3 min

Why take the ‘sexual’ out of ‘homosexual?’

Our history was built on sexual freedom, so why are we punished for it?

The owner of Odyssey nightclub in Vancouver, Bijan Ahmadian, recently took it upon himself to launch a private investigation into the Vancouver Arts and Leisure’s sex-positive Halloween party.

Apparently, he was concerned about “out of control mixing of alcohol” (is that even possible?), drug use and overcrowding. But he still had his investigators secretly shoot video of sexual activity in a photo-free play space.

He then released the video footage and the investigators’ report to the media — they, in turn, focused more on the sex and drugs than the alcohol and alleged overcrowding. It quickly became a moral trip, and made Ahmadian a traitor in many people’s eyes.

This is not just about sex-phobic public shaming — it’s also a matter of privacy. When you attend a private, sex-positive party, you assume anonymity is a given.

I’ve never worried about surveillance at a party like this in Toronto. I’ve worried once or twice while at a sex cinema if the cops would ever bust in while I’m getting a blow job, because it’s a public space. But even then, I wouldn’t say it’s a worry — it’s more like a fleeting thought.

At an event like the one VAL threw, it wouldn’t even cross my mind to worry. And it’s going to stay that way — despite what happened in Vancouver. That’s why I love Canada. It’s my right to not worry, regardless of what straight media think about how I indulge in my sexuality.  

The way the mainstream media reacted is dog-whistle homophobia, using concerns about strong drinks and overcrowding to justify the shaming of alternative queer culture.

CTV Vancouver’s Coleen Christie described the party as an “apparent drug and alcohol-fueled sex party.” The Province, which originally broke the news, used the headline: “Did Party Go Too Far?” You can just hear the conservative straight folks gasping at the thought, while validating their drab life choices in small-town British Columbia.

The photo that CTV used online to accompany the story is a sign from the party which reads, “SEX & KINK PLAY OK,” which has nothing to do with the apparent concerns of over-serving alcohol and capacity. All it highlights is the type of sex being had — the best type possible.

I’m sure it’s not just straight folk that condemn this kind of party. You know who I mean: the gays who aspire to “straight” sensibilities, who think that conforming is the path toward liberation. They would love to take the “sexual” away from “homosexual,” like it’s the only way we can get respect from the heteros.

Why must we assimilate in order to make them comfortable? Why do we allow them to shame us over and over again, simply because we enjoy having sex, kinky sex, group sex, whatever kind of consensual sex we want?

Some of us are “normal” just like them, but some of us aren’t — and that’s the point.

If we keep acting like we’re sexual puritans and ignore how sex has shaped our shared gay culture, then they’ll continue to sensationalize that part of queer culture.

I have a lot of respect for VAL’s promoter, Matt Troy. He understands that this reaction is an attack on the “morality of gay men, queer spaces, and queer events.” I sincerely hope VAL’s next party is even sexier and is promoted more widely within the city for all the straight folk to see. I hope thousands of queers attend.

Lesbians and gay men have the right to act straight, and they have the right to act sexual, and it’s time to embrace that duality instead of pushing the heteronormative narrative on ourselves.

So long as VAL serves alcohol to code and doesn’t exceed the venue’s capacity, it should be successful in continuing this wonderful revolution.