3 min

A toast to 2012

Picks and pans in a year that brought great change to our community

"The good folks of Glad Day have added to queer nightlife in a way I didn't entirely anticipate at the beginning of the year," says Ryan G Hinds. Credit: Rob Salerno

I’m shocked (shocked!) that for all intents and purposes, the year is over and done with. The year 2012 seemed like the year of finality at times: the coffin was hammered shut for The Barn, Big Johnson’s (hands up if you saw that one coming — they never even bothered to take down the Village Rainbow sign!), Fashion Cares and Whitney Houston. May they all rest in peace.

Now is not the time for maudlin scenes, however, because with this year-end column I want to throw some deserved bouquets and administer some scalding-hot tongue-lashings (not the sexy kind) to my fellow creatures of the night.
First up is my memo to the ballroom and pageant scene: grow up. Serving runway is fun, and yes, a little cattiness is good for a laugh, but there’s long been a disturbingly vicious undercurrent. At what point did what is ultimately supposed to be a celebration turn into an assemblage of mean girls alienating people left, right and centre? At the recent pageant, reliable rumour has it that someone threw someone else a little too much shade and that someone else turned around and pulled out some mace! A cellphone video of a gay-on-gay brawl then made the rounds. People, this is Toronto! What kind of idiot brings mace to a ball or pageant? It’s a great way to disrespect the people you work with, and such actions ultimately keep you all oppressed.
Whether you are a member of a house or a fabulous queen encrusted in satin and organza, you need to take pride in the history of what you do. Build a family, create a community, and don’t engage in this foolish, reckless behaviour. After the year of high-profile violence the city has had, do we really need to start turning runways into battlegrounds? If you must create a scene and engage in stupid behaviour, here’s a tip: everyone enjoys a good wig snatch. You can make your opponent look foolish and you won’t have to do time.
While I’m in scolding mode, can we address the creeping cult of masculinity for a moment? Whether one is masculine, effeminate or somewhere in between matters not. It’s bad enough to see such divisions on Grindr, but the recent Stud party advertised an atmosphere of “masculine music” for capital-M men. Masculine music: what does that even mean? Old Anne Murray cassettes? Queer folk are supposed to be accepting of each other, not put the nancy boys at one party and Joe Marlboro in the other. Pitbull, another party with a manly name, has had a successful run; however, based on my recent sampling of attendees there’s no attempt to butch up anyone or anything. Note to party planners for 2013: try to think of themes that unite instead of exclude. Even if it’s as simple as adding a “ for _____ and their admirers” on your flyer, the effort will be appreciated.
I would like to send a big bouquet of roses to Glad Day, the little queer bookshop that could. This year it’s hosted every kind of fab soirée, from art salons and cabarets to gallery exhibits, book launches and gamer groups. The good folks of Glad Day have added to queer nightlife in a way I didn’t entirely anticipate at the beginning of the year. The ever-present accessibility issue still rankles (there’s only so much you can do in terms of having a third-floor event space), but as far as intimacy, flexibility and price go, Glad Day can’t be beat. In so many ways it’s more than just a bookstore; I can guarantee you’ll catch me there throughout 2013.
I’d also like to give a great big holler to Maggie Cassella, Todd Klinck, King Flare, DJ Relentless, The Power Plant, Good for Her, and Buddies for keeping it fresh and giving us all unusual and unexpected nights out. If you follow what they’re all up to, your social calendar will be a busy one! Since I’m dropping names, it’s always nice to cross paths with Sumation, Rommel, Chris Mitchell, Kaleb Robertson, Afi Browne, Bobby Valen and Miss Conception, all of whom greet strangers and friends alike with a smile and a welcoming touch. If you cross paths with these folks, you’re gonna have a great night.
So, how to wrap up a year of glamour, glitter, fashion, fame and mace? With love, dolls. Whatever you end up doing for the holidays, I hope the drama is kept to a minimum, you have a designated driver and your holiday plans don’t completely implode; take a page from my friend Chrissy, who famously bailed on Christmas Day when family stuff got out of control. By the time any of us got in touch with him, he had left the province entirely! My advice for 2013 is to move toward whatever will make you happy and healthy.