Happy Pride! Queer Year in Review

Happy Pride, everyone!

Seeing as how it’s New Queer’s Day (at least in Montreal), I think it’s only appropriate to take stock (an unexhaustive one, at that) of what happened in the world of LGBT Canadians this past year. (Yes, I’m compiling this because I’m too tired after a week of Pride festivities to write my own original article.)

So let’s backtrack first to last August when Canadians were collectively mourning the loss of LGBT hero and newly-minted Leader of the Opposition Jack Layton. Canada’s queer newspaper of record, Xtra! published an excellent summary of the role Layton played in Canada’s queer history.

In September of last year, the National Post landed itself in hot water when it ran a transphobic ad featuring a picture of a young girl with the text “Please don’t confuse me. I’m a girl. Don’t teach me to question if I’m a boy, transexual, transgendered, interesexed, or two spirited.” After an uproar from queer activists and organizations around the country, the National Post issued an apology and said they would donate all funds to an LGBT organization.

October saw the country again galvanized by another tragic event—the suicide of teenager Jamie Hubley. Hubley suicide was one of many by queer teenagers being highlighted in the media at the time. What made Hubley’s story all the more heartbreaking, though, was that he documented his depression online in the weeks leading up to his suicide.

November was a more positive month for LGBT people as the Université de Québec À Montréal created a first-of-its-kind-in-Canada research chair to study and fight homophobia. The chair’s role “will allow the sexology department to bring together experts on the subject of homophobia and develop tools to intervene and prevent the behaviour.”

In December, a federal government policy stating that trans people must undergo sex reassignment surgery to change the sex on their passport came to light and caused an uproar. The long-standing policy highlights the everyday legal struggles still faced by transgender Canadians. There is still no word as to whether this policy will change anytime soon.

The start of 2012 was marred by the realization that foreign same-sex couples who were married in Canada were not legally entitled to get divorced here. The Conservatives were accused of reopening the marriage debate, and general pandemonium swept the country. At the end of the day—after journalists bothered to check their facts—it turns out that the Conservatives were just enforcing actual laws on the books. But, instead of opening up the debate, the Cons swiftly vowed to bring the law up to date, thus affording everyone their god-given right to divorce.

A light month (from my memory), February saw the creation of Canada’s first gay fraternity at McGill University. Supposedly it’s not as porn-like as I’d originally wished it were.

A major campaign to combat homophobia in sports, You Can Play, was launched in March by general manager of the Toronto Maple Leaves Brian Burke and his son Patrick Burke. The campaign is in honour of another of Brian’s sons, Brendan, who died in a car accident in 2010 less than a year after coming out. The campaign has drawn both big names and little-known teams from the hockey world in the U.S and Canada and is growing in popularity.

In April, transgender beauty contestant Jenna Talackova was booted from the Miss Universe competition after it was discovered that she isn’t a “natural born” female (whatever that means). After much a fuss in the press with barbs being thrown by both infamous lawyer Gloria Allred and so-called real estate mogul Donald Trump, Talackova was allowed back into the competition. Though she didn’t end up winning the crown, she did win over the hearts and minds of Canadians.

In May, Rob Ford surprised many-a-queer in Toronto by reading a statement against homophobia—his first action in defence of Toronto’s queer community (to my knowledge). Here’s my entirely cynical take on the whole thing.

June was a fantastic month for queers, at least in Ontario, where both a transgender human rights bill and an anti-bullying bill were passed in the legislature after long battles. A transgender rights bill is also currently advancing in the House of Commons after receiving support from some Conservative parliamentarians after watering down the wording, much to the chagrin of activists who’ve been long-working on the bill.

Closing out the year of big news, in July a federal court ruled that Canada’s refugee workers should not “not rely on stereotypes to determine if a person is gay.” It’s been a tumultuous year for refugees in Canada as the Conservatives implement measures that immigration activists say are unfair and unnecessary.

So, as I said before, this list is not exhaustive. Don’t get angry with me for leaving something out or for outright forgetting. It’s been a long-ass week, guys, and my memory ain’t too hot right now. If you think I’ve left something off this list, leave a comment down below, and I’ll update the article if need be.

(Check out our photo gallery from pride here.)

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