The 12 months of 2012 brought several big victories for the queer community, proving that the gay agenda is still going strong. Even Toronto Pride managed to go off without a major hitch or even a serious funding scare. In our annual rundown, Xtra looks back on a year of mostly positive developments for gays and lesbians in Canada.
Craig Scott makes it six
NDP candidate Craig Scott was elected MP for Toronto-Danforth in a by-election March 19, becoming Parliament’s sixth (out) gay MP. A week later, Tom Mulcair was elected leader of the NDP. We’ll never know how much influence the “Bears for Mulcair” movement had on his March 24 victory, but his gay campaign manager, Raoul Gebert, was named one of the 25 most influential people in Ottawa by Maclean’s in December.
Jenna Talackova makes history
Miss Universe Canada contestant and trans woman Jenna Talackova made international headlines when she was allowed to compete in the beauty pageant after a brief legal battle. Then Donald Trump speculated that the fact that the first three syllables of her name are “jenna-tal” indicated she was part of a trans conspiracy of some sort. Future people reading this in an archive somewhere: this man was actually a serious candidate for American president in 2012. Although she lost, Talackova was crowned Miss Congeniality on May 19.
Brothels, brothels everywhere!
After years of legal battles, the Ontario Court of Appeal struck down Canada’s anti-prostitution laws March 26. The Supreme Court announced in October it would hear an appeal.
One Million Moms fails to stop gays
The American Family Association, an anti-gay group, launched campaigns to get Ellen DeGeneres fired as JC Penney’s spokesperson in February. When they abandoned that losing fight in March, they turned to comic books, trying to halt DC Comics from outing golden-age Green Lantern character Alan Scott, Marvel Comics from marrying Northstar to his boyfriend Kyle Jinadu, and Archie Comics from marrying off their breakout gay character, Kyle Keller. All efforts failed. One Million Moms later took aim at gay family sitcom The New Normal, but it was harder to get worked up about it. That show is awful.
He knows that you are gay
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney sent a targeted email to thousands of queer Canadians Sept 24, boasting of the government’s record in standing up for gays and lesbians in countries that aren’t Canada. “WTF?!” shouted nearly every queer in Canada, when they realized that the Conservative Party is keeping a list of known homosexuals.
Government objects to sexy science
Sex: A Tell-All Exhibition at the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa was censored after Heritage Minister James Moore objected to a cartoon explaining masturbation and a Q and A board about anal sex. Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro told the CBC on May 17 that human sexuality “is not biology,” which makes writing a joke here kind of redundant.
Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar, who’s since been traded, was suspended Sept 18 after appearing at a game with “Tu ere maricon” written in his eye-black. Escobar later explained that he’s not homophobic because his interior designer and hairdresser are both gay.
Apologizing for using gay slurs was kind of a thing in 2012. On Oct 12, the North Vancouver School District apologized to a man labelled “fag” in his yearbook 42 years earlier.
These apologies came despite the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council’s May 24 ruling that it’s okay to use the word “gay” as a slur, since it’s understood to mean “weak” or “stupid.” Unfortunately, my attempt to make “That’s so CBSC” happen failed to catch on.
Changing Church Street
The only constants in the Village are change and cheap boys. The Village Rainbow closed in January and reopened in June as Big Johnson’s, which was shuttered by December. George’s Play closed and Church on Church took its place. Reither’s Fine Foods became a Davids Tea and a new location for the Stag Shop. Loblaws moved into the former Maple Leaf Gardens. Fuzion became The Vic and Goodhandy’s became Club120. The Barn finally closed for good and Zelda’s caught fire. After some turmoil, Glad Day Bookshop was kept alive by a group of community investors. Meanwhile, in Kensington Market, Videofag launched as a performance/exhibition/hangout space.
HIV criminalization green-lit
The Supreme Court broadly supported the ongoing persecution of HIV-positive people who do not disclose their status to sex partners. The only out that the Oct 5 decision allowed is if HIV-positive partners know their viral counts are undetectable and they use condoms.
A dubious AIDS vaccine
The American Food and Drug Administration approved daily use of the drug Truvada to prevent contracting HIV July 16, because apparently, remembering to take a very expensive drug with known short- and long-term side effects that may not completely protect you from the virus is easier than practising safer sex. Progress?
So long, Ford
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was booted from office Nov 26 for violating the Municipal Conflict of . . . you know what? It’s complicated and no one really cares why. Ford is waiting for an appeal of the decision in the new year, and a by-election is likely to happen in early 2013.
Ford once again skipped Pride, but he did attend a flag-raising at city hall for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17.
Duelling homos for premier
Dalton McGuinty’s surprise resignation as Ontario premier Oct 15 sparked a seven-way challenge to be his successor, including the legislature’s two out gay MPPs, Kathleen Wynne and Glen Murray. The new premier will be installed in January 2013.
States uphold gay marriage
Obama won again, but the real news from the Nov 6 election was that in Maryland, Maine and Washington, American voters approved gay marriage for the first time. Voters in Minnesota shot down a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, thanks in part to a major letter-writing campaign by Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. President Obama had also come out in favour of gay marriage before the election, prompting Newsweek to label him America’s First Gay President in the May 21 issue.
Ontario MPPs do the right thing, eventually
Bill 13, which legally mandates gay-straight alliances in schools where kids request them, passed through the legislature June 5 over objections from the usual chorus of bigots. Meanwhile, trans Ontarians and the hard-working Trans Lobby Group celebrated a major milestone when Toby’s Act was passed at Queen’s Park on June 13, amending the Human Rights Code to grant protections for gender expression and identity. The Nova Scotia government announced plans for a similar bill Nov 20.