“Fag, dyke companionship, it will get you through /
Fag, dyke companionship, why’s it so foreign to you?”
I recently had the opportunity to watch the biopic Milk, directed by Gus Van Sant, and I was moved to tears watching the queer community’s struggle for human rights. I was surprised at the lack of representation of lesbians in the film’s depiction of the struggle for equality. The film gives prominence to actress Alison Pill’s wonderful portrayal of Anne Kronenberg, Harvey Milk’s savvy campaign manager, but the representation feels token. I left wondering where all the lesbians were, and what a young queer woman would think watching that story. Gays and lesbians have plenty in common, particularly the fact that we have been marginalized for being attracted to the same sex. For this reason, and many more, gay men need to bond with our sisters in the struggle.
The dykes in my life have been quick to defend and protect me. My mother (who is straight) was an incredibly strong role model for me and instilled a high level of respect for women early on. As a child, it was mostly girls who would be my friends, perhaps because I enjoyed skipping rope so much. I have often identified with the female perspective. As I grew up and met queer women, none of that changed. My friend Lex Vaughn and I are planning to make public service announcements encouraging fags and dykes to live and work together. The personality traits are complimentary and fluid because queers often blend elements of both traditional gender roles in their personalities. Lex and I lived together for years and it was one of the best living arrangements I have ever experienced.
I am a man who is attracted to men but that does not equate to denying the equality of the opposite sex. Recently, while bartending at Toronto’s Woody’s (the gay “Cheers”), I have asked men if they are feminists, and many reply with a “no.” I had customers complain that there was a female bartender during the short period when there was one. Men would comment that they could not cruise if women are present, which I couldn’t fathom (unless their boobs were so big that you couldn’t possibly see past them). The queer west scene in Toronto seems more progressive and balanced. Visits to The Beaver, The Henhouse, The Gladstone Hotel, and the Hump Day Bump nights feature fags and dykes dancing together all the time. I have also seen more meshing in communities that are smaller, where there are not enough queers to be so divisive.
The mainstream music industry that many gay men adore may seem to present a world of women on top because of the idolization of female performers. Gay men have consistently identified and impersonated female icons such as Liza, Barbara, Tina, Madonna, Britney and Beyonce. How is it that gay men can have such a strong connection to female artists and maintain the genders to be unequal?
In my band Kids on TV I work with Roxanne Luchak, and in the last four years she has been an incredible artist to learn from and she has been a true friend I can count on. Kids on TV has recently collaborated with Yo Majesty, who are an all-dyke rap group from Tampa, Florida. I have been a fan of their music ever since I heard it, and they stayed at my home when they last performed in Toronto. It was the offer to accommodate them that led to the chance to create music together. Now, I can consider those girls my friends and count on them for help. As well, the Toronto DJ Cozmic Cat has remixed two songs of Kids on TV and now they frequently get played at parties around the city. The Montreal group Lesbians on Ecstasy were supportive of Kids on TV since the beginning and often gave us the opportunity to open for them at concerts, as well, they often provided a place for us to sleep when we visited their city. I can only think of the great experiences I have had working with queer women and the incredible outcomes that have materialized.
Brothers and sisters need to stick together, particularly when the queer community is opposed by the government. Prop 8 is a good American example of fags and dykes coming together to fight for their equality during a time when their rights are being taken away. In Canada, if Stephen Harper has his way, our country will continuously become more right wing, and the queer community’s rights may be challenged once again. The queer community can be too segregated sometimes — we have to all love, fight and dance together. In the words of Emma Goldman, “If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution.”
Katie Stelmanis – Join Us
Final Fantasy – The Butcher
The Organ – Brother
Hidden Cameras – A Miracle
The Blow – Parentheses
Gentleman Reg – The Boyfriend Song
The Gossip – Listen Up
Antony & The Johnsons – Another World
Dusty Springfield – Spooky
Arthur Russell – That’s Us/Wild Combination
Lesbians on Ecstasy – Sisters in The Struggle
The Torrent – Catherine Deneuve
Scream Club & Electrosexual – I’m Going Crazy
Yo! Majesty – Booty Clap
SSion – Heaven
Hercules & Love Affair – You Belong
John Caffery & Lex Vaughn Dance Video
Prop 8: The Musical