects of a queer identity are seen as being wholly or no support from them. Almost all had been beaten by caregivers, or partly to blame. Initially, this felt like faint praise, but upon witnessed their mothers’ beatings by father figures, and experienced 24
All of their stories were harrowing and provided insight into how the criminal justice system treats gender and sexual identity in young people who are violent offenders. The conclusion researchers drew was that the violence and abuse they endured in their short lives stemmed from the rejection of their sexual and gender identity by their families and themselves. While the extreme levels of violence, economic and social marginalization they both experienced and perpetrated was important analytically, the rejection of their gender and sexual identity was elevated above all of the other factors as a reason for their violent behaviour, especially towards the LGBTQ+ community. Young people who are LGBTQ+, especially related to the violence and toxicity of their relationships with masculinity, are never, ever explored. The construction of masculine, hyper-sexual, heterosexual identity and its association to violence among marginal youth as a response to the trauma they experience is not even a distant analytical consideration. The implicit assumptions that underpin this viewpoint and the consistent validation of this cultural norm are rooted in homophobia and the adherence to hetero-masculine definitions of who commits a violent crime and who does not. Sexual and gender identity play a role in crime and punishment only when there is some evidence of ‘perversity’ as defined in this context. In the LGBTQ+ community, domestic partner violence occurs at the same rates as in the straight community, and yet few in any community seek recourse in the law. Both inside and outside of the LGBTQ+ community, the inability to accept flawed assumptions about who commits violent crimes and why means nobody gets the help they need when they need it. Until the 1970s, the deviancy theory of sexual and gender identity was prevalent, if not dominant. It argued that LGBTQ+ community members were deviant, so either laws were put in place, or existing laws were enforced, in ways that supported this theory in an attempt to control the outbreak of this deviancy. Criminal anti-sodomy laws, mental health services that targeted LGBTQ+ community members, and the discipline of sociology that construed the LGBTQ+ community as objects of failed socialization all worked in tandem to reinforce the notion of LGBTQ+ abnormality. “Although some criminologists disagreed with those deviant characterizations, the discipline as a whole engaged with sexual orientation and gender identity insofar as determining whether identifying as LGBTQ or engaging in homosexual and gender nonconforming behaviours was or was not a form of deviance per se – whether in a criminal sense, a pathological sense, a social sense, or all of the above,” according to Woods. Legally challenging and winning arguments against LGBTQ+ deviancy theories was punished by the complete disappearance of the community in criminological theory and practice, and the continued validation of the sexual deviancy theory reinforced by medical, social and political norms – each discipline deepened stigmatization. Instead of looking at the social and cultural effects of normative sexual and gender biases and the impact these effects had on individuals’ lives, erasure took hold. Discussions about sexual and gender identity disappeared from mainstream theories of crime and delinquency.
Let’s take as an example the historical treatment of women and lesbians in criminological theory, identifying its modern-day implications. Criminological theory was first indicated in the late 19th century in Italy, where researchers characterized women as weak and delayed, and the female criminal as “a woman who defied the gendered expectations of Victorian ideology,” according to Lynda Hart in 1994’s Fatal Women: Lesbian Sexuality And The Mark Of Aggression. Although being a lesbian was described as a form of sexual perversion, it was not, nor has it ever been, criminalized. In the same way, gay men were viewed as ‘pederasts’ (anti-sodomy laws internationally have never included women because of the assumption that men are the exclusive objects of female desire). Not only were women described as a group that was predisposed to non-criminality, but they supposedly also conceptualized their sexuality by their relationship to men. This view denied the concept of a lesbian identity, rendering it an irrelevant topic for criminological inquiry. This analysis is not a judgment on crime and sexual and gender identity theory in 19th century Italy. The conclusions drawn were a product of an evolving practice rooted in the dominant conceptions of the time. It’s the lasting impact and supremacy of this viewpoint, regardless of the strides taken to demonstrate its erroneousness, that is the real cause for concern. In practice, these theories remain virtually unchanged and fundamentally unchallenged. Institutional discrimination does not merely apply to one organization; it is an ecosystem in which every organization colludes with accepted cultural norms to create unequal outcomes for marginalized identities. It is a “multifaceted stigmatization of sexual and gender minorities and part of the broader Western enterprise to regulate, control and ‘civilize’ minority populations whose differences (race, sexuality, sex or gender, for example) were viewed as threatening to societal norms and social stability,” wrote Woods. The irony is that LGBTQ+ theorizing in history has been just as prominent a subject of medical science and its construction of hierarchies based on race, gender and sex in rationalizing the existence of groups perceived as threats to social order. In the late 19th century, Italy was going through its racial catharsis. The north and south of Italy were divided until the late 19th century, when they unified. The north was more affluent; the south, with its proximity to Africa and the Middle East, was rural and less wealthy, and its inhabitants were darker in complexion. As tensions between the two areas grew, so too did medicine’s authority to explain away the “growing awareness of cultural, demographic, economic, political and social differences between the north and south” of Italy, according to Woods. After Italy became one country, concern about crime and dangerous groups began to emerge together with the theory that the southern Italians’ inferiority – as characterized by their darker skin colour and racial mixing – explained what researchers viewed as the failures of the southern region. Theories of racial inferiority came with social control tools based in medicine; these ideas became prominent around the world, and we continue to grapple with its effects. There are two key takeaways here. First is the relationship between racial, sexual and gender hierarchy to rationalize social control and further marginalize community members. Secondly, the same narrative of LGBTQ+ ‘abnormality’ characterizes the community’s relationship to crime as harmless or extremely harmful. Both are degrading and continue the dehumanization.
OLIVIA NUAMAH is a Toronto-based senior leader and advocate who has run organizations in the nonprofit and government sectors in Canada, the US and UK. She has extensive experience developing policies and programs to tackle social and economic exclusion with a focus on race, gender and sexual identity.
emotional abuse. Female participants reported having been sexually abused by father figures or other men in positions of authority, and were involved in the sex and drug trade.
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A R E O N O N LY F A N S ,
B UT WHY ? Practically everyone is on the subscription site these days By Bobby Box
Shea Coulee. Katya Zamolodchikova. Plastique Tiara. Aja. Milk. Adore Delano. Willam. Tyra Sanchez. Sasha Belle. The Vixen. What do these Ru Girls have in common, beyond the makings of America’s next drag superstar? They also have OnlyFans. For those living under a rhinestoned rock, OnlyFans is a paid subscription service for creators to monetize their content and connect with fans on a more personal level. Soon after its launch in 2016, the platform proved particularly popular among sex workers and adult performers because it allowed for nudity and explicit content.
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In a very short amount of time, it effectively changed the way we consume adult content. For starters, it has motivated people to actually pay for it (the New York Times coined it the “paywall for porn”), and actors, rather than studios, are able to earn a far more deserving profit from the content they create. Prior to that, tube sites like Pornhub nearly destroyed the industry by streaming (mostly) pirated content for free. Studios were shutting down, and those that were still around had very limited means. Earning a living as a porn actor during this time was exceptionally difficult, and many began selling sexual services on websites like RentMen to supplement their income. At this time, OnlyFans and other subscription sites like Just For Fans were revolutionary, and as sex workers helped launch the platform into the zeitgeist, celebrities soon got in on the action. Cardi B, Tyler Posey and Bella Thorne are a few of the more Aja and Jayse Vegas in the music video for ‘Blasphemy’
If you’re a Drag Race fan hoping to see the parts of queens that they normally tuck, you’ll likely be disappointed. Similar to most of the celebrities who’ve joined, queens generally post G-rated content, offering an exclusive glimpse into their lives, with behindthe-scenes access to video and photo shoots, as well as makeup tutorials, performances, and things of that nature. Due to the lack of nudity and the fact that they’re not posting as frequently as others on the platform, many fans have been underwhelmed by what the queens are offering on OnlyFans. (A rule of thumb: unless the queen explicitly puts “XXX,” “18+” or “adult” in their profiles, you’re probably not going to see that type of content.) However, some queens do bare all. Aja, of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12 and All Stars 3 fame, has been giving fans everything they could possibly want – and then some. “My OnlyFans has everything you can imagine, from masturbation to full-on sex. I even use toys on myself – everything,” Aja tells IN. “I think full transparency is important. All of my followers know what to expect because I’m always open about it. But I have seen some people who are not as open with it.” Aja is dedicated to giving their fans the best bang for their buck, and post two to three times a week for $10 a month. “I feel like a lot of big artists or individuals have this weird thing with not
notable stars with OnlyFans accounts, and Thorne recently made headlines when she broke records, earning over $1 million the day of her debut. The sudden celebrity influx ushered in a new era for OnlyFans. One that’s more...clothed.
“ M y On l y Fa n s h a s eve r y thing you c a n i m a g i n e .” — A j a being seen in a certain way to their fans, but I don’t think it’s healthy or normal for sex work or sex positivity to be shunned or hidden,” they share. “At the end of the day, it’s my body, it’s my choice and I’ve decided to sell my body and my art on OnlyFans.” Though they’ve only been on for a few months, Aja loves being on the platform. “I get a lot of messages and they’re never creepy or as intense as some people might expect them to be,” they say. “They’re always appreciative and express positivity towards what I’m doing on the platform. I really dig that.” Aja, like most queens, joined OnlyFans during the pandemic to recoup income. “Not being able to tour has put a dent in a lot of my plans,” Aja shares. “Because of OnlyFans, I can take better care of myself, my partner [and] my mother, and continue to utilize my creativity and proceed with my creative projects.” While many queens have taken to pre-recorded online performances and Instagram Live shows to earn a living, Drag Race alum Laganja Estranja and Jasmine Masters recently divulged via IG Live that these performances are rarely well attended and don’t reap a fraction of the profits that they’re accustomed to. On top of that fact, these performances often require investments in quality video, lighting and sound equipment, so it’s no wonder queens and other artists have flocked to the OnlyFans platform to maintain financial stability. For queer artist Jayse Vegas, being on OnlyFans has allowed him to release six music videos during the pandemic. He, like Aja, had been playing around with the idea of joining OnlyFans for a while; the pandemic just pushed him to do it. “I have a pretty dick, so why not make some money off it?” Vegas says with a laugh. “People complain that what I’m doing isn’t enough for them, and I have people who love what I’m giving and show a great sense of support that I haven’t felt before. I’ve also become so much more in love with my body and skin. I’ve felt liberated in ways. I have gained a lot of confidence since I’ve begun.” OnlyFans may be known now as a hub for erotic content, but it was initially created as a platform for people to earn money through the content they create. Some may choose to go nude while others play coy – either way, you as the viewer get to choose what’s worth the money and where your buck goes. Queens are affected by this pandemic just as much as everyone else, and they have nowhere to turn except websites like OnlyFans, where all they ask is that we can support them in creating the art that’s entertained us for years. And this way, we just might get a dick pic out of it.
BOBBY BOX is a writer and certified sex educator who has been published in, among others, Greatest, Playboy, The Advocate, NewNowNext, Them. and Askmen. He is Grindr’s sex columnist, and is very active on Instagram and Twitter. Follow him at @bybobbybox.
MEET PELOTON INSTRUCTOR EXTRAORDINAIRE CODY RIGSBY Expect to hear “is the wig still awwwwwn?” at least once a class
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By Christopher Turner
Cody Rigsby is one of those instructors. The 33-year-old out and proud instructor is a former professional dancer and one of the most popular, infectious instructors on the platform. He’s good-looking, of course, with his perfectly coiffed hair and bulging frame, but it’s more than looks. Riding with Rigsby is like hanging out with your besties, except you’re sweating buckets. Rigsby is mostly on the exercise bike (although you will also find him leading quick meditation classes, cool-downs, and hybrid workouts that incorporate off-the-bike strength training), and talks constantly to the camera with his Madonna-style headset mic. He throws out pop culture quips and feel-good exhortations in between instructions telling you to up your resistance, projecting a newfound confidence onto unsuspecting riders. His rides are deceivingly challenging, but they are always fun and flirty, with more than a dash of pop music blaring. “You are Joey Fatone in the ‘Pop’ video. You didn’t give up till your knee busted. That’s how hard Joey Fatone was dancing in this video, y’all. He hurt his knee! Wade Robinson had to bring his ass in and be a stunt double for Joey Fatone. That’s how hard we’re working today!” Those were the wise words Rigsby said to the screen in a recent “30 Minute Pop Ride” that actually pushed me to hit a personal best on the leaderboard. No joke. Ready to get your life together? IN caught up with Rigsby recently and chatted about everything from how he started with Peloton, to how he picks the music for his classes, to living his life authentically, to activism and social media. Oh…and, of course, Britney. Let’s talk Peloton! How did you start with the company? I was a professional dancer for five years, which is what initially brought me to fitness. I was always into fitness. It’s such an integral part of being a dancer, so dance was really the catalyst for me taking fitness even more seriously. I was introduced to Peloton by a choreographer I knew who told me about the company and shared that they were looking for performers with a passion for fitness. I sent my headshot and resumé, had a 30-minute interview and then I was hired.
push to get riders to the end of class. How did you develop your coaching style? I developed my coaching style by intentionally wanting to be the antithesis of what I’d seen in other boutique fitness classes, where, to me, it felt inauthentic. I wanted to create and carve a space where I could truly be myself authentically...which is messy. When members see someone else being messy, they see that as not so threatening, so I like to show my flaws in class but also reach into my strengths and empower people with my lived experiences, to show that they are resilient and can get through anything. When teaching, I am vulnerable and raw, but I think that’s a good reminder that we can be messy and get through anything. Did COVID-19 change how you teach your classes? When we entered the pandemic, we shut down our New York and London studios to the public, which took out the element of live riders physically in class. Live riders were a big source of energy for instructors, so we had to shift gears and figure out how to give that same energy without people in the studio. It was uncomfortable at first, but it forced me to develop more of a connection with the camera and with home riders, who we’re constantly engaging with. It made me a better instructor because it enabled me to connect with the camera more and bring my energy up. For instance, I quickly learned that I needed more stories, to better virtually engage. It helps that we have amazing members who share their stories. That’s what gives me the motivation to show up on days when I don’t feel like I’m at my best. How do you pick the music you play in your classes? It really depends on the ride. On the fitness-focused rides like HIIT & Hills or Intervals classes, I like to use really high-energy music like house remixes so there’s that constant drive. For the music-driven classes like Pop Rides, I like to create a theme or go with what my mood is. I love nostalgia and to feel good, so that influences my music choices. But it really just depends on the particular class. You used to be a dancer. How does your past experience change your approach to fitness now? All of your life experiences culminate into a moment that allows you to be ready for the next step. Having a background in fashion and dance, I gained skills from both that have shaped my approach as a Peloton instructor. Dancing helped me learn to perform, know how to engage with a camera and how to use musicality to create an experience that people connect to. I have a business minor and worked in fashion, so that has helped me be a great production partner and helped me build my own brand. The thing is, no matter how big I get or Peloton gets, remaining grounded in gratitude and staying humble is so important. My past experiences, such as working in the service industry and coming from humble beginnings, will always remind me to hang on to staying grounded.
How would you describe a Cody Rigsby class? You know...for someone who has never ridden with you. My classes are a place where everyone belongs and can find something that challenges them – no matter their fitness level. We all know you love Britney...so, fave Brit live performance? But, most importantly, my classes are all about music, culture and “Oops I Did It Again” from the Dream Within a Dream Tour, which having a blast, while getting a great workout in. is also the intro to the Live From Las Vegas DVD. She is so fierce! Anyone who has taken one (or tons) of your classes knows you’re wildly entertaining, love pop music (hiiieee Britney), love your mom (hiiieee Cindy), and always have an inspirational
What does your personal workout routine look like? I get an amazing cardio workout from being on the Peloton bike, and I love Peloton’s strength classes when I’m on the go, but I also 29
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen demand for at-home fitness explode, as gyms and fitness studios have been locked down or had their attendance severely limited to adhere to strict safety protocols intended to curtail virus transmission. Leading the interactive fitness craze is Peloton, the fitness platform that aims to bring the energy and benefits of a studio-style workout to the comfort of your own home, thanks, in part, to the brand’s band of hard-bodied fitness instructors.
have a trainer in Brooklyn, NY, that I work with. He’s amazing! We do a lot of bodybuilding, strength circuits and conditioning. Put short: I like to lift heavy things and put them down. What are you up to when you are not teaching? It depends on the week, day and my mood. Sometimes I love to be lazy and hang out on the couch, because I put so much energy out that I just need to reset and recharge. That means being on the couch with my boyfriend watching reruns of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I’ve seen every season nine times and all of the international drag races – shout-out to Priyanka, Canada’s first Drag Race star. In a pre-COVID world, I loved to go out dancing with friends and being packed in rooms full of shirtless men dancing – I found release in that. You were pretty vocal through the recent US elections, encouraging people to get out and register to vote, and you regularly talk about the LGBTQ community or Black Lives Matter. What is activism to you and why is it important for you to use your voice and your platform right now? Activism sometimes is me just showing up and living my life authentically in a public space as a gay man, but it’s also being vocal about causes and principles that I believe in. I do believe that Black lives matter, and I believe I need to use my privilege to speak up and be an ally to those who are still marginalized. As a gay man, I am an advocate for the trans community by being vocal about the things that still matter to them and the inequalities they still face. I try to do that in simple ways like living authentically on the [Peloton] bike to change the hearts and minds of people who don’t know a gay or queer person. But I also do the right thing when I see things that are done that are wrong, which means being vocal on my platforms and showing up the best I can.
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As Peloton instructors, so much of our job is to be vulnerable and speak our truth. In turn, that allows our members, who are on the other side of the screen, to develop the courage to do the same. Everyone is on their own journey. So many Peloton members have reached out to me telling me I’ve inspired them to make courageous steps to live their truth or speak about their own identity in uncomfortable spaces, whether that be with friends or family or in the workplace. I take that responsibility with honour. I know the impact that I can have has an effect and a purpose. Those are then put to action, and that action ultimately has results. You recently talked about taking a social media break. Can you talk about why that was the right choice for you and what you are doing for your own mental health during these unprecedented times? I always tell my boyfriend how much he’s on his phone, yet I’m constantly on my phone, too. I feel that social media can be an energy time suck that takes you away from the real world and from making connections with loved ones. That’s something that’s been heavy on my heart, so I wanted to take time away. I was already feeling this way, and then I watched The Social Dilemma documentary, which pushed me to a place to actually take action. I live somewhat extremely, so I decided to delete my Facebook, since it became such an argumentative space about politics. So I downloaded my photos from my page and then deleted it. I also could feel myself in the hole of Instagram and constantly refreshing my feed. Instagram is where I connect with members so I didn’t 30
see members, so no one should ever be afraid to say hi. Canadians, don’t be mad at me, but I’ve never had poutine! I’m working on being a baker. There is this vision that instructors have a perfect diet, but that is not me. I eat Cheetos and talk about that all the time. I can have really messy eating days.
Trying to disconnect has been one thing for my mental health, but other things I do are seeing my therapist every week, meditating every day, and I journal. Journalling might seem cliché, but it’s a great place – almost like therapy – where you write down your thoughts and you get to see them and label them in order to figure out how to process them.
What’s next for you? I hope many more years at Peloton to continue inspiring people to be their best selves and finding new ways to inspire people. I want to continue to use my authentic self and strengths to make a positive impact on the world. I would love to host, write a book, be on a late-night TV show, but we’ll see. What I really want is to have a guest spot on the panel of RuPaul’s Drag Race: if I do that, I’ll know I made it!
What do you want people to know about you that they might not already know? I’m a pretty open book, but a few things: I don’t have it all figured out and no one does – if you think someone has it all together, they don’t. Oftentimes when members see me out in public, they are nervous and scared to approach me, but I am always excited to
If someone could only take one Cody Rigsby ride...which one should it be? The “XOXO Cody” episode with songs about ass. (From 9/19/20 @ 11:30AM ET)
CHRISTOPHER TURNER acted as guest editor for this issue of IN Magazine. He is a Toronto-based writer, editor and lifelong fashionisto with a passion for pop culture and sneakers. Follow him on social media at @Turnstylin.
want to fully disconnect. Instead, now I go on social media only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and I don’t beat myself up about the time I spend with it on those days. This process gives me the rest of my week back, and I’ve noticed a huge difference in my mental health on the days I’m on social media vs. off.
Time For A Little
DUFF LOVE Sexy crooner John Duff wants a little TLC By Connor Davenport
As an artist and performer, John Duff is incredibly versatile. His music is so varied, it would be nearly impossible to fit him into a genre box. In his personal life, Duff is even more malleable. While he has sexed and dated men for years, he has come to understand that on a spectrum, he probably falls closer to asexuality, or maybe demi-sexuality, than he does to homosexuality. “It’s complicated, but identity always is,” he explains. To add to the complexity, he has a desire for connection and a disdain of masturbation, as he sings about in his new single, “Give a Fuck,” the second release from his upcoming album. “If I found the right situation, I’d love to give a million fucks. I’m a hoe for love,” he admits. “As long as it’s exclusive.”
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Duff discusses more from his Los Angeles home. First of all, what do you have against masturbation? I’m just bored of it. That’s all. I have an overdeveloped right rotator cuff from jerking for so long. I’ve got a physical therapist and everything. Viewing porn and jerking off is one of the only compulsive behaviours I haven’t been able to curb. Don’t get me wrong – I think porn is great, but it can be very damaging to our views of sex and intimacy. Porn is a highlight reel. You don’t ever experience the discomfort, the awkwardness, the smells...it’s not actually sex. So, when you condition your penis to cum from that visual stimulation, you’re not preparing it for the actual act. That’s why so many of us have to get ourselves off, even during really good, connected sex. 32
Now let’s discuss the thing on everyone’s mind: how are you single? Seriously, you’re smoking! (Laughing) Smoking? I’m trying to quit. I don’t know why I’m single! I don’t really think about it; maybe that’s why. I haven’t really been available. There are a few people I flirt with now and again. Romantic friendships? I’m okay with that. You must be doing something wrong in relationships. So what is it: are you a nag, do you have poor hygiene, are you a total mental case? What kind of question is this? There’s a big problem when we assume that because an attractive person is single that they are damaged goods. First of all: everyone is damaged. Secondly: I like being a sovereign nation. And to answer your question: I’m an alcoholic, but I’m sober now. And I’m a total psycho, but I’m medicated now. I’ve been in therapy for a few years, and anyone that knows me on a personal level will tell you: I am unafraid to look at myself. I’m a work in progress, as is everyone else. So, I don’t know. I know I am worthy of love. I feel ready. You say you’re not sexually promiscuous...but your musical persona is sexually promiscuous.... How does that jive? It’s fantasy. I’m a very curious, playful guy, and, frankly, I like to control the way I’m perceived. It’s easy to control people with sex. You have said in interviews that you might be asexual. You’ll have to explain that, because I don’t buy it. Oh honey, it’s deeper and more confusing than that. I’m on a journey, just like you. I’ve been really curious about my sexuality lately. Really confused, but not any sort of crisis. I’m at peace with
it. I feel stunted when I think about women, like I’m a six-yearold. I’m not turned off at all, just immature in that regard. Which adds up, cause six is around when I started getting called ‘gay.’ I didn’t believe a woman could ever love someone like me. And if a woman did, there would have to be something wrong with her. I know that’s not true, now. So, I’m not gay. I’m not bi. I’m not straight. I’m not asexual. I don’t even know anymore. I’m just living. Boxes are stupid. John, are you bad in bed? If I had sex right now, I probably would be. But, no, I’m not. Ask any of my exes. I’m a crazy person. You know what they say about crazy people. I think the bedroom is a great place to learn, heal, express and grow. Kinks need to be worked out, you know? So, what exactly are you looking for in a guy? What would it take for you to give a fuck about a guy? It’s all about connection. If I had to tell you what I want right now: I think I’d like something people might call ‘heteronormative.’ I don’t want to live in a city. I want family. I want a country song. I’ll probably be a dad in five or six years. Is your ideal man filthy rich? I think wealth is an attitude. I’d like someone with a wealth of experience, knowledge, tools. I’d like someone who is actively healing: healing their relationships to their self, their family, the world. If they’re filthy or rich, that’s just a bonus. Do you want a guy who brings you flowers or is that a cheesy turnoff for you? I love flowers. I love cheesy. Edgy is overrated. Trust me. I’ve smoked meth and fucked hookers – edgy is exhausting. We’ve been sold a lie that kindness and thoughtfulness are corny. There is a popular narrative of dysfunction equating to passionate love,
and it’s not true. If you want to go deeper on this, I’d say that this lie we are being sold probably has to do with the fact that corporations make more money when people are sad, broken and sick. Divorce is a business, lest we forget. So, yeah, I like flowers. Would you date a guy who wasn’t into your music? Sometimes I’m not into my own music, so I don’t think that’s a deal breaker. Obviously, I’m not going to date a hater. Objectively, I’m great at what I do, so they have to respect that. Subjectively, it is what it is, so they don’t have to fawn over it. What about a guy who’s too into your music? Would you worry he is a crazy fan? I have friends who are fans of mine, and I have friends who don’t even acknowledge what I do. I think the friends who take the time to look at my art are better friends. The ones who don’t acknowledge what I do, I’m not sure what they’re here for. My art is a big part of me. My mind is constantly coming up with new ideas, new songs, new visuals, new personas. It’s fun to be able to talk about that with someone. There really is no other music artist out there like you, is there? I can’t think of any. Maybe Jake Shears? Adam Lambert? I get compared to Samantha Mumba constantly. I’m honestly sick of it – we are so different. Other than that, no, I don’t get compared to anyone else, and that’s cool. It definitely is a more challenging path. If I made music that fell in line with other artists, I probably would’ve gotten onto a Spotify editorial playlist by now. But it’s cool, the girls can sleep on me all they want. I’m not going to stop. John Duff’s “Give a Fuck” is being distributed independently and is available on Apple Music, Spotify and all digital platforms. Its video is available on YouTube. Follow John Duff on Facebook and Instagram at @iamjohnduff.
CONNOR DAVENPORT is a freelance writer who loves working from home with his puppies on his lap. He was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. His work has appeared in numerous places in print and online including AXS, Add To Bucket List, Examiner, Leisure, MAAFBox and other websites.
LGBTQ People Exist Outside Downtown. They Matter, Too The LGBTQ community needs to look at its metronormativity By Adam Zivo
Almost everything about contemporary LGBTQ life is concentrated in urban downtown cores. Our social institutions are firmly planted there, as are our bars and clubs. Queer activist circles are dominated by urban dwellers. Depictions of LGBTQ people in mass culture reinforce the idea that being queer is fundamentally an urban phenomenon. All of this fixation on urban centres, recently coined “metronormativity” by some academics, is no accident. It has its benefits, which were especially important for previous generations. However, it also has the side effect of erasing the challenges – and even the existence – of LGBTQ people living in suburban and rural areas. That’s unjust, and needs to be changed. Downtown: from essential to peripheral It’s important to understand why urban centres have historically been the natural home for LGBTQ communities. In many ways, it’s a story of density. It was in large metropoles where LGBTQ people first reached the critical mass needed to form their own spaces and carve out a parallel life for themselves, free from the withering prejudices of wider society. This is one of the basic benefits of city living: having enough people to support niche communities. Density also grants urbanites anonymity in their everyday lives. When you walk down a bustling city sidewalk, no one knows who you are. You can explore yourself without being subject to the social surveillance that’s endemic to rural and suburban communities. You’re free from the gossip of your neighbours, who could otherwise punish you for living a life they consider transgressive. A second factor is the historical poverty of North American downtowns. It’s only in the past two decades or so that urban centres have become wealthy. Before that, they were undesirable and frayed, a place to work and not live, which also made them affordable places to inhabit. Though the LGBTQ community can be stereotyped as rich and privileged, statistically speaking LGBTQ people are economically marginalized, and were especially so in the earlier decades of LGBTQ acceptance. Employment descrimination is real, and the trauma of being outcast – whether from one’s family, community, or society more generally – has lifelong effects on socio-economic well-being. It’s no accident that LGBTQ people have had a tendency to settle in poorer neighbourhoods. Many couldn’t afford other options.
Lastly, at least with respect to the suburbs, there was deliberate exclusion. North American suburbs materialized in the aftermath of the Second World War. They were designed from the outset to be family-friendly places, embedded with expectations of moral propriety. Zoning laws were designed to minimize vice, with ample space allocated for churches and little tolerance given to bars and other “moral hazards.” In the United States, banks were incentivized to give mortgage assistance to married men so they could foster their suburban families, while being instructed to deny assistance to Americans suspected of “sexual deviance.” These are some, though not all, of the key reasons why LGBTQ life often has a distinctly urban flavour. Once established, the association between the LGBTQ community and downtown cores became self-reinforcing. Depictions of LGBTQ people in popular culture seemed to invariably portray them in cities, all but ignoring suburban and rural LGBTQ life. To the extent that suburban and rural LGBTQ people are recognized, they’re portrayed as yearning to escape to the city, effectually hollowing out their rural and suburban identities by making them quasi-urbanites, temporary exiled outside the city, rather than examples of how gay life can legitimately be lived beyond downtown. At the same time, enemies of LGBTQ rights have also framed queerness as an essentially urban phenomenon. Anti-LGBTQ sentiment, particularly in rural areas, frames LGBTQ communities as privileged, urban elites who neither understand nor respect nonurban values. They view LGBTQ folks as working in frivolous “soft” jobs, whether white collar or in the cultural sector, which contrasts against the “real” work of everyone else. Resentment of downtown values is a powerful political cudgel, as is homophobia and transphobia, and the two of them are often bonded by a marriage of convenience. The end result is that rural and suburban LGBTQ folks, already an afterthought in the LGBTQ community, are made further invisible by both allies and enemies. Urban stereotypes soak up the spotlight, whether being celebrated or vilified, and non-urban gays sit elsewhere in the dark.
The importance of physical proximity faded and gay neighbourhoods lost their indispensability to queer socializing. They’ve been slowly fading ever since. While many see this as a bad thing, mourning the lost vibrancy of urban gaybourhoods, the truth is that these neighbourhoods’ vibrancy came at a cost, since their success was contingent on LGBTQ people being unable to stake lives for themselves elsewhere. With more freedom to live where they want, LGBTQ people are seemingly beginning to disperse from urban centres. At the same time, the rise of digital culture has made it easier for suburban and rural LGBTQ people to identify each other, something which was previously near impossible given the absence of community spaces that, in an urban context, help stitch people together. This, coupled with rising acceptance of LGBTQ people more generally, has made it easier for suburban and rural LGBTQ people to organize themselves into communities. Consequently, they’ve begun articulating their own specific needs, which differ from what is experienced by their urban counterparts. In practice, this takes on many forms, which can be difficult to summarize because of the diversity of non-urban spaces that exist. The culture and challenges faced by an inner suburb are often very different from that of a small town or a fully rural area. However, some illustrative examples include the rise of small-town Pride festivals and, in suburban neighbourhoods, the rise of grassroots support programs. In general, these support systems differ from their urban counterparts by simultaneously being less corporate and more politically moderate. They’re grassroots organizations, more focused on offering services and sanctuary than transforming the world with grandiose rhetoric. Rather than inhabiting their own dedicated spaces, they often borrow space from other institutions, like churches, municipal buildings and universities. An illustrative example would be Toby’s Place, which, since 2017, has serviced queer youth in south Scarborough. Their informality and relative lack of history can obstruct them from securing the funding they need to thrive, as can their inability to compete with more established LGBTQ players, who reside downtown and soak up funding like a sponge.
Sending support beyond the downtown core Now that there is growing awareness of, and advocacy for, suburban and rural LGBTQ spaces, it’s important for urban LGBTQ people to consider how to support them. Downtown activists are generously endowed with the knowledge and resources to advocate for change. However, they too often fail to look outside their urban bubbles, failing to appreciate that, though they may exist in a space where homophobia and transphobia is relatively controlled, others may not be so lucky. Though urban organizations may have more limited opportunities to help rural organizations, where they can really help is by extending outreach to the inner suburbs. Consider, as a case study, a young lesbian who lives with her parents on the fringes of Scarborough – or any inner suburban neighbourhood, really. Technically she lives in a city where there are robust support networks for her. There are health centres, community centres and a Pride Parade…but they are all very far away. Functionally, they might as well be in a different city. What does that mean to her if it takes her over an hour, at best, to commute there by transit? How much equity is there for her, given these barriers, especially if her time is limited, being eaten up by work, or if her family doesn’t accept her and subjects her to passive surveillance? Downtown activists might consider how to support people like her. In practice, that could look like running satellite services in inner suburban neighbourhoods, rather than exclusively expecting inner suburban citizens to make pilgrimages downtown. It could mean pushing Pride parades to organize events located in, and catered to, suburban neighbourhoods, making it safer and more practical for folks living on the geographic margins to have a Pride experience. It could mean investing resources and training suburban activists, fostering inter-neighbourhood partnerships that treat suburban LGBTQ communities as equal to, and not subsidiaries of, their downtown counterparts. There’s a racial and economic justice component to all this, too. In a reversal of fortunes, urban cores – destitute only a generation ago – have become islands of wealth, while inner suburbs have become marginalized and poor. Given the unjust correlation between race and poverty, inner downtown cores tend to be white while inner suburbs are disproportionately racialized. Hence, to shift attention to the inner suburbs is to push LGBTQ resources closer to the kinds of neighbourhoods that racialized North Americans actually tend to live in, adding more credibility to the LGBTQ community’s commitment to fighting racism. All of this is just a start, one that doesn’t even begin to fully explore all the different ways that the LGBTQ community can constructively deal with its metronormativity. Everything has to start somewhere, though.
ADAM ZIVO is a Toronto-based social entrepreneur, photographer and analyst best known for founding the LoveisLoveisLove campaign.
Paradigm shifts Things aren’t what they used to be. The rise of queer digital spaces changed everything. Having first percolated in the 2000s, digital queer culture erupted in the 2010s with the rise of social media and dating apps, permanently transforming the way LGBTQ people congregate. With the rise of these digital alternatives, it was no longer necessary to make a pilgrimage to a gay bar or café to meet other queer folks.
Make Waves Trapped at home and dreaming of vacation? The next few pages are filled with daydream fashions, wild colours and in-your-face prints that will let you create your own personal getaway in the comfort of your home. PHOTOGRAPHER: Ivan Otis FASHION DIRECTOR: Paul Langill WARDROBE STYLISTS: Fredsonn Silva Aguda STYLING ASSISTANT: Madinah HAIR AND MAKEUP: Paul Langill MODELS: Malcolm (Dulcedo Models); Mia (Plutino Models); Shania (Elmer Olsen Models); Yuvi (B&M Models); Zach (B&M Models)
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Special thanks to Studio311.ca
JACKET, SWEATER, PANTS AND RUNNERS: Hip and Bone
JACKET AND SKIRT (LEFT): Moscato Pink - JACKET (CENTRE): Vandal SHORTS (CENTRE): Moscato Pink - JACKET (RIGHT): Christopher Bates
FASHION JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2021
JACKET: Christopher Bates SWIMWEAR: Rhowan James HIGH TOPS: Converse SOCKS AND SCARF: The Bay 38
COAT: Vandal SWIMWEAR, TIGHTS AND SCARF: H&M BOOTS: Calvin Klein
FASHION JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2021
FUN FUR COAT: Hilary Macmillan TIGHTS: Burton RUNNING SHOES: Nike 40
VEGAN LEATHER TRENCH COAT: Hilary Macmillan SHOES: The Bay 41
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DRESS: Nonie SHORTS: Moscato Pink EARRINGS: Macyâ€™s SHOES: Atmosphere
TRENCH COAT: Christopher Bates SWEATER: Rhowan James PANTS: Bustle Fashion for Playboy
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JACKET AND BODYWEAR: Bustle Clothing for Playboy EYEWEAR: Eyes on Church Optical EARRINGS: Macyâ€™s SHORTS: Top Shop BOOTS: Calvin Klein
JACKET: Bustle Fashion for Playboy TIGHTS: Burton RUNNING SHOES: Nike
JACKET: Moscato Pink SHORTS: by Rhowan James RUNNING SHOES AND CAP: The Bay 45
How The Healthcare System Is Still Failing LGBTQ PEOPLE Some professionals don’t understand us well enough to do a good job taking care of us By Paul Gallant
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I’ll start with a confession: I got a sexual transmitted infection. The reason for my symptoms was mysterious, both to me and, frustratingly, to the healthcare practitioners I called upon. So I went undiagnosed for months despite several doctors’ appointments, including with one specialist who told me: “Not every problem has a specific cause. Sometimes these things just go away.” Which might be true, I suppose. Unless it’s a specific well-known infection that will never go away, and which will eventually cause a body serious lasting damage, unless it’s treated with a shot and pills. This frustrating and painful runaround happened in the downtown of a city full of supposedly well-trained doctors and technicians (I even had an ultrasound), operating within spitting distance of the gay Village. It wasn’t like none of them had ever had a sexually active gay patient before. It’s scary to imagine what an LGBTQ person in a smaller, more judgmental, less gay-friendly place might experience with a doctor who is not familiar with gay health issues. “The nuance of the impact of sexuality and gender on one’s health is often lost. It means that decisions are not made in the best interest of our community; they’re made in the interest of the majority,” says Jody Jollimore, executive director of the Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC). Founded in 1999, the Vancouver notfor-profit promotes the health of gay, bi, trans, two-spirit and queer men through research and intervention development. The problem starts with a dearth of data – studies and statistics – about the health and lives of LGBTQ people. Just as traditional 46
medical research has overlooked how women and people of colour might face different health issues, and require different medical approaches, than the “standard” white male patient, health researchers have only recently started acknowledging the different experiences of LGBTQ people. Devan Nambiar, program manager at Rainbow Health Ontario, offered by Toronto’s Sherbourne Health Clinic, told me that much of the good data looking specifically at LGBTQ health dates back a mere decade. One of the first serious triggers for investigating queer health as being different from straight health was a particularly devastating one: how HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects gay and bisexual men. The issue was ignored by established healthcare institutions when the AIDS crisis hit, so gay men took on much of this early work themselves. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation and New York’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis were founded in 1982, the AIDS Committee of Toronto and AIDS Vancouver in 1983. The American organizations, particularly, could be combative and accusatory in their approach, criticizing the government, health organizations and pharmaceutical companies for their role in an unparalleled public health crisis among a minority group that was generally misunderstood and sometimes despised. Over time, the demand for treatment and research into HIV/AIDS grew more formalized, more co-operative. And the focus of many queer health advocates expanded to sexual health more broadly. Not just because STIs and other sexual health issues can play a role in HIV transmission, but also because it’s clear that discomfort
with talking about sex, especially in formal-feeling settings like a doctor’s office, leads to poor care. “Is it because of stigma, shame and homophobia attached to certain sexual practices?” asks Jessy Dame, two-spirit program manager at CBRC and a sexual-health certified registered nurse. “If all healthcare professionals had access to sexual health education, awareness of the many forms of sex, of queer communities, then they could build better relationships with patients to address their sexual health.” Mainstream medicine can still have a hard time getting its head around gay sex. For example, traditional urine tests will catch chlamydia and gonorrhea in men who are having penis-in-vagina sex, but they will not catch infections passed through anal or oral sex. Those require swab tests, which doctors often neglect to give. “If we are not screening properly, we are not catching infections, and if we’re not catching infections, we’re not treating them,” says Jollimore. “That’s a real concrete example of how certain care is needed for certain populations.” Over the past decade or two, the thinking around LGBTQ health has expanded well beyond sexual health, which traditionally targeted gay men, to multiple concerns affecting a diverse LGBTQ community. Studies have captured how addiction, tobacco use, depression and suicide disproportionately affect us. Nambiar, for example, is currently working on rainbow-coloured projects about the health of seniors, about eating disorders and about the care
trans people receive after transition surgery. Just like gay men in the early days of HIV/AIDS, trans people in need of hormones and surgery, for example, can find themselves battling a healthcare system that doesn’t understand them well enough to do a good job taking care of them. Who becomes a doctor and how doctors are trained are key factors in improving care. Jollimore says that medical students at the University of British Columbia, for example, get just a four-hour course on sexuality and gender. Rainbow Health Ontario has been producing training programs for healthcare professionals for more than a decade now, and last summer launched an online training course. In its first six months, the course attracted more than 3,600 users. The three-and-a-half hours of modules cover topics ranging from how to make an organization LGBT2SQ friendly to trans-positive counselling. The approach tends to focus more on attitudes than on specific medical recommendations, more “might the posters of straight couples in your waiting room make queer people feel unwanted?” than “here are some things to look out for regarding testosterone injections.” But attitude matters. Rephrasing questions like “Single or married?” to “Do you have sex with women, men or both?” can open the channels of communication necessary to provide the right care. It wasn’t so long ago that LGBTQ people were made to feel like they were on their own when it came to getting through life in one healthy piece. We’ve still got a way to go before we feel like we’re getting the attention that straight people take for granted.
PAUL GALLANT is a Toronto-based writer and editor who writes about travel, innovation, city building, social issues (particularly LGBT issues) and business for a variety of national and international publications. He’s done time as lead editor at the loop magazine in Vancouver as well as Xtra and fab in Toronto.
GET OUT OF DODGE ‘Friends with benefits’ takes on a whole new meaning in a travel-in-place kind of winter
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By Doug Wallace
Now that we’ve had practically a whole year of schlepping around the province – Brockville? Bewitching! Goderich? Gorgeous! Quinte? So quaint! – where to next? I’ll tell you where: pulling into the driveway of your friends’ comfortable country home for the weekend, that’s where. Oh the weather outside is frightful, but a kind invitation to spend the weekend in a cottage-slash-secondhome-slash-woodland-retreat is so delightful. It all started last spring, didn’t it, when those who could skipped town for hideaways in the hills and on the lakes – lakes you’d never even heard of – oblivious to the jealousy of friends. While the majority of the city sweltered in their condos and lifted weights non-stop to keep from going crazy, the cottage country folks quietly slipped out to wherever to bake bread, stain deck railings, chug Aperol and hunker down in a deck chair to do a Sudoku or two. They seemed to bring on the envy themselves, especially the prolific Instagrammers: so much sharing, taunting with their serene sunsets and lakeview “docktails,” usually with a dog to manoeuvre into the picture for added cuteness. Wildflowers! Hammocks! Big novels with hard covers! Some stopped Facebooking almost as quickly as they had begun after realizing how privileged they seemed. Too late! We already knew who had the empty bunkies, where we could cadge a free bed for the weekend. My partner and I continue to head out of town whenever we are invited. And when we aren’t, we seem to invite ourselves. This always works. Happily, we find our friends just as we left them: friendly! Some have gone so far as to put their city homes up for sale, switching gears to country living permanently. All are glad to see us. And not sick of each other per se, but happy to see a fresh face and to bend a new ear. And mostly, we get invited back – because all you have to do to my partner is fill him with tequila and set him up in the middle of the room and he will entertain everyone. If your invitations are not coming as quickly or as steadily as you’d like them to, or if you need some on-the-ground intel this year, here’s some advice: Be honest. Invite yourself over with a perfectly worded email – then rewrite it a few times to get beyond perfect – being totally up-front. Basically, the message is: “We miss you. We love you. When can we jump in the car and come over for a few days? We will bring [insert something they really like].” Bring drinks. When things are inked on your calendar, heed the wise words of my grandmother: never come calling with your hands by your sides. In other words, don’t show up at anyone’s house without loads of drinks and a hostess present or two. Bring as much booze as you yourselves will likely drink over the course of your visit, and make a special gift of a bottle of Scotch or Champagne. Of course, if they’re non-guzzlers, bring something else: perfume, hot sauce, whatever their poison. Bring food. Kitchen items are always nice: a little box of cakes, gourmet preserves, a jar of homemade something or other, a nice ham in a basket. We bring fridge staples. We also bring gummies. Your host will also appreciate a few rolls of paper towels – you will stand out as standout guests. I once brought the weekend hosts the board game Mystery Date and forced everyone to play it. Fun times with the gays and Milton Bradley. Cook something. Offering to prepare dinner not only takes a meal (or two) off the host’s to-do list, it also makes your visit less 49
expensive. Do you even know how many dollars’ worth of food you can eat in one weekend? Alternatively, you can take your hosts out if the situation allows, or spring for takeout. Doesn’t have to be fancy. And when you’re being cooked for, offer to help or get out of the way, eat what’s put in front of you, and say thank you. Be low-maintenance. Don’t pitch up and expect to be entertained every minute of the day or waited on hand and foot. Avoid invading their space too much and don’t leave things lying around. Strike off on your own in the car for an afternoon of hiking or shopping, time enough to give your hosts a break. Minimize your footprint and try to contain your mess (i.e., don’t have stuff in every corner of every room). Sleep in. Nobody wants to get up to find you sitting at the kitchen table twiddling your thumbs. Ask in advance if the host would like you to bring bed linens or bath towels. Offer to strip your bed on the last morning. But ask first – don’t just do it.
I love visiting my friends in the country. People in their own environment are so much more themselves when they’re at home. Connecting one-on-one for a whole weekend is enormously satisfying. You easily remember why you are friends in the first place. Our pals like us because we are easy-going good sports, but also because we know how to sit in a chair and shut up for a few hours. Practice makes perfect.
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Have an exit strategy. As Benjamin Franklin famously said: “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” Cleaning up after yourself on the way out of the house is crucial, the tipping point for whether or not you will be invited back. Dismiss any tuttutting – get on the end of the vacuum and make yourself useful.
If you don’t have the ‘right’ friends... The fall was good for heading out on the open highway and chancing visits to various spots in Ontario, little gems we’d all forgotten about. But now, cabins and camping are out, so if you’re not lucky enough to know the ‘right’ kind of people – or if you want to luxuriate without damaging friendships – you may have to splurge on a night or two at a resort or a B&B to get away from the house. Staycations are great, but people really need to get out of Dodge to appreciate the art of escaping. Checking into resorts like Ste. Anne’s Spa in Grafton or The Northridge Inn up on Bernard Lake have their posh perks. Prince Edward County is really good for a nice weekend away. The new Drake Motor Inn in Wellington is fun and fabulous value, down the street from the Drake Devonshire proper. The newly refurbished Merrill House in Picton is landing in all the smart magazines, a stylish mix of trad and modern.
DOUG WALLACE is the editor and publisher of travel resource TravelRight.Today.
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Letâ€™s just say that these will boost your outfits up at least 3 levels of chic, get no less than 5 mentions a day, and all of the attention in the room. hehe ;-)
These earrings are constructed using high precision laser cutting. Being only 3 mm thick, they are super lightweight. They are made from high quality acrylic and 925 sterling silver.
FLASHBACK Melissa Etheridge Comes Out As A Lesbian (January 20, 1993)
On January 20, 1993, singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge announced to the world that she was a lesbian when she came out at the Triangle Ball, an LGBTQ-focused celebration of US President Bill Clinton’s inauguration. Etheridge said at the time that singer K.D. Lang, who had come out on the cover of The Advocate the previous year, had been an inspiration. “You’re the greatest thing I’ve seen this year, and I’m proud to say right here, I’m proud to have been a lesbian all my life,” the raspy-voiced Etheridge declared. It was “a relief” to come out, she later said. People were riveted by the story of a mainstream artist admitting her homosexuality at a time when such a proclamation was extremely rare and exceptionally taboo. When Etheridge released her aptly titled fourth album “Yes I Am” (with its gay-positive anthems “I’m the Only One” and “Come to My Window”) later that year, she was catapulted to international stardom.
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2021
Today, Etheridge remains a true LGBTQ icon and activist who continues to bring a message of empowerment and acceptance to the community.
POWERFUL LGBTQ QUOTES THAT MADE HISTORY These inspirational quotes are certain to help brighten your day
“Nature made a mistake, which I have corrected.” – Christine Jorgensen Christine Jorgensen (May 30, 1926 – May 3, 1989) was an American transgender woman who was the first person to become widely known in the United States for having “AIDS is a plague – numerically, statistically and by any sex reassignment surgery. She was also the first to publicly definition known to modern public health – though no speak about the process; her advocacy aimed to normalize one in authority has the guts to call it one.” transgenderism and allow those who identified as trans to – Larry Kramer understand and accept themselves for who they truly are. Larry Kramer (June 25, 1935 – May 27, 2020) was an American playwright, author and film producer. He was also a vocal advocate for the LGBTQ community and those suffering from AIDS at a time when the epidemic reached its peak in the 1980s and ’90s and gay men were “If you help elect more gay people, that gives a green ravaged by the disease. Kramer’s often-controversial light to all who feel disenfranchised, a green light to work about the failure of our society to help and protect move forward.” those who are suffering was vital to the queer community. – Harvey Milk When Harvey Milk (May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978) won a seat as a city supervisor in San Francisco in 1977, he became the first openly gay person elected to public office in California. Milk became the face of the push to put more “I’m not missing a minute of this. It’s the revolution!” LGBTQ people in positions of power and he stressed that – Sylvia Rivera doing so would not only be monumental for those in the Sylvia Rivera (July 2, 1951 – February 19, 2002) was a queer community who don’t feel represented; it would also Latina-American drag queen who was a gay and transgender empower anyone who feels disenfranchised by those who activist in the 1960s and ’70s. Her statement is one of the are supposed to represent them. most famous quotes to come out of the Stonewall Riots, and served as a rallying cry for many who were afraid of the violence that occurred at Stonewall. Participating in the riots at only 17 years old, Rivera was an inspiration to many. “My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.” – Audre Lorde Audre Lorde (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992) described herself as a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” In her writing, she frequently expressed her anger at the treatment of people of colour, women, and the LGBTQ community. Lorde encouraged the community to express their anger and step out into the light, telling them that the only true safety is in making yourself known and demanding the acceptance and respect that is your right.
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CELEBRATING CANADAâ€™S LGBTQ2+ LIFESTYLE 54
IN Magazine: January/February 2021 We're kicking off the new year with a brand new issue filled with incredible stories, including: Peloton'...
Published on Jan 2, 2021
IN Magazine: January/February 2021 We're kicking off the new year with a brand new issue filled with incredible stories, including: Peloton'...