I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know a whole lot about comics. I’ve seen the movies and read some of the more popular titles (Archie and Watchmen included), but that’s the extent of my comic knowledge.

So when the cover for Marvel’s latest “Astonishing X-Men” issue, featuring a same-sex couple kissing at the altar, made the rounds on gay blogs last week, I did a double-take. Not to be outdone, DC Comics also announced they would be outing one of their long-standing popular characters. Since when had comics become so explicitly, instead of implicitly, gay?

Originally, I wasn’t going to write this piece—I don’t know nearly enough about the topic, and the people who do are savage in their passion. But comics are important to more than just the people who read them. They have the power to influence the mindsets of children and to change the attitudes of adults. And with the barrage of superhero films in the last decade, comic book characters have been reaching a wider audience than ever before, thus increasing their potential for impact.

This impact is not lost on One Million Moms, an offshoot of the American “Family” Association, which opposes gay rights, pornography, and workers’ rights, among other fabulous things. Advocating a boycott of the two comic publishers, OMM released a statement saying,

“This is ridiculous! Why do adult gay men need comic superheroes as role models? They don’t but do want to indoctrinate impressionable young minds by placing these gay characters on pedestals in a positive light. These companies are heavily influencing our youth by using children’s superheroes to desensitize and brainwash them in thinking that a gay lifestyle choice is normal and desirable. As Christians, we know that homosexuality is a sin (Romans 1:26-27).”


Of course, like recent boycotts of gay-related products, this will likely be a boon for both DC and Marvel who will revel in the spoils of their sinful ways—and so they should. Just look at what happened to sales at Starbucks after they took a pro-gay stance. Cha-ching!

One Million Moms does make at least one good point, though. Introducing gay people (superheroes and non-superheroes alike) into the lives of children and teens probably affects their future respective attitudes toward gays. But whereas OMM sees this as an affront to all that is holy, I see this as a healthy acknowledgement of the diversity in our society—a diversity that is only growing. It goes without saying that this is not “brainwashing”, but is, in fact, educational. As for convincing children that there’s a magical man in the sky who judges them for touching themselves…

Anyways, back to the action. These latest steps by Marvel and DC, while significant in the grand scheme of things, are not the first to be taken. The X-Man Northstar—the superhero who marries his fiancé in the latest Marvel comic—smashed out of his closet in 1992, and in 2006, Batwoman came out as a lesbian, an event that was voted the number one most important gay moment in comic book history.

Northstar’s wedding to his non-superhero boyfriend, it should be noted, is not the first same-sex ceremony to take place in the world of comics. Earlier this year, Archie Comics’ newcomer Kevin Keller married his boyfriend. (I, myself, was more surprised to know that people still read Archie. To each their own, I suppose.)

Of course, the best thing to come from these developments is the potential for gay superheroes to appear on the silver screen. The steps taken by the comic world giants thus far are important in their own right, but bringing them to life on the silver screen will have the greatest effect on changing the attitudes of bigoted people while telling youth that even gay people can be heroes.

This seems unlikely, though, given that these films are heavily marketed toward the “bro” market, members of which I imagine would be put-off at the sight of their male superhero passionately kissing his boyfriend as the dust settles after an epic battle. (If it were Batwoman and her girlfriend, well, that’d be a different story.)

I guess we’ll just need to wait to let the gay-brainwashing take effect before we can expect to see these characters 50 feet tall and in full 3D glory. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the fact that superheroes are busting out of closets to let kids know that it’s okay to be gay (and pissing off conservatives in the process).

Canada’s most irritating mayor, Rob Ford, spoke to Toronto’s queer community for the first time ever when he read a proclamation against homophobia and transphobia last week.

Who knew that the straight-laced Ford was an ardent supporter of queer rights all along? But seriously, the mayor’s proclamation may have won praise from some, but his words rang hollow in the ears of this queer.

Why? For one, the man has ignored Canada’s largest gay population for years. Unlike his three immediate predecessors, Ford has attended Toronto’s Pride Parade—the largest in the country—a total of zero times as a public figure. That’s right. Zero. Instead, he takes refuge in his queer-proof cabin—a fortress of purity and virtue—for a Brady-Bunch-worthy weekend with the family, not to return until the assless chaps are out of sight and the glitter is cleared from the streets.

Now, it’s no crime to prefer camping over campy, but to feign tolerance is unacceptable. Toddling up to a microphone for 77 seconds to conduct a piss-poor reading of a proclamation does not constitute positive change. For the love of Lady Gaga, the man is the mayor of a veritable gay mecca!

His disdain for queer issues was made all the more evident when he scurried to the exit as quick as he could, answering no questions from the press about his supposed change of heart. This is because Ford’s last-minute participation is nothing more than a cold-hearted, politically-calculating move for the sole purpose of stymying controversy this summer when he yet again skips out on Pride week. If he’d stuck around, he may have realized how insulting his actions really were.

If Ford actually gave a damn about the queer community—if he’d “evolved” as Obama has—he would have taken the time to tell us. He’d have told us what it means for him to stand there and denounce hate. He’d have explained the importance of embracing those who are different. And he’d have talked about his personal struggle to accept queer people. But he didn’t. And he won’t. You know why? Because Rob Ford does not care about us.

No honest person should accept Rob Ford’s proclamation against hating queers until Rob Ford himself stops hating queers. Torontonians are not better off because of the mayor’s appearance. Gay Torontonians are no safer now than they were the day before. And not one bigot has changed his or her mind about gay or trans people because of him.

Those who praised Ford for his words—including gay city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and PFLAG president Irene Miller—should be ashamed that the man took only 77 seconds out of his day for them. Rob Ford should not be celebrated for his cowardly actions. No, he should be chastised every day until his views actually evolve or he is voted out of office—preferably the latter.

* Image: Toronto Star

Cheers from queers and their allies were heard around the world last week when American President Barack Obama publicly declared his support (albeit limited) for same-sex marriage.

In the media circus that followed, one man, Tony Perkins, led the charge against Obama’s “evolved” views. (Perhaps because he himself does not believe in evolution.)

Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, an ordained hate group in the US that actively promotes bigotry in the name of Jesus Christ. Though I usually scoff at the hateful words spewing from Perkins’s mouth, something he said the other day gave me reason for pause.

When asked by Wolf Blitzer on CNN if he thought gay people should be allowed to be on their partner’s health insurance policy, Perkins replied, “If [that benefit is] available to all couples who want to do it… [for example] if a brother and sister are living together and they want to be able to be on one another’s insurance, that’s fine.”

What’s interesting is that Perkins, without intending to, highlighted the quandary of people in all sorts of relationships not visible in today’s society. It seems that in our quest for rights, we queers have forgotten to include other equally deserving parties.

If I can build on what Perkins said, just why shouldn’t people who live together, who support each other every day, and who are similar in most ways to the married couple across the street, be afforded the same rights and benefits as their neighbours?

I’m talking about the single mom who lives with her parents to raise a child. I’m talking about two best friends who live together in a non-sexual capacity but support each other in every other way. I’m talking about the polyamorous trio who are in every way just like a married couple—except that their sex life may be more dynamic.

It seems odd to say this, but there is no good reason to disallow people from simply declaring who they want to share their rights with. Hospital visitation rights, joint tax-filing, and shared social security benefits should not be the luxuries of holy matrimony.

If we strip away the rights and benefits that come with marriage and afford them to everyone, then what’s left for marriage? Would the institution wither and die? Of course not. At least surely not at any faster pace than it is already.

At its heart, marriage is not about affording a select group of people certain rights or benefits, nor is it about producing and raising children. Today, at least in the West, marriage is about declaring your undying love for the person with whom you want to spend the rest of your life. If you don’t have someone to do that with, or simply don’t want to, you shouldn’t be punished for it.

Advocates of equality should enjoy this moment in our history—a moment when the most powerful man in the world affirmed our existence—but we should also take pause to think of those still waiting in the wings.

transgender airplane

transgender airplane

Last week, the transgender blogosphere exploded in response to the July 29, 2011 changes to the Canadian Identity Screening Regulations. The focus of this attention was section 5.2 (1) of the regulation, which reads: “An air carrier shall not transport a passenger if […] (c) the passenger does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents.” The regulation is notable for two reasons: first, many Canadians have finally found something about airport security that breaks through the fabled ‘mildly annoying’ barrier, and; second, it absolutely smacks of social conservatism. Many are calling the regulation out and out discrimination against transgendered individuals (a sentiment held by trans activist Christin Milloy).

Of course, not everyone agrees with this. An acquaintance of mine recently attempted to defend the change, claiming that it was designed to combat an increase in passport and identity fraud, and furthermore, that calling the regulation discriminatory is an overreaction. I am willing to concede that this is probably not a convoluted, conservative conspiracy to systematically discriminate against transgender people. However, it is sign of either gross negligence or an entire disregard for the issues that trans people face every day.

First, I challenge anyone to justify the necessity of visually confirming an individual’s apparent gender with a letter on a passport. If someone is attempting to board a flight with fraudulent documentation, there are many other fields on a passport that will set alarm bells ringing (false name, false or doctored photo, incorrect age, invalid passport number, and on and on).

Second, lawmakers are, or ought to be (ignorance is no excuse) aware of the legal restrictions involved with changing one’s gender identifier on a passport. Most commonly, a signed letter is required confirming that the person has received SRS (sex reassignment surgery). Not only are the requirements for SRS quite stringent, but there are a large number of trans people who do not want SRS, and still others who identify as neither gender.

Besides all of these very real concerns, there is the problem of the actual visual confirmation itself. The regulation is essentially asking a CATSA employee to decide what an ‘M’ or an ‘F’ ought to look like. Should Janet be barred from her flight if she likes to dress as a lumber jack? All that this sort of check will accomplish is to reinforce an already prevalent and problematic gender binary.

There is a sub-clause in the regulation that allows for exceptions to be made if a person does not match their identifier, yet has a doctor’s letter, identifying them as a trans person. This isn’t much of a solution however, as it assumes trans individuals have the time and foresight to obtain a letter prior to travel – something not required of any other minority in Canada. Moreover, some trans people do not seek consultation from a medical professional during or after their transition.

A recent Xtra article cites a Transport Canada representative as saying “the regulations are the same as before, since they are those of the International Civil Aviation Organization that are in place in all countries”. This statement is both interesting and false, as the ICAO calls for participating countries’ passports to have M, F or X gender designation options [ICAO document **PDF file]. Hmm, I wonder why I failed to notice the X option while filling out my passport application?

To add insult to injury, the Xtra article goes on to note that while the oppositon was questioning the regulation, Conservative MPs could be heard snickering in the background.

To date, I am not aware of any trans person that has been barred from their flight due to section 5.2 (1) (c). However, what the regulation does or does not do in practice is not the issue. There is no distinction drawn between the gender-nonconformance of a trans person and the gender-non-conformance of someone trying to get away with something. In essence it is the nonconformity itself that may be punished. That the Canadian government deems it acceptable to amend a regulation in such a way as to allow for potential discrimination, is entirely unconscionable.

Two male friends want to spice things up in the bedroom by wife swapping, and decide to go away for the weekend with their wives. They check into a log cabin and after a nice meal the two couples pair off and head to the bedrooms. After an intense night of wild sex, the two friends meet in the kitchen the next morning.

“That was awesome,” says the first guy. “We must do that again!”
“Yeah,” says the second. “I wonder how the girls got on!”

Breaking news from the scientific community: male bisexuality is no longer a joke! Yes, it does exist, at least according to a team of researchers from Northwestern University.  Really, there are men out there who are turned on by men and women?! I’m more shocked by the fact that they needed a scientific study to prove this. I mean, Freud knew this and wrote about it almost a century ago.

The new study  from the same university refutes their previous findings from six years ago when they declared that “men who identified themselves as bisexual were in fact exclusively aroused by either one sex or the other.”  And in three quarters of the cases from back then, bisexuals were four times more turned on by men, reinforcing the stereotype that bisexual men are actually closeted homosexuals in denial. Naturally, this conclusion outraged bisexuals of both sexes, since attempting to use science to negate human emotions, particularly sexual arousal, is downright insulting.

For the new study, the research team narrowed the search criteria for participants. They recruited from online venues that catered specifically to bisexuals, and required participants to have had at least two sexual experiences with members of each sex, and to have been in a romantic relationship of at least three months with a person of each sex.

It's not gay when it's in a three-way

To mirror the first study, they subjects watched erotic videos depicting male and female same-sex intimacy. The first time around, it was one or the other that tickled the subject’s fancy. This time, the subjects were aroused by both sets of videos, physically and in subjective reporting. This indicates that there are bisexual men out there who exhibit a distinctive pattern of sexual arousal, one that is mirrored in female bisexuals.

At least this time around, the research team thought to include footage of a man having sex with another man and a woman at the same time… and then patted themselves on the back when the bisexuals were aroused by it.

The major flaw in these types of scientific studies comes in the lack of accurate method of measuring arousal. In these particular studies, the subjects wore genital sensors that monitored their erectile responses. These utterly clinical conditions make me shudder.

Furthermore, there’s more to being turned on than just what’s going on in your genitals. As psychology professor at the University of Utah, Dr. Lisa Diamond observes, “Simply interpreting results about sexual arousal is complicated, because monitoring genital response to erotic images in a laboratory setting cannot replicate an actual human interaction.”


Photo credit- William Duke(http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/05/health/05sex.html?pagewanted=1)


I am definitely the type of person who craves new experiences. I’ll try almost anything once, which has led me into some very interesting, questionably legal and often downright ridiculous situations. So when two good friends and founders of my burlesque troupe invited me to join them at the Midnight Naked Bike Ride last weekend, how could I resist?

After all, I have been known to ride commando in a flowing hippie skirt during those dog days of summer, savoring the warm breeze as it caresses my nether regions. And while that certainly feels liberating, I would come to learn that it doesn’t hold a candle to biking in the buff, greeted by the hooting and hollering of random strangers expressing their intrigue and titillation.

I missed the annual World Naked Bike Ride back in June. There was a little nagging voice in the back of my head warning me that biking around in my birthday suit wasn’t the greatest idea on a chilly, misty morning while fighting off a nasty head cold. This time around, the ride started at midnight on a Saturday and traversed some of the city’s busiest streets at that hour, including St. Denis and Crescent.

There are three main goals to the Midnight Naked Bike Ride: to reduce pollution and vehicle-dependence, to promote urban cycling and to celebrate personal freedom and diversity. They maintain a “bare as you dare” dress code, where nudity is an option to those who feel comfortable with it, and no one is discriminated against based on their choices regarding clothing, costumes or body paint.

As I cannot turn down an invitation to don a costume, I opted for a colorful paper-maché cat helmet and eyeliner-drawn black whiskers. I meowed my way through the ride, curling my fingers and the tip of my nose. When we were stopped by the police at the corner of St. Laurent & Rene-Levesque, I meowed at the cops and even managed to crack a few smiles.

Not surprisingly, a sizable majority of the participants were male, unashamed of their floppy dicks of varying sizes. I suppose it has something to do with how male and female brains are wired, with men possessing more of the bold, exhibitionist inclinations that would drive one to hop on their bike nude or nearly so. For those who didn’t have bikes of their own, Bixi was the next best thing, though I wouldn’t want to rent that Bixi next!

As if this humble columnist had ever contemplated a career in politics, the amount of naked photos of me out there is sufficient fodder for generations worth of scandals. It seems that technology has enabled everyone to have a camera in their pocket to snap those once-in-a-lifetime (or, in this case, once per year) photos, just to prove they weren’t hallucinating those hundred or so nude cyclists.

What impressed me most about this ride was how much the public was impressed. I knew the ride would feel physically liberating, but it was also very psychologically liberating. People, especially the inebriated who dominate Montreal’s downtown core after midnight on a Saturday, are impressed with titties and skin. I took the sheer volume of hollering, whistling and car horn honking as a flattering ego boost. In response, I rang my bell proudly and often.

While there was a minor snafu with the police that held us at the corner of St. Laurent and Rene-Levesque for what felt like an eternity, it couldn’t damper the mood of the riders. Eventually, they let us finish our ride, and I beamed all the way home, even after putting my clothes back on. There’s quite the rush from breaking the rules and deviating from the norms of society in such a brazen, blatant way. I’ll definitely be there next year to take my place atop my metal steed and greet the streets with my tits and twat!

Here’s a short video made by Xtra.ca columnist and exhibitionist extraordinaire Michael J. McCarthy of the World Naked Bike Ride which took place on June 12th.



Photo courtesy of Adrian Parlog via Amelia Mensche

People get ready, rummage through your closet and get out your Sunday best and your Friday worst because Montreal is about to witness a once in a life time opportunity. This Saturday A Night At the Races is gonna rock your world.

At Espace des Arts (9 Ste-Catherine Est) the dream team of promoters, producers and artists are coming together for the first time ever. Three rooms, 17 dj’s,live performances and every hip to be square queer personality that Montreal has to offer.

All of these legends have come together to support the cause of L’equeerie and to prove that the village does not hold the monopoly on fierte, fun and fabulous. A Night at the Races is also the official afterparty for the bounce booty shakin Garden Party at Club Soda featuring the one and only Big Freedia.

The powers of POMPe, GAYBASH and Forget the Box have come together to show this city a night it will never forget. Get there early to enjoy the spectacle in its full glory 6$ before 3am 12$ after. Prepare to be
unprepared for this much crazy.

For more info, please check out the Facebook page

As fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist Muslims unite to attempt to “get rid of these people in the society,” a statement both ugly in composition and in sentiment, the small and mostly silent homosexual community in Ghana finds itself on the brink of persecution. It is for this reason, that while I still maintain that violence is not the property of any single group of people, I must admit that if religion is not a necessary cause for violence and oppression, it is at the very least a sufficient one.

It was sufficient for many in Uganda, including the truly reprehensible David Bahati, just as it was for the Taliban in it’s war against women and schoolchildren. Of course unlike Uganda, the situation in Ghana is going unreported. Even Ghanian human rights groups have remained relatively silent, if not out of fear then out of apathy.

The point that I feel needs to be made, is that moderation is the property of the individual, and not of religion. In fact, any praise for “religious moderates” carries with it the implicit statement that their religion is better off being “moderated.” As for the “progressives” among the religious, I will say readily that their support for the separation of church and state is one of the best kept secrets the church has going at the moment. The problem however, is that when it comes to situations like Ghana, progressives tend to feel sorrier for themselves than for the actual victims of oppression. If they were half as adamant about opposing the horrific situations in Ghana and Uganda as they are about distancing themselves from the perpetrators, then the difference would be shown, and there would be no need to tell. I’m not saying that progressives of both monotheisms aren’t every bit as opposed to theocracy as I am, but rather that I would very much like to see the same outrage and indigence that boils over whenever they’re linked with their more extreme brethren, directed at those brethren themselves.

Forget the atheists/agnostics, if Christians and Muslims become the foremost critics of their own extremists, then there’s no need for  outside commentary, as it will be a self correcting mechanism. When the message of the church changes from “we’re not like them,” to active and vociferous opposition, then there will be no need for people like me to worry about the possibility of theocratic infringement.  A certain number of ‘crazies’ will always be a given, however just because they are prominent, doesn’t mean they are necessarily representative. On the other hand, it is up to believers who wish to be distinguished from the fanatics to prove it – and not just give it lip service.

The other question I feel I need to ask with all seriousness, is now that we’ve seen what it looks like when a nation is run even partially by religious law, how can the humane and gentle believers among you continue to embrace a text which claims that these are the laws of love personified? Does it not at the very least gnaw at you?

Ghana, as Uganda before it, now stands on a knifes edge. I can think of no more important duty for those committed to human rights, than to stand with our Ghanian brothers and sisters regardless of our religious beliefs. Let Ghana serve once again as an example of the dangers posed by theocratic infiltration of the government, and let the condemnation of it be whole and without qualification. To stand for Ghana’s gay community, is to join in the stand against violence and oppression by religious fundamentalism. It is one that is necessary both for the believer to re-take his faith, and for the nonbeliever to continue to live in a free society. It is at its heart the battle against cruelty, savagery and tyranny, and the oldest and perhaps most poisonous of totalitarianisms. It is time that the world know that hate has been exported to Ghana, and that Ghana know we won’t forget, and that we won’t stay silent.

File this one under “ideas that Howard Stern wishes he’d thought of first”. Calgary radio station Amp Radio is giving away a breast augmentation to the person who receives the most votes in their online contest dubbed “Breast Summer Ever“. But before a disapproving sneer can escape your lips, know that there’s nary a ditzy stripper-lookalike in the bunch.

Amp Radio has selected 10 finalists who each have a short video up on the station’s website, where they tell their story and why they deserve the $10,000 surgery, with personal motivations ranging from noticeable lopsidedness to scars from a 3rd degree burn covering one woman’s entire right breast.

The contest generated some controversy when it was announced back in June. The CBC ran a poll on their website where they asked if breast augmentation surgery was an appropriate prize for a radio contest, and readers were split exactly down the middle between “no objection, people should be free to enter if they want” and “I think it’s inappropriate”.

Amp listener Cara Casey told the CBC, “I think actually posting a photo of yourself and making your plea for fake breasts is a bit over the top… to have people vote on your chest, essentially, is quite degrading.”

In reality, the photos of the contestants are cropped just above the chest so the public’s voting decisions are made on the stories of the 10 finalists, many of whom experienced changes in their body after losing weight or giving birth. Amp also explicitly prohibited contestants from sending in nude photos.

Only one of the finalists, Lindsey, a stay-at-home mom of three is seeking a breast reduction down from double FF. “It’s hard to exercise with them and to find a bra to fit them in,” she laments, noting that her bras are about 4 times the price of normal bras. While breast reduction surgery is covered by all provincial health plans, the criterion for approval varies from province to province.

Given that the contest takes place in the province affectionately known as “The Texas of Canada”, the biggest surprise in the bunch is Avery, a transgendered musician and teacher. In her passionate 2-minute plea for votes, she highlights some of the issues facing transgendered people in Canada, including financial burdens and facing discrimination at their jobs.

“All these other girls had the luck of being born with breasts… getting breasts would help complete me as a person,” says Avery.

I found it quite fascinating just how much of a woman’s sense of self-confidence and femininity comes from her breasts. Almost all the finalists insist that while they accept their bodies, having bigger breasts would give them more confidence and make them feel more comfortable in their skin. While they insist they’re doing it themselves, I can’t help but wonder about the pressure society places on women to fall into this narrow definition of femininity. Then again, it’s really hard for me to place myself in their shoes, as there isn’t a thing I would change about my fabulous breasts!

One contestant, Diana, sums it up in her video:

“A lot of people out there assume that we’re trying to give ourselves the Barbie doll look. That’s not the point of this. I’m doing this because I want to feel more comfortable and proportioned in my body. I’m not gonna go for double DDs because that’s not natural.”

Hate to break it to you Diana but breast implants aren’t exactly natural either.

Voting for the contest ends on Sunday July 17th, and the winner is announced on Wednesday July 20th.

Photo credit: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Health/20110623/breast-implants-study-fda-110623/


Starring: John Cameron Mitchell and Michael Pitt

Written by: John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask

Directed by: John Cameron Mitchell

Distributed by: New Line Cinema

91 minutes

If you happened to be at the Catacomb theatre last week for the Fringe Festival, you would have seen me sitting in the audience,  singing along loudly  to the stage version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I know every word to every song in the play about an East Berlin transgendered rocker because the film version has long been a personal favourite of mine. Screw singing orphans or Austrian nannies spinning atop mountains; no other musical I’ve seen has the raw emotional power or epic songwriting of this one.

Usually when you watch a musical, the experience is about losing yourself in mindless fantasy; a fantasy world where beautiful people express their love for each other by breaking out into song and a few dance steps. And while it’s fun and entertaining, it doesn’t mean anything. Hedwig is different because while it’s thoroughly amusing, the writing explores love, individuality  and sexuality in a much more honest and thought provoking way.

Through each of the songs,  Hedwig (John Cameron Mitchell)  explores such issues as:  What does it mean to be a man or a woman?; am I meant to love a man, or a woman?; or  does true love even exist?

Some of my favourite songs include the upbeat “Sugar Daddy”, in which impoverished Hedwig declares she’ll do anything for the dream of a jet set life (“So you think only a woman/can truly love a man/well you give me a dress/I’ll be more woman than a man like you can stand”), and the final number, “Midnight Radio”, a power ballad about love, acceptance and being proud of who you are (“And all the strange rock and rollers/you know you’re doing all right/so hold onto each other/you gotta hold on tonight).

While there are other characters in the story, it’s hard to remember anyone except Hedwig. Indie bad boy Michael Pitt is perfectly cast in the film version as Tommy, the religious boy who becomes famous by stealing Hedwig’s songs, but even he  then  disappears from memory the moment he leaves the screen. As self-involved and sometimes just plain crazy as Hedwig is, both the other characters in the film love her anyways – and as an audience member, you just can’t help but love her either. She radiates fabulousness.

As the original star of the Broadway play and the star and director of the film version, Mitchell knows this character in and out. While I thoroughly enjoyed catching the Montreal production recently, only John Cameron Mitchell can truly rock your world as Hedwig.

It’s a performance, and film, that you never forget.


One Toronto baby is causing quite the storm of controversy over the parents’ contentious decision not to reveal the child’s gender, in an attempt to allow the baby to develop free from the constraints of gender stereotypes.

It all began when Kathy Witterick  and David Stocker,  the parents of 5-month old baby Storm, sent an email to their family and friends which read, “We’ve decided not to share Storm’s sex for now a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm’s lifetime (a more progressive place?…).”

Almost instantly after the story hit the blogosphere, the message boards and comments sections for news articles were ablaze with readers damning the couples for what was deemed a “bizarre lab experiment”. Witterick, 38 and Stocker, 39, have declined numerous interview requests this week with most of the major media outlets across North America. They will be appearing on CBC Radio’s Q with Jian Ghomeschi on Monday morning to defend their controversial parenting tactics.

This really got me thinking about how something as simple as a piece of clothing can drastically affect how we treat an infant. Witterick acknowledged this in an interview with the Toronto Star, when she said “When the baby comes out, even the people who love you the most and know you so intimately, the first question they ask is, ‘Is it a girl or a boy?”

Psychologists have acknowledged that parents intentionally and unintentionally treat baby boys differently than baby girls. Similarly, the way we treat a baby can be very dependent on what clues we can ascertain about the baby’s gender identity from its clothes or name. In today’s consumer-crazed world, there’s no shortage of ways for new parents to ingrain gender identity into their child’s sense of self, with everything from the paint in the nursery to the shades of the baby booties.

Up until about a hundred years ago, infants and children were generally clothed in white, as it could be bleached to remove stains and odours. In the mid 19th century, coloured clothing for babies was introduced, though pink was generally for boys and blue for girls.   According to a trade publication from the era, pink was a stronger and more decided colour, hence more suitable for boys, while blue was viewed as more delicate and dainty, thus a more apt choice for pretty little girls. It wasn’t until the 1940s that the dominant trends flipped and pink became the norm for baby girls and blue for boys.

I applaud the parents of baby Storm for this intriguing approach to parenting. To me, it doesn’t seem so much like they’re trying to raise a genderless child as they are trying to prevent everyone around them from applying their gender biases to the child. However, as far as social experiments go, the time frame for this one is relatively short. It’s easy to try to treat a baby in a gender-neutral manner, but what happens when baby Storm reaches their toddler years or goes off to school and has to weather a whole new set of questions about identity and gender?

The closest indication of how things will turn out for baby Storm can be seen in the behaviour of the child’s sibling, Jazz, a five year old boy whose favourite color is pink and who loves wearing his hair in braids. He keeps a notebook where he  muses about gender in pink and purple lettering that reads,”Help girls do boy things. Help boys do girl things. Let your kid be whoever they are!”

Photo of Baby Storm (in red) with older brother, Jazz

Photo Credit – Steve Russel, Toronto Star

Montreal SlutWalkers gathered yesterday afternoon to send a message that no style of dress or behaviour should result in personal shaming, or suggest an openness to a sexual advance or assault.

Thousands of self-proclaimed sluts took to the main arteries of downtown Montreal chanting their messages of sexual freedom, pride, and solidarity. Gaping mouths, smiles, and general shock invaded onlookers’ faces as the scantily clad collection of men and women flooded the streets with protest signs and impressive amounts of nakedness and cleavage.

If you’re as confused or troubled as most onlookers seemed about using the word “slut” for a seemingly positive cause, then there’s more to the story that you need to understand. SlutWalk is a social movement that’s seeking to bring pride, tolerance, and freedom into peoples’ sexuality, to counter the negative dialogue surrounding sex and sexual expression.

In a series of speeches during the event, the Montreal SlutWalk organizers all agreed that contemporary society has taught us that being a slut (traditionally meaning sexual promiscuity, or simply being overtly sexual) is a shameful, or even disgusting thing to be. “Slut pride”, as expressed by the event’s participants, is about empowering people to dress how they want and feel comfortable as they are. An equally important goal is to sensitize the general public to the idea that this sexual freedom of expression isn’t an open invitation to judgement or aggression.

Montreal burlesque troupe Glam Gam’s Julie Paquet elaborated that the word “slut” is usually used to shame people for being sexy or expressing their sexual freedom. Labeling someone as “slutty” is even used as an excuse to sexually assault someone who seemingly “deserved it”. In response to this ongoing social condition, which ranges from derogatory name-calling to full-out sexual assault and rape, the SlutWalk speakers made their point loud and clear. Judging someone based on their promiscuity or other factors such as gender, age, style, and sexual history is unacceptable,   and is not a valid excuse to put someone down or sexually assault someone.

So, what does being a slut really mean?

Jessica Klein, FTB’s sex columnist and one of the event’s organizers, noted that the Montreal SlutWalk is all about taking back the word “slut” and re-appropriating it. “Being a slut is being in charge of your own sexuality”, which Klein affirms “it should never be an invitation to judgement or violence”.

“A slut is someone who is sexual, who enjoys having sex, maybe with multiple partners or with certain fetishes” says one female SlutWalk attendee. Still cringing from using the word? “I acknowledge and respect the controversy [that has been associated with] the word ‘slut’… but I’m comfortable calling myself a slut”, she noted proudly, along with over a thousand other people who exercised their “slut pride”.

What else is there to say, really, about a massive collective of confident, sexy, well-spoken, and nearly naked people who strive to clarify deep-seeded and screwed up ideas about sex and sexuality? Bravo, SlutWalkers, let’s hope your message is one that’s here to stay!

*   photos by Chris Zacchia

* for more SlutWalk pics, including shots of the Glam Gam Burlesque show that followed the march, please check out our Facebook page

So, you think a Saturday night in downtown Montreal is a guaranteed paradise for the hottest sluts in town? This weekend, you’re seriously mistaken. The real action’s going to be at Parc de la Paix (on the corner of Rene Levesque and St. Laurent) on Sunday afternoon from 2-5pm for Montreal’s very first SlutWalk.

Slutwalk Montreal promises to be far better than your average weekend lay. One organizer says we should expect a large crowd of people from all walks of life, sexualities, classes, genders, in all kinds of crazy-awesome costumes. With almost 4000 attendees on Facebook, the event is sure to be a success.

Being slutty ain’t as bad as it’s made out to be, depending on how you look at it! As mentioned in previous FTB articles, SlutWalk is a movement that seeks to bring awareness to the negative (yet “accepted”) public dialogue about womens’ sexuality.   Slutwalkers from all over the world would also say that being a slut isn’t only about embracing the freedom to be as sexy as you want to be (without being the victim of snap judgements or much worse); it’s about being comfortable and proud of your sexuality and expressing it how you want, despite what the world thinks about it.

On that note, bring your noisemakers, costumes, and signs to the park on Sunday and stay tuned for Forget the Box‘s coverage of Montreal’s SlutWalk (with lots of super slutty pictures). Don’t miss the aftermath of the march at Le Drugstore (1366 Sainte-Catherine St E, metro Beaudry) featuring some Glam Gam burlesque acts!

By the way, here’s a slut-tastic video on how to put on your best slut suit on for Sunday, courtesy of the Montreal walk’s organizers Stella and Glam Gam Productions:


SlutWalk Montreal – 2-5pm, Sunday May 29, Parc de la Paix (Rene Levesque and St. Laurent) – St. Laurent metro.

I look fantastic.

Even though it’s 11:30 at night, I’ve been wearing a hat and won’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve had time for a proper shower. My haircut is that good.

On the lookout for a new stylist, I’d been asking friends with excellent coiffure where they get it done. One woman directed me to Bikurious on Amherst. “A bike shop?” I asked. “Lesbian Haircuts for Anyone,” she replied.


Lesbian Haircuts for Anyone, owned and operated by the charming JJ Levine, is the type of business I hope to run into every time I leave my house. It shares space with a bike shop, is host to a store cat named Store Cat, isn’t gender-normative, has great music, provides fantastic service, and – as if that weren’t enough – the non-traditional business model (pay-what-you-can) proves that you don’t have to sell out or fit the mold to make a living.

I had my appointment about three weeks ago, a little hung over from the election night drink/sob fest, and feeling the slight case of nerves one always has when venturing into new hair territory. Still, I was fairly confident because the friend who referred me is noted for her excellent coiffure.

When I arrived, JJ was just finishing up with another client, so after poking around the bike shop portion of the store and considering a new pink helmet, I took a seat in the admittedly snug hair-cutting nook. I eyed my seatmate with some trepidation, but was quickly won over by the purring, squirming, suck-up of a Store Cat. “Won’t be long,” JJ told me.

It wasn’t. Soon, my predecessor was standing up, dusting off and looking fabulous. I took my seat, removed my glasses and put myself into the hands of a consummate professional.

“So what would you like today?” s/he asked me. This is always my least favourite part of a haircut. I never know what to say.

I gave my standard “you’re the pro, please don’t ask me to make decisions this far outside my realm or it will end badly” reply, and we got started. I don’t have a photo of myself to show you, but rest assured the results were very pleasing, and have worn incredibly well to date.

As mentioned before, this is the type of small business that renews faith in small business, so I asked JJ if s/he would give us a brief interview to shed some more light on the concepts involved. S/he kindly agreed, so read on, then book your appointment!

How long have you been cutting hair? Did you ever study it?

I’ve been cutting my own hair and my friends’ hair since I was 14 but started cutting professionally about 5 years ago. I’ve studied different hair dressing techniques over the years with other stylists, but never in a formal beauty school setting.

What exactly is a ‘lesbian haircut’, as opposed to any other type of haircut? Good for both boys and girls, or more of a girls thing?

A lesbian haircut is anything you want it to be. The name came out of a joke unrelated to any actual hairstyle. That’s not to say that people don’t come to me for something specific though; I’ve developed a reputation for specializing in asymmetrical, edgy haircuts “for anyone.” The cuts I give (asymmetrical or conventional) are intended to work with people’s preferred gender presentations, which often amounts to a “women’s cut” or “men’s cut,” but is certainly not limited to either of those categories. I have an extremely diverse clientèle that spans four generations, and a multitude of gender identities and sexualities.

Why pay-what-you-can? How does that work for you? Do you think it would work for other types of businesses?

It is very important for me to be accessible. A good haircut is something that makes people feel good about their appearance. Not everyone has 50-100 dollars to spend on a haircut, but everyone deserves to feel good about the way they look. It works for me because most of my customers understand the “pay-what-you-can” concept. Some pay me the same amount that they would pay if they went to another salon with fixed prices because they can afford it or they recognize that my work is on par, and others can pay me the 15 dollars they’ve been saving up. It really does balance out for me in the end. I think a sliding-scale model can and should be applied to other business endeavours.

Can you describe your ideal customer? The type that annoys you?

My ideal customer is nice and respectful. An annoying thing that happens sometimes is that because of the name of my salon (Lesbian Haircuts for Anyone), people make assumptions about my gender and assume I identify as a lesbian.

How did you get into a bike shop?

The bike shop and the hair salon came into being around the same time. My ex, Danielle Flowers, started Revolution in 2006, and I started cutting hair there casually which pretty quickly turned into the salon space that exists today. When the bike store was sold to Marissa Plamondon-Lu and Mackenzie Ogilvie, in 2008, and the name changed to Bikurious, it was agreed upon that I would stay. The new owners were also interested in preserving the community-based, queer feel of the shop that Danielle and I had been cultivating for years.

Do you have any plans for the next few years? Opening your own shop? Staying with Bikurious?

I plan on staying at Bikurious as long as the shop is around!

Favourite Books/Music/Movies?

My favourites are constantly changing, but I recently enjoyed the novel Holding Still as Long as Possible by Zoe Whittall, I’ve been listening to Big Fredia from New Orleans and Rae Spoon’s new album, Love is a Hunter, and I loved the Denis Villeneuve film, Incendies, from Montreal.

Any comments or thoughts for Forget The Box readers? Something interesting I didn’t touch on?

Although I am passionate about cutting hair, my true love is photography. My separate and simultaneous career as an artist is constantly growing and shifting.   Until my art practice pays for itself, I will always cut hair to make a living and to be able to afford to create new artwork. My portfolio is currently featured in a renowned and widely available Canadian art magazine called Ciel Variable, issue CV88. (Author’s Note: Do yourself the monumental favor of also checking out JJ’s art website)

If you’re planning on getting a new ‘do anytime in the near future, give Lesbian Haircuts for Anyone a try. Not only will you get a great haircut, you’ll be supporting exactly the kind of small business that makes our city so extraordinary.

Call JJ Levine at 514-625-4247 to book. Pay what you can $15-$50.

Waking up Sunday morning my head was filled with the images of tampon earrings, bubble wrap dresses and duct tape neck ties, one might guess that I was at a narcotics infused screening of Zoolander but nothing could be further than the truth. Like many others I was frolicking in the old port at the latest installment of GAYBASH.

Last Saturday there was only one place to go for those in the know and GB3 certainly did not disappoint. GB3 or GAYBASH 3 was the illustrious third anniversary of Tyler & Sally’s wonderfully riotous parties as well as the events official opening at its new home Attic. The concept of this delightfully wrong party was Hawt Couture: Hobo Chic. A theme that GAYBASH’s loyal patrons and performers took to with gusto. Some people just donned bits of rubbish while others took costumes to strange new levels, either way you have to love a costume party where more than half of the people actually dress up rather than playing “too cool for school”. This led to some of the more entertaining encounters of the night occurring in the court just in front of the venue as costume clad revelers of GB3 intermingled with your standard night club crowd from Velvet which runs in the basement of the same building. Bystanders could well have mistaken the scene as a swarm of homeless junkies pestering Velvet’s patrons, in its own way that was part of the evening’s magic.

Attic resides on the third floor of the Auberge St. Gabriel building, and the name could not be more apt. It felt like forever as you worked your way up the mountain of stairs but upon arrival you are whisked away into a surprisingly large open wood space, filled with antiques and taxidermy animals. Costumes and crowd aside (though I could have had fun in silence) the set by resident DJ B’UGO had the masses losing their proverbial sh#t on the dance floor. At one point of the night (which some might say was the climax) a runway carpet was thrown down just off the dance floor and bullhorn in hand Ian Invincible commanded us to strut our stuff down it. Some seasoned veterans took to it like New York royalty while others rose to the challenge, it was a scene not often witnessed in Montreal and one I would happily flock to again.

The highlight of the night for me was without a doubt the live performance of MSTR SSTR. This always rough and wild performer pulled out a polished set with dancers and special effects. To clarify, the designated dancers were the pair still not famous while there was a contingent of hot tranny messes who just couldn’t let the limelight go and continued to jump in front of the stage improving moves. To the audience the entire thing seemed rehearsed, which only added to the spectacle. A rendition of Gay People (one of the new singles) was ended by clouds of glitter literally being blown from MSTR SSTR’ s ass to screams of shock and joy, no one could have seen it coming.

Tyler and Sally have come a long way from the days of dodgy after parties in miscellaneous lofts across the city and bar venues unable to cope with the madness they imagine and inspire. One can hope that Attic will prove an appropriate home for the future editions. Venue aside I wait with glue gun in hand for the next theme and hunger for more antics because GayBash never disappoints!

Photos by Chris Zacchia

For lots more scandalous trashyness check our more pics!

Gay Bash is an all-inclusive, underground party created and hosted by SALLY and TYLER, infamous staples of Montréal’s thriving party scene, one of North America’s best kept secrets. Impossible to categorize, these party boys graced the main events in the city with their presence, from the stylish scenester bars on Boulevard Saint Laurent, to the throbbing dancefloor of world-famous Stereo afterhours, always causing a commotion with irresistible charm and innate sense of fashion and style.

Early in 2007, these bad boys united their efforts with the aim to re-energize the city’s party scene and in collaboration with a multidisciplinary roaster of artists such as B’UGO, Mary-Hell, Miami George, TONY VICE, D.Payette, La Barberousse, MSTR SSTR, Ian InVncble, STILLNOT FAMOUS and more recently, Erik Champagne and Olivier Lessard, they created an evolving series of events characterized by original and outrageous themes: “Trash F@%k Dumpster Fun”, “Voguers From Outer Space”, “Gay Shame”, “Geex & Freex: Night of the Living Prom” and “Betty Ford Clinic”, “Texas Chainsaw Mascara”, “UP TIGHT”, just to name a few. Their events became the toast of the town and caught the attention of fellow promoters, who invited them to host other local high caliber events such as I Love Neon, Mec Plus Ultra and Velvet.

Staying ahead of the curve in terms of ideas and innovation, 2011 finds them looking for new avenues to express their creativity and event development skills. As the highly successful Glam-O-rama, their 2011 New Year’s extravaganza, saw the end of their tenure at L’Abrevoir, the boys are preparing for next April 9th, as the new incarnation of their venture will be unveiled at The Attick, above the infamous Velvet in Old Montréal.”


In Memory of Michael Hendy ♥

★SALLY & TYLER present★



★★B’UGO★★ (hi-budget/GAYBASH/MTL)

★★MIAMI GEORGE★★ (Miami/GAYBASH/TO/berlin)








(theme is not obligatory … but encouraged)

Hi fashion, BUBBLE WRAP, plastic bags, garbage bags, GARBAGE BAG EVENING GOWNS, recycled paper, HI FASHION HOMELESSNESS, cabbage hats, HAUTE COUTURE, garbage, SARAN WRAP, shopping carts, CARDBOARD BOXES, duct tape, twist ties, reflective vests, garbage truck, PLASTIC BAG TUXEDOS, bow ties, STILETTOS, sandwich bags, tupperware, pots and pans, PEARLS, ELEGANCE … U GET THE IDEA 🙂