Posts Tagged ‘glbt issues’
blogTO’s Phil Villeneuve shares the story of Toronto’s Glad Day Bookshop, the oldest GLBT library in the world still operating.
Very few book stores in the world have been fought off widespread hate, battled censorship at the Supreme Court, and acted as home base for an entire community of people. Toronto’s Glad Day bookshop has, which is why it’s even more special that it’s not only Toronto’s oldest bookstore, but the world’s oldest LGBT bookstore.
Glad Day took the title after New York’s Oscar Wilde bookstore closed in 2009 because of low sales and high rent. That shop opened in 1967.
Glad Day was opened in 1970 by Jearld Moldenhauer out of his home in the Annex. The residential space also doubled as the office for The Body Politic, a gay and lesbian political paper, which eventually morphed into Xtra and then to the now online-only DailyXtra.com.
After folks moved in and out of the home, Moldenhauer and a group men bought a place in Cabbagetown at 138 Seaton Street and operated the shop out of there.
It was a time when a gay and lesbian bookstore could exist out of someone’s living room and word spread wide enough for the city’s queer population to know exactly where to go — all very much on the down low and in fear of violence.
Vulture‘s Abraham Riesman has a wonderful long interview with Scott Thompson about arguably his most famous character, the flamboyant and out Buddy Cole.
Buddy Cole doesn’t care about what you think of him. Played by actor-comedian Scott Thompson, Buddy’s one of the most famous characters to come out of the Canadian sketch-comedy troupe the Kids in the Hall, and he’s provocation made manifest. Buddy is a world-weary gay man, utterly unafraid to offer his dry takes on the most incendiary topics. For about 30 years, Thompson has been creating and performing monologues as Buddy for stage and screen appearances, and though the character’s effeminate mannerisms and cultural interests are influenced by generations of gay performers like Paul Lynde and Liberace, Buddy was something unique: He was explicitly sexual.
Thompson felt that those queer forebears in comedy history had been, as he puts it, “castrated” — they could be cheeky and suggestive, but they weren’t allowed to actually be textually gay, and god forbid they should actually talk about having sex with men. Thompson wanted to build a figure who stepped over that line, much as he himself had done by being openly gay on television many years before Ellen DeGeneres’s famed coming-out. Buddy became a staple for Thompson not only on the show but in the Kids’ periodic reunion tours, a mock autobiography, a brief correspondent gig on The Colbert Report, and a series of video blogs.
Thompson’s had a rocky few years in the recent past, having battled lymphoma, as well as seeing his most recent high-profile role, as CSI Jimmy Price on Hannibal, cut short when the show was abruptly canceled. Nevertheless, he’s pressing on and contemplating a return to his most iconic character. Vulture included Buddy’s Kids in the Hall monologue about racism and stereotypes in our new list of 100 jokes that changed comedy, and we caught up with Thompson to talk about why the monologue only works if a gay man is delivering it, how he feels that he’s never developed a gay following, and the subtext of Buddy’s experiences with AIDS.
Torontoist’s Jamie Bradburn reports on how the Toronto Sun, the right-wing tabloid of note in Toronto, has since its foundation in 1971 has been a forum for expressing lots of terrible sentiments about lots of different people.
In a response to a reader question on Twitter earlier this week provoked by Toronto Sun columnist Tarek Fatah’s comments on the Quebec City mosque shooting, Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale described the Sun as publishing, beyond a decent sports section and solid tabloid-style news coverage, “the country’s worst opinion writers.” While readers can debate Dale’s use of “worst,” the current crop of Sun columnists continues a long tradition of deliberately provocative writing that has shaped the paper since its inception in 1971.
It’s a tradition that hasn’t always landed on the right side of history. To be fair, flipping through the back pages of any newspaper exhumes opinions which would be questionable today. Skeletons among the Toronto press range from George Brown’s attacks on Irish immigrants during the early days of the Globe to unflattering descriptions of minorities in the Star which matched the prejudices of the day.
But the Sun has always stood out for its unapologetic view of the world, which grew from cockiness as the new kid on the block and its ability to connect with its conservative readership. It played upon fears of outsiders, and earned its stripes as a dedicated Cold Warrior by labeling opponents as evil Communists/Marxists/socialists/bleeding hearts/etc.
During the 1970s and 1980s the Sun’s biases regarding anyone who wasn’t white provoked consternation among minority groups, which nearly caused the City to pull its advertising from the paper. An extensive report by the Urban Alliance on Race Relations published in 1987 pulled few punches in its analysis of the paper’s stances: “The sheer volume of racial stereotypes, racism, scapegoating, and the presence of statements that may elicit fear and hatred against racial minorities can leave little doubt that there is considerable prejudice and racism directed toward non-whites and ethnic minorities within the pages of the paper.”
There’s homophobia, to name a single instance.
Let’s be blunt: the Sun was intolerant toward homosexuals during the 1970s and 1980s. From cartoonist Andy Donato’s frequent limp-wristed depictions of gays to editor Peter Worthington’s threat following the 1981 Bathhouse Raids to expose names of anyone rounded up in subsequent police scoops, there was no sympathy to anyone who wasn’t heterosexual.
Perhaps the most homophobic of the lot was Queen’s Park columnist Claire Hoy. In piece after piece, Hoy depicted homosexuals as sad, pathetic creatures. He was convinced that there was an agenda by homosexuals to gain access to classrooms to convert innocent children to their perverted lifestyle. “It is not true that homosexuals want simply to be left alone to do whatever it is they do to each other,” he wrote in January 1978. When a “Gaydays” celebration was held later that year, he wondered why “more Torontonians don’t let them know they’re not welcome here” and when people would “wake up and realize the danger of keeping silent in the face of this creeping, crawling sickness in our society?”