News
11 min

Who will win best Canadian queer blog?

We interview the top finalists; voting ends Dec 7

The annual Canadian Blog Awards are wrapping up this week, as the final day of voting is Sun, Dec 7. Xtra.ca spoke with four of the top five finalists (we could not reach Gay and Right before publication) and two of the runners-up.

To cast your vote for Canada’s best queer blog, head to canadianblogawards.ca.

***

Montreal Simon

montrealsimon.blogspot.com/

Montreal Simon is a blogger named Simon from, er…, Montreal. He has spent the last four years studying and working in Toronto and the last three years blogging. This 20-something’s blog has made the top five in the queer category two years in a row and it tells stories from “the great white north….”

What’d you have for breakfast today?

Bacon and eggs.

How would you describe yourself?

Shy, moody, funny.

What’s your day job?
I work in a trauma unit at a Toronto hospital.

Why’d you start a blog?
I started writing down my feelings when I was in an anger management course. When I started blogging I thought I would write about bullying and why I think it’s one of Canada’s most shameful problems. But then I noticed that there were very few out gay bloggers writing for mainstream media blogging aggregates. And I decided that just because I was gay didn’t mean that I should just write about gay subjects, because we need to engage in the wider world. And then along came Stephen Harper, who I had studied in university, and knowing what a foul homophobe he is I started writing about the dangers of a Conservative majority government. I also decided that I would also write about my love for my companion because straight people had to understand that for gay people like me the personal is political.

What’s your blogging ritual?
Unless I’m working nights, I usually write late at night while listening to music. With a coffee and a cigarette of course. It usually takes about an hour to write a post, although it can take another hour to find an illustration or a YouTube.

What do you get your ideas from?
I read online newspapers here and in Britain and the US, as well as my blogroll.

What kind of computer do you have?
I have a laptop that I use on my lunch or when I’m travelling, although I usually publish off my desktop because that’s where my pics are.

Can people rely on your blog to be factual?

I think they can because I usually link to respectable publications and only link to other blogs I trust.

What makes your blog unique?
I care more than most about the visual presentation than most bloggers and try to combine pictures, some of which I take, crude homemade cartoons, and YouTubes that have some relation at least to the subject I’m blogging about that day. Even if I sometimes have to twist myself into a knot just so I can have an excuse to play the song.

I’m also a bit more combative than most Canadian gay bloggers who are mostly really sweet; ie. real goody goodies. So I get to wear the horns and live vicariously as the gay villain which is something I love

What do you think of the word blog?
I love it. I don’t know what it means but it sounds great especially when you pronounce it BUH – LOG.

 

 

Gay Persons of Color

gay-persons-of-color.blogspot.com/

Gay Persons of Color is a blog by James Viloria from Montreal. He started the blog in 2006 and for the past two years he’s won the best queer blog award at the Canadian Blog Awards. James describes himself as a 42-year-old gay male, Filipino, Asian, Pacific-Islander, Québécois, Canadian, English-speaking, French-speaking, North American and Libra. His blog “documents and explore the diverse vantage points of being gay and of color.”

What did you have for breakfast?

Coffee, three sugars.

What’s you day job?
I’m an archivist at the Canadian Centre for Architecture.

Why’d you start blogging?

I love the format. I can choose when to write, what to write and include music and video links. I like that I don’t have anyone over me saying I’m not allowed to write something. It’s not a newscast.

What’s your blogging ritual?
I usually post three or four times a week. I’m working on my blog all times of day outside of work. I blog from my studio apartment, sitting at my desk that looks out onto the city.

Where do your ideas come from?
I’m constantly doing research. I check my news through Google aggregates and I also check Pink News. I choose whatever’s interesting and appropriate to share with the public. I write about news that relates to gay people and people of colour. The jackpot stories have them both.

Does your mom read your blog?

I don’t think so. My father does though.

Can people rely on your blog to be factual?

Yes. I’m very thorough. I’m an architectural historian and do a lot of academic writing so I’m big about getting things right.

How did your blog become popular?

I had just started my blog three weeks before the Canadian Blog Awards in 2006. Through my own obsessiveness I found a bunch of organizations and emailed them about the blog and asked them to vote for me. They did, and now more and more people read each year.

What’s been your most controversial blogpost?
I can’t remember. I don’t write in a way that creates too much controversy. I’m not a ‘snap snap snap’ kind of person. My goal isn’t to offend people but to educate them, and I think nicely explaining things is the best way to do that.

What do you think of the word blog?
I like it. I think it’s playful and it seems precise. It is a web log after all (pause). Next question…

How will you feel if you win again?
It’s a nice sign that, especially for Canada, issues about gay people and people of colour are important. And if I lose? (Pause). I will feel completely invalidated by society.

 

 

Slap Upside the Head

www.slapupsidethehead.com

Slap Upside the Head is a blog by Montreal-based Mark McIntyre. The 28-year-old started Slap in 2006 and has been “combatting bigotry the gayest way he knows how” ever since. Slap made the queer top five last year and has been featured in the National Post, Vancouver Sun, Montréal Gazette and Calgary’s Swerve Magazine.

What did you have for breakfast?

Bowl of cereal, apple sauce and orange juice.

How would you describe yourself?
I actually try to keep myself off the site. I started the blog to get things off my chest and respond to things in the news that bother me. I like to keep my life separate.

What’s your day job?

I run my own business.

Why’d you start blogging?
It was right after the huge debate on same-sex marriage and I was so sick of hearing constant attacks against gays in the news. I wrote letters to the editor of newspapers but found it wasn’t enough of an outlet.

It says on the site you post every day at 6am. What’s your blogging ritual?
I usually prepare the blog the night before when I get home from work. I search online for stories, usually starting with national papers like the Globe and the National Post. My site is mostly Canadian content, and if I can’t find anything I’ll do a more specific search for gay news on places like Xtra.ca. When I find something that catches my eye, I read it, illustrate and then write something about it. The process usually takes about two hours.

Where do you work?

In my bedroom.

What kind of computer do you use?

I have two. I use my Macbook for writing and my PC for illustration.

Can people rely on your blog to be factual?
Possibly, but my role is different from the regular media. I don’t regurgitate news. I find a story with a serious subject matter and try to add levity to it.

What makes your blog unique?
The illustrations make serious subjects more light-hearted. I’ve never taken art classes and have no idea why I thought it would be a good idea, but I think it sets my blog apart.

What’s been your most controversial blog post?

I did an illustration to go with a post about a guy in Saskatchewan who refused to pay a human rights fine after saying that homosexuals molest children. It was a picture of a dad holding a stick with a green monster leather daddy on it. The dad was saying “GAY DRILL! Run, children! Run from the sodomite!” The picture was posted on other websites and taken out of context. People thought I was promoting homophobic behaviour.

What do you think of the word blog?
When I first heard it I thought it was the stupidest thing ever, but now all it means to me is a website regularly posting info.

 

 

Moving to Vancouver

tovancouver.blogspot.com/

Moving to Vancouver is a blog by Bob Knott which started as a way to chronicle “the saga/history/thoughts of two gay partners and their four-footed child picking up stakes in the US and immigrating to Vancouver.” After becoming so disenchanted with US politics and George W Bush, Bob and his partner David escaped from Florida to the West Coast. Last spring, 55-year-old Bob decided to blog about the process.

What’d you have for breakfast?

Oatmeal with blueberries and cinnamon.

How would you describe yourself?
Outgoing, progressive and mature.

What’s your day job?
Right now I’m semi-retired. I was in real estate and prior to that my partner and I owned a retail business in Georgia. I’m looking for part time work now, but not really…

Why’d you start a blog?
We had been reading other immigration blogs and gay and lesbian blogs and it was a way to join that community and get feedback. Typically after posting something there’d be comments and suggestions from other people experiencing the same trials and tribulations with immigrating so it helped to feel like we weren’t alone.

What’s your blogging ritual?

I sit in a comfortable chair in the living room in the morning and get ideas from Google Reader for anything that piques my curiosity or creativity. It takes me about 30 minutes to put up a post. I usually post four of five times a week, but it’s been a little less because I’m still figuring out how to work my new Macbook.

What are your posts about?

Politics, religion, gay and lesbian culture. I’m actually kind of surprised to be nominated in gay and lesbian category because my primary focus is immigration and current political events.

What makes your blog unique?
I guess my life experiences. Moving across the border is something most people haven’t done and it gave me a different world view.

Your blog says that it chronicles the saga of two gay partners — is your partner involved in the blog?
Not really. He’s not prone to being out there on the web. I find that’s the case with a lot of gay and lesbian couples who went through the immigration process and blog about it. One member of the couple posts while the other’s in the background. I don’t know what it is, I guess opposites attract.

What’s been your most controversial blog post?

Probably something to do with Pope Benedict. I think I said something like ‘why do we pay attention to a person who has issues in his own regime,’ regarding pedophilia.

What do you think of the word blog?

When I first heard it I thought it was rather strange, but now it’s part of the normal vernacular.

 

***

Runners-up and past nominees:


 

Queer Liberal

queer-liberal.blogspot.com/

Queer Liberal is a blog by Matt Guerin, an openly gay freelance writer and former political staffer based in Toronto. This 36-year-old started the blog in 2007 and made the top five shortlist in the queer category during last year’s Canadian Blog Awards. His blog has been linked by National Newswatch and his mandate is to provide a “uniquely progressive contribution to ongoing dialogue.”

What’d you have for breakfast today?
Nothing. I had a turkey sandwich for brunch.

How would you describe yourself?
Political, creative, quirky.

What’s your day job?
I work full time in Toronto as a media librarian. I’m a creative writer and my first film project is about to go into production.

Why’d you start blogging?
I wanted an outlet to communicate my political message and thoughts. It’s total free expression. I felt powerless watching things happen and not having a voice. Blogging gives me that. It’s very satisfying.

What’s your blogging ritual?

I usually write before or after work. I have a Macbook so I work in my kitchen or office. It takes me about half an hour to finish. Most entries are about 200-300 words. Then I give it a quick edit and add links to the story I’m commenting on.

Where do you get your ideas?

I’m a news junkie. I’m always paying attention to what’s going on. I always check out Xtra.ca for gay news and National Newswatch for everything else. If I find something that interests me or pisses me off I write about it. If I’m bored I don’t blog. I usually get around to it about five times a week.

Can people rely on your blog to be factual?
Any facts I put down I make sure are correct. I don’t break news but I can be relied upon to be factual and fair.

Your tone is very opinionated and upfront. Where does that come from?
That’s who I am: opinionated and upfront. My blog is my opportunity to say what I’m feeling, thinking and proposing. I started out last year being more dramatic but I’m trying to mellow out. In the past few months I’ve been working on taking a stand, but not dismissing the other side as lunatic.

What’s been your most controversial blog post?
In the summer I posted about a Tory blogger named Stephen Taylor who claimed there was an alleged “leak” from the Liberal office in Ottawa. The language used in the post seemed like something a Tory would use, not a Liberal, so I called him on it. People got upset, saying I should apologize to him for calling him a liar, but all I did was question his methods.

What makes your blog unique?

My voice is always consistent because I’m always coming from the same perspective. I can be counted upon to say this is an issue relevant to the LGBT community and put in my two cents.

What do you think of the word blog?
I don’t mind it. I think blogs represent the democratization of the world wide web.

 

 

Queer Thoughts

queerthoughts.blogspot.com/

Queer Thoughts is a blog by Ricky Barnes based in Toronto. The 50-year-old BC native has been fighting the battle for gay rights as a political activist since 1981. He’s been keeping the blog since 2003 and fulfilling his mandate of “Keeping an eye on stuff, because you never know who is doing something bad….”

What did you have for breakfast?
Raisin bran with blue berries and banana on top.

How would you describe yourself?

Fun, serious, collaborative.

What’s your day job?
I work for a housing co-op in Toronto

Why’d you start blogging?
It was coming up to World AIDS Day in 2003 and I lost my partner the year before to the disease. I was going to be publicly speaking about it and I was trying to prepare my thoughts. I wanted to tell people about HIV/AIDS and the costs and thought ‘why don’t I write them in a blog first?’ It was a fairly new tool and it was easy for people who were non-tech geeks to post info. It fit in with all of my advocacy efforts so I wrote my first post about my partner and HIV/AIDS.

What’s your blogging ritual?

I bring my computer to Timothy’s, Starbucks or Java Jive and pound away.

Where do your ideas come from?

Usually things I hear in the news. I’m particularly interested in HIV/AIDS, so if I hear a personal story or see a new HIV/AIDS prevention message I’ll post on that. Right now I’m working on a blog about the failure of both government and AIDS service organizations in addressing prevention needs of gay men 40 and over.

Working on? Aren’t blogs supposed to be quick posts?
Sometimes they take me a couple of days to write because I’m checking facts or I’m thinking about what I’m going to say. Sometimes they take me 15-20 minutes. I won’t post about something popular in the news unless I have a different perspective, because it’s not very interesting to post on issues that are being blogged to death. I look for something with more meat.

How often do you post then?
It depends on what’s going on. I videotaped Prop 8 protests here in downtown Toronto and was posting a couple times a days. Other times it’s one a week.

What makes your blog unique?

Because I’m an activist I try to provide readers with additional info and tools, like how to lobby. My content is both American and Canadian, and my primary audience is American. My personality comes through. Some of my blogs can be quite emotional. Some of best ones are when something touches me personally and people like to read that.

What’s been your most controversial blog post?
Probably when I condemned Paul Martin for not having his heart in same-sex marriage. My view at the time was that he sided with it as a means of differing from the Conservatives, rather than because he was wholly supportive of it. A lot of so called progressive supporters were very upset and left me nasty comments and emails.

What do you think of the word blog?
Blog is kind of an ugly word. I mean there’s a new tool called Twitter which is more exciting, but you’ve got to be pretty sharp and precise to use it.