Queerly Canadian

Quixotic highlights of the year 2000


Best series chosen by Brent Ledger

1. Queer As Folk (UK version). Sexy, funny, bright and perfectly paced, Russell Davies’s masterpiece captures the angst and the ecstasy of modern gay life in 10 taut episodes. The best gay TV ever.

2. Sex And The City. Because who else talks about threesomes and “funky spunk?”

3. The Sopranos. A mob drama with the social and psychological insight of an Updike novel. Brilliant.

4. The West Wing. Politics the way it should be.

5. Canada: A People’s History. Some much needed national myth making. The pols won’t do it; thank God, the CBC will.

6. Will And Grace. Now in its third season, this slick gay sitcom has finally found its groove: In your face but not your pants.

7. God’s Fool. The frankest and funniest literary evisceration ever seen on Canadian TV. Also an entertaining introduction to one of Canada’s first gay novelists, Scott Symons.


Top five books chosen by Maureen Phillips

1. A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You by Amy Bloom (published by Random House, $34.50). Unbelievably intelligent, funny, insightful, and at times incredibly sad – what more can one ask of a collection of short stories?

2. My Lesbian Husband: Landscapes Of A Marriage by Barrie Jean Borich (Graywolf Press, $20.95). A passionate and personal meditation on the nature of relationships.

3. Tea by Stacey D’Erasmo (Algonquin Books, $34.95). A careful and finely constructed first novel.

4. Afterimage by Helen Humphreys (HarperCollins, $28). Historical novel with subtle takes on class, sexuality and, of course, repression.

5. Magic Eight Ball by Marion Douglas (Polestar Book Publishers, $18.95). A great and pleasantly Canadian coming of age novel with a sweetly eccentric main character.


Best visual art chosen by Kim Fullerton

* Best beaver (and there were many)

Wendy Coburn’s tiny bronze sculpture, The Spirit Of Canada Eating Beaver, from an exhibition called Beaver Tales at Oakville Galleries last spring. The salacious spin on Joyce Weiland’s sculpture The Spirit Of Canada Suckles The French and English Beavers stood out for sheer cheekiness.

* Most upstanding male member

Andrew Harwood’s Expo ’67 dildoes.

* Most revealing self-portrait

Guntar Kravis in Les petits morts, where he included his own ecstatic moment in a series of cum shot close-ups of faces rifled from porn and, one just knows, home movies. (The show just closed – sorry boys – at Zsa Zsa Gallery).

* Most astounding endurance performance

In August, Louise Liliefeldt stood for five hours down by the waterfront on a beach infested with black flies, bearing on her back a heavy wooden cross covered with family pics. Passersby were invited to get up close and personal, and many did. Titled Ethel: Bloodline and presented by FADO, a performance art group, this piece was as profoundly moving as it was beautiful, particularly as a blazing blood-red sun set behind her.


* Smartest cross-over

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a non-film work by John Greyson. His photo-video piece in Public Access’s Being On Time show at Central Tech was one of the most astute – and stunning – works I’ve seen that looked hard at youth culture and homo-phobia/erotics.

* Most puzzling question

Corinne Carlson’s swanky billboard – reading “Baa?” – made of sequin-like reflective disks that sparkled and cavorted in the wind and the rain. Part of Logo City at Blackwood Gallery, Baa? teased us with an incomprehensible question and the promise of an answer like Pizza Pizza could never deliver.

* Most demanding peep show

This fall’s Montreal Biennale was a showcase for numerous international and Canadian artists, including Toronto’s Ed Pien, whose vertiginous installation of ephemeral drawings included parts that could only be seen by peeking.

* Favourite solo show

Deirdre Logue’s Enlightened Nonsense: Ten Short Performance Films About Repetition And Repetition at YYZ.

* Favourite group show

Pretty, Please at Blackwood Gallery. Everything you wanted in a “pretty” artwork, because the artists made you work for it – like Jay Wilson’s candy-coated Wish List wall works of big glossy phrases like “Start Singin’ Somewhere” that could only be read in the blank spaces between shapes. Ahh, sweet desire.

* Best place to howl

Barr Gilmore’s solo exhibition space at 787 Queen St W is the newest and smallest window gallery to open this year. It was inaugurated with a show by brilliant boy Brian Jungen, whose Haida-like masks made from Nike runners have been stunning the artworld with their savvy simplicity. New shows open every full moon.

* Freshest Canadian art mag

Scott McLeod’s Prefix photo mag launched its first issue fat with good articles (by the likes of Boygina Band’s Terrence Dick and Andrea Picard of Cinematheque fame) and big juicy pictures (including a sweet suite of six of Guntar Kravis’s Les petits morts). The second issue just hit the stands.

* Freshest face

Shaan Syed, who’s Skateboard Series at Propeller Gallery propelled him onto the must have lists of most gay men I know.


Outstanding (musical) experiences by Andrew Zealley

1. Stracchino (the cheese not the recording artist), bread and early summer sunsets on Isola del Giglio, an ancient island in the Tuscan archipelago.

2. Musick To Play In The Dark (Volume 1 and 2) by Coil (on the Chalice label), a dramatic shift from post-industrial gloom to emotionally-charged, lunar songs of substance. Frightening, tender, honest.

3. Peaches and Gonzales, live at Barcode on Sep 30. Toronto ex-patriots return home with an explosive, sexy slice of sonic boom, Berlin-style.

4. Nek Sanalet by Kit Clayton (Scape). Clayton engages technology without losing his grasp on musicality, ultimately transcending the anti-sentimentality of his glitch/click contemporaries.

5. Pop by Gas (Blei). Wolfgang Voight’s expansive, neo-orchestral sea of tranquility eventually reveals a wicked undertow. The year’s best beatless house.


Top news events chosen by Eleanor Brown

Top community stories

* The gay and lesbian community shows its history, with big-time anniversaries celebrated this year: Spearhead leather is 30; the Coalition For Gay And Lesbian Rights In Ontario is 25; the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/ Multicultural Women Against Rape is 25.

* We continue moving into the mainstream – like the Portuguese gay group Arco Iris being accepted into the Alliance Of Portuguese Clubs And Associations Of Ontario. Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, who helped destroy apartheid in South Africa, acknowledges gay men and lesbians while accepting an honorary degree from the University Of Toronto. Gay entrepreneurs across the province start to flex their muscles, founding a gay and lesbian chamber of commerce. We shut down Church St yet again – this time to welcome thousands of softball players for an international homo competition. And after years of enmity and stereotyping, there’s a new collaboration between the leather community and drag queens. Filipina lesbians hold a successful international gathering in Toronto.

* We show our lapses. The International Ms Leather contest comes to Toronto; there are no local contestants. The hoped-for bid for the 2006 Gay Games bid collapses. The South Asian queer fest Desh Pardesh announces it may go under unless it gets more money. And gawd help Xtra’s Abi Slone, who can’t find enough good butches to light her cigarettes….

* A drag queen runs for mayor; the very scary and anti-gay Toronto District Muslim Education Assembly gets snubbed at the ballot box, and two dykes get elected to the Toronto District School Board.

* The much loved Boots bar shuts down; gunplay at area clubs (murders at the Web and Spin Cat) are cause for concern. Church St gets gayer, with the campy Zelda’s moving to the strip and the new Hair Of The Dog.

* HIV infection in gay men is on the increase


* Fourteen-year-old British Columbia boy Hamed Nastoh throws himself off a bridge because he is bullied by schoolmates who think he’s gay.

* Vancouver coffee shop employee Tony McNaughton protects a woman from a man coming at her with a knife. He saves her, but is stabbed to death.

* Gay Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray wears a bullet proof vest because of death threats.

* Hate crime reports in Toronto go up by 245 percent over two years.


* The Bijou’s aftermath is still felt – though the many indecency charges against gay men having sex have been dropped the year before. The famous Slurp Ramp is retired.

* Cops raid the Barn, and charge the owner with “disorderly conduct” because of naked men drinking beer.

* Cops raid The Toolbox, and charge it.

* Cops raid the Pussy Palace women’s bathhouse night, and charge organizers.

* Cops sue outspoken gay City Councillor Kyle Rae for “defaming” them with his criticism.


* New top Toronto cop Julian Fantino, distrusted for his perceived gay paedophile witch-hunt in London, makes nice with homos, but won’t answer the tough questions. A city-wide gay and lesbian liaison committee with cops is kick-started, but nothing’s finalized.

* Daniel Webb loses his lawsuit against Kitchener police officers who entrapped him in park, charged him with sexual assault, and released his name to the media.

* The federal Bill C-23 becomes law, which gives same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as heterosexual common-law couples. A special amendment ensures that marriage remains heterosexual.

* Toronto’s Michael Leshner, and others, try to get marriage licences at City Hall. Council refers the matter to the courts.

* Rev Brent Hawkes announces he’ll start marrying gay couples at the Metropolitan Community Church Of Toronto.

* Glad Day Bookshop accuses the Ontario Film Review Board of harassment over the extraordinary costs charged for allowing videos into the province, which hurt small filmmakers and stores; see you in court!

* The activist known only as M is incensed by Ontario’s Bill 5, which creates a completely separate category for same-sex couples in provincial law, which she considers discriminatory. The Supreme Court Of Canada tells her to take a hike, then forces her to pay the costs incurred by the province to defend itself.


* The Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council slaps US “doctor” Laura Schlessinger’s wrist for being such a bigot on her syndicated radio show. She then signs on for a TV talk show… that’s so crappy Canadian TV companies dump it.

* The CRTC refuses to licence a homo radio station in Toronto, but then kisses and makes up with the offer of a gay television station, instead.

* Sailor Moon cartoons are censored in Canada, with lesbian lovers deleted.

On occasion, the number of editors and other staff who contribute to a story gets a little unwieldy to give a byline to everyone. That’s when we use “Xtra Staff” in place of the usual contributor info. If you would like more information on who contributed to a particular story, please contact us here.

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