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INMAGAZINE.CA PUBLISHER Patricia Salib GUEST EDITOR Christopher Turner ART DIRECTOR Prairie Koo FASHION DIRECTOR Danyl Geneciran CONTRIBUTORS Colin Druhan, Adriana Ermter, Paul Gallant, Ruth Hanley, Courtney Hardwick, Peter Knegt, Karen Kwan, Iko Maramo, Michael Pihach, Al Ramsay, Mitchel Raphael, Heather Richardson, Maria Natalia Rodriguez, Adam Segal, Ferd van Gameren, Doug Wallace, Casey Williams, Ryan Wohlgemut, Aaron Zorgel SENIOR ACCOUNT DIRECTOR Woodrow Monteiro DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS Reggie Lanuza CONTROLLER


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TALK BACK Feel free to share your comments on IN or articles in the magazine by emailing us at ADVERTISING & OTHER INQUIRIES (416) 800-4449 ext 100 EDITORIAL INQUIRIES (416) 800-4449 ext 201 PRODUCTION IN Magazine is published six times per year by The Mint Media Group. All rights reserved. 182 Davenport Rd., Suite 300, Toronto, ON, M5R 1J2

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CONTENTS B:11.125”



68 issue 68





30 | SNAP 2016

The BMW i3 extends its range to the future

The annual ACT fundraising gala returns this spring

Remembering “The Man Who Fell To Earth”


19 | COMMUNITY Canada’s first LGBT youth shelter opens its doors

Keeping your skin fresh amid winter’s blasts

42 | TRAVEL: MIDNIGHT SUN Exploring the many reasons to head to Iceland


Scenes from the party circuit

6 key retirement planning decisions

46 | INSIGHT Leave no relationship untested



Learn to fight negative behaviour safely and effectively


Canada’s first gay rights case

The actor will play two gay characters on screen this year




Raising kids makes me the gayest I’ve ever been



Relieve the anxiety and depression that comes with winter blues

The actor’s touching message is inspiring the LGBT community and fans



Finding a way to be together without the conflict

10 actors who won Oscars for playing LGBT roles

The look of the season is inflected with forward-looking energy




Build something beautiful, and burn it to the ground. That’s what David Bowie was good at. The queer icon’s passing seems to have had an impact on everyone—a slow-burning sprawl that comes as a result of his chameleonic capacity. David Bowie could become anyone, anything, and maybe that’s why anyone can find a piece of themselves in David Bowie. When we learned that the 69-year-old had succumbed to cancer, just days after releasing his 25th studio album Blackstar, we all mourned for a part of ourselves. However strange, his masks acted as mirrors, and whether he was Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane or the Thin White Duke, he taught us how to rip it up and start again, and how to feel cool in our own skin. Somehow, the man who reinvented himself countless times leaves no question about his true identity unanswered. As the Starman returns to the cosmos, his legacy is crystal clear—David Bowie spoke directly to the alien in all of us.

“Is there life on Mars?” From day one, David Bowie seemed hell-bent on personal evolution. His origins as a quaint folk-rock upstart from Brixton were soon eclipsed by a trio of career-launching albums: the psych experiment Space Oddity, the heavy metal-influenced The Man Who Sold The World, and the conceptual art-rock pastiche Hunky Dory. These albums laid the mouldable foundation for what would become his iconic glam-rock alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. Despite finally finding commercial success and a wider audience as Ziggy, Bowie didn’t hesitate in abandoning the extraterrestrial conduit. After touring the record, Bowie soon grew tired of playing Ziggy. “Besides, it was costing me a fortune on hair dye,” he once quipped. And so, Bowie killed Ziggy, and started from scratch.

“We can be heroes, just for one day.” After subsisting on a diet of red peppers and cocaine throughout most of the mid-’70s, and working with definitive collaborators Brian Eno and and Nile Rodgers, a once cult figure found mainstream footing in the ’80s as an innovator of visual media. Bolstered by music videos, singles like “Let’s Dance,” “China Girl,”

and “Dancing In The Street” solidified Bowie’s place in the pop pantheon. For Bowie, a performative visual element was essential. “I feel like an actor when I’m on stage, rather than a rock artist,” he told Rolling Stone in 1972. His talent for visual transformations also surfaced on the big screen, with standout appearances in The Man Who Fell To Earth and, of course, as Jareth the Goblin King in the 1986 Jim Henson epic Labyrinth. David Bowie once said that in the ’60s, he was told he was too avant-garde to be successful, which comes as no surprise. The intrepid androgyny of his alter egos was at odds with a gender binary that still, half a century later, permeates popular culture. Through challenging the norm, Bowie’s characters empowered anyone who didn’t quite fit in.

“Look up here, I’m in Heaven.” Until his last breath, Bowie remained light years ahead of us. We now know that Blackstar would be his final bow. Two days after its release—the day of his earthly departure—the project took on new meaning. The opening line from “Lazarus” (“Look up here, I’m in Heaven”) serves as a greeting from beyond the grave, not to mention the accompanying premonitive music video, which depicts Bowie in a hospital bed. Perhaps most revelatory is the album’s title: a “black star” is a type of lesion that radiologists use as an indicator for the presence of cancer. In the same way that David Bowie killed Ziggy Stardust, he seemed to have complete control over his own narrative in his final days. If it helps, you can call the album a conclusion, or look at it as closure. According to long-time producer Tony Visconti, Bowie’s final album is intended as a “parting gift” to fans, as part of a meticulously orchestrated farewell. Blackstar gave David Bowie his first-ever career #1 album on the Billboard charts but, more importantly, it’s an exit as glorious as his introduction, attaching a feeling of eternity to his legend. Every time you challenge public perception, Bowie lives. Every time you fight the formula, Bowie lives. Every time you go where no one has gone before, David Bowie lives.

AARON ZORGEL is the Music Editor for Complex Canada, formerly Associate Editor at AUX and contributor to Exclaim! and Broken Pencil. He is in a Drake cover band, and once starred in an off-off-Broadway staging of a JAWS musical.


MUST-HAVE MOISTURE Plagued by dry skin? Winter weather’s wear and tear can wreak havoc on your face, body and hair—here’s how to make hydration your number one priority this season By Adriana Ermter

How often do you think about your face? No, we’re not referencing how you’d grade it on the facial symmetry/attractiveness scale nor are we alluding to the question that is never far from aging minds: do I need Botox? We’re talking about your facial skin, specifically, its propensity for dehydration this time of year. Because thanks to the seesawing temperatures outdoors and the overheated indoors, we’re facing our annual challenge: complexion protection. Keep reading to find out where and why you need to pump up the hydration, and know: it’s not all for vanity’s sake.





Weather’s wear and tear You don’t have to travel to the Arctic to experience harsh weather conditions. Step outside your front door for take-your-breath-away temperatures. Then step back indoors for a humidity-free, scorching blast of heat from your cranked-up furnace. “Exposure to both is hard on your face and can cause water to evaporate from your skin, leaving it feeling dry, tight and itchy, while looking dull, flaky and lacklustre,” explains Toula Bintas, aesthetician and co-founder of Allazo Skin Care in Toronto. Not a great scenario, as “dehydrated skin can lead to fine lines and wrinkles, redness, rosacea, eczema and rashes.” And while our dermis’s natural sebum will eventually kick in, it’s not enough. You need to moisturize.



What you need and where While hydrating your face is crucial with daily use of serums, creams and lotions, applying masks and balms on your face, body, hair and lips is also key. And when you do, opt for products “containing emollients such as honey, vitamins E and A, shea butter and plant-based oils; they help keep and lock in moisture,” says Bintas. Other moisture heroes to look for on product packaging include humectants like hyaluronic acid for optimum moisture absorption and retention; silk tree and horse chestnut extracts to smooth fine lines and weariness into oblivion, while reducing dark circles, puffiness and wrinkles; and anti-inflammatory lavender, peptides and antioxidants like vitamins C and E to soothe redness, irritation and sensitive skin. Apply at least one hydrating product (or preferably all) each day and stop winter weathers wear and tear on your skin.





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IN Magazine Recommends: For Eyes Serum: (1) Dior Homme Dermo System, Anti-Fatigue Firming Eye Serum Vitamin E Phosphate, $72, at department stores. For Face Face wash: (2) Philosophy Purity Cleanser, from $14, at Sephora. Serum: (3) GMC Medical Antioxidant 10 Serum, $85, at spas and clinics. Cream and lotion: (4) Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream, $25, at mass retailers and (5) Shiseido Men Hydrating Lotion, $40, at Hudson’s Bay. Day and evening masks: (6) Nip + Fab Dragon’s Blood Plumping Mask, $15, at drugstores and (7) The Body Shop Drops of Youth Bouncy Sleep Mask, $30, at The Body Shop. Balm: (8) Filorga Sleep-Recover Fatigue Correcting Night Balm, $95, at mass retailers.

For lips (9) Burt’s Bees Honey Lip Balm, $5, available at Shoppers Drug Mart. For body (10) Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion Sheer Hydration, from $10, at drugstores. For hands (11) Nuxe Rêve de Miel Hand and Nail Cream, $17, at Hudson’s Bay. For hair (12) Frédéric Fekkai PrX 3-Day Transformation, $50, at Shoppers Drug Mart.

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


6 KEY RETIREMENT PLANNING DECISIONS Whether you plan to retire early or late, you need to learn how to plan your retirement By Al Ramsay

The New Year brings with it many reasons to consider our future. We typically start by making resolutions that will result in healthier and happier versions of ourselves. Without a plan, though, do these resolutions ever become a reality? It is often said that failing to plan is planning to fail. With that in mind, this is the perfect time to make note of a few simple best practices that you can easily put into place to help ensure a happy and healthy retirement.

1. Start now It is never too early, or too late, to start planning. Whether you’ve just joined the workforce or are approaching your retirement, it’s important to get organized. Start by defining each retirement goal (e.g., income, travel, purchase a vacation property, etc.) and listing them in order of importance so that you can assign a savings strategy to each.


2. Implement a disciplined savings plan The key to saving is to do it early and do it regularly. With this in mind, consider setting up an automatic savings plan to transfer funds on a consistent basis (i.e., every pay) into a retirement savings account. Invest a portion of every bonus you earn, if you’re so lucky as to get a bonus. Look at your employee benefits package to see if you have employer-sponsored savings plans that are available to you. 3. Understand the options available to you There are many types of plans and, quite literally, thousands of investment products available to help you reach your retirement goals. Start with the basic account types including Registered Savings Plans (RSPs), Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) and non-registered accounts.


4. Be strategic with tax planning opportunities In addition to understanding the possible tax opportunities available on contributions and withdrawals for the account types mentioned earlier, it is also important to understand and consider what type of investment products you will utilize in each. For example, it would be wise to hold investments that are taxed more favourably in non-registered (taxable) accounts and hold other investments within the tax-deferred and tax-free structures of RSPs and TFSAs. 5. Review and update your plan at least once a year One consistency in life is change. Whether it is your employment and subsequent income level, changes to relationships or the birth of children, always adjust your plans to reflect your life today. It may mean that you are able to start contributing more to your savings plan, or that you have to re-evaluate your goals and the time it may take to reach them. 6. Work with a professional Successful retirement involves considering other important factors outside of investing and saving. For example: prospective retirees should also consider estate planning and charitable giving. As retirement planning may be a complicated process, you may want to consult a qualified and experienced financial professional. They will not only ensure you take advantage of every opportunity available for you, but they will also help you stay disciplined and on track.

AL RAMSAY is TD Bank Group’s regional manager, LGBTA Business Development, and leads a team of expert advisors dedicated to serving the LGBTA community. For more information or to book a meeting, he can be reached at or follow him on Twitter @ALRamsay_TD. Heather Richardson, Vice President at TD Wealth Private Investment Advice, also contributed to this article.


COMBATTING BIPHOBIA, HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA IN THE WORKPLACE Small things everyone can do to fight negative behaviour safely and effectively By Colin Druhan

Most people are familiar with blatant forms of biphobia, homophobia and transphobia such as slurs, other inappropriate language and the classic “that’s so gay!” In the workplace, it’s important to recognize anti-LGBT behaviour in its subtler forms, like outing someone without their permission or generally excluding people because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Whether harassment and discrimination against LGBT people is overt or subtle, there are a few things everyone can do to combat this kind of behaviour on the job.


Talk the talk You may be an expert on your own experience as an LGBT person or ally, but don’t assume you know what it’s like for everyone else. Stay up to date on the appropriate ways to talk about LGBT identities, listen to the way other people want to be addressed and apologize when you make mistakes. Know everyone’s rights The federal Human Rights Act protects workers on the grounds of sexual orientation, and many provincial human rights codes specifically mention employment protections on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Become familiar with legislation that protects LGBT people at work in your region. You should also check to see if your employer has any internal policies about harassment and discrimination as well as the reporting process for such behaviour.

Speak up When co-workers make jokes, use inappropriate language or make big generalizations about LGBT people, it’s important to challenge them. Sometimes it’s as easy as asking a question like “do you know why a lot of people find that word offensive?” It can be hard to challenge your supervisor or people more senior to you at work, so if you need help from someone else, ask for it. Support your colleagues We all want to feel safe and be ourselves at work. If you want support from others, it’s important to extend them the same courtesy. Find out if your employer has a formal resource group for LGBT and ally employees. If not, you can informally support colleagues who face biphobia, homophobia and transphobia by listening and asking them what kind of help they need from you, if any.

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


THE GAYEST I’VE EVER BEEN How raising kids changed my life By Ferd van Gameren

I tend to look at my personal history in broad categories: B.C.E. and C.E. Before the Children’s Era is that now-mythical time of life before kids. I lived in the epicentre of Boston’s gay life, the South End. I have memories of a summer spent serving sex on the beach (that’s a drink) at über-gay Club Café. Sunday brunch at Tremont Ice Cream and then Metropolis. Rushing to get the steeply discounted $299 annual membership at Mike’s Gym, where I met my husband, Brian. Muscle-shirted bartending at Buzz on Saturday nights. The hills were alive frequently at the Front Porch, the venerable piano bar in Ogunquit, Maine. We went to see Ryan Landry in P’town. Got bi-weekly haircuts. Friday night manscaping. Glamour shots in Mykonos. After the inevitable move to New York (every gay Bostonian did it), we lived among fellow gay boys in Chelsea for a few years, then decamped to Hell’s Kitchen. Our calendar was punctuated by over-the-top trips to South Beach, San Francisco, Chicago, Montreal. Dance parties lasting from dawn until dawn I-don’t-know-how-many-dayslater. Lesley Mandel showing a potential Fire Island summer house. White Party. Black Party. After Party. After After Party. Bendix Diner. Manatus. The Dish. Food Bar. Elmo. Lots of theatre: Broadway Bares, Spring Awakening, Wicked, Altar Boyz, and anything with Audra McDonald.

Sip ’n’ Twirl. Pavilion. Invasion. Junior. Low tea. High Tea. Folsom. Folsom East. Twilo. Alegria. Beige. G. Somewhere along the road we became foodies and wine lovers. Five years ago the Children’s Era commenced when our son Levi was born. A year and a half later, we had three. When strolling with our three children, we often caused small traffic jams from all the onlookers. Last year I was the only male member of the parent council at my son’s school. I was surprised at how often I brought up “my husband Brian” during meetings. (He’s got a fundraising background.) Brian and I often drop off or pick up our kids from camp, school or daycare together. We talk with counsellors, teachers, principals and volunteers. In the afternoons, we watch the kids playing in the schoolyard or playground while we talk with other parents, most often moms.

ists, assistants, secretaries and store clerks. To neighbours, other children, instructors and passersby. To nurses, flight attendants, hosts and waiters. I came out in 1983, but since becoming a father, I feel like I’m coming out again and again. On weekend nights, we have dinner with friends, some gay, mostly straight. A few nights ago we had neighbours over for dinner in our backyard, and they asked us why we had moved to Toronto in 2009. (We had to leave the U.S., because foreign partners of gay Americans didn’t qualify for green cards.) Before the Children’s Era? Pretty gay. No, super gay. And all the things done in the wondrous Children’s Era are completely ordinary; some would say completely straight. Now, wherever we go with the kids, whatever we do as a family, we’re the gay dads. Publicly, unapologetically, unavoidably, in-your-face gay. Raising kids makes me the gayest I’ve ever been. But there’s nothing I’d rather be than a gay dad.

We take our kids to birthday parties, the farm, the zoo, the greenmarket and restaurants. We host and travel to play dates. We accompany them to tae kwon do, ballet, gymnastics and swimming classes; we help keep them calm during doctor, dentist, hygienist and hairdresser appointments. We explain our family make-up to reception-

FERD VAN GAMEREN is Executive Editor at Gays with Kids, which is an online resource helping gay dads navigate fatherhood. Visit them online at



FEELING THE WINTER BLUES? 5 ways to beat seasonal depression By Karen Kwan


Winter is painted as a happy season of fluffy white snow filled with evenings snuggling in front of a fireplace, days of shredding the slopes, nights of tobogganing and laughs with friends and loved ones over hot toddies. But for some people, the cold, short days can make them feel as though they can’t get out of bed in the morning, their mood as grey and grim as Toronto’s winter sky. If you feel lethargic, your mood has been lower than Mariah Carey’s neckline for more than a couple of weeks, and you’re not being the social butterfly that you usually are, it may be time to see your doctor. For less severe symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a few lifestyle changes could help you feel more like yourself again. Spend time outdoors during the day Fight the urge to hibernate inside all winter. Getting outside for some fresh air during the day, even if the sun is not shining, can do wonders for your mood. “I know it’s difficult to imagine putting on all those layers for a quick walk during your lunch hour, for example,” says Jesse Hanson, clinical director of Helix Healthcare Group in Toronto. “But when you commute in and out of work and it’s dark outside, and spend your weekends indoors, it doesn’t help your

mental state to be clouded in darkness all the time.” He recommends taking advantage of what little daylight we have in the winter with a walk to help reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) levels. Eat to boost your mood If you’re suffering from SAD, your level of serotonin, aka the feel-good hormone, has decreased. Hanson recommends a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids—think oily fatty fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel—since these essential fatty acids will help boost your serotonin. Making sure you get enough omega-3s is also important because when you’re low in serotonin, your body will crave serotonin-production triggers in the form of sugary, processed carbs like doughnuts and pie. These high glycemic index foods will only send you on a rollercoaster of sugar highs followed by crashing, which may worsen your mood. Maintain your usual schedule You may not feel like you want to rise and shine when it’s pitch black outside, but you should aim to maintain your usual sleeping schedule and mealtimes so as to avoid overindulging in either. Which is not to say everything in your life should be routine,

says Hanson. Plan for weekend getaways, try a new sport and get together with friends. “These activities will keep you going.” Try light therapy It may not fit your home decor but a light therapy lamp may become your favourite home acccessory. There are at-home lamps designed to mimic sunlight to lift your low mood. Hanson recommends a lamp that emits broad-spectrum light while filtering out most UV wavelength. He cautions that the lights are not regulated by Health Canada, so be sure to follow the lamp’s directions when it comes to how many minutes daily to use it. Immerse yourself in a sound bath Open to trying alternative therapies? Research online for a wellness centre near you that offers sound baths, which stimulate the body on a cellular level. During a session, you will sit in a pod-like bed as you listen to different types of sounds that create vibrations created to help relax you into an alpha brainwave state. Hanson, who has found this treatment effective for clients, says they often describe feeling a soaring or flying feeling after a sound bath.

KAREN KWAN is a freelance health, travel and lifestyle writer based in Toronto.


Finding a way to be together without the conflict By Adam Segal

My partner and I have been together for four years, and for the last two we have been a mess. We get into fights that end with one of us storming off and ‘break up’ only to start things again a few days later when we have great sex. This continues on for a brief period of peace until the next fight. I have told myself that I will step away as soon as I see us on our way towards a fight, but once it starts it’s hard not to feel compelled to stick it out and stand up for myself. We have a very passionate relationship and clearly can’t get away from each other—how do we find a way to be together without all of the conflict? —Saul

Dear Saul: The fantastic Canadian musician Martha Wainwright starts a song If you feel like there is more to this relationship than cycles of conflict, with the line “I really like the make-up sex, it’s the only kind I ever you two must be willing to engage with each other differently. Of get.” This sentiment seems to embody some of your relationship course couples do fight now and then, but there is healthy fighting woes. You describe your relationship as passionate and I can under- and then there are all-out throw-downs that only make things worse. stand why, considering all the highs and lows—but you want to be At this point it sounds unlikely that things will improve without careful not to confuse intense conflict with true intimacy or romance. the benefit of some investment in couples therapy. Learning to communicate without so much intensity will feel strange at first Sometimes a relationship can toxify over time, where perpetual and quite vulnerable. Your own personal motto could be ‘always conflict actually becomes the ‘glue’ that keeps things together. meet inappropriateness with appropriateness.’ This means that no It usually unfolds like this: a big blow-up leads to a temporary matter how aggressive or nasty your partner might become in a breakup only to be followed up by a briefly blissful reunion...and discussion, you will refuse to engage on that level. This way you can then the cycle repeats. A couple of good questions to consider feel good about your behaviour and know that you aren’t dishing are: Would you feel connected to your partner without all of out the disrespect that had become too normalized over time. Both this sparring? Have there been times in your relationship where of you will need to be equally on board with this improvement you enjoyed each other’s company without things being either project—or else you might need to call it a day. intensely good or intensely bad?

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




BMW’S REVOLUTIONARY i3 The BMW i3 extends its range to the future By Casey Williams

BMW i3 REX Four-passenger, rwd 5-door Powertrain: Li-ion batteries/motor, 0.65-litre 2-cyl Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind Wheels f/r: 20”/20” alloy Brakes f/r: regen disc/disc Must-have features: Style, performance Elect. driving range: 116 km Additional gas range: 80 km Top speed: 150 km/h 0-100 km/h: 7.9s


Base price: $45,300/$49,300

BMW’s revolutionary i3 looks like it rolled out of a futuristic sci-fi flick like Demolition Man or Back to the Future. While it still needs roads, the sucker’s electric. Mostly, until it kinda isn’t. Let me explain.

Roll onto the highway and you’ll whoosh up to speed, but that will deplete batteries quickly, leaving the 2-cylinder engine keeping pace. After you set the adaptive cruise at 115 km/h, the i3 preferred 105 km/h.

The i3 is first and foremost an electric car, ideal for cities with charging infrastructure, but it’s also available as a range-extended version with a backup engine. I drove the all-electric version in L.A. last spring, experiencing instant torque, but the extended-range version goes farther.

Like BMW’s i8 supercar, i3 employs weight-saving carbon fibre in the body, seen exposed in the doorsills. The chic design reshapes the commuter car with aero-tuned profile branded by a stepped windowline, quad headlamps, 20-inch alloys and glassy tail lights. Pop the door to reveal open-pore eucalyptus wood, stitched leather, and exposed fibre panelling. It feels like a modern loft. An LCD instrument cluster and floating infotainment screen with BMW’s iDrive agree. Additional comforts come from heated seats, automatic climate control and forward collision warning. Twist the gear selector and go.

Plug it in for four hours and the batteries give you 116 km and direct 127kW/170 horsepower to the rear wheels. After that, the two-cylinder gas engine adds an additional 80 km—enough to get you to a charging station, but not cross-country. I’ve had range anxiety while driving electric cars. Trips that will take you to places where charging plugs are unavailable should be well planned. You’ll fill up with about 5.5 litres and stop often. After a few hours on the highway, my wallet looked like Sgt. John Spartan’s cuss box.

This car needs an engine about 50 per cent larger and an eight-gallon gas tank for 250+ miles of relaxation. But that wasn’t really BMW’s aim. It’s a city car that helps you find your place in the future. Buy an all-electric i3 from $45,300, or range-extended version from $49,300.

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


CANADA’S FIRST LGBT YOUTH SHELTER OPENS ITS DOORS Toronto opens its first safe haven for LGBT youth By Courtney Hardwick

On February 1, the YMCA re-opened its Sprott House in Toronto as a transitional house for LGBT youth. The shelter, located on Walmer Road in the Annex, is the first LGBT-specific program for youth ages 16 to 24 in Canada. Considering that the City of Toronto’s 2012 Street Needs Assessment study found that 20 per cent of youth in the shelter system identify as somewhere under the LGBTQ2SA umbrella, a program that focuses on their unique needs has been a long time coming. For Sprott House, the YMCA brought in new staff who have experience working with LGBT youth, and many of them also identify as LGBT. The services Sprott House provides are similar to other transitional housing shelters, but the program adds the benefit of a safe space where LGBT youth can feel comfortable celebrating who they are. The house provides semi-independent living for up to 25 youths at a time, and they each get their own bedroom and washroom. For the year they’re allowed to stay at Sprott

House, youths also have access to a counsellor, life skills training and help setting goals that will prepare them for eventually living independently.

you consider all of the barriers facing LGBTQ2S youth, this is incredible. I’m so glad the city council listened to them and allocated this funding.”

Kate Miller, the director of YMCA Sprott House, says, “Many programs across the country that serve young people are increasing their efforts to serve LGBT young people, but these changes don’t happen immediately. Youth should be able to access any services that they need without fear, including health care, mental health support, and education. We are not there yet, but this is a step in the right direction.”

Another outspoken advocate for developing programs like Sprott House has been Alex Abramovich, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and a transgender man. It was thanks in part to his research into Canada’s queer and trans youth homelessness that Toronto’s city council decided to allocate money from last year’s budget to fund the initiative. “I feel like I have been working for this day for 10 years,” Abramovich says.

Miller, who identifies as bisexual herself, also praised LGBT youths for helping make Sprott House a reality. “One of the most remarkable things about this program beginning is that the reason for opening came from youth themselves,” she says. “LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness advocated within existing shelters, talked to workers, organized, went to City Hall and fought for funding for these spaces. When

But Sprott House is only the beginning. A second transitional housing program run by Egale (Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere) is set to open in downtown Toronto later this year. They plan to serve up to 30 LGBT youths at any given time and hope to offer a number of beds specifically for emergency shelter.

Above (L-R): Kate Miller, YMCA Sprott House; Louise Smith, General Manager Youth Outreach & Intervention; Dr. Alex Abramovich, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (Photo by Talia Noya/YMCA of Greater Toronto)

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










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Bloor Street Entertains at the ROM for CANFAR 1: Muluba Habanyama, 2: Sylvia Mantella, Salah Bachir, 3: Mathieu Chantelois, Andrew Nichols, Marcelo Gowi, 4: Roberto Cee, Paul Purewal. Pride Toronto presents Alyssa Edwards at fly Photos by Mitchel Raphael 5: Zoren Mack, Anthony Filangeri, 6: Phil Villeneuve, 7: Alyssa Edwards, 8: Igby Lizzard, Champagna Enemea, 9: Marc Yuquico, Woodrow Monteiro. The Gay Heritage Project at Buddies in Bad Times 10:Barry Higgins, Sky Gilbert, 11: Matthew Fuller, 12: Mark Aikman, Shawn Daudlin, Ron Puccini, 13: Pia Kleber, Tyler Kruspe.



ZACHARY QUINTO COMES OUT (AGAIN) The actor will play two gay characters on screen this year


By Peter Knegt



Above and right: Scenes from Justin Kelly’s I Am Michael. Based on Benoit Denizet-Lewis’s New York Times magazine article “My Ex-Gay Friend,” the film stars James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts and Charlie Carver.


In a certain sense, Zachary Quinto is something of a pioneer. Despite remarkable progress for LGBT people in the mainstream media, so many Hollywood actors cling to the inside of the closet even while people like Quinto prove that’s not especially necessary anymore. In fact, Quinto belongs to a still puzzlingly small group of young male American actors—Matt Bomer, Jonathan Groff, Jim Parsons and Neil Patrick Harris being the most obvious other examples—who have proven it can even be good for someone’s career to come out. In 2011, Quinto’s star was very much on the rise thanks to a trio of big roles in the hit TV series Heroes, the summer blockbuster Star Trek and the acclaimed indie film Margin Call. There had been rumours swirling that he was dating the aforementioned Jonathan Groff, but instead of dodging them like many of his fellow actors past and present, Quinto came out in commemoration of the suicide of gay teenager Jamey Rodemeyer. He told New York magazine


at the time: “Living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality.” Calling Quinto’s proclamation anything other than simply doing the right thing simply feeds the suggestion that there’s anything professionally problematic about being an out actor these days. What’s happened in the half-decade since Quinto made that acknowledgement? More hit TV series (American Horror Story, which nabbed him an Emmy nomination), more summer blockbusters (Star Trek Into Darkness) and more acclaimed indies (he’s been a regular at Sundance the past few years). The old fear that when actors come out they become forced to only play gay roles hasn’t exactly proven to be the case for Quinto. In fact, it’s not until this year that we’ll see his first two performances as gay characters hit the screen – and they are both real people.

In I Am Michael—which played the film festival circuit last year I Am Michael will hit theatres just a few months before Quinto’s and hits theatres this winter—Quinto plays Bennett, a character second straight (no pun intended) role as a real-life gay man on film. based on the real-life ex-boyfriend of Michael Glatze. Glatze Oliver Stone’s Snowden is a depiction of the events surrounding became infamous when a New York Times profile exposed that computer whiz Edward Snowden (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt the once-prominent gay rights activist had become a born-again in the film) when he leaked classified information from the NSA. Christian who no longer believed in the cause. It’s a provocative Quinto will play lawyer, author and journalist Glenn Greenwald, and fascinating story, and one that Quinto and both his co-star who became widely known after he worked with Snowden to help James Franco and director Justin Kelly (making his feature film get out the leaks, and just so happens to be gay. No one has seen debut) work together to bring to the screen with a lot of authenticity the film yet (it comes out in May), but given its content it seems and very little judgment. It’s ultimately a story about searching certain to be a very different film than I Am Michael—though given for oneself in an increasingly complicated world, and represents Quinto’s resumé over the past few years we’d expect nothing less. a unique example of a recent mini-surge in quality LGBT-themed indies (see also—please—Tangerine, Grandma, Nasty Baby and Carol). It also feature one of Quinto’s best performances as he humanizes the devastating outcome of what happens when half of a gay couple decides to denounce being gay.

PETER KNEGT is a Toronto-based writer and currently the Digital Producer for CBC Arts. You can follow him on Twitter @peterknegt.



Charlie Carver has been making headlines ever since he came out as gay with a touching message that’s inspiring the LGBT community and fans around the globe. The actor—one-half of the Carver twins whom you may recognize from Teen Wolf and The Leftovers, or as one of Felicity Huffman’s twin boys on Desperate Housewives—penned a heartfelt essay that was split in a series of five Instagram posts, each accompanied by a photo of the anonymous quote, “Be Who You Needed When You Were Younger.”

CHARLIE CARVER’S COMING OUT NOTE INSPIRES “So now, let the record show this— I self-identify as gay. And does that really matter anymore?” By Christopher Turner

In the essay, Carver explained that it took him years to come to terms with his sexuality, saying, “As a young boy, I knew I wanted to be an actor. I knew I wanted to be a lot of things.... It was around that age that I also knew, however abstractly, that I was different from some of the other boys in my grade. Over time, this abstract ‘knowing’ grew and articulated itself through a painful gestation marked by feelings of despair and alienation, ending in a climax of saying three words out loud: ‘I am gay.’” Carver then described the experience of coming out to his family and acknowledged his privilege in being immediately accepted. “If you’re ready and feel safe, then think about sharing this part of yourself with others,” the 27-year-old wrote. “I recognize that I was born with an immense amount of privilege, growing up in a family where my orientation was celebrated and SAFE. If you feel like you want to Come Out, make sure first and foremost that you have a support system and will be safe. I would never encourage anyone to Come Out only to find themselves in harm’s way—a disproportionate number of homeless American (and global) youth are members of the LGBTQ community who were kicked out of their families and homes out of hate and prejudice.” Carver has portrayed several gay characters on screen. He played Ethan on MTV’s hit show Teen Wolf, and appears in a few steamy scenes with James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael, but he had dodged commenting about his own sexuality until now. It’s a big deal. While coming out may be deemed less necessary these days, it’s still important—especially for celebrities and high-profile people in public space—to come out and help remove any remaining stigma or fear.


Carver clearly understands that, and closed his Instagram coming out story by getting to the meaning of the quote that accompanied his posts: “But what can I do? How can I participate? Honesty is probably a great step in the right direction. I now believe that by omitting this part of myself from the record, I am complicit in perpetuating the suffering, fear and shame cast upon so many in the world. In my silence, I’ve helped decide for you too that to be gay is to be, as a young man (or young woman, young anyone), inappropriate for a professional career in the Arts (WHAAA???). So now, let the record show this—I self-identify as gay. And does that really matter anymore? As a young man in Hollywood to say that—and without being a d-ck about it, I owe it to myself, more than anything, to be who I needed when I was younger.”


Charlie Carver as Ethan, a member of the Alpha Pack, on MTV’s Teen Wolf.


PLAYING GAY 10 actors who won Oscars for playing LGBT roles By: Christopher Turner

This year Eddie Redmayne, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are joining the long list of actors and actresses who’ve received Oscar nominations for playing LGBT characters. Peter Finch was the first to be recognized by the Academy for his role as a gay doctor in the 1971 film Sunday Bloody Sunday, and the groundbreaking nomination paved the way for dozens of thespians to receive nods for taking on gay, lesbian and transgender roles. Before the 88th annual Academy Awards take place on February 28, here’s a look back at 10 standout performances that won our hearts and Oscar gold.


William Hurt for Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) William Hurt was the first actor to win an Oscar for playing a gay character on the big screen. Hurt portrayed Luis Molina, an incarcerated gay man, in the 1985 film Kiss of the Spider Woman.

Tom Hanks for Philadelphia (1993) Tom Hanks won his first Oscar for his heartbreaking portrayal of a lawyer who sues his former employers after they fire him for being HIV-positive. The film was one of the first mainstream movies to address HIV and homosexuality.

Penélope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) Penélope Cruz scored the Best Supporting Actress award for her role in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. In the film, Cruz portrays Maria Elena, a woman who has a polyamorous relationship with Cristina, (played by Scarlett Johansson) and Juan Antonio (played by Javier Bardem).


Hilary Swank for Boys Don’t Cry (1999) Hilary Swank took home the Best Actress award for her portrayal of Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was beaten and murdered in the harrowing film Boys Don’t Cry. Swank’s emotional win was a first for an actor portraying a transgender character.

Sean Penn for Milk (2008) Sean Penn picked up the second Oscar of his career for his gripping portrayal of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk in the biographical film, Milk. That night Penn used his acceptance speech to call for equal rights for the LGBT community saying, “We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone.”


Nicole Kidman for The Hours (2002) Nicole Kidman won the Best Actress award for her portrayal of Virginia Woolf in Michael Cunningham’s The Hours. Though married to Leonard Woolf (as shown in the film), the tortured writer had a sexual relationship with acclaimed writer Vita Sackville-West in the late 1920s.

Charlize Theron for Monster (2003) Charlize Theron de-glammed and earned her Best Actress statue for her disturbing portrayal of real-life prostitute-turned-serial-killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster. Theron scored big with the precursor awards, winning trophies from the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, National Society of Film Critics, Broadcast Film Critics Association and Independent Spirit Awards.

Christopher Plummer for Beginners (2010) Christopher Plummer was awarded the Best Supporting Actor statue for his portrayal of a gay senior in the film, Beginners. The story of a man who comes out late in life after the death of his wife is based on the experiences of writer and director Mike Mills, whose own father came out at age 75.

Philip Seymour Hoffman for Capote (2005) The late Philip Seymour Hoffman won his only Academy Award for his impressive performance in Bennett Miller’s film Capote. The historically sketchy concentrated on the gay author as he was researching his true-crime masterpiece, In Cold Blood. Unfortunately, Hoffman’s triumphant win deprived Heath Ledger of a much-deserved win for his role in Brokeback Mountain.

Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club (2013) Jared Leto won accolades and picked up the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance of Rayon, a transgender woman with HIV in Dallas Buyers Club. Leto’s character memorably joins forces with Matthew McConaughey’s character to bring lifesaving drugs to Texas during the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

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 Twitter at: @Turnstylin.w

SNAP 2016

Lot # 36 Thirsty 2 Artist: Trevor & Cosmo Wheatley & Dean Edition: 1 of 1 Dimensions: 18 x 12”

Lot # 47 untitled37 Artist: Mark Dorf Edition: 2 of 7 Lot # 25

Dimensions: 33.5 x 41.5”

Right Angle 2 Artist: Lizzie Vickery Edition: 3 of 4 Dimensions: 50 x 40”

Lot # 35 Sub-PARadise Artist: James Robert Durant Edition: 1 of 3


Dimensions: 36 x 36”

Lot # 16 A Man’s Torso Artist: Ryan Duffin

Lot # 8

Edition: 1 of 5

up to cape smokey no.3

Dimensions: 24 x 20”

Artist: Fiona Freemark Edition: 1 of 1 Dimensions: 18 x 16”




Lot # 42 The Nachtweh Fonds #12 Artist: Vid Ingelevics & Blake Fitzpatric Edition: 1 of 10 Dimensions: 24 x 20”

Lot # 49 The Stories Vapour Trails Tell: Intersection No. 1 Artist: Laird Kay Edition: 1 of 10 Dimensions: 20 x 30”

Lot # 11 Trousers Artist: Angela Grossman Edition: Unique Dimensions: 20 x 16”

The annual SNAP! fundraising gala and photography auction in support of the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) is returning to the Toronto Reference Library on March 31.

SNAP! has raised over $2.5 million to help gay men, women and youth increase their knowledge, skills and resilience, and reduce HIV transmission.

The evening gives guests the opportunity to bid on pieces from emerging artists and top photographers from around the world while helping raise much-needed funds for ACT’s programs and initiatives to reduce HIV transmission and support those living with HIV. Even more fabulous? Since its inception in 2002,

Featuring a cocktail reception starting at 6 pm and a live and silent auction, SNAP! takes place on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon (Toronto Reference Library, 2nd Floor, 789 Yonge Street). Tickets are on sale now at www.


THE MORNING AFTER The look of the season is inflected with forward-looking energy

A head-pounding and body-aching regret—because of a dreaded hangover on the next day, or whatever it is—calls out for a remedy to help us move on at one point or another. Many will still see that menswear as synonymous—ignoring the fact that fashion has moved on into a different age—or rather, has gone back to the past. A wardrobe heaving with rich maximalist, sloppy suits cuts, prints over prints, pussy bows or close-fitting ’70s pants—we can’t miss these superbly executed individualistic pieces that suddenly appeal to many. The look has got a pulse, and it gets us through life the morning after.


Photographer: Iko Maramo Fashion Director: Danyl Geneciran Grooming: Maria Natalia Rodriguez Model: Austin @ Elite Toronto Fashion Assistant: Ryan Wohlgemut



Jacket: THEORY – available at Holt Renfrew Sweater: THEORY – available at Holt Renfrew Shorts: PALM ANGELS – available at Holt Renfrew


Sweater: COMME DES GARCONS – available at Holt Renfrew Shirt: KENZO – available at Holt Renfrew Pants: THEORY – available at Holt Renfrew

Jacket: SAINT LAURENT Shirt: RAG & BONE – available at Holt Renfrew Pants: THEORY – available at Holt Renfrew Shoes: VANS


Sweater: AMI – available at Holt Renfrew Shirt: GUCCI Pants: DAMIR DOMA Pussy bow: Stylist’s own

Jacket: SAINT LAURENT Pants: RAG & BONE – available at Holt Renfrew


Sweater: AMI – available at Holt Renfrew Jacket: PRADA

Poncho: COUNTY OF MILAN BY MARCELO BURLON—available at Holt Renfrew


Jacket: PRADA Shirt: RAG & BONE – available at Holt Renfrew Pants: RAG & BONE – available at Holt Renfrew


MIDNIGHT SUN The arts-oriented culture, amazing food, other-worldly topography and healing waters are just four of the many reasons to head to Iceland this summer – or next winter


By Doug Wallace

While there’s no way to measure it, the hip factor in Iceland is Step outside your culinary comfort zone extremely high. Couple that with the steady stream of visiting “You eat rotten shark—on purpose?” we teased tour guide Gisli Europeans of all stripes, just hanging out or there on business, and Runar. Hakarl, one of Iceland’s national dishes, is fermented you’ve got one of the coolest café society melting pots in the world. sleeper shark that’s cured, then hung to dry for five months. This long prep stage removes the toxins from the fish, making it edible. Reykjavik (population 330,000) stands as a true European cultural That doesn’t, however, make it smell any better. Chef Anthony capital, while still maintaining a small-town feel. Be assured everyone Bourdain thought it was the single most disgusting thing he has knows each other’s business. And like a lot of smaller cities, the ever eaten. We passed. gay scene is scattered among the other tiny bars and restaurants on the main strips, with the weekend dance parties coming and Happily, many palatable examples of great food can be found at going. Your best bet is upstairs at Kiki Queer Bar on Laugavegur, every turn, including other, less smelly dried fish you buy at the which gets crowded surprising fast—almost like someone flipped corner market and eat like potato chips. Make sure skyr—a mild, a switch and two busloads of people show up. The same goes for strained yogurt, served cold with milk and sugar—is on your list of things to taste. Icelanders have been eating it for 1,000 years. Keep the straight(er) Kaffibarinn on Mioborg. an eye out as well for the medicinal herb angelica, sort of like a wild During the daytime, start your adventuring in the Old City and work celery, used to flavour salads, side dishes and meats—even desserts. your way out. Reykjavik is full of art, with coffee bars and cafés providing the pit stops. Put the Icelandic Phallological Museum on Iceland’s top chefs are currently on the road to reinventing the your selfie shot list as well. It’s the world’s only museum dedicated national cuisine, embracing traditional foods and giving them a to mammal penises—at 215 and counting. modern twist. Reykjavik’s Dill Restaurant is one of those at the forefront of this new wave, with things like geothermally baked rye For 2016, there are a number of events to anchor your trip, including bread, salted cod, goose breast and incredible cheeses underlining the massive Reykjavik Art Festival in May. June and July see a the food heritage. half-dozen really good music festivals from classic to electro and back again. For the runners, the Laugavegur Ultra Marathon in July The more casual Grill Market is another Reykjavik highlight, is an extremely challenging 55 km trail in the southern highlands getting solid reviews from food-savvy visitors. Grilled monkfish through rugged areas of incredible landscape, and the Reykjavik skewers, rack of lamb, grilled red fish, big steaks and puffin sliders Marathon in August will see more than 14,000 runners this year. (not kidding) top the menu here. Hooking your visit to Iceland Gay Pride, every second weekend of August, could only be a good idea (visit


Head for the hills The cities are great fun, but time spent in the countryside will be what you talk about most when you get home.



Iceland is the closest the Earth will ever get to looking like the moon. Sweeping beauty is absolutely everywhere, from the moss-covered lava fields on your way into town from the airport to volcanic craters in the north. There is such a variety of breathtaking geology, you will find it hard to pick which tours to take. There’s something for all interests and fitness levels, from day trips to overnights, from glamping to, well, just camping. The big 4 x 4 trucks that take you out onto the glaciers have a Mad Max meets Monster Truck feel to them, with a closed-circuit CB radio linking you to the other vehicles in your convoy—like a multi-car road trip.


Thingvellir National Park touts itself as the birthplace of parliament, which is what its name means—“parliament plains.” A general assembly of the nation’s leaders was established in 930 AD and continued to 1800. Carrying on eastward, be sure to include the Geysir at Stokkur among your stops. It erupts every six minutes, shooting hot water 70 metres into the air. If you’ve got the time, the hiking trails in Vatnajökull National Park could keep you busy for weeks. The glacier ice caves of Kverkfjoll are a marvel, formed by geothermal heat from volcanic vents underneath the ice. Jökulsárlón Lake on the south coast of the park is filled with icebergs making their way to sea. Take a portable battery to recharge your camera: you’re going to need it. Set your sights on the northern lights With 22 hours of sunlight in June and only four in December, you’d think tourism in Iceland would suffer in the winter—and you would be wrong. September through April is Northern Lights season, where people stream to the northern city of Akureyri to watch the aurora borealis dance, sometimes all night.

This little university town tucked into the base of Island Fjord, the longest in the country, is the perfect home base for catching this shimmering light show. It is also home to one of the best swimming-pool facilities in all of Europe, the award-winning Akureyri Thermal Pool, located across the street from the Icelandair Hotel, where you will very likely be set up. Seven nearby ski resorts are open from November to May to keep the skiers happy. The geographical anomalies that dot this region are also a major draw, a veritable wonderland of sprawling waterfalls, volcanic oddities and geothermal go-sees. In fact, the fumarole-pitted region of Myvatn was one of the backdrops for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. After you hike around crater ponds and explore lava ridges and caves, you can straddle the region’s giant fissure at the Grjótagjá Rift, standing with one foot on the Eurasian tectonic plate and the other on the North American plate. Worlds have literally collided here, and it shows. The Myvatn Nature Baths just east of the rift are a true delight: a man-made, mineral-rich, 36-degree hot spring pulling water from up to 2,500 metres below ground. Beautifully designed to blend into its natural surroundings, the spa overlooks majestic Lake Myvatn. Little pockets of intensely hot water certainly keep us moving, looking for the comfort zones. Be sure to throw yourself over the wall into the adjacent freezing cold lake for a little contrast. And speaking of spas, a visit to Iceland is not complete without an hour or two in the famous Blue Lagoon on your way back to the airport. Mucking around in volcanic mud is the perfect way to say goodbye to this arresting and mesmerizing land—and your skin will thank you for it.

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


Previous page: The culture of public bathing lives on at the Myvatn Nature Baths in northern Iceland. Left: Sulfurous gas steams out of the rock near Myvatn Lake, with Mount Herdubreid in the distance. Above: The elusive northern lights are a big draw for Iceland from September to April. (All photos courtesy of Iceland Tourism)


LEAVE NO RELATIONSHIP UNTESTED Avoiding everyday relationship challenges can hurt in the long term By Paul Gallant


Years ago, early on in a quickly blossoming relationship, my boyfriend and I found ourselves in the Bible-belt town of Chilliwack, British Columbia, where the size of the churches seemed to match the length of the stares from strangers. On a scruffy downtown corner, without warning, my boyfriend took my hand. My gut reaction was to step away, but I did not, and so wordlessly accepted to face together anything our PDA might trigger. Nothing bad happened, but I had passed several tests: of my willingness to show affection and publicly present as a couple, of my ability to respond to challenges spontaneously and positively, of being authentic even in a potentially hostile environment. Putting our partners through the ringer to see if they respond the way we’d like them to can seem like manipulative behaviour; gay men in particular, less bound by straight courtship rituals, should know better than to issue ultimatums. We can’t expect paramours and lovers to submit to rules like mirroring our political opinions or responding to messages within two minutes or else. Yet smallscale low-stakes tests early on in the relationship can prepare us for the serious, sometimes irreversible trials that life inevitably drops in our laps.


In the early days of feeling things out for compatibility and shared goals, testing a partner can either be “more about assessing our own willingness to commit to the relationship in front of us, or the secret hope of giving us an excuse to bail,” says Joe Ramirez, a Vancouver-based counsellor with a strong LGBT focus. “What is most important is our attitude, approach and intention. We have to remember that two distinct people—with distinct social cultures, habits, work priorities, bio-rhythms, financial powers—are trying to merge for a purpose called a relationship.” In the rose-coloured days of discovering each other, the tests may be strategic and purposeful: Does he text you before you text him? Is he nice to your dog? Will he accept the joint being passed around? How we label each other can also be a test. Based on interviews with New York-area gay men in 1990 and 1991, during the peak of the AIDS crisis, researchers David E. Woolwine and E. Doyle McCarthy found that “the men themselves often examined and re-examined words and phrases (‘lover,’ ‘commitment,’ ‘friendship’), and in such a way that this testing process seemed to be integral to their own struggle to define themselves in relationship to significant others.”


The question of monogamy is a common test for gay couples and one that’s best taken out in the open, with lots of communication. One gay couple I know, Jim and Brian (who didn’t want their last names used in this story), met in the 1970s and were totally smitten, quickly moving in together without much compunction. At the two-year mark, “Brian revealed that he’d been going to the baths on the sly,” says Jim. “It was quite a blow to me and I vividly recall the roller-coaster of anger and tears and accusation. Brian didn’t return my emotional fireworks, but simply tried to comfort me while having the nerve to argue that I should check out the bathhouses too! I think when I had time to step back and consider, it was clear to me that the core of our love, our commitment, was unchanged, though that was never made explicit.”

nearly half of those who said they had a primary partner did not consider it to be a relationship. “Domestic arrangements were far more strongly related to whether men considered themselves to be in a relationship than monogamy,” states the study. “Two-thirds of men in a relationship lived together full-time and three-quarters at least part time. In contrast, three-quarters of men with regular partners but not in a relationship did not live with their partner.” Avoiding grappling with everyday relationship challenges can hurt a relationship in the long term, according to research into the longevity and satisfaction of straight couples. A high negativity threshold—where couples maintain an outward sunniness as they quietly tolerate frustrations and foibles—is actually worse than a low negativity threshold.

Some couples go so far out of their way to avoid disturbing the still waters of their relationship that they can remain together for years “I always thought that good relationships were about compromise without so much as shacking up, combining finances or merging peer and understanding, and so would have guessed that it was best to groups, as if any test might provide them with an answer that they aim for a really high negativity threshold. A relationship where you really don’t want to know. Gay relationships can be plagued—or give your partner room to be themselves and only bring up an issue gifted, depending on your perspective—with a particular complex- if it becomes a really big deal,” writes UK mathematics lecturer ity. A 2014 study of 4,215 Australian gay and bi men found that Hanna Fry in her book The Mathematics of Love. “But actually, the



team found that the exact opposite was true. The most successful relationships are the ones with a really low negativity threshold. In those relationships, couples allow each other to complain, and work together to constantly repair the tiny issues between them. In such a case, couples don’t bottle up their feelings, and little things don’t end up being blown completely out of proportion.” Fortunately for LGBT people, other research suggests that they tend to form bonds with low negativity thresholds, possibly because same-sex couples can’t so easily rely on gender stereotypes and straight cultural norms to determine who does what, and so are more inclined to perform relationship triage as they go along. Some see marriage as the ultimate test. Though some LGBT people consider it a straight institution, in the relatively short time it’s been legal, the institution has revealed itself to have a special role in same-sex relationships. In addition to the traditional public display of love and commitment, a wedding outs both participants to their circles, officialdom and sometimes the whole world, and


so equalizes the level of outness. Since different comfort levels with being out can bring conflict to a relationship (“Why won’t you take me to your grandmother’s birthday party?”), marriage can almost instantly put each half of the couple on the same footing. Though marriage can be a bitch to undo, there’s always divorce. But life offers other more irreversible tests. Health crises, financial ruin, death in the family—these are not trials most people would chose, but demonstrate the true strength of a relationship. For Jim and Brian, the biggest test was imposed from outside, when Brian was hit by a serious illness for which he was hospitalized for eight months, costing him his career. “Thankfully, his recovery was nonetheless remarkable, and the crisis did not change the core of our relationship. It probably has made it stronger,” says Jim. Not all test results are happy ones. But what makes all the difference is how we respond to them.

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FLASHBACK FEBRUARY 1993 IN LGBT HISTORY Canada’s first gay right case


In 1985, Brian Mossop, a gay man from Toronto, was denied bereavement leave to attend the funeral of his partner’s father. He was denied since same-sex partners, at the time, were not considered immediate family. Mossop took the case to the Human Rights Commission, and the Commission found in his favour, but the Canadian government appealed the decision to the Federal Court of Appeals. When that court found otherwise, the case went to the Supreme Court of Canada. On February 25, 1993, the Supreme Court upheld the appeals court decision, ruling that the denial of bereavement leave to a gay partner is not discrimination based on family status defined in the Canadian Human Rights Act. It was the first Supreme Court case to explicitly take up a question of LGBT equality rights, and despite the ruling, the case opened up the national discussion on gay rights in Canada.

Image credit: CHRIS CURRERI, Beside Myself, 2011

Finally, you can take him home. Toronto’s most exciting annual auction of contemporary art photography

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Capturing the fight against HIV for 15 years

THURSDAY, MARCH 31, 2016 The Bram & Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library

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In Magazine February/March 2016  
In Magazine February/March 2016