Jason Matlo: Making It Big

Working out of his Vancouver studio in the historic Gastown neighbourhood, award-winning fashion designer, Jason Matlo, is keenly aware of how far he has come, not just in the fashion world, but as an out gay man. In an interview with the Westender, Matlo, a winner on the TV series, Making It Big, mused: “It’s a fascinating, fascinating time for the gay community right now; it certainly has propelled forward more in the last year than I thought I was going to see in my lifetime, because I was a gay teen in the 1980s – in Kelowna, to boot,” Matlo laughs. “I never thought I would see the day when it was this open and this accepted.” Already well-established as a designer of chic, retro-inspired women's ready-made and ready-to-wear clothing, plus a stunning line of bridal gowns, Matlo took the leap from selling his clothing lines to retailers to selling direct, a move that resulted in the designer's best sales year to date.

You can follow Jason Matlo around the web: 

His online shop: http://shop.jasonmatlo.com/
His web site: http://jasonmatlo.com/
His Twitter/Instagram: @jasonmatlo

Michael Sam Is Leaving Pro Football

Michael Sam made headlines around the world when he became the first openly gay player drafted for the American National Football League. When he didn't get a permanent contract with any NFL teams in the USA we were excited about having him play for the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes. Now, sadly, he is leaving pro football altogether citing mental health reasons. "The last 12 months have been very difficult for me, to the point where I became concerned with my mental health....Because of this I am going to step away from the game at this time." Michael Sam had a 2 year deal with the Alouettes. He's only 25-years-old and has his whole life ahead of him. I hope he gets the help that he needs.

LGBT Mural Vandalized - Again!

Earlier this week, our local LGBTQ centre, Qmunity was vandalized and now there's a new report that a mural created by Toronto-based artists, Anna Camilleri and Tristan R Whiston, has also been defaced - again! In fact, there have been four separate occasions of homophobic vandalism on this mural. The mural is a celebration of the contributions LGBT people have made in sports but Camilleri says her art is for all people. "I think whoever is vandalizing the artwork has found that the existence of LGBT people objectionable, and is projecting that on to this artwork, which could be interpreted in a lot of different ways.” The artists plan on checking the mural once a week and are considering using other materials that might protect their artwork. A report was filed with the police. To date there are no suspects.

How Coming Out Helped Olympian Mark Tewksbury To Win Gold

Last year, I reported on how the Canadian Museum for Human Rights included the true story of Chris Vogel and Richard North - the first gay couple in Canada to try to be legally married in 1974! Now this year we have another piece of gay history on display - Mark Tewksbury's gold medal from the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. Tewksbury, who was closeted at the time, had only told his coach Debbie Muir that he was gay. He didn't reveal publicly that he was gay until six years after his winning the gold medal (in the 100-metre backstroke) because he didn't feel safe.

To me, the most amazing thing about his coming out story is that by taking those first steps in accepting himself he reached outward and in doing so began to feel a little less alone. His coach Debbie Muir was fully supportive of him and that allowed Tewksbury to be empowered both as an athlete and as a man. He explains: "For my entire career, being gay had been a negative, a liability, and in that moment, I looked around the room — true story — and I thought to myself, 'What makes me different from these guys?' And I thought, 'I'm the fag!' In a great way. I owned it... And I was totally empowered and went out there, dropped 1.2 seconds off my personal best, out-touched Jeff [Rouse] and won that medal by 6/100 of a second. I've always said that for me, that medal is a human rights medal. It was done via a sporting event, but it was done because someone created space for me to be me."

Mark Tewksbury has been an advocate for LGBT athletes for many years. He was the Ambassador for the historic Pride House at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

Canadian LGBTQ Rights Groups Warn Americans of "The Coming Gay Rights Letdown"

Last month, Canada celebrated 10 years of marriage equality. In that time many advocates have lamented that it has become increasingly difficult in Canada to get people involved in working for advocacy in the LGBTQ community. Jeremy Dias, director of the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, recently spoke to The Daily Beast about his frustrations in this respect, ranging from the difficulty in raising money for various LGBTQ rights organizations in Canada to post-marriage equality apathy:
From his experience in Canada, Dias warns of the “apathy” that can accompany a nationwide same-sex marriage victory, an apathy that only makes his work with the CCGSD more challenging. A large-scale 2011 study found that LGBT students in Canada still experience high rates of verbal, physical, and sexual harassment, leading Dias to conclude that Canada’s culture is far more resistant to change than its laws. 
“We haven’t really seen a change in the statistics,” said Dias. 
Courting donors to address issues outside of same-sex marriage, he added, has been particularly challenging for Canadian LGBT organizations in the last 10 years. The CCGSD has been lucky to find a place in a post-2005 LGBT landscape, Dias said, but he also made ominous reference to a “slide in donations” that other Canadian organizations have experienced since the passage of the Civil Marriage Act.

Quote of The Day

“Gay neighbourhoods—even in a societal context of full legislative equality—still provide a buffer against discrimination in matters such as housing or in the workplace.” - Amin Ghaziani 

UBC sociologist Amin Ghaziani, author of There Goes the Gayborhood?comments on how gay neighbourhoods seem to be disappearing in large cities thoroughout North America. "According to Ghaziani, these trends are evidence of increasing equality. This, in turn, allows gays and lesbians to move out of their sanctuaries to other areas, an exodus accompanied by the arrival of more straight people in traditionally gay neighbourhoods."

NEWS: Qmunity Vandalized, A Gay Love Story, UVic Pride Referendum, RainCity HEAT shelters

Meet David, a 23-year-old bisexual man who was homeless by the age of 16. With the help of Covenant House and RainCity HEAT shelters he has been able to rebuild his life. "He was homeless on and off for six years until RainCity gave him a room in January and then helped him secure a market apartment in April. That was made possible with the help of a rent subsidy from B.C. Housing, under RainCity’s LGBTQ2S youth housing project."

Dara Parker, executive director of Qmunity, discovers homophobic graffiti scrawled on the building. "The fact that someone would violate a place designated as an LGBTQ sanctuary, in a neighbourhood known for being inclusive, in a city where people assume it’s easy to come out, in 2015, is frightening. Homophobia has not disappeared."

Hannes van der Merwe and Lonnie Delisle share their love story. "He found Delisle on Facebook and told him of his journey. Their reconnection was powerful and instantaneous. On opposite sides of the globe, the two had undergone remarkably parallel evolutions. Things moved quickly, thanks partly to Skype. Delisle flew to South Africa for Christmas and their love was affirmed. Van der Merwe moved to Canada in 2012 and they were married later the same year."

Myles Sauer reports on the UVSS Board of Directors meeting. "Emotions were running high in the SUB Upper Lounge on Aug. 10, as the UVSS Board of Directors discussed a referendum that would ask students for approval of a fee increase for UVic Pride."

Trailblazer: Svend Robinson

Svend Robinson
The advancement of equality and civil rights for gay Canadians owes much to Svend Robinson. The former NDP Member of Parliament, who now lives in Geneva, Switzerland with his partner, Max Riveron, was the first Canadian MP to come out as openly gay in the 1980's. One of his significant achievements while in office was getting sexual orientation added to hate-crime legislation in Canada.

In a recent interview with the Georgia Straight, Robinson recalled what it was like for the few people brave enough to participate in Vancouver gay pride marches in the late 70's.

"A lot of the people in that parade were wearing paper bags over their heads to symbolize the fact that they were afraid of losing their jobs or being beaten up..." Robinson shared.

Robinson also talks candidly about how his Burnaby office was vandalized after he came out of the closet.

Does he have any regret about being a gay trailblazer? No. Robinson declared it: "...an incredible privilege to be open, to be out, to be on the front lines... So to be part of a liberation movement to make this world a better place was very special."

You can read the full interview Robinson did with the Georgia Straight before the annual Vancouver Pride here.

Chris Hyndman, Gay Host Of TV's 'Steven and Chris,' Dead At 49

Steven Sabados (L)
& Chris Hyndman (R)
Sad news today. Chris Hyndman died suddenly last night. He was only 49-years-old. Hyndman, along with his real-life partner, Steven Sabados, hosted the CBC's very popular daytime talk show, Steven and Chris. Hyndman and Sabados were one of Canada's most visible openly gay TV personalities and beloved by their many fans.

Below is some of the media coverage which helps explain how/where Chris Hyndman died.

How did Chris Hyndman die?
The popular talk show host's body was discovered in an east end Toronto alleyway without vital signs, according to CBC News. Toronto Police told the news site Hyndman's body was found after 11 p.m. on Monday near the intersection of Queen Street and Broadview Avenue. 
Where did Chris Hyndman die?
CBC arts reporter Eli Glasner said the scene was near the apartment where Hyndman lived with Sabados, his off-screen partner and television co-host. Toronto police Const. Caroline de Kloet said Tuesday afternoon that "out of privacy the Toronto police will not discuss any matter unless there's a criminal element pertaining to a specific person." 
How CBC broke the news of Chris Hyndman's sudden death to its staff
CBC, the broadcaster for Steven and Chris since 2008, circulated an internal memo to staff on Tuesday, Aug 4, 2015. “It is with profound sadness that we share the news Christopher Hyndman died early this morning . . . We extend our deepest sympathies to Steven, family, friends and colleagues; our thoughts are with them all,” the memo reads. 
Also, the CBC's head of public affairs told media outlets that the TV show "Steven and Chris" has been pulled it from the public broadcaster's schedule for the time being. Chris Hyndman will be missed. Our thoughts go out to his partner, Steven Sabados, and their family and friends at this most difficult of time.

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