Bloor Street Entertains, Wed, Nov 27 @ the ROM
’Tis the season for giving. And taking. Take a little new, blend it with a little tried and true, and the result is mighty fine. For the last two years, CANFAR’s annual Bloor Street Entertains fundraising gala has reversed the long-standing order of events by throwing a cocktail party first, followed by dinner at several upscale Bloor-Yorkville businesses. This year, as well as a pre-schmooze, the afterparty is returned to its rightful place. Cheers. The pre-dinner event at the ROM, hosted by Miss Conception, puts us in an upbeat mood. After, guests depart in the chilly air to join their dinner companions at various restaurants and storefronts, which have donated their space and staff to the event. Xtra employees (and others) dine at Rimowa, an intimate upscale luggage boutique just off Bloor (Gwyneth Paltrow and Julianne Moore are fans). Surrounded by metallic suitcases and attaché cases, we congregate around two big tables to partake of a delicious five-course meal. As each course is consumed and too much wine is inhaled, the conversation turns tacky. My mother would have been appalled. Interrupting the lurid tales of conquests of yore, a CANFAR member addresses us about the need for further AIDS research. “We are now faced with elderly people living with HIV and needing nursing-home care,” she says. Pay attention! After dessert, we head back to the ROM. It is here that I choose to double up on gin. It is here that I choose to ogle some well-dressed couples. It is here, among one or two confidants, that I choose to make rude, sexual comments. There is a time and place for everything. Around CANFAR’s $1,000-a-plate dinner table is not one of them. Pause. Respect the cause.
LGBT Giving Network Gala, Wed, Nov 20 @ Integral House
’Tis the season for giving. And recognizing. Recognizing those who give is important to the LGBT Giving Network. Formed in the summer of 2006, the organization’s goal of “improving the engagement between non-profit agencies, donors and businesses interested in LGBT issues and communities” has brought together banks with AIDS organizations, multinational corporations with local queer festivals, and philanthropists with LGBT projects. Tonight they host a thank-you reception at Integral House, the Rosedale compound of multimillionaire calculus-textbook guru James Stewart. My longtime crush, Olympic medallist Mark Tewksbury, is one of the hosts. I bump into him downstairs, as I tour the five-storey post-modern mansion. “Can you show me your gold-medal-winning breast stroke?” I plead, pointing to the lap pool. But it’s not all fun and Olympic games, as Mark takes to the microphone, after OCAD president Sara Diamond, IBM executive Connie Bonello and others, remembering when he first came out. “I said to my coach, ‘I have something I need to tell you.’ She said, ‘I think I know, but I need you to say it.’ It seems everyone knew except me.” A laugh resonates through the attentive room of more than 250 guests, including Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and the notorious Gerald Hannon. “But then I look at what is happening in Sochi. We have gone three steps forward and four steps back,” Tewksbury says. We need to remember that there are many around the world who do not enjoy our rights. Only when we are all equal, globally, can we truly give thanks. Realize. You best recognize.