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Rainbow village group to be formed

Survey samples what gay men think & do

A new group is forming Apr 26 charged with “queer geography” issues within Ottawa.

The Rainbow Village Community & Business Association will be an ad-hoc group spearheading issues like creating a Rainbow Village on Bank St, getting recognition of the gay community within the city’s Official Community Plan, promoting queer-friendly development in the core and ensuring city support for our Pride festival.

Ongoing participation will be mainly by e-mail, a move intended to address people’s lack of time for formal participation. Most queer groups in Ottawa are finding it increasingly difficult to fill seats on their boards and get people out to regular meetings.

The Rainbow Village association is being founded with the backing of Capital Xtra, Pink Triangle Services, AIDS Committee of Ottawa, Bruce House and Capital Pride. Organizers believe that with a push from our community this year, a Rainbow Village can be created on Bank St, complete with rainbow flags and signposts.

A Feb 2006 public meeting, organized by Coun Diane Holmes, attracted a crowd of some 100 queers who insisted on the creation of a formal Rainbow Village. But the community has not since been asked to participate by either city hall or the Bank St Promenade Business Improvement Association.

Founders are not looking for conflict with the Bank St BIA, which is tasked by city hall to oversee re-development of the street over the next two years. The BIA has voiced support for a rainbow village. But founders believe that the gay and lesbian, bisexual and trans community – which lives, works and plays in the area – must also have a voice in planning and development issues.

The founding meeting is Thu Apr 26, 7pm at Pink Triangle Services, 508 -177 Nepean St. Everyone is welcome.

SURVEY SAMPLES WHAT GAY MEN THINK & DO

Gay Men’s Wellness Initiative is looking for a few good men — 500 of them to be precise.

Ottawa is included in a nation-wide survey of gay and bisexual men.

Known nationally as the M-Track Study, and by the name The Lambda Survey throughout Ontario, the detailed questionnaire asks questions about sex practice, substance use, and ideas and attitudes about HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

The 59 questions are meant to give a peek inside our thoughts and behaviours. It’s an attempt to sample what we’re doing, what we’re using, and when and what we think about.

Locally, the Ottawa Gay Men’s Wellness Initiative and Ottawa Public Health are partnering with the Public Health Agency Of Canada to get the survey out there.

Throughout April and May, volunteers are going pretty much everywhere men go. You’ll find them at the founding meeting of the Rainbow Village association on Apr 26, and at LGX Apr 28. They’re also at the bars and clubs, saunas and most likely your favourite hang-out.

Information from the survey will be used by local agencies to better serve better our own communities and help prevent the spread of HIV and STIs.

The survey is voluntary and completely anonymous. It takes about 15 minutes to fill in. Participants will get either a single movie pass or a $10 Bridgehead Coffeehouse gift card for your efforts.

Volunteers are also needed to take the survey into the community. Training is offered. For information, contact lambda@ottawa.ca or check out www.lambdasurvey.ca.

TEE OFF FOR THE SUMMER

Gay golfing is on the upswing locally. After a 2006 profile in Capital Xtra, Ottawa Out Golfing Group saw its membership double to 36 from 16. And the group got ink from some mainstream golf publications. Again this year, the group is hoping to double in size. A new marketing campaign is featured on reaching out through a website, www.outgolfinggroup.com. And they’re putting up posters at local golf courses and other recreational facilities throughout Ottawa and Gatineau. They’ve also joined queer sporting associations, including the Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association (GLISA), the group that put on the Outgames in Montreal last summer.

The Ottawa Out Golfing Group will be featured in Flagstick Golf Magazine in May, and has approached Score Golf Magazine, the Ottawa Citizen, and CBC as they try to spread that word that gays love to putt and swing. An annual golf tournament is being planned for August; organizers hope to attract local and national celebrities.