Page 1

out for


Bay Street’s

great Gay & Lesbian City Living | october 2014


season preview

Express yourself

gay way


mind, body, soul

Accessories add individual style to your wardrobe

Books Ann-Marie



Adult Onset A new

type of kid lit

open house:


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Downtown Toronto

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PUBLISHER Patricia Salib EDITOR Alan A Vernon Art director Nicolás Tallarico CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Gordon Bowness, Paul Gallant, Michael Pihach, Krishna Rau CONTRIBUTORs David Bateman, Savva Korovitsyn, Simone Lazzerini, Jem Lopez, Velocci Models, Adam Segal, Riley Stewart, Adam Webster

RCM_INTo_1/4page_4c_Oct14.qxp__V 2014-09-15 10:50 AM Page 1

ON the cover Photography Adam Webster Senior Account Directors Ryan Lester Woodrow Monteiro Marketing/sponsorship co-ordinator Patrick Forestell DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS Reggie Lanuza Controller Miki Ogiri OUR MISSION Inspire gay men and lesbians to live life to the fullest. Expand the gay and lesbian community by valuing diversity and individual choice. Celebrate Toronto. Provide readers with compelling news, information and entertainment.

Jeremy Denk SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2014 3PM KOERNER HALL “Mr. Denk, clearly, is a pianist you want to hear no matter what he performs.” (The New York Times) He will perform works by Janáček, Schubert, Mozart, and Schumann.



IN Magazine is published 12 times per year by The Mint Media Group. All rights reserved. 182 Davenport Rd, Suite 300, Toronto, ON, M5R 1J2


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issue 53

october 2014

views | living & design | insight | events | Arts & entertaiNment






18 living & design 06 | open house The world’s most expensive treehouse 16 | Fitness A healthy lifestyle includes a fit mind and body 18 | fashion It’s all about the accessories

insight 24 | Out and Proud on Bay Meet some of the future role

models of the LGBT community

EVENTS 26 | get out Places to go, people to see

Arts & entertaiNment 28 | books For Ann-Marie MacDonald’s latest novel, Adult Onset, the author taps into her own painful memories of growing up

30 | books Removing gender stereotypes from our children’s literature 32| stage Another titillating season at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

out on the town 34 | caught in the act Party pics

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O pe n H o u s e

Math mansion → MOMA director calls Integral House one of the ‘most important private houses in North America.’ House aside, philanthropist and calculus textbook author Jim Stewart has had a lasting impact on LGBT culture and community Story Michael Pihach | Photography Riley Stewart


fter mathematician Jim Stewart made millions penning textbooks that would find their way to the top of almost every calculus syllabus, he built an 18,000 square-foot home that the director of the Museum of Modern Art calls one of the “most important private houses in North America.” Stewart’s sprawling pad, aptly named Integral House, is an architectural marvel that transcends the boundaries of design, combining music, performance and philanthropy under one spectacular roof. Located on the edge of a lush ravine in Toronto’s prestigious Rosedale, Integral House, designed by Toronto firm Shim-Sutcliffe Architects, was built in 2008 after taking six years of planning, on account of the unique wooden and etched blue glass curves that grace the building’s perimeter. And the home’s reported price tag? Would you believe $30 million?

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Living & Design

From the street, Stewart’s home looks like a two-storey sanctuary, gently tucked away into a nook of majestic oak and maple trees. But inside, it’s a fivestorey expanse, from the treetop view of Stewart’s sunlit bedroom to the multi-level entrance hall, a concert space replete with concrete stairs and custom-sewn leather handrails designed to accommodate an orchestra and up to 350 guests. It’s here, says Stewart, where Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman would like to record her next album. The home’s bottom floor includes an art gallery, gym and a pool that seamlessly spills into a backyard ravine. The indoor pool itself is a marvel; at the flick of a switch an entire wall of glass disappears into the floor. At this point of the tour you start → F-STOP: Filmmaker Joseph Clement (left, opposite page) poses with Jim Stewart at his home this past summer.

to wonder if you’re in Iron Man Tony Stark’s private retreat. But as fascinating as Integral House may be, none of it is as compelling or interesting as homeowner Stewart. The Torontonian, who grew up near Finch and Bathurst, wrote his first calculus textbook (at the request of his students) in 1987 while teaching at McMaster University in Hamilton. Stewart’s gift for explaining complex sequences and series re-defined the math world and made his book a worldwide bestseller by 1992. Today, around 90 per cent of Canadian and 70 per cent of U.S. college students use his many textbooks. Stewart also happens to be an accomplished violinist. He was concertmaster of the McMaster Symphony Orchestra for many years and played professionally in the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. (Ironically, the Continued on page 13

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→ orchestra pit The accoustics at Integral House are so good Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman wants to record her next album here.

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Living & Design

→ TREEHOUSE The pool (opposite page) has a retracting wall of glass that opens up to a ravine and wildlife.

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Living & Design Continued from page 9

shape of the integral symbol in mathematics is the same of the f-holes in a violin). But perhaps the most unexpected side to Stewart is his role as an activist in the gay liberation movement of the 1970s. Inspired by the late George Hislop, Stewart was responsible for leading the gay rights movement in Hamilton back when gay parades were political marches comprised of a dozen or so brave souls with the courage to be out and proud. Today, Stewart’s role in supporting the LGBT community is an important one, as the mathematician with a big heart often lends his home to charitable organizations to host fundraisers that raise big bucks, such as last year when 300 of Toronto’s leading donors to LGBT and HIV/ AIDS charities stepped into his home as part of the LGBT Giving Network’s annual philanthropic recognition event. “His amazing home has hosted many events supporting causes that he is passionate about: music, the arts, academic interests and LGBT human rights,” says Doug Kerr, co-chair of the LGBT Giving Network. Stewart, who is battling bone cancer, is the subject of an upcoming documentary, called The Integral Man, which sheds light on the mansion that math built, but more poignantly, on the life of the man who lives there. “There’s all these things beyond math that Jim has done that have had a deep and lasting impact on our culture, as gay men, as artists, as thinkers and as creators. I really want people to understand the impact,” says the film’s writer and director Joseph Clement, who’s spent the last year filming Jim in his home and at the events he hosts there. The film includes interviews with MOMA art director Glenn Lowry, celebrated photographer Edward Burtynsky and former U of T Dean of Architecture Larry Richards. We sat down with Stewart to discuss how Integral House came to be, his early years as a gay activist, and why owning a

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Living & Design Ferrari isn’t necessarily a free pass to throw a party at his home. What was your vision of Integral House before it was built? I told my architects I had two basic requirements. [Firstly], I wanted curves. Some people say, why curves? Well, I’m a mathematician. There’s only one straight line. They all have the same shape, whereas there’s an infinite variety of curves. Calculus could be regarded as the mathematics of curves. They’re more interesting. [Secondly], I wanted a flexible performance space so I could put on events. Though it’s a large space, it’s not overwhelming because it’s divided into more intimate spaces within the large space. You live here all by yourself. Does it ever get lonely? If I’m lonely, I invite people over. A lot of people say, “18,000 square feet. Are you afraid of being here by yourself?” No. Why would I be afraid? I exalt in this space. I spend most of my time at my desk in my office. You’re known primarily as a

calculus genius and best-selling textbook author. Are people ever surprised to learn you’re gay? I’m not sure how well it is known within the mathematics community. I’ve certainly never hidden it with being a gay activist from day one. To what extent should the personal life of a textbook author affect sales? Hopefully not. It doesn’t seem to affect my books anyways. Tell me about your early years as a gay activist. I started teaching at McMaster University in the early ’70s and in 1972 I led the gay liberation movement in Hamilton. It was the coming thing. Toronto’s had been going for a year or two under George Hislop. But nothing was happening in Hamilton. I was then a newly hired assistant professor and I invited George Hislop to McMaster to give a talk, hoping that an organization would evolve out of the conversation. And after his talk that’s exactly what happened. Those were heavy days. The parade was just a few stragglers walking down the

street. How it has evolved. Back then I never dreamed that we’d have things like gay marriage. It just fulfilled all my hopes and desires. Your home has a reputation for hosting lavish parties and fundraisers, many of which have supported the arts and the LGBT community. I support causes that are near and dear to my heart. The very first fundraising event I hosted was for [the University of Toronto’s] Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies. They sold 300 tickets at $350 each. You must get bombarded with requests to host parties in your home. I throw two types of events: there are fundraisers for organizations that bring in star performers. Others I organize myself that are not fundraisers, such as my own concerts I put on. I don’t host more than a dozen parties a year. Otherwise it takes over. I get a lot of requests, the vast majority of which I have to turn down. Who have you turned down?

I got a request from the Ferrari Owners Club to hold an event. It just didn’t seem to be a good fit with this house. I also get requests to hold celebrity parties during TIFF. I turn those down. The damage, wear and tear—I’m suspicious of these things. Do you ever feel like you’re taking a risk by inviting hundreds of strangers into your home on a regular basis? Sometimes that becomes an issue. By turning down the Ferrari owners and glamorous TIFF things, I’m minimizing the damage that can occur. Usually people are wellbehaved. Except at my Pride party two years ago, but we won’t get into that. What will become of Integral House when your time has passed? I’m thinking of setting up a foundation to administer the house and permit tours and events for the next few years. The Integral Man is scheduled to be completed by spring 2015. For more on the feature documentary, go to

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Evan spergel “Fitness is about how you feel, not about how you look,” says actor and aspiring personal trainer Evan Spergel. The 25-year-old has used fitness as a means for feeling good his entire life. When Spergel was growing up, it was common for him to hear kids in his class say, “That’s gay,” when referring to anything that was bad. “I used to wish I was straight when blowing the candles out on my birthday cake,” says Spergel, who came out at 17. “I took those wishes so seriously.” It was athletic activities that kept Spergel’s mind on track. Dancing, gymnastics and diving were his passions, and he pursued all of them, even if his peers thought they were gay-looking. “Whether I was dancing or diving, I always felt masculine, regardless of what I was doing,” he says. Spergel went on to obtain a degree in art direction and advertising, and then later a diploma in musical theatre.But the time pressures of being a student, combined with a bad break-up, soon left his fitness aspirations in limbo. He was 24, felt out of shape and was taking anti-depressants. He’d also succumbed to the pressures many in the gay community face regarding body image, so much so that he avoided gay bars altogether. It wasn’t until Spergel found CrossFit that his life turned around and his confidence soared. “You go in and you sweat your ass off. It’s not going to feel good, but you keep challenging yourself, and that’s what’s stimulating,” says Spergel of the intense conditioning program that can include squats, pushups, skipping, weights and box jumps in a single session. “It’s about putting your body into shock. You do the exercises as fast as you can. Some people puke when they start CrossFit, but when you start seeing results, you feel great.” Spergel’s progress this past year has even inspired his mother to start exercising. “When you start living your life by inspiring others, you can actually start inspiring yourself,” he says. One year after falling in love with CrossFit, Spergel no longer takes prescription pills and has improved his diet by consuming natural sugars and making his own protein bars. And while he’s ready to take on any challenge—be it perfecting his backflips or fitting in at a gay bar—Spergel feels he’s won the biggest battle of all: feeling happy with himself. “Looks come with fitness, but when you start working out, you become happier and you’re nicer to people,” he says. “It’s a wonderful snowball.”

Story: Michael Pihach Photography: Riley Stewart

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Shoes: Nike Lunar TR1 shirt: PRO COMBAT HYPERCOOL 2.0 FITTED shorts: SPEEDVENT STRETCH WOVEN TRAINING Location: Academy Of Lions

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‘a’ is for accessorize Photography & styling: Adam Webster Savva KOROVITSYN & simone LAZZERINI (velocci models) Makeup and grooming: Jem Lopez

wrapped and ready

scarf: rag & bone cardigan: theory shirt: naked & Famous (All available at holt renfrew) jeans, cap: zara

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suspenders: tip top shirt: zagiri pants, belt: H&M watch: emporio armani shoes: aldo socks: calvin klein

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cold season

gloves: calvin klein sweater: H&M jeans: energie scarf: zara bracelet: kate wren

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make it brief

cellphone case: fossil watch: fossil leather brief: tumi turtleneck: zara belt, jeans: gap

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wrist action

bracelet, ring: david yurman leather cuff: Yves Saint Laurent sweater: gap pants, suspenders: H&M

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clutch crutch

silver pendant: king baby watch: burberry clutch: skagen cardigan: selected homme jeans: scotch & soda

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professional pride → Out on Bay Street has helped convince corporate Canada that embracing sexual diversity is good for business Story Krishna Rau


or Adam Goldenberg, being a young lawyer in Toronto was a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, for him, he could turn to Out On Bay Street, an advocacy group for young gay professionals, to help him get settled. “For those of us who arrive in Toronto, it can be a bit intimidating,” says Goldenberg. “We are historically a marginalized group. When I first got a job at a law firm on Bay Street, Out On Bay Street is the organization I turned to to find other young LGBT professionals. They put me in the same room, literally, with those who have formed the basis of my professional network. It gives you a place to start and gives you a sense of support.” And at the annual conference of Out On Bay Street (OOBS) in September, Goldenberg was honoured with the Emerging Leader Award, for his work as the co-founder of Teach for Canada. The organization addresses the crisis in education in First Nations and remote Canadian communities by training teachers to work in those areas and helping those communities to retain teachers. Now Goldenberg is overwhelmed all over again, this time at receiving the award from OOBS. “It’s an extraordinary honour and an intimidating honour,” he says. “When you’re recognized early in your career, it puts pressure on you to continue along the same trajectory. I don’t want to let Out On Bay Street down.” Certainly, over the seven

years of its existence, Out On Bay Street has built up quite a reputation as a resource for young professionals. As one of several groups advocating for gay professionals, OOBS has helped to open up the normally starchy and staid world of Bay Street to sexual diversity, and, in so doing, helped to convince corporate and professional Canada that embracing diversity is good for business. OOBS focusses on LGBT post-secondary students who plan to enter the professional world, particularly in finance or law. The organization holds monthly socials and recruitment fairs throughout the year that offer students and young gays the chance to meet with older gay professionals and with business, law and technology companies interested in recruiting young workers. It also offers a speaker series and the annual Leaders to Be Proud of Awards, which recognize role models and community leaders on LGBTQ issues, workplace diversity and inclusiveness. OOBS also holds an annual conference and career fair each September, which brings together students from across the country to meet with professionals and mentors. At the conference, the Leaders to Be Proud Of Awards are presented. As well as Goldenberg, this year’s

winners include the Lifetime Achievement Award to Salah Bachir, the president of Cineplex Media, for his philanthropy and leadership of gay organizations. Ed Clark, the president and CEO of TD Bank, won the Leading Executive Ally Award for his work on TD’s groundbreaking sponsorships and investments

in corporate Canada. “What we try to help students with is which organizations support them and are looking for people of diverse backgrounds,” says Kaur. “What helps a lot is hearing other people’s stories. Out On Bay Street provides mentorship and role models in that area. We do a lot of

in the gay community, and in supporting diversity within its own workplace. The annual conference also sees the awarding of two scholarships to LGBT students. This year’s winners are Caroline Trottier-Gascon from the University of Montreal, and Evan Rankin from the University of Toronto Law School. These events, says OOBS president Japneet Kaur, help students realize that it is possible to be themselves as they move into their professional lives, even

→ role models (From left) Emerging Leader Award winner Adam Goldenberg; Out on Bay Street President Japneet Kaur; David Spence, first year law associate with Stikeman Elliott.

mentorship. Knowing that these professionals are bringing their authentic selves to work makes them great role models. “It empowers students. A lot of doubts and sometimes even misinformation disappears. It kind of sounds cliche, but culture’s really important. When

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you’re looking for a job, you’re looking not only for teamwork and all that, but for whether the company is really looking for diversity. The companies sponsoring Out On Bay Street are the ones putting diversity as one of their pillars.” For David Spence, now a first year associate with the prominent Toronto law firm of Stikeman Elliott, OOBS helped to convince him that sort of openness did exist among big firms. “I had heard that Out On Bay Street was a good way to connect with law firms. But the legal world has always lagged behind the financial world when it comes to acceptance and diversity. I was a little bit apprehensive. But I got to meet LGBT lawyers who

worked on Bay Street. It gave me confidence to be myself. “Today most of the firms are very open. I still use Out On Bay Street events to connect with students who are coming up through law school. It’s a chance for them to meet people like me who are working on Bay Street. You need those role models. I never saw it as a huge obstacle, and I hope students today feel confident putting down that they’re LGBT.” Kaur says OOBS is now working on expanding beyond its

traditional areas of business and law, and is now working with more technology companies and especially engineering firms and students. She says the organization is also working on expanding beyond Toronto and even Ontario, looking to work with companies and students from across the country. But for all its focus on establishing a culture of diversity and acceptance among Canada’s corporations, OOBS is also prepared to resort to old-fashioned activism when needed. The group has filed a request to intervene in the appeal being filed by Trinity Western University against the Law Society of Upper Canada’s decision not to recognize TWU’s law school. The University makes students sign a pledge to abstain from homosexuality. The factum filed with the court by OOBS states that: “Out On Bay Street believes that requiring students, on pain of sanction, to abstain from ‘sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman’ is inherently discriminatory to LGBTQ students at or applying to TWU, and is particularly exclusionary towards trans-identified people and both married and unmarried same-sex couples. It erects a significant barrier to legal education for these students by effectively making them ineligible for scarce law school positions.... Out On Bay Street has a special interest and concern in ensuring that LGBTQ students’ access to legal education and the legal profession is offered on equitable terms, based on merit and qualifications.” And when it comes to the two scholarship awards OOBS awards each year at its annual conference, recognizing activism and community involvement is high on the agenda. Evan Rankin and Caroline Trottier-Gascon, this year’s winners—the awards are in their second year—are both deeply involved in fighting for the rights of LGBT people, both at home and abroad. And

as students, both are also deeply thankful for the $2,500 that comes with each award. Trottier-Gascon, a grad student in history at the University of Montreal, is extremely active in the trans community in Montreal and the province. She says her involvement began with the student strike in Quebec in 2012, and in her undergraduate years. “I was the secretary-general of the student association. I started being involved in the trans community in my last couple of months. Transitioning trans women have a lot of problems the university doesn’t recognize. There are problems with bathrooms, there are problems with changing IDs. There are problems with university clinics. There was no policy allowing me to change my name. At the moment, we have to come out to our teacher. It forces us to be in dangerous situations. I went to our LGBTQIA association, trans people were not there, there was no political side to it. “I helped organize the first trans march in Montreal this summer. I organized a roundtable discussion in French. I’m working on organizing all the CEGEP and university groups that work on LGBT issues to work on trans-inclusive policies. We’re trying to unite our efforts.” Trottier-Gascon says the money is a tremendous windfall for her, although she jokes that she “spent all of it to look beautiful for the ceremony.” She says she’s also very proud of the recognition. “I don’t think there are many initiatives like this. I’m not just a mercenary, it’s a recognition for volunteer work, which is basically free. It showcases how much of a better person I’ve become in the past three years.” Rankin, in his second year at U of T’s law school, says he jumped at the chance to apply for the scholarship. “U of T’s tuition is so high I really couldn’t afford not to apply. But it was also really nice to be recognized. I think it was just luck that I got it. I think I’ve done some good work, but

lots of people have done a lot more.” Rankin sat on the governance committee for Pride Toronto leading up to this summer’s WorldPride, but has done most of his volunteer work internationally. He worked for the United Nations in Bangkok on HIV-related issues, looking especially at legal regimes in Southeast Asia as they apply to HIV and AIDS, such as the criminalizing of same-sex relationships, sex work and drug use. He also explored how legal frameworks, such as public nuisance laws in Russia, are being used to harass gay men and sex workers. “The fun part of that was not just the work, but that I was there in the middle of the coup in Thailand,” he says. “I was living in the middle of the antigovernment zone. I felt perfectly safe until the day of the coup, when a grenade went off a block away. But it didn’t seem like the LGBT community had been affected in any significant way.” But with his future set for Bay Street, Rankin says OOBS is important both for opening up the corporate world and for rewarding activism. “Being LGBT is still a disadvantage in many professional circles, which are still very much straight white boys clubs. There are problems with homophobia and acceptance of diversity. It’s important to have conversations about how young LGBT professionals can move themselves forward in environments that are not necessarily the most welcoming. “But it’s also important to show that working on Bay Street isn’t necessarily incompatible with doing human rights work or work on LGBT issues.” In the end, though, says Spence, the biggest contribution OOBS makes may be simply providing reassurance to young LGBT students contemplating a career in the professional world. “Be confident. Don’t be afraid to tell people you’re LGBT. It makes you interesting.”

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Get out october Events 9




For more than 40 years, Arthur Elgort’s take on fashion has appeared regularly on the covers and in spreads of Vogue, as well as other top fashion mags. He has shot important advertising campaigns for leading fashion houses including Yves St Laurent, Chanel, Valentino and Oscar del la Renta. The Big Picture exhibition marks his Canadian debut. To Nov 24. Izzy Gallery. 106 Yorkville Ave.

Now in its sixth year, TEDxToronto is Canada’s largest TEDx event, a platform for ideas and a catalyst for change. Included in the lineup is Sabrina Jalees (pictured), who speaks on the confluence between humour and tolerance, and the important day when she came out to her Muslim family. Koerner Hall. 273 Bloor St W.

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comedy › ADAM SANK

Openly gay stand-up comic Adam Sank makes his Canadian debut. His self-deprecating, slightly naughty brand of story-telling has landed him on spots on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, FOX’s Laughs, VH1’s I Love the 2000s, CNN’s @This Hour and World’s Dumbest Criminals. The Huffington Post says, “Sank evokes Danny Kaye by way of Howard Stern.” Flying Beaver Pubaret. 488 Parliament St.



Young People’s Theatre opens its season with the stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Directed by Allen MacInnis, To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming-of-age story that examines racial injustice in Depression-era Alabama through the eyes of a child. It became both a critical success and an instant bestseller when first published in 1960. The book was later made into an Academy Award-winning film. To Nov 2. Young People’s Theatre. 165 Front St E.

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The 15th annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is the world’s largest indigenous festival showcasing innovation in film, video, radio and new media. The fest presents distinctive works from Canada and around the globe, reflecting the diversity of the world’s Indigenous nations and illustrating the vitality and excellence of Native art and culture in contemporary media. Programming includes Clan (Oct 24), starring James Saunders (pictured centre), about a young two-spirited man rejected by his family who rebuilds his life and finds renewed strength after joining The Convicts Rugby Club. To Oct 26. Various venues.


books › International festival of authors

The Festival’s 11-day line-up includes more than 100 authors writing in genres from memoir to historical fiction, literary thriller to crime. Expect Ann-Marie MacDonald (pictured), Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning authors David Bergen and Joseph Boyden; Canadian memoirists Julie Angus, George Fetherling, Catherine Gildiner and David Macfarlane. To Nov 2. Harbourfront Centre. 207, 235 Queens Quay W. (For more on the IFOA, go to page 28.)

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Two presentations by acclaimed choreographer Sylvia Bouchard explore and reveal our basic human dilemmas: L’éternel Voyage (pictured) is a call to fully savour the moments that are precious to us. Within this unsettling terrain, we witness three characters who learn to trust the beating of their own heart. Also included in the program is L’implorante, which tells the story of a choreographer who becomes fascinated by the emotional power of Camille Claudel’s sculpture in an all-consuming search through Claudel and Auguste Rodin’s personal letters. To Oct 25. Harbourfront Centre Theatre. 231 Queen’s Quay W.

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Canada’s largest art fair celebrates its 15th anniversary with an exhibition of artwork from a select group of Canadian and international galleries, plus a showcase of large-scale installation-based work by Canadian artists, including BGL, Thrush Holmes and Amalie Atkins. Other artists include Stephen Andrews and Cree artist Kent Monkman (pictured). To Oct 27. Metro Toronto Convention Centre (North Building). 255 Front St W.

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Northbound Leather’s 18th annual fetish fashion show, Scandal, promises a night of fun and fashion, dungeons and dance. Fetish meets ready-to-wear and high fashion, the show unveils an original collection of period inspired designs. Strict dress code in effect: leather, PVC, sex wear, drag, uniforms, gothic, rubber. Polson Pier. 11 Polson St.

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Arts & Entertainment B o o ks

Lab rat → Ann-Marie MacDonald returns from ‘exile’ with her dark and disturbing Adult Onset Story Krishna Rau | Photography Guntar Kravis


nn-Marie MacDonald doesn’t pretend that writing her new novel, Adult Onset, was easy. The book, MacDonald’s first novel since 2003, is deeply rooted in her own history, exploring issues of family, childraising, abuse, sexual orientation, exile and pain, both physical and emotional. “It was incredibly hard, really, really hard,” she says. “I was my own lab rat. I donated my own tissue. Only there was no anesthesia.” MacDonald says her two children—with her spouse, theatre director Alisa Palmer—led to the delay in writing, but also contributed to the autobiographical subject matter. “I didn’t even attempt to write any fiction until my youngest daughter was five. I didn’t want to take on the psychic marathon that is writing a novel. On and off, it took me about four years, which is about half the time it took me for the previous one. The lion’s share of my attention was really focussed on my children. “I knew I wasn’t going to have time to travel for research. That left me with what was in my own kitchen. I said, ‘I guess it’s going to be pasta.’ There’s always pasta in the cupboard. Who knew pasta could be so frightening?” The book itself, while featuring its share of humour and depictions of domestic bliss, is shot through with darkness, and has pain as an ongoing theme. Protagonist Mary Rose MacKinnon, a successful writer and mother, struggles with a physical, perhaps imaginary, pain in her arm from childhood bone cysts, an ailment she is increasingly convinced stems from possible childhood abuse, abuse she is scared she will visit upon her own two children. That leads to

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Arts & Entertainment some the book’s most frightening passages: “She seizes the little arms, ‘STOP IT!’ resisting the impulse to lift her child and slam her back down onto the steps. ‘DON’T DO THAT!’ Resisting the impulse to yank her up, up from the steps and haul her across the kitchen floor by her elbow—instead she rages into the child’s face, ‘DON’T YOU EVER HIT ME!’ She is not doing it, but she can see herself doing it. Up by the elbow like a chicken by the wing, and she does not do this, the harder she squeezes, as though to keep herself from merging with the phantom self that is giving in to lust, sobbing for release, the desire to—Her hands spring open, “I DIDN’T HURT YOU!” All of it, MacDonald says, is deliberately based on her own experience. “It’s been profound for me. I never thought I would be married, I never thought I would be anybody’s mother. Writing about it, fictionalizing it while I was experiencing it was the hardest. This was the first time I wrote from the here and now. To get enough distance to write about it was challenging.” But even though the novel paints a frequently disturbing picture of motherhood, MacDonald says she’s not worried about her children reading the book, largely because she doesn’t expect them to pore through it any time soon. “I will be giving them each a copy, signed. I think one of them has already started. She said, ‘There’s a typo.’ My blood ran cold, although the typo turned out to be deliberate. No, they’re much more interested in reading Percy Jackson. “I’m actually proud of it. I write from compassion, usually for other people. But I very much wanted to write a witnessing of my own. I did share it with members of my immediate family. I had to proceed with extreme caution, but there will be some interesting conversations.” Mary Rose, in trying to come to terms with her childhood, also has to come to terms with her aging parents and her own experience of being disowned for her sexual

orientation. Some of the things Mary Rose’s parents say to her when they disown her—“You’re saying to the world, ‘I had a terrible mother, I had a terrible father;’” “I’d rather you were burnt at the stake;” “I’d rather you’d never been born;” “If you had a broken leg, we would take you to a doctor. In this case, it is your mind that is broken;”—will be painfully familiar to many gay or lesbian readers. But MacDonald says she wanted to write about that experience because her own ordeal has indelibly shaped her own life. “I wanted to explore my own experience of exile, of being shunned for my sexuality. Am I guilty of romanticizing oppression? Probably. But when you’ve lived a chunk of your life in exile, your formative years, it forms a number of your habits. As with war veterans, some of the most cherished memories will be from the heart of trauma. “But you can’t build a life from trauma. You can’t stay there. I’m 55. Youthful truculence and bravado would be pretty unbecoming at this point. However, exile is hard, but returning from exile can be harder. Anyone who was tortured remains tortured.” MacDonald also writes vividly about how Mary Rose’s troubled childhood and experience of pain continue to permeate her relationship with her wife, Hilary. “Mary Rose bored her knuckles into her scalp, rigid with anger, furious at herself for being furious. The only way to get unfurious would be to have a huge fight with Hilary, during which Hil would unleash her victimy wrath before becoming rehumanized in Mary Rose’s eyes by crying, after which she would reassuringly resume her pedestal by being coldly critical of Mary Rose, who would silently batter her own head and wind up rocking in the fetal position on the guest room bed so as not to wake the children while she waited for the corrosive tide of neurochemicals to retreat, repenting of everything, most fervently of the fact that she had ever been born. Unless Hil was going to slap her.” It wasn’t emotionally easy to

write about pain, says MacDonald, especially the depictions of physical pain that permeate this novel, both literally and as metaphor. But she says she didn’t have trouble finding the words. “I was surprised to find I had a lot of words for pain. It’s a poetry that gets under your consciousness and into your body. Then it’s my job as a writer to provide some sort of balm.” And as for her own balm, like any good Canadian, MacDonald finds it in sports. “I would recommend hockey. I play in

a women’s league, it’s just a cornerstone for me.” And when it comes to her children, MacDonald jokingly hopes that watching her struggle with the writing of Adult Onset will deter them from purusing literary careers. “If I managed to divert my children from my fate, I’ve done my job.”

Adult Onset. Knopf Canada. 416 pages. $32 International Festival of Authors. Oct 23Nov 2. Harbourfront Centre.

Others to see at the International Festival of Authors Emma Donoghue

The Irish-born Donoghue, who now resides in London, Ontario specializes in historical fiction. Her novels include the bestselling Room, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, as well as Slammerkin, Life Mask and The Sealed Letter. Her new novel, Frog Music, is set in San Francisco in 1876, among a smallpox epidemic, crime and violence. The story is based on the real-life shooting of Jenny Bennet, a cross-dresser who made a living by supplying area restaurants with frog legs.

Christos Tsiolkas

The Australian novelist, also a playwright and screenwriter, won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal and the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction, and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, for his novel Slap. His new novel, Barracuda, his fifth, tells the story of a young student and swimmer, struggling with class, race and sexual confusion in Australia. The novel tells a coming-of-age story set against anger, violence and the world of competitive swimming. Louise Welsh

Colm Tóibín

The British writer of novels including The Cutting Room and The Girl on Tóibín, one of Ireland’s most the Stairs has won the John Creasy acclaimed modern writers, is the Memorial Dagger and the Saltire author of seven acclaimed novels, Society First Book of the Year including The Blackwater Lightship, a awards. She has also written short finalist for the Booker; The Master, the stories and magazine articles, and International IMPAC Dublin Literary written for radio and theatre. Her Award winner; and Brooklyn, which new novel, A Lovely Way to Burn, is won the Costa Novel Award. His new the first novel in her Plague Times novel, Nora Webster, set in smalltrilogy. The whodunnit, set amidst town Ireland in the 1960s, explores a new flu-like pandemic, known as the story of a young widow struggling “the sweats,” features her heroine, to survive with her four children, while former journalist Stevie Flint, trying ignoring the pain and grief tearing to determine whether her boyfriend is her family apart, until years later, she just another victim of the pandemic or finds solace in the beauty of music. of something much more sinister.

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Arts & Entertainment b o o ks

Fitting in → Authors Dustin Milligan and S Bear Bergman usher in a new generation of LGBT-oriented kid lit Story Paul Gallant → LONG TIME COMING The Charter for Children series was first conceived in 2006 by Dustin Mulligan (left), a commerical lawyer in Toronto..


h, they’ve worked hard, those serious, sweet, early books that queered up kid’s lit. Lesléa Newman’s Heather Has Two Mommies provoked conservative backlash from almost the moment it was

first published in 1989. And she was just the first. Former US presidential hopeful Sarah Palin, back when she was a councilwoman in Wasilla, Alaska, suggested Michael Willhoite’s Daddy’s Roommate didn’t belong in a public library,

even though she hadn’t even read the book. Here in Canada, it seems like Asha’s Mums, by Rosamund Elwin and Michele Paulse, Belinda’s Bouquet, also by Newman, and One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dads, by Johnny Valentine and

Melody Sareck, the three books infamously banned by the Surrey Board of Education in British Columbia, spent more time in courtrooms than in classrooms. Not only did those early titles have to kick against the censorious pricks, they had to do a lot of heavy lifting in letting kids know, well, uh, it may be, sort of, if it’s cool, that some grownups were, maybe, perhaps, gay or lesbian, whatever that was. Mostly, these books provided kid-friendly framing devices for topics previously considered adults-only. Whoever the guy is who’s putting sunscreen on dad’s back, Willhoite’s book suggests, “dad and his friend are very happy together, and that’s why I am happy too.” Decisively non-provocative, these pioneering books were intended as balm against misunderstanding. And they paved the way for a new generation of LGBT-oriented children’s books that don’t have to work so hard to prove LGBTs exist. These books can have fun. They can be less single-minded. And they can be a jumping-off point to learn about other things, not just that your parents aren’t freaks. Toronto publisher Flamingo Rampant (flamingorampant. com) undertook a successful kickstarter campaign this summer to raise money for a sixbook subscription series of books that will emphasize storyline, mystery and humour, as well as characters from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and from a variety of sexual identity

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Arts & Entertainment

→ GENDERLESS S Bear Bergman

(above) is interested in creating worlds where gender identity is irrelevant.

situations. Focussing on people who might be trans or, for the younger crowd and those who don’t believe in male/female binaries, gender independent, the series is meant to round out children’s book collections by honouring an array of identities. “We made a big bet there were parents who would be really enthusiastic to own books that had a wide variety of families and kids in them if they were available to them,” says S. Bear Bergman, who runs the press with partner j Wallace and who wrote a book of short poems, Is That for a

Boy or a Girl?, for the series. By subscribing to a series written by multiple authors, parents don’t have to worry about matching up a protagonist’s identity with their child’s identity. Perhaps that’s a futile effort, anyway. In his two previous books for kids, The Adventures of Tulip, Birthday Wish Fairy, about a trans girl, and Backwards Day, about a trans boy, Bergman says the parents who bought both books were surprised by which one their children preferred. “It was unpredictable which would be the kid’s favourite. It had very little to do with their own gender situation or identity,” says Bergman. In his book for the series, Bergman tried to get around binary gender, allowing

for more fluidity, questioning and independence from male and female identities. Sounds highminded, but it’s also silly fun. While some of the books in the Flamingo Rampant series have already been written, some are still in progress. Matching authors with the best illustrator is one of the biggest challenges. With the younger set, less can be much more. “In children’s books, a lot of the detail comes across in the illustrations,” says Bergman. Meanwhile, Ottawa-based DC Canada Education Publishing ( has just finished publishing a series of 14 books called The Charter for Children. Each book, set in a different province or territory, tells a story that grapples with an aspect of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Plight Beneath the Northern Light, set in Nunavut, examines the right to meet and form groups. The Case of the Missing Montreal Bagel, set in Quebec, plays with ideas around the right to privacy and security. Series author Dustin Milligan saved The Two Two-Eyed Potatoes, about “the right to choose a best friend,” for his home province of Prince Edward Island. Which seems a bit audacious. PEI was, along with Alberta, the province most resistant to the legalization of same-sex marriage, though things have settled down in the last few years. “It’s a struggle being gay in a small community,” says Milligan, about his decision to set the “gay” book on PEI. A commercial lawyer now based in Toronto, he also happens to be the son of a former Prince Edward Island politician. “You grow up not knowing anyone you can identify with.

Even today, I underestimate the sense of isolation I felt.” Milligan first conceived the series in 2006. The writing, which is full of playful references to other books, was a break from the exacting writing required by law. He had gay, lesbian and trans friends provide feedback on The Two Two-Eyed Potatoes, which takes place in a world where, for some arbitrary reason, potatoes who have the same number of eyes can’t be best friends. The eye-number rule stands in for a human characteristic that can’t be changed, while “best friends” can be seen as euphemism for something, um, more conjugal. Milligan workshopped all the books extensively for children in grades three, four and five. More than a decade after the Supreme Court ruled in Chamberlain v. Surrey School District No. 36, the books have been well received by teachers. “The kids relate mostly to the struggle to have a best friend,” Milligan says about his thwarted spuds. “I am always asking what can be improved and I had one girl in grade one tell me ‘I think it’s just too sad.’” Sex remains a tricky subject in kids books. Actually, an absent subject. Milligan’s potatoes are purposely gender-free. And who can argue with freedom of friendship amongst spuds? Bergman is more interested in creating worlds where gender identity is upended or irrelevant than in sexual orientation itself. In both cases, the nature of conjugality makes no difference. In that, these new books share the DNA of their predecessors. They are about family and society, about where we fit into things, rather than sorting through desire. Still, some people have suggested to Bergman that they’d like to see a book where polyamorous parents play a role. It’s an idea he’s pondering. Is the Surrey Board of Education ready for Heather’s Three Mommies or Daddy’s Endless Series of Roommates? Maybe the Supreme Court hasn’t yet read its last children’s book.

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Arts & Entertainment


Thrillers, fear, sex—and masturbating to Princess Leia → Buddies in Bad Times Fall/Winter lineup has something for everyone Story David Bateman


ith close to a million audience members during its long history, 64 Dora nominations, 25 wins, and the distinction of being the largest and longest-running queer theatre in the world, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre has a lot to be proud of. Its 36th season of queer programming promises to excite, titillate and continue to define the parameters of queer theatre and identity, carrying on a tradition of expanding definitions of queerness. And the 2014/15 season fulfills the company’s thirst for powerful new queer work. “If you distill everything down, it’s freedom for all people to just be who they need to be,” says artistic director Brendan Healy. In the upcoming season this need to be, and let be, ranges from a group of women struggling with breast cancer, to orgasms prompted by Star Wars characters, a lesbian divorce, and the haunting quest of a young man in rural Quebec as he discovers the horror and the beauty that violent homophobia can embody as it struggles with intense erotic desire and socially constructed hatred.

and examines gender roles and the ways in which butch/femme relationships have evolved. Brendan Healy sees the script as a testament to changing views surrounding gender identity. “The play is also about the disappearance of butch culture; the butch character is asking herself if trans might have been her thing,” says Healy. Lois Fine gives a heartfelt analysis of being butch in one of Jem’s speeches: “Us butches, we recognize each other on the street, but we don’t say anything. That would be like breaking the butch code. But there’s something—it’s in the eyes, a look that passes between us— and we wonder in that moment about each other. What happened to you? Did you find someone to love you? Did you let her touch you deep down inside? Did you manage to hang on to her? Or did she leave you in the dust with her name on your tongue?”

down and silenced in societies around the world,” says creator/performer Catherine Hernandez, an artist who brings a unique, diverse strength to femininity. “As a queer femme of colour and single mama, I embody what is raped, what is impoverished, what is oppressed, and I do so through my selfadornment and display of my sexuality with the clear message that I am unstoppable; that my song will be sung by me and my sisters proudly.” Humour and music play a strong part in this 45-minute tour de force. At one point in the show, Hernandez eroticizes her childhood discovery of her own queerness: “I was masturbating thinking about Luke Skywalker, but what made me orgasm was the thought of Princess Leia.”

Freda and Jem’s Best of the Week. To Oct 5.




Queer Spanish playwright and poet Federico Garcia Lorca’s iconic 1932 script, Blood Wedding, tackles themes similar to

THE FEMME PLAYLIST runs Oct 10-25.

Playwright Lois Fine takes on lesbian marriage with heartwarming familial insight

“It’s about embodying—without apology—the femininity that’s often shut



at Sound und-

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Arts & Entertainment

Michel Marc Bouchard’s Tom at the Farm. Healy sees the script as a fiercely poetic text. “Sexuality, and how society gets in the way of it, reveals how desire can be an alienating and destructive force,” says Healy. He refers to the beauty of a monologue delivered by a character personifying the moon as a prime example of the play’s searing powerful poetic message: “Who can escape? Who sobs in the valley’s tangle? The moon leaves a knife behind in the air… that seeks blood’s cry… so my cheeks this night.... Who’s that hiding! Speak out! No! There’s no escape!”

Blood Wedding (directed by Soheil Parsa). March 11-29

THE STRONGER VARIATIONS Creator/director Allyson McMackon takes Strindberg’s play The Stronger and explodes the misogyny at the core of the original text. Healy sees the production as “a really special blend of theatre and dance.” The strength of friendships forged between women flows through the piece as it examines issues surrounding marriage and family betrayal. Performed by an intergenerational cast of five women, McMackon’s script explores the nature of loyalty, feminine rage and what it means to be a strong woman. Says McMackon: “Theatre Rusticle is an alternative theatre company that


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forges a community that is expansive and inclusive, this time with a little ‘Christmas play’ that challenges all the supposed to bes of the holidays and ourselves.”

THE STRONGER VARIATIONS runs from Nov 26-Dec 7

TOM AT THE FARM “Homosexuals learn to lie before they learn to love, we are courageous mythomaniacs.” So writes acclaimed French-Canadian playwright Michel Marc Bouchard in the preface to his edgy thriller Tom at the Farm. Director Eda Holmes sees the script as a tender look at painful humanity. “The play is a terrifying dream where the main character’s naiveté drives him to connect with the family of his dead lover only to find the dark world of rural hatred,” says Holmes. Healy is excited that Holmes and Bouchard approached Buddies for the English language premiere. “The nexus of fear and sex is always of interest to me, where these two drives meet,” Healy says. In the French language film version of the play, that harrowing sense of men loving and hating each other at the same time plays itself out in beautiful and haunting ways.

SPIN Rob Ford might like to take a crack at attending one of the performances of Evalyn Parry’s Spin where he might just learn a bit more about the importance of bicycle culture in an urban centre. The re-mount of Parry’s popular solo show, with a live cello player, intertwines personal and political liberation, and how the bicycle connects the two. One song reveals the clever mixture of sung verse and political import: “You can’t ride a bike in 30 pounds of petticoats, you don’t have a voice in a democracy without a vote, a wheel would collapse if it wasn’t for the spokes.” The script uses the metaphor of the bicycle wheel and its accompanying spokes as an example of individual parts working together to create a larger communal force through strong feminist principles. Says Parry, “I think the bike is such an important symbol of alternative culture, of liberation, autonomy, self-determination, power and fun.”

Spin runs Nov 19-23


Tom at the Farm (translated by Linda Gaboriau). April 11 to May 10.



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out ON the town

Spencer Xiong

caught in the act by Michael Pihach & Moe Laverty


AIDS Walk for Life after party






out on bay street annual conference






Work It Weekend Sunset T-Dance at Skybar





→ 1. Ashley Greco , Shaun Proulx 2. Kristyn Wong-Tam, Norm Kelly, John Maxwell 3. Amanda Leo 4. The Toronto Sisters 5. Stilt Guys 6. Angela Swan 7. Peter McHugh, Matt Petersen 8. David Luque, Michael Mirpuri 9. Ron Suprun, Conference Delegate 10. Khalid Brammer-Blackman, Elias Chaccour, Hossein Moghtaderi 11. Charles Pavia 12.Justin Bach, Lucas Lynette-Krech 13.Simon Couture, Gairy Brown 14. Josh Karmic, Juan Mier 15. Nicholas MacLeod, Walther Aguilar 3 4 I N M a g a z in e o c t o b e r 2 0 1 4

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Profile for IN Magazine

IN Magazine: October 2014  

IN Magazine: October 2014 Issue: 53 IN Magazine's October 2014 issue, featuring stories on gay and lesbian living.

IN Magazine: October 2014  

IN Magazine: October 2014 Issue: 53 IN Magazine's October 2014 issue, featuring stories on gay and lesbian living.