OutWords // Letter to the Editor
th 200 ISSUE
SATINA LOREN: REVEALING HER INNER DISNEY THE CHALLENGES TO
FINDING LOVE ONLINE
LAVREAULT UNCOVERING LGBT
BARRIERS TO LEADERSHIP OutWords | April 2013 | Issue 200 | Serving the GLBT Community Since 1994 April
2013 // www.outwords.ca // 1
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OutWords // Index
4 5 6 8 11
Letters to the editor Students roll in bill 18 Editorial
LGBT families approved in France International news briefs
Supreme Court sentences Whatcott National news briefs
A call for LGBT leaders
Disney drag queen, year-round
OutWords fundraiser features Shandra Lavreault
Truth or dare: finding love online
FINDING YOUR Balance with the rainbow resource centre
Putting the â€˜gayâ€™ in school
Homophobia in sports is disappearing
Volleyball coach fired, blames homophobia
A short(s) story
Al Rae in Rainbowland
The future in tech Tech column
April 2013 // www.outwords.ca // 3
OutWords // Letters to the Editor
THE MANY FACES OF BULLYING In writing this letter my goal is not to minimize the experiences of anyone bullied, but I would like to draw attention to the fact that being bullied for being ‘the tall geeky guy,’ as Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba leader Brian Pallister described his experience with bullying, is much different than a student like myself who faces the fear of homophobia every day of my life. Research shows that LGBTT* students are at a higher risk of skipping classes, failing and dropping out of school because they do not feel safe. As a result of this unsafe environment, LGBTT* youth experience higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal feelings. Brian Pallister thinks a Tall Geeky Guy Club wouldn’t have helped him when he was in school and that might be true, but what he seems to be missing is the important positive
impact anti-bullying clubs or gay-straight alliances (GSAs) can have when students join. Michael Rushinka from Sturgeon Heights Collegiate was right in his statement that some adults “don’t live it, so they never really understand it” or they have the assumption that because they dealt with it during their time in high school, why can’t we. Anti bullying clubs or GSAs are groups where students can talk about the hatred, bullying and issues that they are facing every day realizing you are not alone is an important step towards self acceptance. I want to end this letter by saying that Bill 18 is about much more than GSAs. It’s about protecting all students from bullying in the classroom, at school, outside of school and online. Bill 18 won’t solve bullying as a whole in Manitoba, but it is another tool for students who may feel like they have no support at all. - James Turowski
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT To Tyler, the young man who was harassed while walking to Gio’s: Tyler dude, you are going to run into assholes all the time. But imagine that in the late ’80s people wore paper bags over their heads at the first gay pride in Winnipeg due to the fear of legally being fired, losing your apartment, or possibly even losing your kids. Keep this in mind at the next gay pride. It’s not all about fun and games. It’s still political action so think about how far we have come in the last 30 years and think of where we will be in another 30 years. Keep speaking out about your experiences and speak up if it’s safe to do so. Keep your head up high, buddy, and you are not alone! - Roy
MLA for Assiniboia 204-888-7722 JimRondeau.mb.ca
MLA for Fort Rouge 204-946-0272 JenniferHoward.ca
Your Members of the Legislative Assembly
Understand What Matters to the Community
MLA for Dawson Trail 204-878-4644 Ron-Lemieux.ca
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Rob Andrew Altemeyer Swan MLA for Wolseley 204-775-8575 RobAltemeyer.ca
MLA for Minto 204-783-9860 AndrewSwan.ca
MLA for St. Vital 204-237-8771 NancyAllan.ca
OutWords // Editorial
editor : Ksenia Prints Social media editor : Miles McEnery News & music editor: Danelle Cloutier Entertainment editor: Graeme Coleman Sports, books & movies editor: Meg Crane
Fashion & Beauty editor: Jefre Nicholls Food & lifestyle editor: Shayna Wiwierski art director & layout : Dylan Bekkering Assistant layout : Michele Buchanan Financial officer: Darron Field distribution: Jared Star, Terry Wiebe web manager: Vic Hooper sales representative: Cheryl Ezinicki Cover Photo: Tina Jansen contributors to this issue: Peter Carlyle-Gordge, Marina Koslock, Larkin Schmiedl, Corey Shefman, Samantha Katz, James Onellette, Jonathan Kindzierski, Tina Jansen board of directors: Debbie Scarborough, Diane Ready, Kevin Hills, Barbara Bruce, Sky Bridges, Dale Oughton, Darron Field , Helen Fallding, Shayne Duguay, Gail Eckert, Liz Millward OutWords 201-63 Albert St. Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 1G4 Phone: (204) 942-4599 For office hours, please call. General Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org Editor: email@example.com Creative: firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising: email@example.com Distribution: firstname.lastname@example.org Accounts: email@example.com Event Submissions: firstname.lastname@example.org Letters Submissions: email@example.com Website: www.outwords.ca OutWords provides news, analysis and entertainment for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit and queer community and its allies. GST 89671 7618RT, ISSN 1715-5606 (print) ISSN 1715-5614 (online) Canada Post Publication Licence 416 99032, Contents copyright © 2013 OutWords Alll rights reserved. OutWords is a member of the Manitoba Magazine Publishers’ Association. Articles are not necessarily the views of the staff, management, or board. We accept no liability for our advertisers’ claims.
STUDENTS’ ROLE IN BILL
Published by the outwords volunteer staff:
THE VOICES OF THOSE MOST AFFECTED ARE STRANGELY ABSENT FROM DEBATE
astor Ray Duerksen said in his sermon to thousands of parishioners at Steinbach’s Southland Church on Feb. 24, “Bill 18 is the greatest challenge facing Christian churches, and said it is part of a hidden agenda to destroy Christianity,” reported the Winnipeg Free Press (WFP). Duerksen also said that the clause in Manitoba’s anti-bullying bill that would mandate schools to accommodate students who want to start a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) is an attack on “religious freedom.”
This bill is messy and I can’t cover all the different sides of the debate in this short editorial. All I can offer is a one-sided argument and criticism about how students’ voices are missing from the debate. The anti-bullying bill isn’t meant to destroy Christianity. Certainly, a catalyst of the bill could be that more people will stand up to homophobic ideologies of conservative religious homophobes, but that has nothing to do with faith; faith can exist without homophobic ideologies as pro-LGBTQ* churches have proven. Also, many people from the LGBTQ* community are part of a faith community. Frankly, more people need to feel comfortable standing up to homophobic ideologies and GSAs, groups that are meant to bring together LGBTQ* and straight students for support and education, could help with that. If allowing students to start GSAs is an attack on religious freedom then not allowing students to start GSAs is an attack on every Canadian’s right to feel safe and free from oppressive restraints. Bill 18 is meant to keep students safe. Steinbach is at the crux of the argument that the bill will destroy religious freedoms but Evan Wiens, a Grade 11 student at Steinbach Christian Secondary School, started a GSA. The story about Wiens was one of the few media stories about the Safe and Inclusive Schools Act that reported on a student affected by the bill.
Strangely, students will be the ones most affected by the bill, but their voices are absent from the debate. According to the students interviewed in the media, GSAs could provide a safe environment for LGBTQ* support and education. Or, GSAs could make its group members targets, like it did for one girl. In Rob Nash’s Bill 18 opinion piece in the WFP, he mentioned a girl who said she became depressed and suicidal the day after she joined a GSA because someone carved an anti-gay slur in her locker. She was in tears when she told Nash, “If you meet someone looking to join this alliance, make them think twice,” adding that it was the worst mistake she had ever made. Almost two-thirds or 64 per cent of Canadian LGBTQ* students and 61 per cent of students with LGBTQ* parents reported that they feel unsafe at school, according to Every class in every school: The first national climate survey on homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in Canadian schools. LGBTQ* students have the right to feel safe at school and it’s everyone’s responsibility to encourage students to talk about what policy makers could do to make them feel safe. Thankfully, a confidential, anonymous, online survey may do just that. Tell Them From Me will be available to 550 Manitoban schools this fall in support of Bill 18. The survey allows students to tell teachers, principals and other officials about bullying and aims to determine action plans to help keep schools safe. OutWords is helping students’ voices be heard through our new GSA column with a submission from the Gray Academy of Jewish Education. These students have their own take on how faithbased schools can be accepting towards everyone, regardless of how their religion may confront their sexual orientation. This column is fittingly starting in this issue’s theme of New Beginnings. Tweet @OutWords or post on our Facebook wall to let us know how Bill 18 affects you.
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OutWords // International News // Compiled by Peter Carlyle-Gordge
France’s National Assembly
marriage & adoption bill
Italian media is accusing the Pope of resigning based on the results from an internal Vatican investigation. Photo from Getty Images.
VATICAN SLAMS GAY SEX SCANDAL ACCUSATIONS VATICAN CITY—Vatican officials have pushed back against reports from the Italian media which claimed that Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation was due to pressure from a secret group of gay clergy. The Pope cited age and health as reasons for his surprising resignation, but the Italian daily La Repubblica claimed his resignation was partly due to the results of an internal Vatican investigation. The report showed Vatican affairs were being influenced by a “gay lobby” and that some blackmail might be involved.
The report is said to suggest that there was widespread breaking of commandments within the Holy See, including the seventh commandment, “thou shalt not commit adultery,” which was blamed on a “gay lobby” influencing the Holy See to commit sexual offences, according to Pink News. Pope Benedict XVI was allegedly given the report on Dec. 17, the same day he resigned. The newspaper claimed it hardened his resolve to step down as leader of the Catholic Church, something not seen by the Church in 600 years.
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia—Madonna is in the clear after a Russian Appeals court upheld a previous ruling rejecting a $10.5 million lawsuit filed against Madonna for allegedly promoting LGBT rights at a concert in St. Petersburg last summer. Nine protesters launched the lawsuit against Madonna, claiming they faced “moral suffering” after her performance in the city last August, Pink News reported. During her concert, Madonna criticized Russian laws banning the promotion of homosexuality and handed out pink bracelets. She also sent a message of support for members of the jailed LGBT-supporting feminist punk band Pussy Riot. Russian court dropped lawsuit against Madonna for promoting LGBT rights. 6 // April 2013 // www.outwords.ca
French leftist deputies applaud the National Assembly’s vote in favour of same-sex marriage. Photo by Remy de la Mauviniere, AP.
PARIS—Despite strong opposition, the French National Assembly has approved a law allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. After days of intense debate, the bill was passed by 329 votes to 229 and must now win final approval in the Senate. The Senate is controlled by the Socialists and their allies and is thought to back the measure, which will become law by May or June, reported BBC News. President Francois Hollande’s Socialists and other left-wing MPs backed the socalled “marriage for all” bill. But it was strongly opposed by many in the conservative opposition party UMP. The bill has also provoked months of mass protests and counter-protests from opposition. The Catholic Church and many French Muslims see the bill as an attack on the traditional family. With the Assembly’s vote, France joins Britain in taking steps toward being the largest European countries to allow same-sex marriage and adoption.
OutWords // International News
ARE USELESS: WARSAW, Poland—Krystyna Pawlowicz, member of Parliament for right-wing Polish opposition party Law and Justice, made homophobic remarks in a speech at a recent debate about the legalization of equal marriage in the staunchly Catholic country. In a loosely translated speech, Pawlowicz said she could not support or sponsor equal marriage legislation because gay people “are of no use whatsoever to society.” Her homophobic comments came shortly after Anna Grodzka, Poland’s first transgender MP, was nominated by the Palikot’s Movement party to fill the position of deputy speaker in parliament, according to Pink News. Support for equal marriage in the country has doubled since 2003 but it still remains at a low 16 per cent of support in Poland, according to a January poll by TNS Polska.
ANTI-GAY ON TALK SHOW U.S.—A rally has helped deliver a petition with 1.4 million signatures pushing for the Boy Scouts of America to drop its ban on gay members, volunteers and staff. The organization’s board has been pondering whether to ditch its national ban. If lifted, regional scout troops will be able to make independent decisions on whether to be inclusive of gay members. Meanwhile TV personality and lesbian comedienne Ellen DeGeneres has criticized the organization during her daytime talk show for delaying a vote to end the ban, according to Pink News. “If the Boy Scouts start treating gays equally, they’re going to become the first group to do it — after the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the marines, the coast guard, all of the United Kingdom and Cher,” DeGeneres said on her show. She also recalled her own days as a girl scout as well as the case of Ryan Andresen, an 18-year-old scout who was denied the coveted Eagle Scout award because he is gay.
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OutWords // National News // Compiled by Peter Carlyle-Gordge
CONFIDENTIAL TESTING FOR A SOMETIMES-UNDETECTABLE STI Ottawa implemented a bathhouse testing project to detect chlamydia, shown magnified in the picture.
OTTAWA—In response to a rise in cases of chlamydia, the City of Ottawa has reintroduced a confidential bathhouse testing project to encourage testing for those who don’t want to see a clinician. Ottawa Public Health (OPH) and Patrick O’Byrne, an associate professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Ottawa, launched the anonymous program targeted at bathhouses such as Steamworks or Club Ottawa to fight the sexually transmitted infection (STI) that’s now the number one STI reported in Ottawa. The number of cases of chlamydia has been rising for years. OPH reports that between 2005 and 2009, it recorded 1,618 cases of chlamydia on average per year. That number jumped to 2,314 cases in 2010. Chlamydia is a bacterial infection transmitted through giving or receiving oral,
VIOLATES HUMAN RIGHTS OTTAWA—In a 6-0 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled a Saskatchewan crusader violated Saskatchewan’s Human Rights Code when he distributed anti-gay pamphlets in 2000 and 2001. The high court also refined the definition of hate speech by striking down some language in the provincial code, clearing William Whatcott of any
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The Ottawa Public Health website allows people to take an STI risk-assessment quiz and print a lab request form.
anal and vaginal sex. Andrew Hendrix, program manager for the city’s sexual health initiatives, told reporters that sex without condoms in the number one reason for the rise of the sometimes undetectable STI. The OPH’s Get Tested, Why Not? website allows people to take a riskassessment quiz and print a lab request form. Concerned individuals can bring the form to any lab listed on the website and submit a urine sample.
wrongdoing with the other two flyers. The court found the language in the code that defines hate literature as something that “ridicules, belittles or otherwise affronts the dignity of any person” unconstitutional. The Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal originally ordered Whatcott to pay a total of $17,500 to the four complainants for the pamphlets that referred to gay men as sodomites and pedophiles, according to the Winnipeg Free Press. The Supreme Court decision means he’ll have to pay one complainant $2,500 and another $5,000. Whatcott, a born-again Christian, vowed to produce more pamphlets “taking issue” with the Supreme Court’s ruling and spreading his other views.
The University of Regina opened 10 gender-neutral washrooms on campus. Photo by Dani Mario of CBC.
OF REGINA OPENS GENDER-NEUTRAL
REGINA—The University of Regina has changed 10 formerly wheelchair accessible single-stall washrooms into genderneutral washrooms. Mikayla Schultz, the president of the TransSask Support Services, said it symbolizes change. “This sign, to me, is a sign of better things to come,” Schultz told CBC News. Schultz has undergoing a gender transition and said using a woman’s washroom has never felt comfortable. “A woman came into the washroom after me and I overheard her say that there are strange people in the washroom and making under-the-breath comments about me being in the washroom.” Switching the signs on Feb. 15 cost the university $2,000. The washrooms invite anyone, including people with disabilities, to use them.
OutWords // National News
ON SEX EDUCATI
WEBSITE MANITOBA—The Sexuality Education Resource Centre (SERC) Manitoba rebranded and launched a new website to make sexual health information more accessible. The community-based non-profit organization aims to promote sexual
ONTARIO’S TOP AIDS ADVOCATE DIES, AGE 82 TORONTO—Ontario’s AIDS community has lost one of its most important advocates with the death of Jay Browne, who has died from liver cancer at the age of 82. A social worker and former civil servant, Browne was one of the first people in Ontario to say publicly that “to fight HIV, we have to fight homophobia.” His Burlington memorial service was attended by more than 300 family, friends and people from the HIV community, Xtra reported. For three decades he was involved in all aspects of HIV in Ontario. Throughout his work, Browne recognized that people living with HIV (he called them “heroes”) had to actively help lead the response to the epidemic. Although not a public figure, he was well known and respected by people involved in AIDS work.
health through education from its two Manitoba offices, one in Winnipeg and one in Brandon. “One of our mandates in our strategic plan is to try and do a broader job of reaching all Manitobans,” Roselle Paulsen, director of programs at SERC Manitoba, told the Winnipeg Free Press. Paulsen added that SERC pays particular attention to LGBT aboriginal and refugee and immigrant communities. Paulsen said the new website will make it easier for people to access sexual health information, including information about relationships, pregnancy options, birth control, safe sex, sexually transmitted infections and talking with your children about sexuality.
LGBT trailblazer barbara findlay received a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
HONOURED WITH QUEEN’S MEDAL VANCOUVER—Noted lesbian lawyer and human rights activist barbara findlay is one of 30 people recently recognized with a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal by Vancouver Centre MP Hedy Fry. Findlay said the Canadian legal landscape has changed in ways she never expected to see, much less shape, in her 36 years representing oppressed people. She told Xtra she was delighted that the recipients of this award have included many queer people across Canada. “This would have never happened 15 or 20 years ago,” she said. “I’ve been very privileged to be practising as a lesbian lawyer at a time when the Charter of Rights has enabled us to transform the legal landscape in Canada.” Findlay has represented the LGBT community in landmark cases, including same-sex marriage in B.C. and establishing the right of two lesbian mothers to both be registered on their child’s birth certificate. She also represented a transgender woman’s right to be considered a woman in Kimberly Nixon v. Rape Relief and a jailed transgender woman’s right to have sex reassignment surgery and to be housed in a facility for women.
April 2013 // www.outwords.ca // 9
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OutWords // Letter to the Editor
STANDING UNDER THE RAINBOW SPOTLIGHT
Encouraging political leadership in the GLBT community Peter Carlyle-Gordge
ate last September, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden hosted an end-of-summer barbecue at his official residence to recognize emerging young leaders of the GLBT community. They were joined by senior Obama administration officials and GLBT leaders from all over the country. The guests – students and community organizers, advocates, artists and military veterans – represented the tremendous diversity and talent within the GLBT community. They were all committed activists for the pursuit of equality, justice and dignity for GLBT people. Now imagine the same happening at 24 Sussex Drive. Even though Canada has long led the U.S. when it comes to basic gay rights, gay marriage and general respect, it’s hard to picture, eh? Leaders need encouragement, especially when young. They need to have positive role models from the GLBT community to gain the confidence needed to assume mantles of leadership in their chosen fields. The arts have long been more transparent about their leading gay icons, whereas professional sports organizations have not. Politics is a bit iffier. Former MP Svend Robinson was out long ago before his fall from grace (he admitted to stealing a ring from a public auction site in 2004). Glen Murray, as Winnipeg mayor, was also out well before other civic leaders. But are GLBT people more reluctant to assume leadership roles? Ontario now has a lesbian premier, Kathleen Wynne, the sixth female premier in Canada at the moment.
Clearly, some sexist barriers have fallen, but will we soon see a gay or lesbian prime minister? Quite a few provincial legislative assembly members and MPs are known to be GLBT but pursue a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, lest there be real or imagined electoral backlash. Mental health therapist Rosa Colavito-Palao at Nine Circles Community Health Centre in Winnipeg said there are some factors working against GLBT people assuming leadership mantles. “There are barriers because of the way many GLBT people grew up,” she said. “They may have lacked self-esteem and believed they were somehow unacceptable in mainstream society. Things may have improved in recent years but an awful lot of GLBT youth still see suicide as a way out and that tells you a lot.” “To be a leader you need strong support from your early environment and your parents,” said Colavito-Palao. “To be in the limelight you need strong belief in yourself and that may be lacking.” Jim Rondeau, Manitoba minister of healthy living, seniors and consumer affairs, is not short on self-esteem. He said that even when he was a teacher, he was out and took his male partner to social events. “The GLBT community is well represented in our caucus and most people recognize me for who I am, not for my sexual orientation,” he said. “In the last two elections I only ran into two comments based on my orientation and I do not face discrimination at all. It was an issue when Glen Murray first ran, but it doesn’t seem to be an issue nowadays. “
Rondeau was the first openly gay member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, but he was since joined by Jennifer Howard, now the minister of family services. “For most people, especially younger ones, sexual orientation is not an issue,” Rondeau said. “They judge you on how well you do your job, not who your partner is.” He said Manitoba has long been a leader in human rights issues and was ahead of other provinces in recognizing the GLBT community. “Education
To be a leader you need
STRONG SUPPORT from your early environment
and your parents, - Rosa Colavito-Palao
is what overcomes prejudice and ignorance,” Rondeau said. “That’s why the work of the Rainbow Resource Centre is so important.” Being out in a leadership role takes courage, but Rondeau said the more GLBT leaders there are, the easier it will be for GLBT people to step into leadership positions. “Glen Murray was courageous in doing that, but every time someone does it, it makes life a little easier for the next guy.” - Peter Carlyle-Gordge is a Winnipeg- based freelance writer, former producer for CBC radio and former Maclean’s writer.
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OutWords // Fashion
12 // April March2013 2013 //// www.outwords.ca www.outwords.ca
OutWords // Fashion
SHOW Photography: Samantha Katz • Fashion: Jefre Nicholls • Hair and Make-Up: James Ouellette Model: Jonathan Kindzierski, Mr. Gay Winnipeg 2013
It’s that not-so-cherished time of year again, when the number of gym enrolments goes up and the amount of carbohydrates you inhale goes drastically, dramatically down; it’s bathing suit season. In less time than it takes to watch a half-season of “The Biggest Loser” hundreds, nay, thousands of beach-ready bodies will burst forth on sandy slopes all around the world. Now, although we may not be able to decrease your percentage of body fat, or help those last few abs make their debut, we here at Outwords can make sure, when your body’s ready for the beach, so will your wardrobe. The Italian-cut short has been around for the past couple of years – and for good reason. With just a couple more inches of fabric, this second cousin of the Speedo gives you all the fashion and function you could possibly want in a tight little package. The secret is simple; the trunks’ hem hits just at the right place on the upper thigh to make sure your most important asset is ready for its Coppertone moment.
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Thanks to LMFAO fans all over the globe, it’s finally socially acceptable again to rock the Speedo. Reinvent this staple in a vibrant shocking colour or print to really turn heads poolside. Named back in the early 20th century for the speed the new swimwear brought its wearer, this sleek racerback breaststroked its way to fame shortly after Swedish swimmer Ann Borg smashed a world record wearing a Speedo swimsuit. Custom printed Speedo, model’s own; gold harness from Aldo Accessories; woven straw hat, vintage GAP; pearl sunglasses and pasties, stylist’s own.
OutWords // Letter to the Editor
A new swimsuit silhouette that has been making a splash all over the runway for the past two seasons is the retro short. This reincarnated body first surfaced in the fifties, but is back in a big way with an updated look. Having risen from the ashes of tacky Hawaiian board shorts, the retro short is cut higher on the thigh, it often sports a cute beach scene or a washed vintage print and it can double during the day as shorts. We recommend pairing these summer gems with great loafers, boat shoes or espadrilles, sans socks for the full summer look.
Black Italian-cut shorts by Diesel Black Gold; black patent leather gym bag by Sean John; pyramid spike bracelet from Aldo Accessories; black lava stone and crystal necklace, custom designed by Jon De Porter; Black patent leather gladiator sandals by Balenciaga.
John wears an island scene mirror print shirt with gold sun buttons by Versace Jeans Couture; tortoise-shell sunglasses, blue satin envelope clutch and gold buckle belt by BCBG; Hawaiian beach scene print retro shorts from Club Monaco; leather and red stone sandals by D&G.
April 2013 // www.outwords.ca // 15
OutWords // Entertainment
AL RAE IN
RAINBOW LAND Though it wasn’t an easy process, Al Rae feels he has been strengthened by his coming out. Photo courtesy of Winnipeg Comedy Festival
A WINNIPEG COMEDIAN COMES TO TERMS WITH HIS SEXUALITY By Marina Koslock
fter a twenty-three year heterosexual marriage, Al Rae was ready to come out. The comedian, writer and artistic director of Winnipeg Comedy Festival has spent years creating innovative and inclusive programming, all while struggling with the truth of his own sexuality. Looking back at his life, Rae said he knew all along. Though he was immersed politically and intellectually in queer life, he was too anxious to face it sexually. He remembers at the end of the ’60s, when he was six or seven, being on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow with his mother, her friend and her friend’s daughter. The woman asked the little girl who she was going to marry and she mentioned a boy she liked. Rae piped up and said definitively that he was to marry his best friend, David. The woman laughed at him and told him blatantly that men can’t marry men. Rae’s coming out process occurred in stages. “I was raped and I was molested by
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older boys, and a lot of it lived way down at the bottom of a mine of shame,” he said about his sexuality. The thought of coming out grew even more terrifying. Then about eight years ago, Rae saw the film The History Boys and recalled each of his high school boy crushes as his heart melted. Soon, he was writing a play about abuse, gender and the experience of being queer. The narrative of his life was slowly woven into an intellectual work, describing what it felt like to be able to be emotionally - but not sexually queer within a heterosexual marriage. Rae eventually met someone and felt the love he truly desired. “I needed to be held, to love and give love to a man,” Rae bluntly stated. “I knew with courage and authenticity I could live the life I was already dreaming of.” Rae’s ex-wife knew about his sexuality for a while before he fully came out. He came out to his daughter, then his parents, relatives, close friends and co-workers. “It really was
a process,” he said, adding that we are now living in a different time. He found that some people had guessed, while other close friends were shocked. Rae was surprised when some people he expected to be troubled by the news, weren’t, which filled him with joy. He said there was a type of guilt that you have when you are very close to male friends, but don’t share that integral part of you. “You see yourself in a certain way, but then there is the way the people around you perceive you to be,” he said. “It’s a big lie. And big lies breed small lies, and that leads to a slow soul murder. Our souls are pure and so naïve. Deceit shatters, and a fragmented soul lives in a life of pain,” he said, describing the liberty in the ability to be himself. Rae sobered up years ago, but before that time, he lived in a drunken stupor and emotional coma, hiding the truth. “The closet is dark, but it’s small and it’s comforting, so it’s the same numbness all
OutWords // Entertainment
“The closet is dark, but it’s small and it’s comforting, so it’s the same numbness all the time. Once you start feeling the emotional floodgates open, real life is confronted.” - Al Rae the time,” he said. “Once you start feeling the emotional floodgates open, real life is confronted. These last few months have been hard for everyone in the circle of humans that my choices impact, but I am happy. It’s not always great, but the love and happiness I feel is a blanket now. I feel closer to my daughter, because of this honesty, I believe our relationship has matured.” Rae had joined the Keystone Rainbow Curling League, an LGBT* curling league, when he
IR 25 N OF THE
FO P MAUINRVITEEE NYOU TO JOIN THEM
C HAJ E K
E C N A D G N I IS ONS MAGAZINE FOR HERIZ
RED TREET LY-RESTO W E N E ONALD S H D T 1 F 8 O 2 M : ROO ADVANCE THE BALL
- Marina Koslock is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer.
P & S HAR O N T S A G R E D A R EN
RATIO IN CELEB
A R D N U F
longer go along with comically, because they are too mean, too smug.” As for advice to people in similar situations in “Rainbowland”, as he lovingly calls it, he simply said that one cannot live like that forever, because it will kill one’s spirit. “So even if trying to be different kills you, you are a dead man walking,” he said slowly. “If you’re still standing at the end of it, you can dust off your pants and hold your head high.” Rae said his day-to-day life has not shifted out of the ordinary. He still sits at home, watching old seasons of “Project Runway” while eating chips and writing, presently working on a novel about curling to be published this Christmas.
was still in the closet and now that he’s out, he said his game is better than ever. In some ways, Rae believes he is at the end of the coming-out phase. He has encountered the congratulatory handshakes and the shocked slew of curse words, but he does not feel brave. Things in his life have simply settled, as he said they always do. Rae believes it is a blessing that this has finally happened, as his spiritual core, which never lost its growth potential, now freshly buds. “It’s a bit weird being a minority, for the first time in my white, male, Englishspeaking, privileged life,” he joked. “For once, I am accountable for my outsider status – I am out. So yes, I hear the mildlyhomophobic comments meant to be jokes in a different way. My partner Damien teases me, saying that as a comic, I now have less material and yes, there are some things I no
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April 2013 // www.outwords.ca // 17
part of her world OutWords // Entertainment
By Danelle Cloutier
nce upon a time in Winnipeg, a young man transformed into drag queen Satina Loren and explored her life-long love of Disney through photographs to support and educate LGBTQ* children. It sounds like a fairytale but it’s not. In dazzling frocks and vibrant makeup, Satina,(Kerry Dale) is the star of professional photographer Tina Jansen’s photographs (selling for $5 as signed prints and $20 as a September 2013 to December 2014 calendar). In gratitude to the Rainbow Resource Centre (RRC), an LGBTQ* outreach and education nonprofit in Winnipeg, Loren will donate the money she raises to the organization and its Youth Educating Against Homophobia (YEAH) program. “My main goal is to showcase Tina’s brilliant work as a photographer, while showing everyone what I love, which is the magic and imagination that fairy tales create, while giving the funds to charities
18 // March 2013 //// www.outwords.ca www.outwords.ca April 2013
I completely endorse and believe in one hundred per cent.” The fairytale goddess is fundraising for YEAH, a program that celebrates diversity and raises awareness about the impacts of homophobia, on behalf of her position as Imperial Grand Duchess XIII. Satina is the Duchess for the Imperial Sovereign Court of Winnipeg and All of Manitoba (ISCWAM), an organization that aims to raise funds for local charities. ISCWAM is one of the chapters of the International Imperial Court System, the second largest LGBT* organization in the world. A time and place for the calendar’s release party have yet to be determined, but Satina and Tina’s seductive work is expected to be available for purchase in May at RRC and through Facebook, payable by PayPal.
- Danelle Cloutier is the news and music editor at OutWords.
OutWords // Entertainment
A glimpse into the Winnipeg Duchessâ€™ Disney calendar
April 2013 // www.outwords.ca // 19
OutWords // Columns/Opinions
ON OUR SHELVES OutWords compiles a few of the most intriguing new books and movies in LGBTQ entertainment Compiled by Meg Crane
Shandra Levreault will be preforming at the OutWords fundraiser at Fame Nightclub on Apr. 19
THE VOICE OF MANY LIVES SHANDRA LEVREAULT COMBINES VARIED EXPERIENCES INTO ONE GREAT ALBUM By Ksenia Prints
fter years experimenting with her abilities, Shandra Levreault is finally ready to let her voice shine. In an upcoming OutWords fundraiser at Fame Nightclub on Apr. 19, Levreault will give Winnipeg audiences a taste of the talent that has inspired others, which until recently has not been given free reign. Levreault comes from the tiny Manitoba town of Mariapolis, located about 67 kilometres northwest of Morden. Her roots are in country music, which was the soundtrack of her youth and the first genre in which she attempted to sing. Right out of high school, Levreault performed for a year in Las Vegas, Nevada, as part of a Janis Joplin tribute band. Then she returned to Winnipeg and spent a while doing studio work for others. In many ways, Levreault was looking for her voice. “Being raised on country, I didn’t think I could do different genres… I like that I am not stuck in one genre of music,” Levreault said. “[I like] getting my voice to do different things that I wouldn’t think I’d be singing at one part of my life.”
20 // April 2013 // www.outwords.ca
And the experimentation paid off. Levreault is now putting the finishing touches on her self-titled album, in which she collaborated with nearly 20 different songwriters and musicians. She tried to “keep most of the writing local,” working with several Manitoba performers who caught her ear during local shows. But the singing is all hers. “I never played an instrument well enough to, well, play it,” she joked. “I just needed someone to light a fire under my butt.” Even though she grew up in a small Manitoba community, Lavreault did not encounter much homophobia. She met nothing but acceptance when she came out to her family in 2009. Yet she admitted there are people she wouldn’t feel comfortable running into on the streets of her small town. Her coming out has undoubtedly played a role in her music. “A lot of the lyrics I write now are very different,” she said. “When I was younger, I was writing of loves I didn’t have. Now, I write about my experiences.” Come hear Shandra Levreault at the OutWords fundraiser at Fame Nightclub on Apr. 19. Proceeds from all pre-sale tickets and tickets sold before 11p.m. will go towards supporting your favourite LGBT magazine. - Ksenia Prints is the editor-in-chief of OutWords magazine.
The Sea of Light by Jenifer Levin (Book) A hurricane causes a plane carrying star-quality swimmers to crash into the Atlantic Ocean. Swimmers Babe Delgado and Ellie Marks, as well as swim coach Brenna Allen, have all been touched by tragedy in some way throughout their lives. In her latest novel, Levin explores the erotic and intimate healing love between women, touching on themes of self-discovery and sexual identity. Drama Queens with Love Scenes by Kevin Klehr (Book) Blond bombshell Samantha and an insecure angel named Guy help friends Allan and Warwick deal with their recent entrance into the afterlife. Allan begins having romantic feelings for Warwick, but Warwick falls for playwright Pedro. Allan must deal with the memory of his death while trying to win the love of Warwick and navigate the deceitful world of theatre the men have become involved with. The Skinny (Movie) A comedy about five friends who meet in New York City a year after their graduation from Brown University. The four gay men and one lesbian expect a weekend of fun, but tensions they thought were left behind resurface. Drinking, drugs, desire and promiscuity begin to come between their friendships and put lives at risk. Out in the Open (Documentary) Out in the Open explores the LQBTQ community and stereotypes applied to its members. The documentary is comprised of a series of interviews with celebrities, politicians and everyday allies of different sexual orientations. It is aimed at LGBTQ youth and their families, friends and educators.
FUNDRAISER Come out in support of Winnipegâ€™s only GLBT* Magazine!
Friday, Apr. 19 @ Fame Night Club Tickets are $10 and are available at the door at 9:30pm or for pre-sale @ the Outwords office. Just call 204.942.4599. With a performance by the incredible
OutWords // Lifestyle & Food
By Meg Crane
Survey shows gay men don’t know where to look for dates, but a proliferation of online resources is trying to change that
ccording to a survey by Stagg, a dating app launched in December, 77 per cent of gay men do not know how to find men like themselves to date. The same survey showed that while gay men face barriers when it comes to meeting other men to date, apps are becoming increasingly important in the hunt for long-term romantic relationships. Apps are relatively new on the dating scene. GayDatingSites.net, an online resource that regularly updates information about dating sites gay men can use, has yet to include information about dating apps. The website ranks the top 20 dating sites for gay men, offers tips on staying safe and posts coupons. Stagg’s survey showed that dating sites are ranked as being friendlier than apps, but some users lump them in the same category as being useful for finding hook-ups, not relationships. “Any dates I find are usually from talking online to other gay men via the Internet or dating apps,” said Brandon Luner, a student at George Brown College in Toronto, who has yet to have a long-term relationship. “The apps work great often if
22 // April 2013 // www.outwords.ca
you are just looking for a quick hook-up… Some conversations and dates can come from it but the underlying constant goal is to get into the others’ pants as soon as possible.” As a guest on Gwissues’ “Finding Love Online” episode, documentarian Chase Whiteside said that most people on dating websites and apps are actually just looking for a hook-up, not a long-term romantic relationship. “They take away from a lot of the things that we used to experience when we met people in the flesh one on one,” said Whiteside, who thinks that human complexities are too great to be simplified into an online profile. “We’re people. We’re not online profiles. We’re not cell phones.” Stagg tries to distinguish itself from other dating apps by telling more about members than just location. Participants are regularly quizzed, and the app uses these answers to create collections of words about members’ personality traits, likes and interests, replacing traditional self-made profiles. The app also rates the compatibility of members.
THE POWER OF SOCIAL NETWORKS Joseph F. Moynham lives with his longterm partner André in Montreal. “We actually met in the place you shouldn’t meet someone for a long-term relationship – we met in a bar,” said Moynham. Previously Moynham had found dates through friends, but said that the best way to find guys is to be involved in something, like an activity or a group. There are many groups for single gay men and women to get together, including bowling and breakfast get-togethers. Matchmakers can help those seeking love find partners interested in the same type of relationship. A matchmaker will help a person break bad dating patterns and find people with similar intentions. Some professionals work with private investigators and do criminal record checks, which helps ensure clients’ safety. However, there are no matchmakers in Winnipeg who will work with LGBT people. So clearly professional matchmakers are not accessible to everyone, but friends
OutWords // Lifestyle & Food
and family can work just as well. Dr. Mike Dow, another guest on Gwissues’ “Finding Love Online” episode, said that telling loved ones that you are looking for a long-term romantic relationship will encourage them to seek out potential partners with similar intentions for you. Your family and friends will begin acting as your own personal matchmakers – and as people who know you better than a stranger taking your cheque, they may be able to do a better job.
THE WHOLE PACKAGE So what’s one to do? With so many options of finding a gay lover, what is the best? “Pull out all the stops…. Do everything it takes,” was Dow’s advice. Try out dating apps and websites with good reputations – they will connect you with people you may never meet otherwise. The Stagg survey found that 66 per cent of men using apps now are actually looking for long-term relationships, and 64 per cent are interested in making friends, so the reputation they have may be misleading. Instead of using the apps in public or when hanging out with friends, actually stay engaged in your surroundings and actively look for dateable partners. Mr. or Ms. Right could walk right out the door when you’re flipping through your phone. Go to places where people with similar interests like you will be, such as clubs or groups, and put yourself out there. Tell friends and family you are seriously interested in a long-term romantic relationship and ask if they know anyone who might be suited for you. Make it clear to everyone you know that this is what you want. If you live somewhere with professional matchmakers who cater to the LGBT community, you might want to consider using their services. There isn’t one perfect, magic path to your special someone. The road can be rocky, painful and sometimes dangerous. So be safe. But also remember to have some fun. - Meg Crane is the sports, books and movies editor for OutWords.
FINDING YOUR BALANCING ACT A NEW SERIES OF WORKSHOPS FROM THE RAINBOW RESOURCE CENTRE TRIES TO GIVE US ALL A NEW BEGINNING By Shayna Wiwierski
Ever feel like you have to act like someone you’re not? In response to the community’s request for more diverse social programming, the Rainbow Resource Centre (RRC) is hosting a series of workshops centered on one common theme – balance. “A co-worker and I were thinking of ways to get people involved in the centre who may not normally be involved,” said Shannon Eisbrenner, volunteer and programming coordinator for the Rainbow Resource Centre. “We wanted to offer workshops that focus on growth and learning, so we did some brainstorming and drew on the strengths of the community members and these are the workshops that came out of it.” The series, which started on March 7, offers a number of experiential workshops taught by seasoned professions. Classes include a multi-faceted look at how we connect as individuals in the queer community; the exploration of the art of authentic expression and creativity from within; a yoga class that will explore the themes of finding and creating balance from within; a beginner session on Feng Shui, and much more. “It’s a good way for people to get to know other community members and participate in workshops that are meaningful and interesting,” Eisbrenner said. Please contact the Rainbow Resource Centre for more information and fees. The deadline for registration is one week prior to each event. The RRC recommends to register early as space is limited and they are anticipating a strong turnout. - Shayna Wiwierski is the lifestyle & food editor for OutWords
April 2013 // www.outwords.ca // 23
OutWords // Columns & Opinions
A WORLD OF THEIR OWN MAKING In our first GSA column, OutWords has Gray Academy students talking about their attempts to fight bullying in a faith-based school
n today’s society, little girls are taught to dream of growing up to find their “prince charming” and little boys to find their “princess.” Children are rarely even aware of other sexual orientations; consequently, it is not until later in life that they learn that homosexuality exists. Sexual orientation is still generally portrayed by the mainstream media as “pink is for girls,” and “blue is for boys.” When addressing gender issues, it is often done in a mocking fashion (the flaming gay friend wears pink). This often makes high school a cold and scary place for those who are queer and/or questioning. It is for this reason that Gay-Straight Alliance clubs (GSAs) have been popping up in schools across Canada, including, quite recently, the Gray Academy of Jewish Education in Winnipeg. “Queer” and “Jewish” aren’t words we hear together very often. Yet a group of students at the Gray Academy of Jewish Education, the only pluralistic Jewish day school in Manitoba, is working to change that. The Gray Academy has recently started its own GSA, where students from Grade 7 through 12 meet bi-weekly to discuss issues relevant to the Winnipeg Jewish community and beyond. Being a teenager is difficult, while high school can be a particularly toxic environment for anyone who is seen to be “different”, but the GSA has created a truly judgment-free space where students and teachers come together to discuss topics often seen as taboo. The GSA has created a channel through which we are able to begin to erase the stigma around Judaism and homosexuality and open a space for students identifying as queer and their allies to come together for support, discussion, outreach and acceptance.
Any student at Gray Academy would tell you that our small (but proud) school of approximately 600 students has a feeling of “kehilla,” a Hebrew word meaning community. However, as in every community, controversial issues are rarely discussed for fear of rocking the proverbial boat. By creating a GSA, we have brought another aspect to our already diverse high school community. Our up-and-coming GSA is working on opening a dialogue focused on being both gay and Jewish, how a GSA is defined, how to create open minds in our school and how to stay updated on Jewish LGBTQ community events. One of the topics that are often discussed in our GSA is tolerance. Being an outsider is a high school student’s worst nightmare. For some reason, we as teenagers feel the need to conform and often refrain from experimenting with notions of self that run counter to the norm. Though high school is supposed to be the time to find ourselves, the constant need to please people causes us to lose ourselves, or permit our identities to be thrust upon us. Our GSA has decided that high school needs to be more accepting. The constant judgment would cause anyone to feel ostracized, especially someone questioning their sexuality. That is why we created this group, to give students a space to forget about conforming and have a chance to identify authentically. - The GSA column is a new, recurring OutWords feature. We are always on the look-out for fresh perspectives and content. If you or your school are interested in submitting a column, write to email@example.com and let us know!
April 2013 // www.outwords.ca // 25
OutWords // Columns/Opinions
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In the second part of this series, OutWords explores what local experts are doing to give LGBT athletes a new beginning.
Homophobia in sport the prairies edition By Peter Carlyle-Gordge
atrick Burke’s You Can Play project is a step in the right direction, but entrenched attitudes, like mountains, are only worn away over time by a steady drip of opposing ideas from people society respects. The You Can Play project, profiled in the March issue of OutWords, enlists the moral support of NHL stars in attempt to open minds and hearts in locker rooms at the college level and beyond. The project seeks to challenge the culture of locker rooms and spectator areas by focusing only on an athlete’s skills, work ethic and competitive spirit. Active sports stars are powerful straight allies for the GLBT community. No one knows that better than Dr. Sandra Kirby, associate vice-president and dean of graduate studies at the University of Winnipeg. Primarily a social scientist with a strong scientific background in the physical performance and health sciences fields, Kirby received a $300,000 grant from the International Olympic Committee, allowing a team of experts to develop an on-line education program aimed at ending sexual harassment and abuse of children and teenagers involved in Olympic sports. 26 // April 2013 // www.outwords.ca
She told OutWords boys and men have a harder time being open about their sexual orientation in a sports setting. “It isn’t easy for either gender to come out and it can be frightening, but I think boys and men suffer more,” she says. “It goes right to the heart of their masculinity and they can feel very isolated.” Even so, Kirby says things have improved a lot since she was a member of the Canadian Rowing Team in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. “There is no way anyone, including me, would come out of the closet back then,” she says. “Today the world is a lot more accepting. Many courageous people have come out, but it’s still much easier for women than men.” She also notes there was absolutely no place for GLBT sports people to party after major events in the past. “Now with the Gay Games and Out Games that has changed and bright, sporting GLBT people can come together and celebrate internationally,” she says. “Ideally we ought to be more integrated into the major sports leagues and theoretically, we are getting closer to that. However, at a realistic level I suspect we are
still two decades away from full sporting and social integration. A few major athletes may come out but usually only after they have retired. They still think it is a risk and it can damage an active career, with opportunities suddenly disappearing.” It is that fear or perceived risk which drives closeted GLBT athletes to slam on the breaks. She says she made a decision to come out 25 years ago but she has known athletes who felt they had to “act straight” for their entire lives, thus living a lie. Kirby is a local rowing coach and ardent ski enthusiast. “That’s why things like the Out Games are a wonderful venue for GLBT athletes,” she says. “They can relax and be themselves, focused on the sport rather than fears about how others perceive them. One of the proudest moments of my life was being asked to read out the Olympic oath at the start of the Out Games. Truly a very moving event.” She says GLBT athletes should simply avoid any homophobic arena where gays and lesbians are trashed or disrespected. “A decision on whether to come out or not is entirely up to the individual,” she says. “But
OutWords // Sports
if there is clearly disrespect or outright homophobia, it can seriously damage an individual. Not everyone has a thick skin, so you do have to carefully consider whether it’s wise to move to a friendlier arena.”
THE MANITOBA MIRACLE Outright homophobic hostility is rarely encountered at the level of local high school sports anymore, according to Morris Glimcher, executive director of the Manitoba High Schools Athletics Association (MHSAA). He did a quick poll of city coaches and referees for OutWords and the response was consistent: no one could recall any recent serious complaints of homophobia in the locker room. “A couple of decades ago we did deal with some racist slurs, but even that was uncommon,” he says. “Once in a while the ‘fag’ word might be used but it’s not always in a homophobic context. It may just be a word young people use to put down anyone.” Glimcher says there is far more focus today in education on acceptance and tolerance of racial background, gender or sexual orientation. Many schools now have Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) Gay/Straight Alliance to combat homophobia and that may be helping the sports scene too. “More young people are coming out earlier today and it’s less of a big deal than
it used to be,” he says. “People may be less open to being out in smaller, rural schools, many of which have less than 125 students. Everyone knows everyone else in small towns so it may be less open there. Even so, I have not heard of any serious problems.” The MHSAA will follow clear procedures if a harassment complaint is filed. “If an incident did occur, we would certainly remove the offender from a tournament and we would have his school and school board follow up the complaint and act on it,” says Glimcher. “If a school refused to act, we would certainly act on it ourselves. School boards often have very different policies. No one should be discriminated against because of race or sexual orientation. Equally, no one should get special privileges because of those factors either.” Though homophobia hasn’t been big on high school sports radar screens, one issue that is worrying coaches and educators is that of transgender people. “I have been to many meetings of sports officials and they know this is a coming issue but no one has a clue how to handle it,” he says. “Changing from one sex to another often takes years and it has legal and many other implications, so how does the sports world handle it? No one seems to know.”
In sports, gay men have it worse Seven Oakes School teacher Lindsay Brown played ringette for a decade then got involved with high school hockey in Grade 12. She is out and teaches English language
was well as arts and drama. “I was never targeted for my orientation and was lucky enough to pass as a straight girl,” she says. “Even so, I was aware when I hit puberty that there was an issue around discrimination, but it never affected me personally.” She echoes Kirby’s assumption that outright homophobia was always more of an issue for males. “I think queer women were just more accepted than gay males,” she says. “Male athletes tend to be associated in popular culture with the ideal of masculinity, whereas gay men were always considered antimasculine or not tough.” She finds it sad that leading gay athletes such as Olympian swimmer Mark Tewksbury only feel able to come out once they’re safely retired. “My students usually look up to athletes, but if you’re a young gay male right now you have no big sporting hero to look up to as a gay role model,” she says. That’s why she loves the concept of You Can Play, launched by the Burke family. “It brings into focus famous hockey players who support the cause and are important allies,” she says. “That sends a message to gay youth that it’s OK to be gay and that you are an equal if you are talented at the sport. You can play and succeed as well. Kids can look up and thus see themselves reflected.” Brown believes all homophobia is based on fear and ignorance and eliminating it requires a change in social attitudes, led by education. “My own school has a GSA and these things are important in changing social attitudes for the future,” she says. “I am fortunate to be in a progressive school division with strong policies on these issues. However, many rural communities—where sports is a big thing—are often conservative and way behind on these issues.” “Societal change is definitely coming, but in some areas they are only taking baby steps so it will take longer,” Brown says. - Peter Carlyle-Gordge is a Winnipeg- based freelance writer, former producer for CBC radio and former Maclean’s writer.
“If a school refused to act, we would certainly act on it ourselves. No one should be discriminated against because of race or sexual orientation.” - Morris Glimcher, Manitoba High Schools Athletics Association April 2013 // www.outwords.ca // 27
H o o m o m H o Homo phobia HoHm o Homo omo
leads to coach being fired By Larkin Schmiedl
C American coach James Finley must find new path after losing his job over his sexuality By Larkin Schmiedl
28 // April 2013 // www.outwords.ca
oach James Finley made national headlines across the U.S. when he was fired from his job as head women’s volleyball coach at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) this past November. Finley, who is gay, had just taken the team to a 25-6 record, the best season in the program’s history. He had a 151-166 record over eight years, and had turned around a program of long-time losers. Yet he was let go shortly after a new administrator joined the university. Finley believes he was fired for being gay. VCU, located in Richmond, had hired a new athletic director, Ed McLaughlin, a few months before Finley was let go. Some of McLaughlin’s earliest staffing moves were to strip associate athletic director Patricia Stauffer of one of her titles, and to fire Finley. Finley alleges that Stauffer was stripped of her title “about 10 days” after she mentioned her lesbian partner to McLaughlin. It’s not uncommon for a new athletic director to hand-pick his coaches and
OutWords // Sports
administrators to put his own stamp on a program. But after delivering a record season, and observing McLaughlin’s behaviour, Finley felt it was a case of workplace homophobia. McLaughlin would attend other coach’s games, said Finley, but not his, and there was a persistent pattern of avoidance. Before he was called to McLaughlin’s office to be fired, Finley said he and McLaughlin had never had a conversation. Whenever Finley would say hello, he said McLaughlin would never acknowledge him. At one event, Finley said McLaughlin mingled with other coaches and donors, but walked away whenever Finley tried to join a conversation. “I would come home and I would talk to my husband after a social event where I was in the same place that [McLaughlin] was, and I would say, ‘One of two things: either the [athletic director] has no social skills at all, or something’s wrong, because this guy won’t even talk to me... It’s just so bizarre.’” After firing Finley, the new athletic director told the women’s volleyball team he needed somebody who would “represent the university well,” a statement Finley said sealed his understanding of what was really going on. “When you’ve fought discrimination your whole life, you’re used to code things like ‘new direction,’ ‘we want someone to represent us well,’” said Finley. He decided to take action. Finley filed a formal complaint with the university, leading to an investigation of his discrimination claim. The investigation came back saying Finley’s firing was not as a result of any discrimination and was made in accordance with VCU policies. The report also verified that Finley himself did not violate any employment practices. The coach, who was well-liked with a good reputation at the school, said prior to McLaughlin’s hiring, he felt very welcome at the university. According to WTVR News in Richmond, Virginia, the VCU athletics website listing included the names of Finley and his husband and stated they were living together with his husband’s son. VCU has an anti-discrimination policy that includes both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. However,
the state of Virginia has no legal protections stopping gay people from being fired in the workplace.
Could it happen here? Doug Lawrie, head coach of women’s varsity soccer at Winnipeg’s Red River College, doesn’t think a coach could be fired in Canada for being gay. In an email, he said, “that would clearly contravene the Canadian Human Rights Act and provincial human rights legislations... At Red River College they have a clearly stated and published policy entitled ‘Respectful College’ that in no uncertain terms prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.” Most colleges and universities have the same policies, and in Canada, gay and lesbian people have legal recourse at both provincial and federal levels if discrimination occurs. Not so in the U.S., even federally. “Right now the one thing that’s frustrating to me is that Barrack [Obama] still hasn’t done an executive order for antidiscrimination in the workplace,” said Finley. “I don’t know what the hell he’s waiting for.” The U.S. federal Employment NonDiscrimination Act has been around since 1994 without being enacted. According to the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT advocacy group in the U.S., it remains legal to fire someone in 29 states for being gay, in 34 for being transgender.
Finley’s next steps Finley has found a new job as the head volleyball coach at Seattle University, but he is still deciding whether to pursue legal action against VCU, and said he has until the end of April to decide. However, he noted that, “If I filed a suit right now then the attorney general’s office for the State of Virginia, who is Ken Cuccinelli, who is absolutely valiantly homophobic, anti-gay, everything – he would be the one that would be trying the case... So I’m realistic about all that.” Cuccinelli has been quoted as saying “My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are
wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that. … They don’t comport with natural law. I happen to think that it represents behaviour that is not healthy to an individual and in aggregate is not healthy to society.” Despite opposition, Finley said he remains “very optimistic.” He said he’s pleased his story could help raise the national conversation in the U.S. on workplace discrimination. “I think there’s a lot of change that has happened. It was very public nationally.” “It got a lot of athletic departments talking about this and I’ve seen a lot of results. George Washington [University] just put out a video about ‘You Can Play’... if you can play, we don’t care, we’re here to support you whether you’re gay, lesbian, transgender, it doesn’t matter.” Finley also emphasizes the importance of solid action. “The thing is, you know, everybody’s trying to put a program in, they’re trying to do things that look good to the public. And they’re not bad things, but the problem is if... I can still get terminated after doing a good job simply because I’m gay, then all of these policies, all of these websites, all these seminars, they don’t really have value because the university is not protecting its personnel; they’re still allowing discrimination to happen. In word, they’re saying it, but in action they’re not supporting it.” Finley will be waiting to see what comes next. “Ultimately I’m watching to see what VCU’s doing. Are they going to do the things they said they’re going to do, with having anti-discrimination GLBT training for the athletic staff and athletes? ... Are they going to do the things they need to do to actually put teeth into the fact that they’re saying that they cherish diversity? ... Ultimately if that’s the end result... then I feel it was worth everything that we went through.” - Larkin Schmiedl is a freelance journalist based in Kamloops, B.C. He acts as LGBT contributing editor with rabble.ca, hosted a queer-issues radio show called Gaydio for two years and he loves to write about social and environmental justice issues.
April 2013 // www.outwords.ca // 29
OutWords // Columns/Opinions
TO INFINITY, AND BEYOND! A look at the small future of technological trends
tarting in 2012 and continuing until at least 2014, we have seen a shift in the consumer technology electronics market, Corey Shefman from a focus on computers to a focus on gadgets. And the gadgets are here to stay. When I say gadgets, I mean portable devices of various sorts, usually web-enabled. That isn’t to say that computer development has stopped; the year 2012 saw the wide adoption of the third generation of Intel’s Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, updated MacBook Pros and the explosion of the ultra-book class of laptops. But it’s the other devices – the wearable, the portable and the adaptable – that are really stealing the spotlight these days. Last year, tablets were the big thing. We finally saw Microsoft’s first (and sadly underwhelming) Surface RT tablet, and Apple surprised many by releasing an iPad Mini. By the time you read this article, we’ll also have seen Microsoft’s second tablet, the Surface Pro (which by all accounts is going to set a new standard for tablets). We’re also starting to see the coming of age of the “phablet” (extra-large cell phones, usually around 5.5 inches), embodied by Samsung’s Galaxy Note series. In 2012 we also saw the release of the Lytro camera, which uses a new technology
that doesn’t actually focus on any one area captured in the photo, but rather allows the user to refocus the image on their computer afterwards. It was also last year which introduced us to Google Glass, at least as a concept. Already in 2013, Google’s wearable computer has hit the FCC for regulatory approval and it will soon be distributed to developers who will be the first to test this future tech on the streets. These wearable computers are equipped with motion sensors and speakers. They use vibrations against your bone to transmit sound and project data (such as directions from Google Maps, alerts from your calendar and Facebook updates) onto your field of vision. Remember the scenes from the Terminator movies that show the world from the robot’s point of view? It’s like that, just with less killing. Google expects to have Glass available for sale to the general public before the end of 2013. While Google Glass is probably the most exciting of the new technologies we’re expecting in the next few years, in 2013 we will also see the first wave of practical smartwatches. These watches interface with your smartphone and alert you to incoming text messages, calls and emails, and double as a remote controller for your music player. Pebble, the crowd-funded (via Kickstarter) smartwatch that brought the technology mainstream, sold 85,000 units before even hitting retail outlets.
Raspberry Pi will continue its impressive wave of popularity. Raspberry Pi is a computer contained on a single credit card-sized board, designed to teach computer science to young people, but also used as an inexpensive ($25) sandbox for independent computer designers and software creators. All of this not futuristic enough for you? How about a tricorder, like the ones used on “Star Trek,” for everything from locating people trapped in an avalanche, to diagnosing diseases and monitoring vital signs? XPrize, the folks behind the $10-million prize for the first privatelyfunded and operated spaceship, have announced a new competition which awards $10 million to the developers of a device which can perform similar functions. Are you sensing a theme here? The next few years are shaping up to be all about miniaturization. As devices continue to get smaller, more discreet and more wearable, the only thing standing in the way of true technological ubiquity is the power supply. And as we shrink the size and weight of batteries, these gadgets and digital accessories will become more naturally integrated into our daily lives. While we’re not quite at Borg-level integration, there can be little doubt that we are entering a new technological revolution. – Corey Shefman is a geek, and proud of it.
30 // April 2013 // www.outwords.ca
“ As an academic advisor I want my office space to feel welcoming and safe to everyone that I meet with, including LGBTT* individuals.” Roxanne Dueck Academic Advisor
Embracing the Community Red River College’s LGBTT Initiative fosters the development of a safe campus environment, in which everyone has the chance to work, learn and access services in an inclusive, welcoming manner. RRC’s Ally Project supports LGBTT staff, students and faculty by identifying campus Allies who can provide a safe and inclusive space. For more information: Nora Sobel, LGBTT Initiative Staff Lead firstname.lastname@example.org or 204-632-2404 www.rrc.ca/LGBTTInitiative
March 2013 // www.outwords.ca // 31
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