Friday, June 27, 2008

These are photos I took of Visual AIDS volunteers Deanna and Aldrin last week while we handed out new broadsides to bars, businesses and curious people on 8th ave in Chelsea.

It was fun to see people’s playful and excited reaction to Michael Mitchell’s “Rubbers are Fun” balloons and Noah Lyon’s “Safe Sex Rules” buttons. People giggling as the penis on the balloon got bigger as they blew it up, others pinning the buttons on as they put the condoms and lube that comes with some of the broadsides in a safe place for later!

Walking in the sunshine, laughing with new friends and talking about sex- it’s a rough job but someone’s got do it!

It was my last afternoon interning at Visual AIDS and it was a powerful lasting impression on the easy, fun and ultimately powerful role art can play in HIV-prevention and AIDS awareness.


The erotic experience of viewing famed photographer Robert Mapplethorpe stunning, homoerotic and widely unseen Polaroids currently on display at the Whitney Museum in New York turns flaccid as the gallery room fills with the nasally obnoxious sounds of a middle-aged woman from upstate New York attempting to remind her deaf mother that she had been a classmate of Mapplethorpe, “Remember I told you about him” she yells. “He was the HO-MO-SEXUAL in my class when I was at Pratt.”

In the audience of her one sided conversation, the evocative images of men in various states of undress mixed with measured shots of objects like matchbooks and curtains, all captured as high art by an artist early his career, become pedestrian, boring. The woman’s voice breaks the bond between viewer and the work, making everything in the room too accessible, public, obvious and mundane. Suddenly it is her and not the pictures on the wall that becomes the art—a performance piece/reality show about a failed artist living with her mother attempting to justify her art school tuition all these years later based on her momentary proximity to greatness.

Later, upstairs in the galleries housing the Whitney’s permanent collection, I sit on a bench to write my thoughts and people watch. A handsome youngish man comes rushing towards the bench and sits down looking slightly bewildered and emotionally distressed. Within a second another man around the same age is standing nearly on top of him. Maybe it’s the gaypri pants or the talking with hands but without even hearing them I can tell that they are gay Europeans in the middle of an argument. After a few furious minutes of frenetic whispering the second one to arrive sits down and they are lulled into a state of silent brinkmanship.

With so much colour and shape in the room no one but me seems to notice the two moody men on the bench and the security guard who is so entranced he looks like he is watching a soap opera.

While in New York City it has been the security guards that have often provided the highlight of museum and art gallery experiences. Their unimpressed attitude towards the art is a refreshing change from the at-times pretentious conversations and faces I encounter. I always wonder if the guards, in between slyly picking their nose, telling people not to take photos and directing people to the washroom, learn more about art or gain an increased appreciation for it. I look forward to the day when I open up the paper to read that the world’s most successful art dealer, gallery curator or art critic started as a security guard.

The first boyfriend gets up off the bench and begins to pace. Both the security guard and I look at him to see what is going on. He catches us and for the first time remembers that they are not alone. He says something to his boyfriend and now as if reunited against the nosy security guard and me they walk together towards the doorway. They get about three feet before they start disagreeing again. The first boyfriend wants to keep looking at the permanent collection whereas the other boyfriend wants to go downstairs to look at the Mapplethorpe Polaroids. They end up going downstairs. I smile and look over to the security guard hoping that we will share the moment; instead I am met with a blank stare and him with his finger up his nose.

I stay on the bench to keep writing. I enjoyed watching the two men have a disagreement. It seemed so healthy and normal and foreign. I feel that in Edmonton it is rare to see two guys obviously on a date together, let alone comfortable enough to have a lovers quarrel in public.

Later on at the Whitney I end up in the same elevator as the boyfriends and a redheaded family. The first boyfriend is still kind of sulking. The second boyfriend has obviously tired of it all and stares off at the ceiling during the elevator ride. The doors open at the second floor. The first boyfriend is quick to almost get out. His boyfriend catches him in before he leaves and points at the lit-up number two above the door. This act of assertion changes something between the two boyfriends The sulking boyfriend moves closer to his boyfriend and begins talking close in his ear as he gestures with wincing movements to his back. The second boyfriend’s face goes from impatience to concern.

As the doors open for the ground floor we all leave the elevator. I trail behind to see the second boyfriend rub the small of his boyfriend’s back. The family that was in the elevator doesn’t blink an eye nor does anyone else in the busy lobby as they make their way to the door. Their unselfconscious display of affection is moving and of course erotic in its own way. In that moment I realize that in some places homosexuality is pedestrian and boring. It is a freeing yet slightly anti-climactic feeling.
With his eye on his boyfriend the second boyfriend goes out into the street and hails a cab. After they have both gotten in but before I loose sight of them into the sea of yellow cabs that makes up Madison Avenue I see the first boyfriend take his boyfriend’s hand and kiss it. It makes me wish I had my camera.


Living in Hell’s Kitchen, New York’s newest gay village, for a month, I find myself never more than a few feet away from an attractive gay man and never more than a few beats away from thinking about sex. That, combined with the heat wave that is currently gripping the city, made me decide that a great and safe way to spend a Saturday afternoon would be at the movies.

I naïvely thought that when I purchased my ticket for Sex Positive, a film being screened as part of New York’s newest LGBT film festival, I would be treated to two air-conditioned hours learning about the joys of safe sex and the history behind it. Instead I was met with a 96-minute warm slap in the face about the early, heady days of AIDS in New York and the origins of safe sex.

Directed by Daryl Wein, the film profiles Richard Berkowitz, a writer, activist and one time S/M hustler who should be known for his primary role in the creation of safe sex, an idea we now take for granted, but is instead a footnote in history due to his wrong and sadly misguided view back in the ‘80s that AIDS is not caused by a single virus like HIV but caused by multifactorial causes.

In 1982, he co-authored an article called “We Know Who We Are” with singer and celebrated AIDS activist Michael Callen, which bore the additional tag line from their editor, “Two Gay Men Declare War on Promiscuity”: the article not only shared the unpopular multifactorial view but also called for gay men to consider their sexual habits and how it might be endangering them. Hugely unpopular, the article caused an uproar, as it was seen as an inside attack on the gay lifestyle.

Using vintage porn and photos from Berkowitz’s own private collection, the filmmaker illustrates that at the heart of the outrage was the war that was being waged within the gay community. For many, engaging in uninhibited sex was at the core of gay liberation, and they weren’t going to stop because authorities were telling them to. Others felt that promiscuity was killing homosexuals. Stemming from the article and through work with his mentor Dr Sonnabend, Berkowitz worked towards a third way of seeing things, which we now know of as safe sex.

Based on his experience as an S/M top and ideas around disease interruption, safe sex was conceived as interventions during sex to prevent bodily fluids from entering the body. Wein, with his purposely unsteady camera work and moody lighting, lets the telling of the historic moments unfold not in a documentary style but more in the same way a new friend would tell the stories of their life.

As Berkowitz tells it, with the urging of Sonnabend, in 1982/83 he wrote “How To Have Sex in an Epidemic: One Approach,” a booklet that used a risk-reduction approach when discussing sex. Its aim was to remind people that “Sex doesn’t make you sick—diseases do.” Among the suggestions in the booklet is the then-revolutionary idea of gay men using a condom for anal sex. You can see he is proud of the accomplishment and speaks of it like a victory which was too quickly over.

Watching the film, I wondered why I have never heard of this guy, a scene echoed when people being interviewed in the film are asked if they have ever heard of Richard Berkowitz, only to apologize and admit that they hadn’t.

Because of his once-held beliefs and, as we find out later in the film, his battle with drugs, Berkowitz is an almost forgotten piece of gay men’s response to the HIV legacy. Before the screening, director Daryl Wein came out into the audience to remind us that this was just his film telling the story of one man. He is right that it’s not a comprehensive study of the history of safe sex. As someone who didn’t set out to make an AIDS film, Wien has created a small yet layered document that reminds people that we are still living with HIV/AIDS that also serves as an unwavering portrait of a man whose complex and unforgiving life can serve as a reminder and metaphor for HIV/AIDS.

At the end of the screening I left the theatre. On my way out I saw the real Berkowitz in the lobby. (This is something that makes New York amazing—access.) He looks as he did in the movie—handsome, antsy and frustrated. I didn’t stop to talk to him. I was two steps away from the theatre when I turned around and go back. By this time Berkowitz was in the theatre with Wein and the festival director taking part in a Q&A.
A young man in the audience disclosed his HIV+ status and asked Berkowitz where he could go for help, an elderly lady shared her story of being a retired dominatrix who, having never contracted HIV herself (unlike most of her friends), is now part of a small group of friends who call themselves survivors. Another man asked the festival director if more people were at the first screening of the film; the answer was no. The man who asked the question was angered by this and verbalized how insulted he is that in the city of New York people can’t fill a movie theatre for this important movie when films of far less calibre and social relevance are well attended. The festival director agreed, and Berkowitz lost the crowd as he began to talk about conspiracy theories about him and why people won’t see the film.
Walking back along the streets of Manhattan, I thought about Berkowitz and his endurance. He deserves better than to be forgotten. Because of him I—and all the gay men I crush on while walking—am able to be a part of the same club as the elderly dominatrix: we are all survivors.

Ted Kerr writes a vivid, thoughtful account (June 12, 2008, Issue #660) of the June 7 Manhattan film festival screening of SEX POSITIVE, Daryl Wein's new documentary about my role in the invention of safe sex. Amazingly, not a single review appeared anywhere in the New York press--gay, straight or alternative--so I'm thrilled that a Canadian reporter found it a worthy topic. The absence of any coverage of SEX POSITIVE in New York may also help explain why, as Kerr noted, the audience was small. But there's another reason that may have eluded Kerr: some in the gay community are deeply uncomfortable with a public figure like me who has refused to be closeted about my past history with sex work, S/M and addiction. I wish it were a "conspiracy" rather than a fact, but there are a few activists who'd rather hide me than accept that my hyper-sexual history actually makes me an effective spokesperson to promote safe sex to those who need it most.

In a city like New York where syphilis and HIV infection rates are rising, worst of all among 13 to 19 year olds, it's sad that a film that can offer solutions to safe sex gets overlooked because concerns about the gay image supersede the promotion of life-saving information.

As Kerr reported, SEX POSITIVE offers a wonderful surprise from what some assume it will be. New York City has lots to offer, but when it comes to what's new in safe sex, Edmonton readers have us beat and Kerr is the man to thank.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

QUEERMONTON Week of May 29, 2008, Issue #658

Ted Kerr /

It may not have appeared that way to others, but my friend Angie and I were self-defined exiles in high school. It was how we felt and so how we interacted with the world. We joined the speech and debate club as a way to be heard and express ourselves. We competed in the duo acting category and we were surprisingly good at it considering we only practiced when we should have been in math class.

The height of our success came at the regional championships, where we blew the competition away, qualifying that day for another round where we would have to write a speech and present in front of all the judges, competitors and parents.

I can’t remember what Angie spoke about, but I remember delivering a speech about lessons in hard work that my first boss, Stan, had taught me. It was met with rousing heart-felt applause. Even as the moderator was announcing that we would be taking a short break to tally up the scores people were beginning to gather around to congratulate me. It was ridiculous, but I felt on top of the world.

One woman, a parent, watched me intently my whole speech. I remember her face because it was so fixated on mine. As she pushed through the crowd, I could see her mouth begin to form with a question. I begin to feign humbleness in anticipated response.

“Are you boy or are you girl?” she asked, a relieved smile filling her face like she had just gotten something off her chest or had the best poop of her life.

“What?” I choked out, the assembled crowd ready for the punch line.

“The whole time you were speaking I was trying to figure it out, are you a boy or a girl?”

People silently and quickly began to leave the scene. My face went from the rose of victory to the scarlet of shame and confusion as I began to consider the possibility that she wasn’t the only one with the same question. “Boy,” I mumbled, my voice cracking as I said it.

“Oh,” she said, not fully convinced or satisfied.

Soon I was standing there with only Angie at my side feeling my heart racing. It wasn’t being mistaken for a girl that was the issue, it was not being seen for who I truly was that was bothering me.

That day was the first time I had ever had to come out about my gender, but it would not be the last. It reached its peak in the years after high school while I was working retail. The cashier would ask a customer, “Was there a salesperson helping you?” to which the response was often, “Yes, that nice girl over there,” while pointing at me.

At first I was confused, I don’t look like a girl and even through I have feminine mannerisms, so does Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy, but no one confuses him with Hannah Montana. It is only in the last few years that I have realized it is not how I look but other people’s definition of gender that makes me appear womanly in their eyes. It is my softness, the fact I wear scarves and my urge to partake in seemingly girly activities that cues people to label me female.

I was reminded of the speech and debate incident last week while in Toronto for Inside Out, a Lesbian and Gay film festival where I had the privilege of attending the Queer Here/Queer Now symposium. The two-day event presented by V-Tape and Inside Out was an opportunity to focus on “current social-political themes in queer media art production, presentation and dissemination” with contributions from writers, thinkers and artists like Thomas Waugh, Allyson Mitchell, Tom Kalin, Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan.

One of the most heated moments was a discussion around gender representation on film and the use of labels and pronouns. Two main camps were represented in the discussion; The “call it as I see it“ group, which felt they will call people by the pronoun they feel fits, and the ”I will call you what you want” group. Throughout the discussion, which for one small moment became verbally violent, there were peacekeepers in the room who attempted to conjure up the positive momentum of late ‘90s queer post-identity politics. In the glow of the New Queer Wave in Cinema and gigantic strides forward in the AIDS movement there was optimism that suggested that despite our differences all homosexuals could move forward under the happy umbrella of queer. Groups like Queer Nation emerged as heir apparent to the perceivably now unneeded anger of ACT-UP.

The peacekeepers brought up post-identity politics as a way of suggesting that a framework in which we could move beyond labels already existed, that we needn’t discuss how to talk about each other but instead conceive of a way to talk about people without labels.

While I was initially on board with the peacekeepers, one person said what was for me a productive statement: “post-identity politics might be a solution for those who have already had their identities recognized but for those who haven’t, post isn’t an option.”

As our rights and acceptance has increased, so too has our shared queer complexity. No longer divided by just a binary gender divide, we now also negotiate social, political, multiple gender, racial, spiritual and economic considerations as well.

As was felt at the symposium, we as sexual and gender minorities are entering exciting times where once again the euphoria of gained ground and the reality of those not yet heard are coming to a head. As Shawna Dempsey suggested on the first day of the symposium, we as a community are at our best when we are fighting.

QUEERMONTON Week of May 15, 2008, Issue #656


A few weeks ago I found myself alone in my boyfriend’s bed. Usually I wake up before he does or we wake up around the same time, so to find him not laying beside me was strange. I looked over at the time and it was only 5:34 am. It’s not like him to get up that early.

I got up to look for him. We usually sleep at my place so I carefully went about his house scared I would bump into something or wake up his brother. He wasn’t taking a shower, he wasn’t in the living room reading, and he wasn’t in the kitchen making breakfast. Finally I found him asleep on the small couch in his spare room. He was scrunched up and looked uncomfortable. I started to think I must have done something to make him leave the comfort of his own bed. Had I been snoring louder than usual? Talking in my sleep? Hogging the covers? Kicking? Dry humping? Farting? Suddenly I became really embarrassed by my own humanness and the fact that that I could have done something that caused him to get up and leave. I watched his chest rise and fall and felt very insecure about myself in the face of what I saw as all his perfectness.

As I walked back to bed I began thinking about how truly intimate sleeping with someone is, even more so than sex. With sex most of the time both people are under the umbrella of the moment and, be it lust or love, a lot of blind eyes are cast. But by sleeping with someone you are putting yourself in a situation where you are unconsciously being yourself. No postures to hide behind. You are vulnerable.

This thought frightened me as I began to doze back off to sleep. Was there something about me that my boyfriend discovered while I was sleeping that made him reconsider our relationship? It brought up the fear I have of being seen as a fraud—like at any moment someone is going to discover that I am not the very thing they liked about me. This very easily led me to consider any and all of my failings and wonder how I got a boyfriend in the first place, as well as to question why he stays with me. I fell asleep very sure that this was the beginning of the end of our relationship. It took everything inside of me to stay in the bed and not sneak out. I was overreacting, but I was tired and it was bringing up bigger issues.

The next thing I remember was my boyfriend crawling back into bed. Although I was awake I didn’t let him know right away. I was nervous about what he might say. Was he going to tell me how gross I was or how bad I smelled? Was he going to say maybe we shouldn’t sleep together anymore or create some “ground rules” that we would now have to follow? Was he going to suggest we take a “break?” Nope—instead the first words out of his mouth were, “I missed you.”

What? I was relieved and confused. “Why did you get up?” I asked.

“I was coughing so much I thought I might wake you up” he said.

I smiled, “I missed you too.”

I had made a mountain out of a molehill. I told him everything that ran through my head and we talked about it. I wasn’t perfect, he wasn’t perfect and there we were going through it together.

I share this story because in a way I think it illustrates how important it is for one to be comfortable in their own skin not only in terms of maintaining a relationship but also in how they are as citizens. How we interact with each other is not that different with how we interact with a city, it is all relationships.

I have been thinking a lot lately about why I stay in Edmonton. Just last week I was in Montréal and I was moved by seeing homos of different ages, sizes, colours and combinations living as gay as they want to be—and yet there was nothing inside of me that wanted to pack my bags and move away from Edmonton.

For all its farting, snoring and hogging I love Edmonton. It is my home and while it is not perfect I know that as a citizen I have an opportunity to contribute and make it better. As much as people are products of a city, a city is a product of its people. Just like a relationship with a person, making a better city takes work. It takes declaring your needs and working with others to get those needs met. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and you have to break up or move away but always if you have tried and put yourself on the line you learn something about yourself along the way.
This summer I will be travelling to Toronto, New York and Mexico City for various gay jobs, and for the first time in my adult life I won’t be going with one foot ready to leave Edmonton forever but instead with a mind open to see what qualities those cities have that I can bring to Edmonton.

QUEERMONTON Week of May 1, 2008, Issue #654


The snow is melting, bodies are emerging from under layers of wool and gortex, the possibilities of summer are springing to mind—sex is the air. If you have even one iota of desire to, you should have sex. You should stretch, take a shower, brush your teeth, smile at yourself in the mirror, put on your favourite shirt and leave the house right now to go have sex.

Walk to where you know queer people who have sex congregate—the bar, a grocery store, a coffee shop, a bathhouse, a house party ... whatever. Smile at someone you want to see naked. Flirt and let yourself be flirted with. Talk to someone you find sexy; make jokes, laugh—if they don’t laugh then walk away and try again with someone else, because sex should be fun.

Ask questions; get a feel for them before you cop of feel of them. Do they have a sense of humour, a sense of self, clean teeth, good breath? These things are important. Look at their hands, when you imagine those hands on your body does it excite you? Is that what you want?
Have they asked you questions? If yes, stay put, keep the conversation going. Have they answered your questions? If yes, stay put and keep the conversation going.

Now steer the conversation to sex. Start by talking about your body. Say how nice it is to feel the warm weather on your skin or talk about aches you might need massaging—this is testing the waters. How do you feel as you are talking to them?

From the moment you leave your house do periodic check-ins with your body. Note when you get goosebumps, shivers or feel the urge to dry heave or dry hump. Keep tabs on your private parts. Are they up? Down? Engaged? Engorged? Excited? Lethargic? Be aware of when you are grinning, biting your lip, moving your hand over your body. If you find yourself covering your mouth with your hand more than once, know that you are feeling repressed. Sex is the opposite of repression, it is about release, exploration and expression.

While you are talking about flesh and the body watch for their physical and verbal reactions. Are they participating? Learn more about their body: ask questions, steal glances at areas that turn you on, allow visible parts of your body to brush against public parts of their body—did you like it? How did they respond?

Think about what you want to do with your body and what you need to do it: another person, privacy, an audience, condoms, lube, love, safe words, a chair, trust, a flat surface? Have deal breakers, negotiate, know what you will do and not do and be balanced. Be flexible without being fatalistic. Take a chance in the moment but not with your life or the health of your genitalia.

If things are going well and you find yourself grinning, wanting to use your private parts and are communicating then know that you are already engaged in the act of sex. Keep going if you want, walk away if you want. Are you smiling? Then you have made the right choice.

When you are using your body, go some place where you feel safe, where you can be free and loud. Watch how they take off their clothes—this should be part of the fun. Oh yeah, if you take off your underwear remember where you throw them just in case you have to make a quick exit.

Smell their body. Do you like it? Do you want it in your mouth? Against your skin? Is the person you were taking to the same person you are touching? Are you having a laugh?

Make eye contact, say words, make sounds, have fun, pitch the tip. Work hard, be an active participant—even if you are being submissive, passive and receptive.

Listen to the sounds they are making- guess and act on what you think they mean—ask with your hands, your body—they will answer with their body if you are right. Stop if they say so. Stop if you feel threatened. In all other cases, keep going. Enjoy every moment, even the possible self-conscious ones. It is part of the experience.

After it is all done, stretch, be good and clean up after yourself, throw condoms in the garbage not the toilet, look the person in the eyes. Do you feel great? Then say so. Promise yourself to masturbate about this at least once. If you do not feel great then leave and call a friend, write in your journal, take a shower or grab a coffee and do not have sex again until you understand what just happened.
This is spring fever sex. Have fun, don’t hurt anyone against their will, don’t hurt yourself, be selfish, be slutty, be smutty, be safe, be a tease, be sexy, be self aware, be satisfied. Tell me about it!

QUEERMONTON Week of April 17, 2008, Issue #652


In my last article I suggested that there have been three waves of queer activism: standing up/standing proud, gaining our rights and living our rights. I think we are currently at the beginning of the third wave, which I see categorized by the personal being recognized as political in regards to queer lives, animating the rights gained during the second wave through everyday living, and expression being used and recognized as a form of activism.

This week I want to discuss how Edmonton became an illustration, if not a thriving example, of the third wave in action.

Edmonton is the perfect storm; it is North America’s only Human Rights City and it has a creative, connected queer community working both independently and collectively on rigorously created work and events that are inspired or informed by an authority to rail against (the provincial government) and a supportive local community to work and live in (Edmonton).

The last few years Edmonton has been home to a silent queer renaissance that is beginning to be heard. It is no coincidence that it has happened when the city has a forward thinking, informed, if not strategic-minded, mayor.

Being a fan of Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class, Mayor Mandel has embraced Florida’s hypothesis that a city flourishes when brimming with creativity and diversity. He has put Florida’s ideas into action by being a champion of the arts and the queer community. His endorsement of these not-mutually-exclusive communities has created stability and a sense of esteem that has allowed both to be bold, feel supported and think long term.

Edmonton is increasingly becoming home to artists who are queer that feel able to show their queer work, and institutions like Latitude 53 and Northern Lights Theatre that feel confident to program queer work.

Last year saw the arrival of Exposure: Edmonton’s Queer Arts and Culture Festival, which aims to bring queer artists to new audiences and new audiences to queer work. In the process they are raising the bar of queer art in Edmonton and casting Edmonton as a leader in queer expression on the Canadian art stage.

Edmonton is also home to Camp fYrefly—Canada’s largest LGBTTQA art-centric youth leadership camp founded by the University of Alberta’s Dr Andre Grace and PhD candidate Kris Wells. They are also behind the newly announced Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, which within two years will be offering North America’s only minor in sexual minority studies. All this just reinforces the national rumour that the U of A’s english and film studies department is the queerest in Canada.

Being an artist myself, I don’t subscribe to the notion that artists have to be tortured to create. But as Edmonton-based writers and actors Chris Craddock and Nathan Cuckow, concede, “living in Alberta adds more fuel to the fire.” And that fire leads to award winning, politically and emotionally charged work.

Last month their hip-hop musical Bash’d received a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding NY Theatre. Their show, which debuted at the Roost and will soon begin its commercial run in New York City, is set against the backdrop of the same-sex marriage debate in Canada, during which hate crimes against homos spiked in Alberta.

Compared to the liberal, open atmosphere the Edmonton municipal government provides, the Province of Alberta has been unsupportive and judged by the highest court in the land to be legally negligent of queer human rights.

The historic Vriend v Alberta case had its home in Edmonton when Delwin Vriend was fired from his job for being gay. Seven years of legal battles later, and a decade ago last week, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the case that the province let down its population by not protecting Vriend from being fired, and decided that sexual orientation should be covered in human rights legislation across the country. Many provinces have already begun to rewrite legislation as a result of the ruling, but Alberta still has not.

By not changing the legislation, the government is allowing a culture of discrimination to fester and is communicating to the people of the province that the rights of the LGBTTQ community don’t matter—and so the rights of minorities in general don’t matter.

Lindsay Blackett, the new Conservative culture minister, would only comment that before action was taken he would need to review the entire act. While I do respect that he is a new minister who deserves the benefit of a doubt, this kind of “possibly” rhetoric is what queers have been hearing in this province for decades. The PC’s unwillingness to write protections for sexual orientation into legislation shows a lack of leadership on equality and has cultivated a culture where hatred is tolerated. It has also created tension, and thus fuel for artists to work both against and towards.

As the third wave develops, we see that having rights granted and rulings written in are only one part of activism. It is how queer people exist in culture and impact the world around them that has an affect on attitudes and actions towards queers.
“All this talk of rights won’t necessarily stop you from getting a punch in the head,“ says Edmonton writer and musician Marshall Watson, a member of the gaysian invasion band Spreepark. “Laws can only do so much, they don’t change social behaviour the way we can on a personal level.”