What does Pride mean to you?

What does Pride mean to you? What do you get most excited about during this month? Is it the parade? The comradery and connections? It can be whatever you need it to be. As it has taken many years and battles for us to be able to be who we are today, we must remember that every journey is different. 

This year we are quite publicly celebrating 50 years since what is known as the Biggest step towards Queer Liberation; the Stonewall Riots on June 28, 1969. There were many important moments before and after this date that have led to the freedoms we have today, being able to celebrate Pride in 2019. 

Image result for stonewall riots pic

I was lucky to partake in planning Toronto Pride last year, as well as an international parade while travelling. The freedom to travel as a queer person without fear is a blessing I get to experience, as a “less visible” queer woman. Every year since the history of the Riots, our ability to live as we are becomes easier. With every movement, activist, and Pride parade, our community will be more accepted.  

Let us remember the strong people who came before and after Marsha P Johnson. Who created the thoughts and opportunities who made it possible.  

Continue reading “What does Pride mean to you?”

Everybody hates fat women…. Or do they?

We constantly talk about what it’s like to date interracially. How to navigate the complexities of dating someone from a different religion. Or how to explain to our friends why we’re in a relationship with someone long distance. But what does it mean when we date some who is a different size than us? I’m not talking about in the cute way where you and your best friend have matching outfits but one is a size small and one is a size large. I’m talking about what it means to be a person who identifies as fat dating someone who is very clearly thin.

I ask this, because as a fat femme I recently found myself in this exact predicament. Throughout my life i’ve always dated people my own size. When I was thin, I dated other thin people and when I began to gain weight I found myself gravitating to dating people my own size as well. Whether it was when I was dating men, and when I finally gave that up, (honestly thank creator for that) the women I’ve dated have all been relatively close to my size. My last relationship was with a woman who had lost 300 pounds but was still a fat femme, so the conversations around weight were usually had between the two of us or between her and her friends and always concerning her own body. Lately however, how weight is discussed, and particularly my weight, has changed due to who I have now decided to love. I am, what those in the fat community would call, small fat. While I am considered “obese” by doctors standards, and my Trinidadian grandmother as well if i’m being honest, I am still seen as not “that fat.” My stomach is large and hangs but I have large breasts and an ass so people would commonly say that I’m fat, in the “right places.” I am also still considered desirable fat and couple that with my light skin privilege and you can see where I fall on the fat people have humanity spectrum. That being said I have faced my fair share of fatphobia. My grandmother continuously points out how big I am, and my weight is a topic for discussion almost every time we talk. I went clubbing 3 weeks ago and a man who was far from cute, even by cis hetero standards, decided to comment that I needed to step on a scale as I left the establishment. Of course there’s the casual “You’re a fat Black bitch anyways” that I receive when I turn men down. But for the first time in my life i’m experiencing a new kind of fatphobia and I don’t know how to feel about it.

My new partner is amazing. As someone who has dealt with abusive relationships, physical, verbal and emotional, has had her heart broken more times than I care to count and who has clear abandonment issues, she never makes me feel like i’m too much. She is supportive and loving, gentle and kind and she allows me to be me. No walls or facades, just me. I’ve waited my whole life for a love like this and now that I have it I have no idea how I could have confused anything else for it. We’re both Black women, her African-American and Bahamian, me Trinidadian and Grenadian. She lives in the United States and I live here in  Canada. She’s dark skin and i’m light skin, which means we understand that we both navigate this world differently. Our experiences as Black women are not the same. She’s masculine while I’m femme which means her hypervisibility is so much more than mine. If I could shield her from all of the people and things that would take my favourite parts of her and punish her for them, I would. With all of these intersectionalities you may be surprised to know that none of these seem to be the biggest worry for people. Its my weight. Or should I say my size. My very visible identity of being a fat woman seems to be the hottest topic for discussion and in a way that has me scratching my head and wondering why.

I’ll preface this by saying that my partner is a thin woman. Most would describe her physic as muscular slim. While I’m round and fluffy, she’s edges and angles. But not in a harsh way. They’re soft and catch the light in a way that causes me to lose my breath and just stare at how beautiful she is. That being said people have continuously been questioning her as to why she is with someone like me? And by someone like me they mean a fat femme. I’m sure you have heard the jokes before about why people date fat femmes. The seasonal meme’s appear about needing a fat body to keep you warm in the winter. And who can forget the tax season one? Black men dating fat women because her tax cheque has come in and he needs a place to stay. Images will flood your timeline of jokes about fat femmes giving the best head because we like to eat, but not being able to ride you because we’re too heavy. Most of these images and jokes are saved for fat white women. They’re still seen as desirable even in their fatness. Fat Black women aren’t afford the same luxury, even though fetishization isn’t actually a luxury. But nonetheless we’re not the fat bodies folks want to curl up next too, even if they’re too cold. We’re the mammies cooking fried chicken in the kitchen, loud and obnoxious. So it was important for me to showcase that we were more than that. So when my partner and I decided to become public with our relationship I chose to share that message. I talked about how she loved me for me and for all of the reasons that society deems as legitimate causes to date a fat woman. I wanted us to be visible. I wanted the world to see that fat, Black and queer women were out here being loved, and yes even by thin people.

It was overwhelming the amount of support we received. So many people were messaging us to tell us how our love touched them, how it gave them hope, how it was the representation they needed. Queer love. Black love. A fat woman being loved. My partner and I cried on several occasions because we were so moved. Yet there was something else that also came a long with that visibility. People started messaging her to discuss our relationship and also, my size. Folks wanted to know why she had chosen to date a fat woman. Would would make her, a thin woman, want to date someone of my size? We’re in an open relationship and even potential sexual partners questioned her for choice to be with me. It somehow became more of a mystery than how she started dating someone who lived all the way in Canada. And what was stranger is others began to congratulate her on dating a fat woman. As if she needed a round of an applause or a ribbon for choosing to date the fat girl. Now this is all new to me. In the past no one has ever questioned partners about my size and their choice to be with someone of it. It’s been unsettling to say the least and I haven’t necessarily been able to pinpoint how it makes me feel. I know that for someone they mean no harm. Society has conditioned people into believing that fat folks are undeserving of love and especially from what society deems as attractive people. TV shows and movies throw images of skinny ugly men with low levels of intelligence and living in poverty as being the ones who want us. Or Black men looking for a quick come up and easy woman to manipulate. And when they decide to show us actually and truly being loved, it’s always by another fat person, and always a man.

There are no positive images of fat Black women being loved by other woman on a large societal scale. Same sex love involving women identifying folks is saved for skinny “hot” white lesbians or goth chicks with a dangerous edge. And I’m tired of that image aren’t you? Show me the fat Black femme who’s being loved by another fat Black woman. Show me a disabled fat Black woman being loved by another Black body. And show me. Show me, a fat, Black queer woman being loved by another Black woman. And stop wondering why fat Black women are being loved, just know that we have been, we are and we will be.

  • Shanese Indoowaaboo Steele

Local Flow

Are you ever looking for a little special something to add to your outfit? Maybe pins, or a leather harness, or a vegan one! Does your cute and tiny apartment needs some more art to liven up the space? 

What to do, oh what to do. 

Watch Trigger Warning with Killer Mike Episode 1.  
Then come back here and read the rest of this blog. 

Continue reading “Local Flow”

Weekly Queer Event Listings

Looking for something to do this week? These events are always a hit each week, try them out!

The following events take place weekly unless otherwise specified. Please refer directly to the organizers hosting the events.

Selena Vyle takes over The Beaver every Tuesday!

Bringing you her unique brand of exciting dance and lip-sync performances, hilarious comedy, powerful social message, and so-so looks in this all new one-woman drag show.
Now every Saturday 11:30-1:30 
at Glad Day
Start off February with DRAG KING BRUNCH hosted by the dapper, dashing and dazzling 
ZacKey Lime
. Zackey and his Kings will leave you wanting more, more and more!
There is NO COVER for this event – the show is free with your meal (though you should bring some $5s to tip your performers). 
The space and washroom are wheelchair accessible.
FREE Drop-In Heels Dance classes with a focus on fun, health and well-being. Classes explore sexy dance moves in an affirming environment for LGBTQ2S folks, Black, Indigenous, folks of colour, & folks of various body types. This series breaks down and shares sexy moves and the art of dancing in heels while creating space for participants to discover what feels good to them on their individual journeys to empowerment and feeling sexy!

No experience necessary. Dialogue is encouraged. Movement variations with lower impact are discussed and can be provided to create greater accessibility. Heels are encouraged but are not mandatory to attend, wedges, sneakers, socks and barefoot are also possibilities. you can dance like you are in heels without wearing heels.

AFFIRM is an 8-week mental health “coping and skills training” group for LGBTQ2S folks that combines approaches from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with an anti-oppression framework. 

Winter sessions at The 519 will be held on Thursdays, from January 31 to March 21. Find more information or register at:http://www.the519.org/events/affirm

Sunday’s are for brunch!
Every third Saturday of the month, join our drag performers and bingo caller Nyree MacPherson for a night of music, food, performances, prizes and fun at GLAD DAY DRAG BINGO!

We spin the bingo cage on a rotating line-up of kings, queens, and performers for a queer-positive, inclusive, and affirming evening, with all proceeds from bingo card sales going to charity! Doors at 6:30pm for pre-show, drinks, and food – performances and games begin at 7pm!

In addition to being the world’s longest surviving LGBTQ bookstore, Glad Day is also a full-service bar stocked with a range of craft beers on tap and with a complete range of dinner options – so join us for comfort food, a pint or cocktail (or three!) and a night of queer joy!

Tickets available here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/glad-day-drag-bingo-january-edition-tickets-53986619432
A drop-in group for current and former LGBTQ2S youth in care and/or with experiences of incarceration*. Each session will include community building, support space, and access to information and community resources.

Thursdays January 10th – March 14th 6:00pm-8:00pm
Sherbourne Health Centre (333 Sherbourne Street), rm 1077

Tokens and food provided.

*This includes youth in foster care, group homes, and adoptive families, and youth who have been incarcerated, including involuntary psychiatric hospitalization. In order to keep the space as open and inclusive as possible, we ask that current foster/adoptive parents and group home staff do not attend.

Week by week schedule:
February 14: Resistance as Self Love
February 21: Cooking Night. Youth in care may or may not have access to comfort foods or family recipes. We’ll be sharing comfort foods and making something together (recipes to be decided the week prior).
February 28: Forced Incarceration/Psychiatric Care. \
March 7: Closed space for Black and Indigenous youth to discuss their experiences of care/incarceration.
March 14: Blanket Fort/Movie Night.

Queer(in) Care is a program of the LGBTQ Youth Initiative, a collaboration between Planned Parenthood Toronto, Central Toronto Youth Services, Egale Canada Human Rights Trust, Griffin Centre, Sherbourne Health Centre, LGBT Youthline, The 519, and the Toronto District School Board’s Gender Based Violence Prevention Office that aims to create a stronger support system for LGBTQ youth in Toronto. We’re grateful to the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada for their financial contribution to this program.

The LGBTQ Youth Initiative has been made possible through the financial support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The Ontario Trillium Foundation is an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Love Rupaul’s Drag Race? Fridays @ Glad Day Bookshop!
In this 4-week group, LGBTQ+ newcomers will learn about trauma and its impact, relaxation and stress management techniques and much more.

When: Sundays, 1:00 – 3:30 pm, February 24 – March 17, 2019
Where: The 519 [519 Church St]

Participation Criteria:
• LGBTQ+ newcomers over the age of 16 (including refugee claimants, convention refugees, permanent residents, live-in caregivers, international students, and folks with work visas).
• Have experienced sexual violence/abuse/trauma in their life.
• Commitment to attend all 4 sessions.

Register by February 10, 2019:
To register, visit bit.ly/copingtogether
For more information, email RNozari@The519.org

TTC tokens and snacks will be provided to participants, and they will be awarded a $50 gift-card for completion.

On a bear hunt? Friday @ The Lodge 9PM
Tiki Disco!

Every Saturday – TIKI DISCO – Saturday Nights after Dinner @ Miss Thing’s! 
Saturday Nights after dinner in the Coconut Room! Special Guest DJ’s to make you MOVE! No Cover before Midnight Miss Thing’s & Wrongbar same location a Pan Asian restaurant, cocktail bar and huge dance space 1279 Queen St W Queer West Village, Toronto ON at Brock Parkdale.416.516.8677 http://www.missthings.com/ Miss Thing’s is our new restaurant in the front, while Wrongbar remains in the rear. It’s much better than it used to be. Much more interesting of a space with spots for conversation and smaller intimate hang outs. 10 PM

Started back in 1993, Crag Crux Climbers is a club for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-gendered people and their friends.
Our mission is to promote climbing in the LGBT community in an inclusive, fun, and social environment. We do so by organizing climbing nights at local gyms, outdoor climbing trips, social events, beginners nights, and through outreach into the larger LGBT and climbing communities. 

Every Tuesday – Crag Crux Climbers @ Joe Rockheads. Providing queer fun, rock-climbing with 22,000 square of indoor walls. Meets every Tuesday 7:30 pm at Joe Rockhead’s at 29 Fraser Avenue (south of King just east of Dufferin). The group also meets outdoors at Milton area, the Collingwood area, and at Lion’s Head on the Bruce Peninsula. At Easter and Thanksgiving, there’s generally a trip down to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. All levels welcome; all you need to know is how to belay using a gri-gri and how to tie a figure-eight knot. No club fees: see www.joerockheads.com for gym fees. Queer West Village, Toronto ON

Toronto Rainbowlers!

Every Wednesday in the Summer – Toronto LGBT Lawn Bowling @Cosburn Park Lawn Bowling Club. Looking for a fun way to spend your Wednesday evenings this summer? Try lawn bowling, in Toronto’s LGBT-friendly lawn bowling league, one of only a few of its kind in the world! The Rainbowlers Club will have coaches on hand to teach the game, you’ll get to play, and, if you like, you can even register for the entire year for the low price of $100! Can’t come to the open house, but interested in playing? Toronto Rainbowlers 525 Cosburn Avenue, Toronto, CA http://torontorainbowlers.ca/

Every Thursday – Perfectly Queer Scope Radio a division of Ryerson University Radio, A collection of amazing music, old and new, by members of the LGBTQ community! Hosted by Daryl Nicholas. Plays every Thursday 8-9 EST, and replays 8-9 EST on Saturdays. You can also listen to on your smart phone via the App TuneIn or You can listen to it on the internet.http://www.thescopeatryerson.ca/

Mark Tara’s Rainbow Country CIUT 89.5 FM every Wednesday from Midnight to 1 am. a show that offers a blend of music & interviews giving voice to the LGBT community.! rainbowcountry@ciut.fm or visit /www.ciut.fm/shows-2/spoken-word/rainbow-country/

Inviting trans people of colour to cook with us, share a meal, and talk about sexual health in an affirming environment.

Drop-in Program – Winter Schedule
January 8 to April 30, 2019
Every Tuesday
2 – 5pm

No registration required.
All cooking tools and ingredients will be provided.

The Trans People of Colour Project
The objective of the project is to increase employability, provide opportunities for TPOC to take up community leadership, and to develop a cookbook around safer sex and healthy eating.

For more information, contact Yasmeen:

Let’s get beamed up!

Every Friday – Beam Me Up! Disco @ Piston. 10 PM Beam Me Up Discohttps://soundcloud.com/beammeupdisco jam that celebrates the underrated and the obscure of funk, jazz, soul, boogie, rare groove, reggae, gospel & proto-house! It’s an evening of tuneful transcendence in the best sounding bar in town, supplied by residents the DJs Patchouli Brothers https://soundcloud.com/thepatchoulibrothers(f.k.a. A Digital Needle) & DJ Cyclist (Mark in Toronto) https://soundcloud.com/cyclist who go back to back all night! The Piston, 937 Bloor St. W. (West of Ossington Beside the Long & McQuade) Close to the Ossington Subway Station, Queer West Village, Toronto ON 416 532 3989 http://thepiston.ca/

The phenomenal Dainty Smith & Ravyn Wings return to The 519 with Body Love. Designed to empower Queer and Trans exercise, performance development and increase performance opportunities, Body Love is a series of movement workshops that begin with self-love meditation exercise then move into movement and choreographic mentorship. The group focuses on the love of our bodies – all shapes, sizes and abilities. The program is centered around empowering community choices and encouraging a deep sense of self and confidence.

To register or for more information please contact Cressida CFrey@The519.org