Daily Xtra: Dec 2013

Another busy month for me at Xtra. The holiday seasons turned out to be no break for me, as I ended up filing three stories on the suicide of George Smitherman’s husband Christopher Peloso. I caught up on reactions from the gay community and, along with more than 500 people, attended his memorial at the Wellesley Community Centre, kicking off 2014 on a somber note. Xtra eventually handed off the story of homophobic reactions to the news on Twitter to another journalist. I initially struggled with this – it’s obviously of interest to our readers, but on the other hand, did I really want to give more attention to Ezra Levant? Ultimately, I decided to leave the homophobic rantings out of my own coverage of the story.

Speaking of suicide, early gay activist John Alan Lee also took his own life in December, in an apparently long-planned event. I wrote a short obituary for him, after diving through his fascinating online autobiography.

In other news of things coming to an end, Koreatown’s Metro Theatre porn cinema closed. A big box store is expected for the location.

In happier news, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island suddenly added “gender identity and gender expression” to their human rights codes, granting explicit protections to trans people under the law in those provinces. I’ve previously written about how I think the changes are unnecessary, as trans people are already protected under the law, but activists in those provinces gave me the most convincing arguments I’ve yet heard in favour of the changes.

And a feature I wrote back in the summer about accessibility in the Village neighbourhood finally saw online print over the holidays. I did a survey of the neighbourhood and found most businesses are not accessible, but all have (legally required) plans to serve disabled customers if necessary. I also found out that bars like Woody’s, Flash, and the Eagle all have more accessible entrances at the rear, even though they’re poorly advertised.

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