Author: Sky Gilbert

Homophobia and the Modern Trans Movement

Two and a half years ago, I spoke in Vancouver at Q2Q: A Symposium on Queer Theatre and Performance. After I delivered my paper, I became a focal point for criticism—though not because of my the content of my presentation. The controversy emerged in the Q&A, when I mentioned the fact that I was not only a gay man, but also a drag queen. Members of the audience stood up and opined about the apparently problematic practice of a white drag queen (like me) lip-synching to “appropriated music”—by which they meant music originally written and performed by non-white artists. It is undeniably true that drag queens (of all races) have a special affection for the work of divas of colour—and pay homage to these idols by lip-synching. It’s also true that gay and drag entertainment culture is centered in large part around pop music more generally. This is an industry that owes much to musicians of colour, who often have had their work used or co-opted without adequate compensation. But while this was a fair …

If That’s What It Means to Be a Writer, I Quit

Back in 2009, I wrote an article for Canada’s Globe and Mail titled If that’s what it means to be gay, I quit. “If you speak to the leaders of most gay and lesbian political groups about what it means to be gay today, they will probably answer using the words ‘love’ or ‘family’ or ‘caring,’” I wrote. “Well, the world of pretty rainbows, church on Sunday, monogamy, respectability and good citizenship is not the world I signed onto when I filled out my gay card.” I have been an out gay writer and activist in Toronto for nearly 40 years. For some time, I have complained about gay assimilationism—our cultural identity switch from gay sexual revolutionaries to obedient corporate citizens. Perhaps that’s because I come from another time. I remember the day I figured out I was a homosexual. I was at my grandmother’s house and I picked up a copy of Life magazine (June 26, 1964: Volume 26, #6). I was 12 years old. It was an article called Homosexuality in America, by Paul Welch. …