Yohomo's 2016 hits and misses
There are no two ways around it: the flaming dumpster fire that was 2016 was a challenging year for everyone and everything, everywhere. As we finally bury this bitch of a year dressed in the finest Value Village funeral hat we could find, we present you with a hard and fast roundup of the good, the bad and the ugly (*cough* Joanne *cough*) in Yohomo’s 2016 Hits and Misses.
Lemonade / A Seat At The Table
The two finest non-House of Deréon creations Tina Knowles has ever produced, Beyoncé and Solange, bookended the year with their albums Lemonade and A Seat at the Table. Monumental musical achievements transcending mere concept albums, their work rose to function as heady sermons on culture as we know it. Touching on varied subjects such as gender equality, social injustice and identity politics, the Knowles sisters released bold statements fusing genre and message in ways that made each album feel as much ours as theirs and as refreshingly modern as they were reflective.
(Honourable mention: Into You - Ariana Grande, because the greatest yet most underrated song in history deserves to be mentioned on every year-end list from now till forever.)
Canada welcomes Syrian refugees
Since November 4, 2015, over 37,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada as part of the Government of Canada’s Syrian refugee resettlement program. Over the past 12 months, a number of LGBT refugees have been resettled in Canada as well, including Bassel Mcleash, who walked next to the prime minister himself during the Toronto Pride parade, restoring our faith in humanity and ruining our mascara as we reached for the tissues.
Pride/Black Lives Matter in Toronto
Giving the Toronto LGBTQ2 community the jolt it may have needed and shining a light on how much work remains to be done was Black Lives Matter’s controversial protest during the Toronto Pride parade. Though deemed by some as inappropriate or opportunistic, the staged protest was a reminder of the intersectionality of race and sexuality for so many members of the community and the very difficult lived experiences they still endure. The protest reminded us that Pride is political in its essence and that our movement’s work isn’t done until every single member of the community feels seen, heard and safe.
One movie that did manage to capture our attention and give us hope was Barry Jenkins’ extraordinary film Moonlight. The story of a young man’s struggle to find himself told across three defining chapters in his life beautifully captures the ecstasy, pain and beauty of falling in love while grappling with one's sexuality.
Television rules the nation
With every superhero and their mother getting a movie these days, our movie theatres feel less like places to discover great stories about interesting characters with actual plot development – and we’ve had it, officially. Thankfully, television showed no signs of stopping by providing thought-provoking content with some very strong female leads. Brilliant, binge-worthy TV included Stranger Things, Westworld, The Crown, Game of Thrones, Veep, UnReal, The Leftovers, The People v. OJ Simpson, The Americans, Master of None, Black-ish and House of Cards, as well as unapologetically queer content like Transparent, Orange Is the New Black and RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.
Toronto drag queens represent
We can’t talk about queens in 2016 without giving a huge shoutout to Toronto drag queens/legends House of Filth, Sofonda Cox, Tynomi Banks, Fay Slift, Regina, Cassandra Moore, Devine Darling, Sapphire Tithi-Reign, Beardonce, Beardra, Miss C, Donnarama, Scarlett Bobo, Juice Boxx, Jezebel Bardot, Jada Hudson, Ms. Moco, Bonbon Bontemps, Daytona Betch and EVERYONE ELSE (if we forgot anyone let us know!) who stepped up their game big time this year and had us gagging every single time they graced the stage, no matter where it was. We’re not worthy, ladies.
Glad Day Bookshop moves to Church Street
Glad Day Bookshop, the world’s oldest LGBTQ bookstore and Toronto’s longest surviving bookstore, closed their Yonge Street location and re-opened right where they belong: in the former Byzantium space in the Village on Church Street. The new wheelchair-accessible space allows them to be both a bookstore and coffee shop during the day and a bar/event space at night, with an adorable patio, a small space for performances and walls for art. Awesome fact: helping fund the move were nearly 500 community donors who raised over $37,000 and counting.
2016 – all of it
Seriously, F this year for all the legends who have passed. It took Prince, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Muhammad Ali, Florence Henderson, Miss Cleo, Leonard Cohen, Patty Duke, Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds and Harambe from us. Someone make sure Madonna and Cher are taking their vitamins ASAP.
Pulse shooting in Orlando, Florida
The deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people and the deadliest terrorist attack in North America since the September 11 attacks in 2001, the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, resulted in the murder of 49 innocent people. A devastating loss that will be mourned in the community for years to come, the Pulse shooting broke our hearts in a year that challenged us in more ways than we imagined.
Alyssa Edwards/Katya eliminations
As much as RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars was serving it this season, we’re still not over the shocking Top 5 elimination of the original BEAST herself, Alyssa Edwards. (No) thanks to the impenetrable Rolaskatox alliance and the new Survivor-style elimination, we had to see queen after queen get kicked off as the very meh Roxxxy barely made it by. Adding insult to a Roxxxy Andrews-shaped injury was seeing the people’s queen herself, Katya, almost snatch the crown away from an ultimately deserving Alaska.
The rise of intolerance and bigotry couldn’t have been more prominent than with the one-two punch of the UK’s Brexit from the EU and Americans electing an orange reality-TV clown over the most experienced candidate to ever run for the presidency. Fuelled by irrational xenophobia and disturbing white nationalism, both weighed heavily on public consciousnesses, brought out the worst in people on all sides, and kicked the notion of social and political progress in the ass. Thankfully, we’ve been doing our squats and our asses can take it.
The water was suspiciously green and murky, Zika was getting a little too comfortable, the governor declared the city to be in a state of financial emergency, a Daily Beast “journalist” thought it would be funny to out LGBT athletes in an article, thousands of locals were displaced, NBC's coverage was as sexist as ever, and Ryan Lochte lied about being robbed. Yay, sports!
Zipperz says goodbye
Continuing a sad trend of queer businesses shutting down (see you online, Come As You Are!), we heard the news that after 18 years in business, Toronto bar Zipperz was closing its doors. Forced to shutter because of (surprise!) a new condo development, the space was a haven for countless people in the city, and its loss will truly be felt. Thankfully, it didn’t take long before owner Harry Singh opened Blyss Nightclub on Church Street, bucking the trend of LGBT dance spaces being pushed out of the Village by new construction projects that leave little space for them.