John Greyson’s “Wynnetario”


In 2016, people in “Canada” continue to be criminalized for not disclosing their HIV status prior to having sex. Ontario is leading the country in the criminalization of HIV, having charged more people with non-disclosure than any other province.

John Greyson’s latest video, “Wynnetario” is a compelling reminder of the intersections of stigma, criminalization, state-sanctioned violence and police brutality. In it, Greyson captures some of the most powerful moments from this year’s Toronto Pride Parade, including AIDS ACTION NOW!’s banner drop over Yonge Street.

wynne aan to

Premier Kathleen Wynne, along with PM Justin Trudeau, were stuck underneath this banner for thirty minutes during the parade. In the words of Darien Taylor of AAN! Toronto, “We call on Premier Wynne to intervene.”

Click here to watch “Wynnetario” on Vimeo

Image of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, raising hand and shouting, with text "Wynntario" above her

“Yes to Safer Sex!
No to Ontario’s HIV witchhunt!”


Noticing and knowing


Looking at the image above, I notice three AIDS activists parading down a Vancouver street – putting their bodies on the line and working for change. I notice they are armed with instruments and with placards. I notice the two people on the left are sporting “EPP = DEATH” shirts while the person on the right is wearing a leather jacket and what looks like a police hat. I notice how they are holding themselves. I notice how they are holding one another. Looking again, I notice two men in conversation behind them. Both are wearing business suits while the guy on the left – the one who looks like Roger Sterling from Mad Men! – is holding a clipboard or an envelope or what I’m assuming is an official piece of correspondence. Zooming in, I notice more activists lining the sidewalk behind them. Buildings, trees, cars. Shadows on the sidewalk. A yellow streetlight. People putting their bodies on the line; people working for change.

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Active History reviews ‘Positive Sex’ exhibition

Image shows a few posters from the “Positive Sex” exhibition at Carleton’s MacOdrum Library

ActiveHistory.ca is a website committed to connecting the work of historians to diverse audiences. From podcasts to blogs and online exhibitions, they have a beautiful way of tracing social history and really going after the story or – I should say – teasing out and attending to different, complicated, past and present stories.

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POSITIVE SEX Exhibition Goes Live!

1460421430.pngOn April 8, in honour of Youth and AIDS Day, the AIDS Activist History Project (AAHP) launched its first exhibition, titled “POSITIVE SEX: Eroticizing Safer Sex Practices in Canada in the 1980s and 1990s.”

Hosted by the MacOdrum Library at Carleton University, “POSITIVE SEX” combines powerful excerpts from eight oral history interviews with over thirty pieces of ephemera (including photos, pamphlets, flyers, posters, articles and news clippings) from the AAHP collection. Also on display is a collection of books related to AIDS activism and safer (positive) sex, a selection of erotic, sex-positive and educational materials from CATIE and Venus Envy, and an assortment of condoms (male and female! flavoured and lubricated!) and dental dams donated by the Graduate Students’ Association.

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Making comedy, making change


On the video wall, there was a little five minute remake of Death in Venice, but turned into “The ADS Epidemic”, not the AIDS epidemic. So, acquired dread of sex was the new epidemic, and it was of course talking about that culture of fear and hatred that early AIDS discourses in the mainstream media and state policies have produced, demonizing queers, creating a general sense of sex panic, and trying to combat that through humour and music.

– John Greyson (AAHP interview transcript, p. 1)

As someone who dabbles in stand up comedy, I’ve been thinking about the work of making comedy and the work of making change.

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