Best of Vancouver 2011 contributors' picks: LGBT

For the Georgia Straight’s 16th annual Best of Vancouver issue, our editorial team has spent months on the lookout for good deeds, weird urban details, and various howlers to highlight. Here’s our contributors’ picks for Best of Vancouver 2011.

Best use of the colour purple

No, it’s got nothing to do with the Artist Sometimes Known as Prince. Local activists Ryan Clayton and Kaitlin Burnett launched a campaign, asking people to write letters and send them in a purple envelope to the B.C. government. They want people to tell their stories about their experiences, be it of bullying, discrimination, triumph, or empowerment, and to request that all B.C. schools implement a sexual-orientation and gender-identity policy. The letters will be presented to the premier and the minister of education on October 20, the anniversary of the Vigil to End Homophobic Bullying. Want to get involved? Drop-off boxes are available in Burnaby, Vancouver, Nelson, Salmon Arm, Prince George, and Victoria at schools, bookstores, and various politicians’ constituency offices. Visit for more details.

Best sign that people of colour shine in the LGBT rainbow

Among the many shades that shine through the queer prism, sometimes people of colour don’t get as much focus as they should. Two new initiatives, however, are putting the “visible” back into visible minorities. The community-based project Our City of Colours is reaching out to the Chinese, Korean, Persian, and Punjabi communities with a poster campaign that will increase the visibility of ethnic queer people and provoke discussion about a taboo subject. Meanwhile, Q-KARMA is a Facebook group that aims to help different queer groups from various cultural backgrounds to share information and interact with one another.

Best nontraditional Focus on the Family

Straight people may be called “breeders”, but queer people breed families of their own, even if they aren’t biological. And a veritable family of organizations, including the Museum of Vancouver, Pride in Art, Xtra!, Qmunity, and the 2011 North American Outgames celebrated this locally. The Queer History Project launched a community-based art project called Chosen Family Portraits as part of the Queer Arts Festival and Celebrate Queer Vancouver. Photographer Sarah Race and radio journalist Sarah Buchanan captured both the images and oral stories of 118 individuals who formed families out of friends, partners, and more in 28 family portraits. And talk about giving them visibility: eight pictures appeared on plaques around the city on streets like Denman, Commercial Drive, Hamilton, Main, Victoria Drive, Hastings, and Robson. Take that, Westboro Baptist Church.

Best new reason why East Vancouver queers have one fewer excuse for procrastination

Kudos to the Health Initiative for Men for opening HIM on the Drive (1723 Grant Street), a satellite sexually transmitted infection and HIV testing clinic. The clinic provides three forms of HIV testing (early, rapid, and standard) and STI testing, and it provides all you need to know about how nasty things can get when doing the nasty. Guys, with this new clinic added to the four already in East Vancouver, you have no more excuses: get tested.

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