6 min

And the nominees are…

Presenting Xtra West's Community Achievement Award finalists

Credit: Wendy D Photo

It’s time once againfor Xtra West to salute Vancouver’s queer heroes. You, the readers, nominated distinguished community members. After much soul-searching, rock, paper, scissors and gut-wrenching debate among Xtra West staffers we’ve boiled the many deserving nominees down to three in each category.

The winners will be announced at a gala celebration courtesy of Xtra West to be held Sun, May 15 at 3 pm at Celebrities. Tickets are only $5 at Little Sister’s.

Please come join us as we honour our queer heroes from 2004.


For organizing the city’s first Dyke March in over a decade, Heidi Deagle and Michelle Walker. They selflessly volunteered their energies to establish a new vision of queer womynhood and family on the Drive. Their efforts have added a wonderful new (and formerly conspicuously absent) dimension to Vancouver’s world-class Pride celebration.

For working tirelessly to increase the health and well-being of Vancouver’s gay men and community through his brainchild Gayway, Phillip Banks. By providing a vehicle for gay men to come together, Banks has created a network of support and community-building that has already helped to thaw the frostier side of queer Vancouver.

For determinedly muscling through eight years of obstacles and political minefields and never giving up in his quest to get us an AIDS Memorial, Ed Lee. Lee has given Vancouver’s queer community a permanent monument to those friends and lovers we’ve tragically lost to AIDS over the years.


Garett Humchitt, Erica Halpern and Sam Bradd, through their work with Out on Campus, Simon Fraser University’s LGBT Centre, have helped make the university experience easier for scores of queer students. Their efforts ensure a safe meeting and social space for queer young adults and serve as the nexus for SFU’s queer community.

Irene Player takes the train from her home in Coquitlam each Monday to volunteer in the kitchen at the Dr Peter Centre. She volunteers more time than anyone else, contributing more than 1200 hours over the past few years. As well as having a wonderful rapport with the participants in Dr Peter Centre programs, Irene dips into her own pocket to ensure ice cream is on the menu every day she is in the kitchen. “She’s just a real love,” says Carolyn Ryan, Dr Peter Centre’s volunteer services coordinator.

Whether it’s through his Gay Warriors talking circle, or his contributions to the Pride in Art exhibitions, or his involvement in the two-spirit drumming group, Robbie Hong has contributed countless hours of his time and his own personal resources to the support of two-spirited men and the enrichment of Vancouver’s queer community.


Caspar Miles and Aman Dhaliwal recognized the Canadian Blood Services’ policy to prohibit gay men from donating blood as discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Their website is a valuable contribution to queer activism and a shining example of what can happen when young queer people take action.

Drew Thompson and Sara Kerr kept the ‘queer’ in queer art. These Emily Carr students’ Kweer exhibition challenged us to redefine our ideas of queerdom at a time when too many artists say it’s unfashionable to admit to being a queer artist who creates queer art.

Liana Eadie, program coordinator for Safe Spaces East Kootenays (SSEK), is nominated for supporting and bringing together queer youth over hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of rural British Columbia. She is a crusader against homophobia, undaunted by the huge geographical distances separating the participants of SSEK, and a champion for young people who might otherwise have to embrace their queer sexualities entirely on their own.


The 2004 directors of the Davie Village Business Improvement Association further defined the Davie Village as a queer tourist destination and the epicenter of Vancouver’s gay community. They invested their own time and expertise in the economic prosperity of the Davie Village neighbourhood. In 2004, Randy Atkinson, James Steck, Ross Pascuzzo, Jim Deva, Michael MacNeill, Renata Aebi, Mike O’Toole, Susan St James, Mehboob Teja and Finn Mollerup worked to ensure the Davie Village remained unmistakably queer and open for business.

Azra Kamrudin and Anar Mawji’s Abasa Optical store on Davie St has contributed to community pride over the years with its always colourful rainbow window displays and unflinching support of Vancouver’s queer community.

Angus Praught worked for three years to bring the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association’s annual convention to Vancouver in 2004. By helping to raise our city’s profile as an international queer travel destination, Praught helped to ensure the longevity of a vibrant and economically prosperous queer village here in the heart of gay Vancouver.


Thomas Dolan is a founding member and co-president of the new Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association. By promoting gay and lesbian sporting events, Dolan has helped empower gay athletes everywhere in their pursuit of excellence and self-fulfillment. The association’s first World Outgames will be held in Montreal in 2006.

Tracy Wells and Arwyn Gierak demonstrated their outstanding commitment again in 2004, as they have over the last eight years, to community building and networking through the women’s floor hockey league they created and so successfully run.

The Avengers of the Mabel League women’s fast-pitch softball league had an outstanding first season in 2004. As a brand new team, the Avengers’ roster quickly gelled. They moved from losing all their games to winning them. Ana Lei, Lori Nord, May Nemhard, Heather Arvidson, Colleen Henderson, Jake Atchison, Jessica Sutherland, Taylor Stutchbury, Erin Tymchak, Denise Carefoot, Sue Bossley, Deb Andres, Deb Vining, Jenny Falk, Michelle Gillis, Michelle Walker, Michelle Bruce, Deb Murin, Kathy Oxner, Jocelyne LeBlanc and Tracy Kinitski played with their hearts and souls.


Alan Herbert, in his one and only term on Vancouver’s city council, was instrumental in getting the Fountainhead Pub its liquor licence and paving the way for more queer spaces in the Davie Village.

He is also a past chair of the Vancouver Pride Society and AIDS Vancouver, and founder of Canada’s first housing centre for people with HIV/AIDS, McLaren House.

Herbert is also one of the original members of the December 9 Coalition of local queer activists, and a past chair of Hominum, a coming-out support group for married gay men.

In addition to his work for the betterment of our gay community, Herbert has also been a key contributor to the planning and re-zoning of downtown Vancouver, Yaletown, the streetcar network and the recognition and expression of Chinatown’s history. He’s also a trained spy who once carried information to people under house arrest in the former Soviet Union.


David Blue’s production of his own musical The Most Happy Fag in the World at the Roundhouse Theatre offered an authentic tale of one man’s search for true love. It was also the first production staged by Blue’s new theatre group, Raving Theatre.

Lola Funk’s brainchild, That’s No Lady, is a dragstravaganza musical revue featuring some of Vancouver’s most fabulous performers. Live singing done well? The dickens you say! As one observer commented, they re-set the standard for drag in this city.

Barry Truax’s sophisticated electroacoustic operatic workshop performance of his original work Powers of Two is a work of art that defies genre description. Classical music meets electronica meets performance art-all interpreted by and for gay characters.


The Miss Nomer Collective’s Michael V Smith, Amber Dawn and lisa g challenged our preconceptions of gender and sexuality in their literal genderfuck short film, Girl on Girl.

Alexis Mackintosh’s documentary film Let No One Put Asunder chronicles the complex struggle surrounding gay marriage in Canada. And it just may have changed the course of last year’s federal election with its candid interview of Abbotsford MP Randy White and his anti-gay-marriage views.

David Ellingsen’s haunting landscape and urban documentary photography in his Unveil the Night exhibition captivated and mesmerized.


Rob Gray returned to the pages of Xtra West last year and brought Christopher and Zander along for the ride in his second serial novel, Waterboys.

Guy Babineau regularly dropped gay morsels into his Georgia Straight columns last year as he wrote about fashion, style and all that is gorgeous. He also explored more in-depth aspects of gay life in features such as Pride Allies on gay-straight alliances in schools. Throughout, Babineau consistently brought queer sensibilities to the mainstream and reached out to a broader society.

In late 2003, James Johnstone released his third Quickies anthology of erotic queer fiction and was subsequently short-listed for a Lambda Literary Award in the erotica category. In 2004, he examined yet another facet of gay life, compiling and editing stories of gay fatherhood in Donors and Dads.


The ever-masculine Rayne gave us serious wood.

The forever fabulous Justine Tyme talked loud and drew a crowd.

The dynamic duo of Ms Ruby Stone and Vince Rexxx, as Mr and Ms Gay Vancouver XXIV, left us stargazing.

*These nominations are only a few examples of the thousands of wonderful people who made small and large contributions to Vancouver’s queer community in 2004.

Their achievements set wonderful examples for queer people everywhere and truly represent us at our very best.

Please join us in congratulating these nominees and take a moment to thank anyone you know, whether they were nominated or not, for any contributions no matter how small they’ve made to the queer community this past year.

It’s the people that make all the difference after all, and our relationships are our greatest strengths.