Ep. 3: Tasha Coldevin, Shelley Taylor and Elaina Martin

Episode 3 October 19, 2020 00:49:50
Ep. 3: Tasha Coldevin, Shelley Taylor and Elaina Martin
To Be Continued: A Stonecroft Symposium Podcast
Ep. 3: Tasha Coldevin, Shelley Taylor and Elaina Martin
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Show Notes

Welcome to Episode 3 of “To Be Continued: A Stonecroft Symposium Podcast”! 

In this episode, Tasha Coldevin, Shelley Taylor and Elaina Martin look back at queer scenes and community building in Ottawa from the 1990s to the present.

“To Be Continued: Troubling the Queer Archive” is on view at Carleton University Art Gallery. Featuring: Barry Ace, Howard Adler, Aymara Alvarado Sanchez, Pansee Atta, Rosalie Favell, Ashley Grenstone, RJ Jones, Don Kwan, Ed Kwan AKA China Doll, Kole Peplinskie, Adrienne Row-Smith, Pride Is Political, Shanghai Restaurant. 

Produced by Fin Xuan Tran, Anna Shah Hoque, Cara Tierney, this episode was recorded in Ottawa, on unceded Algonquin territory. 

The graphic for this podcast features beaded pins by Ottawa-based artist and musician Larissa Desrosiers (Anishinaabe/Ojibwe). The pins were commissioned as gifts for the podcast participants. You can find more of her work at @bangishimonbeadwork. 

CUAG acknowledges with sincere gratitude the support of the Stonecroft Foundation for the Arts, which promotes education in the visual arts and fosters the public’s appreciation of the visual arts. 

Find more about the exhibition on CUAG's website: http://cuag.ca 

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:14 Welcome to, to be continued, a stone Croft symposium podcast in today's episode, on our Shaw Hoff discusses, queer scenes and community building in Ottawa from the nineties and early aughts to the present with Tasha cold, then jelly Taylor and Elaina Martin. Speaker 1 00:00:37 All right. Hi everyone. This podcast is happening in the context of, to be continued troubling, the queer archives and exhibit being held at Carlton university's art gallery, which sits on the unseated territories of the Algonquin people as a project being run out of a university and art gallery. Our aim with this project, both the exhibit and the podcast series are oriented towards efforts to visibile lies and challenge the histories and structures of white CIS heteronormative, patriarchal settler colonialism, a history to which universities and art galleries have long been complicit. Today's podcast is all about community. It's about making family through event planning, community organizing and rallying around each other to support local initiatives. We have with us three community organizers. Who've been part of the auto landscape for the last few decades and who continued to do very important work on the ground. My name is Ana SHA Hawk and I, along with Carra tyranny are the curators for, to be continued for me, not only does today's themes and making community resonate deeply as someone who cannot go back to quote unquote home, it also signals to a broader conversation about our own bodies in relation to the spaces that we're in my family. Speaker 1 00:01:46 And I came to Canada as political refugees. Um, so that making ourselves known to the lands that we come to beyond and letting that be the center of how I develop my own curatorial, academic and personal frameworks are of utmost importance. So I'm super excited to hear the stories that our guests today have to share. And so with that being said, I'm going to ask themselves to introduce themselves Tasha, let's start with you. Will you please share with the audience a bit about who you are, how you came to be an Ottawa? Sure, sure. Hi, I'm Tasha Colvin. I'm a DJ currently in Ottawa, former MC and current cofounder of home Speaker 0 00:02:21 Queer dance party here in Ottawa. Speaker 1 00:02:23 I moved here when I was 14, I suppose it followed my mum who got a job for the federal service and have basically been there ever since kind of. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Elena, do you want to go next? Speaker 0 00:02:38 Sure. Good morning. And thanks so much for having me. It's real honor to be here with you all. And with Shelley and Tasha, it's such an honor, I'm Elaina Martin, and I've been in Ottawa since, uh, 1997. Uh, I came from Sudbury, Ontario. I kind of really uneducated and highly homophobic and racist Northern Ontario. Small town came here to play. Music was brought here directly into the queer community in Ottawa from a pretty much obsolete queer community in Sudbury, uh, started singing, became a local singer here in the queer community and then started, um, organizing and programming, queer events, some big, big shows, uh, in some big places. And then I created a women's festival. And then from that, I created a free community festival to direct focus on marginalized folks. And now I'm an author writing books just finished writing my first memoir and it is a very direct look at my life. And, uh, that of me being a Butch Dyke. Yeah, that's me Speaker 1 00:03:53 Amazing. Shelly, can I turn to the same questions? Sure. Thanks Ana. Thanks Elena and Tasha. So my name is Shelley Taylor and I came to Ottawa in 1991 and have been living in Ottawa on and off since 1991. And I grew up in and around the Maritimes as an army kid. I had the opportunity to live in lots of small places in and around our Atlantic provinces, as well as a few others across the country. I am currently and have been for the last couple of decades, a sexual health educator in 1998. I founded Venus envy, which is a sexual health store in Halifax. And then in 2001, I opened a Venus MV in the Bywood market in Ottawa and VIII in both places is still up and running, going concern. I'm no longer the owner of either of them and they've moved all, both of them have moved a couple of times each and to bigger and better places. And along with Tasha, I'm the co founder of homophonic queer dance party. That's been active in Ottawa for the last five and a half years. He's saying thank you. Um, all three of you have told us that you've spent quite a bit of time in Ottawa doing a lot of community organizing. How did the three of you actually come across each other's paths? No, go ahead. Speaker 0 00:05:22 Well, I mean, it's just, you know, the question right away. I shoot to both Tasha and Shelley in my mind, you know, Tasha as an entertainer, myself as a producer, uh, you know, Tasha definitely caught my eyes of one of the hot young Dyke DJs in the city. So totally gravitated to Tasha. And when Shelley moved into Ottawa and opened Venus envy in 2001, I was organizing the second rock city. Women's Fest, basically a festival for dykes and we partnered up and, uh, you know, I watched her open her first store and she watched me produce my first festival. And so we go way back and those memories of having Shelly on site, actually there with a little Venus envy booth selling dildos at my first, it warms me great. Yeah, Speaker 1 00:06:11 I would hope so for my part, I would say that hard, not to cross paths with either Shelly Erlina. I mean, those two are queer royalty in Ottawa. And so anything that was going on that was worth its salt, they probably had a hand in, so it was hard not to run into those. Do Tasha, do you want to share, do you have specific memories? Gosh, I think my first memory of actually talking to Shelly was probably at one of the Dyke marches that ended up having the hotdogs and hamburgers at the side yard at Jack Purcell. I think it was. Yeah. And that was in, Oh gosh, sometime in the arts. And I think Elena and I crossed paths very briefly at the first or second Westfest. I was like, who's that? That's Elena Martin. I was like, Oh cool. Yeah, yeah. Gosh. Do you remember that West Fest that was on bank street? Speaker 0 00:07:05 Are you talking like 2000 or 2001? Yeah. Yeah. So that was actually a women's stage that I produced for pride that year, but it had Teagan and Sarah on it. Speaker 1 00:07:17 That was one of the first times I ever saw you from afar. Right, right on. Yeah. You've all indicated different sort of events like Dyke March. And then, um, the women's rock festival. Can I have each of you take a moment to sort of explain those events and how they've sort of come about, Speaker 0 00:07:32 Oh, Shelley, this has you written all over it, sweetheart? Speaker 1 00:07:35 Well, so there was so much queer goodness happening in Ottawa in the early to mid two thousands. You know, some things that come to mind would be agitated, queer women of color triangle trash, which is a group of anticapitalist queers. Ottawa Dyke March was founded in 2004 venous Emmy bursary fund got off the ground in 2006 and then divergence movie nights with Caitlin Pascal who was a local organizer, activist and DJ, and still is doing many of those things. But at the same time, you know, they were also queer, adjacent collectives, such as hard on burlesque and lady Fest. And then of course, chicks with Dex, which was attached to cool live in production. And you know, there's a lot of convergence happening amongst those organizers and artists at the time. And of course, you know, much has been built on these foundations, just like what was happening in the arts was built on the community of work that came before it, like when I first got to Ottawa in 2000, 2001 and was setting up the store, Ottawa felt super sort of organized in like queer community center and active like queer newspaper. Speaker 1 00:08:35 And there was like even lesbian bars, like the coral reef and the lookout. And it was parties. Like a lot of stuff was happening compared to where I was coming from, of course, which was the Halifax. So in Dyke, March in Ottawa was a really grassroots community driven, really quite inclusive event. And I remember there being a lot of discussion amongst the committee about whether or not being assembled could be allowed to sponsor Dyke March because we had two stores. And so they saw us as being very like a store in Ottawa, a store Halifax. So we were very corporate, maybe we were a franchise. And so they weren't sure if they wanted to take our $200 or whatever, because corporate stink on it. You know? So yeah, that's, that's how Atlanta you were talking about the women's rock festival. How did that come about what was happening in the Ottawa music scene that you felt strongly enough to put that sort of an event together? Speaker 0 00:09:31 Well, it was on the heels of Lilith fairs, demise and myself attending a couple other women's festivals where I just didn't think they were all up to snuff of what treatment of artists and attendees could be. And so I just created what I thought was missing, which was an all inclusive space for celebrating women in music. And at the time in the first year of myself, it was closed to men. And I learned a lot. I learned that I was mimicking other women's festivals, but I wasn't really being true to myself. And after the first year I realized there was really just this real essence missing. So year two, we open to men and everyone. So that was real big growth for me in 2001. When I, as a person kind of stepped out of those images and things I had been taught and kind of grew into that. So the rock city women's festival first year was just like creating something where everyone could come and just be a step above and everything, like as much as I could create something like that. And year two was really about opening up that celebration of women to everyone and kind of really opening the minds of myself and everyone included Speaker 1 00:10:40 Great. Both Tasha and Shelly you've mentioned homophones and the era co-founders what sort of led to the formation of homophobia. I think like I'd be hard pressed to think of someone in the Ottawa queer scene who hasn't been to a homophobia party. Can you share with us a little bit more about like what generated that and then how did you spread the word? How did you get folks to come out and what kind of relationship had to be sort of put into place for spaces like actual literal spaces to house home, a phono originally, Shelly and I were talking about this this morning, we were saying like, how did homophone come about what was the impetus? And so on, it kind of happened organically. There wasn't like this one moment where we're like, okay, we're going to do this. It's kind of like we saw that, you know, in Ottawa there was a really popular and vibrant and successful, but pretty big queer party going on from, by queer mafia. We would harken back to the old days when like Mo diggity was around or like a certain sort of like sort of just smaller parties that, um, were really community driven where like, you know, why don't we maybe do something like that? I mean, I had production experience at Shelly had like years of production experience and Speaker 2 00:11:54 We thought together we should be able to put something, something on that was a bit smaller. And so, you know, we talked about it and we had some connections in town at the time. We thought that Russia would be a perfect place to put it on. Cause it was just down the street from our house and proximity matters. Um, and so having a good relationship with the owner of raw sugar, we just said, Hey, you know, can we throw a party, uh, and your space, you know, and we didn't necessarily, there wasn't a lot of having to convince folks, given the fact that our resumes were such, that, you know, it seemed like why not, it was a no brainer. And it kind of was like a super success from like the get go, Speaker 1 00:12:36 Amazing. You all sort of indicated coming into an auto landscape for me, I was a young teen in the nineties. And so my interaction with like queer Ottawa was like, non-existent. So I didn't really come into it until I came back to Ottawa as an adult. So finding pockets to tap into in terms of queer communities was a whole different learning experience. What was it like for you when you first came into Ottawa? Where are the queers at? Like, how did that happen? How did that sort of get fleshed out? Speaker 2 00:13:04 Yeah, gosh, well, since I've already been talking go, uh, when I first came out in 91, 92 and 92, 93 around there, there was the core reef, of course, but across the way in hall, there was a bar called the club and upstairs was a Dyke bar called clubhouse. And it was between the coral reef and clubhouse. Those were the two Dyke bars in like Eastern Canada, but it was sort of like a readymade scene, but also super insular. And so in 1994, 95 was when I started throwing raves in Ottawa. The rave scene was very queer and it was like a natural progression from the club to the underground because of house music and how queer and black house music is. And so there was a sort of like a really vibrant, but ready baked scene in Ottawa for underground house music that was super queer. And so it was like if you were in the know that it wasn't hard to find community, I suppose you had to be in the know we were pretty underground, right. There was like a consistent crew of about five or 600 people who would see each other every weekend. And it was a really queer crowd. And unfortunately I think in those years, in the nineties, in the early to mid and late nineties, the clubs shut down, but the rave scene was thriving. Speaker 1 00:14:32 Right. So you just needed to know someone. I mean, I feel like that seems to be on Ottawa and you just need that one person to be the gatekeeper and allow you into gaining access and knowledge into queerness. Right? Speaker 2 00:14:44 Absolutely. Yeah, because I mean, there was a rich vein of queerness and Ottawa all through the nineties and the arts, but it really was, Speaker 1 00:14:52 You just needed that one person to take you to one place. And then I found the community to be super inviting and not like clicky and insular. So it really did just take that one person and then a way you go, I'm going to actually pull up the nuances of the cliquiness. So over the decades, the Ottawa landscape has shifted, there's ebbs and flows of different forms of organizing. How does it feel in the now in terms of access into queer spacing, producing events and moments that are inclusive in comparison to like how it was in the early nineties or in the two thousands. Shelly, do you want to take that? Yeah, we need direction. Speaker 1 00:15:37 So I think, you know, Tasha kind of spoke to this, but because we had experience throwing parties, we could, you know, sort of point to that and say, you know, well, we think that this is an underserved audience and we think people will come. So getting bookings was pretty easy, pretty straight forward, getting the word out, everything changed with social media, right? So before 2006 and after 2006, I think everything looks different in terms of how people promote, how people build community, how people let each other know what's happening. And so like, you know, in the rape scene, like Tasha has boxes of flyers from her time in the rave scene. And so they fired the crap out of the city, right. That was how they got the word out. And when I first started the E in Ottawa and in Halifax, we made posters and we still have some of those posters for like certain sort parties. We still have them like hidden away. And it's very exciting to take them out sometimes and look at that and funny too, cause you're like, we don't have the year on here. Like we don't have anything. Speaker 1 00:16:38 So I mean, we went from flyers to posters, to social media and you know, much was gained in much, was lost, I think, through social media, but we can't deny, I don't think the social media has made information a lot more accessible and that, you know, it's nothing now to get the word out to many people in a way that we couldn't have before. And even now like with COVID like we're still throwing homophobia parties, but we call them stay homo parties. And in some ways they're kind of sad because we can't see people in real life. And in other ways it's really exciting because we get to see people who are, you know, Ottawa affiliated, but maybe don't live in Ottawa anymore. So there's people from all over the world attending these, stay home parties, sometimes a few people, sometimes a bunch of people, but we get to like lay eyes on each other and like do our, you know, silly dance moves in front of the camera and have all these DJs involved. Speaker 1 00:17:30 So, and one thing when Tasha was talking about homophobia, there's a piece that I wanted to add. And that was that we had this vision and it was a long time ago now. So we've kind of forgotten, but like the vision and what is carried through is that we've really wanted a place where new DJs and especially days of color could basically practice to a friendly, warm audience. And we also wanted it to be a really small space, which meant that, you know, we could sit at the door and say for anyone coming to door and saying, are you here for homophobia? No, the queer dance party and people who just wanted to come in for a beer or whatever, it'd be like, ah, no. And then they would leave. So we could make space for more queer and trans people to come in. So we're very thoughtful. Speaker 1 00:18:10 I think we're like cognizant of the fact that we wanted the space to be like queer and queer adjacent or queer and queer friendly only. And we wanted a space for DJs, could like practice in front of people cause you can practice all you want in your bedroom. But like before you get a chance to practice in front of other people, um, it doesn't feel real. So we wanted that to be, uh, we wanted, and we really built it off the idea of like kind of like Modigliani parties where, you know, people felt we wanted it to sort of be a living room. I guess we wanted to feel kind of like a living room. So anyway, that was my thing. I mean, Shelly, I think you bring up a really good point in like both what you and Tasha envision in making accessible spaces, like creating music, deejaying spaces where oftentimes racialized folks, black folks, indigenous folks don't necessarily get access to be able to take up that space very easily, whether it's in terms of like access to equipment, access to practice and learn the skill and refine the skills. Speaker 1 00:19:09 So, I mean that really draws a very important sort of thing that like, I wonder if, if like each of you can speak to this as if you didn't have the legacies of like knowledge and access to the spaces that you're in, how did generating funding and like getting these events off the ground look like, how did you navigate the institutional language that's there that often acts as a barrier for folks who are outside of that dominant sort of narrative? Well, if something Tasha, won't tell you at DVW, she taught herself to DJ after being a vocalist for many, many years, I'm just going to speak a few times, tell anybody this and build on it. But like after being a vocalist and a producer for a really long time, Tata taught herself to DJ because partly because we had this party, this homophobic party, and sometimes it was hard to find teachers. And so we always had, you know, our house DJ, which was Tasha, um, but in the last five years from becoming a DJ herself, um, she's mentored so many other DJs in both formal and informal ways and allow people to come to the house and like use the equipment or like done Tasha. What w what was the name of the organization that you took part in where you did like a full on DJ day with a bunch of folks who wanted to learn? Speaker 2 00:20:22 Yeah. So, gosh, I forgot lovely. I forget what, Speaker 1 00:20:27 Um, but it was this collective of folks who wanted specifically to teach DJ one-on-one to, uh, women of color or female identified folks. And we went to, um, gosh, kitchen, Speaker 2 00:20:39 Something or other, they got this really tiny space and we all brought our own equipment. Speaker 1 00:20:43 And then it's set up little booths where so nasty Speaker 2 00:20:48 Was there and she had her turntables and a seismic Mikayla was there and she was doing stuff with looping. And I was there with my gear and yeah, it was great. A bunch of young people came through and it was like pay what you had. And there was like crackers and cheese. It was really shoestring bootstrappy, but it was great. It was super rewarding. And from that, we saw that folks took, um, you know, the skills and just the, kind of the confidence from that a little workshop and started their own parties, you know, the fruit star, candy bar folks. And, um, I think Carlin DJ Avenue came through there is amazing to see like the fruit, that's how it is in the queer scene in general, across the board. It's like we bring each other up, you know, we leave the ladder there so that folks can come up behind us because folks aren't gonna do it for us. Speaker 2 00:21:44 I remember in the nineties we had to hustle. I didn't realize it then at the time now I realized that the time that being sort of like a masculine presenting person of color, actually surprisingly in this one instance worked in my favor because I was kind of emblematic of what I was selling. You know, firstly like these sound guys and the people I was trying to wrangle lights from and rent spaces from sort of, and I was young. I was in my early twenties, but it's kind of like, I was embodying what I was selling. I was selling the underground. I was selling sort of like edgy industry type of things. And also I got that sort of the one time where misogyny works in my favor, like people like these rough dudes would kind of take me seriously. Right. Cause you know, uh, elbow, elbow we're in cahoots, but it was, you know, it was a struggle, it was a hustle. And a lot of the time, you know, you had to pay upfront for a lot of stuff because you didn't have the reputation. And in the end, you know, after years of being in the business, then, you know, you build relationships. But at first, can you flip through the door and getting an event off the ground was a lot of work and a lot of hustle. Speaker 1 00:22:59 It's like, it's incredible to think about both like the legacy that you built on with the legacies that you are contributing to. Right. To think of young musicians and Elena, maybe you can speak to this. You're like West Fest has featured so many young folks and like people starting up their musical careers and Shelly Venus envy has been for me, I can't speak to the East coast context, but in the Ottawa context has been so integral to like being exposed to young artists and creatives. How did you generate those moments to happen? Like what did that look like? Uh, and like the labor that you've put into that, into that space that like is still building all on itself, right? Like the framework that you started Atlanta, do you want to go first? Sure, sure. I'll throw back to Tasha. I mean, talking about Speaker 0 00:23:46 The hustle and you know, the profound amount of work when I started West Fest, for instance in the first year was 2004. That was one year on the heels of bringing Cindy lopper to Ottawa for the first time at the Congress center, two years on the heels of bringing in the Indigo girls to the Congress center. So I had started these big shows and just on the heels of the rock city women's Fest. And I was out of the dark kind of basement, dark attic spaces for queers. I was all about now putting queers out in the open on these big stages. And that's really what the premise to me starting West Fest was I wanted to put a big stage on a street in the middle of a community and I wanted to put queers and people of color and indigenous folks on it. Speaker 0 00:24:35 I had started that with the rock city women's Fest and I wanted to continue it, but bring it right downtown Ottawa and the hustle that had to happen for me to prove myself to this very, at the time interesting community, I just happened to live there. It was between Hindenburg and Westboro village at the time. And I was living there and I essentially went door to door and asked for businesses. So I created this business plus the arts model. Whereas I took money from the businesses to pay artists who would then perform and draw people to this street where then the people would just spend their money in these businesses. Well, it ended up being kind of an overnight success in the first year I brought in Jane Sudbury, no one in Ottawa had seen Jane snobbery. And about 20 years, she was the first headliner and opening for her was a slew of local queer Ottawa artists. Speaker 0 00:25:29 So that was 2004. The first West vested drew 5,000 people because it was free. It was in the middle of a city street in Ottawa, just West of downtown. It was completely open. And so it grew from there, but having to prove myself as an open dike, you know, the rock city women's Fest wasn't necessarily, you know, um, celebrated. I mean, I don't know if, uh, Shelly will remember, but there was even a talk radio show in Ottawa that was all men like upset that women wanted to go off somewhere and have this weekend together to celebrate women only. And so it was, you know, there was a lot of people that had a hard time with, you know, openly Dyke women trying to run things. And it was okay if we were out in the woods or whatever, but if we came downtown, it was a different deal. Speaker 0 00:26:20 So I just put my nicest suit on and I went door to door and I convinced people like I had just brought Cindy lopper. I just brought the Indigo girls. I'd done it both at the Congress center. I kind of like use that to say, Oh, I've done this thing. I can do this thing. And the first year I literally raised about 10 grand just from those little businesses. But when I shoot to where Shelly went in 2006 and talks about this great growth. So that was two years after I started West Fest and abs Speaker 3 00:26:50 Absolutely what it just blew up. My Speaker 0 00:26:53 Corner on the street festival grew into a 10 block free street festival that come 2006 was seeing 50,000 people. It was free. I had three days of queer programming and I mean, now it was national. I was bringing queers from coast to coast to coast and mixing them with mainstream artists. So now it was just becoming things people were seeing. It was the first time that the city was getting to experience all forms of indigenous art on the street, open, public free. And it was the first big space like that where the local indigenous community got to come and take ownership and see themselves represented and feel like it was also theirs to take part in. So yeah, hustle, hustle, hustle. I mean, you know, when people talk about the nineties and early two thousands, I just think work, Oh my God, that's what I worked so hard, so hard. Speaker 0 00:27:46 And it was always trying to prove myself and everything good. I did someone always tried to take away from me. I, uh, I feel like I was never, ever able to really relax and just enjoy even got to a point where that festival got so large that people really wanted to just take it from me and change the programming completely. And didn't want as many people of color and didn't want as many queers. And that's when I just kind of, again, made this decision as a strong Dyke, to just cut ties with all the money, give them back their money, take my festival away and do what I wanted with it, which was continue the programming I wanted, but with a lot less money. And those are things I learned, you know, I, I grew a festival into a million and a half dollar budget and then gave all the money back because it was really important to me to keep the queers on the stage and, um, to keep my mandate and vision. Speaker 0 00:28:41 So, you know, I've lost things, being true to myself as a Dyke promoter and producer, I've lost a lot, a lot of money and it's been very trying and very traumatic at times and a lot, a lot of work, but you know, the people and opportunities and back to your original question on sorry for that, but is the opportunities I've been able to give to the youth, the queers after me and just all the marginalized folks and you know, the artists in Ottawa, I think of West Fest. I think a lot of them in many levels and degrees of their career, think of West Fest as their starting place, a place like that first big stage that gave them a chance. And I still have so many great relationships with so many artists because I was able to give that to them. And it was always very important to me to create a space where those that were different because, you know, not until very recently where the mainstream festivals in, in Ottawa actually producing like marginalized folks. So I mean, when they were forced to, by the, and forced Speaker 1 00:29:42 To by their funders and forced to by society and being kind of forced by social media and, you know, then no festival lineups are getting diverse, but Hey, my lineups were diverse from the start. I mean, it wasn't token and I wasn't forced to do it. That's, that's kind of what I've always produced. So yeah. Yeah. Shelly, you mentioned early on like, so you're founded Venus envy, primarily focusing on like sexual health educating. How did that migrate into community work beyond sexual education? How did the creative arts play a role in Venus envy people don't just go to VIII for sex toys. There's an amazing array of like literature and art that you offer. How did that come about in Ottawa? So, Hmm, so much like what I said about homophobia, you know, like I had this vision in the first place that I wanted Venus envy to be well in the very, very first days of being this envy, it was a store for women and the people who love them very much how Elena has so eloquently described a couple of years in for, for me and maybe less so for, for her, it was like, what I was trying to create was actually leaving people out and being very specific about things like gender and gender identity. Speaker 1 00:30:58 And it, it became really awkward and unwieldy and it wasn't actually reflecting my values. And so we became a store that was more sort of, well, as anyone here probably knows, you know, if you want to do something that's queer, you also have to have buy in from people who aren't queer. Right. So Venus has always tried to walk that very, very tight line between being welcoming and open to everyone who was, you know, open to being there and being a queer and trans friendly and comfortable and encompassing space that wasn't always the easiest sort of life. Um, and I can't tell you how many times people would come into the store. Men would come into the store and look, look right at me and say, I want to talk to the owner, or I want to talk to the manager and happened. You know, that was a constant to the point where it was just kind of funny that I would just say, he's not here because I figured I didn't want to talk to those people who were selling advertising. Anyway. I was also remembering I completely forgotten this, but when we first started and this probably isn't answering your question, but I thought it was, it was fun to remember. I had a landlord binder. And so I've moved, I've opened five different or six, five different venous MPS, I think over between the two provinces and finding a landlord who would rent to us, you know, our vision and the idea of what we do and you know, it's sex, it's gay. Speaker 1 00:32:34 You don't look like any women. I know, ah, you know, terrified. I a lot less Femi back in the day. And I was young. I was 29 when I started the East. So there was a lot of insecurity on their part about, you know, who's gonna pay the rent. And so I started this landlord binder where I would get all the press that we had and I cut it out and laminate it with our little like back room laminator and three hole, punch it and put it in this binder. And it was basically like, this is what people say about us and it's good. So you can feel confident knowing that we're like a viable business, that news outlets take interest in. And this is like, we were part of a wave of sexual health shops or like education oriented sex shops. So we were part of a wave, you know, it wasn't just us. It started in San Francisco, of course, as everything does, and then moved its way to Halifax and Ottawa. So we had our landlord binders, I'm trying to convince them to trust us was a thing. And we were turned down by many, many, many spaces in and around Ottawa, but just didn't want to take that risk or were uncomfortable or what would my mother think? Or what would my wife think like your mother and your wife want to come by dildos? Actually, Speaker 1 00:33:45 No, I think like having a branding portfolio to have even the physical space itself to generate the conversations that your shop has done and continues to do is definitely something to note in the history of this space too. Right. You know, you weren't coming into a space that like was like, yes, here's this building and you can take and do what you will with it. There's all of these other nuance conversations and difficult moments that like, I think when we think about history, we sometimes look at the end product and not necessarily the process of it. Right. And each of you are telling the audience the process of those difficult moments, the hustles and the joy that also drove the hustling along with the frustration is that you have all been so important and critical and producing moments of joy for folks in the city who are often not reflected in the mainstream, that whether it be in a club scenario and whether it be in like a shop scenario to be able to talk about sexual education as a racialized woman to go in the field, the sort of like environment of safety. Yeah. And then you throw in a queer racialized woman going into a space asking for like, there's, there's so many levels to the need to talk about generating safe and inclusive spaces. And again, like the hidden processes that are often like completely obscured from our local histories. Right. I want it to sort of bring it back to some nostalgia. I'm very curious about particular moments. I mean, Shelly, you, you mentioned the Dyke March, but what's its relationship to the Ottawa Capitol pride. Speaker 1 00:35:18 Scary. Okay. Well, do you want me to start? And maybe you can please tell me, cause you mentioned Dyke March and even their hesitation in taking all donation that's for Venus envy. So I would love to come back to that and then, yeah, please. And then after you Elaina, if you would continue to share, so I'm speaking as someone who wasn't involved in the first few years of deck March planning or organizing. So Megan butcher was the manager at Venus envy, Ottawa for quite a long time. And she, and some of the other staff started these queer dance parties called certain sort parties. And they were used, they collaborated with Ottawa Dyke March for a couple of years to raise funds for Dyke March, but we weren't involved in the organizing in any way. So anything I say is basically gossip. So now that you know, that fish, I think like many like marches and trans marches and their affiliation or association with the bigger sort of pride and gay pride parades, you know, Dyke, March and trans March is a more everywhere. Speaker 1 00:36:25 I think it's probably a more grassroots, less funded, hopefully more inclusive and just sort of a more like political event rather than just a, kind of a big party and parade where we get to show off banks and the RCMP. So you obviously know how I feel about pride, but I think that pride is I appreciated that little dig was perfect. I think that pride for all of its blemishes and all of the things that, um, make me feel quite, I don't, I don't really align with probably like, I don't feel like we've never had a, the Vienna semi auto has never taken part in pride that I remember maybe we had a booth one year. I don't remember, but we've always had our own pride programming through VIII. And, uh, and I, I believe the V now continues to do a lot of pride programming and a lot of really interesting creative programming. Speaker 1 00:37:14 So I felt like the EU was much more affiliated or associated, could be associated with Dyke March than with pride. And also I couldn't afford to support Ottawa pride or capital pride. It was always a very expensive endeavor and really only, you know, bigger businesses were really involved for the most part. And so Dyke March itself, there's kind of two Dyke marches in Ottawa. There were the years where Dyke March was really political and very much, you know, police out of pride and very much about creating a space where people could feel that it wouldn't be a big Kopperud basically. And then there was a couple of years where people in the queer community in daikon and Lez community were very upset that police were being asked to not take part in pride and they took over pride or they took over dig March. And those years were very, very different years from the more political thick marches. And so one year I got together with Candace price and a few other local folks, uh, and I think Elena helped us by loaning us some tents, but we put together something called the picnic with a whole bunch of people. And it was basically in, it was the week before, like March and the week before pride. And it happened on the lawn at McNabb community center. And it was meant to be a response and a police free response to Dyke that had become more Speaker 0 00:38:36 Sort of mainstream. So we only happened for one year because we did everything by consensus and it was really difficult, but it was an amazing beautiful year, I think what year was that? And again, maybe 2013 maybe around then, but yeah, it was a response to this, you know, really wanting a community grassroots event. And it was really well attended and the food was all donated. It was beautiful. It was actually one of the highlights of about being an offer me, you know, more of the background. So pride, I mean, you know, I'm not going to poo poo on people. I mean, I'm not going to do it. I'm going to show you it through the lens of both as a queer performer. Because when I first moved here, I was a queer performer in the city and being able to perform on the main stage of pride at the time it was at city hall in front of a boat, 5,000 queers was the highlight of my life opening for the parachute club. Speaker 0 00:39:34 I mean, listen, that was huge. And even the pride stages, like I remember the Susan Odells and a lot of the queer performers I had on the stage on bank street in 2001 opening for Teagan and Sarah. I mean, those were huge. These are, these are jumping points for queer artists that are just unbelievable to explain. Now that said, now my producer's hat and to my queer hat, you know, I can't stand pride anymore. I don't go anymore. My favorite events are the Dyke March and the picnic and all the smaller, the queer family picnic and all those small events. Those are where I end the trends March and that picnic. And those are the events that I tend to generate too, because yeah, I mean, pride is now, you know, not only is it funded by a sister, you know, straight white, rich corporate, but it's run by those folks too. Speaker 0 00:40:32 I mean, so I mean, let's face it. So yeah, yeah. I mean, they put the face of the person running pride, you know, they make it a queer person and he put them out in front of the media. But if you pull away the layers, I mean the bank street BIA, and which has millions of dollars and put it on bank streets so that the money stays there with those businesses. And you know, like it's not trickling to the community. It's not, so there you go, me, I don't have anything to do with the corporate pride. Pride is political. It is all about and was started in the focus should be trans black women, women of color and our queer community. And it is not that anymore. So, but I can't ever help, but to look at the opportunities, some of our queer entertainers and performers are able to get those big stages. So thank you Speaker 1 00:41:22 For sharing. Like both of you, like I have for me, this is all news. Um, so this is great. Tasha. What about you, like in terms of the events that Elena and Shelley are talking about, how did you, were you involved at any point or participate in it? Uh, what did that look like for you? Yeah, Speaker 2 00:41:39 I mean, as a person who was not involved in the, behind the scenes of early Dyke marches and what pride Capitol pride has become, I think as a person who, uh, you know, I went to my first pride in 1993 in Ottawa, uh, and it was small, Speaker 1 00:41:59 Like two, 300 people Speaker 2 00:42:01 And we all had signs and we were all kind of loud. Uh, the first pride in Ottawa that I went to is what Dyke March looks like now. And I think that this is the story told, you know, all over North America. I did a little Googling of, uh, GLBTQ plus history of Ottawa just to try and center the timelines as to like, when, when was I doing this? And what did the landscape look like for queers outside of what I was doing? Like our parties and, and my production history and promotion history was mostly like from the mid and early nineties to the art was like underground rapes, right? And they were very queer, but it wasn't mainstream. We had our own sort of challenges as queer folks in the rave scene to be seen and to see ourselves reflected in the DJ booth. There's a history there, but as far as pride in Ottawa, and if you look at the legislation in Canada, the nineties were serious in the sense that we're fighting to get sexual orientation in the charter of rights and freedoms. Speaker 1 00:43:03 People were still especially rape Speaker 2 00:43:05 Kids. Query of kids were getting bashed in the streets, you know, in suburbia, um, in downtown Ottawa, wasn't the nineties for queers was not a safe place to be, or the nineties for queers anywhere. So pride was really about calling attention to the world at large, that we were here, we were queer and you had to get fucking used to it. Oh my gosh. Um, and so over the years though, as legislation changes, as tolerance turns to acceptance, and as that acceptance turns into corporate, buy-in, the landscape changes as a person who started going to prides when I first came out. And then as a person who saw a pride change everywhere, mind you, not just Ottawa, but Toronto Montreal, you sort of then try and struggle to then find your place to still see yourself reflected in the spaces that are supposed to be your own. Speaker 2 00:44:00 And so inevitably, maybe inevitability isn't the right word to use, but what ends up happening is that with corporate involvement, then you have, you, you tend to have different priorities come to the fore where things ended up being more kind of about your bottom line than they are about reflecting the community. And so, as a person who went to these prides, I stopped, you know, going to, um, pride on Sunday and started just going to, to Dyke March and trans March, you know, and that would be my pride celebration, et cetera, et cetera. I loved seeing kids with rainbows painted on their faces and seeing people go by in like a sequined juice drink and clapping and having their parents be like, see that's okay. I love that. And I love the fact that you can be a person from a small town that is still struggling to start your first pride, and you can come to a bigger city and see and feel safe, you know, and feel celebrated. Speaker 2 00:45:06 And so I cannot, it's hard to, to detract from that because even though, you know, it may have an element of having been co-opted, it still has value. But I do also feel as though, while the positive value of inclusion is important, inclusion and representation are different. And so being subsumed as a queer person of color as a queer woman of color, it's like we haven't made it. You know what I mean? We haven't made it yet. And I think that the celebration of having made it when we so clearly have not is confusing, you know, and that's why I think that grassroots events and grassroots organizing is always going to be an essential and integral part of Ottawa's queer story as a capital city, where we have tons of gay folks, but still have a struggling queer community. You know, there's a, there's a differentiation. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:46:09 Tasha that was so beautifully and wonderfully said, it really like teases out and highlights both like the, I guess, the conflicted relationships that we have with pride and with moments that when they are consumed and corporatized, what does that do to our own relationships with those moments when they are spaces to also for, for once or for like a moment, feel safe in comradery with other people in the queer community. And then to have that rupture, that perfectly sort of helps us, um, roll into like the end of the show. Like, thank you so much. That was so, so brilliant. I just want to thank all three of you for taking time to have this chat with me. We're really excited to share these stories that you've had. Speaker 2 00:46:52 Gosh, thank you so much for inviting me to take part and for, gosh, it's so great to hear, you know, these recollections from queer juggernauts and I feel honored to have been included. Thank you so much. It was an honor to be here. Speaker 0 00:47:07 Oh my goodness. Me too. I Tasha could listen to you speak for days and Shelly such an honor, really. Uh, I love you both. I'm so honored to know you and be a part of this community with you and hope to do many things in the future together and Ana and Kara. Congratulations. And congratulations, Bravo. Speaker 1 00:47:30 This is a wonderful show. I'm really looking forward to here, here, and car. I just, I also want to say thank you for inviting me and also for the conversations that we got to have in advance. And I really appreciate this podcast series and how many voices and different voices you're bringing into it. I think that that's really needed. And, um, and I really look forward to the final product and Lena always a pleasure and I always learn so much the rest of your day. Thanks Donna. Speaker 5 00:48:13 I continued a stone cross symposium podcast is produced by Finn sun on Ana Shaw Hawk and Carra Tierney music provided by Ben sound.com special thanks to today's speakers, Tasha cold VIN, Elaina, Martins, and Shelley Taylor. The podcast is part of Carleton university art galleries, virtual stone craft symposium. The symposium is organized in conjunction with the exhibition to be continued troubling. The queer archive, curated by Cora Tierney and Ana Shaw Hawk and presented at the gallery in fall 2020, the exhibition and podcast expand conversations around local queer histories and futures. We are grateful for the support of Carlton university, the Canada council for the arts, the Ontario arts council and the stone Croft foundation for the arts. The stone Croft foundation promotes education in the visual arts and fosters the public's appreciation of the visual arts. Find out more about the stone Croft symposium by visiting <inaudible> dot CA. That is CU aig.ca.

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