I do, I do
The year began with marriage-minded, same-sex couples in church – and ended with the same couples in court.
The Jan 14 double-wedding vows of Elaine and Anne Vautour and Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell at the Metropolitan Community Church Of Toronto attracted attention from all over. What caused the fuss was the claim of the church’s pastor Brent Hawkes that by using the old Christian tradition of marriage banns, the Ontario government would have to issue wedding licences.
By November, Vautours, Bourassa and Varnell had been joined by eight other Ontario couples in the Ontario Superior Court Of Justice, arguing that the refusal to give them marriage licences was unconstitutional. A similar case had been lost in British Columbia just a few weeks earlier and another case was fought in Quebec the same week.
What started out as a walk down the aisle has turned into a decade-long stroll to the Supreme Court Of Canada – unless politicians step in first.
As gay lib reaches middle age – Xtra’s publisher Pink Triangle Press has been around for 30 years and the bathhouse raids happened 20 years ago – our biological clocks are ticking. Yay reproductive technology (bring on the clones)!
More lesbians are having babies and more queer folks are including children in their lives through adoption, fostering and non-official co-parenting. Winding its way to the Supreme Court Of Canada is a case over the use of gay-positive books in the Surrey, British Columbia, school system – setting the stage for a battle over the rights of the kids of queers.
Rufus Wainwright, KD Lang, Melissa Etheridge, The Butchies, Le Tigre, Elton John, Boy George all released strong CDs this year. Thunderpuss remixes hit number one on Billboard dance chart five times (TO native Barry Harris is the gay half of the duo). The number of out homo pop stars is growing (and getting better). New to the list is Michael Stipe, the REM frontman finally confirmed longstanding rumours. Biggest music news was a no show: The queer music fest Wotapolava folds before it opens.
Remote no more
Despite the loss of City TV’s Queer Television, the launch of the world’s only queer channel, PrideVision, signals that TV went bent as bunny ears in 2001. US Queer As Folk (filmed in TO), Sex And The City (you know what we mean), This Hour Has 22 Minutes, The Lofters, So Gay TV, the return of Ellen DeGeneres, an Emmy to Canuck Eric McCormack for Will And Grace and homo story lines and guest appearances on any show worth watching. Low point: Anne Heche speaking to aliens on Barbara Walters (Barbara seemed to understand). Don’t forget to send get-well cards to Dr Laura Schlessinger, whose homophobic rants were ignored by audiences and advertisers alike.
In the face of studies showing a significant increase of new HIV infections among men who have sex with men – especially in Toronto and especially among men 25 to 44 years old – the AIDS Committee Of Toronto launched its biggest ever safe-sex campaign. Tobacco giant Philip Morris was initially displeased the Welcome To Condom Country campaign so blatantly ripped off its Marlboro Man icon. But it backed off; the gay cowboys were just too cute.
Toronto statistics showing a decline in hate crimes are one thing; the killing of a gay Vancouver man by suspected bashers is quite another. In November, Aaron Webster, 41, was found beaten in a cruisy area of Vancouver’s Stanley Park, prompting a usually complacent community to fume and grieve together. Now BC politicians are under pressure to implement anti-homophobia programs in schools and the police are under pressure to make sure gay men are safe in parks – good efforts that come late for bashing victims.
Toronto courthouses echoed with the sounds of lesbian sex parties and gay porn as two Toronto purveyors of sexy liberation – Glad Day Bookshop and the Toronto Women’s Bathhouse Committee – fought against overzealous policing.
Glad Day fought the Ontario Film Review Board (anybody here see the film Fat Girl? No? Try another province) over the board’s requirement that all videos be submitted for classification. The Hot House porn flick, Descent, was found stickerless on Glad Day’s shelves.
Women’s Bathhouse organizers accused the Toronto Police Service of violating their rights by sending five plainclothes police officers to their women-only Pussy Palace event.
Both cases demonstrated how little the police, the board and the courts understand queer sexuality. And how much time and money it takes to fight the man – both cases are far from being resolved.
The anti-transsexual women admission policy at Michigan Women’s Music Fest was again greeted by protesters, as were the bands who played there. Controversy at Inside Out film fest erupted over the catalogue description of the doc Bombay Eunuch. The documentary Southern Comfort won awards but was accused of voyeurism. The popular film musical Hedwig And The Angry Inch – a case of misapplied labels? Trans issues remain at the fore as cultural representations skyrocket.
A hero in airplane passenger Mark Bingham, a high profile victim in New York chaplain Rev Mychal Judge, new anti-terrorist laws that could be used to clamp down on civil disobedience and calls for an end to ironic humour – how have the acts of Sep 11 affected the gay and lesbian community?
If there’s one clear connection, it’s the need for us to write ourselves into the big story one way or another.
A face odyssey
Here’s an all too brief list of hotties, homo or otherwise, who moistened our loins in 2001. Singer Sarah Harmer, art dyke forever Lynn Fernie, Hedwig’s John Cameron Mitchell (both in and out of drag!), Hey, Happy’s Dita Vendetta and Jeremie Yuen, Vaginal Davis sucking whipped cream from young male toes on the Roy Thomson Hall stage, Justin Trudeau, Trading Spaces carpenter Ty Pennington, Britney’s squeeze Justin Timberlake, the hosts of Shout, Ghost World’s Thora Birch, Bully’s Brad Renfrew, Moulin Rouge’s Ewan McGregor and Johnny Greyeyes’s Gail Maurice.
I do, I do