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Born again1

celebrating canada’s lgbt LIFESTYLE

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PROFUMO, the new intensity


Chris Pine

3 PUBLISHER Patricia Salib Guest EDITOR Christopher Turner Art director Prairie Koo FASHION director Danyl Geneciran INTERN Joel Ducharme CONTRIBUTORs Nelson Branco, Kalvin Corea, Colin Druhan, Adriana Ermter, Paul Gallant, Ruth Hanley, Courtney Hardwick, Karen Kwan, Max MacDonald, Iko Maramo, Michael Pihach, Mitchel Raphael, Maria Natalia Rodriguez, Adam Segal, Doug Wallace, Casey Williams, Ryan Wohlgemut Senior Account Director Woodrow Monteiro DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS Reggie Lanuza Controller Agnes Mao

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APRIL / MAY 2016


69 issue 69

APRIL / MAY 2016





Spring forward! Here comes the revolution



This place knows how to enjoy itself–while totally thrilling you

India’s first openly gay prince talks about his coming-out experience

The world’s oldest drag queen definitely isn’t slowing down



It’s time to lighten up our head-to-toe body and skincare routine

Scenes from the party circuit



What’s in it for you to come out at work?



Cher’s son has transitioned so far that he doesn’t consider himself transgender

What you need to know before you go on a juicing kick


14 | RELATIONSHIPS Your worth doesn’t hinge on a constructed standard of beauty

47 | INSIGHT A parent’s death forces a new look at life

50 | FLASHBACK Tennis great Billie Jean King outed

FASHION 30 | HIGH MOTIONS The season’s look is inflected with forward-looking energy

Even monsters have to grow up

28 | ELLEN PAGE ON GAYCATION AND PROGRESS Ellen Page talks LGBT progress in Hollywood and her new show Gaycation




APRIL / MAY 2016


FIRST OPENLY GAY INDIAN PRINCE TALKS ABOUT COMING OUT India’s first openly gay prince has an important message about homosexuality By Christopher Turner

In 2006, the Crown Prince of one of India’s oldest royal families “It was a very confusing state.” made an announcement that grabbed headlines around the world: the formerly married Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil was gay. This He also tells the story of coming out to his parents. Under pressure shocking announcement made Prince Manvendra the world’s only from the rest of the royal family, Prince Manvendra’s parents pubopenly gay prince—and it also outraged his community and created licly disowned and disinherited him three months after news of his conflict within the royal family that is, to this day, not fully reconciled. sexuality broke. But after he travelled the world to tell his story, his parents reversed their decision and have somewhat reluctantly Since the initial media firestorm, the prince has remained determined accepted him back into the family. to live in his truth in a country that condemns homosexuality. Despite the many obstacles, he’s been able to fully come to terms with his As he explains in the video: “This whole news of my coming out sexuality and he’s begun to find happiness in his new mission in was like an earthquake. The news spread like wildfire; there was life: sharing his story with people around the world and working utter chaos and confusion, and people were shocked.” on behalf of the often persecuted gay community in India. In 2000, a sense of injustice compelled Prince Manvendra to start The prince first spoke about his sexuality on Oprah in 2007, but The Lakshya Trust, a community-based organization dedicated elaborates on his unique coming-out story in a recent video for to supporting gay men and to education about and prevention of Come Out Loud, an organization that aspires “to provide a platform HIV/AIDS. “It’s doing well; a lot more people are educated now,” he says in the video. for the LGBT community to come together and unite.” He describes his long journey from experimenting with his sexuality Today the prince continues to work as an activist fighting to with his servant as a boy to getting married to a princess in 1991, decriminalize homosexuality in India. which made him realize he was not sexually attracted to women. The marriage only lasted a year and he claims it was never consummated. His powerful final words for Come out Loud: “When I was around 12 or 13, I realized I wasn’t attracted towards the opposite sex. I was attracted to the same sex,” Prince Manvendra says in a 17-minute video for Come Out Loud. “Why is this attraction happening? I wasn’t clear about it because I did not have communication with anyone.”

“We’re all human beings. We should be treated equally and be given the rights which we have been denied. All we expect from the society is love. Gay rights cannot just be won in the courtroom, but also in the hearts and minds of the people we live with.”

“We’re all human beings. We should be treated equally and be given the rights which we have been denied.” 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.


Spring Rituals

April showers may be Mother Nature’s way of bringing May flowers, but they’re also a great reminder: it’s time to lighten up our head-to-toe body and skincare routine. Here’s how and why By Adriana Ermter

Have you been told to lighten up lately? The phrase is frequently used in conjunction with humour when we don’t get a joke, in relation to difficult situations when we take ourselves too seriously and in accordance with the weather, when we literally swap our winter wardrobe for looser, airier clothing. Well, with spring temperatures on the rise, you can now apply it to your head-to-toe body and skincare regimn, too.

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“We have a milder climate now,” explains Charmaine Cooper, the education manager for Dermalogica and the International Dermal Institute Canada. “That means we’re being more active and need to lighten up on the emollients and barriers we use to shield our bodies from the outside world.” Your skin care: face and body By the time April rolls around, your skin no longer needs the thicker formulations it did to combat winter’s hot indoor and frosty outdoor conditions. Higher temperatures result in excess oil production, and not simply for those who have a tendency towards combination to oily skin. According to Cooper, whether it’s for the skin on your face or on your body, a good rule of thumb is to shelve your thick and heavy formulations and replace them with airier ones. Products like Bioderma Hydrabio Facial Gel-Crème ($29.50, available in drugstores) and Dermalogica Body Hydrating Cream ($68, available at spas and salons) include ingredients like water, vitamins C and E, and salicylic or hydroxy acids. They are lightweight, hydrating, brighten and nourish, and smooth and exfoliate your skin. Not to mention, “they keep water in the skin, and as the air gets warmer we want to focus on this type of hydration,” says Cooper.



Your shower cleanser While the ultimate purpose of hopping into the shower with a bar of soap or tube of shower gel is to wash away grime, there are benefits to choosing the right products to accompany you. Creamy formulations containing heavy oils are ideal for winter weather but in warmer conditions can trap sweat, dirt, grime and bacteria on your skin. Instead, try ones that are “light, fresh and clean: these are quintessential spring qualities,” suggests Deborah Fulsang, the editorial director for the fragrance magazine, The Whale and The Rose. “In the spring, I want my shower to refresh, cleanse, invigorate and wake me up to face the sunshine.” Products like Aveda Rosemary Mint Bath Bar ($21, available at Aveda salons and stores) and The Body Shop Olive Shower Gel ($10, available at The Body Shop stores) do the trick, acting as an antifungal (Aveda) and as an antibacterial and natural humectant (Body Shop), thanks to the ingredients rosemary, mint and olive oil.

l oo k ing goo d

Your hair care When you live in Canada, transitioning your hair care from a winter to spring routine is all about creating a fresh start. “First, get a haircut to eliminate dead ends and then add a little colour to give yourself a fresh feel,” advises Daniel Naumovski, co-owner of TAZ Hair Co. in Toronto. Next, he recommends swapping your moisturizing shampoos and conditioners for cleansing and volumizing versions like Revlon Professional Style Masters Volume Shampoo and Conditioner ($16 each, available at hair salons), containing ingredients like bamboo extract, vegetable proteins and amino acids, which provide nourishment and volume without weighing your hair down. “You want to put a bounce in your hair,” says Naumovski. “Products with too much moisture, combined with the season’s warm air and humidity, will only make your hair look flat and limp.”

Your fragrance Wanting to shelve your headier, spicier scents and reach for crisper, fresher versions is “instinctual for spring,” says Fulsang. “Think about what you love to eat in the spring and summer—barbecued meat and veggies, plus cocktails garnished with amazing fresh herbs. It’s just like that. I want my fragrance to be fresh and aromatic.” She recommends opting for eaus with earthy, citrusy, non-invasive notes like the spicy wasabi and incense, tangy mandarin and vetiver, earthy violet leaf, wet cobblestones and orris concrete, and sensual rose and sandalwood found in Calvin Klein CK2 ($67, available at Hudson’s Bay, Sephora and Shoppers Drug Mart stores).

ADRIANA ERMTER is a Toronto-based, lifestyle-magazine-pro who has travelled the globe, writing about must-spritz fragrances, child poverty, beauty and grooming.



Benefits of Being ‘Out’ on the Job What’s in it for you to come out at work? By Colin Druhan

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Just under half of all Canadians who identify as LGBT are out to everyone they work with. There is ample evidence to prove that employers who foster inclusive environments, where it’s safe for LGBT employees to be honest about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, enjoy higher retention rates and more productive teams. That’s certainly great for those employers, but for LGBT Canadians wondering what’s in it for them to come out at work, here are a few possible benefits to consider:

Eliminate the work of staying in the closet Nearly every workplace demands some sort of sharing of personal information, whether it’s talking about general interests like TV shows, movies and sports, or more intimate details like what we did (and with whom) on the weekend. Editing out key information that would disclose your sexual orientation or gender identity, like names and gendered pronouns, can be a full-time job in itself.

Be an ally to others Not all LGBT people share the same challenges, but by being out at work with vocal support for all members of the LGBT community you are providing the opportunity for your LGBT colleagues to reach out to you when they need support. That means understanding how you want to be treated, and listening to others when they tell you what they need to feel safe and respected at work.

Build stronger relationships The more we know about our colleagues, the more invested we are in their success. Sharing personal information inspires the same behaviour in others, and knowing facts about the people we work with limits how much we rely on assumptions and stereotypes.

Create positive role models When LGBT people who are new to the job market see members of the community in positions of leadership, they are better able to imagine themselves in senior roles. Visible LGBT leaders also have the opportunity to challenges stereotypes about what LGBT people can (or can’t) achieve in the workplace.


COLIN DRUHAN is the executive director of Pride at Work Canada, a not-for-profit organization that empowers employers to foster workplace cultures that recognize LGBT employees. For more information, visit


health & Wellness

The Juice in Juice Cleanses What you need to know before you go on a juicing kick By Karen Kwan

The fresh spring weather eggs many of us on to get a fresh start—not only in our homes but for our bodies, too. One of the most popular ways to detox our bodies from the inside out is juice cleansing: those ubiquitous glass bottles of green, black, orange, red and murky liquids, inescapable on Instagram. Living on a diet of only these juices and nut milks for anywhere from one day to a week, and for some folks even longer, is said to help rid the body from the overload of toxins it has to deal with from our sometimes trans fat-filled, salty, sugary modern-day diet.

Shoom. “If you’re doing a juice cleanse to lose weight, it’s not going to result in permanent weight loss; all you’ll lose is water weight, which you’ll gain back.” While the human body does a fine job of cleansing itself, Shoom says it’s only to a certain extent and sometimes the liver can get overburdened, which may show up, for example, as acne. “A juice cleanse could help support the liver in a deeper cleanse,” she says. Somewhat ironically, the person who will feel the least shock to their system with a juice cleanse (and experience the health benefits more readily) is someone who already eats a Cleanses, though, are not for everyone. wholesome diet. Regardless of your day“It totally depends on the person,” says to-day diet, however, how you begin and Toronto-based holistic nutritionist Aly end your cleanse is key. Don’t chow down

on a last supper of a burger and poutine, as tempting as it may be. “You have to be very careful easing in and out of it by eating clean and light,” says Shoom, who recommends a vegetarian diet for this purpose as it is easier to digest. Chat with your doctor first before deciding to embark on a juice cleanse, especially if you have a pre-existing condition, such as diabetes. Adding one cold-pressed juice (the cold-pressing method retains the most nutrients) to your day, though, is a simple way anyone can benefit from, says Shoom. She says if you’re not getting enough vegetables in your diet, or if you have a compromised digestive system (“and most of us do,” she notes), a green juice—ideally made with only vegetables since fruit can ratchet up the sugar content—will provide a big hit of essential vitamins and minerals. “It doesn’t have the fibre you’d get from eating the actual vegetables, but as a juice it is really digestible and you’re getting a ton of veggies into your diet.” Timing is important, too. Drink to your health on an empty stomach—“about a half-hour before or a couple of hours after a meal—because even if your digestion is impaired, you’ll be able to absorb and benefit from the nutrients,” says Shoom. Ultimately, though, she suggests a cleanse involving real food, which is what she does with her clients. Think three weeks of clean eating (i.e. eating only whole foods, nothing processed) with an emphasis on detoxing foods, such as chia seeds (which toxins bind to) and dandelion greens.

KAREN KWAN is a freelance health, travel and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter at @healthswellness and on Instagram at @healthandswellness.



Out Of My League

Your personal worth doesn’t hinge on whether you perfectly match a constructed standard of beauty By Adam Segal

I met my boyfriend at my regular coffee shop, where I had noticed him several times before and was stunned by how good-looking he is. He approached one day and asked me out, and we’ve been seeing each other for four months now. I often feel like this can’t be real—he is kind and incredibly attractive, and it’s hard to imagine what he sees in me. There are those ‘out of my league’ guys who I wouldn’t even consider pursuing and he is one of them. It’s not that I think I am hideous, but I don’t think of myself as handsome and can’t imagine why someone like him would be choosing me. I feel mistrusting of his intentions and am waiting for something to blow up in my face. I’m self-conscious when we are out in public and can tell that other people are questioning what someone like him is doing with me. Can you help me out?—Mario

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Dear Mario: There is no doubt that we live in a world that elevates people who reflect a certain notion of beauty—and this has an effect on all of us. It does, however, sound like you have an especially strong tendency to put men on pedestals—above yourself—when you think they are better looking than you. If you don’t find a way to shift this perspective, your guy is always going to tower above you and you will feel like all of the power rests with him. I won’t argue that you are just as handsome as he is because I don’t think that’s the true antidote here. For you to relax into this relationship and truly enjoy it, you will need to recognize that your personal worth doesn’t hinge on whether you perfectly match a constructed standard of beauty. I’m not suggesting that this is easy to do, considering how much pressure we can feel in


the gay community to stay youthful beyond our years and carry around a pack of teenage mutant abs. But beyond the immediate societal pressures, there’s a good chance that your sense of ‘not enough-ness’ goes way back and it will be up to you to sort out how this belief got instilled and whether you are willing to shed it—no matter how comfortable it has become. This wonderfully handsome and charming man isn’t struggling to find you attractive—you are the one refusing to let this reality in and consider that the world is seeing you through a different lens than you are seeing yourself. The gift of this new relationship—if you don’t run for the hills and the safety of your self-loathing isolation chamber—is an opportunity to let go of a sense of unworthiness and consider the possibility that nothing was ever truly wrong with you.

ADAM SEGAL, writer and therapist, works in private practice in downtown Toronto. Ask him your relationship or mental-health questions at



AUTO TECH DRIVING US TOWARDS THE FUTURE Spring forward! Here comes the revolution By Casey Williams

If you think automotive technology revolves around tape decks and anti-lock brakes, you probably still yearn to play a round of Pac Man. But technology advanced a long way during the last few decades. From music that changes at the swish of a hand to cars that steer themselves, here comes revolution. Going wireless The hottest new feature is wireless phone charging. It’s becoming an expected feature in luxury cars—and cars as entry-level as the Chevy Cruze. Place your compatible device on a rubber pad in the console and it charges automatically. And automakers are making it possible to use all of your gear on the go. General Motors is putting 4G LTE Wi-Fi in most of its vehicles, allowing owners to work with laptops, or letting kids watch streaming videos on tablets. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, available on the latest models, turn your car’s touchscreen into an approximation of your smartphone’s. Reaching beyond voice, BMW introduced gesture-recognition control for audio and climate in the latest 7-Series. By making specific motions, like pretending to turn a knob in thin air, sensors adjust functions. As with other technology, expect gesture controls to filter down to more affordable models soon. Safety first Designed as safety systems, the embryos of fully automated cars are beginning to emerge. Automakers as varied as Subaru, Acura and Buick offer camera- and radar-based systems that creep through traffic and automatically brake when drivers don’t pay attention. The Mercedes S-Class is nearly automated. Using radar, it automatically keeps a pre-set distance from vehicles in front, but also has a self-centring system that uses cameras to read the lane lines and gently steer the car—even around curves. Sensors require you to keep a loose grip on the wheel. Take the cameras and radar used for automated braking, tie in navigation and full steering, and you have an autonomous car. You’ll first see “super cruise” that allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel on the highway, followed by cars that completely drive themselves. It all starts circa 2020.

CASEY WILLIAMS is a contributing writer for Gaywheels.coml. He contributes to the New York-based LGBT magazine Metrosource and the Chicago Tribune. He and his husband live in Indianapolis, where Williams contributes to, the area’s PBS/NPR station.



Who You Callin’ A Golden Girl? The world’s oldest drag queen definitely isn’t slowing down By Max MacDonald

Many things have been said to or about Michelle DuBarry. Some choose to see a withered queen who has spent one too many years in women’s clothes. Others believe he’s a living time capsule of gay history, a glittering reminder that resuscitates an era when female impersonation was full of costumes and pageantry. Nowadays a growing tribe, both gay and straight, with almost a cult-like devotion respects 84-yearold Russell Peter Alldread (aka Michelle DuBarry) as an icon, a trailblazer and an international ambassador for Toronto’s drag community.

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Alldread was born at a time when, as he quips, “there was no such word as gay.” Born in 1931 in small-town Ontario, he came from a supportive family with a mother and father who loved him dearly. However, a family visit to his cousins would rewrite his destiny. With the assistance of his female cousins in Bowmanville, Ontario, he wore his first gown at the age of eight. “My cousins loved to play dress-up and they thought it would be nice to do the same for me.” Little did Toronto and the world know that, just as in Cinderella, a gown would change everything.

Alldread got a taste for the applause, he put together troupes like Phase One (where one of the founders renamed him Michelle DuBarry) and The Great Imposters. With every dance step, shake and shimmy, Alldread was entertaining people—but he was also writing not only local gay history but how many saw gender identity. Some people, as you can imagine, did not care for drag and acted out their displeasure. As Alldread recalls, some of those reminders were unpleasant. “We were pelted with eggs and had things thrown at us as we entered gay bars,” he says. “I wouldn’t let them get to me. I would just go home, put on a different wig and dress, and go right back out.” The small-town boy was no longer a drag queen; he was an activist for Toronto’s drag and gay movement.

His activism and gumption would garner some very official accolades later on. A letter of praise in July 2005 came from then-City Counselor Kyle Rae; Alldread was Pride Toronto’s official Grand Marshall in 2007; in 2012, he received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Toronto’s Inspire Awards. But that’s not all. Alldread Several dresses, high-school performances, embodies his mantra—“always be kind.” appearances in drag (including at a high- Whether volunteering with charities such school dance), a few relationships and as the Princess Margaret Foundation and one marriage to a woman (which ended TICOT (the Imperial Court of Toronto), in divorce) later, the stage beckoned him. he’s not afraid to help out. His refusal to In Toronto’s drag early years, Alldread “disappear” is also inadvertently giving life auditioned for club owners under the name to Toronto’s gay seniors’ community by Anita Mode. Wearing sequins and heels, he rewriting the adage “gay men are supposed found many owners welcoming to female to vanish out of the scene over 80.” Leave impersonation. In the process of stepping it to Alldread to unknowingly break another on stage at bygone clubs such as 511 and unwritten taboo. The Music Room, he was unknowingly developing a community from the ground up. In February 2016, Alldread challenged the status quo one more time, by catching the eye He would never tell you this, but on top of of Guinness World Records (with a nudge being an out-of-the-closet drag queen in from yours truly and his friends). After 84 the 1950s and ’60s, he put together one of years of raising the bar, never settling for no, Canada’s first drag troupes, Façade. Once fighting back, losing many friends to age



and AIDS, Alldread got the last laugh. He was awarded the Guinness World Record achievement of the World’s Oldest Drag Queen. During an informal ceremony at his home club, Statlers Bar, he reflected on his newest title. “There are so many people now gone. I’m really the only one of my kind left.” He accepted the certificate and afterwards did what he does best: performed in a glittering gown and heels, and ushered in a new chapter in Toronto’s drag history. The next day, after the media cameras had packed up and the last applause had dissipated, Alldread’s biggest worry was how he was going to answer the 600 or so emails of congratulations and Facebook wishes. I called him and teasingly asked if he considered himself a Golden Girl. He chuckled. “I wish! But I just don’t have the time.”

MAX MACDONALD is a media, PR, menswear and creative influencer who brings cool ideas to life. You can follow him on Instagram at @andthentheresmax and Tumblr at:

Photo by David Hawe

O N t h e town

scenes from the party circuit by Michael Pihach

2 1

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9 7 8







TOM Opening Night at Maison Mercer 1: Gabriel Montoya, 2: Henry Calderone, Shane Jackson, 3: Paul Mason, 4: Jeff Rustia, 5: Jesse Hazen, 6: Matt Thompson. Pride Toronto presents Willam at Fly 2.0 Photos by Mitchel Raphael 7: Jamie Lynn, Courtney Conquers, 8: GBY Lizzard, Allysin Chaynes, Willam Belli, 9: DJ Kris Steeves, 10: Peter Harte, Judy Virago, Dillon Scheenaard. Casey House Cabaret at the Fairmont Royal York 11: Marilyn Denis, Peter Papapetrou, 12: Rick Mercer, Jann Arden, 13: Kristyn Wong-Tam, Farrah Khan, 14: Sam Romano, Jeff Pellarin, 15: Steven Endicott, Jim Lawrence.


APRIL / MAY 2016




becoming chaz

ALL THAT CHAZ Cher’s son has transitioned so far that he doesn’t consider himself transgender–just call him a dude By Nelson Branco

Don’t call him transgender. Forget about labelling him an LGBTQ2 activist. And pass on mentioning, “You’re Cher’s famous son.” Yep, Chaz Bono is just a dude trying to reclaim what is rightfully his by living his best life in the body he was meant to live in. Call it post-transitioning. In 2008, Chaz Bono made headlines when he bravely announced to the world he was transitioning from woman to man. His journey was even profiled in the Sundance/OWN original three-time Emmy-nominated docu-series Becoming Chaz. Born Chastity Sun Bono after the film Chastity, the 46-year-old Los Angeles native captured the hearts and imagination of fans worldwide thanks to ‘her’ appearances on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour as the most adorable tyke that came down the pike. Fast-forward to 2016: the trans movement is ubiquitous with the

boldface likes of Caitlyn Jenner, fitness model Ben Melze and Orange is the New Black’s Laverne Cox speaking up for the arguably less visible minority—and being embraced by mainstream media. But Bono has moved on.. Today the former trans ‘spokesperson’ is single and focused on carving out a career in the bitch-eat-bitch world of acting. And the actor is doing relatively well: he booked a recurring gig as Reverend Rydell on the most watched daily serial in the world, The Bold and the Beautiful. He debuted on March 31—and the character’s gender and sexuality have not been mentioned in the script thus far. IN spoke with Bono about the progress the transgender movement has earned in recent years thanks to his groundbreaking contributions, whether Cher is advising him on his Hollywood aspirations, and what he thinks of Jenner endorsing GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. 19

becoming chaz You’re pursuing acting full-time. Acting is something I’ve always wanted to do. I studied acting when I was younger at a performing arts high school, but acting is the one profession you need to be confident in your body to do. Because of that, I had to give up acting. I didn’t know why but I knew I wasn’t going to be very good at playing a crying female. But acting has always been one of my great loves and passions. Three and a half years ago, I leapt right back in—and it quickly changed my life. As LGBT members, most of us are forced to act straight at an early age to pass in society. Do you think you have a leg up with an arsenal of life experience? I don’t think about that, honestly. I’m not a method actor. Some characters are really easy and fun to get into, while other roles are more challenging. There’s no rhyme or reason. I’m very attracted to darker characters and parts that are against type. I seem to shine the most in those parts. There are still barriers I have to overcome because [I’m a trans actor.] When people look at my clips and meet me, I mainly have positive experiences. The best part of doing B&B is that I actually got paid real money to act! Usually, I work for free on web shows or low-budget movie projects. There’s always a loophole, so it was nice to be paid to act.

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As a pioneer, are you pleased that the transgender movement is more and more mainstream? Cool, even? Honestly, it’s not something I think about very often. I’m singularly focused on my career and trying to be an actor. I have tunnel vision. I don’t see myself necessarily as trans but as a man. It’s cool that you’re starting from the ground up… even though your mother, Cher, is an Oscar winner. Has she given you any advice, or have you just told her to shut up and allow you to do your own thing? My mom’s been amazing. She’s been a tremendous ally. When I get discouraged, and that has happened, she’s the person I go to because I can really clearly remember how it was for her to be taken seriously as an actor. She always cheers me up when she tells me these horrible stories that can never compare to anything I’m going through! She has great advice. Of course, she has an opinion on everything I do, which now I really embrace. I really appreciate how brutally honest she is with me. So far I’m batting a good average with her. I know you guys have had some hurdles in your relationship, but it sounds like you’re closer than ever. Yes, it’s taken us some time to get to this place. I’m blessed.



How would your father—the late, great Sonny Bono—react to you being an actor? Ultimately, he would be totally into it and supportive because he always wanted me to do something in the entertainment world. Looking back, it makes me a bit sad for him because he wasn’t as happy when he wasn’t in the entertainment world... as he was with other career choices. Is performing in your DNA? Or is it just nurture? I don’t know. I think certain things are genetic and other things are nurture. For example, growing up, I got to watch my parents’ amazing work ethic, which was a big part of their success. Talent is genetic. You see a lot of second- and third-generation kids who grew up to be really good. But it’s not easy, because nepotism is really looked down upon in this town. It never made sense to me because so many people have carved out unique careers for themselves with a famous last name. It’s like, “Hey, c’mon…” You look amazing these days… What are you doing? I have to really watch everything I put in my body and exercise... and all that kind of stuff. I always like to be a few pounds thinner… but I’m so much healthier now. I never thought I would be a super-skinny person but I’m pretty healthy and I think I look OK. Your type lends itself to being a successful character actor— which usually translates into longevity in Hollywood. I agree. That’s what I would like to be: a character actor. That excites and turns me on because they’re the best parts. I have friends who are great-looking and they struggle with finding the parts they really want to play. Thoughts on your crazy U.S. presidential election? Are you and your mom planning to move to Canada? It’s funny… My mom and I were talking about where we would move if [GOP frontrunner] Donald Trump became president, but hopefully that won’t happen. I’ve got a few spare rooms in case… I hope Hillary Clinton will be elected and my mom and I can continue to live in California! Did you want to comment on Caitlyn Jenner claiming the Republicans will do better by the transgender community? What is Caitlyn smoking? [Laughs] I don’t know what she’s thinking. She rendered me speechless with that comment. Caitlyn’s wrong, obviously.

Because you transitioned later in life, do you feel like you’re catching up to your physical age? Yes and no. I feel like I’m playing catch-up in a sense… because I transitioned late in life. My life really didn’t start until then. And now I’m trying to come out in living my career as an actor, which was delayed too. In a weird sense, I feel creatively and enthusiastically as I was at 17... wanting to be an actor, but it’s 20 years later. That’s why I’m so focused on the acting part of my life and less on my transition because I really don’t have any time to waste. It’s something I have to make happen sooner rather than later. Any nuggets of wisdom as you’ve aged? I don’t feel old, really. Aging is weird because I don’t feel old except for my body sometimes—and my hairline! The people I work with are young, so I’m always the oldest person in the room. Luckily, I don’t look my age. People usually clock me in my 30s. I’m not sure what 40 is supposed to feel like, but I know it’s not what I thought it would. There’s a maturity, obviously, of me living on the planet for this long that I can appreciate. I’m happy in the sense that I know what I want. I don’t have a fear, like I did earlier in life because it’s scary, but I feel like a kid. I don’t have a lot of responsibilities most people my age have: I don’t have a wife, I don’t have kids.

Are you not ready to make Cher a grandmother right now? I really don’t want kids. It’s not something I’m interested in. I really like how my life is. I can’t imagine my life becoming about another person. I’ve watched my friends’ lives change so much in the past five years because of their families—and I don’t want that. Are you single? I am single. Ready to mingle? I’m open to it. Dating as a transgender person is not the easiest thing in the world. I haven’t been very successful at navigating the dating waters! [Laughs] Dating isn’t a priority right now because of my acting. Does Cher meddle? Or does she leave you alone? God, no. My mom gets the career thing and how important it is. How do you unwind? I’m a big gamer. It’s my favourite way to unwind. I don’t get to vacation much. At this point, all my extra money goes towards producing theatre. I’d rather spend my money on creating art than on some vacation. Spoken like a true artist.

NELSON BRANCO is the editor of 24 Hours Toronto newspaper. As a contributing editor, he’s penned pieces for magazines like Hello Canada, People, and TV Guide and online sites like Huffington Post. He’s also worked as a TV producer for Breakfast TV, The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News and Sun News Network.




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BORN AGAIN Even monsters have to grow up By Nelson Branco

“I live for the applause, applause, applause Live for the way that you cheer and scream for me”

Little did Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta—take a breath here—realize the thunderous applause the Manhattan native would receive years after she wrote “Applause, Applause” on her Artpop offering in 2013.

with strangers. I had to take myself back. And the best way to do that? Say ‘no’ more often to things. My image isn’t everything. Our mental states are more important than the bottom line. I wish society focused on our internal lives more.”

Like her performance and social crusading rival Madonna, Lady Gaga has reinvented herself... and catapulted herself to new artistic and stardom heights in doing so.

Depression also haunted her for most of her life, she told me. “It hasn’t gone away completely,” she said. “But you can manage it. I take antidepressants. I’ve tried to go off of them but my doctor has warned me against it. Listen, depression and anxiety have completely changed my life. It’s hard to dig within yourself and find resources just to function. I thought it was unfair. Acting has helped me a lot, but what worked for me the most was part of my identity saying no to things I don’t want to do—and I have to embrace my right to say no. And that’s been working for me. Hopefully me talking about it more honestly and more openly I can help and/or inspire others struggling. These days, I’m much better at connecting with people. I haven’t always [been good at that]. I’ve had an affair with isolation—especially when [fame came into my life].”

Gone are the shock-and-awe fashion (the meat has expired, obvi), the experimental hairstyles, the suffocating entourage, the Twitter feuds (bye, Perez Hilton), and the seemingly singular focus on an anti-bullying message in her music and interviews. After selling 146 million albums and singles globally, Gaga took a self-imposed hiatus from the spotlight in 2012—after what appeared to be a mini-meltdown on social media (over 57 million followers on Twitter, and growing, thank you very much). The former biggest superstar in the world appeared to have been eaten alive by the fame monster she had sung so much about.

APRIL / MAY 2016

But like any true artist, Lady Gaga’s greatest days still lie ahead of her. In fact, her break from her career might have proven to be her wisest move yet. In an interview with Gaga in L.A. before and after she scored her first Golden Globe Award for Best Actress Miniseries or Television Film (as the Countess on American Horror Story), the 29-year-old diva told IN Magazine that her vacay from the world was due to a myriad of issues. “I almost quit music,” she told me, quite matter of fact. “I was fucking tired! I was overworked. It became all about the money. I began feeling like a corporate machine—and my art was paying the price. I didn’t get into this business to sell perfume or take selfies 24


It was a strategy that worked. (Heck, we might have to add an ‘arm-chair psychologist’ hyphenate to her ever-growing skills.) Little did her “little monsters” know that Gaga would return bigger, bolder and more beautiful than ever. Our first sighting of the new-and-improved Lady Gaga was earlier last year when she delivered one of her most masterful performances at the Academy Awards in homage to The Sound of Music... in front of Julie Andrews to boot! Then, she won her sixth Grammy Award for belting it out with her BFF and idol Tony Bennett in their duet album Cheek to Cheek. But then she disappeared from the zeitgeist for a few months before her big and out-of-nowhere comeback and ascent into a new stratosphere of superstardom.


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Last summer, buzz swirled that one of Hollywood’s most prolific showrunners, Ryan Murphy, had elicited a tour-de-force performance from Lady Gaga in his FX series American Horror Story. (She appeared on an episode on The Sopranos at age 15.) Maybe Gaga was giving up music altogether—save for a duet with Tony Bennett in a joint album or a Barnes and Nobles commercial— and focusing on acting? Cynical critics immediately asked: would Gaga’s performance be more Madonna or Cher? Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know she was a monster hit—and Murphy has welcomed her back for the next season of the cult hit in a new role. No one was more surprised than the queen herself. “I never imagined this,” she told IN. “I always imagined that I would have a long love affair with music and with art and with reading my books and plays, so this is a surprise. And to be awarded a Golden Globe on top of that in my first major role is crazy, but I’m grateful. I always wanted to be an actress. I went to acting school for many years. This is just the best thing that could have happened to me, honestly.”

She says, “Playing a killer was good for my soul: I got to put all my rage into the role. I think for many people darkness is just that: a bleak, empty space, empty and void. For me darkness is an expression about pain and you can create things that are so beautiful. That is exactly the thing I got to do on American Horror Story with Ryan and the cast. It was thrilling to return to it. It was cathartic, exhilarating, liberating. I would leave the set every day so full of release. The Countess is very evil. She’s not a good-willed kind of person, but what I do find in her, which I am happy to say today, is that after 100 years she never gave up, no matter what she went through, and you will fail in this business if you do. The true test is if you can continue and stand up and accept failure and move forward. I learned that from her, and I suppose it will stay with me in my music. I love the art of darkness.” Her AHS (and gay) co-star Matt Bomer agrees. “She clearly has an artistic soul and spirit. And that usually means having to deal with demons.” Diane Warren added, “Because of the meat dresses, you forget that underneath is a super-talented person.” Yes, it was the perfect role for the phenom who is said to be worth almost $300 million. Fans of her music will be happy to know that despite Gaga’s acting success, she’s not giving up on music.

That’s because the Murphy-Gaga collaboration is one for the books. Murphy needs a muse (his last was AHS mainstay Jessica Lange) “There will be more music; I promise,” she told IN. “Not sure when, and Gaga brought out one of Ryan’s best seasons yet. “She’s more but it will be released in 2016 so get ready. I’m not sure what the than I ever expected,” Murphy told IN. “She’s the queen in every overall theme and sound will be yet but I’m testing things out.” way. She was a joy to work with. There were no diva moments on Expect her renewed commitment to darkness to influence her even our set. She was humble, even.” more in future projects. Their mutual passion and respect for darkness married their artistic souls. “He is my soulmate,” she confirmed. According to Gaga, light is overrated.

“I must be very weak because you need to experience weakness to gain strength,” says Gaga of life’s paradox, half joking. “Part of becoming strong is being vulnerable about your weaknesses—and that has worked tenfold for me in this new chapter of my life and career.”

APRIL / MAY 2016

And you can thank the Countess.



“What was nice about playing The Countess… it reminded me in performance that was merited. Many of Gaga’s family members my own life and music I am at times playing a character,” she said. only realized she was a sex abuse victim during her performance! “Living inside of her is liberating because she doesn’t give a shit about anything. She’s lived too long, knows too much to be bothered by Gaga’s fashion has also evolved, as evidenced by the gorgeous a thing. I am a little bit different than that, but I will say that I think white pant suit (created by French designer Azzedine Alaia) she that confidence will stay with me, but who’s to say my music and wore at the Oscar Awards. She’s less shock-and-rock star; more my position in the world... I only hope to give back as much and Marilyn Monroe. blessed things to my fans and to the universe as they have given to “I’m still working out my look,” she told me bluntly. “It’s a work me, through my work and art forever.” in progress... like I am. But I like that I’m more grown-up and not Soon after we spoke to Gaga, she was nominated for a Oscar Award wearing so many ‘costumes’.” for co-writing her sexual abuse opus “Til It Happens To You” with Diane Warren for the film The Hunting Ground. While she didn’t We are too. win, Gaga is clearly in the vicinity of becoming a member of an elite group who has an EGOT: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards. The platinum blonde bombshell hair is part of Gaga’s style evolution. “I’ve always been attracted to old Hollywood,” she added. She already has two (Golden Globe/Grammys), and many critics consider Gaga a lock for an Emmy later this fall for her AHS role, For someone who wrote about “Bad Romance,” Gaga surprised which means she’ll just need the Academy Award. Not bad for everyone by falling head over spiked heels with Chicago Fire hunk Taylor Kinney. And they’re engaged! someone who was on a milk carton last year. (Oh, we kid.) While she didn’t win the Oscar (Sam Smith did for Spectre), Gaga says winning isn’t everything. It’s a message that is important for Gaga to convey to her fans who look up to her for guidance.

According to Gaga, Kinney didn’t flinch during her explicit and graphic sex scenes on AHS. “I actually like doing love scenes,” she says. “And he enjoys watching them too!”

She said, “An Oscar would be tremendous, but the true win is in the “This is the happiest time of my life, by far,” she added with a work. I really truly feel that the win for me is always in the creative demure smile. process. If you can enjoy every second of making a piece with your friends, that is the win. When you are miserable the whole time, this With a wedding on the way, could little monsters be too? “Yes, of is something else. I know the difference. “Till It Happens To You” course. I want it all: a husband, kids, a career... and peace.” was intended to make people happy in a time of sadness when they felt misunderstood. The nomination lends a voice to so many victims As she leaves her 20s behind, Gaga says her most prolific and their families around the world.” chapter is about to start as she enters her 30s. “I want to teach women—and men—that a woman only flourishes with age and Her Oscar performance of the song blew off the roof of Kodak is not diminished by it.” Theatre, bringing gravitas and passion to a very scripted and tense ceremony—especially when a slew of sexual abuse survivors Amen, sister. shared the stage as she pounded on the white piano in a screaming

NELSON BRANCO is the editor of 24 Hours Toronto newspaper. As a contributing editor, he’s penned pieces for magazines like Hello Canada, People, and TV Guide and online sites like Huffington Post. He’s also worked as a TV producer for Breakfast TV, The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News and Sun News Network.



Ellen Page On Gaycation And Progress Ellen Page talks LGBT progress in Hollywood and her new show

By Courtney Hardwick

APRIL / MAY 2016

Ellen Page has been on Hollywood’s radar ever since her breakthrough roles in Hard Candy in 2005, and then Juno in 2007. There were rumours through the early years in her career, but it wasn’t until 2014—during a speech at the Human Rights Campaign’s “Time to Thrive” conference—that she officially came out to the world as a lesbian. Since she gave that inspirational speech two years ago, Page has become an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights, never shying away from discussing her experiences and how she believes the world should be different. It’s been a busy couple of years for the Halifax-born, Oscar-nominated actress. Last year she co-starred opposite Julianne Moore in Freeheld, a film based on the true story of Laurel Hester, a police officer and lesbian, who is diagnosed with terminal cancer and has to fight to have her pension benefits transferred to her domestic partner. The film



for Gaycation and what she learned during filming. “I’m a privileged person,” she said. “I live in Los Angeles. I have done a job that has given me money and I can walk down the street and kiss my girlfriend. I think a lot Page also spent some time travelling all over about those who are much more vulnerable the world with one of her good friends, Ian than me all around the world and in the Daniel, filming their docu-series, Gaycation. United States. And here’s an opportunity The show, which premiered on VICELAND to go make something that allows voices on March 2, follows Page and Daniel as they to be heard that you sometimes never hear, investigate what it’s like to be gay, lesbian, and hopefully reflect struggles that a lot of people go through and I think a lot of people bisexual, transgender and everything else simply don’t know about.” on the spectrum in different cultures. The first-hand experiences of LGBT individuals in countries like Japan, Brazil, Jamaica, The series brings attention to the similar, and of course the U.S really drive home yet still very personal, struggles that LGBT people all over the world go through on a that being open about sexuality, for some daily basis. Coming out isn’t necessarily an people, is life or death. option for everyone, and some are forced to Page was a keynote speaker at this year’s live their entire lives denied the basic right South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Confer- to be honest about who they are. Even in ence, where she spoke about the inspiration the U.S and Canada, where discrimination premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and Page made headlines when she walked the red carpet with her girlfriend for the first time ever.

doesn’t seem as prevalent, there is still a long way to go for LGBT rights. “If we’re in any way perpetuating a society that discriminates and treats people unfairly and doesn’t strive towards true equality, you are causing a lot of harm in people’s lives and a lot of pain and a lot of difficulty,” said Page.

people in Hollywood. She points out that being gay is still typically considered to be outside the norm, and people will ask her whether she sees it as a problem that she’s been focusing a lot on LGBT projects lately. She counters by saying, “You would never even bring that up with a straight person. You would not say, ‘Oh, you’re doing During her keynote speech, Page also ad- another movie where you play a straight dressed how her own life and career have person, are you a little worried about it?’ changed since coming out. In response to a And no judgment, I’m just saying these are question about whether she feels like she’s the standards and this is the conversation been treated differently since coming out, that needs to change.” Page said, “Being in the closet hurt my career way more than being out, and being happy Representation is an issue not only for LGBT and feeling inspired again, being able to fuse people, but for everyone. It’s becoming more my authentic self with creative interests… and more clear that there isn’t one way of because I feel so grateful that I’ve had the seeing things. Everyone’s experience and opportunity to make this show.” interpretation of the world is unique to them, and that’s exactly why we need to One of the main things Page emphasizes is give every voice the opportunity to speak the importance of representation for LGBT out, and more importantly, to just live the

life they want to live without being afraid. For her part, Page is grateful for the advantages she has, and she plans to put them to good use. “If I was still closeted I wouldn’t be making this show, and let’s think about how much that limits people, or limits people of all minorities who are not given opportunities to create work,” she said. “We do a job that’s about telling stories—obviously it’s becoming clear that we can’t just be telling stories about one group of people. People need to have opportunity; that’s what’s going to make the whole industry grow and blossom. As a person who’s involved with it and as a person who’s an audience member, I really hope that starts to happen.”

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



The look of the season is inflected with forward-looking energy One can well do without “dull” at this time of year, and more jollity is what one needs—brightness and warmth. However, not too much of the latter or one risks looking a bit “creative.” This season radiates positivity without making one’s self into a mirror image of anything, but rather couples creativity with practicality. From impeccable fittings to unapologetic layering, to different colour approaches, take the next style step in any setting.

APRIL / MAY 2016

Photographer: Iko Maramo Fashion Editor/Stylist: Danyl Geneciran Fashion Assistants: Kalvin Corea and Ryan Wohlgemut Grooming: Maria Natalia Rodriguez Models: Aidan, Riley D and Jun @ Elite Models Toronto



fashion Shirt: AMI Paris Jacket: Zara Pants: L’momo




APRIL / MAY 2016 fashion

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APRIL / MAY 2016

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Shirt: AMI Paris Sweater: Theory Pants: L’momo


On Riley (left): Shirt: Kenzo Jacket & Pants: Nabeel On Aidan (centre): Shirt: Dalla Vest: Zane Barlas Pants: L’momo

APRIL / MAY 2016

On Jun (right); Jacket & Pants: Christopher Bates




APRIL / MAY 2016

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Shirt: Wooyoungmi Jacket: Beechers Brook Pants: Theory



On Aidan (left): Shirt: Nabeel Jacket: Haccula Jeans: Naked & Famous On Riley (right): Sweater: Haccula Pants: L’momo


APRIL / MAY 2016

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Island-Hopping in Tahiti French Polynesia is embracing its roots, tattoos and all, mixing traditional ways with inventive hospitality. This place knows how to enjoy itself—while totally thrilling you By Doug Wallace

APRIL / MAY 2016

When you can wake up to mainline a perfect espresso, pop a bonbon into your mouth left over from the night before, then plunge into a crystal-clear lagoon at your doorstep while you wait for breakfast to arrive via canoe, you know you’re in for a red-letter day. This is the essence of French Polynesia, a swath of 118 islands spread out over 2,000 kilometres in the southern Pacific Ocean.

The key to vacationing here is to adopt island-hopping as your main activity, in addition to the snorkelling, swimming with stingrays and black point sharks, cruising the lagoons and eating banana pudding by the bucketful and just plain sitting on your rear.

While Marlon Brando and 1970s Hollywood culture may have made Tahiti and her islands famous, the French made it exquisite—and long before Brigitte Bardot and Jacques Brel wandered its shores. With ties reaching back to the mid-1800s, the islands are autonomous, but minded by France as a “collective.” And the mix of ancient Lapita roots and full-on French fabulousness has created a rich and fascinating culture, right down to the double-cheek kissing and the subsidized French cheese. You can also thank France for making French Polynesia one of the most LGBT-friendly places in the Pacific: same-sex sexual activity is legal; people can get married, adopt children and serve in the military; and anti-discrimination laws and laws concerning gender identity are all on the books.

No one ever stays in the capital, Papeete: it’s “the city.” Everyone merely flies in, then hops on the 20-minute ferry to the neighbouring island of Moorea, a lush and unhurried nirvana encircled by a small lagoon. And once you’re settled in your over-water bungalow at the Hotel Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort, you can grab a cocktail and stare at Papeete off in the distance, twinkling in the moonlight. The famous over-water rooms are worth the money, even though they don’t look like much from the outside; sun-bleached beyond recognition. Most are quite luxe inside, with aircon and all the comforts of home (if your home has an espresso machine, which it very likely does). With these bungalows, you have the best of all worlds—your room, the water, the shoreline vistas, pretty boats to watch. You can also glimpse the goings-on underneath your room via a Plexiglas window in the cabin floor.

The deep isolation factor is one of the top selling points—something Hawaii, its neighbour to the north, doesn’t offer. Really, if you took the American-ness out of Hawaii and replaced it with French-ness, added a dash of exotic class, then took away about a billion tourists, you’d have French Polynesia.

While in Moorea, make time to walk the hiking trails, climb island peaks, discover secret rivers and ancient maraes or stone religious shrines, and trip to Belvedere Lookout for a stunning view of Secret Mountain, with Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay stretched out before you.



Photo by Don Riddle


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Back to the airport, where 20- and 30-minute flights get you from place to place relatively easily, most for less than $100 one way. You get the complete Polynesian picture this way, and will soon start recognizing fellow passengers—especially the surfers. Polynesia is an international surfing destination, something you will gather early on, as the surfboards tumble onto the baggage carousels. Start flirting right away in the airport, because chances are good you will see the tussled hair and lithe, tan bodies again at your next stop. You would be remiss to not experience the authenticity of nearby Huahine, a two-island grouping where vacationers get a modern-day Tahitian island experience, a chance to see how real people live. Rustic and down-to-earth, this is a bit of an artist enclave as well, and home to more than a few French and American ex-pats looking for a simpler, slightly bohemian life. Huahine is also the site where



archaeologists have found the oldest carbon-dated remains of pre-Polynesian civilizations, pre-dating Hawaii. While there are many family-owned home-stays and hostels on Huahine, you could also stay at the Maitai Lapita Village, designed specifically with the region’s rich history in mind: bungalows in the style of canoe huts, architectural details that mimic traditional Tahitian artwork and motifs, and a small built-in museum full of ancient artifacts, some dating back to 1500 BC. The property is a perfect mix of past and present, with a beautiful infinity pool that looks out onto the very same view explorer Captain James Cook had in the late 1700s. Your next destination is Bora Bora, the showpiece, one of the most romantic places in the world. A bigger lagoon here makes

Photos by Tim Stewart

for more hotel choices to be sure, but try to sneak a night or two at the Four Seasons—like you need to be coaxed. On top of having the coolest private boats in the lagoon, the hotel is as teeming with opulence as the water is with tropical fish. Speaking of which, a marine biologist works on-site to explain the delicate ecosystem to guests. World-class spa treatments begin with a traditional Maeva foot ritual, which you can follow up with the signature Kahaia Haven body treatment in one of the double treatment rooms, where skin is prepped, exfoliated using natural black pearl powder, then massaged. If you don’t die and go to heaven right then and there, you can watch the sun set from the hotel’s Sunset Bar. But don’t stop at Bora Bora: many other experiences are ready to tempt you on the dozens of other Polynesian islands, each tantalizingly different. Try to see as many as you can without selling

the farm. There’s even a freighter you can hitch a ride on that will take you all the way out to the Les Marquesas island chain for some real privacy—plus all the exotic adventure you can handle. How to get there Air Tahiti Nui flies to the capital city, Papeete, from Los Angeles up to five times a week in only eight hours. All inter-island domestic flights are operated by the very similarly named Air Tahiti, which flies to 46 islands in the five archipelagos, as well as to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. Peak season is from March to October, with May and June being the driest. Avoid the rainy season, from November to January, when it can rain for three weeks straight. Visit, and

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



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Life through death A parent’s death forces a new look at life By Paul Gallant

When my father’s spreading cancer set a very short timer on how long he had to live, I wanted to spend as much time with him as I could. Though I had left my childhood stomping ground of Prince Edward Island in my 20s, as so many LGBT people from rural and small-town backgrounds do, my relationship with my father had grown stronger and mutually more supportive as I grew older. The guy’s guy who had grown frustrated trying to win his only son over to his passion in cars, boats and outdoor endeavours had gradually developed an interest in talking about my relationships and gay life in general. So last year I shuffled my workload to spend a couple of months at his side, including his five last, painful weeks in the palliative care unit of a small healthcare centre in the heart of potato-growing country. In doing this, I certainly wasn’t exceptional. In fact, studies have found that LGBT people are more likely than their straight counterparts to step in as caregivers when a family member is ailing. In a 2004 survey of older LGBT New Yorkers, one-third reported that family expected more of them because they were LGBT, and perceived them to have fewer explicit family responsibilities, “even though this assumption was often false.” At a gut level, at least, our behaviour seems to have vindicated the scientific theory, which

I’ve always thought was half-baked, that the evolutionary purpose of homosexuality was providing childless caregivers-at-large to advance the family genes, if not their own. In practice, though, LGBT people face particular strains when dealing with the decline and death of a parent at a time when there’s no shortage of trauma. Conflict caused by the declaration or concealment of sexual orientation haunts many relationships to the parent’s last dying breath and, if no sort of closure or healing is achieved, long beyond that. Even where the familial bond is strong, LGBT people often have to step outside their comfort zone to return to places they had long ago disconnected with. Isolated from my chosen family, I faced a pageant of relatives and family friends, all very likeable and supportive Atlantic Canadian people, who revealed in their faces that they did not recognize the kid they watched growing up in the somewhat more urbane adult standing by the hospital bed. I often felt like a mystery man, my relationships, professional achievements and personal interests all hidden offstage. On one hand, to not be asked about an absent wife is a friendly shorthand for “Your dad told us you were gay and we are fine with that.” But to not be asked about anything else 47


made me wonder if people thought that talk of life in the big city she became pregnant as a single women back in the 1980s. But would assuredly be too gaily ripe a topic for polite conversation. having kids helped close the gap between her and her family, “It’s hard to fill someone in on decades of your life, particularly at “because kids are sweet and then they grow up and they’re great.” a time like that,” says John Ballew, a counsellor based in Atlanta, Though she never came out to her parents in a direct way, she Georgia. “Sometimes families have come up with stories about understood that the way her father shared his opinions with her gay or lesbian members who live solitary lives. My nieces and was an acknowledgement and acceptance. nephews were surprised to find that Uncle John had a pretty good circle of friends. Bringing those two worlds together is not always Leslie, a Toronto friend of mine whose father died suddenly from a heart attack last year, actually appreciated his extended family easy and especially not when someone is dying.” not asking him about his relationship status during the funeral After Katherine Arnup gave the eulogy at her father’s funeral in proceedings in rural Nova Scotia. Explaining that he had just Toronto’s Lawrence Park, where she had grown up, people came started to date someone would have piled awkwardness on top of up to her to ask if she used to be Katherine Arnup. “I was like, ‘I the pain and shock of the loss. His father hadn’t asked much about still am.’ I did feel a little trapped in time,” says Arnup, the author the details of his personal life, but had always been concerned of I Don’t Have Time For This! and Death, Dying and Canadian with Leslie’s happiness—that good will was more important than Families. Arnup’s extended family had averted their eyes when anything. After Leslie’s father passed, an uncle who had always



been standoffish to him stepped up as Leslie’s lifeline, filling him in on what was happening with his grieving mother. Hard times can bring out the best in people, if you let them show it. “Even if you have evidence that suggests you’re going to have a rough time with relatives, to the degree that it’s possible, go in with an open heart,” says Arnup.

Though I discovered how kind my extended family could be, the feeling of isolation from my friends and acquaintances did wear me down. Connecting with the local LGBT community was one strategy Ballew suggested as a way to avoid feeling like such an outsider. To me, being the sad, anxious guy from away didn’t seem like the best foundation for making new friends. But when Ballew’s father passed away, he just had to visit a local gay establishment.

For those who continue to struggle with outstanding issues with their dying parent, Ballew says they may have to come to terms with “I was talking with this guy I didn’t know who asked why I was the fact that the time has passed to resolve them. Often the gravity there. I told him that my father had just died earlier that day. Not of the situation makes past grievances seem petty. Except in cases exactly a great pickup line,” says Ballew. “But he had lost his father of abuse, altruism can wash away much of the darkness of the past. two months earlier. We ended up having a long talk that evening that was really quite lovely. It was about being real, not just about “When anyone is dying, particularly a parent, it’s like we enter the kind of happy talk we sometimes engage in with strangers.” a sacred time that’s outside of our ordinary flow of experience,” says Ballew. “Sometimes we have the opportunity to step into our The loss of my dad will make a serious mark on me. But the time best selves, maybe to grow or to discover some resources about we spent together near the end was invaluable, whatever stresses it brought. Perhaps the stresses were invaluable too. ourselves that perhaps we weren’t in touch with.”

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, Xtra and fab in Toronto and is currently development editor at

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APRIL / MAY 2016

On April 28, 1981, former Beverly Hills hairdresser Marilyn Barnett filed a multimillion-dollar palimony suit against tennis icon Billie Jean King, claiming that the two had a seven-year relationship. Barnett felt she was entitled to King’s Malibu beach house as well as half of the tennis star’s earnings from the period when they had been together. At the time, King denied that she was a lesbian, although she acknowledged the affair. King lost all her endorsements in a 24-hour period (an estimated $2 million) and had to postpone her retirement from tennis for financial reasons. Barnett lost her case later in the year as well as a subsequent appeal, not because of any doubts about the affair but because it was ruled it had never constituted a contractual relationship. Today, King remains an active advocate for ending homophobia in sports.





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