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February to March 2008 - News Archive

Queer West Community Network

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Does gay ‘diversity’ require new labels?

Outexpressions: Saturday March 15, 2008, excerpt original published in Southern Voice by Ryan Lee With mainstream society committed to using derogatory terms for sexual minorities such as “sodomite” and “queer,” gay people were often compelled to create more affirming labels, said Kira Hall, an associate professor of linguistics and anthropology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Kira Hall, a linguistics professor at the University of Colorado, said creating and finding comfortable labels is a common experience among marginalized groups. (Photo courtesy University of Colorado)

“What historical linguistics shows is that any time you have a term associated with a marginalized group, that term, over time, will take on a negative connotation because the group itself is marginalized and seen in a negative way,” Hall said.

The “semantic pejoration” of terms that describe people with same-sex attractions fuels a cycle where people are constantly looking for a safe, validating label,she added. Many people assume the evolution of language ended when the term “gay” gained colloquial currency in the middle of the last century. “‘Gay’ is only like 30-40 years old, so in terms of it being a socially collective term, it’s not that old,” said Cleo Manago, who is credited with developing the “same-gender loving” term and identity for black people in the early 1990s.

English philosopher Jeremy Bentham was one of the first advocates to link the mobilization of homosexuals with the creation of an affirming label for that previously unconnected group of people. “It is by the power of names, of signs originally arbitrary and insignificant, that the course of the imagination has in great measure been guided,” Bentham wrote in 1814, according to “Toward Stonewall,” by University of Virginia history professor Nicholas Edsall.

At least a half-dozen terms, most of them pejorative slang, were popularly used to describe people with same-sex desires before the 20th century: pederasts, buggeries, fairies, and sodomites for men, tribades and Sapphos for women. The term homosexual became vogue during the latter half of the 1800s, and was embraced by many interested in establishing an identity beyond their sexual acts, according to Edsall.

“The sodomite, in short, was defined by what he did,” Edsall wrote. “The homosexual, on the other hand, is defined by his sexual orientation, by what he is and not by what he does.” Atlanta resident Ron Floda, 52, remembers when homosexual competed with queer as the term du jour to describe people with same-sex desires. Floda recalled feeling the relief and excitement when people began referring to themselves as gay. “I prefer ‘gay,’ it’s more comfortable and not as negative as some of the other words used to be,” Floda said.

Media outlets often strive to use terms that are most acceptable to minority groups, and since 1977, the Associated Press style book — the industry gold standard — has recommended using “gay” instead of “homosexual.” One of the last remaining holdouts in the media was the Washington Times, a conservative newspaper that used outdated terms when writing about the “homosexual” agenda. In a move lauded by gay media watchdogs, the new editor of the Washington Times, Wes Pruden, recently instructed his staff to begin using gay instead of homosexual, and to no longer use derisive quotation marks when referring to gay marriage.

The AP Style Book notes that “gay” can be used for both men and women, but “lesbian” is the preferred label for homosexual females. “When you have a marginalized group, it needs a label that is not a pejorative label, the first aspect is to get a label that sort of canvasses over everyone,” said Hall, the linguistic professor. “As that group becomes less marginalized and more visible, people begin to realize there’s a lot of divisions within that larger group. There’s diversity within ‘gay,’ and that requires new terms.”

Steven Emmanuel used to identify as same-gender loving to avoid the connotations that accompany gay, until he felt restricted by that label as well.

“It wasn’t very inclusive of me because I’m not same-gender loving — I love men, women, transgender,” said Emmanuel, author of the “Queer Kid of Color” blog. Emmanuel settled on the label queer because he believed “it’s something that embraces the full fluidity of sexuality and gender” without the cumbersome LGBTQQ-etc. acronym.

Those initials also continue to evolve, with the familiar LGBT now stretching to variations that even some gay people may not recognize. Some groups now refer to LGBTQIQ — with the Qs standing for “queer” and “questioning” and the I meaning “intersexed” — while others add A for “allies” or other combinations. “There’s so many different labels that mean so many different things — it’s dividing within a community that has already been divided,” Emmanuel said.

Canadian researchers find gene that may block HIV and the onset of AIDS

Outexpressions: Friday February 29, 2008. Researchers at the University of Alberta have made a breakthrough with the discovery of a gene that might block the spread of HIV and the onset of AIDS. The hope is that the discovery could lead to a vaccine that would combat the deadly virus. Lead researcher Steven Barr said the gene, known as TRIM22, has a natural anti-viral defence function and has the ability to block HIV. Though the research is admittedly in its infancy, Barr said the goal now is to study how the gene works in hopes to mimic its ability to combat the virus.

"It's exciting because it's a natural defence against HIV. So if we can harness this without the toxic effect of drugs it's going to be beneficial for HIV patients in the future," Barr told CTV's Canada AM on Friday. Barr and his team worked with scientists at the University of Pennsylvania to discover the gene and identify its role. TRIM22 works like hundreds of other genes in the human body to fight viruses, but is especially well suited to defending against HIV. The researchers' lab tests have shown that when TRIM22 is triggered in cell cultures that have HIV, it blocks the virus from assembling and locks it in the cell, preventing it from spreading.

How it works:

Interferons are proteins produced by human cells to turn on the anti-viral defence, when needed to protect against a virus threat. Mysteriously, the interferons' response does not seem to function properly in patients who have the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. TRIM22, Barr's team has discovered, is one of hundreds of genes that is triggered by those interferons to act defensively against viruses, and especially against HIV -- but not in patients who have the virus. The discovery shows for the first time that the human body has a gene that is capable of fighting HIV, giving new hope for a treatment breakthrough. "We would want to try and mimic the antiviral effect of TRIM22, we can do this by either drugs or vaccine or find ways to turn this thing on in HIV patients when in fact it's not on," Barr said

He cautioned the discovery is not a cure, and suggested it could take 10 years before the findings result in treatment options. But the discovery is a step towards finding a cure, and provides hopes to those living with the devastating effects of HIV and AIDS.

"You have to make these small little discoveries so it paves the way for bigger developments," Barr said. He added: "The more information we can gather the sooner we can get to these drugs or vaccines." Source: CTV.ca

SNAP! is expected to raise $140,000 for AIDS Committee of Toronto

Outexpressions: Friday February 29, 2008. Calling all art buffs, socialites and photographers - SNAP!, one of Canada's leading photography events and a vital fundraiser for the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT), is a night not to be missed! Held on Sunday, March 2nd and in its seventh year, SNAP! Is expected to raise $140,000 and draw more than 750 art aficionados to the chic National Ballet School in Toronto. This swanky event will feature a gala reception, a photography competition with over 300 works from professional and amateur photographers, a live auction, and a silent auction. William Thorsell, Director of the Royal Ontario Museum, will be serving as the honorary chair of SNAP!08. This year will also see a "Best of Canada" theme represented by photographic work from Bryan Adams. This theme will carry over to a student competition from a selection of Canada's top photography programs as well as a line-up of first-class photographers including Andy Summers, Angela Grossman, Chris Curreri and Jesse Boles.

The AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) delivers responsive, effective, and valued community-based HIV support services and education, prevention, outreach and fundraising programs that promote the health, well-being, worth and rights of individuals and communities living with, affected by and at risk for HIV/AIDS, and increase awareness of HIV/AIDS. Founded in 1983, ACT provides emotional and practical support services to men, women and youth living with HIV/AIDS, and offers support to their family, friends and partners. ACT works with gay and bisexual men, Portuguese-speaking communities, youth, and women at increased risk for HIV infection to develop and deliver HIV/AIDS information, education and outreach programs. ACT staff and volunteers are dedicated to responding to the changing nature of HIV/AIDS.

What: SNAP 08 - A celebration of contemporary photography gala event in support of ACT. Why: Net proceeds from SNAP! Directly support the essential programs and services offered free of charge by ACT to people in our community infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

When: Sunday, March 2, 2008, Doors open at 6:00 p.m. Where: The National Ballet School located at 400 Jarvis Street (Jarvis and Carlton area). Street parking available. For more information on ACT Toronto and the photographs available at SNAP!08 visit www.snap-toronto.com.

Toronto's first gay Book Slam and panel discussion

Outexpressions: Monday February 25, 2008 by Michael F. Paré. One and All Welcome at Java Knights Public Forum: Guest Speakers to Sex Workshops and everything in between Gay West Community Network and ACT Toront (AIDS Committee of Toronto) collaborated in 2006 to initiated a series of monthly community forums to stimulate a needed dialogue amongst west end queers on Issues: ranging from racism, body image, family, how we age, inter-racial coupling, and the important role, that having fun plays in our lives. ACT Toronto has a mandate to make itself heard throughout the greater Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and felt that by aligning with Gay West Community Network, they felt would be an excellent opportunity to perhaps reach a new audience that doesn’t frequent the downtown core regularly. So each Tuesday evening monthly, generally consists of some form of presentation, guest speaker or performance.

Toronto Gay Book Slam

On Tuesday March 25, five guest, gay and lesbian Toronto authors will be taking part in a literary panel discussion, at the Gladstone Hotel. Jeffrey Round, Todd Klinck, Donald D'Haene, Pat Capponi and Debra Anderson. Format: Authors will be reading for 5 minutes each (approx half hour), followed by moderated panel discussion and audience questions for the last 90 minutes. Author's books will be available for purchase and signing.

Authors Biographies

Jeffrey Round is an award-winning author, director and editor. Jeffrey has a degree in English Literature from Dalhousie University, where he also studied classical guitar and theatre. He is a graduate from the Humber School for Writers and attended Ryerson University’s Film and Television program. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including Best Director, Best use of Music, Canada Council Production Grant, for My Heart Belongs to Daddy (short film); the Right to Privacy Award for Zebra (a stage play); an Ontario Arts Council Poetry Award and Arts Criticism Award. His first novel, A Cage of Bones, was published in 1997 by the Gay Men’s Press (UK). It garnered acclaim and topped bestseller lists in Canada, the US, Iceland, Australia and others. His second novel, The P’Town Murders, was published by the Haworth Press' Southern Tier Editions in Summer 2007. His third novel, The Honey Locust, is scheduled for publication by Cormorant Books in 2009. More recently he has worked as a producer and writer for Alliance Atlantis and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Round currently lives in Toronto area. Jeffrey will be reading from his book, The P’Town Murders

Todd Klinck (born 1974 in Windsor, Ontario) is a Canadian writer and pornography producer. A graduate of Walkerville Secondary High School in 1994. Klinck moved to Toronto at age 18 to study theatre at York University, but dropped out to focus on his career. In 1996, his novel "Tacones (High Heels)" was the winner of the Three-Day Novel Contest, and was published by Anvil Press to strong reviews in the "Toronto Star" and "Quill and Quire". Todd also collaborated with John Palmer and Jaie Laplante on the screenplay for the 2004 film Sugar, which garnered a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 25th Genie Awards and was a columnist for fab magazine until 2005. Klinck and his business partner Mandy Goodhandy have also launched several sex businesses in the Toronto area, including a transgender strip club, "The Lounge", an adult DVD production company, "Mayhem North", and a porn site, "Amateur Canadian Guys". Their most recent endeavour is a pansexual nightclub "Goodhandy's" located in downtown Toronto. Klinck has also worked as a professional bondage dominant, and has appeared on KinK, a Canadian television series, which first aired in 2001on Showcase Todd will be reading from his book "Tacones (High Heels)"

Donald D’Haene 48, Born in St. Thomas, and growing up in Southwestern Ontario, has been freelance writing since 1988. His short stories can be found in The Good Life (2000) and Memories of Elgin and Middlesex (2000). He is also an actor with Armstrong Talent (APA Management) in Toronto, Canada. D'Haene is Associate Reviewer for RebeccasReads.com and author of the sexual abuse memoir, Father's Touch. D’Haene now shares his home in London Ontario, with three Siamese cats, his mother and his partner Maurice, with whom he celebrated a 10th anniversary last October. Donald will be reading from his Father's Touch

Pat Capponi (born 1949) is a Canadian author and an advocate for mental health issues and poverty issues in Canada. Capponi is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Upstairs in the Crazy House: The Life of a Psychiatric Survivor, as well as Dispatches from the Poverty Line, The War at Home: An Intimate Portrait of Canada's Poor and Bound by Duty: Walking the Beat with Canada's Cops. Capponi has served on numerous agency and hospital boards, developed a leadership facilitation program specific to the psychiatric survivor community and is a founding member of the Gerstein Centre in Toronto. She has been awarded the Order of Ontario and the C. M. Hincks Award from the Canadian Mental Health Association. Pat Capponi lives in Toronto, where she is working on the second installment in her Dana Leoni mystery series. Pat will be reading from her book, Last Stop Sunnyside (HarperCollins, 2006)

Debra Anderson is a recipient of the prestigious George Ryga Award for Playwriting and a graduate of the York University Creative Writing Program. A regular on the Toronto reading scene for most of the last decade, Debra's writing has been anthologized in Geeks, Misfits and Outlaws (McGilligan Books, 2003), Bent On Writing: Contemporary Queer Tales (Women's Press, 2002), and the Lambda-nominated Brazen Femme: Queering Femininity (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2002). Literary journal credits include Fireweed, Xtra, The Church-Wellesley Review, Tessera, periwinkle, Zygote, Acta Victoriana, Hook & Ladder, and dig as well as the now defunct Siren and Queers On-Line. She has performed at The Robson Reading Series (Vancouver), Festival Voix d'Amériques (Montreal), Durtygurls Reading Series (Ottawa), Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (Toronto), the Red Spot (Toronto), and at numerous benefits in the Toronto queer community. She has most recently performed at this year's tenth anniversary of the Thin Air 2006 - Winnipeg International Writers Festival. Debra was the guest author in February 2007 at Pink Ink - a Toronto writing group for queer/trans youth at the 519 Community Centre. Anderson is also the organizer and promoter of Get Your Lit Out, an ongoing reading series based in Toronto that promotes local female authors. She also organizes and promotes additional local literary events and writes book reviews for Shameless Magazine. Debra Anderson currently resides in Toronto, Ontario. Debra will be reading from her book, Code White (McGilligan Books, 2005)

Book Slams are very popular in England (www.bookslam.com) over the pond, they make it into a fun evening, top writers, live music and DJ's. The Java Knights Book Slam is a first in Toronto and probably North America. It's certainly the first gay Book Slam in the world.

Toronto: Gay Literary Book Slam @ Java Knights Public Forum Tuesday March. 25th., Gladstone Hotel Art Bar - 1214 Queen St W at Dufferin. FREE, fresh finger food served and soft drinks, cash bar. Event runs from 7 PM to 9 PM. So we know how many are coming. Queer West, Toronto Ontario.

( Dec 15, 2009: Java Knights closed up and ended, March 16, 2009)

Gay Toronto media mogol buys fab magazine

Outexpressions: Toronto, Saturday February 9, 2008. Xtra publisher Pink Triangle Press has signed a deal to buy fab, Toronto's bi-weekly gay lifestyle and entertainment mag (fab magazine.) The deal (no price tag disclosed) closes on Feb. 25. The March 6 issue of Fab will be the first edition published under the auspices of Pink Triangle.

Pink Triangle Press is also publisher of the Ultimate Pride Guides in Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa, as well as international gay travel mag The Guide. The combined circulation of PTP's print pubs is now 156,000, with a reach of about 275,000 monthly readers. Along with its operations in Internet, television and interactive media, PTP's total reach in the gay community is over half a million.

fab will be overseen by Brandon Matheson, publisher and editor-in-chief of PTP's eastern publishing division, which also produces the Toronto bi-weekly Xtra, owed by Pink Triangle Press, 491 Church Street. Founded in 1971, Pink Triangle Press a not-for-profit corporation, with offices in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, publishing Capital Xtra, Xtra and Xtra West and operating Xtensions, Cruiseline and Xtra.ca.

fab is a Canadian gay scene magazine, which publishes biweekly in Toronto, Ontario. It publishes alternate weeks to the city's other biweekly gay publication, Xtra!. The publication’s official spelling uses a lower-case F: fab.

fab started publishing in June, 1994. In 1996, fab also launched a national edition, known as FAB National to distinguish itself from the local Toronto publication. The national magazine struggled to build an audience, and was sold in 1998; its new owners ceased publication of the magazine within a few months.

Described as a "gay scene magazine", fab covers popular Toronto gay culture, including music and clubbing. Feature articles are usually news-related and deal with literature, AIDS, real estate, music, and other current-affairs topics. Photo spreads are common, and fab covers typically feature a young male model, often without a shirt.

The magazine had several editors prior to 1998, when John Kennedy took over. In the next four years, he increased readership and advertising revenues. After 100 issues, Kennedy was replaced by Mitchel Raphael in 2002; Raphael left the magazine in January of 2006 and was replaced by Steven Bereznai. In April 2007, Bereznai stepped down as editor-in-chief of the magazine, to write a book. He has since been replaced by Paul Gallant, Xtra's former managing editor.

Gallant, the editor-in-chief of fab, sounded a note of caution about PTP controlling both publications."I'm obviously concerned that they might want to turn it into Xtra Lite," he told Krishna Rau ( Xtra reporter) on Friday February 8 during an interview. "I think it should be a bit of a red flag for people who are concerned about media concentration."

Pink Triangle Press began, in fact if not in name, in October 1971, when a small group of people in Toronto got together to publish a gay paper. They set themselves up as a collective, volunteers sharing work and operating without a formal hierarchy. The paper they produced was The Body Politic, a journal of gay liberation news and opinion.

The Body Politic was entirely volunteer-run until 1973, when some collective members began being paid as staff. But volunteers, hundreds of them over the years, remained The Body Politic's true human base. The collective also remained the paper's governing body.

Pink Triangle Press was incorporated in 1975 to give TBP formal existence as a not-for-profit company. The name was taken from the pink triangle used to identify gay inmates of Nazi concentration camps, an indication of the Press's interest in history and its commitment to gay resistance.


Kinky Montreal media hound takes interest in Toronto's queer neighbourhoods

Outexpressions: Wednesday February 6, 2008 - Andrea Zanin, otherwise known as the Sex Geek on her wordpress blog. Describes herself as a gender-fluid queer-kinky-poly gal living in Montreal, Canada. She was up in the Big Smoke on Tuesday January 29, 2008 and attended a talk given at the Gladstone Hotel, which she says "seems to be the location of choice for all sorts of interesting events, many but not all of them queer" (just the kind of ratio I like.) "This one was part of a monthly series of talks put on by Java Knights (a queer public forum), and it was a panel discussion entitled “The Future of Queer Neighbourhoods in Toronto.”

Zarin: "It started at 7pm, so I walked in around 7:15, fully expecting to be one of the first people to arrive. Not so. The place was packed and I found myself sitting in the hallway so as not to rudely interrupt the goings-on by walking in partway through. This was my first lesson in Toronto event etiquette: these folks start shit on time. Yikes! None of that lackadaisical “Montreal time” stuff, where people show up whenever they please and things get started when the room feels full enough. Duly noted!"

Reference sources: Toronto Star - Somewhere beyond the rainbow and Java Knights Media Hound takes interest Read Andrea Zanin's full article From gaybourhood to queer diaspora from-gaybourhood-to-queer-diaspora/

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