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All posts tagged with: Role Models

What is with this drag queen thing?

Alberta drag queen Carmen Dioxide

Drag queens are an integral part of every gay community. They play an important role, as gay rights advocates, entertainers, role-models, and influencers. If you have never been to a drag show, or if you’re only been to a few and don’t understand what it’s all about, you’re about to unlock the secrets to these incredible people!

“For me, drag is a performance art, no different than acting, singing, or getting on a stage to perform any other form of art,” said Alberta drag queen and competitor in the upcoming Alberta’s Next Drag Superstar, MacKenzie Royce, who goes by the drag name, Carmon Dioxide. “It combines makeup artistry, fashion, comedy, and acting all in one crazy character that I have created: Carmen Dioxide. She’s quirky, she’s ditsy, and she can drink you under the table any day!”

Drag means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Some view it as an extension of their personality; others, as an opportunity for fundraising; even still, some pursue it as an actual career.

With the explosion of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and perhaps more importantly, the coming forth of many community queens, many people have picked up this unique art form and done some insanely creative things with it.

Carmen Dioxide 2

“I think each drag queen brings something different to the stage, and whatever it is, it’s truly wonderful,” said Carmen Dioxide. “With all of these things being said I also think that it is important to differentiate between people who perform in drag, gender-fluid individuals, and trans individuals for several different reasons.”

“If we group people who are trans and people who perform in drag into one group, it gives people the idea that trans people are only dressing up for entertainment and attention,” said Carmen Dioxide. “This is not that case. Trans people have a truly individual lived experience in which their gender identity just not match the sex they were assigned at birth. It is not a choice. Performing in drag is.”

Furthermore, there is a widely held stereotype of guys who perform in drag, that this means that you want to be a woman. This is not the case. Drag performers are artists. They are creative and push the boundaries of what people call art every time they get up on stage.

“It takes time, money, and a great deal of courage to go out into the world with a wig, a pair of heels, and a pound of makeup on your face,” stated Carmen Dioxide point-blankly.

“By grouping people who are gender fluid and people who perform in drag together, we do a similar thing: we negate the individual and subjective experience of the gender fluid individuals in society who do not necessarily define themselves by gender,” explains Carmen Dioxide. “Instead they feel comfortable expressing themselves as both men and women, without a thought. Again, not a choice. In the same way that trans people deserve to be respected, understood, and accepted, so too do those who are gender fluid.

Essentially by grouping all of these unique people together it underminea the value of their personal, social, and all other categories of their identity.

“I am a male and I have always felt that way,” explains Carmen Dioxide. “I perform in drag for entertainment and to help my community raise money for some amazing causes. It’s not because I feel I am actually a different gender, nor is it a sexual fetish. It’s simply something I do. I feel comfortable dressing up like a woman, because I don’t think it is embarrassing to be a woman. I don’t see going to a drag show or performing in a drag show as any different than going to see a play or acting in a play – and neither should you.

Ultimately, no mater how an individual identifies with him or herself, each and every one of us deserve the respect that you would give any other individual in the world. is here to experience. But never, assume or pass judgment on someone for who they are or what they do simply because you did not take the time to ask the question.

Porn stars advocate for safer-sex in the gay porn industry

Levi Karter advocates for safer-sex in the gay porn industryRecently the gay porn industry has seen a trend moving towards more and more bareback sex. Using web analytics, studios and directors are using technology to determine what people are downloading and watching. This dictates their decisions on where they should be investing time, money and resources. However, not all gay porn models are in favour of bareback sex and now are speaking out to advocate for safer-sex in the gay porn industry.

Bareback sex can be considered risk, especially when safer-sex practices aren’t being used. For example, the use of barriers and PrEP. Gay porn stars take their own health and safer-sex very seriously. Many porn stars have been very vocal about safer-sex including Dominic Pacifico, Chase Young and Dayton O’Connor. They know they are role models for many people. While they don’t turn a blind eye on the subject, they want people to be aware that safer sex can be fun, sexy and reduce your risk of HIV or STI’s.

“I’m personally against barebacking,” stated Canadian gay porn star and producer, Brandon Jones. “As a porn star doing this as a profession, we are an example to a lot of people. If people only see safe sex, it would be a very smart thing to do. I will only shoot safe sex. It’s important for my health, my friends, and the people I love. If I can give a good example, then I would have done my job and followed my true beliefs from the time I started, to the time I end.”

For some models, the answer is clear and simple, condoms all the way!

“Safe sex,” said Seth Knight, who is short and to the point on the subject. “That is all. Don’t risk it. I think bareback is hot, but it’s best not to put your life in danger.”

For porn stars that film scenes regularly, the risk increases because of the number of partners they will have. The easiest way to reduce their risk, in addition to regular testing, is to insist on the use of condoms for every scene they shoot.

“I personally think that bareback sex is unsafe,” said Levi Karter. “I’m not for it. I wouldn’t agree to do unprotected sex because of the risk factor. All the sudden more studios are doing it now. It’s a trend people are jumping on to. I don’t understand the trend of barebacking. I don’t like it. It’s risky enough, even for oral. Unless you are in a committed relationship and you know you both are clean, then it’s ok. We shouldn’t encourage it.”

For porn stars who have been on the set for just a few months, or for someone who has been in the industry for years, using condoms when filming a scene is part of the job for them. It’s for their personal safety.

“Porn is forever,” says Hans Berlin. “Especially with the digital age, it will never go away. So if you think about running for president in the future, think twice before you start your porn career. There is definitely life after porn though – my therapist used to be an Adult Film actor as well.”

Hans also reminds people who are interested in getting into the industry to maintain their personal integrity, because there will be a lot of things that will fuck with your mind. “Lots of crazy people and crazy situations. But also some really great fun and some of the best people you will ever meet,” says Hans Berlin.

For most models, it comes down to their personal beliefs, their morals, ethics, safer-sex education, and risk reduction.

Typically, gay porn stars that have safe sex on camera extend the policy into their personal lives too. It’s something that is important to them, and something they don’t take likely. This doesn’t mean that they haven’t had a slip-up in the past, or are against barebacking in trusting, long-term relationships, but generally speaking, their actions on set are reflective of their personal actions off-camera too.

The Fray: How To Save A Life; inspiring stories of cracked teens and queer youth

On Sunday, February 26, piano-rock band, The Fray, performed in front of a packed audience at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Vancouver. Original band members and best friends, Isaac Slade and Joe King formed the band back in 2002 and by 2005 released their debut album How To Save A Life, featuring the chart topping, hit single by the same title.

Lead singer, Isaac Slade, who was inspired after his experience of mentoring a crack-addicted teenager, wrote the song, How To Save A Life.

“He was a recovering addict, coming out of a really tough teenage life,” Isaac described. “The song is more of a memoir about his slow motion decent and all the relationships he lost along the way. It is the easiest one for me to sing every night.”

Just like Isaac, I was once also a mentor, not for drug-addicted youth, but for youth who were struggling with adversity and coming out. I was a mentor for YouthGlo, a support program for youth in the North Okanagan who were struggling with LGBT issues.

During my time with YouthGlo I met many great teenagers from the area, all with different comfort levels and issues they were combating in their day-to-day lives. Issues like self-acceptance, family dynamics, bullying, coming out, and their own sexuality.

It wasn’t until years later I realized just what an influence I had made on the lives of some of the youth I had mentored. It was particularly apparent when one young man I had previously mentored connected with me through social media.

“I met Brian when I was 14,” said Ryan. “At the time I had no idea the impact he would have on my life. He let me ask him anything and was open to talk about whatever was on my mind. He answered all of my questions without hesitation; without judgment.”

As a mentor, I was able to help Ryan with the challenges he faced at home and in school.

“With Brian’s help, high school became easier,” Ryan explained. “When I came out, Brian was there to support me. He showed me that being gay is not wrong, as some people in school wanted me to believe.”

Five years later after Ryan and I had re-connected as adults, it once again became evident on how I had again become a role model for him.

“He helped me accept myself,” Ryan said. “He has always been there for me, as a mentor and a friend. He taught me that having humility and helping others is an important part of our LGBT community. Thanks to Brian, I am strong and am the man I am today. He taught me never to be afraid.”

Today, I am so proud of Ryan and the strides he has made. Although I might not have saved an individuals life, I find comfort knowing I have helped guide others on their journey to lead healthy, prosperous, and fulfilling lives.

Just as Isaac put it, we all can do our part. In case you need to hear it again… How To Save A Life

Step one you say we need to talk
He walks you say sit down it’s just a talk
He smiles politely back at you
You stare politely right on through
Some sort of window to your right
As he goes left and you stay right
Between the lines of fear and blame
You begin to wonder why you came

Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

Let him know that you know best
Cause after all you do know best
Try to slip past his defense
Without granting innocence
Lay down a list of what is wrong
The things you’ve told him all along
And pray to God he hears you
And pray to God he hears you…

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