For the Georgia Straight’s 18th 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 2013.
Best Pride-bombing of public art
It’s tough to think of ways to make the laughing-men sculptures down in Morton Park near English Bay even more entertaining. But a few yarn bombers did just that when they adorned the A-Maze-ing Laughter sculpture (by Chinese artist Yue Minjun) in neon-coloured knitted bikinis, Borat-style mankinis, chest harnesses, and cone bras about a day before the Vancouver Pride Parade (August 4). The sculptures had previously been adorned by pranksters in wigs and lifejackets. As an inscription at the site states: “May this sculpture inspire laughter, playfulness, and joy in all who experience it.” It appears the artwork has, clearly, achieved that objective.
Most misleading name for a local destination
Best (and bravest) new Pride celebration
Congratulations to Fraser Valley Pride for holding the first-ever Pride parade in B.C.’s Bible Belt: Abbotsford. Previous attempts to hold a parade had been deterred by homophobic opposition. The event, which took place on May 25, drew more than 500 people. It even included some Christian groups displaying signs of apology to the LGBT communities. To the folks at the Westboro Baptist Church, take note: we’re coming after you next!
Best cute and sexy Pride Parade entry needing a clearer link to LGBT issues
Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue.
Best foreskin flap during Pride Week
The Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project got its sometimes-absent knickers in a twist when its Pride Parade application was rejected. The Vancouver Pride Society attributed the rejection to the group’s founder, Glen Callender, displaying full-frontal nudity in the previous year’s parade. Foreskin Pride retaliated by staging a protest at the official Pride Week proclamation at Vancouver City Hall and later marched ahead of the official parade.
Canada’s soon-to-be next top trans model
Vancouver transgender model Jenna Talackova, best known for her successful bid to be reinstated into the Miss Universe Canada pageant, thereby winning a victory for transgender contestants, will be getting her own reality-TV series. It’s tentatively titled Brave New Girl, on E! Canada. The eight-episode series, set to debut this fall, will follow her relocation from Vancouver to Toronto as she pursues a career in modelling, TV, and fitness. We’re just glad it’s not going to be The Real Transgender Housewives of Vancouver.
Best local nyet to Russia’s antigay laws
Russia has received quite the international spanking for its antigay legislation. And Vancouverites have been a fierce force in taking a stand for Russian LGBT rights. Mayor Gregor Robertson issued a statement on July 26 to express his concerns about the laws, particularly in relation to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Summer protests (including a kiss-in) at Vancouver’s Russian Consulate garnered media attention, and numerous Vancouver-based groups, from the B.C. Civil Liberties Association to YouthCO HIV and Hep C Society, joined more than 100 Canadian organizations in signing an open letter to call for more Canadian action on Russian human-rights abuses. The efforts did not go unnoticed. In a series of photos published by Russian queer activists and allies thanking the world, one woman held up a sign that said: “Thank you, Vancouver! From Russia with love”.
Best homophobia hip check
Talk about good sports. This year, the mainstream media fixed its gaze on homophobia in sports, as NBA player Jason Collins had a high-profile coming out. There have been local gains also. Numerous professional athletes, including former Vancouver Canucks centre Manny Malhotra and B.C. Lions wide receiver Marco Iannuzzi, have come out as allies. The first local You Can Play event, sponsored by the Burnaby Teachers Association, Burnaby School District, and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, was held in Burnaby in March. Meanwhile, transgender Vancouver teen and hockey player Cory Oskam got the chance of a lifetime: the opportunity to skate on the ice with his idol, (former) Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider, on his 16th birthday.
Best unexpected bonus of gay-straight alliances
Think gay-straight alliances make schools better just for queer students? Or they simply protect all students from homophobic harassment? Well, there’s an added benefit that you might not expect. A UBC study discovered that students at B.C. schools with gay-straight alliances have lower rates of binge drinking and alcohol-related problems. UBC nursing prof Elizabeth Saewyc, the study’s coauthor, explained that GSAs help to foster a more inclusive, bullying-reduced environment that benefits all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Now that’s something to take pride in.
Best potential local gay hookup app
Best (and most surprising) place to see bears
This after people spotted a bear out for a stroll in the mall parking lot. Why surprising? Because it wasn’t on Davie Street.
Best convergence of LGBT anniversaries
What a year of anniversaries. The Vancouver Pride Parade received civic-status designation this year, just in time for its 35th anniversary. AIDS Vancouver launched its 30 30 Campaign, a retrospective of its 30 years of existence, by releasing a video each day throughout the month of July. The celluloid smorgasbord known as the Vancouver Queer Film Festival grew gracefully silver with its 25th birthday. And the Vancouver Dyke March celebrated its dyke decade, turning 10.