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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#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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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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Well Hung: The Party

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We’ve taken over the third floor space at Glad Day Bookshop, the world’s oldest queer bookstore, to bring you an epic collaboration of artist work including Brad Fraser‘s triptych Cock Therapy, Blue Nude by David Bateman plus legendary photos by Raymond Helkio. Even if you don’t want to buy any art you should come out to our party this Saturday because you’ll get to submerge yourself in free performance and video art all night long starting with the world premiere of Paul Bellini‘s new short film Prison Tattoo, What’s It Like? by David Bateman + a midnight performance of Hamlet In A Hot Tub’s End of The World Tour. Featured artists include Brock Hessel (Hamlet) and Amy J. Lester (Ophelia) with additional spoken words by S. MacDonald, proceeds from this event to benefit the Hamlet In A Hot Tub Production Fund (so we can put on more free shows) and Glad Day Bookshop.

Saturday July 25, 10PM
Glad Day Bookshop
598a Yonge Street, Toronto

ray Photo of David Bateman in front of Brad Fraser’s triptych Cock Therapy at Glad Day Bookshop by Raymond Helkio, 2015 (Toronto)

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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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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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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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