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SAYE IT OUT LOUD Poet, spokenword and rap artist Saye Sky wins inaugural Telus Award E22 Editorial In praise of the parklets By Danny Glenwright E6 Feedback E6 Xcetera E7

Upfront Parklets may not return to Church Street next year Many residents enjoy the public space, but some Village business owners are unhappy with the project E9 Local news Etobicoke man arrested in Chris Skinner murder E10

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In praise of the parklets EDITORIAL DANNY GLENWRIGHT

The Church Wellesley Village BIA’s vacillation over the “parklet” project is further proof that the businesses and stakeholders in Toronto’s gaybourhood remain obsessed with maintaining the status quo. The BIA’s members recently put the brakes on the street-side patio initiative (see page 9) — a venture they announced just a few months back with much fanfare. On several occasions, BIA manager David Wootton confirmed to Xtra that the patios were here to stay, especially for WorldPride in 2014. “Instead of waiting for the properties to change their look and feel, we need to dress around them,” he said about a year ago. A couple months later, Wootton told us, “This is an idea the BIA board is completely behind... we will probably take on a project manager to help with that.” What’s changed? The BIA says the price tag is too high and some businesses didn’t notice any financial gain after the city installed the patios in early August. But surely the BIA knew the cost when it announced the project last year. And it’s clear to anyone who’s walked through the Village that it will take more than fancy street-side

furniture for Church Street businesses to increase sales. It’s a shame for establishments like Smith, Byzantium and Statlers, which managed to incorporate the parklets in a way that added new life to the street and, I would imagine, brought in some extra cash. Even though the patios went up late in the summer, management at all three spots evidently recognized the possibilities that came with the streetside seating. But they’re the exception on the strip, whose business owners — while endlessly talking about “beautification” — have perpetually been unable to use their imagination to come up with long-term initiatives that actually beautify the neighbourhood. They instead appear content to wring out every last drop of queer creativity, as they did recently when they covered Village poles with uniform fake tree bark, relegating posters to a couple overcrowded community boards. The BIA is joined in its torpor by Tourism Toronto and the City of Toronto — both have so far failed to deliver the cash or creativity needed to make a splash for WorldPride. The LGBT section of Tourism Toronto’s amateurish website continues to list businesses that have long since closed. And while the city paid for the first year of the parklet project, that won’t matter much at WorldPride if the BIA kiboshes it.

“Meh, whatever,” noted one Facebook commenter. “Let Montreal be the innovative city. It closes the entire length of Sainte-Catherine in the village from May to September and it’s a huge hit.” He’s right. Montreal’s open-air Village project, Aires Libre, which sees a summer-long 1.2 kilometre street closure, has been a huge boon for business owners there. Denis Brossard, that city’s Village business organization president, told Xtra the vacancy rate for storefronts on the street dropped from 22 percent to eight percent in less than two years thanks to Aires Libre, which gets support from Tourism Montreal and the City of Montreal. “When the city shortened the length of the project this year, businesses, residents and the gay community all came together to voice their displeasure,” he said. If only we weren’t so complacent in Toronto. Folks — as our beloved mayor would say — the time is now. WorldPride is around the corner. The BIA and Village residents can’t wait for Councillor Kristyn WongTam to do all the heavy lifting, as it appears she did with the parklet project. “This summer was a pilot project... Everything was done for

FEEDBACK you,” Wong-Tam told the BIA’s AGM. Wong-Tam also first pitched the mural project, which looks to be one beautification initiative that will actually last until WorldPride. The BIA should reconsider and look for ways to expand the project and make it work, teaming with those business owners prepared to think outside the box. Why not join with Pride Toronto and find a way to incorporate the parklets into WorldPride plans? Or what about further collaborating with the team at The 519, who have already championed the patio project? They know how to put on a fundraiser, which might be what’s needed to help offset the cost of the parklets. What about working with Toronto artists or promoters to find clever new ways to use the parklet spaces and bring in cash to pay for them? An open-air gallery tour, a street-long parklet tea dance, a patio sidewalk sale, a street-side busker fest? It would be a huge waste of money and effort if the project is squelched before it’s had a chance to see a full summer. Danny Glenwright is Xtra’s managing editor.

The outcome that we seek is this — gay and lesbian people daring together to set love free. Xtra is published by Pink Triangle Press, at 2 Carlton St, Ste 1600, Toronto, M5B 1J3.

Priape closure When you think that every other gay man uses poppers and the number of poppers bought over the year, the cost is significant, but I still find it hard to imagine that poppers could bring down such an enterprise as Priape [“Priape Closes Its Stores,” Xtra #757, Oct 31]. It sounds like the company had credit problems long before Health Canada banned the sale of poppers. I hope that the employees of Priape were given severance pay, as many of them will be unemployed. Is there any way the community can fight the Health Canada ruling? Considering the high demand for poppers, I’m surprised that entrepreneurs aren’t making them, as they are quite easy to make. PETER IVESON TORONTO, ON

I think the poppers ban by Health Canada was only one of the reasons Priape got into financial difficulty and had to permanently close their stores in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. Another reason is that there are a number of gay websites in the US and Europe that sell the same products that were formerly offered by Priape but at a fraction of the cost — even when you add in taxes and shipping costs. These mail-order websites were able to do so since they don’t have all the costs of a storefront location, like high rents in local gay ghettos, and can employ fewer people in processing and shipping the online orders. Today, you can buy lube, sex toys, leather fetish items, et cetera online from these websites. KEVIN B TORONTO, ON

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Sushi A BIWEEKLY HELPING OF POP CULTURE, SERVED À LA CARTE

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FROM THE PTP ARCHIVES 5 YEARS AGO

XTRA #628, NOV 20, 2008 In 1978, Harvey Milk became the first openly gay man elected to public office in the United States. He was assassinated the following year. The 30th anniversary of his murder was marked in 2008 with the release of Milk, the Gus Van Sant–directed biographical film about the San Francisco politician and gay rights advocate.

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“Will you be watching the Olympics in February?”

Dee

Julian

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I’m going to boycott the Olympics this year. Not big on Russia at the moment.

Yes, I enjoy watching the Winter Olympics and winter sports. I’ve been a snowboarder for about 12 years.

I’ll probably watch parts of it, but I’m not really into winter sports. Unless it’s a snowball-throwing competition.

I’m probably going to watch the Olympics because I enjoy speed skating. And I’m also really good at it.

6

Number of months after France legalized gay marriage that the first gay divorce happened. Stéphane Parisian candidate for the famed Mr Gay title given by Têtu magazine.

For more about the Olympics, see our cover story on page 12.

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Ask us about customizing your event: Têtu James Franco is on the cover of the November issue.

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A BENEFIT FOR THE CANADIAN HIV/AIDS LEGAL NETWORK

AWARDS PRIX FOR DE AC T ION L’ACTION 2013

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Svend Robinson Please join us to celebrate the work of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and to honour the winners of the 2013 Awards for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights. Grandmothers Advocacy Network CANADIAN RECIPIENT

Alternatives-Cameroun (Cameroon) INTERNATIONAL RECIPIENT For 20 years, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network has been a global leader in the movement for health and human rights, fighting to ensure that people living with or affected by HIV are supported by laws and policies that promote prevention, care and dignity.

SUNDAY DECEMBER 1, 2013 AT 7:00PM WORLD AIDS DAY

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Refreshments to be served. Complimentary open bar. To purchase tickets or for additional sponsorship information, please contact Kimahli Powell at kpowell@aidslaw.ca, or call 416.595.1666 ext. 245. Tickets can also be purchased via www.aidslaw.ca/awards.

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TORONTO’S GAY & LESBIAN NEWS


Upfront

My family are religious, pious people ... they would not accept this idea; it would take too long to explain. Moroccan lesbian Laila E E16

Parklets may not return to Village Many residents enjoy the public space, but some business owners are unhappy with the project COMMUNITY NEWS ANDREA HOUSTON

Reviews are mixed for the bright pink parklets that lined the east side of Church Street this summer, and some local business owners are questioning whether to repeat the program in 2014. At the Church Wellesley Village Business Improvement Area annual general meeting Nov 4, BIA manager David Wootton said some businesses on the west side of the street feel they missed out, but he says the price tag to implement the program on both sides of the street, at $250,000, is just too high. Budget-wise, Wootton says, the BIA was able to do it this year only because Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam’s office took care of almost all the costs. “As of now, we won’t see them in 2014 unless a corporate sponsor coughs up the money,” he says, noting the BIA is not actively looking for sponsors. Wong-Tam says that putting parklets on both sides of the street is not realistic. “From a parking perspective, there are no restrictions in removing parking spots on the east side of the street,” she says, but to install them on the west side, a traffic study would be required, which would cost $10,000 to $15,000. Avery Pitcher, co-chair of the BIA, said some businesses, especially the bars and restaurants on the west side of the street, feel they missed out on patio business. “The other side of the street asks why the parklets aren’t on their side.” Wong-Tam has also heard criticism from businesses. “I understand Pride takes the street for the first part of the summer. So you lose some of the patio season,” she said, noting that the parklets can’t be installed on the street during Pride. “This summer was a pilot project. It was like concierge service. Everything was done for you,” Wong-Tam told the AGM. The parklets, which sat on Church Street for three months, were part of a pilot project modelled after 2012’s Celebrate Yonge event. From start to finish, all expenses were taken care of, Wong-Tam says. The patios were built and installed, then, near the end of October, they were taken down and put into storage, MORE AT DAILYXTRA.COM

The BIA says the street-side parklets cost too much and don’t translate into increased sales for Church Street businesses. ADAM COISH

all paid for by the city and corporate partners. Home Depot donated $20,000 in building materials, and the Carpenters Union Local 27 donated the human resources to build the parklets. The city is paying the cost of storage through the winter. If the BIA decides to keep the parklets going, businesses will have to pick up the tab. “For the first time around, [the city] wanted to demonstrate to the community what the parklets could be like,” Wong-Tam says. “But, going forward, you are going to have to want it, champion it and pay for it.” The BIA now owns the parklets, she says. “You are not starting from ground zero. You have an incredible infrastructure investment to work from.” Still, BIA co-chair Liz Devine, from Rainbow High Travel, says response to the parklets has been mixed. “The residents enjoy the space, and the businesses like the extra seating,” she says. “[But] we’re a small destination to do the parklet program.”

Rupert Hon, BIA treasurer and TD Canada Trust branch manager, notes that $250,000 to put parklets on both sides of the street is a lot of money. The approximate cost to repeat the parklets on just the east side is $50,000 to $100,000, he says. This includes materials to assemble the parklets, labour to install and dismantle them, landscaping and storage. Hon says storage alone costs between $6,000 and $10,000. Before next year, Hon says, the BIA will consult with the community, both businesses and residents, to gauge whether there’s interest in pursuing a corporate sponsor. That would likely mean corporate logos and branding on the parklets, he says. Hon says the businesses were expected to keep the patios clean, but that didn’t really happen, so the BIA also had to pay for cleaning. Not all the parklets were licensed because WongTam requested that some should be designated

public space, usable by anyone. But, Hon says, business owners told him, ‘If they can’t be licensed, what’s the point in having a parklet right in front of my business?’ “The BIA is here to promote business,” he says. “We want to promote people coming here to shop, play and spend money,” he says. “So we don’t want to take on any projects that discourage business. Now, I understand the residents have a different opinion.” Resident Chris Drew, a member of the Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association, loves the parklets and wants the BIA to keep the program going. He says residents want to help the BIA do whatever it takes to make sure the project happens again next year. “We thought the parklets were a great first step,” he says. “We’d like to see it back next year in some way, shape or form. We’d actually love to see it expanded further up and down the street.” XTRA! NOV 14–27, 2013 9


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Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time to stand up for equalityâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; at home and abroad. Help Linda McQuaig

Arrest made in Skinner murder Four years after Toronto gay man Chris Skinner was beaten, run over and left for dead on the corner of Adelaide and Victoria streets, Toronto police have arrested and charged one man and served notice that up to ďŹ ve more people may face charges related to the murder. Agustin Caruso, a 23-year-old Etobicoke man, was arrested Nov 6 on his way to York University, where he is a student. He is alleged to have participated in the beating and to have been the driver of the SUV that ran Skinner over. He was 19 at the time. Detective Sergeant Stacy Gallant says the police do not consider the murder a hate crime. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There was nothing in the investigation that supported anything in relation to the knowledge that anyone in the vehicle knew Chris was gay. It still has no bearing on the investigation. Chris was just a guy walking home â&#x20AC;&#x201D; nothing more, nothing less,â&#x20AC;? Gallant says. Gallant also disputes the suggestion put forward by some people who knew Skinner that he was someone who would be easily recognizable as gay. â&#x20AC;&#x153;His family would tell you different,â&#x20AC;? Gallant says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It couldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been anybody walking down the street and come in contact with these individuals.â&#x20AC;? Skinner was walking home from his younger sisterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s birthday party around 3am on Oct 19, 2009, when it is believed that he got into an altercation with Caruso and his friends when he brushed against Carusoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s car while hailing a cab. The men then beat Skinner to the ground and ran over him with the front and back tires of the SUV before taking off. Police say that six people were in the car at the time of the murder, four men and two women. All could face charges

Warren and Ellen Skinner address the media at the Nov 6 press conference.

when police conďŹ rm their identities. Police are urging the five remaining suspects to come forward. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have some idea who the others are involved, who was in the vehicle,â&#x20AC;? Gallant says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m sure they are aware that I am pursuing them.â&#x20AC;? Police warn that â&#x20AC;&#x153;at least two moreâ&#x20AC;? arrests are to come in the case. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Potentially everyone in the vehicle could be charged, depending on their participation and if they assisted in any way, concealing any evidence or helping him get away with it for the past four years,â&#x20AC;? Gallant says. Police were not willing to go into detail about how they tracked down Caruso or whether he has given them any more information. In October, police announced that they had recovered more security camera footage related to the murder and had ďŹ gured out the make, model and approximate year of the SUV in question. Gallant says that Caruso had sold the SUV and that it recently came into police possession.

Police had offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case, and the family had offered $100,000 more, but no one came forward to claim the reward. Instead, Gallant says it was the policeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dogged pursuit of the investigation over four years that paid off. For Skinnerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s parents, the news of the arrest was â&#x20AC;&#x153;bittersweet.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;There is a small sense of relief that he is not on the streets any more,â&#x20AC;? says Skinnerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mother, Ellen. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Christopher was larger than life. He was smart, he was in the gifted program.â&#x20AC;? Skinnerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s father, Warren, says he â&#x20AC;&#x153;never lost hopeâ&#x20AC;? that the police would ďŹ nd his sonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s killers even as the years wore on. The family has set up the Chris Skinner Memorial Foundation, which raises money in his name for childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s groups and other charities. Money from the familyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s reward trust that is unclaimed by the original donors will be put in the memorial foundation.â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Rob Salerno

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Toronto residents call for Rob Ford to step down Protesters gathered outside Toronto City Hall Nov 6 to call on Mayor Rob Ford to step down. After months of lying about his drug use, Ford admitted Nov 5 that he had smoked crack cocaine and that he has an alcohol problem. However, rather than stepping down to get help, he said he will stay on as mayor. He did not address allegations that he is heard making homophobic and racist slurs in the same video that shows him smoking what appears to be crack. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The man needs help, he needs to leave,â&#x20AC;? one protester told Xtra. Another said he was at city hall to get answers: â&#x20AC;&#x153;I hear that there are homophobic slurs in this video, and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m wait-

ing to hear what the mayor has to say.â&#x20AC;? A second protest has been planned for Wed, Nov 13 at noon at Nathan Phillips Square. Meanwhile, Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam says Ford will not be invited to an official City of Toronto WorldPride event that will welcome international elected officials and global human-rights leaders. The reception will take place on the same day as the WorldPride opening ceremonies in June, she says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This will be a VIP reception for elected officials, and we will be inviting the world,â&#x20AC;? she says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We want to demonstrate to them that this is how Toronto celebrates its diversity. This

city is an inclusive place for LGBT people.â&#x20AC;? The reception will be hosted by the City of Toronto. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I am not inviting Mayor Ford,â&#x20AC;? Wong-Tam says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;His time has passed. He has never acknowledged our community. We have these [homophobic and racist] comments. He has never denied making those comments . . . I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want this mayor to embarrass us in front of international guests . . . The mayor of the most diverse city in Canada should not be making homophobic and racist slurs.â&#x20AC;?â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Andrea Houston For more on these stories, go to dailyxtra.com. TORONTOâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S GAY & LESBIAN NEWS


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FROM ANCIENT GREECE TO

SOCHI A gay history of the Olympic Games

COVER STORY JP LAROCQUE

T

here is no room in competitive sport for homosexuals. That was the basic message of Russian legislator Vitaly Milonov in an interview earlier this year. Ardent in his support of his country’s anti-gay laws, he dismissed the International Olympic Committee’s assurances that international athletes and tourists would be exempt from arrest. “The federal law is valid throughout the territory of the Russian Federation and no one has the right to suspend it,” he stated. Meanwhile, Russian athletes were “traditional, normal people with big families,” whereas gay and lesbian athletes were framed as inherently weak because of their sexual preferences. “I just think that if an athlete is normal... everything is normal. And if [they are gay], there should be some excuse they come up with — “I’m not running because I’m not a man or a woman.” Milonov’s comments provide fascinating insight into the way in which Russian lawmakers have shaped the conversation on sexuality and gender in their country. Perhaps most interesting, however, is how his statements about sexuality and athleticism reveal an utter lack of awareness about the origins and traditions of the Olympic Games — namely, that from their very inception, the Games have always maintained a strong link to same-sex desire. “Eroticism and sexuality have always been part of athletics, sport and other forms of physical activity, even though some institutions have sought to channel the discipline and exhaustion of 12 NOV 14–27, 2013 XTRA!

sport and physical activity into sexual abstinence,” says Professor Bruce Kidd, of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education. “In the ancient world, homosexuality was closely associated with athletics and celebrated as such in poetry, sculpture, vase painting and other representations. The ancient Olympics began as an integral part of the system of power by which male aristocrats garnered a disproportional share of the social surplus for themselves. The cult of

Figure skater John Curry was the first openly gay athlete to win Olympic gold.

homoeroticism was closely bound up with that system of power.” Between 776 BCE to roughly 260 CE, the Games were considered to be the most prestigious event in ancient Greece. Every four years, the sacred site of Olympia was flooded with spectators from the surrounding regions for an event that was a combination of both religious ceremony and pure voyeuristic spectacle. And key to that spectacle was the celebration of the male body, considered to be the physical embodiment of the perfection of the Greek gods. Aristocrats and labourers were brought together under a strict exercise regimen and stripped of their garments. Foot races, discus throwing, boxing and wrestling were just a few of the sports performed in the nude, and while women did participate in the games as athletes and trainers, their competitions were kept separate and were less popular. In fact, many of the surviving depictions of female athletes often have them clothed — suggesting both propriety and an intentional separation from erotic display. While many historians are reluctant to classify the ancient Games as gay in the modern sense of identity and sexual orientation, they do acknowledge that the athletic competition was a reflection of the prevailing attitudes of the time. And in Greek culture, pederasty was common between men of the aristocracy and prepubescent boys. Far more than a mere sex act, this union was seen as a mentorship that had as much to do with an exchange of knowledge as sexual desire and that often ended at the onset of adulthood, when the young men would settle down with female partners and start families.

“Champions were rewarded with lavish cash bonuses, lifetime pensions and generous gifts of merchandise,” Kidd says. “Not infrequently, their victories opened up the doors to successful careers in politics and business.” And, in certain cases, victorious athletes would become objects of sexual desire, profiting from their newfound fame by becoming lovers to the wealthy.

T

he ancient Games remained a popular draw until 393 CE, when Christian emperor Theodosius banned all pagan festivals. Aside from a few regional athletic competitions in the centuries that followed, the Games remained mostly dormant until French educator Pierre de Coubertin launched a version of the Games in 1894 that would foreground more modern concepts, such as fair play, bureaucracy and an overall adherence to rules. And in many ways, these modern Games were also a reflection of the predominant cultural anxieties of the time — namely, that men were becoming too feminized as a result of modernity and the Industrial Revolution. With farming communities broken up and fathers separated from their sons, many feared that a lack of male influence in homes

and in schools would lead to a “softening” of Western males. Organized sports were viewed as a means to reestablish the gender binary by separating men and women and reinforcing masculine values. Still, even with this newfound focus on shoring up masculinity, homoeroticism at the Games has continued to prevail in both overt and covert ways. TORONTO’S GAY & LESBIAN NEWS


JP LAROCQUE

VIRTUALLY EVERY GAMES HAS PRODUCED POWERFUL HOMOEROTIC IMAGES, ESPECIALLY THE OFFICIAL POSTERS FROM STOCKHOLM 1912 THROUGH TO HELSINKI IN 1952. Above, professor Bruce Kidd, of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, says sex has always been a part of the Olympic Games. Left, posters from Olympic Games in 1912, 1924 and 1952.

“Virtually every [modern] Games has produced powerful homoerotic images, especially the official posters from Stockholm 1912 through to Helsinki in 1952,” Kidd argues. “And of course, sex has always been part of every Games, which is why condoms are now distributed to the athletes in every Village and quickly run out.”

P

prior to 1960, historical examples of homosexual Olympians are limited at best, and the stories that do exist are often tragic. Because of the laws in place during much of the 20th century, few athletes were able to be open about their sexuality, and those who did come out often faced harsh punishments or had the truth buried by family and friends. But with the gay rights movement blossoming in the 1960s, more athletes began to feel comfortable about going public. In 1976, English figure skater John Curry became the first openly gay athlete to win Olympic gold. And in 1982, Tom Waddell, a participant in the 1968 Olympic decathlon, founded MORE AT DAILYXTRA.COM

the first Gay Games in San Francisco. Over the last 30 years, the number of openly gay athletes has steadily increased. Greg Louganis, David Pichler, Patrick Jeffrey, Mark Tewksbury and Anastasia Bucsis are just a few of the Olympic competitors who have acknowledged their sexuality in the interest of making positive changes to the system. And yet even with gradual progress, gay and lesbian athletes continue to have a hard time finding support — both within the world of sports and even within their own families. “I think being a national or international athlete would certainly add to the difficulties of coming out,” says Marko Gadzic, who participated in both the Outgames and the Gay Games. “However, I never worried too much about letting people know I was gay after I came out. It was all the people I felt like I was going to disappoint by coming out — mainly family and friends.” Athlete Raymond Reid agrees but also feels that the pressure to conform extends well beyond the personal sphere. “In terms of athletes remaining in the closet, it’s definitely a cultural thing in

whatever sport,” he says. “I’m not just talking about the locker-room mentality, but even at the professional levels, it’s a marketability thing — similar to actors who are afraid to take the risk.” And it was this fear of risk that motivated WinterPride CEO Dean Nelson to seek out and create a safe space for gay athletes. Using national pavilions in Olympic Villages as a model, he founded the first Pride House at the Vancouver 2010 Games, which was a huge turning point for many queer Olympians. “The culture prior to and leading up to 2010 was still very much hostile towards LGBT, and I suspect it was in Montreal [at the World Outgames] that the seed was planted for the Pride House concept,” he says. “It was my first experience interacting with LGBT sports, and I realized that some of these athletes... could be Olympic hopefuls or Olympians, as in [Tewksbury’s] case.” The first Pride House was an unprecedented success. Over the course of the competition, 20,000 people visited the three Pride venues, and the pavilion was one of the top international news stories to come out of the Games. In 2012, a similar project was launched at the London Games. Professor Kidd sees the institution of Pride Houses as an important strategy to affirm and protect the community. “One of the moving untold stories about the Pride Houses in Vancouver is the number of athletes, coaches and officials who were given refugee status by the Canadian government. “As long as there is so much persecution... in many parts of the world, Pride Houses that affirm LGBTIQ among the sports community and the greater public and enable such refugee status are essential.”

W

hich, of course, brings the conversation back to Sochi. With the massive success of the Pride House concept, queer sports organizations like the Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association, the Federation of Gay Games and InterPride had expressed an interest in creating support and continuity between international host cities and major athletic events. These conversations laid the groundwork for Pride House International, a coalition of community groups and leaders that was founded in the wake of the Russian government’s rejection of an application to create a Pride House at the Sochi Games. Nelson and WinterPride are a part of the coalition, and they are working closely with Konstantin Yablotskiy and the Russian LGBT Sports Federation to help protect queer athletes and spectators in Russia during the 2014 Games. “We are lobbying the IOC to update their charter to include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in Article 6 of the Olympic Charter, where it states sports must be free of discrimination of any sort,” he says. Pride House International is also applying pressure on the IOC to update its selection process to ensure that future host destinations embrace full equal human rights in order to avoid a situation like Sochi happening again. Or, as Nelson puts it, “if a destination wants to host the Olympics and sees the value in bringing the Olympic spirit to their nation, they will need to modify their laws to ensure [they are] in line with the Olympic Charter.” In the event that the group is ultimately unsuccessful in getting a Pride

House off the ground in Sochi, the coalition is looking into the possibility of a virtual Pride House, as well as creating additional houses in other countries around the world and spearheading a same-sex hand-holding initiative that would encourage those who attend the Games to hold hands with other people of the same sex. “Keeping up a friendly dialogue with the IOC and other sporting bodies is important. We will collectively continue to lobby, at a local, national and international level, the Olympics and other major sporting bodies to ensure a safe and inclusive space for all athletes is possible.”

M

eanwhile, the Russian LGBT Sports Federation has been organizing a gay-friendly athletic event to be held in their country following the Winter Olympics. Dubbed the Open Games, the competition welcomes athletes of all orientations and will take a more indirect approach to promoting tolerance by placing emphasis on athletics rather than on human rights or politics. “Sport is a universal instrument to solve many different problems,” Yablotskiy recently told The New York Times. “By developing LGBT sport, we can improve the standing of the LGBT community in our country. Our society has a very one-sided image of gays. People don’t understand that anyone could be gay. Your boss could be gay; any good, normal person could be gay.” In contrast to a less direct approach, Kidd sees value in visibility as an extension of personal identity. “I think the campaign within the Olympic movement should focus on... individual selfidentification as the basic human right. “Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter may prohibit political demonstrations, [but] wearing a rainbow triangle or carrying a small rainbow flag should not be taken as a ‘political demonstration,’ but simply a statement of self-identification... not unlike the act of waving an eagle feather or wearing a crucifix, turban, Métis scarf or hijab — all of which have happened at previous Olympics without incident.” Gadzic is reluctant when it comes to demonstrating on foreign soil. “I would love to compete in Sochi, [but if I did] I would comply with the laws of the land. We can’t expect a country to openly be accepting of gays overnight.” But Reid disagrees. “Laws like this... are a reminder that politicians aren’t above sacrificing human rights for political gain. The Russian government doesn’t own the Olympic movement, so I think it would be within the Olympic spirit to still compete.” He pauses. “Doing so openly would be a tremendous benefit in terms of upholding the humanity of the Olympic spirit and fighting homophobia.” XTRA! NOV 14–27, 2013 13


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Sochi posters provoke A Quebec LGBT organization hopes its eye-catching Sochi 2014 campaign will encourage more people to rally against Russia’s discriminatory antigay laws and will show Russian LGBT people that the world is behind them. On Nov 1, Fondation Émergence launched the campaign by releasing two striking posters: one of male hockey players kissing and another of female snowboarders doing the same. The posters read “Sochi 2014” in stylized script — a nearly wordless design intended to make the posters usable across the globe, says Martine Roy, Fondation Émergence’s president. The Montreal-based advocacy group is known for its annual International Day Against Homophobia organizing, as well as for campaigns that touch on everything from support for LGBT seniors to workplace rights. Under Russia’s new bill, dubbed the “antigay-propaganda law,” both the posters and the acts depicted on them, if done in public, could be considered “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations amongst minors.” Offenders, both citizens and visitors, can be fined or jailed if found guilty. “We find it is incredible we are going backwards like this, especially in Russia,” Roy says of the bill, which the Russian parliament passed unanimously in June. “It made me very scared because when you see a country as influential as Russia, as big as Russia, turning around

Fondation Émergence used few words on its posters in the hope they’ll be used around the world in the lead-up to the Sochi Olympic Games.

like this, deciding to put such a law in place, it means it can happen to us.” In a statement in French posted to Fondation Émergence’s website, Roy condemns the law for violating freedom of expression — especially in its much-criticized ambiguity — and for how it may incite intolerance. She also criticizes the International Olympic Committee for not condemning the law, especially given its contravention of paragraph six of the Olympic Charter, which takes a stance against discrimination during the Games. In her statement, Roy calls Russian

President Vladimir Putin’s assurance that athletes will be respected during the Games “a strategy to ease tensions and to help forget this homophobic law that will continue to harm Russian LGBT communities and to put them in danger once the Olympic Games are finished.” Fondation Émergence has prepared 5,000 copies of the posters and matching stickers with the help of funding from the Quebec government. The campaign material, along wi th information about the Russian law, is available at fondationemergence.org. —Natascia Lypny

Government making ‘contingency plans’ for Sochi attendees The federal government will be providing assistance to Canadians who might find themselves ensnared in Russia’s infamous anti-gay laws at the Sochi Winter Games. With fewer than 90 days left until the world heads to Russia, concerns are growing that the country’s draconian laws could cause trouble for Canadians, even as the Russian government has tried to assuage fears. But Ottawa is looking to ensure that no problems arise at the event. “Special contingency plans will be put in place, including extra capacity in both Ottawa and Moscow,” says Adria Minsky, a spokesperson for Lynne Yelich, minister of state for consular affairs. Minsky would not elaborate on what those plans entail. The NDP has called on the government to send a dedicated representative to deal with any problems that may arise for LGBT Canadians, in the face of harsh “anti-gay-propaganda” laws implemented by President Vladimir

Putin. It seems unlikely that that will happen, however. “As with previous Olympic Games, we will increase our ability to provide consular services to Canadians at the Sochi Olympic Games,” Minsky told Xtra via email. She would not comment as to whether a dedicated official would be sent. Randall Garrison, NDP critic for LGBT affairs, says he spoke with Yelich and was told the government is not currently considering sending a dedicated consular official to deal with the issue. The opposition critics for sport, foreign affairs and LGBT issues co-wrote a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird (who is not responsible for consular affairs), asking that a designated representative for LGBT issues be on hand at the Games. “By designating a consular official, the Conservatives can demonstrate a real commitment to making sure the Sochi Games are open to all Canadians,” foreign affairs critic

Paul Dewar said in a statement. With new legislation being implemented that would crack down on rallies or demonstrations before, during and after the Olympics, it seems quite possible that Canadians could find themselves in trouble with Russian authorities. While Putin has swatted away concerns about the laws, politicians from around the world have condemned his agenda. Baird said he hopes that the Games will put pressure on Putin to repeal them. The NDP demanded that the minister go a step further and implement a visa ban on any of the authors of the original anti-gay legislation. The Department of Foreign Affairs says it will be setting up a website to help Canadians who plan to make the trip to Sochi. —Justin Ling For more on these stories, go to dailyxtra.com. TORONTO’S GAY & LESBIAN NEWS


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Online activism in Moroccan gays and lesbians hope their growing cyber movement is the first step to wider acceptance INTERNATIONAL RUBY PRATKA

The interview has something of a cloakand-dagger feel about it. “Nadya,” an elegant social worker in her mid-20s, rushes into a dark and crowded jazz club in downtown Rabat, the capital of Morocco. She finds the foreigner holding the notebook and begins to speak in an urgent whisper. “We’re going to have to leave; this isn’t something we can talk about in bars,” she says. “I set it up so we could meet in my friend’s flat. Let’s go.” Only when we leave the bar and begin plodding through Rabat traffic does she begin to talk normally. Nadya doesn’t want her real name used because she fears losing her job if her bosses find out she campaigns, in her spare time, with a few queer and allied friends, for the decriminalization of homosexuality in Morocco. “My parents don’t know, and no one at my job knows,” she says. “Most people who are gay just live in hiding. I know I’m going to have to ‘come out’ someday, but I’m really scared.” Here, as in the rest of North Africa, same-sex attraction is truly “the love that dare not speak its name.” The Moroccan criminal code threatens “anyone who commits an indiscreet act or an act against nature with someone of his or her own sex” with a prison sentence of six months to three years and a fine of 200 to 1,000 dirhams ($25 to $125 Canadian). According to data collected by Kifkif, a Spain-based organization advocating for gay rights in Morocco,

about 5,000 gay and lesbian people have stood trial on homosexuality charges since Morocco gained independence from France in 1956. In May of this year, two young men in Rabat were sentenced to prison for homosexuality. Nadya says she knows many young people who have been kicked out of their homes. At 28, she has already moved into her own place but still fears her family’s reaction to her identity. “It would be total panic,” she says. “If they rejected me because of it, that would be a real shame.” While the Arab Spring of 2011 spawned a protest movement and brought a reformed constitution and a breath of political fresh air to this monarchy, it did not ruffle the official stance on gay rights. Even in a bustling, cosmopolitan city like Rabat, where people of all races live and work and as many women wear the veil as don’t, latent homophobia simmers below the surface. “Phobia” is perhaps more accurately used in the Greek sense than the modern one — people react with fear when the subject is brought up. “I don’t want to talk about it; it just upsets me,” says one train passenger in Rabat, moving away from the conversation. “You must be very stupid to pursue this story,” adds another. Very few civil society organizations address homosexuality. “Even the activists who led us through the Arab Spring reject homosexuality, and organizations who work on other forms of antidiscrimination do not include discrimination based on sexual orientation,” Nadya says. “The Organization for the Fight

Most people who are gay just live in hiding. I know I’m going to have to ‘come out’ someday, but I’m really scared. 16 NOV 14–27, 2013 XTRA!

TORONTO’S GAY & LESBIAN NEWS


North Africa against AIDS has a gay men’s working group, the Alternative Movement for Individual Liberties [a leftwing protest movement] has touched on it, and that’s about it.” Nadya participates — with her face covered — in cheeky YouTube videos calling for decriminalization, set to Lily Allen’s “Fuck You.” Inside a cozy Rabat apartment, rented by an actress friend of Nadya’s and filled with young, artistic people, her friends can play the videos on repeat and laugh. Outside, not a chance. Nadya believes there are many reasons for hostility toward gays and lesbians in Morocco. “Politics, religion and fear enter into it. Women are also afraid, like, ‘You’re a lesbian, so you are going to jump on me.’”



Top left: Rabat, Morocco’s capital, is a bustling city of 1.2 million people, with vibrant street life, crowded cafés and noisy traffic jams. THINKSTOCK Above: The As-Sounah mosque towers over the city’s main artery, Avenue Moulay Hassan. RUBY PRATKA A selection of covers from Aswat, an online Moroccan LGBT magazine.

Fear of rejection leads many queer Moroccans to live elaborate double lives. “My family are religious, pious people... same thing with my colleagues at work who are conservative Muslims. They would not accept this idea; it would take too long to explain,” says Laila E, Nadya’s girlfriend, an administrative assistant. “So I can only be myself with the [queer] community.” Ishaq Nouri and Marwan Bensaid have taken their double lives one step further. The two wide-eyed 21-year-old computer scientists turned journalists edit Aswat, an Arabic-language LGBT monthly magazine. They each use two different first and last names, with different Facebook accounts and groups of friends to go with each. Ishaq and Marwan are not their legal names, rather the names of their Aswat identities. “Our friends don’t know what I’m doing; my family doesn’t know what I’m doing,” Nouri says. “We avoid publishing our real names; all of our writers use pen names, and we avoid using photos.” The magazine talks about sexual health, current events and films; it includes advice on potential problems, such as coming out, and interviews with prominent queer Arabs, such as FrenchMoroccan novelist Abdellah Taïa and Ludovic Zahed, founder of Europe’s first gay-friendly Muslim prayer room.

A TALK WITH ABDELLAH TAÏA The man hailed as Morocco’s first openly gay author Known as the first Arab writer to publicly declare his homosexuality, Abdellah Taïa grew up in Rabat, where poverty and queerness both stunted and stoked his literary ambitions. Today, as he edges into his 40s, his work has become a necessary, and perhaps unique, bridge between the Arab world and the West. To the Englishspeaking world, his best-known work is his autobiographical novel Salvation Army — a brief and heart-wrenching account of his coming-of-age and eventual departure from Morocco. By speaking unabashedly about sex tourists, the latent sexuality of invisible populations, and his first contacts with a bewildering Europe, Taïa scandalized the Moroccan press even while he won international acclaim. The English translation of his new novel, Infidels, will be published this spring. On Oct 23 he participated in the Beyond Queer event at the Vancouver International Writers Festival. — Michael Harris XTRA: Your Wikipedia page says

you’ve been in self-imposed exile from Morocco since 1998. Is that what it feels like? Exile? ABDELLAH TAÏA: To be honest, I’m not totally comfortable with the expression “self-exiled.” But I did decide, when I was 13, to go one day to Paris in order to be who I am: a free individual.

Being gay has become integral to your identity as a writer. Do

Author Abdellah Taïa, on the cover of Aswat.

you think this will change as your career develops? No, this will never change. I create from a world that I know very intimately — what’s happening inside of me. Homosexuality is here, in me, in that world. But homosexuality is not my subject; it’s a subject for everyone, even for heterosexuals. I don’t say to myself that I have to write about homosexuality. This very important part of me simply comes out every time I write, in a very natural way.

And that gay identity intersects with class and cultural background. All these parts of you sort of run into each other in your writing. Is there a hierarchy, do you think, between these aspects of identity? There’s no hierarchy at all. Never. There’s a lot of chaos, in my head and on the paper. Everything is mixed up: politics, sexuality, love, social problems . . . What’s very important for me is to succeed in finding the right form for this endless chaos. To find a little phrase with a certain rhythm. Not to be descriptive, but to be poetic. And to never, never let go until the end of the story. Go to dailyxtra.com for a video interview with Taïa.

continued next page E MORE AT DAILYXTRA.COM

XTRA! NOV 14–27, 2013 17


Online activism in North Africa E continued from previous page

Twelve people, mostly students, put together the magazine on a volunteer basis, on their own laptops. “We have no office, and we have to hide what we do from our families,” Nouri says. “With school, it takes a lot of time. We do take risks, but it’s for a good cause.” “If my parents find out what I’m doing, I’ll have to leave the house and permanently leave the country,” says Bensaid, more cautious and softspoken than his extroverted co-editor. “In the eyes of the law, homosexuality is a crime,” Nouri says. “And we’ve had problems — Marwan’s computer has been hacked twice, and after another Moroccan magazine did a story on us, an imam posted a video on YouTube saying we would burn in hell. But if we were scared, we wouldn’t be doing it. “With the magazine, our goal is to raise awareness among gays and lesbians of what’s going on in the community and then approach the general public,” he says. “We need to think about changing people’s mentalities. They think that we’re some kind of criminals; others think we don’t exist in real life. “We’re here to make things move and to start talking about ourselves,” he continues. “We have to admit that we exist and that people different from us exist and that’s natural. People haven’t realized that yet.” A print edition remains out of the question. “It wouldn’t be possible to do a print edition,” Bensaid says. “Here in Morocco there are a lot of taboos, a lot of red lines you can’t cross — too many red lines.” Reporters Without Borders, a Parisbased press-freedom organization, has declared that “religion, the king and the monarchy in general, the country and territorial integrity cannot be questioned” in the country’s press. With the print media and the public



space closed off, the Moroccan LGBT movement is a child of the internet; of forums like lgbtmaroc.com and gaymaroc.net, which have hundreds of members; of Facebook groups and websites; of online magazines like Aswat and its predecessor, Mithly. According to Nouri, Aswat now has 5,400 unique visitors a month. “The whole movement started virtually, through Facebook and other social networks,” says Laila E. “You get to know one person, that person gets to know others and it gets bigger.” “Having a public [offline] event like a Pride would be much more challenging. I’ve dreamed about that, but it’s not a realistic dream.”

 There is no separation of faith and state in the Islamic monarchy, where the reigning king, Mohamed VI, is considered to be the “commander of the believers” and a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. During Ramadan, the holy month during which observant Muslims fast and pray throughout the daylight hours, restaurants are legally forbidden from serving food to adult Muslims. Although the current king has decreed the equality of men and women, Islam remains inextricable from politics and law. “Religion blocks us from making progress, because in this country you can’t legalize something which is forbidden by religion,” Nadya says. “Hopefully, in a few years we will be able to put in place secularism; that would open the door to a lot of other things. “To come out is to be a pariah; it’s difficult to find work,” Nadya continues. “Already I’m somewhat rejected because I keep my hair short and I’m unmarried at 28. But I have an advantage in that I’m financially independent. Most young people still live with their parents, and we know a lot of people who have been kicked out. There’s no group that is working on that issue specifically; people talk among themselves.”

We need to think about changing people’s mentalities. They think that we’re some kind of criminals; others think we don’t exist in real life. Rabat, the second largest city in Morocco, is an administrative centre and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. RUBY PRATKA

Nadya says that as a lesbian she has had less difficulty finding and keeping a job than her male or transgender counterparts. “I’m lucky, because I can pretty much go unnoticed. The ones who have the most trouble are gay guys and transgender people,” she says. “Where I went to university, I knew someone who was gay. He wasn’t able to find work even though we’d gone to a very good university and our field was very much in demand; everyone in my graduating

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class got work except for him. You can imagine, there are people who have a really difficult time because of this. For transgender people, prostitution is the only option.” It’s an option with its own dangers, of course, as prostitution and consensual sex out of wedlock are both crimes in Morocco. “One of the reasons people condemn homosexuality is because people associate it with prostitution, because some people use it for prostitution,” Nadya adds.

Fortunately, unlike in some southern African countries, violence and death threats are not part of daily life for these activists. But other forms of intimidation can be scary, especially for trans people and those who don’t dress according to gender norms. “There is violence; it’s verbal above all, but it can be physical,” Nadya says. “I personally haven’t had to deal with any violence, but I had a girlfriend whose orientation was very visible, and people would call her ‘brother’ in the street; it was really quite scary. “If you do get physically attacked, the people who attack you have absolute impunity. Because the law does not protect you, you can’t go file a complaint with the police. It’s like being an illegal immigrant. Because there’s no law; it’s the law of the jungle.” Despite the Arab Spring and the increasing liberties taken by other minority groups in the country — for example, atheist groups who have become increasingly visible — the young activists can’t imagine a Pride in the streets of Marrakesh or Tangier anytime soon. “We want to get together, to mobilize and to tell people that we are normal, that being homosexual is not a psychological disorder,” Nadya says. “We need to work things out with our families, our friends and ourselves before starting a movement. Are we ready for the consequences of rejection?” For Nouri, the Arab Spring has planted a welcome seed of dissent in the public sphere in Morocco. If atheists and religious dissenters now dare to eat in public during Ramadan, how unrealistic is a public LGBT event? “It’s still impossible under the law,” he says, “but people have become more courageous. People are starting to fight for good causes; there is a little seed of a movement. Now we can express ourselves better. Nothing concrete has changed, but we can say, ‘We’re here, we exist.’”

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Softly gentleman-like

Four same-sex couples file lawsuit challenging Idahoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s gay marriage ban

From bed-hopping to mountain-climbing with Anne Lister HISTORY BOYS JEREMY WILLARD

Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not ashamed to say it: recently, while snuggled up in my big tub with a cup of tea, I watched a lesbian melodrama. It was The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister. I had just spent several days researching Lister and thought a drama based on her life would be a pleasant conclusion to my studies. I was disappointed that the ďŹ lm shows a one-dimensional Lister, motivated only by her lusts. The ďŹ lm seems to fall into a trap we might all easily fall into: reducing Lister to her many sexual exploits. Lister (1791â&#x20AC;&#x201C;1840) was born in the English town of Halifax, West Yorkshire. She inherited her family seat, Shibden Hall, in 1826 and worked hard to improve the property, including adding a Gothic tower and opening a successful coal mine. But whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s caught peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s attention most of all is the content of her diaries. Most of the more than four million words she wrote deal with national events and her business and academic interests, but about a sixth of the diary was written in a code combining algebra, numbers and Greek. When eventually deciphered, it revealed a lifetime of lesbian desires and experiences. When she wrote â&#x20AC;&#x153;kiss,â&#x20AC;? it meant orgasm, â&#x20AC;&#x153;connection with the ladiesâ&#x20AC;? meant lesbianism, and â&#x20AC;&#x153;going to Italyâ&#x20AC;? meant sex. She famously wrote, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I love & only love the fairer sex & thus beloved by them in turn, my heart revolts from any love but theirs.â&#x20AC;? Her ďŹ rst experience was at boarding school, Manor House, with a girl named Eliza Raine. When Lister was 19 she began a sexual relationship with Isabella Norcliffe. In 1812, Norcliffe introduced Lister to Marianna Belcombe. Lister ditched Norcliffe for Belcombe, fell in love, but was distressed when Belcombe, because of family pressure and for ďŹ nancial reasons, married a widower named Charles Lawton. However, the two women didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stop seeing one another. Lister considered herself married to Belcombe, but not monogamously, and soon resumed sleeping with Norcliffe. She also seduced at least MORE AT DAILYXTRA.COM

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While many reduce Anne Lister to her sexual exploits, she was also a smart businesswoman and a record-breaking mountain climber. ERIC WILLIAMS

one of Belcombeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sisters, also named Anne. Lister wrote, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Talking... but then got more loving. Kissed her, told her I had a pain in my knees â&#x20AC;&#x201D; my expression to her for desire â&#x20AC;&#x201D; & saw plainly she liked me & would yield again, without much difficulty, to opportunity & importunity.â&#x20AC;? By 1824, Lister was also making frequent trips to Paris to see another of her partners, Maria Barlow. In 1825, Lister and Belcombe had a sort of secret wedding. Lister wrote, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Marianna put me on a new watch riband & then cut the hair from her queer [genitals] & I that from mine, which she put each into the little lockets... for us always to wear under our clothes in mutual remembrance. We both of us kissed each bit of hair before it was put into the locket.â&#x20AC;? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pleasantly steamy, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy to forget thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s anything beyond the steam. While her relationships are important in helping to show that she was living a lesbian life in a more modern sense, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not just her bed-hopping that now causes some to call her â&#x20AC;&#x153;the ďŹ rst modern lesbian.â&#x20AC;? Lister cultivated a mannish demeanour and maintained it

in the face of the prejudice of her neighbours, who called her Gentleman Jack. When she was 27, she wrote, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The people generally remark, as I pass along, how much I am like a man... three men said as usual, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a manâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; & one asked â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Does your cock stand?â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;? She describes her demeanour elsewhere in her journals: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Yet my manners are certainly peculiar, not all masculine but rather softly gentleman-like. I know how to please this fair maiden of mine.â&#x20AC;? She not only â&#x20AC;&#x153;marriedâ&#x20AC;? whom she pleased, but was ďŹ ercely independent and had an adventurous nature â&#x20AC;&#x201D; oh, did I mention the mountains? While travelling with her ďŹ nal partner, Anne Walker, whom she also considered herself married to, Lister became the ďŹ rst woman to climb two mountains in the Pyrenees: Mont Perdu, in 1830, and Vignemale, in 1838. At a time when most lesbians were forced to hide themselves, and English tourists visited the mountains mainly to recuperate in resorts, Lister was setting records. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t remember seeing that in the ďŹ lm.

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Out in the City

I was viscerally surprised by the amount of outrage it awoke in me. Paul Dunn E26

Uncovering Thom Allison Thom Allison may be the hottest thing on the stage right now, but he has a tough time wrapping his head around it. “It’s good! It’s weird. What else is there? It’s great to have people thinking that, but you know — back to the show! Maybe it’ll get me more and more interesting work. It’s lovely and flattering.” He certainly has been getting more interesting work. Allison is part of the all-star lineup for Acting Up Stage Company’s new show, UnCovered: Sting & The Police, based on the songs and lyrics of Sting. “The thought of taking something that is known and changing the context of it, that’s really what this event is,” Allison says. “What’s great, and what I love, is that these are songs people know really well, but we show a personal version of the song; it’s a fresh take on a classic. It’s a whole and complete experience that is so fresh. People will get to really hear the lyrics and what they’re really saying. There’s a lot of ‘I’ve never heard this before! I

Thom Allison takes on the songs of Sting. DREW ROWSOME

understand this now!’ “The one I’ve been singing and fell in love with is ‘Mad About You.’ It’s so complicated and interesting and has so much poetry, and I’m drawn to a narrative with a real emotional line.” Beyond UnCovered, Allison is prepar-

ing for his own cabaret show — Shut Up, It’s Christmas! — at the end of November. “I’m not very idle,” he says, chuckling. “I don’t settle very well. The show is hilarious, and so ridiculous — can I really do this for people in public? But it tickles me, so I think others will enjoy it as well. It’s very kooky and crazy and campy and fun.” Before Allison gets back to rehearsals, we ask the hard-hitting question: if he had to adopt one of Sting’s signature items — tight leather pants or a too-small T-shirt — which would he choose? “Oh god. Leather pants are too much on my ass, and the T-shirt wouldn’t highlight anything on me. I’ll find my own version of what Sting wears.” — Andrew Jacome UnCovered: Sting & The Police Mon, Nov 18, 8pm Koerner Hall 273 Bloor St W actingupstage.com

OTTAWA, HERE I COME Forte: The Toronto Men’s Chorus is holding its upcoming cabaret in Erotico, the upstairs performance space at the strip club Flash. While the downstairs is men-only, for the purposes of this performance Erotico will be accessible via a separate entrance and female patrons will be allowed in. “I won’t have an erection while I’m singing, but I’m a real hand talker, so there’ll probably be some gesturing,” says cohost Vince Ciarlo. “I’ll be doing a solo called ‘My Unfortunate Erection’ from the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” The cabaret, called Broadway, Here I Come, will fund Forte’s trip to Ottawa for the 2014 Unison Festival, Canada’s gay choral festival. The evening will feature solos, duets and ensemble performances, including “The Internet Is for Porn,” from Avenue Q, and hits from Cabaret, Chicago and Oklahoma. Every year the choir does two large, formal concerts — one at Christmas and one in the spring — as well as a cabaret preview for the spring show. The Erotico show breaks the routine not only because it’s above a strip club and features only Broadway hits, but also because it’s not one of Forte’s annually scheduled performances and will therefore be far more casual — no tuxedos allowed. Ciarlo seems to be the chief architect of the Broadway theme. “My neighbour tells people that every time she walks by my apartment I have show tunes blaring,” he says. “The title, Broadway, Here I Come, comes from a song in the MORE AT DAILYXTRA.COM

The Toronto men’s chorus will perform their new show in a strip club.

second season of Smash. If you read the lyrics, it’s all about making a leap to being a Broadway star, so once we decided on the Broadway theme, we thought it’d be a perfect song to open with.” The space can’t accommodate the entire 40-voice choir, so the show will feature only the most Broadway-obsessed members and special guests, including cabaret singer Sherry Sylvain and drag legend Michelle DuBarry. —Jeremy Willard Broadway, Here I Come is Fri, Nov, 15, 8pm at Erotico, 461 Church St. forte-chorus.com

BENT BEAUTY SUPREME Queer people love a beauty queen. Whether we’re cheering on an archly avant-garde RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant, a catch-phrase-spewing Honey Boo Boo hopped on go-go juice, or a Miss America contestant who can’t spell her own name, there’s just something about a competition to crown the “fairest of them all” that is so camp, so earnest and so glamorous that it can’t help but demand queer adulation. So, it should come as no surprise that Toronto is about to play host to a new queer beauty pageant, although the beauty it celebrates is deliciously outside the norm. Toronto Bent Beauty Supreme: A Busted Beauty Pageant is the brainchild of Sigourney Beaver, Cherry Piqued and Joe Blow, part of the team behind west-end tradition Steers & Queers. A gay country night in Toronto is the kind of idea that could be a total train wreck, but it’s actually one of the most consistently fun parties in the city. So how about a beauty pageant that pits drag queens against gay rap-

pers and boylesque hunks against burlesque divas? That’s the twist at the heart of Bent Beauty Supreme; while categories like beachwear, talent and formal wear are cookiecutter classics, the contestants are a diverse lineup of local weirdos, including James and the Giant Pasty, ManChyna, Fay Slift, Beever, Nancy Bocock, Belle Jumelles and Axel Blows, and they’re all competing for the same tiara — not to mention $500 cash. “It’s going to be a shit show,” Beaver says. “God willing.” Taking its cue from Toronto’s infamous Miss General Idea Pageants, Bent Beauty Supreme promises to be a night of uncompromising, ravishing beauty in every flavour under the sun. Best of all, proceeds from the event are going to Rainbow Railroad, a group that supports queer refugees. What a beautiful idea! – Johnnie Walker Toronto Bent Beauty Supreme is Fri, Nov 15, 10pm at the Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St W. gladstonehotel.com

XTRA! NOV 14–27, 2013 21


Saye, Saye, Saye what you want Poet, spoken word and rap artist Saye Sky wins inaugural Telus Award SERAFIN LARIVIERE UP AND COMING

“In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who has told you we have that.” When ex-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spewed forth those words during his disastrous 2007 speaking tour of the United States, it confirmed what many of us had long feared for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. Not only were these women and men being hunted, tortured, imprisoned and executed, but apparently their very existence was to be obliterated from the country of their birth. To imagine living under such horrific conditions is nearly impossible here in relatively tolerant Canadian society. It would be easy to shy away from these disheartening stories were it not for the brave queer voices shouting above the homophobic din. Saye Sky is one of those voices. This astonishingly talented poet, spoken word and rap artist is making waves internationally with both her music and her activism on behalf of the oppressed in her home country of Iran. Sky was just 13 years old when she began writing about the rights of women, children and the LGBT community — a

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Saye Sky is making waves internationally through her music and activism on behalf of the oppressed in her home country of Iran. ANGIE ARAND

veritable trifecta of punishable offences in a land ruled by men. In 2009 she released her first single, a blistering song about lesbian rights in Iran called “Shadow of an Iranian Woman.” Of course, this didn’t go over well with authorities, forcing her to seek refuge in Turkey before she was finally granted asylum here in Canada. “I didn’t want to leave Iran,” says Sky,

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who now makes her home in Toronto. “I had a girlfriend from Vancouver who was supposed to come and live with me, but everything changed after I released my first song.” Until then, Sky had enjoyed a relatively safe life as a university student in her home city of Tehran. It was there that she took her first steps out of the closet and found that there were others

who bucked Iran’s official position on homosexuality. “When I was in university we had a lot of lesbians, and no one would care or say anything. But in the older generation you never hear about it, like it doesn’t exist. In every single family there’s someone who’s gay, woman or man. The LGBT population in Iran is extremely high, and it’s so funny that

the government says there are no lesbians or gays or transgender in Iran. It’s so ridiculously funny.” Sadly, Sky’s parents weren’t as supportive as her university friends. Her mother and father remained clueless until Sky took the final step of publicly stating her sexuality. In front of a camera. “I came out on TV,” she says. “There is a program called VOA Persian. It is so famous in Iran, and everyone watches it. It was the first time somebody showed up as a homosexual. I’m pretty sure they saw it.” She’s had no contact with her parents since leaving in 2009, something that makes her sad despite the dramatic improvement in her personal safety. “You have to sacrifice to get something more important and bigger in your life, and I sacrificed a lot for my freedom. Now I have the microphone in my hand, and I’m so free. When I go to bed I’m not afraid of any noise. I’m not afraid of the government any more and I can sleep at night.” Sky was recently awarded the inaugural Telus Newcomer Artist Award, a distinction that recognizes her work both as an artist and an activist. The prize was $10,000, but for Sky the real reward was in the validation and increased visibility of her work. “I think I want to be a role model for a lot of girls who live in the Middle East,” she says. “Those countries where women are so oppressed and they’ve been told they can’t do anything. “The freedom that I have here is priceless, absolutely priceless. I can walk on the street holding my girlfriend’s hand, and no one would care. I’m not afraid any more.” Follow Sky on Twitter @sayesky.

Nov. 28–Dec. 1, 2013 Buddies in Bad Times Theatre Tickets: $20 ‡ Call the Box Office at 416-975-8555 or online at: www.buddiesinbadtimes.com/tickets Two queer plays, performances and more! Hosted by Keith Cole! 5 SHOWS ONLY TORONTO’S GAY & LESBIAN NEWS


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Snap out of it! Curing the November blues by exploring our bustling city

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Every year, November rolls around and it sucks. I’m usually the happy-go-lucky, positive-vibes type, but November is my once-a-year mope-fest, and every year my thought process goes something like this: Halloween is dunzo, as is decent weather. Christmas and New Year’s Eve seem so far away, at the other end of a looooong stretch of grey, cold, probably wet and gusty days. Why bother doing your hair for a date when it’ll get blown to hell and be soaked by the time you get to 7 West? Let’s be honest, who’s got a date anyway? That dude from online lost interest, exes should stay exes, and if there was anyone around worth dating, you would have met them already. Even if you were dating someone, is there anything to do that you haven’t done already? Either way, you’d be stuck taking TTC to get there; as anyone who ever takes the TTC knows, that means you’d get there late and annoyed. Clearly, the best option is to stay home, hide behind a pint or 10 of ice cream and wait out the season watching Golden Girls on TV. Oh, it’s not on TV anymore? Channel surfing shows Rob Ford’s mug every other second. Does he really count as Can-con? The round-the-clock Ford follies on CP24 are draining, so maybe a quick trip to the library sounds good. Wait, you still have a fine from when you borrowed Les Misérables last year after the movie came out and didn’t finish it because it was 1,488 pages of characters getting killed and failing in their goals. Is the movie on Netflix? Maybe people getting killed and failing in their goals while singing about it isn’t the best watch. Hey, isn’t the musical playing? It sure is, at $130 a pop, which you totally can’t afford. Maybe that dude from online is still interested... will just one more message really make you look that desperate? Ouch. Blocked. MORE AT DAILYXTRA.COM

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November is Ryan G Hinds’s mope-fest month, which calls for the Cher treatment.

Well, guess that’s a no. So, to wit: online dude thinks you’re a stalker; Russell Crowe singing, failing and dying is just as watchable as it sounds; Dorothy Zbornak exists only on DVD; the world is a cold, lonely, expensive, depressing place... and it’s only mid-November. When I get like this, it’s time for the Cher treatment. That “thwack” sound is the sound of a really good backhand. What was Cher’s line in Moonstruck? “Snap out of it!” Say it out loud. Write it on your bathroom mirror. Put it on a sticker. I’m going to take my own advice and do the same, and I’m going to do it because there’s no excuse for mopiness, either my own or yours! November might be one of those weird seasonal transitional months, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Use it for personal growth and go play. Get a haircut that won’t get tempest-tossed. Instead of Les Misérables, pick up some of the $45 Aladdin tickets floating around — or go see cheaper theatre anywhere else! If your library fines are embarrassing (and frankly, mine are a lost cause; I expect the library police on my doorstep any time now), get thee to Glad Day’s sale rack or haunt your local Chapters... those chairs were made for sitting and reading! I will never say that ice cream and sitcoms is anything but a good thing, but keep your energy up with regular trips to the YMCA; whether you’re doing easy treadmill/

bicycle or a demanding aerobics class or team sports, getting your blood flowing and your joints and muscles in motion will help keep the blues at bay. As for the social factor? Puhh-lease. Only boring people get bored, and that’s a fact. Go clubbing! Fly has a new Saturday night format and you can tell Michael or Gilles I sent you. DJ Relentless has every Friday night in The Zone at Crews & Tangos and the monthly Poz TO parties in the same space. Retro Night on Sundays at Zipperz is always, always a good time, as is Miss Conception’s Sunday show at Woody’s (where you should catch her before she flies south for the winter). Further south on Church, Club120 always has a full calendar of parties, from hot guys in underwear to a Janet Jackson tribute to T-girl nights and mixed queer dance parties. Want to get away from the Village? Go east to WAYLA and holler at owner Brian Duval or west to one of the Henhouse’s drag nights and holler with the queens. Check out the Brazil Film Fest, starting Nov 28. There are so many things going on as we get closer to holiday season there’s no excuse to hermit yourself away. I’m determined to shake off the shackles of my November doldrums... and if anyone sees me looking dour, you have full permission to give me the Cher treatment. Don’t be gentle!

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Homo heritage minutes The Gay Heritage Project makes a complex history personal CHRIS DUPUIS THEATRE

Choosing The Gay Heritage Project as a title for their current theatrical offering wasn’t an act of laziness for creators Damien Atkins, Paul Dunn and Andrew Kushnir. Rather, it acknowledges the inherent complexities and problems in the monstrous task they’ve undertaken. Neither a comprehensive overview of queer identity through the ages nor a conclusive account of what it means to be gay today, the project is more a way for the creators to identify a lineage and situate themselves somewhere within it. “There’s no word that accurately puts a finger on the people we’re looking for through history,” Atkins says. “‘Homosexual’ doesn’t go back far enough. ‘Queer’ isn’t a word everyone we’re looking at would identify with. We settled on ‘gay’ because it’s the word we use in our own lives, and we started this exploration from a personal place because that’s what we know best.” “Using the word heritage meant we also had to use the word project in recognition that it’s ongoing and everevolving,” Dunn adds. “We’ve come to embrace heritage as an activity, rather than simply a concept.” The work’s earliest flickerings developed during another theatrical process: Hannah Moscovitch’s East of Berlin. Cast to play the gay son of a Nazi war criminal in the show, Dunn decided to research the treatment of homosexuals under the Third Reich and came upon Heinz Heger’s 1980 book The Men with the Pink Triangle. “I was viscerally surprised by the amount of outrage it awoke in me,” Dunn says. “Maybe because it was in the context of theatrical research, my first impulse was to connect with these guys to make something.” For their part, Atkins and Kushnir had early reservations. “I was curious but not propelled the way Paul was,” Atkins admits. “But all these years later, the work feels incredibly vital and indispensable to my life.” “I wasn’t terribly excited, originally,” Kushnir adds. “I’ve never met another gay Ukrainian-Canadian, and trying to 26 NOV 14–27, 2013 XTRA!

Damien Atkins, Paul Dunn and Andrew Kushnir are the creators of The Gay Heritage Project. TANJA-TIZIANA

search out some rich history I wasn’t convinced existed only underlined how alone I was. What became enticing was the act of imagination in exploring the ways we’re connected to other gay people. It was also important that we’re openly gay artists who are interested in talking about that. It’s not a footnote to our creative identities. It’s part of our marrow.” The research process, aided extensively by dramaturge Paul Halferty, included scouring libraries and archives and interviewing local and international community members knowledgeable about the subject matter. Working in a community spirit, they also set up a booth during Pride, inviting passersby to share their thoughts on the subject.

They then began developing material using vocal masque, a highly athletic and playful form of performance storytelling. After creating nearly four hours of content, they began the task of chiselling it down to a neat 90 minutes. The result is a collage of overlapping scenes, where each performer plays numerous characters. They step into The Wizard of Oz, put the HIV virus on trial and interview Peter Worthington, the now-deceased journalist who helmed the Toronto Sun during the 1981 Toronto bathhouse raids. They have a dialogue with a man in a concentration camp, perform an excerpt from Brian Orser’s 1987 World Championship–winning long program and impersonate Margaret Atwood. So how do they go from an admittedly

incomplete list of gay history bullet still a kind of gay soul you can look for, points to a meaningful definition of which may not be anchored in those gay heritage? The answer is fuzzy but events but is still valid.” depends on relating history to the presIf any conclusion can be reached, it’s ent moment as well as the future of the that there is rising interest in the subject; community. they point to recent productions of semi“History includes facts, dates and nal gay works The Normal Heart and Anevents,” Dunn says. “You can put them gels in America, as well as the explosion on paper but not necof websites dedicated to essarily know how it the theme. THE GAY HERITAGE PROJECT connects to you. Heri“This play doesn’t Sun, Nov 17–Sun, Dec 8 tage is the process of give any absolutes about Buddies in Bad Times Theatre making this personal.” whether gay heritage 12 Alexander St buddiesinbadtimes.com “History can be very concretely exists,” Kushdisappointing because nir says. “But what resoyou’re left feeling that gay people like nates with me is defending the right to us, the ones who’ve formed an identity search it. When you feel like you don’t around their desire, haven’t existed for even have that possibility, that’s what that long,” Kushnir adds. “But there’s becomes truly problematic.” TORONTO’S GAY & LESBIAN NEWS


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WHAT'S ON FOR MORE EVENT LISTINGS, GO TO DAILYXTRA.COM

ARTS & LITERATURE Gay Men’s Art Project Artists of all skill levels drop in to create and schmooze in an informal environment. Mon, Nov 18, 6–8pm. The 519 Community Centre, 519 Church St. Free. gmaptoronto.org

Singular Sensation: A Musical-Theatre Open Mic Jennifer Walls invites amateur crooners to perform their favourite songs accompanied by a live band. Every Monday, 9:30pm–12:30am. Statlers, 487 Church St. No cover. statlers.ca

Book Launch: Compared to Hitler

Hypnotixxx: A Slightly Naughty Comedy Hypnosis Show

The launch of author and critic RM Vaughan’s new book features a lively discussion with the author on media, print and journalism. Wed, Nov 20, 7pm. Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander St. Free. buddiesinbadtimes.com

Brandon the Hypnotist takes audience volunteers on a risqué and slightly rude jaunt into the subconscious. Wed, Nov 20, 7:30pm. The Flying Beaver, 488 Parliament St. $10 advance, $15 door. pubaret.com

David Bowie Is

Queer as Fuck: Comedy Open-Mic

This exhibit features hundreds of objects and costumes from Bowie’s personal archive and a multimedia presentation on his contributions to arts and culture. Runs until Wed, Nov 27. Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St W. $21.50 and up. ago.net

COMEDY & CABARET Broadway, Here I Come Forte: The Toronto Men’s Chorus holds its first-ever Broadway-only cabaret. Fri, Nov 15, 8pm. Erotico, 461 Church St. PWYC–$10. forte-chorus.com

Taming of the Shrew — 1803 Danforth Ave, Thurs, Nov 14

The creator of Laughs at Slack’s presents a twice-monthly comedy night in the west end. Featuring Laura DiLabio, Brian Finch and Shannon McDonough. Wed, Nov 20, 9:30pm. The Steady Café, 1051 Bloor St W. PWYC. thesteadycafe.com

Mini-Mused Fundraiser A cabaret-style benefit for local charities. Featuring Melissa Azore, Kalsen Cheung, Katherine Janicki and Sara Minx, with Philippe Escayola on piano. Sat, Nov 23, 9pm. The Flying Beaver, 488 Parliament St. $10 advance, $15 door. pubaret.com

HEALTH & ISSUES

Pups and Handlers — Black Eagle, Fri, Nov 22

The 519 Legal Clinic A free, accessible service for lowincome people. Volunteer lawyers provide legal advice, referrals and help with forms and letters. The confidential and private visits are first-come, first-served. Bring any necessary documents. Every Thursday; registration 6–6:30pm. The 519 Community Centre, 519 Church St. Free. the519.org

FTM Support Group Trans men share their experiences in a supportive environment. Takes place the first and third Friday of each month. For more information, contact ftmtoronto@yahoo.ca. Fri, Nov 15, 7:30pm. The 519 Community Centre, 519 Church St. Free. the519.org

Positive Routes to Recovery A peer-led support group for gay men working through substance abuse issues. Takes place the first and third Tuesday of each month. Tues, Nov 19, 6–8pm. The 519 Community Centre, 519 Church St. Free. pr2r.org

LGBTQ Peer Support Drop-In Group Queer people with mood disorders gather for support and discussion. If the building door is locked, press the button under the intercom near the wheelchair entrance. Wed, Nov 20, 7–9pm. Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, 36 Eglinton Ave W, Ste 602. Free. mooddisorders.ca

transphobic violence. Wed, Nov 20, 7pm. The 519 Community Centre, 519 Church St. Free. the519.org

Bisexual Men of Toronto A peer-support and discussion group focused on community and solidarity. Tues, Nov 26, 8–9:30pm. Sherbourne Health Centre, Room 1077, 333 Sherbourne St. Free. torontobinet.org

A Storm of Sequins: Game of Thrones Burlesque II Fantasy-literature lovers indulge in a night of Daenerys humping amid the Dothraki and Jon Snow’s travails in the Night’s Watch. Sat, Nov 23, 9pm. Lee’s Palace, 529 Bloor St W. $20 advance, $25 door. gotburlesque2. eventbrite.com

Trans Day of Remembrance

LEISURE & PLEASURE

Folks of every stripe gather for this annual memorial commemorating those lost to or affected by

LGBTQ+ Garden Group

Sapphic Aquatica: Nookie in November

Vegetation enthusiasts take part in some rooftop gardening. To register, contact Imrosovsky@ accessalliance.ca. Tues, Nov 19, 5–7pm. AccessPoint, 3079 Danforth Ave. Free. accessalliance.ca

Women and trans people enjoy a sauna, outdoor heated pool, plush playrooms and the music of DJ Dollface. Tues, Nov 26, 8pm–2am. Oasis Aqualounge, 231 Mutual St. $20. oasisaqualounge.com

Out and Out Club New Members’ Night

Anal Play: Butts, Prostates, Penetration and Pleasure

The queer social club introduces potential members to its broad range of activities. Sessions are held the third Tuesday of each month. Tues, Nov 19, 7–8pm. The 519 Community Centre, 519 Church St. Free. outandout.ca

SEX & BURLESQUE Kink 201 Carrie Gray invites people of all genders and orientations to expand their BDSM repertoire in such areas as rope bondage, flogging and sensory deprivation. Preregistration recommended. Tues, Nov 19, 7–9:30pm. Good for Her, 175 Harbord St. $33. goodforher.com

The New Wave Night: Pups and Handlers Puppy boys and their owners enjoy a safe, sexy environment with likeminded people. Features a dungeon and information related to puppy role-play. Fetish wear is encouraged but not compulsory. Fri, Nov 22,

28 NOV 14–27, 2013 XTRA!

10pm. Black Eagle, 457 Church St. No cover. blackeagletoronto.com

A workshop where people of all genders, orientations and experience levels can learn how to maximize anal pleasure. Preregistration recommended. Wed, Nov 27, 7–9:30pm. Good for Her, 175 Harbord St. $33. goodforher.com

THEATRE & DANCE The All-Female Taming of the Shrew Shakespeare’s funniest and most controversial comedy is performed by an all-female cast. For more information, contact jacqui. burke@jaybirdproductions.ca. Thurs, Nov 14–Sat, Nov 30, various showtimes. 1803 Danforth Ave. $22, $15 students and seniors. jaybirdproductions.ca

The Gay Heritage Project Damien Atkins, Paul Dunn and Andrew Kushnir uncover a hilarious and rich

history when they attempt to answer the question “Is there such a thing as gay heritage?” Sun, Nov 17–Sun, Dec 8, various showtimes. Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander St. PWYC–$37. buddiesinbadtimes.com

Speak, Love Brendan Wyatt and Sasha Ivanochko perform a dance duet that explores differing views on love. Wyatt is nude from the waist down for the entire performance. Runs Thurs, Nov 21–Sat, Nov 23, various showtimes. Winchester Street Theatre, 80 Winchester St. $17.50– 20. blackandbluedanceprojects.ca

Fear and Desire (and the Whole Damn Thing) A three-act evening, with the mystery play Stiff, the queer comedy classic People Are Horrible Wherever You Go, and a performance featuring three young artists. Runs Thurs, Nov 28–Sun, Dec 1, various showtimes. Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander St. $20. buddiesinbadtimes.com

The Woman in Black When a junior solicitor is sent to Eel Marsh House to attend to the affairs of a recently deceased woman, he is unaware of the house’s tragic secrets or the terrible purpose of a young woman dressed in black. Runs until Sun, Dec 1, various showtimes. Lower Ossington Theatre, 100 Ossington Ave. $39– 49. lowerossingtontheatre.com

Les Misérables Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of the musical about the redemption of ex-convict Jean Valjean. Features the stirring songs “I Dreamed a Dream” and “Do You Hear the People Sing?” Runs until Sun, Feb 2, various showtimes. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St W. $35–130. mirvish.com

TORONTO’S GAY & LESBIAN NEWS


CLUBSCENE

Crews & Tangos Saturday Superfly Saturday in Tangos, with DJ Quinces, and DJ Craig Dominic in the Zone. 10pm. Crews & Tangos, 508 Church St. $5. crewsandtangos.com

Random Play All ’70s and ’80s disco, yacht rock, new wave and more, with DJ Dwayne Minard and guests. 10pm. WAYLA Bar, 996 Queen St E. No cover. waylabar.com

Fly Saturday DJs Shawn Riker and Josh Karmin spins hard house beats all night. 10pm. Fly, 8 Gloucester St. No cover before midnight. flynightclub.com

Go Deep Deep house music all night long with the Mighty Real DJs, John Caffery and The Robotic Kid. 10pm. WAYLA Bar, 996 Queen St E. $5. waylabar.com

The Dirty Hustle DJ Blackcat spins old- and nu-school hip hop and R&B every Thursday night. 10pm. The Steady Café and Bar, 1051 Bloor St W. No cover. facebook.com/ thesteadycafebar

Sissyboy Hissyfit DJ Orange Pekoe on decks, with a midnight performance by Humboldt J Magnussen. 11pm. The Beaver, 1192 Queen St W. $5. beavertoronto.com

Uncle Dickie’s Kerne and Angus host the deep and tech house, techno and disco event, with DJ Feryl and guest on decks. 10pm. Black Eagle, 457 Church St. $5. blackeagletoronto.com El Convento Rico Saturday

Dancing and drag show, with Charo Batista, and DJ Danny Casto on decks. 10pm. El Convento Rico, 750 College St W. $5. elconventorico.com Fly Saturday DJs Quinces and William Bhall throw down house and tech beats. Hosted by Felipe Caputo. 10pm–5am. Fly, 8 Gloucester St. No cover before midnight. flynightclub.com

Sun, Nov 17 Woody’s Sunday Hollywoody Broadway Show, with Miss Conception, at 6pm; Old School, with Georgie Girl, Michelle Ross and Amanda Roberts, at 9pm; Five Smokin Hot Divas, with Georgie Girl, Devine Darlin, Brooke Lynn Hytes, Teran Blake and Saphire, plus DJ Blue Peter on decks, at 11pm. Woody’s, 467 Church St. No cover. woodystoronto.com Karaoke Hosted by Chris and Amanda Jean. 10pm. O’Grady’s, 518 Church St. No cover. ogradyschurch.ca

Mon, Nov 18 Go Hard — Club120, Sat, Nov 23 CHRISTOPHER CUSHMAN

Thurs, Nov 14 Ladyplus Party DJ Todd Klinck is on decks for an evening of meeting and socializing with T-girls, friends and admirers. Complete with spontaneous go-go shows and private VIP dances. 8pm–2am. Club120, 120 Church St, 2nd floor. $5 before 11pm, $10 after. club120.ca Pup Night Argo hosts the monthly night for pups, handlers and friends who are into the kinky play. Novices and experienced players welcome. Limited gear available to borrow. 10pm. Black Eagle, 457 Church St. No cover. blackeagletoronto.com Toronto Drag Kings Tyler Uptight, Cameron, Kenny and Chase Manning perform in the weekly drag king show. Every Wednesday, 11pm –2am. Zipperz/Cellblock, 72 Carlton St. No cover. facebook.com/zipperz Smirnoff Best Chest Contest Brooke Lynn Hytes and Cassandra perform and host the sexy pecs competition, with DJ Mark Falco on decks and $300 in cash prizes. Midnight. Woody’s, 467 Church St. No cover. woodystoronto.com

Fri, Nov 15 Toronto Bent Beauty Supreme Keith Cole hosts a busted beauty pageant, with DJs Joe Blow and

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Sigourney Beaver on decks. Contestants Fay Slift, ManChyna, Axel Blows and more compete in beachwear, formal wear and talent segments for cash prizes and the honour of presiding over the ribboncutting ceremony at the 2014 Inside Out Film Festival. 10pm–2:30am. Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St W. $10. gladstonehotel.com Bear Night Hosted by Jimmy, Gus and Jason on the upper patio every Friday. 10pm. O’Grady’s, 518 Church St. No cover. ogradyschurch.ca Barbershop DJ Michael K spins Motown, R&B and soul at the new west-end event. 10pm. Henhouse, 1532 Dundas St W. No cover. henhousetoronto.com DFMO DJs John Caffery and The Robotic Kid spin house and bouncy dance beats for extreme dancefloor making out. 10:30pm–2:30am. Buddies, 12 Alexander St. $5. buddiesinbadtimes.com

Sat, Nov 16 Fit Farewell Jacob party and sexy sports-gear sale. $10 jockstraps all night, with DJs Phil V and Kris Steeves on the decks. Sale 8–11pm, with proceeds going to the Will Munro Fund; party at 10pm. The Beaver, 1192 Queen St W. $5. beavertoronto.com

Singular Sensation Open Mic Amateur crooners bring their favourite showtunes and perform with a live band every Monday night. Hosted by Jennifer Walls. 10pm–1am. Statlers, 487 Church St. No cover.

Tues, Nov 19 Crews & Tangos Tuesday TICOT Toonie Tuesdays at 9pm; DJ Quinces spins in Tangos at 10pm; Industry Night, with Brooke Lynn Hytes and Vitality Black, at 11:30pm. Crews & Tangos, 508 Church St. No cover. crewsandtangos.com Varsity Tuesday Sofonda Cox hosts the amateur So You Think You Can Strip? competition, with a $100 cash prize. 11pm. Remington’s, 379 Yonge St. $5; no cover with student ID before 11pm, $2 after. remingtons.com

Wed, Nov 20 Toronto Wranglers and Drag Kings Square dance with the cowboys, 7–10pm, followed by the Toronto Drag Kings at 11pm. Zipperz/ Cellblock, 72 Carlton St. No cover. facebook.com/zipperz

Thurs, Nov 21 Retro Night Dancers and bar staff gear up in retro threads, and patrons in ’70s, ’80s and ’90s style have a chance to win a prize. 5pm–2am. Remington’s, 379 Yonge St. remingtons.com

Naked Night Take it all off with a diverse crowd of men getting to know each other au naturel. 10pm. Black Eagle, 457 Church St. No cover. blackeagletoronto.com

Fri, Nov 22

Sun, Nov 24 Underbear DJ Knight Muzik spins vocal house and retro for the underwear party and fundraiser for the Toronto People with AIDS

Crews & Tangos Friday Fierce and Flawless, with Heroine Marks, Ivory Towers and Katherine Dior, at 8:30pm; Indigo Vibes in Tangos, with DJ Roxanne, and Club Lite Fridays in the Zone, with DJ Relentless, both at 10pm; Bitchapalooza, with Daytona Bitch and special guest, at 11:30pm. Crews & Tangos, 508 Church St. crewsandtangos. com

History, Glamour, Magic launch Celebrate the long-anticipated launch of the new (and gorgeous) art book Will Munro: History, Glamour, Magic. Linger to the beats of Munro’s various playlists. Special appearances by guest DJs. 7–11pm. The Gladstone Hotel ballroom, 1214 Queen St W. No cover. theagyuisoutthere.org Miss El Convento Rico Pageant DJ Kno on decks for the drag queen competition. 8pm. El Convento Rico, 750 College St W. elconventorico.com

Mon, Nov 25 WAYLA ’90s Trivia Night Kaleb Robertson and (sometimes) Miss Fluffy Soufflé test the audience’s ’90s knowledge, covering such topics as television, music and dance moves. 7pm. WAYLA Bar, 996 Queen St E. No cover. waylabar.com

Tues, Nov 26 Sapphic Aquatica: Nookie in November DJ Dollface spins for women and trans people frolicking in the upscale sex club. Sorry, no cis men please. 8pm–2am. Oasis Aqualounge, 231 Mutual St. $20. oasisaqualounge.com

Regretro: The Mustache Party DJs Ace of Case, Wei Back and Party McFly spin classic retro hits. 10pm. Henhouse, 1532 Dundas St W. No cover. henhousetoronto. com

T-Girl Strippers DJ Todd Klinck spins at the evening of spontaneous T-girl pole shows and private VIP dances. 8pm–2am. Club120, 120 Church St. No cover, $10 fee for allnight access to VIP booths. club120.ca

Pop Friday DJ Sumation spins top 40 and dance faves on the main floor. Live streaming on outtv.ca. 10pm. Fly, 8 Gloucester St. No cover before midnight, $4 after. flynightclub.com

Wed, Nov 27 Crews & Tangos Wednesday Soul Sistas, with Michelle Ross and Jada Hudson, at 9pm; Foreplay, with Farra N Hyte and special guest, at 11:30pm. Crews & Tangos, 508 Church St. No cover. crewsandtangos.com

Sat, Nov 23 Woody’s Saturday The Toronto Historical Bowling Society’s annual Christmas party and show, at 3pm. Squirt.org Best Men’s Ass Contest, with Jada Hudson, DJ Chris Steinbach and $300 in cash prizes, at midnight. Woody’s, 467 Church St. No cover. woodystoronto.com

Woody’s Got Talent Season two brings more amateur acts to the stage. 10pm. Woody’s, 467 Church St. No cover. woodystoronto.com

Cherry Bomb DJs Denise Benson and Cozmic Cat on decks for queer women and friends. 9pm–3am. Andy Poolhall, 489 College St. No cover before 10pm, $7 after. facebook.com/cherrybombtoronto Black Cat Ball Worn fashion journal launches Issue 17 with a feline-themed event. Black and white dress encouraged. 9pm–2am. Dovercourt House, 805 Dovercourt Rd. $10 advance, $15 gets a discount code for Hailo taxi, $20 gets a discount code for Hailo taxi and a cat-ear headband. wornjournal.com Go Hard: Glamity Awards DJs Blackcat and Pleasure spin reggae, soca, hip hop and R&B for the Bashment music/video party, with the audience voting for hottest dancehall crew, soca dancer, male and female fashionista, dancehall queen, hair affair and sexy tattoo. 10pm. Club120, 120 Church St. $15, $10 with flyer before midnight. club120.ca

Foundation, with prize giveaways. 4–9pm. Black Eagle, 457 Church St. No cover. blackeagletoronto.com

Submit your event listing to listings@dailyxtra.com. Deadline for the Nov 14 issue is Wed, Nov 6.

Cassandra Moore hosts the Best Chest Contest — Woody's, Thurs, Nov 14 NEIL SILVERMAN

NO COVER!

$14 DAY $17 NIGHT

BIG JUGS 465-467 CHURCH ST. 416-972-0887 XTRA! NOV 14–27, 2013 29


DEEP DISH Operanation THURS, OCT 24 @ THE FOUR SEASONS CENTRE

Some say the average person’s attention span has been reduced dramatically over the last century. Apparently, we are engaged for five minutes, tops. Maybe this explains the rise of video blogging and, perhaps, why the New York City Opera is now bankrupt. Once bulging with a $55 million endowment, its list of benefactors is shrinking. Tonight, however, at the Four Seasons Centre, the still rather new and stately home of the Canadian Opera Company, our attention is captured and money seems to be flowing. As does the wine, the gin, the vodka and whatever we can pour down our throats at the sold out Operanation: A Night of Temptation fundraiser, which funnels much-needed cash to the COC Ensemble Studio, Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals. Making a glam entrance are Brendan Canning; Jeremy Laing; the decadent Dixon brothers, David and Glenn; and the always standout Suzanne Rogers, who tonight appears to have one too many weaves on her head. But no one can outentrance model Stacey McKenzie, who slithers in draped in a floorlength fur and promptly proceeds to the make-your-own-mac-andcheese station. “Nothing gets me like cheese,” she says, munching, as cameras click, people point and crowds part. After the Sam Roberts Band performs and the COC’s Ambur Braid brings down the roof (and crashes the glass walls — girl was on fire!), we sneak inside the royal box (always reserved for the British royal family, should they visit) to pose with a life-sized cutout of Will and Kate. Perhaps Prince George will grow up to be a five-minute tenor. Perhaps. 1E Glenn Dixon & Suzanne Rogers 2E Matt & Steve 3E Michael & Al 4E Francis 5E Jermaine, Tristan & Michael

For Anna Pournikova's Xposed column, visit dailyxtra.com. 30 NOV 14–27, 2013 XTRA!

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ROLYN CHAMBERS PHOTOS BY TONY FONG

Hell’s Night: Sharon Needles WED, OCT 30 @ THE PHOENIX CONCERT THEATRE

Some say the average gay person’s attention span has been reduced dramatically over the last few months. Apparently, we are engaged for five months, tops. When Sharon Needles was here just a few months ago, she packed the house. Now she headlines the Phoenix just before Halloween, and the hallowed hall is not even half full. Tragic. Not for us (including Miss Conception, Quanah Style, Judy Virago and others), but for those who miss out on an incredible performance. Aside from her constant want of more coke, her show is witty, her songs smart and her voice great. “Drag queens are not role models,” she says, tossing a half-finished can of Pabst Blue Ribbon into the crowd. “We’re supermodels.” She points to one man, sans costume, and entices him with faux compliments. “You’re interesting. Come here. Who are you? What are you dressed as?” “Myself,” he beams. “The scariest costume of all,” Needles replies, with cunty swish. His smile fades, but it gets me to thinking. Being yourself, to many, is the scariest drag of all. Here Needles stands, above her admirers, not only in drag, but in clown drag (her big red nose most likely packed with powder). She is protected somewhat from reality; not just by her rubber Ronald McDonald dress and pancake makeup, but also by the persona she projects. But then she becomes real, talking with us about her partner of four years, her co-star for the night, Alaska Thunderfuck. Topping her amazing crowd-surfing from the bar to the stage, her song “I Wish I Were Amanda Lepore” brings the room to its knees. Though Miss Amanda, who makes a brief appearance onstage, does very little but sway back and forth in a dress with straps to keep all that silicone from slipping, it’s a hauntingly beautiful ode. And it’s less than five minutes long. Done. 6E Venus & Tobias Funke 7E Quanah Style & Travis 8E Brendan & Kevin 9E Judy Virago 10E Surfing Sharon Needles

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XTRA! NOV 14–27, 2013 31


A world of gay adventure

Travel

Edible Key West Exploring the Conch Republic one bite at a time STORY & PHOTOS BY LESLEY FRASER

As the days get shorter and the temperature drops, Canadians start to daydream about sunny, southern getaways. Gay and lesbian foodies should consider an old standby: Key West. Like Provincetown in the northeast, the continental United States’ southernmost city was geographically isolated until well into the 20th century and also became a haven for artists and homos. But even if it looks a bit like New England, its lush vegetation, riotous colour and Spanish feel make it more Caribbean than Floridian. And as the Conchs, as the locals are known, like to say, “the Puritans never made it this far south.” Maybe that’s why the food’s better. If you like your travel themed, consider one of the many festivals and events that fill the calendar, from the bacchanalian Fantasy Fest to the Hemingway Days Festival to the annual fishing tournament. Sadly, the shortlived ChickenFest (which celebrated the town’s ubiquitous free-roaming poultry) is no more, but food tourists have other options. A highlight is the five-year-old Food and Wine Festival, which this year kicks off with a beach party on Jan 22 and runs through the 26th (if you’re really keen, you could start the weekend before, at the Key Largo and Islamorada Food & Wine Festival). Mustdos include the Let Them Eat Cake masquerade party at the Green Pineapple boutique; the mile-long Duval Uncorked, a drinking and eating tour of the famous strip’s restaurants, shops and galleries; the Key West Kitchen 32 NOV 14–27, 2013 XTRA!

Tour, which stops at a number of local restaurants; the Master Chef’s Classic culinary tasting and competition; and the wonderful shrimp boil (where you’ll gorge on the famous Key West pinks) at the Hogfish Bar & Grill, located one island over at the decidedly down-market Stock Island shrimp docks. Various seminars are still being scheduled, but if chef Martin Liz’s Conch cooking class is offered, go. Key West has a number of high-end food spots — Latitudes, in the Westin Resort on Sunset Key, is a standout (their poached lobster on polenta was voted best main at last year’s Master Chef ’s competition) — but some of its best are very casual. Blue Heaven is famous for its breakfast but also its key-lime pie, so plan more than one visit if you’re not the sort who eats pie in the morning. The shaded patio at the beautiful Azur restaurant makes for a relaxing start to the day. Be sure to stop for Cuban coffee at the 5 Brothers sandwich shop. Their Cuban mix sandwich is also top-notch, as is El Siboney’s, which offers a range of authentic Cuban food in a sit-down environment. Pepe’s Cafe, established in 1909, is the oldest restaurant in the Keys, and its low-key patio is the perfect spot for an afternoon refresher. The Half Shell Raw Bar, at the Historic Seaport, has 50-cent oysters at happy hour. East Coasters craving the accents of home should brave the cruise-ship crowds on lower Duval and stop for fritters at the Conch Shack, run by transplanted Newfoundlander Matt McKnight; it’s always open except during the Super Bowl and hurricanes. For lunch or dinner, Paseo’s is

Western Union’s cruises, top, sail on one of the oldest working wooden schooners in the US. Above, participants at Chef Martin Liz’s Conch cooking seminar, offered at last year’s Food and Wine Festival, learned how to roast a whole pig. Hogfish Bar & Grill, right, is located on gritty Stock Island, next to the shrimp docks.

renowned for its Caribbean fare, particularly the fire-roasted corn. Italian-influenced Salute, sister resto to Blue Heaven, is right on Higgs Beach and a great place to drop in after a swim. Abbondanza is an old-fashioned Italian-American joint (think eggplant parm, shrimp scampi, pasta puttanesca) with huge portions. A visit to Garbo’s Grill is a must, provided they’re not closed because it’s

raining or they went to the beach or their fish suppliers didn’t deliver. Run by Eli and Kenna Pancamo, it’s the only food truck in town; word is that the loophole they came in through has been closed and they’ll soon move into a bricks-and-mortar location, so get there while you can, just in case any of the magic is lost. The shrimp and mahimahi tacos are fantastic. If your sweet tooth calls, stop in at TORONTO’S GAY & LESBIAN NEWS


Getting around Key West is easily navigated by foot or on two wheels, so if you arrived by car, park it and leave it and consider renting a bike: there are no hills, traffic moves slowly, drivers are respectful, parking is free, and with all the booze and food you’ll be taking in, you’ll want to burn off some calories. There are lots of shops to rent from (most offer bikes and mopeds), and many will drop off at and pick up from hotels. Moped Hospital’s one-speed cruisers aren’t fancy, but the big baskets up front are handy and their rates are among the lowest in town. A trolley tour is a great way to get an overview of Key West’s geography and history. The Conch Tour Train, which offers a 90-minute narrated tour, has been in operation since 1958. Old Town Trolley and City View tours let passengers get on and off at various points, and every Saturday at 4pm, the slightly cheesy gay and lesbian trolley tour, operated by the chamber of commerce, takes a 70-minute spin through the town’s queer points of interest.

Where to stay PEARL’S This charming guesthouse used to be women-only and is now “all-welcoming,” but it’s still very female-centric. Located near the quiet end of Duval Street, its buildings include a former cigar factory and the attached workers’ cottages. The patio bar is a popular spot for an afternoon drink. ISLAND HOUSE I can speak only from hearsay, since this all-male, clothingoptional resort has a strict no-women policy. Word is that things get fun around the pool in the afternoon. And the rooms sound fine, too. ALEXANDER’S This lovely 17-room gay-owned guesthouse has tasteful and simple décor, clothing-optional decks, delicious breakfasts and a congenial happy hour peopled by its many return guests. THE GARDENS HOTEL If money’s no object, this is your spot. At one time the largest private estate in town, it was named “the prettiest hotel in Key West” by The New York Times. Even if you can’t afford to check in, check out the Sundaynight jazz in the stunning garden. Top, the Garbo’s Grill food truck is a must-visit. Above, the shrimp boil at Hogfish Bar & Grill is a highlight of the annual Food and Wine Festival.

Key West Cakes for delicious cupcakes and baked goods or for a slice of key lime pie at any number of places; you’ll find four of the big purveyors along Greene Street — look for the green-and-white-clad baker outside Kermit’s, at the corner of Elizabeth, and take it from there. If you’d like to try your hand at making your own, pick up a copy of David Sloan’s definitive Key Lime Pie Cookbook at the wonderful Restaurant Store, a cook’s paradise. Of course, Key West isn’t all about eating and drinking. It’s surrounded by the ocean, after all, so you’ll want to spend some time in the water, on MORE AT DAILYXTRA.COM

it, or plopped on a beach chair beside it. And it’s chock full of fun spots to explore: whether historical, cultural, architectural, horticultural or just plain sexual. Whatever your tastes, you’ll find plenty to gorge on in this charming and fascinating town. For more Key West adventures, visit dailyxtratravel.com.

On the web fla-keys.com gaykeywestfl.com keywestfoodandwinefestival.com

What to read KEY WEST ON THE EDGE: INVENTING THE CONCH REPUBLIC Robert Kerstein’s fascinating, scholarly yet accessible book examines how this unlikely city became a tourist mecca. THE FLORIDA KEYS: A HISTORY & GUIDE Acclaimed novelist Joy Williams’s anti-guide is one of the most candid and unlikely travel books ever written — it never shies away from the dark side of Florida tourism while displaying the author’s passion for the region. QUIT YOUR JOB AND MOVE TO KEY WEST: THE COMPLETE GUIDE Part guidebook, part self-help, part practical how-to, lots of silliness, from Christopher Shultz and David Sloan, who write from experience.

XTRA! NOV 14–27, 2013 33


A world of gay adventure

Travel

TOURISME MONTREAL, FRÉDÉRIQUE MÉNARD-AUBIN

TOURISME MONTREAL, MIGUEL LEGAULT

Montreal snow job The city famous for its hot summer nightlife also provides a brilliant winter escape MATTHEW HAYS

When people hear the word “Montreal,” they tend to think of gorgeous, hot nights and raunchy sex in back alleys. Well, I know some of you do, anyway. But given its European architecture, vibrant cultural institutions and beautiful parks, Montreal is a city that’s well worth checking out in winter. Cold weather makes for a great excuse to spend time indoors, in particular at several of Montreal’s beautiful museums. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has a vast permanent collection but also features strong rotating exhibits year-round. The museum itself is an architectural wonder; the old building sits on the north side of Sherbrooke Street, and the new progressive bit of architecture sits on the south. The gift shop is one of the best in the city and the second-floor restaurant is divine. The Canadian Centre for Architecture has one of the largest collections of prints, drawings, photographs and models relating to architecture in the world. The building itself is worth a tour and the bookshop is unbeatable. The Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art focuses on the works of Quebec artists but also boasts an intriguing number of works by Canadian artists. The current exhibit, 34 NOV 14–27, 2013 XTRA!

Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture (which runs until Jan 5, 2014), is getting rave reviews. Essential to any stay in Montreal is a visit to the Biodome, an eco-museum where visitors can sample various climates and the plants and animals that inhabit them. Since its opening in 1992, the Biodome has seen millions check out vast rooms that recreate faraway climes, including “tropical rainforest,” “Laurentian maple forest,” “Labrador coast” and “Gulf of St Lawrence.” The people behind the Biodome also run the Botanical Gardens — which features all sorts of rare, exotic plants — and the Insectarium, a museum of unusual bugs. Another fun museum is the Montreal Science Centre, in Old Montreal, which features year-round exhibits on various topics and includes an IMAX theatre that screens educational films. Wintry fun can be found at the Parc Jean-Drapeau, where every year a massive snow village is created. There is a 25-room hotel made entirely of ice and a restaurant that seats 100, but kitsch enthusiasts will really get a kick out of the snow-and-ice replica of New York City. For those who are travelling with children, there are train rides and snowsculpture workshops specifically for kids. There is ice skating at the Parc La-

fontaine, a delightfully picturesque park that lies just north of the Village. And on a mild, clear day, a walk up Mount Royal Park is just fantastic and offers a beautiful view of the city. The lookout features a panoramic view, and hot chocolate is served in the colder months. The Highlights Festival (or Festival Montréal en Lumière, is a celebration of light in the winter, to be held this year Feb 20 to March 2. It’s based in scenic Old Montreal and the downtown arts district and features food, film screenings, music and dance performances, and art exhibits. The newest event is Igloofest, which will run Jan 16 to Feb 8. When it started seven years ago, it proved an instant hit, with thousands of fans dancing in the snowy Old Port to the beat and hum of electronic music. What is basically a wintry outdoor rave continues to grow in popularity. Montreal, home of the legendary Canadiens, is a hub for our national sport of hockey. Jock enthusiasts will want to check out the Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame, where the history of the team, founded in 1909, and Montrealers’ longstanding love for it, is recounted in a number of exhibits. Another bit of hockey history can be found in the Montreal Forum, where hockey games and

TOURISME MONTREAL, STÉPHAN POULIN

Clockwise from top left: Montréal en Lumière is a dazzling showcase of performing arts and gastronomy; Igloofest guarantees one of the hottest nights of winter; Mount Royal Park has sleigh rides and one of the best views of the city.

concerts were held from 1924 to 1996, when the complex was transformed into an entertainment centre, featuring a 22-screen cinema complex, restaurants, pool tables and bowling alleys. There are statues of famous hockey players to commemorate the centre’s origins. You can grope them if you’re feeling really hard up. Okay, I know who I’m writing for. I realize many of you may be rolling your eyes at this point and thinking, “Enough with the culture! Who do you think you are, Peggy Guggenheim?” So I’ll end with a reminder that Montreal’s nightlife remains intact, even in winter. Get off at Metro Berri-UQAM, then head east. There are a bunch of drinking holes and clubs to check out, all in close proximity. As well, after walking around in a

bunch of layers, you will undoubtedly want to take off some clothes at the end of the day — and you might want to watch others take off their clothes, too. The top strip clubs in Montreal include the jock-centric Campus, the raunch-infused Stock Bar, and the borderline-NAMBLA headquarters Taboo. And then there are the one-ofa-kind Montreal queer institutions: Cabaret Mado, run by the city’s legendary drag queen Mado (and featuring nightly drag shows), and the Royal Phoenix, the city’s sole out-of-Village queer nightclub, located in the hipster Mile End neighbourhood.

On the web: museesmontreal.org montreal.com/tourism/festivals tourisme-montreal.org TORONTO’S GAY & LESBIAN NEWS


MY

Up on the roof

Montreal

From favourite events to hidden gems off the beaten path, My Montreal gets the inside scoop from local residents about what not to miss when visiting the city. In this installment we asked actor/performer/ genderbender Antonio Bavaro to name a favourite haunt.  

FILM FEST CRUISES

“My answer to what to look out for in Montreal may sound unconventional, but it’s rooftops — all and any of them! They are the best places to see Mount Royal, some of the world’s best graffiti art, multitudes of bronzed church spires looming over quickly gentrifying neighbourhoods, and to watch your neighbours getting dirty in the condo next door while having some brewskies with your buds. A bit of privacy and uplifting perspective in an oft-busy yet beautiful city!” Check out other recommendations in the My Montreal series on dailyxtratravel.com.

MORE AT DAILYXTRA.COM

The Norwegian Breakaway will feature a screening of After Stonewall. NCL

Montreal’s rooftops offer spectacular views of the city. STÉPHAN POULIN, TOURISM MONTREAL

Two upcoming Pride of the Ocean cruises, billed as the only “floating film festival,” will commemorate the 45th anniversary of Stonewall and National Coming Out Day.  In June 2014, a Pride of the Ocean cruise will mark the June 1969 Stonewall rebellion — and the company’s fifth anniversary. The new Norwegian Breakaway will set sail June 1 from New York City for a seven-day cruise to Bermuda. Featured films will reflect the many changes that have

taken place since Stonewall in politics, history, religion and America’s “second religion” — sports. Confirmed is a screening of After Stonewall, which first aired nationally on PBS for the 30th anniversary of Stonewall.  In October 2014, a Pride of the Ocean cruise will set sail from Honolulu on National Coming Out Day, Oct 11. The seven-day Hawaiian Islands cruise aboard Norwegian’s Pride of America will focus on Asian/Pacific LGBT films.

A sampler weekend cruise, A Taste of Pride of the Ocean, will sail in January 2014. It departs from Miami for Nassau on Jan 31, returning to Miami on Feb 3. Organizers say that since the ship is heading for the Bahamas, the cruise will feature a screening of Bahamian film director Kareem Mortimer’s film Children of God. For more information or to register for these cruises, visit prideoftheocean.com.

XTRA! NOV 14–27, 2013 35


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DRASKO BOGDANOVIC

NAME: GRAHAM AUBREY AGE: 31 SIGN: CAPRICORN

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Born and raised in Toronto, Graham is a night owl whose guilty pleasure is two-fisting bourbon. His favourite place in the city is Parkdale because it “has the best bars, shopping and restaurants,” and on a night out he likes to hang out and support his DJ friends. The craziest thing he has in his room is a metal statue of a mushroom . . . guess what people think that is! Graham’s ideal vacation destination is Australia, and if he could be an animal, he’d be a koala: “They are cute, little and vicious. Much like myself.” Donate to Graham’s Movember team, Ironstache, from the Flatiron Firkin, where he’s a server: movember.com/mospace/1567972. To comment on or become an Xtra Hot guy or gal, email Drasko at xtrahot@dailyxtra.com.

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Exploring: never stop Single Tablet Regimens (one pill, once a day) are a step forward in HIV treatment. Explore more at exploreHIV.ca

While they’re not a cure, these treatment options are designed to be effective and convenient. If you’ve been exploring different HIV treatments, talk to your doctor about Single Tablet Regimens too. It’s good to know what is out there.

Xtra Toronto #758  

Nov 14–27, 2013

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