Sunday, February 27, 2011

Celebrate 100 Years of International Women's Day with CLGA

International Women's Day: Toronto Women and the Struggle for Equality curated by Michelle Schwartz and Roberta Wiseman.
The Archives Gallery is proud to celebrate the centennial of International Women's Day (IWD) with an exhibit drawn from its own collection of posters, flyers, photographs, and ephemera. Focusing primarily on IWD activities held in Toronto from the 1970s to present day, the exhibit traces the rise of the lesbian liberation movement, and its intersection with anti-racist, feminist, and labour activism. It will also illustrate the passion, determination, and sheer inventiveness of women in their struggle for equality.

Opening reception March 3, 2011 7:30pm – 10pm with special guests from the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre.

The exhibition runs March 3 - May 12, 2011.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Church and Wellesley profiled in National Post

Great article in the National Post today about the changing role of Church and Wellesley in Toronto's Queer Community as new smaller queer hubs have emerged in Leslieville, Queen West and sub-urban Toronto.
Prominent figures in the community were interviewed for this article including our own Rebecka Sheffield who is her usual wise and wonderful self.
Nice Saturday afternoon reading.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Last Chance - Don't Miss Switch

On January 13, 2011 the Archives Gallery opened Switch,  an exhibition of the work of Montreal Photographer JJ Levine to an overwhelming crowd.  
Since then the show has continued to be well received by a wide audience.

Don't miss out on seeing Switch before the show ends Feb 24.
The Archives Gallery is open Tuesday-Thursday 7:30pm-10pm or by appointment.  Admission is free.

for more info on this and upcoming exhibitions visit:

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Return of the Trocks

This weekend, Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo returned to Toronto for three performances at the Wintergarden Theatre. The Trocks, an all-male troupe of dancers, has been touring the world with their unique form of drag ballet for almost forty years.

I was lucky enough to attend the Trocks' latest show, courtesy of Stark, PROUD FM's lovely Dyke About Town. As always, the Trocks combined camp with athleticism, bounding across the stage en pointe while hamming it up for the audience.

After such an enjoyable evening, I was particularly pleased to come across a mention of the Trocks in an old issue of the Body Politic. Here they are, in all their glory, in 1981, when they hit Toronto for four performances at the Ryerson Theater:

"An offshoot of the Trockadero Gloxinia Company, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo gave its first performance in New York in September of 1974 in a loft owned by the West Side Discussion Group, a Fourteenth Street homophile society. The Trocks made their first Toronto appearance in 1976 at Seneca College and have acquired a faithful following."

I count myself amongst that faithful group of followers, and hope the Trocks keep returning to Toronto for many more years.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Visitor from Vancouver

Robert and I recently had the chance to chat with Drew Dennis, Executive Director of Out on Screen (the organization that produces the Vancouver Queer Film Festival). Drew told us about some really cool projects that the festival has developed, including Speaker's Cabana (which gives moviegoers a chance to share their stories on YouTube) and Out in Schools (which brings queer films to high schools in an effort to facilitate discussions around bullying and homophobia). As part of an ongoing focus on queer history, the festival has also commissioned a number of short films from such filmmakers as John Greyson, Richard Fung, Ivan E Coyote and Aerlyn Weissman.
It was great to meet Drew, and I hope we can work together on something soon!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Laughing Out Loud and Proud!

Purchase your ticket to this amazing event by clicking here.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

30 Year Anniversary of the Toronto Bathhouse Raids

It was 30 years ago yesterday that the Toronto Bathhouse Raids occurred, and Xtra has put together a great retrospective. From Matt Mills' introduction:

"On Feb 5, 1981, 30 years ago, more than 150 Toronto police descended on that city’s gay bathhouses, arresting more than 300 innocent men. It was part of a deliberate and organized campaign by government and police to push gay baths and bars out of business, to silence the gay press and to remove gay voices from public discourse...Gay people had, of course, previously fought police harassment, but the events in Toronto in the first half of 1981 were watershed for the liberation movement in Canada. The activist chops refined then equipped gay people across the country to fight censorship, win partnership and employment rights, demand reasonable treatment from government, face HIV/AIDS, fight homophobic violence and win marriage rights."

Have a look at some of the film clips and interviews to get a sense of how pivotal this event really was in the Canadian struggle for LGBT equality.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Field Trip To See 'Hide/Seek'

As many of you probably know, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington launched an LGBT-themed exhibition called 'Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture' back in November. This was significant for the sheer number of iconic pieces included in the show and for the fact that it was the first queer-themed exhibition to appear in a major American museum.
About three weeks in, the president of the Catholic League (actually a small--and virulently anti-queer--fringe organization with no official ties to the Church) complained about "A Fire in My Belly", a 1987 video piece by David Wojarnowicz. Nothing too surprising there, but what really caught the public's attention was the speed with which the Smithsonian capitulated to their demands. The video was removed from the show within 24 hours of the initial protest, and no effort was made to defend or even debate its merits. The curators of the show were not consulted.
Despite intense criticism from artists, writers and members of the public, the Smithsonian has not restored the piece to the exhibit. As Michelle described in an earlier post, Canadian artist AA Bronson has attempted to have his arresting work removed in solidarity but probably will not be successful before the show closes in a couple of weeks.
I had planned a trip to Washington to see the exhibit before all of the censorship craziness went down, but in the weeks leading up to my visit I was particularly interested to see how it would be handled. Would the show be marred by the controversy? How would the Smithsonian deal with all of the terrible press its decision has garnered? Would the public boycott 'Hide/Seek'? To make a long story short, the show was still amazing. Work by Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Romaine Brooks and Georgia O'Keefe (to name just a few) hangs in three rooms on the second floor of the gallery. The show is arranged chronologically and thematically, beginning in the late 19th century and progressing to the present day. It was quite well-attended when I was there, and visitors were taking the opportunity to record their thoughts in the guest book (most of the comments I read expressed anger at the Smithsonian management for their decision). If you want to see the show for yourself, the always-awesome In the Life featured a tour in its January episode or you can check out the website. I also bought an exhibition catalogue which will be donated to the CLGA as soon as I finish reading it (I promise!).
As much as I enjoyed the exhibit, I was particularly happy to see how Washington's queer and arts communities have risen to the challenge. There's a large trailer parked outside the gallery featuring a banner that reads "Museum of Censored Art"; inside, the controversy is outlined in several panels, and a small television plays Wojarnowicz's video. I spoke with the two volunteers huddled at one end (who knew that Washington was so cold??), and they explained that they had just opened on January 11th, and that the Smithsonian staff had been surprisingly supportive of their efforts. Passerby were stopping in to check out the display and to watch the video, and the organizers have a strong presence on Twitter and Facebook. Prior to the installation of the trailer, protesters stood in the gallery itself playing the video on iPads hung around their necks, and countless galleries around the world have pledged to screen the piece. As dismaying as the whole thing has been, I'm really heartened to see this kind of creative resistance and I can only hope that the public's condemnation of the Smithsonian's actions will ensure that this doesn't happen again.