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AN CITY December 2012

THE LGBT ISSUE Man Up: Kings of Drag On the Cutting Edge of Hockey


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Editor’s Note Van City Magazine captures the essence of our diverse city with in-depth stories that impact Vancouverites. This month’s special issue of our publication takes a look at Vancouver’s thriving LGBT lifestyle. Adviser: Terry Eiler Editorial board: Abigail Fisher, Claire Harbage, Erica Yoon, Heather Rousseau, Kate Munsch, Megan Westervelt, Michael Bou-Nacklie, Will Parson Special thanks: Bill Cottrell, Julie Elman

Table of Contents 4

By the Numbers

6

Kings of Drag

16

Raising Fulton

20

On the Cutting Edge

A mural inside QMUNITY, a queer resource centre based in downtown Vancouver, welcomes guests in the reception area.

2


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Residents of Vancouver gather to remember victims of homophobic bullying at the Spirit Day candlelight vigil at Emery Barnes Park, on Oct. 19, 2012.

5%

20%

71%

10%

25%

Canadians who identify as LGBTQ

British Columbians who have an immediate family member who is LGBTQ

British Columbians who know someone who is LGBTQ

LGBTQ students who hear homophobic comments from teachers on a daily or weekly basis

LGBTQ students who are physically harassed due to their sexual orientation

4 | By the Numbers: LGBT in Canada


By the numbers

LGBT IN CANADA

30%

42%

Suicide victims who are LGBTQ

LGBTQ students who have had suicidal thoughts at some time

Recent numbers show conflicting views on Canadians and their acceptance of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) community. While polls indicate that a significant proportion of Canadians knows someone who identifies as LGBTQ, intolerance and bullying are still rampant in schools. “We might have more resources, but there still is no safe place for queer youth in Vancouver,” Tash Wolfe, youth worker with Vancouver’s QMUNITY queer resource centre, said. — Sources: 2009 Canadian Climate Survey on Homophobia / Centre for Suicide Prevention / Every Class in Every School, The Final Report of the First National Climate Survey on Homophobia in Canadian Schools / The 2009 National School Climate Survey / The National Post: The True North LGBT

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Paige Frewer (Ponyboy) is the co-founder of Man Up Vancouver. Frewer identifies as gender queer and is comfortable being referred to as he or she. “People look at me and they don’t know what to make of me,” Paige said.

6


Kings Drag of

Words and photographs by Taehoon Kim

T

he Cobalt bar is located in one of those neighbourhoods where my parents would look out the car windows and without fail, click the locks shut. Steps from The Cobalt’s entrance is the intersection of Main Street and East Hastings in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, often touted as “Canada’s poorest postal code.” A Google search of the area yields pages of warnings pleading people to stay way from the city’s lawless, anarchic strip run by drug dealers and prostitutes.

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Yet in this neighborhood, on the fringe of a city whose residents are boastful about their progressive thinking, there is a movement to recognize a misunderstood community. In a dressing room above The Cobalt, the leaders of this movement gather to address what is perhaps one of the few remaining civil rights struggles in Vancouver. They wear fake moustaches and chest bracers to flatten their breasts. Most people are familiar with drag queens. They are so ubiquitous in pop 8 | Kings of Drag

culture, from RuPaul to Mrs. Doubtfire, that the idea of a man dressing up as a woman hardly seems shocking anymore. In Vancouver, there is even a weekly drag queen bingo night where a cross-dressing man reads out bingo numbers. Yet a drag king, a woman dressing up as a man in the name of performance or amusement, is much rarer. Man Up, a collective of drag kings founded in March 2008, fills this void in Vancouver. The group hosts two shows a month at The Cobalt.

Amateur Night gives stage time for upand-coming drag kings in the city. A themed show, organized by Man Up’s core group of a dozen returning performers, takes place on the final Saturday of the month. Paige Frewer, known around Vancouver by her stage name, Ponyboy, is the cofounder of Man Up. She is the engine that drives the machine. She is the master of ceremonies and runs the group meetings. Her face — covered in shaving cream as homage to Virna Lisi — graces the cover photo of Man Up’s Facebook page.


Left: Lauren Halldorson (stage name: Anna Propriate) applies make up before her bio-queen act in Man Up’s Amateur Night. A bio-queen, also known as a faux-queen, is a woman dressed up as a drag queen. Top: Paige Frewer (Ponyboy) wears a brass knuckle belt buckle during a warehouse party. “If we are enslaved to society’s expectations of who you are supposed to be and how gender manifests itself, we will be trapped,” Paige said. Bottom: (Left to right) Dia Doncette Pilles (Jack Hoff), Robyn Culley (Robin) and Marissa Engleman perform a drag king act in Man Up’s Amateur Night.

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(Left to right) Paige Frewer (Ponyboy), Dannie Easton (Dixon) and Cierra Morrissette (Chantal Candi) prepare for Man Up’s Amateur Night. “Man Up is a party that enables people and performers to take gender and embody it in whatever way they want to, regardless of their bodies,” Paige said.

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Dannie Easton (Dixon) has performed twice as part of Man Up’s Amateur Night. “I want to be alive when there is no male or female, when it does not matter, when we don’t have gender exclusive bathrooms,” Dannie said.

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“Drag provides you with this sense that it is okay to be a man, woman or not have a gender and be comfortable in your own skin. You can be your alter ego, whoever that is.” — Tegan Colby (Doug Harder)

When I first meet Paige at Amateur Night, she foregoes the handshake and locks me in a tight embrace. She wears a plain white T-shirt and tight jeans rolled up to reveal a pair of shiny black dress shoes. A subtle widow’s peak glimpses out from underneath a striped toque, and around her neck hangs a thick metal chain necklace. She holds a beer in one hand. Man Up’s performances started at Lick, a former lesbian nightclub, Paige said. When Lick closed in 2011, Man Up branched out from the lesbian scene to appeal to a wider community. The show evolved into something more than just performance. Man Up became a place where individuals across the spectrum of gender and sexual identity could feel welcome and comfortable. Traditional gender definitions trap individuals, Paige said, and prevent meaningful self-exploration and expression. Gender expectations are so ingrained in society that individuals unknowingly play a charade to fit a masculine or feminine role in their public lives. “Man Up is a party that enables people and performers to take gender and embody it in whatever way they want to, regardless of their bodies,” Paige said. Paige’s life represents this mission. Born female, she told her parents when she turned 5 she wanted to be known as Mark. She spent

most of her youth as a self-described tomboy and at 19 came out as a lesbian. Now, Paige sees herself as gender queer: an individual who does not subscribe to the binary male/female gender system. Paige is equally comfortable being addressed as he or she. Her — or his — energy and physical presentation in public is very much androgynous. “People look at me and they don’t know what to make of me,” Paige said. During a smoke break outside the bar, Paige introduces me to her fellow Man Up performers. They introduce themselves: Doug Harder, Toni Shazaam and Majik. Surely these are stage names, but I am surprised at the firmness with which they state their identities. I have to press them to find out their real names. Tonight, the alter egos are out to play. Doug Harder is wearing a trucker hat, wig, moustache and denim vest, like a character straight out of the show “Trailer Park Boys.” I would later learn Doug’s real name is Tegan Colby. When I ask Tegan how she defines her gender, she has trouble formulating an answer. “I don’t… I don’t know. I don’t really… I’m a girl?” She said. “There is no real label. I am what I am feeling.” “I have days that I am both,” she said. “Days where I wear pants, and days where I wear skirts.”

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(Left to right) Amus Sovick (Shameless Amus), Ginger Cooper (Jack Dego), and Selina Shefrin (Owen), share a moment during a Man Up meeting. Man Up hopes to take its act on a cross-country tour.

14 | Kings of Drag


high school and everyone called me a lesbian. I ran straight back in the closet and dated two more guys.” To the left of Dannie and Cierra, Majik — Chantal LaPorte, another cofounder of Man Up — steps out from the men’s washroom. Later when I tell Paige this, she laughs. Double takes are so common that Paige estimates that it happens to her at least 50 percent of the time she uses public washrooms. The same is true for Tegan. “I have lost count of the times where a kid has looked at me and said, ‘Mom, what is a boy doing in the bathroom?’” Tegan said. Jokes and awkward situations aside, a simple, daily occurrence like using a washroom in public is one of the many ways traditional views on gender prevail. The world is taught that there are only boy bathrooms and girl bathrooms, Paige said. She has tried to change this attitude at Perch, a restaurant where she works. At Perch there are two nondescript bathrooms. The plain white doors have no sign indicating men or women; instead, they simply say, “these rooms have toilets.”

Tegan’s fiancée Toni Shazaam, real name Sara Watt, said this gender fluidity has helped their relationship. “This is the safest relationship I have ever had because it is a genderless relationship,” Sara said. “We are both able to express masculinity and femininity. I never realized how important it was for me to have that balance.” Tegan was not always this open. She remembers feeling out of sync in Vancouver’s gay community after moving from Big River, Saskatchewan. She never felt at home in the city’s gay bars. But that all changed when she discovered Man Up. “Drag provides you with this sense that it is okay to be a man, woman or not have a gender and be comfortable in your own skin,” Tegan said. “You can be your alter ego, whoever that is.” As per Tegan’s alter ego Doug Harder, “when life gets hard, get Harder.” Man Up’s Amateur Night is a hodgepodge of performances. Opening the night is a pair of burlesque dancers. Jack Hoff lip-syncs a love triangle act. Anna Propriate, a bio-queen, makes it through her first-ever onstage appearance. Cierra Morrissette and Dannie Easton — those are their real names — bump and grind during a highly energetic hip-hop routine. Liquored up and bathed in smoky stage lights, the crowd is wildly supportive of each act. “You could probably just go stand there on stage and they would cheer,” Tegan said. When the performances end, the D.J. turns up the music and the dancing moves from the stage to the floor. Dannie and Cierra dance with their friend, Brittany Kamal, who has recently come out as a lesbian. Tonight is the second time Dannie has performed in Man Up’s Amateur Night. For Cierra, it is her first. Dannie, also gender queer, uses gender-neutral pronouns — such as they, them and their — to address individuals. She excitedly tells me about other pronouns she knows, like ze, zir and zem and the Swedish pronoun hen. Cierra, on the other hand, is a femaleborn lesbian who was kicked out of her home when she came out to her parents at 14. She is also a self-proclaimed “goldstar” lesbian: a lesbian who has never had sex with a man. “She is so lucky,” Dannie said about Cierra. “I tried kissing my best friend in

As Amateur Night wraps up, Paige steps on stage. It is time to announce the winner of the night, as voted by audience members. Paige looks exactly the same as when I met her, save a drawn-on, dark pencil moustache on her face. She announces the winners — Dannie and Cierra — and the two are in each other’s arms, jumping and screaming for joy. They now have a chance to perform regularly as part of the Man Up collective. “When you are comfortable in your own skin, people are going to pick up on that,” Tegan said. “People pick on your weaknesses, but if you don’t show your weaknesses, what are they going to pick on?” Man Up’s October rendition of Amateur Night is over. Dannie, Cierra and everyone else in attendance grab another drink and dance for one more song. The men, women, gay, lesbian, bi, trans, gender-queer — who cares, really — are celebrating. They are celebrating a night when they can use whatever bathroom they want. They are celebrating a night when no one will question who they are or who they love. It is a night with no labels. They are celebrating themselves. ®

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Raising Fulton With the arrival of their son, a same-sex couple enters a new phase of life.

Words and photographs by Taehoon Kim

I

n Strathcona, one of Vancouver’s oldest residential neighbourhoods, there is an old Edwardian home enveloped in trees and plants. In the home’s living room Doug Cave holds the tiny, soft hands of his 15-week-old son, Fulton, who has just woken up from an afternoon nap. Behind Cave and Fulton, a mantle overflows with dozens of cards from friends and family. Each congratulates Cave and his husband’s little miracle: one that required $150,000 and three trips to India. Cave and his husband Fernando Rato have been together 18 years and married since October 2010. When the couple decided to have a child, they faced an uphill battle, and adoption offered no guarantees.

16 | Raising Fulton


Doug Cave and his son Fulton Cave play in Fulton’s room. “I have to be aware that I will be over 60 years old when Fulton is 20,” Cave said. “I need to stay as active as I can. My activity in the past was just for myself, but now it is for me and him, to ensure that I will be around.”

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“For me, normal was a mom and a dad ... For Fulton, he will not have a mom and he cannot conceive what it is to have a mom. For him, having two dads is normal.” — Doug Cave

“One time we were chosen to be adoptive parents, the birth mother was convinced at the last minute to give the child to someone in her own family,” Cave said. Surrogacy, on the other hand, posed legal challenges. Established in 2006, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the commercialization of human reproduction. Under the legislation, women cannot make a profit from providing surrogate services to interested couples, Zarah Jenab, a West Vancouver family lawyer, said. Surrogate mothers can only be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses such as clothing, food and medical bills. The penalty for breaking this law is a fine up to $500,000 and up to 10 years in prison. 18 | Raising Fulton

With the adoption process going nowhere, and without a volunteer surrogate mother, Cave and Rato turned to international options. They found an in vitro fertilization clinic in Mumbai, India, advertising to LGBT couples. Even with a solid option in place, nothing was certain. “We had two miscarriages and four failed attempts — just no pregnancy at all,” Cave said. Finally on July 5, 2012 — on the seventh attempt — Fulton Louis Cave was born. Now with Fulton firmly in their lives, the couple faces the challenges of raising their son in a world where, according to Cave, hetero-normative beliefs hold strong. In India, for example, Cave recalls everyone assuming that his wife was somewhere else.

“When I would tell them there is no mother, they would look perplexed,” Cave said. “When I said I have a husband — when it dawned — there would be a change in expression.” Even back in Canada, Cave and Rato face questions about who will be Fulton’s female influence. “It is frustrating to hear that question,” Cave said. “You can have male and female influences all over the place. If I was a single dad, rather than in a


same-sex relationship, it would not be asked of me.” As Fulton grows, Cave and Rato must resolve other issues. Neither man wants to give up their careers to be a stay-at-home dad. Both anticipate questions in school and hope whatever school they choose will accommodate their family situation. Special arrangements will have to be made, for example, when Fulton has no one to make a card for on Mother’s Days.

Despite the uncertainties, one thing is assured: two unconditionally loving fathers will raise Fulton Cave. “For me, normal was a mom and a dad. Then it became a mom. Then it became a mom and a stepdad,” Cave said. “For Fulton, he will not have a mom and he cannot conceive what it is to have a mom. For him, having two dads is normal.” “If you don’t make a big deal out of it, the child just accepts. It becomes their normal.” —

Doug Cave, Fernando Rato and their dog Pucci III, walk with Fulton near Andy Livingstone Park. “I like walking down the street and pushing the stroller,” Cave said. “I like being out in public with Fulton. I am really proud to be with him.”

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20 | On the Cutting Edge


On The

Cutting Edge

An unconventional team breaks barriers playing the country’s most beloved sport.

Words and photographs by Taehoon Kim

E

Kent Munro, Simon Litherland, Ryan Robutka, Brent Brown, and Paul Friesen drink beers after a Vancouver Cutting Edges A team game in the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. Litherland came out as a gay man while playing hockey in England. “My teammates joked that I must be the only gay hockey player in the world,” Litherland said.

arly on a Saturday afternoon, Brett Hagardt drives through a typical Vancouver rainstorm. He pulls up in front of his friend Nathan Slee’s house and the two men cram their gear — hockey sticks and hefty bags — into the car. The men drive off, chatting about their jobs and families. Their destination is the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre at the University of British Columbia. When Hagardt and Slee enter, dragging their bags, the sports complex is already bustling with three hockey games. A coach yells, parents cheer and players urge each other on from the benches. Hagardt and Slee are two of the first members of the Vancouver Cutting Edges — a recreational hockey team — to arrive at the locker room. The team is preparing for a game against the Beavers, a team they beat two weeks before, 4-2. Hagardt and Slee sit next to each other, applying tape to the ends of their sticks. They put on their pads, lace up their skates and greet their teammates as they file in one by one. Close to game time, most of the team is suited up. Kent Munro walks in late to a remaining spot in the locker room. Next to Munro is Simon Litherland, vice president of the Cutting Edges.

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22 | On the Cutting Edge


Left: Matthew Queree stretches on the ice before a Vancouver Cutting Edges C team game in the Richmond Olympic Oval. Top: Brent Brown, right, plays the puck during a Vancouver Cutting Edges A team game in the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.

Munro approaches and Litherland stands to greet him with a tender kiss to the cheek. No one bats an eye.

another team to the 1994 Gay Games in New York City. This time, the team was better organized and the calibre of play was higher. Interest in the team has steadily grown since then. Today the Edges are comprised of three different teams of varying skill levels. The A team has several players with experience playing in junior level leagues. The C team — affectionately named Team ROO after the Richmond Olympic Oval where the team plays most of its games — features some of the team’s less experienced players. The B team rounds out the Cutting Edges hockey club.

The Vancouver Cutting Edges is Western Canada’s only gay men’s hockey team. The idea of a hockey team for gay men in Vancouver started in 1990, said Daniel Gawthrop, one of the team’s founding members. In August of that year, the city hosted the third quadrennial Gay Games, an event that attracted more than 7,000 international athletes. Gawthrop volunteered to coordinate the hockey events at the Games, but when he called for gay players to participate, reception was lukewarm. “It was not hip to play hockey,” Gawthrop said. “It wasn’t fashionable because of the violence that was associated with the game.” Gawthrop formed a team but it was not a cohesive unit. Teammates bickered and fought, he said, contrary to the spirit of the Gay Games. Despite the lack of unity, there was enough interest among players to send

Brett Hagardt, who plays defence on the Edges’ A team, hails from the North Okanagon town of Enderby. In his hometown of 3,000, homosexuality was never discussed, he said. Although he was suspicious that he was gay as early as 11, Hagardt had no avenues for exploring his sexuality. “I had no role models growing up,” he said. “Except the stereotypically gay hairdresser.”

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Dan Degraaf and Rob Duncan watch the action from the bench during a Vancouver Cutting Edges A team game in the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.

24 | On the Cutting Edge

At 16, Hagardt was certain he was gay. In a small town like Enderby, being gay was the exact opposite of what a man was supposed to be. “No one really talked about being gay, but when people did, it was in a negative light,” Hagardt said. Through puberty he repressed his sexual urges. “You can’t have people know your secret because gay people were considered inferior.”

The social pressures of Enderby pushed Hagardt to draw attention away from his sexuality by devoting himself to sports, specifically baseball and ice hockey. Hagardt excelled in hockey. As an 18-year-old he played in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, KIJHL, a high-caliber league that has produced numerous National Hockey League, NHL, players like Shea Weber and Adam Deadmarsh.


“The young gay hockey player in Canada does not have a home where he can be safe, can be himself and can play hockey.” — Patrick Burke

Though no one knew that Hagardt was gay, homophobic slurs were pervasive. “Every time a slur was used it was in a negative and degrading context,” Hagardt said. “It equated to making you out to be a woman and calling you less of a man.” After one season in the KIJHL, Hagardt decided he had to get away from everyone he knew. He quit his junior hockey career and moved to Vancouver to attend Simon Fraser University. “I had to figure out who I was.”

Gawthrop acknowledges that when the Cutting Edges were first formed, everyone had a common story about quitting the game when they were teenagers. As a 13-year-old playing at the bantam level, he saw the nature of hockey changing. “I was noticing that in the middle of the normal competitive spirit, there was this other thing going on: oneupmanship, proving your manhood, the edge of violent behavior,” Gawthrop said. “I’m sure I heard the word ‘fag’ even then.” Gawthrop believes that this change tore players apart. “It’s terrible because at first you feel like you have something in common: the interest in the sport. The fluidity and the poetry of making plays and scoring a goal,” he said. “Then in one second what you have in common is torn apart because someone is a homophobe.” Patrick Burke has seen the alienation of gay athletes firsthand. Burke, whose father, Brian Burke, is the General Manager of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, is the co-founder

of the You Can Play project. Aimed at eliminating homophobia in sports and advocating equality for LGBT athletes, You Can Play was created after the tragic death of Patrick’s 21-yearold brother, Brendan. He was a gay athlete and team manager of the Miami University of Ohio RedHawks ice hockey team. In the United States, up to 50 percent of LGBT high school students play sports, Burke said. Many of these young athletes end up leaving sports as a culture of “casual homophobia” — calling a movie “gay” or taunting someone as a “fag” — begins. “For a gay kid sitting in the room, these jeers mean ‘They won’t support me,’” Burke said. “We have this disconnect where people are not putting together that these words have a meaning. The young gay hockey player in Canada does not have a home where he can be safe, can be himself and can play hockey.” Gawthrop came to the same conclusion that homophobia was entrenched in the game. Worried

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Simon Litherland and Kent Munro talk about the game in their locker room in the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. Team members drink beers after every game, even in the showers.

about his own safety, Gawthrop hid his identity. He hid his homosexuality even when he moved to the Fraser Valley town of Hope to start a job as a reporter and photographer. Residents of his new home took interest in the out-of-towner journalist, wondering about his wife and children. In response, Gawthrop joined a hockey team and all the talk, he said, stopped. “I was playing this butch sport,” Gawthrop said. “I used hockey as a deliberate closet.” Nathan Slee is one of a handful of straight men who plays with the Cutting Edges. About 20 percent of the 50-man team is straight. Hagardt invited Slee to play for the Cutting Edges and told him about the nature of the team. “I did not really think anything of it,” Slee said. “Differences between gays and 26 | On the Cutting Edge

straights have never really been a thing for me. It did not faze me at all.” Gawthrop believes restricting the team’s membership to only gay players would not make any difference in the bigger picture. “By opening up to straight players, we are sending the message that the team is not about exclusivity or that we want to be alone,” Gawthrop said. “Besides, the straight guys who would play with us are secure enough in their masculinity that it is not an issue.” Moreover, the Cutting Edges does not play in an exclusively gay league: a common trend in Vancouver among other recreational sports leagues like bowling, softball, soccer and curling. In the beginning, other hockey teams in the league reacted poorly as the Cutting Edges improved and started winning games. “We started to gel, and boy, they did not like that. They did not like getting beat by a bunch of fags,” Gawthrop said.

Today, the slurs against the Cutting Edges have, for the most part, stopped. Recreational sports leagues in Vancouver have been consistent in handing out disciplinary action for acts of racism, sexism, and now, homophobia, Gawthrop said. The Cutting Edges believe their mission of providing a home for gay hockey players is better served by active engagement with those outside the gay community. Although the games are sparsely attended — the Cutting Edges A team often plays in a space that holds 7,000 empty seats during its games — the Cutting Edges have earned plenty of attention. In August 2012, the team marched in the Vancouver Pride Parade, an annual event attended by thousands of the city’s residents. Patrick Burke and two players from the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks,


Manny Malholtra and Jason Garrison, marched with the Cutting Edges. The march marked the first time an all-male professional sports team in North America had ever officially endorsed a gay pride event. Events like the Pride Parade highlight the importance of the team, said Cutting Edges president, Chris Bailey. “I realized it was beyond the game,” he said. “We represent both communities: the gay community and the hockey community. We have two separate circles that people think are quite different, and we have done a good job of joining them.” The buzzer sounds as the clock hits zero. The score is 8-4. The Beavers have defeated the Cutting Edges, stopping the Edges’ three-game win streak. After handshakes at centre ice, the teams skate to their benches. The Cutting Edges re-enter the locker room, stripping off their helmets and jerseys. The musty smell of damp shoulder pads fills the room. Sweaty bodies rest against cool concrete walls. One teammate drags out a cooler of beers. Beer cans fly in the air between teammates, as pretty goals and passes are dissected and errors of the game critiqued. Despite the lopsided score, the game was a back and forth affair. There is no rush to leave the room. The men casually sip their drinks while resting their sore muscles. Eventually a few of the men wrap themselves up in towels and navigate the maze of equipment bags to hit the showers. They lather, shampoo, rinse and, before stepping out to dry themselves, grab another beer. Out on the rink another two teams have stepped on the ice for recreational league play. One would be hard pressed to find any differences between the Cutting Edges and other recreational hockey teams. They are just a group of guys who love beer and who are frustrated about the NHL lockout: 422 regular-season games canceled as of this writing. “To us, this is just what we do,” Bailey said. “Same old, same old. But to some people it is unique. And I guess to some extent it is.” —

Stripped of the Puck

Members of the Vancouver Cutting Edges perform at the LOV of Sport Underwear Fashion Show and Auction in Celebrities Nightclub.

Each player on the Cutting Edges pay about $800 per season to sustain that kind of budget, Chris Bailey said. The team often organizes or participates in fundraising events like LOV of Sport to help players play with the team. But the team does not keep the funds only for itself. The Cutting Edges have a longstanding partnership with HIV/AIDS organizations in Vancouver such as the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation and the McLaren Housing Society of British Columbia. In the end, however, the fundraisers are an important social function for teammates across the three teams. “These charity and fundraising events add up,” Brett Hagardt said. “It provides a more social environment, and we stay more connected with teams like this. You have more friends that you hang out with.” LOV of Sport gave the attending teammates a reason to celebrate. As the referee began auctioning off the underwear worn by the models, Jason Wu, a member of the Edges, fetched the highest bid at $160. —

A master of ceremonies dressed in a referee’s uniform paces up and down the stage. Five members of the Vancouver Cutting Edges, including Allan Bisson — sporting a fresh gap in his teeth caused by an errant puck — stand next to the referee. Gone are the skates and helmets of their hockey games. Instead, the men are wearing nothing but skimpy briefs, thongs and maybe a pair of hockey gloves. Fidgeting with their sticks, they look around at the hundreds of hooting and hollering people surrounding the stage. It is Saturday night inside Celebrities Nightclub, a popular gay club in Vancouver’s Davie Street gay neighbourhood. The Cutting Edges are one of a handful of gay sports teams participating in the LOV of Sport Underwear Fashion Show and Auction. Proceeds from the event go to the respective organizations. Ice hockey is a cost-prohibitive sport to play: a single stick, which can easily snap with one slash or a mistimed slap shot, can run $200. In a city like Vancouver, facilities are hard to come by and teams pay a premium to play.

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