HERstory Lesson Opinions

HERstory Lesson: Sir Lady Java

How she fought against the transphobic Rule Number 9

Sir Lady Java is an American transgender rights activist and performer. She performed in the Los Angeles area from the mid-1960s to 1970s.

Java was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1943 and transitioned at a young age with the support of her mother.

After singing and dancing in local clubs, she moved to Los Angeles to further her career and by 1965, performed in a nightclub owned by Comedian Redd Foxx that welcomed other great entertainers of the time like Sammy Davis Jr., Richard Pryor, Flip Wilson, Rudy Ray Moore, LaWanda Page, and Don Rickles.

In September 1967, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) ordered Redd Foxx’s club to cancel Java’s performances, but they didn’t comply. The LAPD then threatened to fine the club and arrest Foxx if they continued hosting her, using a city ordinance against cross-dressing.

Before today’s war on drag shows and the fight to ban them, there existed laws like Rule Number 9. The city ordinance in Los Angeles, California, stated, “No entertainment shall be conducted in which any performer impersonates by means of costume or dress a person of the opposite sex, unless by special permit issued by the Board of Police Commissioners.”

As part of the rule, performers had to wear a minimum of three “properly gendered” items on them.

Even though any form of public gender nonconformity had been outlawed in Los Angeles since 1898, the Board of Police Commissioners developed Rule Number 9 in 1940 to require bar owners to get special permission to host entertainment which included any sort of cross-dressing.

As a response to LAPD’s crackdown, Foxx’s club applied for a permit to host Lady Java in October 1967, but was refused.

On October 21, Java protested against the rule by picketing in front of Foxx’s club advocating for her right to work. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), she challenged Rule Number 9 as unconstitutional in court.

The court rejected her case, stating only club or bar owners could sue the police department. Java and the ACLU could not find any owner willing to join them in their fight.

In 1969, Rule Number 9 was ultimately struck down by the California Supreme Court in a separate case. Although Java’s case was not the one to dissipate the transphobic rule, she is recognized as a trailblazer for transgender performers and drag queens.

As stated on the ACLU’s website, police at the time were not just cracking down on a couple of drag queens — their fight against “deviant” activities actually targeted the whole LGBTQ+ community. 

“They were attacking drag performers in order to target bars and clubs that often served as the only public places where gays and lesbians could gather. The police made no real distinction between gay people and transgender folks,” reads the website.

With today’s political climate in the US directly targeting the drag community, it is important to remember Lady Java’s activism and fight against Rule Number 9.

The gay agenda exposed — I infiltrated the alphabet mafia

An Investigative Essay by Chadrick P. Übermensch, Esquire

Author’s note: Navigating a homophobic world as a queer person has never been easy. For years, homophobes have speculated that any advancements by the LGBTQ+ community have been parts of a scheme known as “the gay agenda”. While this is continuously refuted, there is also a panoply of issues within the queer community that affects people of intersecting identities who do not feel represented or accepted within mainstream gay spaces.


A few months ago, I made a decision that would alter my life forever. I would consider myself the ultimate alpha-dude-bro — I’m the manliest manly man you could ever imagine. To further bask in my masculine glory, I began posting pictures of my workouts onto To my utter shock and dismay, I rapidly gained a following of gay men. I gained thousands of followers within the first week, accompanied by unseemly, unsolicited, scandalous messages: “hey handsome,” “I love your body,” “show hole,” “you look incredible.” After thousands of these messages, I had enough. As I thought of the level of sophistication and coordination required to flood my inbox at such a high rate with such disturbing messages, a shiver went down my spine. Something deeply sinister was going on here, and a larger force was behind it all. In that moment, I knew I had to try to expose the Gay Agenda.

I wouldn’t say I have a problem with gay people. The problem comes when they try to shove it in my face. Why are men smooching on the kiss cam at baseball games? Let me watch a dozen muscular men in uber-tight polyester jog together in peace without bringing your ideology into it. If anything, straight people are being discriminated against! We can’t even buy Campbell’s soup without seeing these fruitcakes in their commercials! These egregious exhibits are clearly machiavellian manifestations of the Gay Agenda, which is why I had to put a stop to it.

In order to end the Gay Agenda, I first had to locate the LGBT Organization’s headquarters. They all live in the same facility, you know. I hopped on a bus downtown. In the dead of night, I walked across town to the corner of Fistenberg and Dyckman, where I found a telephone booth. As I entered the booth, I picked up the phone. From what I had learned online before my arrival, I knew the code I had to enter was 6453-73623-927-4373 (the password is mike-pence-was-here). Someone picked up the call. “You’ve reached the Hightower Record Store, how may I assist you?” Taking a deep breath, I responded. “Hello. I’m looking for your selection of Charli XCX vinyls.” Suddenly, a red light turned on and the booth began descending like an elevator.

Once I made it to the main floor, I was in complete shock. The entire place was decked out in enough blacklight and rainbow strobe lights to send an epilectic to the hospital. The music was a confusing blend of incomprehensible hyperpop glitch and early 2000s Eurotrash. Dance floors were packed with thin, pale bodies, in a blend of thrifted and vintage designer fashion. These people had icy looks in their eyes, trembling from gallons of iced coffee. I walked around the main halls, reading the signs above different rooms. There were ones dedicated to worshipping idols (pop idols, that is), blue hair-dying stations, rooms solely dedicated to yelling “we hate the straights!” in unison, rooms for witchcraft in which they’d put curses on Boosie Badazz and Dave Chapelle, and yassification stations as well.

After spending time snooping around the place, I finally found what I was looking for. As it turns out, the Gay Agenda is also a physical agenda! I began reading their program: “Monday — make Ellen emperor for life; bake Betty Crocker funfetti cake; and hunt down Tones and I for making “Dance Monkey.” Tuesday — persuade waiters to hand men dessert menus; enact Critical Gay Theory; and manufacture 750,000 rainbow poppies. Wednesday — bring-your-bottom-to-work day; and light a candle at the altar of RuPaul. Thursday — neuter straight men in public bathrooms; and Golden Girls watch party. Friday — give Cher.” I stashed a copy in my jacket — I could now expose these people for good.

As I was exiting the hall, I noticed a different elevator. This one had much less glitz, glamour, and gay. I got inside and the doors closed smoothly — I could barely hear the untz-untz of the Eurotrash music from in here. There were only two buttons: one for the floor I was on, and one below. I descended, and was shocked upon my arrival. The basement was a plain office building, with workers sitting at their desks, getting some work done. However, there was something fundamentally different about who was working in this office compared to the crowd upstairs.

I walked around and struck up a few conversations with folks, still incognito. What made this room different is that most people in it were people of colour, people with disabilities, fat people, and everyone deemed inferior from the upstairs crowd. “Notice how most of the crazies upstairs are white teenagers with no other oppression to claim,” said a Black trans woman. “We’re the ones who make the culture, they’re the ones who distort it beyond repair. We have some common issues, but they disregard us in every way — we’ve gotten so used to it that we expect them to erase us.” I spoke with many others who felt the same way. They made me realize how truly futile some of my issues with the community were.

As I exited the room, I opened a back door to a stairwell. I climbed up dozens of flights of stairs until I reached a door that opened to the street. My watch read 4:30 a.m. As I took a deep breath, I reached into my pocket and grabbed my phone. I opened, swiped through my settings, and deleted my original thirst trap account. As the sun began to rise, I took my copy of the agenda, shredded it, and shoved it through the holes of a sewer grate. It was time for me to go home and rethink some of my beliefs.


Feature graphic by James Fay


Trans rights activists lead march against Bill 2

A march in solidarity with the transgender community precedes Nov. 20, the Transgender Day of Remembrance

Kicking off a weekend of events for the Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, Aide aux Trans du Québec (ATQ) held a solidarty march for the gender plurality community of Quebec in front of the Montreal Courthouse on Nov. 19.

The march, which saw over 50 people in attendance, was held to so show support for the trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming community, as well as to protest the proposed Bill 2. Notably, Manon Massé, one of the leaders for Québec solidaire, was present at the march.

Bill 2 would make it a requirement for people to undergo gender-affirming surgery if they want to change their assigned sex on their birth certificate. The bill would also make it so there is a new section for gender on birth certificates, with the possibility of a third non-male or female gender. Another aspect of the bill is that intersex people would have to apply for a change of designated sex as soon as possible.

“This really is a place for the whole trans community and allies to just to pour out our grievances against the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government for proposing the most transphobic bill ever introduced in Quebec and Canada,” said Celeste Trianon, a trans rights advocate at the Centre for Gender Advocacy (CGA) and a speaker at the march.

The CGA is a Concordia fee-levy group that promotes gender equality and empowerment, specifically as it relates to marginalized communities. The centre does various programming, campaigns, advocacy, and has resources and services open to Concordia and the LGBTQIA2+ community.

“[Bill 2] would lead to so much harm for trans people,” said Trianon, who explained that not all trans people would want genital surgery, and that the wait times for such a surgery could be up to five years.

They explained that without a recognized photo ID, people will struggle to apply for employment and housing.

“It’s like another coming out for people, and we don’t want that,” said Trianon.

Jason Noël, the treasurer, secretary, and event planner for ATQ, explained that the on the weekend of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, there were multiple events planned throughout the day, such as conferences and brunches.

“We are going to have a moment of silence,” said Noël, who explained that Nov. 20 is to remember the trans people that have disappeared and raise awareness of the violence against the trans community. “It’s a very special thing, I would say it is one of the most important parts of trans pride.”

“We are hoping that for the night, people will be able to forget everything that’s happening in the world right now,” said Noël, who stated that because of COVID-19 they had to delay trans pride three times, and the weekend would mark the first time since the pandemic began that the trans community of Montreal would be able to come together and party.

“We’re just gonna dedicate the dance floor to the people who are not with us anymore, who disappeared because of violence,” said Noël. “And then the next morning […] we will go to brunch and that will be super fun.”

According to Noël, multiple organizations will be going to court to try and reform the bill on Nov. 29, but it may be delayed until December or later in 2022. 

“It’s a bill that’s bringing us back like 15 years,” said Noël, who criticized Canada and Quebec for appearing to be supportive of trans rights while allowing this bill to be proposed.

According to an article by the CBC, this bill is being presented as a victory for transgender people by the Quebec government, but could actually put trans people in a dangerous situation by outing them every time they show their ID.

“Get involved, be at protests, denounce the CAQ, hold your friends and entourage to do the same.” said Trianon. “We need more people to speak out against this bill.”


Photograph by Catherine Reynolds


Your Name Engraved Herein: a never ending love story

The highest-grossing LGBTQ+ movie in Taiwan gives audiences an emotionally charged experience

Directed by Kuang-Hui Liu, Your Name Engraved Herein is a coming of age movie that tells the story of two classmates, A-han (Edward Chen) and Birdy (Tseng Jing-Hua), who fall in love precisely when the martial law is lifted in Taiwan in 1987. Despite this, society doesn’t change overnight, and homophobia, family pressure, and social stigmas remain present.

It’s intimate and sensual, but heartbreaking at the same time.

The martial law lasted in Taiwan for 38 years, from 1949 to 1987. This period of time is known as the White Terror, when the Republic of China took control of Taiwan. Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), decided to impose a martial law, a temporary imposition of military authority and control of civilian rule, on Taiwan to prevent the Communist Party, led by Mao Tse-tung, from winning the Civil War. Freedom of speech and human rights were declined. Civilians who opposed it would either be imprisoned, tortured or even executed.

In the film, Birdy is a new student at a strict all-boys Catholic high school that A-han attends. The two rapidly become friends and their bond grows stronger.

They take part in the school’s band, led by Father Olivier (Fabio Grangeon) from Montreal, who is also the school’s priest. Father Olivier always reminds his students, “Profiter du moment” (live in the moment). During one of their classes, he discusses the concept of youth and love with his students. While everyone is questioning the priest about his love life, A-han and Birdy glimpse at each other.

News of President Chiang Ching-kuo’s death surfaces at school. Students are encouraged to take a trip to Taipei to pay their respects to the deceased. In Taipei, A-han and Birdy take advantage of their stay in the capital to enjoy their time together. Still, they are resistant to their mutual affection.

The arrival of girls shifts the school’s dynamic. Birdy is noticed by Ban-Ban, who represents social acceptance, stability and heterosexual romance. A-han gets jealous as Birdy spends more time with Ban-Ban and A-han won’t let go of his affection towards Birdy. A series of confrontations and reconciliations follow as they part from each other. Finally, life brings them together a few years later, giving them an opportunity to reflect on their past.

Director Liu captures a period of time when many people suffered from discrimination due to social stigma, even after the removal of the martial law. Gradually, society was able to evolve as Taiwan became the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2019.

The movie pays a tribute to known Taiwanese LGBTQ+ activist, Chi Chia-wei, who was imprisoned during the White Terror. The activist appears in one scene of the movie, where a protest is happening, holding a sign that says “Homosexuality is not a disease.”

At times, it is hard to watch since the story is beautiful, but also heartbreaking. In a particular scene, Birdy is injured in a scooter accident and A-han decides to help him shower. A-han and Birdy get intimate. When Birdy climaxes, he kisses A-han but rapidly apologizes. Then, both cry in each other’s arms, understanding each other’s pain, shame and love.

The title of the movie is in reference to the song “Your Name Engraved Herein” written by Hsu Yuan-Ting, Chia Wang and Chen Wen-Hua, and performed by Crowd Lu. In the film, A-han plays the song on the phone to confess his love to Birdy. By the end of this scene, both start sobbing as they listen carefully to the song, heartbroken.

In a Time interview, Liu mentioned that “The LGBT communities need a movie like this to tell them, ‘You are allowed to love, you are not guilty.’”

The movie sheds light on those who have lived in pain and frustration due to past trauma.

Although the film depicts a generation that was denied to celebrate their identities freely and are recognized in Taiwan today, it still demonstrates that the fight for LGBTQ+ rights is not over.

Your Name Engraved Herein sends a clear universal message that, regardless of sexual orientation, love is love and everyone deserves it.

Your Name Engraved Herein is available to watch on Netflix.


On being bisexual

Exploring the issue of bi-erasure

I’ve known I was bisexual since the age of 14. I came out to my friends in high school and was met with mixed responses: I got everything from “that’s awesome,” to “I knew it,” to “well, as long as you don’t fall for me, it’s fine.” The way I came out to my family was during an argument, and I was met with quite a bit of disdain.

When I turned 17, however, I started to feel trapped into picking a different label. Since I knew that people thought my bisexuality was fake, I figured that I could choose to identify as a lesbian instead. The issue was that I knew I liked girls, not just guys, so I chose to identify as a lesbian because it would be easier to explain if I was ever dating a girl. Had I been able to embrace my bisexuality, it would have been less of an issue to bring a girl home.

Nine years later, I am married to a man, and we have a baby. My husband knows I am bisexual, and he accepts that. Yet, in the eyes of many, I am heterosexual. Of course, this is not the case. However, in many ways, I feel I have to justify my sexuality whenever it comes up.

Prior to meeting my husband, when I was in relationships, I would never tell people that I was bisexual. I would avoid my sexuality as a topic because I feared backlash. I even almost tried to not tell my husband, but I knew that was not a good idea. If I wanted the relationship to work, I had to be honest. I knew that in the long run, lying would hurt both of us.

While the person closest to me accepts my sexuality, a lot of people don’t, both in micro and macrospheres of my life. The thing I hear the most is that bisexuality is akin to confusion. It is usually followed by the idea that bisexuals are cowards because they just want to float in the middle. This assumption is so frustrating because it makes bisexuality seem like a copout, and I really don’t think that is true.

My family and I have engaged in many debates about bisexuality. One family member stated that they understood being gay or lesbian, but that being bisexual seemed fake. Again, this pushes forth the idea that bisexuality just doesn’t exist. If I am stating that I feel attraction toward both men and women, I don’t understand why that has to be debated.

There was a time in CEGEP where I was part of an LGBTQ club, and I remember feeling uncomfortable with trying to embrace my sexuality. I would hear comments about how bisexual people had an advantage because the dating pool is doubled compared to other people in the LGBTQ community. It was kind of crazy to me that within a group that was supposed to embrace different sexualities, I felt so ostracized.

I have dated women in the past who have said they could never date a bisexual person, and I felt like such a fraud. I would go along with the sentiment, and act like I wouldn’t date a bisexual person either. In retrospect, I realize that the issue was with the girls I was dating, and not with me.

Honestly, I find that my battle with the acceptance of bisexuality has been a bumpy one. In many ways, I know that some people are probably pleased with the fact that I am with a man and not a woman. Part of the reason for this is because it is deemed “easier” in society to be in a heterosexual relationship. Also, for many of my family members, biological children are a staple, and it was less difficult for me to have a child because I am with a man. Growing up in a primarily Italian household, heterosexuality is the norm, and by being with my husband, I am fitting the mould of being an Italian woman.  I also know that there are people who are upset that I, supposedly, chose to be with a man over a woman, because it comes across as me choosing heterosexuality.

I am frustrated with the lack of recognition of bisexuality as a legitimate sexuality. As someone who uses this label, I know it is real. The notion that bisexual people are taking the easy route is detrimental to our mental health, especially when it comes from people in the LGBTQ community. There needs to be an acknowledgment that my sexual orientation is real, and that everyone who is bisexual is valid.


Graphic by @the.beta.lab


Queer spaces and their beauties

Why I feel safer in spaces dubbed as “queer”

I am grumbling and cursing in multiple languages as I make my way to La Sala Rossa on St. Laurent Blvd.

Where the flipping hell is this place?

I spot a few people smoking outside what could be the place I was searching for.

“Excuse me,” I calmly called.

“Yes, honey boo-boo?” one of them said, cheekily.

“Do you know where I could find La Sala Rossa?” I asked, a small smile playing on the corners of my mouth.

“It’s over here, baby girl! And let me just say, your eyeliner could kill a man! Work it, girl!” another one said.

I find myself smiling even wider. What a wonderful way to say hello. Suddenly, my mood is elevated. I stay outside for a while, sharing a smoke with this group of wonderful people before walking into La Sala Rossa, where the Massimadi’s Launch Soirée for the 12th Afro LGBTQ+ Film & Arts Fest was happening, Bo Johnson ready to take the stage.

Bo Johnson. Photo by Britanny Clarke.

I honestly don’t know what I was expecting to find, but I did not expect to feel so loved and accepted in a place where I knew no one.

“Non à la discrimination!,” someone on stage yelled. That seemed to be the founding theme the night. Everywhere I turned, people of all shapes, sizes, colours and genders were socializing with each other.

“Condoms? Can’t be too safe! Take ‘em, they’re free,” a person shouted at me over the music, with a big smile on their face.

I laughed wholeheartedly—and I was even more impressed by the fact that I didn’t feel uneasy at their comment. It was almost like they were offering me gum. It was that normalized.

Afro-beats and soulful music galore, la Sala Rossa was booming with love that night. And I think it is because it was a celebration of queerness and love.

I find that whenever I am in a space where queerness is not accepted, or is, but minorities aren’t, I feel uneasy and weird, as if I don’t belong.

But whenever a place is dubbed “queer,” I feel relieved. I feel safe. As if anyone and anything is accepted. And I believe this is why it is important to preserve these spaces, and not only that, but advertise them constantly. There is no better feeling than complete acceptance from the other, whether you are a person of colour, of a different religion, queer or straight. Everyone should adopt Lady Gaga’s philosophy!


The 12th edition of Massimadi, Montreal’s Afro LGBTQ+ film and arts festival is taking place now until Feb. 29. With panels, film screenings and dance parties, the festival celebrates local and international afroqueer artists and personalities, closing off with an extra-special dance party for Nuit Blanche.

Feb. 25

Massimadi: Virtual Reality, presented in collaboration with the McCord Museum and Gris Montreal, “Another Dream brings the gripping, true love story of an Egyptian lesbian couple to life. Faced with a post-revolution backlash against the LGBTQ community, they escape Cairo to seek asylum and acceptance in the Netherlands.” Experience afrofuturism at its most risqué. 


McCord Museum

Alternating times, for more information visit 

Feb. 26

Massimadi x Cinema Moderne screening of two films, Fabulous, directed by Audrey Jean-Baptiste and Badassery, directed by Sarafina McIntosh and Sunita Miya-Muganza, with special vogueing-guest, Lasseindra Ninja.

Suggested rate of 12$ 

Cinema Moderne 

7 p.m. 

Feb. 27 

Massimadi x Initiative for Indigenous Futures x AbTeC: Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace Panel: Intersections in Futurity, with Quentin VerCetty, Dayna Danger and Maize Longboat, moderated by Anastasia Erickson. Where Afrofuturist and Indigenous Futurist creators meet.


EV 11.705

6 p.m. 

Feb. 28 

Massimadi presents, Transfuturisk: two more film screenings, Negrum3 (Blackn3ss) and Transfinite, followed by a panel discussion on Afrofuturism as an Artistic Process, with Concordia Simone de Beauvoir Institute alum, artist, writer and creative director, Nènè Myriam Konaté.

Suggested rate of 12$ 

McCord Museum

7 p.m. 

Feb. 29 

Tour exhibition, A Hazy Collision at Never Apart with local artist Gaëlle Elma. 


Never Apart, 7049 rue Saint-Urbain

2 p.m. 

Feb. 29

Nuit Blanche closing party with Backxwash and PureMulaTo. 


La Sala Rossa, 4848 blvd Saint-Laurent 

10:30 p.m.


Feature photo by Owllix. Massimadi Opening Collection by Kevin Calixte.


NikkieTutorials and the art of labelling

On 13 Jan., Nikkie de Jager, known famously as NikkieTutorials, one of YouTube’s biggest makeup gurus, was trending all over the platform after uploading a video entitled “I’m Coming Out.”

I have been a casual fan of Nikki’s for a long time, mostly for her original makeup looks and her lively personality. I was never very invested in her personal life and would just get inspired by her videos for my own makeup looks.

However, when this video was trending, I was curious. I recalled vaguely that Nikkie was engaged to her long-time boyfriend Dylan. “Oh, she’s coming out as bi? Dope!,” was my first reaction as I clicked the link. I did not expect tears to roll down my cheeks once I was done watching this 17-minute-long video. But then again, I’ve been very emotional these days, it’s kind of embarrassing, but that doesn’t make this video any less important.

I watched as Nikkie breathed deeply, smiling uneasily at the camera, then chuckling nervously and saying: “I always wanted to tell you guys this. I just didn’t expect to do it now. When I was a child, I was born in the wrong body.”

The relief that coursed through her after coming out as transgender was inspiring, and frankly beautiful to watch. The uneasy smile turned into a hearty laugh as she repeatedly stated that it’s always great to finally be honest with her supporters.

Nonetheless, her coming out is not all rainbows and roses. (Get it?) 

The video starts and ends with the fact that the timing was not of her choosing—and that is because she was blackmailed into doing it.

Her voice cracking, with tears forming around her eyes, she made sure to state over and over that: “I am still me. I am still Nikkie. I am human.”

That stuck with me, because there is nothing worse than to be limited to one label that people force you to completely define yourself with. Whether you are LGBTQ+, a person of colour, or of a certain religion, people always deem it fit to keep you in a specific box in order for them to better place you in society. What the hell is that all about?

There is a big difference between minorities defining themselves as such, and society doing it for them. Because when minorities own this part of themselves, it’s normally to shine a light on their struggles and show tell others going through the same thing that they are not alone. But, when society chooses to slap a label on them, it is most likely not out of the goodness of their hearts, but as a sort of placement.

When NikkieTutorials said “before anything, I am me,” I never felt so connected to her. I by no means claim to know anything about her struggles, nor the struggles of transgender people in general. But I know what it’s like to be tokenized in order to fill a fantasy, boxed in order to fit a stereotype people refuse to let go of, or even limited to a single part of my identity.

So please, for the love of all that is good and pure in this universe, as a wise man (Harry Styles) once said, treat people with freakin’ kindness and quit forcing labels on them—it’s not cute. 



Graphic by Sasha Axenova


Image+Nation brings new voices of queer cinema to Montreal

The LGBTQ+ festival stands out with its quality Canadian and Latinx programming

Turning 32 this month, Image+Nation is the oldest still-running LGBTQ+ film festival in Canada. Every year, they aim to explore new themes and ways of filming queer stories.

This year’s edition marks a special turn. They brought back their animation film selection after 10 years of absence, added a selection of Canadian short films, and put forward nine Latinx feature films – the most they have ever had.

“These are all films that center on self-acceptance,” said Kat Setzer, the programming director.

In today’s context of diversity and inclusion in cinema, one could think that a queer film festival in Montreal would have lost its necessity, political power and relevance. Charlie Boudreau, the director of Image+Nation, defended her festival at the opening night on Thursday Nov. 21. She said that this year’s films bring to Montreal exclusive screenings that embody the constant evolution of queer cinema, putting forward new directors, new parts of the world and new issues.

In that regard, Image+Nation helps redefine queerness and its relationship to national cinemas and their political ramifications.

For its opening weekend, it brought to the forefront surprisingly high-quality filmmaking.

And then we danced marked the opening ceremony last Thursday.

“This film is my love letter to Georgia,” said director Levan Akin, in a video directed to the Montreal public prior to the screening. It was shown in a Montreal theatre for the second time after its Quebec premiere at the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma (FNC).

The Swedish-Georgian film depicts the love affair of Merab, a dancer training in the National Georgian Ensemble, with a new rival in the team, Irakli. In a conservative Georgia and dancing ensemble, where masculinity is “the essence” of the dance, their relationship is fraught and forbidden. Their love is subtly and gently told, mostly unsaid but very much felt.

Filled with enticing Georgian music, warm golden lighting throughout the film, and dynamic choreography, it was a wise choice for the opening of Image+Nation.

And then we danced also very much connects with the political relevance of such a festival. When it premiered in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, on Nov. 8, it was welcomed by hundreds of anti-LGBT protesters, blocking the entrance to the film. Despite the scandal forcing Georgian theatres to stop showing the film after three days, it still sold an estimated 6,000 tickets.

Proving the necessity of queer storytelling worldwide, And then we danced was well received by both the public and critics, and deserved the spotlight.

Adding to the films that kicked off the festival, This is not Berlin and José, presented one after the other at l’Impérial on Friday Nov. 22, were particularly good. They were both part of the Latinx programming of the festival.

“This is one is superb, one of my top five of this year,” said Setzer, when talking about the Mexican feature film This is not Berlin.


Directed by Hari Sama, it tells the story of two high-school students as they dive deep into the Mexican underground punk arts scene. Because, as the title says, this is not Berlin, things get complicated when they try to make art and fall in love the way they want.

José, by Li Cheng, was probably the best film of the entire weekend and the most underrated. It was the first Guatemaltecan movie in the history of Image+Nation and turned out to be a naturalistic and poetic gem. Unlike many movies that tackle the hookup culture among some modern gay men, this film avoids clichés and touches people with its beautiful yet believable and relatable love story. It has to have more screenings in Montreal, or at least be available to stream in Canada.

With even more events coming in the course of this week, including short film programs of Quebec and Canadian films, as well as documentaries about LGBTQ+ issues and award-winning feature films, Montreal has not seen the last of Image+Nation this year.

The Concordian will follow their activities and review some of their featured films next week.

For more information about the festival’s history and programming, visit


A lesbian journalist’s guide to objectivity

As a journalist whose existence is inherently political, presenting myself as politically neutral feels impossible.

I began questioning the idea that this was achievable during the first semester of my journalism major. During a lecture on social media guidelines, a professor argued that professional journalists were expected to be neutral online and that our profiles, public as well as private, should be used with precaution. In their defence, the stance of journalistic neutrality is a topic that is still being debated today. The same professor then put up their Twitter and Facebook profile which were both free from any personal news and opinion: a journalist with no identity.

I glanced to my right and then quickly to my left anticipating a reaction from my peers. I still don’t know whether I was the only one bothered by what we were being told, or if other students were just better at keeping a neutral expression. All I know is that in that moment I felt distressed because I knew that as a lesbian, my identity is anything but neutral.

That is not to say that my sexual orientation would ever interfere with my ability to report on stories which overlap with my sexual identity, but rather that no matter how objective my coverage may be, my identity is and always remains a political statement. Am I not to post photos of my girlfriend and I on Instagram? Would Tweeting about The L Word someday get me reprimanded?

The Canadian Press has come up with a set of rules for journalists to follow on social media platforms. “Journalists should not make reference in their profiles to any political affiliations, nor should they post material that could be construed as expressing a political opinion.” This prompts me to ask, how can we expect any member of a marginalized community, whether they’re Indigenous, black, trans, disabled or anyone in between, to be neutral when faced with a story that debates over their own humanity? The simple answer is that we can’t and we shouldn’t.

Trans man and freelance journalist, Lewis Wallace, made headlines in 2017 after he was fired for publishing a post on Medium in which he suggested journalists have to rethink objectivity. “The idea that I don’t have a right to exist is not an opinion,” stated Wallace. “It is a falsehood.” It’s true that journalists have a duty to serve the public, but this doesn’t have to come at the expense of their beliefs, nor should it force them to repress any part of their identity.

Like most journalists on Twitter, my bio consists of a list of my different titles: photo editor, student, journalist, etc.. But contrary to the majority of journalists, my bio also includes “proud lesbian.” A statement that directly breaks the rules meant to be followed by journalists across the country.

In my case, passing as straight is no obstacle – in fact, more often than not people assume that I am – this gives me the privilege to present myself however I see fit. I choose to present myself as a lesbian woman because that is who I am and no matter how hard I try, I cannot seperate myself from my identity, nor do I want to.

As former New York Times columnist Tom Wicker said: “We’re human beings first and journalists second; otherwise there’s something entirely wrong with us.”


Student Life

Optimism through comedy despite hardships

Ellen DeGeneres on self-love and acceptance at Montreal tour stop

TV talk show mogul and stand-up comedian Ellen DeGeneres shared her story with a crowd of thousands at the Bell Centre on March 1 as one of the pit stops on her talking tour: “A Conversation with Ellen DeGeneres.”

DeGeneres was greeted with a round of applause as she waved a custom “Ellen” Montreal Canadiens jersey to the crowd. After receiving a brief French lesson, DeGeneres began cracking jokes with the audience. “I’ve been here before,” said DeGeneres. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful city. It is very cold. Do you know you don’t have to be here? It’s not this cold everywhere. Have your parents lied to you?”

In the early 1980s, DeGeneres’s career in stand-up comedy took off. Her claim to fame came in 1986 as the first and only woman to ever be asked to sit next to Johnny Carson following her bit on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. A decade later, despite a successful stand-up career and being the star of the Ellen sitcom show, DeGeneres felt like something was missing.

In 1997, DeGeneres made the choice to come out as gay in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, and again on her sitcom. “I hate lying and I never lie about anything,” said DeGeneres. “That’s one big lie and if anyone found out I was gay, I would lose everything.”

DeGeneres attributed her reasoning to a dream she once had about herself as a bird trapped in a cage. “The bird being me said ‘I don’t belong in here,’” said DeGeneres. “I woke up and said ‘I’m coming out.’” The bird realized it was small enough to fly between the bars and escape through an open window.

While DeGeneres was praised as a hero the day her coming out episode aired, the tables quickly turned and she was met with hate, including bomb threats and death threats. Ellen was soon cancelled and the comedian claimed her phone did not ring for three years following. “Well, it was unplugged,” said DeGeneres, jokingly.

Fast forward to over two decades later, DeGeneres is one of the most famous talk show hosts and philanthropists. She has won dozens of awards, hosted numerous award shows, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and has given over $97 million in prizes and donations to fans on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Yet, it is not only through her humour that DeGeneres manages to stay on top. Her longevity could be accredited to her uplifting view of the world around her. DeGeneres encourages everyone to be themselves and to love themselves despite their biggest insecurities. Her tale of struggle and recovery brought tears to the eyes of some in the room. It was not the sadness of the story that stood out, but instead the positivity that DeGeneres has always carried with her that had people of all ages gather to see her talk.

DeGeneres did not need to convey her message explicitly, the idea was clear: love will conquer all. Towards the end of the night, moderator Dave Kelly noted that many people hear their names only when they’ve done something wrong, so he asked the crowd to say DeGeneres’s name with love and respect.

“Ellen!” the crowd chanted. “I’ll do it too,” DeGeneres said in response. “Jean-Claude, Mélissa, Stuart… it’s taking too long. I’ll just say Montreal.” Addressed with love and respect, Montreal felt DeGeneres’s warmth as they left the venue to brace the cold that awaited them outside.

Feature photo by Jacob Carey


The boy who cried ‘hate crime’

Hoax or no hoax, Jussie Smollett’s story can be a lesson to everyone

On Jan. 29, Empire actor Jussie Smollett was allegedly brutally attacked by two masked individuals in the city of Chicago. The beating went as far as Smollett finding himself on the brink of death, as a noose was put around his neck, and his ribs were fractured. Smollett later went on to say that both men were yelling, “this is MAGA country,” along with racist and homophobic slurs, ultimately branding the attack as a hate crime, according to The Washington Post. However, a spokesperson from the Chicago Police Department informed many news outlets that “there is no report of that being said,” according to Complex. And so, investigations got to the bottom of this alleged hate crime.

While the Chicago Police Department further studied the case, Smollett received an impressive amount of online support from many Hollywood stars outraged by this supposed hate crime against Smollett’s race and homosexuality.

On Feb. 20, however, Smollett was allegedly indicted for fabricating the entire story, of staging the attack, and was taken into custody, according to Esquire. Dissatisfied with the amount of money he was making on Empire, he supposedly created this entire scenario in order to gain sympathy from Hollywood producers and actors. While his involvement in the “hate crime” is still to be determined, as there are a number of news outlets with different theories pouring out everywhere, it is the reaction from the masses that I wish to discuss.

I personally remained skeptical about Jussie Smollett from beginning to end. I was particularly taken aback by his “I’m the gay Tupac” claim, at a performance on the Troubadour stage in West Hollywood, according to Complex. His insistence on advertising the event led me to question his sincerity, and ultimately, the truth behind what happened. When news broke out that he made up the whole story, I was not surprised, but rather disappointed to the core. And now, I’m just completely confused as to how to feel.

However, Jussie Smollett is not what angers me, because he is not the first, nor the last person of colour to use their minority status to gain stardom, or sympathy for that matter. Back in 2016, after Donald Trump was appointed president, a Muslim student at the University of Michigan claimed she was followed by an intoxicated man urging her to remove her hijab, lest he sets it on fire. As the investigation went on, the absence of any evidence rendered this story false, according to CNN.

Smollett is not the first one to cry wolf and diminish people in real danger. Smollett is just one of the many examples that white supremacists use to make their cases. When they see instances where hate crimes happen to be hoaxes, they use it as a way to push their own narratives about minorities and “social justice warriors” who are all just “too sensitive” and have victim mentalities.

But, if Smollett really did plan the entire attack, then I by no means blame anyone who passes judgment onto him.

What hurts the most about Smollett’s alleged actions is that he has completely shut a door already ajar to minorities’ voices. It is by no means a secret that minorities face many obstacles when it comes to confessing hate crimes and sexual abuse. I go as far as saying that white men and women have a higher chance of being believed when coming forth with sexual abuse stories than people of colour. Nations are tainted with racial biases. It is unfortunately innate, and it’s going to take more than a few marches to get rid of this bad seed.

When the Jussie Smollett hashtag was trending all over Twitter, the amount of hate speech I saw was intensespecifically coming from white supremacists. Men, and women with MAGA all over their profiles were claiming that hate crimes are nothing but another form of fake news.

While I don’t believe this was ‘fake news,’ seeing a gay African-American man like Jussie Smollett be willing to compromise his own community for personal greed makes me wary of the world we live in. For a minority to put other minorities at risk of further discrimination is not only bewildering, it is disgusting.

Hate crimes are not a joke. They are not hoaxes, and it is never okay to use them for personal gain. Hate crimes are a real issue, and if we’re not careful about how we use those words, we will forever fall prey to white supremacist discourse of ‘fake news’ that pushes the idea that leftists or people of colour are too sensitive, and that there is no racism in Americawhich is perhaps the biggest hoax out there.

Graphic by @spooky_soda

Student Life

Slice of life: Out with the old, in with the new-to-you

Trade used clothes for new (ish) ones at ConU’s Queer Clothing Swap

If you’re anything like me when it comes to clothes—meaning your closet is overflowing with unused items, yet you still find yourself sifting through thrift store racks on a weekly basis—then pay close attention. On Nov. 7, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) is hosting its annual Queer Clothing Swap on the seventh floor of the Hall building from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. All items are free, as long as you bring your own articles of clothing to replace what you take.

Camille Thompson-Marchand, the CSU’s external affairs and mobilization coordinator, is the project’s current manager. Although the Queer Clothing Swap started prior to Thompson’s involvement with the CSU, she has continued it every year since. “Last year’s clothing swap got very good feedback,” said Thompson. “People seem excited with the idea of having it again.” The swap aims to provide trans, non-binary and genderqueer folk with a safe space where they can explore an array of clothing that reflects their identity. The event lets them find stylish clothing while also meeting people from the queer community at Concordia.

Designated donation bins popped up on campus on Oct. 22, and will remain open until just before the clothing swap. Clean clothing, accessories and shoes can be left in blue donation bins in the lobbies of the EV, VA, MB, H and LB buildings downtown, and in the lobby of the SP building at the Loyola campus. This year, the CSU received a heaping supply of donations from the broader Concordia student body. “Piles and piles of them,” said Thompson. “And it takes days to sort it all out.”

In lieu of having received so many donations, Thompson highlighted that some donations were also left in the Art Nook and at reception desks, as opposed to in designated bins. “We don’t have the space to keep the clothes outside the donation period,” said Thompson. If you’re planning to donate clothes (which you should), please make sure they are clean, in relatively good condition, and placed in the appropriate donation bins.

All of the donated clothes that aren’t included in the swap are sent off to Fripe-Prix Renaissance, a non-profit organization whose mission is to facilitate the reintegration of people experiencing difficulty entering the workforce. “This event is also a great way to address overconsumption, a fun way to recycle clothes, and [a way to acquire] new outfits without having to buy them,” said Thompson. “It gives the opportunity for people to explore and define their identity without having to spend an excessive amount of money.”

Feature graphic by @spooky_soda

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