The images of a schoolyard beating on January 11, 2021, of a transgender teen student outside of École Heritage Park Middle School, sit in stark contrast to pictures of the Mission School District’s SOGI 123 Salish Weaving project gifting a rainbow blanket “to value our relationship with Indigenous and LGBTQ communities by way of a Stó:lō Honouring Ceremony”.
All sixty school districts in British Columbia participate in SOGI 123, now in its fourth year of being incorporated into education practices across the province. SOGI is the acronym for sexual orientation and gender identity. SOGI 123 provides teaching aids and guidance for educators and parents to create more inclusive and safe schools for students who identify as LGBTQ2S+.
The initial reaction by Superintendent Angus Wilson, while calling the attack “hideous and horrendous”, was to blame it on COVID. This unfortunate statement was quickly walked back by the board of trustees promising their policies will be reviewed. Given this attack and reports that it is not an isolated incident with other LGBTQS+ students at the school reporting similar bullying, a review is seriously past due. These incidents of bullying also point out the futility of anti-bullying policies as a means of prevention. This was one of the reasons for the establishment of SOGI 123.
Several right-wing political activists created a flurry of campaigns to oppose the implementation of SOGI 123 in 2018 claiming it was an ideology. They began showing up to protest at school district meetings and one of the most outspoken opponents Laura Lynn Thompson even ran for a Burnaby School District position on a platform of SOGI 123 opposition which she lost. Since then SOGI 123 has scarcely been in the news.
This incident of bullying and victimization of a transgender teen in a school setting calls for SOGI 123 to be back in focus. How are schools, school boards, and parents failing those who face prejudice, bias, and hate when they have the tools and resources at their disposal for prevention? Are schools and boards participating in SOGI 123 simply to be seen as being compliant? It’s time for an audit.
“Body dysmorphia affects the gay community at a disproportionate rate, but there is help available for this still misunderstood disease.” ~ The Homoculture
If you are a gay man, then it is almost impossible not to be deluged with images of perfect bodies on screen, in print magazines, and across social media. Seemingly inescapable, the obsession with having and maintaining what is considered the ideal body can lead many towards a downward spiral that can be difficult to recover from. Body dysmorphia, also known as muscle dysmorphia, is arguably the most widespread disease to impact the gay community since the ravages of AIDS. HomoCulturecovers what exactly body dysmorphia is, how it directly affects the gay community, and resources available that can help remedy it.
Studies show that Millennials almost twice as likely to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community compared to Baby Boomers; HomoCulture breaks down the intricacies of these findings across the generations.
One of the components of this shift has been the introduction of the internet and social media which have allowed more queer youth to form communities that weren’t available to older generations. While there is a growing perception that LGBTQ+ youth have better support and security than their elders, there are still newer challenges and hostilities they have been forced to address.
Millennials and Generation Z now have the right to legally marry, enter the armed services, see positive media representatives, and join in community programs, but even with these advances, queer youth still have to face higher homeless and suicide rates, homophobia, and transphobia – ugly realities that still remain important today. The following are some of the issues that queer teens still have to face.
“Almost all official Pride events were either postponed, cancelled, or held virtually. These were responsible decisions by Pride organizations.” ~ Brian Webb – Homoculture
To hear people in the United States, especially in the LGBT community, hosting underground parties with complete disregard for COVID-19 health guidelines is simply appalling.
This has struck a cord of tension within the circuit party community that is still divided on hosting these potential super-spreader events, as one person recently lost their life in one of these parties – a circuit party hosted during Atlanta Pride weekend, due to an alleged drug overdose.
Here we are — the middle of October 2020 already, and just about at the end of the first season of QUSIC. It’s safe to say that none of us expected this year to turn out the way it has; life in 2020 has really become synonymous with that old gem “rolling with the punches”. When I look back on what has been an extremely challenging year, I have to say that hosting QUSIC has certainly been one of the highlights.
When QUSIC was first proposed, I was ecstatic. The opportunity to work with and promote the talents of LGBT2Q+ musicians was incredibly appealing, and hot off the heels of several very successful Peak Pride events I was basking in the after-glow of being surrounded by other queer folx as well as incredibly supportive allies. The overall concept of QUSIC is absolute genius: if you’re as yet unfamiliar with what the show is about, here are the historical details…
QUSIC is a new LGBT2Q+ Artist Music Series, in which all presenting artists identify under the LGBT2Q+ spectrum. QUSIC celebrates the LGBT2Q+ community, which includes individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit as well as a range of other gender and sexual identities. The show features solo performers, duos or group acts, provided that the majority of the band and the headlining artist identifies as LGBTQ2+. QUSIC has been streaming live on Unicorns.LIVE (watch.unicorns.live) every second Wednesday at 7:00 pm (PST) since May 27, 2020 with episodes available to subscribers to the streaming platform after they air.
This, however, was not always the plan: enter COVID-19, stage right…
As is the case for all of us on Planet Earth 2020, the pandemic brought everything to a screeching halt. For us at Rebellious Unicorns Production Company Inc. (aka, RUPC, the company behind QUSIC and Unicorns.LIVE) every project we were working on was disrupted, put on hold, or had to be reimagined. Luckily, we were able to make some tasty lemonade out of the rotten, shitty batch of lemons the Universe had just handed us.
“What now? What do we do? How do we make sure these artists are getting paid? How do we get their music out to the intended audience? What does the show even look like?” These were among myriad questions that dominated our conversations. QUSIC, which was meant to be a multi-city performance opportunity for LGBT2Q+ musicians, suddenly became something very different than how it was originally conceived. And yet, it was somehow perfect for the strange world we suddenly found ourselves in.
To be honest, it took a bit of courage for me to outright ask for the hosting job. Despite how I may sometimes come across to people who watch the show, I don’t enjoy the spotlight. I’d rather be a facilitator in helping others tell their stories, putting the details together, or assisting others along the way during their journey to wherever they’re headed. Given the situation, I knew I had the chops for the gig — I started a career in broadcasting when I was just 19 years old. While I haven’t worked exclusively in this field, I’m blessed with the ability to connect and converse with others quite easily and enjoyably.
One of my greatest joys as host of QUSIC has been connecting with the artists, getting to know them and their music, and becoming a fan of their work.
It has been an absolute privilege to interview every single one of our guests, and then sit back and listen/watch them express exactly what they need to in that moment. I’ve sometimes been brought to tears (happy or sad); listened to the stories of how they express themselves through song; learned about other sexual and gender identities; and I’ve been forced to examine the relationship with my own queerness. I’ve been given this incredible opportunity to become a part of these people’s stories, and their music has completely enriched my life. This I know unequivocally.
And yet, a degree of frustration exists. I find myself becoming so angry with current musical content because everything sounds irritatingly familiar, like it’s all been done before. So much of what I hear or see in pop media has just become regurgitated and rebooted bullshit. I love a good remix or a solid cover, but for the love of all that is holy: where is the originality?Where are the new voices? Where are the stories that we can connect with and move us to think and feel and evolve? QUSIC — that’s where. It might not be the entire answer, but it’s certainly a major part of it. When I’ve had the privilege of watching those who have performed on QUSIC, I’ve quite often asked myself, “Why does the world not know more of you?”.
Let me be clear: this is not a broad criticism of everything that becomes widely popular, and I’ve not calling for an all-out queer takeover of the music industry. But the time is nigh for queer artists producing original, musical content to have their moment. Not all stories that need to be told are straight, white, male, and cis-gender. I’m so incredibly passionate about what I do with QUSIC because, from what I’ve been exposed to thus far in my journey with QUSIC, there are many tales (IMHO) that more people in general should be listening to and learning from. Music is music is music. As humans, we have been gifted the ability to create this wondrous artform that allows us to express so many thoughts and feelings, at times even empowering disenfranchised groups in society to bring about change. And, sometimes, maybe that wondrous artform just allows us to enjoy love for the sake of love, or experience anguish because it hurts…because we are all human.
We’ve come a long way since debuting this show in May 2020 during a pandemic. I’m so grateful to the team I work with to create this project, and I can’t wait to discover what we have in store for the next series. QUSIC, like life, is a work in progress. Moving forward, I’d really like to see this show become a true vehicle for emerging artists’ careers, a place where past guests feel they want to return to, and a platform that attracts established artists to share their stories and songs. I’ve already been so impressed with the calibre of talent we’ve hosted during Season One; I’d really like to see QUSIC become an entity that enters the conversation in the music world and in the larger community. Season One is winding down, but I hope the audiences, viewers, and the artists (the reason we do this in the first place) are ready to strap in alongside me for the musical rollercoaster ride that is yet to begin.
QUSIC will air three more regular season episodes through mid-November on select Wednesdays at 7:00 pm (PST); on October 14, October 28, and November 18, 2020. A special Season Finale is in the works for December; stay tuned for details.