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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Heart. The 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.”
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.
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 Roots, for 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.
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% Woman. The title was inspired by a t-shirt one of Dumaresq’s transphobic competitors’s wore to protest Dumaresq’s inclusion in the event.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
1. Tegan & Sara
Who are your favorite Canadians?
Yay, happy Canada Day!
This is the greatest way to celebrate Canada day–ever.
I was waiting for the Biebs myself.
I’m sorry, but we in New Zealand claim Anna Paquin as our own :P
No seriously, this is cool, so many wonderful and talented people here :)
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?
Seconding the request for Zoie Palmer to be on this list. A lucky fan got a pic with her at the 2012 Toronto Pride:
No Sophie Schmidt?
Is she? Now I’m embarrassed for not having known, since she’s friends with people I know and I love her and I’ve always been hoping she is. I know I make no sense right now.
I actually have no idea, but I always assumed from the alternative lifestyle haircut. If she is, you better go for her!
Haha, thanks for the encouragement! I’ve only met her once, but she plays for a team in Sweden now so chances are close to nil :P (not that I had much of a chance in the first place, lol).
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.
My favorite LGBT Canadian is Christine Sinclair, but she’s not publicly out. Womp womp.
“Tegan & Sara. Duh.” Hahahahahaha!
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)
I was just about to mention Sarah Vaillancourt. She is an amazing hockey player.
Guys, I met Peaches’ next-door neighbor. She has seen Peaches go grocery shopping. This blew my mind.
I honestly had no idea about Sook-Yin
All the awards to Autostraddle for using gender neutral pronouns and not making a big deal about it. Also for bringing up pictures of sexy Canadians :]
Omg also I wanna add Lucas Silveira to this!
YES like insanity! I love The Cliks!
Yes to this! I saw recently on Bust Magazine that they claimed the Against Me singer was so brave for being the first open trans lead singer of a rock band and I was like “Whaaaaa!? what about Lucas?”
I’m not saying the Against Me singer is not brave, She totally is. But def not the first.
Cliks were great but you should Google Jayne County… late 70s!
I am #25, p.s. I’m just not famous enough. Yet.
I was going to post something similar, but I can be just as happy being the someday number 26.
Also, I don’t see #24-19 =\
Me neither, so you’re not the only one!
Just figured it out. The 24 includes the multiple girls in bands :)
im glad you figured it out. :) #Imadumbamerican
That makes sense!
I looooove Sook-Yin Lee! I never go a day without listening to an episode of DNTO…
YES YES YES!
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.
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?).
YES! So cute.
Anna Paquin identifies as a New Zealander, not Canadian.
this is my favorite comment of all time
Yay Canada!! Thanks Autostraddle!
My girlfriend’s in Canada right now, she said it was fun with fireworks and yes the Pride was still on too so double the fun! Happy Canada Day! :))
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.
Right?! Deanne Smith is everything.
Lesbians on ecstasy ! Sisters in the struggle is my jam !
Hot damn, Canada.
Anyway happy Pride! I hope everyone had a good time at the parade. I know I did – nothing beats being purple and marching behind a nyan cat float!
i recognize that kiwi.
I recognise those feet.
the parade was awesome. The only thing that could have made it better was if some of the men hadn’t been completely naked when I was trying to eat my fries
It’s always the 70 year old guys with the saggy balls too. *covers eyes and wails*
I was aboot to go to sleep and I saw this! This is a great list eh?!
Sara Quin’s jawline. So gay.
Tee-hee… Oop… The wikipedia post was me! I got confused between “Canadian-American” and “American-Canadian”!!
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.
I second this.
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…
What about Heather Cassils? :)
Wow, I’m a kickass Canadian!!
Also, we were horrendously hungover for that picture. Somehow that seems fitting.
You are? And nobody cared about it? Or everyone knows already and this is just old news to them?
Am I the only one who doesn’t get this Tegan & Sara craze?
Nope, although you might be one of only two…
Their music just isn’t my thing.
If I knew you guys in rel life, I would make you sit through a 3 hour power point presentation that will educate on just how awesome Tegan and Sara are.
A little while ago, my friend compared listening to Tegan and Sara to having bad sex.
I completely agree.
Thank you! I always feel like a bad lesbian for not liking them really.
Also, Canadians provided LGBT/Hipster culture with the toque/tuque, an invaluable wardrobe item. http://ocanadagear.com/graphics/toque-foldrim-oc-red1.jpg
Also! (I’m a Canadian living in the USA, I’m never done talking about Canada) Also, best text from last night ever:
“She didn’t know my name but knew I was Canadian. All night it sounded like the national anthem…”
Personally, I love all the lez Canadian soccer players such as Sophie Schmidt and Christine Sinclair.
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
Drew DeVeaux <3<3
Joni Mitchell because I cannot believe that she wasn’t at least a little queer. :)
Sook-Yin Lee is one of my favourite people ever, seriously.
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