Join the LGBT Giving Network along with their partners in the LGBTQ & ASO Non-Profit sector for the 5th LGBT+ Philanthropy Summit. The summit is a networking and education event aimed at exploring the role of non-profit leaders in building a culture of philanthropy within their organizations. The conference is geared towards Executive Directors, staff specializing in fundraising/development, programming and communication, board members, professionals involved with corporate giving & foundations and those who believe in building strong organizations that serve the LGBT community. For more information, check out their website. Graphic design and website for the LGBT Giving Network provided by Raymond Helkio.
Come Together: The LGBT+ Philanthropy Summit
April 11–12, 2018
The perfect Christmas gift is waiting for you at Orbital Arts in Kensington Market. When you by a copy of my children’s book The Great Meeting Room you’ll get a free bar of My Gay Soap by Heaven Scent. This organic soap is made from coconut oil and smells as good as it looks. Beautiful for beautiful people.
Please join me and Rolyn Chambers this Thursday for a SALACIOUS double-fisted book launch. Rolyn is releasing his first book, The Boy Who Brought Down A Bathhouse, a collection of stories about the infamous St. Marc’s Spa.
RAID: Operation Soap was the play I produced last year with co-conspirator David Bateman. Operation Soap was the police code name for a highly organized simultaneous raid on four Toronto bathhouses and the catalyst for one of the most significant turning points in LGBT history.
I would be honoured if you could make it out to our book launch and celebrate with us! Performance legend Keith Cole will be in the house to recreate a short moment from the play and he’ll be accompanied by the super talented Stewart Borden on piano. I promise this will be a book launch launch you won’t soon forget!
As aspecial bonus, if you come dressed in just a towel I’ll give you a copy of the play for FREE!
SALACIOUS! Double Book Launch
& Art Party
Glad Day Bookshop
499 Church Street, TORONTO
Thursday November 23, 2017
The Boy Who Brought Down A Bathhouse
RAID: Operation Soap
Raymond Helkio with David Bateman
Project Seahorse consists of a small group of conservationists making a huge global impact. Doing work in over thirty countries they are celebrating a twenty year history of marine conservation including research, sustainable trade, education and outreach. Designed by Raymond Helkio this anniversary annual report combines a twenty year timeline, operations map plus gorgeous one-of-kind photos shot by their staff.
WEB DESIGN NEWS: TriAdventure and Nikibasika merge designs to create a mobile friendly, single-site experience for athletes, crew and donors. Over the coming months we’ve got lots more improvements planned both online and off. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or register now. This summer by training and fundraising for the annual TriAdventure; a 3 day event involving a 3km swim (or 15km run), 15km canoe, and 140km cycle. The money raised is the used for a home and long-term education for orphaned and vulnerable youth in Kasese, Uganda.
Our focus is to help these young adults become self-sustaining leaders in their communities. Each participant is supported with formal education beyond secondary school, and more important, with leadership development, career guidance, global and human rights awareness. Each young person also participates in a team where they create and lead a community-development project that helps people in need in their local area. Some of the kids are now adults and already working and giving back in their community. Registration for 2017 is now open, to help or to register as an athlete or crew, please click here. Registration will secure your spot and is limited as this is a small group.
Graphic design and website development support courtesy of Raymond Helkio.
Feature image: Kiiza and Blair Cox
Pictured above: Stephanie Stroka, Cate Creede, Yves Precourt and Lisa Hipgrave
Kick-ass food, serious cocktails, cheeky staff and now a website to match! Hair of the Dog’s mobile friendly upgrade is designed around the food and their extensive beer collection, 50+ brands from around the globe. They have been a Church Street favourite since opening fifteen years ago and they’re still serving up a cheekier brand of sophistication than you might be used to from your garden variety pub. Come, Sit, Stay.
Originally published on MyGayToronto.com
Josh Thomas has worn many hats in the in the making of Please Like Me; producer, director, writer and star but what makes the show so good is how enduringly funny the characters are. Loosely based on his own life the show boldly tackles a number of topics from mental illness, coming out, suicide, sex and STD’s all made more accessible through the sharing of food and music.
While being gay is integral to Josh’s character it’s not the focus of the show which makes him interesting as opposed to sterotypical gay characters which are often hyper-exaggerated, two-dimensional versions of themselves. In fact when Josh wrote the original script it was about a straight character but as he came out it became apparent the show itself should change so that it evolved with him.
With just four seasons under their belt the producers of the show (including Josh) decided to wrap it up. This is sad news for us Canadians because season four hasn’t officially arrived here yet. In their official statement they said they came to the decision “because we are really happy with what we’ve made and feel like it is complete.” I’m sure that’s partly true but they were searching for a season five partner to no avail, so it’s possible that the show will be back.
RAYMOND: What LGBT TV/film actor do you admire the most and why?
JOSH: Ummm, Gosh. It’s hard to think of LGBT actors, there really aren’t that many. Ellen Degeneres is obviously number one forever.
Considering queer people in Russia have been downloading your show, you’re an ‘accidental activist.’ Have there been other LGBT-related impacts that your show has had – intentionally or otherwise?
We’re now available in almost every country in the world and in SO MANY of them it’s illegal to be gay and to talk about being gay, many countries through Asia and Africa and of course the middle east. I live in the inner city of Melbourne and it’s so easy to forget how fucked it is to be gay in most of the world. I don’t really understand how they punish the gays – do they put them all in prison? Because that sounds kind of fun.
You have a ton of interaction with your fans online, how much time to do you devote to this?
Hahaha do I? Oh this is embarrassing, I should have more of a life. I sort of check my socials through the day when I am waiting for my Uber or whatever. I don’t think it’s that healthy to constantly be reading people’s opinions about me so I try and limit it.
What have your fan interactions taught you about human nature?
Seeing how much people feel they have in common with things my character are going through is always interesting, I thought I was a bit weirder than I am.
What’s the most challenging part of acting in and directing the same show?
Definitely it’s being in a scene with an actor where I’m trying to be present in the scene and just believe what the other actor is doing and then having to switch out and give them critiques. I don’t want them doing the scene conscious that I am judging what they’re doing and about to give notes but also . . . I have to judge what they are doing and give notes. Also calling cut on make out scenes, I have to like yell it into the boys mouth.
Originally published on MyGayToronto, Ray’s Anatomy
She’s a singer, voice actor and public speaker, but you most likely know Susan Bennett as the original voice of Siri, the built-in “intelligent assistant” that made it’s first appearance in the iPhone 4S. Short for Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface, Siri uses artificial intelligence to respond to questions in a way that sounds natural and almost life-like.
Before Steve Jobs had introduced the iPhone, Bennett had been recording her voice for a third party text-to-speech company that Apple would ultimately purchase all of their voices from. She worked fours hours a day for a month on a speech programming process called ‘concatenation.’ Bennett explains that “The recordings that ultimately became Siri were done to get all of the sound combinations in the language. I read thousands of phrases and sentences that were created for sound rather than content. Afterwards, technicians and computers went into the recordings, extracted sounds, and reformed them into new phrases and sentences. These became Siri’s and other virtual assistants’ responses on our devices. The first concatenated voices sounded really robotic and unnatural and that’s why the original Siri was so iconic: She was the first concatenated voice to sound human, and you could interact with her. Now, with each iteration of Siri, the voice is more and more natural, which is the result of improvements in technology.”
Siri is made even more life-like by the added sassiness which is partly due to the writers Apple hired to create cheeky responses to some common, often provocative, questions. And then there are those times when a Siri answer seems to border on snarky which as Susan explains to Time Magazine, “There are some people that can read hour upon hour . . . I get extremely bored . . . That’s one of the reasons why Siri might sometimes sound like she has a bit of an attitude. Those sounds might have been recorded the last 15 minutes of those four hours.”
How would you say the Voice Over (VO) industry has changed over the past decade?
The VO business has been completely revolutionized by technology over the past decade. Even the way talent are hired has changed. In the past, most work was union, so the talent were paid fairly, and they had a union agent who kept an eye on things. They auditioned through the agent so there was a real structure in place. With the internet came lots of VO production companies, that had access to a lot of non-union work; and with technology came home recording studios, so talent began working at home, directly with the production companies, or directly with the client through their own companies.
In the past, VO was kind of a mysterious thing. People in the business, or people in related businesses like acting, music, jingle singing, etc, knew about it, but most people didn’t. That changed with movies like In a World, and the fact that VO was talked about a lot on the internet and social media. The result is that there are now thousands of people out there competing for voice work, which makes it more difficult than in the past. The voice actor has to be his/her own agent, marketer, accountant, engineer, and talent. There’s a lot of opportunity, but the talent can no longer just get by on reading copy.
What’s the most significant thing that changed in after discovering you were the voice of Siri?
The fact that I was the original voice of Siri! It had a lot of repercussions on my career and it took me many months to get used to it. However, it ended up becoming a very interesting part of my life and I’ve begun a new career because of it; doing speaker events in which I talk about Siri, the VO business, and how it all affected me.
Touring with Burt Bacharach or Roy Orbison, which was the richer creative experience for you?
That’s a very difficult question to answer, because the two experiences were very different. I only toured with Burt for a few weeks but it made a huge impact. I got to sing with him surrounded by a full orchestra, so it was incredible, musically. I toured for two years with Roy and his five piece band, plus two other singers. My first gig was in Bulgaria televised to ten million people. I made some very good friends on that tour, and I also got to sing a duet with Roy, playing the Emmy Lou Harris part in “That Loving You Feeling Again” so it was an important part of my life, both musically and personally.
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)
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.
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.
Graphic 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.
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.
HAPPY PRIDE! Now you can re-live the RAID experience again and again with RAID: The Soundtrack. Written by David Bateman and Raymond Helkio with Stewart Borden and featuring songs by Keith Cole, Johnny Salib and David Bateman. Produced by The Reading Salon. FREE
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.
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
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
DAILY XTRA, MARCH 14, 2016, Chris Dupuis
Queer zine redefines family and
supports Glad Day in the process
MyGayToronto.com, February 29, 2016, Drew Rowsome
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Fuck You:
A Zine About Family
eBook PDF download Buy Now ($8)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Join us for a discussion & debate with representatives of all four major parties on key issues for LGBTQ communities in Canada. The event features representatives from all four major Canadian political parties running candidates in Ontario with the discussion moderated by Brenda Cossman, from the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies. Unlike riding-focused debates, this town hall will focus on a range of issues of interest to LGBTQ communities in Canada, including domestic and foreign policy issues.
THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 24, 2015
Buddies In Bad Times Theatre
Debate begins: 6:00pm
Post-debate Social: 8:00pm
UPCOMING: LGBTQ Issues Debate in Ottawa on Friday, September 25th being held at the National Centre for the Arts. Follow both our events on Twitter at #LGBTQVotes or Facebook.
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.
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.
These 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.
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.
“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it” -Erik Qualman
Posting to social media from your website means that your charity gets to keep the counts (likes, shares, retweets), drive traffic back to your website and earn credibility as an information source.
It’s not frequency that counts, it’s the brevity of your content. Keep them short, interesting/informative and newsworthy. Most of your posts should give people ‘new news’ or insights into your event or the charity itself. Donors, and volunteers want to hear more about their favourite charities not endless requests for support. Give your audience more about you; tell them about your volunteers, facts about your organization or insights from other departments. And do most of it from your website so you can enjoy what’s working, adjust what’s not and measure engagement in a meaningful way.
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
Photo of David Bateman in front of Brad Fraser’s triptych Cock Therapy at Glad Day Bookshop by Raymond Helkio, 2015 (Toronto)
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
Pink balaclava: Raymond Helkio
The LPSAC logo mimics the complexity of Ledbury Park students while giving a nod to the building’s architecture. Ledbury Park School Advisory Council adopted a new before launching their hugely successful capitol campaign a little over two years ago.
Their Believe Campaign has raised over $28,000 and funds resources such as SMART Boards, athletic uniforms, literacy and numeracy resources plus the Brick by Brick fundraising campaign which bridged the gap between the TDSB’s commitment ($75K) and the full project budget for ($150K) Ledbury’s new Playscape. Graphic Design: Raymond Helkio
Every year the KM Hunter Foundation awards six grants of $8000.00 to artists in the areas of Visual Art, Dance, Theatre, Literature, Film and Video and Music. Recipients are recommended for this award by the Ontario Arts Council juries who put names forward from their own individual juries. Graphic Design: Raymond Helkio // KM Hunter Foundation Logo // 2015 Awards Invitation (below)
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
In June 2014, over 500 activists, academics, lawyers and policymakers from across Canada and around the world came together in Toronto, Ontario for the WorldPride Human Rights Conference which raised the level of awareness of global LGBTI issues in Toronto and Canada and provided a launch pad for the Dignity Initiative.
There is currently no framework or best practice guidelines for LGBTI and allied groups across Canada for working on global LGBTI issues. Our goal is to convene around the development of a set of policy pieces that would be practical tools for the Canadian government and Canadian civil society organizations. This project builds upon the 10-point plan of action on human rights for LGBTI people presented to the federal government in May 2014 by over 80 civil society organizations. Join us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all the developments. Logo, graphic design and website: Raymond Helkio.
THURSDAY MAY 14, 2015
Reception & Discussion for International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia
The Dignity Initiative hosts a reception and interactive discussion on how Canadians are becoming more involved in supporting human rights for LGBTI people around the world. This reception is co-hosted by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and The Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto.
5:00pm-6:00pm Reception (light refreshments and cash bar)
6:00pm-7:30pm Panel Discussion and Conversation
Adedapo Fabunmi, APAA (Africans in Partnership Against AIDS), Initiative for Equal Rights, Nigeria
Maurice Tomlinson, LGBTI Aware Caribbean & Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Vijaya Chikermane, Alliance for South Asian Aids Prevention
Michelle Emson, KyivPride Canada
Moderator: Doug Kerr, Dignity Initiative
The panel will discuss ways that Canadians are working on human rights for LGBTI people in several regions and countries of the world, including the Caribbean, India, Nigeria, and Ukraine.
Join this Facebook event page for more information.
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.
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.
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!
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
This past summer the LGBT Giving Network partnered with the Association of Fundraising Professionals Inclusive Giving program for the 4th annual Philanthropy Conference at The 519 Church Street Community Centre. Just wait until next year! Graphic design: Raymond Helkio
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.
Charitable organizations have been restricted from spending more than ten percent of their resources on political activities and while this prohibition on charities has been on the books since 1985, it’s only been in recent years that we’ve seen the Harper government use it as a weapon (think: gag order) against charities. It’s not just random charities either, our government takes particular offence to environmental agencies (read: oil), development groups (read: poverty), human rights organizations and charities who receive donations from labour unions. Seem suspicious at all?
With the charities who are closest to the issues now ball-gagged, the government is free to do what it wants without the dissent. Just this month The Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists (TKWFN) – who publicly defend the Endangered Species Act – were flagged by tax auditors about their political activity and warned that they could be in for a tax audit which for a charitable organization is devastating at best. It’s worth noting that TKWFN has an operating budget of about $16K which hardly seems worth all the feathers they are ruffling. It’s no coincidence that this news was delivered to TKWFN days after the environment minister responded to their complaint over government approved chemicals destroying bee colonies.
Other charities who are currently under scrutiny include Pen Canada, Tides Canada, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecology Action Centre, Canada Without Poverty, United Church of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Policy alternatives. And this list will continue to grow. Even more horrifying is that many of these audits resulted from complaints lodged by oil company lobbyists about the charities’ political activity (read: corporations having bareback sex with our government).
Not unlike the gag order placed over Canadian scientists, the Harper government is keeping the public in the dark by keeping charities silent on issues that conflict with their interests. It’s important that our charitable organizations are allowed to manage themselves, as they see fit, not how an oil company, pharmaceutical giant or government thinks it should be done. A government should govern the nation and not get involved in the day-to-day operations of how our organizations spend their resources.
Dr. Amanda Vincent: “The world needs more people committed to marine conservation. In an era marked by the exponential decline of coral reefs and other ecosystems, this is one of the foremost challenges we face, one that Project Seahorse is always trying to address through our work. The question is, how do you do it? How do you turn people into stewards of the marine environment?” Annual Report, Graphic Design: Raymond Helkio
IN YOUR POCKET explores the immediacy and intimacy offered by smartphone technology. Curated by RT Collective in association with Inside Out film festival featuring work by: Drew Lint, Tera Mallette, Tawiah Ben-Eben M’Carthy, Drew Danielle Belsky, Vika Kirchenbauer, Brendan Healy, Alejandro Santiago, Drasko Bogdanovic, Mikiki Mikiki, Raymond Helkio, Amy Pearl, Apathy Club, Coral Short, Sam Godfrey, Andil Gosine, Manolo Lugo, Grey Muldoon, Claro Cosco, Philip Edward Villeneuve, Sofonda Cox, and others. Curated by Marcin Wisniewski and Chris Dupuis.
Saturday May 31
Join Trinity Square Video for this special panel discussion (including Raymond Helkio and Amy Pearl from The Reading Salon) on the nature of collaboration. Image below from Kijiji Connections, The Reading Salon.
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?
Inside Out LGBT Film Festival (Toronto)
MAY 31, 2014
In 30 days, 40 senior creatives from around the globe crafted this spectacular issue of W|A magazine. For team 3: Sarah Allworth, Rick Duncan, Chris Elkerton and Raymond Helkio (pages 14-17). Read the article by the Association of Registered Graphic Designers. For the online version or to download a PDF copy.
Join us for a gay old time as we show our support for our LGBT Russian family. videofag, Toronto | February 1, 2014
In this video: andrea houston, roy mitchell, donnarama, brock hessel, david bateman, amy lester, elle chronique with video by raymond helkio ? music: the whole she bang, velvet goldmine + noctune opus 32, no 1, stewart borden
Innovative, African Solutions for Africa’s Health Problems “AMREF has shown that indigenous solutions based on international science can address the toughest problems in the world, and serve as a beacon for Africa and for the world.” Graphic Design: Raymond Helkio AMREF Case for Support (PDF)
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.
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
In 30 days, 40 senior creatives from around the globe crafted the spectacular November issue of Wayward Arts Magazine and we did more than just write about the future of collaboration, we are brought it to you: have a look or read the article by the Association of Registered Graphic Designers. Raymond Helkio, Team 3, The Rewards of Risk.
“This Will Go Viral!” Is A Disease Of The Ego
How does a video go viral? There are a lot of techniques that will help boost your YouTube views but the definition of “viral” is to reach epidemic proportions, quickly. Is that one million views in two days? Fifteen million in a week? Five hundred thousand in the first hour? There is always some benefit to having one of your videos go viral but how much energy should you put into it? Could these views translate into donations, tickets sales or support for your charity? It may actually be more important for your charity to reach a thousand of the right people with the right message versus one million avatars.
Sell Less, Socialize More
Don’t pre-plan all of your social media engagement, just keep most of it engaging. There is nothing wrong with pre-scripting some of your posts or tweets, in fact it makes good sense to have your team pre-approve some messages and guidelines but if you plan everything you’ll sound like a marketing robot. You may be putting on the most amazing event of the year but posting about ticket sales five times a week is not fun for the fans who already have a ticket. Engage your audience in topics and conversations that would be of interest to them and just forget the selling until you’ve established the relationship.
Tag Your Way To Better Relationships
Let’s say your group is organizing a 10km run for your charity. You could post the following: Registration is open, sign up now! This is a sales pitch and your audience audience has nothing to connect with. Instead you could post this: Thank you to @ScottSmith and @AndrewJones for registering your awesome team! This shows that you are paying attention to them and your post will appear on their facebook/twitter feed so you’ll multiply the impact of your post.
Altus Dynamics is a trusted adviser and technology leader providing innovative business solutions for the not-for-profit, government and education sectors. Together for the greater good. Design package: Raymond Helkio.
RISE UP! Calling all Toronto queer artists, activists, and superstars! We’re making a promotional video for The WorldPride Human Rights Conference 2014 and you can be a part of it! Tell us what global LGBT human rights mean to you and be part of history! Drop us an email or look for us at Toronto LGBT venues from throughout the summer.
More WPHRC videos here.
My Sex Is Genderless | Videofag | Monday May 27 + June 2 2013 7PM
An intriguing and personal exploration of the immediacy and intimacy offered by the smart phone technology. Based around the ambiguous phrase “What’s Your Sex?”, the screening will present new works by Toronto based artists Julian Calleros, Kiley May, and Mark Pariselli and The Reading Salon. Presented by Inside Out LGBT Film Festival, Videofag, and Trinity Square Video.
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.
So many men, so little time. Thank you so much to all the guys that participated in this landmark survey. The results of the Male Call Canada are out and you can have a peek at one of twenty survey fact sheets or for the more adventurous you can download the full 70 page technical report. Go ahead, snoop around – we know you want to! Let’s Talk Facts. Graphic Design: Raymond Helkio. Read the Globe & Mail article.
Every year, the Greater Toronto Area design community showcases its ingenuity by creating structures built entirely of canned and packaged food for the benefit of the Daily Bread Food Bank, Toronto. CANstruction demonstrates the commitment of design professionals to local communities by utilizing their skills to alleviate hunger in a unique and creative way. Our annual calendar goes out to architect & design firms and members of the CANstruction community. The food donated from this event is The Daily Bread Food Bank’s second largest food drive.
Moral courage is the willingness to stand up when others want you to sit down. It is living with integrity. Through this new channel, the Moral Courage Project will inspire people worldwide to question dogmas, speak taboo truths and create honest conversations. Behind these videos is multimedia producer Adam Grannick and if you haven’t heard of Adam yet, you are about to because he’s behind the cool graphics and video work. It’s going to be one hell of a season starting April 2013! Check out Moral Courage TV channel and don’t forget to subscribe.
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.
To criticize Israel, Gaza or Palestinian is not the same as criticizing it’s people. A political system, or lack there of, is worthy of criticism if no other reason than it’s position of power. You see, the person in the position of power is the only one who can truly make peace last. It’s like an adult with a unruly child, the parent must set the example. Parents aren’t necessarily smarter either, they’re just in a position of power which is why they are parents.
Look, it’s shitty businesses that rockets have been flying out of Gaza and I feel for the terror that it is causing ordinary people. You gotta fight back and protect your peeps, isn’t that what Dali Lama would do? Well maybe not quite, he’d likely retaliate with some form of peaceful non-retaliation which would a beautiful thing to witness but I’m afraid a lot of people would end up dying. Could criticism, dialogue and debate achieve peace? It can when the political entities that control the war feel the public awareness and hear the demands for answers. Public interest, public pressure, debate and the free exchange of ideas are vital to keeping our politicians on their toes, otherwise who is keeping score? How do we know what’s the truth? The CBC and CNN combined couldn’t do a decent profile on the the Israel/Palestine conflict if they tried. Where are the discussions, the debate, the interest for our fellow humans? The curiosity about what is truth and what are we being told?
It’s a political game that has profound cultural ramifications for its citizens but I’m afraid it’s not the people in the places, it’s the people running the places. Leaders must take greater responsibility and the people must hold them to account. Over and over. And over. After all, the political leaders are the only ones that can really stop a war, start a war or put it on hold. Even if it’s just a 24 hour cease fire, if they can stop it for a little while they can stop it for a long while. It’s a choice and anyone who tells you that the situation with Israel and Palestine is complicated is referring to only to their understanding the situation. Peace is not complicated, history can be.
Israel has been saying that they want the bombs to stop. The leaders and public figures chat this mantra over and over on the news because it’s truth for all of us: we all want the bombs to stop. But what about the big pink elephant in the room? Hello Military Occupation Elephant we’ve all been wondering about you.
The right to self-determination is the right to govern one selves as they see fit but Israel has made it very hard, if not impossible, to do that.The wall Israel built and is still building acts as a deterrent to terrorists – especially the kind that blow up busses with women and children on board. The facts speak for themselves because once Israel started putting the wall up, the incidence of terror almost vanished. There is all kinds of crazy shit that the people of Israel need to be protected from ranging from the rational to the truly insane but protecting yourself should not infringe on the fundamental human rights of a fellow human being.
Who’s making more peace-centric requests? When Benjamin Netanyahu is asked direct questions about matters pertaining to peace he is rarely forthcoming with ideas outside of they have to stop throwing bombs. This seriously stunning PR line suddenly positions the entire battle as if it’s being waged over Hamas tossing bombs at them for some unknown reason. There’s no good reason the throw a bomb but the reasons are pretty integral to the storyline.
We know both sides are capable of peace because they can agree to some peace even if it’s in the middle of battle. This is not an issue of capacity, this an issue of willingness and intention. But it’s not enough to just stop throwing bombs.
Just like you can’t grow a garden on a sidewalk because you need rich fertile soil. No different than peace because if you want peace, you’ll need a rich playing field where no fighting exists in order for anything to grow. even if you set up a two state garden, we’ll need to tend to the soil first.
Public criticism and discourse can get us though this but we have to be willing to talk about it. There is no power in ignorance, so pick a side and know that you might be wrong. But please pick a side becasue people are dying.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” –Desmond TuTu
PositiveLite.com and the OHTN have teamed up to start the smoking cession discussion among AIDS Service Organizations and similar healthcare providers. PHAs (People Living With HIV/AIDS) may face greater challenges to quitting smoking due to a unique set of social, economic, psychiatric, and medical needs that may affect their smoking habits and their ability to quit (6) The resulting overlap between treatment, care and support for HIV/AIDS, substance use, and mental illness makes smoking cessation among PHAs a more difficult proposition than in the general population. To read the full background article click here. Design: Raymond Helkio
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.
What’s Moral Courage? Do I have it? Do you? Moral Courage is the willingness to speak truth to power and risk backlash for a greater good. And now there’s an App we’ve designed that guide you through your moral courage journey. Currently the App can support 17 languages and counting.
As Robert F. Kennedy told students at the University of Cape Town “Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet is it the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.”
The Moral Courage Project (MCP) is lead by Professor Irshad Manji out of New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and through the MCP website which serves as a hub for students around the world.
If you have questions about MCP you can always send me an email and as one of the Canadian ambassadors for the project I can help you get involved or answer questions. Don’t forget to download the App (it’s free!) and look for my video question in the Ask Irshad section.
As part of winning the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre Indie Producers Package (Art Attack), Architect Theatre won a new logo & stationary set in time for their opening season. Architect Theatre is a Resident Company of Theatre Passe Muraille. Logo design: Raymond Helkio
Watch past shows here
The Reading Salon is an experimental moving art event that gives voice to the printed word. Every month Toronto artists come together at a TBA location to celebrate the spoken word. One hour later we go live with a 15 minute curated performance of the work. In our first installation From The Book of Butter is from the desk of Amy Pearl, better known as MISS Butter for her hip-hop, free-style rap and spoken word performances from New York to her hometown Toronto. Please join us for a live 15 minute broadcast starting at 8PM on Tuesday August 21st, 2012. This months show can be heard on Blog Talk Radio is be hosted by Raymond Helkio. To chat live during the show listen online at Blog Talk Radio or you just just listen to The Reading Salon at 8PM on the player below. See you at the salon!
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.
Please join me Thursday May 24th at 10PM (EST) on Blog Talk Radio with host Roy Mitchell for the show ROYNATION. We’ll be talking about The Great Meeting Room, Free Speech, Moral Courage, the Rob Ford: Prove It! campaign and Roy’s trending fashion. It’s going to be lively!
Blog Talk Radio is free and you can login with facebook to chat with us during the show!
Also on the show is Greg Youmans who wrote a book about the film as part of the QUEER FILM CLASSICS, a critically acclaimed film book series that launched in 2009; the series will cover twenty-one of the most important and influential films about and by LGBTQ people, made in eight different countries between 1950 and 2005, written by leading LGBTQ film scholars and critics. The series will unspool at the rate of three new titles each year until 2015.
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.
A real story of a man wrongfully imprisoned and facing possible execution. This video by Hailey does a great job explaining a very unfortunate situation and through her Free Hamid campaign we hope to bring Hamid back to his family. You can help by watching and sharing this video with your friends and colleagues. Thank you for caring enough to watch.
Dear Rob, I hear you turned down another invitation to show your support for Pride day in Toronto – what a shame. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for spending time with the family but perhaps you haven’t considered the implications of being our mayor. It requires of you to be supportive of a diverse and culturally eclectic city. Perhaps you don’t see the job description that way, who knows.
Here’s the rub: you don’t show up for Pride or the flag raising and you really need to pick one. My impatience with you is growing and so I have gathered a group of connected friends to help disseminate a campaign to reveal what’s really going on with you.
I am not interested in hearing from you as words do not mean much to me. I am however very interested in seeing you take action on behalf of the LGBTQ community and show up at either Pride or the flag raising at City Hall. You get to pick.
While you waffle over your decision I have launched a campaign that I hope you will respond favourably to – its called Rob Ford: Prove it. I will accept nothing short of your participation in one of these two events as your assurance that you are trying to understand us.
We, as a community, generate a lot of “gravy” for the city and I insist that you recognize the LGBTQ’s financial and creative contribution to this great city. The time has come to prove it.
Press for Rob Ford Prove It!:
Morning Brew, BlogTO
New Campaign Asks Rob Ford to Prove He Supports the LGBTQ Community, Torontoist
A FACEBOOK DISCUSSION ON THE LIMITS OF FREE SPEECH
This Tuesday March 20th at 6pm (EDT), I’ll be guest moderating a discussion on Irshad Manji’s fanpage and I’d love you to join the conversation. Here’s the upshot, last week #ToMyUnbornChild was a trending topic on Twitter and the idea was to tweet a message to your future child. Some tweeted some lovely things while others chose to use this hashtag to declare that they would kill their child if they were LGBTQ. While this story was posted on The Huffington Post and more recently on XTRA!, the people who have made these outrageous tweets haven’t otherwise been held accountable – or should they be? Please join me on facebook as we discuss free speech, hate speech and the limits of accountability.
The Moral Courage Project is housed at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and is lead by professor Irshad Manji. The Moral Courage Project is growing into a global leadership program to help students engage in difficult dialogues about culture, power, justice, responsibility, citizenship and other contentious issues. For more information about MCP you can visit the website or contact me directly.
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
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
He’s part of the team behind those witty “Fact or Phallusy” sex survey ads you may have seen on Facebook. Or not, depending on if the social media site banned them. Raymond Helkio is our new Man of the Hour, explains Male Call Canada, and then takes our TMI Questionnaire to reveal the accidental boiling of a Japanese fighting fish.
Male Call Canada is a national university-community collaboration that surveys men who have had sex with men. Participation goes a long way in helping create effective community health programs. Read the story in xtra! about about our recent facebook ban and then come join our fanpage! Graphic Design: Raymond Helkio