The Queer Pride Chronicles


May 20, 2014
by Bookish Butch


I started this week,

feeling OK,



Spring was in full bloom,

I was looking forward,

to the visit of someone special,

the Habs were getting ready,

to kick the Bruins,

onto the golf course,

the town,

had Spring and Hockey fever,


my birthday was coming.

I like my birthday,

I look forward to it.

I understand some,

would not look forward,

to a forty ninth birthday,


I did,

I earned these years


but, right in the,

midst of,

the sunshine, the hockey wins,


the imminent passing of another year.

A chasm,



before my feet,


deep and dark.

My friend Francoys,

here one moment,

gone the next.

The sunshine,

went away,

a deep dark dank humid place,

replaced it.

It happened five days ago,

I know it,



I cannot,

believe it.

When I think that I will no longer,


my hopes,

my dreams,

my fears,

my doubts,

that I will no longer,

share in his light,

his passions,

that I will no longer,

discuss books with him,

learn about history,

see into his brilliant mind,

that I will no longer,

hear his laughter,

or his always jolly and enthusiastic greeting,

that never again will,

I drink his delicious coffee,

sit in his wing chair,


pass the time of day,


shoot the shit,

share our lives,

learn from each other,

trust in each other,

be ourselves,

no persona,



trust that no judgement,

will be passed,




and all that,

that means to me,

all that it meant to him.

I am blessed in friendship,

a few true friends,


they have been so supportive and sensitive,

in this time,

of dark,

of pain.

One of my pillars is gone,

my anarchist,

my noble gentleman,

he was light,

he was fun,

he was our own code and jokes,



he was unique in a world of sameness,

he was gentle and good,

he was strong and roaring,

he was a mensch,

a big beautiful,


queer and feminist.

He leaves a chasm in my life,

that I will go around,


and reel from,

for a long time.

The world,

was a better place,

because of him,

it is lesser now,



I will never forget.

I carry him in my heart,

the wound of his passing,


eventually turn to scar tissue,

to keep him safely cocooned,

reading, smoking, laughing.

Bonne route,

mon ami.

Tu me manques,



for those of you, who didn’t read this, here is, the tribute I wrote for his birthday:


Ivan E. Coyote Gender Failure Book Cover

May 2, 2014
by Ivan Coyote
1 Comment

Between the Boat and the Duck

Between the Boat and the Duck

I remember doing a show years ago in Seattle. Like, maybe the year 2000, somewhere around there. I still smoked cigarettes back then, and I was standing around in the drizzle on the sidewalk after the performance was over, having a smoke and talking to some friends. A woman approached me, thanked me for the show, and then leaned in to tell me how much she appreciated hearing herself represented as a proud butch woman in my words.

“It’s getting rare these days, you know, stuff about being a butch.” She shifted her eyes right and then left, and then lowered her voice so no one but her and I could hear it. “You know, as in not a trans man, but a butch woman.”

I smiled and told her thanks, even though I often used the word butch to refer to myself, but didn’t really use the word woman so much. And in my heart I identified with my trans male brothers just as much as I ever did with my butch sisters, and always endeavoured to never draw lines in the sand between us as she just had.

I had already spent years feeling like I was perched with one foot on a trans-shaped rowboat and the other foot resting on a butch dock, balancing myself and my language and words and work in the space between them.

I also knew that as an artist, my job was to create and present the work, and then stand aside and let everyone decide for themselves how to interpret my writing, and how much of it resonated with them, or didn’t. I knew even then that the world is tragically devoid of enough words and work and images that represent butch reality in anything other than the butt of a your-mother-wears-army-boots joke. Butches are so often the punch line, and so rarely the subject, and almost never the hero. Who was I to challenge her interpretation and experience of my stories? She had seen herself in them, and took comfort and strength in that, and that to me was the point. Perhaps she had witnessed something other than what I had intended, but that didn’t matter enough for me to take those rare and good feelings away from her. So I shook her hand firmly, looked her right in the eyes and thanked her, and I meant it.

Not sixty seconds after she had jumped into her Subaru wagon and driven off, a young man stepped up to speak to me. He thanked me for my words that night, and told me how important my work had been for him as he navigated his transition and found his place in his new body and identity.

“Thank you so much for representing trans guys without forgetting about feminism. I’m like you. I am a man now but I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to just transition and become another misogynist dude so I can pass.”

Again, I thanked him and shook his hand. What purpose would be served by telling him I wasn’t a man? That I wasn’t just like him, that I didn’t plan to transition, that I don’t like or use the word “pass,” that I reject the hierarchy that the word pass helps to create, that I resist the binary system and celebrate the lives and bodies of other gender failures like myself?

I knew if I were to find the time for the two of us to sit down and really talk, I might discover that our worldviews weren’t really that different after all, it was just this limited language and the scarcity of shared meanings of words that made it seem like he had misinterpreted me.

So I chose to focus on what we shared, not what made us different, and told him how much I appreciated him coming out to my show. Then he asked me for a hug, so I gave him one, and I meant it.

For years I grappled with this balancing act, “she” stuffed into one front pocket of my jeans, and “he” rolling around in the other. Second-wave feminists raised one eyebrow at my masculine name, but never high enough that it kept them from hiring me for their well-paid women’s day gig at the university, and I continued to write about my trans experience, but as long as I was still okay with being referred to by female pronouns, it never cost me much.

When I first met Rae Spoon, they were a young, queer-identified country singer. They went by the “she” pronoun and wore satin cowboy shirts and crooned about trailers and dirt roads and hoedowns and broken hearts. Rae was talented and funny and had an unmistakable, completely unique and beautiful singing voice. Their star immediately began to rise, and Rae’s name started to make regular appearances on posters for major folk festivals all across the country. I loved Rae’s music, and listened to their first demo CD on repeat in my little apartment for months.

I remember when Rae changed their pronoun to “he,” and came out as trans. We had started doing shows together here gender failure and there, and had become friends. In 2007 we booked a tour together and collaborated on our first full-length project. By this time Rae was experimenting with indie rock and dabbling in electronica. Rae and I toured the You Are Here project quite a bit, singing and telling stories at some pretty big festivals and to sold-out theatres, and I watched as Rae struggled with good-old-boy union stage techs and straight sound guys as they repeatedly referred to Rae as she during load-ins and soundchecks and on stages, even when told multiple times what Rae’s chosen pronoun was. Rae was always gracious and professional, and took it in stride, but I could see their face twitch almost imperceptibly every time it happened, and I knew it wore Rae down, and weighed heavy on their slender shoulders. I felt fiercely, sometimes irrationally protective of Rae, which was often maddening, because there was really no way I could effectively shield them from these multitudes of daily indignities. I worried that they might slowly bleed to death from one thousand tiny wounds.

We never expected much better from the mainstream straight art and music scene, and so neither of us were all that disappointed. They called Rae she and both of us ladies, and we swallowed it and did our jobs, and were grateful for the work.

What was hard was watching how the queer communities and the women’s music scene handled Rae’s trans self. What was hard was watching trans guys who I would have thought should know better misgender Rae during introductions. Watching Rae swallow their rage and slip their guitar strap over those shoulders and get up there and sing with that beautiful voice like their heart hadn’t just been broken by someone who should have taken better care of his family.

I watched as fewer and fewer lesbians showed up for Rae’s shows, but still came out to mine. I watched for a couple of years as transphobia cost Rae in record sales and empty seats. The fact that Rae continued to tour the world, often by bus and mostly solo, and produce increasingly more nuanced and more widely received albums is a testament to not just their talent, but to their bravery and fortitude.

And me? I escaped being called the wrong pronoun by never choosing one, by telling myself over and over again that it didn’t matter what anyone called me when they welcomed me to the stage.

Creating the Gender Failure show and writing this book together with Rae has been like a second chance for me. My second chance to stand shoulder to shoulder, right beside my beloved younger sibling, and offer my apologies that I was standing behind them the first time around.


Excerpt from Gender Failure by Ivan E. Coyote and Rae Spoon (published by Arsenal Pulp Press, 2014).

Gender Failure is available on Arsenal Pulp Press and also on Amazon.

'Gender Failure' by Rae Spoon and Ivan E. Coyote

‘Gender Failure’ by Rae Spoon and Ivan E. Coyote


March 9, 2014
by Marcy Rogers

Excerpt from Lesbians Who Wear Lipstick:The Middle Ages

Being a writer/performer I tend to work out all my shiz through my work. Which is good because regardless of being a dyke I was destined from childhood to be a very angry person. This way I can turn it all into something that hopefully will strike a chord and cause a laugh.


Do I look like a woman who will never have another relationship as long as she lives? When you look at this face do you hear the words “step the fuck off?” Is there anything about my body language that verifies your sneaking suspicion that I will never love you as much as I love my cats?

Go ahead and laugh. But neither Sid or Mick have ever woken me up in the middle of the night to tell me they were having an online affair. They don’t stay out all night and if they did they would call first. They are not alcoholics and I’ve never seen them look at any of my friends wondering what it would feel like to lie between their legs all night. My taste in cats is infinitely better than my taste in women.

Enjoy being queer and don’t let anyone tell you how you are supposed to express that fucktabulous queerness.


March 8, 2014


In January 1895, the writer Andre Gide was at a hotel in Algeria when he suddenly learned that his friend Oscar Wilde was to arrive at the hotel. Gide packed his bags and called the reception to say he wished to check out of the hotel. The reason was that he did not wish Wilde’s path to cross his.

Oscar Wilde was homosexual and so was Gide. If Gide then avoided Wilde, it was because their approach to homosexuality was different. Gide was a devout Protestant to whom sexuality was subsumed by religion. Gide had come to terms with his sexuality no doubt, but felt that it called upon him to create a new integral self in place of an existing one, where nothing other than sexual object choice was different. If an oppositional desire (in terms of gender) led to heteronormativity, then Gide’s conception of desire within the framework of Christianity took him in the direction of ‘homonormativity’.

This is exactly what Oscar Wilde was opposed to. To Wilde, the belief that homosexuality was the handiwork of the Devil needed to be foregrounded. If homosexuality was a sin and a perversion (as the Bible called it) that fact had to be worn on one’s sleeve rather than guiltily shunned. In other words, the homosexual had to be proud of the fact that he was a pervert. To Wilde, homosexuality was a transgression, nothing less, nothing more, and on this was founded his very aesthetic as a man of letters.

In spite of Gide’s attempts to avoid Wilde in Algeria they finally met. Wilde introduced Gide to a dark-skinned flute player named Mohammed, whom both of them were attracted to. Gide spent the night with Mohammed in a state of bliss and ecstasy, and came to the same conclusion that E M Forster later would in India: homosexuality was ‘normal’ and ‘natural’ for him. But the conclusion, to Wilde, was an essentialist conclusion that led to “uniformity of type” and “conformity to rule.” On the other hand, Wilde believed in anti-essentialism and individualism in art and life that served to destabilize a conservative social order. The queer theorist Jonathan Dollimore summarizes this difference of perception of the two men in the following words: “For Gide, transgression is in the name of a desire and identity rooted in the natural, the sincere, the authentic. Wilde’s transgressive aesthetic is the reverse: insincerity, inauthenticity and unnaturalness become the liberating attributes of decentred identity and desire, and inversion becomes central to Wilde’s expression of this aesthetic…” (Dollimore, 14).

To Gide’s way of thinking, Wilde’s formulation was not just subversive, it was downright selfish because it did not take the moral values of civil society (in today’s terms) into account. Hence, in a letter to his mother, Gide described Wilde as “a most dangerous product of modern civilization.” (Dollimore, 5). However, to Wilde, selfishness consisted not in living as one desired to, but in asking others to live as one desired to. To ‘demoralize’, then, meant to liberate the soul from moral constraint.

To Foucault, the homosexuality of the ancient Greeks and Romans was no homosexuality. Instead, it was sodomy. While the former term implies gender transitivity, where the homosexual man may be both the penetrator and the penetrated (i.e. both active and passive in bed), the latter term implies gender intransitivity, where the sodomite is merely the penetrator. The penetrated, by this formulation, was not a man but a slave. He was usually a beardless boy (as opposed to a bearded man), and was consigned to play the passive role in bed. In Foucault’s words, “To be fucked is a necessity for a slave, a shame for a free man, and a favor returned for an emancipated slave.” (Lotringer, 364). Foucault frequently reiterates that “it is immoral for a free young man to be fucked.” If Oscar Wilde’s anti-essentialist theories of perversion and transgression are applied to Foucault’s slave, we see at once that ironically it is the slave rather than the free man who is given the onerous task of toppling a conservative social order and destabilizing normativity. The free man, then, emerges as not substantially different from the patriarchal heterosexual man, and leads us to conclude with Lucy Irigiray, Diana Fuss and other feminist critics that there is a deep connectedness between patriarchy and homosexuality. Foucault himself refers to the “return of monosexuality” where there is “a very clear separation between men and women.” The average homosexual of today is the sodomite of yesterday who has passed through the three stages of persecution, by the Church, the law, and the medical fraternity respectively.

Foucault intriguingly says: “To be gay is to be in a state of becoming…It is not necessary to be homosexual, but it is necessary to be set on being gay.” (Lotringer, 370). What does Foucault mean by the statement? To start with, Foucault is making a distinction between the words ‘homosexual’ and ‘gay’ which we tend to use synonymously today. He says: “Not to be gay is to say: ‘How am I going to be able to limit the effects of my sexual choice in such a way that my life doesn’t change (my emphasis) in any way?’” The question has to do with lifestyle choices, and it brings Foucault dangerously close to the views expressed by Oscar Wilde in the previous century.

Foucault is here suggesting that if one is in possession of a ‘deviant’ sexuality, one must use it to radicalize one’s ways of seeing. Such a radicalization would, for one, have to do with an inversion of received notions of morality that condemn all forms of sex other than monogamous vaginal sex between husband and wife for the purpose of procreation. There are a plethora of sexual behaviours and practices that Foucault’s position would validate, and these would include adultery, incest, bestiality, pedophilia, cunnilingus and fellatio, none of which can lead to the birth of ‘legitimate’ offspring. But rather than call them sexual behaviours or sexual practices, Foucault would call them “sexual choices” that are conducive to creative ways of living. Thus, Oscar Wilde’s transgressive aesthetic, and Foucault’s distinction between being homosexual and being set on being gay are both concerned with the destabilizing of normativity through the decentring of morality.

Several literary texts can be reinterpreted in the light of these views. To randomly name some of them: Dickens’ Great Expectations, Genet’s A Thief’s Journal, Laxman Gaikwad’s The Branded, Shyam Selvadurai’s Funny Boy. And not all of them have to do with sexuality per se.

One faithful follower of Oscar Wilde and Michel Foucault is the York University professor of English, Terry Goldie. His book Queersexlife: Autobiographical Notes on Sexuality, Gender and Identity, contains an entire chapter on anal sex, entitled “I Never Took it Up the Ass.” In this chapter Goldie openly admits in print to being what he calls “anal passive” (Foucault’s slave) without any traces of guilt and shame, which implies, for one thing, that he has demolished for himself all received notions of sociality and morality. But Goldie is anything but ‘homonormative’. Confessing that he was born to be a parent, the book provides a photograph of him with his two latest babies on the last page. Incidentally, Goldie has had several other babies in the past, some of whom are now way into their thirties. This leads Goldie to point out that “receptive anal sex for me is not limited to homosexuality.” In this context he further explains that on occasion “I have had women use strap-ons and I have used a double-ended dildo, with one end in the woman’s vagina and the other in my anus.” (Goldie, 125). In a way, Goldie, in the manner of Roland Barthes, rejects the active/passive binary and attempts to get beyond it. If anal sex implies passivity and gender intransitivity, Goldie says that although he has never himself indulged in active sex, i.e. penetrated a man or woman with his penis, he is “overtly male” in another sense. He then goes on to explain what he means: “If the male desire to insert is simply to achieve orgasm, then that would reflect my choice: I have the most powerful orgasm when masturbating with a penis in my anus.” (Goldie, 120). Elsewhere in the chapter, Goldie talks about fantasy: “…I must admit a flirtation with the transsexual when being fucked by a man. I find that when I am being penetrated by a penis, I sometimes fantasize about being penetrated vaginally.” (Goldie, 129).

Queersexlife is a work of serious scholarship, and Terry Goldie is a respectable (and respected) professor of English at York University in Toronto. Yet the explicit vocabulary he employs in his book (as the above-quoted statements testify) subverts the very language of scholarship and verges on the pornographic. But that is what Wilde probably meant by a transgressive aesthetic, restricted to not just subject matter but inclusive of form, and to not just literature but inclusive of criticism. Queersexlife certainly invites us to defer our judgment on the value of the book, for we have nothing quite like it anywhere in the world.

Eve Sedgwick’s Epistemology of the Closet, while deploying an alternative set of terminologies, endorses Wilde’s formulations of anti-essentialism and individualism. To Sedgwick, the polarization is between a “minoritizing” and a “universalizing” or “constructivist” view. Sedgwick defines a minoritizing view as one that sees “homo/heterosexual definition…as an issue of active importance primarily for a small, distinct, relatively fixed homosexual minority.” On the other hand, she defines a universalizing or constructivist view as “an issue of continuing, determinative importance in the lives of people across the spectrum of sexualities.” (Sedgwick, 1).

In the 20th and 21st centuries the gay community worldwide has opted to refer to itself as a minority community, or a sexual minority, to be more exact. In Sedgwick’s formulation, this is a minoritizing view that can lead its proponents to the antithetical states of ‘homonormativity’ (a term I have used earlier in connection with the authors Andre Gide and Terry Goldie), and ‘heterophobia’, derived obviously from the words heteronormativity and homophobia. Sedgwick’s own preference is for the constructivist view that takes into account a “spectrum of sexualities” that may be interpreted as not just lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersexual, hijra, koti etc., but, more significantly, as that which inherently has within itself an in-built resisting mechanism that protects it from normativity in general.

At the same time, Sedgwick’s universalizing spectrum of sexualities is simultaneously resistant to the idea of continuums and coalitions. Thus, a feminist-lesbian continuum, as Sedgwick herself, as well as influential queer theorists like Juidith Butler and Gayle Rubin have eloquently and painstakingly pointed out, is a myth. (In India, this was proved during the release of Deepa Mehta’s Fire in 1998, when, as Ashwini Sukthankar points out in her book Facing the Mirror: Lesbian Writing from India, lesbians who joined the protests against the Shiv Sena’s call to ban the film, were accused of hijacking the protests, since the film wasn’t a lesbian film per se).

Again, a gay-lesbian continuum or coalition is a myth. This has been proved, among others, by Adrienne Rich in her famous essay “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.” Commenting on Rich’s work, Eve Sedgwick writes: “In so far as lesbian object choice was viewed as epitomizing a specificity of female experience and resistance, in so far as a symmetrically opposite understanding of gay male object choice also obtained, and in so far also as feminism necessarily posited male and female experiences and interests as different and opposed, the implication was that an understanding of male homo/heterosexual definition could offer little or no affordance of interest for any lesbian theoretical project.” (Sedgwick, 37). Similarly, in her essay “The Lesbian Standpoint” in The Phobic and the Erotic: The Politics of Sexualities in Contemporary India, Ranjita Biswas suggests that lesbians, who generally uphold feminist arguments against patriarchy, come into conflict with gay men who interpret Foucault’s advocacy of lifestyle change as a carte blanche for promiscuity, which among other things has led to the AIDS epidemic of the 20th century.

Continuums and coalitions by this formulation come across as essentialist, rather than as constructivist and individualist. In my own case, my life and my work have been a continuous exploration of, and experiment with the destabilizing of normativity. My protagonists and I may be described as auto-erotic rather than allo-erotic, and gender transitive rather than gender intransitive, in terms of sexual behavior and identity. In The Boyfriend, Yudi invokes Aristotle to explain why masturbation to him is superior to allo-erotic sex: a masturbation fantasy belongs to the realm of representation that is a heightened version of reality. It is like the painter’s bed (in Aristotle’s formulation) as opposed to the carpenter’s bed. It thus exemplifies Oscar Wile’s transgressive aesthetic.

Ageist and classist sexual criteria recur in my life and work. In BomGay, The Boyfriend and other fictions and poems, the sexual object choice is always a man from the lower or working class (the great Indian underclass), much younger in age than the protagonist who is from the bourgeois middle class. In The Boyfriend, Yudi contrasts his relationship to Milind with a typical heteronormative relationship by pointing out that what must be same/similar (age, class) is different in their case; and what must be different (gender) is same in their case.

In both my life and work, my protagonists, though straight-acting and not camp, are Foucault’s slaves rather than Foucault’s free men, who, like Terry Goldie, are gender transitive and passive in the sex act. This voluntary embracing of sexual slavery and servitude may be a means of dismantling an oppressive moral and socio-political order. However, it is also a means of cancelling out a seeming class privilege that the bourgeois male protagonists in my life and work possess. This is an issue that Pramod K Nayar overlooks in his essay “Queering Culture Studies: Notes towards a Framework” in The Phobic and the Erotic (cited earlier), as he calls Yudi’s relationship with Milind in The Boyfriend “exploitative” (presumably in the Marxist sense). But Ruth Vanita, in her book Love’s Rite: Same Sex Marriage in India and the West, explains how Yudi’s seeming class privilege is neutralized in another sense: as the man who chooses not to marry on account of his gayness, it is he who remains excluded, as compared to the bisexual Milind who eventually gets married and becomes a part of mainstream heteronormative society.


WORKS CITED Bose Brinda and Bhattacharya Subhabrata eds., The phobic and the Erotic: The Politics of Sexualities in Contemporary India. Calcutta: Seagull Books, 2007. Dollimore Jonathan, Sexual Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Foucault. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991. Goldie Terry, Queersexlife: Autobiographical Notes on Sexuality, Gender and Identity. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008. Lotringer Sylvere ed., Foucault Live: Interviews 1961-1984. New York: Semiotext(e), 1996. Rao, R Raj, The Boyfriend. New Delhi: Penguin India, 2003. Sedgwick Eve Kosofsky, Epistemology of the Closet. Berkley: University of California Press, 1990. Sukthankar Ashwini, Facing the Mirror: Lesbian Writing from India. New Delhi: Penguin India, 1999. Vanita Ruth, Love’s Rite: Same Sex Marriage in India and the West. New Delhi: Penguin India, 2008.


March 6, 2014
by Sarah Schulman

From The Heart

Thanks so much to Lisa for inviting me to post.

There is a lot to think about and feel at this moment.

I know and believe in my heart of hearts that integrity, decency, healing everything that we want for ourselves and for each other, comes from communicating in person. In this place we find the insight and strength to understand how to have better lives. We become inspired and enriched by understanding with another person.


Simply looking them in the eye and hearing their voice alters us. And we have to change.


Loving someone doesn’t mean infantilizing them, or allowing them to control or to exploit or to stagnate. Loving someone really means helping them do the hard work of allowing for the change required for peacemaking, regardless of guilt or anxiety. And this means real difficult, uncomfortable conversation.


Hiding behind email is one of the simplest acts of destruction available to us. It dehumanizes, and creates the other as a specter: a non-human on whom we can project all our fears. But apparently it is practice for hiding behind the state.


Now we live in the age of the good queers and the bad. The good ones are HIV negative. Canadian law is in the process of convincing HIV negatives that communicating with their lovers is undesirable, that they are not responsible for having safe sex, and that anxieties/contradictions/misunderstandings are simply intolerable and should be punished. Instead the government is convincing negatives that they have been “criminally wronged” and should denounce their partners to the police for non0disclosure: even if they used a condom, even if no one got infected, even if the negative agreed to unsafe sex.


Now we live in the age of the good queers and the bad. The good queers have families. Even if those families replicate all the problems of straight families, they are better than the queer community of friends. Even if there is psychic pain created by the familial relationships. Even if the children are raised to be dependent and exploitative. Even if the role of mother is still one of guilt and martyrdom. Even if this new family cannot honestly face and deal with problems. Even if this new family creates outsiders as scapegoats, this is still a way of life that is to be praised and encouraged by the state and by the surrounding citizens. For family is the building block of nationalism. Even if it’s queer.

Whenever something doesn’t make sense, it is usually ideological.


The state, by giving some people access to the apparatus, and excluding others, divides the queer community of friends into who can speak and who cannot. Who can punish and who can be punished.  Who will be shunned.  Who does the shunning. Who will be threatened, who will do the threatening.   It’s Lord of the Flies: as soon as one person becomes an insider, a new outsider is created.


So here we are with the new insiders: The HIV negative, those in the new queer family. And here we are with the new abject objects, the new queers: the HIV positive, those not in families.


Instead of having difficult but necessary conversations with each other, we are being encouraged to call on the state to substitute for the relationship.  Being upset, angry or anxious is considered intolerable- instead we are told to call the police. They will protect us from having to humanize the person who used to be our lover, used to be our friend, used to be in our community. We are encouraged to demonize them, dehumanize them, instead of picking up the phone.


AIDS Action Now’s campaign against HIV Criminalization is called “Think Twice.” Think Twice before calling the police. The current scapegoating systems are so heightened and severe that hiv positive people are reduced to appealing to each person’s consciousness, asking them to refuse to access the unjust punishment process that they are being offered. To refuse Normalcy.  A prize that requires someone else being created as “abnormal.”


This year for Pride, Defy the Dehumanization.  Talk.

March 3, 2014
by Andrew

My Difference

Sunday morning I woke up next to the boy of my dreams, like every morning for the past year and a half. I kissed him good morning and reality set in that we agreed to go for brunch with a good friend and her mother who was in town from Brussels. We took our showers, got dressed, fixed the bed, and I asked him which shoes look better; red high-top converse, grey Adidas, or my nice black leather shoes. My outfit that day was versatile. He rightly pointed to the nice black leather shoes and we made our way out of the door. We walked, hand in hand to the bus stop, arguing over something silly, and waited for the bus.

We arrived to our destination a whole fifteen minutes early, a feat for living in a vast city like London. Although we arrived early, the line up to get into the restaurant went right to the corner. Impatiently we waited while we got news that our friend and her mother would be late. We waited patiently and moved up very slowly. Another couple joined us in the back of the line, amused by the 10:00am crowd on a Sunday. The woman, an impatient Eastern European blonde hiding under a floppy purple hat and sunglasses was trying to persuade her husband to go to the restaurant at the other corner, while he grumpily refused and stared in disbelief at the crowd of people inside.

The couple in front of us argued about the price of some commodity, while their son complained of hunger and boredom. Karim, my partner, asked if we argued like that. I responded with a quiet yes and we smiled at each other, reminiscing over the political debate we had on our Valentine’s day dinner in Lille, France.

The next thing we knew, we were at the front of the line, while others had filled the gap from our position to the corner. Across the street came our friend Natacha and her mom who greeted us with smiles. Shortly thereafter, we were ushered into the small Australian Cuisine restaurant. It was lightly decorated in whites and pale yellows. We ordered our food and had a pleasant meal, overeating only slightly.

After paying the bill and saying goodbye, Karim and I went for a walk around Portobello Market, looking at old maps, antique furnishings, and swerving through the crowds. Finally we decided to take the bus home, where we spent the rest of the day on the couch, watching movies, and taking naps.

Later that evening, my mom called me with some bad news. A friend’s mother had passed away in Montreal. Saddened and shocked by the news, I managed to get in touch with my friend, and gave my condolences. Karim sat puzzled, wondering what happened and why I was so frazzled after such a relaxing afternoon and early evening. I told him how I’ve known this girl since I was 16, and had remained friends with her since, how her mother had become friends with my mother. How my friend is about 7months pregnant, and just moved back in with her husband to her mother’s house a week ago to help her while she underwent chemotherapy. Karim held me close as the shock of the news settled.

As my mind started to calm down, we made our way to bed, turning off the lights behind us. We crawled under the sheets and I kissed him goodnight and we closed our eyes and fell asleep.

Every day that I am with Karim, talk about him, or mention him in passing, are days that I influence someone’s perceptions, not only of myself or our relationship, but the perceptions of what it means to be gay, arab, and in a relationship. We may not frequent pride, or the village, but we make our statement in other ways and celebrate our diversity just the same; by showing people that we are the same… only different.

March 2, 2014
by Lisa Deanne Smith
1 Comment

Growing up with my gay dad…

My father died on September 3, 2012. He was 74 years old and a gay man. The following June, my sister, my daughter and I spent a weekend going through my dad’s belongings. As we decided what to do with his leather pants and cap I thought about the queer community and how it has changed since my father came out in the 1970s. Back then, it wasn’t easy to be a gay man or a gay father but it was possible — barely. It had only been legal to participate in consensual homosexual acts in Canada since 1969, although George Klippert was arrested in the Northwest Territories just before the law changed as “incurably homosexual” and a dangerous sexual offender for admitting to having consensual homosexual sex with four separate adult men. He was not released from Canadian jail until June 1971. I was six years old at the time and had no idea how brave my father was to publicly be who he was.

Through my father I learned there were alternative lifestyles to explore as the mainstream didn’t seem to fit either of us well. We both liked to party and as we discovered when he lived in Vancouver in the early 80s, we made a great team! We would start a night out at the Luv-A-Fair on Seymour Street. I danced to punk music while my dad warmed up with a few drinks. One night a young man tried, unsuccessfully, to hit on me. He turned to my father and asked, “Why is she with you old man?” My father replied slowly with his warm smile, “Because I’ve got the money, honey!” We both chuckled and left for John Barley’s in Gastown. The club was packed to the rafters with sweaty, muscle bound men (and a few women) dancing to loud disco and my father knew most of them. I lost myself on the dance floor, once in a while finding my dad with my eyes and a smile.

The late 80s were a very intense time as many of his friends began to die from AIDS related illnesses. It was scary and heart wrenching and the air was full of fear and lies. My father refused to get tested. He hated illness of any kind and spent hours at the gym to stay in shape and socialize. He remained steadfast in his decision until the late 90s when antiretroviral treatments became available in Canada. One day he called me out of the blue to share his test results. He got lucky and they were negative. Many weren’t so fortunate: in 1994 there were 32,995 Canadians living with HIV.

Pride Toronto became a family event for my dad and me after he returned to Toronto and the Village Green high-rises in the heart of the village. We adored the beer gardens, prancing up a storm. One year his crew did a float for the parade. My father was Cleopatra with a harem of frond waving slaves. I was so proud of him. I didn’t know anyone with a gay parent and it empowered me to have a place to openly celebrate us and queer culture. He led by example, teaching me to be kind and accepting to all people, even those with differing morals without giving up my beliefs. It isn’t always easy.

One night, returning from a dinner party, my father was brutally gay bashed while walking the pathway between the high-rise buildings on Maitland and Alexander (the area is now fenced in and locked). He was hospitalized and shaken to his core, often waking suddenly from reoccurring dreams of revenge on the three young men who stole his sense of safety. Soon after his physical recovery, he bought a house in Crystal Beach, Ontario with two of his oldest friends. A small town with an active queer community in which they could retire gracefully — and the YMCA was still only a bike ride away!

Storytelling becomes a political action. It is important to hear these stories, understand and celebrate how they affect our lives of both within and outside of the queer community. Years ago all the sidewalks in Toronto had curbs and did not slope down onto the roads at crossings as they do now. Disability activists lobbied for sloping curbs, or curb cuts, and now we all take these for granted, enjoying easier movement through the city. Looking back through generations of queer activism I realize how positively queers have affected human rights for everyone. We have a lot to be thankful for. Thank you. I am grateful the conversation continues.

Lisa Deanne Smith, curator, Generations of Queer

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