IN Magazine: July/August 2020

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Celebrate Pride 2020 with us and get your pride on with this special edition of IN Magazine!


Issue 95

July / August 2020

06 | MORE THAN JUST A PARTY Favourite memories from Pride Month – from family support to drag encounters 08 | WAITING FOR SOMETHING TO HAPPEN Sometimes the most important moments happen before the event begins

11 | PROFILE IN YOUTH: CONNOR MCKIGGAN This student’s passion for drag performance is helping him give back to the LGBTQ2A+ community that has supported him 12 | EMPOWERING THE COMMUNITY IN SASKATOON AND BEYOND A partnership between two non-profit organizations is changing lives 13 | AIDS COALITION OF NOVA SCOTIA IS HERE TO HELP This organization is empowering the LGBTQ2+ community in Halifax and beyond 15 | REXALL’S JOURNEY TOWARDS INCLUSIVITY How a Canadian company is celebrating – and promoting – diversity 16 | ONTARIO’S 2SLGBTQ+ YOUTH ARE STILL CELEBRATING THIS PRIDE SEASON The LGBT YouthLine has been helping Ontario’s youth for 25 years

17 | CHILDREN ARE THE FUTURE Families are key to the development of happy trans, gender-fluid and non-binary kids – and this association offers a helping hand 20 | A BRIEF HISTORY OF TORONTO’S FIRST PRIDE Toronto’s first “Gay Day Picnic” was held on the beach at Hanlan’s Point on Sunday, August 1, 1971 22 | A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TORONTO DYKE MARCH Celebrating women who love women in all their forms 24 | MY FIRST PRIDE One IN contributor shares her first Pride experience 26 | IS MY PRIDE SHOWING? Standing on the sidelines taught me that Pride is a matter of perspective 28 | SOBER PRIDES ARE ON THE RISE The resources and success stories of people who have hit the pause button on drinking 30 | CORPORATIONS BELONG IN PRIDE Clearing up some misconceptions about the role of corporations in Pride 34 | THE RIGHT TO BARE ALL: SHOULD NUDITY BE ALLOWED AT PRIDE? The never-ending debate on letting it all hang out continues on

36 | PRIDE VOICES We reached out to Pride organizations from coast to coast and asked them for their messages of support to the LGBTQ2S community, as a reminder that Pride is more than just a parade 46 | PRIDE SHOULD CELEBRATE THE RAINBOW Let’s not forget that Pride is inherently political, and so is race. If we say we celebrate diversity, let’s mean what we say 48 | HOW TO SUPPORT PRIDE MONTH FROM HOME Pride is different this year, but that doesn’t make your support and presence any less impactful or necessary 50 | PRIDE 2020: WEAR YOUR PRIDE Wear it loud, wear it proud all summer long 52 | HOW MUCH HOPE DO WE HAVE? Let’s take a minute and evaluate our sense of “hope” 54 | ART AFTER STONEWALL A painstakingly comprehensive Ohio exhibition reveals how the birth of the Pride movement changed art forever 62 | YOUR ESSENTIAL READING LIST FOR PRIDE MONTH Happy reading! 63 | 11 FAST FACTS ABOUT PRIDE PAST AND PRESENT Test your knowledge about the Pride movement in pop culture, Canada and around the world 5


More Than Just A Party Favourite memories from Pride Month – from family support to drag encounters Recollections shared with Karen Kwan

Although we each celebrate Pride in our own way every day of our lives, there are probably certain moments and experiences during Pride Month that you’ll never forget. We checked in with some members of the community to share some of their fondest memories of past Pride events.



ride, for me, has always been about building deeper connections with my community and those dear to me through education and celebration. In 2005, I came out to my mom the day before Las Vegas’ Pride celebration – I didn’t expect it to go well given her religious ideologies. I laid it all out on the table, and I even invited her to join me at Pride to see how welcoming the LGBTQ(IA+) community is, maybe so she had more peace of mind. While she declined to join me at Pride, the next morning, I was surprised when my mom showed up at my house with a rainbow cake and balloons. She expressed how proud she was of me and reinforced her support for not only my life as a gay man but for the lives of all my LGBTQ(IA+) family and friends. While I will never have the opportunity to take my mom to a Pride celebration (she died in 2018), I go back to this moment whenever I need a reminder of what Pride means to me: building connections that last. – Shane Collins


y favourite part of Pride has always been as the outlet it provides for me to express and be myself – at whatever stage I’m at. My favourite memory of Pride was when I first moved to Toronto from northern Ontario, and coming down Yonge Street in full drag on the Industry Nightclub float – feeling like I was a star in the eyes of the parade onlookers. A few years later, when I had sobered up, I marched with the Clean Sober and Proud contingent of the parade and felt a new sense of pride in my own accomplishments and in the respect and admiration the parade onlookers had for our small but powerful group. In 2013, after I led a warm-up and stretch for the yearly Pride and Remembrance Run, we went down to Maple Leaf Gardens, where I had the privilege of teaching a special Pride edition yoga class. Now, as I, myself, overcome the homophobia that had been the catalyst for my issues with substance abuse, I recognize Pride Month as the time to help educate the younger LGBTQ community with my experience and to hold space for them to also express and be themselves. Happy Pride, everyone! – Michael DeCorte



ride has always been an emotional time for me. Coming from a small town on the outskirts of the city with (at the time) no representation of LGBTQ+ culture in sight, it always moves me to tears when I can walk the streets of Toronto in June and see my culture reflected in the thousands of rainbows proudly displayed throughout the city.


sion at Shame in 2008, Take Back the Dyke in 2010, Good Bowness and Maurice Vellekoop in Buddies in Bad Times Theatre side park being ‘attacked by birds.’ The first dyke march, PFLAG in the Pride Parade, always…. It is impossible to pick just one favourite memory. I have been privileged enough to be able to live myself as an out dyke, get married, and be part of a vibrant community.

Although I’ve attended countless Pride celebrations over the years, my favourite Pride memory came only recently, in 2018. I was invited by Proud FM to perform on their main stage, during the Saturday of Pride. To my delight, my mom and aunt decided to drive to Toronto to attend Pride so they could watch me on stage. When I say I’m from a small town, I mean small – so I was certainly wary about the culture shock they might experience, despite their long-time support of myself and the LGBTQ+ community. At times during the performance, I held back tears of joy, knowing that I was singing in front of such a huge, supportive crowd, including some of the people I love the most, after so many childhood years of feeling isolated and alone. The performance went off without a hitch, and my family had an amazing time – a memory we still talk about to this day! Now, if only I could get my mom out of those ass-less chaps.

– Abi Slone

– Cory Stewart



ride means so much to me. It’s my time to celebrate who I am, the community I’m a part of, and the amazing, brave people who have paved the way for acceptance, inclusivity and gay rights. While I find myself still relatively new to celebrating Pride, over the years I’ve been grateful to create fond memories that I’ll always remember. Sadly, I’ve never never been to the Pride parade itself (bummer, I know!), as work, travel or other commitments have happened to coincide at the same time. Trust me, it sucked to have been asked by a friend to walk with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last year when I was already booked to travel to the west coast. One of my favourite memories was from last year’s Pride celebration at Soho House, which was decked out in full glam for the occasion and included performances by some of Canada’s fiercest drag queens such as Tynomi Banks and Priyanka (both contestants for the new series, Canada’s Drag Race). But what really stole the show was seeing RuPaul’s Drag Race alumna Naomi Smalls perform her challenge-winning performance of a Judy Garland musical number from the show – and in doing so, knocking into me, and creating a fun and memorable moment that night. I’m a huge fan of the show so while it doesn’t sound like much, to me it was a big deal.

wo memories stand out in my mind from Pride parades. The first was when I first arrived in Vancouver and was a bit of a socialite just starting to embark on a career in pop music. A few local businesses sponsored a ‘Peter Breeze’ float that had me in a giant birdcage on a swing while my music blared through the speakers. A few years later, I was managing a Spice Girl impersonator group made up of amazing drag queens, and we recreated the Spice Bus from the Spice World movie with one of the red giant double-decker buses in Vancouver – it was amazing. This year has also had a huge impact on me. Even though we’re all in lockdown, I have learnt more in these first few days in June than I have in my entire life about systemic racism and police brutality in Canada. Black and Indigenous Lives Matter, and more than ever we need to make sure that message is loud and clear. I’m aiming to do my small part in raising awareness through my new podcast, The Superficial Spirit, which explores how pop culture affects our spiritual experiences, and I’m excited to dive deep into these and many other issues. – Peter Breeze

Looking forward to showcasing and celebrating my Pride in a new way this year and hope to create another new memory for the books! – Rob Loschiavo KAREN KWAN is a freelance health, travel and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter at @healthswellness and on Instagram at @healthandswellness.





WAITING FOR SOMETHING TO HAPPEN Sometimes the most important moments happen before the event begins By Colin Druhan

My most vivid memories of Pride are never of the parades, but of the people I met before the parade ever started. That’s where I have the most memorable experiences: just waiting for something to happen. I had one of my most formative Pride experiences when I was en route to the Toronto Pride Parade shortly after my arrival in Ontario from Nova Scotia, where I grew up. I lived in a part of Toronto that, at the time, was not festooned with rainbow flags. If you’d asked people in my neighbourhood, I don’t think many would have known it was Pride at all. That might have contributed to the attention I was getting as I minced down the steps of a subway station in an outfit that left little to the imagination and that screamed I was headed somewhere queer (or at least festive).


My face reddened with every hurtful comment I heard. I was barely an adult and this was the early 2000s, so I was not raised in the culture that encourages sassy clapbacks to assholes. My strategy back then was to keep my head down and to not respond. Rise above. Never engage. Stay safe. I went to the end of the platform hoping to get some distance from other people, straight people. Two guys followed me. At first they acted like they just wanted to ask questions about the parade. Where is it? What time does it start? Then they got uncomfortably close. Their questions persisted and came so quickly and sharply I knew they weren’t actually looking for answers: Why are you even going there? Why are you proud to be a faggot? What’s wrong with you? Then I heard someone else. “Hey, I thought you got lost!” A butch woman lumbered towards us. I had no idea who she was, but I saw one thing that gave me comfort. Her shirt was covered in indiscernible buttons, but one stood out, plain as day. In all caps it read: DYKE. “I’ve been waiting for you forever!” she said with a wink, as if she knew me. To the guys hassling me, the fight now looked a little more even – two on each side. It was no longer worth their effort, so they backed off. I’m absolutely sure she told me her name, but I don’t remember it. We didn’t exchange contact information. I was too shaken to think of it and while this wasn’t before cellphones, it was definitely before I owned one. We talked the whole ride to Yonge Station. Well, she talked and I listened. “When you see somebody giving one of us a problem, it becomes your problem too,” she said. “There’s a lot of bad people out there, so we need to be the good ones.” She stayed with me until we got to the parade, where we went our separate ways. We 8


didn’t become lifelong friends. She wasn’t a high-profile public figure or community leader. She was just a person who saw another person in trouble and decided to help. It wasn’t a huge burden for her to take on. But she made a difference early on in my life as an out queer adult. That incident doesn’t stand out to me because it was the first time I was accosted or harassed – I’d faced homophobic harassment that resulted in real violence before that – and it definitely wasn’t the last time I felt threatened. It has become such an important memory for me because it was the first time I felt that an entire community of people I didn’t even know was behind me and ready to take action to protect my safety just because we had something in common. Because I now work for a queer and trans advocacy agency, I get to travel to a lot of Pride festivals every summer. For the past several years, I’ve been lucky enough to attend the Halifax Pride Parade with my parents, who still live in Nova Scotia. That’s not something I ever could have imagined doing when I attended that parade as a teenager and young adult. Back then it was a much shorter route, it was off the beaten path and it attracted significantly fewer spectators. It’s been so inspiring to see my parents become such vocal supporters of our communities, often through attending the parade. To their delighted surprise, among the marchers they’ve seen many of the unions to which they belonged over the course of their respective careers. They’ve pointed out all of the people they know as these people walk past with their community groups, employers or places of worship. They (sometimes embarrassingly) introduce me to complete strangers as their son, of whom they are incredibly proud. These are the moments that stand out to me the most, when I get to talk to people I would not have otherwise met. Here’s another vivid memory: two new parents, both of whom were straight and cisgender, told me about why they brought their baby daughter to the parade for the first time. “Whoever she grows up to be, I want her to remember coming here. I want her to know we support her no matter what,” the father told me. I’ll never forget that simple statement because it reflects the attitude I think our communities need to succeed. Throughout my career I have seen how disconnection from one’s family sentences many queer and trans youth to lives of poverty. I know the toll that takes on our communities’ social support networks. I’ve seen how racism and other forms of discrimination pervade the systems in those networks, leaving so many in our communities behind as a chosen few gain progress.


Today so much of the work I do is about research: figures and numbers on a page. It becomes too easy to stop seeing individual stories. A quick conversation with a pair of perfectly average parents who happen to be doing an extraordinary job raising their kid helps breathe life into those dry parts of my work that can sometimes feel divorced from the reality facing so many in our community. It looks like we’ll be waiting a while for the next parade, and that’s tough for a lot of reasons. But Pride is not a place or an event, it’s a feeling. For me, it’s the feeling I get when I learn about the experiences of other queer and trans people. This year, we have an enormous opportunity to take advantage of countless online engagements where we can learn and connect with people we would never otherwise have met. Our communities are filled with regular queer and trans folks who fought for our rights, found allies in unlikely places and are working to make a brighter future not just for their kids, but all kids. It’s also filled with people who should know better, but who see others in our communities struggle and say, “That’s not my problem” or “What are they so angry for?” We have an opportunity to meet them where they are and share something I learned on a subway platform almost 20 years ago: when one of us sees another being hassled, bullied or beaten, it’s not just their problem, it’s our whole community’s problem. When Black Lives Matter protests because there is no action on the torrent of Black deaths at the hands of the police, it’s not a Black Lives Matter problem, it’s our whole community’s problem. When millions of people know who Matthew Shepard is, but cannot name even one of the dozens of trans women who were murdered just last year, it’s not a trans problem, it’s our whole community’s problem. We can’t have parades this year, but we can have conversation. We can have a more focused dialogue away from the packed streets and busy beer gardens. We can learn from each other. We can diversify our networks by connecting with each other in new ways, outside of our regular circles. We can find refuge from a world that many of us feel we were born into, but not welcome in. It will be amazing what we will accomplish together, just waiting for something to happen.

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


PERIODT (pe·ri·odt)

A variant of period, periodt is an interjection used to signal the end of a discussion or to emphasize a point. It usually occurs at the end of a statement or in the phrase.


Mint Media’s most recent video campaign was nothing short of a queer masterpiece, periodt.




Profile in Youth: Connor McKiggan Meet the student whose passion for drag performance is helping him give back to the LGBTQ2A+ community that has supported him By Courtney Hardwick

Growing up as a queer kid in the Maritimes has its own set of unique challenges, but when 20-year-old Connor McKiggan discovered drag, he started to feel more comfortable in his own skin. When he’s not busy working towards a degree in International Development and Sustainability at Dalhousie University, Connor transforms into his drag persona, Vanity Station, to share his message of self-love, peace and positivity through volunteering and performance. What first got you interested in drag? Do you have any drag role models? In high school I was part of an improv troupe, and always found so much joy in creating characters. When I saw that the Youth Project, a support organization for queer youth in Nova Scotia, was offering a drag workshop, I couldn’t resist. When I walked in, I marvelled at all the makeup that had been set up around a huge vanity – and next to it was the glamorous seven-foot drag queen Deva Station. She has mentored dozens of queens in our community and truly has a heart of gold. I have had the drag bug hard ever since that day! What does drag means to you, and how do you think it fits into the LGBTQ2A+ community as a whole? Growing up I was always attracted to things that weren’t considered boy things. I didn’t understand it then, but I didn’t experience gender the same way many of my peers did. Doing drag gives me a platform to break the gender binary, and music gives me a medium to work through my feelings. This is all part of what makes drag such a meaningful art form to me and the LGBTQ2A+ community.

Can you describe how drag and self-love are connected? Drag allows you to connect with a version of yourself that is not held back by preconceived ideas of who you ‘should’ be. When you’re in drag, you can be whoever you want to be. How is volunteering as Connor different from volunteering as Vanity Station? As Vanity, I volunteer with the Imperial Sovereign Court of Atlantic Nova Society (ISCANS) to raise money for Mana for Health, a local food bank that delivers to people living with HIV and terminal illness. I collaborate with other drag performers to create fabulous productions to fundraise and bring our community together. As Connor, I like to take a more behind-the-scenes approach. I also volunteer at the Youth Project in Halifax, where I sit on the board of directors. Being a part of so many shows has given me an inside perspective into what planning a successful event looks like. How do you see Pride happening this year with COVID-19? Pride is definitely going to look a lot different this year, but I’m not worried. I have met some of the most creative and talented people I have ever known through the LGBTQ2A+ community, and I’m confident they can organize incredible Pride festivities virtually. There are a lot of people across Canada who are quarantined in a place where they can’t openly express who they are, so now is the time for us all to be there for each other. It’s important to keep celebrating Pride, now more than ever! Do you have any past Pride memories that stand out? Last summer, after a busy two weeks of performances, Shayla Shenanigans and I got into drag to watch Deva Station do one of the final numbers for Pride at a huge outdoor dance party. We were tired and our feet hurt, but nothing was going to take us away from the magic of that moment. What do you see for the future of your drag performances? I’ve spent the past month finishing school and have been doing some creative planning on how to bring Vanity to audiences online, plus I’m working with ISCANS to plan an online charity show to raise money for Mana for Health. These new challenges have definitely pushed me to start thinking outside the box – and I’m thankful for that!

Peace Tea proudly supports inclusivity, diversity & love

COURTNEY HARDWICK is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Her work has appeared online at AmongMen, Complex Canada, Elle Canada and TheBolde.




SASKATOON AND BEYOND A partnership between two non-profit organizations is changing lives

Earlier this year, Saskatoon Sexual Health relocated to a larger space with OUTSaskatoon to meet growing demands. The move to a shared space expanded opportunities for collaboration and co-operation, and offer broader access to services for everyone. We sat down with members of the two non-profit organizations to learn more about their services and how their partnership will benefit the future of queer, trans and Two-Spirit sexual healthcare services in the community. Tell us more about OUTSaskatoon and Saskatoon Sexual Health. Who are you? OUTSaskatoon is a 2SLGBTQ community centre that provides support services, education, outreach and housing for 2SLGBTQ youth. Our vision is to support 2SLGBTQ people in a world where they are celebrated and able to enjoy full, free and open lives. Saskatoon Sexual Health provides sexual, HIV and reproductive health and educational services to diverse communities in Saskatoon and beyond. We offer a safe, nonjudgmental, welcoming space. We advocate for change within our communities and emphasize inclusive, empowering education and clinical care.


Our partnership has been strengthened through co-hosting community events, mutual support for each other’s work, and a shared vision for a community that embraces 2SLGBTQ people in HIV and sexual health initiatives.

We have been honoured to work with many Two-Spirit elders over the years and, in particular, our Two Spirit Elder Marjorie Beaucage, who has been a guiding force for OUTSaskatoon’s cultural work. These partnerships and the great work that comes from them make us proud. Can you tell us more about the “2 Spirit 2 Go” program and its impact in the community? This program supports a youth advisory council in building their knowledge around sexual health as community leaders. As we engaged with ViiV Healthcare about potential collaborations, we saw the opportunity to build upon the existing relationship between OUTSaskatoon and Saskatoon Sexual Health to develop a platform for sexual health, HIV and treatment, and the essential role of knowledge transfer among members of the community. This program, led by Indigi-queer and Two Spirit people, serves to respond to the specific needs of this diverse community. ViiV’s support for the 2 Spirit 2 Go program enables us to reach rural, remote and on-reserve communities with critical information about treatment options that fit within the context of indigeneity. This year has presented many obstacles and challenges to standard programming. How are you planning on celebrating Pride and engaging the community this summer? With our new location, Saskatoon Sexual Health now has more clinical space to provide safe (and physically distanced) testing services, while OUTSaskatoon can continue to provide strong community supports and referrals despite our drop-in centre being temporarily closed.

Why is it important for you to empower the community in Saskatoon and beyond? How do you embody Pride? 2SLGBTQ people continue to face heightened rates of social exclusion and discrimination, mental health disparities, and barriers As we get closer to Pride Month, we’re hoping to move some of to accessing needed health care, employment and housing. Centres our regular events online and host a physically distant community such as OUTSaskatoon and Saskatoon Sexual Health not only barbecue with food to go! We’re also planning to launch some provide needed services for the 2SLGBTQ community, but they opportunities for our community to show their support through make space for people to be themselves, to connect with others, window displays, online storytelling and other activities. and to be proud of who they are. The sense of belonging that comes from being part of a community is crucial to increasing feelings In the absence of public gatherings, we still want to make sure that of safety, happiness and well-being. we provide opportunities for everyone to celebrate the 2SLGBTQ community and to be proud of the diverse, dynamic and vibrant A lot of your programming is developed in conjunction with people who make up Saskatoon. Indigenous and Two-Spirit peoples. Why is this relationship important to you? What’s next? What are you hoping to see for the future of queer, Centring the voices of the community is always our main priority; trans and Two-Spirit sexual healthcare services in the community? it’s essential that our programming and services reflect everyone As the partnership between OUTSaskatoon and Saskatoon Sexual they touch. That’s why our relationships with folks of diverse Health grows, we see opportunities to expand our collaborative cultural backgrounds – and, in particular, Indigi-queer and Two healthcare services specifically for 2SLGBTQ people. This could Spirit – is the foundation for our intentional, cultural programs. include working with doctors to provide a trans-specific health clinic, increasing sexual health programs, and increasing HIV adherence These programs include the Two Spirit Feast and Round Dance (part programs and other treatment options for the HIV community. We of our annual Indigenous AIDS Awareness Week), the Two Spirit continue to work with local doctors, mental health practitioners, Powwow during Pride, Queer Sweats (an annual intergenerational pharmacists and other healthcare practitioners to create clear culture camp in northern Saskatchewan), weekly Two Spirit referrals and pathways of care, and know that it is precisely these programming (which has been taking place for more than five relationships that will enable us to develop and expand safe services years), and various Two Spirit performance and storytelling events. for 2SLGBTQ people in the future. 12





This organization is empowering the LGBTQ2+ community in Halifax and beyond For more than 20 years, the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia (ACNS) has been supporting and empowering people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. We chatted with Garry Dart, the new gay men’s health coordinator at the ACNS, about how the organization is working to end stigma and discrimination, and reduce new cases of HIV. Tell us about ACNS. What do you do? We have offered support services for those affected by and living with HIV/AIDS, as well as HIV/STBBI (sexually transmitted and blood-borne infection) prevention work, since 1995. We provide training and education for front-line health workers about how to work more effectively with high-risk populations and those living with HIV. Our programs include “Poz Guys,” our peer-directed social and support group, as well as a blended learning Trauma-Informed Care training module for service providers to centre the experiences of 2SLGBTQ+ communities and those experiencing problematic substance use, and online outreach through sexual networking and dating sites. Finally, since 2017 we have offered Totally OUTright: an annual, week-long sexual health leadership training conference for young 2SGBTQ+ men that is rural-inclusive and province-wide. Garry, you’re relatively new to ACNS. What has it been like working with the community in Halifax? What are you hoping to accomplish in this role? It’s very exciting for me to be back home on the East Coast! The community I get to serve is wonderful, warm-hearted, and passionate about the work we do together. Currently, I run social media campaigns, queer sexual health programming, and live video chats and webinars, and help support many of the other organizations that serve the 2SLGBTQ+ community here. I look forward to working with the community to share information about U=U, PrEP, PEP and other harm-reduction measures to change the face of HIV in this community to increase prevention, testing, linkage to care, treatment adherence and viral suppression. I also hope to bring in my experience as a queer, gender non-confirming person to shake things up a little. Why is it important for you to empower the LGBTQ2+ community in Halifax and beyond? How do you embody Pride? There is no better way to serve a community than to help them feel empowered and that they have a voice. For many marginalized communities, this voice comes from oppression, racism and discrimination; to be empowered is to have pride. Pride is essential in the work we do at ACNS.

At ACNS, we embody pride by using the platform we have to help those who do not have a platform of their own, and help other 2SLGBTQ+ folks have pride in themselves. A lot of the work you do is in partnership with other community groups across the area. What are some of the ways you collaborate across communities? At ACNS, collaborating with community is our key to success. We work with groups and individuals throughout the province, including community members, researchers, healthcare workers, youth and non-profits to keep our programming relevant and inclusive. We are so lucky to work with our amazing partners on social media campaigns, education, workshops, conferences, research projects and national campaigns. One example that stands out is our work with PEERS Alliance in PEI, with whom we run the Totally OUTright program for LGBTQ+2S HIV and sexual health leaders. I’m always happy when we can effect change with communities from across the East Coast! The Dignity Project has become a cornerstone of ACNS’s work. What is it, and why is it important? The Dignity Project is a series of programs that help meet some of the most basic needs of our community, in particular those living with HIV, by supporting them with concerns adjacent to treatment. Thanks to funding from ViiV Healthcare, through the Dignity Project we can offer programs like ‘making ends meet,’ Affordable Eats, U=U campaigns, education sessions, Christmas Hampers, and complementary alternative therapies like osteopathy and massage therapy. With everything going on right now, why is it important for us to find local ways to celebrate Pride? Does ACNS have plans for Pride this year? Pride is a way for people from all parts of our community to connect. Too often we get stuck in our own groups and fail to celebrate our pride as folks with shared experiences. In the age of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to have this connection, whether online, by phone or in person. We strive to have weekly Instagram live chats to connect people and empower them to take care of all different aspects of their health (@acnshfx), and will be working with many regional organizations, like Halifax Pride, to make sure that we are there for our community. Although our local parade has been cancelled, there are plans to have some small in-person and online events. We look forward to sharing our pride!



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Rexall’s Journey Towards Inclusivity How a Canadian company is celebrating – and promoting – diversity By Courtney Hardwick

An inclusive workplace is one that actively creates an environment that encourages people to bring perspectives, contribute, and be appreciated for all aspects of their diversity. From internal operations to the way a company engages with its community, there are many ways an organization can work to become more inclusive – and it’s always an ongoing journey. Two years ago, Rexall began its journey in earnest. Committed to improving its company culture for the LGBTQA+ community in particular, Rexall has launched a number of initiatives in support of its vision to “build an inclusive culture of belonging, openness and respect to enable our employees to bring their all every day.” A company assessment with Pride at Work has helped Rexall identify opportunities to improve and better support the LGBTQA+ community. From reviewing company policies to investigating new training events for employees on topics such as understanding the importance of using correct pronouns, Pride at Work has helped shine a light on what Rexall is doing right and where they should focus their efforts for positive change. Genuine inclusivity doesn’t happen overnight and in an ever-evolving world, the work is never really done. Internally, Rexall is working on engaging employees in conversation and providing opportunities for them to share their experiences, from struggles and triumphs to stories of allyship. This culture of acceptance and openness will help cultivate a happier workplace for everyone and attract the best talent for future roles.

Rexall is also dedicated to showing their support to the communities their stores are a part of. Last year, members of the executive team and employees from the store level participated in Pride Toronto with a booth outside the Church and Wellesley location, and volunteers from the Rexall family also took part in the Ottawa and Sudbury Pride festivals. This year, Rexall was part of Toronto Pride’s first-ever virtual parade, and they plan to participate in Pride festivities in more cities across Canada in upcoming years. During last year’s Pride Month, Rexall raised over $25,000 for the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD) through in-store donations, and they plan to continue highlighting their commitment and celebrating diversity with in-store activations, signage and events. All companies, large and small, have a responsibility to their employees and their communities to put in the work to not only acknowledge different experiences and points of view, but to celebrate them. Rexall may only be in the early stages of their inclusivity journey, but they are ready to learn and constantly working at being the kind of company employees are eager to join and consumers can feel good about supporting.

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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.



Youth Are Still Celebrating This Pride Season The LGBT YouthLine has been helping Ontario’s youth for 25 years Do you remember your first Pride? You could have been carefully choosing your outfit for your first Pride parade, community fair or get-together. You were likely a bit anxious and excited – you were readying yourself to join spaces that were finally meant for you. No permission needed. These were your people. COVID-19 has changed the world, and during a typical Pride Month, many of the 2SLGBTQ+ youth we talk to every month would be donning their rainbow garb, spreading glitter on their cheeks, and getting ready to celebrate with folks who understand who they really are. Searching for feelings of safety and community, these youth were waiting for their Pride – whether that was at a march, a drag show, a Pride prom or a small gathering of friends. That’s changed this year. Pride celebrations, as we’ve known them, are closed to the public. Like everything else, real-life Pride events are cancelled, and 2SLGBTQ+ youth are paying the price this summer. Youth are reporting feelings of isolation, cut off in sometimes remote communities that might be accessed only by bush plane. Many had no safe spaces in their daily environment even before COVID, and even those who had a safe space as well as school friends who accepted them, are now finding that their friends are available only virtually, and they may not feel safe contacting them in front of disapproving parents. Having lost the community spaces and groups that allowed them to explore safely and without judgment, they have no one to ask questions and explore their sexuality/gender with.


Black and Indigenous youth face the additional trauma of watching hate crimes rise and nightly news shows filled with stories of police violence against Black and Indigenous

people. Without the touchpoints of community in place for many youth, the impact of isolation and loss of community is heightened. Some are feeling unsafe. And all are feeling the lack of delight and anticipation that usually surrounds summertime for our communities. While Pride started as a protest – and continues to live up to its roots this year – we believe there’s still joy in it, too. We are still here. Pride is still happening. It just may look a little different this year. When we attended Prides around Ontario last year, we heard from youth who long for a sense of community. And community can and does happen online – it’s often the only community for many youth. At YouthLine, we work to foster peer support spaces, online and offline, that let 2SLGBTQ+ youth ask questions, share joy and excitement, or talk about the issues that affect them. This past year, we heard from 1,200 youth through a needs assessment, who expressed high levels of isolation and a need for more opportunities for peer support, community spaces and safety. They need an outlet and a place to express their feelings and feel joy in their experiences. We’re there to be that outlet. In our 25 years of operation, we’ve learned that 2SLGBTQ+ youth are resilient. They reach for joy, and they’re bringing back celebration, no matter if the streets remain empty this year. We launched our #Dare2Imagine campaign this June to help them find joy in the minutiae of what being part of our community means, and to imagine a world where they wouldn’t need our services, because being 2SLGBTQ+ would simply just be. If you want to help us reach more youth across Ontario, visit to find out how you can help. No matter what that looks like for you, we wish you a happy and safe Pride!

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Are The Future Families are key to the development of happy trans, gender-fluid and non-binary kids – and this association offers a helping hand By Renée Sylvestre-Williams

Pride is a celebration, and as we celebrate with our friends, family, found family and loved ones, let’s not forget the smallest members of our family: kids who are exploring their identity.

By the time parents reach out to Gender Creative Kids, Savignac says they are supportive of their kids and have already done some work, but know they need help.

Anyone who has spent time talking with kids knows they have opinions on the world around them. They also develop a sense of self from a very young age. According to the Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth, a child’s sense of self and connection to their family and community happens within the first six years of life.

The family is key to a child who identifies as trans, genderfluid or non-binary, says Savignac. “With adults, we have our found family, but kids are dependent on their [birth] families. [Family members] can create that positive image of their identity and let them have the freedom and give them support to discover who they are,” they say.

This includes trans, gender-fluid and non-binary children, who often express their preference at a young age. The American Academy of Pediatrics found that “Society struggles to adapt to and appreciate the diverse experiences of transgender and gender-diverse (TGD) individuals, which contributes to intolerance, discrimination and stigma. In this context, TGD youths and their families increasingly present to pediatric providers for advocacy, care and referrals.”

Savignac says that because it’s inevitable that kids will face some kind of discrimination, it’s important that their families defend them, support them and help give them the tools to face discrimination. Family members can also deal with schools, with their children’s doctors, with all the administration that comes with changing a name, and even with economic support.

“Families are the reason that trans kids can have good psychological well-being,” Savignac says. “We have so many This is why an association like Gender Creative Kids Canada parents who have told us that when they have let their child can help. The association began in Quebec in 2013 after three transition, they have discovered that they have much more mothers couldn’t find the support and resources they needed. happy, outgoing and well-functioning kids. And these are The parents created a support group and found that there were the things we need to share more, that supporting their kids other parents who were looking for the same help. That initial transition is the best way to create a happy adult.” support group grew into Gender Creative Kids Canada, which provides support and education for families of trans, non-binary These conversations need to take place year-round, but Pride and gender-fluid children. is a time when they come to the fore. Savignac says Pride is a place for kids to see the many futures they can have and all “LGBTQ organizations are only working with teenagers, and the possibilities of who they can become if they wish to. “Life don’t really address the family as a unit or don’t really help as a trans person can totally be filled with joy and community. out parents,” says Charlie Savignac, the service coordinator So our kids should be welcomed at Pride because they are our for Gender Creative Kids. future and we kind of want this proudness that comes with Pride to be there for generations to come.”

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RENÉE SYLVESTRE-WILLIAMS is a Toronto-based journalist. She has been published in Forbes, Flare, Canadian Living and The Globe and Mail.





James “Songbird Miyake-Mugler” Baley, Freedom Party: June 1, 2019. (Photo by Wade Muir /




HISTORY OF TORONTO’S FIRST PRIDE Toronto’s first “Gay Day Picnic” was held on the beach at Hanlan’s Point on Sunday, August 1, 1971 By Christopher Turner

This summer excluded, the Toronto Pride Parade is one of the largest Pride celebrations in the world, with Tourism Toronto estimating an annual attendance that tops one million. But it didn’t start out that way. Here’s the story of how Toronto Pride began, and how one little picnic grew into the city’s massive celebration of the diversity of the LGBTQ community. Stonewall Uprising In 1969, a series of riots against police discrimination and police brutality took place in New York City. The riots began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in the Greenwich Village neighbourhood of Manhattan, and continued for six days outside of the Christopher Street bar, in surrounding streets and in the nearby Christopher Park. Leaders like Marsha P Johnson, Stormé DeLarverie, Miss Major and several other Black transgender and queer people were on the front line of those protests and violent clashes with law enforcement, and are ultimately responsible for starting a movement that slowly spread across the world and led to the LGBTQ rights that we have today.


The following summer, picnics organized by LGBTQ organizations took place in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago to commemorate the Stonewall uprising. However, it wasn’t until the following year that Toronto started to join in. Toronto’s First Gay Picnic In the summer of 1971, a group of gay and lesbian activists organized Toronto’s first Gay Day picnic at Hanlan’s Point Beach, the most westerly of the Toronto Islands (today known as Toronto’s unofficial “gay beach”). It was a groundbreaking event organized by Toronto Gay Action, the Community Homophile Association of Toronto and the University of Toronto Homophile Association, with around 300 people from neighbouring cities as far away as New York City and Detroit attending to show their support. Held on Sunday, August 1, 1971, the small picnic – decorated with rainbow flags, banners and balloons – was minuscule in comparison to today’s giant multimillion dollar event, but that afternoon was the beginning of something much larger. It was the city’s first display of gay and lesbian solidarity. The following summer, Toronto’s first Pride Week was commemorated. 20

The picnics grew larger and larger, and by 1974, Toronto had its first Pride Week: a small and unofficially recognized series of events that culminated in a march from Allan Gardens to Queen’s Park. Since the city was loath to give out permits for any official marches or protests, participants carried banners and signs along the sidewalks. These early marches were held on Saturdays, rather than on Sundays as they are now, because that was when the downtown core was likely to be at its busiest with other pedestrians and passers-by. Toronto’s Pride Week (as we know it now) evolved out of the mass protests that followed the 1981 Toronto bathhouse raids. At 11 pm on February 5, 1981, 150 plain-clothed and uniformed Metro Toronto police officers staged raids on four bathhouses throughout the city, arresting 289 innocent men. The raids on The Club Baths, The Romans II Health and Recreation Spa, The Barracks and The Richmond Street Emporium were a violent culmination of a six-month undercover operation by police known as “Operation Soap,” an organized campaign to push gay bathhouses and bars out of business. The violent raids prompted a riot the following night in Toronto and mark the beginning of the gay liberation movement in Canada. Mass protests and rallies were held denouncing the bathhouse raids, which evolved into Toronto’s current Pride Week, which is now one of the world’s largest gay pride festivals and celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2020. From there, Toronto Pride became a seven- to 10-day festival centred on the final week in June, with the parade falling on either the last weekend in June or the first weekend in July depending on the year’s circumstances. Since 2016, the entire month of June has been declared Pride Month, with a program of events throughout the month leading up to the parade. Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s in-person Pride festivities – including the Trans March, the Dyke March and the Pride parade originally scheduled for June 26 to 28, 2020 – were cancelled. But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate. Watch for Pride Toronto’s events and celebrations throughout the month, which have been moved online via the Pride Toronto website.

CHRISTOPHER TURNER acted as guest editor for this issue of IN Magazine. He is a Toronto-based writer, editor and

IN MAGAZINE lifelong fashionisto with a passion for pop culture and sneakers. Follow him on social media at @Turnstylin.





DYKE MA R C H Celebrating women who love women in all their forms By Courtney Hardwick

This June marked the fifth annual Pride Month for Toronto, and although COVID-19 forced the city to cancel all events, including Festival weekend, there were still many celebrations held virtually. The usual Pride festivities across Canada and around the world have been affected by the pandemic, but organizers have found ways to make sure the feeling of Pride still reaches people in their homes. One of Toronto Pride’s biggest events is always the Dyke March. This year, a virtual Dyke Rally took place online, which included performances and speeches from people in the lesbian community. The purpose of the Dyke March has always been to bring the community together, and this year’s rally was no different. Hopefully, next year the march will return to the streets – but in the meantime, here’s a brief history of how the Dyke March has evolved: May 1981: The first lesbian Pride march in North America was held in Vancouver. Approximately 200 lesbians who were attending the Bi-National Lesbian Conference marched through downtown. October 1981: A total of 350 women participated in a lesbian power, pride and visibilitythemed “Dykes in the Streets” march in Toronto, organized by now-defunct Lesbians Against the Right. The march was a response to the rise of right-wing groups like Renaissance Canada and Positive Parents, who were trying to limit and take away the rights of members of the LGBTQ+ community. April 1993: The Lesbian Avengers organized the first event to be officially dubbed the “Dyke March.” Held in Washington, DC, during the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberations, it had more than 20,000 women participating. Over the next decades, Pride celebrations all over the world added a Dyke March to their list of planned events.


1996: Fifteen years after Toronto’s first march, Lesha Van Der Bij and Lisa Hayes approached the Pride Committee with the idea of creating an event to “increase the visibility of lesbian and bisexual women around Pride week.” Instead of a parade, the organizers proposed an annual women’s march to increase visibility and create a safe space for women while promoting the existence of lesbians in the wider gay community. On Saturday, June 29, 1996, Toronto’s first Dyke March began, and attendees were encouraged to join at any point throughout the route. That first year, Toronto Police refused to close the streets for the march because they didn’t believe many people would participate. The organizers were even told they would have to march on the sidewalk if fewer than 100 people showed up. In fact, an estimated 1,500 women took part in the first march, and it has only grown since then. 2020: This year would have marked the 25th annual Dyke March in Toronto as part of the Pride festival. A virtual Dyke Rally was held in its place, with the theme “We’re Still Here” to celebrate the history and strength of Toronto’s dyke community. 22


COURTNEY HARDWICK is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Her work has appeared online at AmongMen, Complex Canada, Elle Canada and TheBolde.





PRIDE One IN contributor shares her first Pride experience By Emily Norton

When I started coming out to my family, it was June. Amidst a summer of personal heartbreak and increasing self-awareness, I remember sitting in the living room of my family home and seeing TV updates on Toronto’s Pride festival, the Dyke March, all the waving rainbow flags. It was inspiring to see such a joyful celebration of identity, but simultaneously I felt like I was being taunted by a life I’d never be able to let myself live: a life in which I not only felt wholeheartedly proud of who I am, but where I could be visible in the world as a queer person. Frankly, it made me sad. Seeing people celebrate their pride should have been a complete joy for me. But it wasn’t. Instead, I felt devastatingly isolated. It was as if all the courage I’d been working up to come out to people, and all the mental energy spent dwelling on those I was afraid to tell, came crashing together in a heap of aching realizations: I was not proud of who I was, I was just aware that I couldn’t change myself.


The next few summers passed and, along with them, more Pride festivals. Each year I felt more secure and confident in my identity, but still I hesitated to truly celebrate it. I felt that without a partner or a group of queer friends, I didn’t belong at any Pride event. I struggled with believing I was “gay enough” simply because I’d been living my truth so quietly. I have a pretty small group of people I consider myself close with. This, along with my introverted nature, meant that very few people really knew I was gay. And I always assumed people I didn’t know would walk past me on the street and assume I’m a straight girl. Everything about how I live my life made me feel undeserving of a space at Pride. I felt invisible. It wasn’t easy to get to a point where I not only felt, but believed, that I belonged within my community. But when I finally attended my first Pride, I knew I had found a home in my queerness. My first Pride was unforgettable. While I didn’t attend a ton of events, the time that I did spend celebrating changed the way I 24

view my queerness and its validity. There is something to be said for being surrounded by a sweaty heap of LGBTQ+ folks on a packed sidewalk on a weekend in June. Watching the parade, seeing the excitement and smiles of everyone around me, and feeling like I was in a place where I was welcomed, regardless of any queer imposter syndrome that lingered in my brain, was life changing. It is something I still carry with me when I feel like I am not queer enough. Because if you’re queer, you’re queer enough. And being at Pride for the first time was the first time I had ever felt like that was true. My first Pride was a triumphant moment, but it was also a moment of reflection. I remember hopping on the subway on the way home and listing off all my queer heroes who I wish had been alive to see these times. It made me recognize the privilege I have to live in a world where my existence is much more widely accepted than it was in the past. It also made me happy to know how far I had come in accepting myself and being truly proud to be a part of the queer community. Pride is a celebration and a protest. And in a way, I’m glad I took the time to truly embrace myself and consider what I was hoping for out of Pride before I attended it for the first time. As long as I was insecure in being gay and feeling like there was no point in attending without some visible “proof” of my identity, like a partner or a change in my very femme looks, I truly wasn’t ready to embrace this celebration for all that it is. And what is Pride? To me, Pride is a time to embrace yourself and others, to recognize the heroes who fought for us to get where we are today, and of course, to be proud of who you are and all the courage it takes to embrace queer existence. My first Pride changed me. It was the last crack in opening my shell and allowing me to be who I am. And I’m proud of who that is.

EMILY NORTON is a writing student and poet from Toronto. Her work centres themes of identity, reclamation, honesty and, of course,

IN MAGAZINE lesbians. If she’s not writing, she’s probably watching TV or thinking about her dog. You can find her on Twitter at @_emnorton.




Is My Pride Showing? Standing on the sidelines taught me that Pride is a matter of perspective By Jumol Royes

We all have an image of what a Pride parade looks, sounds and feels like.

bodies’ in shape as we put pressure on ourselves, and each other, to live up to unrealistic standards of physical appearance that are nearly impossible to achieve or maintain.

Picture people proudly waving rainbow-coloured flags as a convoy of corporate-branded floats snakes its way through city streets, while passers-by move and shake their bodies to the joyful sounds of music filling the air.

When we turn our attention to how Pride is packaged and sold through targeted marketing campaigns, the story is pretty much the same. There seems to be an endless barrage of images featuring people who bear a striking resemblance to famous gay Canadians like actor Luke Macfarlane and Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski, or Instafamous influencers like Sam Cushing and Kyle Krieger.

Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of parades, Pride or otherwise. The thought of being crammed into a confined space with a large crowd and no clear exit strategy has just never done it for me (and that was before COVID-19). However, participating in a Pride parade is a sort of rite of passage when one first comes out of the closet. So, when I first came out, I told myself to suck it up, buttercup. Be a good gay and get into the Pride state of mind. The Pride parades I attended on and off throughout my 20s are pretty much a blur (probably because there was a fair amount of boozing and partying involved). Sure, there were moments that were new and fun and exciting, but I always felt like the odd man out. As a skinny Black boy surrounded by a sea of mostly muscular white men, I often went unseen. There’s no denying that the LGBTQ2+ community has a complicated relationship with Pride and inclusivity. Need proof? Just look at some of the language we use around Pride. Before summer even arrives, we start talking about hitting the gym to get our ‘Pride

Starting to see a pattern emerging here? CBC arts reporter Kevin Sweet did an interview back in 2016 in which he talked about the challenges Pride and the gay community face when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and how racialized and marginalized groups oftentimes feel left out. “I think if you went into the lesbian community and asked them if they felt included by the gay community, you’d get an interesting answer,” said Sweet, who also happens to be gay. “If you approached… minorities like Asians, I think you would get some people expressing feelings of segregation.” Pride organizers appear to be listening, and are pivoting to ensure their events strike the right chord with the LGBTQ2+ community. The lineup for this year’s NYC virtual Pride celebration included a diverse cohort of performers like Janelle Monáe, Billy Porter, Deborah Cox, Wilson Cruz and Margaret Cho. Closer to home, Pride Toronto also made the decision to go digital this year, refusing to let COVID-19 rain on their parade. They announced that they would be “shining a concentrated spotlight on women and BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and People of Colour] artists.”

Photos by Brian Kyed


I attended a Pride parade with some friends a few years ago, and instead of standing on the sidelines pressed up against the barricades,



I think if you went into the lesbian community and asked them if they felt included by the gay community, you’d get an interesting answer.


we somehow managed to slip in behind one of the floats and join the procession. It’s a memory I won’t soon forget. I felt nothing but good vibes emanating from the crowd. I saw a multitude of faces with different shapes and shades smiling back at me and cheering me on. I danced, I sang, and my Pride was on full display for all to see. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I belonged.

Photos by Brian Kyed

What we sometimes fail to realize is that Pride really is a matter of perspective. If you happen to find yourself on the outside looking in, it can feel like a fabulous party you might be invited to, but are rarely if ever asked to dance. It’s a feeling some in the community may not relate to or completely understand. But when we choose to widen the circle and create a safe space for each and every one of us to be seen and accepted just as we are, in all the richness and diversity that makes up the LGBTQ2+ experience, it truly is a beautiful thing to behold. I know, because I’ve witnessed it first-hand. Progress is slow, but I’d like to think we’re marching in the right direction.

JUMOL ROYES is a Toronto-based storyteller and communications strategist with a keen interest in personal development and transformation and a love of all things Real Housewives. Follow him on Twitter at @Jumol and on Instagram at @jumolroyes.




SOBER PRIDES ARE ON THE RISE The resources and success stories of people who have hit the pause button on drinking By Fraser Abe

A lot of Pride-goers have a regrettable story to share. The endings are all different – a bad hookup, an embarrassing moment on the dance floor, a morning spent hugging the toilet – but the beginnings are usually the same: too much to drink or too many drugs. The moment when the story goes from cute to cautionary tale is different for everyone (and never for most), but the statistics on the LGBTQ community are not in our favour. In its documents on substance use disorders, the Government of Canada points out that LGB adolescents were two to four times more likely to use substances and LG adults experienced higher rates of heavier drinking, compared to heterosexuals. If you’re someone who feels that Pride is too much about the partying, take heart: it doesn’t have to be the booze-and-benzossoaked bacchanal it was. Sober Prides are on the rise, thanks partially to a growing wellness trend (self-care is bae!) that encourages people to examine their relationship with their body and make better decisions on its care. The term ‘sober curious’ exploded in popularity last year – searches for the term hit many peaks in Canada in 2019 versus the years before, according to Google Trends. Basically, a person who is sober curious is interested in exploring a life that features less (or no) alcohol. Ruby Warrington, author of the book Sober Curious, told Bustle: “People are more invested in their overall well-being [these days].… It becomes harder to reconcile the way alcohol really makes us feel.”


Certainly, many partiers are familiar with the annual drinking pause that comes in January – after a December full of social events that provided many excuses or reasons to imbibe – but swearing off the stuff forever is a daunting notion, even for casual drinkers. First, there are the probing questions: Why aren’t you drinking? Are you an alcoholic? Are you pregnant? There’s also the notion of camaraderie that alcohol can offer: the toasts at weddings, the stories of that one wild weekend in university, the ball drop at New Year’s. But sober curiosity, and the growing number of LGBTQ people who are choosing not to partake, are turning the tide. Last year, Vice wrote about all the various Pride celebrations for sober people: “Sober people will walk in The March, complete with a DJ, followed by a sober river cruise. The Houston Pride organization hosts Skate Sober, the official dry Pride night where you can skate substance-free. In Denver, there’s a specific Queer n’ Sober Dance. In San Francisco, the Castro Country Club Sober Stage features a drug- and alcohol-free space to enjoy a picnic and some music. However, these events are still outnumbered by those where alcohol may be present.” They also offered tips for 28


enjoying Pride sober, which mostly centred on the notion of putting yourself first (it’s okay not to succumb to peer pressure, to leave when you want to rather than when your friends want you to) and finding sober friends to enjoy Pride with. Of course, that was last year. In March this year, the City of Toronto cancelled all events until June 30 (Pride was scheduled June 26-28). Pride Toronto was on board, saying: “The decision by public health authorities to cancel permits through the month of June is a necessary one. Any future programming will be in alignment with the recommendations of the public health authorities and the communities we serve.” Toronto’s decision was echoed across the country: Vancouver cancelled theirs in April, as did Montreal. Even Calgary’s Pride Parade, which happens later in the season in September, has been cancelled. Now, that is not to say these municipalities won’t be doing events, or add to their online programming, but the notion of an in-person Pride will have to wait until at least 2021. Being stuck in lockdown has increased queer loneliness, which is usually cited as worse than for the heterosexual cis population. Interviews with queers who talk of their loneliness frequently mention increased alcohol and drug use. With national anxiety at seemingly ever higher levels, being able to find sober companions when you’re not supposed to leave the house is more important than ever. But queers are resilient: even in this lockdown, they are finding their people, online. Queer AA and NA meetings have proliferated over the internet. One story in Them mentions the non-profit Gay And Sober, whose CEO, Christian Cerna-Parker, says, “Many people are telling me, even after the corona crisis ends, they still want to keep doing these meetings over Zoom.” This is maybe the best year to give a sober Pride a try, since all events are virtual, which will help eliminate some of the pressure to drink or do drugs that giant throngs of people can have. Pride Toronto will host a sober event over Zoom this year: a 1½-hour “refreshing virtual oasis for the sober community.” It’s not as long or robust as some of their other online programming, but a great way to celebrate Pride, virtually, with some like-minded queers and allies. Of course, there are some downsides to sober Pride: you can still have a bad hookup (online, at least!) or embarrassing dance floor moment (also online!), but unfortunately, you’ll remember them clearly instead of hazily. Perhaps a small price to pay for a fatter wallet, a healthier liver and more memorable moments.

FRASER ABE is a Toronto-based writer. His work has been published in Toronto Life, The Globe and Mail, Sharp Magazine, NOW Magazine and more. When he’s not busy writing, he’s shrieking Gia Gunn quotes at his boyfriend, Colin.

Happy Pride!



CORPORATIONS BELONG IN PRIDE Clearing up some misconceptions about the role of corporations in Pride By Adam Zivo


There’s no shortage of controversy about the role of corporations in Pride parades. Many believe that corporate involvement is necessarily exploitative; that it signifies nothing more than clever marketing, an attempt to dupe a community into buying products without offering real support for their rights. Associated with that belief is the idea that corporate involvement ultimately dilutes Pride’s politics and, in this way, turns Pride away from its political origins. There’s some legitimacy to these views, but on the whole, critics of corporate involvement in Pride tend to have serious misconceptions about how the entire process works and, above that, take a narrow view of how LGBTQ+ advocacy operates. It’s something I’ve observed in my experiences as an LGBTQ+ activist. I founded an LGBTQ+ advocacy campaign, LoveisLoveisLove, which I’ve managed for a few years now. This campaign has produced several major installations focusing on broadening the base of support for LGBTQ+ rights through art and education, and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. It all cost money, though, and so I familiarized myself with the back-end of rainbow capitalism. My views on rainbow capitalism are rooted in those experiences.



The points I bring up here aren’t completely exhaustive of all of the ethical and political issues entangled in the corporatization of Pride, because that kind of essay could go on for a very long time. However, I hope there’s enough here for people to reconsider popular narratives and catch onto some of the nuances those narratives miss. The reality of corporate involvement A misconception about corporate involvement in Pride is that it’s an invasion of outsiders into the LGBTQ+ community. In reality, rainbow capitalism is not spearheaded by boardrooms of old, straight executives conspiring together to exploit the gay dollar. For the most part, Pride initiatives are spearheaded by LGBTQ+ employees, who leverage their deep connections with the community to attempt, as best they can, to create programming that’s relevant to it. If, for whatever reason, LGBTQ+ employees are not able to provide leadership, then companies usually ask trusted LGBTQ+ community members to vet the company’s ideas. As a result, corporate Pride programming is, more often than not, created by community members for community members.

It’s no accident that the heavy involvement of LGBTQ+ employees is often missed. It’s purposefully invisible. You can broadly divide Pride programming into two categories. First, you have internal programming, which is meant for the company’s employees and is designed to foster a more inclusive work culture. You also have external programming, which is meant for the general public. While internal programming can focus on a company’s LGBTQ+ employees, external programming almost always prioritizes abstract ideas, like diversity and inclusion. That’s because these abstract ideas are most relevant to the broadest cross-section of society. Suppose your public-facing programming focuses on your company’s employees. While that’s nice, it also might not really resonate with people who don’t work for your company. It also runs the risk of making your Pride engagement seem preoccupied with patting yourself on the back for your inclusivity, rather than supporting the community as a whole. Focusing on abstract ideas is an easy way to remove those risks and send out a message that that is relatable to most people. A side effect of this approach is that, in committing to messages that are universal and accessible, community engagement professionals inadvertently hide the personal stories and grassroots interactions that happen on the back-end. The public sees rainbow flags and feel-good slogans, but they don’t see the LGBTQ+ employees working behind the scenes to make that happen, earnestly working to maximize the impact of community engagement budgets. Everything that gives this process its soulfulness is kept behind a curtain. What’s left can feel cold and impersonal. Programming seems to come out of nowhere, and in the absence of information, people tend to assume the worst, believing that the underlying motive behind corporate programming is predatory. Regardless of the presence of LGBTQ+ folks in the program development process, there are still critics who are firmly convinced that corporations get involved in Pride parades in bad faith. For those critics, it’s often important to find some kind of hypocrisy within a corporation’s past and present behaviour. For example, in 2017, at the Capital Pride in Washington, DC, activists protested against the inclusion of Wells Fargo as a sponsor, since the company also financially supported the Dakota Access Pipelines. There are a few problems with this approach, which stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of how corporations operate. For the most part, people underestimate how complex and decentralized corporations are. Corporations aren’t people. They’re sprawling ecosystems of teams and hierarchies. While these disparate pieces roughly work towards the same end, they’re still fragmented and don’t, by default, communicate closely with one another – and this fragmentation gets worse the larger a corporation is. When a corporation seems to act inconsistently, that’s more a reflection of decentralization, with different teams pursuing different goals, rather than wilful hypocrisy or bad faith behaviour. Using Wells Fargo as an example, the team in charge of Canadian community engagement is going to have very little to do with the team responsible for American pipeline investments. To strictly hold one team morally responsible for the actions of another team,

just because they operate under the same corporate umbrella, isn’t reasonable or productive. It’s an idea people seem to recognize when we talk about government sponsorship. It seems widely understood, for example, that part of the Government of Ontario might fund Pride Toronto while another part pursues policy or funding choices that are implicitly homophobic. Where are the spicy opinion articles about how LGBTQ+ organizations should refuse provincial funding so long as the Ford administration holds power? Or, to use another comparison: how many people would argue that Trump’s bigoted policies oblige LGBTQ+ organizations to refuse funding from the US federal government? No one argues that. Governments are relatively open and transparent, and citizens interact with government agencies enough to appreciate that they don’t coordinate well. That leaves us with an appreciation for public sector fragmentation, and how the different parts of a government might have competing priorities. Corporate organizations aren’t really that different, though by their very nature they’re much more private about this. Concerns about corporate hypocrisy deflate a lot when that’s kept in mind. Money needs to come from somewhere If it’s true that corporations, at least when engaging with Pride, aren’t as predatory and hypocritical as some believe, is that really enough to justify taking corporate dollars? No. Intentions matter, but they aren’t everything. What also matters is the end effect of corporate involvement. You can have the best intentions and still do harm, after all. So what’s the end effect of corporate dollars? Autonomy and equity. Funding needs to come from somewhere, and corporate sponsorship is the best option of what’s available. Speaking broadly, funds can come from four different sources: the private sector, the public sector, individual donors and festival attendees. If you refuse corporate donations, you hollow out private sector support, since all that remains in that category is small businesses, which don’t have the resources to fund Pride festivals at the levels we’re accustomed to. In lieu of that, you can look at the other categories, but they each bring their own set of problems. Individual donors are a minor source of funding. Pride Toronto is a great case study for this, so let’s look at their finances. In 2019, Pride Toronto’s revenues were $6.4 million, of which only $100,000, or 1.5 per cent, came from individual donations. In contrast, corporate sponsorships brought in $3.7 million. To expect individual donors to make a dent in the funding gaps that would be left by a corporate exodus is, to put it frankly, delusional. What about collecting funds from festival attendees? Pride Toronto already does that somewhat through beverage sales, which bring in around $200,000. But as with individual donations, that’s just a drop in the bucket relative to Pride Toronto’s financial needs. You could, if you wanted, try charging an admission fee to attend events at Pride, but that would invite a hot mess of logistical and ethical issues. On the logistics side, building out that infrastructure means taking on new burdens – the extra volunteers and financial costs to enforce a fee structure; the impact fee collection would have on government funding support; reductions in attendance; and so on. More important than the logistical questions are the ethical ones. User fees would create a two-tiered Pride where economically disadvantaged community members are implicitly excluded or 31


In practice, the question of profits and pink dollars rarely comes up. When it does, it’s as a secondary concern, taking a back seat to a genuine enthusiasm for positive engagement with LGBTQ+ communities.


discouraged from participating. Yet these community members are the ones who would benefit most from Pride. Pride’s mandate is to provide LGBTQ+ folks with both a social space and a platform for political advocacy. Community members with means can always use their wealth to access for-profit LGBTQ+ social spaces, or press their political priorities through other channels (money is power, after all). For the most marginalized LGBTQ+ members, alternative options for advocacy and community building are scarcer. A Pride that is substantially funded by attendee fees would be a Pride that, rather than uplifting the most vulnerable, would annually remind them of their second-class status. From an equity lens, that’s indefensible. Government funding has its caveats What about relying primarily on government funding? That’s already a substantial revenue stream. Pride Toronto, acting as a case study again, receives a substantial amount of funding from the different tiers of government. For technical reasons, the exact figures are hard to come by, but the City of Toronto invested $260,000 in Toronto Pride in 2016, the Government of Ontario put in $250,000 in 2019, and the Government of Canada invested $400,000 in 2009. Taken together, these numbers fall far short of what corporate sponsors bring in, but at the very least, it’s plausible to imagine a corporate-free Pride that operates on beefed-up government support. Inviting as that seems, though, that’s not the kind of Pride we should strive to achieve.


In general, the more diverse your sources of funding are, the more autonomy you have. When you have a diversified pool of funders, if one funder becomes problematic, you can replace them. Even major sponsors can be substituted, and though that process might be fiscally painful, it’s at least possible. The corporate sector offers



that diversity, because there’s an abundance of businesses out there that could be approached for sponsorship, making each business fairly interchangeable. The public sector is different. While there’s a web of players that LGBTQ+ organizations can approach for funding, since large government grants are given to non-profits to redistribute as smaller grants, ultimately funding comes from three entities: the municipal, provincial and federal governments. In such a small field, each is influential. This is a problem because, if a government acts unreasonably and holds funding hostage, there’s no alternative government to go to. It’s true that playing the different levels of government against each other can offer LGBTQ+ organizations some freedom to manoeuvre. Using a non-LGBTQ+ comparison, in 2017 the federal Liberals beefed up funding for affordable housing, focusing on sending funds directly to municipalities, which helped offset cuts by the Ford government. However, if there were ever a time in the future when the political winds turn against the LGBTQ+ community, with hostility extending across multiple levels of government, then relying too heavily on public purse strings would amplify our vulnerability. Consider that, when the Harper government cut $400,000 in funding from Pride Toronto in 2010, and when Toronto city council threatened to cut its funding in 2017, these were not existential threats to Pride precisely because Pride had so much revenue from corporate sponsors. A historically marginalized community can resist hostile governments if it has independent funding, but is less able to resist if its support systems go broke when they are needed most. When looking at things from this lens, the reliance on corporate sponsorships is about utilizing the power of Big Business to provide some insurance against political whims. This tension is already

In Canada, our political climate in Canada is fairly accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. To talk about pitting business against government, and treating corporate support as a kind of insurance, may seem far-fetched or remote, but it’s important not to be myopic about politics. Americans in 2015 did not predict Trump’s circus of hate. Similarly, LGBTQ+ Canadians should be cognizant of how fickle politics can be, and take a farsighted view on how cultivating different kinds of allies ultimately creates more security.

How to improve corporate engagement If corporate dollars are important and seemingly necessary, what can we do to make corporate engagement better? It’s simple: we need to guide corporate sponsors towards providing more meaningful engagement with the LGBTQ+ community. Businesses are risk-averse, which is why they typically take the safest path on LGBTQ+ engagement: wantonly slathering rainbows on things. As they become more experienced with engagement, their strategies tend to evolve. TD Bank is an example of this. Being the first major bank to support Canadian Pride festivals, they spent years peddling branded Speedos and muscly go-go boys. Realizing that this wasn’t substantive, they recently shifted their strategy to one that finances and celebrates grassroots community initiatives. As of now, so many companies are still fresh to vocally supporting the LGBTQ+ community, and are stuck in the rainbows-on-everything phase. Rather than criticizing them for this, let’s instead nudge them towards improvement, towards going beyond just rainbows and finding other ways to support LGBTQ+ communities. It will take time, and they’ll make mistakes along the way, but that’s fine. It’s part of a larger process of cultivating a type of ally.

ADAM ZIVO is a Toronto-based social entrepreneur, photographer, and analyst best known for founding the LoveisLoveisLove campaign.



playing out in Trump’s America, where Big Business regularly attempts to counteract the damage inflicted by a homophobic political climate. It’s also seen outside LGBTQ+ politics. A poignant example would be the response to Alabama’s near-total ban on abortion in 2019. Corporate America vocally opposed the bill. It applied pressure to state lawmakers by insinuating that the ban would lead to decreased investment in the state, creating an economic penalty for regressive policy. Whether Big Business can provide an effective counter to homophobic politicians is up for debate, but at the very least, it’s better than being totally out in the cold.


THE RIGHT TO BARE ALL: Should Nudity be allowed at pride?

The never-ending debate on letting it all hang out continues on By Bobby Box

In honour of IN Magazine’s Pride issue, we are revisiting the debate of nudity at Pride, asking individuals in our community where they stand so we can better understand…and perhaps settle things once and for all. The issue really blew up in 2014, after Toronto District School Board (TDSB) trustee Sam Sotiropoulos led a motion requesting that police enforce the city’s public nudity laws at Toronto Pride. “[Pride] is supposed to be a family-friendly event. If you went to any other ward in the city on that day and paraded around naked, you would likely be arrested,” Sotiropoulos argued at the time. The controversial request threatened the very tradition of Pride, and was covered by the nation’s most reputable news sources. According to them, Sotiropoulos, a “strong believer in traditional family values,” said he had “no problem participating with Pride,” but could not endorse an event “where the laws against public nudity are being flouted.”


His request, supported by two fellow trustees, was ultimately defeated by the TDSB by a vote of 16 to 6, whereas an opposing motion calling on the board to express support for Pride passed by a vote of 17 to 3.

could be considered a more relaxed approach and will turn a blind eye. This means, more or less, you can be naked as long as you’re conducting yourself in a responsible manner. “In my professional experience working with Pride, nudity has never been an issue with the committee,” Phil Villeneuve, co-programming director at Pride Toronto and editor of, tells IN. “Folks naked in the parade or walking down Church Street have always been part of the expression and freedom of that big weekend.” Most agree with Villeneuve. In a poll I published on Twitter, 69 per cent of the nearly 300 votes said they believe people should be allowed to strut their stuff in the buff. Though, admittedly, my social channels draw mainly a queer crowd. A CBC poll, which is likely to attract a more diverse voting sample, found 62 per cent of people think there should be no nudity at Pride. The biggest argument against – both among their sample and mine – is that children shouldn’t be exposed to naked people at a family-friendly event that attracts nearly 6,000 children.

Chris, 44, who used to run a queer youth centre, questions whether nudity is the most reasonable way to demonstrate sexual liberation. “Is that even the message they would take away from the experience?” Maria Rodrigues, the trustee who presented the opposing bill, he asks. “Or does the sexualization of Pride make it an unwelcome argued that nudity at Pride is rooted in our history – namely, the environment for them?” Stonewall Riots in 1969, which are largely considered the birth of Dave, 33, agrees, explaining there are better ways to show pride. the gay rights movement. “In my opinion, those who insist on being completely nude are just Because Sotiropoulos identifies as a heterosexual male, his argument doing it for the thrill and attention,” he says. “It’s a shame because never sat well with the LGBTQ+ community. As such, we denounced most people, regardless of orientation, don’t want to be confronted his views as homophobic; in response, he accused the community with someone’s naked body in public.” of “homosexism,” which he defined as discrimination towards the heterosexual community by the LGBT community. His tweet read: Kat, 33, is a new mother and regular Pride-goer. “I love Pride and “One of the most divisive influences in Canada today is #homosexism I’ve always wanted to bring my kid when I had one,” she shares. “But now that I have one, my mind has changed – there are way it’s disseminators are maliciously rabid.” too many naked men there. For my young daughter’s sake, I wish Now, back to today. We should address whether nudity at Pride the full frontal would not exist. I know it’s not a kids’ street party, is even legal – which, in most cases, would be a big no. But on but I want her to go out and support these things without being Pride, as is similar with Mardi Gras, law enforcement has what uncomfortable.” 34


than sex. “The thing that makes us different is sex. It’s the platform that we’ve built our culture on. What we need to do is shift our culture’s relationship to sex and sexuality and not just emulate the relationship to it our oppressors have.”


Villeneuve says the pushback the Pride committee has been getting on nudity has been, in large part, from heterosexual people. “I truly have no clue why it’s an issue, and that includes children seeing naked people,” he says. “These are human bodies, and feeling the freedom to be naked during Pride is a beautiful thing. The nudist groups this city has should be able to participate in the street fair and parade like anyone else.”

Others suggest a compromise. Most suggest that nudity be limited to contained areas so families and other parties who might be offended will know which spaces they should avoid.

The prevailing perspective from the pro-nudity camp is that our queer identity is the direct result of who we have sex with and, “If it is allowed, then it should be done in a way where there are therefore, Pride should be sexual. controlled ins, outs and sightlines of the place where it is held that are signed respectfully saying that one entering is consenting “Despite creating successful palatability campaigns for basic human to see nudity or be nude if they so choose,” says Carey, 32, who rights regarding queer/trans communities around the concept of responded via Twitter. love, marriage, and so on, our ‘otherism’ is directly related to who we have sex with, how we have sex with them, and body issues “Save the nudity for the parties and clubs afterwards,” adds Mike, related to gender identity/expression,” says Jeremy, a 47-year-old 25, who also responded on Twitter. “The parade and festival should queer writer. “Of course nudity will and should be pervasive at Pride. be PG – shirtless is fine, but anything less than that is too much.” Otherwise, you’ve got Rib Fest but they are only serving salad.” The discourse of whether nudity is offensive appears to be the clearest Benjie, a 31-year-old app developer and staunch kinkster, believes line in the sand between both camps. For one side, nudity is very the discourse around nudity at Pride revolves around society’s adult for a space that welcomes families. For others, nudity is an discomfort with sex. “Pride absolutely needs to be sex-positive – expression, a nod to our ancestors who fought for our rights and needs to be,” he starts. “For LGBTQ people, our queerness comes sexual freedom. Neither argument is wrong, of course: they’re just from who we have sex with,” he says, acknowledging that, for a personal. And if Pride is anything, it is being able to acknowledge lot of trans and/or queer people, Pride can be more about gender who we are and how we feel. BOBBY BOX is a prolific freelance journalist in Hamilton, Ont. He currently works as contributing editor at and has had the privilege of speaking with the world’s most recognized drag queens, including, most recently, Trixie Mattel and Alaska Thunderfuck. While proud of his work, Bobby is not above begging. He asks that you follow him on Twitter at @bobbyboxington.

Come see us, we have everything to help you celebrate! 493 QUEEN STREET WEST, TORONTO 416 966-6969 SEDUCTIONTORONTO SEDUCTIONTO




Pride Voices Pride parades and celebrations across the country are officially cancelled this year – but that doesn’t mean we can’t still come together. Pride Month is still happening, and you can watch for virtual celebrations of Pride throughout the rest of the summer.


We reached out to Pride organizations from coast to coast and asked them for their messages of support to the LGBTQ2S community, as a reminder that Pride is more than just a parade.



A few good people have created a movement for change in North Bay By Jason Maclennan

Humble beginnings, an idea, a concept, and a determination by a few good people turned into a movement for change and the betterment of all within the City of North Bay. North Bay Pride has been able to influence change to the point where now a new city development includes gender-neutral washrooms. Local community leaders, including politicians, listen when North Bay Pride has something to say. This shows any Pride can promote change. North Bay Pride started having organized Pride in 2017. The first major event, which included a march and free picnic, was put together in five weeks. More than 2,500 people marched through downtown North Bay demanding equality and acceptance. Over the next few years leading into 2019, the parade grew to more than 5,500 people, while other events over four days attracted more than about 7,000 people. Now this is talking numbers and influence! Many say that’s nothing – but let’s remember, Sparky, we’re talking about a city of 52,000 people. North Bay Pride has learned the art of collaboration, and it shows. Henri Giroux and Amanda Farrow-Giroux, who are part of the North Bay Labour Council, came to the community asking why North Bay Pride had no organized Pride. Giroux describes those first few meetings. “Amanda and I were overwhelmed by the response from the 2SLGBTQ+ community when we offered to support a Pride within the community. We had some funds we could use, supplied by local unions. We offered anything to get this off the ground. And five weeks later, we walked with pride with the 2SLGBTQ+ community feeling like a difference was being made for the city of North Bay.” North Bay Pride’s CEO Clifford Hummel describes his experience, which led him to join its board of directors. “I was not really out at public events such as Pride. I heard several rumours – which turned out not to be true – about the legitimacy of Pride in North Bay. I took my time, watched, and saw the success and the change that was happening in the city. I knew I just had to be part of this organization, which has grown beyond any expectations. I love it!”

Brandon Dadd, who has attended previous events, sums up what Pride can do and has done for him. “North Bay Pride is part of what really made me come out of my shell while I was able to accept and discover who I truly am.” “North Bay Pride is a movement in our city that we all embrace,” says City of North Bay Mayor Al McDonald. “A city that can bring everyone together is an amazing feat. The journey of inclusion never ends, and North Bay Pride helps all of us focus. ” Anthony Rota, Member of Parliament for Nipissing-Timiskaming, has this to say: “Perhaps even more important is the impact of North Bay Pride beyond these ‘official’ days of celebration. Pride promotes awareness – awareness of how far we have come, and that we have more work to do. Awareness that as Canadians, we can be who we are and love who we love, and that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects all of us 365 days a year.” North Bay Pride is finding that balance of being grassroots on issues affecting the 2SLGBTQ+ communities, while celebrating the steps that have moved us forward. It is profoundly important to recognize, and not forget, the influence that Prides around Canada truly have when they all stand together. Prides provoked one of the biggest conversations in 2018 about HIV and the U=U message, which is a prime example of the power of Prides when they remember the basics of what they stand for. People may constantly see one person up front, or in the news, or speaking in public, but it is always so important to remember they have a team to stand behind them. Prides are growing and learning while making a difference in the world. As Olivia Nuamah, former executive director of Pride Toronto, said during an interview on Str8 Talk, “What is good for the queer community is good for everyone.” These are wise words to embrace and live by.

JASON MACLENNAN has been involved in human rights for persons affected by HIV and the 2SLGBTQ+ community for several years. He has met with political leaders to involve change for our communities. He recognized there is a gap when it comes to the 2SLGBTQ+ community in the political arena, and is working 37to change that very issue. You can see him speaking at an event, marching in a demonstration and, on the rare occasion, doing a drag event as Geri Atrick.


For The Love Of All Things Pride


Turning The Boat Around Vancouver Pride hears from the community on how to heal deep hurt By Kaschelle Thiessen

In 1974, Pat penned an article in Pedestal, Canada’s first feminist periodical, explaining why she didn’t go to Vancouver’s Gay Pride Rally. “Even if we did end police harassment of homosexual bars and restaurants,” wrote Pat, “it would not end my harassment in such places.” She went on to write that she had more in common with straight women than with gay men, so she would continue to put her energy into the women’s movement rather than Gay Unity Week. Six years later, writing in the Westender, Sandra expressed similar doubts about Gay Unity Week. “I myself am a transsexual,” explained Sandra. “I was confronted in a gay bar last year by the owner, who said I was a drag queen and no drag queens were allowed. I don’t promote myself as a drag queen and I sure don’t respect gay bar owners who tell me how to dress.” That was 1980, one year before Vancouver’s first-ever Gay Unity Parade, and the community already had doubts about the event that would one day become the Vancouver Pride Parade. “What is gay unity week,” asked Sandra, “if gays can’t unite with one another?”

Part of the process has been finding ways to decrease barriers while increasing inclusion at Vancouver Pride. This has ranged from partnering on Vancouver Pride’s first QTBIPIC-centric events, to engaging in an accessibility audit and disability justice training for all staff, to the creation of a 12-foot interactive kinetic peacock representing bisexual visibility. Supporting the community has included giving funding to community organizers. “We recognize that Pride can’t be everything for everyone. Some folks will never come to our events regardless of what we do, and that’s okay,” says Andrea. “People are already doing meaningful and amazing work for their communities. Our role as an organization is to support that provide whatever funding, resources, marketing and staff support is needed to help them build their capacity.” Not all of Vancouver Pride’s recent changes have been popular, including the controversial decision to remove uniformed members of law enforcement from the Vancouver Pride Parade. This was followed by barring the University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Public Library from marching in the parade due to their decision to provide a platform for transphobic speakers. “While these decisions were contentious within our communities,” says Andrea, “Vancouver Pride chose to stand with those most oppressed within our communities, not just those with the loudest voices.”

Reading through old periodicals is a trip: one moment you are proud of how far we have come, and the next you are surprised at how little has changed. Nearly 40 years later, the Vancouver Pride Parade has grown beyond its humble origins into one of the largest events in Western Canada. Yet fractures within our communities run deep, stretching back decades and widening year by year. Pride It has taken several years, but members of the community who had has long been accused of being divorced from its roots, becoming a previously disengaged with Vancouver Pride are starting to notice. party for affluent white gay men. With years of momentum fuelling “Folks are reaching out to us and letting us know they appreciate both growth and division, how do you begin to heal those wounds? what we are doing,” says Andrea. “My biggest learning has been to listen and to really hear what people have to say, to hear the Andrea Arnot, executive director of the Vancouver Pride Society, feelings behind what has happened in the past.” thinks she might have some answers. “When I come into a new organization, I like to get a snapshot of the current landscape and Andrea feels Vancouver Pride has started to create the relationships figure out how to move forward,” explains Andrea. “Once I was necessary to move forward and is excited for what the future holds. in my new role for a few months, I recognized there were far more “We need to take responsibility as an organization, offer apologies, and try to find a way forward. Together.” issues than I was originally aware of.”


Andrea’s first instinct was to hold a series of community consultations to get the lay of the land. This process revealed a number of deeprooted issues that Andrea set out to address.

KASCHELLE THIESSEN is the communications manager for the Vancouver Pride Society and is currently pursuing her MA in professional communication at Royal Roads 38 University. IN MAGAZINE Thiessen recently curated the West Coast stop of 69 Positions: Decriminalization in the Queer Canadian + Quebec Archive. When she is not poring over archival material, she enjoys reading lesbian pulp fiction, nourishing queer bodies and souls with home cooking and conversation, and dancing till dawn.

Toronto will need to come together once again in solidarity to make this happen By Pride Toronto

To walk down the street and visit the restaurants and shops in the Church & Wellesley Village, for many of us, is akin to walking through the rooms and corridors of our own family home. The village is where our communities gather to share our experiences, our stories, our joys and our struggles. Our bars are steeped in history. Our stages are full of passion. The restaurants are our family dinner table. The shops carry and proliferate our culture. The spaces in between are where life’s small moments help connect us. For 40 years, Pride Toronto has been honoured to call the village home. The Pride festival is, in some ways, our incredible annual house party, where we invite the world to experience the magic of this place and its people. To help keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 global health crisis, we have moved to a virtual Pride experience. While we are excited about the new possibilities for expression and access that this approach will create, the impact on the village will be incredibly difficult. So many of our local businesses depend on Pride festival crowds to get them through the slower times of the year. COVID-19 has brought with it a confluence of crises for LGBT2Q+ communities. Job losses, housing losses, fear, anxiety, and loss of support for vulnerable individuals are part of the current reality. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association reports that homophobic and transphobic attacks have increased dramatically. Egale Canada’s national study, The Impact of COVID-19 on the LGBTQI2S Community, reveals the depth of some of the challenges in startling statistics: • 52% of Canada’s LGBT2Q+ households have faced layoffs or reduced employment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as compared to 39% of overall Canadian households. • 53% of the LGBT2Q+ community do not feel confident in their current household’s financial situation, as compared to 40% of non-LGBT2Q+ people. The effects of the crisis on the cultural and economic fabric of the village are just as pronounced. The Church Wellesley BIA remains in close conversation and collaboration with our community of businesses, and the situation is dire. Rents in the village are higher than on Yonge Street, and so many local bars, restaurants and shops operate on razor-thin margins even in the best of times. The spectre

of losing a large number of LGBT2Q+ businesses is real as the weeks roll by without income or strong government support. This is a reality we cannot let come to pass. This is not a crisis that’s limited to the geographic boundaries of our neighbourhood. The village is a beacon and a promise for every LGBT2Q+ kid in the far reaches of Canada. It is the destination that global tourists give their cab driver when they land at Pearson. It is the centre of gravity for those who’ve moved away but still know they can always return. This home has space for all of us and it requires protecting. Pride Toronto works closely with The Village BIA to create an incredible experience for the 1.7 million festival attendees. We are proud to be able to work with such resilient business owners who serve our community 365 days of the year and contribute to the history and survival of the village. Pride Toronto has announced the launch of our online vendor portal: a curated list of local LGBTQ2S+ makers, creators and vendors that you have come to expect and are excited to see throughout our annual StreetFair. We have also introduced a number of Virtual Pride programming celebrating these makers, including a weekly unboxing of various items available in our online vendor market, hosted by Max Claude and Mango Sassi. During this time of uncertainty, supporting LGBT2Q+ communities is more important than ever. In order to continue our support of LGBTQ2+ business owners and makers during this difficult time, Pride Toronto has launched a few exciting initiatives as part of the Virtual Pride programming. Though we are excited about these initiatives, we also know that it won’t be enough. There are tangible and actionable steps that can be taken to save the businesses, culture and support systems within the village. It will take government financial aid, suspension of commercial evictions, community support and a long-term recovery support strategy, to name a few. We are hopeful that work can be done to save Toronto’s village. Our communities will need to come together once again in solidarity to make this happen. As the Church Wellesley BIA said, “It takes a Village to save the Village.”

PRIDE TORONTO supports our communities in the pursuit of our unequivocal rights to be known, be heard, be understood, be accepted, be respected, and to celebrate the beauty of who we are @



It Takes A Village To Save A Village


Celebrating la Francophonie Montréal Pride plans to host an alternative Pride celebration aimed towards strengthening the global Francophone movement of the sexual and gender diversity communities By Mathieu Audette

In these uncertain times when physical distancing is pervasive throughout the world, we direct our reflection towards the sexual and gender diversity communities that inhabit hostile territories where recognition is not fully achieved. Our highest priority has always been to reach the greatest number of people in our communities and to do that in both French and English, thanks to Montreal’s bilingual status and its location in Quebec. Our bilingual programming illustrates our strength in bringing together artists from here and abroad, and has enabled us to become the biggest Pride celebration of the Francophone world. With a growing French-speaking population in Africa, we believe that our outreach to smaller organizations will bring renewed hope to countries where recognition of LGBTQ+ communities is not a human right. Part of our mission is reaching out to these countries through our trips to Cameroon, Kenya and the Congo; offering support and assistance to increase the visibility of LGBTQ+ people; and spreading love and acceptance of the Pride movement. “In order to address these situations where improvement is crucial, we want to bring together Francophone Pride organizations from around the world and create a grouping that will allow us to interact and, most importantly, transfer knowledge to strengthen the global Francophone sexual and gender diversity movement,” explains Éric Pineault, founding president of Montréal Pride. The current obstacles rekindle the need to come together as a community. More than ever, our adapted programming will pay tribute to Canada’s Francophonie by making it shine throughout the world. It is by overcoming these difficult times that we will be able to celebrate in the coming years a Francophone Pride by physically bringing together our communities from here and afar! Be safe, be kind, and be proud!

Avec une population francophone croissante en Afrique, nous croyons que notre rayonnement auprès de plus petits organismes permettra un espoir renouvelé pour les pays où la reconnaissance des communautés LGBTQ+ ne figure pas parmi les droits de la personne. Tendre la main à ces pays via nos voyages au Cameroun, au Kenya et au Congo, en offrant un soutien et une aide pour accroître la visibilité des personnes LGBTQ+ et pour répandre l’amour et l’acceptation du mouvement de la Fierté, fait partie de notre mission. « Afin d’aborder ces situations où l’amélioration est cruciale, nous souhaitons rassembler les organisations francophones du mouvement de la Fierté dans le monde, et ainsi créer un regroupement nous permettant d’interagir et surtout, de procéder à un transfert de connaissances visant à renforcer le mouvement global francophone de la diversité sexuelle et de genre. » explique Éric Pineault, président fondateur de Fierté Montréal. Les obstacles actuels ravivent la nécessité de se rassembler en tant que communauté. Plus que jamais, notre programmation adaptée à la situation rendra hommage à la francophonie au Canada en la faisant rayonner à travers le monde entier. C’est en surmontant ces moments difficiles que nous pourrons célébrer, dans les années à venir, une fierté francophone en rassemblant physiquement nos communautés d’ici et d’ailleurs! Soyons solidaires, soyons bienveillant.e.s et soyons fier.e.s! Bonne Fierté à toustes et au plaisir de célébrer différemment avec vous du 10 au 16 août 2020.


Happy Pride, and we look forward to celebrating with you differently from Aug. 10 to 16, 2020.

En cette période d’incertitude, où la distance physique est omniprésente dans le monde entier, nous orientons notre réflexion vers les communautés de la diversité sexuelle et de genre qui habitent des territoires hostiles à nos communautés et même d’ici, où la reconnaissance n’est pas pleinement atteinte. Notre plus grande priorité a toujours été de rejoindre le plus grand nombre de personnes de nos communautés en français et en anglais, grâce au statut bilingue de Montréal et à son emplacement au Québec. Notre programmation bilingue illustre notamment notre force à réunir des artistes d’ici et d’ailleurs et nous a permis de devenir la plus grande célébration de la Fierté de la francophonie.


MATHIEU AUDETTE has a specialization in Communications from Concordia University and lives in Montréal in order to be

IN MAGAZINE closer to the LGBTQ+ communities. He joined the Montréal Pride team in 2019 as the communications coordinator; he ensures the correspondence between the festival’s partners to increase its visibility and participates in the creation of digital creative content.

Calgary Pride celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, and more than 40 years of rich history in Calgary By Elliot Rae Cormier

We’ve come a long way, baby! From the humble beginnings of a backyard barbecue, to a few dozen marchers along 17th Avenue wearing paper bags over their heads to protect their identities, to small marches in areas that would disrupt the least amount of traffic…and on to our current celebrations, with the 2019 Calgary Pride Parade & Festival attracting 100,000 spectators. Project Pride Calgary, a grassroots collective of six like-minded gay and lesbian organizations, formed in 1987 and put on the city’s first small Gay and Lesbian Pride Festival in June 1988.* In 1990, Pride Week kicked off with a political rally where folks congregated downtown at the Old Y Centre, suiting up in Lone Ranger masks and paper bags to prevent themselves from being identified by unsupportive landlords and employers. The mayor at the time, Al Duerr, took a political risk in 1991 by proclaiming the week of June 16 as Calgary’s first Gay Rights Week. Due to the conservative backlash that developed over his decision in the following weeks, he later renounced his decision, calling the support a mistake. The community declared their own Gay and Lesbian Rights Week the next year regardless, and pressed on without the support of the mayor’s office. After all, you can’t just cancel Pride. Fast forward to 2011, when Mayor Naheed Nenshi became the first mayor to lead the Calgary Pride parade, perched on a red Mustang and donning his iconic royal purple “straight not narrow” T-shirt. He’s shown his support for Calgary’s gender and sexually diverse people and our initiatives ever since. Recognizing Pride is ultimately an act of resiliency, community and love. Pride happens not just for a week or for a month, but all year round in our homes, in our hearts and out in our communities. And this year is already no different. Over the past year, Calgary Pride, along with 22 other LGBTQ2S+ serving organizations and affirming faith groups, led the charge on bylaw legislation to ban the abusive practice of conversion therapy in Calgary. The LGBTQ2S+ community and our allies sent a strong message to the city: we are loved, we are valued,

and we do not need to be changed. After two marathon days of live public engagement, the bylaw passed on May 25, 2020 in a 14:1 City Council vote. Today, Calgary Pride is the fourth largest, and fastest growing, Pride Festival in Canada. We’ve nearly doubled in size over the past four years. Calgary Pride produces a whole host of year-round programming including Reading with Royalty (a gender-diverse drag storytime in partnership with the Calgary Public Library), Evolve: Pride Amplified (a fundraising gala for local LGBTQ2S+ youth programming), and Queerly Festive (a free holiday dinner and show to feed our found family’s bellies and hearts at a time when many of us feel isolated and alone). We do this work with the support of our partners and with the dedication of a volunteer board of directors, eight year-round volunteer committees with over 60 members, hundreds of remarkable volunteers clocking thousands of hours, four summer contractors, two full-time staff and a seriously immeasurable amount of appreciation for our community. Our past matters. The historic Old Y Centre from that game-changing 1990 political Pride rally is now known as CommunityWise Resource Centre. There, behind a rainbow door, is where the Calgary Pride office exists today. Our future matters, too: this year’s shift to digital programming in light of the global pandemic offers us and all Pride organizations a unique opportunity to inspire more empathy, reach more vulnerable people and amplify more voices existing on the margins of our communities than ever before. This year’s 30th Anniversary Calgary Pride Week, presented by ATB Financial, runs from Aug. 28 to Sept. 6, 2020. Calgary Pride is engaging with local businesses to support us in creating smaller, safer Pride events and initiatives, and we’re still recruiting Canadian artists and performers of all talents and mediums to strut their stuff online. Our team is happy to support artists through the technical side of the creation process however we can. Learn more and apply by June 30, 2020 at Together and apart, #WeAreCalgaryPride. * Historical tidbits were generated with information from Kevin Allen, research lead at the Calgary Gay History Project. Kevin’s book, Our Past Matters: Stories of Gay Calgary, is an amazing resource – order it at your local independent bookstore!

ELLIOT RAE CORMIER is a prairie queer non-binary artist and organizer, born and raised in the Treaty 7 region of southern Alberta. They now live and work in Mohkinstsis, the Blackfoot name for the place where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet, colonially known as Calgary. Elliot Rae has an extensive background in design and communications, and they’re currently the administrative assistant for Calgary Pride. They lament that their heart is too big for their body, so you can find them oversharing about life, love, gender and sobriety on Instagram @heckiot.



You Can’t Just Cancel Pride: It’s a Year-Round Passion


Small-Town Pride

Reflections on what impact Pride movements in small communities like Yorkton, Sask., have for folks who have never been able to be out in their communities By Jenn Tatton

Imagine being a young queer kid walking down a street in your hometown, kicking a pebble with your shoe. Then you look up, and what do you see? A rainbow flag rising up a flagpole, a magnificent reminder that you do indeed exist. That’s not my story. I grew up in a much less accepting time, when rainbow flags were things you saw on TV and your parents told you to quit asking questions if you asked them about it. Yorkton had its first Pride flag raising in 2016. I remember it well, although I wasn’t there. I was still hiding in a closet somewhere, trying to be an ally where I could, because being out in my community was too frightening a thought. The following year, Yorkton had a Pride march. I remember that too, even though I wasn’t there. There were several advertised events that I didn’t go to. I vividly remember driving by them, each time willing myself to go inside, just to see. I wondered, was that the reality for anyone else? Was anybody else even in there? Marching in my first Pride parade in 2017, in my hometown, was the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. After that, I never looked back. I had to do this, I had to get involved. At that time, we were supported by Moose Jaw Pride and the Saskatchewan Pride network and by the almost single-handed efforts of Laura Budd, our liaison in the area. Calling her a liaison feels unfair. She is an advocate, a champion, and an all-around amazing woman without whom Yorkton might never have had a Pride movement at all.

Of course, we had backlash. On social media, people complained about the rainbow crosswalk that our LGBTQ+ youth had painted. But when the bullies come out, so do the allies. We found out that we had more allies than we realized – we had people in our corner. By 2019, we had grown so much that we decided it was time for us to strike out on our own. With the support of Moose Jaw Pride and the Saskatchewan Pride Network, we were able to incorporate and create a Pride board. I now proudly sit on that board as its secretary, and I think back to that few short years ago, sitting in my car and deciding whether to stay or to go. That all seems so long ago. I’m glad I was able to be a part of this movement alongside two amazing women: Margo Allaire, our board chair, and Laura Budd, our treasurer. We now have regular board meetings and social media pages, events throughout the year such as game nights and movie nights, and events like bubble ball soccer. We have the privilege of being able to serve our LGBTQ+ community in ways that foster connection and help people feel less alone. In March 2020, we made the difficult decision to postpone our Pride events indefinitely. It was a blow, considering the momentum we had gained. But what is it they say about the best-laid plans? So now we face a new reality: finding ways to support our queer community amid social distancing and fears of COVID-19. But, as queer folks, we all know what it’s like to have to wait until it’s safe to come out. We know we can handle this, and we aren’t going anywhere.


We began as a fledgling movement, fumbling around and trying to get a toehold in the community. Well, we must have done something right because we went from having just a handful of folks at those

first Pride events to having a couple of hundred show up over a week’s worth of events at our most recent Pride week.


JENN TATTON is a queer activist, writer, advocate, cosplayer and all-around geek who loves to be involved in their

IN MAGAZINE queer community. They work in mental health and help support LGBTQ+ mental health in their community.

The integration of a Two-Spirit pow wow into a Pride event is a powerful demonstration of decolonization and reconciliation By Albert McLeod

Up until the last couple of decades, Indigenous LGBTQ/Two-Spirit people existed at the fringes of mainstream LGBTQ consciousness. While Indigenous and other queer people of colour were leaders in the LGBTQ liberation movement, their contributions were rarely noted. However, the introduction of the term “Two-Spirit” in 1990 increased the understanding of Indigenous LGBTQ people living in the pre-colonial history of the Americas, and established a niche in the LGBTQ and Indigenous sectors in the modern era. In 1975, Two-Spirit organizing was led by Randy Burns and Deborah Cameron when they established the Gay American Indians group in San Francisco. When the HIV pandemic reached American cities in 1980s, it galvanized Two-Spirit people in Canada and the US to mount a response. The Two-Spirit liberation movement began in earnest with the first International Two-Spirit Gathering, held in Minneapolis in 1988. This gathering, which continues annually today, is the cornerstone of Two-Spirit cultural reclamation and cross-border collaborations and support. Pride Winnipeg has hosted the annual Pride March since 1987, when the inaugural march was held to celebrate the passing of Manitoba legislation that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation. In recent years, there were criticisms that Winnipeg’s Pride was tailored to a white cis-male audience, and that Indigenous and Queer and Trans People of Colour (QTPOC) were not fairly represented in its marketing or events. In July 2016, Pride Winnipeg hosted a community consultation to develop a five-year plan in order to diversify their representation and inclusion of LGBTQ people in Winnipeg. Afterwards, they began a campaign that represented Two-Spirit and QPOC people in their online promotion of the festival weekend and in their Pride

Week events. That year, Gayle Pruden, a First Nation transgender activist, was selected as the Pride March Grand Marshal. Successive Grand Marshalls have also been Indigenous leaders: Kelly Houle (2017), Brielle Beardy Linklater (2018) and Peetanacoot Nenakwekapo (2019). For Two-Spirit people, an underlying need was to have Pride represent them culturally and have events that held meaning for them. The following year, Pride Winnipeg collaborated with the Like That program at Sunshine House and the Two-Spirited People of Manitoba organization to host a Two-Spirit pow wow during Pride Week. The term “pow wow” derives from Pau Wau, meaning “medicine man” in Narrtick, a language spoken by the Algonquian peoples in Massachusetts. English settlers began misusing the word to refer to the meetings of Indigenous medicine men, and later to any kind of American Indian gathering. American Indians have since reclaimed the term. The first alcohol- and drug-free Two-Spirit pow wow was held on May 26, 2017 at The Forks National Historic Site, next to the Pride Winnipeg main stage and festival grounds. Since then, Two-Spirit pow wows have become a part of Pride Winnipeg’s annual celebration. At the 2019 pow wow, 10 drum groups and more than 100 dancers participated, and approximately 1,000 Pride participants visited the event. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Pride celebrations, including the pow wow, have been postponed until September 4-13, 2020 and will be held in a digital format.

ALBERT MCLEOD is a Status Indian with ancestry from Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and the Metis community of Norway House in northern Manitoba. He has over 30 years of experience as a human rights activist and is one of the directors of the Two-Spirited People of Manitoba. Albert began his Two-Spirit advocacy in Winnipeg in 1986 and became an HIV/AIDS activist in 1987. He was the director of the Manitoba Aboriginal AIDS Task Force from 1991 to 2001. In 2018, Albert received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Winnipeg. Albert lives in Winnipeg, 43 where he works as a consultant specializing in Indigenous peoples cultural reclamation, and cross-cultural training.


On The Pow Wow Trail With Pride


Nina West, Drag Up Your Pride!, June 13th, 2019. (Photo by Wade Muir /





Irmana “Eden Disney” Se, TKBA CHOPPEDXtra, June 27, 2019. (Photo by Wade Muir /



PRIDE SHOULD CELEBRATE THE RAINBOW Let’s not forget that Pride is inherently political, and so is race. If we say we celebrate diversity, let’s mean what we say By Fraser Abe

Pride season for many Canadians, is a time – to borrow the parlance from a song about another season – to be merry and bright. So, when Black Lives Matter blocked the Toronto Pride Parade in 2016, they were supported by some, but seen as party-poopers by others who were simply out for a good time. Ditto for the protestors from Queers Against Israeli Apartheid a few years before that.


There’s a common refrain from the white cis spectrum of the LGB rainbow – “I understand their point, but it’s not the right time or place.” “Why can’t they protest some other way?” “They should block their own parade!”

The book Marvellous Grounds: Queer of Colour Histories of Toronto has a chapter about arts-based organizing by Aemilius “Milo” Ramirez, a drag king/gender performance artist, that details their time in the early 2000s as a performer at clubs on Church Street. They say that “more often than not,” shows at early 2000s Church Street mainstays like Crews & Tangos, Zelda’s and George’s Play “represented white narratives, along with messages of misogyny, transphobia, transmisogyny, ableism, classism, and of course racism for good measure.”

“But that was so long ago!” That’s another plaint white cis LGB people exclaim when people of colour explain the history of racism What these people forget is that Pride is inherently political in the queer community. If the past decade counts as ancient history, (Stonewall wasn’t exactly a tea party, after all), and so is race. As woe to the aged twink who remembers nights at 5ive. Remember in political activist and academic Angela Davis pointed out, “In a 2013, when one Toronto queen was fired after their performance in racist society, it is not good enough to be non-racist, we must be blackface? She dressed as Miss Cleo, the telephone psychic from anti-racist.” It’s a narrow distinction, but an important one, made the ’90s, with full blackface. Or in 2012, when another queen by seemingly every other news story across the globe these days. performed in a burka, bindi and a set of bombs attached to her What Davis means is that it is not enough to simply not make racist stomach? The 2010s weren’t exactly the Mad Men era. jokes or harbour racist thoughts – a person must actively seek to be anti-racist by calling out others’ (and their own) racist behaviour. Ramirez’s chapter goes on to say, “As a trans person of colour, Church Street has always felt devastating to me in big ways.” They The Ontario Human Rights Commission defines a person who is discuss how management at Crews & Tangos, in 2005, didn’t want anti-racist as someone who a) identifies, isolates and challenges a DJ friend of theirs playing hip-hop, reggaetón, soca or reggae, racism; b) challenges beliefs that foster racism; c) uses direct action as that style of music had been bringing in “the wrong clientele.” at personal and institutional levels; and d) creates and implements actions to fight racism for individuals and within an organization Pride Toronto, in 2016, apologized for its historic role in contributing or workforce. to racism in the queer community. “Pride Toronto wants to begin by apologizing emphatically and unreservedly for its role in deepening At the time of writing this, there are riots happening in the United the divisions in our community, for a history of anti-blackness and States in reaction to George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police repeated marginalization of the marginalized within our community officer as well as the countless deaths of Black people thanks to that our organization has continued,” the organization said, in police officers. As Canadians, it’s very easy to look at the blatant part. It also vowed to disallow uniformed police (a group that has and very overt shows of racism south of the border and think, been antagonistic to queers and especially queers of colour) from “We’re not like that here!” But that is a mistake – just to give one marching in the parade, although it reversed this decision in 2018 example, concurrent with the protests in the States, Torontonians (the motion was later reversed again, after a vote from members). were marching in droves to protest the death of Regis Korchinski- What’s more, Pride Toronto had to issue another apology last Paquet, who fell from her High Park highrise during an interaction Pride when its land acknowledgement was called out for erasing with Toronto Police. Indigenous people and failing to properly acknowledge their traditional territory. Indeed, racism is alive and well here in Canada as well, even in the queer community, and even during Pride season, a time many Kim Chi, from Season 8 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, famously brought white cis LGB people view as the ultimate in queer togetherness. a heinous Grindr saying to the public zeitgeist: “No fats, no femmes, Think of 2016’s Toronto Pride slogan: “You Can Sit With Us.” no Asians.” It’s a variation of other equally hideous sayings that 46



bubble up on the apps like “No rice, no spice, no chocolate, no curry” or the perhaps most insidious version: “It’s just a preference.” When queers of colour feel rejected before they even say a word, it’s very psychically damaging. Racism can feel even more systemic for queers at Pride when the very institutions they are meant to hold most dear (gay villages, gay bars, gay people, gay establishments) can exhibit the very same racism the world throws at them. It feels like a particularly vicious stab in the back coming from these places. Or, to quote Ramirez, “[W]hat a night on Church Street feels like for me would be, if you had a backpack and you could physically collect all the oppressive experiences you encountered or went up against just in that one night in the village, you would leave with your back aching because you had to carry all of that home with you; and you did carry all of it home.” One of the best things you can do to make the community (and world!) a better place is to educate yourself. Read works by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) authors, and amplify their voices without adding your own. Don’t go to a BIPOC and ask them questions that are easily Googleable – no one likes being (or is) the Encyclopedia Britannica of their race. If you’re able, donate money to a BIPOC organization that helps the queer community. Check out exciting parties (even on Zoom!) like New Ho Queen or events put on by Toronto’s The Rude Collective. Be open to people challenging your notions and thank them for doing so. And remember that queer BIPOC people are not a monolith – one person’s experience will not always be the same as someone else’s, so don’t paint them all with the same brush. This year, celebrate Pride by celebrating the diversity of our community and by lifting up and donating to a broad range of voices and people. They say the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now. Contrary to some people’s belief, it is the right time and place.

FRASER ABE is a Toronto-based writer. His work has been published in Toronto Life, The Globe and Mail, Sharp Magazine, NOW Magazine and more. When he’s not busy writing, he’s shrieking Gia Gunn quotes at his boyfriend, Colin.





Pride is different this year, but that doesn’t make your support and presence any less impactful or necessary By Bobby Box

Pride is going to be a lot different this year. Church Street won’t be bustling with our colourful community and allies. Instead, we will be quarantined in our homes, attending the month’s events online. “This year the festival is themed Virtual Pride Month as all events and programming will be offered virtually,” Toronto’s mayor, John Tory, announced June 1 in the official Pride proclamation. “While Pride has had to go virtual due to COVID-19, programming will keep the LGBTQ2S+ and broader communities connected throughout the month.”


Making the best of a bad situation, Toronto Pride will still feature key events like Trans Pride, the Dyke Rally, the Drag Ball and the Pride Parade, as well as regular weekly activities like trivia, how-to workshops, and lunch and learns. (Visit to find virtual Pride event listings from across the country and more) “Virtual Pride is an opportunity to use technology as a platform to showcase the many talents of our diverse LGBTQ2+ community members in new and exciting ways,” according to the Toronto Pride website. “You will be able to experience the performances, passions and energy of our many amazing artists like never before. The show must go on!”

recent years typically raises in the range of 15 per cent to 20 per cent of our gross operating revenues,” explains Stacy Kelly, director of philanthropy at The 519, an organization committed to the health, happiness and full participation of the LGBTQ2S+ communities. “In 2019, we raised $1.5 million through the GSF.” In addition to its popular four-day festival, The 519 normally organizes in-house events, such as LGBTQ2S Family Pride, LGBTQ Newcomers Pride, LGBTQ Refugee Pride, Trans Pride and Seniors Pride, and supports other events like the annual Toronto AIDS Vigil, during Pride Month. Individuals, organizations and companies that are running thirdparty fundraisers during Pride further add to The 519’s revenue and, therefore, to its ability to continue to provide services and programs for our communities throughout the year. Only time will tell how organizations will be impacted by the switch to digital. Fortunately for The 519 (and for our entire community!), the organization has been selected by Pride Toronto as an ‘Honoured Group’ and ‘Charity of Choice’ for Pride 2020, meaning it will be promoted throughout Digital Pride as a charity worth supporting. The 519 is also exploring options in offering a digital version of its Green Space Festival.

But what does this new format say for organizations that rely on Pride for funding? For most LGBTQ2S+ organizations, Pride “The pandemic has had devastating social and economic impacts on Month is a key source of revenue to fund their year-round programs, our communities, which have dramatically amplified already existing services and operations that benefit the community. systemic barriers to health, economic inclusion and participation,” Kelly says. “Beyond the urgent response we must provide for our “For the past 12 years, we have been running a fundraising music most marginalized and vulnerable community members, we must festival during Pride, called Green Space Festival [GSF], that in also continue to advocate for change to advance human rights 48


Giving back You can support most LGBTQ2S+ organizations online or by phone; you don’t even have to leave your home. Some wonderful local organizations to consider are The 519, LGBT Youth Line, Glad Day Lit and The Pink Basket. Tip your local queens, who will surely be broadcasting live on Instagram. Hire a queen to perform for a group of friends on Zoom. Buy a queen’s merch. Study queer history. Read and share stories written by queer writers, poets and journalists. Purchase works from queer artists and clothes from queer designers. Buy from queer-owned businesses. Check in with the queer people in your life. Attend Digital Pride events, and tip if you can. Show your support through hashtags and filters. Amplify the voices of queer people through retweets and shares. Pride is different this year, but that doesn’t make your support and presence any less impactful or necessary. Without physical spaces, Pride will be less of a party this year – but that leaves room for activism and impact, bringing us closer to our roots and the real meaning of Pride.


and the potential of our communities during this time, and in the times that follow.” STAND AGAINST RACISM In light of recent events impacting the black community, please consider donating to regional chapters of Black Lives Matter, like Black Lives Matter Toronto and Black Lives Matter Vancouver; they are seeking donations, volunteers and support. Other national Black and anti-racism organizations to consider are: Black Liberation Collective, Black Health Alliance, Black Legal Action Centre, Black in BC Community Support Fund for COVID-19, Nia Centre for the Arts, Hogan’s Alley Society, Black Space Winnipeg, Black Women In Motion and Black Youth Helpline. Sign petitions. Attend protests. Amplify the voices that need to be heard. Donate to bail funds for those who are protesting. Let people know #BlackLivesMatter.

The 519, a non-profit organization in the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood of Toronto

BOBBY BOX is a prolific freelance journalist in Hamilton, Ont. He currently works as contributing editor at and has had the privilege of speaking with the world’s most recognized drag queens, including, most recently, Trixie Mattel and Alaska Thunderfuck. While proud of his work, Bobby is not above begging. He asks that you follow him on Twitter at @bobbyboxington.



PRIDE 2020: WEAR YOUR PRIDE Wear it loud, wear it proud all summer long By Christopher Turner

Pride celebrations may look very different this summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still make a style statement. Inspired by LGBTQ communities around the world, these Pride-inspired pieces also serve as reminders that the fight for tolerance, diversity and equality is ongoing. Here’s a roundup of some of our favourite rainbow designs you can pick up this summer.


Nike BeTrue collection Nike’s 2020 BeTrue collection for men and women includes a variety of logo tees, hoodies, shorts, bucket hats, bandanas, headbands, socks and sunglasses, as well as a unisex shoulder bag. The collection also offers three choices for sneakers: the Air Force 1 BeTrue, the Air Max 2090 BeTrue and the Pegasus 37 BeTrue, as well as the Air Deschutz BeTrue, a fun, versatile sandal. Bonus: Nike is donating a portion of all BeTrue sales to organizations empowering the LGBT sports community. Converse Pride collection Now in its fifth year, the 2020 Pride collection features apparel and accessories as well as loud and proud high- and low-top versions of both the classic Chuck Taylor All Star and Chuck 70 silhouettes, all inspired by the “More Color, More Pride” flag that was introduced in Philadelphia in 2017. (Chuck 70s and Chuck Taylor All Stars sneakers are all fully customizable with bisexual, pan-sexual, non-binary and transgender flag options via the brand’s Converse By YOU platform.) This year, the brand will continue to support LGBTQ+ youth community partners globally and has pledged to support the It Gets Better Project, the Ali Forney Center, Bagly and OUT MetroWest.



Levi’s Pride collection Levi’s seventh annual Pride collection celebrates the LGBTQ community with a wide variety of gear with rainbow and tie-dye details. The collection includes a variety of graphic tees and crop tees, a denim trucker vest in a stonewashed indigo and a dreamy faded tie-dye, matching indigo and faded tie-dye denim shorts, a special clear iridescent Trucker Jacket with a holographic rainbow overlay, and even a pair of Pride stonewash denim chaps! Completing the lineup are a range of accessories including socks, underwear, a Flex Fit cap, bandana with rainbow overlay, a clear iridescent banana sling and more. This year, 100 per cent of net proceeds from the collection will be going to OutRight Action International. Apple Watch Band: Pride Edition Apple has released two new watch bands and a collection of new watch faces for the Apple Watch to commemorate Pride Month. One Apple Watch Pride band features a light-coloured vertical-stripe rainbow across the entire strap. The other band is a twist on the existing Nike Sport Band: it’s a white band with rainbow colours located inside the holes of the band. A portion of the proceeds from the 2020 Pride Edition watch band will go to GLSEN, PFLAG, The Trevor Project, Gender Spectrum and The National Center for Transgender Equality in the US, and ILGA internationally. Dr. Martens 1460 Pride Smooth Leather Lace Up Boots Dr. Martens has reimagined its classic combat boot in celebration of Pride Month. The just-released iconic 1460 black leather silhouette features rainbow stitching throughout, a rainbow heel loop and an embroidered rainbow flag. Completing the boot’s subtle Pride look is a set of rainbow or black laces and the classic yellow welt stitching on the sole unit.


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.




Let’s take a minute and evaluate our sense of “hope” By Paul Gallant


The word “pride” is usually defined along the lines of “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s achievements.” That makes it a fundamentally reflective emotion. But the celebration of Pride is also closely tied to feelings of hope, from the shallowest sense – I hope the weather’s good, I hope I’ll have a good time, I hope I’ll get laid – to a deeper hope for one’s self, for friends and family, for community and LGBT people across the planet. Parades, street festivals, arts events are certainly fun, sometimes pure hedonism – but they’re also colourful wayposts connecting past accomplishments to unrealized aspirations. Sappy as it sounds, to celebrate Pride is to be on a journey of hope.

There are lots of ways around any problem LGBT people have been thrown out of their homes, had their children taken away from them, lost their jobs, been assaulted and neglected. But we’ve always found ways to create families of choice, to recognize our relationships when others haven’t, to invent our own opportunities, to imagine and build our own communities. We live in a world that’s riskier than the world that straight people live in, and so we’ve become adept at managing risk.

I can think of many ways to get the things in life that are important to me Going back in history, LGBT people have been able to find each To evaluate a person’s sense of hope, psychologists often use a other, partly as a means of finding ourselves. Even before the scale invented in the early 1990s by US psychologist Charles community established beachheads like bars, bathhouses, websites Richard Snyder. It’s a list of yes or no questions designed to tap and apps, you could look for revealing taste in music (“Oh, I love into a patient’s sense of optimism. What if we were to apply that Judy Garland, too”) or style (“Why does she keep her hair cut so scale to Pride? short?”), a washroom or a park with a certain reputation, certain professions (interior design, anyone?) or a certain way of talking I can think of many ways to get out of a jam (the gay “accent” with its penchant for upspeak and a pronounced Yes. You want an example? In 2003, with Pride Toronto’s budget “s”). Bullies, including parents, churches and governments, have in deficit, the US economy in decline and Toronto best known for tried to erase these tells over centuries but have been extraordinarily being the North American epicentre of the SARS epidemic – that is, unsuccessful. a place to avoid at all costs – Pride organizers persuaded government to cough up more cash and hiked parade fees to make the festival Even when others get discouraged, I know I can find a way to happen. A lot of that money went into marketing to make sure the solve the problem beer gardens were busy…and they were. When the HIV/AIDS crisis hit in the early 1980s, gay men were being demonized as they were getting sick and dying. For several I energetically pursue my goals years, the cause of the disease was unknown, and the establishment Excuse me? Energetic is a bit of an understatement, don’t you was uninterested in investigating it, never mind finding a cure. An think? Look at the work going into the costumes, the work in those entire generation was decimated, the survivors left traumatized. But buff bodies. Think of the tempers that have flared through the the crisis brought us together, gay men and lesbians in particular. years over Queers Against Israeli Apartheid – or the police, or the It nurtured empathy and fellowship, all the while teaching us nudists – marching in the Toronto parade. Over Pride leadership. the impressive lobbying and PR skills we’ve been effectively Over politicians not wanting to march…or wanting to march. deploying ever since. Energy? Oh, honey. Check and check. 52


I’ve been pretty successful in life Has there been a social movement in Canada that’s been so successful so quickly? From the 1981 bathhouse raids (the second-largest mass arrest in Canadian history, after the October Crisis of 1970) to highprofile openly gay leaders and celebrities kicking ass and taking names, we’ve come a long way. In Canada, anyway, homophobia has proven to be a less resilient social ill than, say, racism and misogyny. In fact, racism and misogyny seem very effective at giving homophobia and transphobia shelter, which explains the frustration many activists have that LGBT institutions have not been

as inclusive and representative as they could be. In entertainment, we’ve broken so much ground – from Ellen DeGeneres coming out in 1997 to the wild mainstream popularity of Schitt’s Creek, from the self-hating The Boys in the Band to the self-affirming Moonlight –that it’s become strange to see a prestige TV show without a queer character.


My past experiences have prepared me well for my future Even LGBT people who haven’t experienced outright abuse have been made, at various times of their lives, to feel conscious and singled out, “different” from straight people. That can lead to increased self-consciousness and anxiety, leaving us feeling like we have to justify our identities and desires. But working through these feelings can make us more self-aware about our needs and what we bring to the table. Though some of us come out of dark periods of our lives wanting to selfishly pretend that discrimination and hate don’t exist anymore, those experiences have made many of us more compassionate and empathetic, more able to see our own struggles in the struggles of others, more willing to help.

I meet the goals that I set for myself One of the strange things about achieving social progress is that it’s not like climbing a mountain or winning RuPaul’s Drag Race: the goalposts are always moving. In the 1990s, same-sex marriage seemed impossible; by 2005, it was a done deal in this country, one done so definitively that no mainstream political leader has dared even threaten to reverse it. Gold star for us; here’s the cheque, wedding planners! In politics, you can flip a switch. But problems like youth homelessness, bullying to suicide, drug addiction and HIV/AIDS can’t be eradicated with a single court decision or vote. They take money, teamwork and creativity. Our community certainly has lots of creativity, but we’re so-so at teamwork (there’s no shortage of divas). That’s when a healthy dose of fabulousness – and strategically deployed good manners – comes in handy. We can be better. And we have the power to do so.

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.


t a h t t ’ n Is

! ? t o o y Ka

Let’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. 53


Art After Stonewall A painstakingly comprehensive Ohio exhibition reveals how the birth of the Pride movement changed art forever By Doug Wallace All images coutesy of the Columbus Museum of Art

Keith Haring, “Safe Sex”


“It’s the new San Francisco!” That’s what I keep telling people who ask why I’m going to Columbus, Ohio, in the middle of March. I pull this out of thin air, but everyone seems to buy it.

Art. His idea was championed by the CMA, and a team of CMA curators – including Tyler Cann and Drew Sawyer – began working on the show several years ago. They were surprised to find that in the lead-up to the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, there was no major celebratory art exhibition planned for the summer of 2019. So the Columbus project became “it.”

Really, I’m going to see Art After Stonewall, 1969-1989 at the Columbus Museum of Art (CMA), a collection of more than 200 works by queer artists and their allies from 1969 to 1989. Helping to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the show “We assumed there’d be a glut of shows, and that it was going to be explores the impact of the LGBTQ civil rights movement on the difficult to get loans for our show, a historical-based exhibition,” art world, demonstrating how artists, avant-gardists, political says art historian and co-curator Daniel Marcus. “Then at one point, activists and general social change brought forth a new reflection Jonathan realized that there just wasn’t another museum doing what of emerging queer subcultures. The exhibition had to close for a we were doing, so there wouldn’t be any conflict of loan. That’s few months during the pandemic outbreak, but is expected to be when we decided to open in New York in 2019.” back up and running until some time in the early autumn, with a small but interesting encapsulation available at ColumbusMuseum. And the crowd went wild To say the exhibition was a hit is an understatement. Ditto the org/Stonewall. reviews in Miami, the show’s autumn stop on the road before it The fact that Art News magazine called it “one of the most important moved into two floors of the CMA this past March. It covers a exhibitions of the decade” is enough to sell me on this straight huge swath of photography, painting, sculpture and music, as well away. But the big question on my mind is: Why Columbus? Why as conceptual, performance, film and video art. not New York? Included are era-defining photographs from JEB (Joan E. Biren), Art After Stonewall is the brainchild of Jonathan Weinberg, an Shelley Seccombe, Diana Davies, Sunil Gupta, Tseng Kwong artist, art historian and critic who teaches at the Yale School of Chi and Crawford Barton, along with seminal canvases from the 54



JEB (Joan E. Biren), “Self-Portrait, Dyke, VA”







Shelley Seccombe, “Sunbathing on the Edge”



likes of artists Keith Haring, Lula Mae Blocton and Tabboo! Other artists represented include Vaginal Davis, Louise Fishman, David Hockney, Lyle Ashton Harris, Greer Lankton, Robert Mapplethorpe, Catherine Opie, Andy Warhol and Martin Wong, as well as works by straight-identified artists seeking engagement with queer subcultures. A smattering of historical documents and media imagery are also on display, including iconic posters from the likes of Gay Liberation Front and AIDS activist group ACT UP. There’s a complete, hot pink leather outfit – cap, harness, chaps and all – and even an actual closet from installation artist Robert Gober. This is all thanks to support from both The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Keith Haring Foundation. As with all shows of this size, a few of the works were challenging to move and install. These include a delicate, fabric-wrapped, ladder-like form from artist Harmony Hammond, and sculptor Scott Burton’s two-part chair, consisting of two 800-pound pieces of granite that require each other to remain upright. These two works in particular seem to sum up the argument of the show, which is so much about presence and “being here.” “It was incredible that we were able to get what we got,” Marcus says. “It’s a comprehensive show, even though the subject itself is inexhaustible. We couldn’t represent every facet of queer art, but we will be remembered as having done a good job at representation.” An advisory group helped the curators include artists who otherwise might not have been on their radar.

Gay Liberation Front, Come Out

Tseng Kwong Chi, “Jean-Michel Basquiat & Andy Warhol”

Streets paved with glitter Rubbing elbows with the locals, I find out that Columbus has been a queer-friendly city for a long time, a significant part of the queer culture of the upper Midwest. LGBTQ community centre Stonewall Columbus – similar to Toronto’s The 519 – is part of that history. Founded in 1981, it continues to connect people through programs, resources and events, including a very large Pride, which is slated for October 3. Maybe this is your fall road trip? But civic gay-friendliness is not the only reason Art After Stonewall is a good fit here. “The exhibit is pitch-perfect for the CMA,” Marcus says, “due to the kind of collection it has built up: a lot of the programming we do is oriented towards social histories and social struggles. The struggles of ordinary people are central to the history that runs through the museum.” As for the take-home, one main thrust is simply that this art exists: a presentation of art by openly queer artists that is not relegated to the margins of a museum but the focal point – with all the wounds of the battle for queer recognition, representation and civil rights front and centre. This is particularly important for a younger audience.


Art After Stonewall also wants to draw attention to the fact that queer issues and queer art didn’t magically appear at the end of the 1980s with AIDS activism. “That’s the kind of misleading stuff that’s taught in lecture halls,” says Marcus, an art history lecturer himself. “The exhibition wants to say that the history of contemporary art is in so many ways the history of queer culture.” I was happy to be able to squeak in this one last travel junket just before the borders closed. It’s a seven-hour drive from Toronto, so perhaps a weekend in Windsor is in order, too. Since that trip, I’ve been happily occupied with all my armchair travelling, reliving my CMA visit online and planning my return to Ohio. As it turns out, Columbus is the new Columbus. 58


DOUG WALLACE is the editor and publisher of travel resource TravelRight.Today.



PRIDE OF AMAZING THAILAND A vibrant commitment to celebrating LGBTQ communities means Thailand doesn’t stop when Pride festivities move online

The Tourism Authority of Thailand had planned to participate again this year in many special programs with unique activities, including at SNAP Toronto and Pride festivals in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Winnipeg. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to cancel their planned celebrations, Amazing Thailand refocused its efforts to celebrate by joining various online Pride platforms, events and hubs. Thailand’s commitment is not one that begins and ends with Pride weekends or events, but is rather a steadfast and authentic decision to always be a destination that makes everyone feel important, comfortable and accepted. Celebrating Pride is one of the most anticipated events for many Canadians every summer, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand feels strongly about providing camaraderie and support for the LGBTQ+ community. As the most progressive Asian country, and one that has embraced LGBTQ+ culture for decades, Thailand has reached across continents to support LGBTQ+ initiatives throughout Canada, providing people with the knowledge that Thailand is a welcoming destination with a strong LGBTQ+ culture. Pride Month allows us to expose the very best of who we are, showcase the colourful ways that our differences bind us, and in Canada, as in Thailand, remind everyone that freedom, tolerance and equality are essential for everyone’s peace of mind and joy of life. This year, we have had to make adjustments to our ways of celebrating Pride, meaning that instead of the excitement generated when millions take to the streets, we will look back wistfully at how we celebrated in years past, while planning how to channel that energy into in-person fun in the future. This doesn’t diminish the importance of participating and finding ways to share our common belief that whether you are in Bangkok or Toronto, Chiang Mai or Vancouver, Phuket or Montreal, what really matters is knowing that you are welcome to live, travel, love and celebrate freely. Pride in each other and our actions makes us proud.


Over the past years, Thailand has had a meaningful presence at Pride Toronto, Pride Vancouver, Pride Montreal and Calgary Pride, and has supported initiatives and events that celebrate the acceptance of all who identify as LGBTQ+. It was just one year ago that Amazing Thailand lit up Pride Toronto’s weekend celebrations and hosted three winners of Drag Race Thailand. Angele Anang, Kandy Zyanide and Kana Warrior donned glorious outfits inspired by Thai culture and performed on the Drag Ball Stage, Ho Queen Stage and along the Church Street Fair before marching proudly with thousands – and in front of hundreds of thousands – during the pinnacle Pride Parade.



This summer, while we continue to be physically distant until it is safe to once again share the human touch that is a Pride celebration, we hope you will share in our mission and connect with us during our many virtual Pride events. And while we are all dreaming – in rainbow hues – of travelling and being together, we want to give everyone something to celebrate now, with the chance to win a trip to the magical Kingdom of Thailand! Follow us @thailandinsidercanada to receive updates and news about our exciting events and contests. In association with IN Magazine and Goway Travel, we are giving you and a guest the chance to show your Pride in Thailand and Win a Trip to Amazing Thailand! All you need to do is fill out the contest entry form [ contest/win-a-trip-to-recharge-in-amazing-thailand]. For more chances to win, follow @thailandinsidercanada and hashtag #gothaibefree. Thailand is proud to be hand in hand with Canada this month, and always. BROUGHT TO YOU BY


555 Richmond St. W., Suite 1200 Toronto, ON M5V 3B1 Tel 416.968.3333 Fax 416.968.0325



Your Essential

Pride Happy reading!

By Sienna Vittoria Asselin


Celebrate this Pride Month by looking back on the major milestones of the past half-century with one of these must-read books. Each tells the story of the key players and activists who fought against discrimination, and will leave you feeling inspired to pick up the flag and continue the fight for freedom. Happy reading, and happy Pride!


The Book of Pride: LGBTQ Heroes Who Changed the World By Mason Funk Through in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in the LGBTQ rights movement, this book tells an important piece of modern history spanning the 1960s till now. It is a must-read for anyone looking to learn more about the political and personal efforts made by activists and everyday people for positive change. PRIDE: Fifty Years of Parades and Protests from the Photo Archives of the New York Times By Abrams Books For the visually minded, this book offers an overview of the LGBTQ rights movement using photography collections from The New York Times. The archival photos capture key scenes in the fight for equality starting with the Stonewall Riots just over 50 years ago, moving through decades of parades and protests, to the present day. Rainbow Warrior: My Life in Color By Gilbert Baker In this personal memoir, Gilbert Baker brings readers through his painful childhood, his time in the army, and then his arrival in San Francisco, where he cultivated a career as a visual artist and designed the now-iconic rainbow flag. It debuted in June 1978 at San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day parade, and since then has become arguably one of the most recognizable visual symbols of a movement. Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle By Robin Stevenson In this book for younger readers, the history of the LGBTQ rights movement is told in an approachable and accessible manner. It includes an overview of the milestones of the past 50 years, with a particular focus on profiles of activists from around the world, including refugees from Indonesia and Kenya, and teens in Inuvik.


Pride By Matthew Todd This large-format hardcover book makes for a perfect coffee table conversation starter. The glossy tome charts the major events of the past 50 years, starting again with the Stonewall Riots and walking readers through the worldwide action that emerged in the decades to follow, including important moments (passing marriage and anti-discrimination legislation) and featuring interviews and essays from notable figures along the way.

The books are available at Amazon or Indigo, and through your local independent bookstore. 62


SIENNA VITTORIA ASSELIN is an Ottawa-based freelance journalist with an MA in history and a love for all things bookish and historical. Follow her on social media at @SiennaVittoria.

Test your knowledge about the Pride movement in pop culture, Canada and around the world By Bianca Guzzo


In 1969, the Stonewall Inn in New York City was raided by police. Protests and riots ensued, and many people regard this to be the start of the modern gay rights movement in America. The first Pride marches took place in a few American cities a year later, and Toronto held its gay picnic in 1971. But it wasn’t until the 1981 bathhouse raids in Toronto that the Pride movement (as we know it now) started north of the border.


In 1918, poets and writers Elsa Gidlow and Roswell George Mills launched “Les Mouches fantastiques” in Montreal. It is regarded as the first LGBTQ+ publication in Canada, and North America.


On June 10, 2003, Ontario’s Michael Leshner and Michael Stark became Canada’s first same-sex couple to be legally married. Same-sex marriage would not become legal nationwide until July 20, 2005.


Shania Twain was inspired to write “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” after watching a drag performance. WERK!


Though the acceptance and erasure of same-sex relationships differ from culture to culture, evidence has shown that these relationships existed in nearly every ancient civilization throughout history.


The rainbow pride flag was designed by artist Gilbert Baker in 1978 in San Francisco. Each of the colours represents different things. Red is life, orange is healing, yellow is sunlight, green is nature, blue is harmony and peace, and purple stands for spirit. The flag has been updated in recent years to be more inclusive to the trans community and people of colour.


The original pride flag had two more colours. Turquoise was for art/magic, and pink represented sex/sexuality. These colours were removed/changed due to the cost and unavailability of these colours in times when large numbers of flags needed to be produced quickly.


In 1976, a kiss-in was hosted in Toronto after two men were arrested for kissing at the corner of Bloor and Yonge streets. Protesters stood on the same corner and kissed in front of police officers.


In 1967, the Oscar Wilde memorial bookshop opened in New York City. It was the first gay bookshop in the world.

It is believed that the term ‘lesbian’ comes from the 10 Greek island Lesbos. Sappho, a Greek poetess known for her poetry about the beauty of other women, and her love for them, was from the island.


São Paulo, Brazil, has one of the largest Pride parades in the world. It was first recognized by Guinness in 2006, and again in 2009 with an estimated four million attendees! It was matched by New York City in 2019 when the American city hosted World Pride. São Paulo continues to host the world’s largest parade with attendance numbers that continue to grow annually.

BIANCA GUZZO is a writer based out of the GTA. She spends her free time watching Trixie Mattel makeup tutorials, though she has yet to nail the look.



11 Fast Facts