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SHANIA TWAIN HER MOST PERSONAL INTERVIEW YET LGBT-FRIENDLY COUNTRY ARTISTS WHO REALLY ROCK PARVEZ SHARMA RELEASES HIS WRITTEN MEMOIR, A SINNER IN MECCA LENA WAITHE HAS A PLAN TO WRITE A BLACK LESBIAN INTO PRIME TIME 1
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Following the deadly Las Vegas shooting, LGBT activist group Gays Against Guns—a group that was formed in the aftermath of the Pulse club massacre in June 2016—held a peaceful protest on the streets of New York to call for tighter gun control in the United States
issue 79 November / December 2017
06 | REMEMBERING EDITH WINDSOR New York woman successfully challenged a federal law that defined marriage
08 | OILS, YOUR MUST-HAVE MULTI-TASKER We spill on the many types, benefits and usages of skin and hair oil
10 | DATING AGAIN How do I survive the frustration of online dating? 10 | YOUNGER GENERATIONS MORE OPEN TO BEING GAY OR BISEXUAL Only two-thirds of 16- to 22-year-olds described themselves as heterosexual 11 | IS YOUR EMPLOYER DOING ENOUGH TO CONFRONT BIPHOBIA, HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA? A positive space is a healthy place 12 | CONCEPT CARS SHOW THE FUTURE Message from Frankfurt: your automotive future has arrived 13 | FITNESS FAILS 5 reasons you’re not seeing results from your workouts 14 | EGYPT BANS MEDIA FROM MENTIONING LGBT COMMUNITY The Mediterranean country͛ ’s public prosecutor is prioritizing hunting down people based on their perceived sexual orientation
15 | YEAR IN REVIEW AND FORGING AHEAD IN͛ ’s MoneyStyle columnist takes a few moments to reflect on a busy year and look ahead to the next one 16 | HOW CASEY HOUSE IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE TO HIV-POSITIVE TORONTONIANS Above and beyond basic medical care 17 | ON THE TOWN Scenes from the party circuit
FEATURES 18 | THE HILLS ARE ALIVE… WITH JASPER PRIDE Town’s 2017 Pride festival is just the start of a stunning Western holiday 20 | GOD’S OWN COUNTRY, A SYMPATHETIC LOVE STORY ABOUT TWO FARMERS The British film is so much more than a British Brokeback Mountain 21 | LENA WAITHE HAS A PLAN TO WRITE A BLACK LESBIAN INTO PRIME TIME The Master of None writer is fighting for LGBTQIA representation on TV 22 | HEAR HER ROAR In her most personal interview yet, Canadian superstar Shania Twain feels more like a woman than ever before 26 | COUNTRY PRIDE These 10 LGBT-friendly country artists really rock
28 | COULD COMING OUT HAVE SAVED WHITNEY? Whitney Houston met Robyn Crawford in New Jersey when they were 16 30 | THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL How a Whitney Houston song became the soundtrack to my life 31 | A SINNER IN MECCA; A HERO TO THE REST Parvez Sharma releases his written memoir to his 2015 documentary, which explores his sexuality and seems to contrast his faith 42 | HOW TO BECOME A LONG-TERM GAY POWER COUPLE The key to the elusive and enviable long-term relationship 44 | SWEPT AWAY BY PUERTO VALLERTA’S INCLUSIVE SPIRIT “Orgullo feliz!” That’s “Happy Pride” in Spanish 46 | FLOATING MY BOAT Small-ship cruising along Panama’s two coastlines yields unrivalled R&R, jungle adventure, and a type of unstructured holiday you don’t have to save for your gay old age 50 | FLASHBACK The American Psychiatric Association (APA) removes homosexuality from its list of mental disorders
FASHION 32 |
STARING FROM ABOVE
The Today Man uses contrast to make an unpredictable singular statement
REMEMBERING EDITH WINDSOR (JUNE 20, 1929–SEPTEMBER 12, 2017)
New York woman successfully challenged a federal law that defined marriage By Christopher Turner
NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2017
The LGBT community lost a true hero in September, when Edith Windsor passed away in a Manhattan hospital at the age of 88. The gay-rights activist’s landmark case led the American Supreme Court to dismantle 1996’s controversial Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), helping to ensure that same-sex couples across the United States had the right to marry, as well as the rights to a host of federal benefits that until then only married heterosexuals had enjoyed. Four decades after the Stonewall Inn uprising fuelled the fight for LGBT rights around the globe, and years after Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize gay marriage, Windsor became the lead plaintiff in one of the most important Supreme Court rulings in history. Ironically, Windsor never intended to become the face in the national battle over same-sex marriage rights. She had originally gone to court simply to obtain a tax refund when she was faced with a large tax bill after the death of her first spouse, Thea Spyer. The women, Americans who had spent more than 40 years together, had gone to Toronto so they could get married legally on May 22, 2007, and when Spyer died in 2009, she left her estate to Windsor. If Windsor had been the widow in a heterosexual couple, she would have been exempted from paying federal taxes on that estate. But because DOMA meant her marriage was not recognized as legal in the United States, she was not exempted, and as a result faced a $363,053 tax bill. Outraged, she went to court, where her lawyers argued that DOMA violated equal protection. “It’s a very important case. It’s bigger than marriage, and I think marriage is major. I think if we win, the effect will be the beginning of the end of stigma,” she said in 2012 after the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. When her case made it to the Supreme Court in 2013, DOMA was declared unconstitutional, and then-President Barack Obama 6
called Windsor with his congratulations. The precedent set by that ruling was instrumental in the overall legalization of gay marriage two years later. Windsor, who was a grand marshal of New York City’s LGBT Pride March and a runner-up to Pope Francis for Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2013, became a gay-rights matriarch, and a hero to those who felt they didn’t have a voice. Windsor was born Edith Schlain in Philadelphia on June 20, 1929. Edie, as she was known, married her brother’s friend Saul Wiener after receiving her bachelor’s degree from Temple University in 1950. Less than a year later, they were divorced. The couple had both used the surname Windsor, and she kept her married name when she moved to New York shortly after the divorce. In 1957, Windsor earned a master’s degree in applied mathematics from New York University and learned computer programming before she was hired by IBM as a computer programmer in 1958. Windsor met Dr. Thea Spyer, a clinical psychologist, in 1963 at a Greenwich Village restaurant, Portofino, but they didn’t begin dating until 1965, after meeting again in the Hamptons. Spyer proposed in 1967, and they were engaged for 40 long years until their eventual marriage, some 30 years after Spyer was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. “If you have to outlive a great love, I can’t think of a better way to do it than being everybody’s hero,” Windsor said in 2013. The film Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement, about their relationship, was released in 2009. Throughout her later years, Windsor’s advocacy and sacrifices continued. In her work with various organizations—including the LGBT Community Center, Lesbians Who Tech, and Services
Edith Windsor walks with her arms outstretched to supporters on the steps of the Supreme Court building as justices were hearing her case in March 2013 (Getty Images)
& Advocacy for GLBT Elders—she was generous with her time, “The wheels of progress turn forward because of people like Edie, energy, expertise and financial support. who are willing to stand up in the face of injustice,” Romero said in a statement. “One simply cannot write the history of the gay On September 26, 2016, Windsor married Judith Kasen in an rights movement without reserving immense credit and gratitude understated ceremony at City Hall in New York City. They had met for Edie Windsor.” at an event in 2005 and, for Windsor, the marriage was a fortuitous story about finding love in widowhood. At the time of the wedding, Former President Bill Clinton, who had signed DOMA into law, Windsor was aged 87 and Kasen was 51. also commented on Windsor’s death. “I was empty and then this woman walked into my life,” she told the “In standing up for herself, Edie also stood up for millions of Times then. “I didn’t think it would happen again and it did. She is it.” Americans and their rights. May she rest in peace.” “I lost my beloved spouse Edie, and the world lost a tiny but tough as nails fighter for freedom, justice and equality,” Kasen-Windsor said in a statement. “Edie was the light of my life. She will always be the light for the LGBTQ community which she loved so much and which loved her right back.” After her death, former President Obama called Windsor one of the “quiet heroes” whose persistence had furthered the cause of equality. “Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor—and few made as big a difference to America,” Obama said in a statement, adding that he had spoken to her a few days earlier. Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, called Windsor “one of this country’s great civil rights pioneers.”
Windsor’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, said in a statement that representing Windsor “was and will always be the greatest honour of my life. She will go down in the history books as a true American hero.” Few had bigger shoulders than Edie Windsor. She was a trailblazer at the forefront of LGBTQ equality who changed the lives of countless Americans for decades to come and inspired activists around the globe. There is no dispute that she left the world a better place than when she found it. This is her legacy. Rest in Power.
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.
OILS, YOUR MUST-HAVE MULTI-TASKER We spill on the many types, benefits and usages of skin and hair oil By Adriana Ermter
Oil. You’ve spent a lifetime avoiding it—called it greasy, slimy, even dirty and gross. Your bathroom cupboard is a smorgasbord of its antithesis products, each jar and tube clearly labelled as “water-based,” “mattifying” or “anti-shine.” And yet, the once unpopular ingredient is now hot in demand. Nutrient rich and fuelled with powerful healing and anti-aging properties, oils penetrate deeper than other skin and hair care products. They balance your skin, hair and scalp’s natural sebum and moisture levels. They help protect against the environment and they work hard to smooth your fine lines and wrinkles into oblivion. So with winter’s see-saw temperatures upon us, it’s time to rethink oils and add them into your beauty and grooming routine.
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“You need products that won’t dry out your hair and complexion during the cold-weather months,” affirms Lev Glazman, co-founder of Fresh Cosmetics. “Moving back and forth from the freezing cold to the warm indoors can wreak havoc on your body,” making oils your best defence against dry, brittle, dull and damaged skin and hair. Oils 101 Like the snowflakes falling outside, no two oils are exactly the same. Botanical oils like Aveda’s Lavender Fleurs Oil Singular Note ($29, available at Aveda stores) are replete with plant-based components such as jasmine, evening primrose and lavender, and are coveted for their hydrating, healing, calming and aromatherapy benefits. Products such as Moroccanoil’s Pure Argan Oil ($50, available at moroccanoil.com) use natural oils like those derived from avocado, rice bran, argan and hazelnut—ideal for glowing hair and skin. Organic oils, like Fresh’s Seaberry Moisturizing Face Oil ($58, available at Sephora stores) and Pretty Cosmetics’ Love Affair Citrus Organic Virgin Coconut ($30, available online at 8
prettycosmetics.ca), contain ingredients such as grapeseed, seaberry, pomegranate and coconut, and deliver antioxidants to help fight wrinkles and dull skin. And if you’re thinking—stop right there, I’ve got oily skin so this isn’t for me—you can think again. All oils are safe to use on all skin types and conditions, including oily and acne-prone skin. “It’s a common misconception that those with acne-prone or oily skin should avoid oil-based products,” says Glazman. “But in reality, the last thing you should do is strip your skin of its natural oils. It will go into overdrive to reproduce them and you’ll be left with unbalanced, oily skin.” Drier oils, like The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Oil (from $13, available at The Body Shop stores), predominantly contain jojoba, hazelnut and/or sesame, which have the antibacterial powers to combat and prevent unwanted spots. Start at the top... Believe it or not: whether you have a dry and itchy scalp, or an oily and greasy one, the problem can be resolved with a drop or two of the good stuff. “Most people don’t realize that a healthy scalp is key to achieving beautiful, healthy hair,” says Kevin Hughes, artistic director for Moroccanoil in New York City. “Whether your scalp is dry and flaky or overactive and oily, concentrated oil formulas instantly help soothe and address those concerns. As the scalp is restored to perfect balance, the hair is instantly revitalized with more body, life and vitality.” While it may seem counterintuitive to lubricate what’s already well oiled, so to speak, hair oils help seal and heal your hair’s cuticle shaft, preventing breakage, tangling and dehydration from blow-dryers, flat irons and curling irons. Loaded with fatty acids, oils simultaneously soothe and cleanse your scalp of dirt and grime without stripping it of its natural sebum, while replacing the lipids in your hair, infusing each strand with moisture.
Best practices: Even if you’re using oil-based shampoos and conditioners, you should only be washing your hair once or twice a week. “Daily shampooing can actually stimulate oil production,” explains Hughes. “As you ‘strip’ the scalp of its natural oils, it sends a signal to produce more of it.” Using a scalp treatment, such as Moroccanoil Oily Scalp Treatment ($48, available at moroccanoil.com), can correct oily scalp imbalances and eventually lead to shampooing less often. This less-is-more theory should also be applied to styling products, such as The Innate Life Rose Hair Elixir ($39, available at theinnatelife.co), where one or two drops applied to the tips of hair and massaged upward to the roots will promote healthy, beautiful hair.
Face and body cleansing oils such as Fresh Seaberry Skin Nutrition ($48, available at Sephora stores) and A-Derma Exomega (from $14, available at Beauty Boutique by Shoppers Drug Mart) are soap free and contain ingredients such as plant extracts, evening primrose oil, sea buckthorn oil and omega 6 to remove impurities, while maintaining the natural sebum your skin needs. “Oil removes oil, so when you use an oil cleanser, you remove what’s on the surface—the oil and grime,” explains Glazman. “And you replace it with cleaner, nourishing oils, so it keeps the skin balanced without stripping your skin of its essential nutrients.”
Best practices: For an added boost of antioxidant-rich nourishment and moisture, apply a face and/or all-over body oil like Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream All-Over Miracle Oil ($36, available …And work your way down at Shoppers Drug Mart) to help lock moisture into the skin, From your face to your toes, your entire body benefits from a increasing elasticity and smoothness while amplifying daily dose of oil. Not only do these oily formulations hydrate your nourishment and protection from the environment. “Whenever your skin, they double down with extra perks such as deep cleansing, skin feels like it needs an extra boost, add an oil into your ritual,” collagen production, increased radiance, anti-aging, and stretch affirms Glazman. Adding a drop or two into your bath at night or mark and razor burn reduction. And the richer options—like emulsifying it with your eye, day, night and body creams is also coconut, almond, omega and shea—give severely dehydrated skin a great way to transition your skin during the change of seasons, and hair an extra boost of moisture. “allowing you to take your creams from summer to winter.” ADRIANA ERMTER is a Toronto-based, lifestyle-magazine pro who has travelled the globe, writing about must-spritz fragrances, child poverty, beauty and grooming.
DATING AGAIN How do I survive the frustration of online dating? By Adam Segal
It’s been two years since my break-up and I’ve finally decided to take a stab at online dating—for better or for worse. I’ve had single friends share battle stories of navigating dating in this electronic age but always thought they were just complaining or focusing on the wrong people. Now I can confidently say that I am just as frustrated as all of them—I have had a zillion first dates with guys I’ve met online that just don’t go anywhere. Several of them are guys who seemed really interesting when we were swapping messages, but in person it immediately fell flat. When it doesn’t work out, I head straight back to the gruelling hunt. I don’t know how to keep my romance-seeking energy up after so much disappointment or how to be more skilful at weeding out guys before I invest too much energy. I feel like one more crappy date could push me over the edge. Besides becoming a celibate monk, what are my options? –Frank Dear Frank: Online dating is no easy pursuit, and on some level it’s most important to simply acknowledge this truth—it often feels like heavy lifting and is tinged with frequent false starts and letdowns. There’s comfort, though, in knowing that this experience actually connects you to so many others who are trying to stay hopeful despite frequent disappointment and truly horrid first dates.
There’s really no better way to cut through the haze induced by cheeky pick-up lines and heavily filtered photos—a truly virtual reality—than a straight-ahead meet-up. Your initial meetings with these guys are really just that: a moment to actually check out the chemistry, which will guide whether a true first date should happen at all. Seeing it this way will help reduce the pressure and help you maintain a more realistic stance towards the whole transaction.
There was a time, before smartphones and endless profile scrolls, when people could meet face-to-face and pretty quickly assess whether As for the burnout you’ve been feeling, there’s no quick fix. It’s there was any physical or personality chemistry. With online dating, going to be essential that you don’t make dating (or even scrolling so many folks can competently create snazzy self-descriptions and on apps) your full-time vocation—this will only foster resentment send witty messages. All of this posturing can encourage a dreamy and despair on those occasions where it all falls flat. Continually hopefulness that things will simply blossom in-person—which, as check in with yourself before you head online: are you choosing to you’ve already discovered, is a fantasy. fire up the app because you actually have the energy and desire to attempt to connect with some new guys? Are you bored and trying Here is a general guideline that could save you lots of time and to boost your mood by getting some quick validation? If you find spare unnecessary fantasizing about men you don’t really know: if yourself frequently in a zombie-like trance and reaching for your you have genuine interest in someone based solely on their profile smartphone as an electronic pacifier, do the opposite—reconnect and initial messages, take things to ‘in-person’ as soon as possible. with the real world around you.
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ADAM SEGAL, writer and therapist, works in private practice in downtown Toronto. Ask him your relationship or mental-health questions at @firstname.lastname@example.org.
YOUNGER GENERATIONS MORE OPEN TO BEING GAY OR BISEXUAL Only two-thirds of 16- to 22-year-olds described themselves as heterosexual, a British survey reveals A poll commissioned by the BBC has found that one-third of 16- to 22-year-olds (often called “Generation Z”) identify as being attracted to someone of the same sex at least some of the time. Of that group, nine per cent identified as bisexual, while 14 per cent stated they are “mostly heterosexual” but not fully so. The study, conducted by Ipsos Mori, surveyed 3,000 people divided into four generations—Z, Y, X and baby boomers. As the generations got younger, fewer and fewer members identified as strictly heterosexual. In Generation Y (people born during the 10
1980s and early 1990s), otherwise known as millennials, that number was 71 per cent; with Generation X (people born from the mid-1960s to the start of the 1980s), it was 85 per cent. And for baby boomers (people born from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s), the poll found that 88 per cent identified as fully heterosexual, with just nine per cent identifying as “mostly” and one per cent identifying as bisexual. Many survey respondents felt that younger generations are simply more comfortable with an LGBT label.
PRIDE AT WORK
IS YOUR EMPLOYER DOING ENOUGH TO CONFRONT BIPHOBIA, HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA? A positive space is a healthy place By Colin Druhan
For many of the people who are outside the LGBT community looking in, things appear to be pretty good. In fact, in a survey of people who do not identify as LGBT (performed by Pride at Work Canada and the Canadian Centre for Diversity & Inclusion), we found that almost 70 per cent of respondents said they didn’t think LGBT people in Canada face any workplace discrimination whatsoever. This is contrary to the experience of most members of our community. A recent survey commissioned by Fondation Jasmin Roy found that three quarters of LGBT Canadians have faced bullying, threats and unkind comments. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, LGBT people experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive and phobic disorders, suicidality, self-harm and substance use because of the effects of biphobic, homophobic and transphobic harassment, discrimination and violence. The fact that much of this type of discrimination is played out in the workplace is one of the reasons why more than half of LGBT people in Canada are not out to everyone they work with, and why unemployment and housing insecurity disproportionately impact LGBT people. An increasing number of Canadian employers advertise themselves as inclusive and supportive of LGBT people. However, in order to have any true impact on the challenges facing our community, this visible support needs to be backed up by substantive action. A Pride flag means significantly less if those who are flying it aren’t supporting a culture that tackles biphobic, homophobic and transphobic discrimination and bullying head-on. Whether you have a job or are looking for work, there are a few things you should be looking for in an employer, especially if they communicate support for the community. Policies set standards of behaviour Employers are obligated to take appropriate action against any employee who harasses someone; otherwise, the employer can be held responsible for harassment committed by their employees. An employer’s anti-harassment and discrimination policies need to specifically address sexual orientation, gender identity and
gender expression to support LGBT workers. Pride at Work Canada finds that even among employers that have these policies, many disproportionately focus on sexual orientation, leaving gender identity and gender expression completely unaddressed. Policies make sense Employees need to understand how their behaviour fits into the language of any policy about harassment and discrimination. Many people don’t understand that disclosing someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity without their permission is a form of harassment that could put that person at risk. It’s common for people to ask intrusive questions about LGBT peoples’ sexual relationships, bodies and medical histories, not realizing that their curiosity is not a licence to behave inappropriately. This is why a certain amount of education should accompany any written language. Employees need to know how to get help If someone believes they are being harassed, mistreated or bullied at work, it’s important for them to know that they aren’t alone. An employee might understand that they are protected against biphobic, homophobic or transphobic harassment through legislation and their employer’s internal policies, but if they are harassed and don’t know where to go to report the situation, issues can go unaddressed. Additionally, if those receiving complaints don’t fully understand what constitutes forms of harassment and discrimination against LGBT people (such as outing or consistent social exclusion), they aren’t in a position to truly help. Companies empower people to transform the culture Giving employees tools to speak confidently about issues facing LGBT people can prevent bad situations from arising, and allow individuals to model good behaviour. This goes beyond understanding simple definitions, and should include how to have positive interactions and confront inappropriate behaviour as it happens. Pride at Work Canada offers an online Workplace Inclusion Certificate program for those ready to take a stand against biphobia, homophobia and transphobia in their workplace. For more information, visit education.prideatwork.ca.
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.
CONCEPT CARS SHOW THE FUTURE Message from Frankfurt: your automotive future has arrived By Casey Williams
The automotive future we’ve all been promised has arrived. Nearly. From fully automated cars to electric supercars, the recent Frankfurt Motor Show was awash in future-think technology that’s quickly becoming reality. Here are our favourites:
Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Designed for a car-sharing future, the fully autonomous two-seater could become commonplace in urban areas. It’s summoned by smartphone, welcoming passengers with a read-out on the front fascia. Doors pivot wing-like over the rear axle to save space. Inside, touches of rose gold add elegance while white faux-leather seats are easy to clean. The dashboard is replaced by a widescreen; functions are controlled by voice. When not used, the car recharges inductively.
Mercedes Project One Project One sports a Formula One racer–inspired body of smooth forms. The basic interior continues the racing theme with rectangular steering wheel, F1-style controllers and twin flatscreens. Under the suave skin is a 1,000-horsepower hybrid system with 1.6-litre turbo V6 engine and lithium-ion batteries. It runs 0-200 km/h in six seconds, tops out at 350 km/h, and offers 24-kilometre all-electric range. They’re only making 275 of these cars—and despite the $3.3 million price tag, all those beauties are spoken for.
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BMW iVision Dynamics Concept This is BMW’s answer to the Tesla Model 3. Sliding between the i3 city car and i8 supercar, the all-electric i5 sedan has a range of 600 kilometres and a top speed exceeding 200 km/h. It accelerates to 100 km/h in just four seconds! Four-door coupe styling with reimagined BMW twin-kidney grille and quad headlights reach for the future. A production version is expected by 2021. BMW will offer 25 electrified vehicles, including 12 EVs, by 2025.
Audi Aicon Concept Presented as an autonomous electric sedan, the racy body accommodates a large interior bereft of a steering wheel or instruments. Front lounge chairs swivel to enhance conversation. The powertrain features four electric motors (two each front and rear) for 349 total horsepower. Audi hopes to one day achieve an 805-kilometre range. No dumb drone, the car features voice control for infotainment and has a Personal Intelligent Assistant to anticipate your desires.
CASEY WILLIAMS is a contributing writer for Gaywheels.com. He contributes to the New York-based LGBT magazine Metrosource and the Chicago Tribune. He and his husband live in Indianapolis, where Williams contributes videos and reviews IN MAGAZINE to wfyi.org, the area’s PBS/NPR station.
HEALTH & WELLNESS
FITNESS FAILS 5 reasons you’re not seeing results from your workouts By Karen Kwan
There’s GTL, but you’re more GGG. So how is it that you’re at the gym regularly and not seeing any results? Those abs aren’t making any appearances, your calves could be more defined and when you look at your arms, you ask yourself, “Do you even lift, bro?” Here’s what could be at the bottom of your fitness fails. You’re overtraining Yes, you can have too much of a good thing. Overtraining has become extremely prevalent in today’s workout world and there are many issues associated with doing so, says Joshua Lipsey, founder and director of Core Concepts in Toronto. “One of the major issues is the fact that you are not letting your muscles recover, and that can really throw your homeostasis off, which can lead to infections and lowered immunity,” he says. Besides that, when you exercise more often, you also need to replenish more, and you may be inadvertently refuelling with more than your body needs. You’re not working out frequently enough You may feel like you’re at the gym all the time, but when you actually look at your schedule, do you realize you’re actually just going on the weekends because your weekdays are too busy? Or maybe one week you go almost daily…followed by a week (or two) off? “If you’re in the gym once or twice a week, you’re not giving your body enough strain for your body to be making gains,” says Dominique Termansen, a fitness trainer at Distrikt Movement in Vancouver. “You can’t expect to go in once, put in one leg workout and have lasting results.”
to your fitness you stay true to your one and only beloved sport— and that could be hurting your progress. “Repetitive motion can lead to injury. Another problem that we face in today’s fitness world is there are many workouts that do not work the body in an authentic way in terms of using muscles the way they were supposed to be used,” says Lipsey. He recommends finding workouts that work for your body and will not cause injury. But what if you’re not willing to give up your running habit, for example? “Accept that it’s extremely repetitive, and make sure you are doing a complementary workout that works your hips in all three planes of motion.” You’re taking it too easy in your workout While you may be at the gym regularly and can tick off all the exercises you get done, you may have let yourself slack off without realizing it. “Our muscles contain memory of certain exercises, and it is very important to switch exercises up to prevent stagnation or lack of development. Many times we avoid challenges and do the things that we are comfortable with,” says Lipsey. “I think it is important to take ourselves out of our comfort zone, which develops more confidence and increases our fitness levels.” A sign you’re not working hard enough? Besides not seeing results, if you’re not sore whatsoever after your workout, it’s probably time to switch things up and challenge yourself.
Your social media habits are distracting you from your workout “I’m guilty of that myself sometimes,” admits Termansen. “You go to the gym, take a photo or post something else on social media, and you get so consumed with making a video or taking a good shot that you neglect your form and other little things,” he says. You might be doing the same number of reps or sets for your workout, for example, but not realizing that the weight isn’t challenging enough for you, he says. There are so many other distractions at the gym, from the other people working out to the gym environment. To help be focused, Termansen recommends bringing headphones so you can work out to your own music and get motivated. You’re loyal to your favourite workout While you may have a side hustle and a side chick, when it comes
KAREN KWAN is a freelance health, travel and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter at @healthswellness and on Instagram at @healthandswellness.
EGYPT BANS MEDIA FROM MENTIONING LGBT COMMUNITY Homosexuality is not expressly outlawed in Egypt, but the Mediterranean country’s public prosecutor is prioritizing hunting down people based on their perceived sexual orientation
A rainbow flag was waved at a concert in Cairo, leading to an investigation of an “incident” that “incited homosexuality” (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt’s media has been banned from mentioning the LGBT community as a homophobic purge continues, with an official pronouncement referring to homosexuality as a “sickness.”
any media outlet whether written, audio, or visual, except when they acknowledge the fact that their conduct is inappropriate and repent for it.”
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A crackdown began in Egypt after a rainbow flag was waved at a A translation of the notice provided by Human Rights Watch reads: concert in Cairo by Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila—whose lead “The Supreme Council for Media Regulation prohibits the singer is openly gay—on September 22. The flag-raising was promotion or dissemination of homosexual slogans. Homoa rare public show of support for the LGBT community in the sexuality is a sickness and disgrace that would be better hidden conservative Muslim country, and it provoked a public outcry. Three from view and not promoted for dissemination until it is treated days after the concert, after images went viral on social media, and its disgrace removed. This is to preserve order and public Public Prosecutor Nabil Sadek ordered State Security prosecutors decency and out of respect for the values and correct beliefs of to investigate an “incident” that “incited homosexuality.” society. Promotion of these slogans is also a corruption of society that should be punished.… It is forbidden for homosexuals to Following Sadek’s order, Egyptian authorities began an intense appear in any media outlet whether written, audio, or visual, except ‘purge’ targeted at the country’s gay community, raiding homes when they acknowledge the fact that their conduct is inappropriate and arresting more than 60 people to date, according to sources. and repent for it.” According to Amnesty International, the Forensic Medical Authority has carried out anal examinations on some of those arrested in Makram Mohammed Ahmed, president of the council, insisted relation with the flag incident. Such procedures are used regularly that homosexuality “must be treated and removed as a sickness in prosecuting homosexual sex in Egypt. spreading among the youth.” Homosexuality is not explicitly criminalized under Egyptian law, but in the past the authorities have routinely arrested people they suspected of engaging in consensual homosexual conduct, on charges of “debauchery,” “immorality” or “blasphemy.” The recent arrests have been followed by the country banning the media from reporting on the issue—while imposing a ban on LGBT people being mentioned on TV, film and radio, as well as in online or print media. Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation issued the statement, which “prohibits the appearance of homosexuals or their slogans in the media,” branding homosexuality a “sickness.” The order forbids any appearance of the LGBT community “in 14
According to Ahmed: “It is an illness that is spreading for reasons that ought to be exposed and treated, including because of the complete reliance on servants for child rearing, weak parental supervision over children’s behaviour, and socializing with the wrong circles.” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement, “Egypt should immediately halt this vicious crackdown on a vulnerable group simply for waving a flag.… Repression will not turn gay people straight—it will only perpetuate fear and abuse. There’s no possible objective or scientific reason to throw people in prison simply because of their sexuality. Given the mass arrests and climate of fear, truly objective reporting on this issue and giving LGBT people a voice is more important than ever.”
YEAR IN REVIEW AND FORGING AHEAD IN’s MoneyStyle columnist takes a few moments to reflect on a busy year and look ahead to the next one By Al Ramsay
Earlier this year, it was announced that my mandate had been expanded to lead TD’s LGBT (Allies) Business Development initiative nationally. Given my new focus, I decided to travel across Canada to meet with our employees, as well as customer and community partners. It was a great opportunity for me to “put my ears to the ground” and listen to people so that my team and I could incorporate their feedback into our initiatives going forward. Since then, we’ve had a very busy year, including writing this column (which we’re very proud of). We covered a wide range of financial topics, from getting financially fit, to tax planning for same-sex couples and same-sex family planning, to empowering LGBT young entrepreneurs. TD sponsors 63 Pride festivals across North America and supports more than 100 grass-roots LGBT community organizations. And if you follow us on social media, you will have seen that we attended a lot of these events. I often joke that I have the hardest-working team in the financial industry—and I might just be right! I’m very proud of our accomplishments this year—so far.
season without being burdened by a heavy debt load to start off the New Year. Make a plan and stick to it The end of the year is a perfect time to have one last chat with your financial advisor to do a recap of your 2017 goals. Now is also the perfect time to make adjustments to your plan. For example, if you know your spending will increase dramatically over the holidays, consider reducing your savings or stopping temporarily so you don’t go into too much debt. Good budgeting is key Some people are better off using cash as this helps them stick to a budget without overspending. On the other hand, if you’re using your credit cards, use them wisely to earn miles or even cash (like the TD Aeroplan credit card or TD Cash Back credit cards). Make your cards work twice as hard for you!
So, this brings me to our customers. How are you tracking towards your financial goals to finish the year off strongly? Have you already started looking ahead to next year?
Think outside the box Finally, be creative and make up your own rules over the holidays, which can dramatically reduce your stress. Keep up with yourself, not the Joneses! • One of my favourite ideas is to recommend monetary gifts for children, such as Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs)— which the government matches up to a certain amount. • Who said you can’t do a potluck dinner instead of going all out when you invite friends and family over? • If you’re “crafty,” DIY gifts are much more meaningful and likely to last.
End-of-year planning, and looking ahead 2017 has been a very interesting year, to say the least, in financial markets. Some “tail winds” this year included increasing housing prices in Toronto and Vancouver, higher debt loads and rising interest rates.
The point is, there is no ‘one size fits all’ plan. Work with your advisor to determine what works for you. Put a plan in place and stick to it. Sure, you may deviate from time to time; however, even if that happens, you’re aware of it and have the knowledge to adjust your plan going forward.
As the end of year and the holiday season approach, historical data suggests consumer spending will increase. We’ve touched on this topic in previous columns, but I would like to reiterate some sound financial advice to help you navigate through the holiday
That is our goal at TD: to educate you about your finances so you get—and remain—financially fit and in control!
True to our theme #TDPride365, my team and I are very busy executing our plans for the remainder of the year, and are already planning for 2018!
For more information, please visit: www.financiallyfit.td.com.
AL RAMSAY is TD Bank Group’s national manager, LGBTA Business Development, and leads a team of expert advisors dedicated to serving the LGBTA community. For more information or to book a meeting, he can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @AlRamsay_TD.
HOW CASEY HOUSE IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE TO HIV-POSITIVE TORONTONIANS Above and beyond basic health care By Courtney Hardwick
Dr. Draw, Jani Lauzon and Jose Arias (Dyna Thirst) performed last year at Casey House’s concert of hope and remembrance (formerly called Voices of Hope), held on December 1, 2016, at the Metropolitan United Church in Toronto (Casey House)
Since it was identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS. While scientific advancements have revealed a lot about the virus and how to treat it, there are still an estimated 34 million people in the world—and 20,000 in Toronto alone—living with HIV today. It is still a real threat and one that can’t be taken lightly. That’s why it’s so important to continue to raise money and awareness about HIV.
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Two to three Ontarians are diagnosed with HIV each day, and 25 per cent of new infections are among Canadian adults under 30. Currently, one in four gay men in Toronto has HIV, a 25 per cent prevalence versus a prevalence of one per cent in the general adult population. Toronto’s Casey House, which was founded in 1988, is Canada’s first and only hospital dedicated exclusively to people with HIV/ AIDS. A lot has changed since the virus first emerged in the 1980s, but along with a continued risk of contracting the disease there are plenty of people who aren’t getting the treatment they need. And although modern treatment options such as antiretroviral medication regimens have dramatically improved the life expectancy of otherwise healthy HIV-positive people, even these individuals have to live with the stigma and judgment that comes with the diagnosis. That’s where a facility like Casey House makes a difference. Casey House is one of the few places where people with HIV/AIDS can seek care without judgment. Time to stand up and be noticed World AIDS Day, on December 1, is a chance to recognize how far our understanding of the disease has come, but also to raise
money in support of those living with HIV. This year marks Toronto’s 10th Voices for World AIDS Day concert, an event that benefits Casey House. “This community concert is an opportunity to show our support and encouragement for the many people who continue to deal with the difficult challenges of HIV every day, right here in our community,” says Rev. Dr. John Joseph Mastandrea, founding co-chair of the Voices for World AIDS Day concert. The concert, which will be held at the St. Lawrence Centre in Toronto on November 30, features a range of performers. It’s free to attend although a $20 donation is recommended. All money raised will go towards supporting Casey House’s health care programs, including inpatient and day health programs, community care and outreach programs, and social community programming. Casey House staff have proven they are committed not only to providing multi-disciplinary health care to people living with AIDS and HIV, but also addressing emotional and mental health, as part of a holistic approach to well-being. Voices for World AIDS Day is the community’s chance to demonstrate support for people living with HIV and let them know they are loved. Voices for World AIDS Day, Casey House’s concert of hope and remembrance, takes place on Thursday, November 30, 2017, at St. Lawrence Centre in Toronto. No cost to attend concert; suggested donation $20.
COURTNEY HARDWICK is a Toronto-based freelance writer. Her work has appeared online at AmongMen, Complex Canada, Elle Canada and TheBolde.
ON THE TOWN
SCENES FROM THE PARTY CIRCUIT By Michael Pihach
DRAG + PARTY (presented by Pride Toronto and Nuit Blanche) at 99 Sudbury (photos by Michael Pihach and Joey Fascio) 1: Desiree Nguyen, Sade Riley, 2: Kim Chi, Sasha Velour, Naomi Smalls, 3: JoAnna Black, Andrea Houston, 4: James Fowler, 5: Olivia Nuamah, Michelle Cherny, Alicia Hall. Drag Queen West at Entice Culinary Lounge (photos by Ash Molaei) 6: Michele Yeo, 7: Priyanka, Marc Lamontagne, Tynomi Banks, 8: Moody Jones. Nordstrom opening at CF Sherway Gardens (photos by George Pimentel Photography) 9: Tracy Moore, Angie Campanelli, 10: Pete Nordstrom, Leanne Nicolle, Blake Nordstrom, Sharon Kim, Erik Nordstrom, 11: Ron White, 12: Stacey McKenzie, Tara Spencer-Nairn.
THE HILLS ARE ALIVE… WITH JASPER PRIDE Town’s 2017 Pride festival is just the start of a stunning Western holiday By Steven Bereznai
“We had no idea what we were doing,” Lynn Wannop admits to me bluntly, brushing back her auburn hair and adjusting her funky glasses. She’s the co-owner of Coco’s Cafe, in the small, picturesque mountain town of Jasper, Alta., and the driving force behind the founding of the Jasper Pride festival. I’m here on a chilly March day to help celebrate this festival, now in its eighth year in the town.
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Jasper is a town of 5,000 people in the heart of the Rockies, nearly a four-hour drive from Edmonton, in a province stereotypically known for oil and cowboys. Yet Jasper defies rural clichés: the local high school has an active gay-straight alliance, the provincial legislature has three out MLAs, and—just a short block from Coco’s—nearly 100 rainbow flags run along the main street’s light poles in honour of Jasper Pride. Numerous businesses have decorated their windows in rainbow colours, including the Jasper Brewing Co., which has released a special Pride brew and lager.
he said, ‘Yes we do.’” The reception was overwhelmingly positive, though when she first put a rainbow flag on the door, it was ripped off, and there was one vocal opponent. The town’s first Pride festival was modest, with only 40 attendees at the main event. Wannop says: “There were more prizes than people.” Now the event lasts four days and draws approximatly 1,000 people—that’s one-fifth the town’s entire population.
Going au naturel (the old-fashioned way) Nature is a big draw for Pride attendees. That afternoon, I join a Sundog guided tour for an “ice walk.” As we drive by a herd of elk, talk of Pride gives way to an appreciation of the breathtaking landscape. Once at Maligne Canyon, we strap ice cleats onto our boots (both the boots and cleats are provided), and set off to explore what would be a riverbed in the summer. It’s hard to know where to look first: I take a slew of pics of frozen waterfalls, rock Coco’s windows are filled with rainbow flags. Wannop’s four-year-old faces carved out by water flow, and giant frost formations created daughter helped with the décor, and gave herself a rainbow “tattoo” by warm, moist air escaping a network of caves. I feel like I’m in at the same time. Says Wannop: “I can’t get her to stop drawing Narnia! Our guide teaches us about the foraging strategies of bears on herself.” (the non-human kind), the importance of forest fires in ecosystem health, and the old-time prospector who suffered a slew of bad At 7:45 am, the tiny café, with its funky graffiti art, is hopping with luck in the area—hence the canyon’s name, Maligne. those eager for a hearty and healthy breakfast (and coffee) before hitting the slopes or heading to work. It specializes in vegetarian, That night, I peel off the layers of long johns and fleece in favour vegan and celiac-friendly fare, “with several meaty options for of a form-fitting T-shirt, and find out just how popular Jasper carnivorous folk.” I slurp back a fruit-and-yogurt smoothy, and Pride has become. The evening events are packed. The burlesque gorge on the generously sized Groomer’s Breakfast, filled with show (featuring boys and girls) is standing room only, and at the eggs, meats and cheese. Lumberjack party at the Whistle Stop Pub (its windows decorated with multi-coloured elk), organizers rush through the beard-judging Wannop isn’t queer-identified but she’s an ally. After moving here, contest. According to one drunken patron, it’s to make room for she recalls, “I went to Jordan Tucker [a local who has strong ties folks to move about. to the hospitality industry] and said, ‘We need Pride in Jasper,’ and “We upped our marketing game this year,” festival co-chairs Sara 18
Hamil and Cody Murdock say, “reaching beyond the local markets to Toronto and Vancouver.” It’s working. They’re already planning to move Jasper Pride from March to April in 2018, because April is a slower part of the season, which means more hotel beds will be available. (Note: the ski season extends into late May.) Fortunately, there’s still plenty of room on the slopes when we hit the hills the next day. The Alberta Rockies are best known for summer outdoor activities, so unlike some ski destinations, there are virtually no lineups at the lifts—even on weekends. The longest delay is the time it takes attendants to scan ski passes. At midday, dozens of skiers and snowboarders meet mid-hill, decked out in rainbow flags, bunny ears and animal onesies. Eight skiers lead us down the slopes, bearing a giant Pride flag. We’re met with cheers and bemusement from non-Pride attendees. I wrangle together the winners of the Canadian-themed costume contest, dressed respectively as a cow, a polar bear, a beaver…and a giraffe. I ask the latter: “How is that Canadian?” “I’m an immigrant,” she says, laughing. “I went for the political vote.” The main event of the weekend is the Saturday night gala, hosted at the Fairmont’s four-star Jasper Park Lodge (JPL), a long-time sponsor of the event. I’m lucky to be staying on-site, in a beautiful lakeside suite. It’s just a few steps from the main lodge, with its heated outdoor pool and giant roaring fireplace, warming me when I lounge in the wingback chairs or dine in the Emerald Lounge. The Fairmont JPL is a $20 taxi ride from downtown, and a cab
driver tells me the gala makes for his busiest night of the year, even better than New Year’s Eve. Attendees to the gala go all out with their outfits. This year’s theme is “Proud and Free,” in honour of the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation. Costumes range from red plaid to a woman in a slinky black dress with a faux-poutine bowl for a hat. “Part of what makes Jasper Pride special is that it draws a near equal number of men and women,” observes openly queer Alberta MLA Estefania Cortes-Vargas, who’s attending with her girlfriend. We are wowed by a runway show that is part burlesque, part cabaret, and full-on drag fabulous, followed by drunken dancing to pop hits, courtesy of DJ Thomas Culture. The next morning, I nurse my hangover, thankful for the giant omelette I ordered at the Fairmont JPL’s buffet breakfast, and a cappuccino to go. As I drive out of town, I look in the rearview mirror at the long row of rainbow flags stretching along the street, towards the snow-capped Rockies. When Toronto hosted World Pride, everyone went all out with pricey billboards, floats, and rainbow street crossings. It made me feel proud to be a Torontonian. But seeing those flags in a small Alberta town has an even greater effect. It makes me proud to be Canadian. Road trip through the Rockies Go online to inmagazine.ca to get more information on how to get the full winter Alberta experience including where to eat, sleep and play.
STEVEN BEREZNAI is a Toronto-based writer and bestselling author of How A Loser Like Me Survived the Zombie Apocalypse and I Want Superpowers. He can be reached through his website, stevenbereznai.com.
GOD’S OWN COUNTRY, A SYMPATHETIC LOVE STORY ABOUT TWO FARMERS
The British film is so much more than a British Brokeback Mountain
Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu in God’s Own Country (Pacific Northwest Pictures)
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There was no shortage of LGBTQ-themed films that received praise during the 2017 film festival circuit; one of those films was writer/director Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country. The “gay farmer” film immediately drew comparisons to Ang Lee’s award-winning Brokeback Mountain—but the inevitable comparisons do the British film a disservice, because the 47-year-old English filmmaker’s expertly crafted cinematic debut is so much more than a film that rehashes that 2005 cowboy narrative. Debuting to rave reviews at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, God’s Own Country is the sympathetic story of two men falling in love in the isolated, rural setting of a Yorkshire farm. Johnny Saxby (Josh O’Connor) is a hardworking, hard-drinking young man reluctantly taking responsibility for the future of the family farm. He’s resentful about it, wants to disappear to see the world, and struggles with being gay, having anonymous sex wherever he can find it.
cinematographer Joshua James Richards. There are plenty of shots that graphically depict the brutality of farm life, set against a backdrop of foggy grey skies and lush green hills. True, there are serious parallels to Brokeback Mountain. But where God’s Own Country really differentiates itself is when Johnny and Gheorghe are sent up to Yorkshire’s isolated wind-hammered moors. The relationship deepens and turns into something more than the superficial sexual encounters Johnny is used to. The relationship goes deeper than the relationship between Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis (Heath Ledger) in Brokeback, and is ultimately far more satisfying. While the commercial success of Brokeback Mountain was a milestone for mainstream gay films, many viewers were dismayed with the fate of its star-crossed lovers. Without giving too much away, God’s Own Country mostly avoids such pitfalls. It also, thankfully, lacks a “I can’t quit you” moment.
After his father, Martin (Ian Hart), has a stroke, Johnny is also the sole able-bodied man working on the farm. That is, until they hire Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu), a gentle migrant worker from Romania, to help work the farm at the height of the season. Initially wary of each other, Johnny and Gheorghe fall in love.
Director and writer Francis Lee won the World Cinema Directing Award: Dramatic at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and the film opened at the 71st Edinburgh International Film Festival, where it won Best British Feature.
The British film is visually and emotionally stunning thanks to
God’s Own Country hits theatres in Canada on November 3.
LENA WAITHE HAS A PLAN TO WRITE A BLACK LESBIAN INTO PRIME TIME The Master of None writer is fighting for LGBTQIA representation on TV
To say that Lena Waithe is having a moment is an understatement. “We do still have a way to go,” Waithe told The Daily Beast about LGBTQIA representation. “I want to create a show where a black In September, she made history as the first black, queer woman to gay woman is the lead, where she is the protagonist, she is the win an Emmy for writing in a comedy series. Waithe, who has a person whom we are following. That is still yet to be done. I have recurring role in Master of None, won her statue for co-writing the faith. I hope we can make it happen; we still don’t have that. We “Thanksgiving” episode of the Netflix comedy with series co-creator don’t have a show where a queer brown male person is the lead.” and star Aziz Ansari. The widely acclaimed episode was based on her experience of coming out as a lesbian. Waithe is optimistic about where we’ve been, and where we’re going. “I think Doubt with Laverne Cox was a huge leap forward. When she reached the stage, dressed in a brilliant black and Unfortunately, it was short-lived, but it was still a notch on our belt. gold-patterned tuxedo, she delivered the best speech of the night—an I think we need more of that. The world is ready. They are. Let my assertive, impassioned speech thanking both her girlfriend, Alana episode [of Master of None] be an example. They’re ready for it. Mayo (“I love you more than life itself”), and her “LGBTQIA family,” as she described it. “Now it’s about me doing the work, doing the heavy lifting and making sure that there’s something a network can get behind, and “I see each and every one of you. The things that make us different— then hopefully other people can follow suit. We need more of that, those are our superpowers,” she said to the LGBTQIA audience. more than we can ever know.” “Every day when you walk out the door, put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world, because the world So, is she writing a break-the-mould drama, featuring a black would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren’t in it.” lesbian protagonist for prime time? Now that Waithe has gone viral, she’s ready to champion the “Yes, I’m writing something. Yep, yep, yep, I’m working on it,” importance of diversity in entertainment. She’s about to launch Waithe said, laughing. “I’m working on it, I’m working on it.” an autobiographical Showtime series, The Chi, about her comingof-age years in Chicago, and is in the midst of developing other She declined to divulge anything about the character, plot and setting. TV projects. And she wants to make gay TV history with at least “All that stuff I can’t say. I’ll just say things are looking good and one of those projects. people should stay tuned.” 21
HEAR HER ROAR
In her most personal interview yet, Canadian superstar Shania Twain feels more like a woman than ever before By Nelson Branco
“I’m a huge Shania Twain fan.” That’s what Harry Styles says—and he’s not the only one. When Shania Twain burst onto the music scene in 1995, the Windsor and Timmins, Ontario, native became one of the original architects who pioneered the brilliant marriage of country and pop, bringing the hybrid genre to the masses over the 1990s and ’00s. Thanks to songs like “Any Man of Mine,” “Come On Over” and “Man! I Feel Like A Woman,” Twain also captured the imagination of the LGBTQ community—and the drag queen world. In turn, the gay world, which was generally obsessed with pop or cabaret singers, made Twain an unexpected gay icon.
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In fact, “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” became a gay anthem in many ways. Most recently, the song returned to the zeitgeist after this past January’s international Women’s March, after it was universally played as an unofficial feminist anthem at the Washington, D.C. event.
Walk of Fame, and an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. She’s also the only female to have three consecutive albums certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America. In 2004, fans went into mourning when Twain announced she was retiring from performing and returning to Switzerland to live full-time in private. In her 2011 autobiography, she cited vocal issues as a reason why she was taking a break from music. But Twain devotees later came to learn that Twain was tackling an eight-year battle with Lyme disease and dysphonia (a vocal-cord disorder) as well as recovering from the messy divorce from her then husband, Robert John “Mutt” Lange, after 15 years of marriage. “I needed time to take care of myself,” she recalls. But late in September, Twain returned to reclaim what was rightfully hers and dropped her fifth album, Now, to rave reviews—a project that was solely written and co-produced by Twain.
In a 2004 interview with The Advocate, Twain explained why she thought the song resonated, crossing borders with various communities: “It’s not only girl power, it’s gay power. I think that song really stands for both.”
“This album feels like closure for me. It came to a point where I wanted a new beginning, a new phase, and here I am,” she says.
Twain, with her eternal sex appeal and sultry yet soothing voice, appealed not only to the LGBT community but to heterosexual men and women, too. In an exclusive interview with IN, Twain notes, “Music should cross all borders.”
And later this month, Twain will be kicking off Shaw’s Grey Cup Halftime Show on November 26 at TD Place in Ottawa.
“It’s an absolute honour to return to the Grey Cup stage in the In essence, when she first appeared, she was a mainstream and nation’s capital during Canada’s 150th birthday,” Twain said when fringe double threat—something that was rarely seen back in the announcement was made. “I’m thrilled to be coming home and those days (and, one could argue, even today). And just like that, being a part of the country’s biggest annual party.” long before the Carrie Underwoods, Twain was crowned Queen of Country Pop. Since then, Twain has sold over 100 million “Shania is a massive Canadian icon and a global superstar, so we records, cementing her status as the best-selling country music are so excited that she will help us cap off such a significant year female artist of all time—and one of the most successful women for our country at the 105th Grey Cup in Ottawa,” added Randy in music, period. Ambrosie, CFL commissioner. “This promises to be a fantastic event and a special performance for our fans and viewers across Her mantle got very crowded very quickly: five Grammys, 27 Canada and all around the world. I can’t wait to get the party started BMI Songwriter Awards, real estate on Canada’s and Hollywood’s at my first Grey Cup as Commissioner.”
Photos: Giampaolo Sgura
COVER NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2017
If that wasn’t enough to punctuate one big fat gay comeback, Twain was also a judge and mentor this fall on CTV’s new musical competition series, The Launch, along with Fergie, OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder and music mogul Scott Borchetta. (At one point, Twain was mentioned as a possible judge on the rebooted American Idol.)
rock out to it? Or is he embarrassed by ‘Mom’? [Laughs] My son is proud of me. He cheers me on; he’s a big cheerleader. Both my son and husband are my support system. My son is 15 now, so he’s become independent. Yes, he enjoyed having his mom around at home for all these years, but he’s happy to see me working again.
IN caught up with the 51-year-old force of nature and talent to discuss her emotional and physical journey that ultimately led to this much-anticipated comeback we’re all grateful for.
Your career has been immortalized recently, most notably at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum exhibit [Shania Twain: Rock This Country runs through July 15, 2018]. Is it surreal seeing just Act one-ish of your career already in the history books? It is really cool to reminisce. But it’s more of my life being laid out than my career, because I started out so early at such a young age. However, it is surreal. At the end of the day, it is very rewarding looking back and stepping through it all with some perspective now.
Why do you think you resonate with the LGBT and drag community? I think “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” did a lot of that because of relatability through music. Music is the universal language. It’s one thing we can sing together. It opened up a lot of doors and broke down a lot of barriers. A lot of heterosexual men sing the song very happily as well. To me, it was so welcoming. I like to think I represent someone in music who is inclusive, and the spirit of music is unifying. I’m a free spirit in a lot of ways. I love people—especially in a concert setting, where everyone comes together in a diverse audience. I’m so happy to be back performing and touring. Are your son Eja and husband Frédéric Thiébaud—whom I have a crush on, by the way!—ready to get back into this media machine? What does your son think of your music—does he 24
Has your Lyme disease changed you as an artist? I had to learn a lot of things about my voice because I had to rehabilitate it. I learned a lot about my own determination and perseverance. It was a real personal journey and a difficult one. It was super rewarding to get through it and prove to myself that I could record again and get up on stage again and endure a tour. I feel like I’ve accomplished something that I would never have known was in me if I hadn’t faced that adversity—not that I would want that adversity. But since it was there, I think I made the most out of it…as a growth experience.
You recently said that you also appreciate your fans a lot more. Can you elaborate on that? I’m more appreciative of where I am. Lyme disease is very serious. Just getting to the bottom of how it was associated with my voice was a huge journey. It’s a very elusive disease; it’s difficult. Getting back out and singing in front of the audience, it’s almost a miracle that it’s happening to me. I’m just very grateful and thankful to my fans for sticking by me, being patient for 15 years and embracing my return. I have a different sense of gratitude that you generally don’t have without adversity. Did the disease encourage you to make a bucket list—or add to it? Now I realize that there is more I want to do in life and that I’ve got time to do it. I have to hurry up and tick off these boxes. There is so much more I want to do. I want to make more albums, write more songs, write another book like a cookbook because I love to cook and I have a lot of healthy, nutritional knowledge to share now. Lots of active, productive time I want to invest in. I’ll be busy for the rest of my life. Technology has changed the music industry dramatically in the past 15 years. Did you adjust well or do you miss the old days? I just moved with the advancements. My son is 15, which is the last time I put out a record, and I evolved with him. Technology and social media are nothing new to me, especially when you have a child. This is how the new generation buys, finds, hears
music and how they access commentary. It’s not like I stopped living and didn’t pay attention to technology in the music business. I totally get it. How do you stay in such amazing shape? I have to watch what I eat. So low-carb diet, lots of tennis and walking. Do you visit in Canada a lot? I live primarily in Switzerland and I spend a lot of time in Nassau, Bahamas. I get back to Ontario often, though. I love Canada. Did you celebrate our 150th birthday? I was here in Ontario. I saw the Ottawa fireworks; it was pretty great. Your appearance on Hockey Night in Canada during Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins got some major press. Some thought you might have had a bit to drink! Not that there’s anything wrong with that [burp]! I did see bits of it. I was just having fun! I wasn’t mad drinking! Are you kidding? Hockey’s rowdy! It’s time to have fun. It was really loud in [Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena] too. I’m a hockey fan.… So many of our Canadian players play all over North America so no matter where I’m watching, I’m happy and supporting our guys.
NELSON BRANCO is the editor of 24 Hours Toronto and Vancouver. As a contributing editor, he’s penned pieces for magazines like Hello Canada, People and TV Guide, and online sites like Huffington Post. He’s also worked as a TV producer for Breakfast TV and The Marilyn Denis Show. 25 You can follow him at @nelliebranco.
COUNTRY PRIDE These 10 LGBT-friendly country artists really rock By Ashley Kowalewski-Pizzi
While the LGBT community is constantly trying to bust generalizations and stereotypes, it’s hard not to be on the contributing end of that, particularly when it comes to certain genres of music. Country music is one of those genres that get a bad rap for being not only homophobic, but openly anti-gay, though not all artists fall into that category. When the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favour of same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015, many country artists took to social media to show their support for and excitement about something that was a long time coming. But some country stars’ support of the LGBT community runs much deeper: here are 10 country artists who have proven they are true advocates and allies.
Garth Brooks With an over 30-year-long career, it’s no surprise that Brooks is one of the longest-standing LGBT advocates when it comes to music. His 1992 hit “We Shall Be Free” included lyrics such as “When we’re free to love anyone we choose / When this world’s big enough for all different views / When we can all worship from our own kind of pew / Then we shall be free.” Inspired by the gay rights riots happening in L.A. that same year, this song proved to be one of his most controversial, but it earned him a GLAAD Media Award a year later.
Carrie Underwood The devout all-American songstress is one of the few artists who manage to combine religion and LGBT support, and she does so seamlessly and eloquently. Back in 2012, she stated in an interview with the U.K.-based publication The Independent, “Our church is gay-friendly and, above all, God wanted us to love others,” adding, “As a married person myself, I don’t know what it’s like to be told that I can’t marry somebody I love and want to marry. I definitely think we should all have the right to love, and love publicly, the people that we want to love.”
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Dolly Parton Over the course of her career, this country music icon has become so much more than just a friend of the LGBT community, but has become a symbol for the love that the genre can show. In a 2014 interview with Billboard, Parton famously stated, “I don’t think we should be judgmental. Lord, I’ve got enough problems of my own to pass judgment on somebody else.” What could be more appealing? Well, she’s even competed in some of the drag shows that her image has inspired—and has even graciously lost.
Kacey Musgraves Raised in small-town Texas, Musgraves has been quoted as saying that she witnessed the struggles of friends coming out to very conservative families. Her 2003 hit single “Follow Your Arrow” was meant to be an homage to following whatever path you’re on, no matter how people feel about it, including the line “Kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls if that’s something you’re into.” In an interview with Pride Source, she advocated for same-sex marriage: “Whether or not you agree with gay marriage or the fact that people don’t choose to be gay, we share the same emotions, needs and wants. I just think that everyone should be included in that.… Even if you don’t agree with everything I’m saying, as a human, hopefully you can just recognize that people should be able to do what they want to do and love who they want to love.”
The Dixie Chicks This musical trio has a long-standing history of support from the LGBT community. Lead singer Natalie Maines has been quoted as stating “I’m pro gay marriage. I’m pro gay everything,” while singing sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robinson released a song in 2010 titled “Ain’t No Son,” which follows the repercussions when a young boy comes out to his disapproving father.
Willie Nelson While having a song appear in the controversial (for Hollywood) Brokeback Mountain means much by way of the gay alliance, Nelson’s laid-back stance on life, love and weed is what garners him a spot on this list. He’s joked that everyone should have equal rights to be miserable in marriage but, on a more serious note, has simply stated that he’s met both gay and straight people, and “I can’t tell the difference. People are people where I came from.”
Brandy Clark While her career started long before she hit the stage herself, Clark is one of the first few country music artists to come out, and has had the support of both her LGBT and country music communities since then. Her resumé includes writing songs for fellow artists such as Kacey Musgraves, but she has since added performing to her rotation as well.
Wynonna Judd It was well over a decade ago that Judd was publicly condemned by her Christian fans for performing on a gay and lesbian cruise, though she stated that she had a massive gay fan base as well. Later that year, she spoke to The Advocate regarding the backlash, stating, “My job is to lighten the spirit and love the heck out of people who feel really unloved,” adding that it did not prevent her from moving forward with her plans to perform.
Martina McBride While it took a long portion of her career for McBride to become vocal about her support of the LGBT community, she has had a couple of songs that alluded to her advocate side, such as “This One’s for the Girls” and “I Love You.” But in 2009, she took a step further and sat down for an interview with OUT, where she said, “I feel like tolerance is very important. I have three daughters and that’s what I teach them. I think we should all be tolerant of each other and embrace each others’ strengths and differences and uniqueness and beauty.” Tim McGraw In 2010, McGraw appeared in the gay-themed indie flick Dirty Girl, putting him on the roster for LGBT-supporting artists. He later spoke at a Tennessee middle school on anti-gay bullying after a 13-year-old boy committed suicide in Houston as a result of being ridiculed. His wife, fellow country singer Faith Hill, has also been cited as being one of the supportive community that helped Chely Wright through her own coming out.
ASHLEY KOWALEWSKI-PIZZI is a Toronto-based writer and editor who has more pink lipsticks, neon Post-its and daily cups of coffee than the average human. When she’s not testing out beauty products, you can find her hanging around the city with her pup Odie. Follow her at @ashkowapizzi.
COULD COMING OUT HAVE SAVED WHITNEY? Whitney Houston met Robyn Crawford in New Jersey when they were 16 By Michelle Reddick
Rumours of Whitney Houston’s sexuality are nothing new— the whispers and claims followed the star for decades. But thanks in large part to a few buzzy new films about Houston, her life, her loves and her career—and a new memoir from her ex-husband Bobby Brown—those rumours are getting something of a revival. In Houston’s case, the rumours have a sombre, dark tone: we know that she struggled with alcohol, drugs and depression. Her family and friends confirm it. And given the star’s untimely and tragic demise—dead in a bathtub after a drug overdose at only 48 years of age—it raises sorrowful questions. If we know she was unhappy, and many say she was closeted, how much were the two intertwined? And how much did the sum of those parts lead to her death? According to Brown, the answer is “very much indeed.”
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At the centre of those rumours is Robyn Crawford—Houston’s long-time assistant, best friend, confidante, creative director and, according to many, her lover and partner. Although Crawford has never confirmed that there was a romantic relationship, many who worked with Houston claim it was an “open secret” during the early years of her career. Crawford’s father, Dennis, has confirmed there was a romantic relationship, telling Radar Online in April this year, “I knew 40 years ago, we all knew.” Whitney herself refuted claims of a romantic relationship with Crawford, telling Out Magazine in 2000, “I had friends, ’cause I was close to people. But that ain’t me. I know what I am. I’m a mother. I’m a woman. I’m heterosexual. Period.” In the same interview she continued, “But I love everybody. If I was gay, I would be proud to tell you,” cause I ain’t that kind of girl to say, “Naw, that ain’t me.’ The thing that hurt me the most was that they tried to pin something on me that I was not. My mother raised me to never, ever be ashamed of what I am. But I’m not a lesbian, darling. I’m not.”
In Nick Broomfield’s 2017 documentary Whitney: Can I Be Me?, Kevin Ammons, who did security for Houston, says, “Robyn and Whitney were like twins. They were inseparable. They had a bond and Bobby Brown could never remove Robyn.” Houston’s long-time stylist, Ellin Lavar, said of the pair, “Robyn provided a safe place for her…in that Whitney found safety and solace.” Crawford quit working for Houston in 2000. The Telegraph reports that she “too often [found] herself in the middle of jealous fights between Houston and Brown, and disapproval from Cissy [Houston’s mother].” It was a tough year for Houston. Her drug habit was getting worse, as was her mental health. There was a slew of cancelled shows and an incident where airport staff found marijuana in her luggage. Clive Davis, who ran the record label where Houston was signed, says 2000 was the year he became aware of her drug problem. Brown’s thoughts on this period of Houston’s life are chilling. After Crawford left, Houston “didn’t have close friends with her anymore,” he says in his recent book, Every Little Step. We’ll never know Crawford’s thoughts on their relationship—the former assistant does not give interviews on the topic of Houston’s life and career, or their relationship. The tribute she wrote after Houston’s death is the sole exception. In it, Crawford wrote, “I have never spoken about her until now. And she knew I wouldn’t. She was a loyal friend, and she knew I was never going to be disloyal to her. I was never going to betray her.” Touchingly, Crawford wrote, “Now I can’t believe that I’m never going to hug her or hear her laughter again. I loved her laughter, and that’s what I miss most, that’s what I miss already.” If Whitney was gay—or bisexual, as her stylist claims—did she ever consider coming out?
Whatever the relationship, the two were undeniably close. Houston We’ll never know, of course, but what evidence we do have reminds and Crawford met in 1979 when Houston was just 16 years old. us of how hard (or, as some claim, impossible) it would have been Crawford, in a tribute published in Esquire after Houston’s death, to do so and maintain any semblance of a music career. said, “I knew right away she was special.… Not long after I met her, she said, ‘Stick with me, and I’ll take you around the world.” “An artist can be extremely gifted and yet remain unsuccessful if And Houston did. he or she records the wrong music, or gets an image that confuses
Whitney Houston and Robyn Crawford
potential audiences,” said Clive Davis in his 1974 memoir, Clive: Inside the Music Business. Davis signed Houston to his record label, Arista Records, in 1983. How relevant was this “potential to confuse potential audiences”? Completely, says Rosie O’Donnell, who knew both Houston and Crawford. “There was no Ellen. There was no Will & Grace,” says O’Donnell. “Lois Smith was my publicist, and she was Whitney’s publicist. When I would go to a show or the Emmys with my girlfriend Kelly, Lois would literally sit between us. She wasn’t doing it to be mean to Kelly. She was trying to protect me. “At the time, it meant you wouldn’t have a career in show business,” O’Donnell says. “None.” Racial politics also undoubtedly took their toll. Kenneth Reynolds, who worked at Arista, has said that the label would send back material Whitney had submitted if it sounded “too black.” A saxophonist who toured with Whitney says she was “devastated” to learn Black people were calling her a sell-out and had dubbed her “White-ney”. In his memoir, Brown suggests that their marriage was a way for Houston to, as the New York Times summarized: “reclaim her blackness while holding on to a basic image of straightness.” Brown writes, “They couldn’t let Whitney live the life she wanted to live; they insisted that she be perfect, that she be someone she wasn’t. That’s why [the label] wanted Robyn out.”
In fact, the New York Times lays out a timeline that makes the whole relationship seem perfectly orchestrated to bring Houston back into her Black fans’ good graces. Whitney was booed at the 1989 Soul Train Awards during the reading of the nominees for Best R&B/Urban Contemporary Single, Female. In an interview years later, Houston said of the incident, “Sometimes you’re not Black enough. You’re not R&B enough.” The night of the Soul Train Awards, Houston flirted with, and asked out Brown, who had recently become popular with Black youth. It’s well known that Houston’s record label tried to cultivate a star with mainstream appeal, but did they go so far as to maintain that appeal by covering up her sexuality? Clive Davis claims ignorance of any relationship between Crawford and Houston, saying he and Houston “never discussed it.” Rosie O’Donnell refutes this, saying, “For Clive Davis to claim ignorance about this is, I believe, a boldfaced lie.” Davis says that claims he tried to cover up the singer’s true sexuality are untrue. Whatever the truth, it seems evident that Houston’s struggle to balance fame, her relationship, and perhaps the pressures of living in the closet all played a major part in her death. Brown’s thoughts on the matter, as expressed in his memoir, are haunting and poignant: “I really feel that if Robyn was accepted into Whitney’s life, Whitney would still be alive today.”
MICHELLE REDDICK is a writer and editor living in Toronto. Ontario. She writes about food, family, social justice things and good reads. Follow her on Twitter at @Michella_eh.
THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL How a Whitney Houston song became the soundtrack to my life
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By Jumol Royes
When I was a little kid, my family “I found the greatest love all / Inside of me” had a Saturday night ritual: we’d I wrote a love letter to myself not so long ago. It is without a doubt gather in the living room, my mom the most important letter I’ve ever written: would play DJ, spinning records on the record player, and my sister Dear Jumol, and I would dance and sing along to the latest hits. 1980s ballads You are loved just as you are for who you are in this moment. You are were my moment to shine, but a kind, generous, loving, caring, compassionate, intelligent, strong there was one song in particular and beautiful human being. Your life is full of great accomplishments that I loved more than the rest. I and you have many more still ahead to look forward to. can still remember being about five or six years old, standing under an arc floor lamp—which doubled as my spotlight—and Yes, you have experienced challenges, difficulties and disappointments, singing my heart out as if I were auditioning for Star Search (the but that doesn’t mean that you are not worthy of love, happiness OG version of American Idol). It’s a memory that always makes and success in all their many forms. Yes, there have been times me smile because in that moment, I was totally uninhibited and when you’ve stumbled, fallen and failed, but that doesn’t mean completely myself. The song was “The Greatest Love of All” by that you are worth less, undeserving or not good enough…it just the incomparable Whitney Houston, and though I didn’t know it means that you’re human. And, yes, you can choose to be hard on at the time, it would become the soundtrack to my life. yourself and to beat yourself up over what you didn’t do and things you didn’t know, or you can choose to be kind to yourself, to love “Everybody’s searching for a hero” yourself and to show yourself compassion. Coming to terms with my identity and being labelled has been a lifelong struggle. As the proud son of Jamaican-immigrant parents, Jumol, you have it within you to reach for your dreams and to make I was either too Black or whitewashed. To this day, I bristle when them come true. You are not in a race or competition with anyone asked where I’m from. While the question implies that I somehow else. Don’t let your mistakes define you, but rather, let them motivate don’t belong, I’ve come to expect it. My answer, on the other hand, you to do better, to be better. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow often catches people off guard: Etobicoke, born and raised. Growing may never come, but as long as you have today, it’s never too late. up gay in an all-boys Catholic school, I was bullied and called every Forgive yourself for the person you were yesterday, and accept and slur in the book long before I even knew what being gay meant… love yourself for the person you are today. Release who you used and it hurt. Even though l know now that it doesn’t matter who to be; you are new. I love, but simply that I love, those wounds are hard to heal. I’m still not sure how to be a gay man of colour in today’s society—so Remember: You always were, instead, I’m just trying to be the best version of me I can be. you are and you always will be worthy. You are loved just “I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows” for being you. There are two modus operandi woven through the fabric of my life: people-pleaser and perfectionist. It’s always been easy for And if I ever lose track of me to focus on other people’s needs and desires while neglecting what I know to be true, I my own. I never want to let anyone down, disappoint them or hurt think I picked the perfect their feelings. I set impossibly high standards for myself and beat song to remind me. On second myself up when I fall short. I’ve long operated under the mistaken thought, I think maybe the belief that being perfect and making other people happy would song picked me. make me happy, because for a long time it did…until it didn’t. Now I’m learning that I owe myself the same empathy and compassion “The greatest love of all that I so easily extend to those around me. And instead of berating Is easy to achieve myself when things don’t work out as planned, I’m learning to be Learning to love yourself grateful for the gift of resilience. It is the greatest love of all.” 30
JUMOL ROYES is a Toronto-based PR and communications strategist with a keen interest in personal development and transformation. Follow him on Twitter at @Jumol.
A SINNER IN MECCA; A HERO TO THE REST Parvez Sharma releases his written memoir to his 2015 documentary, which explores his sexuality and seems to contrast his faith By Daniel Mitri
Parvez Sharma is, to some people, a very controversial figure; to others, he’s a hero. Despite the many titles the author and filmmaker has been given over his influential career, almost everyone can agree that he is a very brave man. Sharma’s memoir, A Sinner in Mecca, was released on August 15 of this year, and chronicles his journey to Saudi Arabia to embark on hajj (the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca)—a trip that put his life at risk. His written work is based on his 2015 documentary of the same name, which visually depicts Sharma’s religious pilgrimage. The danger in this? Sharma is openly gay. Homosexuality is regarded as a sin in extremely religious Saudi Arabia, where the mere act of embracing one’s sexual identity—if that identity is not heterosexual—is punishable by death. Sharma argues that he obeys his highest religious calling as an openly gay man, despite the immense danger he faces if his identity is revealed. It is through making A Sinner in Mecca that he determines his ability to be a devout Muslim, despite his faith’s views towards homosexuality. In his 2015 documentary, Sharma records his entire hajj, and discusses his sentiments towards each of his experiences. The film also conceptualizes the danger of filming the experience in Saudi Arabia, an act that is forbidden in the country.
its followers, and the extremist interpretation followed by radicals. Sharma also explores a series of other topics throughout his work, such as the commercialization of the religious hajj, the immense amounts of litter and garbage that plague the most holy Islamic land and, of course, the hypocrisy of anti-homosexuality seen throughout the Islamic world. A Sinner in Mecca has received an extensive amount of praise for the captivating and brave story told by Sharma. Reza Aslan, author of Zealot and host of CNN’s Believer, said: “Parvez Sharma’s heroism is rare and his courage well documented. Putting his own life at risk, he takes us on a surprising and compelling journey through the front lines of his much-contested faith. A brilliant follow-up to his films, A Jihad for Love and A Sinner in Mecca.” Sharma’s international fame began in 2007, when he released his first documentary, A Jihad for Love, which explores the coexistence of Islam and homosexuality. Despite its accolades and popularity, his documentary proved to be very controversial, resulting in numerous death threats, online hatred and fatwahs. Sharma currently resides in New York, and his extensive works on politics as well as racial and Islamic issues have appeared in publications such as The Huffington Post, The Guardian and The Daily Beast. While acting as a speaker on Islamic issues at a number of live events, Sharma has also been included in “50 Visionaries Who are Changing Your World,” which was initiated by the Dalai Lama.
In his 2017 memoir, however, Sharma offers a different insight into the dangers he faces as an openly gay man in Saudi Arabia. He is able to intricately describe his vast range of emotions upon completing the holiest of tasks in Islam: discussing moments of fearing being caught, doubts of his own faith, shame of his sexual orientation, and joy of completing his religious duty. Sharma takes an equal focus to discussing the several issues Islam has within itself, including the bitter rivalry between the Sunni and Shia, and the dangers of the extremist Wahhabi doctrine that prevails in Saudi Arabia. The discussions of the rise of global terrorism through extremist groups such as Daesh (also known as the Islamic State or ISIS) ultimately show the difference between Islam and
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.
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Full look: EMPORIO ARMANI 32
STARING FROM ABOVE As if suspended between a tailored past and a present informed by relaxed style, the Today Man uses contrast to make an unpredictable singular statementww Photographer: Keisuke Asano Fashion Director: Danyl Geneciran Model: Noah Duran @ Request
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Motorcycle jacket: SKINGRAFT Pants: RICH KIM
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Shorts 3.1 PHILLIP LIM
HOW TO BECOME A LONG-TERM GAY POWER COUPLE The key to the elusive and enviable long-term relationship
By Paul Gallant
Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé met in 1958 and not long after falling in love, together founded the illustrious Saint Laurent brand.
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“Fashions fade; style is eternal,” the fashion icon once famously declared. Revamp the sentence as “Passions fade; devotion is eternal” and you are getting close to describing the relationship between the two men. They split in 1976, short of a 20-year anniversary, but Bergé continued to drive the company’s affairs. When YSL stopped designing in 2002, Bergé created Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, which conserves and promotes YSL’s vision through two museums, one in Paris, one slated to open this fall in Marrakesh, Morocco, a city both men loved and where they spent much time. Bergé, who died in September at age 86, was perhaps less globally famous than his mate, but he was a well-known businessman and philanthropist in France. He founded and invested in media both mainstream and queer (Globe magazine, Le Monde, Têtu magazine, Pink TV), and backed unflinching gay/AIDS organizations like ACT UP Paris. But his relationship with YSL trumped all other interests. The captain of industry reportedly married YSL (well, formed a union through France’s pacte civil de solidarité) days before the couturier died in 2008. Many gay men joke about the rapid turnover of their romantic relationships—the stereotype has even been used as a perennial argument against same-sex marriage—but I know a substantial number of gay couples who have been together for 25 years or more. Those who have been together for, say, between 30 and 40 years make for interesting case studies, having coupled up at a time when an ugly, painful death caused by HIV/AIDS was a real 42
possibility and rampant homophobia across all sectors of society forced many of them to, at the very least, keep their relationships discreet. With so few people out of the closet back then, and so many of those folks carrying trauma and internalized homophobia, it’s hard to imagine finding someone whose attributes and interests would make it through today’s rigorous app filters or, if they did, having the wherewithal and courage to stick it out. What makes for long-lasting love? It’s fun to theorize about what makes same-sex relationships last for a long time, especially for those who don’t rely on the experience of raising children to keep things fresh. Is it fundamentally about monogamy or non-monogamy, sexual attraction, and how couples deal with lust’s diminishing returns? Is it that long-term relationships require at least one special individual with a miraculous amount of patience for the foibles of others? Do couples whose personalities and habits balance out along some spectrum have an easier time of it? (Perhaps partner #1 loves domesticity while partner #2 loves bringing home the bacon; or partner #1 is a flamboyant attention seeker while partner #2 is a wind-beneath-my-wings type…. I know I’m getting very close to sexism here.) Toronto therapist Jim Cullen says gay couples who naturally yin-yang each other are an anomaly. “They’re lucky to have found each other,” he tells me. “Normally with men, you get two Type A’s together and there’s a lot of jockeying for power and control. Men usually want to be the alpha dog.” Ultimately, most people don’t like taking out the garbage, going through the motions of having meh sex, or withholding their opinions on the perfect paint colour for the bedroom, so staying together in
Yves Saint Laurent and his longtime business and romantic partner, Pierre Bergé at a YSL fashion show in Paris, January 1998 (Getty Images)
the long term comes down to developing ways of communicating and behaving that build respect, understanding and trust.
While it’s possible for a social animal to successfully pair up with a homebody, such a couple needs to develop reliable ways to express these core values. How do I convince you that my staying out until 3 am isn’t disrespectful to you and your love of TV, and that I was honest when I said I didn’t hook up with that guy I told you I had a crush on? Is it the words I say to you? Is it that after each night of carousing I reliably return home ready to sex you up? “How it’s received on the other end is very important, because everybody has a different love language,” says Daniele Doucet, a clinical counsellor and sex therapist in Vancouver and Squamish, BC.
push for an emotional connection, being seen, being understood. All the gay guys I have in my personal life do things independent of each other. I’m queer, and I can tell you that all the queer women in my life do everything together,” says Doucet. Because queer relationships haven’t traditionally had socially propagated templates for success, there is room for invention— which, of course, demands even better communication skills. Since the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada between 2003 and 2005, and the gradual, not-yet-ideal improvement of attitudes towards LGBT people, both Doucet and Cullen have noticed that young queer people today start out on relationships with less internalized homophobia and less negative baggage than their predecessors. But that’s not the only difference. Those who have come of age post-2003 also have a digital world of possibility at their fingertips: a seemingly infinite number of potential partners and sexual conquests, ready reference to polyamorous, non-monogamous and other non-traditional templates for relationships. Some digital natives are better at communicating online than in person, though the latter is what’s needed for maintaining healthy relationships.
You don’t want a copycat relationship either; it’s a recipe for boredom. Cullen suggests having separate interests as well as shared interests, vacations together and also apart. Having the right expectations going into a relationship and adjusting expectations along the way—particularly sexual expectations, as bodies mature, grow soft and perform less dependably—goes a long way. “People often morph into something they think that prospective partners want, as opposed to actually being who they are,” says Cullen. “People who want monogamy will move into open relationships because they’re terrified of losing that partner.” Men especially need to discover who they really are, and learn to express it.
Which is all to say that it’s become much easier—and simultaneously much harder—for LGBT people to find and maintain satisfying long-term relationships.
Over the long term, gay men can risk evolving into cohabitating buddies, each preoccupied with his own thing, not functioning as a unit. By contrast, same-sex female couples often struggle with the opposite problem. It’s true: lesbians can over-process and fuse together, blurring personal boundaries. “For females, there’s a real
A shared purpose and vision, like that shared by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, can’t hurt. A relationship that’s simply an end in itself can more easily grow tired. A relationship that’s built to change the world—or at least make the world look fabulous—can live on forever.
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 43 is currently executive editor at BOLD magazine.
SWEPT AWAY BY PUERTO VALLERTA’S INCLUSIVE SPIRIT “Orgullo feliz!” That’s “Happy Pride” in Spanish By Nelson Branco
Apparently, you can go home-away-from-home again: it has been at least 15 years since I visited Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and this past May, I asked myself what was wrong with me for eschewing one of the most welcoming and most beautiful gay vacay spots in the world? The inclusive beach getaway—first made famous when Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor relocated and filmed projects there to escape the prying eyes of the paparazzi—used to be an annual tradition I shared with friends every February, as we attempted to brainwash ourselves into believing (for at least a week) that winter doesn’t exist. I’m not sure why I stopped travelling to Puerto Vallarta—but as I was aging into my 30s, I became more focused on exploring the vast world on my rare time off. I decided to spend my 43rd birthday in Puerto Vallarta for a few reasons. I never do anything for my birthday, so I decided to treat myself and escape the hectic urban vortex; plus, given the divisive decision by Pride Toronto to not invite the Toronto Police Service to march or participate in this past year’s parade, I wanted to check out how Mexicans were throwing their annual LGBT celebrations. And I’m glad I did, because those ‘bad hombres’ sure know how to throw a Pride parade. (Take that, Trump!)
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It was surreal to witness all the first responders—fire, police, medical, and even military—march in the parade. Oh, and Mayor Arturo Dávalos Peña sashayed down the streets during a weekday sunset. Witnessing Puerto Vallarta’s grassroots Pride event warmed my heart for a variety of reasons: there were no corporate floats—just small gay or gay-friendly businesses/organizations that support the community; the parade lasted an hour...not a five-hour endurance competition; it started and ended on time; it was relatively small with 7,000 people, doubling last year’s attendance and allowing you to watch the festivities from a patio; the parade kicked off 10 days of festivities and parties for 10 days sunset before all the weekend parties; and everyone was invited. As Toronto’s Pride gets more and more commercial, and even more politicized in rainbow brouhaha, I encourage Canadians to visit Puerto Vallarta during its off-but-still-hot season in May—even 44
if it’s just to mix it up to try something different. There aren’t as many tourists, the weather is still gorgeous, and the whole town comes alive to celebrate Pride. Even the Vancouver Pride Society (which disagreed with Toronto Pride’s cop ban) was in attendance; they brought along the original Pride flag, designed by recently deceased artist Gilbert Baker, for the parade. Pretty cool, huh? Along with feeling a renewed sense of pride and community in Puerto Vallarta, here is a cheat sheet to the moments and places I cherished—and recommend you dive into on your next trip: Getting there Tired of the lack of service and amenities (plus the myriad fees for everything under the sun) while flying some Canadian and vacation airlines? I suggest taking Aeromexico to Mexico City and grabbing a connecting flight, because the service is excellent. Flight attendants are dressed to the nines, old school-style, and your meal and drinks are free of charge—as they should be. You also get a video screen with maps and top entertainment choices, pilot interaction and lots of leg room, and their connecting air fleet uses the same modern planes Porter Airlines uses. (I recently flew to Peru on a major airline and it didn’t even have a screen available for entertainment or maps.) You’ll think you’re flying in the ’70s with Aeromexico. I’ve learned that to get the best ride, it’s a good idea to always fly the airline of the country you’re visiting (if possible), because they are the experts in getting in and out of their country, especially given that they get first-landing and takeoff privileges. Costa Sur Hotel and Spa I travel a lot and stay in some pretty posh pads, but this resort hotel—one of the first hotels built on the South Shore—has to be one of my favourites. In fact, the modern yet classic and wooddesigned bachelor/condo suite enveloped me—especially when I lay in bed with the ocean breeze lulling me to a sweet siesta. I could have easily seen myself living there as a permanent residence. It had everything I needed: a full working kitchen and ware, a den, a luxurious bathroom and, oh, an unbelievable view of Banderas Bay, which is perfect to swim in as it’s enclosed, which keeps the
waters calm from the usually aggressive, choppy Pacific Ocean. Its private beach and secluded location are why myriad couples, whether gay or straight, throw their destination weddings there. Plus, Costa Sur is only seven minutes away from the Romantic Area, a.k.a. The Gay Hood, and it’s worth it.
Sapphire Ocean Club Enjoy the finest amenities, including a swimming pool, comfortable lounge chairs and cabañas, towel service, national and international drinks, and fabulous breakfast and lunch menus from an internationally experienced chef.
Café des Artistes For my off the hook birthday dinner, we feasted at Café des Artistes, which also has a location in Los Angeles. The exclusivity, elegance and comfort of its many gourmet-chic environments distinguish this international elite restaurant, which for 25 years has been crowned as the icon restaurant in Puerto Vallarta. If you define yourself by where you eat or if you’re a serious foodie, this is the place you want to be seen at.
Casa Cupula Puerto Vallarta’s legendary boutique resort hotel is set to celebrate its 15th birthday with a three-month celebration of the property’s past, present and future, culminating in a grand Mexican-style quinceañera party. Casa Cupula gained notoriety in 2002 when it became Mexico’s first high-end LGBTQ property. In the years since, the then-five-bedroom guesthouse and oasis for gay travellers has grown into an 18-room full resort complex and an integral part of elevating the reputation of Puerto Vallarta as Mexico’s gay vacation mecca. This year, the new “Frida Suite” will honour iconic Mexican LGBT artist Frida Kahlo.
Deux Mec After nine years of successful operation, Michel’s restaurant in the Romantic Zone has been flipped by Michel Ferrari, who has partnered with Swedish chef Andreas Fischer to bring a new and unique dining experience to Puerto Vallarta. The consistent theme is “casual sophistication,” which is evident at Deux Mec in the use of the finest domestic and imported ingredients to create traditional offerings and new twists on old favourites. Bay of Banderas The Canuwa Luxury Catamaran is the best way to discover Puerto Vallarta and Bahía de Banderas. The 62-foot Luxury catamaran has a 100-passenger capacity and a crew of six sailors plus captain, making it easy for you to enjoy the bay (not to mention the delicious snacks, food and drinks).
Travel tip Puerto Vallarta is a relaxing oasis, with just enough partying to make you forget all your troubles—but make sure you are prepared to navigate the stressful hell that is known as the Puerto Vallarta International Airport. While it has been redesigned since I was last there, it’s still a chaotic zoo when you leave baggage and customs. Gaggles of con people will bombard you with transportation and real estate scams, so be strong and wade through the crap, and either grab a regular city taxi outside or have your hotel arrange pickup; it’ll be worth it. For more information, surf over to visitpuertovallarta.com.
NELSON BRANCO is the editor of 24 Hours Toronto and Vancouver. As a contributing editor, he’s penned pieces for magazines like Hello Canada, People and TV Guide, and online sites like Huffington Post. He’s also worked as a TV producer for Breakfast TV and The Marilyn Denis Show. You can follow him at @nelliebranco.
FLOATING MY BOAT Small-ship cruising along Panama’s two coastlines yields unrivalled R&R, jungle adventure, and a type of unstructured holiday you don’t have to save for your gay old age By Doug Wallace
I rarely get excited about boobies. But then I spot my first one—and I’m mesmerized. I’m talking about blue-footed boobies. I’m on an inflatable skiff looking through binoculars to see their cliffside bird colony on Little Pacheca Island in the Gulf of Panama. My boobies aren’t alone: I also see cormorants, pelicans and more, each commanding their own particular real estate around their wee island rookeries. I’m on a nine-day small-ship journey with UnCruise, an adventure travel outfit from Seattle, toodling around the bays and islets off Panama’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts on Safari Voyager with 40 or so other intrepid travellers. When I first hear about it, I think: What in hell is an un-cruise? You’re either on a cruise or you’re not. I’m wrong, of course. I’m on a boat, yes, but the itinerary and the mindset of the cast and crew are unlike anything I’ve experienced before.
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“We are the antithesis of the big ships,” says UnCruise owner Dan Blanchard, who’s taking a week off to get in on the Panamanian fun with us. “Everything we do is not about the boat, it’s about what’s off the boat—the nature and wildlife. Essentially, the boat is a floating lodge we ‘hub and spoke off’ all day, the tool to get us to the places we can’t get to otherwise.” The week before I sail, I hear from a buddy who had gone on a similar trip. “Pack a clothesline,” she says. “You’re gonna need it.” I have one coming from Amazon in a matter of seconds. On board, the first thing I hang on it are dozens of wet American dollars, soaking from being left in the pocket of my swim trunks. Seriously, the humidity in this part of the world is beyond stifling, even for those who live with it regularly. Thankfully, I adjust quickly
(and so will you), but my cotton stuff never recovers, nor does my canvas backpack, despite being thrown in the ship’s kitchen freezer overnight to try to kill the bacteria. Thank god for quick-drying fabrics. Live and learn. Deep in the rainforest Farther down the Pacific coast from my boobies, we stop in at an Indigenous village in the Darién province, where we spend the afternoon communing with a tribe of very welcoming Emberá villagers who are still living the same traditional jungle life that goes back centuries. As we disembark from motorized dugout canoes, a huge crowd meets us, clapping and singing to drum and pipe accompaniment. After taking in the blaze of colour of the traditional outfits—and the lack of clothing, too—I notice the ubiquitous dark blue tattoos sported by everyone, including the children. They turn out to be drawn with vegetable dye, which contains an ingredient that works as an insect repellent. While some set up craft tables with beaded pendants, woven baskets, carved wooden dishware and the like, others give us tastes of raw sugar cane and show us how they mill grain by hand. After a formal welcome, a bit of ceremonial dancing and a brief rain shower—this is the rainforest, after all—I join one of the villagers giving a tour. The place is desperately poor. These people are clinging to their original way of life, but it in no way looks easy. The ramshackle buildings all on stilts, the mud, the communal gardens, the wash house and a single satellite phone booth—it all points to a harder way of life than I will ever witness again. A simple stockade sits ready to shame wrong-doers. Despite what we see as insufficiencies, the villagers are very proud of it all, committed to the community and their past—and to teaching visitors all about it. A few guests
Eric Lindberg/UnCruise Adventures
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from the ship brave the tattoo lady’s chair to get some freehand embellishment, once we hear the dye only lasts about three weeks.
in the estuary. No wonder these poor creatures go blind from this daily grind. We can see our ship, but aren’t obliged to hurry up, thankfully. This crew is very adept at modifying plans on the fly.
The other cool thing about this area is the mangroves, a region of tropical coastal vegetation comprising salt-tolerant trees and shrubs “Our built-in flexibility is great,” says Blanchard, “but it stretching through the shallow sub-tidal zones. Existing before frustrates our chef sometimes when we call and say, ‘You know, the humans, these magical little plants are their own beautiful ecosystem, conditions are perfect and people are loving this kayak. Let’s stretch filtering the salt out of their roots. Kayaking through the mangroves it a couple of hours.’” yields an exquisite sense of peace and an arresting realization that I’m visiting a place few people ever get the chance to visit. Dreaming on a desert island Later on in the week, after traversing the engineering marvel that is I team up in a tandem kayak with a gentleman of about 70 who the Panama Canal, we’re on the nation’s Atlantic side and heading paddles faster than I can and doesn’t once run out of steam, despite for the Indigenous province of Guna Yala (formerly the San Blas my thinking he will any second. In fact, I have to ask him to slow Islands), a grouping of 360 picture-postcard islands, all white sand, down. There are no shrinking violets on this voyage, and no one palm trees and thatched roofs. We snorkel, paddleboard, kayak has to be told twice to start lining up for the lifejackets. I can tell some more, eat, play volleyball and shop for molas, the colourful that the younger passengers are in awe of some of the older ones, embroidered tapestries the locals have brought to our-islandwho have 10 tons of gumption. Being adventurous isn’t something for-the-day. Mostly we just chat and laze about. I get talking with you grow out of, I guess. one of the men selling crafts, who asks a ton of questions about Toronto, and about my job and what my house looks like. Other It used to be that the older generation “was happy to look, to stand local men try to convince one of our guides to buy the lobsters out on the bow and see a whale or a glacier or a bear,” says Blanchard. they have in their boat, but the kitchen declines. When I realize “The boomers and GenXers aren’t satisfied with just seeing. They there are two days of this particular nothingness, I am ecstatic. need to touch it and experience things in a meaningful way.” The second day, on a different and even smaller island, I’m My takeaway in this regard is that I’m going the adventure route snorkelling and following a few reef fish around in the shallow while I’m still fit enough to kayak, paddleboard, snorkel for more waters, lost in my own thoughts and not really looking up, so I than an hour, hop in and out of handmade wooden canoes in don’t see the clouds coming or the beach crew packing up before the rain. I’m part of the last group of people out of the water and the jungle and then drink beer all night. into a skiff to head back to the ship. As we sit quietly and stare at We slow our kayaks down quite a bit to squeeze as much out of the incredible sky, one of my boatmates mentions to Blanchard that the mangrove experience as possible. Even my paddle mate eases she’s never been anywhere else where there are no other boats around. off on the full steam ahead. We veg out in the approaching sunset, drinking in the silence, watching the pelicans dive-bomb for fish “That’s the un-part,” Blanchard replies. 48
DOUG WALLACE is the editor and publisher of travel resource TravelRightToday.
WORKPLACES TO CONSIDER CELEBRATING DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN THE WORKPLACE.
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FLASHBACK DECEMBER 1973 IN LGBT HISTORY
A major step forward for what would become the modern LGBTQ rights movement
By the early 1950s, homosexuality was seen as an emerging threat and beginning in 1951, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-I) classified homosexuality as a mental illness. But those views were challenged 44 years ago when, on December 15, 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) voted to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. The New York Times alerted the world with this Page One announcement:
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The American Psychiatric Association, altering a position it has held for nearly a century, decided today that homosexuality is not a mental disorder. The board of trustees of the 20,000 member organization approved a resolution that said in part, “by itself, homosexuality does not meet the criteria for being a psychiatric disorder.” Persons who are troubled by their homosexuality, the trustees said, will be classified as having a “sexual orientation disturbance” should they come to a psychiatrist for help. The full APA would go on to ratify the policy statement the following year.
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Published on Oct 30, 2017