|Sky Gilbert (Photos courtesy Never Apart)|
So I then approached every single alternative and indie publication in Canada myself, one by one, and by 2005 I was in half the alt-weeklies in the country.
One alt-weekly I pitched was Eye Weekly in Toronto, who instead went with trailblazing locals, first hiring playwright Sky Gilbert, then filmmaker Bruce LaBruce, as their queer columnists. I love it that I can (jokingly) brag I blazed a trail for both Sky and Bruce!
Soon after TDB went national, I profiled Sky—who co-founded Buddies In Bad Times Theatre in 1979—and one line from our interview has stayed with me: ‘’I am probably the most despised person in Toronto’s gay community,’’ Sky told me.
That's because Sky pushed boundaries that upset queer integrationists who still just want to blend in with straight people.
In this terrific Never Apart Q&A with author Christopher DiRaddo, Sky says, "Really, there is nothing going on gay-wise in art. Gay writers these days are very proud that they don’t feel the need to write gay plays or novels and look down on me as old-fashioned and political in a boring way because I do so... At the moment—mainly because of AIDS and the new conservatism of our culture (we talk about sex all the time but in a very prurient way, we are titillated but not really sexual in mainstream culture)—gay men think they will get approval if they write straight. Yeah, well, lo and behold they do. And no one will buy your books or come to see your plays if you write about gay characters.
"You can write gay neighbours, nonsexual gay subsidiary characters, dying gay characters, quirky black gay characters but not central gay characters that are hookers, HIV positive men, lonely old faggots, promiscuous faggots, open relationship couples, men who enjoy unsafe sex, screwed up twinks, unhappy gay married couples, hypocritical lying gay men, men victimized by the criminalization of AIDS—i.e., the real gay world. But as I say, I do my best to encourage those young writers who are still brave enough to write about the real gay experience."
Hear more from Sky live when he returns to Montreal for the Metropolis bleu / Blue Metropolis LGBTQ series, first at the Never Apart Legends Series: Sky Gilbert (Blue Metropolis) event on April 27, then at The Violet Hour (Blue Metropolis) event at Stock Bar on April 28.
Click here to read Sky Gilbert's blog.