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5 surprising LGBT stories you should know

All summer long, cbc.ca/pride will celebrate all aspects of LGBT life in Canada. Proud lesbian and CBC-lifer Lisa Ayuso shares five stories from site that took her by surprise.

There's something for everyone at cbc.ca/pride

Lisa Ayuso shares her favourite stories from cbc.ca/pride. 3:52

Smart alecks aren't easy to surprise, especially when it comes to their own communities. 

So when I was asked to help curate cbc.ca/pride — a new website spotlighting LGBT stories from across the CBC — I figured I'd already know most of these stories.

But guess what? The news junkie, proud Lesbian and CBC lifer in me got schooled. I learned a lot. And to be honest, curating the page with a team of other producers has been an exciting and humbling experience for all of us.

All summer long, we will be looking for content that features the diverse lives and experiences of the LGBT community, so keep a lookout for new stories. We think everyone will be surprised by something on this page — and to prove it I'm sharing five stories that have surprised me. 

1) Drag queens are stealing the show in Edmonton

Edmonton drag queens enthusiastically lead story time on Sunday at the Edmonton Public Library in Old Strathcona. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

I love this story by CBC Edmonton. The high demand for drag art performance in the Albertan capital has made the whole city a stage, far beyond the gay nightlife scene. 

"Queens are experiencing a change of venue, moving into the mainstream," notes the writer. "Performers in Edmonton are being asked to headline events at prestigious theatres, public libraries, community halls, neighbourhood skating rinks, even churches." 

Locals list RuPaul's Drag Race among the reasons drag performance art is going from subculture to pop culture. 

Edmontonians, this makes me happy. Keep on showing the love.

2) Trans women of colour are making history in Detroit

The Justice Project 10:58

Have you heard of The Justice Project? I certainly hadn't. I learned about this amazing task force in a bonus episode of the podcast Uncover: The Village, from CBC Podcasts.

In Detroit, trans women of colour have teamed up with a special prosecutor to tackle an epidemic of violence against their community. So far they've tried 24 cases of murder and other capital crimes against the LGBT community — and won convictions in every single one. That success rate just blew me away. 

This story left me with hope. As special prosecutor Jaimie Powell-Horowitz puts it, "if you hurt a trans woman of colour now, they know the police is coming, the prosecutor is coming — and the defendants are going to know now that the community is coming."

3) There are still groundbreaking sex scenes

Special. (Netflix)

When it comes to sex on "television," it might be easy to assume that we've seen it all. That's why I was intrigued to learn that Special, a new Netflix series created by Ryan O'Connell, includes a historic first.

His show apparently features the first gay, disabled character to ever have sex on a mainstream show. 

I loved reading disability activist Andrew Gurza's take on this moment. Gurza, who is also a gay man with cerebral palsy, wrote a piece for CBC Arts about on how this groundbreaking comedy made him feel.

"You know those moments when you watch a show and you realize that something iconic has happened? Yeah, that was this scene for me," Gurza says of the scene. "O'Connell doesn't shy away from the real stuff that disabled people go through, opting to put that front and centre in the show."

I'm excited to think of all the intersections of queerness we have yet to explore. And how many more people will get to say "hey, that's me!" when watching their favourite new show. 

4) There is a straight pride flag

A straight pride flag was raised in the village of Chipman, N.B., over the weekend, and residents are demanding it be taken down. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

Maybe some of you knew this, but I somehow missed it. There's actually a straight pride flag. 

Late last year, in small town New Brunswick, the Chipman Village council approved the raising of a straight pride flag. It came down after one day — but not without creating tension in the community. 

Reading this I was not only surprised about the existence of the flag, but also the fact that this wasn't just a local story. Apparently, conservative groups in the U.S. have raised the straight pride flag in response to gay pride events. 

5) Prom is a great place to stage a protest

Okay, the last surprise came in the form of a little vignette in Take Me To Prom. This short documentary from CBC Docs gathers the prom stories of queer Canadians ranging from 17 to 88 years old. I loved watching first hand accounts of the moments that become high school lore.

My favourite? It's 1985, and the class president has been told he can not take his boyfriend to prom. This doesn't sit well with some students and they decide to take a stand.

Two girls enter the dance floor and start to slow dance. Their principal and chaperones look uncomfortable as they watch and … bam! Kissing! Lots of it! People gather around the girls and cheer! The principal loses his mind.

I'm so happy this actually happened. I can't resist a good revolt story. 

And to think I would have missed all of these stories if I wasn't curating this new Pride portal! 

Head on over to cbc.ca/pride and see what surprises you!


The original version of the featured video included a statistic that did not make it into Uncover: The Justice Project. The video has been edited accordingly.