Come See Us At The AGO, Wednesday at 7pm

PLEASE to join us at the AGO this Wednesday at 7pm for a legendary performance by KEITH COLE, featuring gay porn star Ryan Russell, drag sensation Maria Delmonte with cinematic landscaping by queer filmmaker Raymond Helkio. This commissioned work is part of TORONTO: Tributes + Tributaries which explores the work of Canadian artists active between 1971-1989 through modern day performance art.

TWO SHOWS ONLY:
Wednesday, October 26, 7pm (FREE)
Saturday, October 29, 2 pm (Free with gallery admission)
#HashTagGallery Slut
Art Gallery of Ontario

Tributes + Tributaries featured artists also include Michael Snow, Barbara Astman, Andy Fabo, John Greyson, Johanna Householder, Robin Collyer, Robert Houle, Carol Conde, Carl Beveridge, June Clarke, Ato Seitu and Lillian Allen.


Keith Cole #HashTagGallery Slut
COLE
HELKIO
HELKIO
Maria Delmonte #HashTagGallery Slut
DELMONTE
RUSSELL
RUSSELL

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Mind, Body, Beautiful by Design

With graphic design by Raymond Helkio Infinity Yoga + Fitness opened September 6, 2016 in Richmond Hill and carries with it the inspiring lessons from the infinity loop, it’s a perfect synergy of mind and body fit for a queen (or king) by Joanna Sherman. Also this month, Marguerite Arbour debuted HEAVEN SCENT, her latest line of handmade coconut oil based balms and lotions wrapped in packing that allows the product to be queen. Namaste.

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HOW CANADA CAN DEFEND AND PROMOTE FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS FOR LGBTI PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD

The-Dignity-Initiative-Wordmark1Graphic design for the Dignity Initiative: Raymond Helkio | Recent years have witnessed significant progress in many countries around the world in the realization of the fundamental human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, from securing decriminalization of our sexuality and protection against discrimination to achieving recognition for our relationships and families.

But even where important gains have been made on some fronts, the recognition and protection of rights remains uneven. Trans people remain particularly vulnerable, and often without adequate legal protection, while the rights of intersex people rarely receive much discussion at all. Meanwhile, gender-based violence remains a reality for many LBTI women, including violence motivated by real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Factors such as class, race, ethnicity, (dis)ability, HIV status, migrant status, drug use, incarceration and sex work often exacerbate the vulnerability of LGBTI people to discrimination and violence.

To build on these efforts, in 2015 a working group of committed organizations and individuals came together to launch the Dignity Initiative, with the twin objectives of strength- ening both international solidarity work by Canadian civil society groups and Canada’s foreign policy commitment to supporting the realization of human rights for LGBTI people internationally. The working group includes representatives of organizations from around Canada, and is committed, within the scope of its resources, to a country-wide, collaborative approach that involves and engages with groups in every province and territory in pursuit of these twin objectives.

THE WAY FORWARD | Violence, criminalization and discrimination against LGBTI people require a comprehensive and consistent response from the Government of Canada. Canada has a valuable role to play in advancing the rights of LGBTI people. The Dignity Initiative is inspired by Canada’s existing efforts to protect and promote these rights. It is time for Canada to step up its efforts and take bold, strategic actions, in collaboration with local community advocates, to champion LGBTI rights at home and globally.

Download a PDF copy of
Advancing Dignity: Policy Report


Download a PDF copy of
Solidarity for Dignity: Civil Society Report


Visit the Dignity Initiate website for more information on this exciting initiative and how you can get involved.

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#BlackLivesMatter Is The Best Thing To Happen to Pride Toronto Since The Orlando Shootings (An Open Letter To Mathieu Chantelois, Pride Toronto)

When I heard that 49 of my Orlando brothers and sisters died as a result of the one man’s hate fuelled rampage I felt sick because I know it’s caused by a culture that rewards homophobia, sexism and oppression. Sometimes I wonder if we are no longer in modern times but have gone back in a time machine to more barbaric period and we just can’t see our own barbarism.
The real crime was not that Omar pulled the trigger on those innocent people but that our entire city jumped up in unison exclaiming ‘How can something like this happen given all the progress we’ve made?!” Yes we have made progress but the crime of this statement is that anyone saying it gets to remove themselves from what is actually happening. Adding further fuel to the fire was the media and public who went scrambling to make sense of this situation but instead of looking inwards at the pressure cooker of a culture we have created, people tried to make the situation about some extraordinary circumstances like how he was a product of ISIS, his father brainwashed him, he was mentally ill, etc. This is a problematic way to view a mass murder because now there is nothing we can learn if we dismiss their actions as highly unusual. Take a look at Omar Mateen’s face, he is not crazy. In fact I was bullied, picked on, tormented and harassed all the way through grade school by guys just like Omar. He’s not ill, he’s a product of this culture and is just one of many that make up the majority. Look at him. I’m serious, take a hard look at his picture and let’s not pretend that we are seeing something other then what it is. An arrogant boy who is as homophobic as he is a misogynist just like all the other bad boys our culture is supporting. Sure he made himself a connection through ISIS but I’m pretty sure he was an asshole before he sought to align with them. This is not the face of a killer, he is in fact the boy next door and that we should be very afraid of.

When the news of those 49 victims hit Toronto weeks prior to our biggest LGBT celebration it was an opportunity for the city to take a hard look at itself. And we did. At The 519 candlelight vigil the next evening the speeches were filled with rage, sadness and talk of being political once again. Suddenly Toronto remembered that while we may have won the battle, the war is far from over and most importantly we all learned that the world only appears safe to those who live in relative privilege. It’s sad and deeply tragic that we had to wake-up as the result of these deaths but at least these people will not die in vain. Even Pride Toronto delivered speeches that resembled something a leader who cares for the future of our planet would say.

And then Pride kicked in and the city partied, danced and completely forgot that we shouldn’t be having a party when we have so much work to do. Enter Black Lives Matter (BLM) who took Pride’s invitation to ‘Come Sit With Us’ quite literally and during the 30 minute sit-in protest gave this city a much needed gift: the gift of self-reflection but we still haven’t collectively proven that we are up to the challenge. Instead we are still arguing about whether the police should march in Pride or if #BLM tactics were fair or not. We’re all missing the opportunity for some self-refection because what we should be arguing about is how much we need to do with the police and the communities they are supposed to serve. What BLM did was morally courageous because they took an honoured position and used it to expose back the imbalance and injustices they experience including from organizations like Pride Toronto who instead of being inclusive has lost touch with it’s roots. BLM looked right into the whites of our eyes and demanded that we see and hear them. I see you, I hear you and I’m so sorry for the pain we keep causing. We are all a part of the problem and we need to join forces in pursuit of a solution. I know many people who have busy lives and it’s hard to talk about such difficult subjects for long stretches but please, please, please if you are tired of working this out remember the 49 dead people in Orlando.

So many people have to die in order for Canadians to wake up but this is the price of apathy. There’s also a secondary level of institutionalized discrimination on the part of Pride Toronto that needs to be addressed even before we tackle the issue with the cops. Dishearteningly many people in this city think it’s okay to discriminate one group over another as long as the group we’re repressing can be labeled a ‘terrorist’, ‘hate group’ or other such nonsense. We do need to safeguard again hate but that’s not what Pride Toronto has been tampering with. In 2010 Pride Toronto spent lots of money and resources trying to force the community to pre-approve all parade signs and banners before they set out to on a witch hunt to ban QuAIA. Last year they successfully banned the men’s group CAFE because they didn’t like their politics. Why is it that we allow Pride to decide what is okay and what is not? How about we get to make our own mistakes and if you don’t like a particular group shut up about it because you have not been appointed the morality squad. As long as you are taking cash from floats like Viagra and The Pickle Barrel you have no business telling others who they should be or what or how they can speak. Pride Toronto is publicly using words like ‘inclusiveness’ to defend the police being in the parade. It should never be up to Pride to decide who marches anyway and someone needs to call them out on this banning business because it’s only at the whim of the committee du jour.

Mathieu Chantelois, you have a wonderful opportunity to stand up and take our entire city into a whole new direction. One that is marked by leadership, innovative thinking and moral courage. Some of the major media outlets have already predicted or called for the resignation of the entire Pride staff but I would argue there’s a rainbow lining in this cloud, a catalyst to making serious change within our police system all while supporting those in our community who are the most vulnerable. Mathieu, some people may not like you if you listen to the needs of BLM but I and many others will back you up. Yes there are some good cops and some queer ones but can we stop focusing on the tiny bits of progress that we have made with them. Let’s stop pretending they lead us through a process of community reconciliation. Let’s remember that what little goodwill that exists is there becasue it came out of them harassing us on the streets, in our clubs, shops and even our homes. So we demanded action. We can congratulate the police for the progress, thank them for their dedication and then insist that we do some serious talking with our black and trans family. This is not a right/wrong paradigm, it’s shades of dirty grey that is getting more tainted the longer we turn our backs on taking action. If the Metropolitan Toronto Police were a business they would be sued into oblivion over just the last year’s worth of horrendous behaviour. Yes there are good cop stories but this is about the gestapo we have come to believe has been serving and protecting us. I was at the bathhouse raid ‘apology’ and anyone else who was there should be deeply offended by both the presentation of the circuit party style event to the delivery of the most insulting non-apology I have ever heard. Who are you people and why aren’t any LGBT cops standing up in disgust?

Mathieu please stand tall and support BLM, the police and the community in a long overdue dialogue. We need you to fight for us more than we need a parade that reinforces Pride Toronto’s irrelevance as a leadership organization.

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An Open Letter To The Orlando Shooter

You’re a fucking asshole. With that out of the way I can tell you what’s really going on for me. I am raging mad at you and my heart is literally melting in my chest because of what you did. It’s not the shooting which is so horrible but it’s the intention from which you carried it out.

I want to reverse this situation, to go back in time and smack your stupid face until it bleeds but I cannot do that. What’s most disturbing is that we’re going to see much more of this so while I hate your guts I have to believe that you represent the beginning of the end of the war to the queer communities fight for acceptance. You are nothing more than a historical pawn and while your deeds are unforgivable you give me strength and serve as a reminder for why being queer matters.

As gays fight for the rights to be just like everyone else, people in other parts of the world are being murdered. I do not want to be like everyone else, that’s not a good or bad thing it’s just that being queer provides me with a perspective worth sharing. And then there’s you, a shallow representation of homophobia and I say ’shallow’ because you put your opinion out there by force. You literally took away my brothers and sisters as a way of changing what you didn’t like. It’s tragic how your life must have spilled into such a dark and narrow world or maybe you were always like that and this is just the fruit of your life’s work. In any event I hate your fucking guts.
Historically, as one group gains power and mainstream acceptance the remaining opposition is forced to react, much like a rat trapped in a corner. I am so lucky to live in Toronto because it gives a platform where I can live openly and free from consequence and therefore I see it as my duty to be as visible as possible. The war for acceptance is far from over and as a community our strength is in our numbers. I’m using this horrific tragedy to remind myself that while the battle for acceptance may feel like it’s already been won, it’s far from over.

This is Pride month in Toronto and the most honouring thing we can do for the people of Orlando is live loud, proud and be unapologetically queer.

Image: REUTERS

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Call For Bloggers: Queer & Trans Men

QueerTransMen.org brings you great up to date info on the issues facing queer trans guys and the guys that dig them. They are looking for a few good bloggers to join them in spreading the word about trans guys and sexual health. And they pay! For more information please email them.

Brought to you by the super-fine folks at the Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance, graphic design for blogger outreach: Raymond Helkio

 

 

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RAID: Operation Soap to premier at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre during Pride week!

RAID Poster

It’s been 35 year’s since the Metropolitan Toronto Police simultaneously raided 4 bathhouses, arresting over 300 men in grotesque display of power intended to humiliate the men they found. These raids were the catalyst for one of the most significant turning points in Canadian LGBT history.

Dubbed Operation Soap by police the raids sparked outrage among the LGBT community and the next day over 3,000 protesters took to the street in a protest/march that has grown into what we now know as Toronto Pride month.

Please join me for this epic performance part of Buddies In Bad Times Theatre Queer Pride programming, we’ll give you plenty of reasons to fall in love with theatre all over again, I hope to see you there! Ray xox

WEDNESDAY JUNE 29, 8PM
TICKETS 

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The Cruising Counts Guide (GMSH)

A PROGRAM GUIDE FOR ONLINE SEXUAL HEALTH OUTREACH IN ONTARIO CREATED BY THE GAY MEN’S SEXUAL HEALTH ALLIANCE (GMSH)

Graphic Design: Raymond Helkio
Written By: Woodrow Clarence
Thank You: Dane Griffiths

This guide is designed for workers in Ontario who provide online (sexual health) outreach services to gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM). This is a revised second edition of the Sexual Health Educator Internet Resource (S.H.E.I.R.), originally developed and printed in 2009 by the Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (London, Ontario) and supported by a network of outreach workers and online innovators situated within the Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance of Ontario (GMSH). This updated program guide captures recommendations, best practices and processes currently being used by different online outreach programs across Ontario. In addition, this latest version now includes research evidence that is based in Ontario and evaluates the efficacy of online outreach work to local GBMSM. You can download a free copy here.

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Closet Case: New Web Series Premiering on theBUZZ

From Toronto’s East End to New York’s East Village we take you on an uncensored journey into the closets and behind the alter egos of our communities most beloved queers. Welcome to Closet Case.

From Toronto’s East End to New York’s East Village join us as we go behind the alter egos and into the closets of our communities most beloved queers. Thursdays on theBuzz.

Episode 1: Inside D’yan Forest, an 81 year old internationally recognized cabaret singer, actress and stand-up comedian. This ‘bisexual Betty White’ has been dazzling audiences for more then seven decades with her one-woman extravaganza and slight-of-mouth comedy.

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My Business Ate My Life {A Recovery Plan}

MBAML Book Cover, Helkio

Written by Elizabeth Verwey and cover design by Raymond Helkio, My Business Ate My Life has over 25 ideas to help you get back on track. Join us for a fun evening with other business owners and make new friends at the lovely Paintbox Bistro. This is a free event.

My Business Ate My Life
Book Launch 

Monday January 25, 2016
7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Paintbox Catering & Bistro
555 Dundas Street East
Toronto, ON M5A 2B7
REGISTER

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Bawdy House Texts launches World AIDS Day, NYC

December 1st, 2015 | Bawdy House Texts launches across New York City. This unapologetic outdoor art installation is a potent reminder of the most significant historical turning points in queer history. Never forget, never again. Curated and designed by Raymond Helkio.

Bawdy House Texts

LAUNCH DETAILS
COMING SOON





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