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3 PUBLISHER Patricia Salib GUEST EDITOR Christopher Turner ART DIRECTOR Prairie Koo COPY EDITOR Ruth Hanley SENIOR WRITER Paul Gallant CONTRIBUTORS Fraser Abe, Bobby Box, Paul Brissman, Ryan Emberley, Adriana Ermter, Rosa Flores, Bianca Guzzo, Courtney Hardwick, Gelerah Kamazani, Ashley Kowalewski-Pizzi, Karen Kwan, Paul Langill, Wade Muir, Ivan Otis, Paul Pereira, Michael Pihach, Mitchel Raphael, Jumol Royes, Adam Segal, Kelly Small, Kahmeelia Smith, Feven Tesgaye, Ryan Tran, Doug Wallace, Casey Williams



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91 Issue 91

November / December 2019


06 | FRAGRANT FINDINGS Picking a new scent? With the right deliberation and tools, your scent selection can be very rewarding

08 | THE BENEFITS OF DOING GOOD Volunteering is about helping others – but you help yourself in the process, too 09 | DRY SPELL With the dry winter air attacking your skin, here’s how to update your skincare routine for the season 10 | PUT ASIDE YOUR WINTER BLUES WITH ONE OF THESE SUAVE ALL-WEATHER RIDES Just a few of our favourite rides that’ll get you through snow, sleet and road salt 11 | THE L WORD What happens after you say “I love you”? 12 | HOW A TORONTO COMPANY IS MAKING SPACE FOR QUEER SENIORS Taking the inclusivity journey one step at a time 13 | A SECOND HOME FOR MANY ACAS is currently the only operating HIV/AIDS service organization in Canada dedicated specifically to the sexual health of East and Southeast Asians

Patricio Manuel has once again made LGBTQ history. The world’s first out transgender professional male boxer has been tapped as the new face of Everlast’s “Be First” campaign.

14 | DRAG…NOW ON YOUR COFFEE TABLE Drag: The Complete Story is not just for fabulous queens and drag enthusiasts, but also for anyone interested in gender fluidity and the culture surrounding it 15 | ON THE TOWN Scenes from the party circuit

FEATURES 16 | REMEMBERING THE VICTIMS OF TRANSPHOBIA The Transgender Day of Remembrance has been observed annually on November 20 as a day to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia – but let’s do something to help the living, too 18 | THE MYSTERIOUS ORIGINS OF THE FOLDING FAN IN GAY CULTURE Clack that fan! 20 | THE RISE OF THE SOBER QUEER In a culture of partying, where do the non-drinking gays go? 22 | LILLY SINGH IS RUNNING THE SHOW The Canadian internet star is offering something a little different, and a little queer, on A Little Late with Lilly Singh 24 | WHY DO GAY MEN IDOLIZE FEMALE POP STARS? Pop culture is the gay religion and pop stars are our goddesses

26 | ALL HAIL ANTONI Reality TV royalty and Queer Eye food guy Antoni Porowski brings the heat to the kitchen both on and off screen 30 | FROM MAN TO MONA A Toronto-based photographer documents the intimate transition of artist Trevor Grey into drag queen Mona Moore 44 | A HISTORY OF HOOKING UP We’ve always had a way of finding each other 46 | BAREFOOT-CHIC IN GRENADA Elevated luxury mixed with old-style Caribbean hospitality is the icing on the spice cake 50 | FLASHBACK: DECEMBER 16, 1988 IN LGBTQ HISTORY Disco superstar Sylvester died of complications from AIDS 51 | THE US SUPREME COURT IS FINALLY CONSIDERING TRANS RIGHTS Here’s the woman who started it all

FASHION 34 | AFTER MIDNIGHT It’s that time of year when holiday dinners, parties and events fill up your calendar… a perfect excuse to amp up your style game



FRAGRANT FINDINGS Picking a new scent? With the right deliberation and tools, your scent selection can be very rewarding By Adriana Ermter

Does this scene sound familiar? You’ve decided you want a new fragrance to wear, possibly even as your signature eau. You booked time in your crazed schedule to hit the mall, drove there and, after 20 minutes of circling around the packed lot, you found a spot, parked and walked inside. Now you’re standing in the middle of the beauty and grooming section surrounded by what looks like at least 50 shiny white counters covered in hundreds of bottles of perfume. And you’re supposed to pick just one? You’d think that having all those people offering to spritz you with a sample scent or giving you the little stick of paper they call a blotter to smell would help with your purchasing decision…but it doesn’t. There are too many options, too many salespeople with too many opinions and too many smells to breathe in. With each season bringing more than 100 new bottles to drugstore shelves, Sephora’s and Ulta’s walls, and department store countertops - all in an industry that Future Market Insights predicts will reach a value 6


of over US$70 billion by the end of 2026 - the scent overload can be, well, overwhelming. Know who you are Michael Edwards, publisher of the global perfume database Fragrances of the World, and the man who’s been referred to as “the perfume expert’s expert” by industry bigwigs since 1983, knows that scent selection requires a little more deliberation than playing eeny meeny miny moe. He recommends breaking your decision-making into three categories: knowing what aromas you naturally gravitate to (be it baked goods, the woodsy outdoors, a hint of the tropics, or barely-there fresh and clean scents); choosing a scent within this go-to zone that’s easy to wear; and making sure that, once on your skin, it exudes nothing less than the olfactory sensation that you are special. Justin C. Welch, director of marketing of fine fragrances for

Firmenich in New York City, agrees. When it comes to buying your next fragrance, ask yourself, “How are you living your life?” Welch suggests. “What brings you happiness? What are your wants and needs? Does the fragrance fit your life and make you feel special?” Figure that out and you can move on to the process of elimination and selection. Start online Categorically speaking, fragrance is broken down into scent groups shared by both men and women. While perfumers have been using and adding to these groupings for decades, Edwards breaks them down into what he calls the “Fragrance Wheel,” featuring the 14 dominant fragrance families (see “Fragrant Families” for a full description). “It explains the relationship between innate fragrance preferences and the fragrance families,” says Edwards, whose wheel can be found online by Googling the words ‘fragrance wheel.’ It’s an ideal place to start your scent search, complete with the added bonus of never needing to leave the comfort of your own couch and laptop. Users can give Edwards’ wheel a virtual spin, read about whichever perfume family the wheel’s arrow lands on, and then, should they like the written description, check out the featured bottle of fragrance listed adjacent to it, which represents that scent category. Each highlighted bottle is one of Edwards’ personal picks. If you already have a favourite eau and want a new one within the same scent family, Edwards’ site also features a search section directly below the wheel. Browsers can enter their favoured perfume’s name, click on it and then browse the subsequent listing of bottles that pop up. “It’s a unique online tool that allows individuals to match a favourite fragrance from over 30,000 fragrances in our database,” notes Edwards on his site, “so that we can recommend a new scent from a retailer’s in-stock inventory.” Get a second opinion Take note of the bottles recommended on Edwards’ site, and also write down any brand and the perfume’s names that you may see in an existing advertisement or smell on a friend – and then start digging. Instagram and top perfume blogs such as Reddit, TheWhaleandTheRose, EauMG and Eticket Insider are the best places to start. “I am a voracious reader and am constantly absorbing articles or looking at blogs and Instagrams,” says Welch. “I keep my eyes open at all points, whether on the subway, walking down the street, looking at store windows.... Pay attention to people. Look at yourself, your friends or even the kids you see on the street. Listen to what they have to say.” Once you’ve determined your top two to five scents, you can hit the mall, head to the appropriate shelves or counters, and spritz a little onto your wrist. But don’t rub your wrists together, as you’ll bruise the eau and it won’t smell exactly the way it’s intended to. As well, only spray on a maximum of two scents at a time, one on each wrist. Then leave and walk around, get a coffee, and see how the juice wears on your skin. If neither of the perfumes is doing it for you, wash off the fragrances, go back and repeat. Do your due diligence and you’re sure to walk away with a winner, maybe two. It’s worth the work. “Fragrance is such a special thing, as it causes people to dream,” says Welch. “People want to feel good, and fragrance helps them feel that way.”

GENDER-FREE FRAGRANT DEFINITIONS Parfum contains the highest concentration (from 15% to 40% of fragrance), and is the longest lasting on your skin (typically six to eight hours). Eau de Parfum has a fragrance concentration of 15% to 20% and will last approximately four to five hours. Eau de Cologne is a much lower concentration at 2% to 4%, with a high alcohol concentration, so lasts for about two hours. Eau Fraiche is the lowest concentration at 1% to 3%, yet with very little alcohol, a high amount of water and a two-hour window. Notes: These are the chemical and/or natural ingredients of the perfume, which are mix-mastered together in three layers: Top note: what you smell when you first spray the fragrance. Typically, it’s the strongest-smelling part of the perfume. Heart or middle note: what you smell approximately 15-20 minutes after you’ve smelled the top note. It’s the soul of the scent and will stay with you for hours. The base note: the eau’s finale, the last lingering part of the scent.

FRAGRANT FAMILIES These are the industry’s most-used families of scent: Aromatic: typically an infusion of grassy-spicy notes of sage, rosemary, cumin, lavender and other plants. Try: By Kilian, Moonlight in Heaven for Women and Men, or Calvin Klein Reveal for Men. Chypre: a blend that always contains oak moss, labdanum, patchouli and bergamot. Try: Chanel, Paris Deauville for Women and Men, or Givenchy Chypre Caresse for Women and Men. Citrus: it grows on a tree, has a rind, and once peeled can be squeezed into a juice glass. Try: Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue for Women (also a version for Men) or Acqua di Parma Sakura Eau de Parfum for Women and Men. Floral: just like it sounds, a big assorted bouquet of fresh flowers. Try: Estée Lauder Beautiful or Yves Saint Laurent Paris. Fruity: sweet, juicy fruits including pear, peaches, apples, cherries and berries. Try: Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream Sunshine or Ralph Lauren Red Rush for Men. Gourmand: good enough to eat with scrumptious decadent food-based notes like caramel and pralines. Try: Prada Candy Night or Paco Rabanne Pure XS Night for Men. Oriental: clearly not the PC family of perfume names, these are defined as spicy, opulent, sweet and warm. Try: YSL Opium or Bond No. 9 Governors Island for Women and Men. Woods: trees, trees and more trees. Try: B Balenciaga for Women or Guerlain L’Homme Idéal L’Intense for Men.

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



THE BENEFITS OF DOING GOOD Volunteering is about helping others – but you help yourself in the process, too By Karen Kwan


Giving back is something many of us strive to do year-round, but life seems to get in the way. Then the holidays roll around and we make that effort to volunteer at a soup kitchen one afternoon or we prepare a few gifts to donate to our favourite non-profit, and we’re reminded of how great it is to be able to help others. Did you know you benefit yourself when you volunteer? If you need a little extra nudge to help you make a regular commitment, consider these health benefits you reap from doing good deeds. Volunteering gives your brain a workout Volunteering can be a physical workout – planting trees or picking up trash on the beach, for example, or even standing handing out flyers about a charity, beats a sedentary day on the couch! But volunteering also helps get your brain active: a study conducted in 2009 by Johns Hopkins University found that older adults who volunteered experienced an increase in cognitive function. Think about it: you’re learning new tasks, meeting new people – this stimulates that grey matter. Volunteering helps to build your social circle Let’s face it: as adults, it can be much harder to find new friends than it was as a kid in the playground. By giving your time (as opposed to giving back by giving money) to a charity, you get the opportunity to meet people from a mix of backgrounds (as opposed to, say, the niche industry where you work full-time), and you know you already have a shared interest – the cause you’re giving your time to – with these new people. Giving back also helps you to strengthen your ties to the community and provides you with a feeling of connection to those around you. 8

Volunteering reduces stress levels When you’re stressed about a situation at home or at work, it can feel like it’s consuming you. By making time in your schedule to volunteer, you divert your focus from the problem that’s giving you anxiety. Instead of spending those hours ruminating about the issue concerning you, you’re giving yourself a breather by concentrating on the cause at hand. Volunteering helps you develop your social skills For some people, meeting new people and making new friends comes naturally. If you’re more introverted, though, you likely find this difficult. By volunteering, you get the chance to meet with people who already have a common interest and you get to develop your networking skills. You will find that the more you practise, the more at ease you will be when it comes to having conversations with people you’ve just met. Giving back can increase your happiness If you truly don’t have any spare time to volunteer, don’t despair – money helps, too. That feel-good factor isn’t just a warm and fuzzy feeling you’re imagining: research by the University of Oregon has shown that donating money to a charity rather than keeping it to spend on yourself activates parts of your brain associated with pleasure. Also, your altruism and putting your skills to good use gives your self-esteem a boost, which can help boost your mood if you’re feeling depressed.

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


With the dry winter air attacking your skin, here’s how to update your skincare routine for the season By Ashley Kowalewski-Pizzi

While there are lots of reasons to love this season – the TV and movie offerings, winter sports – it can take a toll on your skin, leaving it feeling dry, cracked and incredibly uncomfortable. This is the season where your skincare routine becomes non-negotiable, if only to offer a smidge of protection against the harsh winds and cold, dry air. While we could all have complicated 10-step skincare routines that make it look like we’ve aged in reverse, there are a few key steps that we can’t live without. To help you get started, here are four ways to winterize your skincare routine. The best part? All of these products are budget-friendly and drugstore accessible (our go-to skincare spot is Rexall). Treat your skin right Regularly exfoliating your skin is an important step, but it is often either skipped or overused – seldom done using the right amount. Exfoliate too much and you’re actually doing your skin a disservice, but not enough and you leave behind dead cells that leave your skin looking dull and dry. When it comes to treatments, exfoliants and masks aren’t one-size-fits-all; they should be adapted to suit your skin type and lifestyle. Short on time? Use a weekly clarifying and exfoliating mask for a two-in-one treatment like the Garnier SkinActive Charcoal Ultra 3-in-1 Cleanser. Not a fan of the mask, or find the physical exfoliant a bit too harsh? For a more low-key exfoliation, use a chemical exfoliant like a toner containing AHA or BHA that gently sloughs off dead and dry skin cells.

time to skip the sunscreen step in your routine, but it’s quite the opposite. SPF is non-negotiable no matter what the season. But the good news is that layering a sunscreen over your seasonal day cream can be a quick way to get an extra dose of much-needed hydration while also keeping your skin protected from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Want to skip a step? Look for a moisturizer that has SPF in it, like the Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture with SPF 30. Brighten your complexion Hydration will do wonders for making your skin look more radiant, but the magic ingredient to a truly bright complexion is vitamin C. This potent antioxidant boosts your skin cells’ regeneration, keeping skin looking bright and fresh. Try the Be Better Age Defying Vitamin C Serum (available exclusively at Rexall), which also has hyaluronic acid to help your skin lock in that moisture it so badly needs during the cold winter months.

Double down on moisture Between the blustery freezing winds outside and the skin-parching heat blasting inside, your skin is going to need some extra TLC when it comes to hydration. Even if you’re diligent with your water intake (we applaud you), dry winter skin is no joke and needs constant attention. Layer a hydration booster like Vichy Mineral 89 underneath your daily moisturizer and then switch to something heavier for overnight, like a sleep mask such as Vichy Aqualia Thermal Night Spa, or an oil such as the never-fail Bio-Oil. Rub some excess products on your hands to prevent over-drying and chapping.

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Stay sun-safe With the long dark days of winter, you might think now is the

ASHLEY KOWALEWSKI-PIZZI is a Toronto-based writer and editor who has more pink lipsticks, neon Post-its and daily cups of coffee than the 9 average human. When she’s not testing out beauty products, you can find her hanging around the city with her pup Odie. Follow her at @ashkowapizzi.




PUT ASIDE YOUR WINTER BLUES WITH ONE OF THESE SUAVE ALL-WEATHER RIDES Just a few of our favourite rides that’ll get you through snow, sleet and road salt By Casey Williams

Winter may not be your favourite season, but an all-weather ride can take the sting out of chilly air – even if you’re not going on a long holiday drive or heading off to your favourite ski lodge. From a compact hatchback to a legendary off-roader, frugal hybrid, efficient diesel or swift Italian, one of these capable steeds should help with your winter blues. Mazda3 AWD Hatchback During the first drive, I said to myself, “I love this car!” It’s the most beautiful hatchback I’ve ever seen, and the interior – lush with plush materials, heated leather seats and Bose audio – embarrasses many luxury cars. Beneath the smooth suit is a peppy 186-horsepower four-cylinder engine and optional all-wheel-drive. Suspension and steering enjoy curvy roads. Pop the hatch to toss in all of your gear. Underway, a head-up display, Apple CarPlay, sunroof and full array of crash avoidance systems impress. Base price: $26,000 Land Rover Defender Land Rover’s legendary 4x4 is redesigned with sleeker exterior forms plus a glassy cockpit channelling today’s Range Rovers. Maintaining capability are the terrain response system that can be configured for varying conditions, locking differentials, and a choice of 300-horsepower turbo-four or 400-horsepower turbo-six engines. Add features like a roof rack, portable rinse system, wheel arch protection or chrome bling. Carry up to 900 kg, tow 3720 kg, and drive through up to 90 centimetres of water. Drive this beefy lad almost anywhere. Base price: $65,300 Toyota Prius AWD-e This iconic hybrid’s fuel efficiency is unquestioned, but its snow skills, not so much. That changes with available all-wheel-drive, which uses electric motors to drive the rear wheels while allowing 4.7 L/100 km. Recently updated styling gives the car sportier facias, while interiors are upgraded with available heated steering wheel/seats, colour head-up display and JBL audio. Safety is enhanced by standard pedestrian detection, radar cruise and lane keep assist. Accessory roof racks fit snowboards or skis. Base price: $29,550


Chevrolet Silverado Diesel Recently redesigned with a front echoing the Camaro, the Silverado packs a new trick for 2020: a three-litre inline turbo-charged six-cylinder diesel engine capable of 277 horsepower, 624 Nm of torque and a frugal 8.7 L/100 km. Add on four-wheel-drive and this fab sleigh can get you to the mountain chalet or pull a cadre of snowmobiles. Passengers ride high with available heated seats, heated steering wheel, Bose audio and Wi-Fi hotspot. Choose High Country editions for Texas-style luxury. Base price: $55,000 Maserati Levante Let’s start with two Ferrari engines: a 345-horsepower V6 or 590-horsepower twin-turbo V8 (the latter able to propel this crossover from 0-100 km/h in 3.9 seconds on the way to 300 km/h). It looks ready to eat a Prius, but coddles with soft leather seats, Bowers & Wilkins audio and metallic weave trim. Intuitive infotainment screens let you focus on driving. Raise the suspension to clear high snow, or hit “Corsa” mode to lower the vehicle and let its inner Ferrari bellow. Base price: $92,900


CASEY WILLIAMS is a contributing writer for He contributes to the New York-based LGBT magazine Metrosource and the

IN MAGAZINE Chicago Tribune. He and his husband live in Indianapolis, where Williams contributes videos and reviews to, the area’s PBS/NPR station.

By Adam Segal

Dear Adam, For the past eight months, I’ve been dating a guy who I think is fantastic. Everything is going the way I hoped it would...we’re seeing each other increasingly frequently, we’ve met each other’s friends and some family members, the sex is great, and we’ve even had one awesome holiday together. This is the tough part – I find myself obsessing about the L word. A week ago he told me he loved me; I was so glad to hear it, but didn’t say it back. I think I love him, but we are still getting to know each other and I’m worried it won’t always feel this good. Mostly, I’m so afraid that if I say the word, and at some point things don’t work out, he’ll feel so much more hurt. I love my time with him and I see us being together for a long time – but I’m worried I’ll mess this up. Why is this one word freaking me out? —Benji Dear Benji, First off, I want to commend you for thoughtfully contemplating your feelings for this guy and just how ready you are to use the word ‘love’ when you’re with him. A lot of folks can either feel pressured to say the word even when it doesn’t feel right for them or throw the word around with abandon without considering just how loaded it can be for their partner. Your mindful consideration of his feelings is endearing, but I think it’s important that we make a distinction between mindfulness and obsessiveness. What sounds like a good initial instinct – to bring awareness to your true feelings for him before vocalizing your love – seems to have mutated into an anxious fixation. Sometimes, when we are sitting with fears that feel broad and amorphous, it can be tempting to fixate those unformed feelings onto something really tangible – in this case, whether or not to use the word love. I have a strong hunch that your fear of commitment and the pain that

can accompany relationships is at the heart of your particular preoccupation with semantics. Like anyone, you are likely connecting with the fears that arise when embarking on a new relationship: fears of being hurt or abandoned, or of hurting someone else. Here’s the harsh reality: you don’t really have complete control over how this relationship will unfold. Even if you have the confidence in your strong feelings for him and can envision a beautiful LTR together, you simply can’t know exactly how things will feel in two months or two years. By saying ‘love,’ you aren’t guaranteeing your honey that you’ll take your last breath while holding his hand at the rainbow senior living centre. By no means am I suggesting that you drop the L bomb just because he has; but if you want to chill out a little, you’ll need to accept that there’s no amount of certainty that can guard either of you against the possibility of future hurt.

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




What happens after you say “I love you”?


HOW A TORONTO COMPANY IS MAKING SPACE FOR QUEER SENIORS Taking the inclusivity journey one step at a time By Courtney Hardwick

As queer-identifying baby boomers age, it’s inevitable that many of them will call a long-term care facility home at some point in the not-so-distant future. For many LGBTQ2S+-identifying individuals, there is a very real fear that their sexual orientation and/or gender identity will not be respected or even acknowledged, and that they will feel pressure to go back into the closet. Toronto’s Rekai Centres, a company that includes two facilities in the downtown core with a third in the works, is dedicated to making sure that doesn’t happen. Already, 20 per cent of the Rekai Centres’ residents openly identify as queer, and the number is only expected to grow. That’s why a top priority has become the creation of a safe, positive and welcoming environment for residents, visitors and staff regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. But true inclusivity doesn’t happen overnight.


“The initiative has been ongoing since 2009 and the reason for that is things take time. It’s not just about putting a sticker on the door or waving a flag,” says Barbara Michalik, director of community partnerships, programs and volunteer services at Rekai Centres. “Training needs to be ongoing.... It can’t be just during Pride.” The ultimate goal is not only to provide a place where LGBTQ2S+ seniors can feel safe, accepted and celebrated, but also to educate staff and straight-identifying residents on how to be the best allies they can be. With “cultural humility,” everyone’s unique experience and needs can be both acknowledged and respected. In support of that, LGBTQ2S+ Community Advisor Christopher Grondin runs two different events for the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA). One group meets every three months to talk about issues relating to sexual orientation, gender identity and community issues in a safe, collaborative space. The social GSA involves a



monthly get-together for residents to interact. “We really put an emphasis on the allyship part. We encourage all residents to come in and ask questions, see what we’re doing and have fun with us,” says Grondin. “We really want to treat it as a learning opportunity.” Inclusivity training is provided to staff members to equip them with a better understanding of how to provide the best care possible to LGBTQ2S+ residents. Through partnerships with community organizations such as Egale and Rainbow Health, the Rekai Centres have also focused on improving their administrative procedures. From revising policies to providing the option to select ‘partner’ instead of ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ on official forms, updating the language they use has gone a long way towards nurturing a more inclusive culture. Visual signs of their mandate around the facilities include rainbow flags, a culture board that communicates programming and activities to residents, and the option for queer residents to post a rainbow sticker outside their rooms. Daily programming gets the residents interacting, and there are LGBTQ2S+-focused activities multiple times a month where everyone is invited to participate. Recently, a survey targeting individuals from the community aged 50+ was conducted to gauge interest in a 25-bed unit dedicated to queer seniors. The results were overwhelmingly positive, with 94 per cent of respondents saying they are in favour of the unit. As the company continues to work on next steps, Michalik hopes their efforts will be an example to other long-term care facilities. “None of this is mandatory. The Ministry of Health doesn’t say every long-term care home should be this,” stresses Michalik. “The human rights code says we should be inclusive and diverse, but we actually believe it.”

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


A SECOND HOME FOR MANY ACAS is currently the only operating HIV/AIDS service organization in Canada dedicated specifically to the sexual health of East and Southeast Asians By Ryan Tran

In a multicultural and vibrant city like Toronto, it’s common for folks to search for a community where they feel at home. The Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS) is that second home for so many – a place where being Asian meets being queer. ACAS is currently the only operating HIV/AIDS service organization in Canada dedicated specifically to the sexual health of East and Southeast Asians. While our background begins with HIV and sexual health, our work also includes creating safer spaces and providing support for the LGBTQ+ Asian community. It’s rare to find spaces that celebrate all parts of your identity. Asian communities can be heteronormative, while LGBTQ+ spaces don’t always make space for queer Asians to speak up. It is difficult to articulate just how powerful it is to be with others who share the same experiences and can understand your story. The experience is both refreshing and healing. One of the programs at ACAS is the Men’s Program, or SLAM (Sex, Love, Asian Men). SLAM provides workshops and social events for East and Southeast Asian gay, bi, queer cis and trans men. At a time when we rely heavily on online dating apps, gay bars and clubs to socialize, ACAS is a friendly refuge and a refreshing space to connect more meaningfully with other queer Asian men. It’s easy to find meaningful conversations to fulfill that social intimacy we all yearn for.

We have also seen an increasing number of international students who test positive for HIV during their stay in Toronto. Compounding factors like minimal or no sexual health education, language barriers, inability to negotiate condoms, sexual racism and fear of rejection all play a part. As newcomers to Canada, this may be an opportunity for them to explore their sexuality, but without the proper sexual health education these individuals may be taking big risks, unknowingly. By creating inclusive spaces for all LGBTQ+ East and Southeast Asian folks, ACAS hopes to continue improving the overall well-being of our community. We understand how our cultural experiences as LGBTQ+ Asians in dealing with coming out, immigration, relationships and language can affect our sexual health in different ways. By addressing these aspects, we hope to continue to improve the sexual health of our community. For more details on events at ACAS, you can visit their Facebook page (www.facebook/AsianCommunityAIDSServices) or visit The Men’s Program has a closed Facebook group that can be accessed by contacting Ryan at

We are also progressing towards an HIV status-neutral approach that destigmatizes HIV. This approach helps create a safer and inclusive environment for PHAs (people living with HIV/AIDS) to be more involved in the community. As a gay Asian man, I might not always feel like I fit in with other gay men. For people living with HIV, the stigma can drive these folks even further away from community. Having a place like ACAS – that is welcoming and inclusive of our intersecting identities of being Asian, queer, immigrants and/or HIV-positive – is something I’m grateful for. Although HIV treatment and prevention has come a long way in the past decade, HIV stigma and the lack of education remains a big issue. While the gay community is inundated with messages about using condoms, testing and PrEP, we still see new cases of HIV affecting gay Asian men. U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable), and the research that proves people with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV through sex, is still a new concept to many. Change takes time, and there are many who are skeptical and unable to believe in this new fact because they can’t overcome what they previously knew about HIV. Ryan Tran

RYAN TRAN is the MSM sexual health coordinator with the Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS).




Drag: The Complete Story is not just for fabulous queens and drag enthusiasts, but also for anyone interested in gender fluidity and the culture surrounding it By Christopher Turner


You don’t have to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race to realize just how And, crucially, Drag: The Complete Story takes a poignant look at much drag culture has infiltrated the mainstream. But with his new Black icons like trans activist Marsha P. Johnson and, of course, book, Drag: The Complete Story, legendary writer and fashion RuPaul, whose work made a significant impact. commentator Simon Doonan looks beyond the glamour: by taking on the monumental task of documenting the history of the art form “Our culture owes everything to the Black drag queen. Everything,” and its impact, he helps shine a little light on where drag is headed. Doonan says. “I had just done a book about soccer players [2018’s Soccer Style: Of course, he understands that drag is rapidly evolving. The The Magic and Madness], and the publisher [Laurence King coffee-table-worthy tome also examines the misconceptions of Publishing] said to me, there isn’t a book on the history of drag drag, and the once-prevalent idea that only cisgender gay men going all the way back to ancient Rome all the way up to now,” could dress up in women’s clothes and makeup. Doonan says. “This one was a delight because it involved an immense amount of research, but it was all fun research. Who doesn’t “There are straight women identifying as drag queens, there like watching YouTube videos of drag queens jumping about?” are little children identifying as drag queens. In the past two years, there’s been this flowering of identity, and as I’m writing Doonan spent three years researching drag and its origins to ancient this book, I’m thinking, sheesh, this makes it so much easier. Egypt, Rome and Shakespearean times, to name a few. Filled with People are redefining themselves in ever more nuanced ways. (obviously) dazzling images and Doonan’s trademark witty text, That makes it an easier topic.” Drag: The Complete Story highlights the interest in gender fluidity that led to the rise of drag culture, defining its impact on the world Whether you’re already a massive fan of Drag Race or drag culture, or simply interested in learning more about the movement’s origins of fashion, the LGBTQ community and far beyond. over the centuries – from tabloid scandal in the Victorian era to Doonan divides the past and present landscape of drag into nine Emmy-award-winning phenomenon in the 21st century – you’ll categories: glamour, art, butch, Black, historical, comedy, poster, find something to love in Doonan’s extensive tome. movie and radical. Each thematic chapter in the 256-page hardcover illustrates how drag queens and kings in those spaces or Now get your reading glasses out, darling.… Simon Doonan’s time periods have helped shape drag in some meaningful way – or, Drag: The Complete Story is available in bookstores across the in the case of Black drag queens, how they’ve shaped the LGBTQ country now. community at large in a meaningful way. 14

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.





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Buddies In Bad Times Season Launch 1: Allister MacDonald, Lucas Popowich, 2: Matthew Calabretta, Geoff Stevens, 3: Patricia Wilson, 4: Vanessa Odowd, Katherine Hytes Dior. House of Kings at Glad Day Bookshop - Photos by Mitchel Raphael 5: Davrielle, 6: Halal Bae, 7: Kai Taylor, 8: ZacKey Lime, Lady Gomorrah. Operanation Tall Tales at Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts – Photos by Ryan Emberley 9: Nicole Kidman, 10: Meryl Streep, 11: Jennifer Lopez, 12: Renée Zellweger.



REMEMBERING THE VICTIMS OF TRANSPHOBIA The Transgender Day of Remembrance has been observed annually on November 20 as a day to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia – but let’s do something to help the living, too By Fraser Abe

An epidemic. That’s what the American Medical Association, earlier Meanwhile, a study by Egale Canada in 2011 said that 74 per cent this year, called the violence experienced by trans people, which of trans students reported being verbally harassed about their gender also features “amplified physical dangers faced by transgender expression at school; 37 per cent of trans students also reported being people of colour.” The Human Rights Campaign (a US-based verbally harassed, daily or weekly, about their sexual orientation. LGBTQ civil rights organization), in its November 2018 report A A 2018 report by the City of Toronto on homelessness reported National Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence in America that 24 per cent of youth respondents – aged 16 to 24 – identified in 2018, said that at least 22 transgender people had been killed as LGBTQ2S. since the beginning of the year – 82 per cent of whom were women of colour. The report used the term “at least” because the numbers All this is to say that transgender people face a lot of struggles that are said to be very likely undercounted. And the year 2019 is no cisgender people – even those otherwise under the LGB rainbow better: at least 18 trans people in the US have been killed so far this – can never understand. year. Egale Canada reports that between Jan. 1, 2008, and Sept. 30, 2018, 2,982 people in 72 countries worldwide have been murdered. What can you do? November 20, the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, Even in death, the victims are often wronged by media reports was started in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith after the murder in the or police who misgender the person or refer to their “dead name” previous year of Rita Hester, a Black trans woman, in Massachusetts. (the name assigned to them at birth). And it’s not just right-wing The commemoration began as an online project called Remembering hate-mongers, either: as recently as 2016, the Canadian Press Our Dead, and morphed into a candlelight vigil in San Francisco. Style Guide said that “Transgender is usually regarded as a general In 2017, Ontario passed legislation to officially declare November term under which more specific descriptions, such as cross dresser, 20 the Trans Day of Remembrance (although this day is observed transvestite, drag queen, shemale and transsexual, fall.” This in many places, Ontario is one of the few places, if any, to mark misgendering and dead-naming can sometimes be because some it officially). people (especially mothers and fathers) never accepted a family member’s gender identity, referring to them only by their dead This year, solemnly mark November 20. If you’re cisgender, here names – which is why it is even more important for reporters to are some things that GLAAD notes allies can do: remember that you can’t tell if someone is trans just by looking at them, so don’t reach out to “chosen family” in these cases. make assumptions (generally a good practice in all areas of life, Laverne Cox is just one example of an actor who had been dead-named anyhow); avoid backhanded compliments (“I would never have by the online film database IMDb. In an emotional Twitter thread, known you were transgender – you’re so pretty”); and challenge she called it “the ultimate insult.” And she has a pretty high bar anti-transgender remarks in public and private spaces. for insulting behaviour: in a 2014 interview with Katie Couric, the host continuously asked Cox and model (and Drag Race alum) Some suggestions specifically for LGB people: remember that just Carmen Carrera rude and invasive questions about their genitalia. because you’re a member of the community, that doesn’t mean you Only in August of this year did IMDb allow users to remove their are above reproach. You are susceptible to the same transphobia as everyone else, so try to remember that and especially call out birth names from public profiles. anti-transgender comments (even those oh-so-unfunny jokes your Speaking of media companies, in 2017, Facebook was busy deleting friend makes) in LGB spaces. Also remember that gender is not the accounts of trans users who used their chosen names, forcing the same as sexuality. Just because a person is trans doesn’t mean anything about their sexual identity: they can be straight or gay or those who protested to undergo a traumatic ID verification. bi or something else altogether, just like you. A 2010 study by Trans Media Watch, called How Transgender People Experience the Media, found that 70 per cent of respondents To our transgender family – the non-binaries, the femmes, the felt that media portrayals of people like them were either negative butches, the genderqueers and everyone else in between – you are or very negative, and 78 per cent felt that these portrayals were seen and loved and appreciated. either inaccurate or highly inaccurate.



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.




Clack that fan! By Bobby Box

It was a simple topic, I thought: how we, the gay community, became synonymous with folding fans. You know the ones – those obnoxious handheld devices that make loud, ear-piercing sounds, producing a soundtrack at circuit parties. But I was wrong. Scouring the internet, I found zero information regarding our history with the item. I was equally dismayed to discover that it has nothing to do with Mortal Kombat’s Princess Kitana. (Because, credit where credit is due.)


While there is no reputable resource for its significance in queer culture, there is information available on how the item came to be in everyday society. First, the obvious: the folding fan was originally created to cool people down and not, as gays have adapted it, to be a clamorous method of expressing enthusiasm. Artisans in seventh-century Japan invented the fan, creating their trademark fan using a set of sticks (made of wood, ivory, mother-of-pearl, etc.), assembled at each end and held together at the base by a rivet. The “leaf” of the fan, inspired by banana leaves, is a semi-circular piece of cloth, lace, etc. that is secured across the sticks. Its simple functionality, which has remained relatively unchanged, was inspired by the way a bat folds its wings. The folding fan came to Europe in the 15th century via Catherine de Medici, the Queen of France, and it became regarded as a key item in the French court. Soon, the fan became a symbol of elegance, often found in the clutches of affluent women dressed in evening gowns seated in theatre boxes. When folding fans came to North America in the 19th century, by way of advertising and travel, they had a similar influence on the wealthy, imparting an appearance of luxury. In 1908, the New York 18


Times declared, “Of all the accessories of evening dress, the fan is perhaps of first significance.” Over time, however, the American passion for “Japonisme” (the influence of Japanese art and aesthetics on Western aesthetics) extended beyond the realm of fine art to mass consumption of everyday objects, like the kimono and parasol. At one time, it was understood that there was significance attached to how one held, gestured, communicated or danced with the fan, and whether it remained open or closed. Now, at least in North America, folding fans have become far more commercialized. How did it get from mainstream to gay culture? In searching for an answer on the fan’s impact on queer culture, I happened on a Reddit thread where a user had the same question about its history. “I don’t think there is a ‘history.’ They are fun, they are sassy, they are used regularly for drag performances,” a commenter wrote. “And when you’re dancing non stop on drugs they have the practical purpose of cooling you off. They just sort of have a natural place at circuit parties. That’s like asking the history of furry clothing at raves. They feel good when you’re on E so they just sort of came to be naturally.”

That’s not a bad stab at an answer. Circuit parties are known for drugs and dancing, and it gets real hot in there. A folding fan, paired with its aggressive flamboyance, compactness and booming sound, seems the perfect item to tuck in a jockstrap. Still, I wasn’t entirely sold. So I posted on Twitter, calling for anybody who might have information. Again, I got nothing. Somebody suggested it might have birthed from ballroom culture, but any insight on that suggestion was nowhere to be found. Then the clouds parted. Pablo Solomon, an award-winning designer, reached out to me. Given his credentials (which include studies in Asian art and design as well as an education in social anthropology), he’s confident that he can offer some reliable insights as to how the fan became associated with gay men. “In past times, gays were not accepted in general [Western] society, so it was not unusual for gay men from Europe and America to live and work in places like Morocco, Thailand, Vietnam, China and so on, in order to follow their sexual inclinations,” he says. “The

fan as an item of flirtation was taken to an art form in Spain, Japan and China. Since some gays were/are somewhat effeminate in their seductive personas, fans were part of their flirtatious repertoire.” Over time, this predilection that gay men had for fans made its way to North America, where it served the same purpose whether it was being held by an affluent straight woman or a gay man: to convey opulence…and to get some dick. While the origins of how the folding fan became an instrument for gays are uncertain, the reason for their popularity is understandable. Fans are feminine, campy and fabulous. Fans are striking and dramatic. Fans are great at cooling people down when dancing on drugs. All of these reasons make sense for why we love them so much, and maybe that’s the closest we will ever get to a reputable origin story. As Elizabeth I of England supposedly said: a fan is the only suitable gift for a queen. It turns out, she was absolutely right.

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 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.



THE RISE OF THE SOBER QUEER In a culture of partying, where do the non-drinking gays go? By Kelly Small


Let’s start this discussion by giving credit where it’s due: LGBTQ+ bars have been central to queer liberation (ahem: think Stonewall, people). The “gay bar” has historically been the de facto nucleus of our communities, and a place of safety, freedom of expression, resistance and celebration for many people. Pride is the gay bar macrocosm of that. Our most visible community expression is synonymous with nightlife: flashing lights, loud music, partying, drinking, sometimes drug use, and of course the omnipresent sponsorships by major alcohol brands. I could (if I wanted) tap into my past as a creative director working for big alcohol and turn this into an article about how those companies target queers. I could discuss how big alcohol “queerbates” us by co-opting our culture to sell booze, and how arguably unethical that behaviour is when we consider the addiction rates among queers compared to our straight and cis counterparts. Alternatively, I could (if I wanted) focus on the homogeneous communities that sometimes occupy space in a traditional “gay bar,” and how exclusionary and unsafe those spaces can be for those who deviate from the dominant culture. But I digress.



This is, instead, an article that intends to be a platform to share a handful of experiences and hot tips for sober life from a diverse cross-section of my fellow sober queers. I want to celebrate the progress we’ve made in creating spaces and a community that may be gentler, quieter, inclusive, accessible and alcohol free, but certainly doesn’t compromise our raging queerness. As the queer comedian, tea enthusiast and my personal messiah Hannah Gadsby once famously asked, “Where do the quiet gays go?” It’s a reasonable question, given the ubiquity of intense, alcohol-fuelled queer parties. I want to ask, Where do the sober queers go – to feel present in our queer worlds, to find likeminded folks, and to participate actively in our communities – if we don’t enjoy bar culture or it’s inaccessible to us for reasons like addiction or disability? How do those of us, for whom the age-old methods of forging queer connections just won’t work, build physical-world villages outside of our online cocoons, and begin to grow the community into a more inclusive place? I interviewed a group of fellow sober queers in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, and discovered a growing community that is collectively forging a new (and substance-free) queer culture. These are the top highlights from my conversations.

Spaces like Glad Day Bookshop give queers a place to exist but Vancouver is currently signed up, so stay tuned. Let’s make without centring on alcohol. more of these happen. Glad Day has become a cultural hub in the heart of the Toronto village. It’s a coffee shop, a bookstore and an events space that Identity can play a critical role in our relationship to alcohol. holds a monthly gathering called Sober’ry, a social mixer featuring Theodore Syrette, a First Nations queer person, talks about the non-alcoholic cocktails and beers. Glad Day also serves as a “complex history that Indigenous people and alcohol have together,” performance space for drag king shows by House of Kings – shows and how vigilant they feel they have to be in relation to society’s that Sam C. says differ from more traditional drag shows in their perceptions and being othered in the queer party scene. They add radical pay-what-you-can accessibility, highly inclusive and non- that “the party scene can be a collective coping of queers who oppressive commentary, and lack of any pressure to drink alcohol. have survived simply being queer. Some folks have experienced Other safe spaces can include choirs, sports teams and support groups. different forms of unhealed trauma, which can manifest itself in excessive partying or substance use.” Theodore says Anishnawbe Sober life is a little easier at events held in alternative, Health Toronto offers counselling and programming for Indigenous non-bar/club spaces. people who suffer from mental health issues or have problems For Hez, queer events in unconventional spaces like drag nights with addiction. at art galleries feel more accessible because they’re focused on a performance or activity, and not just on drinking. Hez is a fan There are many LGBTQ+-specific recovery groups that support of Queer Arcade Night at Zed80, and specifically mentions the community building and sobriety for those who have struggled selection of fancy soda pop that’s available there. Montreal is on with addiction. its third Sober Queer Dance Party in collaboration with Pervers/ There are a significant number of addiction services that support the City, which has a sober queer prom hosted by Queer Gatherings for LGBTQ+ community – here are just a few that folks shared: Pieces teens. Toronto has a growing queer comedy scene care of talented to Pathways, SMART recovery meetings (which are queer-friendly people. Their Pride series Queer and Present Danger, at Comedy and secular), LGBTQ+ NA and AA meetings, CAMH’s Rainbow Bar every Tuesday, features sober option cocktails and aims to Services, and the previously mentioned Anishnawbe Health Toronto. make non-drinking patrons feel included and welcome. There’s an entirely dry gay bar in Bloomsbury (UK) called Kaleb Robertson, a.k.a. popular drag performer Fluffy Soufflé, likes Queers without Beers. to throw events based around shows or activities like Musical Bingo If the Brits can do it, we can do it! at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto or a monthly cabaret called Fuck Shit Up. Robertson says, “I like an early event. It’s harder for me Most Canadian Pride organizations aim to be inclusive of to stay out later just socializing when I’m not drinking. So I like queers who don’t drink or use. people to be able to come out and focus on a fun show or activity, Check out Clean, Sober and Proud events or Untoxicated events and I strive to create spaces that are comfortable and inclusive, and connected to your local Pride. hopefully people don’t need ‘liquid courage’ to be there.” The kink community is (most often) queer-inclusive and And, of course, community organizations like The 519 in Toronto very often discourages the use of substances during play. and QMUNITY in Vancouver consistently offer queer-focused For kinky queers, this community can be a great alternative to programming such as improv, support groups and yoga that centre bar spaces. Check out The Space in Vancouver and The Ritual on well-being, family and community building. Chamber in Toronto. The title/identity of ‘sober’ comes with lots of debate within the community. Some of us believe the word ‘sober’ belongs exclusively to those in recovery from addiction. Others believe it to be an umbrella term for anyone who lives an alcohol-free life regardless of whether they’re doing it for health, disability, addiction or choice. Robertson laments that, until recently, as a non-drinker it has felt uncomfortable fitting into the queer experience. “I don’t even use the word ‘sober’ to describe myself – it doesn’t feel like it fits,” Robertson says, adding, “I am currently a person who doesn’t drink. Or I say I’m taking a ‘little break.’ Currently my little break is close to three years.”

Many queers embrace the party and learn to attend events sober. Harmony Bongat pushed through the initial anxiety of attending Vancouver queer events sober. She says, “I don’t think I’m wrong in saying a lot of queer folks suffer from a long-time history of not being accepted and wanting so badly to be part of a larger whole. I made the conscious decision to try to go to events [sober] by myself to see if I could.” The first time she did it, she says, “was so hard. I didn’t dance, and generally felt like an alien in a foreign land. The urge to drink to fit in was strong, but I knew I was stronger.” Six years later, she’s a pro. Her proud responses of “I’m sober” are most often met with congratulations, and she feels deeply connected to the queer community.

A lovely queer named Josh Hersh started Queeret out of Brooklyn, NY. Queeret is a global movement for queer introverts that holds social gatherings that are quiet, queer and sober. Anyone can sign up to host an event in their city. A Canadian city has yet to hold an event

This article skims the surface of a growing sober queer culture across Canada. Despite an increasingly visible community, most of the people I interviewed lamented that there wasn’t more of a queer sober culture in their respective cities. But, as Harmony optimistically told me, “Perhaps it’s on us to start one.”

KELLY SMALL is an author, writer, designer and award-winning creative director. An ad industry expat, Kelly now focuses on writing about creative industry ethics, queer issues, social justice and sustainability. Kelly’s forthcoming book The Conscious Creative, published by House of Anansi Press, will be available for pre-order soon. Kelly lives in Toronto with wife Dahlia and bonus kid, Evan. Twitter: @kelly_small




The Canadian internet star is offering something a little different, and a little queer, on A Little Late with Lilly Singh By Bianca Guzzo


It’s no secret that late-night television has been a boys’ club for a long time – more specifically, a white, cisgender and straight boys’ club. Seeing men deliver their commentary on social and political topics nightly has become our cultural norm. Late-night talk shows are so heavily dominated by male personalities that there’s little to no diversity, which is kind of a big deal when you’re talking about social, economic and political issues. So when it was announced earlier this year that YouTuber and Canada’s very own Lilly Singh (a.k.a. IISuperwomanII) would be getting her own late-night talk show it was a huge step in the right direction, and actually a really big deal for a number of reasons.

bisexual visibility is still super limited on mainstream television shows. Lately we’ve seen a rise in the visibility of bisexual characters on teen drama shows like Riverdale, but we don’t have as many real-life personalities who identify as bisexual in mainstream media. Lilly Singh is the trifecta of diversity, and the breath of fresh air that fans and lovers of late-night television have been searching for. She is changing the dynamic of late night just by existing in the space, but she’s making her mark by pushing the boundaries.

First, not only is Singh a woman, she is also a woman of colour. At the beginning of 2019, she publicly came out as bisexual. She let her followers know that no matter how many boxes you might tick, those boxes should never hold you back, and in fact should be celebrated as your unique superpowers. Singh was not only breaking her own barriers, but also the barriers of that long-running boys’ club of late-night television.

When we think of women who are currently dominating late night, Samantha Bee comes to mind. A comedian and experienced late-night correspondent, Bee has created a show that is popular and intelligent, and runs on a comedy network. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee tends to focus more on social and political stories. Both women offer different, and more diverse, viewpoints that are needed on prime-time television, but in comparison, A Little Late with Lilly Singh runs on a mainstream network, and has more of a pop-culture approach. This puts Singh in the same category as latenight giants like James Corden, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon.

Even when we take late-night talk shows out of the equation,

Lilly is a trailblazer for LGBTQ+ personalities on a global stage,



and in the world of late night. She’s one of the first, and her late late LATE timeslot gives her the opportunity to push boundaries with the topics she chooses to talk about on her show. Whether it’s making a joke gift basket for a politician after a scandal, or challenging Mindy Kaling to a Euphoria makeup race, no topic is off-limits for Singh. From digital shorts, to games with the various celebrities who come to hang out, Singh also opens up about her bisexuality – which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is. What’s also really cool is the way that Singh has chosen to go forward as a queer woman on late night. She doesn’t make her sexuality a preface to any comments or jokes; she just goes ahead and says them. Her bluntness about her bisexuality has allowed her to claim her space unapologetically. She doesn’t tiptoe around her sexuality without addressing the issues she faces as a queer woman. Her relaxed approach gives the show a more casual, but cool and exclusive, vibe that gives A Little Late with Lilly Singh an edge over the more structured programs of her male counterparts, which is fun to watch with the wide range of guests she has on her couch. The show has potential to be the breath of fresh air that late night

desperately needs. A Little Late is still new, and like all new things, it needs a little time, some practice. Any fan of late-night television will know it takes all new hosts a while to learn what format works well for their show, and while A Little Late might be a little rough around the edges, Singh has definitely got something special that can change the way people in the LGBTQ+ communities participate in mainstream popular culture. Singh is setting the bar for the new normal, not only in the world of late night, but also in the grand world of mainstream media – normalization of something a little different to what we’re used to seeing. Sitting behind a desk on late-night television makes clear that women, people of colour, and members of the LGBTQ+ community also belong there. Singh is making a statement simply by unapologetically taking up space in the late-night entertainment industry – and not only are we here for it, but we can’t wait to see more queer people follow her lead, and take up space in places where we’ve traditionally been told that we don’t belong. Lilly Singh has always been a boss, and now people of the LGBTQ+ community see that they can have a seat at the desk too. And there’s a lot of power in that.

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.



WHY DO GAY MEN IDOLIZE FEMALE POP STARS? Pop culture is the gay religion and pop stars are our goddesses By Bobby Box

Every gay has his icon, and I am no different. Mine? Victoria Beckham, the fashion-savvy Spice Girl with resting bitch face and the fewest verses on any of the girl group’s iconic, coming-of-age tracks. Whenever she’d seductively point her finger at the camera – her signature move – I’d squeal. Truth be told, Posh was my first crush, and when she married David Beckham I was genuinely hurt, because I loved her. I even followed her devastatingly short-lived and substandard solo music career. To idolize a female pop star is nothing new for queer-identifying men. Cher, Madonna, Ariana, Taylor, Gaga, Kylie – you name her and she’s got legions of hard-stanning homosexuals who’ve assembled shrines immortalizing her in their bachelor apartments. Admittedly, I am not as hard of a “stan” as others. Since Posh, I haven’t experienced the same level of hopeless devotion towards a pop artist. But, fortunately for me, I’ve got Gay Twitter™ to consult – and its users never disappoint.

Philip Petro, a staunch Madonna fan, took the time to passionately describe why he has dedicated much of his life to stanning one of pop culture’s most distinguishable figures. “I always get asked why I love Madonna so much,” he began, no doubt a response to his consistent and fanatical online devotion to the musician. “Is it about her, her music, her message? I love Madonna for all of it. For being the only constant in my life since the day I was born. For being a familiar face and voice when I was having a horrible day. For entertaining me with endless songs, videos, interviews and films and making me forget my problems. For teaching me to express myself and for loving me regardless of how much I hated myself. For being a voice for the Gay Community when no one else would even associate with us. For letting me know that my confusion about Catholicism and God and the universe was valid and that we can piece together every part of what makes us feel good about them until we think it’s right. For being my best friend. That’s why I love Madonna.”


“Gay men use women as avatars for themselves,” one Twitter Many queer men have an almost obsessive connection to their pop user said, and this perspective quickly collected several Likes. stars – one that is deeply passionate and emotionally layered. This “Female pop stars often are strong in their femininity or redefine gay fascination is something that Jeff Larsen, a psychotherapist and it and are not ashamed. Personally, I often feel empowered in my sexuality expert in San Diego, calls “reactive projection.” femininity through their music and it’s helped me feel comfortable “We as gay men often see female pop stars – especially when the in it,” said another.



star has been perceived to have had to really fight or struggle for her time sourcing in a heteronormative society. The pop star struggles dominance or longevity, like Taylor, Madonna or Cher – with our to be taken seriously; it’s a very familiar sentiment experienced own struggle for full acceptance regarding our sexuality,” Larsen by queer people. says. “This struggle and the perceived victory over the struggle – think Britney [Spears] – only adds to the perceived ‘fabulousness’ According to Larsen, like a Buzzfeed personality quiz, the pop stars of our female icons.” we choose to idolize are often the ones we feel most connected to. Whether you’re a Mariah, a Beyoncé or a Janet – the relationship The concept behind reactive projection is that gay men often is the same, but the identity is unique to whoever we emulate or experience a strong reaction with pop stars as we relate their idolize. I liked Posh because she was never the centre of attention tribulations to similar struggles we feel we face in our own lives – and almost seemed to steer away from the spotlight. As a shy, the need to be embraced or validated, for example, or the struggle introverted child, I related to her. More than that, Posh was to either be “relevant” or stay relevant as we age. mysterious and beautiful. She wore high heels and fancy black dresses. She was femininity personified and she was fabulous. This reaction can intensify to the point where we project an alliance and attachment onto or with the pop star with whom we most Gays have long sought acceptance, and pop divas have taken us identify. Larsen says reactive projection often leads to such a strong in with open arms when no one else would. They shared their attachment that we may even want to emulate or “be” that artist. struggles, talents and tail-shaking bops with us. In return, we’re Because let’s face facts: Every adolescent gay boy has sung into a unwavering in our devotion and support, and will fight for them hairbrush in front of the mirror emulating a strong, sassy lady. “I as hard as, if not harder than, they’ve fought for us. see this a lot with gay men,” Larsen assures. “You are not alone!” Want to talk smack about the Spice Girls? Come at me, sis. Beyond the loud stanning and unwavering support, our fascination with female pop stars stems from the basic need to relate and to feel seen and understood. It’s something gay men have a difficult

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 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.




Reality TV royalty and Queer Eye food guy Antoni Porowski brings the heat to the kitchen both on and off screen By Jumol Royes

If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen – because when Antoni Porowski is in the kitchen, you know it’s going to get hot.

has already made it to the number two spot on the New York Times Bestseller List, inspires people to reflect on their personal history and relationship with food.

Porowski has been heating things up all year long: he’s part of the Fab Five, reality TV’s unofficial royal family (a.k.a. the cast of the “Everyone has their own culinary memoir if they think about it Emmy Award-winning show Queer Eye); he’s partnered with big long enough.” brands like GE Appliances (he helped launch their chic Café Appliances collection earlier this year); his health-conscious, fast-casual On the flip side, not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to restaurant (The Village Den in New York City) is celebrating its follow their passion; fewer still find a way to apply that passion one-year anniversary; and he has a new cookbook, appropriately to make a good living that pays the bills. Porowski has been able titled Antoni in the Kitchen. to do both. He’s forever grateful to be part of Queer Eye and for the global platform to do what he loves most. The 35-year-old is making bold moves and has a knack for turning the temperature up a notch just when it seems like he might be “It’s been an honour. It’s changed the way I approach work,” he getting ready to simmer down. Not bad for a Canadian boy who says of the show that’s gearing up for a special four-episode Tokyo started out busing tables in a supper club. season (Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!) coming to Netflix November 1. Born and raised in Montreal by Polish immigrant parents, Porowski’s passion for food comes naturally. He grew up watching his mom prepare traditional dishes, like kielbasa served with sauerkraut and Polish mustard, for him and his family: “I never cooked with my mother; she didn’t like anyone helping her in the kitchen. But she was happy to let me sit with a little snack at the other end of the island and just watch,” he shares in his cookbook (available in bookstores now).


By the time he was 14, he was cooking and hosting dinner parties for friends. Not long afterwards, he got his first job working in a restaurant as a busboy and food runner, and he continued working in restaurants – where he devoured everything he could about food – while studying psychology and art history at Concordia University, and taking acting classes on the side. Porowski’s first big break came after moving to the Big Apple, where he met and started working for Ted Allen, the food and wine expert on the original Queer Eye. Working alongside Allen provided the perfect opportunity for Porowski to discover and refine his own culinary philosophy: “food should tell a story, and the heart and stomach are inter-connected.” It also served as preparation for his next big break – when the student became the teacher, and Porowski joined the cast of the revamped Queer Eye as the show’s specialist on all things related to eating and drinking. For the love of food While Porowski is perhaps best known for putting Greek yogurt in guacamole in Season 1 of Queer Eye, viewers might not have noticed that he’s got a soft spot for omelettes, which he showed off in Season 2. “Omelettes ARE romantic!” he proclaims. “I’ve always been a sucker for films, music and food related to new love.” That’s just one of the many culinary mantras he shares in his new cookbook, co-authored by Mindy Fox. He hopes the book, which 26


“When your daily job gives you a sense of meaning, that becomes the norm going forward.” The thorns of the rose are hidden by the bloom From the outside looking in, 2019 has more or less resembled a bed of roses for Porowski professionally. His personal life, however, has been a little thorny. This past summer, he and his boyfriend broke up after one year of dating (the breakup followed a split from his longtime partner, Joey Krietemeyer, in 2018). In a conversation with Andy Cohen on his SiriusXM radio show, Andy Cohen Live, Porowski opened up about how he’s doing: “As somebody who’s pathologically co-dependent – and I constantly lose myself in my relationships and forget who I am – I’m trying to figure out who the hell I am right now. So I’m taking it slow, and watching a lot of Housewives, and eating a lot of Swedish fish, and just living my best life.” We’ve all been there and we can all relate. For Porowski, who has publicly acknowledged having “a very intimate relationship with addiction” and “a very good understanding of what depression is like,” practising self-care and staying grounded is key. “I sleep eight hours a night. I meditate for 10 minutes every morning after my workout. I listen to a lot of music that inspires me,” he says. #jestemLGBT (I am LGBT) In the introduction to his cookbook, Porowski is very honest about his fears and his feelings, talking about the crippling self-doubt that washed over him upon learning that he had been chosen to join the cast of Queer Eye: “I questioned whether I was gay enough to be on a show called Queer Eye,” he says. “…I had never come out as gay, never felt polarized at one end of the sexuality spectrum, never felt entirely

Photos by Paul Brissman



sure whether I’d live forever as a gay man or fall in love and spend my life with a woman.” But the newly minted author, who self-identifies as a member of the queer community and sees his sexuality as “fluid,” is steadfast in his commitment to use his platform to shine a light on issues of social justice impacting LGBTQ people. He recently penned an op-ed for the Washington Post in which he spoke out against violence, bigotry and growing anti-LGBTQ sentiment in Poland, a country near and dear to his heart. In the article, he encouraged readers to express their support on social media with the hashtag #jestemLGBT (I am LGBT) and called on them to sign a petition imploring the European Union to stand with Poland’s LGBTQ community. The petition, started by All Out – “a global movement for love and equality” fighting for LGBTQ rights around the world – has received just under 55,000 signatures and is very close to reaching its goal. Porowski points to the group as playing a pivotal role in mobilizing people to get involved and help. “All Out is a fantastic international organization with satellite locations worldwide teaching people how to practise activism safely,” he says.

Marching to the beat of his own drum After marching in last year’s Montreal Pride parade alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Porowski cemented his status as a bona fide Canadian celebrity, pop culture phenomenon, and one of the hottest stars of reality television today. If you need further proof of his royal hotness, just do a quick Google image search with the words “Antoni Porowski underwear.” Trust and believe; it’s well worth it. However, Porowski is more modest and introspective when he reflects on his fame and the level of success he’s managed to achieve thus far. “The future is so unknown. Most of what I’ve accomplished was never part of some master plan,” he reveals. “I can say, though, that I’ve always been adaptable to change and have always taken advantage of opportunities, no matter how absurd at the time, when they would come around.” When asked about giving advice, he says it’s not really his thing, but offers up these words of wisdom: “I don’t give advice, but a journey I’m currently on may help: figure out who you are. What you like, what you don’t like. Take your time with it too, and enjoy the process.”

JUMOL ROYES is a Toronto-based communications strategist and content writer with a keen interest in personal development and transformation. Follow him on Twitter at @Jumol.

SOUTHERN ITALIAN/COLD NYC WINTER SALAD Serves 4 In the winter, when I long for fresh produce, I serve this citrus and fennel salad, which reminds me of Italy. Cutting the fennel as thin as humanly possible dials back some of the intensity of the anisey flavor, giving you more delicate but still crunchy strands of translucent goodness. Chilling the citrus makes the salad extra refreshing.


TIP: I like to use a mix of citrus here, because I love the variety of flavors – some sweet, others tangy. (Plus, the colours!) But you can also go single citrus, if you want to – this recipe is flexible. Purchase whatever you like best. ◊2 tbsp shelled unsalted pistachios ◊2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (approx.) ◊Kosher salt ◊2 blood oranges or Cara Cara oranges, chilled ◊1 pink grapefruit, preferably small, chilled ◊1 navel orange, chilled ◊1 medium to large fennel bulb, preferably with fronds, stalks removed and fronds reserved (optional); bulb cut lengthwise in half, cored, and very thinly sliced ◊Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon ◊Freshly ground black pepper ◊1 ½ tbsp fresh lemon juice



Heat oven to 350ºF, with a rack in the middle. Spread pistachios on a small baking sheet (or use a pie pan) and toast until fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately toss with ½ teaspoon oil and a generous pinch of kosher salt, then transfer to a plate to cool. Coarsely chop. Using a sharp paring knife, trim off tops and bottoms of citrus fruits to expose the flesh. Stand one piece of fruit on end and cut away peel and white pith, following the curve of the fruit from top to bottom. Repeat with the remaining citrus, then cut all the fruit crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices. Cut one slice (your choice of fruit) into small wedges and set aside for garnish. Arrange the remaining slices slightly overlapping on a serving platter. In a medium bowl, toss together fennel, a generous pinch each of flaky salt and pepper, and 2 tbsp oil, then arrange over the citrus. If you have fennel fronds, coarsely chop enough to yield 1 to 2 tbsp. Drizzle salad with lemon juice, then top with pistachios, reserved citrus pieces, a couple of good pinches of flaky salt, and fennel frond, if using.

Southern Italian/Cold NYC Winter Salad is excerpted from ANTONI IN THE KITCHEN © 2019 by Antoni Porowski with Mindy Fox. Photography © 2019 by Paul Brissman. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.



From Man To Mona

A Toronto-based photographer documents the intimate transition of artist Trevor Grey into drag queen Mona Moore Text and photos by Wade Muir

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with makeup…or, rather, with the enhancing power it has in allowing us to become somebody different. I cherish the moments where I can intimately watch the face transform.

told me. “Entertaining is what feeds my soul – to be able to make people laugh, cry and think is an amazing feeling. I was born to perform, and drag lets me apply all of my artistic skills into one fabulous drag queen.


“From Man to Mona” is a photo-series documenting the transition “The transformation is one of my favourite parts. To go from a of artist Trevor Grey into drag queen Mona Moore. As society handsome man into a glamorous queen is a talent I possess. Starting evolves, and the idea of gender blurs, I found the act of changing off with a blank canvas, and painting on features and a beautiful from Man to Mona incredibly laced with stereotypical “masculine” mug, is my favourite part of the process. Creating the illusion of and “feminine” imagery (fake nails, duct tape, glitter, glue, etc.) a woman is creative and empowering. Girl power!” – raising even more questions about the ideas of what gender is, and what it can be. I hope that “From Man to Mona” serves as an insightful piece – highlighting the time, effort and craft that goes into the art of drag. “Drag gives me the opportunity to express myself theatrically,” Grey








WADE MUIR is a queer Toronto-based photographer/artist (who feels a lot). You can check out more of his work on Instagram at @wademuir or at



PHOTOGRAPHER: Ivan Otis  CREATIVE DIRECTION: Paul Langill  STYLIST: Kahmeelia Smith  STYLIST ASSISTANT: Feven Tesgaye  HAIR: Paul Pereira  HAIR ASSISTANT: Rosa Flores  MAKEUP AND GROOMING: Gelerah Kamazani 

It’s that time of year when holiday dinners, parties and events fill up your calendar… a perfect excuse to amp up your style game 34


MODELS Tayor David (Plutino Models) Chitom Eze (Plutino Models) Chelsey Boll (Plutino Models) Aiden Trapmen  (Plutino Models) Malentino (B&M Model Management) Micheal  Lucas (Next Models) Nuameke (Dulcedo) Jaydon (Elmer Olsen Models) Shot at Wanderspace Studios in Toronto’s east end


FASHION Previous page (left to right) OVERCOAT: Bustle TUXEDO COAT: DSquared2 SHIRT: Simons  HAT: Jaycow Millinery SUIT: Bustle HAT: Jaycow Millinery SCARF: Vintage SHOES: Top Shop 


TUXEDO COAT AND SHIRT: Christopher Bates TIE: Simons  GLOVES: Rhowan James PANTS: Bustle  SHOES: Top Man  TUXEDO COAT AND PANTS: Bustle  TOP: Mayer Man   SHOES: Top Man  SUIT: House Of Dwir  BOOTS: Aldo GLOVES: Vintage BRACELETS: Catharsis Toronto   TWO-PIECE TUXEDO, TURTLENECK SWEATER AND SHOES: Boss By Hugo Boss  RING: Catharsis Toronto  TWO-PIECE TUXEDO, TURTLENECK SWEATER AND SHOES: Boss by Hugo Boss  RING: Catharsis Toronto



COAT: Mayer Man SWEATER: Boss by Hugo Boss  HAT: Jaycow Millinery JEWELS: Vintage


COAT: House Of Dwir  GLOVES: Vintage BRACELETS: Catharsis Toronto 








SUIT: Bustle HAT: Jaycow Millinery SCARF: Vintage SHOES: Top Shop



TUXEDO COAT AND SHIRT: Christopher Bates TIE: Simons   PANTS: Bustle 





TUXEDO COAT AND PANTS: Bustle TOP: Mayer Man   GLOVES: Rhowan James 


SHIRT AND PANTS: Mayer Man COAT: House Of Dwir 




TUXEDO COAT AND SHIRT: Christopher Bates TIE: Simons 



A HISTORY OF HOOKING UP We’ve always had a way of finding each other


By Paul Gallant

I first heard about the internet in 1992; I must have read about The first gay dating site that I can remember was, it in a newspaper, since there was certainly no Googling to be launched in 1994, when just 2.4 per cent of Canadians had access done. I made some calls and found out that I could go to the local to the internet, according to World Bank statistics. Queer people university to get an account, which involved attending a personal beat the straights here; introduced its digital “men-only instruction session where ideas like “passwords” and “hyperlinks” bedrooms” and “lesbian dinner parties” one year before the founding would be patiently explained to me. I remember asking lots of of As with the phone lines, users typically started out vague questions about chat rooms, and when I got home my first in a live group-chat situation, making conversation like they were course of action was logging into a gay chat room, fluorescent at a typewritten cocktail party, then perhaps moving with their flirt green type on a black screen. I ended up striking up an online buddy into a private room. Because few people are charming in friendship with a guy from London, England – I think his handle text right out of the gate, it could take a while (and lots of patience had the word “Wolf” in it – and eventually met him during a with banal banter) to get one’s bearings and get a sense of who was trip to the UK. Though I had never seen a photo of him or heard worth going private with. It was all ephemeral words, words, words. his voice, he turned out to be handsome and charming. We went As connections with other people and computers got faster, with clubbing. I loved the internet. photo uploads and downloads becoming less onerous, the defining It’s hard to believe now that, for most of human history, this kind experience of meet-up websites slowly shifted from group chats of meeting – text on a screen to a stranger far away – would have to browsing photo-filled profiles and then messaging potentials. been unthinkable. Yet same-sex-attracted people have always had Profiles meant that rather than endlessly repeating one’s height, various strategies for finding each other. There’s been cruising weight, cock size and preferred position, users filled in the form in public spaces, I imagine, since public spaces have existed. only once – like the newspaper personals of yore – and then Mainstream bars, nightclubs and bathhouses were conscripted as waited for potential partners to discover them. It seemed so much gay meeting places until, in the 20th century, bars, nightclubs and more efficient. You could even unlock nude photos as a sort of bathhouses were conceived and operated for the specific purpose seduction ritual. of same-sex commingling. Dedicated LGBT spaces were an urban phenomenon, though, and required a certain audacity – if But like male bowerbirds, who build elaborate eye-catching structures your great-aunt or the school bully saw you leaving one, you’d to attract mates, users had to hang out by their computers to see who passed by. By the early 2000s – when websites like Manhunt be forced out of the closet, or worse. .net,, and, in Europe and southeast Technology could provide a way to reduce the risk by providing Asia,, were kings – horny men who could have anonymity. For a while, newspaper and magazine classified ads been out socializing instead sat at home in front of their desktop did the job. I remember, as a high-school student in the 1980s, computers, waiting for “new message” indicators to flash. These stumbling across an issue of NOW magazine and being shocked first few years of the 21st century were a turning point in human to see ads placed by “professional men” looking for “houseboys.” history: now, if you wanted to get laid, it was better to spend time at But classified ads depended on the agonizingly slow mail service home. It was better to have a screen, not a bartender, in front of you. – it could take weeks or even months to arrange a meeting, which might ultimately end in disappointment. Telephone chat lines Aside from aesthetics – Manhunt’s bold blues, Adam4Adam’s cheesy started to appear in the early 1980s, and though they grew a clutter – the websites launched in the late 1990s and early 2000s dedicated following, they required an exceptional amount of trust and competed mostly on the breadth and depth of their profile forms, imagination: the voice might be sexy, but did it really belong to a and users’ ability to target exactly what they wanted. If your dream very good-looking 23-year-old blond? The prevalence of pornography date was an 80-kilo, 185-centimetre hairless HIV-positive Middle tells us that men’s sexual desires are deeply wrapped up in the Eastern bottom who worked in engineering and loved dogs, you visual, and photos and videos won’t pop out of a telephone earpiece. could find him…if he existed. Website users could be much more



specific about what they wanted. This not only nurtured unrealistic expectations – humans are not made-to-order – it also had public health implications. “Although seeking partners online may not be directly associated with sexual risk-taking behaviours, the ease and anonymity of online communication facilitated a more efficient communication of needs and desires related to sexual behaviour, and this may have increased risk behaviour in some groups while decreasing risk for others,” writes the team behind the paper Gay and Bisexual Men’s Use of the Internet: Research from the 1990s through 2013, out of the City University of New York. While avid barebackers, for example, could find more partners more easily, putting themselves at greater risk of coming into contact with HIV, “the anonymity of the internet actually facilitated conversations about condom use and HIV status that may have otherwise been uncomfortable, awkward or distressing in face-to-face encounters.” The launch of Grindr in 2009 (and the Pepsi to its Coke, Scruff, a year later) again changed the rules of engagement with its “less is more” ethos: a photo, a few words and, in the newest twist, a distance. Plus, it was on your phone. Users could get away from their

computer, get out of the house, get on with life and still make quick real-time contacts with nearby men. If he was 100 metres away, he didn’t have to be perfect. It was an attempt to create serendipitous meetings: don’t get hung up on details, just go see, maybe there’ll be a magic connection that stats couldn’t have predicted. But the minimalism of Grindr created its own problems. When it’s hard to tell upfront what anyone wants, an endless stream of “whatsup” can eat up a whole evening. Users were back to repeating stats over and over again, like in the 1990s chat rooms, or sharing photo after photo after photo, like on an early 2000s website. Yes, you can go out and stay online, but is there anything more depressing than walking into a bar or party full of hot men, every single one of them staring at his phone? Hopefully the next chapter in digital dating will find us the ideal person for the job quickly and easily, while also allowing us to set down our phones and enjoy the world IRL. After all, trading in the classified ads for the internet was supposed to get us more face time, not more screen time.

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.



Barefoot-Chic In Grenada Elevated luxury mixed with old-style Caribbean hospitality is the icing on the spice cake By Doug Wallace

It would appear that we are the first people to swim in the infinity pool. Ever. Talk about first come! And it is apparently the longest pool in the Caribbean, at 100 metres. At least four staff members of the new Silversands Grenada are hovering, smiling, waiting for us to want something. We get used to the pampering real fast, not to mention the hotel’s minimalist design, the exquisite Spanish furniture, the blond wood, the electronic drapery, the rosé, that new-car smell.


It turns out that this is the tip of the luxury iceberg here in the southern Caribbean. The tri-island paradise of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, at the bottom of the Grenadines, is gearing up to lure loads of high-enders to the white sand, azure shorelines, hidden waterfalls, unspoiled nature and, now, increasingly more barefoot-chic situations for you to discover. Grand Anse Beach, just south of Grenada’s main city of St. George’s, is soon to be anchored with a new Kimpton resort competing for the luxury tourist dollars with both the Silversands and the tony Spice Island Beach Resort. All this newness is nice, but the already-established posh parts of this formerly British island also deliver. One afternoon, we dig our heels into the sand at the private Laluna Beach Hotel for a few hours and sip our Rumtinis, pretending we’re in a TV commercial. This is before massages at the resort’s Balinese Spa, half hidden in the trees beyond an inviting open-air chill-out pavilion. The crowd here is quiet, everybody Zen, daydreaming being the order of the day.



One garlic shrimp at a time We are dreaming of supper, of course: the food scene in Grenada is relatively robust for an island of just 110,000. We experience it first at the family-run Calabash Hotel, the island’s only Relais & Château-rated property on the southern Lance Aux Epines Beach. It only takes a few bites for us to be almost overwhelmed on the vine-covered terrace of the resort’s destination restaurant, Rhodes, its kitchen minded by British celebrity chef Gary Rhodes. We sink into our chairs and just let the food journey wash us away for a couple of hours. Winning over tourist hearts – and, thereby, dollars – through their stomachs is a win-win. Back at Laluna, the Italian-Caribbean fare sticks to our ribs, the menu’s homemade ravioli, pastas and risotto propped up by deliciousness like lionfish smothered in butter and grilled barracuda with pineapple salsa. We drift into dessert watching the bats dive-bombing the pool to take sips. Over at the bustling Coconut Beach Restaurant in St.George’s, dishes like curried conch and ginger lobster get the full French Creole treatment, right down to the pumpkin soup. And at Aquarium on Magazine Beach, a whirl of waiters swirl around with tray after tray of gorgeous seafood: roasted black cod, curried conch or “lambie,” tuna tartare, tandoori shrimp. We are in heaven, wafted out of our reverie by a steel drum band. How they manage to play so quietly I’ll never know.

The main reason Grenada’s menus hit the spot is thanks to the plentiful spices for which the island is well-known: nutmeg and mace, turmeric, cinnamon, pimento, bay leaves, cloves and ginger. As well, the tree-to-bar chocolate is beyond good. All of the above made it into my luggage (you can’t go wrong with treats for everyone that pack flat). We actually stop into the House of Chocolate twice, and hope they don’t remember us the second time (they do, and they don’t care). Chocolate manufacturing cropped up here a mere 20 years ago, and there are a few producers to visit throughout the island: a pleasant afternoon of taste-and-tour fun.

area just off the coastline features more than 65 concrete works (the bulk of them by British sculptor James deCaires Taylor) set around natural gullies, creating an artificial reef that teems with marine life. The haunting “Vicissitudes” is the most noted work: 26 lifesize children standing in a circle facing the current and holding hands, symbolizing the cycle of life. “The Lost Correspondent” consists of a man sitting at his desk and typewriter, like a relic from a simpler time. At five to 12 metres below the surface of the water, the sculptures are also a hit with snorkellers and the glass-bottom boat tours.

Haul your ass out of the lounge chair It’s not all filling our face with ceviche and chocolate, though. Getting out into the natural environment of Grenada is mandatory. You don’t go to the Caribbean without indulging in the blue waters in some way – boating, fishing, snorkelling, sand castles.

Grenada has more than 40 reefs and wrecks to explore, including the largest shipwreck in the Caribbean, the 600-foot-long Bianca C, which sank in the St. George’s harbour in 1961. She’s too deep for me, though; I stick with the shallower stuff, logging two octopuses, some really big parrot fish and groupers, a few crabs, a barracuda, and a ray that I think blinked at me.

I have about 150 dives under my belt, but big bottom-time spent with Aquanauts Scuba completely takes the cake with a swim through the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park. This protected

Back on land, we push the rain clouds out of our minds one morning and press up forest-covered Mount Qua Qua in the Grand Etang



National Park with a hiking guide from Solimar International. After many ups and downs – including some fairly steep bits made more of a challenge by the mud – we reach the summit at 565 metres, and pause to drink in the view of Grand Etang Lake below. This crater lake in an extinct volcano becomes our selfie of the day. Though the park is filled with white-rumped mona monkeys, they are taking this rainy day off. We do have company, though – and he’s blond, fit and sporty. A hiking guide from one of the cruise ships is hot on our heels, checking to see if the Qua Qua trail is a good match for his passengers. We share our snacks with him, and he unwittingly reciprocates by shaking out his ponytail. Later, over beers at the park entrance, we nickname him Thor. When you go Grenada is accepting of LGBTQ visitors, but we find that many residents struggle with the closet and the stigma. Quite a number of people thought my partner and I were just friends. Like many Caribbean islands, attitudes here are shifting. An organization called GrenCHAP works to empower marginalized populations, including the LGBTQ community, through human-rights advocacy and access to information. Find more details at The best time to visit Grenada is the high-season months (from January to April), when the weather is driest and the 30-degree days are cooled by trade winds. May and June generally offer more affordable rates. Visit

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



Celebrate your



FLASHBACK December 16, 1988 In LGBTQ History

Disco superstar Sylvester died of complications from AIDS

On December 16, 1988, disco superstar Sylvester died of complications from AIDS in his bed in San Francisco. He was 41 years old. Born Sylvester James on September 6, 1947, the openly gay entertainer made a splash in the late ’70s and early ’80s with his exotic drag costumes and a soaring falsetto voice that help propel him to international fame at the height of disco. Affectionately known as “the Queen of Disco,” Sylvester scored his biggest hits in the late ’70s – “Dance (Disco Heat)” in 1978, “Body Strong” and the classic disco party anthem “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real,” both released in 1979.


Sylvester was open about his sexuality and identity, and challenged the status quo at a time when few others dared to. After being diagnosed with HIV, he continued to give interviews to the media, being open about the fact that he was dying of AIDS, and sought in particular to highlight the impact the disease was having in the African-American community. In an interview with the British music magazine NME, he stated, “I don’t believe that AIDS is the wrath of God. People have a tendency to blame everything on God.” Joshua Gamson, Sylvester’s biographer, said of the singer, “You’ve got the words of a person who is just matter-of-fact about their sexual desires, about the freedom to do with their bodies and their desires whatever they want to do, and you can dance to it!”





Three major LGBTQ cases were argued in front of the United States Supreme Court in October, and whatever the top US court decides will affect the future of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender expression in America. Gerald Bostock, Donald Zarda and Aimee Stephens say they were fired from their jobs because of their LGBTQ identity: Bostock and Zarda for being gay men, and Stephens for coming out as a transgender woman. While the outcomes of all three cases will be historic, Stephens’ case was the first time that the Supreme Court has ever heard a case involving the civil rights of transgender people. While Stephens is not the first openly trans litigant to appear in front of the Supreme Court (Dee Farmer, a trans woman inmate from Wisconsin, holds that distinction), her case will be the first to deal directly with the rights of transgender people in the US under the law.

Opportunity Commission will eventually decide if transgender people are entitled to sex-based protections under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The decision of the nine cisgender Supreme Court justices – not expected until next year – will have serious ramifications for LGBTQ people, specifically transgender Americans, and will affect queer and trans people’s lives for generations. If Stephens gets a favourable decision from the conservative-leaning court, trans people will have explicit non-discrimination protections under US federal law for the first time in history. A loss would be a dramatic step back in the equal standing of trans people under the law. “I found it a little overwhelming when I realized that I could be in the history books,” Stephens said outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, in October. “Somebody’s gotta do it, and I’d be happy and satisfied to be that person.”

Stephens had been working as a funeral director at R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes near Detroit for six years, struggling with her identity. She came out as a trans woman in the summer of 2013, when she informed her employer with a letter explaining why her transition was necessary for her quality of life. Two weeks later, she was fired. Shortly thereafter, Stephens filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), claiming she was discriminated against because of her sex. Stephen’s boss, Thomas Rost, who calls himself a devout Christian, refused to accept that Stephens now identified as a woman, and would later testify in a lower court that he fired her because she was no longer going “to represent himself as a man” and “wanted to dress as a woman.” R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment




THE REINVENTED 2020 LEXUS RX There’s always room for refinement. It’s this belief that set the next iteration of the RX into motion. With a striking exterior refresh, standard LSS+ 2.0, cutting-edge technologies including touchscreen display with Apple CarPlayTM and Android Auto,TM the new 2020 Lexus RX is the pinnacle of function and form. 52


Apple CarPlay is a trademark of Apple Inc. All rights reserved. Android is a trademark of Google LLC. Use of this trademark is subject to Google Permissions.

Profile for IN Magazine

IN Magazine: November/December 2019 Issue  

ISSUE: 91 IN Magazine's November/December 2019 issue, featuring reality TV royalty and Queer Eye food guy Antoni Porowski.

IN Magazine: November/December 2019 Issue  

ISSUE: 91 IN Magazine's November/December 2019 issue, featuring reality TV royalty and Queer Eye food guy Antoni Porowski.