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Post-Mos and the Dangers of Privilege

Sigh, here we go again. Without interruption, every few years another article comes out that bemoans the crumbling state of the Village and posits a vague alternative for the new queer lifestyle defined merely as not-Village. (In a way, the debate over queer identity isn’t so unlike the struggle Canadians face when defining themselves—primarily as not-Americans.) This time around, The Grid has “Dawn of a New Gay,” a piece by Paul Aguirre-Livingston that chronicles the life of the “post-mo,” a variant strain of gay male who is no longer shackled by the oppression of previous generations of queers and free to live as he pleases in Toronto.

Aguirre-Livingston suggests that post-mos find old queer norms irrelevant, having been raised on a diet of “you go, girl” power, equalized by social progress such as the legalization of same-sex marriage, and unrestrained by the freedom of information—and cruising potential—found on the internet. Certainly, there’s no argument that being accepted as queer in more places than the Village is good news—in fact, it’s even better news that queers feel comfortable enough to accept themselves across Toronto—but it’s troublesome to see that Aguirre-Livingston throws the baby out with the bathwater, by rejecting the Village wholesale .
Yes, there are valid criticisms to be made for the Church-Wellesley neighbourhood: the area often feels like a queer take on the Entertainment District with ridiculous pressures to dress and act a certain way. However, the area remains a vital heart of the queer community. For example, the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives—one of the largest collections of queer materials in the world—sits on Isabella Street, filled with decades of history. While the Village may not be the right place for an established urbanite like Aguirre-Livingston, it offers a safe and welcoming space for other, less privileged members of the queer community.
The outstanding 519 Community Centre acts as a second home for transgendered men and women, the young, and the newly out. Helen Rykens, the office manager at the 519, recalled to me stories of newcomers from other countries who have been to afraid to even utter the word “gay” before arriving. And let’s not fool ourselves that only people from abroad feel closeted and oppressed. We only need to look at Northern Ontario, where work is being done by organizations like LGBT Youthline, spreading outreach and support, to realize we’re in a lucky position in Toronto.
I look to how Toronto has multiple Chinatowns and that there isn’t a sense of turf wars between them. Berlin has half-a-dozen areas that cater to specific segments of the queer population. How young is Toronto when it can’t handle two queer-friendly neighbourhoods? It’s a perpetual mystery why, to some, progress in the queer community has to be coupled with a disdain for the past. While there can be some benefit to critiquing past norms—the drag queens, the camp, the bathhouses—and the rejection is a fair personal choice, the post-mo attitude smacks of “otherness” creation that whiffs of homo- and transphobia. Aguirre-Livingston is a friend and I am not suggesting that he is either homophobic or transphobic. His description of post-mos who fetishize heteronormative definitions of gender, however, certainly raises eyebrows.

The corner of Church and Wellesley. Photo by Alan Bell from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

Part of the difficulty is the nature of the queer community: it is a large umbrella that encapsulates many people who do not necessarily have anything in common, except for a societal hostility toward their sexuality. But, which demographic does Aguirre-Livingston’s piece speak to? It’s telling that there are no women interviewed in the piece, nor are there any transgendered men or women. In addition, the ethnic make-up of those surveyed is fairly homogeneous , rendering people of colour invisible. Maybe having grown up on fare like Will & Grace—a show that rarely had lesbians or people of colour, and, without a doubt, had few transgendered people—what looks like progress, what looks like post-dom, is really an illusion. It’s not that the queer community has launched ahead so much as the marginalized within the minority have fallen behind. It’s a shame, because the diversity of the community can and should be its greatest strength.
At the heart of the piece is the concept of identity. The rejection of past identities for marginalized groups isn’t new, and sadly the post-mos fit the bill. Sexuality, instead of complementing one’s identity, is reduced to being as unsubstantial as eye colour. In an ideal world, it would be great to not have sexuality be an issue, but here it feels like a case for exclusion. While members of the queer community still understand how sexual politics are woven into broader human rights, the post-mos can now justify not paying attention. Yet, in a funny way, post-mos give more weight to sex than they expect: if sexual identity wasn’t important, then why would post-mos base their newfound identity on running so far away from it?
In a bid for redefinition, sometimes one needs to detach from the foundation. However, there’s a coldness to the post-mo that is alarming. Sure, the post-mos didn’t have to watch their friends die left and right from HIV/AIDS (something Aguirre-Livingston acknowledges), but how can they seem unaffected by the stigma that still surrounds HIV status? Nothing prepared me for the heartbreaking stories I heard while at a fundraiser for people living with HIV/AIDS, when men and women told their stories of feeling outcast and, sometimes, suicidal. One man finally came out as HIV-positive after almost a decade of keeping it secret, and it was difficult to not be moved by his triumph.
The example lends credence to the idea that, while post-mos can detach from the cultural markers that defined previous generations of queers, what’s missing is a sense of the engagement with current issues. The fight for rights at home includes supporting transgendered people who still do not have full equal human rights in Canada. It means forcefully chiding a publicly funded Catholic school board that bans gay-straight alliances and recently reached new levels of stupidity with a ban on rainbows. Internationally, queer people are being persecuted and executed. In the hundreds of words describing the post-mos, it would’ve been nice to see a few that acknowledged the struggles of others. Instead, we hear about their bland worries concerning the dangers of privilege.
Aguirre-Livingston closes by noting that he didn’t fight “the good fight” and acknowledges post-mos are a lucky bunch. In a weird way, the post-mo perspective is a side effect of the progressive movement: fighting for the right to be equal means allowing people to live as they please. Yet, with an increasingly conservative (both little- and big-C) government washing over the country, what will these post-mos do when the going gets tough? Liberation for post-mos sounds suspiciously like sitting on one’s laurels.


  • isyouhappy

    The best pre-Pride article. Keep up the great work.

  • rich1299

    An excellent and insightful article. Let us not forget that even here in gay old Toronto young LGBT folks are still being exposed to the same toxic anti-LGBT ideology from various cultures and religions and are still suffering from the effects of homophobia. The only difference between Toronto and a small northern town is that here LGBT people have an option to get away from the toxic anti-gay environments even if only for a few hours while those LGBT folk in small northern towns have little to no options. The struggle for acceptance of varying sexualities still isn't over even if gays and lesbians have achieved full legal equality, trans folks are still fighting for that let us not forget, in terms of social equality we still have a long way to go. Just look at the various racial communities who achieved full legal equality a long time before gays and lesbians did and how they're still facing the problems of racism. I suspect homo/transphobia will be around for a very long time yet regardless of what the post-mos think.

  • David Demchuk

    It seems like there's always been a clutch of twenty-somethings declaring themselves post-gay at any point in any given decade. And I'm old enough to vaguely recall any number of attempts to create alternatives to the Church/Wellesley scene: Cabbagetown had several bars & restos in the mid-80s (and then a dyke alternative in the 90s, and now another revival is occuring); an Annex/Harbord cluster in the 90s-ish; and of course Vazaleen floating about at the turn of the century. Which is to say, none of this is new, and (severe disappointments over lack of diversity aside–and I do mean severe), all is probably as it should be.

  • butterfly99

    I am  disgusted with the blatant homophobia displayed at City Hall. Rob Ford and his team demonized the whole community based on a complaint from a Jewish group who hold a belief  that all gays are Nazis.
    They used that to take away the civil rights, the right to assemble, of a group determined not to be  in violation of hate speech.
    They threatened PT with the same denial of civil rights if PT  did not uphold Ford and his teams demand that they deny entry to any part of the event, even if they are not aware they are there. 
    Ford and his team have left it open to say they saw members of QUAIA at some point in the event, They do not even need evidence, all he needs to do is get his team to vote against PT.

  • Robert Stemmler

    Aguirre-Livingston's article seems kind of embarrassing to me, mostly because it's exactly the kind of attitude I had 25 years ago when I was in my early 20s. We didn't call it post-mo, obviously, but there was the same detachment from the gay community that came before mine.

    Stonewall seemed like ancient history to us, too. AIDS was a disease that affected us, but by the beginning of the 90s, a lot of the militancy surrounding it was giving way to a more relaxed activism. Our music wasn't the disco of our elders, we were informed by Torch Song Trilogy instead of Boys in the Band and when I hung out with my friends it was at a mixed club rather than at a gay bar. In fact, there wasn't a single facet of the post-mos that we didn't do a quarter-century ago. Even their claim to being “digital natives” is unoriginal; in 1991 I was chatting up guys on computer bulletin boards (does he really think computers were invented at the same time Will and Grace premiered on TV?) 

    And that's where the embarrassment comes into it for me: it's amazing how much a couple decades can change the way you view the world. Post-mo is nothing new or original. Every generation thinks they're covering new ground. And one day Aguirre-Livingston will remember this article and wonder how he could be so naive.

    One small issue with this post, though: “with ridiculous pressures to dress and act a certain way”. Um…when was the last time you were in the village, Jaime? The village is one of the last places one should feel pressured to dress and act a certain way. I'm sitting at Timothy's typing this, surrounded by people in t-shirts and shorts, suits, drag, jeans and hoodies, etc., etc…

  • Michel F. Paré

    Post-mo perspective. Refreshing  ideas from queer Gen Y'ers. I liked  this torontoist article, it was balanced opinion. Unlike the fab magazine, sidebar article today, an angry lash out by Matt Thomas.

  • Robert Stemmler

    I don't know, I found Matt's angry response was spot on, in that it covered and addressed the very issues with the article that offended me (and apparently quite a lot of other people).

    I'm not really sure why you Queen West folks have such a hate-on for us Village folks, anyway. You're pretty much a non-issue for us, and we're happy to let you be all that you can. But even before I moved here, I read your blog and all it's snippy comments about the village and thought, wow, avoid that neighbourhood. I'm happy to see it's gotten better in recent years but geez…we don't have to be in competition to exist.

  • Cynthia C. M.

    No turf wars between the “Chinatowns,” maybe, but suburban Chinese communities don't like calling themselves “Chinatown.”  Growing up, I was told over and over that Chinatown (meaning Dundas/Spadina and the like) was NOT for a good middle class suburban girl like me by family members  because “so many bad things happen there.”  Anyway…..


    I found it extremely telling that the guys (story right there) in the pictures accompanying the story were mostly white (another story right there).

    The piece was annoyingly self-satisfied. It reminded of that selfish motto, “I've got mine, Jack”. Just because you're living in a time and place where your sexuality isn't an issue any more, doesn't mean there aren't thousands, millions of people trying to get to exactly where you are right now. If queers in the 80s and 90s had shrugged their shoulders, gone “meh, that's good enough”, I *guarantee* you that Aguirre-Livingston would not be enjoying the freedoms he does.

    People fought damned hard for the rights he could care less about. While we should celebrate our successes, the torch was passed on to the next generation to light hope for others still in the darkness, and to warn about the forces who would very, *very* much like to cast all queers back in the deepest, darkest hole imaginable. If you imagine those forces are stilled, quieted, even for just a minute, you are very gravely mistaken. Maurice Vellacott and Jason Kenney are both against gay marriage. Both were elected in 2011. Do you imagine the homophobes are out there, repenting? No. They're re-arming. And with a majority in the House of Commons, they might just do something about it. Not attack it head-on, but stripping away bits and pieces, make it harder. And forget about trans rights being added to the Charter.

    Don't even start on elsewhere. USA = no federal gay marriage. UK = civil partnerships (makes a couple sound like a law firm). Much of Africa and Asia = gays? what gays? no gays here.

    In short, it's foolish to put down your weapons when your opponents are stocking up on RPGs.

  • isyouhappy

    Let's not assume that the guys in the photos were able to read the article before they had the photo shoot. Let's also assume that their quotes(as misguided and seemingly naive as they were) were edited down from most likely a longer comment in order to gleam out the juicy bits. 

    Let us focus on the writing and the role of the editor and publisher who felt it was just to publish basically a diary entry from one person's perspective as an article that represented a very broad diverse cross section of a community.

    Let us also question the motivations behind a newly rebranded corporate paper eager to attract attention and web page ad views. 

    The whole thing is a shame really. The LGBT community once again is being used to stir the pot with division by a corporation to generate (ad) sales.

  • Scott Dagostino

    A completely perfect response to that article. Thanks, Jaime!

  • joshuahind

    First rule of being cool is owning it. And you don't own being “post-mo” by telling everyone how post-mo you are. You own it by being so post-mo that no one could mistake you for anything else. By writing the article in The Grid, the author is essentially telling us that he's a part of a scene that isn't cool enough or compelling enough to have grown organically, so as a last desperate act he's going to attempt to force it into ubiquity. It won't work and a year from now we'll all be asking ourselves “What ever happened to that post-mo bullshit?” and we'll respond “Oh yeah…it was bullshit.”


    If the article had been framed as a personal perspective, then almost all the criticisms drop away. But the editors chose to frame it as something representing a generation of queers, and got royally spanged for it. I notice in the comments section one of the interviewees desperately trying to distance himself from the article, about how the article was (mis)represented to him, etc.

    It's telling how they refer to 'gays' only – an indicator the editor/sub-editor wasn't familiar with the community. This was an opportunity wasted.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    “What ever happened to that post-mo bullshit?”

    You're kidding yourself if you think it hasn't been around in some form – unlabelled – for decades, even centuries. It will get along just fine without you or the scenesters jumping on the newest trend in lifestyle posturing.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    “It's telling how they refer to 'gays' only”

    If the article had been about post-civil rights black people, would you criticize it for not having an Asia perspective?

  • Michel F. Paré

    I tried for years (2001 to 2004) to convince business people and community leaders in the traditional gay in the Church St neighbourhood, that things were developing  in the westend. They laugh  and said nothing was out there, it was a figment of my imagination. No one will go. We  don't care. At first I started calling it the gay west  village, but there are no gay bars as per Church St (although six are gay owned) changed it to queer west village  and/or just queer west Toronto (its not a designated tourist area, unlike Church St.) Local media picked up on it, in 2004 by Toronto Star, variious stories every year since in  different publications. Trying figure out what was different.

    Business is booming in queer west end of Toronto now. What started on west Queen West is expanding, westward and northward

    Brock University  is also interested in queer west Toronto and are close to completing a three year ($65,000) study which will be released this August. It will be of use  by city planners, tourist industry, researchers and businesses. Gay West Inc worked closely with  BrockU on the study. I have seen  preliminary reports and its quite interesting.

    As far as Pride Toronto is concerned. I have never hated them. We did try to teamup our festival in 2009 when our festival proceeded theirs by a week, but they screwed us (see festival history  files) We  could have sued, but didn't, for the good of the community and moved our festival to August. I think I was fair to Pride Toronto in the article on Digitaljournal – “Battle for Queer Culture in Toronto.” Sure I' ve knocked  Pride Toronto here and there in the past. They're our festival competition. Who doesn't knock the competition. All is fair in Love and War.

    Yes, yes, yes the boys didn't talk about AIDS, gay marriage and human rights. Maybe they we''re not told what  to talk about. Just be natural, a bit about your  history and future plans. I found it refreshing. They don't think like I do, of  course. Never-the-less they are entitled to their opinion. Just as you and  I are here.

  • carlyrhiannon

    Thanks for this article Jaime. I found myself cringing through the The Grid's piece, and the way the author assumes his personal experience is some kind of overarching truth for everyone. The multiple assertions that the fight is over was incredibly offensive and disrespectful to everyone who's still struggling.

    I know many people who still can't come out to their families at 30+ years of age and have to compartmentalize the various aspect of their lives depending on the company they're with. I work in a place where someone has told me straight to my face, unapologetically, that they're homophobic (though I had already figured that out, considering he had just called people “homos” in an incredible contemptuous way) – and this behaviour is given a pass by a boss with positive space posters hanging in her office. Treating one's gay identity has a non-issue is a luxury that not everyone has. 

    It's pretty telling that even one of the men featured in the piece has taken to Twitter to say that the story is not at all a reflection of his own experience.

  • David Demchuk

    If the article had been about post-civil rights black people, I would be criticizing it if it didn't include women.

  • martin whelan

    not just one of the people featured has taken to twitter, there has been more than one, My face has also been used in this article but it was agreed to under false pretense. I grew up in a country where Homosexuality was only decriminalized in 1993. To say that I have not experienced hate and homophobia and that I denounce the Village could not be further from the truth, I am sickened that my face is now attached to the article and it frustrates me to think the readers see paul Aguirre-Livingsto's beliefs as mine.


    The term 'gay' is clumsily used in the article and in the headline. The editors and sub-editors seem to imply that 'gays' encompasses all queers. Ignoring dykes, trans, 2-spirited, queer, questioning, etc., etc.

    If the article had been about the experience of a US middle-class privileged black male who said because his life doesn't have any issues, he can kick back and relax, and he and the editors implying this was the majority/universal experience for all post-civil rights (struggle) minorities in the US, then I'd also have a problem with that, too.


    I (and many others) would have no problem with the article if the writer and editors had restricted themselves to it being a personal viewpoint. I can disagree with the guy, and tell him he's an entitled so-and-so, who seems to ignore the fact that if gays in the 80s and 90s had done what he's doing, then he'd have had a much rougher ride growing up, but that would be a disagreement between me and him.

    The Grid's editors chose to make this article a sweeping 'where we are now' kind of article, completely sweeping anyone in that generation who wasn't gay and wasn't male under the rug. That sort of thinking plays to the worst sort of old-school macho exclusive homosexuality. Okay, we get it. The writer has a thing for bears. Good on him. But (addressing the original article writer here) don't you dare start talking about masculinity as being of only one ilk or one description, and that anyone else's version of it is less than perfect. Everyone's (real) version of masculinity and feminity is perfect, thank you.

  • carlyrhiannon

    I'm sorry to hear that. Misrepresentation like that is a really crap feeling. I have a hunch though that the word is starting to get around that you guys were misled about the intent of the piece, if that's any consolation.

  • HamutalDotan

    Not sure if you've seen this yet but Elie, also in the story, just wrote a public condemnation of the piece:

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    The author makes it clear who he's talking about when he says gays in second paragraph. Do dykes sleep with and marry their boyfriends? Do transpeople sleep with “mostly men”? When has 'gay' every been the label of choice for bisexuals and the curious?

    It's as plain as day he's talking very specifically about gay male 20-somethings who came of age in Toronto: “To be a twentysomething gay man in Toronto in 2011 is to be free from persecution and social pressures to conform.” Third paragraph.

  • Shawn Syms

    There is so much I agree with here, particularly when it comes to need to bring some nuanced understanding of race and class privilege, and the observation that rejection of previous generations is a cyclical, recurring phenomenon. Your use of the word “disdain” captured exactly what bothered me about the article.

    I did stumble a bit over this phrase though: “While there can be some benefit to critiquing past norms—the drag queens, the camp, the bathhouses [...]“

    I guess that in the absence of further elaboration, this veered a bit too close to the original article's mention of “negative stereotypes” at Toronto's Pride, which left me questioning both the word “stereotype” and especially the word “negative.” Drag, camp and bathhouses (admittedly worthy of some critical conversation, as much as any other parts of queer culture) can all be seen as things that have proven overarchingly positive for many people past and present, both in terms of gender expression and important safer-sex venues.

    My only quibble. I was left wondering what you meant there, which distracted me a bit from the strengths of this post as a whole.

  • dripdripdropped

    I like this rebuttal, but we also need to acknowledge that this view isn't just “Toronto-centric” (that things are harder outside of toronto, and outside of canada) but it discounts the experience of many queer people within this city who DO NOT have the freedom to be out or escape oppression.

  • Jaime Woo

    Hi Shawn,

    Thanks for the comment. 

    My intention was to say that debate over the relevance of old cultural norms is always important. I think there's a lot of value in drag, camp, and bathhouses. At the same time, I also think this generation will find ways to make them more relevant—for example, how does a bathhouse in 2011 look compared to in the '80s, '90s, or '00s? (I actually talked to Rolyn Chambers about this for St Marc's Spa a few years back.) How it works for this generation will be up for argument and I welcome that ongoing dialogue. 

    There wasn't any intention to align with the idea of negative stereotypes.



  • Jaime Woo

    The Grid has posted a reply:

  • Robert Stemmler

    Except that Edmund has stated in the op of this particular subthread and in almost every comment he's made that his beef is with the way the *editors* have framed the article, not how the author framed it. And how the editors framed it is inherent in both the cover of the issue and the headline: “Dawn of a new gay Why you won’t find the younger generation partying in the Village or plastering rainbows on their bumpers.”.  And that implies something quite a bit broader than just a guy and some of his friends.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    What I'm seeing in the comments here is that one person's experience is invalid if it isn't representative and inclusive; that a gay white man's opinion – and the man himself – can be discarded and derided if it differs from, or does not make concessions to, that of lesbians, transsexuals, bisexuals, and the ever-so-vague queers, of every imaginable ethnicity and background. Is it that hard to accept, or so easy to forget, the letters in LGBTQ represent distinct types of people? When did the rainbow flag change from a common rallying symbol to a burqa all non-straights must wear to hide their individuality?

    His experience is not that of a recent immigrant, a teenager fleeing abuse from some rural hellhole, a future transsexual looking for support, or a Stonewall rioter. But how could it be? He's none of those, and spells it out for you right on the page. It's abundantly evident from the comments here that the article has been misread as an all-encompassing vision of an LGBTQ world, when it's just as abundantly clear from the author's second and third paragraphs that what he is talking about is, quite specifically, the experience he and some other gay males his age have had as raised-in-the-90s homosexual men in Toronto. And yet there are comments here implying the article is precisely not a personal essay.

    It's both alarming and illuminating to see just which assumptions are being made by people tearing the article apart. Is it that there's no room for a distinct gay male (that is: male homosexual) perspective? Is the masculine/straight-passing gay identity somehow excluded from the catechisms of equality and unity? Did everyone swallow the LGBTQ kool-aid and now honestly believes what's true for lesbians is true for bisexuals, transsexuals, 70-year-old queens and teenaged queers? 'Gay' long ago stopped being an umbrella term for everyone who isn't straight – that's why the L, B, T and Q (and sometimes others) are part of the actual terminology.

    As to the article above:

    Aguirre-Livingston's article has faults, there is no denying that.  His assumption that “post-mo” is new or the sole domain of 20-somethings is naïve, as is his understanding of the role the internet (and the BBSes that came before it) had in the lives of gays born in the 80s and earlier (as Robert Stemmler mentions above). His take on the masculine/straight-passing gay experience is superficial at best. But I think it's misrepresentative to say he's proposing “a vague alternative for the new queer lifestyle defined merely as not-Village”. Certainly he's outlined a lifestyle that isn't Village-centric, though there isn't anything new about that, but it's hardly a rejection of the Village. If he no longer feels the Village has anything to offer him, if he feels he can't or doesn't identify with who he finds there, who is anyone to tell him otherwise? Nowhere does he say the Village should be bulldozed, the archives shuttered, or the community centre turned into a bowling alley.

    Despite what some may think, rainbows and Cher and drag queens and lisping FAB-U-LOUS as loud as one can are not things a lot of gays (that is, homosexual males) can identify with, something A-L touched on briefly (before contradicting it with “girl power” t-shirts and then twisting body hair and deep voices into a fashion statement). There are a lot of masculine and straight-passing gay men in Toronto for whom the Village has very little to offer. It isn't and wasn't needed as a refuge, it holds no special place in one's memory as the only place they felt comfortable, and instead of brotherhood they find stereotypes they can't relate to.

    Yes, he has been quite privileged, being born so long after the heavy lifting for gay equality in the West (or at least Canada) had been done, with HIV/AIDS established as a fact of life before he was even born and covered in every sex ed. class he probably ever took as a kid or teen. He hasn't had to march for this or rally for that – so what is he to do? Should he eschew the liberties that were fought for and won before he'd had his first kiss? Should he live his life as though he were a transsexual, a Ugandan or South African lesbian, or a Russian parade planner? Of course not.

    As noble as the intention may be, lumping all human rights under the rainbow banner does not obligate anyone, no matter their sexuality, to identify with the struggles of another group or pick up arms and stand by their side. You can't spend 50 years demanding the right to live ones life as one sees fit, then dictate the terms to those who are trying to do just that.

  • Robert Stemmler

    And what a horrible reply it is! Ugh! Instead of taking any responsibility for this train wreck, they pretty much blame the readership for not getting it. The Grid really has a terrible Editorial department if they can't figure out the proper response to such a massive bad reaction is to simply apologize for the offense.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    The author is clear about what he means by 'gays', even if the editor seems to contradict it. The headline itself doesn't imply any sort of universality – a new gay isn't all gays (let along all queers, dykes, trans, and bisexuals, as some here think). The subtitle is only as misleading as you want it to be – no paper has the authority to claim 100% of any given group with little more than age in common does or believes anything. If you thought otherwise, well… this where some critical thinking and reading comprehension go a long way.

  • Joe

    Someday, people in this town, including nonwhite gay writers, will be able to discuss any topic pertaining to gay men without turning it into a discussion of trannies (which it was all along, was it not?) or trotting out useless master’s-student buzzwords like “privilege.”

    An article isn’t deplorable if it’s about white gay males and leaves out people you think are more oppressed. This particular article was deplorable for other reasons, but Toronto gay (“queer”) writers wield nought but an underprivileged transgender hammer of colour, making every object look like a privileged gay white nail.

    Stated another way, you think you can negate something by complaining it isn’t diverse enough for your taste. Your taste is the problem.

    Find a less doctrinaire-leftist writer of colour next time, please. We’re getting a bit Woozy.

  • Joe

    Shawn, you can’t buy a head of broccoli at Loblaws without demanding a nuanced understanding of race and class privilege, and without suspecting that the cashier would be a much better person if only he’d admit he has a vagina.

  • Robert Stemmler

    “They're our festival competition. Who doesn't knock the competition. All is fair in Love and War.”

    But see, that's my point. Pride is NOT your competition, and you do yourselves and everyone else in the community a disservice by framing it that way.

    I like going to big celebrations like Pride. I also like going to small celebrations like the one in Queen West. But your need to act as if Pride is The Other Team alienates me and makes me feel like maybe your celebration isn't worth attending. And I'm sure I'm not the only one getting that message from you.

  • Robert Stemmler

    Come on rek, calling into question anyone's reading comprehension is a pretty low blow. There were a lot of people who were offended by the article, many more than can just be explained away as people who didn't understand what they were reading. As the old saying goes, if one person calls you an ass, disregard them. If a hundred do it, check the size of your ears.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    I'm quite aware I'm in the minority, but what I read in The Grid here on my couch last night was a straightforward personal experience essay and not a grandiose manifesto for how all non-straights under 30 should behave. I have no explanations but reading comprehension deficit and projection for why people apparently read something else.

  • rich1299

    I finally actually read the original Grid article and I got to say that while I agree its clearly about his personal experiences the way he generalizes about how everything is great and wonderful now for gay men is obnoxious to say the least. Mind you I guess I'm just not that young anymore myself and grew up in a time when gays were only publicly talked about as child molesters and sexual predators and there was only Jody from Soap as anything approaching a positive role model, when Torch Song Trilogy came out on video tape I watched it back to back several times because it showed a world I just couldn't imagine. I come from the generation that not only had to fight external homophobia but also the internal homophobia that was instilled in all of us growing up in the late 70's and early 80's. I know too many who have died not from AIDS but from drug/alcohol abuse and suicide from the effects of homophobia. A study from as recently as 2004 found that approximately 5,500 Canadians die each year from the effects of homophobia on their lives and costs our economy about $8 billion annually…  How much has really changed in the last 7 years? There are still only 2 addiction and mental health programs in all of Canada geared towards the needs of the LGBT community, one is in Toronto at CAMH and the other in Vancouver.

    I'm happy young gay guys from Toronto aren't suffering the same as the generation before them but to claim that everything is just fine and dandy now for gay men let alone lesbians, bisexuals and trans folk is obnoxious and totally not related to reality. Perhaps because I grew up in a more toxic anti-gay environment I see the anti-gay aspects of our society more clearly, even here in Toronto, and feel the effects of homophobia more deeply than the younger generation do, I don't know, I can't speak for 20 something gay men but neither can the writer of that article even though he claims to do just that and that is what I and many others find obnoxious about the article.

  • mindset

    I completely agree with everything you've said, rek. In fact, after reading the original article in The Grid, I was confused to see the pages and pages of backlash online. My very first impression was that it was clearly an article about a particular subset of young, Toronto-based gays. I still believe that, and, to be honest, I'm still confused as to why everyone is so upset.

  • Calvin K

    If you read closer you will see that they have a point about diversity. Aguirre-Livingston did not just talk about himself and his friends, he commented on the entire “queer community”, “pride”, and “the fight”, etc. He is talking as if all of those were made for his white, middle class, gay, male, ass. 
    If he is just making comments about himself that's fine. But he has the audacity to talk about something much bigger than him, and beyond him, as if it's all about him. Yea, that's not good. 
    So he should have think about the blanket statements he is making, and either
    a) not make blanket statements, speak only for himself.
    b) make sure his blanket statements covered everything and are just.

  • Michel F. Paré

    I sure they are all under tremendous pressure to recant. The first one  Ashamed is a feature writer at Gally no surprise there. Question is if they ALL pull out  or trickle out to write side bar stories on themselves,  how does that speak for the younger generations new way of thinking?. A  lot comments on here are like older  parents speaking to younger children who don't know anything about life. Some may listen,  others will go on  different path and change the world. What are we afraid of, truly?


    Mindset: The article is a sight more clear about what it focuses on, the
    presentation a hell of a lot less. To brush aside emphasis and
    commission by omission is not to see the full picture.

    The editors of The Grid are clearly not familiar with major aspects of
    queer culture. It showed this week, badly. It feeds into homonormative
    paradigms – gay and macho male is the only way to go, or the only way to
    get noticed. Anyone else gets shut out. That is such old-school
    bullshit. I think it speaks volumes that Sasha, who is openly
    non-hetero, decamped to NOW (which has its own problems, by the way).

    The way the article was presented was misleading and blithely glossed over a hell of a lot people. I now notice another one of the interviewees has come out swinging against the article in the comment threads, saying the article was completely misrepresented to him.

    I'm also ticked about how the author seems to celebrate this particular
    sub-set's vacuousness and privilege, rather than wanting to make sure
    every queer gets where they are, too. If others hadn't given a damn
    about people other than themselves, then him (and me) would be in a lot
    worse position. To care about others is being human. Just yourself, and
    only yourself (and maybe your buddies in good times)? Selfish.

    I intend to party and march this Pride. It is possible to walk and chew
    gum at the same time.


    And even there it falls down. You'd never guess that the village is a glorious spectrum of colour. In the photo, all white, with a token black guy. In Toronto? One of the most diverse cities in the world? Come on.

    I'm also willing to lay good money on him and many (if not all) of his buddies being white. You're gay, live in Toronto and of Chinese/Punjabi/Iranian/Italian/etc descent? Are you going to have the same ol' whoopee time that the writer is having? I really, really doubt it (sadly).

    I wonder: since Asian men don't really grow body hair, are Asian gays somehow less gay in the writer's eyes? That's the implication I picked up.

    I don't begrudge him the lifestyle he's living. Far from it. Everyone should have that freedom and choice. It's a great, great pity that he doesn't want to lift a finger to help others, still in the darkness. He's not only reaping the rewards of the actions of gay activists, he's turning his back on them.

    From the Toronto Sun, we expect this kind of garbage. From a paper that believes itself progressive? Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    “You'd never guess that the village is a glorious spectrum of colour. In the photo, all white, with a token black guy. In Toronto? One of the most diverse cities in the world? Come on.”

    Stop assuming the article is meant to be representative of 100% of everyone you'll find on Church Street.

    He invited friends of his to read the article and, if they agreed with it, to come out for the photo shoot. Evidently some of them didn't bother to read it (Elie, the Saudi Arabian, has since admitted it).

    “I'm also willing to lay good money on him and many (if not all) of his buddies being white.”

    Is he required to have friends of ethnicity in proportion to that of the city?

    Making this a race issue doesn't advance the discussion at all.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    “… he generalizes about how everything is great and wonderful now for gay men… everything is just fine and dandy now for gay men let alone lesbians, bisexuals and trans folk is obnoxious and totally not related to reality.”

    He said nothing of the sort!

    Why does everyone insist on seeing words not actually on the page? He wasn't writing about all gay men, or even all gay men in Toronto, and he certainly wasn't talking about lesbians, transsexuals, transvestites, bisexuals, bi-curious, the questioning, the two-spirited, omnisexuals, heteroflexibles, whatever-that-means queers, or anyone over the age of 30 for that matter.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    “homonormative paradigms – gay and macho male is the only way to go, or the only way to get noticed. Anyone else gets shut out.”

    What are you even saying? The Macho Male has never been the type the gay community rallied around or put forth as its representative, instead demanding to be accepted as they are – feather boas at all – and it has never been the gay archetype adopted by the media. (Will of & Grace, as inoffensively “normal” as he was meant to be, was too swishy to ever be called macho.)

    But you're still implying the article was meant to be an all-encompassing Non-Straight Manifesto, when it clearly wasn't.

    “I now notice another one of the interviewees has come out swinging
    against the article in the comment threads, saying the article was
    completely misrepresented to him.”

    And he has nobody but himself to blame. He was invited to read the piece before agreeing to be in the photo shoot and included in the article, but he didn't.

  • Shawn Syms

    Thanks for taking the time to post this follow-up note. Agree with you 100 percent! Cheers,

  • Shawn Syms

    Just as an aside, there are lots of hairy Asian guys…

  • Calvin K

    sure let's get the quoting begin. 

    “why you won't find the ***younger generation*** partying in the Village or plastering rainbows on their bumpers.” 

    – wow right at the title did the author just included me in his article?! 

    “a new generation of twentysomething urban gays—***my generation***… has the freedom to live exactly the way we want. ***We*** have our university degrees, homes and careers. In Toronto, ***we’ve*** abandoned the Church Wellesley Village. ***We’re*** tattooed and pierced and at the helm of billion-dollar industries like fashion and television.”

    – wow did he just equate Aguirre-Livingston and Co. to the entire generation?!!? 

    this is only the 2nd paragraph, need I go on? Sure

    “The Village has all but become a dirty word in circles of the nouveau gay. ***We*** just let it die. And when ***the gays*** do converge at Church and Wells now for Pride, ***it’s only*** to show how hard they worked on their bodies at the gym, not about any sort of political statement. “

    – the first sentence stench of classism. 

    – So the Village and Pride has been reduced to for vapid gays only? Please Read TR: this is where he made further blanket statement about things WAY larger than himself and gays. Village and Pride are for a diversity to people other than Aguirre-Livingston's ego.

    I would quote more but then I might as well quote half of the article.

    (asterisks mine for emphasis)

  • Joe

    He can write about whatever he wants. His topic isn’t invalidated because he didn’t include groups you personally feel are more oppressed and worthy. You don’t get to dictate other people’s writings and opinions.

  • Joe

    In retrospect I’m not surprised that commenters here suck. You’re what’s wrong with gay Toronto, white male apologists for themselves especially.

    I am, however, surprised how dispassionately yet righteously the oft-troublesome Tyrannosaurus Rek has dispatched the tedious leftist cabal that shows up to congratulate each other on being ever so much more diverse than the object of their derision. Who knew T. Rek could be a kindred spirit?

    Tea at my place sometime, Rek? Confidentiality assured.


    The Conservative Party convention just passed a motion reaffirming its support for a ban on gay marriage:

    “The resolution changed the wording of an existing party policy on gay
    marriage, which said the Conservative “government” supported legislation
    saying marriage is between one man and one woman, with delegates voting
    to change it to say the Conservative Party supports the move.”


    I'll be interested to read other articles on LGBT issues in the Grid by people who aren't necessarily white, male and gay. Which there will be. Won't there?

    What's that? Sasha, one of the best writers Eye Weekly had, and openly queer, is no longer there? And she's joined NOW? Oh.


    Here's a hint, The Grid. If you have to write an article explaining why you published an article, the article failed as a piece.


    Amen, brother, amen.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    You're being very selective here; 'we'  follows very narrow qualifiers such as 'twentysomething urban gays' and 'To be a twentysomething gay man in Toronto in 2011 is to be free from persecution and social pressures to conform'. He defines his terms and specifies who he is talking about, all the while making it clear it's his personal experience.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    So now you're judging the paper by what it hasn't yet done.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    I'm as baffled as you are Joe.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    I'm not sure if you meant this to be evidence of backsliding or something, but all it does is recognize that the Con party has a position that differs, necessarily, from that of the gov't (even if it's a Con gov't).

  • Robert Stemmler

    'To be a twentysomething gay man in Toronto in 2011 is to be free from persecution and social pressures to conform' sure sounds to me like a more general statement than just himself. So I guess at least the complaints from the twentysomething gay men who are still facing persecution and social pressures to conform are valid, no?


    I'm saying I think other, non-gay, queer voices are unlikely to be heard at The Grid. Especially after the “we're-taking-our-ball-home-you-big-meanies” response.

    If they are, I will be pleasantly surprised, and will reconsider taking it seriously again.


    I am saying the bigots haven't given up pushing everyone back into a hole. It's rather foolish to think the fight won, when the other side is still on a war footing.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    This isn't news. Is there anyone in Canada who doesn't know their position on marriage equality?

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    If The Grid declines to feature articles about non-straight issues and people in the future, it will almost certainly be because of the ridiculous backlash this one received.

  • Calvin K

    1) He is not writing in his diary
    2) He is writing for a cover story in a newspaper
    So yes there are certain expectation in quality for a cover story (for example personal rants are usually a no-no). If you are doing something for a public, yes it is expected of you to uphold certain standards. Of course you can still do whatever the hell you want, just like everyone can be an asshole if they like. People will just call you out on it.

    Now, the readers cannot dictate anything. It's already done. That's the editor's job. So I don't know where you get that dictating thing come from.

  • Calvin K

    2nd part, on diversity.

    If AL wants to talk about Queer rights, which he did
    or Village, which he did,
    or Pride, which he did,

    He should remember all of those are there for MORE than the fortunate gay mens like himself.

    so either he recognizes that Queer rights, Village, Pride includes the diverse group of people it serves, or he can shut up about it. It's just pure offensive and inconsiderate to imply Pride and Village have served their functions because he doesn't find it cool enough. 

    Oh yes he can be an asshole if he wants. We'll just call him out on it. Especially if it's on a cover story.

  • Calvin K

    Are you implying all non-straight articles are automatically good? Probably not.
    This article got burned not because it's gay, it's because it's BAD. Bad in an offensive insulting way.

    Yes if the Grid declines to feature BAD articles in the future, I think most reader will have no problems with that.

  • Calvin K

    You missed the part where he asserted “my generation”. Yes, the title, the first few paragraph set the tone who AL is supposedly speaking for; apparently it included me.

    He is like a self appointed valedictorian who only represents a subset of “our generation”, and speaks like he knows what everyone is going through and wants.

    And who is “twentysomething urban gays”? Did AL get to define that? or everyone who is 20 something, urban, and gays define it together? 

    As a 20 something urban gay man, I am personally offended. Did AL just tell me who I am or who I am not?

  • nevilleross

    What problems does NOW have in relation to The Grid? Very few, IMHO, and some of them (very small some) related to GLBT issues. In fact, it's indicative of NOW that they would most likely NEVER do an article like this one, because it is still somewhat left-leaning,and they mostly are there to cock a snoot at the establishment/The Man (check out past opinion pieces by Sheila Gostick denouncing everything from the Pope's visit to the spy exhibit at the Ontario Science Center).

    That said, as for me and The Grid, I won't be reading it that much.


    Agreed, absolutely. I meant that NOW has problems in other non-LGBT areas, but they're merely irritating.