It’s Canada Day! Here’s 24 Kickass LBTQ Canadians

Today is Canada Day! Isn’t that fantastic? We’re big fans of Canada around here — in addition to having a few Canadian writers and tons of Canadian readers, my girlfriend is Canadian and she talks about Canada all the time. Having visited Toronto, Windsor, Victoria, Vancouver and Halifax, I strongly agree with her assessment that Canada is a fantastic country filled with nice people and also clouds.

Last year we celebrated Canada Day with 50 Pictures of Ellen Page, but she’s definitely not the only Canadian worth crushing on. This year we’ve assembled a list of just some of the many delightful Canadians from our queer & trans communities to present to you. You’ve probably already figured that part out yet.

 

24 Kick-Ass Lesbian, Bisexual, Queer, Trans & Otherwise-Identified Canadian Performers, Athletes & Authors

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18. Anna Paquin

Bisexual actress Anna Paquin stars in True Blood and won an Oscar for The Piano when she was only 11 tiny years old!

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17. Nalo Hopkinson

Nalo Hopkinson is a prominent award-winning sci-fi/fantasy writer who I actually first heard of because I worked for her literary agent for nearly two years. (Her book The New Moon’s Arms was about to debut during my tenure there.) Born in Jamaica, Hopkinson has been a Canadian for over thirty years, where she writes novels, edits anthologies, teaches and freelances as an arts consultant.

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16. Samantha McLeod

Fun fact: the girl who played Cherie Jaffe’s daughter Clea in the first season of The L Word — you know, the one who had a big fat lesbian crush on Shane and then ruined Shane’s affair with Cherie and it was all very sad — is Canadian and also queer.

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15. Hunter Valentine

These alt-rocker ladies have been making a name for themselves stateside, specifically in Brooklyn (look out for them in The Real L Word’s third insufferable season!), but Hunter Valentine is actually originally from Toronto.

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14. Gloria Eshkibok

This two-spirited actor, singer and activist has appeared in numerous theatrical, television and independent film productions and is the lead vocalist for the Unceded Band. Gloria was born/raised on Wikwemikong Unceded Territory in Manitoulin Island.

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13. Lesbians On Ecstasy

Since 2003, Lesbians on Ecstasy have been sharing their delightful electropunk with the world by making albums (Their self-titled debut was awarded “Album of The Year” by The Advocate) and touring — including a recent spot opening for Le Tigre.

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12. Peaches

photo by robin roemer

Queer musician Merril Beth Nisker, aka “Peaches,” was born in Toronto and currently dwells in Berlin, Germany. Her electroclash/synthpunk/dance-punk music is known for its critique of gender norms and sexually explicit language. In addition to making albums, touring and doing backup vocals for people like Pink and Christina Aguilera, her music has made it on TV shows like The L Word and movies like Mean Girls. Also, her outfits are epic and now I have “Lovertits” in my head.

11. Jane Rule

Lesbian writer Jane Rule is a Woman You Should Know About. She was born in New Jersey but, after college and working abroad, settled in Vancouver, Canada, with her partner Helen Sonthoff (they would later move to Galiano Island, where Rule passed away in 2007). You’ve probably seen Desert Hearts (if you haven’t, you should!), a seminal lesbian film based on Rule’s groundbreaking novel, Desert of the HeartThe novel, the first of over a dozen Rule would write during her lifetime, was rejected 22 times before it found a home and provoked scandal — Rule recalls “I became, for the media, the only lesbian in Canada. A role I gradually and very reluctantly accepted and used to educate people as I could.”

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10. Ivan Coyote

Born in the Yukon, Ivan Coyote is a writer, spoken word performer and writing teacher. They write a column for Xtra! and has published seven books with Arsenal Pulp Press. You may be familiar with their spoken-word piece dedicated to kick-ass femmes.

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9. Dionne Brand

Poet, novelist, essayist, teacher and documentarian Dionne Brand uses her writing, art and research to address race, class and other intersectional issues. She’s published multiple books of poetry as well as the non-fiction book Rivers Have Sources, Trees Have Rootsfor which she and her co-author interviewed Canadians of color about how racism has impacted their lives. Brand emigrated to Canada from Trinidad in 1970 in order to attend the University of Toronto. Now Canada is her home and she became Toronto’s third poet laureate in 2009.

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8. Persimmon Blackbridge


Persimmon Blackbridge was a co-founder of the Vancouver-based performance and artist collective Kiss and Tell, which concerned itself with lesbian sexuality, a constant theme in Blackbridge’s writing, sculpture and other artistic endeavors. She is “known internationally as a pioneer in feminist, queer and disability arts and culture.” Mental illness is the other primary theme in her work including her novel Prozac Highway.

7. Michelle Dumaresq

Michelle Dumaresq has been competing as a professional downhill mountain bike competitor for over a decade and has been open about her transwoman identity since day one. She’s featured in the documentary Dirt Divas, about female mountain bike racers, and is the subject of 100% WomanThe title was inspired by a t-shirt one of Dumaresq’s transphobic competitors’s wore to protest Dumaresq’s inclusion in the event.

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6. Elvira Kurt

Born in Toronto, Elvira Kurt is a popular stand-up comedian and television host — she actually hosted the second season of the gay wedding series First Comes Love in addition to working a serious stand-up schedule. Kurt’s self-proclaimed gender identity is “fellagirly.”

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5. Sook-Yin Lee

You may recognize bisexual musician and actress Sook-Yin Lee from the John Cameron Mitchell film Short Bus, but she’s best known in her Canadian homeland as the host of CBC Rado’s Definitely Not the Opera.

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4. Tasha Tilberg

32-year old Tilberg, born in Chilliwack, British Columbia, is a smokin’ hot relatively famous fashion model. She’s done heaps of runway work and appeared in advertisements for Fendi, Gucci, Cover Girl and Versace, among others, as well as magazine editorials in pretty much every fashion magazine ever. She recently married her partner Laura Wilson.

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3. DeAnne Smith

DeAnne Smith, who started doing stand-up at the age of 25, was born in America but has been living in Montreal for so long that Wikipedia calls her a Canadian. You know DeAnne Smith because she writes for this website and is hilarious and tours a lot and sometimes is on the teevee.

 

2. k.d. lang

k.d. lang is a serious trailblazer and one of the first popular musicians to come out as a lesbian. I don’t really know where to start with a bio on lang. You know k.d. lang.

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1. Tegan & Sara

Duh.

 

Who are your favorite Canadians?

Profile photo of Riese

Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1795 articles for us.

78 Comments

  1. Thumb up 3

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    Well, if Deanne Smith makes it on the list. Surely, Madame Zoie Palmer, a.k.a. Dr. Hotpants in Lost Girl, should qualify. I mean look at her tweets?

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    Oh, Happy Pride, happy Canadians! I was hanging out in a park on Church St. today, listening to music while the Toronto Pride parade roared by a block away. I loved the fact that I could tell where the front of the parade was by the cheering in the distance. We’d say, “Oh, I think it just got to Yonge St.” as everything to the north-west got loud and awesome.

    And I saw things. Orange knee-high boots. Big red wings. Hula hoops and topless ladies. Scouts and politicians and cat lovers. People selling beads and people giving them away for free. The empty space where the mayor wasn’t. Rainbow Canadian flags and music-soaked beer gardens. Parties on balconies and parties in the streets.

    It was a good day. My secret dream: that someday, every day will be like this.

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    Peaches graduated from my high school (back when it was a Jewish school) which I also coincidentally just graduated from on Thursday!

    (Also, Sarah Vallaincourt definitely be on this list)

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      Yes, please! Fall on Your Knees is such an underrated novel (Nova Scotia! Muslim and Scottish immigrant tensions! Jazz era bars and butches!), and she’s also the adorably frumpy shopkeeper in that lesbian movie set in BC among other obscure Canadian things.

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        Yes, please! Other than Fall On Your Knees, she also wrote the equally underrated but similarly monumental The Way The Crow Flies (Cold War! Air Force Bases! Murder! Trauma!) and the brilliant play Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet (Desdemona is a feminist! Juliet is a lesbian! so is Romeo! wait… what?).

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    Oh no. That picture of Deanne Smith is too adorable. Autostraddle, you have to stop introducing me to these cute, intelligent women. I don’t have time for another celebrity crush, it will cut into my “squeeing over Maddow” schedule.

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    Hey Riese, speaking of Canada, has AS ever done any coverage of the Toronto Pride Parade, or any other Toronto Pride events? Would you ever consider doing a live blog from Toronto during our Pride Week? We’re just across the border from you. In 2014, Toronto’s hosting World Pride, so it may be something to think about.

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    Emma Donoghue (Irish) writes very good novels and is queer and does all these things living in Canada for lots of decades with her partner, so there’s that! Also, is it bad that the first thing that comes to mind when I read “Canada” is Robin’s “Let’s go to the mall” dance from HIMYM…

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    Hmmm, so many queer Canadians, too many to fit into a short list. Shani Mootoo, author of the amazing novels Cereus Blooms at Night and Valmiki’s Daughter, should definitely be on this list! Also, awesome electronic band Austra and folk-singer-songwriter-poet Tanya Davis. Oh, and Zoe Whittall, author of Bottle Rocket Hearts and Holding Still for as Long as Possible (which won a Lambda award last year!). And Tomson Highway, amazing Indigenous playwright and author of one of my favourite novels Kiss of the Fur Queen.

    Also, as far as I know, Ivan Coyote uses “she” and “her” while still identifying as trans–her website and official bios elsewhere use these and she discusses her conflicted use of these pronoun here: http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/Shemanifesto-9087.aspx

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