Bye, Felicias! Before the print version of Xtra follows vaudeville, The Steps, Will Munro, The Barn and Joan Rivers out the door to eternity and beyond, I have some words. I never wanted my column to be about me, so won’t you indulge me briefly while I break that rule?
What I have always loved about LGBT Toronto is the lack of stasis. Things change, people; they always have and they always will. What’s beloved isn’t forever; often something beautiful and new replaces what’s beloved. When I interviewed him for this column, Rolyn Chambers said, “When I first started going out and meeting people, everyone was talking about these clubs I’d never heard of because they’d closed. Ten years later, I’m like that now, but there’s still places to go out.” He’s right, and I’m applying what he said to everyone’s predictions of doom and gloom about dailyxtra.com and Pink Triangle Press. Although I will totally miss being in print . . . online is a new adventure!
For the five years this column ran, I tried hard to put a spotlight on those who needed it. To me, local names are just as exciting as internationally famous ones. As fun as it was including quotes from Betty Buckley, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Wanda Sykes, Dragonette, Bianca Del Rio, En Vogue and my mentor Chita Rivera, it was just as fun talking to Rolyn Chambers, Vanja Vasic, Bobby Hsu, Bobby Beckett, Mic Carter, Eddie Barnette, Kevin Naulls, Carla Collins, Bronno and Hank, Sze-Yang and Jelani Ade-Lam of Ill Nana/DiverseCity Dance Company, Dylan Uscher, Michael Zoffranieri, drag queens galore and countless off-the-record folks. In my first Toronto at Night column, in 2010, I made the case that we were in a particularly rewarding time for queer Toronto. Five years on, do I still believe that’s true? Unequivocally, I do. In fact, our belle époque glitters ever brighter . . . and for proof, all I have to do is look around at all the people I haven’t written about yet.
This was always a super fun job; I especially loved seeing my infamous blind items in print. Last chance, readers: Which Toronto writer is carrying on a hot and heavy affair with which internationally known male model? Which gay icon secretly doesn’t “get” trans people, which is especially shocking since she’s gay herself? Who hooked up with whom against a window at a Pink Triangle Press office party and gave the people across the way quite the show? Who’s the Canadian media celebrity that I (along with a whole bunch of Inside Out attendees) watched have a long alcohol-fuelled pee . . . while he was nowhere near a bathroom?
If you’re curious about what the future holds for yours truly, my day job as a singer, actor and dancer will continue to pay the bills. If the thirst is real and you really miss me, come see me onstage somewhere! Dailyxtra.com (where I’ll continue to freelance) is always worth your attention. I’m also writing a book, built on my five years of columns! Much like Toronto at Night, you can expect spilled tea, rumours corrected, celebrity run-ins and proud lives commemorated from my years of skipping from Toronto to New York City to Montreal to San Francisco to Los Angeles to Vancouver and to Ottawa. If you’re a publisher, ring me up.
Speaking of writing, I will definitely miss the reader correspondence. A basic rule for everyone in media, except Barbara Kay, is “never read the comments,” but those few times my curiosity got the better of me, I was usually impressed with the civility and generosity of spirit I found. Some of you opened up to me about incredibly personal things like alcoholism and substance abuse, some of you requested advice, and some of you threatened to sue me. A tragic few even offered me sexual favours if I would write about you or could get you into certain events. People I will never meet shared and tweeted my writing, something that never failed to make me, someone who never studied writing, journalism or media a day in his life, grin like an idiot. I thought (and will continue to think) about all of you often.
Until we meet again, friends — see you in the dark.