Take a deep breath. The title of this post either excites you or horrifies you. If it excites you, you’re going to be pretty bored. No, it’s not a detailed description of a bareback orgy. If you’re horrified, this post may not change your mind, but hopefully you’ll understand a little more.
Gay men know the risks associated with HIV. This article isn’t about that. Let’s not treat adults like they’re uninformed kids. It’s about why gay men aren’t using condoms outside of committed monogamous relationships, not why they should. Of course it’s not an exhaustive list, everyone who chooses not to use condoms, whether occasionally or all the time, has their own personal reasons. However, here are the most common reasons why gay men are choosing not to use condoms.
Straight men don’t say there isn’t any difference between wearing and not wearing condoms; they know it feels better. Only amongst gay men is there such a large group that insist there is no difference in sensation. Gay men feel the need to state this because of peer pressure; if they say otherwise, the condom police may attack and ostracize them. But rather than get into a debate as to whether or not wearing condoms feels better, start by understanding that some men swear it feels a lot better without a condom. A lot better. Men state the physical sensation is dulled on their cocks when they wear condoms. Even many bottoms will say the sensation in their bums is not as pleasant as without condoms. Sure, this may not be the case for everyone. But if condom use really had no impact on pleasure, why would any man, gay or straight, not use a condom all the time? For some, the difference in sensation is no huge – so they feel fine wearing them. But for others, the difference is just too great to ignore and can outweigh the risk. Every man’s physiology is different. Accept that.
Most gay guys love cum. Actually, men in general like their own cum. It’s not rocket science to understand why. It’s the very thing that passes on our genes. Even if we don’t have a desire to procreate, it still holds a power over our minds. And semen is seen as such a powerful force, religions and cultures have always felt the need to dictate its use, control its power. Spilling it in the Bible results in a curse from God. For men, cum is the culmination of the sexual act and trying to contain it can feel for some the same as trying contain their sexual self. In the end, we’re not purely rational beings, completely divorced from our animal and emotional reality. Which leads to the third reason.
Sex is an intimate act, even when it’s not between a committed couple, even when it’s between multiple anonymous partners. Touch is an integral part in making that human connection with someone. It can be a kiss. The stroke of a cheek. And yes, the feel of a bare cock touching the inside of a bare ass. For many people, touching a condom is not the same as touching a person. It’s a physical barrier. In the minds of some, there is a distinct loss of intimacy when latex or another product is placed in between two people (or three, or four). It’s the reason we kiss without masks and touch one another without gloves. And the feeling can be just too powerful to know that you are fully in them, or that they are fully in you, touching you deep within.
Fuck that virus; fuck that fear. Eventually, many gay men give up on living in fear. It’s too difficult for many men to be constantly vigilant, year after year, decade after decade. Eventually, they feel the need to throw it aside and that entails rejecting condoms. Ironically, it’s not always these supposed young ones who don’t know better that are rejecting condoms. It’s guys in their 30s, their 40s, even those in their 50s who lost so many of their near and dear. No human can continually stand on guard for something. Slip ups begin happening, they begin happening more and more, and eventually, the ability to still maintain that vigilance goes. Rather than live in constant fear, many men choose to forego condoms as a way to liberate themselves from that fear.
Public health organizations and many many gays have relied on shaming and anger towards any notion of not using condoms. Of course it doesn’t work. Infection rates amongst gay men haven’t budged in 15 years. And of course gay men know shaming doesn’t work but they still do it, perhaps to make themselves better for what they feel they’re having to deny themselves. Or maybe it’s just that human trait in needing to judge others. But in the end, people know the risks and no education can get rid of the reasons why men are choosing not to use condoms. So stop judging. Be a bit more sympathetic. And make the choices that you feel are right for you.
- Are you a cum junkie? Exploring cum fetishes
- Organizations rally urging Gilead Sciences to expedite Truvada as PrEP in Canada
- 10 things gay men need to stop doing
Aspiring porn actors often make a lot of mistakes when first starting out. They struggle with not knowing the trade secrets, make poor decisions because they don’t know any better, and are often focused on the short term rather than the long-term. In fairness, it’s not like there’s a porn university they can go to for education and training. New people to the industry have to do their research online and if they are lucky, will find a mentor like an experienced porn actor, director, or agent to give them some helpful guidance. Gay porn star, Theo Ford, has offered some solid advice for guys who are first starting out.
“It’s difficult to have any weight in the decision making when you are first starting out,” explains Theo Ford. “When I first started out I probably would have been more careful. Now I can say ‘no’ to the biggest studios in the world because it’s something I don’t want to do. It’s not the matter of money or exposure. It has to feel right.”
Choosing to work in the adult entertainment industry because you think you’ll make a lot of money is one of the worst decisions you can make. Your image will last forever, money will not.
“There are some scenes I would have fought a bit more to get my own way or to speak up,” said Theo Ford. “I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve done. It’s helped make me who I am and made me a better person. People will respect you for that.”
Setting boundaries and respecting your morals and values is just as important as knowing your sexual health status. You need to always be true to yourself and not cross your comfort zone.
Over the course of his career in adult entertainment, Theo Ford has had many amazing experiences, but like any job, occasionally you work with someone you don’t get along with.
“He was the biggest jerk I’ve ever scene,” said Theo Ford, recounting a horrible experience he had with a production manager for one of his scenes. “I’ve never seen such a jerk on set. I would never accept that from anyone. I’d walk off set. I would expect the director to do the same with me if I was bitchy, a diva, or hard to work with. It’s a matter of respect. The producer needs to give the main emotion and energy on set. It’s not the models. The producer is the one that has to have the good mindset.”
Ultimately it’s your decision on what you will and will not do. While it’s important to maintain your personal standards, don’t be so particular to the point that directors, studios, and agents won’t work with you.
“There was one production over two days in Berlin I was working on, and there were multiple things I didn’t like,” said Theo Ford, describing a scene he was shooting that didn’t go as he expected. “We had a part of the scene that had fisting. I didn’t know I had to do it. I wasn’t disgusted by it, but I wasn’t ready for it. The producer talked to me about it, and tried to talk me into it. I would never do that again.”
There are also times that you show up on set and you may not be attracted to your scene partner. Most of the time the director and model agents will work together to ensure the models are a good match, but that doesn’t always happen.
“On that same production, I would have never shot with those guys,” exclaimed Theo Ford. “They are great, but I always know who I will be good on set with. Some people match, others don’t. They might not be a good match for me. If the guys have nothing in common, it’ll be a mistake.”
If you’re just starting off in the adult entertainment industry, read these other articles with advice from these experienced porn stars:
- Mr Pam’s advice for guys who want to get into gay porn
- Levi Karter gives his advice on things to think about before getting into gay porn
- Casey Everett; don’t make these mistakes when getting into gay porn
Crystal meth is one of the most widely used drugs in the gay community. It is very seductive, cheap, and sexual. The drug creates a fun and uninhibited feeling and the cost is significantly cheaper than buying drinks in a bar. These are all factors of why the narcotic has become popular in use by the gay community.
However, there are many downsides of using crystal meth. Using crystal meth can:
- take multiple days for the body to fully recover,
- cause memory loss, heart conditions, or psychotic behaviour,
- make it difficult to maintain an erection,
- make it hard to reach orgasm,
- lead to uninhibited and risky sexual situations,
- create a false sense of happiness, and
- become an addiction after the first use.
While crystal meth may be seen as some as a wonder drug, giving users the chance to feel like they are having a wonderful sexual experience, it can easily make people lose themselves by chasing the high to have the sex they think they are looking for. The drug psychologically seduces the user.
People who use crystal meth on a regular basis report that is has effected their job performance, social connections, financial position, and sex lives. The hunt for crystal meth fuelled sex marathons becomes the routine goal.
The difficulty in the situation is not knowing when the addiction has set it, to the point when crystal meth takes over your life. Guys can lose themselves easily and quickly. When firm boundaries are not set users are more susceptible to get lost and start heading down the slippery slope. It’s accepted that someone might go to work a bit hung over from the previous nights escapades, but crystal meth users aren’t able to do that.
Thankfully there are treatment programs for people who need help. Finding a program that is designed for gay men is important, to be able to share and support each other along the path to recovery.
Drag queens are the quintessential part of the gay community. For decades they have been entertaining at gay bars, clubs, lounges, parties, and special events. But in the fierce and competitive marketplace, to make a buck, creativity and innovation is key. Erik Koral knows first hand.
Erik admits that his road to life hasn’t been easy. As a child, he was molested by a camp counselor, and throughout his life he’s battled drugs, and was recently in rehab. After he got out of rehab last year, he was in search of something different. A way to make money, but not have the pressures of a full-time job. Ride-sharing was his answer. But with a background of marketing in the music and entertainment industry, he knew he has to find a way to make it unique, fun, and memorable.
Over the years Eric has been experimenting with his sexuality. This included bisexual encounters with other couples along with cross-dressing. As time passed, Eric really began to enjoy dressing up in drag. Eric quickly put two and two together, and presto, Driving is a Drag was born!
Based out of Los Angeles, Erik is the only Uber and Lyft driver in North America who proudly picks up fares dressed entirely in drag.
It starts out when a fare requests an Uber or Lyft ride. In the game where time, location and price is key, ride share drivers know they need to be on their game. When Erik gets the signal, he’s off to pick up his passenger. As he pulls up to the address in his silver Toyota Prius, he often watched as the client looks around in confusion for the driver. Then, Erik, dressed completely in drag, calmly gets out of the car and says, “Are you looking for a ride, sexy?”
Erik has three different signature outfits; a yellow-cab taxi driver, a racecar driver, and a classy chauffeur. Each costume is custom made, just like any other drag queen. It’s not just Erik that’s had a complete makeover either; his Toyota Prius is also done up in pink feather boas, stuffed animals, and other quirky and fun nick-knacks.
Since Erik started Driving is a Drag, about a year ago, his passengers have fallen in love with Erika!
The Driving is a Drag concept has long legs too! Erik has already formulated business plans around the themed ride-share program and is looking forward to expanding into other areas and markets over the course of the next year. Watch for more exciting ideas to come from this incredibly fun, talented, and very creative spirit!
It’s been two years since the Supreme Court decided that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), was unconstitutional. Across the United States, gay rights activists, the LGBT community, and allies, celebrated. Since that monumental day, 37 states have made it legal for same sex couples to marry and the Supreme Court is again making a big decision on the legality of gay marriage across the United States.
With Pride and wedding seasons in full swing, author and editor Neil Plakcy has just released his latest gay romance novel, Take This Man: Gay Romance Stories. The book is a collection of sixteen stories of love and passion between same sex lovers, and their sultry married sex.
Take This Man: Gay Romance Stories are the modern tales of tantalizing balance of everyday married life and the long naughty nights filled with pleasure. These are stories that make your desire for a long-term relationship grow stronger, and for those in an LTR, give new ideas to spice up life and appreciate the man you are with. Go ahead, let your imagination go wild!
Author Neil Plakcy has seven other novels in the Mahu mystery series, as is the editor for Cleis Press, and writes the book column on GayWired.com.
Starting June 26, Take This Man: Gay Romance Stories is available for $16.95 in paperback or $15.95 in eBook edition, both at www.mahubooks.com.
Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in the Obergefell vs. Hodges case, a landmark decision in American equality rights history. The ruling decided whether states may discriminate against same sex couples and their children by denying such couples the right to marry and refusing to recognize valid same sex marriages conducted in other states.
It’s a monumental step forward in the United States journey towards making marriage equality law in every American state. Today’s ruling will made a tremendous difference in personal and economic well being of same-sex families, and ensuring equal justice for all.
In the United States, same-sex couples have been denied a number of core rights and protections, which are automatically granted to heterosexual and married couples.
The musical is just as fun and captivating as the original Disney cartoon, but is brought to life through the spectacular and creative costume designs, and the cast of characters, who’s song and dance is heartwarming and full of spirit.
The art of puppetry is what makes the show come to life. From flying birds and swimming fish, to giraffe’s and hippos sauntering across the stage, all the animals from the kingdom are brilliantly done, and no detail overlooked.
Heard, but not seen, is the orchestra, performing all the classic music from I Can’t Wait To Be King and Hakuna Matata, to Can You Feel The Love Tonight and Circle of Life. The music along makes you want to burst out into song.
It’s the actors that bring the story to life. Having performed the show many times together, they are in sync, and play off each other well. You can literally see them working up a sweat, as they pour all their energy into their characters. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with seeing these sexy dancers with ripped muscles sweating up a storm on this stage.
Disney’s The Lion King the Musical is in Vancouver at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre until July 12. There are still some tickets available through TicketMaster.
Leadership isn’t a trait that comes to all of us naturally. However, for Kevin Martin it would seem that a leadership role is something very natural indeed! Martin is based in Ottawa and is the managing partner of clothing boutique Stroked Ego, director of the Bank Street BIA and executive producer for the second edition of GlowFair. (Which FYI had up-and-comer Kiesza as their headliner!) Martin comes from a retail background and has grown into the entrepreneur and leader he is today.
Martin grew up in the small town of Port Perry, Ontario, which is about an hour North-East of Toronto. “It was a great place to grow up,” Martin says with a smile. “It’s a small town, with small town living, but within an hour drive you’re in Toronto.” Sadly the small town living wasn’t completely picture-esque as some may suspect growing up gay. “Things were a little different growing up than it is now. I graduated high school in 1991, so there wasn’t too many people that were actually out,” Martin mentions. “In fact I don’t even remember any people that were out when I was in high school. I didn’t come out until I was 23, I was living in Oshawa where I was going to college.” Martin continues to explain that he, “kind of had two separate lives, I was living in Oshawa where I was open and honest, and everything.” Adding that, “when I would drive back to my parents home in Port Perry, then things kind of shut off and I was someone else. So, it took a little bit of adjusting.”
Martin made it through his adjustment stage and his future began to take shape. His employer at the time (Thriftys now known as Bluenotes) offered him a promotion at a store in Ottawa. “I had never been to Ottawa before,” says Martin. “I blindly accepted it , came up, found an apartment, and away we went!” It wasn’t too long after that Martin had an opportunity to work for IKEA and he, “jumped at that, it was a really great company to work for,” he explains. “I learned a lot. I ended up as a sales manager for the store here in Ottawa.”
So, how did Martin make the big jump into the entrepreneurial world is the question that still lingers. Was it his interest in fashion or did he want to work for himself? “It was honestly a bit of both,” Martin Explains. “My partner at the time and I, were trying to figure out where to get certain things. Trying to find a nice shirt, or trying to find a nice set of cufflinks, or whatever.” Adding that the two were, “typically driving to Montreal or Toronto to go shopping because we felt that Ottawa didn’t have it.” With that niche market identified the wheels started spinning for Martin, “we started to investigate into the possibility of a mens accessory store and just kind of went from there.”
In 2010 Stroked Ego was opened. The store caters to a fashion savvy man who is after more than a simple shopping mall find when it comes to his retail excursion. “We try to focus on brands you can’t find everywhere, but obviously there is a bit of cross-over sometimes,” Martin explains. “The majority of our brands are exclusive to us in the city.” Some of those brands Martin is referring to include Andrew Christian, !Solid, Mavi Denim, and a hell of a lot more.
Opening Stroked Ego is what introduced him to the Bank street BIA. Martin explains that, “just before I started the store I was working for Staples, that was my last position before opening Stroked Ego. A general manager at another store, was the general manager at the one on Bank Street. He was sitting as a member of the BIA and they were looking for some fresh faces, I guess. So when I opened up the store on Bank Street he came to me immediately and said, ‘you’re sitting on the BIA’, and that’s how it all started.”
From there it would seem the pieces were fitting together like a puzzle. A demand for re-branding and a new strategy to bring attention to Bank street was the thought for a flagship event. “At the time I was the chair of the marketing committee for the Bank Street BIA. So we came up with a re-branding strategy for the BIA and the area.” That flagship event turned into Glowfair. From there Martin explains that he was, “kind of on the committee last year, and this year they decided to make it a little more in-house with the actual operations.” With his leadership qualities shining through, for year two Martin was named executive producer for Glowfair.
With out losing any momentum, it’s onto completing the next project, which is moving into a new retail space for Stroked Ego. “We are moving to the end of Bank/Slater (131 Bank Street), so not too far from here. Our lease was up, unfortunately we couldn’t come to terms with the current landlord for what the next five years would look like, so we decided to move on.”
While to some this may all sound like it was easy, in reality it’s all a lot of hard work. “It’s different, it’s just different kinds of stresses,” Martin explains. When it comes to the difference between working with a team, to creating a team for example, “well, you’re starting from scratch.” Martin continues explaining that, “corporations already have their guidelines, they already have their orientation packages, their health and safety committees setup, you name it. When you’re starting up your own business, you don’t have any of it. So you have to pull from experiences to make things happen.” Adding that, “on the other hand, you can build it from the beginning, so you don’t have to inherit things you may not have necessarily done yourself. Not saying they’re bad things, but you may do them differently.”
Lastly Martin adds that, “it’s just a matter of working for yourself is better than working for a corporation. You work just as hard, you have stresses, they’re a little bit different than the ones you had there, but I just wanted to do it for myself. So I decided to take the leap!”
Russia has taken a firm stance under Putin to define itself as the defender of Christian civilization in Europe and to actively promote conservative values, a role it played following the French revolution and the liberal revolutions of 1848 when it intervened in European affairs. But while gay rights have faced a brick wall in Russia and gains have been rapidly reversed, it is often forgotten the many steps that countries in the former Soviet bloc have taken towards creating a more equal society for their LGBT citizens. And it’s not just in typically liberal countries such as the Czech Republic where change has occurred.
From Estonia to Slovenia, which was communist but non-aligned, it has been two steps forward for every one step back. And it appears that the direction will continue to be greater equality in these countries.
Just this year in the beautiful hilly and mountainous country of Slovenia, lawmakers voted resoundingly by a 51-28 vote to legalize gay marriage, where registered partnerships were already legal. There may be a referendum to overturn this if the country’s constitutional court allows a referendum to go ahead and polls show conflicting outcomes. However, even if it were to be overturned in a referendum, the fact that nearly two-thirds of lawmakers supported marriage equality is surely a sign of the direction the country is taking.
Poland, the home of the conservative Pope John Paul II, has also sent signs of growing tolerance. While just a decade ago, the country’s capital Warsaw was busy trying to ban gay pride parades, LGBT people are becoming more visible in society. In 2011, Poland elected Europe’s first transgendered politician into its parliament, Anna Grodzka. She was greeted warmly by fellow lawmakers, including kisses on her cheek. At the same time, Robert Biedron was elected Poland’s first openly gay parliamentarian. In December 2014, Biedron became a mayor. After two centuries of occupation and domination by outside powers, Poland’s history as the most liberal and tolerant nation in Europe may about to be resurrected.
Next door in Lithuania, leaders are also standing up for all of its citizens. Recently, one of the country’s singers compared homosexuality to paedophilia (he’s now apologized). But after strongly rebuking the singer, the country’s President, Dalia Grybauskaitė, stated “the sooner Lithuania becomes more open and more tolerant, the better it will be for the country.” She hoped the discussion following the condemnation of the singer will help educate the country’s citizens.
And finally, Estonia is consciously snubbing Russia and charting a different path. This year, Estonia became the first actual former Soviet nation to legally recognize same-sex partnerships in a close 40 to 38 vote. A quarter of the country is made up of ethnic Russians who get their news from Russian state-controlled television and the older generations tend to be quite conservative. Despite this, younger Estonians see themselves more as Scandinavians (they are ethnically very similar to Finns) and look there for their values.
Why have these countries moved towards greater equality for their LGBT citizens rather than turn towards a medieval conservatism as Russia is doing? Well, they are all member states in the European Union. While the EU does not mandate things such as marriage equality, it does guarantee the right to protest and to hold gay pride parades. It also mandates anti-discrimination laws. These all had to be put in place before the countries were accepted into the EU. This enables gay rights groups to mobilize and also allows citizens to be more open about their sexual orientation without the same level of fear of discrimination in employment or housing (though undoubtedly that still occurs).
Being a part of the EU has also meant that hundreds of thousands, if not over a million now, of their citizens have gone to work in Western Europe and returned with a new vision of tolerance for their countries. Hundreds of thousands of Poles alone have lived and worked in the United Kingdom and interacted with gay people in their everyday lives, including now with fellow gay Poles who were able to live more openly without fear. This younger generation is transforming the values of these countries. The economies of these countries have also advanced dramatically in the last two decades. And with greater economic security, the population has begun to embrace greater individual freedom.
Finally, and most importantly, many of these countries see gay rights as a visible way to reject their former master Russia and embrace their new partnership with Western and Central Europe. Gay rights has become a litmus test: are you modern or traditional, are you western or eastern, are you secular or conservative religious, are you with the EU or against it. As Russia increasingly defines itself as the bastion of conservative Christianity, and due to the historical enmity many of these countries feel towards their former oppressors, these European citizens conversely are increasingly defining themselves by their liberalism. In this regard, gay rights are but one part of a larger brewing conflict over values and the future of the European continent.
In the middle of a hot LA Pride Sunday afternoon, thousands of people arrived at the LA Pride Festival main stage for a chance to see and hear the queen of EDM, Luciana.
In a custom-made sequin red dress, adorned with colourful butterflies, Luciana, lived up to her reputation, delivering an over-the-top performance that had the sea of people cheering for more. Like her music, the crowd was electric.
Luciana put on a amazing performance, with her signature facial expressions, and beat-banging dance moves that had her red-dress bouncing back and forth, glinting in the afternoon sun.
She sang a mix of old favourites and her new hits, which made for a great variety.
If you ever get the chance to see Luciana perform in person, you have to go! She’s amazing. She knows how to own a stage and put on a show that audiences love.
Geeks and nerds are more common in the gay community than you think. Some people would never want to be in a room full of this crowd, some people happily blend in, and others are attracted like magnets. But the fact is, gay geeks and nerds are a cool part of the LGBT community.
Scruff, a gay slang dictionary, defines a gay nerd as: A gay man with deep and enthusiastic knowledge of one or more hobbies, sports, activities, professional fields, or intellectual pursuits.
The Urban Dictionary defines a gay nerd as: Though he wears glasses, neckties, and is always reading a book, Jack does have a sculpted face and chiseled abs. He’s the ultimate cute gay nerd.
The Random Geekings defines a gay geek as: One who is perceived to be overly obsessed with one or more things including those of intellectuality, electronics, etc.
Who really makes up the gay community? The first types that come to mind are the muscle gays, the circuit sisters, the club kids, and the gaybours. But these types are just a small part of the gay community, and the ones who are most visible. The largest part of the community aren’t usually seen. However, it’s those who aren’t seen in the community, at the bars, and in the clubs, that you might find on the next sex-dating app.
Gay geeks and nerds don’t get the proper recognition they deserve. While some guys may not identify with being a geek or nerd, in social situations they will find themselves talking about their ideas, politics, or areas of keen interest. Very serious and in-depth discussions.
The community would look much different if it was accurately represented in the media, specifically the gay media. Most gay men are shy, socially awkward, and uncomfortable. However, many are overachievers too. Gay geeks and nerds enjoy discussions ideas more than the latest fashion trends. Most of them are not flamboyant or social butterflies, but they have a place in the community right alongside the muscle gays and party boys.
Most clubs and venues have fetish and theme nights. Perhaps it’s time to have a Geek and Nerd night, where its comfortable to talk about ideas and have the opportunity for hot sexual encounters. No, not a library or an Internet café. A real place where geeks and nerds can cruise and be cruised, enticed out to explore meeting others like themselves.
Gay Geeks and Nerds unite. Take back the community!
The pride movement in North America was started in New York, following the Stonewall riots in 1969. Since that terrible time in history, cities around the world have come to organize, march, lobby, and rally for LGBT rights and equality. Every June the five boroughs that make up New York City come together to host parades, parties, and festivals.
Four years ago, New York celebrated their first year of same sex marriage. Two years ago the nation came to celebrate the Supreme Court ruling on DOMO. This year, it’s hoped there will be the biggest celebration of all, as the Supreme Court is set to rule on marriage equality, which would grant the right for same sex marriage in every American state.
As Pride week gets underway, the diverse and vibrate cultures throughout the city remember and celebrate the historic events that have taken place in New York City, and how those moments in history have impacted gay rights across the world.
“New York City sets the standard for openness and inclusivity and there’s no better place to celebrate Pride this June,” said Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company. “We welcome LGBT travelers and families, whether art lovers, sports enthusiasts, urban explorers, theater buffs or foodies, to enjoy the best of New York City’s five boroughs this summer.”
It will be a busy weekend ahead with official Pride events through NYC Pride, along with the ever popular Matinee Pride events. In the city that never sleeps, there is always something fun and exciting to do. This year, on top of all the organized events, take some time out to enjoy the city.
Here are 5 non-Pride things to do in New York City this Pride week:
- Take in a Broadway show. From Phantom of the Opera to Wicked and the Lion King, there are plenty of options to get out an enjoy some of your favourite musicals.
- Go on a tour. Pick up a CityPASS at see the Empire State Building, the Modern Museum of Art (MOMA), Rockefeller Center, and more. All the iconic NYC attractions in one affordable pass.
- Take a walk through Central Park. The world’s largest urban park! Walk along the beautiful pathways and enjoy the wide-open spaces. Perfect for a romantic picnic, a game of Frisbee or a casual bike-ride along the pathways.
- Make it a casual day. Stroll along High Line park, an old raised railway that has been converted into an elevated park. A perfect reason to head to Chelsea for some boutique shopping!
- See the Statue of Liberty. The most famous and recognized monument in NYC. Hop aboard a tour to see the spectacular statue and enjoy the incredible views of Manhattan.
Looking for more ideas to round our your visit to New York City? NYC GO has everything from complete itineraries and accommodations, to things to do and deals.
Sparkling Hill Resort is a world-class resort located in the interior region of British Columbia. Situated just outside of the North Okanagan city of Vernon, the Okanagan Valley is well know for outdoor recreation and leisure getaways, farming and agriculture, and a long history rooted in conservative values. When the luxury wellness and spa resort opened in 2010, little did they know the vital role they would play in the transformation of one of their employees. This is Katie’s story.
Katie was born in Cambridge, Ontario, and grew up in the small community of Paris, a rural town of about 10,000 people. Growing up, she knew she was different from the other kids. This is common for many LGBT youth; they often recognize or feel something is different about them, but they aren’t sure what it is because sexual education isn’t taught until later in school, and even then, LGBT education is limited at best.
“My first memory was wanting to be just like my mom; I was probably four or five years old,” said Katie, reflecting back on when she first recognized she was different. “Before I was fifteen, I knew I wanted to be female. I knew I was transgendered before I hit puberty. It was confusing.”
When Katie was about fourteen years old she gained access to the Internet. She started conducting her own research, trying to understand her thoughts and feelings, and why she had a strong connection to wanting to be female.
“When the Internet first came out and I could get information, there was a lot of mis-information that labeled transgendered people as having a third sexuality,” explained Katie. “I had contacted someone from the LGBT community who was transgender. I told her my situation.”
At the time, Katie made a conscious decision to continue to live her life as a boy, and went on through high school. She never dated, let alone make an attempt to experiment sexually. She kept her true feelings to herself. It was a very confusing time for her. During college, Katie started to experiment with cross-dressing. She went to a councilor, try to help her try to sort out her thoughts, feelings and emotions; to get clarity and direction on what she was to make of everything.
“At that point, she encouraged me to continue with cross-dressing,” Katie explained. “I did lots of things to deal with it and cope. I was cross-dressing the entire time. I finally met someone in a support group and they helped me identify as someone who is transgender.”
Up until this stage Katie still had not told her parents or friends about her newfound knowledge. After attending therapy sessions, Katie decided it was time to tell her parents.
“My parents knew I was different when I was younger,” Katie said, describing the reaction she received from her parents when she revealed to them that she identified as being transgendered. “They were finding women’s clothes in my room when I was growing up and living at home. There was an initial reaction from my dad, in a fatherly way. My mom was really supportive and wanted to talk about it.”
At first, Katie’s dad tried to talk her out of it, calling her androgynous, but after doing his own research, he began to understand and began to support and embrace Katie.
It wasn’t until after she completed school and moved to British Columbia that her real journey would begin. Katie was dressing and identifying as male in the work environment. While working at Canadian Tire, a big box retail chain that sells everything from automotive parts to tools, Katie took a huge gamble. Despite a very masculine work environment, she told her manager she identified as transgender, right about the time she handed in her resignation.
“I was in a really bad mood when I was there,” said Katie, recalling how she felt while working at Canadian Tire. “I think that it helped me by initially telling someone. They were really supportive. I was happy about that. That gave me the confidence that I could really do it.”
Katie applied at Sparkling Hill Resort and accepted a position in the 280+ employee strong company. Katie’s plan to work at Sparkling Hill Resort wasn’t random. It was a well thought-out, strategic plan, where she knew it would be the right time and environment for her journey to transition from male to female.
“When I came to Sparkling Hill, I came as Ben,” said Katie. “I didn’t know how they were going to react. I knew there would be a large community of women working here. I thought it would be easier to transition and tell other women, because they would understand more.”
Katie first came out to a couple of people within her department, even before hitting her three months probation period. She knew it would be a risk, but she was confident it wouldn’t be an issue. She felt very comfortable with the work environment and her fellow co-workers, and she felt would be safe.
“I told my manager and she was really supportive,” Katie explained. “She told me she would keep it a secret until I was ready to come out.”
Katie worked with Sparkling Hill Resort Operations Manager, Jana Gohl, to put a transition plan together. The plan was very thoughtful and laid out with a specific process in mind.
“It was really good how we did it,” said Katie in a very proud and confident voice. “We picked a date and stuck to the plan. The steps were really good.”
“Honestly, there were no immediate concerns,” said Janna Gohl. “We have really great management. I knew everyone would be really supportive. It was more about how could we make it as comfortable and smooth transition for her.”
Jana’s plan included hosting an education and workshop style session for the management team. It allowed them to learn more about what it means to be transgendered, ask questions, and to have an open dialogue.
“It was really important on how to present the information to the management team,” said Jana Gohl. “For our management team, it was important to communicate to them property. It wasn’t presented to them as Ben is transgendered, but it was ‘put yourself into this situation’. ‘How would you feel and how would you like to be treated?’ It made them all very comfortable to ask questions.”
With the first big step in the plan complete, it was on to the next step.
“Katie gave me permission to let the managers know, and then to tell their employees,” said Jana Gohl. “We set the date when Katie would show up as female. We had a month and a half to prepare.
With an organization as large as Sparkling Hill, especially in a region known for strong, politically conservative values, there was a risk something could go wrong.
“There were no issues or concerns that came up with the employees,” Jana Gohl said in a reassuring voice. “There was no one that came to me or any of the other managers. A lot of them were really eager to see her.”
And as the days counted by, it came time for the day everyone had been waiting for. The day Katie was finally revealed.
“The first time I came as Katie, most people were supportive,” said Katie. “The first time I walked into a department, I was nervous. But it was OK. Someone laughed and thought it was a joke. It wasn’t traumatic. By the time I saw the person for a second time, there weren’t any issues.”
With the transformation complete, Katie could finally be the person she had always wanted to be. It was all possible thanks to the wonderful management and staff at Sparkling Hill Resort, who embraced her for who she was and gave her the courage and support she needed.
“There is a really open culture here,” said Katie. “The culture is European; very open. There are openly gay men working here. We have promotions for the LGBT community. It’s a good culture.”
With Sparkling Hill Resort being such a young company, they were already well prepared with an employee handbook that outlined the policies and guidelines. This meant that Jana and the rest of the management team did not have to implement a lot of training or resources when Katie came to them with her situation.
“We are a very diverse environment,” said Jana Gohl. “We don’t accept harassment of ay type. The policies are reviewed in our employee orientations that are held once a month. Since we are such a young company, we already came with an open mind. We didn’t really need to change any of our processes.”
“I couldn’t be happier about Sparkling Hill Resort and how things went,” said Katie, looking back on the entire experience. “It was a dream come true. There’s nothing I would have done differently.”
For Jana Gohl and the management team at Sparking Hill, they agree, it was a smooth and almost uneventful process. But it was because their organization was up-to-date with HR policies and practices.
“I think the more familiar and more open you are, for anything, for the entire LGBT community, the more people you’ll attract to your organization,” said Jana Gohl. “People want to work where they don’t feel out of place or are being judged. They are people, just like everyone else.”
Jana also says it’s important to make all employees feel equal and to have support systems in place, especially with senior management. Being open will allow employees to be more comfortable and not have your company be left behind.
“It’s been really special for Sparkling Hill Resort to go through this change with Katie,” Jana Gohl said with a giant glow. “It really starts from the top down, with your senior management and executives. It’s really difficult for the organization to be open and accepted. You need to be open for anybody. There should be no judgment, regardless of orientation. Employees need to know they can be themselves.”
Katie’s story is a fantastic example of how today’s companies need to ensure they have up-to-date employee training, policies, and handbooks, to ensure the rights of all employees are guaranteed. Employers need to ensure they are embracing all employees, regardless of their sexual orientation, race, creed, or religious beliefs.
Today, Katie is proud to work at Sparkling Hill Resort and is very humble about the change and impact she has made to improve the culture at the luxury resort. Her story will be an important legacy within their organization and one other employers can use to learn from.
The signature yellow and blue-stripped big top returns to Vancouver on October 29, 2015 with the return of Kooza by Cirque du Soleil. Ticket are on sale now for the limited time engagement at Concord Pacific Place.
Kooza has performed over 2,700 shows, in 47 cities, spanning 12 countries, to an audience totaling over 4 million people, since it premiered in April 2007.
A combination of acrobatic performance and the art of clowning, Kooza is the story of The Innocent, a melancholy loner in search of his place in the world. The show highlights the physical demands of human performance in all its splendor and fragility, presented in a colorful mélange that emphasizes bold slapstick humour.
The story unfolds as The Innocent’s journey takes him to meet the king, the trickster, and the obnoxious tourist. The performance touches on fear, identity, recognition, and power, all set to a vibrant and exotic visual experience full of surprises, thrills, chills, and involvement.
Tickets for Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza Vancouver performance are on sale now and start at just $45 per person.
Gen-Y and Millennials are always on the hunt for new ways to develop their skills and broaden their experience to help them catapult their career. Little do most people know, depending on what industry you want to go into, working in the adult entertainment industry could give you the boost you are looking for without expensive post-secondary education. It’s what you do with your 15 minutes of fame that can really make the difference. Here is a look at 5 amazing career you can learn while working in the gay porn industry:
Public Relations Officer:
“Through porn you get a ton of exposure,” said gay porn star Theo Ford. “You have to grab it whenever possible. Working in porn you’re given that chance and visibility.”
Theo Ford is right. For professionals, working in adult entertainment teaches you skills of being comfortable in front of a camera. This is particularly important for people who are in public relations or an executive position and being interviewed by media. Being filmed naked, having sex, takes a lot of guts and is a lot of pressure. Going in front of a camera in a suit and tie is a whole lot easier. Plus, many gay porn stars are interviewed by media, so it’s a great media training opportunity! Practice those interview skills early and often.
“Before I did porn I did fashion design in Paris for nearly 10 years,” explained Theo Ford. “I was working on short fashion movies. I’m still in the stages of getting better, doing more and more. Modeling is one way to go mainstream. To have a longer lasting career you need to branch out of doing more than just porn. I just started shooting with Andrew Christian!”
As a model on film set you get the chance to work with a lot of highly skilled and talented people. If you’re interested in working on a set, but behind the camera, adult entertainment is a great opportunity. From lighting and audio, to grips and directors, there are many people you can get valuable tips and advice from. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you’re interested in video editing, ask to spend time in the studio while your scene is being cut. You can learn so much and add to your personal knowledge base.
Porn actors shoot in all kinds of environments, from garages and locker rooms, to multi-million dollar beach home and luxury hotels. As an aspiring set designer you can get a lot of ideas by working in gay porn. Each shoot happens in a different location, in unique spaces. In some cases multiple scenes are shot on one property, which requires a lot of staging. It’s a great opportunity to work with the team to gain experience and get their insider tricks of the trade!
“I’ve been very creative all my life, drawing, writing and creating music since I was a boy,” said Theo Ford. “I would write short stories and poems when I was a boy. Modeling leads to acting and writing.”
Whether your passion is writing, drawing, fashion design, or music, being a porn model will help expand your mind. You learn to appreciate the human body and the intricacies of working with other creative and inspiring people. Remember, scripts need to be written for each scene, sets need to be designed, and costumes need to be carefully selected. You never know where your next big idea will come from!
Where will your career in porn take you? You never know!
On June 6 in Vancouver B.C., over 100 volunteers, activists, community leaders, advocates, and LGBT participants took part in the inaugural STRUT event. Participants raised $45,000 and walked a mile in high heels to symbolizing that it’s easier to walk a mile in high heels than to spend a lifetime in the closet. It also represented the difficult journey that many LGBT refugees face on their journey to reach a safe home. The money raised through the event was for the Foundation of Hope, which supports LGBT refugees.
So why is this important and why hasn’t it been done before?
Canada is a leader on the world stage. Canada has a long history of LGBT rights and equality. Canada has also been welcoming new immigrants and refugees for decades.
More importantly, the Foundation of Hope wants the the LGBT community to look outward and begin to direct its resources to those beyond our shores. It’s not that there are no longer challenges in the Canada, but the progress over the past few decades have been astounding. Police protect the community, rather than attack it. In most places, we are free to marry the person we love. More and more of our youth are growing up proud of who they are. While there are still battles to be fought in our own backyard, it’s time to think more broadly and do what we can to help our struggling brothers and sisters abroad.
Circumstances have changed dramatically in some parts of the world. We are used to thinking of LGBT rights as progress, something societies are moving towards. It’s a way that we are taught to think but it’s a faulty assumption. The world is not a linear progression to some new Jerusalem, as much as many people would like to think. It is a constant battle to build and maintain a decent world in which we can all live. And in large parts of the world, the lives of LGBT peoples are deteriorating at a rapid pace.
Before the Stonewall riots, if you were a gay man or a transgendered woman, and you could pick anywhere in the world to live, you likely would’ve chosen the Middle East and North Africa. Surprised? The truth is that there was a general live and let live attitude towards male sexuality. For the most part, it was done in private, but in some cases it was out in the open. This all started to change in the last few decades, ironically around the same time as the beginning of the gay liberation movement in the North America. Now several thesis could be written to explain these changes. One reason was dictatorships. Most of these countries were run by dictators installed and supported by either the West or the Soviets and these dictators squashed any opposition and tried to control the hierarchy of religious institutions. As a result, people sought an outlet in one of the only ways possible – radical Islam – and this has led to increased intolerance. At the same time, the Saudi government used its oil wealth to push its extreme version of Islam. As well, decades of economic stagnation have resulted in an angry population – and it’s in those situations that minorities are vulnerable. And finally, the fall of secular dictatorships, starting with the American invasion of Iraq, or perhaps also going back to the fall of the Shah in Iran, has allowed for increased religious influence on government and LGBT peoples have become open game. Where in some places a gay man could have lived peacefully, he is now hunted down by militas.
Other places haven’t necessarily gone backwards but they haven’t progressed to meet the aspirations of their LGBT citizens. In parts of Eastern Europe such as Russia or the former Yugoslav nations, access to Western European and North American culture have shown gay men and others a lifestyle and openness that they want for themselves. However, in recent years, there has been a strong backlash against the standard bearers of the cause in those countries. In Russia, there has been a general rejection of Western culture and all that it is seen to represent, including secularism and LGBT rights. Activists are under threat from vigilantes and the police are not there to help them.
Finally, the growth of extremist Christianity in Africa,funded by Churches in North America, at the expense of mainstream denominations, along with dictatorships trying to justify power, has led to increasing persecution of LGBTQ+ persons – to the degree that they are not just attacked if they are open but are now actively hunted down.
So why should anyone in North America care to help those fleeing certain death? Well for one, we’ve caused some of it. Our lavish lifestyles, built upon decades of propping up dictators (just so you’re aware, our society is rich not because we work hard but because of centuries of exploitation that continues today), has led to the backlash and persecutions we are seeing today. Furthermore, we should do it because we can. At no point in world history have LGBTQ+ peoples had so much political and economic power. It’s time we use that to help our brothers and sisters overseas. And finally, it’s about community. Catholics here support Catholics in need overseas. Armenians here help Armenians back in their homeland. Isn’t it time that LGBTQ+ peoples see their community as more than just the local gay village but a global community seeking justice?
Do what you can in your local communities to support LGBT refugees. Raise money, lobby politicians to help them get to our shores, and support our brothers and sisters, economically and with love, once they arrive.
Pride is an important time for the LGBT community. It’s a time to advocate for equality rights, teach the importance of acceptance and diversity, and bring awareness of the issues and complexities of the queer community. With Pride come the feelings of optimism, confidence, and support. Many people take this special time to accept their own sexuality and take the bold and giant step, by coming out. This is exactly what one artist did while performing on the main stage at LA Pride 2015.
“It’s like a warm welcoming; people understand what you’re going through,” said Tosh, an upcoming pop-rock artist originally from Palm Springs, now living in Los Angeles, performed Friday night at LA Pride. “It’s not that I throw myself into an orientation,” said Tosh. “It’s not that it’s about what’s in your pants. I would date a man or a woman. I’m very open. It’s something that draws me into a person and who they are. I don’t judge or say what I am. Why does it matter? It doesn’t affect your life!”
While she had been to LA Pride before, this was her first year performing. “This was the first time being on stage and being comfortable,” Tosh explained. “Doing this was relieving. I performed a show and felt so confident walking off the stage. I killed it! This was huge for me. This was the biggest thing that could ever happen to me. It was the kick-off to my career and new chapter in my life!”
After performing on the main stage at LA Pride, and reflecting on the experience, Tosh felt like a huge weight was lifted from her shoulders. “I’ve always clashed with my career and personal life. I didn’t know if I should come off being a lesbian, bisexual, an image people don’t know, or should I be more mysterious? I decided I’m going to be myself and I’m going to do LA Pride. It shows who I am. It let’s people put the pieces together for themselves. I’ve never had a time of saying I’m out. It was a great experience.”
Tosh has been in love with music since she was a kid. Her interest in music started with banging on the drums. By the time she was 14 she picked up the guitar and taught herself to play. As her music skills improved over the years, she wanted more. She dreamed of being the front women where she could sing, move, and be all over the stage. At 17, she took her passion to a new level by first investing in music lessons to sharpen her talent, then joining a band to gain experience, and most recently breaking out into a solo career that is off to a great start.
“I would say my music style is a mix of pop and rock,” said Tosh. “I do write music according to my mood. One song might be rock and the other could be bubble-gum pop. It’s all based on my mood swings. I’m human.”
Her music is inspired by her life experiences. “It’s something I’ve either gone through or been through somehow,” Tosh explained. “There are so many things that have happened to me to make a full album. My album that is coming out is based on the last four years of my life. When I sit down I write about things that are happening. It’s a mix of emotions.”
It’s been a long and difficult road for Tosh. On top of dealing with an aspiring career as an artist and hiding her sexual orientation publically, she was also fighting depression.
“Everyone goes through a struggle,” said Tosh. “In my teenage years I was trying to understand who I was. I had anxiety really bad. I was trying to figure out who I was. How am I supposed to be on stage performing when I don’t even know who I am?”
Her new album was written and produced in collaboration with Kevin Truckenmiller, of Quietdrive, the band that is renowned for the cover song, Time After Time. Tosh spend three full months in Minnesota writing and recording songs with Kevin Truckenmiller.
Tosh hopes to release her debut album this fall. Over the next couple of months she is focused on building her fan base, with intentions of going on tour after the album is released.
After her debut on the LA Pride stage, coming out, and with an album along the way, Tosh is set to take on the world. Watch Tosh Music; and follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Something big and something good is happening. It’s cool. It’s edgy. It’s exciting!