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Lost Boys Episode Four: Adam

The check-in window at Down Under was the first place I saw him.

I probably heard him coming down the stairs and headed to that window to greet him before he could push the annoying buzzer that even after just three months, I had grown to loathe (it always went off in the middle of some particularly good gossip). When his face appeared in that window, I thought he was simply beautiful. He had these wavy brown curls that hung to his shoulders, framing a face too ethereal for this earth. He was an angel.

I finished my shift a few hours later and he was still checked-in. It’s possibly the fastest I’d ever cashed-out and stripped down, meeting him in the hot tub and almost immediately taking him back to my room where what we did was anything but angelic.

That pattern repeated a few times over the next few months, and in one of my life’s great What If’s, I will always wonder what could have happened had I been single and been able to pursue something more than random bathhouse nights. Even the first night, there was intimate connection that transcended the simply physical, and it wasn’t just in my head. On the third or fourth night together, when we’d brought in a third, he commented on our connection and asked how long we’d been together.

I started to run into him outside the baths, as one does, and he’d never give me the time of day. This earned him the moniker Ice Princess, and I couldn’t help but wonder, was he icy because he just wanted to freeze out bathhouse tricks from real life, or was it because he too wanted something more?

Our lives ran parallel for years, out of sync just enough to never meet. I’d be single, but he wasn’t. He’d be, but I wasn’t. I’d be too high. He’d be too high. Life dragged us both through the ditches of addiction, but that great What If always wandered through my brain whenever we’d see each other. Somewhere, in some other timeline in the Great gay Multiverse of my life, that initial connection evolved into something deep and lasting. In that other timeline, we’re celebrating our anniversary out for a night at the theatre before heading to the home we built together for a night of a passion that never faded from that Friday twenty-five years ago today.

There was one last hook-up, fifteen years after our first, where he messaged my freshly single profile on Grindr, and there was no way I was going to miss that opportunity to re-visit the past. His body, our sex, it had spent a decade and more on a pedestal in my brain, and now that the stars had briefly aligned, I was at his place as fast as I’d towelled-up that long ago Down Under night.

Like so many things on pedestals, the fantasy was better than the reality. The intervening years had featured too much drug use for that distant synchronicity to still be present.

And yet, I saw him last week, in passing, just two bodies passing on a stairwell and exchanging a quick hi. And those icy blue eyes still had the magic.

My Big Gay Nightlife Silver Jubilee: The Georgia

Today marks the 25th anniversary of my career in Edmonton gay nightlife beginning. Twenty-five years! They passed in a blink really. Then, I was fresh out of university in Lethbridge, just freshly moved back to the area, and all I wanted was a gay job. Connection and community, those were what I needed to find, moreso than a career. The Edmonton Rainbow Business Association’s Pride Pages listed all the local gay businesses, and I dropped off resumes. The Georgia Baths was the first to reply with an offer.

You can learn more about the Georgia Baths here, in a piece partly written by me for the Edmonton Queer History Project. In brief, it had been a gay bathhouse for years, but mostly under the radar. That enabled it to survive through the Pisces Spa raid, the aftermath of which saw another baths close its doors. The Georgia also survived through the height of the AIDS crisis, which saw so many bathhouses coast to coast close down. The Georgia hadn’t promoted itself as gay space until the late 90s, after the much-publicized opening of Down Under. Then, to compete, new Georgia owners Richard and Terry started to advertise, including in those Pride pages, where I found them.

I’d never been to the Georgia as a customer. I’d been to Down Under, and definitely would have preferred a job there, but the Georgia was the one that offered, and I needed income. After all, I had a Bachelor’s Degree to pay for, and definitely wanted to get out of my parents’ basement. My parents thought I was working in a coffee house; rolling towels wasn’t exactly what I’d gone to school for. Connection. I was seeking connection. But these weren’t the people I wanted to connect with.

The ironic thing is, the “smattering of trolls and 70s porn rejects” I wrote about in that journal entry? They were likely the age I am now.

If the past twenty-five years of my gay nightlife journey are just a blink, my time at the Georgia is only the teeniest part of that. Days after starting there, I got the awaited interview at Down Under, and things changed. But the Georgia was the first step on a path I hadn’t ever intended on walking. I may not yet know the final destination, but let me tell you, the journey has been beautiful. Over the next weeks and months, I look forward to looking back on some of that journey. And you’re welcome to come along.

My Life Among the Lesbians

Just finished an interview with Taproot Edmonton about the history of lesbian space here in Edmonton and it has me musing about my own lesbian history, especially with regards to my time in gay bars here (2024 marks my silver jubilee of Edmonton gay nightlife so the musings are gonna muse for sure!)
I never went to Club 70, Edmonton’s first gay bar. It’s very much before my time. It was a space for men and women both, but I don’t know that that was because of desire as much as necessity. The story goes, lesbians came early, filled the jukebox full of quarters for their country tunes, and by the time the gay men were done primping and preening and ready for something poppier, that juke box was booked solid, and so, Flashback was born.
My own gay history begins somewhat similar though. Like Edmonton in the days of Club 70, Lethbridge in the late 90s didn’t have a large enough out community to sustain gendered spaces or events. No, instead we all gathered together in a hall once a month for dances aka Homohops, and maybe just maybe, that’s my taste of what Club 70 was like: everyone dancing together, man with man, woman with woman, as God intended. (In 2024, this paragraph feels exceptionally binary.)

Monthly hall dances were a thing in Edmonton too. Womonspace started in 1982, and they were all about those hall parties right from the beginning. Small wonder. After Club 70 closed and became the short-lived lesbian-owned Cha Cha Palace, it became Boots n Saddle, and they were pretty public about not wanting lesbians there. Other bars at the time, like The Roost and Flashback, had up-and-down relationships with the lesbian community, often tossing them a Wednesday or Thursday for a women’s night. Womonspace ran events at places like Steppin’ Out and Option Room over the 80s and 90s, but they remained the go-to source for all things socially Sapphic.

By the time I moved back from Lethbridge and started my journey into Edmonton gay nightlife, Edmonton had its very own brick-and-mortar lesbian space, right out the alley door from Boots. Secrets was where we went for Wings and Bingo, early in the night before heading over to the Roost (this was back in the day when you went to bars to hook up, yes kids, pre-apps!) Secrets, under the ownership of Liz Gates, wasn’t Edmonton’s first lesbian bar, but it was certainly iconic. And like all Edmonton gay bars, yes, Twiggy worked there. (If you want to know some of the shenanigans that happened up and down the alley between Boots and Secrets, catch an Edmonton Queer History Project walking tour this summer!) Liz was very passionate about community-building; yes, the space was proudly lesbian, but never exclusive, and Liz tried to work with other bars in the city whenever she could. Even though this was also the time when one nightclub, on opening, was free for men but charged women a cover charge. (That was a short-lived move, for sure, but even years later, when managing that bar, I couldn’t get a woman bartender hired. Coat check was the best we could manage for her!)

But really, for the 2000s, my life was a gay boy among gay boys. That changed forever in 2010, when Boots abruptly shut down, and I got a phone call from Tracey and Deborah at Prism (Liz sold Secrets in 2003, it got re-branded and then re-located, and then sold to T&D in 2008). Working at Prism expanded the zoo of my life; no longer was it just chicken and bears, now, there were cougars too. And that whole assortment of folks soon relocated to Junction, in the former Boots space, a full circle moment for my life and for our community.

My life changed so much at Junction. Where past owners had enabled and abetted my drinking and drug use, Deb and Tracey gave me the tough life I needed to get sober. And sure, that sobriety came only after one Sunday Funday with the foogers (cougar + f*g) led to some poor making out choices, but it really did redirect my life. Sobriety didn’t always stop me from being a dick sadly, which didn’t always go over well with folks living their best dick-free lives, but I had my girlfriend, and my girlfriend’s girlfriend, and a dozen other strong and proud and beautiful women, and truly, those Junction days were underappreciated. Even Carla and her goddam hot chocolates.

When Junction closed and then a year later, EVO opened, the space we had wasn’t the space they wanted. Junction had been pub and eatery more than dance club, and EVO skewed young (and younger and younger all the time it feels). EVO did start things off working with Womonspace on a few events, but Womonspace was already starting to fizzle out by 2013 (but thirty years is an amazing run for a queer non profit volunteer driven social group)

With EVO, we have always tried to have events that were mostly all-gendered. That’s been a learning curve, for sure. Just even think of how much language around gender has evolved since 2013 though; we haven’t been the only ones learning! We had a short-lived series of Goddess parties, mostly with A-DJ in the booth, trying to give Edmonton’s women-loving-women folks a night more about them. In the greater community itself, lesbian-owned spaces like Mama’s and Pink Noiz came and went, and groups like Sapphic Speakeasy and ELEN came into being. We’ve loved working with ELEN the last couple years, and they really are carrying that Womonspace torch, especially in a city where so many pop-up events have been clearly male-focused. And shows like Sapphic Panic, plus 50% Sapphic DJs, keep the space lesbifriendly.

My own personal journey though, that’s a different story. My days behind the bar cracking Coors Lite for cougars are long done. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I had to decorate a Moosehead with a glowstick. That bartender interaction in a pub space let me build relationships with customers that doesn’t happen the same way now in the dark and booming space of a dance club. But when we lost Tina in 2018 or Deb in 2023, I got to see those people who worked their way into my life and my little gay boy heart.

And sure, there’s part of me that loves looking out on a dance floor of shirtless and sweaty gay male torsos, but mostly, I am happiest when I look around the club and see that it’s filled with all genders and races and ages, because that’s what our community is about, and that’s what I’ve always been about creating.

Lost Boys Episode Three: Mike

Last Seen: Winter 1998

Strictly speaking, we were never supposed to meet.

You see, I was volunteering with Lethbridge’s Gay and Lesbian Peer Support Line (it was 1997, this was pre-acronym). The PSL had a policy: no one-on-one meets. The purpose was two-fold – the safety of volunteers and the protection of vulnerable callers. But you see, there weren’t other volunteers. It was just me, for months and months at a time, and this guy, he needed to meet a real life gay person, badly.

One of those Mormons, you know.

Lethbridge in the late 90s was nestled snugly between fundamentalist Christians and Canada’s main Mormon population, and neither of them had anything good to say about the gays. Having grown up with the former, I certainly empathized with the latter. I’d been out 2-4 years at the time, depending how you looked at it, but I was certainly a lot farther along my coming-out journey than this guy, and knew I could help.

I was also in a horrible mental state and was absolutely desperate for some kind of connection. Which is less noble a motivation, true, but at this stage, honesty trumps nobility.

I was not expecting what I found, when we met for coffee – a smart, funny social work student who was absolutely dreamboat handsome. I would like to say that nobility trumped horniess, and that I stood by my morals and didn’t sleep with him. Oh, I didn’t, but that was likely more his choice than mine. “Doable if dateable” was how I described him – he was too good to be just another notch in a whittled-down bedpost. So, friends we became.

We met up a few times, even had him over to my place – where we looked through photo albums of gay parties (“See Mike, this is the fun you could be having,” I said, trying to convince him to hit up a homo hop or gay coffee night). He pointed out one friend of mine he thought was cute, and so -and nobility definitely trumped here! – I played matchmaker.

And it seemed to work. It worked enough that they both repeatedly thanked me, and I’m sure I wasn’t bitter at all, sitting there single as a pringle while the hot new gay immediately found a happiness I’d been so desperately searching for for years.

Except then he told his parents, who did what so many Christofascist parents do – wanted him to see a therapist to get “fixed”. And he agreed. And broke up with his happiness and his potential new life to focus on the cure.

And then he was dating a girl. But as his friend who had helped him through so much, he kept in touch. And then he wasn’t dating a girl, and was hanging out with another local gay, who got him drunk and took advantage of him, and so now he was gay again, but didn’t want to be. (Ironically, the same predatory gay later called me out for meeting Mike one-on-one in violation of the rules. Kettle, you’re black).

Keep in mind. This is all over about five months. It was August when we first met, and by January of the following year, he called me to tell me he was straight. “I like girls. I want to have sex with girls. I want to marry a girl, and have a family with her. Before, I was confused and experimenting.” I had no idea what to say, other than I didn’t agree, didn’t understand, didn’t think that was something he could just change. “But I’m your friend and I’ll stand by you.”

I don’t think we ever spoke again.

Part of me dreads he became a statistic of conversion therapy, so fucked in the head by it that he drove himself back deep into the closet – or ended his own life. But there’s another part of me that pictures him living his best gay life somewhere. I’ll probably never know, but Mike, if you ever read this, say hi.

Lost Boy Lost Girl
Lost Boys Episode Two: Ashley
Lost Boys Episode One: Paul

2023 Year in Review: Evolution’s Up and Down

The down time of the pandemic feels so long ago, it’s hard to believe that this was our first full year of operation since 2019. Ten weeks of 2020 followed by months of closure and a few brief attempts at reopening, followed by moths of closure and a few brief attempts at reopening, followed by months of closure. March 2022’s relaunch feels so long ago, and so does that incredible energy that went along with it. COVID changed so much, most significantly the neighborhood where we are.

Anyone who follows us, knows me, or visits the space, knows that we have been hit hard by the current state of downtown. Don’t get me wrong. I still love the heart of the city, love the opportunity to work with some great businesses in the area, but it’s getting really hard, kids. The costs of 2023’s vandalism, break-ins, and robberies has exceeded $10,000, and for a small business still underwater with over $100,000 in covid debt? That makes for a hard year.

Prices are rising everywhere, but we’ve avoided big increases. The economy is hurting, and marginalized communities like queer and trans people are hurting all the more. But that’s meant no extra money to refresh the space, much less no extra money to get us closer to our goal of opening somewhere street-level, with, you know, windows and a kitchen and accessibility. That’s still the plan, but let’s be honest, the only way that’s gonna happen is with your continued love and support.

Both of which we got in 2023, loads!

It was a great year, all the above notwithstanding. We started off big, with Drag Race’s Olivia Lux being absolute pure drag excellence. Olivia was far from our only Drag Race guest. We were joined by Kornbread, Bosco, Suki Doll, Icesis Couture, Willam, Deja Skye, Kaos, Lady Camden, Heidi n Closet, Jackie Cox, Lemon, Elliott with Two Ts, Anetra, Kandy Muse, Jan Sport, Jorgeous, Tammie Brown, Jada Shada Hudson, Kita Mean, Oceane Aqua-Black, Stephanie Prince, Kiki Coe, and yes, Edmonton’s own first Drag Race star – Melinda Verga! Add on Dragula’s Hoso Terra Toma, Call Me Mother’s Justin Abit and Weebee, and Calypso Jete Balmain from HBO’s Legendary, and yes, the talent was THERE.

Let’s be honest. The talent is always here though. Edmonton drag remains diverse and ground-breaking, and we love celebrating it. Like at February’s Stiletto Awards when we crowned Tugs Cuchina and Rexy Resurrection as our new EVOs, and inducted Sucreesha Minorah, Mac U More, and Tanner Steele in the Hall of Legends. Gemma’s Dollhouse continued to celebrate trans and non-binary and 2-spirit drag talent, and Sapphic Panic continued to celebrate our Sapphic drag artists. And we tried to sponsor and support drag talent outside of EVO too, sponsoring shows at Next Fest, Fringe, Drag Me Out to the Ballgame, Taste of Edmonton, K-Days, YEG Christmas Market, and more. And as always, we remained an active supporter of the ISCWR, with their record-breaking 47th reign stepping down in August.

It was the Summer of Pride this year, but truly, we are queer and proud all year long. Still, one of the highlights of 2023 is going to be that Pride Riverboat Party. What an amazing afternoon of sun, sounds, and sick drag! We weren’t sure how we felt about August pride celebrations, but with June being Pride Month, July having queered-up festivals like K-Days and Taste, and now August hosting Pride Fest, plus Pride Cup, it’s a loud and proud community and city and we love being at the heart of it.

Community partnerships remain at the heart of what we do. Not only with the ISCWR, one of Alberta’s longest-running queer groups, but also groups like Curling with Pride, Edmonton Rage, Edmonton Lesbian Event Network, Fellowship of Alberta Bears, RaricaNow, Team Edmonton, Edmonton Pride Centre (especially their new Josh Brown Wellness Room), Chew Project, and all the other community groups that are active out there changing lives for the better. We exist to give them space, voice, and, where we can, financial support.

We are well into our planning for 2024 already – with the Stiletto Awards coming up February Long Weekend, with the tenth anniversary of Alberta’s Drag Superstar contest coming, with the tenth anniversary of our Sunday Revue coming, and of course, another Summer and More of Pride. This year has been a journey, for sure, but the lesson really driven home by the hard times was how much we still love what we do. When we work, we WERK! The magic of queer space is needed more than ever these days, and we are honoured, humbled, and so very happy to be your year-round pride bar.

Happy holidays, from all of us, to you!

2023 Year in Review: Reconnection, Renaissance, and still Really Queer

The year started off in a grand and glorious way, getting a Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal from our once and hopefully future premier Rachel Notley. There have certainly been awards and recognitions in the past that I’ve received and appreciated, even as they might make me feel old or trigger imposter syndrome. This was no exception. The other recipients in that room have improved and enriched so many people’s lives; it isn’t always easy to believe that I should be counted among them.

And certainly this year came with many lessons that for every person I’ve helped, there’s been someone I’ve hurt, but this one night, I let myself just believe in myself and be happy.

This year has been… weird. At times, it has moved so very slow; at others, it was lurching forward at breakneck speeds. Looking back, things that happened at the beginning of the year feel like there’s no way they could have been in 2023, they feel so long ago. Welcome to old age, I guess. But, as 2023 reminded me so very many times, old age is a luxury not everyone gets to enjoy.

The body count of 2023 was high. My Opa passed. We lost Deb. We lost Alberta’s first Drag Superstar, Tiara Manila. We back-to-back lost two monarchs with the ISCWR, Emperor 14 Rob and Empress 27 Endora, as well as Brenda Buffet. Gentle giant James Jarvis passed. And just recently I learned Justin died from fucking fentanyl, which means another star needs to be added to my Too Many Too Soon tat. Those of you who know me know how every new death walks me down the memory lane of all those who I’ve lost before, so indeed, 2023 was a year spent on memory lane.

Memory lane wasn’t always sad though. It was a year of random reconnection. From the sudden reappearance of Ross (and the accompanying memory lane about Boots and Jim), to high school reconnects like Jacqui and Katrina, to even further back reconnects like a visit with my kindergarten teacher, it was a year of looking back, in many ways. Those of you who know me know that every year is looking back though; that sensation of “life flashing before your eyes” when you die is one I won’t recognize when it happens – my life is always flashing.

Memory lane is always part of my career path of course. Work with Edmonton Queer History Project and Rainbow Story Hub continued in 2023, with projects and events always there to unearth forgotten memories. Highlights included the summer series of walking tours, the Times.10 photo archive processing with the City of Edmonton Archive, and the digitization project that will help future historians and storytellers have easy access to our collective queer history. We even had a queer history display this year at K-Days.

Buddys to Buddys walking tour with Dan

For the second year in a row, I worked with Explore Edmonton on K-Days, Edmonton’s summer fair and exhibition. It was an opportunity to queer up the midway, as 2022’s programming expanded so exponentially. There were ten days of queer entertainment, featuring so much local talent, both drag and live. What will 2024 bring to the midway? Time will tell.

I was also able to help queer up some of Edmonton’s other festivals. I worked with Winterruption for the second year in a row. We brought drag for the first time ever to Taste of Edmonton, thanks to James Jarvis (RIP). And we just dragged up Fort Edmonton Park with the successful three-night run of SlayBells. 2023 featured the Summer of Pride, but truly, its pride-all-year in Edmonton.

Pride Brunch at the Rec Room
Family Photo at Aiden’s grad dinner

The festivals weren’t my only opportunity to enjoy some great entertainment though. Right after K-Days was Freewill Shakespeare Festival, and there were lots of other shows too, here and in NYC – Anastasia, Pretty Woman, Aladdin, 12th Night, Romeo + Juliet, Music of the Night, Ain’t Too Proud, Importance of Being Earnest, Little Shop of Horrors, Hooves Belonged to the Deer, Hadestown, Lion King, Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors, and & Juliet. There’s an alternative timeline in which I’m an actor, as opposed to just being dramatic.

Of course, my main career path remains Evolution, but I think that’s going to get it’s own post. But in keeping with the personal memory lane of this post, that’s something that’s always part of EVO, and never more so than in the last few months, where people who have moved, or just moved on, re-surfaced. It’s always wonderful to see people I haven’t seen in a long time. The water under the bridges is deep, but beautiful.

For a second year in a row, I didn’t write one word on any new book. After two coming out during the pandemic, I’m just … word-less. There’s been too much survival mode and not enough creative-mode, and I’m hoping 2024 sees that shift.

Travel-wise, 2023 was the year of Italy. What a transformative experience that was. Rome. Venice. Florence. Milan. And then of course stopping in Paris on the way home just because. Michaelangelo’s David was so powerful; gay gaze indeed, I suppose. And Venice was pure magic. Add on a quick tail-end of Toronto Pride (aka trip to Steamworks) and a quick in and out of NYC, where “& Juliet” blew me away. Even though my 2024 travel calendar is currently empty, I anticipate that changing soon. After all, life is very short.

David’s bicep vein

I crushed, and was crushed. I soared high, and crashed down. I moved. I appreciated. I grew. I was blind-sided more than once, but I always made my way back out. The navigation is the whole point I guess. Get lost, sure, but learn something as you find your way. And if that’s the point, 2023 was, all in all, a good year.

My people

First Dance at the Discotheque for Deviants

The Croatian Center was far from central Lethbridge, but that was where they held them – these monthly gay dances. There were no gay bars, of course, not there in mid-90s southern Alberta where fundamentalist Christianity butted heads against Mormonism and neither wanted anything to do with gays. I was terrified, hopeful, so many things. But it needed to happen.

Was it really only a couple weeks since hot Troy from Psych class had been going off so publicly about how anyone that thinks homosexuals are freaks can kiss his ass? Just that had changed everything. Was he gay? Was he out? It seemed that way, and the only way to know for sure was to re-exit my closet.

Had I thought about what a gay bar would look or feel like? Maybe, maybe not. But there was no way I would have pictured this room, just a big square, tables along each side, open in the middle for dancing, streamers and balloons hung like it was a dance in junior high. And just like in junior high, I sat there, a part apart.

But there were women dancing with women, and men dancing with men, and I’d never seen any of that in junior high gymnasium dances, that’s for sure. Mostly the music was fast, and people were dancing, one big gay crowd, but occasionally, they’d drop something slower, and people would couple off, slowly spinning around, again like in junior high, but without some teacher chaperone making sure they were a balloon width apart.

WANT. That must have been the feeling I felt the most. But I wouldn’t act, couldn’t act. Oh no, there people, that world, they were foreign to me, and even just being there was a big enough deal. Besides, Troy wasn’t there, and he’d been the goal.

The night was winding down, and I was probably starting to feel the vodka slimes I’m sure I was drinking, likely ready to figure out how to get a cab way out there in the country and just call it a night when he came up to me. I can practically still see him, silhouetted against the dance floor lights, as he asked if I wanted to dance.

There I was, slow dancing with a boy, and I’m sure I was nervous AF. There’d been slow dances before, with girls, in junior high gymnasiums, but this, this was different. Hands felt different. Intent felt different. This was heavier, harder, more meaningful, more real.

I left that Croatian Hall with that boy that night, to a house party, where we found our way into a dark downstairs bedroom, but that’s a story for another time. This story is just that dance. Only you and me, we were young and wild and free.


Let it never be said I’m not timely with listening to music! In the case of the debut album from Edmonton artist Ben Hartt, I’m only a couple decades late!

Really, there’s no excuse. I knew this album existed. How could I not, with that face gracing the cover of both Times.10 and Outlooks Magazine? And yet, somehow, I wasn’t at the Citadel for that July 2001 CD release. And even though I had friends dancing at the August World Championships in Athletics, I also missed that performance. And the series of Buddys’ performances after? Missed those too – but that’s what happens when you’re a Roost boy, I suppose – you miss what’s happening at the other clubs.

So how did it come about that in 2023, I finally got around to listening to it? Well, it was those Times.10 and Outlooks covers that did it. Working with the Edmonton Queer History Project on digitizing our local queer history, I stumbled across the covers, and I was like “hmmm I should probably get around to checking this CD out.” After all, I’m all about supporting queer art and artists, and celebrating queer stories.

Finding the album was a little harder. It came out pre-streaming, and it’s not like I could download it on Napster or Limewire. But luckily, I got loaned a copy (thanks Kris!), and then raced down to the club to play it.

And loved it!

Right from the first notes of “Take Me Back”, I was transported back to being a twenty-year-old gay, running around Edmonton from one romantic complication to another. And really, wasn’t everything complicated at twenty? Certainly by the time I got to “Why Don’t We Cheat On Each Other?”, I was wholly immersed back in 2001 me, with lyrics like “Maybe we’re sticking together because we’re afraid to do better” really summarizing the whole period of my life. “Settling for loneliness or settling for you” from “pleuvior, pleurer” definitely set the mood for a down tempo visit to young gay angst, and a definite change from the disco inspired tracks that feel ahead of their time. ABBA-inspired dance could fit in on any 2023 playlist, and as Ben’s MapleMusic bio indicated, Voulez-Vouz nurtured him as a music lover and creator.

As of right now, I’m only managed to get my hands on that first album, but there’s a second, and you best believe I am tracking it down as we speak. I also have it on very good authority that nineteen years after his last album, he’s working on another. And I can’t wait to see what two decades has done both in turns of the evolution of his talent and how those two decades inform the lyrics of his new songs.

Will update when I get that second album <3

Edmonton Queer History Links and Resources

I’ve always enjoyed learning about those who came before me, ever since I went to the book launch for Darrin Hagen’s The Edmonton Queen. The last few years, this interest has turned into a vocation, and for those of you who also want to dive into our collective queer history, here are some great places to turn!

One main site is the Edmonton Queer History Project. This includes an online map featuring downtown walking tours, which you can do on your own or in groups (click here for groups dates!) The site also contains links to two podcasts: From Here to Queer and Vriend Versus Alberta. The newest addition to EQHP is a stories map where you can drop pins to memorialize the places that figured in your own queer history.

If you want to tell longer stories, check out the Rainbow Story Hub! This foundation exists to capture history from the experiences of the people who lived it, so that future generations can find comfort, inspiration, and queer joy from those that came before.

The Edmonton City as Museum Project also has loads of articles on our queer history: a five-article series on gay bars, a five-articles series on the Pisces Spa raid, a two-parter on the ISCWR, and more.

There is also an amazing and growing collection of digitized materials accessible through the Internet Archive, thanks to EQHP and their partners who have been working to collect and scan these great resources. With over 70 GB of stuff, your dive can be deep indeed!

You can also check out Tales of the LGBTQ, a podcast whose early focus was on the people who enriched our community.

And of course, if you want to start your journey like I did, check out Darrin’s book, The Edmonton Queen, available on Amazon here among other places.

My Forty-Sixth Year

It began and ended like it always does, with my May Long Weekend Drag Show for Mental Health. 2023 was a much smaller scale in some ways than 2022’s massive fundraiser marathon show, but both shows were the opportunity to celebrate with friends while raising money for great causes.

Pride Month 2022 was different than anything we had done before. The collaborations we were able to develop with the Pride on 104 Event, and the return of PrideFest to Churchill Square set the business up for success, and of course Glow with Pride 2022 blessed me with the shirtless forever-man-crush, so that was a win! And then I caught the tail end of Toronto Pride, which was an experience like no other!

July was a Shawn Mendes concert that took me from fan to super fan to crazy deranged stalker fan, and then the month ended with Pride Day at Kdays. Joining the Kdays team last year was a huge professional and personal boost for me, and I remain proud of what we accomplished last July. I’m excited to be doing that again for this coming summer and look forward to seeing the fair get even queerer.

I caught the tail end of Vancouver Pride, with its sober lounge and its Wreck Beach. #Manflesh.

August was primarily centered around Coronation and completing the year as Emperor 46 of the ISCWR. It held up a mirror to both mistakes and successes, but, even though its not always about the money, setting a new financial record for the organization is definitely memorable. But what was truly memorable, and what truly matters, was reigning with one of my best friends.

And then came Europe – what would be the first of two trips to Europe in the year, anyway. It was a whirlwind week through London and Paris. I knew I’d love London; I didn’t guess I would fall so in love with Paris. It was eye opening and life changing, and I got back from France in time to celebrate my Opa’s birthday, starting off five months of more regular family dinners that brought me such joy.

The fall of 2022 was a bad time professionally. A business slump led to a personal slump, and then it was just a downward spiral of slump that couldn’t be halted by either the occasional amazing party or a Day of the Dead trip to PV. It wasn’t until a Christmas trip to Hawaii that I managed to kick off the personal slump – and just like that, it seemed things shifted everywhere. 2023 started off with a bang, and has kept banging ever since.

One of the greatest honors of my 46th year came from receiving the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal from Rachel Notley. I could live to be 100 and I’d never be able to give back to the community what it has given me, but the medal was a recognition from people I respect that they at least see my attempts at leaving our community, our city, our world a little better than I found it.

And then it was back to Europe, for a truly inspiring trip to Italy and Paris. Six weeks later, and I am still awestruck by David. The gay gaze is real. And I got back from France in time to visit my Opa just hours before he passed.

And the last thing I did in my forty-sixth year was vote for Rachel Notley’s NDP. The rise in far-right anti-queerness is going to be a defining feature of the years to come, and getting the wackadoodle fascists out of power here in Florida North is the first step in braking that hate coaster. I will fight it how I have always fought it – by never backing down and by continuing to bring as much queer joy to as many people as possible.