JULY / AUGUST 2018
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS GAY MUSIC? DECIDING BETWEEN ADOPTION AND SURROGACY
A LOOK BACK: AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT OF LEE ALEXANDER MCQUEEN 1
The true magic of Thailand begins with its people.
JULY / AUGUST 2018
Make this a trip of your life time!
August 9 - 19, 2018
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MIA MARTINA BIG FREEDIA KIDDY SMILE ... AND MANY MORE! 150 EVENTS
Biggest Pride Festival in Canada! fiertemontrealpride.com
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INMAGAZINE.CA PUBLISHER Patricia Salib GUEST EDITOR Christopher Turner ART DIRECTOR Prairie Koo FASHION DIRECTOR Danyl Geneciran SENIOR WRITER Paul Gallant CONTRIBUTORS Gastohn Barrios, Sandro Bergamo, Erica Cupido, Christian Dare, Colin Druhan, Adriana Ermter, Mark Jordy Gonzales, Ruth Hanley, Lauren Jerome, Karen Kwan, Patrick Lacsina, Orlando Lopez, Daniel Mitri, Junior Paixao, Michael Pihach, Al Ramsay, Adam Segal, Doug Wallace, Ashley L. Williams, Casey Williams, Marianne Wisenthal DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS Reggie Lanuza MARKETING AND PROMOTIONS MANAGER Bradley Blaylock MARKETING AND SPONSORSHIP MANAGER Jumol Royes CONTROLLER Jackie Zhao
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Egale Canada’s executive director, Helen Kennedy, and TD Bank Group’s president and CEO, Bharat Masrani, present the 2018 Egale Leadership Award to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Mitchel Raphael/Egale Canada)
issue 83 JULY / AUGUST 2018
06 | GET DIRTY Why having a little dirt on your face, skin and hair is a good thing 08 | TAKE PRIDE IN THE CLASSICS The most beautiful cars for a perfect summer 09 | OUT FOR BLOOD Egale shines a light on the discriminatory blood screening process in a bold (and slightly sassy) campaign
10 | TAKING PRIDE IN ADVERTISING Successful LGBTQ marketing means 365 days of Pride a year 11 | ANXIOUS ABOUT PRIDE FESTIVITIES How can I overhaul my Pride habits and stay on the right path? 12 | TALK IT OUT Finding the right psychotherapist for you 13 | FINDING THE RIGHT BALANCE Tips for developing a solid financial plan while still having a little fun
14 | SEEKING SUPPORT Services are available to gay men living with HIV in the South Asian community
16 | WAIT, WHAT—IN THE BUTT? “This is really embarrassing, but I’m thinking of trying anal…” 17 | ON THE TOWN Scenes from the party circuit
FEATURES 18 | WANT KIDS? DECIDING BETWEEN ADOPTION AND SURROGACY For gay parents, the decision can be complicated 20 | GAY MEN COULD HELP CURE TOXIC MASCULINITY If only they could stop embracing it 22 | THE DIFFERENT SIDES OF CORY STEWART The Toronto-based musician talks about his debut EP, and about writing music that resonates through the LGBT community 24 | LEE ALEXANDER MCQUEEN: PIECING TOGETHER A PORTRAIT OF THE FASHION GENIUS His life makes for an intriguing story. McQueen reveals an intimate portrait
28 | UP CLOSE WITH MOLLY BERNARD The Younger actress on self-love and learning from her pansexual character 44 | IS THERE SUCH A THING AS GAY MUSIC? And do these musical stereotypes mean anything anymore? 46 | SPLENDOUR IN SIEM REAP The most popular tourist town in the Kingdom of Cambodia delivers down-to-earth hospitality with a side of high-style indulgence 50 | FLASHBACK: JULY 6, 1992 IN LGBT HISTORY Marsha P. Johnson is found dead
FASHION 30 | WEAR YOUR PRIDE Wear it loud, wear it proud all summer long 32 | BEAUTY AND THE BEACH Beach nights; beach days 36 | HEAT WAVE Easy like Sunday morning
Why having a little dirt on your face, skin and hair is a good thing By Adriana Ermter
JULY / AUGUST 2018
Tap open your smartphone and you’re flooded with stylized, gorgeous, fresh and squeaky-clean Snapchats and Lark-filtered Instagram shots. Our pocket-sized digital world is the latest benchmark for good hygiene and it’s overflowing with shiny, bouncy hair and flawless dewy skin. We aspire to it, we emulate it and we post about it. Why wouldn’t we? We’re simply following the latest path to clean, well-groomed perfection. But now, getting a little dirty is the latest beauty and grooming option.
irritate and dry out your skin, which is going to strip it of the natural oils it needs.” Even during summer’s hot and humid months, retaining your skin’s natural oils and water is key to reducing skin and scalp dehydration, avoiding dry and itchy patches, eliminating redness and inflammation, and even minimizing skin conditions such as eczema and dandruff.
A clean history “From a health perspective, not being so clean all the time is beneficial History and its many trends have long defined what it means to for our microflora,” adds Bernadete Meireles, a pharmacist and be clean. In the 17th century, Parisians doused strong-smelling the national training director for Pierre Fabre Dermo-Cosmétique colognes onto their clothes to mask body odour. In the mid-1920s, Canada. “With the industrialized modern life, our environment Saturday’s bath night was America’s weekly beauty ritual, with has become more and more sanitized, sterile. Our contact with entire families lining up to take their turn scrubbing. In the 1950s, microorganisms has been reduced along the years and this has a good housewives diligently checked behind their children’s ears direct impact on our health. We shouldn’t be so afraid of getting for dirt, while decades worth of television commercials—complete in contact with bacteria—most of the time this is beneficial to with Whisk’s ’70s’ “ring around the collar,” Irish Spring’s ’80s’ our immune system.” “clean as a whistle” and Jhirmack’s ’90s’ “never lets your hair down”—dictated a spot-on (and spot-free) lifestyle. Just as your stomach contains good bacteria to help keep things running regularly, your skin is home to thousands Why dirty is the new clean of beneficial germs you don’t want to wash down the drain. “There are lots of reasons to get a little dirty,” affirms Graydon Moffat, These germs act as your body’s natural shield, protecting you the chief idea officer and founder of Graydon Skincare in Toronto. from environmental pollution, the chlorine in your gym’s “We forget that the foundation of our hair and body is our skin. If you swimming pool, and the forced air conditioning and heating over-wash using super-sudsy shampoos and soap, this can easily in your home or workplace.
Good grooming’s “less is more” approach Aesthetically speaking, getting a little dirty is also a style advantage. Lathering up too frequently can leave your skin feeling and looking dry. When you strip your face of the natural lipids it needs, your skin’s oil production goes into overtime, often causing unwanted breakouts. Alternately, an excessive amount of hot water combined with shampooing and conditioning your hair actually removes moisture from the hair shaft, making it prone to frizz, breakage and damage. For those who pay for colour and highlights, over-washing can even replace your shiny locks with dull, faded and greasy-looking ones. “Oddly enough, many super-foamy shampoos—you know, the ones that give you that squeaky clean feel—canend up stripping your hair of some of the natural oils it needs, which can actually causean overproduction of oil on your scalp as compensation,so what you get is a n unattractive o il glut,” explains Moffat. “This is much like the condition created when people with oily skin over-cleanse their face with harsh foaming cleansers and can’t figure out why their oil production is out of whack.” How to get your dirt on Embracing a little bit of dirt by skipping your daily shower is key—and this isn’t as hard or as gross as it may seem, particularly with the upgrowth of innovative beauty and grooming products. Green, chemical-free and natural dry shampoos, like Klorane’s
Oil-suppressing Dry Shampoo ($17.50, available at Shoppers Drug Mart stores and online at well.ca), eliminate oily slickness from your hair’s roots with just a couple of sprays. Plant-based, natural and sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners, like Graydon Skincare’s Matcha Mint Shampoo and Hair Smoothie ($25 each, available online at graydonskincare.ca), cleanse and hydrate your hair and scalp, while pulling double duty as a body cleanser—all without stripping, drying or leaving a layer of chemical film. As for your skin, Meireles recommends “opting for mild hygiene products that will respect the skin microbiome, pH and skin barrier,” like Avène’s Micellar Lotion ($24, available at Shoppers Drug Mart), which promises to reduce up to 98 per cent of the pollution, grime and makeup on your face without removing necessary oils and lipids. To further keep and seal moisture into your skin, facial lotions like Biotherm’s Blue Therapy Red Algae Uplift skin cream ($86, available at Beauty Boutique by Shoppers Drug Mart) work well for both day and nighttime use, thanks to its healthy helping of healing, hydrating and smoothing plankton and red algae ingredients. “Washing less frequently and using low-surfactant, sulfate-free products helps to take the chemical load down,” says Moffat. Of course, it may take you one or two weeks to get into your new every-other-day grooming routine, but once you do, “it is so worth it—your hair and skin become more resilient and lustrous,” says Moffat.
ADRIANA ERMTER is a Toronto-based, lifestyle-magazine pro who has travelled the globe, writing about must-spritz fragrances, child poverty, beauty and grooming.
TAKE PRIDE IN THE CLASSICS The most beautiful cars for a perfect summer By Casey Williams
Summer is upon us, meaning it’s time to dust off the classics and go for a drive. But we don’t want just any car—it must be absolutely fabulous. We’ll start our drive in the ’60s and end in the ’90s, making a stop in each along the way. From an iconic Ford to a long Lincoln, an Italian Cadillac, and a curvaceous Corvette, any of these would make a sweet ride for that sweet date.
1964 1/2 Ford Mustang A Ford executive once said Mustang was “like turning a librarian into a sexpot.” It was that way from the beginning when Ford introduced the Mustang at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. It was incredibly popular, selling more than 500,000 units in the first year and building a legacy that’s lasted over 50 years. One could get it as a formal coupe, fastback coupe, or convertible. Engines ranged from a 101-horsepower 2.5-litre V6 to a 164-horsepower 4.3-litre V8. It’s still the perfect car for weekend cruising, car shows, or just making out under the moonlight. Get it in red and really make a statement! 1978-79 Lincoln Mark V Bill Blass Edition My husband, who drives a Subaru Outback, thinks this is the most fabulous car ever to roll out of Michigan. There is certainly a lot of her to love, with a hood about the length of an entire Smart ForTwo car. In fact, it’s the largest two-door coupe ever sold by Ford Motor Company. Painted blue and white with a white carriage roof, and riding on turbine-style wheels, the Bill Blass edition is majestically beyond. Under that long hood is a huge 7.5-litre V8 engine delivering 208 horsepower. She floats down the road like the Queen Mary, the perfect barge for summer cruising. 1987-1993 Cadillac Allante Slap a Cadillac badge on a sexy Italian body and you’re cruising. Penned by Pininfarina (famous for styling Ferraris), the Mercedes Allante has a two-seat cabin, convertible roof and removable hardtop. By 1993, Allante had reached its zenith as the Indy 500 pace car with an advanced 295-horsepower 32-valve V8 engine and electronic suspension system to provide a comfortable, yet controlled, ride. Sales never seriously challenged Mercedes, and Cadillac lost money on every one, but it achieved its greater aim of imbuing the brand with tasteful, European style.
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1996 Corvette Grand Sport After 13 years, the C4-generation ’Vette sang its curtain call with a limited run of just 1,000 Grand Sports (810 coupes, 190 convertibles), all painted Admiral Blue with red interiors, black five-spoke wheels, white centre stripe, and red hash marks on left front fenders—a look meant to recall the original 1963 Grand Sport racers. The 5.7-litre LT4 V8 engine kicked out 330 horsepower, making it the second most powerful C4 after the outrageous ZR-1. The venerable C4’s reign over Chevrolet showrooms ended in high style, still garnering looks today. Store the targa top and make hay any day.
CASEY WILLIAMS is a contributing writer for Gaywheels.com. He contributes to the New York-based LGBT magazine Metrosource and the
INChicago MAGAZINE Tribune. He and his husband live in Indianapolis, where Williams contributes videos and reviews to wfyi.org, the area’s PBS/NPR station.
OUT FOR BLOOD
Egale shines a light on the discriminatory blood screening process in a bold (and slightly sassy) campaign By Lauren Jerome
Deep into Pride season, Egale’s most recent initiative is in full swing, and you’ve likely recognized some faces—Canadian celebrities, artists and social influencers—who are getting behind the cause. If you haven’t seen the swarms of “Be My Surrogate” and “I Am a Surrogate” messages plastered all over your social channels, here is the lowdown. Hot on the heels of World Blood Donation Day, Egale—an organization that works to improve the lives of those in the LGBTQI2S community—launched Blood Surrogates, a campaign that challenges the sweeping restrictions on men who have sex with men (MSM) to become blood donors unless they remain celibate for 365 days. One. Whole. Year. It’s a stigmatizing and outdated policy. And though the five-year abstinence period (originally a lifetime ban set in the ’80s) was reduced to one year in 2016, it’s simply not enough. The reality is we’re living in a new era—one where detection of HIV and other blood-borne illnesses, such as hepatitis B and C, is wildly more effective. (The window between infection and detection has been reduced to between nine and 11 days). Even the waiting period for giving a blood donation after getting a tattoo was recently reduced to three months. Yet, MSM need to wait one whole year.
“It’s important to create awareness around the discriminatory nature of this policy,” says Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale. “The policy itself targets MSM and trans folks, and is based on a discriminatory stereotype about risky or reckless sexual behaviour.” Part of the beauty of the new initiative is its simplicity: go to BloodSurrogates.ca, select whether you’re in need of a surrogate or looking to sign up as one, follow a couple of steps and, boom, you’ve generated a totally shareable social post that will rally others to get involved. You can also check out progress, creep the Blood Surrogates Instagram feed and learn more about the issue on the site. So, if you haven’t already, watch out for Blood Surrogates on your social channels (and maybe even some upcoming Pride events across the country). You’ll see their killer swag, which shamelessly flaunts stereotypes with colourful bandages, glitter blood bags and a whole cast of animated characters—transgender, queer, bisexual, and the campaign’s totally loveable spokesperson, Gary the Gay Blood Cell. Egale’s goal for this campaign is to create awareness on the absurdity of the issue, with the ultimate aim of changing our screening process to one based on behaviour and not on sexual orientation or gender identity. And, hopefully, putting a dent in the blood shortage—one man-loving-man and ally at a time.
Follow the campaign on Instagram @bloodsurrogates, find them And that’s regardless of behaviour: even someone who is trans, on their Facebook Blood Surrogates page and tune into Gary’s gay or bisexual, who is regularly tested and has been monogamous Twitter feed at @garybloodcell. Find all you need to get involved with a male partner for years would still be denied. at BloodSurrogates.ca.
LAUREN JEROME is a freelance writer based in Toronto and a full-time content editor at Sid Lee.
PRIDE AT WORK
TAKING PRIDE IN ADVERTISING Successful LGBTQ marketing means 365 days of Pride a year By Colin Druhan
JULY / AUGUST 2018
Among the rainbow sea of Pride-themed ads and promotional items we are bombarded with every summer, it’s easy to forget that not long ago, marketing to LGBTQ communities was a taboo practice. When IKEA launched the first mainstream TV ad to feature a gay couple in 1994, it only aired during late-night. It didn’t feature racy content—just two men who were quite happy with their dining room table—but it prompted boycotts and threats that targeted the global furniture retailer. Despite the resistance, more companies followed suit. Now, almost 25 years later, marketers have caught on, but they still struggle to get it right. The global LGBTQ market has an estimated spending power of more than $5 trillion. A recent report by INTO and Brand Innovators revealed that more than 70 per cent of LGBTQ consumers said a brand’s reputation as being LGBTQ-friendly directly influences their purchasing decisions. Many advertisers see Pride season as a prime opportunity to take their message directly to LGBTQ consumers. These festivals are no longer just big-city fare, with an increasing number of events taking place in smaller communities and even in countries where it is illegal to be LGBTQ. This centralizes a lot of targeted marketing in the summer months. However, many
community members aren’t satisfied with a simple nod in June. That INTO and Brand Innovators report shared that only 13 per cent of LGBTQ consumers are positive towards brands that only advertise to them during Pride season. Community members want more than a rainbow flag ad when it comes to where they spend and where they work. A Pride at Work Canada survey of LGBTQ job seekers found that 66 per cent of respondents would feel comfortable applying for a job with a company that publicized its LGBTQ-friendly policies and programs, versus just 34 per cent who said they would be similarly motivated by a float in a Pride parade. “Frankly, I need to see change at a fundamental level,” said one survey respondent. Others voiced concerns about how deeply a company’s commitment runs if all they see is an activation at Pride, with one respondent saying that seeing a float in a parade is wonderful but it doesn’t help them understand “if the workplace will have bathroom facilities I am comfortable using.” As the training and education program coordinator at the Rainbow Resource Centre, which offers support to LGBTQ people
Stacy G. Kelly knows the importance of capturing attention during Pride season. As the director of philanthropy for The 519, a community centre offering services to LGBTQ2S communities in Toronto, he’s responsible for the organization’s biggest fundraising event of the year. Since 2008, The 519’s Green Space Festival—an extremely popular five-day festival that hosts more than 35,000
attendees annually—has brought in over $2.5 million to support the centre’s programs, which operate all year. “It’s a beautiful form of engagement—when people come together to celebrate love, diversity and inclusion,” says Kelly, “and more importantly, to give back to the community and raise essential funds for The 519’s year-round programs and services that support underserved LGBTQ2S community members.”
PRIDE AT WORK
in Winnipeg, Muhammad Ahsan supports the LGBTQ community year-round. He wishes some corporations would do the same. “If you are a true ally and passionate about the community, it should not be limited to one month or week. It should be 365 days of Pride,” says Ahsan, who switched banks from an institution that only flew a rainbow flag during Winnipeg Pride to one that kept theirs up all year. He says it’s great when employers leverage the excitement of Pride season to get their staff involved in training and education about LGBTQ communities, but cautions that it shouldn’t stop there. “It’s a good time for organizations to capture attention, but it should lead to bigger things.”
Companies can learn a lot from community groups that use Pride season to draw attention to the great work they are doing every month of the year. AT&T, one of the most recognized brands in the United States, complements its sponsorship of dozens of Pride festivals across the US with consistent engagement with LGBTQ customers, mostly through LGBTQ media. “It’s my view that advertising with LGBTQ-owned and -operated publishers is a best practice,” says Robert Hebert, LGBTQ marketing lead at AT&T. “Reaching the LGBTQ community at scale and with frequency is key to the success of our campaigns.”
COLIN DRUHAN is the executive director of Pride at Work Canada, a not-for-profit organization that empowers employees to foster workplace cultures that recognize LGBT employees. For more information, visit prideatwork.ca.
How can I overhaul my Pride habits and stay on the right path? By Adam Segal
Dear Adam, I am 36 years old and have struggled with substances for most of my adult life. Starting with pot in my teens and moving towards alcohol and cocaine as the years passed, these habits started to really affect my work life and relationships. Over the past year I have taken steps to reduce my drug and alcohol use significantly—where I used to drink most nights and party every weekend, my use is more occasional these days and less intense. I’ve been going to meetings and confided in a few friends who have been supportive. But now, with Pride festivities on the horizon, I am a little freaked and extra anxious about how I will stay focused on my health. It’s just been a given, in the past, that Pride is a booze fest where I (and many of my friends) cut loose and have a total binge. I refuse to not participate in Pride, because it is such an important time for me, but don’t know how to overhaul my Pride habits and stay on the right path. Can you help? —James Dear James, The Pride month of festivities is a confusing mix: on one hand, it seems like an endless glitter-filled party, but on the other, it can be a lightning rod for a lot of complex and painful issues. Whether it’s about loneliness, acceptance, substance use, self-esteem, sex, or some intersection of all of these areas, Pride can be a tricky time for a lot of folks, and a sort of ‘trial by fire’ scenario for anyone trying to change their habits around substances. You’ve made some great strides over the past year and it’s great that you’re already reflecting on your needs as Pride approaches. It is vital that you try to be as realistic as possible. Expecting yourself to participate as fully in Pride as you have before without using at all might just be a set-up for you to fail. You’ve been essentially following a harm-reduction approach for a year, and the Pride season is an opportunity to carry that forward. Think of ways to reduce the overall negative impact on yourself—should you prioritize socializing with certain friends over others? Could you take a night off between Pride plans? If you do use, could you choose one substance for the night? Remembering that you have choices, no matter what is happening around you, will be your key to sustaining the positive changes you’ve been making.
The good news is that you are already doing something right—you’re not automatically giving yourself permission to get loaded during Pride. Congradulations! A big factor in compulsive substance use is a sort of ‘permission giving’ that keeps you trapped in an addictive cycle. So often, we make the decision to get high way before it actually happens—and then we add to the problem by shaming ourselves for not knowing better. We think that eventually we’ll stop if we criticize ourselves enough, but it only leaves us feeling worse. Something I can say with certainty is that shame never seems to be the solution to an addiction problem—you need to be compassionate with yourself to keep the positive momentum alive. You are readying yourself to have as mindful an experience as possible and therefore this Pride will feel different from previous ones—you might even have moments of grief for the loss of the particular heightened intensity you’ve experienced before. Put simply, it might be a little tough to be so grounded this time around. It would be easy to stop attending meetings until Pride is over, but it’s likely the most important time to keep going—if only to remember that so many others are struggling despite the joyful sheen of the rainbow fantasia.
ADAM SEGAL, writer and therapist, works in private practice in downtown Toronto. Ask him your relationship or mental-health questions at @email@example.com.
ANXIOUS ABOUT PRIDE FESTIVITIES
HEALTH & WELLNESS
TALK IT OUT Finding the right psychotherapist for you By Karen Kwan
Making the decision that you would like to talk to a psychotherapist is a significant step, so give yourself credit for coming to that realization: “If you are feeling you want to talk to someone about some issues, then the sooner the better,” says Linda J. Page, founder of Toronto’s Adler Graduate Professional School, which offers a Master of Psychology degree and professional education in psychotherapy and coaching.
method. Find out how long they’ve been in practice, and if they are comfortable working with the type of issues you’re dealing with. Also, find out if the therapist has undergone therapy. “I don’t think anyone should do therapy without having had the experience themselves,” says Page. If you’re uncomfortable asking outright about this, she suggests that you frame your question around how well acquainted the therapist is with therapy.
Once you’ve come to that decision, however, you may find yourself overwhelmed with how to choose the right type of therapy and therapist for you. It may be comforting to know that the type of therapy you choose has only a small effect—about a 15 per cent improvement—on the eventual outcome, says Page. Treatment success is much more dependent on factors revolving around you as the patient (in terms of the severity of your symptoms, what type of support network you have, your life circumstances, and more). So how to find that therapist?
Learn about the actual logistical details The length of sessions, how frequently this psychotherapist usually sees clients, and cost: these are all things you should learn in this preliminary phone call. If cost is a prohibitive factor, ask if the therapist works with students who are supervised that you can see. “Depending on the type of therapist, students who are just out of school or are just finishing up their training [can offer] a way for someone to see a psychotherapist without excessive costs,” notes Page.
Ask for referrals Talk to your friends and family about whether they have a therapist they would recommend. If there is no one within your social circle you can ask (or perhaps you are uncomfortable asking friends), Page recommends asking trusted professionals in your life, such as your family doctor, massage therapist or pharmacist. You will also want to consider whether you have a preference for a male or female therapist.
Determine your comfort level with the psychotherapist You may need to attend a few therapy sessions to determine this but, ultimately, your therapist should be someone you feel you can easily talk to about things that are meaningful or even embarrassing, says Page. “Some things may come out that you’ve never said to someone before, so you want to have a sense that this is someone you are comfortable with.” That said, your therapist should not feel like your friend. “They should be someone you can reveal things to, but also someone who can say things to you that might be hard to take,” says Page. You must be okay with having them hold you to account for your behaviour, even if that means they say things to you that are hard to hear.
Research the referrals online Check out the therapists’ websites to get a sense of their personality, whether they focus on certain issues, and what type of training they have.
If you don’t feel your therapist is working out for you, talk it out Don’t feel like you will hurt your therapist’s feelings if you feel your therapy isn’t working. Page recommends sharing that it’s not working for you, and then you can both discuss whether there are ways to make your sessions more beneficial to you. “It may be a negative thinking pattern that you need to break through and ultimately you may be best off to stay with this therapist,” she adds. Or you may decide to try a different type of therapy. But don’t let fear of upsetting your therapist be the reason you stick with the same one.
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Talk with a few therapists Most therapists will have an initial phone call with you so that you can learn about their practise. Take this as a time to ask about whether they are licensed to practise in your province, and for you to get a sense of whether you feel comfortable with them. “When talking to the therapist, if they kind of light up and seem to feel excited about the type of therapy they do, that is a good sign,” says Page, who had her own practice for 20 years. You’re looking for someone who believes in and has a commitment to their therapeutic
KAREN KWAN is a freelance health, travel and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter at @healthswellness and on Instagram at @healthandswellness.
By Al Ramsay and Orlando Lopez
Pride season is in full swing and you’re enjoying all that summer has to offer—barbecues, road trips, vacation travelling, patios, outdoor sports—with family and friends; the last thing you want to think about are your finances. We get it: summer is a time to relax and spend money (sometimes more than we expected or budgeted). Not to be the financial Grinch trying to ruin your fun, but let’s look at some easy tips to help you minimize your debt so you can be ahead of the game after summer has ended and you decide to start getting more serious about your finances come fall/winter. We’ve covered some of these tips in past Money$tyle issues; however, they are worth reiterating in what we refer to as your defensive strategy to find the right balance. Make a budget and stick to it Understanding and managing your cash flow is paramount to staying on track with your budget. A leak in your cash flow is like a broken pipe that doesn’t get noticed until it has already done lots of damage. Spontaneity can add to your summer adventures, but try to minimize these, especially if they are big-ticket items such as travel. In other words, refrain from buying a last-minute plane ticket if that was not part of your plan back in January. Take advantage of innovative apps in the market, such as TD’s MySpend, that help you create a budget and track your spending. Cash vs. credit For some people, cash is “king.” If that’s your preference—and if you stick to your budget—I say go for it. However, the reality is that most people use credit cards. If used the right way, these can be very rewarding—but you must remain disciplined. Make your credit cards work twice as hard for you. The fact is, you have to spend on certain monthly items such as groceries and bills, so why not earn points or get cash back for your loyalty? Credit cards such as the TD Cash Back Visa Card with no annual fee have some great perks.
Tip: Try to pay off your credit-card balance on the due date, or at least make your minimum payment. Never make a late payment, as that will have a negative impact on your credit profile. Set up automatic payments so you don’t have to think about it when the payment is due. For more information on TD Cash Back Credit Cards and how to earn cash back on all your purchases, visit: https://www.td.com/ca/en/personal-banking/products/credit-cards/ cash-back/ Speak to your financial advisor It doesn’t hurt to have a quick visit with your financial advisor to get a mid-year checkup on your finances. Get this person to help you create a tailored budget for you so you’re armed with the knowledge you need to make the right decisions. Not only will this help you become more confident with your finances (which will minimize your stress), but you will also learn what proactive steps to take should you veer off course. These are tips I try to stick to myself, especially since I travel so much during the summer months. I get to travel across the country supporting TD’s Pride festivals with our customers, employees and community at large (remember, we sponsor more than 57 Pride festivals across North America). However, all work and no play is never a good idea—so I must remain disciplined with my finances, especially since I’m usually in a different city and not in my normal routine, and the temptation to overspend is very inviting! Enjoy your summer—you’ve worked hard and deserve to enjoy life. But remember: everything in life is all about moderation—well, at least, that’s my financial motto.
AL RAMSAY is TD Bank Group’s regional manager, LGBTQ2+ Business Development, and leads a team of expert advisors dedicated to serving the LGBTQ2+ community. For more information or to book a meeting, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @AlRamsay_TD. ORLANDO LOPEZ, TD Wealth Financial Planner, is a member of Al’s team of expert advisors who support the LGBT community. 13
FINDING THE RIGHT BALANCE Tips for developing a solid financial plan while still having a little fun
HEALTH & WELLNESS
SEEKING SUPPORT Services are available to gay men living with HIV in the South Asian community By Jumol Royes
As a society, we’ve come a long way in terms of our attitudes towards gay men living with and affected by HIV. Unfortunately, stigma still exists, and it is more pronounced in racialized communities, including the South Asian community. That’s why culturally sensitive support services are essential; they take into account the specific challenges people in these communities face, and are able to address their varied needs. The Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP) provides HIV/AIDS, sexual health and support services for South Asian communities in the Greater Toronto Area. IN recently caught up with ASAAP’s executive director, Haran Vijayanathan, to explore some of the services available to the community and to discover just how far we’ve come…and how far we have yet to go. ASAAP marks its 30-year anniversary next year. Has there been a shift in how the South Asian community addresses and supports gay men living with HIV? Sadly, 30 years into the epidemic, HIV stigma and homophobia still exist in all communities, including the South Asian and Middle Eastern communities. There’s been a shift for the better and recognition that HIV is an issue within our communities, but there’s still a reluctance to talk about it. The older populations tend to maintain their [traditional] values and beliefs, while the younger generations are more open, but still engage with our organization a bit hesitantly. What are some of the support services currently available for gay men living with HIV in the South Asian community? ASAAP offers support groups called Dosti and Snehithan for gay, bi, queer and trans MSM [men who have sex with men], irrespective of their HIV status.
What are the benefits of providing culturally sensitive, multi-language support services? ASAAP began because a couple died as a result of their HIV infection. They died because they didn’t speak English and they were unable to access adequate health supports, medication or treatment. By offering culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate services, we’re able to reach various communities that are within the larger South Asian and Middle Eastern communities by providing education and prevention messaging in languages they understand. For those living with HIV, we’re able to connect them to care and, more importantly, through translation services and the Peer Navigation model we use, clients can make informed decisions around their health care, which allows them to be proactive in ensuring treatment adherence while working towards undetectable viral loads. You’ve been chosen as the Grand Marshal for Pride Toronto’s 2018 festival. What does this mean to you? It’s quite meaningful that I’m the first Sri Lankan Tamil gay man to be chosen as the Grand Marshal in the history of Toronto Pride. It allows us to chip away at the homophobia that exists within our communities. I hope those who read about me or see me in the parade also see themselves in me. When I was coming out of the closet in Winnipeg, I didn’t see South Asian gay folks represented in any media or in the community. I felt alone and isolated, and that led to some mental health issues, including thoughts of suicide. It’s my hope that being in this position helps people recognize that they’re not alone, and encourages them to connect with ASAAP and the programs we offer.
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We also have a support program that ensures those living with HIV are supported in accessing basic needs. This year, we’ll be offering a regular monthly support group for gay, bi and queer MSM living with HIV who identify as South Asian/ Middle Eastern.
What about HIV prevention programs? We currently provide prevention and education programming for South Asian men. We conduct workshops and information sessions through group programs like Cardamom Kitchen, a support/ education program where we use cooking and eating together as a means of building community and offering access to information around HIV prevention—PrEP—as well as where to get tested and psycho/social issues that put people at risk.
JUMOL ROYES is IN’s Marketing and Sponsorship Manager and a Toronto-based PR and communications strategist with a keen interest in personal development and transformation. Follow him on Twitter at @Jumol.
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WAIT, WHAT—IN THE BUTT? “This is really embarrassing, but I’m thinking of trying anal…” By Ashley L. Williams
We’ve all been there. Curiosity of the “forbidden hole” and the temptation to just…go for it. After years of working in adult retail, I have come to the conclusion that a lot of people don’t actually know the first thing about having anal sex, but I’m so glad that they find the courage to walk into Seduction and ask, “What is the best way to ensure that playing anally is going to be pleasurable for me and my partner?” Yes! Here are a few key pieces of advice that I offer to customers that are a sure bet for a successful session. 1. After you’ve had the conversation about anal, and you know you’re both ready to take the next step…find a suitable time for you and your partner to come into the store together to look for an anal plug. You want to choose a plug that is equal to or greater in size compared to what you are penetrating with second (whether it’s a penis, a strap-on, etc.). That may seem intimidating, but it will be more helpful for playing purposes. 2. You’ll also want a lubricant. I know a fair amount of people who have come in over the years and have said they don’t feel lubricant is necessary, but I have to say…it really does make a difference. The lubricant you choose will depend on what type of toy you’re using. Different materials require different care.
3. Please refrain from using any types of desensitizers for anal penetration. There are other serums that are efficient, but numbing the area so you don’t feel anything could be dangerous. If any damage is done during play, you won’t notice until it’s too late—not to scare you, but it happens. There are relaxing gels that don’t take away sensation but help relax the area. If you feel these gels are necessary, ask someone at our store for an alternative to numbing. 4. Communication is important. You want to take your time to relax the muscles so you don’t cause any damage or tears when penetrating…. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Give the body a decent amount of time to adjust. If it hurts, say something! If you tense up, the experience will only become more un-pleasurable. 5. Lastly, my favourite tip: if you focus on some kind of stimulation— whether a small vibrator on sensitive areas of your body, or masturbation—you’re more likely to focus on the pleasure you’re feeling rather than the pressure of back-door fun. Anal play is only as scary as you make it. If you follow these tips, you’ll see that a little bit of change doesn’t always hurt.
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ASHLEY L. WILLIAMS is an essential part of the team at Seduction Love Boutique, being one of two main contributors to the Toronto stores’ marketing department as well as a dedicated sales manager. Seduction has proudly served the community since 1998; follow it on Instagram: @SeductionTO.
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ON THE TOWN
SCENES FROM THE PARTY CIRCUIT By Michael Pihach
Fit - All the Way May at The Beaver 1: Kris Steeves, Santiago de Lope, David Cai, 2: Wil Canel, Anton Levin, 3: Jasmine White, 4: Danielle LeBlanc. Inside Out LGBT Film Festival Opening Night Gala at TIFF Bell Lightbox 5: Fay Slift, 6: Nik Redman, 7: Aaron Mcmillan, Raim Abbasli, Victor Pavao, 8: Maya Washington, Wade Muir. LULU v.7 // Aspects of a Femme Fatale Opening Night at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre 9: Louis Tsilivis, Evalyn Parry, 10: Shane Gramlich, 11: Sabah Haque, 12: Steven Bereznai.
WANT KIDS? DECIDING BETWEEN ADOPTION AND SURROGACY For gay parents, the decision can be complicated By Marianne Wisenthal
Choosing to become a parent is a huge decision, but for members of the LGBT community, the road to get there is rarely straightforward. For aspiring dads, the two most common routes are surrogacy and adoption. For some, the choice is clear. But for most it involves soul-searching, research, and a whole lot of patience. Are you wondering how to make one of the most important decisions of your life? Here are some personal stories, and professional advice, to help determine which option might work best for you. Adoption Austin Wong and his husband had always dreamed of having kids. “It was something we talked about very early in our relationship,” says Wong. After the couple married, they decided to sign up for Daddies and Papas 2B, a comprehensive course at The 519, an LGBTQ community centre in Toronto. The 12-week program is open to gay, bisexual and queer men looking to create a family with a child; it walks them through surrogacy, adoption, co-parenting and foster care options. The centre offers a similar course for women called Mommies and Mamas.
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Wong and his husband soon decided that they wanted to pursue adoption. “There are so many children born who need homes, and we liked that we could [offer] that,” says Wong. They also had some reservations about surrogacy. “We knew someone who had gone through [the experience]. It was expensive and fraught with problems, and it never worked out for him at all,” Wong explains. “Also [with surrogacy], only one of us would have been a blood relative to the child, and I just wasn’t comfortable with that inequity. It didn’t matter to my husband, but it did to me.” Adoption in Canada comes under provincial jurisdiction, which means the laws vary from province to province. Once you’ve decided on adoption, there are two options: public or private. Public adoptions are arranged by government agencies such as the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) in Ontario, and there are several advantages to this avenue: there is little to no cost involved; the wait time can be shorter if you’re willing to take on an older child or one with special needs; and, because most children are wards of the state, there is little risk that a birth mother will change her mind. However, for prospective parents looking to adopt newborns, the wait times can be long. Private adoption allows birth mothers and prospective parents to meet, decide if they are a good fit, and determine how much (if any) contact they will maintain once the baby has been placed with the adoptive parents. The costs are higher: up to $20,000 for a private social worker, background checks, plus legal and adoption agency fees.
Whether they go public or private, all potential adoptive parents must complete a home study, an in-depth application and an interview process conducted by a qualified social worker. Intended parents also undergo various reference checks, police checks and home visits. In addition to this, most provinces require some type of adoption readiness training. In Ontario this is called PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education), a parenting course that includes modules on child development and discipline. Wong and his husband decided they wanted to pursue private open adoption. (In an open adoption, all the parties meet and often remain in each other’s lives, whereas in a closed adoption there is no contact whatsoever between the birth parents and the adoptive parents and child after the adoption takes place.) “When you call the [CAS], they ask if you’re willing to take a child with health issues or developmental delays,” says Wong. “[These kids] may need assistance for the rest of their lives, and we just didn’t feel equipped to [offer] this.” The couple found a social worker, finished the PRIDE course, got background checks and home studies, then created an online profile with a private agency and prepared themselves for a long wait. “People told us it could take up to two years, and that some birth mothers might prefer to place their baby with a traditional nuclear family.” But within just a few months, they got the call that a mother wanted to meet them. A few weeks later, they brought home a healthy, 10-week-old baby—and just like that, they were Daddy and Papa. They remain occasionally in touch with the birth mother, who said she chose them in part because they were a gay couple, not in spite of it. “Adoption is an amazing way to build a family. You’re giving a child a home. It’s a great feeling,” says Wong. “The night we brought [our baby] home was really special. It happened to be my husband’s birthday and it was the best present ever.” For more information on adoption in Canada, visit adoption.ca. Surrogacy Devin Michaels* hadn’t thought seriously about becoming a dad until a conversation with his brother changed his mind. “He made a passing comment about how sad it was that my niece would never have cousins, and it made me think maybe this was something I wanted.” After much discussion, Michaels and his husband decided it was important to them to have a newborn so they could establish an early bond. They also wanted to know as much as possible
Whether you choose adoption or surrogacy, bringing a child into your lives means you're giving that child a whole new life and bringing your relationship with your partner to a new level
about the birth mother’s health and control some of the timeline. person in your circle of friends and family to be your surrogate “I’d spoken to some colleagues who’d experienced heartbreaking (a.k.a. the gestational carrier), you will need to go through an disappointments in the adoption process,” says Michaels. “They’d agency. There aren’t enough women to meet the demand, so this been promised babies and then didn’t get them. That just wasn’t part of the process can take up to a year. Levitan advises clients to something we thought we could handle.” The couple chose to “choose a surrogate who’s in the right place in her life; who has the explore surrogacy and found a legal expert who would guide them support of her immediate circle; who is honest, dependable and, through the process. most all, communicative.” Sherry Levitan is a Toronto-based fertility lawyer, one of very few in Canada who practise in this area exclusively. “Gay men in their 50s never thought they would become parents,” she says. “But men in their 40s knew they could.” Single gay men or couples now make up half of all her clients. Levitan strongly advises those choosing surrogacy to work with people who are experts in the area of assisted reproductive technology. “It’s important to understand the laws in your province and not just rely on Facebook pages,” she says. “Most [family] lawyers will answer questions by phone without charging you.” Levitan’s role is to help guide intended parents through the surrogacy process from beginning to end. This includes recommending a reputable surrogacy agency (to find your surrogate), and a fertility clinic for in vitro fertilization (IVF). “When couples don’t get the right information or aren’t clear on the process, it can cause delays,” she says. “I’ve heard of some fertility clinics telling prospective gay parents that they have to go through an ethics board, and it’s totally unnecessary.” Levitan also recommends a mental health counsellor who will meet with both the intended parents and the surrogate. “This is called ‘implications counselling’ and helps people prepare for the journey. It also ensures the surrogate’s intentions are in the right place,” she says. “If there are problems along the way, it’s always good to go back to the counsellor to mediate conversations.” Once you have your legal advisor in place, there are many more decisions to make when becoming a parent via a surrogacy. The first is finding someone to carry your baby. If you don’t have a
Next, you need to choose an egg donor. “When you’re picking an egg, you only have the equivalent of a Facebook profile,” says Michaels about his own experience. “There’s no such thing as a donor with no family health issues at all. We had to get over that psychological hump.” In the end, he and his husband chose someone who looked a little like both of them and was doing it for the right reasons. “She was a college graduate and she liked camping,” laughs Michaels. With surrogacy, the biggest hurdle for most people is the cost. Expect to pay about $5,000 in legal fees, $10,000 for the surrogacy agency, $10,000 for the egg donation, and about $20,000 for medical costs. It’s illegal in Canada to pay a fee to a surrogate, but you will be required to cover her expenses. Budget $25,000 minimum for things like transportation to and from doctor’s appointments plus time off work. If there are twins, multiple IVF attempts, or the surrogate is required to go on bed rest, expenses will run even higher. The other thing that’s challenging about surrogacy, says Michaels, is living with uncertainty. “Someone you’ve only known for a short period of time is holding the most cherished thing in your life. You feel a loss of control and a bit out of touch.” After more than one failed egg transfer—“IVF is not for the faint of heart”—Michaels and his husband welcomed a beautiful and healthy newborn into the world, and they feel extremely grateful to be parents. Michaels’ advice? “Speak to a couple who’s going through it, and ask questions. Find support and get advice.” *Name changed for privacy
MARIANNE WISENTHAL is a Toronto-based writer and content strategist. When she’s not wrangling words with aplomb, you can find her singing show tunes with her community choir.
GAY MEN COULD HELP CURE TOXIC MASCULINITY If only they could stop embracing it… By Christian Dare
“Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots. ’Cause it’s OK to be a boy. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading. ’Cause you think that being a girl is degrading…” – Charlotte Gainsburg, The Cement Garden
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I am a white gay man in my late 30s who was born and raised in a major metropolitan city and surrounded by a community that was as left-leaning as it’s possible to be. I was granted the freedom, and privilege, to explore what being gay meant to be me—to dance around (unknowingly, for a while) the notions of masculine and feminine. I learned early on that ‘male’ and ‘female’ were social constructs; the notion that girls only played with dolls and boys only played with trucks was a notion created by adults. I saw many children around me playing with both. Or at least wanting to…that is, until those social constructs came crashing down around us, solidifying what it meant to be a boy. And what it meant to be a girl. The reinforcement of those social constructs mostly made us sad (why are you taking that doll away from me?), but it made the grown-ups feel better about the world. And themselves.
(a.k.a. beats it into them) how to perform as straight heterosexual males. Apparently, I missed that class—was it part of social studies class? Was I sick that day? I continued flirting with the notions of gender appropriateness and had learned to not give a fuck about being too feminine. And I have to admit that I was lucky. I wore my identity as a badge of honour, and somehow that scared people. Sure, I was still verbally abused on a regular basis, but no one dared to physically attack me. But what strikes me most about those high school days is that even back then I had a razor-sharp understanding of which boys were only ‘performing’ their masculinity in order to hide their gayness and the resulting ridicule or abuse, while other boys were simply performing the game so their identity would not be questioned. Now all this long-winded rambling isn’t to tell you that my life wasn’t easy.… Or that if you just build up your internal self-esteem, you can somehow escape and ignore all the pressures of conforming to masculinity.… In fact, ‘growing up’ for me just led to more battles around the notions of male and female. As I discovered the gay community, I was once again shown that masculinity and femininity matter. Or, rather, that only one side matters—the male. The gay community had erected the exact same ‘straw man’ as the epitome of what one should be that had gotten them excluded from the mainstream. Within the community, there was a hierarchy—macho or butch men were preferable to fem gays. And this is reinforced on a daily basis, in micro-aggressions like “No Fats. No Fems” and “Masc Only” on online hook-up and dating sites. Or when one is asked, “Are you straight acting?” Which basically means, “Are you worthy?” Worth my time? Worth my love? Or are you a girl?
No matter, how lucky I was to be born a white gay man. I say lucky for many reasons, but also to acknowledge that as a gay man I enjoy the privilege of being male in a patriarchal society that values my genitals above a woman’s. But I’ve also spent much of my life being made to feel like I am not a man because I am gay. I cannot recall a single day where I was not reminded that I was not “man enough.” Man enough to deserve respect or friendship or love. Almost every single day at my elementary school, I would have to be reminded by one of my male peers that I was too “limp wristed,” that my manners were too effeminate, that I was too nice. I was more interested in reading a book or being in a play than in playing street ball with the other boys my age. And that was a problem for “But wait a minute,” I hear you say. “It’s only a preference. We others. It quickly became clear to me that being too ‘girly’ was shouldn’t be judged on what we find attractive; it’s only natural, not desirable or allowable, and that being a girl meant you were right? It’s not my fault I am attracted to white muscular gay men… less than.... Even at the age of eight, I was painfully aware that I No judgment…” Really, guys? Because I’m here to tell you was too gay to befriended but also too feminine to be left alone. that this preference for white muscular gay men is not a natural preference—it’s learned behaviour. It’s how you were raised to By high school, most effeminate boys learn to hide their mannerisms; maintain the status quo, to keep masculinity from toppling. And, to lower their voices and to play the part. Society teaches them quite frankly, it’s discriminatory and it’s harmful to all of ‘us.’ And
we all know why you are doing it; there is always a strong desire to distance oneself from the Other. By asserting your masculinity, you are trying to separate yourself from the femme. You’re gay, but not that kind of gay. Try as you might to other yourself from the Other, you still sleep with men. Therefore, according to the mainstream discourse you are not a man. Moreover, I would argue that you just added ammunition to the movement that “femmeacting” gay men shouldn’t exist. But wait a minute; the gay community is changing. Right? I see a lot more gay men playing with the concepts of gender. Swipe through Instagram and you can see many gay men exploring their feminine side through their dress and makeup and wigs. It seems we are no longer as afraid of the feminine as we used to be.... But let’s stop and look at how those men flirting with ‘drag’ are perceived within our community. There still seem to be two camps (pun intended). There seems to be a community of very muscular stereotypically attractive gay men who are putting on dresses to explore or play with gender performativity (and perhaps gender stereotypes). But they do so grounded firmly in the masculine—scruffy facial hair and bulging biceps showing all the time. It’s almost like they are giving us a wink. Even as they play with gender, their overt masculinity means we can see it as only play and we can reaffirm their desirability—and their masculinity. On the other side remain gay men who have always existed on the borderline of male and
female; they understand gender as performance. They like to play around with notions of gender and dress, but do it so convincingly that they are placed directly into the ‘femme’ camp. When we in the gay communities separate ourselves into subgroups of masculine and feminine, or butch and femme, we are decrying anyone who doesn’t fit the heteronormative definition of a ‘man’— we are reinforcing masculinity. We are unknowingly helping to maintain the very discourse that made us into the ‘Other.’ We are supporting those same stereotypes that got us beaten up as kids. Moreover, we are building barriers to help obscure the real issues we, and society as a whole, face. There is something very troubling about gay men and our relationship with masculinity. We are often left out of the discussion about what it means to be a man because we are seen as not male or female but Other. But it strikes me that our relationship with masculinity is much more complicated, intense and potentially troubling. And don’t get me started on our fucked-up relationship with race—there’s not enough space in this article to talk about that. But if we begin to call into question how we define masculinity, maybe we can shift the focus—change the narrative just a little. Maybe make masculinity a little less toxic for those who come after us. As it stands, we are killing ourselves. And our brothers. And our sisters.
CHRISTIAN DARE is a freelance writer who spends his time between Toronto and New Orleans. He writes for numerous publications and is known for his writings on pop culture, lifestyle and design. He occasionally appears on daytime TV when not hunting for a great pair of shoes or design piece.
THE DIFFERENT SIDES OF CORY STEWART The Toronto-based musician talks about his debut EP, and about writing music that resonates through the LGBTQ community By Daniel Mitri
If you haven’t heard Cory Stewart’s debut EP, 7 Different Sides, I suggest you put it on your Summer 2018 playlist. This is a summer essential that combines deep and sentimental lyrics with an ’80sinspired electro-pop feel, which is certain to get you up and dancing all night long. So…who is he? Stewart is originally from Woodstock, Ont. (a.k.a. the Dairy Capital of Canada). His interest in music began at the age of seven, when he watched The Phantom of the Opera and became obsessed with the soundtrack.
“You don’t make music to hit a specific target; you make music because you want it to be good,” Stewart says of his debut release, adding that he does not want to put a label on his listeners, or be pigeon-holed in one particular category. Each of his tracks, he says, draws on aspects of his life and challenges he’s endured.
The singer says his mother was an encouraging figurehead in his life, recognizing his talent at a young age and encouraging him to pursue his dream of music.
The title track, “7 Different Sides,” discusses the complexity of someone’s personality, and the difficulty in revealing each element to a significant other. Says Stewart:
“Sometimes parents have the ability to see something in you before you know it yourself…and to have a parent who helps you find your passion and supports it is truly a blessing,” says Stewart. His mother enrolled him with a singing coach when he was still at a young age. The singer’s gift of performing progressed to further training with the Royal Conservatory of Music and touring Europe with the world-renowned Amabile Boys Choir.
“I find when we introduce ourselves to someone, we only show one side. But that is only one side of yourself, versus the side that your mom knows or the side your best friend knows or the side your lover knows. They’re all different elements of a person; we never really reveal all of our sides.”
“I was able to sing a bunch of solos, which gave me my ‘street cred’ in terms of performing,” says Stewart, adding that he was able to overcome some of his initial stage fright and become more confident in his ability to sing.
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The outcome of the recording process with Bradley resulted in 7 Different Sides, released on April 10 this year. The extended play is comprised of three unique songs (and two extended tracks), with each tune stacked with a dance-floor-ready feel, and lyrical themes that strongly resonate through the LGBTQ community but are still relatable to any individual.
The singer describes the second track, “I Wouldn’t Want Me Either,” as a song about rejection. While it too has an uplifting beat, it has a more vulnerable set of lyrics that relate to the insecurities of every individual’s love life. The final track, “My Gay Heart,” is an uplifting ode to the struggles faced by the LGBTQ community. Stewart notes that being from a smaller town in Ontario posed some serious challenges for him as a young, gay male.
As he grew older, even though the real-life pressures from school and work became increasingly tough, Stewart still never gave up the music and continued to write songs as a source of enjoyment. But it wasn’t until comedian Carla Collins, a good friend of Stewart’s, “When we would go to school, we would have cigarettes thrown at heard his passion piece and encouraged him that he pursued his us.… I had coins chucked at my face in the hallways,” says Stewart, dream more seriously. The singer also contacted another friend, adding that name-calling was a regular occurrence as well. These Simone Denny of Love Inc., who was very optimistic about his experiences inspired the song as a way for LGBTQ youth to feel more talent and suggested he seek a producer to record his work of art connected to the community in the face of adversity and isolation. professionally. The singer referenced a study conducted by the American Journal It was through this wave of events that Stewart came into contact of Preventive Medicine, which shows that 46 per cent of closeted with producer and Juno award winner Gavin Bradley. Bradley, who teens have considered suicide. The staggering numbers, Stewart has worked with artists such as Kylie Minogue and Nelly Furtado says, show that there are far too many people suffering in silence. in the past, was essential in assisting Stewart’s recording process. He points out that the LGBTQ Youth Line is 1-800-268-9688; people can also go to youthline.ca to chat with someone online “When you write a song, sometimes you don’t realize that some about the struggles faced by LGBTQ youth. things are too personal. So, you have to figure out how to craft a song so it means something not only to you but to your audience “My Gay Heart” is accompanied by a lyrical video, created by as well,” says Stewart, noting this was a valuable lesson Bradley Stewart himself, with archived footage of the (first ever) 1981 taught him for his songwriting process. Toronto Pride parade. 22
While his debut EP discuss some darker themes, Stewart is optimistic about his future music. This summer has already seen some fantastic performances by the singer, and he is anticipating opening for Boy George at Montreal’s Strangers In The Night Gala on Saturday, August 25. But there’s more. The singer has also been busy writing and recording new music for a full-length LP, which, he hints, could be released as early as next year.
“I’m putting on a show. People can read if you’re having fun or not, so the important thing for me is to provide the energy that gets people up and dancing.… I want the crowd to have fun and I want to have fun myself,” Stewart says, including that he wants a theatrical performance and experience for his audience. Aside from musical theatre, Stewart cites Madonna, George Michael, Troye Sivan and Lady Gaga as some of his influences, while also mentioning that each day there’s a new inspiration that makes him appreciate a different part of music.
Stewart describes himself as a performer more than a singer, drawing his on-stage performance from musical theatre, such as The Phantom of the Opera and The Greatest Showman.
You can get Cory Stewart’s music on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music and many more. Don’t forget to check out his website at coryjstewart.com.
DANIEL MITRI is a Toronto-based writer with a strong interest in music, politics and cooking. If he’s not playing his bass guitar, you can find him poking through vintage record stores and frequenting 24-hour restaurants. 23
LEE ALEXANDER MCQUEEN: PIECING TOGETHER A PORTRAIT OF THE FASHION GENIUS His life makes for an intriguing story. McQueen reveals an intimate portrait By Christopher Turner
Eight years after his untimely death, Lee Alexander McQueen has never been more revered. Few understood Britain’s most accomplished (and controversial) fashion designer during his lifetime, which is probably why we continue to be captivated by the life of the sensitive visionary who reinvented the world of fashion before he took his own life in 2010.
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In April, a brand new documentary, entitled McQueen, premiered to rave reviews at the Tribeca Film Festival, aimed to preserve and honour the openly gay designer’s life and legacy. The documentary spans the breadth of McQueen’s fashion career, from his graduation from the prestigious Central Saint Martins design college in 1992, to his appointment as the bad boy creative director of Givenchy in 1997, his departure from the French fashion house in 2001 and the final years he dedicated to his eponymous label before his suicide. The film hits theatres this summer.
Isabella Blow spotted and purchased his entire graduate collection (named “Jack the Ripper”) for £5,000, and then helped him launch his eponymous label, turning him into a fashion world darling. At age 27, he was appointed head designer at Givenchy, much to the outrage of the French fashion press—and while his time at the fashion house was brief, and notoriously rocky (McQueen once described his tenure at Givenchy as “like taking a dinosaur out of the sea,” according to Blow), it helped propel him to fashion superstardom. He won countless awards (including British Designer of the Year in both 1996 and 1997) but never lost his brash East End accent and street-savvy wit.
Directed by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui, McQueen packs an emotional punch, revealing the legendary, albeit troubled, designer through a compilation of clips of his cinematic runway shows, never-before-seen archival footage, and interviews with McQueen’s colleagues, mentors, ex-lovers and family members.
As his fame grew, so did his ego and the number of drug-fuelled outbursts. He lost a dramatic amount of weight and had plastic surgery. And then there was his complicated relationship with Blow, his dysfunctional romantic relationships and, during his final years, the drug-induced rages. He turned himself into a cult figure, one of the most extraordinary visionaries the fashion industry has ever known. And then he committed suicide on the eve of his beloved mother’s funeral. Lee Alexander McQueen was found hanged at his London home on February 11, 2010. He was 40 years old.
“We wanted to make a really respectful cinematic version of Lee’s story,” Bonhôte says. “You could go very tabloid and sensationalist, but we wanted to put his work at the film’s centre, and to try to tell his life from the fashion shows. People were excited about this.”
The film attempts to break away from those talking points and figure out this difficult character through a series of new interviews with those closest to McQueen that give unparalleled insight into his way of thinking.
In the years since his death, McQueen has become one of “The archive footage that the family gave us was incredibly important popular culture’s battlegrounds, as fashion biographers attempt because it shows him, I think, in a different light,” Ettedgui says. to piece together a picture of the man behind the designs. It almost seems as though McQueen anticipated this. During his Footage from family friends—especially footage of a young life, he created and cultivated a very specific public persona: he McQueen—showcases a different, rarely seen, side of McQueen. was the son of a cab driver and a schoolteacher who struggled Videos of him laughing and playing with his dogs paint a new, with his weight, his self-image and his sexuality. He grew up softer side of the bad-boy designer, while an interview with his late on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ and against all odds became a mother describing him as a “sweet boy” is heartbreaking. tailor’s apprentice on Savile Row before being accepted to Central Saint Martins. In 1992, the famously eccentric fashion editor “We wanted to make this film very intimate,” Ettedgui explains.
Photos: Courtesy of Bleecker Street
COVER JULY / AUGUST 2018
Lee Alexander McQueen and Shalom Harlow backstage before the Spring/Summer 1999 “No. 13” presentation
The film is anchored with footage from McQueen’s most unforgettable runway shows: his 1992 student thesis show “Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims” from Central St. Martin’s; his Fall/ Winter 1995 “Highland Rape” show, which featured tattered tartan dresses and a tampon-strewn skirt (the presentation was decried as misogynistic at the time); the Spring/Summer 1999 “No. 13” runway presentation, which featured Shalom Harlow spinning on a platform while two robots spray-painted her white dress; his unforgettable Spring/Summer 2001 “Voss” show that turned the runway into a two-way mirrored insane asylum; the Fall/Winter 2003 “Scanners” presentation that featured his models walking in a wind tunnel; the Fall/Winter 2006 “Widow Of Culloden” runway presentation that featured the infamous Kate Moss hologram; the highly personal Spring/Summer 2008 “La Dame Bleue” presentation, which was a tribute to his late muse and mentor, Blow (who committed suicide in May 2007 after consuming a fatal dose of the weed killer Paraquat); and the designer’s ethereal Spring/ Summer 2010 “Plato’s Atlantis” presentation. “If you leave without emotion, then I’m not doing my job properly,” says McQueen in the film about his runway shows. “I don’t want you to walk out feeling you’ve just had Sunday lunch. I want you to be repulsed or exhilarated. As long as it’s an emotion.” The runway shows highlighted in the film take on a new emotion, 26
as they are combined with shaky behind-the-scenes camcorder footage captured by co-workers and are essentially narrated by archival interviews with Blow as well as McQueen’s mother, and many of the people who worked most closely with the designer. “When you tell the story of someone that lived, you tell the story of the people that lived next to him. It’s their story as much as the person’s,” Bonhôte explains. One anecdote comes from Italian designer Romeo Gigli. McQueen worked as Gigli’s design assistant in 1990, and Gigli recalls making the young designer redo a coat over and over, only to find that McQueen had written “Fuck you, Romeo!” inside the lining after the third iteration. Countless examples of that bad-boy charm dominate the film. Golden Globe nominee Michael Nyman (The Piano, Gattaca, The End of the Affair, Ravenous) composed the moody score for the film (Nyman himself was a former McQueen collaborator), while a series of interstitial animations help break the film into chapters using McQueen’s iconic skull motif. Strangely, in the film’s 111 minutes there is no mention of the designer’s ex long-term partner, filmmaker George Forsyth. He
became McQueen’s unofficial husband in 2000 (before same-sex marriages were legalized in the UK), and died shortly after McQueen at the age of 34. Forsyth’s parents deny that their son died of an overdose of the painkiller codeine, and maintain that he had accidentally taken a large amount of the drug after it was prescribed to him as part of treatment for a neurological condition. While the omission of any mention of Forsyth is a troubling oversight, many of McQueen’s other former partners and lovers are interviewed and offer up insight into the designer’s way of thinking and his ongoing struggles accepting his own sexuality. Fashion fans may also feel off about another blank space from the film. It abruptly ends after McQueen’s 2010 death, with virtually no mention of the ongoing legacy of his namesake label or his successor, Sarah Burton. While plenty of McQueen’s close collaborators were interviewed and appear in the film, Burton is mentioned only once and is never interviewed. But Bonhôte and Ettedgui explain that Burton’s absence was intentional. The film is meant to focus on the man behind the brand, not the brand itself. “Had there been a very open channel or communication or co-operation between the brand and us, I think we would’ve probably wound up making a brand film, which was not what we wanted to make,” Ettedgui notes. For the record, the brand has continued to thrive under Burton’s direction. In 2011, she famously designed Kate Middleton’s royal wedding dress. That same year, people lined up for hours to see Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, a retrospective of his work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The elaborate retrospective attracted more than 650,000 visitors (one of the most-visited shows in the Met’s history) and included more than 100 ensembles and 70 accessories from McQueen’s 19-year career, starting with selections from his 1992 MA Graduation collection “Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims,” and ending with pieces from his partially completed Fall/Winter 2010-11 “Angels And Demons” collection. As the label’s creative director, Burton was subjected to merciless and unnerving scrutiny but managed to take the label to new, albeit softer, heights away from its dark past. In the years since McQueen’s untimely death, there have been countless TV documentaries, exhibitions, a play by British playwright James Phillips (which was unveiled at the St. James Theatre in London in 2015) and half a dozen books bearing his name, all attempting to reveal an intimate portrait of the man and his work. While McQueen doesn’t reveal a full portrait, it does captivate like none of the projects before it. We may never get to fully know the real McQueen, which is probably what haunts us. And that’s the way the designer would have wanted it. McQueen hits theatres across the country on July 20, 2018.
Right (top to bottom): “No. 13” (Spring/Summer 1999), “Voss” (Spring/ Summer 2001), “Scanners” (Fall/Winter 2003), “Widow Of Culloden” (Fall/ Winter 2006), “La Dame Bleue” (Spring/Summer 2008), “Plato’s Atlantis” (Spring/Summer 2010)
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.
UP CLOSE WITH MOLLY BERNARD The Younger actress on self-love and learning from her pansexual character By Erica Cupido
On her first day of work playing millennial publicist Lauren on Younger, actress Molly Bernard was topless in Bryant Park. “I immediately learned that whatever scares me as a person, Lauren’s going to do,” says the 30-year-old, speaking over the phone from the set of the sitcom’s fifth season. “I have to just not be fazed, and that’s actually a gift.”
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Throughout the show’s run, Bernard’s sex-positive, pansexual character has kept her friends (Kelsey and Liza, played by Hilary Duff—one of her real-life BFFs—and Sutton Foster) in the know about VIP-only openings and underground hangouts. But she’s also educated her besties on dating and sex, and held down meaningful relationships with both men and women. Whether her character is helping her friends upgrade their social media game or finding a way into private clubs, Bernard is a hilarious supporting player in every one of her scenes. Consider her this decade’s answer to Samantha Jones—an apt comparison, given that the series is from Sex and the City creator Darren Star (and it’s a comparison Bernard says they’ve talked about). Here, the actress opens up about what she’s learned from her character, her close bond with her co-stars, and hustling in Hollywood. As an actor, what excites you most about playing Lauren? She loves herself unconditionally, and I’ve realized that that is her superpower. She puts herself first, not in a bad way. She’s a self-loving person and that’s what makes her able to be generous, ridiculous, fun and loving. I think it’s great for queer representation 28
to have someone on television whose story is not the struggle, but the joy of it. I think that has influenced me positively in regards to my own sexuality. How early did you learn that your character, Lauren, was pansexual? It started to be clear in the first season, when Kathy Najimy, who plays my mother, says, “Lauren will sleep with anything that moves.” That’s when I said, “She’s definitely beyond bisexual. She’s likely fluid.” Then I understood pansexuality. Lauren is often the one who teaches her friends about new words to use when talking about sex, dating or non-heteronormative relationships. Do you have a friend like that? Yeah, his name is Nico Tortorella [who plays Josh on the show]. Nico and I are really close friends. He recently [decided] to use they/ them pronouns, and I have friends who go by they/them, which is why I went to Nico [to understand more]. We had a really intense, challenging, difficult, beautiful and ultimately very productive conversation.… It was actually really, really helpful. He’s on his own journey, and he’d be the first one to call it a journey. The beautiful thing is that he’s also trying to understand it. In the wake of these conversations, he said, “Molly, the way you challenged me helped me better define and understand my own relationship to it.” So I’m always learning from him. Has playing this character changed the way you see yourself? Completely. I was always involved in the queer community, and being a self-motivated, strong young person was always important to me.
Photos courtesy of: TV LAND
The beautiful thing about Lauren is that that is her identity. I think I identify first and foremost as a nervous, neurotic girl, and I’m learning that I’m actually an empowered, strong person. Lauren’s helped me see that. In other words, she’s helped me harness my own ferocity. Since you play a sex-positive publicist on a show from Sex and the City creator Darren Star, have you ever considered your character to be the 2010s’ Samantha Jones? Totally! Darren and I have talked about it. Samantha Jones is an over-the-top, fearless publicist, and I think there are a lot of similarities between them. When I was preparing to play Lauren, I re-watched all six seasons of Sex and the City and tried to harness some of my inner Sam Jones. Sex and the City’s costume designer Patricia Field has also worked on episodes of Younger. Has the show influenced your personal style? One hundred per cent! It has completely changed my relationship to fashion, and destroyed my bank account. My closet has grown tenfold since I started working on this show. I didn’t even own a pair of heels before Younger, and now I can’t have enough. We talked a bit about your friendship with Nico, but you’re also close with another one of your co-stars, Hilary Duff. What kind of things do you go to her for? Hilary has become one of my absolute best friends. We’ll do some damage together, shopping for shoes. We have so much fun. We laugh endlessly. She’s welcomed me into her family in the most generous way. I love her son, Luca. I went through a breakup last
year, and she called me daily just to check in. She was just so supportive and helpful. The women on Younger are all doing what they can to get ahead at work. Has that rubbed off on you at all? Oh yeah. I’m a really driven, passionate person, but I wear my emotions on my sleeve. If I’m having a bad day, I’m not so great at just getting over it. I feel like the women in the show are really empowered because they don’t let their emotions get the best of them. They’re such hard workers, and that has definitely inspired me. Lauren’s proactive, and that’s inspired me to be proactive. I’ll call my agents and say, “Don’t forget about me. I still want to do independent films and cool theatre gigs. Send me out for things you think I wouldn’t be right for.” I want to branch out and make sure that I can do other things. As an actress that’s important to me. Is there anything in particular that you’re hoping to tackle in the future? I went to the Yale School of Drama, so I want to do drama and not just comedy. I’m looking forward to starting rehearsals for a play at a small, off-Broadway theatre in August. Then I don’t know! I’m always like, “What’s next?” I’m always excited. Will you be catching up on TV shows at all this summer? I have so much catching up to do…The Crown, Broad City and RuPaul’s Drag Race. I also need to watch The Handmaid’s Tale, so I think that’s the first thing I’m going to start.
ERICA CUPIDO is a pop culture-obsessed freelance writer and editor based in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Flare, Hello! Canada and more. Find out what she’s watching, reading and listening to by following @ericacupido_ on social media.
WEAR YOUR PRIDE Wear it loud, wear it proud all summer long By Christopher Turner
If you want to make a statement this summer, why not wear it? Inspired by LGBTQ communities around the world, these Pride-inspired pieces also serve as reminders that the fight for tolerance, diversity and equality is ongoing. Here’s a roundup of some of our favourite rainbow designs you can pick up this summer. Converse Pride collection Converse has partnered with LGBTQ activist Miley Cyrus for its annual Pride collection. This summer, the iconic Chuck Taylor All Star sneaker gets a bright and bold makeover with various Pride-inspired versions of the classic HI and OX silhouettes. All net proceeds of the rainbow-inspired kicks will support LGBTQ+ youth community partners globally, including the Happy Hippie Foundation, It Gets Better Project, Minus 18 and RainbowYOUTH. Nike BeTrue collection All of the pieces in Nike’s 2018 BeTrue collection for men and women feature prominent symbols of pride that have been reclaimed by the LGBTQ community: the colour lavender and the pink triangle. The apparel collection includes tees, cushioned running socks, sunglasses, a hat and even a vintage-inspired hip pack, while the footwear collection features the Vapormax Plus, Air Max 270, Epic React and Zoom Fly. The items will be available at Nike Running locations and nike.com. Bonus? Nike is donating a portion of all BeTrue sales to organizations empowering the LGBT sports community. Frank And Oak Pride collection This summer, Frank And Oak introduced two gender-inclusive Pride designs to their popular And* collection, which is made by Petites-Mains, a Montreal-based organization devoted to helping women in need. This unisex collection includes a white T-shirt and a grey tank top, with $5 from the sale of each item being donated to Montréal Pride.
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Ink & Water Pride collection Toronto’s coolest tattoo shop is celebrating Pride by collaborating with the Get Real Movement, a Canadian non-profit organization whose mission is to energize LGBTQ+ youth and their allies to voice their stories. The cozy black sweatshirts feature a colourful TV test image, combined with the rainbow and everyday LGBTQ+ silhouettes. All profits go to the Get Real Movement. Levi’s Pride collection Levi’s fifth annual Pride collection celebrates inclusivity, acceptance, diversity and love with gender-neutral pieces including a rainbow-embroidered Trucker jacket, sleeveless tees in white and black, graphic logo tees and even 501 original cut-off shorts with rainbow details. One hundred per cent of proceeds go to the Harvey Milk Foundation and Stonewall Community Foundation. 30
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.
BEAUTY AND THE BEACH Beach nights; beach days
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Photography: Gastohn Barrios Producer: Sandro Bergamo Stylist: Junior Paixao Model: Paulo de Santos @ Fetiche Models
Blazer and pants: R. LAUREL Shoes: DR. MARTENS 32
On Marko: Blazer and pants: R. LAUREL On Tanya: Top and skirt pants: R. LAUREL Boots: BALENCIAGA 33
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FASHION Button down shirt: CHLOE Pants: R. LAUREL Boots: BALENCIAGA Swimsuit: SANDRO BERGAMO 35
HEAT WAVE Easy like Sunday morning
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Photography: Patrick Lacsina Editor: Danyl Geneciran Grooming: Mark Jordy Gonzales @ Judy Inc. using M.A.C Cosmetics Model: Dorian Reeves @ Plutino
Trousers:THE KOOPLES Underwear: CALVIN KLEIN 37
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Shirt:TED BAKER Trousers: THE KOOPLES 38
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Shirt: VINTAGE Jeans: ACNE
Jeans: RAG & BONE Denim Shirt: DIESEL
Sweater: RALPH LAUREN Pants: DOLCE & GABBANA
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IS THERE SUCH A THING AS GAY MUSIC? And do these musical stereotypes mean anything anymore? By Paul Gallant
On a recent trip to Mexico City, I met a composer of experimental music, who happens to be straight. His own work is noisy, abrasive stuff. Shaking his head and heaving the dejected sigh of someone lamenting a lost cause, he told me: “Gay people just like music that’s trashy or poshy.” I think his “poshy” comes from the stereotype of old Sweater Queens swooning to opera. Think of Tom Hanks as a dying gay man in Philadelphia, giving a befuddled Denzel Washington his Idiot’s Guide breakdown of Maria Callas’s “La Mamma Morta.” Which is to say: fussy, high-brow diva worship. But then, divas also play a role in the trashy side of the equation: Madonna’s earliest persona was slutty street urchin; Donna Summers made her name in a genre, disco, that was considered utterly disposable; and Lady Gaga’s opening salvo, “Just Dance,” was about someone too drunk to even know what club she was in. Kesha, Nicky Manaj, Britney—all of them are unapologetically vulgar and/or hypersexualized, while defiantly intent on being worshipped anyway.
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But do these stereotypes mean anything anymore? Millennials, raised on playlists and streaming services, don’t have to dif-
ferentiate between top-40 music and the music that, in earlier times, you had to spend months tracking down after hearing it once in a stranger’s bedroom. So their tastes rarely conform to expectations. As well, younger LGBT people have much less need to use music as a discreet “Friends of Dorothy” code for avoiding homophobes and making new friends. When I was first figuring out my sexuality, there was something delightful about listing Pet Shop Boys as one of my favourite bands (this was before singer Neil Tennant came out, so they were “gay” based merely on their aesthetic of ironic melancholy), and watching the other person’s face to see whether he got it or not. But who’d want to go back to the dark ages where you could get beat up for reflexively stink-eying Mötley Crüe? I called Avril Hensen, a cultural sociologist and a consultant for cultural enterprises in the Netherlands, who has written an academic paper on the role of sexual orientation in musical preferences. In summary, gay men, straight women and lesbians were more likely than straight men to like female artists. Lesbians stood out, not surprisingly, in their gravitation towards what Hensen calls “influential lesbian musicians,” like Dusty Springfield, k.d. lang and Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls. “But many people tell me I have the taste of a gay man,
which is totally a useless thing to say, I suppose,” says Hensen. “I totally embrace camp culture and diva culture, and so does my girlfriend.” In her study, respondents with high scores on “masculinity” stood out in having the lowest appreciation scores for “highbrow genres;” butch and posh still don’t mix.
Hensen had mentioned her gay taste in music in the same breath that she told me she was a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC), which this year took place May 8-12 in Lisbon. A cheese fest since 1956, the competition is both a badge of honour for many Eastern European countries—strangely, the more homophobic the country, the more seriously they take it—and a delight for Euroqueers. For North American gay men who can’t get into RuPaul’s Drag Race but miss the days of Judy Garland, ESC fills the gap. Queer and trans performers have peppered the ESC winner’s circle through the years (Israel’s Dana International in 1998, Austria’s Conchita Wurst in 2014), but ESC’s gay appeal, I’d argue, rests mostly on the ridiculously flamboyant straight male performers. Unselfconscious straight dudes tearing off their shirts can simultaneously be lusted after and laughed at. Pure camp.
Hensen’s research also found that danceable music, particularly 1980s/’90s electronic and pop, was considered to be related to a “homosexual lifestyle” by both LGBT and straight people. This makes sense. Regardless of what music we listen to in the privacy of our own homes (or earbuds), we can often tell when walking into a bar or club whether the place is gay or gay friendly by the soundtrack alone. Musical tribalism still exists on the dance floor. We might personally hate gay club music (“pots and pans” as my former colleague Charles Pavia used to call one particularly gay genre), but when we walk into a room that’s vibrating with it, we can relax, knowing we’re among The video for Ireland’s ESC entry this year, Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s family. In fact, that’s one of the great virtues of music. Though “Together,” features two guys dancing and holding hands on it can be affiliated with ethnicity and religion, it also has the the streets of Dublin’s Temple Bar. It’s a sweet song and video, power to transcend, allowing people from disparate backgrounds and people are wondering if Russia will ban its broadcast there, to find common ground. under Putin’s anti-gay propaganda law. But “Together” is too sincere and too self-consciously gay to push the buttons it needs The “homosexual lifestyle music” theory is supported by another in order to be popularized as “homosexual lifestyle music.” study, called “Into the Groove,” written by Alexander Dhoest, Robbe Herreman and Marion Wasserbauer at the University of One of the ironies of stereotypical LGBT taste is that it hasn’t Antwerp. “I didn’t know I had to like disco until I started going traditionally privileged LGBT performers (though, as Hensen to gay bars. It’s something that you learn, and that you come to discovered, that’s less true for lesbian tastes). The biggest associate with activities like going out,” says Dhoest, a professor queer stars, the Elton Johns and George Michaels, are so big who chairs the university’s Department of Communication we cannot lay claim to them; they belong to everyone. And Studies. “On the one hand, there is music that’s associated with once they’re no longer our little secret, they no longer help particular social scenes. But then if you look at music, it’s a us define ourselves and connect with fellow travellers. And medium where people express their individuality, so you might sometimes connection—rather than the sound in your ears—is also listen to music your friends don’t like.” music’s most seductive promise.
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, and is currently executive editor at BOLD magazine.
Splendour In Siem Reap The most popular tourist town in the Kingdom of Cambodia delivers down-to-earth hospitality with a side of high-style indulgence By Doug Wallace
It takes me a full five minutes to realize that the sumptuous digs I’ve stepped into on the outskirts of Siem Reap are our actual Villa Ni Say—not just a reception or common area, but our own private giant space. I nearly faint on the polished cement flooring. Tommy, the property manager—tall, blond, Belgian—is showing us around, but I’m not hearing a single word. I’m too busy gawking at the raised kitchen/bar island, the glossy wood furnishings and the giant glass walls that open like big, big doors out onto a tidy garden. Matte-black fans spin overhead and bright red chairs ring a hand-carved dining-room table. The outer courtyard gives way to a salt-water pool. Little geckos lounge on the walls, listening to our conversation, chiming in occasionally when they’re not fast asleep. We are in heaven. Tommy has hooked us up with this nifty villa for a few days before we check into another resort he runs in town. It turns out that he actually resides in one corner of the Ni Say, so it’s like we’re housemates. It doesn’t take us long to settle right in. I wasn’t expecting so much splendour in this little tourism town, considering Cambodia isn’t exactly known for its swellegance. But in addition to the busloads of visitors on a pilgrimage to the nearby ancient temple ruins of Angkor Wat and the carefree backpackers hanging out on Pub Street, Siem Reap has a refined side.
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“What I like the most about Siem Reap are the people and the vibe,” Tommy says. “Khmer people are very genuine and a delight to work with.” He has lived in Cambodia for eight years and is comfortable in the expat hospitality life, a community where there is an enormous mutual spirit of helping one another. “Attraction-wise, there are, of course, the magical temple complexes and the beautiful countryside, which is the perfect scenery for some nice bicycle trips,” he says. I take to the town instantly—the buzz of the motorbike-powered tuk-tuks, the smell of wood smoke and jasmine in the air, the lush green landscape, the exotic ambience. The fact that my dollar goes a long way also brightens my smile on more than a few occasions. This little city of 200,000 is subdued and a little shy, the people friendly and relaxed, and very practised at making tourists feel welcome—mostly by leaving them alone. “If they like you, they like you. If they don’t, you will notice,” Tommy says.
There are two sides to the main part of town, split by the Siem Reap River. The Old Market side is full of pedestrian markets, design stores and crafts stalls mixed with local businesses, plus the bar and café laneways that draw the crowds at sunset. On the other side of town, the quiet Wat Damnak side (so named after a landmark temple), we parade past a number of small boutique hotels, but none more gorgeous than our next home base, Rambutan Hotel & Resort, a little oasis on a pedestrian side street, about a five-minute walk from the busier part of town. It is a three-pronged property: a main hotel with 16 rooms, a 10-room resort wing and five luxury apartments. “People feel at home here. With the pool in the middle and the rooms built around it, it’s like Melrose Place,” Tommy says. “It’s not big, but there are enough corners that you can have your own quiet spot.” The hotel started off being super-gay, but now the clientele is very mixed. “We get the nice crowd, a mix of Americans, Canadians, Australians, Europeans, and those closer to home—Chinese, Japanese and Korean. We get a lot of solo women travellers, mostly older, who come back a few times a year.” Here, too, the style is what connects with us instantly—a mix of Balinese, French, Khmer and Indonesian elegance—things the owner has picked up in his travels over time. “Every room is different,” Tommy says. “The palm wood we are using is not tropical, so it’s harder, and environmentally better than teak. All the tiles are handmade locally in Siem Reap—even the new ones look like they’ve been there forever.” Tripping around in a tuk-tuk When we strike out one morning for a full day of temple-trekking, we opt to fit three of the more popular ruins into our agenda. You could easily spend a week combing through each of the temples, but we earmark just a day and make it work. At Banteay Srei, a 10th-century miniature temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, we marvel at the intricate red sandstone carvings. Despite their age, each piece tells a story so romantic you can easily see why this temple is a visitor favourite. Restoration is in full swing at nearby Ta Prohm, built in the late 12th century. This rejuvenation is taking place stone by stone, made more difficult by the number of extremely tall tetrameles trees that have grown
Photos: Doug Wallace and Tim Stewart 47
TRAVEL through the ruins over the centuries. The gem of the day is, of course, the giant Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world, built in the high classical style of Khmer architecture. We are stunned into silence by its majestic expanse, and by the myriad murals and intricate filigree.
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Our day in the countryside is countered with a town day doing nothing but wandering the shops, buying exquisite handwoven fabric, fingering the plethora of handbags, disappearing into the spas—which range from the simple to the sublime—and sitting on a patio whenever we feel like it, drinking in the atmosphere.
Later, Tommy takes us via tuk-tuk to Bar Code to watch the drag shows, which, even on a weeknight, draw local men and women, expats and tourists alike—it’s a fun mix. Happily, public awareness and acceptance of same-sex couples has been increasing since the 1990s. “Most Cambodian people, especially in the city, such as Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, are extremely gay-friendly towards foreigners—as long as it doesn’t happen in their own families,” Tommy says. “It will take some time before the Khmer generation accepts LGBT people. They still are a bit behind, but I have the feeling that it is slowly changing in a good direction.”
We start off most evenings having Tong the bartender mix us pepper-infused martinis at the Rambutan, and follow that with King Norodom Sihamoni and other government officials support visits to a few of Siem Reap’s many restaurants. same-sex marriage, though that reality is further down the road. And word on the street has it that even Prime Minister Hun Sen, A mouth-watering meal at the inexpensive Spoons turns out to who disowned his lesbian adopted daughter in 2007, has softened be one of the most delicious. It’s the local cooking school and his stance. Signs of things to come perhaps. hospitality training centre, so everyone is a student and we are the guinea pigs for the evening. We devour fresh spring rolls, chicken The Rambutan was ahead of this curve, supporting its gay staff satays, coconut red snapper, and a prawn and sweet potato curry. and welcoming a gay clientele since 2006. We are sad to pack The colours of the placemats here seem a bit familiar: a soft light up—particularly since our apartment is so gorgeous. We can’t blue and a dove grey. They turn out to be crocheted from leftover seem to locate Tommy when it comes time to go, so we head off fabric used to make cleaning cloths for luxury sunglasses by a to our cab, only to have him run up from behind with a big hug. company cleverly called Scrap. They also have a Rambutan Hotel in Phnom Penh. I start pricing At The Embassy, we experience an exquisite fine-dining Khmer flights the minute I get home. cuisine experience, plowing through a seven-dish set menu with four wine pairings, which is astoundingly inexpensive at $70. We When you go savour minced shrimp on rice crackers, beef cheek soup and steamed Siem Reap is a 30-minute flight from Phnom Penh and a white tuna, all beautifully presented. During one course, I brave two-and-a-half-hour flight from Hong Kong. The green season the red ant sauce, which tastes very like much roast beef gravy. starts in June, followed by the dry season in November. Try to One of the two talented chefs visits our table at the end, leaving avoid April and May, as ambient temperatures can hit 40°C. Visit us with a small box of fresh macaroons to go. TourismCambodia.com for more details.
DOUG WALLACE is the editor and publisher of travel resource TravelRight.Today.
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FLASHBACK JULY 6, 1992 IN LGBT HISTORY Marsha P. Johnson is found dead
Marsha P. Johnson was a transgender entertainer and activist at the forefront of some of the most pivotal moments in LGBT history. A veteran of the Stonewall Riots, she worked with Sylvia Rivera in the 1970s to found Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), an organization that provided shelter to homeless queer youth in New York City. Johnson also left her mark on the NYC cultural scene, posing for Andy Warhol and posthumously providing inspiration for the name of Antony Hegartyâ€™s band, Antony and the Johnsons. On July 6, 1992, her body was discovered floating in the Hudson River, near the Christopher Street piers. The police quickly ruled her death a suicide, despite the fact that her close friends and community members insisted Johnson was not suicidal and that the back of her head had a massive wound.
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Finally, in 2012, transgender activist Mariah Lopez got the New York City Police Department to reopen the investigation. The case officially remains open.
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JULY / AUGUST 2018
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