Toronto
4 min

Chaps at a tea party

Trevor Jacques wants your eyes to light up when you see a spatula

GEAR. Trevor Jacques listens to kinky stories all the time. Credit: David Hawe

Not many people can combine science with sex and kinky advocacy, but local activist Trevor Jacques has managed to do it.



Though he’s never been one to hog the spotlight, Jacques is a founding member of the AIDS Committee Of Toronto’s Safer SM Project, the longest surviving of ACT’s Talking Sex Project, launched in the early 1990s to get people talking about safer sex.



That work alone would be a claim to fame, but Jacques’ work on issues kinky and queer hasn’t stopped there. Jacques, 46, has more projects on the go than toys in his playroom.



“For my volunteer time, I wanted something in which I believed. I knew of the need for education and accurate non-judgmental information, so that people could make their own informed decisions,” says Jacques of the seminars.



The Safer SM Project has educated and continues to educate thousands on various aspects of SM play, keeping both fun and safety well in mind.



This year ACT recognized the seminars by presenting awards to the longtime volunteers of this project, who include Jacques, Steve Munroe, Duncan Maclachlan, Joel Edelson and Dale McCarthy.



“It’s always nice to get an award, but that’s not why I do it,” says Jacques. “I get to see people’s eyes light up at the thought of being able to do their fantasies safely. I can help prevent accidental injuries and disease transmission.



“To see people’s excitement as I suggest that they cast a kinky eye around their local hardware store, or their local kitchen store, is wonderful. I see the cogs going ’round as they consider putting a spatula put to new, kinky uses. I guess it’s about opening doors for people and finding ways for them to give themselves permission to indulge themselves a little.”



Jacques became a writer and publisher in ’93 as a result of a seminar that required a handout. This was a little brochure that grew to the book called On The Safe Edge: A Manual For SM Play, which became a best seller in this country in its first year.



Jacques published Canada’s Gay Guide, a reference guide to queer services across the country, and in ’96 published Alternate Sources, the largest directory of worldwide kinky resources, covering everything that wasn’t heterosexual missionary.



“It was a huge database, programming and research effort,” says Jacques. “Financially, it was the biggest white elephant imaginable. It cost me my retirement savings and more. Despite this huge financial cost, it was personally very rewarding. Those who use it still find it an extremely useful resource. One of the things that makes all this effort worthwhile is the letters I get saying what a difference it’s made in people’s lives.



“At Church and Wellesley, we sometimes forget how hard it can be for people who don’t live in large metropolitan areas. I hoped that publishing these guides would make the coming out process for people with an alternate sexual orientation much easier – all terribly high-brow and altruistic,” says Jacques with a smile.



Jacques was born in England to a middle-class family with strong ties to Belgium, and he spent his formative years between the two countries.



He came to Canada in 1981 for a job working for Spar Aerospace, the company that put the Canadarm on the space shuttle. He was a systems engineer on what was then the largest contract in the defence-sharing agreement between the US and Canada.



Jacques was out to his techie peers at Spar.



“I’m out on my résumé, in terms of looking for a job professionally. I don’t hide any of my publishing. I’m proud of what I’ve managed to achieve,” says Jacques. “That’s not to say that consciously making one’s orientation known is always appropriate. Equally, there’s no reason to hide it. You wouldn’t wear chaps at a blue-rinse ladies afternoon tea party.”



Jacques has even talked the nitty gritty of SM with other researchers he’s worked with, even some in the army.



“There’s not much jumping back into the closet after you’ve worn nipple clamps on TV, or been grilled as an expert witness in court, so that your private sexual life is now a matter of public record.”



Jacques has also been able to blend his scientific and sexual interests. He’s undertaken a large-scale academic research project into kinky folk, and is currently turning it into a PhD in sexology under a joint program of the American Academy Of Clinical Sexologists and Maimonides University in Florida.



The project has the scope and first-hand approach of the famous Kinsey studies – except he’s specifically concerned about SM practitioners and fetishists.



“I have asked the greatest number of questions, about 1,100, of the greatest number of kinky people, about 2,000, of any survey of its kind.”



Now that the laborious task of cleaning up that data is complete, he’s spending the next few months analyzing it and getting it ready for publication in the up-coming SM issue of The Journal Of Homosexuality.



In addition to his research and helping with Mr Leatherman and Toronto’s Leather Ball, Jacques also advocates on SM-related issues. He is in the process of getting a campaign off the ground to get federal laws changed so as not to criminalize victimless crimes. These victimless crimes include things like sex parties and consensual SM (as some SM practises are considered under law to be assault, even if a person consents to be, say, flogged).



Jacques sees the campaign as a 10- to 20-year project, which would end with a detailed proposal for Parliament and the Law Commission Of Canada.



In this effort and many of his other projects, he takes a broadly-based, rather than a homo-only approach.



“All my kinky work is completely pansexual because these laws are applicable to everyone, gay or straight.”



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Safer SM seminars take place the second Sunday of the month from October to May, excluding December. The next one is Sun, Oct 13 at 44 Charles St W, floor 31. Full information is available at Safersm.org or by calling (416) 340-8484 ex 317.