Category Archives: PTS

It’s been a year since blog editor Riley Evans posted this glossary of queer terms. For anyone who hasn’t already read it, it’s definitely worth a review.


What’s up, Queer Ottawa?

Naming is a creative endeavour, and often the best names come from the blending of multiple concepts into a cohesive whole. However, the exact mental process is something that only the namer themselves knows. So, something I’ve had a lot of questions about regarding the blog is the title. Namely, how did Queerism come about as a name, and what exactly does it mean? Well, I’ve finally gotten my act together for long enough to answer that question.

Queerism was honestly not my idea or my first choice. I sat down with PTS’s executive director, Claudia Van Den Heuvel, and the executive assistant, Kayla Miller, in Claudia’s office to discuss the name of the project. We ended up throwing our four best options on a piece of paper and conducting a mini focus group. Claudia’s name of choice, Queerism, was unanimously preferred. I blame it on the fact that…

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Looking for people with something to say!

Let’s get the colour back into Queerism! This awesome blog should be the voice of Ottawa’s queer community, but it’s been perishing lately, and we’re putting a stop to that. So here’s the callout. If you can write, take photos, do video, draw, or anything else, really, we want you!

Not a great writer? No worries, nothing goes live until it’s edited. You’ll look like a pro!

Here are some types of submissions we’re looking for:



If you spend a lot of time in the centre and can write about what is happening, how things work, even the groups or workshop you attend for facilitate, we want to hear from you.


Queer News & Issues

If you’re a budding journalist with a nose for hard news and a head for the issues, send us stories about queer life in our world. The challenges, the successes, even the movie reviews. This is a news section, but opinions are welcome in…


Critically Queer

If you’ve got opinions, this is for you. We’re looking for columnists. So if there’s something you’ve got to say that won’t fit in one blog post, or if you’re an expert on a complex subject, give this a try: choose a column subject or general idea and contribute different opinion pieces on the subject.

Of course, if you just have to get something off your chest and don’t want to be a regular contributor, we still want to hear from you. Write one piece and we won’t hound you for more.


Art & Expression

Calling all artists! If you’re a painter, poet, creative writer, photographer, cinematographers, sculptors (the list goes on and I apologize for skimming over your craft) submit your work in whatever form the internet will allow and we’ll feature it in this section. Show the world how creative we are!


Out on the town

This is for the people who go to every event in Ottawa. Or the people who stay at home and wish they didn’t. Ideally we’ll cover every queer and queer-friendly event that happens in and around the city of Ottawa. We’re looking for a summary of what happened and some photos and video if you’ve got the means.

We’ll also post a list of upcoming events for you to choose from, but if you’re in the know and we’re not, tell us!

Interested? Send an e-mail to

30th Anniversary Community Consultations



In 1984, Pink Triangle Services (PTS) opened its doors as the first GLBT charity in Canada. Since then, rights have been won for some but not for all, discrimination towards youth continues in high schools, and many of our community members need support during the early stages of transition and coming out. These are but a few reasons why a queer-centric community centre remains as important an institution today as it was in its founding.

“PTS is the only organization in Ottawa of, by and for Queer people” says Denise Freedman, President of the Board of Directors. “As we move into our 30th anniversary, I am so proud to be part of an organization that honours its past while understanding the need to respond to the evolution of our community”.

Leading up to the 30th anniversary in 2014, PTS will be engaging the community through a series of focus groups to inform their upcoming strategic plan.

“We have identified a number of groups to help guide us in our strategic planning decisions” says Kris Bitterman, Chair of the PTS Strategic Plan Committee. “The voice of our more silent community members is also very important to us. For that reason participation will be available online through a comprehensive questionnaire.”

As the organization continues to transition from a management board to one that governs the association through policy — one of the organizations stated strategic goals — we identified the need for a formal review of our bylaws.

“Change can be difficult and we want to put the community at ease as much as possible during this transition” says Donald McGibbon, Treasurer and Chair of the PTS Bylaw Committee. “For that reason, we will have our proposed bylaws reviewed by one of Canada’s most established law firms — Fasken Martineau. Our next step is to present the proposed bylaws to members of the community for discussion and input”.

This year also marks the end of the previous three year strategic plan period, one that saw an introduction of new and essential programs like queer-centric counselling, education programming and expanded support and discussion groups. The final piece of the three-year transformation of the organization was achieved in September of 2012, when the organization moved into a larger and brighter space at 331 Cooper Street.

If you would like to be involved in the upcoming community consultations, please register by contacting Kayla at or by completing our online survey:

**Please note: due to limited space only those who RSVP may attend**


Stakeholder Group Meeting Time and Location
Volunteers: Monday, March 11, 6-9pm @ PTS
Members: Friday, March 15, 6-9pm @ PTS
Donors: Monday, March 18, 6-9pm @ PTS
Community Partners I: Thursday, March 21, 6-9pm @ PTS
Service Users I: Friday, March 22, 6-9pm @ PTS
Community Partners II: Thursday, March 28, 6-9pm @ PTS
Services Users II: Friday, March 29, 6-9pm @ PTS


Stakeholder Group Meeting Time and Location
Thursday, April 11, 6-9pm @ PTS
Tuesday, April 23, 6-9pm @ PTS

Queerism Presents: the AGM Report

The Annual General Meeting for the PTS membership took place on November 29th, and we here at Queerism thought it would only be prudent for us to attend the AGM and summarize the happenings for those of you who couldn’t.

The meeting happened at The Church of St John the Evangelist. Now, for those of you who are wondering if anyone was struck by lightning during the meeting, it should be noted that the good folks over at St John’s have a long history of acceptance and service towards queer communities, as well as survivors of violence and members of the HIV/AIDS positive community. We here at Queerism would like to extend our thanks to St John’s for giving PTS the space to host our AGM.

Now, down to business.

The meeting was called to order at 6:34 pm. The attention of the room was gathered by Bob Walsh, to whom the President had delegated the roll of Chair. Sitting to his right, looking all business, was my lovely boss, PTS Executive Director Claudia Van Den Heuvel (or as I call her in my emails, “All-Powerful Overlord Whom I Live Only To Serve”) They sat behind a table at the from of the room, facing the members in attendance.

The meeting was held in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order (edition unknown). This means the first few items of business were to rubber stamp the day’s agenda and the minutes of the previous AGM. Both of these happened without a word of dissent.

First on the list of things that actually mattered was the President’s Report. President of the Board of Directors Jessica Freedman ran quickly through her report. So quickly that the media in the room (myself included) had trouble keeping up with her. What we did manage to make note of was that PTS had made significant progress on its Strategic Plan in 2011. Jessica noted that the organization had taken large steps in:

  • Establishing PTS as a leading centre for queer resources
  • Increasing outreach and improving their online presence (the website no longer sucks)
  • Increasing volunteer engagement and retention (hey, I’m still here)
  • Improving the quality of space and programs, much of which was facilitated by moving from that rat hole on Bank Street into the lovely new Cooper Street location.

Next up were the resolutions. There was a two-fold bylaw amendment on the table, which by consensus was divided into two motions to be dealt with separately. The first motion was to modify section 5c to say that all members of the Board of Directors (BOD) must be members in good standing. At the start of questions/debate, President Freedman commented that the board of directors were very distant from the programs and activities of the Association, and hopes that the amendment changes this, although it is not explicitly worded. The sentiment was echoed by QPOC-IT Facilitator Ben Diaz. This lead to questions to clarify exactly what a member in “good standing” was. The Chair explained that his interpretation was that they simply had to be a member of the Association and pay their membership fees on time. This did nothing to quell that chatter about the disconnect between the BOD and PTS programming. There was talk of an amendment to set some minimal requirements for BOD interaction with discussion facilitators. However, Claudia stepped in and explained that the Strategic Plan was already going to engage this problem. It was eventually decided that such things were better dealt with outside the bylaws.

The resolution passed unamended.

Second on the motion was an amendment to section 7. The motion was to have it set out that members of the Board of Directors shall be elected to a two year term at the AGM rather than a one year term. The director shall continue to serve until their replacement is duly elected and qualified. The  retiring director shall be eligible to reapply if they are qualified. The intent of this was to bring out a staggering of board election, so that every year only half the board goes up for election. This prevents the possibility that 12 new directors get elected at the same time, leaving nobody with the first fucking clue of what they should be doing. However, the change didn’t actually say that, so a member moved to amend the motion to be more specific, now reading that at each AGM, HALF the board will be elected to two year terms. There were questions about how to initiate the staggering, to which someone suggested that next year, members be elected to a combination of one and two year terms. There were also questions about mechanisms to record term ends, but we basically said we’d figure that shit out later.

The amendment passed, and so did the amended motion. In one of those tricky redundancies of Robert’s Rules, members basically had to vote on the same thing twice.

After resolutions came the Treasurer Report. The meeting got slightly more hilarious at this point, as PTS’s quirky and entertaining Treasurer Donald McGibbon took the floor to deliver the report. All in all, 2011 had been a very good financial year for the Corporation. There was lots of ongoing negotiation and fundraising, and Don made a point to thank everyone who had been involved. In short, a large donation from the Ontario Trillium Foundation had led to a large boost in total income. This was balanced out somewhat by the move to Cooper Street from the God-Awful-Hovel, as well as increases in staffing, but PTS was still left several thousand dollars in the black (that’s the good side). The motion to accept the report passed, as did the motion to appoint the new auditor, after a few silly and mildly unnecessary questions of procedure.

On to elections. Because the bylaws had only just been changed, the BOD elections this year were for one year terms. The bylaws also stated that no single gender identity could make up more than half (6) of the seats. The results were as follows.

There were only five applicants for the six seats allotted for women and gender non-conforming folks. As such, Wendy DeWolf, Jessica Freedman, Jeniffer Mackin, Aryn Zeibarth  and Chris Bitterman were all acclaimed and appointed to the board of directors on a one year term.

Eight men applied for the six seats available to their gender. However, only six of them actually came to the fucking meeting. While an election was still technically required to include the two who did not, justice was done, and Christian Hackbusch, Don McGibbon, Doug Saunders, Mike Jan, Patrick Juneau and Robert Crevier were chosen by the membership and appointed to one year terms. This exposed a startling correlation between showing up for your election and getting elected. I have resolved to set aside time to research this strange connection further in hopes of one day understanding it.

Then we moved on to elections for the executive positions. Of the four, three were acclaimed victories by their incumbents. Jessica Freedman was reelected as President, Don McGibbon re-uped at Treasurer, and Aryn Zeibarth will continue to serve as Secretary. The only election was at Vice President, where Doug Saunders narrowly won out over Christian Hackbusch.

Finally, we came to the Executive Director’s report. Claudia spoke to the assembled members briefly, noting the following:

  • Volunteer numbers have remained roughly the same (again, still here)
  • Clients have, however, increased
  • There has been discussion of adding additional benefits to the membership aside from just voting rights at the AGM. A proposition will likely come before the membership at the next AGM. I would fully support this, as it would mean that getting a membership would give me more than the opportunity to attend the AGM as a member, only to declare myself in conflict of interest as a journalist covering the event and thus end up not voting.

The Annual General Meeting adjourned at 8:36 pm, two hours and two minutes after starting. I stood up to a chorus of people talking about how long the meeting had been. I immediately started laughing, but only four other people in the room knew why.

That’s it for the report. Tune in next year, folks.

Well, actually, you should probably check the blog again before next year. We do other stuff sometimes.

Riley Evans: Head Writer/Editor of Queerism

Queerism: A Letter From the Editor

Hey there all you sexy queer folks,

I thought I’d take a moment to apologies for the recent lack of…well, content here at Queerism. I’m privileged enough to be a full time student, recently I’ve been a little overwhelmed by the workload that comes along with that, and being able to devote the time that the blog needs to function has been difficult to say the least. The fabulous volunteers and staff at PTS have enough on their plates without trying to find time to create content, and personally I’ve found it near impossible to sit down and formulate enough coherent thoughts to write something of any length myself.

All that being said, I believe the worst of my workload is behind me for the time being, and I’m ready to give more effort to Queerism. I’m working on some new ideas that will hopefully spur a more consistent content stream for the blog.

“One of these ideas is a new little feature called “Quickly Queer”. I’m putting a call out to the PTS community to be a little more on the concise side. Basically, I’m looking for a blurb for between 100-150 words that clearly expresses an idea or stance on an important issue. For instance, here is one that I posted in a recent Facebook status:Currently wondering why folks who talk about specifically gay issues use the initialization “LGBT” or other such forms. If you’re talking about gay issues, then come out and say it. Don’t masquerade under the banner of inclusiveness when you’re not really looking at issues that affect other queer or trans communities. Same goes for the other way. If you’re talking about problems that address more marginalized queer communities or trans communities, acknowledge that by using the appropriate language, be it “queer issues” or “trans issues” or what have you. Calling everything homophobia erases the experiences and nuances of different identities, and it homogenizes both the communities themselves and the problems that they face. We have to properly identify and understand these challenges before they can be addressed.”

It’s that simple. If you can fit it between 100 and 150 words, you could see your blurb on the blog. I’m not sure how the posting schedule will go yet, but something will materialize based on the response I get from you folks.

Please submit your blurbs to Make the subject line “Quickly Queer” and remember to include your preferred name or moniker, as well as your association with PTS.

I’m looking forward to seeing what you all have to offer.

–Riley Evans, Head Writer/Editor of Queerism

The PTS Library Still Loves You

Its been a whirlwind month for all the staff and volunteers at PTS. During the month of August, 251 Bank was enlivened by a flurry of packing tape, brown boxes and cursing. Organizing and crating our library collection was a particularly arduous task. Over the years we have accumulated over 6000 books dealing with LGBTQ+ life, thanks to our amazing donors (No brag. Just facts).

Was it worth the cramped and pulled muscles? In this lukewarm cultural climate, does the LGBTQ+ community need a library of their very own?

I personally believe that a queer library is crucial to fostering community for those who fall outside cis and straight norms.

Firstly, our LGBTQ+ library is a safe, judgement-free space where any LGBTQ+ person can visit and pick out a book. As a PTS librarian I promise I will not bat an eye at your book selection. Pick out whatever kinky, sexy, nerdy book you want and I will scan that bar code, no problem.

Secondly, as a wee queer, I remember trying to get my hands on a copy of “Annie on my Mind” and waiting forever to briefly inherit the dog-eared baby dyke classic. Though they have improved quite significantly, public libraries t really lack a variety of queer interest books. Compiling research on a queer topic can be virtually impossible, especially for a university paper that requires over ten peer-reviewed sources. At the PTS library, we have ensured that our vast collection is uncompromisingly LGBTQ+.

My second reason for believing in the PTS library is intensely personal. That’s right, gather round my queers comrades, it’s personal disclosure time.

I have always been what I’d call a voracious reader or “bibliophile”, if you will. My mom worked as a librarian during my formative years and provided me with all sorts of wonderful reading material. But, around fourteen years of age, I stopped reading. After going to my rural town library again and again I would come home empty handed and defeated. I would start books and, after a few pages, put them down- they couldn’t sustain my interest. The girl who sat in front of me in French class; however, definitely could.

The problem was and still is that most books are written to be consumed by a cis, heterosexual audience. In that period of my life, I was doing some serious questioning and I found this reliably heterosexual content to be completely alienating. Our straight and cis peers have a abundance of relatable materials to assist in their identity formation; but for queer readers, these heteronormative plots only serve to remind us of how we diverge from the mainstream.This time in my life is remembered with sadness- it was the first time that books, something I honestly thought I could rely on to sustain me, had let me down.

When I discovered the few LGBTQ+ selections offered by the rural Ontarian library, I found a fictitious yet crucial portrayal of queerness. I couldn’t entirely express, even to myself, how much these books resounded with me. However, the queer texts provided a foundation from which I built a towering queerness. Books gave me the tools to come to terms with and eventually accept a life which, before, I could barely conceive.

Furthermore, my mom observed the change in me, though I was unaware that I was exhibiting unusual behaviour. She actually used reading material in order to start a dialogue about my burgeoning queerness. She was trying, in her own way, to help me come to terms with what she had already begun to suspect as queerness.

Now that I’m a full-fledged queerling, I’m proud to be a librarian at PTS. To update y’all, we are currently involved in the exciting process of updating our system in order to improve our ability to serve you. And, we have A LOT of unpacking and re-shelving to do. Therefore, we will have to close the library for most of September. But watch for us when we are back! We’d love to have you in…we even have a comfy couch at the new, fancy 331 Cooper headqueer-ters, so you can read quietly, bask in all our combined queer glory and READ ALL THE LGBTQ+ BOOKS!

–Fern Burge: Queerism Blog Team

My time at PTS (a student placement story)

I joined PTS in June, as a co-op student after finishing classes at Everest College in the Addictions and Community Service Worker Program. I am training to be an Addictions Counsellor and I have a personal vested interest in this field of study. I want to give back to and make a change in the Queer Community of Ottawa by helping others take back control of their lives. I had left Ottawa to better my life, and I did. Though I wasn’t born in Ottawa, the city is my home and I want to make it a better place for the next generation of GLBTTQ people. So I came back here to do my education. I feel that this is the best way to say to all those people (that said I would never change, that I could never change) “Fuck you!” “I can, I have and not only will I continue to change, I will BE the change, I want to see in the world.” “I can, I will and I have made a difference, and I will continue to for as long as I am able”

I came to PTS knowing very little about the services they offered as I have been out in Ottawa for going on fifteen years, though I have known of PTS for quite some time. I was nervous at first, not knowing what really to expect. If someone had told me five years ago, that I would be working in an office, I would have told them they were crazy, but here I am. It has taken some getting used to and I am still working out the kinks and adjusting, but the team here are great people and with their help, I am fitting in pretty good.

One of the duties I was assigned is to develop a peer lead addictions group program that will be run for and by members of the Queer Community in Ottawa. I was very pleased when I was asked to do this. Wanting to give back to the community, I feel this is the best way I can leave a lasting impression. I hope that long after I leave Ottawa to help queer folks in other parts of the country, my work will live on.

One of the other duties I have is to be here for peer support for youth on Wednesday nights. It amazes me to see such a wonderful group of diverse young people coming together to support each other. When I was that age I thought I was the only gay person in the world. It’s a nice feeling when you know that younger people have more resources at hand and that there is more positive support for them then I did at that age and it’s also a nice feeling to know that I will have a hand in that, again leaving a lasting impression through the work I am doing here at PTS. So if you are a youth and need someone to talk to, I am here.  See you around.


Goodbye as Intermediate Coordinator (For now, but I will be back)

Alas, the time has come that we part ways….

I cannot even picture what my Wednesday evenings will be like now.

This group has been my saviour this year; helping me through a lot of tough decisions, and also created amazing friendships, working relationships, and allies/contacts for the future. I have gained so much experience from these youth and the organization as a whole.

Starting off as a Youth Educator for the Creating Safer Spaces was a great way to begin my work, introducing me to the Queer 101 and advocacy route of the organization, which was really the rock of it all. Jade was a greater leader for this program, and although she is leaving for bigger and better things, what her efforts and awesomeness has done for the organization will always remain. I hope to work with you in the near future again, Jade. You are a great role model for me and I would be ecstatic to be able to accomplish  half of what you have.

Kayla, you have been a great volunteer coordinator; you were always easy to talk to, approachable, and an awesome individual that made training and volunteering here a blast! Keep up the good work, because you have done so much. The gala was phenomenal, and happy that it was my first (and definitely not last).

After taking an absence from the Creating Safer Spaces project, I started facilitating PTY as a Junior Coordinator and eventually became an Intermediate Coordinator. I was still new to queer spaces and leadership roles within youth gatherings, but Jessie, Alex, Kiel, Kevin, and Precious made me feel very welcomed and I adjusted. I felt so welcomed by them and happy to be considered a facilitator for their group, and included in their group of friends. PTY was the hugest learning experience for me; learning about a vast collection of queer issues, leadership skills, and facilitation skills. As I researched and taught these youth, I was learning and expanding my educational horizons to non-heteronormative concepts and debates. I personally took great interests in trans research, and will continue to research about trans identities and gender throughout my university career and life in general.

PTS remains and will remain an excellent organization because of the remarkable Executive Director, Claudia. We developed an amazing relationship on the work-level and personal level. I learned a lot from you directly, and we shared a lot of similarities. As we both have an educational background in Sexuality Studies, we have a common understanding of privilege, language, and heteronormativity. You are my mother hen that accepted me for who I was throughout my work at PTS. Most of all, I will miss our chats in your office as we bitched about life and being queer. I also look up to you very much and hope someday to work with you in a closer respect.

I owe a huge thank you to Ben Diaz, for without him I would not have gotten involved at PTS. I was really hoping to continue working with you in QPOC-IT, but my school schedule does not allow it. You really have great charisma that demands attention and holds interest in the groups you facilitate; you have been a great senior coordinator to work with.

I don’t know what my Wednesday evenings will be like, and what I consume myself with, but I know that it will be hard to cope with this gap. PTS and PTY have consumed a huge part of my heart and I grew in many ways and respect and love the organization.

I thank you all again for this amazing opportunity. This year was a great one thanks to PTS and those in the organization that helped me grow. I will be coming back to visit often, and will come help out with PTY when I am finished school, if I am still in Ottawa (I may be going to YorkU to continue into Social Work).

Best regards,

Feras Ridha

PTS Workshops

PTS provides many educational workshops for schools, community groups, service providers and corporations. With our history of experience with sexual and gender diversity for over twenty-five years we provide a number of different workshops on a variety of queer topics. We are always open to doing specialty workshops however our current list includes:

Special Presentations

PTS is also open to giving special presentations on Queer issues. If you can think of it we could probably do it just give us a shout about what you are looking for.

Creating Safer Spaces

Creating Safer Workspaces

This workshop will discuss the issues of GLBT and queer inclusiveness. We will discuss how to make your organization welcoming to queer people, especially queer youth through the use of language and, safer space campaigns. The purpose is to dispel myths of queer people and discuss the real world challenges of making your organization an inclusive space for clients and staff.

Facing Bullying

This workshop designed for educators teaches educators about the realities of homophobic and transphobic bullying in their schools. It discusses how to identify queerphobia, address it and in future help prevent it. The goal is to empower educators to feel comfortable addressing queerphobic bullying in order to make their schools safer for rainbow youth. The goal is to make schools a safer space as well as ideally an inclusive space for all youth.

Making it Better

This workshop addresses how youth can address queerphobia in their schools. It will go into concrete ways to react when one experiences or sees another experiencing queerphobia. It also discusses initiatives and campaigns that can be put into place in one’s school.



At this workshop, we’ll be discussing the terminology in the world of transsexual and transgender identities and experiences through two approaches.  1:  we’ll show the difference between sex and gender and the many misconceptions of these terms through various interactive approaches such as: story-telling, group work and games; 2: we’ll be discussing how trans people navigate through medical and social services and how clarity of terminology can improve quality of services.

Throughout, there will be open dialogue from transsexual and transgender men and women on their experiences in life, the challenges they face and how they celebrate these

Queer Women’s Health & Sexuality

Mental Health and Queer Women

This workshop takes a look at mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse found in the queer community.  We examine statistics and try to decipher the reason behind them.  In addition to this, we will discuss ways to cope with such disorders.

Physical Health and Queer Women

This workshop will examine the physical health issues that women in the LBTTQ community face as well as the challenges of the lack of knowledge of medical professionals about sexual orientation and how to treat patients of sexual minority groups, and the importance of support systems.

Other Workshops

Poly & Relationship Styles

Ever wanted to understand how someone can love multiple people without cheating? Come check out the wild world of polyamory and other forms of relationship styles where people will have one, none or multiple romantic and/or sexual partners in a consensual manner. Its all about love baby and lots of it and, a little bit about sex too.


Patriarchy, misogyny, fascism, xenophobia, phalocentricity, heteronormativity… all super awesome words right? [And all super long]. But, seriously, what do all these concepts actually mean? How do they relate to each other and contribute to our oppression? Come discuss the perceived privileges of being a hetero, living in a hetero world – H E T E R O – O – O

To book a workshop email  HYPERLINK “” or call 613.563.4818.