April 2, 2014
The Sport of Courting LGBTQ Sporting Organizations

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Image courtesy of revolked2.blogspot.com

There are a number of LGBTQ sporting organizations within Toronto. From soccer, to water polo, to dodge ball. Teams and organizations range in their competitiveness from friendly to intense or “fierce”, They range in size from teams of half a dozen to leagues of over 500. For a city that only had a handful of LGBTQ sporting organizations in 2000 Toronto has seen an explosion with now close to 50 teams and organizations for people to choose from, and it isn’t alone, cities across the continent have experienced a growth in LGBTQ sports. Why?

First and foremost are the numbers. With greater acceptance more people have come out of the closet. The HIV-AIDS epidemic that decimated the gay and bisexual male community has become more manageable and infection rates have decreased with safe sex practices and awareness. This means there are a lot more people within the community. More people means more interests and more people to join teams and build out new sporting organizations. 

As the queer community has gained greater acceptance within society the fringe aspect and counter culture that thrived within it, while still there, is no longer as prominent as it once was. People, younger people in particular, don’t particularly identify themselves by their sexual orientation, it is simply a small part of them. Being gay doesn’t make someone as “different” as it once did. Joining a sports organization before might have been seen as an attempt to appear macho, or pay lip service to the oppressive societal norms that so many had rejected and is no longer the case for many. 

Community, love, and friends. It can be hard finding people to date, whether you’re Queer or Straight. While there are bars, clubs, dating sites, and applications like Grindr or Scruff, they often leave a little to be desired. Sporting organizations have allowed people to interact with other Queer people, expand their friendship circle and explore another, more organic, way to meet potential partners. When I first came to Toronto joining a sporting organization was where I met most of the friends i have today and I continue to recommend joining a team or organization to anyone new to this city or any other. 

While I believe that the increase in numbers, and greater acceptance has allowed for a greater burgeoning of sports organization within the Queer community, I feel it is the desire to meet new people, develop new relationships (romantic and platonic) that has been the key contributor to the growth,

Do you think there are any other contributing factors to this growth I haven’t mentioned or feel one of the others is more important? 

March 20, 2014
The Advocate examines upcoming film Divergent as Sci-Fi's first bisexual allegory

February 28, 2014
UK bi teen, 18, has teeth smashed in brutal anti-gay attack

So sad. Fortunately his attackers will come to trial and face the justice they deserve

(Source: projectqueer)

February 13, 2014
Sen. Kelsey introduces 'Turn The Gays Away' Bill

Tennessee is giving Russia a run for its money with a new bill that would allow businesses to refuse to provide goods and services to LGBTQ people. 

What is more ridiculous about this bill is the fact that businesses already have the right to refuse someone goods/services, employment, or even entry on the basis of their sexual orientation. Tennessee has no anti-discrimination laws in place the prohibit the discrimination of LGBTQ people so the bill would be completely redundant.

January 20, 2014
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. day. Today we remember what he and millions of other stood and still stand for. Today we also remember the strides that still need to be taken and take heed of MLK Jr’s poignant words “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.
This picture is just one example of injustice occurring in our own backyards but in over 70 countries today it is illegal to be gay in some of those countries you can receive life imprisonment or even the death penalty. Some countries are taking steps backwards like Russia and India. These injustices remind me of another wonderful quote from this great man we honor today “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” 

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. day. Today we remember what he and millions of other stood and still stand for. Today we also remember the strides that still need to be taken and take heed of MLK Jr’s poignant words “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.

This picture is just one example of injustice occurring in our own backyards but in over 70 countries today it is illegal to be gay in some of those countries you can receive life imprisonment or even the death penalty. Some countries are taking steps backwards like Russia and India. These injustices remind me of another wonderful quote from this great man we honor today “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” 

August 14, 2013
My response to the IOC’s reply.

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Below is my response to what the IOC sent me in reply to my inquiry on if the IOC will violate their own charter by punishing athletes who wear pride symbols during the games

"Thank you Sandrine,

I appreciate you taking the time to write back.
Your response raises more questions however regarding what the IOC deems a “proactive protest”. Would an athlete wearing a rainbow pin or patch be seen as a proactive protest? What if they have a rainbow flag or pink triangle tattoo? What about an athlete holding hands, kissing, or declaring their affection for their same-sex partner? An athlete talking about homosexuality in a “positive” way? Are athletes be allowed to talked about a gay family member in a supportive manner - for example “I love my gay brother”? Will speaking with a lisp or effeminate tone be seen as “proactive protest”? 
Are gay athletes supposed to keep silent about who they are, refraining from doing anything that would out them as gay and without shame of being so? Can athletes of the same gender hug one another or will this be seen as “proactive protest”? Will gay athletes be allowed to bring their partner to official Olympic events or would allowing that then cause the IOC to be in violation of the Russian law thereby committing a “proactive protest” itself? How does the IOC justify its very own statements supporting LGBTQ people when those statements are themselves in violation of Russian law (technically subject to a $35000 fine and a 90 day halt in operations)  and thus very much a “proactive protest” itself? 
I understand my questions may seem silly or argumentative however when such vague wording is provided, that can theoretically be applied to everything I have just mentioned, I believe that further clarification is required in order to properly inform the athletes just what they can and cannot do. 
Thank you again and I look forward to further clarification.”
Update (Aug. 17 - 11:33 AM -4 GMT) - I have yet to hear back from the IOC, even though my original message received a response minutes after sending.

August 14, 2013
My Letter To The IOC And Their Response

Here is the letter I wrote the IOC on their recent decision to punish athletes protesting the homophobic Russian law.

To whom it may concern, 

I write for the LGBT blog Oh My Gay http://ohmygay.tumblr.com/ and was wondering if you could speak to the recent decision of the IOC to punish athletes displaying support for the LGBT community during the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi Russia.
In the IOC’s own Charter under the Fundamental Principles of Olympism page 11, There is this:

6. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race,
religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic
Movement.

Does that mean the IOC will violate their own charter by punishing athletes who wear pride symbols during the games?

I look forward to your reply.

This is the response I received

Dear Jon,

Thank you for your email. To answer your questions, The IOC has a clear rule laid out in the Olympic Charter (Rule 50) which states that the venues of the Olympic Games are not a place for proactive protests or demonstrations. This rule has been in place for many years and aims to separate sport from politics, honour the context of the Olympic Games, and ensure the peaceful gathering of athletes from over 200 nations, officials and spectators from all kinds of different cultures and backgrounds. By its nature, the Olympic Games cannot become a platform for any kind of demonstration and the IOC will not accept any proactive gesture that could harm their spirit and jeopardize their future.

That said, the IOC would always treat each case individually and take a sensible approach depending on what was said or done.

I take this opportunity to share with you our position on this matter: “The International Olympic Committee is clear that sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation. The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardise this principle.

As you know, this legislation has just been passed into law and it remains to be seen whether and how it will be implemented, particularly as regards the Games in Sochi. As a sporting organisation, what we can do is to continue to work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media.  To that end, the IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games.”

We hope this will be helpful,

Many thanks and best regards

Sandrine Tonge

Media Relations Manager

INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

Château de Vidy

1007 Lausanne, Switzerland

Tel  +41 (0)21 621 6000

Fax +41 (0)21 621 6356

Clear enough for everyone? Cause it isn’t for me. 

August 14, 2013
Olympic Committee Confirms It Will Punish Athletes Who Support LGBT Rights In Russia | Instinct

This definitely requires some serious explaining by the IOC. Here’s hoping they provide it.

July 11, 2013
'Amazing Spider-Man' Andrew Garfield: 'Why can't Peter Parker be gay?'

As if Andrew Garfield needs MORE Queer fans. Now you’re just pandering, and I love you for it :) 

July 9, 2013
The Advocate Down Plays North America’s Largest Pride

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I wouldn’t have expected this from the Advocate but it happened. The headline reads Photos: Canada’s Largest Pride. The article/photos are of Toronto Pride 2013. Toronto Pride is actually North America’s largest pride and the 3rd largest Pride festival in the world. 

In 2012 the estimated attendance was 1.22 million people. While they are still awaiting official numbers from the organizers and police, as someone who was in the parade and on the street and had been last year, this year was certainly larger. Yet the Advocate listed attendance as “hundreds of thousands” down playing the numbers. I’m not sure why they did this or refused to acknowledge Toronto as the largest pride in North America, my only guess is that because it is in Canada the Advocate doesn’t want its American readers to think they are some how being out done. 

It’s not as if we’re not used to being glossed over here in Canada. We get everything from people thinking it is actually below freezing here for much of the year (in reality the average temperature in Toronto only drops below freezing for two months of the year - January & February), people will ask how long it will take to go from Niagara Falls to Vancouver for a picnic (they are shocked when you tell them 3 days by car, 5 hours by plane). Then you have the looks of amazement when people get to Toronto and see all of the skyscrapers and high-rises, 2nd in number only to NYC (most think Toronto has a couple hundred thousand people, not the over 6 million people the GTA holds). 

Maybe next year when Toronto hosts World Pride (also not mentioned on the Advocate) it will get the attention that North America’s Largest Pride deserves. 

Check out more about Toronto Pride and World Pride 2014 here

Check out some great shots here