Assistants to Ottawa mayor Larry O’Brien met with people from some 13 queer community groups and leaders Jun 21 to learn about our issues. Chief of Staff Walter Robinson and media handler Mike Patton got an intense Coles Notes version of local queer issues ranging from campus condom shortages to trans invisibility, from crack pipes to creation of a Rainbow Village, and from the need for city funding of a queer community centre to fair funding for the Pride festival — and many others.
Robinson stayed until the last presentation finished — almost four hours after the first began at 6pm. The most vigorous discussion was around the need for city funding and support for crack pipes to reduce transmission of AIDS and hep C. Robinson defended the mayor’s opposition to the harm-reduction strategy which is based on his opposition to drug use, while community members argued forcefully in support of a science-based approach to public policy.
Several groups boycotted the meeting, organized by Jer’s Vision, because the mayor himself was not there. Jer’s Vision has organized a meeting with the new chief of police Vernon White for Jul 10, at 6pm in the Keefer Room of city hall. All community members are welcome.
Reaffirming their fight
Stephen Alexander (kneeling) throws a flower into the Ottawa River. The Canadian AIDS Society visited their pre-millenium Time Capsule to reaffirm their commitment to strengthening the response to HIV/AIDS. The capsule is to be excavated when a cure is found or after 25 years — whichever comes firsrt. At the Jun 13 ceremony, Alexander spoke about how he felt when the capsule was buried in 1999 at the Théâtre de l’ile in Gatineau.
Le Stud fallout
A gay man in Montreal has filed a human rights complaint against the women’s gym Curves in the wake of a female student filing a similar complaint against Le Stud, a gay bar in that city.
Rick Matthews says he wants to join the Curves on University St near McGill because it’s a close, convenient gym and because he’s quitting smoking. But he also says he trying to make a point, namely that it’s hypocritical for women to ask for gender-exclusive space if they’re not willing to concede the same to gay men.
Other than on women’s night, Montreal gay bar Le Stud is a men’s-only space. Audrey Vachon and her father stopped in for a drink in the St Catherine street bar in May and were asked to leave, she says. Some patrons argue that marginalized groups — including both gays and women — should have their own space.
Nashville gay paper banned
Out & About, the Nashville-area paper that caters to gay and lesbian locals, was chucked from a grocery chain in May following threats from Christians directed at the stores.
After appearing in 34 Kroger stores in the area, Out & About caught the attention of a shopper who would “unleash a fury” on the store unless the newspapers were turfed, according to representatives from the paper.
The tone of the debate — which questions Out & About’s status as a genuine news outlet and asks whether the magazine’s relatively tame advertising is too salacious — may hit a little close to home for Ottawa’s gays and lesbians. This spring, Capital Xtra fought to keep its place in city-owned properties after a single complaint led councillors to request advice about their options from city hall’s legal team.