If you were to think of Ottawa’s queer community as a smorgasbord, then the Lesbian and Gay Xpo would be the buffet table on which all choices are presented. There’s tap water and piquant choices and, of course, lots of fruit.
This year’s LGX takes place Sat, Apr 28 at Jack Purcell Community Centre. Starting at 10am, you’ll find some 30 local queer businesses, organizations and services putting the best they have to offer on display. Through the day, some 2,000 queers will have a chance to brows their options, checking out social groups, sports groups, support services, advocacy and activism organizations, artists and, of course, adult-themed businesses all vying for your palette. By the time you’ve tasted it all, you may want to undo your belt.
And it’s all brought to you by Capital Xtra.
Proud partner sponsors this year include the community’s leading law firm, Mann and Partners; Gano Excel, an alternative health conscious coffee; PTS’ Gay Men’s Health Initiative; Squirt; and Cruiseline.
Ted Mann of Mann and Partners says that his firm was more than happy to return yet again to sponsor the event as it is essential to the success of queer businesses.
"I believe very much in the concept of the LGX, showing support for business in the GLBT community and providing a forum to showcase those businesses,” says Mann.
Running the gauntlet from family to fetish, LGX proves there’s a niche to explore for everyone.
In their third year of participation, the Ten Oaks project will be there shedding light on the queer family unit as it evolves.
"The LGX is a really great way to connect with families in the community and offer a different perspective on GLBT families,” says Holly Wagg, president of the Ten Oaks project. “We’ve always had a great time there."
There’s lots of opportunity at the fair to get active, taste something, try something on, listen and watch.
Adding a splash of color to the Xpo is FACE: Paint, United Make Up Artists, who will be conducting eye makeovers and skin analysis, as well as promoting unique new programs that cater to our community.
"We have two programs in the works,” says Jordan Kent of FACE: Paint. “One is for transgendered men, because we’ve found that they are not received very well at most make-up counters. And the other is for exclusively for drag queen."
Of course, and especially with signs of elections in the air, you’ll have a chance to grill queers involved in political parties.
Nathan Hauch will be there with the NDP.
"LGX is a fantastic opportunity to meet new people, create new networks and increase our visibility,” he says.
Capital Xtra has loaned the room next door to two community groups this year: Divergence and AIDS Committee of Otttawa.
Divergence has teamed up with the AIDS Committee of Ottawa to give a screening of the controversial film Meth, followed by a discussion including testimonials from addicts and reformed addicts demonstrating how this particularly problematic drug is hurting our community.
"We thought it was an important movie to bring into the fold, as well as just to have a very frank and honest discussion about gay men and party drugs,” says Adam Graham, AIDS Committee of Ottawa’s gay men’s prevention coordinator. “It’s a topic that a lot of people want to shy away from and perhaps don’t want to speak about honestly.” Crystal has had a devastating impact on the gay community of other cities and Graham wants locals to know what it’s about, including how it’s being mixed in with other drugs now to get people addicted.
The collaboration between Divergence and the ACO came about naturally, as both groups work extensively in our community to assist in prevention, human rights and health issues.
Caitlyn Pascal of Divergence says that while the film deals with people who are already addicted, anyone can benefit from viewing it.
"Even if you’re not into the scene or don’t know anyone who does drugs, learning about harm reduction is important as a preventative measure for our community,” says Pascal.
With so much to do, see, smell and taste, Graham reminds us that the LGX is also a way for our community to connect with Ottawa’s mainstream community as a whole.
"The LGX is something that we don’t have in a lot of other cities in Canada. We should be quite interested in bringing, not only the queer community, but also communities outside our community into LGX to straightforwardly ask questions about the queer community,” Graham says.
"If people are afraid to ask questions of queer folks in the community, this is a chance to ask frank questions about the services offered in the queer community and what the links are to the larger community in Ottawa."