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.

Queerism

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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This weekend in Ottawa

No complaining that there’s nothing to do in this town. Here are just a few queer things happening in the next few days in Ottawa. We probably missed something, so leave a comment if you know of anything else happening nearby.

And this is a long weekend, too!

Tonight – Thursday, March 28

380 Elgin Street
10:30 pm: The Flamingo Reunion. The Flamongo Club will be re-opening at its original venue for one night only. Ashley Gauthier, DJ BUGO, Chris Murray, Markida Brown, KAPRI, Fritz Gerald perform. $5 at the door.

Friday, March 29

The Lookout bar&bistro, 41 York Street
9:00pm: The Capital Kings present: Rock’n’Gore. Miles Zinya, Jak Ammer, Max Power, Jake Bastard and Johnny B Gud perform. Doors open 8:00.

Saturday, March 30

Jack Purcell Community Centre
10:00 am: Women’s Badminton. $5 drop-in fee.

Bar Beaujolais, 839 St-Louis, Gatineau QC
9:30 pm: Ladies Rendez-Vous at Bar Beaujolais. DJ Josee and gogo dancers. $15 at the door, $10 advance at Venus Envy.

Wednesday March 3, 7:30pm

Burgers on Main, 343 Somerset West (2nd Floor)
Seniors night out. Bi-weekly event for 50+ LGBT and their allies. Free.

Keep checking in: there will be new posts every week!

Bitch and proud!

As a woman (or womon, if you prefer—personally I like riot grrl) I have made myself a personal goal to reclaim the word ‘bitch’ and make it something positive. Does that make you uncomfortable? Good. That’s a place to start.

We can do it!

Part of image “Rosie the Riveter” by J.Howard Miller

Us queer folk are well versed in the art of reclaiming words. It comes with the territory.

Members of minority groups inevitably get labeled. Whatever the linguistic origin of those words, they are designed to hurt. Labels are made to put an oppressed group in their place and lay bare their differences as a negative. Take the word ‘queer.’

The word itself originated from the Old High German word ‘twerh’ meaning oblique. The word itself is an adjective and means odd or off-centre. It was first recorded as an adjective to describe gay men in 1922. As men who are odd and off-centre, I suppose.

In the 1980s the gay community decided to reclaim the word. It was impossible to ignore the fact that ‘queer’ was being used as a weapon by homophobes. So instead of ignoring it we tamed it. We removed the sting and made it harmless. Something to be proud of, even.

In most of North America today, ‘queer’ is simply used as a term to encompass all members of our community: gay, lesbian, trans, bi, or any other descriptive word s/he’d like to use. Hence the name of this blog.

Today queer can still be used in the context of an insult, but it’s a weak one and we don’t give much credence to it. The few who still use ‘queer’ in a derogatory context are backward and bigoted. Today, if someone calls me queer, I can look at them square in the face and say, “Yeah, I am. What’s your point?”

Now let’s take a look at ‘bitch.’ The word’s dictionary definition is “a female dog.” This was always the case, even in its Old English form. I can’t imagine why this would ever be considered an insult. I live with two female dogs. They are kind, intelligent and full of personality. When they play with male dogs, they are not lessor beings. In fact they often take the lead.

I would be proud to be grouped among them. More so than some members of my own species.

Still, ‘bitch’ has a long and sordid history. It’s been used to describe women in the lowest and meanest ways possible for about 600 years, to denote women as ugly, mean or hysterical.

To this day, ‘bitch’ is used to dismiss women with important things to say and do. It’s certainly not uncommon for powerful, intelligent women, especially those in business or politics, to be dismissed by a rival as a bitch.

Some women have already been reclaiming bitch, and wear the badge proudly. There are multiple pop-culture examples, from bumper stickers to online memes discussing how awesome it is to be a bitch. In 1996 the feminist quarterly entitled Bitch published its first issue. The publication is still experiencing success.

Others feel uncomfortable with the idea of reclaiming ‘bitch.’ It has been used for so long to subjugate and victimize women who are strong and outspoken. Just like ‘queer,’ it can be hard to feel comfortable and come to terms with the word—all the more reason to embrace it.

Women, trans and cis, make up more than half the human population and yet we can find daily examples of subjugation and abuse. We need as much empowerment as we can get, and language is one of our strongest tools. Language evolves.

Just like ‘queer,’ it’s impossible to avoid hearing ‘bitch’ in a negative context, so we have to change it.

So here’s to all the bitches and their supporters. Next time someone calls you or someone you love a bitch, look them in the eye and tell them, “and proud.”

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Parliament passes Randall Garrison’s Transgender anti-discrimination bill

Good news out of Parliament this evening.

Randall Garrison, MP for the Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca riding in British Columbia, sponsored private member’s bill C-279. The bill amends the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Criminal Code to include ‘gender identity and gender expression’ as part of the long list of illegal discrimination in Canada.

According to the Globe and Mail, the vote passed by quite a narrow margin: 149-137, which included a yes vote from 16 Conservatives. Prime Minister Harper and most of the Tories voted no to the bill, with varying expressions of reservation and objection. One positive of this bill is that it removes the need for Transgendered individuals to fight discrimination on the grounds of sex or disability. Neither of category fits the description for Trans discrimination.

This is fresh news, and I expect to see a lot of debate in the media about the bill. I think it is safe to say that all of us at PTS are very happy the bill passed and look forward to the positive changes that will occur for Trans Rights.

This Week in Queer Web Content // March 21, 2013

Image by DeviantArtist InkySnowFox

Image by DeviantArtist InkySnowFox

QWOC Media celebrates ten awesome bisexual women of colour.

A Trekkie writes about why J.J. Abrams should include a gay character in Star Trek.

Virginia only just struck down its anti-sodomy law.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has declared that requiring trans people to undergo surgery in order to get their gender legally recognized constitutes torture.

A Republican Senator changed his mind about marriage equality in response to his son coming out as gay.

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association produces maps that track gay rights and state-sponsored homophobia around the world.

Arizona lawmakers have introduced a bill that could see trans people prosecuted for using the washroom of their choice.

The Kangjiashimenji Petroglyphs are carvings in a massive red-basalt outcropping in the remote Xinjiang region of northwest China. The artwork includes the earliest depictions of copulation in the world, and features some diverse expressions of sexuality and gender.

A statistical analysis of support for gay rights in the United States reveals some interesting demographic trends.

Many prominent women’s colleges bar trans women from being considered for admission, despite having little justification for doing so.

Shockingly, the new Pope is not big on gay rights. We are all very surprised. He does, however have a history of endorsing same-sex civil unions, but not marriage  — making him the first Pope to demonstrate any willingness to discuss or compromise on the issue.

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, unreservedly endorses marriage equality.

Companies in Bangalore are including more gender options on their recruitment forms, adding “Other” and “Not Specified” into the selection.

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:

 

PTS

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 communications@ptsottawa.org

This week in queer web content // March 12, 2013

Jarrah Hodge analyzes the Government of Quebec’s anti-homophobia ad campaign.

For the first time in her 61-year reign, the Queen of England has expressed soft support for gender equality and gay rights.

A recent study shows that the children of gay couples are thriving.

A woman reflects on growing up gay and atheist in an evangelical community.

An update on the emerging frequency of gender-neutral bathrooms on Canadian university campuses.

Notch discusses the genderless world of Minecraft, and why people assume the default genderless avatar is male.

Tokyo Disney hosted its first gay wedding. Mickey and Minnie were on hand to celebrate, but the government of Japan does not recognize same-sex unions.

[Content note: the article contains excerpts from homophobic entertainment reviews from the 1940s.] Harlem’s iconic Ubangi jazz club — once famous as an anti-segregationist venue, and the home of butch sensation Gladys Bentley and her chorus of gay men —  is being demolished to make room for a new apartment building.

Folks around the web have mixed feelings about the straight student who proposed to his girlfriend during his drag performance in Arkansas, where gay couples cannot yet legally marry.

[Content note: suicide] In a tragic interplay between issues of civil rights, immigration and unemployment, a multi-national gay couple struggled to stay together despite their Canadian marriage not being recognized in France or the United States. After unemployment and the resulting lack of a work visa threatened once again to separate them, both men ended up taking their own lives.

This Week in Queer Web Content // March 4, 2013

A man is in custody after Mississippi’s first openly gay mayoral candidate was found murdered and his body dumped alongside a river.

The Canadian International Development Agency has come under fire for funding a religious group to do development work in Uganda — where the interference of North American evangelists has contributed to fostering homophobic sentiment and legislation — despite the fact that the group is publicly opposed to homosexuality. And as it turns out, this is not an uncommon scenario.

Massachusetts high schools are implementing rules to respect the rights of trans students.

Exciting new developments in the story of Batwoman, who was the first lesbian superhero to headline her own mainstream comic book series.

An Emerson College fraternity has raised more than $16000 to help one of their members pay for his top surgery, which highlights the hurdles facing trans people trying to access medical care.

A queer man muses on issues of consent in behaviour between friends.

The New York subway system has experienced a rash of incidents in which anti-gay evangelical preachers lecture crowds of commuters trapped on board. One gay man, though, had clearly had enough.

30th Anniversary Community Consultations

rainbow_flag

EVOLVING WITH OUR COMMUNITY


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 programs@ptsottawa.org or by completing our online survey: http://fluidsurveys.com/surveys/pts-ottawa/strategic-planning-process-priorities-1-2-3/

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

STRATEGIC PLANNING CONSULTATION SCHEDULE

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

BYLAW CONSULTATION SCHEDULE

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

This Week in Queer Web Content // Feb 5, 2013

This Week in Queer Web Content is a roundup of blog posts, articles, and news items that caught our eyes and may be of interest to the rest of the PTS community. If you have anything that you think I should read, please don’t hesitate to share in the comments!

  • Queer Inquiries is a neat new podcast that covers topics such as discovering queerness, coming out, queer sex, masturbation, and the impact of TV and film on our understanding of ourselves.