INSPIRE Awards Recipients & Nominees for 2014
Click the “+” button before each name to read the bio for the nominees and recipients.
Lifetime Achievement Awards
Jane has been an out, proud and prominent lesbian for many years, and during a time when our culture was emerging and attaining rights and recognition. Jane has made significant positive and public contribution, towards the growth and success in her, and our community’s Arts and Culture achievements. Always a crusader for diversity and awareness, and never afraid to say what is on her mind.
Rev. Brent Hawkes
Rev Brent Hawkes has been an activist for LGBTQ2S+ rights and assisting the movement for the LGBTQ2S+ people of Ontario going forward for numerous years. His involvement started before the first Pride Parade in the 70s and he is still going strong. Rev. Hawkes is known around the world due to his performing of the first same sex wedding ceremony in Canada. Rev. Hawkes is an inspiring voice, and truly is a leader.
Charles Roy – Honorary
Charles Roy was the Executive Director of the AIDS Committee of Toronto for eight years. He was a member of Toronto People With AIDS Foundation, AIDS ACTION NOW and many other provincial committees. Nationally, he was a board member of the Canadian AIDS Society, and, internationally, he contributed to the World Health Organization and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. In 1985, he worked for the Montreal AIDS Resource Centre, where he organized the city’s first support group for People With AIDS. He is recognized by the Ontario HIV Treatment Network at their annual conference with a lecture in his honour. He is author of Living and Serving: Persons with HIV in the Canadian AIDS Movement.The INSPIRE Awards is proud to establish in 2014, an annual Charles Roy Award for Activism in HIV/AIDS.
Charles Roy Award for Activism in HIV/AIDS
One of the earliest volunteers with the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) Joan sat on ACT’s Board of Director’s and was Chair of the ACT Board from 1986 – 1988. Later, after a career in Public Health, Joan came to work at ACT as Director of Education and Advocacy. Today, she is Manager of the Toronto HIV/AIDS network (THN) with brings together HIV-related organizations from across Toronto to work more collaboratively. Joan has been a tireless advocate for HIV-related issues lobbying locally, provincially and nationally in the 1980s to secure government funding to support the community-based response to HIV/AIDS.
LUX Award for the Arts
Ken Kostick was the first Canadian Celebrity Chef and first in being recognized as a member of the LGBT community. He was very open despite the fact that he was criticized but he always carried on with a very happy demeanour. He paved the way for many others in the food and television industry. Aside from television he was also dedicated to radio and was the morning show host to Canada’s fist LGBT radio station Proud FM and is the author of 17 best selling cook books. Ken was always a champion of the arts.
Person of the Year
Francisco Alvarez ⭐️ Recipient
Francisco was the co-chair of Pride Toronto for 3 years, and has played an integral part in bringing and the planning of World Pride. Francisco is one of the most inspiring, kind, and community oriented people one could ever meet. Francisco Alvarez is an experienced arts and communications leader with a strong history of volunteer work in Toronto’s LGBTQ2S+ community. He was one of the co-founders of Inside Out, Toronto’s Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, where he remained for ten years. He has also served as co-chair of Dancers for Life, a major annual fundraiser for the AIDS Committee of Toronto and has served on several other Boards in Toronto.
Jake Pyne – Nominee
Jake Pyne is a father of two living in Toronto. His passion for social justice and equity for people experiencing gender based violence and poverty has informed much of his career as a community researcher. Jake is strong believer in community and people’s abilities to tell their own stories. His quiet demeanour is offset by his sound articulation on the issues faced by Trans children, youth, parents and their families. His career spans more than a decade and he was involved with the initial plans for the first Trans march in Toronto.
Marc Simcox – Nominee
Marc Simcox has worked within the LGBTQ2S+ community for over 10 years raising money for several charities ranging from Casey House through DQ, the PWA via the bike rally for several years, and many other lesser known organizations. He worked in LGBTQ2S+ youth advocacy and community development in the region of Peel being a prominent leader for many of the LGBTQ2S+ initiatives that now exist in Peel. He has worked at regional and provincial levels of sexual health promotion and education through local ASO’s and with the AIDS Bureau.
Andrea Houston – Nominee
Andrea Houston is a queer reporter. Her writing and advocacy helped bring about the passage of Bill 13, a piece of provincial legislation that forces Ontario’s Catholic school boards to allow their students to form gay-straight alliances. In recognition of her work Houston was named Honoured Dyke; Andrea Houston spent 18 months reporting on the prohibition of Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs in Catholic schools. After breaking the story early in 2011, Houston pursued it with tenacity and integrity, putting students at the centre of her narratives.
Alex Abramovich – Nominee
Alex is finishing his PhD at U of T on LGBTQ2S+ youth homelessness. He has been advocating for this population of marginalized youth for the past 7 years, and only recently has his work on this important issue been recognized by media outlets, and decision makers at the city of Toronto. He is a tireless promoter of rights for marginalized youth, and has encouraged many others to take a stand against homophobia and transphobia in the shelter system. He is extremely passionate about this work.
Youth of the Year
Justin Preston ⭐️ Recipient
Justin Preston began a small movement online after the suicide of Jamie Hubley, calling it Rise Against Bullying. A victim of bullying his entire life, he had seen the body count continue to rise and decided to step forward and do something about it. What started as a small local campaign in the Fort Erie area has now grown to a global community online, over 7500 on Facebook, thousands more on Twitter, and he has posted some very personal videos on his YouTube channel. Overcoming panic and anxiety and a deep fear of public speaking and appearing in front of crowds plus damage from years of bullying and homophobia, he now regularly tours with other anti-bullying crusaders to schools and community events.
James Spencer – Nominee
James is a 17 year old female to male transgender student. When he moved to Newcastle, Ontario he transferred to Clarke High School and was not allowed to use the bathrooms on school premises for a week, and when he was finally allowed to use the washrooms on school premises he was told that he had to use a washroom in the janitor’s closet, for which he had to get a key from the office every time he wanted to use the washroom. He was told that this was a temporary solution. A couple months later they still had made no progress, quoting student discomfort with the idea, and James decided to stand up in front of multiple classes and bring forth a petition to prove to the administration that the students were fine with a transgender FTM student using the male bathroom. He got over 200 signatures in one day. He fought tirelessly for his right to use the washroom with the support of his close friends and family. He demonstrated incredible courage in coming forward to his entire school and taking a stand for any other transgender person who has faced the same discrimination.
Nima Mardaneh – Nominee
Nima Mardaneh, a high school graduate from Dr. GW Williams Secondary School in Aurora, Ont. has been ambitiously working on his fashion designs for over 2 years. Operating currently under the name NIMZ Fashion, his innovative fashion line brings alive classic jeans and transforms them from vintage to vivacious. Nima turned his love of fashion design into a successful summer small business. With so many requests from friends and family he could hardly keep up with the demand. During his first summer in operation he took home over $3000. His collection was showcased at Dreambridge Exchange Fashion, Music & Entertainment Job Fair Event on Sept 25th 2013.
Christopher Karas – Nominee
A former vice president of the representative association of the students of his school district AESD, CSDCCS, and former coordinator of Franc Parler an initiative of Action Positive a partner of the AIDS Committee of Toronto. While coordinating Franc Parler he worked under the direction of Gilles Marchildon the former executive director of EGALE Canada Human Rights Trust. He is currently putting in place a forum in May, to teach a 100 youth how to implement their very own GSA with the help of Jer’s Vision | Canada’s Youth Diversity Initiative. He has raised more than $10,000 to run the forum.
Positive Business of the Year
Gladstone Hotel ⭐️ Recipient
Toronto’s queer-owned hotel. Christina Zeidler, owner of the Gladstone Hotel, is a film and video artist, which have shown internationally at festivals and appeared on television. Christina has been the Developer and President of the Gladstone Hotel since 2003, focusing on the renovation and revitalization of the building through a community based approach. She was the creator of the Artist-Designed Room Project: inviting 37 local artist/designers to implement individually designed hotel rooms.
Flash Gentlemen’s Club – Nominee
Brainchild of the community’s longest standing business operator and an integral part of the community’s history, George Pratt. In addition to providing opportunities for social interactions among members of the gay community, Flash also makes its second floor available for free to community fundraising projects, providing a venue that is becoming scarce in The Village for balls, performances and special events whose proceeds support numerous charities in the LGBTQ2S+ communities.
Immigration Link – Nominee
Specializing in LGBT Immigration, Peter Bernier and Immigration Link has been helping gay and lesbian couples with immigration to Canada since 1994 when he got his partner his permanent residence (since then, his partner has become a Canadian citizen and they recently celebrated their 19th anniversary). He is one of Canada’s most experienced experts on Canadian immigration for LGBTQ. He is a member of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory, and Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants.
Barbies Basement Jewellery – Nominee
Barbies Basement Jewellery is Angela and Robin Beever, better known as Trixie and Beever. This proud couple will soon celebrate ten years of wedded bliss. They are a self-taught, proudly indie design duo bent on creating unique accessories that share their love of pop culture, gay culture and other weird and wonderful things. They are proud supporters of Toronto’s LGBTQ2S+ community. Through product donations and participation in special events, BBJ has contributed to SOY (Supporting Our Youth), Inside Out, Buddies In Bad Times Theatre and other queer organizations.
Inspiring Community Organization of the Year
Supporting Our Youth (SOY) ⭐️ Recipient
Supporting Our Youth (SOY) is an exciting, dynamic community development program designed to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgendered youth in Toronto through the active involvement of youth and adult communities. They work to create healthy arts, culture and recreational spaces for young people; to provide supportive housing and employment opportunities; and to increase youth access to adult mentoring and support.
Spearhead – Nominees
SPEARHEAD is a gay leather/denim club and is Canada’s most enduring gay organization. Founded in 1970, SPEARHEAD has raised thousands of dollars for charities as well as “Spearheading” some of Toronto’s favourite events open to members, guests, and the community at large. The red SPEARHEAD symbol is recognized around the world.
Prideline Durham/Distress Centre Durham – Nominees
The helpline, known as Prideline Durham is aimed at providing emotional support, crisis intervention, and community referral information specific to the concerns and issues of the LGBTQ2S+ community in Durham Region.
Toronto People with AIDS Foundation – Nominees
Since 1987, the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation has been helping men, women and children live with HIV/AIDS. They are a community-based non-profit charitable organization. PWA engages people living with HIV/AIDS in enhancing their health and wellbeing through practical and therapeutic support services and broader social change, and they inspire them to live into their dreams.
Queer Ontario – Nominees
Queer Ontario is a Volunteer operated provincial network of gender and sexually diverse individuals — and their allies — who are committed to questioning, challenging, and reforming the laws, institutional practices, and social norms that regulate queer people. Operating under liberationist and sex-positive principles, they fight for accessibility, recognition, and pluralism, using social media and other tactics to engage in political action, public education, and coalition-building.