DINING OUT Ottawa’s hottest patio spots › 15 OTTAWA’S GAY & LESBIAN NEWS
EASY WRITER Daniel Allen Cox merges sex and text › 19
#242 APRIL 12, 2012
GUIDEMAGEC.CTOIOMN TRAVntErLeaSl restos, Mo erlin Vienna,oBre &m
GAME CHANGER Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke takes on homophobia in sports ›10
COMMENT 4 XCETERA 5 NEWS 7 OUT IN THE CITY 17 XPOSED 23
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Move over, drag divas â€” Ottawaâ€™s newest drag troupe is ruled by men. Xtra chats with the Capital Kings, a group of drag kings who have taken Sunday nights by storm.
Sex work Sex-work activists and experts have expressed disappointment at the Ontario Court of Appealâ€™s recent ruling on sex work in the province. Xtra looks at how the decision will affect the most vulnerable sex workers. â€ş 7
Brian Burke In an exclusive interview with Xtraâ€™s Andrea Houston, Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke talks about the death of his gay son Brendan, homophobia in sport and the You Can Play campaign heâ€™s started with his son Patrick. â€ş 10
OUT IN THE CITY
The Lebanese Dishwasher Ottawa writer Sonia Saikaleyâ€™s award-winning novella, The Lebanese Dishwasher, explores the life and struggles of a gay Middle Eastern immigrant to Canada. â€ş 18
Daniel Allen Cox The Montreal writer and former sex worker and pornstarâ€™s latest novel follows the life of a 40-yearold Los Angeles actor who becomes paranoid after losing a role to a younger man. Xtra sat down with Cox in Montreal to chat about what he calls his â€œmost mainstreamâ€?Â book. â€ş 19 COVER PHOTO BY STEVEN PAYNE
Beaver Tales Writer Sanita Fejzic is Xtraâ€™s new Ottawa community blogger. Follow Sanita on Twitter @ottawabeaver and check out Beaver Tales. â€ş xtra.ca
You Can Play Vancouver Canucks stars Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler say gay players would be welcome in their locker room. Check out our video on â€ş xtra.ca/vancouver.
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Editorial â€ş4 LISTINGS
Art & photography â€ş18 Health & issues â€ş20 Film & video â€ş21, 22 Leisure & pleasure â€ş22 Print & performance â€ş22
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Comment Inside the locker room Guest Editorial Dave Bossmin
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PLAY ON TWO HOCKEY TEAMS. Members on one team know I’m gay. Members on the other do not. The players on the straight team are of high calibre. I count some of them amongst my closest friends. None has ever given me the impression they would reject me if they found out I am gay. And yet I cannot be sure of that unless I tell them. Before and after each of our games, I sit in the locker room listening to their stories — stories of partners and children and women they are dating. I don’t contribute to these stories. I don’t feel secure doing so. As I have felt a distance growing between these teammates and myself, I thought it might be easier to walk away from them, and the team entirely, rather than risk rejection. But I love hockey. So before giving it up for good, last fall I decided to check out Ottawa’s gay hockey club to see if it could replace what I felt was missing on the straight team. This wasn’t an easy step. Even as a gay man I had reservations about walking into a gay locker room. I felt anxiety, perhaps even fear, of what I would ﬁnd on the other side of the door. I asked a friend whether that trepidation was rooted in homophobia. He countered, suggesting I hadn’t been fearful of homosexuals, rather I had been fearful of a possible truth: that what I thought could happen in a gay locker room actually did and that the negative stigma toward homosexuals in sport was well-founded and would thus be directed at me. Guilty by association. So let me tell you what I found on the other side of that locker-room door. There were no Speedos or pink boas. Nor were there towels being slapped at exposed body parts. Instead there was just a group of guys lacing skates, taping hockey sticks and telling stories. Fun stories and serious stories — of partners, children and men they were dating. The same stuff straight locker rooms are made of. Game on. Now, after a full season of play with this club, I can honestly say
I am happy it turned out to be great hockey with great people, in a locker room where I can share stories about my life without fear of rejection. However, the original question remains: are my concerns about being openly gay in a straight locker room valid? A recent locker-room experience after a gay hockey league game helped me answer this question. A league official entered while our team was getting cleaned up. His first comment was, “Whoa! Lots of naked guys in here! Too much all at once!” After some additional awkwardness, he concluded, “The good news, though, is that I’m not gay. The bad news is at least one of you might be.” There you have it. Homophobia exists, the stigma is real and the challenges are there. We can speak all we want about how far we’ve come, but the reality is that some attitudes remain an impediment. It is for this reason that the launch of the You Can Play project should be applauded. Its goal — to eliminate homophobia in sport — is a difficult one. Coming out in the locker room is not an easy mountain for any gay person to climb, and the campaign does not provide instructions on how to do this, nor should we expect it to. It is, therefore, unrealistic to expect this campaign will give a gay professional hockey player (or this amateur one) the courage to share that side. Instead, the campaign should be seen as a small but valuable step toward the overall solution, nudging us all in a more positive direction. I’m beginning to believe the day may come when I introduce myself to my straight team for a second time. I will tell them I’m gay because I understand what makes hockey teams great is not the hockey but the camaraderie, friendship and trust that exists amongst its players. And when it happens, hopefully I will discover that having at least one gay player in the locker room isn’t such bad news after all. Dave Bossmin plays for the OG Capitals gay hockey team. For more information, visit ogcapitals.ca.
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INBOX Gay in the army YES, THE CHARTER OF Rights and Freedoms allows gays to participate in the military [“Gay in the Army,” Xtra #241, March 15], but you can’t go running to the judge every time a slur or violation occurs as a result of being gay in the military. The military depends on bureaucratic indifference to bog down accusations of homophobic treatment and keep gays from seeking legal redress concerning employment grievances. As a civilian male employee at DND in Ottawa, I can assure you that gays are no more accepted today than they were in 1991. I always cringe when I see misguided soldiers (if that’s who they are) on the ﬂoats at Pride presenting the military as a viable career choice. I have witnessed Canadian and American soldiers probe suspected gays to out them. The Canadian military still despises three groups: gays, blacks and Asians. Potential gay candidates should be advised that posttraumatic stress disorder is rampant in the Forces and most soldiers cannot ever integrate back into civilian jobs afterward. Most will only be security guards chasing kids around the mall. Bryan Charlebois Toronto, ON
Real Women of Canada THE LATE QUEEN MUM loved the gays who worked in her residence and had a goodhumoured rapport with them. Likely her daughter, the current queen, may be similar. While she seems formal, she is not without social grace, as I saw by her formal visit to Ireland and her good effort to speak a few words of Irish, which I could immediately understand. Her pronunciation was precise and clear. She wanted to promote friendship between the people of Ireland and the UK. So, I am hopeful that her general good nature extends also to gay people of anywhere (in this case Canada) and that if she caught wind of this antigay discrimination she would not approve. I am sure that the Harper government would likely make sure she will be protected and isolated from knowing of these potentially embarrassing implications. Morgan Hoover Halifax, NS
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No, it’s not just a lame joke from Glee anymore: scientists have conﬁrmed that male dolphins really do engage in homosexual behaviour, and they can get pretty kinky about it. The study observed more than 120 male dolphins partaking in “very intense” gay relationships, making dolphins the ﬁrst animal other than humans to get into BDSM. In related news, Grindr has announced a new gay cruising app for dolphins, called Flippr.
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No discount for lesbian family Two Pennsylvania lesbians are calling out a sports club in their town after they were denied a family discount. Despite the fact the women are in a committed relationship and raising a ﬁve-year-old daughter, staﬀ at the club refused to see them as a family, saying the discriminatory decision was based on “economics” rather than politics. So the bitterly married straight couple with the bratty kids? A-okay. But lesbians? Not so much, apparently. PABLOVEYRAT.COM
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Military academy hosts Condom Olympics With the demise of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the States, students at Norwich University, one of the world’s oldest military academies, are honouring their newfound sexual freedom by organizing the Condom Olympics, wherein men and women in uniform compete to win condoms while celebrating gay pride. So far, the games are a huge success, with morale on the rise and STD rates plummeting.
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I THINK THE FIRST ATHLETE THAT COMES OUT WILL HAVE A MUCH EASIER TIME THAN HE THINKS. Brian Burke › 10
Sex workers deserve dignity and respect Guest Column Lindsay Blewett
S A SEX WORKER I waited in excitement and fear early March 26 to hear the news of the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision regarding Canada’s prostitution laws. When it was revealed that the court had upheld the communication provision, while striking down the bawdyhouse law (following a 12-month stay) and modifying the living-offthe-avails provision (which comes into effect in a month), I felt totally deﬂated. I am a sex worker with a great deal of privilege, something I acknowledge and try to use to help those with less privilege. The court’s decision to uphold the communicating provision means the most vulnerable sex workers are still criminalized; in effect, they are the only sex workers currently criminalized. I am not ﬁghting for some sex workers’ rights; I am ﬁghting for all sex workers’ rights, but especially those who are most at risk under the law. There is currently a predator in Ottawa targeting streetbased workers, as former Ottawa police chief Vern White attested when he warned street-based workers at Minwaashin Lodge, a centre for aboriginal women who have experienced abuse, in early December of last year. Despite impassioned pleas from various community organizations asking police to stop the street sweeps that target these vulnerable women, Ottawa Police Service refused. Now, with the communication law upheld, police are free to continue to harass, abuse and arrest the most marginalized sex workers. This law was upheld by a vote of three to two. The judges supporting the communication law proposed that since the bawdyhouse law was now repealed, outdoor workers would be free to move indoors. This faulty logic assumes that street-based workers will have a) the resources to do so and b) the desire to move indoors. It is ridiculous to deduce that street-based
workers will be able to afford homes or places to work from. I ﬁnd it strange that workers who quietly ply their trade on the street are considered a nuisance but the many students lining the streets trying to get passersby to donate to Greenpeace, Amnesty International, the Red Cross or many other organizations are not, despite the fact that they solicit pedestrians. The communicating law is also redundant. There are already laws in place to deal with noise, public disturbance and other alleged social nuisances. If police or government have a problem with street-based sex workers, they should address it by providing better social services, which government has instead been slashing. Eliminating one of the few avenues these sex workers have
IF POLICE OR GOVERNMENT HAVE A PROBLEM WITH STREETBASED SEX WORKERS, THEY SHOULD ADDRESS IT BY PROVIDING BETTER SOCIAL SERVICES, WHICH GOVERNMENT HAS INSTEAD BEEN SLASHING. to survive is not the solution. The government must stop cutting funding to community organizations that work with the most marginalized people. Furthermore, in all of these discussions surrounding community well-being it is assumed that sex workers are outside of the community, that we are a nuisance to be curbed. I’ve got news for you: we are part of the community already and we’re not going anywhere. Was the Court of Appeal’s decision a step in the right direction? Absolutely. But we’ve got a long way to go before sex workers are recognized as persons with dignity and respect whose work is considered legitimate and important by all. Lindsay Blewett is an Ottawabased sex worker.
Nikki Thomas, of Sex Professionals of Canada, stands with litigants Terri-Jean Bedford and Valerie Scott on March 26. ANDREA HOUSTON
Sex-work ruling flawed: activists Judges retain indecency clause used to target bathhouses Luna Allison WH I L E T H E ON TAR IO COU RT OF Appeal’s March 26 decision to legalize brothels is a landmark ruling that will make life safer for many sex workers, it does little to support those who still work on the streets, say sex-work advocates. The ruling also failed to remove the indecency clause, a provision of the bawdyhouse law that has historically been used to target gay men in bathhouses. Five judges ruled on the appeal of a September 2010 Ontario Superior Court decision by Justice Susan Himel, which struck down three Criminal Code provisions related to sex work. While Ontario’s highest court agreed with Himel on two provisions, striking down the bawdyhouse law as it relates to sex work and modifying a law that makes it illegal to live off the avails of sex work, three of the ﬁve judges chose to uphold a law that governs communication for the purposes of prostitution. “I do worry about my street colleagues,” commented Valerie Scott, one of three litigants in the case, at a press conference following the decision. “What are they going to do? We have to ﬁgure out something to make these women and men safe.” However, she calls the overall decision a huge victory. “I would like to thank the Ontario Court of Appeal justices for pretty much
declaring sex workers persons today,” said Scott, who has been ﬁghting for the rights of sex workers since the early 1980s. “I didn’t think I would see it in my lifetime, but here we are.” The court’s overturning of the bawdyhouse law will make it possible to operate indoor sex-work businesses. Meanwhile,
THIS MEANS THAT THE TYPE OF MAJOR POLICING AND THE SWEEPS OF SEX WORKERS WILL CONTINUE TO EXIST. — Gary Kinsman, Laurentian University professor the modiﬁcation of the law concerning living off the avails of prostitution makes it possible to hire employees — including drivers, receptionists and bodyguards — without legal consequences or threat of interference from police. “The government lost their appeal,” says Terri-Jean Bedford, another litigant. “The laws are changing, and the authorities are now engaged.”
The decision, which is binding in all regions of Ontario, will likely be used as a precedent for other provinces and territories in order to work toward the decriminalization of sex work. Both sides will be allowed to appeal as the court stayed its judgment for 30 days. Alan Young, who acted as counsel on the case, has indicated that the group will most likely not appeal the decision unless the government does. Meanwhile, Maggie’s, a Toronto-based advocacy group organized by and for sex workers, released a statement calling the ruling a letdown. “The anti-prostitution laws work together to jeopardize sex workers’ safety. It is not tenable to have a safe place to see a client if you can’t screen him ﬁrst or clearly set out what you offer, your rates and your safe-sex requirements,” says Kara Gillies, a long-time sex worker and activist for legal reform. “Further, many street-based workers don’t have access to an indoor place to work.” Laurentian University professor Gary Kinsman agrees, noting that while the legislation is a step forward for those working in private spaces, it makes life even harder for street sex workers. “For the bottom rungs of sex workers . . . indigenous women and nonwhite women, this means that
on the web For more on this story, search xtra.ca using the following article title: Police warn sex workers about pattern of homicides.
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Nowhere to hide
who’s in need of victim services, and we have a heterosexist assumption of who’s in need of services,” Goodwin says. The Nanaimo Men’s Resource Centre is the closest British Columbia comes to providing a shelter for abused men, financing short guesthouse stays for men escaping domestic violence, says the centre’s Theo Boere. “I have spent a lot of time over the last 10 years lobbying the provincial government for funding to either increase the programs or create a shelter, and I’ve gotten absolutely nowhere,” Boere says, adding that programming has been cut in half due to lack of funding. “There’s no political appetite for funding that.” The situation is similar in Ottawa, with The Men’s Project receiving less provincial funding this year than it has in the past. “Funding tends to be more projectsbased, so there’s not a lot of sustainable funding that exists,” says one source at a local organization that tackles violence against women. With most funds in the sector granted in two- or three-year increments, it’s more difficult to obtain funding for long-term projects, such as domesticviolence shelters, she says. The services that manage to tough it out are valuable, especially to survivors like Smith. Six years ago, he ﬁnally came out to his partner about his abuse. “After that night, I spent a year attending group therapy at The Men’s Project, and I will forever be in their debt,” he says. “It is amazing being a survivor, because for a long while, I almost didn’t. Finally getting support not only saved my life, but made me want to live it. I love every minute of every day now, and I love myself.”
Men fleeing abuse have few places to turn Andi Schwartz FOR MORE THAN THREE YEARS, JOHN Smith’s stepbrother sexually assaulted him on a weekly basis. He didn’t tell anyone because, even at the age of seven, he knew it would break up his family and lead to ﬁnancial crisis for his mother. “This is what masculinity does. It told me that I did not matter; what mattered was that I could protect my mother,” says Smith, whose real name has not been used in order to protect his identity. “I was a man. I wasn’t supposed to hurt.” Smith eventually went to live with his father and spent years using drugs and alcohol to escape constant night terrors. He struggled with his sexuality for years and attempted suicide twice. “I was abused by the one person that was supposed to teach me how to ride a bike and play basketball; instead, he stole my childhood and caused me to grow up with so much hate for myself,” he says. According to Rick Goodwin, of The Men’s Project, one in six men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and 80 percent of abuse occurs before the age of 18. Despite this, only 16 percent of male victims will admit to experiencing abuse.
Many factors keep men quiet, Goodwin says. Two basic tenets of masculinity are strength and control over one’s sexual experiences, so it’s often assumed either that men cannot be victimized or that being abused dimishes a man’s masculinity. Homophobia also plays a role in men’s silence, says Ron Couchman, an Ottawa activist and support worker. Since 80 percent of men are sexually abused by other men, the victim fears his sexuality will be questioned if he speaks about his experience. While there are programs in Ottawa that seek to combat these myths and break the si- Rick Goodwin, executive director of The Men’s Project, says one in six men are abused lence around violence against in their lifetime. ANDI SCHWARTZ men and boys, they are generally underfunded and operating at capacity. had experienced some kind of spousal groups have been organizing around When it comes to domestic violence, abuse in the previous ﬁve years, com- since the 1970s. “This is almost always some agencies offer support for men, pared with seven percent of women. used by men against women, which is but those ﬂeeing violent partners won’t That translates to an estimated 653,000 why there is a network of shelters for ﬁnd shelter in the city. “I don’t believe women and 546,000 men. women but not men,” he says. there’s a bed in Ontario for a man who’s Holmes says that when looking at Some research suggests rates of dobeen abused,” Goodwin says. statistics, it is important to be aware mestic violence are higher in gay relaIt isn’t lack of need that stands in the of the type of violence being recorded. tionships, but most services are still way of providing services for abused Coercive controlling violence, a pattern focused on heterosexual experiences, men, gay or straight. In 2004, Statistics of violence used to exert power and con- experts say. Canada found that six percent of men trol in relationships, is what women’s “We have a sexist presumption around
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Bowl-a-thon record breaker PARTICIPANTS AT THE TEN OAKS Bowl-A-Thon March 31 raised a record-breaking $60,000 for the organization â€” $15,000 more than the fundraising goal and $15,000 more than the previous record. As they prepared for the eighth annual fundraiser, team members at Ten Oaks announced the organization will welcome a new camp director this year. Marcus Logan, who joined the Ten Oaks team last year as assistant director of operations, will head up the 2012 edition of Camp Ten Oaks. The camp is dedicated to engaging and connecting kids from queer and trans communities through activities rooted in play, and the campâ€™s director focuses on putting that into practice. Logan, the director of the Positive Space Network of Halton, has 12 yearsâ€™ experience leading, organizing and working with queer and trans communities. As the father of two children, including one Ten Oaks camper, he plans to bring fun, socialjustice-oriented programming to the fore, along with some operational changes. Sustainability is an important part of the Ten Oaks model, especially when it comes to ensuring accessibility and continuation of its year-round programming. The group achieves this goal, in part, through fundraisers like the bowl-a-thon. â€”Luna Allison
Ottawa hosts Rainbow Health conference SEX GEEK ANDREA ZANIN RECENTLY found a benign cyst on her kidney, but she didnâ€™t know who to ask about whether she can still wear a corset or if this will affect it. She guesses most doctors would say itâ€™s probably not a good idea, but most doctors also wouldnâ€™t understand how important wearing a corset is to some people. Hers is only one of many possible concerns people in the kink community may have about how to reduce risk in their sex lives and where to get accurate, non-judgmental information. Zanin addressed some of these issues alongside kink-friendly doctor Erin Sandilands in a seminar at the Rainbow Health Ontario queer health conference, held in Ottawa
from March 20 to 23. Their seminar was one of dozens the conference offered, all sharing essential health information and new research tailored to the queer community. Approximately 300 people, including doctors and nurses, attended, says Donna Turner, the communications coordinator for Rainbow Health Ontario. It is the only conference of its kind in Canada. â€œThere are health disparities in LGBTQ communities, and as much as we have the same health needs as other folks, there are some things that are different for us,â€? Turner says, noting that rates of anxiety, depression, suicide and even smoking are higher among queer people. â€” Andi Schwartz
Saint Paulâ€™s to screen Loveâ€™s Journey SAINT PAUL UNIVERSITY WILL TAKE a close look at the idea of love and the complications it brings to human relationships at a screening of Loveâ€™s Journey, a documentary by Rick Bechard that tackles passion, sex, sexuality and spirituality. The ďŹ lmâ€™s â€œbasic intent is to provide viewers with another way of understanding our relationships,â€? Bechard says. â€œThe documentary, be it good or bad, demonstrates that the event most people call love is really nothing more than meeting our ego needs. Yet, we call it love.â€? As a gay man who lived through the 1970s, Bechard says he faced a number of challenges that inďŹ‚uenced the ďŹ lm. â€œWe all struggle for self-esteem, and to have messages of hatred and prejudice permeate the world was not helpful. But as I look back, I see how being gay turned out to be a very important tool for me. It put me in the position where I had no choice but to look and to understand.â€? Bechard says he used to believe straight people had a monopoly on love and normal relationships. Loveâ€™s Journey includes interviews with renowned psychotherapist Kenneth Wapnick and Montreal therapist Mylene Dâ€™Astous. It will be screened Saturday, April 28 at 2pm in the Saint Paul University amphitheatre. For more information, visit lovesjourney.us. â€” Sarah Hoy
Proud senior citizens More services available for older members of gay community Luna Allison AS THE FIRST â€œOUTâ€? GENERATION in Ottawa begins to reach retirement age, there is an increasingly urgent need to build community and develop resources for older members of the cityâ€™s gay community. â€œPeople donâ€™t need to go back into the closet in their senior years and die like that,â€? says Marie Robertson, 60, who has been an Ottawa Senior Pride Network (OSPN) volunteer since 2008 and, in 2011, became the groupâ€™s community development coordinator. â€œThe work that we need to do in residential care facilities and services for seniors, we canâ€™t wait until weâ€™re 70. We need to change things now.â€? Robertson says the ďŹ rst step in improving end-of-life care for Ottawaâ€™s queer population lies in expanding an initiative of the Good Companions seniorsâ€™ centre called Seniors Helping Seniors. As of just this month, gay seniors now have more options for volunteer care and support. â€œNow people can call and say, â€˜I want a friendly visitor, and Iâ€™d like a lesbian please,â€™â€? says Robertson. â€œSome people donâ€™t ask for help . . . because there have been some bad things happen where visitors werenâ€™t trained and were freaked out by the fact that, say, an old guy was a gay man.â€? So far 11 OSPN volunteers have been
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trained and four are already volunteering, doing daily assurance phone calls, visiting with isolated gay seniors, acting as helpers in peopleâ€™s homes or supporting them in their day-to-day activities. Countless other OSPN initiatives have also come to fruition in the last two years, including a twicemonthly bar night called Seniorsâ€™ Night Out, selfdefence classes, a series of educational workshops Members of OSPN march in Ottawaâ€™s Pride parade. and a new event called the Vintage Queers Dance, taking place play in the reception area to ensure at, and raising funds for, the Good everyone knows the centre is intended to be a queer-positive space. Companions. â€œIf youâ€™re an older person, the bar scene isnâ€™t necessarily for you â€” you For more info, go to ospn-rfao.ca. really feel out of place, says John Richardson, a volunteer with OSPN and the deets a frequenter of Seniorsâ€™ Night Out events. â€œYou might see your children OSPNâ€™S there, or maybe even your grandchilUPCOMING EVENTS: dren. This is specifically a seniorVintage Queers Dance Sat, May 12, 8pm oriented event with music of the â€™60s, Good Companions â€™70s and â€™80s. It will hopefully bring 670 Albert St people out who may have been a bit isolated or havenâ€™t been out to bars or Seniorsâ€™ Night Out other establishments for a while.â€? First and third Wednesday of each For its part, Good Companions has month, 7:30pm been receptive to queer programming Burgers on Main 343 Somerset St W ideas and even has a pride ďŹ‚ag on dis-
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XTRA! APRIL 12, 2012
BRIAN BURKE IS SPORT
ONSIDE The president and general manager of one of the most popular teams in the National Hockey League is an unlikely activist by Andrea Houston
EFORE HIS YOUNGEST son came out in December 2007, Toronto Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke didn’t know a single gay person. That was about to change. The following summer, Brian and Brendan attended the Toronto Pride parade together. The famous father and son were just two faces among thousands of revellers in the crowd: cheering, laughing and watching the rainbow-decorated floats pass by. Like other dads, Burke worried he would embarrass his son. “I asked him, ‘Who is more embarrassed here? The GM of the Leafs or a kid at the Pride parade with his dad?’” he recalls. “He said, ‘Dad, are you kidding? I’m more embarrassed.’” The experience left an indelible impression on Burke and helped cement a bond with his son that would shape the next four years of his life. Publicly, Brendan was still living with a secret. With the support of his family, he made the decision in 2009 to come out to the world. While the act of coming out, especially under such unwelcoming pressures, was itself an act of rebellion, he went even further, proudly and naturally stepping into the role of advocate for gays in sport. Burke was behind his son every step of the way, appearing on ESPN and challenging anyone who dared contest Brendan’s declaration. Then, in 2010, the unthinkable happened. Just two years after Brendan came out privately to his family, Burke lived through every parent’s worst nightmare. Brendan, just 21, was killed in a car accident in Indiana. Burke’s journey since then is the tale of a man who now desperately wants to make his gay son proud. Brendan did not die in vain and Burke is making sure of that. Brendan, a former goalie for the Miami (Ohio) University hockey team, is now widely credited as the highest-proﬁle player connected to the NHL ever to kick
the locker-room door wide open, forcing professional hockey to address its deeply ingrained homophobic culture. To honour Brendan’s memory, Burke and his eldest son, Patrick, a scout for the Philadelphia Flyers, now carry on that legacy. Patrick recently founded the You Can Play project and produced a moving video featuring NHL stars. The message is a simple one: it doesn’t matter who you fall in love with. When a player steps onto the ice, it matters only how they skate, how they shoot, how they score. If you can play, you can play. Period. Burke and Patrick say it’s only a matter of time before the first gay NHL player comes out. “I think the first athlete that comes out will have a much easier time than he thinks,” Burke says. “The young generation gets it. It’s my generation that has to change their thinking.”
Over the last two months, I had met Brian at two public appearances: a Toronto PFLAG awards ceremony and a Canadian Safe School Network luncheon. He
calls me “kiddo” and is always happy to speak with Xtra. But trying to get Brian Burke one-on-one was challenging. He is a busy man. However, true to his word, after eventually agreeing to an interview, Burke came through, and I had the chance to sit down with him at his Air Canada Centre office. The week I met him, Burke and his son Patrick were all over the media launching You Can Play. Burke was also in the news for other reasons. The day of our interview, Don Cherry was calling for Burke’s resignation in the Toronto Sun. The two were engaging in a very public war of words about former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson and whether there are too few Ontario players on the team. Another interview with Newstalk 1010’s John Moore ended abruptly when the tough-talking GM hung up the phone following an unexpected question: Moore asked about speculation that Burke might be ﬁred after failing to get the Leafs into the playoffs. But unlike Moore, I wasn’t going to ask Burke many questions about the playoffs. Our interview ended differently when, standing in the locker room, the sour smell of sweaty hockey socks lingering in the air,
A FAMILY TORN APART The Burke siblings, Patrick, Brendan, Molly and Katie. Brendan was killed in a car accident in 2010. COURTESY OF PATRICK BURKE
Burke leaned in and gave me a big hug. Beneath his rough exterior, I felt a softness, something he rarely shows publicly — and never at a hockey rink. Burke is gruff — he calls himself a “big Harley-riding, sports-playing, tobaccochewing tough guy.” But underneath is a warm intensity. The graduate of Harvard Law School is humble and chooses his words carefully, pausing when tears well in his eyes. He softens when he speaks about his children, especially Brendan, who Burke nicknamed “Moose.” “Brendan was a big kid, six foot four, and a good athlete. Patrick has an edge to him, more like his dad,” Burke says. “But Brendan was a sweet kid. Not a judgmental bone in his body. No temper.” Burke is an unlikely activist, but it’s a title he now wears with pride. PFLAG Toronto’s Irene Miller remembers the day Burke asked her for an application form. Miller, who did not know Brendan personally but had followed his story, says Burke’s message is incredibly powerful, mostly because he doesn’t really consider his work activism; it’s just what every parent should do. “Brendan was someone special, and that’s a testament to Brian,” she says. “He is a loud and wonderful voice that is spreading such a positive message. The sports world is one of the last bastions of society where it’s okay to be homophobic. Brian is saying, No, it is not. It’s not accepted.” Influenced by Burke and his sons, an “all-star team” of straight-ally players is also advocating this message. The You Can Play campaign includes players such as the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Rick Nash and the Maple Leafs’ Dion Phaneuf. Homophobic locker-room bullies, beware. Burke applauds the players and hopes more follow suit. “This is not a popular cause. You can get anyone to march for breast cancer. You can get anyone to march to save baby seals or to fund the United Way. There are all kinds of popular, sexy charities. The gay community hasn’t had that kind of support. I think this is important and that’s why I support it.”
LONELY PIONEER Brian Burke and his son Patrick recently launched the You Can Play project, which combats homophobia in sports. STEVE PAYNE
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XTRA! APRIL 12, 2012
WHEN HE CAME OUT, I SAID TO BRENDAN THAT NIGHT THAT IT CHANGES NOTHING. SO I WAS ESPECIALLY PROUD I DIDN’T HAVE TO TAKE ANYTHING BACK.
While most have heard the story of Brendan’s death, not many know how deeply it affected the Burke family. The father-son relationship, which was on the threshold of a newer, stronger bond, was suddenly ripped apart. As he recalls those difficult days, Burke hunches with his elbows resting on his knees, his tie casually draped around his neck, as if he’s too busy to bother tying it up. He struggles when it comes to discussing his son. “I can’t talk publicly about Brendan too much yet, but I’ll do the best I can,” he says, looking down. The pain is still fresh, and probably always will be. When he speaks about Brendan a wistful sadness washes over his face that forces him to look down at his feet. Burke describes Brendan as gentle, outgoing, cheerful and patient — “nothing like me.” Magnetic and handsome, talented and smart, Brendan was a great hockey player who Burke says probably would have gone into politics. “He wanted to make the world a better place.” That’s a mission Burke now carries on. He is beloved by his team and has their support in his advocacy work, but, in speaking to players, the enormous mountain Burke has set out to climb becomes clear. The willingness to accept a gay player is overshadowed by a hesitation to discuss sexuality, a topic still very much off-limits in the locker room. “As far as athletes are concerned, everyone has their own thing, their own belief. Some choose to keep it personal,” says Leafs’ alternate captain Mike Komisarek. While Komisarek’s heart may be in the right place, his conviction that being gay is a belief illustrates the difficulty of Burke’s task and the battle his son would have faced if he’d lived. But that’s a battle Burke is prepared to ﬁght. Leafs’ defenceman John-Michael Liles admits that the ﬁrst gay NHLer will face enormous challenges, both on and off the ice. “I think it could be tough. You never know. There are a lot of people in sports that have opinions and some aren’t very welcoming, and that’s not just players.” When Brendan was young, Burke says, he was taught to respect all people. “There was no racial humour tolerated, no homophobic jokes. There were no religious judgments that some kids had to deal with — parents telling them they are going straight to hell. So there was no big adjustment for me. When he came out, I said to Brendan that night that it changes nothing. So I was especially proud I didn’t have to take anything back.”
Two years after coming out to his dad, Brendan, who was a manager of the Miami University hockey team, revealed his sexuality to his team. Coach Enrico Blasi supported him, telling ESPN at the time that having Brendan as part of the team was a blessing. Burke doesn’t conceal his anger when he remembers the advice he felt he had to give Brendan when he came out. “It took a lot of courage,” Burke says. “I told him, ‘For the next couple months, you have to be careful; keep your head on a swivel . . . I don’t want any Matthew Shepard story here.’ That’s the sickest part of this entire story — I had to give him that advice. That’s the advice a father has to give a gay son. That’s pathetic.” Burke just wanted to keep his son safe. “The pioneer is usually a lonely guy,” he says. While Brendan received immediate acceptance from his father, that’s not the case in all families. “I get these gut-wrenching letters from parents asking me how to deal with their kid’s sexuality. I also get heart-wrenching letters from kids. It’s very upsetting,” he says. He recalls one letter from a fellow hockey dad. In it, the father described driving with his son, who suddenly asked his dad to pull the car over. The son took a deep breath and
came out. “The father turned to his son and said, ‘If it’s good enough for Brian Burke, it’s good enough for me.’” Patrick hears them, too: tough stories of kids kicked off sports teams, kicked out of homes. Some contemplate suicide. It’s rapidly improving, but not fast enough. Even one story is too many. “We are losing young athletes; some because we scare them off with homophobic slurs, some because they never get into sports in the ﬁrst place,” he says. Patrick says the You Can Play project is actually fighting both a reality and a stereotype. The reality is that homophobia has become deeply embedded in the hockey culture. It’s how players bond. Many don’t even realize what they’re saying is offensive: “fag,” “homo,” “sissy.” The stereotype is that players don’t care. “Many people think athletes are these big meatheads who walk around beating people up, never thinking twice. So we are battling that as well. Over the years, straight athletes have been conditioned to think they should not support gay rights. We need to give them a means to support gay players. The vast majority of them do,” Patrick says. The education starts with the hockey parents, he says. The cycle can end in the home. How parents raise their sons will be where the culture of homophobia will ﬁnally be broken.
Burke maintains he would have become involved in the cause even if Brendan hadn’t died. In 2011, the year after Brendan’s accident, Burke was back at the Toronto Pride parade, this time marching with PFLAG. He even tried unsuccessfully to convince Mayor Rob Ford to join him. At his side were Rick Mercer and numerous fellow parents and family members. It was a moving experience, he says. In January, Burke was honoured with the Ally Award from PFLAG Toronto. A man of few words, he choked back tears on stage and muttered, “I’m honoured,” softly into the microphone, before stepping away. PFLAG’s Miller applauds Burke because he is helping young gay athletes feel validated. She hopes that a young athlete in some small Canadian town, who sees Burke standing up to homophobic bullies, may decide to follow his dream into sports. He may come out sooner. He may decide not to commit suicide. “For Brian Burke to be on the cover of Xtra is huge,” Miller says. “That 15- or 16-year-old kid who is questioning and wondering who his role models are, seeing Brian on Xtra tells him he will be okay. “It will also shake up the rest of the sports world. It says he doesn’t give a damn what people think. He only gives a damn about changing pro sports.” Since the release of the You Can Play video, more and more NHL stars are adding their voices to a growing chorus of players pushing to end homophobia in hockey. Patrick predicts the NHL will see its ﬁrst openly gay athlete in the next two years. “We have hit the tipping point here. We are getting closer and closer to that moment.” When the day comes and a player enters his office to come out, Burke knows just what he will say. “I never had a chance to rehearse this the ﬁrst time for my son, but I’ll get it right the second time,” he says. “I’ll just say, ‘Welcome aboard.’”
on the web Watch our video interviews with Leafs players Luke Schenn, Mike Komisarek and John-Michael Liles, and Vancouver Canucks players Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler › xtra.ca Check out the You Can Play campaign › youcanplayproject.org
Ottawa’s gay & lesbian news
XTRA! APRIL 12, 2012
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› 7 Sex-work ruling the type of major policing and the sweeps of sex workers will continue to exist,” he says. “It is a very incomplete decision.” Kinsman also worries about the continued criminalization of communication surrounding sex work. “There is more vulnerability for sex workers,” he says. “You have to do it really rushed and size up whether a client is safe or not. It is the criminalization of speech surrounding a possible activity that hasn’t yet taken place. It is an incredible violation of freedom of speech.” He says failing to remove the indecency clause in the bawdyhouse provision is another missed opportunity, noting that it has been used by police against gay establishments since the mid-’70s, including during the Toronto bathhouse raids of 1981. Since money is not usually exchanged for sex in gay bathhouses, the “indecent acts” clause has long provided a legal excuse for raids and bawdyhouse charges. “It goes back to when we were ﬁghting against the bawdyhouse laws,” Kinsman says. “We made it clear we wanted to get rid of the section as a whole.” The case has come at a time when at least two major Canadian cities are changing how they police sex work. In Vancouver, a draft policy proposing new policing guidelines was put to the police board on March 21. It would “increase the safety of the workers, reduce victimization and violence and, where appropriate (such as with children and teens), assist with exit strategies.” The policy calls for the appointment of a sex-industry liaison officer in cases involving sex workers and for limiting invasive enforcement such as street sweeps to situations deemed
“high risk” due to human trafficking, violence or the involvement of sexually exploited children or youth. The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) has explicitly stated that invasive enforcement of sex-work laws is now seen as a “last resort.” “The VPD does not seek to increase the inherent dangers faced by sextrade workers, especially survival sex workers,” says a report by the VPD deputy chief, Warren Lemcke. According to the draft policy document, the VPD would also “monitor and maintain intelligence reports to identify and track potentially violent sex industry consumers, exploitive abusers, identify trends and assist in day-to-day operational planning.” Meanwhile, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) has also been altering its approach to sex workers following a Dec 9, 2011, announcement of a “pattern of violence” and string of homicides involving sex workers. OPS Chief Charles Bordeleau, however, says he is not willing to commit to a policy that would end sweeps or other invasive strategies. “We are in the process of assessing and evaluating the Court of Appeal decision, but with respect to the prostitution sweeps themselves, we will continue our current practice of only conducting them when we have a number of complaints where we need to be responsive to our community,” Brodeleau says. “[Sweeps] are not our primary focus; they’re not our primary activity. We will continue to work with sex-trade workers . . . to ensure we can better collaborate together.” The government has 12 months to make changes to the laws that have been amended as a result of the case. —with ﬁles from Andrea Houston For a video of this story, visit xtra.ca.
Ontario Saving budget hurts Montreal’s people living gay village with HIV/AIDS MOTIVATED BY WHAT THEY SEE AS THE MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT’S ﬁrst budget as a minority government made sweeping cuts to public sector wages, supports for the poor, and culture and infrastructure grants. Part of the government’s move to contain costs includes a freeze on Ontario Works (welfare) rates and the Ontario Disability Support Program, which will affect many Ontarians living with HIV/AIDS who rely on assistance during periods when they’re too sick to work. While these beneﬁt rates are not being cut, because the cost of rent, food and other necessities tends to rise with inﬂation, recipients will effectively lose purchasing power while the rate is frozen. Activists have long called for these programs to be reformed, instead, so that they wouldn’t penalize recipients who can work in reduced capacity. At present, if recipients receive any income, their beneﬁts are clawed back, reducing the incentive to work. “For a person living with HIV/AIDS on ODSP and struggling with poverty, it’s going to be a real challenge,” says Murray Jose, executive director of the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation. “There’s no question it’s going to have a real impact, and it’s going to be a struggle to live in a manner that supports them and meets basic needs.” —Rob Salerno
declining conditions in Montreal’s gay village, a group of activists has created a new campaign in an effort to reinvigorate the neighbourhood. The campaign, titled J’aime Mon Village, strives to make residents of and visitors to the neighbourhood aware of what some argue are underreported acts of intimidation and violence. The campaign has rallied four main spokespeople: prominent drag artist Mado Lamotte; AIDS activist JeanPierre Pérusse; Mr Leather Montreal 2011, Danny Godbout; and art curator Kat Coric. J’aime Mon Village was spearheaded by Ghislain Rousseau, who owns the business Fétiche Armada and who says he was inspired to action by incidents he experienced. “On two different occasions last fall, I had interactions with people outside of my store that could have easily turned violent,” Rousseau says. “Both of the people involved threatened me with violence. One used homophobic slurs. But when I called the police, there seemed little they could do.” Rousseau says he was taken aback when he heard recent statements from Montreal police officers saying things in the Village were relatively calm and orderly. “This does not reﬂect what we, who live and work in the Village, are experiencing,” he says. —Matthew Hays For more on these stories, visit xtra.ca.
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XTRA! APRIL 12, 2012
Back streets and boarding houses Queer sex part of everyday life in Ottawa’s working-class neighbourhoods by Steven Maynard
N 1915, RENÉ L WAS STROLLING along Clarence St in Ottawa’s Byward Market when he noticed another man. Emery L, who lived at 116 Clarence St, had just ﬁnished having his supper in one of the nearby Chinese restaurants. René waited until he was certain Emery had seen him and then ducked into a laneway at 108 Clarence. As René told the court, “I went in to the lane and Emery L followed me.” This turned out not to be such a great idea, for in the busy Byward Market there were always police constables on the beat. According to the constable who discovered the two in the laneway, this is what occurred: “Emery L was sitting on a log in a reclining position and René L was astride of Emery L in the act of working Emery L’s privates with his hand.” In my ﬁrst article (“Naked Civil Servants,” Xtra #241, March 15; online at xtra.ca), I used historical criminal court records to look at sexual relations primarily among the civil servants who resided in Ottawa’s Centretown. But sex between men was not restricted to middle-class professionals and their luxury apartment houses. As René and Emery’s story suggests, a lot of homosexual activity occurred as part of everyday life in the city’s immigrant and working-class neighbourhoods. The Byward Market in Lowertown was a predominantly French and Jewish working-class district. René and Emery’s chance encounter in a Lowertown laneway was only one of many such liaisons. Henry S, who lived at 69 Besserer St, told the court that “the night before last I went to Matthew’s Butcher Shop. I saw the accused Ovila B outside the shop. He said will you come with me? I said where to? He said to my house. He asked me to go to bed with him.” These meet-ups that happened while men were going about their busi-
ness, be it having dinner in a restaurant or shopping for groceries, underscore the way homosexual encounters were enmeshed in the fabric of everyday life. To the west of Lowertown, Irish, French and Italian working-class communities grew up in the LeBreton Flats area. Focused on the Chaudière Falls, LeBreton Flats was an industrial district, dotted with sawmills and factories. Again, the court records suggest that homosexual life was rooted in and reﬂected the broader character of the neighbourhood. Harry C, for instance, lived at 138 Elm St in 1923, and his sexual encounter took place in one of the district’s paper factories. Both Lowertown and LeBreton Flats played host to the many transient workingmen employed in the seasonal lumber industry. When not living in lumber camps up in the bush, many bushworkers came down to Ottawa for short periods of time. Some men lodged with working-class families who took in borders to supplement their household incomes. The presence of these workingmen and their living arrangements gave a distinct shape to Ottawa’s homosexual subculture. Not surprisingly, sex between lodgers and other male persons in working-class households was a common scenario. In 1927, 13-year-old Sidney S lived with his parents in a house at 63 LeBreton St. That year Joseph B boarded with the family. In court Sidney was questioned by a lawyer: Q: Do you know the accused, Joseph B? Sidney S: Yes sir. Q: I understand he lodged at your father’s place part of the time? SS: Yes. Q: And when he lived there what room did he occupy in the house, or did anybody else occupy the same room as he did?
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SS: Yes, sir, I did. Q: Was there just the one bed in the room? SS: Yes. Q: And you sometimes slept with him in that bed? SS: Yes. Q: Now, did anything ever take place between him and you that should not have taken place? SS: Yes. Q: What was that? A: He always fooled with my privates.
Obviously having little knowledge of working-class life, the lawyer asked Sidney, “Why did you go back to sleep with him on occasions after the ﬁrst time this happened; you knew what
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TOP: Lafortune Grocery Store in Lowertown, 1920s. CITY OF OTTAWA ARCHIVES ABOVE:
Byward Market, 1922.
he was doing to you. Why didn’t you go to sleep some place else?” “I could not,” replied Sidney, “all the beds were occupied in the house. There was only that bed.” In the early part of the 20th century, in what were often crowded working-class households, it was a common practice to double up. Doubling up placed some children in a potentially dangerous position as the objects of unwelcome sexual advances by male lodgers. At the same time, other boys found ways to turn their sexual vulnerability and cramped sleeping arrangements at least somewhat to their
advantage. When Sidney was asked whether he ever told anyone about having sex with Joseph, he responded, “I did not say anything about it.” “Why not?” asked the perplexed lawyer. “He used to give me things, cigarettes and things.” While some men boarded with individual families, other men set themselves up in all-male rooming houses. With little money and no plans to stick around for long, a crowded, often rundown rooming house was one of the few options available to many immigrant and working-class men. Not surprisingly, under such conditions privacy was hard to come by. In 1915, three Austrian men were among those who lived in a rooming house in Lowertown. As Peter B told the court, “I live at 144 Besserer St. I know both Kosyn B and Oscar M. We were all in one bedroom. I was in the bedroom there that day with Oscar. He asked me to leave the room and he would have fun with Kosyn. Oscar pulled me by the hand and I left the room. After I left the room I looked through the door. Kosyn had his trousers down. Oscar had his shirt and his trousers open. Kosyn was lying on his face and Oscar was on top of Kosyn working himself up and down. Oscar told me before I left the room that he would use Kosyn in the way I saw him do so.” While the case testifies to the potentially disastrous results of lacking privacy (and trusting your friends), the way Oscar felt free to ask Peter to leave the room so he could have some fun with Kosyn suggests there existed a rather frank understanding of sexual relations between men. The case ﬁle also noted that the court proceedings were conducted with the assistance of an “Austrian Interpreter,” a reminder that, in addition to the ordeal of a trial on homosexual charges, immigrant men faced additional barriers of language. All of these cases remind us of an important point about queer men’s history. Much gay historical writing focuses on elite or famous (most often AngloSaxon) men, those who were educated and inclined to write down the stories of their lives in letters and diaries, or who were important enough to be the subjects of newspapers and biographies. As a result, we know much more about Oscar Wilde than we do about Oscar M of Lowertown. Hopefully, however, these brief forays into the past highlight the contributions of more ordinary men — the workingmen and immigrants who helped to forge homosexual subcultures in early 20th-century Ottawa. Steven Maynard teaches the history of sexuality at Queen’s University in Kingston. He is completing a book entitled Infamous Men. This is the second in a three-part series on Ottawa’s gay history.
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Volkswagen de l’Outaouais 850 St-Joseph blvd. Gatineau 819-770-0220 vwo.ca *Limited time ﬁnance offer available on purchase of a new and unregistered 2012 Jetta 2.0L / 2012 Golf 3-door 2.5L / 2012 Passat 2.5L / 2012 Tiguan 2.0T through Volkswagen Finance, on approved credit. MSRP of $17,240/$21,440/$25,440/$29,555 ($1,365/$1,365/$1,365/$1,580 freight and PDI and $100 air conditioning levy, if applicable, included) for a new 2012 Jetta 2.0L / 2012 Golf 3-door 2.5L / 2012 Passat 2.5L / 2012 Tiguan 2.0T base model with 5-speed/5-speed/5-speed/6-speed manual transmission, ﬁnanced at 0% APR for 36 months equals $478.88/$595.55/$706.66/$820.97 per month. Credit charge is $46 (RDPRM registration fee) for a total obligation of $17,286/$21,486/$25,486/$29,601. Down payment or equivalent trade-in, due at signing, may be required. License, insurance, registration, duties, options and applicable taxes are extra. **Offer of $400/$400/$500/$500/$600 applicable on purchase ﬁnancing (through Volkswagen Finance, on approved credit) of select new and unregistered 2012 Jetta/Golf/Passat/Tiguan/cc models. Certain conditions apply (TDI Clean Diesel, Golf R, Golf GTI and Jetta GLI models excluded). Dealer may sell for less. Dealer order/trade may be necessary. Offers end May 31, 2012 and are subject to change or cancellation without notice. 2012 Jetta Highline 2.5L as shown is $26,340. 2012 Golf 3-door Sportline 2.5L as shown is $25,715. 2012 Passat Highline 2.5L as shown is $32,940. 2012 Tiguan 2.0T with Sport Package as shown is $41,955. Certain options and accessories may be extra. Vehicles may not be exactly as shown. Visit vw.ca or your Volkswagen dealer for details. “Volkswagen”, the Volkswagen logo, “Jetta”, “Golf”, “Passat” and “Tiguan” are registered trademarks of Volkswagen AG. Motor Trend® Magazine is a registered trademark of Source Interlink Magazines, LLC. © 2012 Volkswagen Canada.
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Contemporary Cuisine A heritage stone building rich with atmosphere. Reservations welcome
The Zen of cooking
ABOVE: Chef and co-owner Caroline Ishii trained at New York Cityâ€™s Natural Gourmet Institute. ABOVE LEFT: Almost everything is local and organic at ZenKitchen.
LOCAL FOOD WITH INTERNATIONAL FLAIR Luna Allison
Good italian food at good prices
â€” Ottawa City Magazine
Voted â€œbest italianâ€? â€” Ottawa XPress
fresh pasta & thin-crust pizzas 25 George St. By Ward Market
USTAINABLE, HOMEMADE and gourmet is what itâ€™s all about at ZenKitchen â€” a restaurant that gives vegan food a good, and tasty, name. Itâ€™s a friendly place, but this is no bohemian cafĂŠ. Rather, itâ€™s exquisite, diversely sourced cuisine thatâ€™s artfully made, with attention to detail, gorgeous plating and imaginative ďŹ‚avour and texture combinations that put a twist on traditional dishes like curry, sope and risotto. All that and itâ€™s green, too. Chefs make everything from scratch, using organic, GMO-free ingredients and no preservatives. They source as much as they can locally, with a view to minimizing environmental impact. â€œWhen I did my studies at the Natural Gourmet [Institute for Health and Culinary Arts] in New York City, I wanted to create the most sustainable cuisine possible, which is vegan,â€? says chef and co-owner Caroline Ishii, who is gaining great acclaim for her inventive cuisine. â€œWe use as much local produce as we can in Ottawa. We also use many local suppliers. For example, the tables were made by a designer in Chelsea, Quebec. Itâ€™s all part of supporting the local economy. You think you canâ€™t make a difference, but you can.â€?
Dave Loan, co-owner and front-ofhouse manager at ZenKitchen, has asked that staff not bring disposable water bottles to work and, instead, take advantage of the ďŹ ltered water available at the restaurant. The kitchenâ€™s cooking oil, which must be disposed of regularly, is given to a local man who makes it into bio-diesel; fruit and veggie scraps are given to a local farmer for compost; and seltzer is made in-house to cut down on wasteful packaging. Itâ€™s these little touches that make an impact at ZenKitchen, including peppy background music, friendly and unpretentious staff, and the bright colours. Itâ€™s also a queer-friendly spot, with considerate, attentive servers. Even the art is local. In fact, the photos that were on exhibit during our visit were the work of our server. The restaurant, which has been open since July 2009, is a member of Savour Ottawa and Chinatown Remixed. The menu is allergy-friendly, and more than half the items on the dinner menu are gluten-free â€” and the majority of desserts are, too. While we were there, Ishii left the kitchen to help a patron who has a garlic allergy. In the end, she happily agreed to change a sauce so the customer could order what he had his eye on. Now, allow me to wax poetic about the food. We started out with a creamy edamame dip and roasted papadum,
which was light but satisfying. Then came a sampler of appetizers: salted polenta fries with chipotle-tequila dipping sauce, a skewer of grilled misoand-apple-butter tofu on kale slaw with a tamarind dip, a bowl of the most delicious mushroom tempura Iâ€™ve ever had, and a side of homemade pickles, including pickled beets, sweet daikon and a mild but tasty kimchi. Recommendations? Try the sope, which is topped with the best vegan crĂ¨me fraĂŽche Iâ€™ve ever tasted. The Thai-inspired lemongrass curry on kaďŹ r-lime-scented jasmine rice, which has a challenging â€” but not murderous â€” level of heat to it, is also to die for. For dessert, the peanut butter and chocolate pie is your best choice. Itâ€™s no wonder this restaurant has won the silver medal in Ottawaâ€™s Gold Metal Plates competition two years in a row â€” beating out a number of foie grasâ€“wielding mainstream chefs in the process.
the deets ZENKITCHEN Open Tuesday to Sunday Lunch on Thursdays and Fridays Brunch on weekends 634 Somerset St W 613-233-6404 zenkitchen.ca
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Summer patio picks WITH WARM WEATHER COMING WEâ€™LL SOON BE HEADING OUT IN DROVES TO park our ďŹ ne queer selves on Ottawaâ€™s sunny patios. But where to go? The city suffered the loss of some great queer-friendly spots in the last year, like Benitzâ€™s and Savana CafĂŠ, but there are still lots of places to choose from. Weâ€™ve put together a shortlist of Ottawaâ€™s best outdoor hangouts so Xtra readers have a head start when it comes to sun and (tasty) fun.
The Lookout Bar 41 York St 613-789-1624 thelookoutbar.com The Lookout Bar doesnâ€™t quite have a patio, but we perch on the metres-long balcony like itâ€™s a patio all summer. Lookout is aptly named â€” itâ€™s a great vantage point to view all of Byward Market. Historically a lesbian hangout, The Lookout has become more mixed in recent years, with gay menâ€™s events such as Thirsty Boy Thursdays and drag shows every Saturday night. But the womenâ€™s events are still running strong â€” thereâ€™s a weekly cocktail gathering every Friday night, followed by Friday Fixxx, a ladiesâ€™ night featuring reruns
of The L Word on the big screen and special feature events the ďŹ rst Friday of every month. For some mixed fun, hit up karaoke nights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, hosted by Christopher â€œDogâ€? Doyle. Just remember â€” if it gets too hot, you can always cool off outside.
Wasabi Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar 41 Clarence St 613-241-3636 wasabisushibar.ca Wasabi Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar is a tasty and queer-friendly spot in the heart of the Byward Market that serves up some of Ottawaâ€™s best sushi, as well as various salads, appetizers and
a selection of cooked Japanese cuisine. Its raised, streetside patio is one of the most charming in the area, with excellent people-watching potential. The patio is large enough to accommodate small to medium-sized groups, but parties of eight or more will probably have to move inside to Wasabiâ€™s spacious dining room. This resto is only steps away from the famed cruising grounds of Majorâ€™s Hill Park and a handful of downtown cultural venues: the National Gallery, the National Arts Centre and a few smaller galleries along Sussex. Wasabi also boasts a good selection of wines and cocktails, including delicious lychee martinis.
Centretown Pub 340 Somerset St W 613-594-0233 centretownpub.blogspot.ca Centretown Pub â€” or CPâ€™s, as itâ€™s more affectionately known around these parts â€” offers up the quintessential queer patio experience. As the longest-
XTRAâ€™S TOP THREE CHOICES FOR FRESH AIR, COCKTAILS AND CRUISING
Ottawaâ€™s patio scene heats up in May. This is when the beer starts flowing and the boys and girls come out to play.
standing gay bar in the city, the CP front patio is a hub for cruising guys and spontaneous friend catch-ups, but the back patio is where itâ€™s at if youâ€™re looking for a tucked-away nook for hot make-out sessions, wet T-shirt contests, Pride events or howling laughter with friends over a couple of beers. If youâ€™re looking to go inside and get a little
break from the heat (double-entendre intended), youâ€™ve got a couple choices. The main floor of CPâ€™s boasts a pool table and a gaggle of friendly regulars. Upstairs is Cell Block, Ottawaâ€™s only gay menâ€™s leather bar, which features the kink-themed â€œBar Knights,â€? put on by the Ottawa Knights Leather and Denim Club.
For a romantic getaway escape to Brookstreet
Many all inclusive packages to choose from spacious four-diamond guestrooms four diamond dining - newly renovated restaurant and jazz lounge extensive ďŹ tness studio with indoor saltwater pool, whirlpools and dry saunas full service spa with couples massage suite
Call 613.271.1800 to book your getaway ~ brookstreet.com/pride C Your special day... Enjoy a four-diamond oasis away from the hustle & bustle of the city for your wedding or special occasion! &RQWDFWRUHYHQWV#EURRNVWUHHWFRP
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XTRA! APRIL 12, 2012
in the workplace
It pays off ! th
May 17 Participate ! This day belongs to YOU!
Allies in the workplace
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arts › entertainment › leisure
Out City IN THE
Check this, Janet
IT’S POSSIBLY THE ONLY CANADIAN NOVEL THIS YEAR WITH A GRAPHIC RIMMING SCENE. Daniel Allen Cox ›19
Dreams of performing with Ms Jackson helped launch Daniel Harder’s dance career Chris Dupuis
The Ailey School in New York; he joined the company shortly after. Its current show, which restages a number of founder Alvin Ailey’s original choreographies alongside those of newly appointed artistic director Robert Battle and a few guests. It stops in Ottawa and Montreal in April. Of the four pieces he performs, Harder’s biggest challenge will be the lead role in Home, guest choreographer Rennie Harris’s hip-hop infused exploration of the lives of people living with HIV. Created in partnership with drug company Bristol-Myers Squibb, the work began with a call for people living with the virus to submit their stories, which were then used as a creative starting point. While the work is abstract and doesn’t present a speciﬁc narrative, creating it allowed company members to connect with the realities of HIV today.
THE COMMON NARRATIVE OF A GAY youth inspired to take up classical dance usually involves alabasterskinned swans, broad-shouldered princes or perhaps a human-sized implement for cracking nuts. But in the case of Daniel Harder, company member with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, it all started with Janet Jackson. Growing up in a suburb of Washington, DC, Harder had a long-time dream of becoming a hip-hop pro. But after he caught the local stop of Ms Rhythm Nation’s 1998 Velvet Rope tour, he realized what it was he really needed to do. “I had already decided in my mind I would dance for Janet someday, and seeing that show made me more sure of it than ever,” he laughs. “But when I did more research after the show I found out her dancers usually studied ballet. I realized if I ever wanted to dance for her I would have to do the same.” Intent on building his technique, Harder took drop-in classes at a local studio. He got a break early on when a friend Daniel Harder still dreams of dancing of his mother’s got a tip with Janet Jackson. EDUARDO PATINO that Debbie Allen (of Fame fame) would be “When I looked at each individual’s auditioning dancers for her academy at the Kennedy Centre. Though he journey, I was impressed by how they didn’t make it through the ﬁrst round, chose to approach the disease, not Allen approached him after the audi- looking at it as a burden and contion and invited him to attend her tinuing to push forward in their lives summer program in Los Angeles. without letting it hold them back,” Featuring a mix of artists and teachers he says. “At the same time I saw the from across the globe, it opened his amount of stigma around it and realeyes to the possibility of a full-ﬂedged ized the ways that we as a community have failed. HIV is just one facet of an dance career. Returning home, Harder enrolled individual’s life, and our community in a performing arts high school and needs to work harder to reach out to was later awarded a scholarship with each other.” Commitment to a broader community is a key element of Harder’s the deets level-headedness. Though egos can swell with early success (he’s only 24), ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN he remains passionately dedicated to DANCE THEATER ensuring future generations of artists Ottawa will have opportunities like he had. Tues, April 17, 8pm “I’ve been given so much at a very National Arts Centre 53 Elgin St young age, so it’s extremely important nac-cna.ca to me that I can give something back,” he says. “Eventually I’d like to start Montreal Thurs, April 19–Sat, April 21 my own company and help give young Place des Arts dancers an opportunity to develop. 175 Ste-Catherine St W And, of course, if Janet calls I’ll have grandsballets.com to go dance for her.”
Jasper Cox (centre) is the co-founder of the Capital Kings. KRISTEN COCHRANE
Drag Kings Capital Kings conquer Sunday nights Kristen Cochrane
ANDY MARSHALL KNEW that if he wanted Ottawa’s drag kings to leave the sidelines, he had to take the city by storm. He decided this could be accomplished only if the kings had their very own troupe. A year ago, drag queens dominated the scene. Now, Marshall and Ottawa’s drag kings have carved out a niche of their own. Appropriately named the Capital Kings, the group has been performing Sunday nights at The Lookout Bar since January. On a recent Sunday, guests arrive early, taking coveted front-row seats. Others dance and invade the stage. Jasper Cox, co-founder of the troupe, says drag king shows typically involve more audience participation than drag queen performances. “We’ll get off the stage and dance with different members of the audience,” he says. True to his word, Cox seductively approaches members of the audience, gazing directly into their eyes while he sings. One woman says she thinks the shows are an integral part of Ottawa’s
lesbian scene. She comes every week. Cox, who moved to the capital from Toronto, cites Ottawa’s quiet and “conservative” nature as the reason it didn’t previously have a troupe. Contrast that to Montreal, which has had the Dukes of Drag since 2006, and Toronto, which, he says, has four nights of drag king performances every week, each at a different venue. Even Edmonton, with a smaller population than Ottawa, has the Alberta Beef Drag Troupe, founded in 2007. Neil Massey, events coordinator at The Lookout, thinks another reason the scene didn’t ﬂourish until now is that people think drag kings are merely dressing in regular street clothes. “When a drag queen comes in, you know she’s the drag queen,” he says. Ottawa’s drag king scene blossomed after Marshall was crowned Mr Capital Pride in 2011 — making him only the second crowned king at a pageant that has run for 17 years. Marshall recalls a promise he made to himself at the time. “I thought, ‘If there’s one thing I’m going to do, I’m going to start a drag king night.’” Marshall soon approached Cox, who shared his enthusiasm. They met with Massey, who has been organizing The Lookout’s drag queen perfor-
mances since 2005. Despite the long wait, Massey says he always had the drag kings in the back of his mind and wanted to create an event that would involve them. Meetings took place in September 2011, and the troupe was born in December. Massey says he’s happy that local lesbians now feel more included in a scene that had been predominantly male. “It’s cool for the girls — they have a place to come on Sunday now.” Massey says the drag king scene is also more welcoming than the queen scene, which has forced him to draw the line certain evenings. “If they could, the kings would let anyone perform,” he says with a laugh. So is Ottawa really that conservative? “We are more conservative, but it’s obviously working here, and people are enjoying it,” Massey says.
the deets CAPITAL KINGS The Lookout Bar Every Sunday night 41 York St thelookoutbar.com
Ottawaâ€™s gay & lesbian news
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