Vancouver
5 min

In brief

Vancouver and national news

Credit: Xtra West files

DAVIE WINDOWS SHOT OUT



First Gay-MART, now Little Sister’s. In the last week, unknown snipers or vandals have shot out the windows of two of Davie St’s most prominent gay merchants. And Little Sister’s manager, Janine Fuller, suspects a pattern. Both attacks used pellet guns, both shattered the stores’ front windows and both occurred late Sunday night, the first on Oct 7, the second exactly one week later on Oct 14. Gay-MART co-owner Gil Fargen says this doesn’t look like a random act of vandalism to him, either. “We knew when we put a big pink triangle and the name Gay-MART on the store that there were going to be hassles,” he says. But Fargen won’t be intimidated-and attacks like this won’t stop him from putting positive queer images at street level, either. Little Sister’s co-owner Jim Deva agrees. His store’s windows have been shattered many times over the years, he notes, but never with pellets. So far, neither attack has generated any suspects and police are doubtful that any will be identified. Vancouver Insp Dave Jones says gay-bashings are “an absolute priority” for the police but without a license plate number or a witness there’s not much they can do in vandalism cases. Jones is urging any witnesses to come forward. No one was injured in the attacks.



If you witnessed either shooting call Insp Dave Jones at 604.717.2749.



VPD RECRUITMENT AD?



After much pressure from members of the gay community and Xtra West, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) has finally run an ad recruiting new officers in a gay publication-albeit a small one with limited circulation. In fact, the publication of choice was not the gay community’s newspaper with 60,000 readers, but the gay business association’s bimonthly news bulletin, Forum, with a readership of, at most, 1,500 people. When asked why the VPD chose to reach out to the gay community through Forum rather than Xtra West, Sgt Ron Fairweather says Forum “still has a readership.” He also says Forum was on a list of existing gay publications supplied by members of the police chief’s diversity relations committee (see related story, pg 7). Leslie Muir, one of the diversity relations committee’s two lesbians, says she thinks the VPD has made its intention to recruit queer officers clear by driving the recruitment van in this year’s Pride Parade and setting up an information booth at the festival afterwards. (Though Fairweather did, eventually, agree to staff the festival booth for the VPD’s recruitment unit-and now says he’s very glad he did-he was initially reluctant to stay past the Parade.) When pressed, Fairweather admits that Xtra West’s porn ads are the real reason the VPD won’t advertise in the gay newspaper. Advertising alongside any porn ads would be “unsuitable,” he says. Little Sister’s co-owner Jim Deva says the police should have advertised in Xtra West. “If they’re actually serious about recruiting in our community you’d think they would choose the vehicle which reaches the most people in our community,” he says. If the VPD truly wants to reach gays, it has to use “our own papers and our own language.” As for the VPD’s porn hang-ups, Deva says freedom of sexuality is what “our community is all about.” The VPD runs recruitment ads in other local non-gay papers that also carry porn ads.





DAVIE GRIND IN DISTRESS



Davie St’s only gay-owned coffee shop may be going out of business. A sign on the shop’s locked door says it is almost $50,000 behind on its rent. If the Davie Grind can’t come up with the money by Oct 14 the landlord will seize its goods and sell them off to cover the debt, says Mark Wolverton, who represents the landlord. The Davie Grind took over from Moonbeans last year and has sponsored many gay and lesbian community groups and events, including a softball team in Vancouver’s lesbian Mabel league. As of press time, Wolverton said he had yet to receive any payment.



QUEERS PROTEST MAYENCOURT



An anti-capitalism queer group, supported by 30 other left and queer youth groups, will demonstrate outside Lorne Mayencourt’s riding association’s annual dinner Oct 17.



Queers United Against Kapitalism, joined by such groups as the BC Government Employee’s Union (BCGEU) and Queerlings queer youth group in East Vancouver insist that Lorne Mayencourt is not listening to the community’s concerns in five areas.



The Campbell government’s course must change on five issues, according to the activists: reform of the BC Human Rights Commission, funding for queer youth and support programs, health care for people living with HIV and AIDS, health care for transsexuals and the transgendered and refunding of social services.



The protestors hope to shut down Mayencourt’s annual riding meeting Oct 17 at the Pan Pacific Hotel at Canada Place, starting at 5:30 pm.



CUSTOMS DETAINS LESBIAN EROTICA



Canada Customs seized shipments of Cherry, the first in the Red Hot Diva series by British author Charlotte Cooper, last month. The books were destined for Toronto’s Glad Day Books and Victoria’s Bleeding Rose Books. Customs officers objected to a consensual fist-fucking scene and called it “degrading.” They also seized The Slave King by Ben Elliot. “It smells like homophobia to me,” says Cherry’s editor, Kathleen Bryson. Canadians should be allowed to make up their own minds about books, she says, and particularly positive representations of queer sex. Both bookstores are planning to appeal.



GSA BURSARY FUND



The gay and lesbian educators of BC (GALE) have raised $2,500 for its gay-straight alliance (GSA) bursary fund. The fund is intended to help schools finance their GSAs or introduce new ones. Interested applicants have until Nov 1 to fill out a form on GALE’s website (www.galebc.org). Members of the community wishing to add to the fund can send cheques to GALE-BC at PO Box 93678, Nelson Park PO, Vancouver BC, V6E 4L7.



TRANS HEALTH SURVEY



A coalition of transgender groups, in conjunction with the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA), is conducting a province-wide survey to assess the health needs of trans people. “It is particularly important that we hear from people in rural and remote communities who often have difficulty finding a health care provider trained in transgender medicine,” says the survey’s co-author Nicholas Matte. The anonymous, confidential survey is online at www.transgender.org/transcend. Or call Maria Hudspith at the VCHA at 604.714.3752. The deadline for completing the survey is Oct 31.



CONTROVERSIAL COUNSELLOR TO SPEAK IN SURREY



A panel of the BC College of Teachers has found a Quesnel high school counsellor and teacher guilty of conduct unbecoming for making degrading comments about queers. The panel is recommending disciplinary action to the College, which should release its decision this month. The panel found Chris Kempling, who is also a lay preacher at Quesnel’s Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, guilty of writing “derogatory and demeaning” letters to a local paper between 1997 and 2000. In one letter denouncing Gay Pride, Kempling wrote that “many mental health professionals, including myself, believe homosexuality to be the result of abnormal psycho social influences.” Kempling also expressed concerns about gay-friendly curriculum resources. Though the panel found no evidence that Kempling made any derogatory comments at school, it had doubts about his ability to treat all his pupils fairly and equally. Now a Surrey chapter of BC Parents and Teachers for Life is hosting a meeting to support Kempling on Oct 19 at the Cedar Grove Baptist Church on 144th St.



DISABLED PEOPLE PROTEST CUTS



The BC Coalition of People with Disabilities is denouncing the provincial government’s new assistance program. Last month, the government changed its legislation with the aim of making sure the most vulnerable disabled people continue to receive benefits while helping employable people get off benefits and find jobs. The government has sent out thousands of reassessment forms to determine who is employable. And that’s worrisome to Tom McGregor, of the Coalition. A lot of disabled people are going to see their benefits cut, he predicts. People with “subjective disabilities” such as arthritis and back pain may be particularly vulnerable, he says. MLA Lorne Mayencourt says it’s fair to reassess people’s ability to work. He also promises that people with HIV/AIDS who have already qualified for the monthly $225 supplement to their disability benefits won’t have to be assessed again-they will automatically be placed on the continuing benefits list.