After another year of dismal economic news and homosexual hardships, 2011 seemed like our collective breaking point, as if everyone declared, “Enough,” and began pushing back. While Americans won the right to be gay and shoot people, marry in some states, and fine their athletes for being homophobic dicks, it wasn’t all victory parties set to an endless string of Katy Perry singles. Let’s look back on a wild, wonderful and crazy year while we can still remember it.
ON THE EDGE, THE EDGE, THE EDGE
What insane thing did Lady Gaga not do in 2011?
a) hatch out of a giant egg
b) pose nude to be sketched by Tony Bennett
c) meet with White House staff
d) write a country and western ballad
e) cover herself in purple slime on Queen St W
f) marry the night
g) send a personal video to students at Etobicoke School of the Arts
h) compose a gay-rights anthem in 10 minutes
Answer: g. It wasn’t insane — it was marvellous.
YOU DON’T KNOW JACK
Rebel director Bruce LaBruce asked the year’s most pointed question: “If Canadians loved socialist Jack Layton so much, why in the world did they give arch-conservative knob Stephen Harper a majority government?” It was a shame to lose one of the country’s best politicians and one of our favourite fab cover models of all time.
WHEN IRISH EYES ARE SMILING
In a hissy fit, the Vatican removed its ambassador to Ireland after the country’s prime minister, Enda Kenny, gave the Catholic Church a huge public smackdown for its “dysfunction, disconnection and elitism” in attempting to cover up its child sex abuse scandal. Don’t know why the Catholics object — the last time someone drove the snakes out of Ireland, the church made him a saint.
YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY!
America made great strides forward on gay rights this year, ending the ban on gay soldiers in the military, bringing same-sex marriage to New York and quietly (ever so quietly) adding sexual orientation to the nondiscrimination policies in major league baseball and football.
WORKING UP A SWEAT
“It never occurred to me that I could be a sex worker,” said Gerald Hannon as he retired from the trade this fall after 25 years. In what has been a rough few financial years for most people, Hannon’s long and merry career as a teacher, journalist and whore should be an inspiration to anyone that you can do what you want to do, however unlikely. In a perfect world, he’d get a gold watch and a pension, but he made do with a fabulous retirement party at Goodhandy’s.
THE BALLAD OF PEDRO AND BUDDY
After years of cute newspaper stories about gay penguins in zoos around the world, the people of Toronto suddenly learned we had an adorable couple of our own. Worryingly, Pedro and Buddy have been split up, but officials insist that it’s necessary to ensure breeding and they’ll eventually be reunited, just like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.
STEADY HANDS ON THE WHEEL
After the (ahem) turbulent reign of Tracey Sandilands, it was a relief for those within and without Pride Toronto to have interim executive director Glen Brown guide the organization back to fiscal health this summer. But with Brown now replaced by Kevin Beaulieu, good guy and sensible former assistant to Adam Giambrone and Kristyn Wong-Tam, we confess to missing the drama. Perhaps a little conflict of interest or financial mishap could spice things up a bit. C’mon Kevin, throw us a bone!
RUMOUR HAS IT
Go on, admit it — you had yourself a good cry to Adele singing “Someone Like You” at some point, didn’t you? No judgment here: thanks to her, I now keep a pack of tissues with the iPod.
ASK YOUR DOCTOR IF REQUIP IS RIGHT FOR YOU
Didier Jambart, a 51-year-old straight, married father of two, launched a lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline, insisting that a side effect of the company’s drug for Parkinson’s turned him into a compulsive gay sex addict. A bizarre claim, but at least it explains all those Titan Men videos starring Michael J Fox.
MACHO, MACHO MAN
Most people would find a group of 11-year-old boys hugging hellos charming, but not Christie Blatchford. The National Post
’s manliest columnist went off, calling Toronto “a city of sissies” while insisting she’s not homophobic. “Gay . . . is just fine. Fey is a pain in the arse,” she declared. Meanwhile, Councillor Doug Ford proposed to end school bullying by teaching kids how to fight UFC-style, while hockey pundit Don Cherry decried the “lily-livered pinkos” he blamed for the Vancouver riots. “Gimme a good rightwing guy with some clubs,” he growled. “I’d have cleaned them all out.” With all this testosterone in the air, I’m now afraid to visit the Black Eagle for fear of seeing any of these three cruising there.
LEATHER AND LACE
In what seemed a desperate attempt to attract more visitors, the Toronto Fetish Fair suddenly became an all-ages, family-friendly event. Some leather daddies were found grumbling amongst the carnival attractions, but really, you’re never too young to learn about the dangers of chafing.
If the little condo building at Church and Alexander could have all the benches cleared away because of noise, what will the massive towers that are likely to be built beside fly nightclub and Buddies have removed? Just asking!
THE RAINBOW CONNECTION
A popular petition to the producers of Sesame Street
asked that long-time roommates Bert and Ernie be revealed as a gay couple, but the Children’s Television Workshop insisted that Muppets are not straight or gay — they have no sexual orientation. That may ring false given the great frog-pig romance of Kermit and Miss Piggy, but activists should leave Bert and Ernie in their twin beds for now and focus on the far more obvious master/slave relationship of Dr Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker.
NICELY PLAYED, SIR
In the year’s best political exchange, Liberal MP Scott Brison attacked the Conservatives for wasteful spending, John Baird’s gold-embossed business cards in particular. “When Canadians are struggling just to get by, why are Conservative ministers showering each other with gold?” Brison asked the assembly. “Why the golden showers, Mr Speaker?” Brison later claimed he had “no idea” there was a double meaning to golden showers but noted he didn’t want to “piss off the minister.”
I was going to nominate either Ryan Gosling or Michael Fassbender as the year’s sexiest movie star, but then I began picturing them wrestling nude for the title and I couldn’t . . . mind explodes.
The L Word
actress Leisha Hailey said she and her girlfriend, Camila Grey, were kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight for kissing; musician Ari Gold and his boyfriend were ordered to the back of the bus; and here in Ontario, activists staged a kiss-in at a Blenheim Tim Hortons after the manager asked a lesbian couple to leave. Despite the presence of several of the couple’s family members, Pentecostal minister Eric Revie insisted the women “were basically having sex!” Basically? Looks like gay people need a lot more public make-out sessions so people can learn the difference.
ALL THAT WALKING, YOU KNOW
It was a cruel summer for Mayor Rob Ford after he decided to skip out on the Pride parade. He was widely criticized, even by some allies, for showing less class and courage than Mel Lastman. I don’t know what he thought he might get on him, aside from water or sunscreen, but I’m going to defend Rob. After all, Pride was moved to the Canada Day long weekend and the Fords do love them some cottage! And it’s not like he didn’t attend any of the 10-day events leading — what? He didn’t? Oh. But at least he raised the rainbow flag at City Hall that — what? He didn’t? But it was at his office. Oh for fuck’s sake, I got nothing. Sorry, Rob, I tried, but you really do suck.
In January, a YouTuber named Randall gave us a new hero. In a time of anxiety, the crazy nasty-ass Honey Badger just takes what it wants. By year’s end, about 28 million viewers had been inspired, and even Glee
gave it a shout-out. But the Honey Badger don’t care. It just don’t give a shit — it’s nasty.
creator Ryan Murphy was just warming up: the year’s most demented TV show, American Horror Story
, gave us a haunted house with horny ghosts, evil gingers, demonic fetuses, a killer in rubber fetish gear and Jessica Lange as a Tennessee Williams villain. When rightwingers insist that gays are a threat to the American family, they just mean Murphy terrorizing the Harmons. There were also lots of fun new gay TV characters to ponder and debate this year on shows like Game of Thrones
, Downton Abbey
, True Blood
, Warehouse 13
, Happy Endings
BOW TIES ARE COOL?
“I wear a bow tie now,” declared Matt Smith as the latest Doctor Who. “Bow ties are cool.” Indeed, sales of the quirky fashion staple are up, but for how long?
WE LOVE JESUS; IT’S HIS FAN CLUB THAT SCARES US
reporter Andrea Houston spent much of 2011 discussing the ban on gay-straight alliance groups in the Ontario Catholic school system. The year-long story was sparked by the Halton board’s decision to ban GSAs in late 2010 and by chair Alice Anne LeMay’s spectacularly tone-deaf explanation: “We don’t have Nazi groups, either.” The flame was stoked by trustee Jane Michael’s insistence that “harmful” GSAs promote “a homosexual lifestyle that is not in accordance with the Catholic Church.” It got funnier when Michael huffed, “I don’t think sex clubs should be in school,” and became national news when Mississauga student Leanne Iskander was told that signage for her GSA bake-sale fundraiser could not feature any rainbows. Yes, banning rainbows. The board loudly condemned any talk of reformation from Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. It seems when these Catholics talk about the body and blood of Christ, they keep forgetting about his brains and heart.
IT GETS BETTER? MAKE IT BETTER
During one of his trademark TV rants, Rick Mercer insisted that, after still more suicides of gay kids, like Buffalo teenager Jamey Rodemeyer and Ottawa’s Jamie Hubley, it is now the moral duty of high-profile gay and lesbian figures to come out publicly. Actor Zachary Quinto said much the same thing when he decided to come out this summer, but Mercer’s comments were met with debate (The Globe and Mail
’s Karim Bardeesy insisted Mercer was being unfair to closeted gay politicians) and even criticism that Mercer hadn’t mentioned that he himself is gay in the rant. As he later joked, “I don’t know how many times a guy can come out of the closet in this country!”
SOCCER PLAYER WITH BALLS
Twenty-year-old Anton Hysen plays for a Swedish soccer team and, by coming out in March, is now notable as one of three gay players in all of soccer. “It’s totally sick when you think about it,” he told the press. “Where the hell is everyone else?
At the 32nd annual Dora Mavor Moore Awards for Canadian theatre, Buddies in Bad Times cleaned up, with major wins in directing (Brendan Healy), writing (Sky Gilbert) and acting (Gavin Crawford). With such acclaim after his first year as Buddies’ new artistic director, Healy should now be able to afford shirts to wear in his Facebook photos.
Culture critic Camille Paglia told Xtra
this year she was “very troubled” by Chaz Bono’s decision to “mutilate the body,” and I must agree! Bono’s weeks of appearing on Dancing with the Stars
were a ridiculous and exhausting way to — wait, what? Paglia was talking about Bono’s sex-change surgery? Oh. Well, fuck you, Camille.
PLEASE, DON’T CONFUSE ME!
I’m a girly-man; don’t teach me to question why Charles McVety and his “Institute for Canadian Values” would lie hysterically about the school board’s sex-ed curriculum in their grotesque ads and on their website, stopcorruptingchildren.com. But then, US tax records revealed that Peter LaBarbera’s anti-gay hate group, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, and Alan Chambers’ “ex-gay” group, Exodus, nabbed those men salaries of about $75,000 each in 2010. Hate mongering is fun and profitable!
Scott Dagostino is a
fab writer who we count on every year for his fantastic hindsight.
Illustrations by Jordi Santo