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#791 FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015



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Whether it’s $20 a week, $20 a day or even $20 a pay, it’s easy to start saving. $20 can get you a car wash. Or some snacks at the movies. It can also start to make your retirement dreams come true. That’s the beauty of saving with TD. With just $20 a week, $20 a day or even $20 a pay, you’ll start to see your retirement savings grow. $20 isn’t a lot. But at TD, it can be the start of something big.

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The TD logo and other trade-marks are the property of The Toronto-Dominion Bank.

2 FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 XTRA!

31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Lesbian and gay pride day ’84 Time to celebrate! Issue 9, July 7, 1984


BIGGER PRESENCE. STRONGER VOICE. Breaking news. More impact. Global outlook. Local action.

Join us

Gay yuppies and little fags Checking out the prime-time come-outs Issue 22, Feb 2, 1985

XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 3

UNLIKE ANYTHING ELSE Inspired award-winning architecture. Smart creative interiors. Extensive indoor and outdoor amenities.

“A pure vision of liberated design.” – Lisa Rochon ARCHITECTURE CRITIC, THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Winner of BILD’s Best Design Award, River City is a four-phase, LEED Gold community of over 1,100 loft-style condominiums, family-friendly townhouses, and ground floor retail. A continuation of success, the Pug Awards, known for celebrating the best in Toronto architecture and planning,

awarded River City 1 with the much coveted Best Residential Building of 2014, an honour given to RC1 through votes from the people of Toronto. Spanning the area from King Street East to the new Corktown Common, and from the Don River to River Street, it is a vital part of the West Don Lands and the city’s waterfront redevelopment that is well underway.




Surrounded by beautiful new parks and public spaces, and just minutes from the downtown core, River City is unlike any other development in Toronto today. Designed for excellent livability and maximum sustainability, it is the community for the 21st century.


FROM THE LOW $200’S TO $1.4M N

PRESENTATION CENTRE+MODEL SUITE King St East at Lower River > M-T 12-6pm S+S 12-5pm EXTREMEARCHITECTURE.CA 416.862.0505

Rendering is an artist’s impression. Specifications are subject to change without notice. E.&O.E.

4 FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 XTRA!

31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Indecent facts Huge numbers of gay men are being picked off one by one Issue 44, Jan 18, 1986


Brandon Matheson

#791 FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015



XTRA Published by Pink Triangle Press TORONTO’S GAY& LESBIAN NEWS

GOODBYE, XTRA Community members share their memories of the paper that could

EDITORIAL MANAGING EDITOR Matthew DiMera ARTS EDITOR Phil Villeneuve ASSOCIATE EDITOR Andrew Jacome COPY EDITOR Lesley Fraser STAFF REPORTER HG Watson EVENT LISTINGS: CONTRIBUTE OR INQUIRE about Xtra’s editorial content:,, EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE Natasha Barsotti, Adam Coish, Devon Delacroix, Paul Dotey, Ryan G Hinds, Francisco Ibáñez-Carrasco, N Maxwell Lander, JP Larocque, Michael Lyons, Mike Miksche, Ian Phillips, Sissydude, Eric Williams

Drinking? Partying? Too much maybe?

We help you make the change. Confidential conversations. Practical tools.

Todd Kaufman, Psychotherapist Call now: 1.800.699.3396





THE FUTURE OF ACTIVISM Shining a light on our community E24



Kero Saleib, The publication of an ad in Xtra does not mean that Xtra endorses the advertiser. Storefront features are paid advertising content. Action features are advertising intended to advance community involvement and political action. Printed and published in Canada. ©2014 Pink Triangle Press. Xtra is published every two weeks by Pink Triangle Press. ISSN 0829-3384 Address: 2 Carlton St, Ste 1600, Toronto, ON, M5B 1J3 Office hours: 9am–5pm, Monday–Friday Phone: 416-925-6665 Fax: 416-925-6674 Website: Email:


PINK TRIANGLE PRESS Founded 1971 DIRECTORS Jim Bartley, Gerald Hannon,

Glenn Kauth, Didier Pomerleau, Ken Popert, Gillian Rodgerson

Adam Coish photographs issues of Xtra for the last cover.


Editorial Xtra’s digital universe is expanding By David Walberg E7

DHARMA FRIENDS LGBT Meditation Group Invites you to join us for our Weekly sittings Wednesday evenings 7:30 - 9:00

Looking back: Letters E8 Looking back: Xcetera E9 Going beyond the box Community groups weigh in on what comes next E11


Sex crimes HIV and AIDS in today’s world E12 The future of What’s in the works now that the paper is gone E15

Find us online at or at

History Boys Before there was Xtra, there was Les Mouches Fantastique E34


Cosmetic & General Dentistry

Toronto at Night E36

UÊ “iÀ}i˜VÞÊ-irvice UÊ*>r̈Vˆ«>˜Ìʈ˜Ê-ÌÕ`i˜ÌÊ i˜Ì>Ê*Àœ}À>“

Hard Labour E38


Looking back: Xposed E40


COVER PHOTO BY ADAM COISH Beer garden saved Pride Day overcomes red tape Issue 49, April 5, 1986




25 …>Àià -T°7Ê Toronto ON M4Y 2R4

Looking back: Xtra Hot E43 Hole & Corner E45

Beginners are welcome. All are invited! 177 Mutual Street (south of Gerrard St.) Community Room (2nd Floor, buzzer code 270)

XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 5


416-324-4103 • WWW.SHERBOURNE.ON.CA



Buying? Selling? Pre-construction?

Real Estate Sales Representative

Proudly Serving Our Community!


The B Side is a 10-week group for people who are exploring their attraction to more than one gender. Folks from across the bisexual, queer and questioning spectrum welcome. Wednesdays, March 25 to May 27, 2015. Sign up, email or call 416-324-5096.


Gender Journeys is an 11-week group for anyone experiencing changes across the gender spectrum. The group runs 3 times a year: winter, spring and fall. To register, contact Kusha at or at 416-324-5078.

Give me a call or check out my social m 416.801.9265 • www.gaelenpatrick.comm Proud financial supporter of the 519 Community centre!


MTS is a drop-in group for Mature Trans Women to get together, talk and learn, share resources and support. The group is collectively run by participants and facilitators, and aims to create a safer space for women of all types of trans experience and expression. The group is for women who are 45+. Please contact King at 416-324-4100 ext. 5083 or for accessibility and other information.

Sutton Group Realty Systems Inc. Brokerage Independently Owned and Operated | 416.762.4200 Toronto

Not intended to solicit those already under contract with another Realtor.

MEN’S TRAUMA RECOVERY AND EMPOWERMENT STARTS APRIL 1 (^LLRS`TPU\[LZLZZPVUZRPSSI\PSKPUN*);NYV\WMVYTHSLPKLU[PÄLKZ\Y]P]VYZVM[YH\TH Open to gay, bi, queer, and trans men. Wednesdays, 10am-12pm, April 1 to September 30. Contact Peter: 416-324-5058 or


The Trans Women’s Surgical Support Group is a biweekly group for trans women who are healing from or have completed bottom surgery. The group starts February 10 and will be ongoing every other Tuesday evening from 6-8pm. For info, contact Rebecca at 416-324-4100 x 5260 or


Weekend course at Sherbourne Health Centre for lesbian, gay, bi, and queer women who are considering parenthood. Run by Queer Parenting Programs at The 519 and the LGBTQ Parenting Network. Registration: Supporting Our Youth (SOY) seeks to improve the quality of life for LGBT youth (up to 29) through the active involvement of adults working together with youth. Working within an anti-oppression framework, SOY develops initiatives that build skills and capacities, provide mentoring and support, and nurture a sense of identity and belonging.





COMPLETE BY FRIDAY, FEB. 27 AND BE ENTERED INTO OUR DRAW! SOY is in the process of building a new website and we need your help! We’re collecting information that will help us design the new website and thus serve our communities better. Visit for the survey link or drop by SOY for a paper copy. Questions? Contact Laura at or 416-324-4100 ext. 5096.


SOY’S Mentoring Program seeks a diverse group of volunteer mentors. Are you 26 years old or older, interested in being a ‘queer or trans big brother or sister’, providing ongoing support, encouragement and acceptance to an LGBTQ youth? Please contact Leslie at 416-324-5082 or soymentoring@ to learn more about the program and the application process.


Supporting Our Youth


31 YEARS OF HEADLINES History in the making Ryerson course to study growth of TO gay community Issue 72, March 14, 1987


email comment & tweet @dailyxtra

Xtra’s digital universe is expanding EDITORIAL DAVID WALBERG

David Walberg: Just a brief note to let you know how much I appreciated you printing my letter. I was so thrilled I wanted to rush over and do your hair. — letter from playwright and author Tomson Highway, Aug 31, 1997 Who doesn’t love receiving a letter? Or the promise of a new hairdo, for that matter? I once received a letter from a Catholic priest in Saskatchewan. There was no local café or bar where he could collect his Xtra, so he had taken the bold step of purchasing a subscription. In those days, Xtra was mailed in plain brown envelopes, discreet as the kinkiest porn, because in some musty corners of Canada, a mere interest in gay news might destroy one’s life. The priest expressed gratitude for the lifeline Xtra presented. A few weeks later, I received another letter, this one from a bishop ordering me to cancel the priest’s subscription. We continued to mail the brown envelopes and were saddened when they came back to us marked return-to-sender, having being intercepted by the Catholic Stasi. Gay news was hard to come by in those days. Connecting to a community was even harder. Writing letters to the editor was a way even those in the closet or the boondocks could make contact and participate. Missives took the form of angry screeds (these have proliferated, sadly, as trolls highjack the comments sections of websites everywhere) but also poetry, cartoons, homemade stickers, even lovingly crafted chapbooks. For many scribes, the thrill of publication was greater than the rush of a hailstorm of Facebook likes. Tomson Highway, a Cree from northernmost Manitoba, captures it in the quote above. Today, priests in Saskatchewan have a world of online gay connections at their fingertips. Gay news, porn, chat and hookups are available to all. These days, perhaps Tomson Highway is doing Arianna Huffington’s hair. What does this crowded, chaotic queer virtual reality mean for Xtra as we focus our efforts on the digital universe? Fortunately, we enjoy some unique positioning. We have deep roots in our traditional core communities in Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa, and we intend to continue to strengthen those ties. We

Xtra celebrates its 200th issue back in 1992, with David Walberg standing on the right. JAKE PETERS

We hunger not for an equal slice of a stale heterosexual pie, but for a heaping portion of sexual liberation, made to order from scratch. already publish significantly more local journalism on Daily Xtra than we did in the Xtra print editions. At the same time, we look to the wider world. Last fall, during the Toronto International Film Festival, the producers of a queer film from Kenya visited our offices. Fearing reprisals, they had submitted the film to TIFF anonymously, and we were honoured to interview them as they chose to publicly come out to the world. “I am not afraid to go home,” producer George Gachara told Daily Xtra in a video interview. “Shit can happen, but I want to go back home.” Gachara was arrested when he returned to Kenya and is now out on bail. More recently, a video interview we shot with a lesbian Kenyan judge threatened to become headline news and the subject of parliamentary debate there. We have begun to participate in international rights struggles, with all the risk and responsibility this involves. Our times are truly revolutionary for

queer people around the world, and we are inspired to support these struggles. It’s noteworthy many of these stories are breaking on video. We are one of the only consistent producers of queer video journalism in the world. Our videos are gaining in popularity across numerous platforms. Last year, we released a video documentary called Wham, Bam, mr Pam. It’s the story of the lone major female producer of gay male porn. The doc provides a behind-the-scenes look at how one woman forms her own community in a subculture generally sensationalized for exploitation, drug addiction and suicide. The film has screened at queer film festivals in Toronto, San Francisco, Copenhagen and Atlanta. This month, it will play to houses at Sydney’s Mardi Gras, and it has just been invited to a major European film festival. Once it completes its world tour, our doc will likely be broadcast on TV in vari-

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.

Double jeopardy for gays Has AIDS made coming out harder? Issue 75, May 2, 1987

ous countries, as our past video productions have been. And then you’ll see it on our own channels on Daily Xtra, YouTube and Vimeo. Our multichannel approach to video provides a model for expansion that we will extend to our journalism in other media — text stories, photos, audio, graphics — as we seek to broaden our reach. Pink Triangle Press has a unique mission and editorial voice. For more than four decades, we have solidly championed sexual freedom and freedom of expression. We hunger not for an equal slice of a stale heterosexual pie, but for a heaping portion of sexual liberation, made to order from scratch. Along the way, we have challenged conventional wisdom. When queer activists fought for hate speech legislation, author and journalist Irshad Manji questioned in Xtra whether such laws were a form of thought policing. When gay couples started taking their vows, our former board member Brenda Cossman advocated for revolutionary relationship recognition not exclusive to couples who fuck. Whether practical or provocative, these positions have sparked debate and expanded our thinking around key issues of the day. These unique perspectives have saved us from aspiring to mediocrity in favour of creating communities that best suit our fabulous realities. Over the years, we’ve also distinguished ourselves by tackling our not-so-fabulous realities, including drug abuse, HIV transmission and community infighting, or as Sharon Tate says in the film Valley of the Dolls, why “fags can be so bitchy.” For our communities to be strong, we believe we need to speak candidly about hard issues, especially as some media prefer to present a whitewashed façade in exchange for mainstream acceptance. We’ve delved into seemingly intractable disagreements between some radical feminists and trans communities. More recently, in 2013, we produced a video series about PrEP, the controversial HIV prevention treatment that critics warned would promote new sexually transmitted epidemics among gay men. That story was so underreported at the time that we garnered a Best Web Series nod at the Banff World Media Awards. Arouse debate. Nurture communities. Incite action. Our mission statement implores us to work to these ends. We honour the legacy of Xtra and The Body Politic before it by continuing these efforts in the digital realm. Please join us. David Walberg was Xtra’s publisher in Toronto from 1994 to 2005. He is now CEO of digital media at Pink Triangle Press, which publishes Xtra. XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 7



Since the Xtra letters page first debuted in Issue #10 in July 1984, our readers have never missed the chance to see their complaints, rants and arguments in print. In recent years, handwritten and postmarked letters have dwindled to a mere trickle as comments have migrated to the web and to social media. Here is one last hurrah to some of the best, worst and most memorable letters from the last 30 years. #115, Dec 30, 1988

#163, Dec 28, 1990

Your article regarding oral sex as being virtually risk-free greatly concerns me. Only because it was just one article on this most relevant subject and yet a blanket statement to go ahead and enjoy yourself all the way, with practically no risk, short of just having had major dental surgery that morning! And since then, nothing further in Xtra or anywhere else on the subject. What’s a girl to do?

Last month, two friends and I went to a women’s bar in downtown TO. We were among the first to depart and soon were standing at a street corner near the club. Suddenly, a man burst from the club’s entrance. He cut across the street, heading directly toward our group. “Cocksucker!” a woman yelled. She too had appeared from inside the club and seemed to be in pursuit of the feIlow fleeing. “What happened?” I cried, but there was no answer.


I wish to thank the young man with a white dog who came to my aid at the corner of Jarvis and Wellesley, where I was being attacked. #139, Dec 29, 1989 Some months ago, I requested you to send me a copy of Xtra. I received a copy, but postal workers in my country not only had spilt ink on the photos, they also had torn some pages. I am very, very angry. I cannot tolerate such a situation. All the rules are against homosexuality. Being gay or lesbian is equal to death. I have no protector. Now, again, I request you to send me only the torn page. If you decide to send it, you should send it in an ordinary envelope. I enclosed the torn page so that you can find the page number. I hope you reply to my letter very soon. HESSAMEDDIN AGAH IRAN

8 FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 XTRA!

A moment later, the man had dashed past us, escaping. From bits and pieces of their conversation, we discerned that the man had punched a woman inside the club. We felt anger and regret that this gaybasher had escaped, for, as it happened, we could easily have stopped him. If you are pursuing an attacker or are yourself being attacked, yell, scream or holler, but let people know what is going on! People able and willing to help may be nearby. JJ LEE TORONTO, ON

#213, Dec 23, 1992 I’m not sure what the problem

is between Xtra and Councillor Kyle Rae. Or is it simply that Eleanor Brown is a bad journalist? Her attack on Kyle Rae in the Nov 27 issue seems to be totally unfounded. What does “occasional street-level grumbling” about Rae actually mean? Who’s grumbling? What precisely did they say? Who said Rae abandoned the gay communities and when and how? The badly written article offers no substantiation for the opening innuendo. Rae has been more than supportive of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s [upcoming] move into 12 Alexander St. He has helped secure this excellent facility for Toronto’s gay and lesbian innovative theatre. We have nothing but praise for Rae, and we can point very specifically to what he is doing for the queer community. Street-level grumbling has it that Xtra has some dark and mysterious reason for trashing Rae (don’t ask me to substantiate this; Xtra didn’t have to). Or is Xtra just falling prey to that testy gay and lesbian affliction known as the community “eating its own”? SKY GILBERT ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, BUDDIES IN BAD TIMES, TORONTO, ON

#265, Dec 23, 1994 I read the article “Spousal Rights for Threesomes” with bemusement. I don’t really understand the problem. If same-sex relationships are validated by the state, then the member of the group the Ottawa Bytown Bis will be able to sponsor her girlfriend, a US citizen. If the woman is married to a man, then probably there’s not going to be a problem. The problem is not one of recognizing orientation, but of recognizing polygamy. If bisexual activists really believe polygamy is a sexual orientation issue, there’s not much I can do about it. But I oppose any attempt to derail the gains we are all making for the sake of increased visibility of a few activists. DANIELA KINSELLA OTTAWA, ON

#291, Dec 22, 1995 Xtra’s resident cat has been missing since March 15. Kitty Lang, known for her affectionate if somewhat plaintive presence, has been with us for several years. Was she kidnapped? Has she met with peril? Or has she merely become (as so many of us only dream of becoming) a free

spirit, a common hussy, roaming at will, scratching on any door that feels right, only to vanish like the dew in the early morning light? DAVID WALBERG TORONTO, ON

#317, Dec 19, 1996 As somebody old enough to remember fucking and being fucked without a condom, and as somebody who does both with condoms now, I must say that in my experience, the idea that unprotected sex is a lot more satisfying is a myth. People often idealize what is forbidden or dangerous, but when it comes down to it, it really doesn’t feel all that different. Certainly not different enough to die for.

Next time I need to get some real news covered by Xtra, I’ll scribble something on a washroom wall. KYLE RAE CITY COUNCILLOR, TORONTO, ON

I wish to thank the young man with a white dog who came to my aid the night of Aug 21 at 9:20pm at the corner of Jarvis and Wellesley, where I was being attacked. Again, thank you for being there at the right time. The attack was reported to the police later that night. ANTHONY SMITH TORONTO, ON

#422, Dec 28, 2000 So, Xtra publisher David Walberg considers 50 “old,” does he? Like Madame Defarge knitting pa-

and fail to understand their attire, hairstyles and fake ’n’ bake tans. I’m sure many guys in their 30s can understand where I am coming from. PATRICK NEALS TORONTO, ON

#526, Dec 23, 2004 Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the problems in the Church Street neighbourhood. The fact is, we can talk till we are blue in the face, but that won’t solve anything. You need to decide whether you want to be part of the solution or the problem. Start by picking up litter even if it isn’t yours; call the police if you see a crime being committed. If you don’t, who will? And most of all, start by treating people


As a “straight-identified” man myself, I agree strongly with the theory that many straights are latently bisexual or gay and are, for a multitude of socialized reasons, repressing their sexuality. I got my first sense of that during my long tenure in, of all places, the Boy Scouts. After 10 years of weekend camping, I’d seen more barely sublimated homoeroticism and eye-popping sex play than you could shake a stick at. Boy Scout founder Lord Baden-Powell, who wrote so earnestly a century ago about the need to remain “morally clean,” obviously had no clue about the energy field he was releasing. CLIVE THOMPSON TORONTO, ON

#343, Dec 18, 1997 “Queer” is not a word that has ever been used by anyone to denote something positive. Like the word faggot, it has too many bad memories for too many gay people. It has been used against us to imply there is something odd, unnatural, wrong, unappealing, weird and generally no good about being gay. LAWRENCE SCHAFER TORONTO, ON

#370, Dec 31, 1998 We, of course, expect this level of careless fact-checking and editing, axe-grinding and journalistic incompetence from Xtra, which never heard a rumour it wouldn’t print. JOE CLARK TORONTO, ON

#396, Dec 30, 1999 You are becoming the bar-rag sister of anonymous-fed scurrilous rumour mags like Frank.

Like Madame Defarge knitting patiently beneath the guillotine, I shall avidly await Mr Walberg’s 50th birthday. tiently beneath the guillotine, I shall avidly await Mr Walberg’s 50th birthday. When at last that dire day arrives, I shall spring up as quickly as my arthritic hips will allow and cackle to him, “Your opinions no longer matter! Your tastes are anachronistic! Your time is up!” JOHN FIRTH TORONTO, ON

John Alan Lee explaining how young Asian fags date older white men because “elders are respected in some Eastern societies,” is like saying young Asian dykes like me enjoy writing angry letters to the editor because I live a typically Asian, sexually frustrated life. No. Instead, I write angry letters to the editor because stupid comments perpetuating Ori-fucken-ental stereotypes sneak into what I read. Stop decrypting my life into bits of kung fu movies and raw fish, okay? KAREN BK CHAN TORONTO, ON

#434, June 14, 2001 Thank you, RM Vaughan, for your amusing yet very true rendition of the 30-something Toronto gay man’s social life. I couldn’t relate more. I am 33 and sometimes feel that I don’t really fit very well in the many gay social nightspots in Toronto. Many bars tend to attract too many younger attitude queens, for which I have very little patience

the way you want to be treated. Drop the attitude, put on a smile and be friendly. Not everyone is out to hurt you. And then maybe we will have a neighbourhood we can all be proud of. GLEN HOKANSSON TORONTO, ON

#578, Dec 21, 2006 We know the youth of Church Street make much of not wanting to be ogled by some old fart, but Church Street exists because of us old farts, and before we shuffle off to that gay village in the sky we’d like to hear a round of applause. TIM DEVLIN TORONTO, ON

#760, Dec 12, 2013 As someone a lot older and having been a counsellor for years, this seems an expression of their discomfort with who they are or internalized homophobia [“A Forum for Gay Men Who Like ‘Guy’ Stuff,”, Nov 30]. The emphasis on traditional masculinity and the drinking are self-repressive. Check with them in 15 to 20 years, when they have learned to balance and live with the masculine/feminine (androgynous) natures we, as part of humanity, all have. Good luck, Gaybros. ADRIAAN DE VRIES (FACEBOOK) VANCOUVER, BC

31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Easy come, easy go Why have so many lesbian bars come and gone in TO? Issue 80, July 17, 1987





Issue 148 May 10, 1990

Xtra arrives on the scene, and in it local fashion trendsetter Stephen Searle bemoans the “cloned out” nightlife. “If I see another plaid shirt, I’ll scream,” he says. “You don’t have to look macho to be male. Clones dress in a way that screams they’re male. But men are supposed to be brave, so why don’t they make an individual statement?” — Michael Lyons

First proclamation of Pride Week. From Issue 200, June 26, 1992

Issue 203 Aug 7, 1992

Issue 318 Jan 2, 1997

Issue 192 March 6, 1992

Issue 643 June 18, 2009


Pride Day stays on Church Committee kills proposal to move Issue 91, Jan 1, 1988

Xcetera XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 9 10 FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 XTRA!

31 YEARS OF HEADLINES No! No! No! Eggleton snubs Pride Day again Issue 102, June 17, 1988


The gorgeous and the gargoyles are still trying to make sense of the sexquake that shook us only 30 years ago. Francisco Ibáñez-Carrasco E12

Thinking outside the box Community groups contemplate future visibility COMMUNITY JP LAROCQUE

For Matthew Cutler, director of development and community engagement at the 519 Church Street Community Centre, the end of Xtra marks a turning point for queer visibility.    “I used to travel out to Mississauga through Kipling Station and was always amazed to see the Xtra box there,” he says. “I think that sometimes folks in the neighbourhood take it for granted, [but] the presence of Xtra in physical form played a large part in telling that story to a community that otherwise wouldn’t have heard about it.” Since Pink Triangle Press (PTP) announced that it would be shuttering its print division, not-for-profit organizations like The 519 have had to assess how the move will affect their ability to reach Toronto’s LGBT communities — especially people who live in outlying areas of the city. “Although we have a geographic catchment that calls us to serve the Village and the broader lesbian, gay, bi and trans community in the city, the vast majority of our members don’t live here,” Cutler says. “[And] for many in poor and marginalized communities, they simply can’t afford to live in this neighbourhood. So Xtra being out in the space helped us to draw those people in and keep them up to date.” Arti Mehta, LGBTQ coordinator at the Canadian Cancer Society, agrees. The biggest drawback of the paper’s demise is losing “the visibility of LGBTQ community issues in everyday environments,” she says. “It has

been great to work with a publication that focuses on LGBTQ communities, as we know we are reaching the right target market.” When PTP launched the paper in 1984, Xtra’s mandate offered many organizations a platform to discuss issues pertaining to LGBT people that were often ignored by mainstream media outlets. And at a time when the community was disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic, the paper acted as a valuable resource for those looking for programs and services that could improve their quality of life.    “One of the challenges throughout the HIV epidemic has been the underrepresentation of LGBTQ issues, and specifically health issues, in the mainstream media,” says Chris Thomas, communications coordinator at the AIDS Committee of Toronto. “Xtra’s audience is largely made up of folks from the LGBTQ community, so for us it has been a no-brainer” to use the paper for outreach. Cutler agrees. The 519 “would often struggle to get mainstream media to cover us because we were often marginalized as an LGBT agency. Even as recently as five or six years ago, we would have to fight or really work hard to get coverage in other outlets, while we could reliably turn to Xtra to tell our story.” And while the paper was helpful in supporting organizations and advancing their issues, it also played a key role in holding them accountable to the community at large. “I often think about decisions we make or work we do in terms of how

Xtra helped to keep us thinking about how we’re intersecting with the broader community in the work that we do. MATTHEW CUTLER, DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AT THE 519 Benefits denied Ottawa couple loses grievance Issue 111, Oct 28, 1988

Matthew Cutler, director of development and community engagement at the 519 Church Street Community Centre, is optimistic about Xtra’s shift online and hopes that moving the conversation to the digital world will allow for more diverse viewpoints. N MAXWELL LANDER

Xtra would cover it,” Cutler says. “And that, sometimes, is a measure for me of where we might need to do more work or something we’re doing needs a little bit more attention. Xtra helped to keep us honest and keep us thinking about how we’re intersecting with the broader community in the work that we do.” According to the most recent study by research agency NADbank, newspaper readership remains strong across the country, with 15.8 million Canadians

reading some form of newspaper content each week and six in 10 preferring to read their news in printed versus online editions. Still, NADbank notes that online readership is steadily gaining on print, with one in three Canadians reading at least a portion of their news content online from established publications. “As much as I think we will all miss the print edition of Xtra, it is not a surprise that a shift to digital is in order,” Cutler says. “The web began to be more of a traffic point for us than print, and it gives us an even broader audience.” He argues that while the physical paper extended the organization’s reach into the suburbs, the online version can get the word even further. “We know that even on our own website, we see a large number — not a majority, but certainly in the 30- to 40-percent range — of visitors from outside the GTA and outside Canada in some cases.” Thomas sees similar trends at his agency. “A lot of people looking to have sex in the LGBTQ community are using online apps and other types of digital platforms to meet each other. Accordingly, [ACT has] been increasing our presence on many of these sites to promote safer-sex practices and strategies for reducing the risk of getting HIV and other STIs when having sex. Moving forward, we will continue to partner with Xtra digitally, should the opportunity present itself and the circumstances be mutually beneficial.” Cutler is optimistic about the shift online and views it as an opportunity to increase the breadth of representation and to be more precise in targeting specific demographics. He hopes that it will allow people to find information that is specifically relevant to them. “When you have a limited number of pages, you have to be selective about what ends up in a paper. And that’s not to say that you don’t curate an online environment, but that you can be broader because you’re not as limited in what you do. My hope is that as these conversations move more online, it will allow us to represent a greater diversity of our community and the people who are in it — because we have more bandwidth and space to play with.” XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 11

Sex crimes HIV nondisclosure and the post-epidemic landscape AIDS/HIV FRANCISCO IBÁÑEZ-CARRASCO

“How come you wear a red ribbon?” asks my hunky, straight, Italian trainer from Stouffville. “I’ve only seen them pink.” The times I land at the St Mike’s ER in inner-city Toronto, young nurses ask, “What is KS?” when I deliver my patientstandard explanation of why cellulitis

flares up on my legs, a persistent sideeffect of chemo and radiation treatments for Kaposi’s sarcoma in the early 1990s, before HIV meds. When an HIV-negative guy wants to hook up with me — I’m in an open-sex marriage — and I say no thanks, often he replies, “You’re undetectable, right? I’m cool with it.” I reply, “HIV is criminalized in Canada; you know that, right?” Typically, I’m stonewalled there or insulted or, worse, ignored.

Author Francisco Ibáñez-Carrasco. BECCA LEMIRE

The 5th Annual

Queering Black History Month A celebration of Queer and Trans African, Black, and Caribbean Communities Featuring

Friday, Feb. 27 5:00PM SCC115, Student Centre, Ryerson University, 55 Gould St. Accessibility: Wheelchair Accessible; ASL provided The Ryerson Students' Union strives to create accessible and inclusive spaces for all of its members. If you have any accessibility needs, please email as soon as possible.

For more info, email: 12 FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 XTRA!

Tiq Milan Journalist, Activist, Trailblazer Senior Media Strategist of National News at GLADD, contributing author to the anthology Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, and is the Co-Chair for the LGBT taskforce of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Patrisse Cullors Artist, Organizer, Freedom Fighter As founder of Dignity and Power Now and co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, she has worked tirelessly promoting law enforcement accountability across the nation.

Other guests T.B.A. Performances: Rainbow Ballroom Toronto

Gay men — and people in general — have narrow and short attention spans. I’m in the business of the HIV movement, I wear ribbons, I memorialize the lives of infectious gay men in books. I have to be familiar with public-health, scientific, legal and cultural arguments. I think of HIV as a chronic manageable, but episodic, disability with physical, emotional and cognitive ups and downs over a lifetime. Most guys don’t have to. Who’s to blame them? Who breaks the lusty groping with a come-hither of “Hey, hot bud, I have a nine-inch dick — and an episodic disability that I must tell you about or you might charge me with criminal activity.” It’s a deal-breaker, wouldn’t you say? Some of it is TMI; some is impossible to remember because being gay seems guided by societal and selfimposed rules and pressure (“I’m muscular, clean and sober, UB2”), denial, a hangover of fear and a shitload of stigma and shame. I touch down in different regions of Canada over the course of a year, chatting and sexing it up with young men: complicated, guarded, curious but courageously giving it a go in a country that tells them they are fully liberated and legally protected but whose queer culture whispers otherwise under the proud maple leaf. They worry about body image, making money, studying and finding a man. They negotiate their kink amidst heteronormative expectations that they should marry a decent, gainfully employed Canadian bachelor. Some tell me how relieved they are when diagnosed with HIV but how frightening the prospect of taking pills is. They assure me that HIV is normal, but they will not tell their families or the guys they are hooking up with, neither about fisting or fletching nor about their HIV status. The criminalization of the nondisclosure of HIV seems to be way down on their

to-do list. I think they mean that HIV is commonplace but not normal. Older guys living with HIV watch, with some indignation, the Truvada whores moving in on the sexual trade: “We are progressive; we take pills and fuck (good-looking) pozzies!” “Go fuck yourself,” spits a strapping 30-something barebacking bear I know in Winnipeg. “Where were you when I was sad, lonely, horny and undetectable? You came up with a lame excuse, a fictitious partner or called me reckless!” Often, the looming spectre of criminalization is eclipsed by the accumulated historical pain and an inheritance of incomplete and insincere conversations. Being gay in the neoliberal market makes us maquiladoras in the digital production of fuck. Daily, we feel the pressure of producing spectacular sexual highs and lows; fuelled by meth, aided by GPS apps, we interpret and reframe the criminalization of the nondisclosure of HIV in oblique ways. We comply and swallow and resist and make do. The Canadian law that criminalizes the nondisclosure of HIV, the inter-fag bullying of hypersexuality, the sexual apartheid between pozzies and HIV-negatives and other social maladies are not the first thing in mind or to be ethical about. Cyber life only rarefies this Hello Kitty, pressurecooker queer atmosphere. How come hook-up sites demand HIV disclosure but have no checkmark for “Are you nuts?” I applaud our efforts to put the criminalization of HIV on the queer landscape, but the young and the helpless, the gorgeous and the gargoyles are still trying to make sense of the AIDS sexquake that shook us only 30 years ago. Grappling with a legacy of horror, neglect and disappointment will take more generations. Francisco Ibáñez-Carrasco is the author of Giving It Raw: Nearly 30 Years with AIDS.

31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Out of the closet, out of a job A gay cop finds that he’s no longer one of the boys Issue 117, Jan 27, 1989

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Video gaymes Where to look for gay video in Toronto Issue 121, March 31, 1989

XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 13

A thank-you to our advertisers As Xtra moves entirely online, we want to acknowledge the vital contribution of the people and businesses who choose to advertise with us. Publishing — in print or online — costs money, but thanks to our advertisers, we can keep you, our readers, informed. Also thanks to them, we can offer free or discounted advertising to the volunteer organizations that are the building blocks of our communities. Please complete the circle by supporting our advertisers, who have been with us in print and are now joining us on the web, at 1000 Islands Accommodation Partners 103.9 Proud FM 420 Smoke House 5 St Joseph Development Ltd 519 Church Street Community Centre Abramian & Associates Acanac AEG Live AEGAL AIDS Committee of Toronto Allied Integrated Marketing Artists for a Better Change Avis Budget Group Inc Best Western Plus Chateau Granville BF Canada Blackness Yes! Bloor-Yorkville Business Improvement Area Brad J Lamb Realty Inc Brandon the Hypnotist Brian A Elder - Royal Lepage Real Estate Brock University Leave the Pack Brussels Bistro BT/A Creates Buddies in Bad Times Theatre Cabbagetown Group Softball League Cam Johnson Canadian Cancer Society - Ontario Division Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College Casey House Centre for Interpersonal Relationships Centre Francophone de Toronto Christine Faihz Counselling and Psychotherapy

14 FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 XTRA!

Church Bistro Churchmouse and Firkin Restaurant City of Toronto - Economic Development Collective Concerts Community Marketing Inc Condom Shack Cora’s Breakfast & Lunch Corey Silver - Re/Max Hallmark Realty Counterpoint Community Orchestra Craig Head - Bosley Real Estate Cynthia Borovoy Warren Barrister & Solicitor Dan Savage’s Hump Tour Dancemakers Dermatology Center on Bloor Designer Trips Dharma Friends Toronto Downtown Automotive Group Downtown Hyundai Dr Elon Griffith Dr Kevin Russelo & Associates Dr Martin Sterling Drake General Store Dutil Denim Eclectic Theatre Egale Elevation Pictures Evolution Fitness Exit 14 Advertising LLC Fair Trade Jewellery Ferreira-Wells Immigration Services Fife House Foundation Inc Films We Like First Media Group Inc Fleshlight Canada Distribution, ULC Fly 2.0 Fly Nightclub Forte - Toronto Men’s Chorus Freed Development

French Connection (Canada) Limited Gaelen Patrick - Sutton Group Gardiner Museum Genesis Squared Gilead Sciences Canada Inc Glad Day Bookshop Inc Growing Heart Counselling and Psychotherapy Hair of the Dog Harvey L Hamburg Harvey Malinsky - Re/Max Hallmark Realty Ltd Holiday Inn Hot Docs Canada International Ian Burney - Re/Max Country Lakes Iceberg Vodka INC Research InDance Inflamax Research Inside Out International Day Against Homophobia International Songwriting Competition Jackson Thurling - Sotheby’s Janice Warren Barrister & Solictor John Volpe - Cornerstone Real Estate Jones Pond Campground & RV Camp Kanetix Ltd Keith Cole Kirk Cooper LemonTree Creations Linda Rudolph - The Mortgage Centre Lindsay Barlow - Sutton Group - Heritage Realty Live Nation Canada Luminato Maple Leaf Quay Mariana’s Esthetics

Marlone Zhang - Homelife Landmark Realty Martin Abell Campaign PC Menkes Development Mercedes-Benz Metroland Printing Metropolitan Community Church Monroe County TDC Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art Netflix Nicholas Banks - iPro Realty Nissan Downtown Notso Amazon Baseball League Olivia Chow Campaign Open Air Productions Ryerson University Ottawa Tourism & Convention Authority Out and Out Inc Out On Screen - Vancouver Queer Film Festival OUTtv Network Inc Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism Paul T Willis Peggy Baker Dance Projects Phil Villeneuve Productions Pink Triangle Press Pitbull Events Pressnet Inc (Squirt) Quality Hotel Vancouver Queer Bathroom Stories Queer Confessions Queer West Film Festival Robert G Coates Ron Hyde Roseneath Theatre Ross Watson Gallery Roy Runions - Re/Max Hallmark Realty Ltd Royal Ontario Museum Ryerson Students’ Union Salon One Sanofi Pasteur Sarah Fraser Screen Lounge Selby Developments Ltd Sexual & Gender Diversity Office Shea Warrington Real Estate Homeward Sheen Day Spa Shelter Furniture Sherbourne Health Centre SIN, Bearcode & Underwear Party Sir Corp Soulpepper Theatre Company Spa Excess Spartacus

St Jamestown Steak and Chops St John’s Norway Cemetery St Michael’s Hospital Steamworks Management Stratford Festival of Canada Tafelmusik Talisker Players Tangled Art + Disability TD Canada Trust Terme The Big Carrot The Blake House The Cabaret Company The Consulting House The Ecumenical Chaplaincy at the University of Toronto The Great Travel Challenge The Harlowe Inc The Little Army Store The Living Arts Centre The Pleiades Theatre The Power of Touch The Stag Shop The Time of the Month Drag Productions The Toronto Sisters - The Abbey of Divine Wood The Union Ltd The View from the Shard Throbbing Rose Collective Tim MCaskell Tom Lebour -Royal Lepage Real Estate Tom States Toronto Book and Magazine Fair Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival Toronto Kia Toronto People With AIDS Foundation Toronto Rape Crisis Centre Touch of Pink Housekeeping Travel Gay Canada Triumph Developments - Howard Park Union Lighting & Furnishings UpCountry Urban Capital Red Quartz Inc Vinnette Mohan Virgin Mobile Volcano Theatre Wega Video Woody’s on Church Worsley Dundonald Limited Yonge Cinemas - Life @ Yonge YYZ Travel


31 YEARS OF HEADLINES The AIDS decade As we enter the ’90s, the joy of sex may be returning Issue 129, July 28, 1989

Refreshing the page

Daily Xtra gets a makeover, launches new mobile site


Clean, visually enhanced and tight are the words Xtra publisher and editor-in-chief Brandon Matheson uses to describe the new design of the Daily Xtra website that will be unveiled this spring. Matheson says Pink Triangle Press has learned a lot since its construction of Daily Xtra, which went live in June 2013. In reviewing the data about the interactivity of the site and how people use it, he says, it became clear that a lot of content went unseen. In a bid to address that issue, some of the content was then posted in more than one of the five markets — Canada, the world, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver — resulting in readers seeing the same stories in the different sections they browsed on the website. “It’s not a huge problem, but it’s just not your optimal user experience,” Matheson says. What’s been missing is a dedicated page where all the site’s content appears to the reader, he says. The new Daily Xtra will feature a stand-alone, customizable home page, meaning users will be able to select the content they want to see from the various markets and eliminate “the clutter.” “Somebody might only choose to see Vancouver and Canada news, or Vancouver and world news, and that’s what’s presented to them,” Matheson says. While there won’t be huge shifts in the content covered, Matheson says, it will be presented more cleanly and with enhanced visuals to engage more readers more easily. Community news from Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver will still be a key focus of dailyxtra. com, as will coverage of international and national news. There will also be a push to share Daily Xtra’s stories more effectively through social A preview of Daily Xtra’s soon-to-be launched mobile site.

Design mockups of the new Daily Xtra website, which will be launched this spring.

media and even to publish some content directly to social media channels, he says, since he doesn’t always expect readers to come to the website. “The same way we have used YouTube to reach audiences that do not visit DX,” he says, “we’re going to expand social media activity to eventually include some other types of social media content targeted to audiences, whether that be a special Instagram channel, whether it be a Tumblr feed, whether it be how we change and use Facebook.” Prior to Daily Xtra’s new release in the spring, a mobile version of the site will be unveiled; it will be an exact reflection of the desktop site. For readers who are concerned that the shift to a web-only presence means the end of investigative and feature pieces, Matheson says another site update following the spring launch of the new Daily Xtra is also in the works. “High on my priority list is to develop new story templates that allow us to do long-form journalism in the same sort of way,” he says. “We’ve never stopped doing that. Every piece of long-form journalism we’ve produced in the last number of years for the papers has also gone online, but I think there’s opportunities to find more engaging ways to tell or present stories to readers, because long-form stories do require a certain amount of commitment, and we have to find ways to make them work on mobile devices and websites.” One of the perennial challenges for Daily Xtra, and other media sites, is what to do with the rough-and-tumble nature of the online comments section, a source of frustration to many readers. “The one thorn in people’s side when it comes to comments is how fast the stream of comment around a story can veer away from that story — completely — to the point where it’s not even focused anymore on why people are there, and then overwhelmingly, some nasty tone emerges amongst people, and often about issues that are not connected to what the story is.”

Secret service Play traces British persecution of gay intelligence hero Issue 140, Jan 12, 1990

Matheson says he doesn’t have “a complete answer” regarding the future of the comments section. “That doesn’t make me feel bad because media organizations that have vast resources compared to us don’t have the answers either,” he adds. Queerty is spending large amounts of money to figure out the comments quandary, while heavy hitters like the Washington Post and the New York Times are also looking for their own solutions, he says. “It’s just one of the interesting elements of what is going on in the online world that nobody has really corralled and has come up with that magic of an amazing comments system that weeds out what you dislike about it and keeps what you like.” Asked if the comments section will eventually be dropped from Daily Xtra, Matheson will say only that he questions the value of having that element on the site and points to debates and discussions unfolding organically on social media platforms. He finds the tenor of the discussion on Facebook, for instance, more civil and of a better quality. He notes, however, that much of the commentary about stories is happening not on Daily Xtra’s Facebook page, but on the personal pages of people who are sharing content from Daily Xtra. “I think it takes a different tone, because everyone’s page is almost like another little community. Not that you don’t see people disagreeing, but it doesn’t usually devolve into the vitriol that often happens on a website.” He says he’s not concerned that social media sites like Facebook will eventually compete too directly with digital journalism. “It’s fine for stories to break or exist on social media and to have a certain level of

citizen journalism around it, but journalists doing what Xtra does will always bring other information, other aspects, other perspectives to the story.” What does concern him is the censorship imposed by corporations whose rules are not always in the best interest of the gay community. “Large corporations that run social media where a lot of the discussion and the debate is happening are controlling, to some degree, what people post and what they don’t allow people to post. I think, in general, that’s more problematic and [over] the long term may pose a larger risk than citizens who consider themselves to be citizen journalists, even if they don’t use that term to describe themselves.” Asked about die-hard print readers who may be reluctant to get their news online, Matheson says that sentiment doesn’t surprise him; he professes to be a print lover himself. Still, he argues, gay and lesbian publishing, which is already a marginal business, is not immune to what’s happening in the media landscape, including declining ad revenues and rising production costs. “A move to a completely all-digital strategy just makes sense,” he concludes, pointing out that the press has had an online presence for a long time. Daily Xtra replaced, which went live in 1998. Matheson says he’ll be sad to lose any print reader but points to the readers who are already “embracing us in digital,” some of them longtime print readers. “Xtra is still going to be there doing the work it’s doing with our unique content and our voice, and we hope that people come along for that.” XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 15

Introducing The First Five of Inside Out’s


My Beautiful Laundrette

The Children’s Hour

The Wedding Banquet

Show Me Love (Fucking Åmål)

The Hanging Garden

February 25, 2015

March 11, 2015

March 25, 2015

April 8, 2015

May 6, 2015

We are pleased to kick off this series with the Academy Award nominated Stephen Frears classic, My Beautiful Laundrette. Set in a rough London suburb, a relationship begins to blossom between two friends.

The 1961 classic The Children’s Hour, starring Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn, is still as relevant as ever. When the main characters are accused of having an ‘unnatural’ relationship, the events that follow could have been ripped from today’s headlines.

Ang Lee’s hilarious and heart-warming The Wedding Banquet was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in 1994, establishing Lee as one of the generation’s most important filmmakers.

Swedish auteur Lukas Moodysson knocked the independent film scene on its back with his edgy debut lesbian coming of age movie Show Me Love (yes, named after the Robyn song).

One of the most crucial Canadian films that erupted during the New Queer Cinema age: Thom Fitzgerald’s The Hanging Garden. Having won every audience award possible at festivals back in 1997, the time felt right to revisit the story of Sweet William and his family.


All screenings 7:30PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox 350 King St. W. (Toronto).


MAY 21 - 31, 2015



an Ontario government agency un organisme du gouvernement de l’Ontario

16 FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 XTRA!

Phone: 10am-7pm daily 416.599.TIFF (8433) Toll-free: 1.888.599.8433

Funding for Retro Series provided by:

In Person: 10am-10pm daily TIFF Bell Lightbox, Reitman Square, 350 King Street West

Through the Pride and Remembrance Run, the Foundation provides financial support for projects of registered charities that benefit the LGBTQ community.

31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Sky Gilbert wins Dora Whore’s Revenge voted outstanding new play Issue 152, July 13, 1990



Looking back — moving forward Another triumph in Sodom North Vancouver City Council approves same-sex spousal benefits Issue 164, Jan 11, 1991

XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 17


THE LITTLE MAGAZINE For more than three decades, Xtra has made its mark on our communities, just There are plenty of other LGBT media entities out there, but there are few with legacies like Xtra’s. Before the advent of the internet, the publication was for many their first contact with the gay and lesbian community. We don’t have nearly enough time or space for all the memories, so we invite you to continue the dialogue on As Xtra moves completely online, it’s time to celebrate the little paper that could — and did.

Looking back more than 20 years, I feel fortunate to have played a part at such a critical time in the gay press — and so early on in my career in journalism. I still remember working into the wee hours of the morning so we could publish a special “news flash” issue after the defeat of Bill 167, legislation that at the time would’ve extended civil rights to same-sex couples. Although I was the arts and entertainment editor, it was working on that hard-news story that I am probably the most proud of. ALAN VERNON, EDITOR & WRITER

18 FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 XTRA!

31 Years of Xtra 1984 In January, Pink Triangle Press (PTP) gives birth to a four-page bar rag called Xtra. Intended as a promotional tool for The Body Politic (TBP), as well as a way to reach more people (and a different audience) than TBP ever could, Xtra soon outstrips its parent in advertising revenues and, eventually, in circulation.

1986 Sexual orientation is added to the Ontario Human Rights Code.

My favourite (and first) memory of Xtra was grabbing a fresh copy at The Bookshelf in Guelph when I was an art student. I’d flip to the back page to read Alison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For and Eric Orner’s Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green. They were such an inspiration to this fledgling illustrator; queer stories and faces in print was a big deal to me back then. Paul Dotey, illustrator

In November, TBP celebrates its 15th birthday, but the collective becomes concerned about its financial health. The collective and staff decide to suspend publication of TBP and keep PTP alive by focusing on Xtra.

1987 PTP forges on with Xtra as its new flagship brand. The collective votes to terminate its own existence shortly after appointing president and collective member Ken Popert as interim publisher of Xtra. Popert remains president and executive director of PTP to this day.

1988 In February, Xtra moves to 484 Yonge St and reaches a circulation of 17,000 28-page copies. The Dec 30 issue includes, for the first time, a year-end AIDS memorial page called Proud Lives, an idea picked up from Vancouver’s former Q Magazine. It later becomes a regular feature.

1989 In June, for Pride Day, Xtra sports its first full-colour cover, on 18,000 48-page copies. November sees the premiere of XS, a supplement to Xtra with lesbian author Jane Rule on the cover. The supplement runs 43 issues before being discontinued in 1993.

1990 PTP enters the world of audiotext (telepersonal chatlines), eventually creating Xtra’s Talking Classifieds and Cruiseline.

PAUL DOTEY is an illustrator and graphic designer from Toronto with a passion for mid-century architecture, the films of Wes Anderson and outer space. He has designed for the Starbucks Coffee Company, Indigo Books, Random House of Canada and the Hudson’s Bay Company. His first illustration for Xtra was published in January 2013.

31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Immortalizing Church-Wellesley Peter McGehee’s first novel a first for Toronto Issue 167, Feb 22, 1991

THAT DID as they have made their mark on Xtra The humour column I wrote for Xtra in my 20s was my first real break as a writer. Gord Bowness, and later Paul Gallant, gave me carte blanche and 200 bucks apiece for five years. The thrill of sharing my fevered whimsy with Xtra readers once a month remains unparalleled, and the invaluable practice of “loosing the kook” against a deadline has propelled every book I’ve written since. I’d likely be institutionalized or nude and frozen forever in unknown tundra were it not for Xtra. Greg Kearney, Author

The Church Wellesley Review, a showcase for new lesbian and gay writing, debuts as a supplement to Xtra.

1991 PTP turns 20. The Dec 27 issue of Xtra is 22,000 40-page copies. 1992 In Toronto, demonstrators block Yonge and College streets after Glad Day Bookshop is charged with obscenity for carrying lesbian sex mag Bad Attitude. With June Rowlands as the new mayor, the City of Toronto finally proclaims Pride Day. The crowd for the subsequent party numbers 100,000.

1993 Cruiseline gains in popularity, leading to a bountiful year for PTP. Xtra West begins publishing in Vancouver in July, Capital Xtra in Ottawa in September. PTP also expands its audiotext division to serve gay and lesbian people in the nation’s capital.

1994 Xtra turns 10.

An Xtra coverboy in August 1996, Ian Phillips soon began illustrating fiction by Greg Kramer and Derek McCormack for the Church-Wellesley Review, the paper’s literary supplement. Over the years, he has designed art for Xtra newspaper boxes, the window blinds at Xtra’s former Church Street office and even an Xtra Pride parade float. He lives in Toronto with his boyfriend Alexx.

PTP purchases Malebox, the slutty little brother to the Xtra publications. PTP moves its head offices to 491 Church St on Oct 27 — 23 years, to the day, after the publication of the first issue of The Body Politic. Ontario Bill 167, which would add provisions for same-sex couples to dozens of laws, is defeated in the Ontario legislature, leading to outrage across the province and a 10,000-strong protest march in the streets of Toronto.

1996 The audiotext division of PTP branches out to Edmonton and Winnipeg. Xtra moves from a folded to a tabloid format. Malebox leaves Ottawa for Toronto, getting a facelift and a new name: Canadian Male. It runs for two more years, ceasing publication in 1998. In late October, PTP turns a happy and healthy 25.

1998 goes live, covering Toronto only.

Equity for some Ontario’s proposed employment equity law may not include us Issue 186, Dec 6, 1991

I loved dropping in on Xtra’s Vancouver headquarters over the years. There always seemed to be cute and talented people roaming the hall. Someone was always in trouble for something they’d written or said or drawn. And someone was always laughing about it. It had that scrappy, manic, “Let’s put on a show!” feeling. MICHAEL HARRIS, AUTHOR

XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 19

THE EVOLUTION OF XTRA: LOOKING BACK 1999 In September, PTP takes its first tentative steps into interactive web content. gets its first hit. Xtra conducts its first formal reader surveys. Xtra publishes a news-flash warning that police have raided Toronto’s Bijou porn theatre. Police charge 18. The charges are dropped months later.

2000, a site that allows gay men to swap cruising tips and tricks, launches. PTP launches a glossy magazine, Go Big. It runs three issues before being discontinued in May 2001. Toronto police raid the Pussy Palace and the Bijou.

2001 Xtra covers same-sex marriages at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto.

2002 Xtra covers Marc Hall’s fight to take his boyfriend to the prom; the libel ruling against Toronto councillor Kyle Rae, for comments he made about the conduct of seven police officers during the Pussy Palace raid; and the arrest of seven members of the Totally Naked Toronto Men contingent in the Toronto Pride parade. ERIC WILLIAMS is a Toronto-based cartoonist and illustrator. His debut autobiographical work, Hungry Bottom Comics, was nominated for the Doug Wright Spotlight Award and named a notable book of 2013/14 in the annual Best American Comics publication. He is currently working on his first long-form comic book. His first freelance job was for Xtra, illustrating the issue that commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Toronto bathhouse raids. He also illustrated the first History Boys columns, which appeared in Fab magazine.

In the early 1990s, Woody’s expanded and added an additional room. We ran an ad in Xtra featuring the amazing Crystal Lite (pictured). The tag line was “This room was not here 2 days ago ...” which was a takeoff of a popular Leon’s television ad. Someone pinned it up in the warehouse, and it made its way to their corporate office. They didn’t think it was funny and threatened us with legal action: cease and desist! DEAN ODORICO, MANAGER OF WOODY’S

20 FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 XTRA!

PTP produces the first season of gay travel show Bump! It airs on PrideVision, a Canadian digital specialty television channel.

I need to offer an enormous thank-you to Pink Triangle Press and Xtra: the first media organization to take me seriously as a performer; two covers, including the Y2K issue; a five-year run for my Toronto at Night column. My PTP crushes over the years have ranged from the gorgeous former editor Gordon Bowness to the equally gorgeous Darryl Mabey to the Julias (Gonsalves and Garro), and I will bet anyone $100 in cold hard cash that PTP had the most good-looking people in Toronto media on their masthead. RYAN G HINDS, PERFORMER & WRITER

2003 PTP joins a consortium of investors in the purchase of PrideVision. The channel is rebranded as OUTtv. The press will eventually build an almost 25-percent stake in the enterprise. becomes a member-paid site.

2004 The Toronto Women’s Bathhouse Committee reaches a settlement with the Toronto Police Service over the 2000 Pussy Palace raids.

2005 Canada fully embraces same-sex marriage, with the passage of the Civil Marriage Act. PTP provides office space and sponsorship for Canadians for Equal Marriage. 2006 PTP purchases longrunning US gay publication The Guide, which will later be transformed into a travel-focused publication and transition from print entirely to web in 2010. 2007 PTP produces the first of its ongoing annual Toronto International Film Festival television shows, Out@TIFF.

Anna Pournikova would like to thank all the people who trusted me enough to take their photo and lightly roast them in this rag for nearly a decade. Youare all stars for that, especially since it was a game of Russian roulette before someone got called out for being a drunk, a slut or just straight ratchet. Also, thank you to Xtra for letting me continually push the envelope of what can be said in a free mag. I’m still shocked you let me get away with “fudge packer” sometime around 2008. It’s been a big fat slice of glitter, anonymous blowjobs and questionable DJsets. Thanks for what amounts to the longest onenight stand I’ve ever had. You were great! Anna Pournikova, Xposed Columnist

31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Challenging customs Anti-censorship group takes Canada Customs to court Issue 191, Feb 21, 1992


JUNE 25-28 2015 TORONTO



Pride Day bashings The 519, cops and hospital prepare for violence Issue 199, June 12, 1992


XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 21

THE EVOLUTION OF XTRA: LOOKING BACK 2008 PTP buys the assets of Toronto’s Fab magazine (which it discontinued in 2013). The magazine’s final issue of the year features a cover and interview with Lady Gaga, who subsequently goes on to some success as a pop star. 2009 Christopher Skinner is beaten and crushed to death under the wheels of an SUV just blocks from Toronto’s gay neighbourhood. 2010 Xtra undergoes a redesign, which includes a new logo. Xtra covers the Pride Toronto censorship controversy.

2011 An Xtra report reveals the Halton Catholic board’s ban on GSAs. When asked about the ban, board chair Alice Anne LeMay compares GSAs to Nazi groups and the story goes viral. PTP flees its longtime second-storey digs at 491 Church St for a swanky new space at 2 Carlton St. MPP Glen Murray promises Xtra that “LGBT support groups” will be allowed in Catholic schools come September.

2012 Xtra undergoes another redesign, moving to a square format.

JOHN WEBSTER is an artist/illustrator and an enthusiastic blogger. His work is predominantly collage-based (real and digital) and all about gender-fucking. On his Sissydude blog, Webster shares vintage loveliness mixed with explicit porn/art. An Xtra illustrator since 1999, his favourite pieces were his first cover (for the 1999 Pride issue) and his 2007 Ultimate Pride Guide cover.

The Liberals’ Accepting Schools Act (Bill 13) passes at Queen’s Park. The law gives students the power to name their support groups.

2013 PTP launches a new

I’ll always remember the proud moment when Xtra, some 13 years ago,published an article about my underground club zine called Yumeee! I had dropped off letters to the editors of various publications and, very tongue in cheek, cut up their magazines through the eyes of my fictional editor, who I had named Oral B (my name in the magazine was Circuit Boy). Most publications got the humour. John Kennedy, the editor of Fab, did not. He reported me to the police and wrote a blurb about it in Fab, claiming I had threatened to have him “assassinated,” and Xtra wrote an article about the incident. Xtra’s editors decided to title the piece “Circuit Boy Says Drugs Are Good.” My mother was not as proud. ROLYN CHAMBERS, DEEP DISH COLUMNIST

22 FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 XTRA!

website, called Daily Xtra, at The new site incorporates the travel site Guidemag into a new section called Daily Xtra Travel. Toronto police arrest several people in connection with the murder of Christopher Skinner, including a five-time team captain for the Don Bosco high school football team who was coached by ex-Toronto mayor Rob Ford.

2014 Mayor Ford attempts to remove a Pride flag that officials had raised at city hall to show solidarity with LGBT athletes and LGBT Russians during the Sochi Winter Olympics. Ford, who has never attended a Pride event, confirms he will not attend WorldPride in Toronto in 2014, noting, “I’m not going to change the way I am.”

2015 Xtra unveils plans for a new mobile site and redesign of Daily Xtra. Mathieu Chantelois is unveiled as the new executive director of Pride Toronto.

I was the marketing and distribution manager in the mid-1990s. During that period, I became Pride co-chair. We had to create Pride in six months. Xtra generously negotiated with the committee to allow me to work on Pride during office hours. Xtra’s profound commitment to community support should have come as no surprise, considering that part of my responsibilities were to negotiate with community groups. Xtra donated thousands of dollars worth of free advertising space every year to groups that could not afford it. I had a wonderful time at Xtra. Thank you for the wonderful memories! Michael McGaraughty, writer/performer

When I was a 16-yearold homo, Xtra was my guide to the gay world. I could walk over to Church Street, grab a copy of Xtra and learn all about what was going on in the neighbourhood: what bars to go to, what issues Ihad to fight for, what plays and movies I had to see, and what pics of hot guys in the back section I’d be staring at later that night. I didn’t know then that I’d eventually spend nearly a decade writing for this magazine, but I knew that its existence was important to figuring out who I was. Well, the stoop is gone, Fab is gone, and now the print magazine Xtra is gone, but I am glad that is continuing in its place. So I look forward to Daily Xtra being even better positioned to reach the mass audience of young people figuring out who they are and who they want to become. Rob Salerno, Playwright, Actor & Journalist

31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Haute drag Regal RuPaul prepares to ascend the throne Issue 216, Feb 5, 1993

Metroland Media has been the proud printer of Xtra for over 20 years. We thank all Xtra and PTP staff and alumni for their business and wish them all the best in the future. Contact Steve Renaud at Metroland for your printing needs: or 416-493-1300 ext 204 Buddies loses complaint Press council sides with the Toronto Sun Issue 236, Nov 12, 1993 XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 23


THE FUTURE OF ACTIVISM A snaphot of the people in our community PHOTOS BY N MAXWELL LANDER

Activism and our communities — be they gay, lesbian, queer or trans — are inexorably connected. Our histories are steeped in the sweat and tears of the trailblazers and warriors who have bravely challenged the status quo, who have fought against injustices and who have proudly stood up for who and what we are. For so many of us, our communities have been defined brightly by our activism. As more rights to equality and against discrimination have been won, however, some

PATRICIA WILSON is the bar manager at Buddies and lead guitarist for Crackpuppy. MARK AIKMAN is the director of development and communications at Buddies.

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of us have felt those forged collective bonds loosening. Do we still have a community? Are there still battles to be won? Ask Toronto’s activists and you will hear a resounding yes. In the pages that follow, you’ll find a small sampling of the artists, advocates, entrepreneurs, educators, entertainers, students, politicians, academics, scientists, writers, volunteers and rabble-rousers who have made, and who continue to make, a difference in our communities.

SCOTT DAGOSTINO is the manager of Glad Day Bookshop, one of Canada’s oldest LGBT bookstores.

31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Fighting the sin of silence A gay man’s inaugural speech to the United Nations Issue 243, Feb 18, 1994V


ANDREW MURPHY, as director of programming at the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival in Toronto and Ottawa, challenges attitudes through film and video.

Pockets of safety

Artists WILLIAM ELLIS and JORDAN TANNAHILL are the owners of Videofag, a Kensington Market gallery and performance lab that promotes queer work and artists.

Documenting the advancement of LGBT rights has been, and will continue to be, a staple for Xtra. But despite the growing feeling of safety and acceptance many feel, there is always the need for spaces where queer folks can feel absolutely, unequivocally safe. “There are places in the city that now are supposed to be gay or gay-friendly, but you can’t hold your fucking boyfriend or girlfriend’s hand without getting harassed,” says Patricia Wilson, bar manager (and icon) of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Creating places where queer is normal — that’s the aim of a safe space. Inside Out caters to the LGBT community and puts our narratives in the limelight. “When [Inside Out] started back in 1991, it came out of a necessity for queer people to have a safe space and watch creative work on the screen, about them and by them,” says Andrew Murphy, director of programming at Inside Out. “I think now, even 25 years later, we’re noticing there’s a very crucial aspect to showing [these works]Z.\.\. there’s still something special about going to a cinema filled with 500 people from your community and seeing your own stories onscreen.” Videofag’s Jordan Tannahill and William Ellis can attest to the power of community in creating a safe space. “It was to be filled by the community,” Tannahill says of the gallery. “And what’s allowed it to survive is us creating the space, then sort of getting out of the way and allowing the community to take it on.” Not always bricks and mortar, safe spaces are often more conceptual than concrete. But Mark Aikman, Buddies’ director of development and communications, notes the importance of a physical place. “Safe space has a lot to do with trust and agency, but without the actual physical space that’s identified as a safe space — that goes so far for me, because physical space is so rare.” They’re rare, but they’re there. Glad Day Bookshop opened in 1970 and ever since has operated as a safe place for the LGBT community. “We’re an oasis of queer literature and queer activism,” says Scott Dagostino, manager of Glad Day. “We cater to gay people, lesbian people, transgender peopleZ.\.\. people respond to that with such enthusiasm and kindness.” And, ultimately, what makes these places so safe is the culture of acceptance that is bred. “The building is important, but the education is so important,” Wilson says. “The reason [Buddies] is safe is because we educate everybody that what’s inside this building is safe.” Andrew Jacome

Gay-studies course hits a snag Class on Audre Lorde is cancelled after a shouting match Issue 247, April 15, 1994

MAURA LAWLESS is the executive director of the 519 Church Street Community Centre, a role she took on in 2007.

TK is the arts and culture manager of Pride Toronto and a consultant for the Queer Beer Festival.

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Trans rights

I ALEX ABRAMOVICH is an academic and researcher who specializes in the area of queer- and trans-youth homelessness.

Ward 27 Councillor KRISTYN WONG-TAM collaborated with Toronto’s Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line to create the Will Munro award for LGBT youth.

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Susan Gapka smiles as she thinks about the progress on trans rights that she’s witnessed in the last 15 years. “We now have human rights protection at the provincial level, the legal ID, people can change sex on their record of birth, access to funding, Rainbow Health Ontario, access to healthcare — it’s not perfect, but those are the pillars for social inclusion for trans people, and I’ve gotten to be part of that struggle,” she says. “It’s going to give our younger generation such a better chance at life for the most part.” Nevertheless, she and other activists know there is still a lot of work to be done. Writer and activist Christin Milloy says that while more attention on trans issues in the media has raised their profile, there is still work to be done at the ground level. “If Laverne Cox is on a magazine, it doesn’t change the fact that most of my friends can’t get proper healthcare, and it doesn’t change that many of the people I know can’t get their identification cards updated. So, it’s nice to see, but it doesn’t really help, apart from public awareness. Real work needs to be done, not just magazine photos.” University of Toronto law professor Brenda Cossman predicts that the next 10 years will bring a new battlefront for Canadian activism. “We often talk about how LGBT rights have been realized in Canada, and they haven’t. The L and the G rights have been realized, but B rights nobody even looks at or cares about, it seems, and the T rights are still completely unrealized.” She predicts that even once the federal and provincial governments include trans protections under the law, there will still be many fights to win in the courts. “Even once you have protection on the basis of gender identity and gender expression, then how that plays out in particular — individuals are going to end up having to challenge practices where they’re being discriminated against.” Matthew DiMera

SUSAN GAPKA is an LGBT activist who champions local, social equality.

CHRISTIN MILLOY, a human rights activist and writer, helped lobby Queen’s Park to pass Toby’s Law in 2012, adding gender identity and gender expression to the Ontario Human Rights Code.

31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Fit for parenthood Children’s Aid Society supports adoption rights but can’t change its policies Issue 262, Nov 11, 1994


CHRISTOPHER KARAS has filed a case alleging homophobia and discrimination against his then Missisauga French Catholic high school with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

Reverend BRENT HAWKES officiated one of the same-sex weddings in 2001 that led to the successful legal challenge for gay marriage in Ontario.

MICHIKO BOWN-KAI is a queer and trans activist who works with the United Church of Canada.

Two Canadians detained UN security doesn’t like ‘lesbian rights’ banner Issue 284, Sept 15, 1995

Community in religion Negotiating sexuality and gender identity in the framework of religion has always been a struggle for the LGBT community. For many, the answer has been to opt out of any faith and embrace an atheistic or agnostic approach. Others have migrated to the few churches that welcome queer parishioners. For those looking for a place in less accepting religions, the struggle continues. “Most denominations are struggling around the issue of homosexuality and spirituality and sexuality,” says Reverend Brent Hawkes, the Metropolitan Community Church pastor who performed a mass LGBT wedding at WorldPride 2014. “Most churches don’t just have a problem with homosexuality; they have a problem with sexZ.\.\. The Christian church and other faiths have become very sex-negative.” He notes, however, that the conversation is changing, particularly among young parishioners. “I think I’m more optimistic [about Christianity] because there are some GSAs, there is the conversation; more and more students are speaking out,” he says. Christopher Karas made headlines in 2014 when he took his school, École Secondaire Catholique Sainte-Famille, to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, alleging that the board had thwarted his attempts to start a GSA. “I’m a Catholic myself, and I truly believe in love, respect and acceptance,” he says. “It’s important for us to challenge the systems and put in those [safe] spaces for ourselves and our peers.” The past year also saw Pope Francis make inclusive statements regarding gay and lesbian people. He called for the church to support parents with LGBT children and to recognize the merits of gay and lesbian people. His remarks were met with strong opposition from within the church, but for Hawkes, this is a monumental first step for Catholicism. “I’m very optimistic and hopeful with this present pope,” he says. “I think a number of different things he’s said or been involved in — this is the most hope we’ve had in a long time. That somebody might actually move the church forward in terms of women’s issues, gay issues, freedom of choiceZ.\.\.” Andrew Jacome

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Let’s talk about sex

ISABEL CARLIN is a student at the University of Toronto and volunteers at Planned Parenthood as a peer educator in sexual health for queer and trans youth.

MITCHELL MOFFIT and GREGORY BROWN are the founders of AsapScience, a popular YouTube blog that explains all things science.

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For many activists, there’s a major problem with Ontario’s sex education curriculum — it doesn’t talk about sex, or at least not all aspects of sexuality. Carly Boyce, a project coordinator at Planned Parenthood Toronto, says the province’s sex education curriculum hasn’t changed since she was in high school. “Which was a long time ago,” she adds. “I think there needs to be some pretty drastic reform. Right now, the curriculum we have is failing all youth, but especially queer and trans youth.” Isabel Carlin, a sexual health educator, recalls that she didn’t know that being gay was an option until Grade 9. “I just thought gay meant stupid because that’s how people used it. That wasn’t talked about at all at my elementary school.” Ontario parents are being consulted on a new sex education curriculum, slated to be implemented in September 2015. Premier Kathleen Wynne has indicated that issues related to consent will be incorporated, but local activists are also hoping it will cover the whole spectrum of sexuality. John Maxwell, executive director of the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT), wants to ensure that students learn about gender identity and sexual orientation at an earlier age. “One of the challenges I think younger gay men face is that there isn’t really good sexual health education in the school system. We’re really hopeful that this new curriculum will actually help serve the needs of young people.” Carlin rejects arguments that sex education shouldn’t be introduced at the elementary school level. “Kids are going to learn about sex by the time they get to high school, no matter what you do. So I feel like rather than trying to introduce sex to younger kids, it’s about giving students a knowledge base to go through their lives more safely.” Organizations like Planned Parenthood and ACT aren’t waiting for the school system to catch up, instead offering their own education and outreach programs. ACT offers a leadership program called Totally OutRight that teaches young men about the history of HIV and community organizing. The goal, for these and other educators, is to give youth better tools to talk about sex and sexuality. HG Watson

CARLY BOYCE, a project coordinator at Planned Parenthood Toronto, runs a sexual health education project for young queer and trans-identified women.

JOHN MAXWELL is the executive director of the AIDS Committee of Toronto and an active supporter of sex education and HIV history.

Artist/DJ LAUREN HORTIE created and hosts the popular Steers and Queers parties in Toronto’s west end.

31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Police brass surprised by Remington’s raid? Morality cops checked out strippers’ sperm for 10 weeks Issue 297, March 14, 1996


TODD KLINCK is co-owner of Club120 and a sex-work activist.

Sexual freedom MONICA FORRESTER is an activist who fights for LGBT rights and the rights and safety of sex workers.

STEPHEN PALMER and FRANCIS GAUDREAULT are the co-owners of The Men’s Room on Church Street and the organizers of Pitbull Events. Gaudreault is the new chair of the Church-Wellesley BIA.

Sexual activism has been at the forefront of the LGBT movement since the beginning, and advocates say those fights still aren’t over. Law professor Brenda Cossman says that when the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms was introduced in 1982, a lot of activism shifted to the judicial system. “It’s always best to go and lobby the legislature first and see if the legislature will do it,” she says. “But if not, then you go to the courts. You try to make a constitutional argument and get the courts to say the current law is not logical, not rational, violates equality rights. You try to get a court to strike it down when a legislature won’t touch it.” Sometimes after a court ruling, the government will respond and do the right thing, Cossman says, but other times, as with sex work, the legislature will introduce a law that is worse than the one that existed before. Trans sex-work activist Monica Forrester is disappointed with the Harper Conservatives’ passing of Bill C-36. She believes that street-based women will be hit the hardest by provisions preventing sex work near churches, community centres or daycare centres. “It’s totally not what the Supreme Court of Canada was wanting from the Harper government, which was to make laws that keep sex workers safe. He’s actually brought back the old laws that were brought down and added more laws, so it’s really made it impossible for sex workers to actually work — indoor, outdoor — or advertise,” she says. In turn, she says, it will be harder for activists and outreach workers to ensure that sex workers are safe and that they have the harm-reduction materials they need. She is optimistic that the current sex-work laws will be challenged in court again but anticipates it could take as long as a decade to gather the evidence and to strike them down. On other fronts, she predicts court challenges related to polygamy and polyamory. “Polygamy and, as a result, polyamory, are still largely criminal activities. The courts have tried to say, ‘Well, we don’t really mean polyamory. We only really mean polygamy,’ which, as far as I can tell from reading the laws, means, ‘Well, there are good poly people who we’re not going to punish and bad poly people who we are going to send to jail,’ and the distinction isn’t very clear.” “I think we’re just going to continue to see challenges around sexuality when the state steps in and tries to regulate people’s intimate consensual sexual relationships.” Matthew DiMera

Spiked breasts are offensive? Pride reserves the right to censor floats Issue 329, June 5, 1997

TIM MCCASKELL is a founding member of AIDS Action Now and a supporter of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.

DJ SCOOTER MCCREIGHT is the creator of the club event Cub Camp.

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Free speech

Law professor BRENDA COSSMAN teaches and researches family law, law and sexuality, and freedom of expression. She’s the head of the Mark S Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, which organized the 2014 WorldPride Human Rights Conference.

SKY GILBERT is a playwright, actor and founding member of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (and he has a lane named after him).

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Recently, Scott Dagostino ordered a book that got held up at Canadian Customs. It may or may not have been because the cover has a big cartoon penis on it. The copies of Giving It Raw, a memoir of AIDS activism by Francisco Ibáñez-Carrasco, were held for only a few hours before they made their way to Toronto for their launch at Glad Day, the LGBT bookstore Dagostino runs. But it was a reminder for him that the battles over free speech are not over. “We’re still dealing with people who think because they disagree with something it should be banned.” Gay bookstores, presses and magazines — including Xtra — have been the source of some of the hardest fought battles over free speech in Canada. In fact, Feb 14 is Pink Triangle Day, a national gay holiday to celebrate the acquittal of The Body Politic’s publishers for printing “immoral, indecent or scurrilous material.” The material in question was an article called “Men Loving Boys Loving Men,” a story by Gerald Hannon that profiled several men in sexual relationships with underage youth, published in The Body Politic in November 1977. In 1978, shortly after police raided their offices, The Body Politic’s publishers were charged for printing the article. “If we were tried today, we would probably lose,” Hannon says. According to Hannon, free speech has eroded and authors avoid topics like the one he wrote about because they fear the public outcry and shaming that can come as a result. “I’m often tempted to comment on things I see in the press and don’t,” Hannon says, “because it can turn your life into a living hell.” Playwright Sky Gilbert, who has never shied away from any topic, says political correctness has a double edge. “Just because the public discourse doesn’t allow certain words doesn’t mean that racism, sexism and homophobia are gone. That’s a big problem: a lot of people think that because they’re so policed in terms of their language that everything is okay,” he says. “And they resent the policing, and quietly, at the water cooler or whatever, talk about how they really feel — and they nurture their little prejudices. We don’t get to confront them.” HG Watson

RJ VANDRISH is a queer and trans writer and activist.

GERALD HANNON, journalist and sex-work advocate, famously wrote the Body Politic article “Men Loving Boys Loving Men.”

Before moving to Toronto, LOU BOILEAU was the advocacy and equity supervisor at the University of Ottawa Pride Centre.

31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Dykes to die for? Alison Bechdel’s fans take her comic strip to heart Issue 359, July 30, 1998


JANE FARROW is an author and media personality, best known for her books Wanted Words and the Canadian Book of Lists and her role as the first executive director of Jane’s Walk.

DATEJIE GREEN and RUTH CAMERON are the founders of the Audre Lorde scholarship, which seeks to help black LGBT students.

Lesbians are evil I read it in the Sun, so it must be true Issue 391, Oct 21, 1999

CLYDE WAGNER is the general manager of Luminato, Toronto’s annual celebration of arts and creativity.

XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 31


ALLYSON MITCHELL is an artist whose work investigates sexuality, autobiography and the body by way of feminism and pop culture.

Intersecting identities The members of the BLACKNESS YES! committee (from left, Nik Red, Syrus Marcus Ware, Thandy Yonge, Kyisha Williams, Craig Dominic and Shani Robertson) work year-round to celebrate black queer and trans history. They also organize the Blockorama stage each year at Toronto Pride.

ENZA ANDERSON is a journalist and media personality, a former mayoral candidate, a trans activist and the supermodel of our hearts.

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MANCHYNA is a Toronto rap artist who first started performing at Steers and Queers.

Race, ability and class may not always be at the forefront of queer struggles, but many Toronto activists think that could change. For Blackness Yes!, a committee that celebrates black queer and trans history, creativity and resistance and produces Blockorama, their thriving presence is a political statement in itself. “Our existence, our celebration, our survival is revolutionsZ.\.\. even us imagining ourselves alive now and forever in the future is super political,” one organizer says. When Ruth Cameron and datejie green ran into resistance creating a scholarship for black LGBT youth in Hamilton, they shrugged off their detractors and kept moving. “We’ve already had one young person tell us that they never dreamed in their lifetime that they were going to see something in Hamilton that was created just for them.” For Cameron, it means a growing need for activism around race and class — subjects she feels have been pushed aside for sexier ones. “When we’re fighting for other people, we’re fighting for ourselves, let’s face it,” she says. “I don’t think I necessarily understand enough about everything to be a good ally with everyone, but when someone takes something a little more complex for me, I sit back, take it in and then think about how I can address that.” For Christin Milloy, the future of activism is a lengthy one. She says that while she faces challenges as a trans person, she benefits from being white and able-bodied with a good job. “If you want to talk about, say, trans rights or gay rights, you’re not finished telling that story until you have listened to your most marginalized voices,” she says. “So when I get my identification fixed, and when we’ve passed all of our [gender identity] laws, provincially and federally, and we have our human rights protections, that’s just chapter one. There are so many people who are trans and are poor and can’t get housing, can’t get a job. Because they’re trans? Yes, but also because they’re racialized or because they have a disability.” Longtime organizer Tim McCaskell thinks that class and socioeconomic issues are a growing concern for the LGBT movement. “I think we’re going to see more conflict within the community, and it’s important that those conflicts be handled in ways that don’t rip us apart.” Matthew DiMera

31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Hiding the evidence With court’s gag order nixed, we can now tell you what this ‘kiddie porn’ really is Issue 397, Jan 13, 2000

Fat-tastic! Allyson Mitchell makes fat fun and fashionable Issue 433, May 31, 2001

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Check out our columnists and bloggers on A sex worker’s tale Trading a blowjob for 20 bucks and a half pack of cigarettes had brought me to a new level of debauchery. Courtney Love would have been proud.

Canada’s first gay rag Almost 70 years before the debut of Xtra, Les Mouches Fantastiques was born in Montreal HISTORY BOYS MICHAEL LYONS

Adventures in gay parenting It’s not that I don’t like Hot Wheels or Thomas the Tank Engine, but I can’t quite figure out my son’s predilection toward traditionally masculine pursuits.

History Boys The Wonder Woman comics from the 1940s are rife with BDSM. On almost every page there’s kidnap, slavery or bondage.

Hooking up in public When I find myself exploring a dungeon party on a Sunday afternoon, I know why I’m there. I’m on a journey searching for those connections.

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Before Xtra, Fab, The Body Politic or any of the other LGBT publications that Canada has seen, there was Les Mouches Fantastiques. In the autumn of 1917, a young woman named Elsie Alice Gidlow (later known as Elsa) was living with her large family in Montreal. She made a meagre living doing office work but longed for travel and the bohemian life. She published a letter in the Montreal Daily Star under a pseudonym, asking if there were any organizations of artists or writers in the city. A second letter published under her own name appeared a couple of weeks later, suggesting that the original inquirer (herself ) and others interested should meet at her apartment. Only a few among the motley crew had any real promise. Most of the men who showed up were middle-aged and looking to pick up, given the female name signed with the second letter, and left disappointed. The only man who really stood out to Gidlow was the “most astonishing, elegant beingZ.\.\. a beautiful, willowy blond” named Roswell George Mills, a financial-page editor at the Star who also wrote a pseudonymous female advice column — possibly Jessie Roberts’s What Girls May Do. Mills was unabashedly, flamboyantly homosexual. “Roswell confided his personal crusade to me,” Gidlow wrote in her autobiography. “He wanted people to understand that it was beautiful, not evil, to love others of one’s own sex and make love with them. Roswell had divined my lesbian temperament and was happy to proselytize; the veil of self-ignorance began to lift.” Mills introduced her to the work of Oscar Wilde, Edward Carpenter, Verlaine and modern psychologists who described homosexuality in more concrete medical — rather than condemnatory moralistic — terms. She built on his reading list and began to find her own authors

Never take the words from the past for granted — they might be gone when you need them most. YIGI CHANG

to venerate. He nicknamed her Sappho, and they became lifelong friends. Early in their writing careers, Gidlow and Mills were very involved in the amateur journalist community in North America, a loose network of organizations and self-publishers. Canada was well into a bloody war, which Mills had escaped as a 4F — “physically, mentally, emotionally and morally incompetent for the glory of killing,” he said — and this, along with their sexual radicalism and their weakening tolerance for Christian patriarchy, coalesced into Les Mouches Fantastiques (originally titled Coal from Hades). The publication consisted mostly of poetry by Gidlow about women, with translations, allegorical stories, dramatic writing and “articles on ‘the intermediate sex’” by Mills, as well as contributions that satirized society or panned the ongoing war. Gidlow assumed the publication went out to only a hundred of their fellow underground writers, but she eventually received a letter from a woman in Havana who was impressed with the work. A priest and writer from South Dakota read Les Mouches, fell in love with Mills and moved to Montreal in the hopes of being with him. The radical publication drew the disdain of many, including famed horror writer and fellow amateur journalist HP Lovecraft. A xenophobe and homo-

phobe, especially in his private writings, Lovecraft decried Les Mouches in his own self-published paper, The Conservative: “What words of beauty — pure Uranian beauty — are utterly denied them on account of their bondage to the lower regions of the senses!” While he likely never met Gidlow or Mills, Lovecraft had a habit of selfpublishing criticisms of the work of other amateur journalists — much like blogs today. Les Mouches Fantastiques did not have a long run, as Gidlow and Mills eventually left Montreal for New York, seeking greater freedom and more opportunities. As a member of the naive, Googleeverything generation, I casually sent emails to the Toronto Public Library Archives and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, assuming at least one would be able to haul a stack of Les Mouches out of the vaults. Neither of them has copies. The CLGA advised me that Les Archives Gaies du Québec has a single copy, and historian Ken Faig Jr writes that the American Antiquarian Society has three issues and the University of South Florida has one. It’s a sad reminder never to take the words from the past for granted — they might be gone when you need them most. For more History Boys columns, go to

31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Not being the oldest in the room The 519 opens seniors’ resource centre Issue 490, Aug 7, 2003



FEATURING ILANA ZARANKIN, SOPRANO; JOEL ALLISON, BARITONE; AND MEMBERS OF TALISKER PLAYERS (STRINGS, WINDS, PIANO) ON EITHER TUESDAY, MARCH 10 OR WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11, 8PM, AT TRINITY ST PAUL’S CENTRE, 427 BLOOR ST W. To enter, send your name and phone number to, with “Contest: Talisker” in the subject line, before Thursday, March 5. Some restrictions apply. Only winners will be contacted. TORONTO’S GAY & LESBIAN NEWS

Manitoba, Nova Scotia submit Same-sex marriage takes two more provinces Issue 520, Sept 30, 2004

XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 35

Last chance, readers Shining a new spotlight in new places TORONTO AT NIGHT RYAN G HINDS

ON A DARKLING PLAIN Songs of hope, longing and the quest for meaning MARCH 10 & 11, 8:00 PM Trinity St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor Street West box office: 416-978-8849 / Talisker Players Music 36 FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 XTRA!

Bye, Felicias! Before the print version of Xtra follows vaudeville, The Steps, Will Munro, The Barn and Joan Rivers out the door to eternity and beyond, I have some words. I never wanted my column to be about me, so won’t you indulge me briefly while I break that rule? What I have always loved about LGBT Toronto is the lack of stasis. Things change, people; they always have and they always will. What’s beloved isn’t forever; often something beautiful and new replaces what’s beloved. When I interviewed him for this column, Rolyn Chambers said, “When I first started going out and meeting people, everyone was talking about these clubs I’d never heard of because they’d closed. Ten years later, I’m like that now, but there’s still places to go out.” He’s right, and I’m applying what he said to everyone’s predictions of doom and gloom about and Pink Triangle Press. Although I will totally miss being in printZ.\.\. online is a new adventure! For the five years this column ran, I tried hard to put a spotlight on those who needed it. To me, local names are just as exciting as internationally famous ones. As fun as it was including quotes from Betty Buckley, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Wanda Sykes, Dragon-

In Ryan Hinds’s first Toronto at Night column, in 2010, he made the case that we were in a particularly rewarding time for queer Toronto. TRISTAN HARRIS

Five years on, do I still believe that’s true? Unequivocally, I do. In fact, our belle époque glitters ever brighterZ.\.\. and for proof, all I have to do is look around at all the people I haven’t written about yet. This was always a super fun job; I especially loved seeing my infamous blind items in print. Last chance, readers: Which Toronto writer is carrying on a hot and heavy affair with which internationally known male model? Which gay icon secretly doesn’t “get” trans people, which is especially shocking

What’s beloved isn’t forever; often something beautiful and new replaces what’s beloved. ette, Bianca Del Rio, En Vogue and my mentor Chita Rivera, it was just as fun talking to Rolyn Chambers, Vanja Vasic, Bobby Hsu, Bobby Beckett, Mic Carter, Eddie Barnette, Kevin Naulls, Carla Collins, Bronno and Hank, SzeYang and Jelani Ade-Lam of Ill Nana/ DiverseCity Dance Company, Dylan Uscher, Michael Zoffranieri, drag queens galore and countless off-therecord folks. In my first Toronto at Night column, in 2010, I made the case that we were in a particularly rewarding time for queer Toronto.

since she’s gay herself? Who hooked up with whom against a window at a Pink Triangle Press office party and gave the people across the way quite the show? Who’s the Canadian media celebrity that I (along with a whole bunch of Inside Out attendees) watched have a long alcohol-fuelled peeZ.\.\. while he was nowhere near a bathroom? If you’re curious about what the future holds for yours truly, my day job as a singer, actor and dancer will continue to pay the bills. If the thirst is real and you really miss me, come see

me onstage somewhere! (where I’ll continue to freelance) is always worth your attention. I’m also writing a book, built on my five years of columns! Much like Toronto at Night, you can expect spilled tea, rumours corrected, celebrity run-ins and proud lives commemorated from my years of skipping from Toronto to New York City to Montreal to San Francisco to Los Angeles to Vancouver and to Ottawa. If you’re a publisher, ring me up. Speaking of writing, I will definitely miss the reader correspondence. A basic rule for everyone in media, except Barbara Kay, is “never read the comments,” but those few times my curiosity got the better of me, I was usually impressed with the civility and generosity of spirit I found. Some of you opened up to me about incredibly personal things like alcoholism and substance abuse, some of you requested advice, and some of you threatened to sue me. A tragic few even offered me sexual favours if I would write about you or could get you into certain events. People I will never meet shared and tweeted my writing, something that never failed to make me, someone who never studied writing, journalism or media a day in his life, grin like an idiot. I thought (and will continue to think) about all of you often. Until we meet again, friends — see you in the dark.

31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Pussies take a bite out of the cops Settlement includes money, more sensitivity training Issue 526, Dec 23, 2004


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Too loose or too tight How to get a trans bill passed Issue 528, Jan 20, 2005

XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 37

Turning pro A newbie sex worker navigates his first date HARD LABOUR DEVON DELACROIX

The first time I traded sex for money involved an alley blowjob, 20 bucks and a half pack of cigarettes. But I didn’t actually enter the sex business for another seven years. Post–grad school, I’d been struggling to make it as a writer and gradually racked up some debt. It wasn’t anything major. I’d been lucky to get through on scholarships and part-time jobs. I wasn’t a big spender or a party boy. But every few months, cash had become tight enough that I’d needed to put groceries or some other necessity on my credit card. I was finally at the point where my professional work was covering day-to-day needs, but there was nothing left at the end of the month for debt reduction. Needless to say, Visa and I were not getting along. I wanted to be in the black, but I knew something drastic had to change. I’d never considered sex work an option. Frankly, I didn’t think I was attractive enough. The word “hustler” conjured rippling, sun-kissed muscles; square, testosterone-infused jaw-lines; and 10-inch dicks, none of which I had. The idea that a lanky, scruffy Ethan Hawke circa Reality Bites type could get paid for sex didn’t seem plausible. But then I met Pierre. He was the friend of a recent ex. Forty-something but in good shape, he had that greyhaired daddy thing I’ve always liked.

When I found out he was a part-time whore, I was shocked. If he could get paid for sex, maybe I could, too, I thought. I snapped a couple of bedroom selfies and put an ad online . . . I get my first call two days later. Terrance says he likes my photos and wants to meet. But his situation, he says, is complicated. A middle-aged married guy, he’s living with multiple sclerosis. His dick is functional, but his legs are less so. He can still walk with the help of a cane and some braces, but he’s going to need some help with positioning during the session. We’re

The alley blowjob could be chalked up to youth and tequila, but what I’m about to do is a conscious, informed decision and involves a fetish I never knew existed. How the fuck did this become my life? supposed to meet at a motel near the airport, but he offers to pick me up at the subway. His fetish, he says, is for shaving. He wants me to help him into the bathtub, lather him up and remove all his body hair with a disposable razor. I don’t know what I imagined sex work was going to be like before I placed an ad. But the thought it would

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involve shaving a disabled middle-aged man’s pubes in an airport motel was definitely not at the forefront. I try to sound confident as I’m agreeing to meet him, keeping the air of a professional who’s done this a million times before. But I’m sure my nerves are obvious. Standing in the Kipling Station parking lot, I’m buzzing. The alley blowjob could be chalked up to youth and tequila, but what I’m about to do is a conscious, informed decision and involves a fetish I never knew existed. How the fuck did this become my life? When he pulls up in his green mini-

van, I try to walk confidently, a little seductively even, toward it. Just remember he wants you, I say to myself. You are in control of this situation, and whatever happens you can deal with it. Once I’m settled in the passenger seat, I realize he’s at least as nervous as I am. Pudgy, balding and dressed in a rumpled navy suit, he seems like he’s worried I’m going to back out. He’s Asian, which he confesses is part of what’s making him nervous. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I’m an Oriental,” he says. “Is that okay? If you don’t want to see me I understand.” Suddenly the pieces start to fall into place. It doesn’t matter how unattractive I might think I am, because for him this exchange isn’t about fucking an Adonis. It’s about him being with someone who won’t flat out reject him. I smile and give his thigh a squeeze. “Don’t worry,” I say. “I like all kinds of guys.” He tells me about how his MS has been advancing, how he’s probably going to be wheelchair-bound within three years, how hard it’s been on his wife. I try to smile reassuringly, but I have no idea what to sayZ.\.\. Hard Labour is a first-person look at sex work. It appears monthly on the Ideas page of, where you can read the full version of this column.

31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Big-league bigotry Canadian equal-marriage groups up against US-backed giants Issue 532, March 17, 2005

Aussie media links girl’s murder to cruising website Toronto-based calls for retraction Issue 568, Aug 3, 2006

XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 39



Shawn Syms, Paul Dunn and Claude Belanger. ISSUE 283, SEPT 1, 1995 TONY FONG


Keith Cole. ISSUE 523, NOV 11, 2004 JOHNNY PAPARAZZO

Produzentin, Militia Milana and Mary Messhausen. ISSUE 635, FEB 26, 2009 ANNA POURNIKOVA

Chris Peterson, Dale Johnson and Jeff Dawson. ISSUE 318, JAN 2, 1997 JOHNNY PAPARAZZO

Patricia Wilson and Stephanie Horne. ISSUE 434, JUNE 14, 2001 JOHNNY PAPARAZZO

DXNY performer Jackae. ISSUE 267, JAN 20, 1995 MARA SUBOTINCIC

Joseph Vance and David Hawe. ISSUE 231, SEPT 3, 1993 JAKE PETERS

Councillors Kyle Rae and Olivia Chow. ISSUE 340, NOV 6, 1997 JOHNNY PAPARAZZO

Anna Pournikova. ISSUE 674, AUG 26, 2010 ANNA POURNIKOVA

Kathleen Pirrie-Adams, Lisa Kiss, Lynne Fernie, Kim Fullerton and Paula Gignac. ISSUE 371, JAN 14, 1999 JOHNNY PAPARAZZO

40 FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 XTRA!

31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Gay marvel The super sexy worlds of Patrick Fillion Issue 585, March 29, 2007

Will Munro. ISSUE 526, DEC 23, 2004 ANNA POURNIKOVA

Scarlett Fever.

Ruth Johnston, Lisa Gardner and Sandy Bowker of the Toronto Mighty Dykes hockey squad.


Gidget and Sassy, Miss Draft 1994. ISSUE 264, DEC 9, 1994 DAVID HAWE

Toronto Sun editor John Downing and mayoral candidate Jack Layton. ISSUE 183, OCT 25, 1991 JAKE PETERS

Dean and Dan Caten sandwich Biko. ISSUE 650, SEPT 24, 2009 ANNA POURNIKOVA

Q-Files performers The B-Girlz. ISSUE 367, NOV 19, 1998 JOHNNY PAPARAZZO




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Mixed company How queer is Toronto’s group sex scene? Issue 623, Sept 11, 2008

XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 41



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31 YEARS OF HEADLINES The chastised prime minister Why a Harper minority still has teeth Issue 631, Jan 1, 2009













Vocal Katie Stelmanis, Pride Toronto and the politics of outsidership Issue 670, June 30, 2010

XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 43



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31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Target’s anti-gay politics coming to Canada US retailer that repeatedly funded homophobes wants your business Issue 685, Jan 27, 2011

To take or not to take PrEP A pill seems a small price to pay



COME OVER TO Despite my fear of the stigma, I’d concluded that I’d been safe for years and it seemed to be working. N MAXWELL LANDER

I hate being pitied. “I’m single,” I told my doctor. “The thing that worries me most is the stigma, especially since I’m single.” To my surprise that’s all I had to say. He backed off and actually sympathized with me, defending my situation. I got the prescription right away. A few weeks later when I returned to his office to review the results of the blood test required for the medication, I had had a change of heart. Despite my fear of the stigma, I’d concluded that I’d been safe for years and it seemed to be working. Why add a new drug to my body that could potentially cause complications? This time my doctor was the one insisting that it was a good choice for me. “A fair

To me, it felt that being positive would jeopardize the thing I value most in life: the opportunity to connect with people without fear of discrimination. Is that even possible? And can you get it from swallowing cum? What if you have a canker? Is low risk really just no risk, but rather a doctor creating a fear to avoid liability? What is the damn truth? Then I’d start thinking about my family and what they’d think. Would I even tell them? Probably not. They had a tough enough time with my sexuality. Would people discriminate against me at work? What friends would I tell? Would they just feel sorry for me?

percentage of gay men in Toronto are positive,” he explained. “If the medication is covered by your benefits, there’s no harm in taking it.” At the play party several days later, I wonder about the status of the two guys I’m with, but it’s not the sort of place where you ask people. And it really doesn’t matter; over the years I’ve learned to be safe, regardless, and treat everyone like he’s positive. The boy with the spiky hair disap-

Beyond Grindr A comprehensive guide to gay hook-up apps Issue 719, May 17, 2012

pears after coming, so the man with the beard and I start talking. He tells me his name is James; he is a banker from Toronto and he lived in Barcelona for a few years. I tell him that I lived there, too, and we start naming the neighbourhoods we lived in and our impressions of the city and its people. I can tell that he is a pervert just like me and wonder whether he is finding the journey as lonely as I am. During our conversation we kiss a little more, then he asks if I want to go home with him. Of course I do. As we are about to grab our jackets, he confesses that he is HIV-positive but undetectable. “Do you still want to come back with me?” he asks. In all honesty, I am reluctant. I haven’t started PrEP yet, so it won’t protect me. But protect me from what? I am always safe anyway and he is undetectable. What does this drug really do? “Yes, I do,” I say. “Really?” He seems surprised. I don’t ask, but on the walk to his place he says that he isn’t sure how he got the virus and describes the entire thing, jokingly, as a “murder mystery.” I laugh and follow him. Perhaps the sexual revolution has already started but we’re too blind to see. Hole & Corner is a first-person look at public sex and the people who enjoy it. It appears every Wednesday on the Ideas page of, where you can also read Part 1 of “To Take or Not To Take PrEP.”

Bigger Presence. Stronger Voice.


My doctor had been against me taking the drug because of how serious the side effects can be. He asked why I’d want to take a pill to remain negative just so I wouldn’t need to take a pill if I became positive. “It’s a pill for a pill,” he said. PrEP doesn’t offer full protection against HIV, so in actuality, the fantasy I had of becoming the city’s most notorious cum-hungry bottom wasn’t feasible. So if PrEP isn’t the start of some sexual revolution, what are the benefits? With HIV, one can still live a long happy life, have great sex and, with an undetectable viral load, not pass it on to others. So is it all just the stigma? To me, it felt that being positive would jeopardize the thing I value most in life: the opportunity to connect with people without fear of discrimination. I’d heard stories from positive friends who’d been rejected by one guy after another simply because of their status, all out of ignorance. Taking a pill seemed like a small price to pay to avoid such things. Whenever I’d get tested, no matter how safe I’d been, I’d play games of “What if?” What if I was so drunk I forgot to put on a condom, what if that weird guy who I should never have slept with slipped the condom off when I wasn’t looking, and what if I’m that one person who gets HIV through oral sex?

XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 45

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31 YEARS OF HEADLINES Wynne to reintroduce sex-ed New Ontario premier says she’s proud to be a role model, but ‘I’m not a gay activist’ Issue 738, Feb 7, 2013

Yes Yes Y’all Five years of dance-party diversity Issue 765, Feb 20, 2014

XTRA! FEB 19–MARCH 4, 2015 47

Xtra Toronto #791  

Feb 19–March 4

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