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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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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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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Karma Condos: What Goes Around, Comes Around

The “Karma Condo” construction workers at 21 Grenville Street are still at it: teasing, name calling, whistling, gawking and tormenting people who live in the neighbourhood. They don’t pick on everyone mind you, just the meek, overtly gay or visibly out. Take Enza Anderson, she’s been directly battling these bullies for over two years and the situation is not much better. Condos are going up at a rapid pace in this city and developers need workers but at what price? There is no excuse for hiring people who think it’s okay be an asshole while on the job and when complaints are filled why aren’t these men dealt with swiftly and harshly? Probably because these complaints are being made to people who value money over neighbourhoods.

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Complaints to SkyGrid Construction, meetings with Centre Court Developments and police complaints have resulted in little progress. There’s some bad karma growing at Yonge and Grenville, so we’ve started a poster campaign to let them know what unwanted attention can feel like.


Join our Facebook page
Company hashtags #SKYGRiDCONTRUCTION #CENTRECOURTDEVELOPMENTS #KARMACONDO

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Toronto: Less Bullies, More Ambassadors

While waiting for a bus in downtown Toronto, Enza Anderson looked up because two City of Toronto workers in an orange and blue truck were snickering and taunting her. When she didn’t respond they drove their large city-issued truck up along side of her and called out ”Look at the batty bwoy!”.  This is pretty terrible behaviour from what once was “Toronto the Good”. What happened to Enza is not an anomaly and since the majority of LGBT-related hate crimes go unreported we know it’s happening with greater frequency than Metro Hall is claiming to be aware of.

City Of Toronto employees

Photo: Enza Anderson

Enza wanted to make a formal complaint in person so last Wednesday we met with the Director of Transportation Services at Metro Hall to formally complaint about the harassment. Metro Hall is a big building that feels a bit like stepping onto the Star Trek enterprise where everything is beeping, humming and churning along inside while out in space a shit-storm is brewing.

We are met in the lobby and escorted up in the elevator to the seventeenth floor. The ride up was filled with over-cordial, enthusiastic conversation which did serve to distract us from the giant elephant that was squished in with us. In this polite country we call Canada it would be unheard of to direct our anger and frustration at him so instead we all make small talk as if we’re all aligned on next steps, which is doubtful. We are at this meeting because city employees think that it’s okay to drive up along someone and call out degrading and threatening comments. If you worked at a bank and did the same thing to someone while wearing your bank name tag – you shouldn’t be surprised if you’re harshly and swiftly penalized. Toronto cannot afford to celebrate diversity while supporting a culture based on fear, hate and intolerance. It doesn’t matter if a woman wears a short skirt or if a person’s gender isn’t apparent, none of it is relevant to doing their job.

Toronto Metro Hall signThese men only see themselves as employees, accountable to their boss, as opposed to ambassadors of our city, which is why after-the-fact tactics like sensitivity training are like scratching at an open wound because it suggests that the problem is lack of knowledge or ’sensitivity’ to a particular culture or ideology. We don’t need written policies to tell us that driving up along side anyone so you can tease them is way, way, way out-of-line.  These men were fully aware that what they were doing was wrong and it’s only going to inflict more pain onto the situation by forcing them to apologize or show compassion. It’s like forcing a bully to make an apology to his victim, sure it might feel good to watch him squirm and spit out an apology but in the end he’s not really going to be sorry. In most jobs it’s just understood that you are a representative of the company, so why do so many guys think they can act like complete assholes while at work? Partly, because they’ve been getting away with it for years.

Raymond Helkio

We get off the elevator, walk through the glass doors and into the office area to be greeted by one of his colleagues. As we enter the corner office with its impressive view of downtown, we’re offered sincere apologies for the situation, an assurance that they are taking this seriously and suggests that these situations are pretty rare. If you are trans, it’s not rare. A cis gender woman, it’s not rare. A visible gay or lesbian, not rare. Having the same rights as everyone doesn’t mean we have to be like everyone so it’s imperative that city workers reflect and respect that diversity.

Sitting around the table, it’s explained to us that the there are strict policies in place and employees are bound by. It’s all well and good to have a policy, but if your employees don’t see themselves as ambassadors for the city then it’s just another piece of paper. After Enza explained the tormenting and belittling behaviour from people who are getting paid to do a job. Right off the top our expectations were capped when they told us that the two men in question have already been pulled aside and spoken to and since the city is unionized the outcome of any disciplinary action will be kept confidential but could be a letter on file or up to ten days suspension. Or nothing at all.

This sounds like a slap on the wrist compared to the City of Toronto’s Human Rights and Anti-Harassment Policy which underscores the seriousness of their offence “All employees are responsible for respecting the dignity and rights of their co-workers and the public they serve. Discrimination and harassment are serious forms of employee misconduct which may result in disciplinary action up to and including discharge.”

In other jobs I don’t have to be told that it’s not okay to harass others so when it happens with regular occurrence perhaps the problem might be happening the moment the person is hired. The construction workers and city employees I personally know are highly functioning and intelligent people so this is not a capacity issue. Working in a public capacity carries the same, if not greater, responsibility for respecting the basic human rights of the people who also live in this city.


THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 10TH: We haven’t heard anything further from Metro Hall. Earlier today Enza placed a formal complain with the city’s Human Rights office.

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The Year That Pride Died

Pride 2015 Poster

My heart’s broken. I am a card-carrying homosexual who wears his politics on his sleeve. I do this out of respect to the queers before me who stood up to injustice, fought back and won. These are the people of moral courage and they are responsible for much of the freedoms we enjoy today.

How dare you use oppressive tactics against your own community. Pride Toronto’s dispute resolution process (DRP) has created a high state of anxiety and fear for me. As an active member and advocate with Toronto’s queer community I am concerned about who is going to be banned next.

The thing about free speech and human rights is that you can’t pick and choose who gets it. Pride Toronto is now in the practice of exclusion which is contrary to your stated values and endangering the lives of the community in which you are to serve.

Pride Toronto is not welcome at my march on Sunday June 28, 2015 as your organization fosters a culture of fear by promoting exclusion. Toronto deserves bold and boundary-pushing leadership, I’m confident you can do better.

“Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities” –Ayn Rand

“I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.” –Oscar Wilde

Now Magazine Pink balaclava: Raymond Helkio

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Death Of A Bathhouse to screen at Queer City Cinema International Queer Film Festival

MAY 21-23, 2015
QUEER CITY CINEMA
12TH INTERNATIONAL QUEER FILM FESTIVAL
REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN

Directed by Raymond Helkio and Rolyn Chambers
Combining footage from the final days of St. Marc’s Spa with interviews from Toronto artists Sky Gilbert, Keith Cole, Brad Fraser, Drasko Bogdanovic & Shane MacKinnon, Death Of A Bathhouse explores the art culture and ultimate demise of one of Toronto’s longest running bathhouses. SCREENING DATES AND TICKETS

DOABH Poster

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Is PrEP Making Us Sick?

 

PrEP or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis is the use of anti-HIV medication (a blue pill by Gilead Sciences called Truvada) which keeps HIV negative people from becoming infected.

This is not a smart strategy for STD prevention because it’s is only effective against HIV and so while our community watches HIV rates decline, we are now facing soaring rates of Syphilis and other STDs. Is this trade-off really worth it? Taking PrEP to avoid HIV is like holding up an umbrella to the rain while facing oncoming traffic. Yes, you’ll stay dry.

If you use PrEP instead of a condom you risk other, potentially more serious diseases like Syphilis, Hepatitis A, B and C, HPV, Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea. This partial list should scare you because many of these diseases still hold the potential to shorten or your life. Is taking PrEP the responsible choice or is it just a game of “see no evil, hear no evil” for the lazy gay man. Consider that getting an STD is not about you, but about the other people YOU might infect. If you are not going to use a condom, get your ass to the doctor after unprotected sex. It’s not about what you have, it’s about what you aren’t going to pass on.

Today, the vast majority of people living with HIV respond well to treatment, most living a relatively normal life. Many will even live longer then our HIV-negative counterparts because HIV requires blood-work every six months and so the constant doctors visits means problems are uncovered before they become a problem. Perhaps it’s time to rethink our fear of HIV.

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WorldPride Human Rights Post Conference Report

I started volunteering with the WorldPride Human Rights Conference in 2012 when all we knew was we wanted to put on a human rights conference in conjunction with Pride Toronto and the UofT’s Mark S. Bonham Centre For Sexual Diversity Studies. Over the next few years I got to work with an international queer community of activists and I learnt so much about galvanizing our community but the real lessons came when I started listening to the stories and following some of the activists. I got to friend and meet people like Frank Mugisha who started the first Pride parade in Uganda just a few years ago. People like Frank inspire me to continue my work in Canada and are a stark reminder that we have a long way to go – but together.

There is nothing like solidarity to propel a movement forward, thank you Doug Kerr, Brenda Cossman and Kyle Kirkup for an awesome experience. Download the PDF with media links and video, graphic design, website and video Raymond Helkio.

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We’re turning Buddies in Bad Times Theatre into a sultry bathhouse for the #RhubarbFestival

 

You read that correctly, as part of the 36TH Annual Rhubarb Festival we’re transforming Buddies in Bad Times Theatre into a bathhouse that Hamlet would be proud of!

PLEASE DONATE AND JOIN OUR LOCAL ART REVOLUTION

This faggy-feminist production of Hamlet In A Hot Tub combines live theatre, video and drag into the first contemporary queer Shakespearean tale with a happy ending.

We receive a modest budget from Buddies in Bad Times Theatre but for this installation we’d like to beef up our lighting, staging and costumes so that this show is spectacular and truly twisted!

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre presents the
36TH Rhubarb Festival (February 11-22, 2015)
Transgressions in Performance
Hamlet In A Hot Tub
February 18-19 at 8:00pm, February 20-21 at 7:00pm

Adapted by Brock Hessel + David Bateman
featuring Paul Bellini, Donnarama and Amy J. Lester
Directed by Raymond Helkio

Evening passes $20 through the Box Office 416-875-8555

Festival Director Mel Hague, Associate Festival Director Cole Alvis
Festival Sponsor TD Bank Group, Media Sponsor NOW Magazine

 

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Not The Comeback We Were Hoping For

Syphilis rates among the MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) in the Hamilton area haven’t been this high since the 1980’s. Not the comeback we were hoping for. This Public Health initiative is in cooperation with The Hamilton AIDS Network and launches today in Hamilton, Halton, Haldimand, Norfolk & Brant and online through Squirt, Men4MenTalk and Grindr to encourage more MSM to get tested for HIV. Thank you Dane Griffiths for your insight and creativity with MSM HIV testing. Graphic Design: Raymond Helkio.

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An Evening With The Impostors (Official Movie Trailer)

For more than a decade, Mirvish Productions operated La Cage theatre in downtown Toronto. As the resident performers at La Cage, The Impostors have earned rave reviews. But it’s the shows final number that gets them the standing ovations. And tonight The Impostors are getting ready to bring their high-glam drag spectacle to the small town of Port Hope, Ontario. The Impostors are ready, but is Port Hope?

WORLD PREMIERE
Inside Out LGBT Film Festival (Toronto)
MAY 31, 2014
12:45 PM

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Saints, martyrs and human rights: a glitter of hope for Toronto’s legacy of dope

Guest authoring for PositiveLite.com, Raymond Helkio says that despite Toronto’s awful mayor Rob Ford, the city now has a chance to redeem itself in the global LGBT rights dialogue that is WorldPride 2014.

How many saints, martyrs and human rights activists do we have locked up in Canada right now? More importantly how many of them would we even recognize as a martyr or saint? Think of Nelson Mandela, the revered President of South Africa who spent 27 years in prison. Being considered a criminal appears to be the price one pays for the rest of us to benefit at a later date – or does it have to be this way? Can we as citizens separate the politicians that demonstrate moral courage from those that just speak political rhetoric? Cities, towns and communities owe it to themselves to put thier most morally courageous people into the positions of power or risk progress altogether. Just look at Toronto who has made international headlines for its bumbling mayor, Rob Ford. But even having foolish mayor is has proven to be a bit of a gift for Toronto because it’s the best wake-up call a city could ask for. Canadian politics in general just haven’t been that interesting to the rest of the world and why should it be when we Canadians haven’t been that interested either, until now. Read the full article.

Rolyn, Stephanie, Kristyn, Scott: What do global LGBT human rights mean to you? from Raymond Helkio on Vimeo.

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WorldPride Human Rights Conference Launches Indiegogo Presenter Fund Campaign

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This is a chance for the LGBT community to come together to discuss the issues that matter to us and to further our human rights around the globe. Your support will help provide opportunities for important dialogue between grassroots leaders and contribute to this growing international movement.

We need your help to cover the costs of transportation and accommodation for the 175+ presenters that will be participating in the conference. Your support will help leading LGBT activists from countries including Uganda, Russia, Nigeria, Indonesia, India, China and many others attend the conference.

International LGBTI leaders will gather in Toronto for WorldPride 2014 for a dialogue about LGBTI rights as human rights around the world, and the issues affecting our communities. Enthusiasm for the Conference has been so great that submissions greatly exceeded organizers’ expectations, with more than 400 received from activists, academics and LGBTI leaders.

Hundreds of LGBTI rights leaders from around the world will speak, including: Russian activist and journalist Masha Gessen;Ugandan LBGTI activist Frank Mugisha; Kenyan human rights lawyer Justice Monica Mbaru; Venezuelan trans activist Tamara Adrián; and Canadian global HIV/AIDS leader Stephen Lewis. Panelists will address issues ranging from education and youth,HIV/AIDS, sex work, trans rights, employment, aging and other human rights issues. A full schedule for the conference will beannounced early in 2014 at WPHRC14.com

 

 

 

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Death Of A Bathhouse at the 23rd Annual Inside Out LGBT Film and Video Festival selection

Combining footage from the final days of St. Marc’s Spa with interviews from Toronto artists Sky Gilbert, Keith Cole, Brad Fraser, Drasko Bogdanovic & Shane MacKinnon, we explore the art culture and ultimate demise of one of Toronto’s longest running bathhouses. Worldwide preview screening Thursday May 30 at 9:30pm | TIFF Bell Lightbox as part of the 23rd annual Inside Out LGBT Film & Video Festival. More info at: The Reading Salon.

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HIMBO!

HIMBO! Sex, Drugs, Celebrity, The Law of Attraction & Other Adventures is a life love letter from a man learning to live authentically without apology. A time capsule of sparkling yet gritty modern life, Shaun’s book debut includes no-holds-barred provocative selections from his many contributions to the likes of The Globe & Mail and Xtra!, as well as thought-provocation from a multitude of celebrities he has interviewed for his acclaimed radio and TV shows – from Lady Gaga to Liza Minnelli, Betty White to Rosie O’Donnell. Sample ePub available here. Graphic Design: Raymond Helkio. 

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Henry Comes Knocking Gets Thumbs Up From AAN!


In an article titled Henry Comes Knocking: Video discloses absurdity of Court’s HIV non-disclosure rulings AIDS ACTION NOW gives a big thumbs up to The Reading Salon‘s efforts with this work. The criminalization of people living with HIV (or any illness) is an epically wrong way to manage a public health concern and is a slippery slope into the archaic world of disease management by law enforcement. Thanks AAN for adding your voices into the mix! Watch the video below.

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Celebrate. Demonstrate. Agitate.

Queers for Social Justice logo: Raymond Helkio
Queers for Social Justice is a coalition of queer community groups, organizations and causes. The group was formed at a community town hall meeting for queers on May 27, 2012. We have come together to bring a unified message of social justice and politics to Pride 2012.

Drawing attention to the struggles that affect queers in Canada and abroad: homophobia, transphobia, bullying, the criminalization of HIV, refugee Bill C-31, homonationalism (e.g., focusing on “gay rights” to the exclusion of the broader concept of social justice) and the cuts to services at all levels of government.

Join for Pride 2012 us as we celebrate, demonstrate and agitate! You can find out more on facebook.

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Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival


Please join me for this year’s amazing line-up of films at the Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival. This year I have sponsored the film August which is showing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on Friday May 18th, 2012 (7:15pm) and I hope you’ll be able to join me for another year of incredible LGBT films.

About August: Five years ago in LA, Troy and Jonathan were in the midst of a full- blown love affair. But when their relationship proved too intense, Jonathan broke up with Troy and escaped back to Spain to follow career aspirations. Since then, Troy has made steps to re-establish a healthy life and has found a new love in handsome Argentinian bartender, Raul. Just when things seem to be returning to normal, Jonathan shows up unannounced looking to strike up a casual friendship that leads to old habits and a mounting sexual tension that threatens Troy’s newfound balance.

Avoiding the clich?s of a typical gay romantic triangle narrative, Rapaport’s debut feature deals with the difficult choices people are forced to make in order to break the cycle of self-destruction that accompanies unhealthy relationships. By approaching the story from each character’s perspective, Rapaport’s August thrives, and his mix of Middle Eastern and Latin influences help add to the film’s charm.

Based on Rapaport’s award-winning short film, Postmortem, August is more than just a steamy showcase for its gorgeous eye-candy cast, many of whom got their start in famous soap operas. The film is a refreshingly honest take on a universal problem.

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ACT Gay.

The AIDS Committee of Toronto’s winter/spring newsletter is out. The theme is ACT Gay and this particular issue is dedicated to gay men – you can get your copy here. ACT’s Executive Director says “Our Gay Men’s Community Health Programs have taken this to heart, with a campaign launched at Pride to celebrate the resilience of gay men through 30 years of the HIV epidemic in Toronto. It’s a community we’re proud to come from, and a community we continue to serve as a priority.”
Graphic Design: Raymond Helkio

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David Testo exposes himself for Male Call Canada

Launched this past September, Male Call is the most comprehensive national survey of men who have had sex with men in Canadian history. For the final few weeks of the campaign, professional soccer player and former Montreal Impact most-valuable-player David Testo is joining us to encourage gay and bisexual men across the country to participate in the national, bilingual Male Call Canada study, led by the University of Toronto and supported by national partners including the Canadian AIDS Society, the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT), and l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). This research is collecting data about the attitudes, knowledge and sexual behaviours of men who have, or have had, sex with men and will help inform future public health and HIV prevention strategies, help build healthier communities and ultimately save lives.

Testo joins researchers from universities across the country, community partners and a national advisory group to help promote the study, which aims to recruit 6,000 men for a confidential, toll-free telephone survey. Potential study participants can call 1-855-846-MALE (6253) to confidentially and anonymously take the survey. The lines will be open until the end of January 2012.

For gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men and who are interested in becoming study participants, David Testo, who recently came out as a gay man, has a clear message: “I urge you to make this very important call. Over the last decade, much has changed in the lives of men who have sex with men, and more information is needed about their attitudes on a national scale.” Testo adds: “This survey provides an opportunity for men to contribute their opinions on current issues so that we can better educate, promote and develop effective programming for our community and the population at large.”

“This is the most comprehensive survey of men who have had sex with men in Canadian history,” said University of Toronto Dr. Ted Myers, Principal Investigator for Male Call Canada. “We hope David’s endorsement of this study will encourage even more men to participate in the study. The more men who participate, the better the results, the stronger the study’s findings and application.”

Once the data is collected and analyzed, a report complete with findings will be available by July 2012 at www.malecall.ca. The study is also supported by the national advertising campaign themed ‘Let’s Talk’. Photograph by West Phillips

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Know More. The Lambda Study results are in, I mean out.

The Lambda Study was a survey of 2,438 gay and bisexual men in Toronto and Ottawa that collected information from men in these cities about their sexual and other behaviours, including condom use and HIV status. This community report presents some of the key study findings. You can download the report for free from www.lambda.ca or like our facebook fanpage to know more. Graphic Design: Raymond Helkio

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