INSPIRE Awards Recipients & Nominees for 2016
Click the “+” button before each name to read the bio for the nominees and recipients.
Lifetime Achievement Awards
James Dubro, a well known crime writer and documentarian of organized crime, has lived, played and worked in the downtown gay communities since 1970. He was a member of the university of Toronto’s Gay Academic Union, a board member of the Canadian chapter of the National Lesbians and Gay Journalist Association. written for the Body Politic, and reported on crime issues for “Xtra” for two decades. He founded the first gay dining club in Toronto called The Mayfly in 1979 which existed for 15 years of monthly dinners and social activities He later was a long-time member of the first police/gay community liaison committee (1991-2002). While a student at Columbia University James witnessed the first of the Stonewall riots firsthand on June 28, 1969 as he was outside the bar that night watching the street kids and drag queens fight and being beaten up by the police in Greenwich Village. He also was a participant in the first gay demonstration in Toronto at Hanlan’s Point sponsored by Toronto Gay Action in early August 1971–it was an open gay picnic with banners but was called the “big giggle” demo in the press at the time. He is now 69 and still lives in the gay village area.
Since coming out in 1969 at age 12, Deb has been proudly herself. She has fought violence against women, powered NDP election campaigns and innovatively used music as her organizing tool, inspiring thousands of us to dance in joy & outrage – all as an outspoken lesbian. She began her activism DJ’ing with Lesbians of Ottawa Now in 1977 and was one of the first out dykes working at the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre in 1980. Deb pioneered both Dyke and Trans defence courses and has remained active mentoring young people, pursuing social justice and growing the NDP’s presence in Pride celebrations across the province. Deb is a recipient of the 2007 City of Toronto Human Rights award.
Candice Kelly – Honourary
Candice reigned as Empress of The Imperial Court of Toronto an unprecedented four times. She was a legend across the International Court System, known across Canada and the United States as someone many queens aspired to be and someone every Court member liked. A large number of Toronto’s best entertainers owe their start to Candice. She not only gave them stage time, tips and help with their craft, she gave some of them a home, a place where they felt loved and accepted. She fed them, taught them, loved them and became their family when their own families didn’t support them.
International Icon Award
Bio to come.
Bio to come.
Charles Roy Award for Activism in HIV/AIDS
John Richard Allen
Toronto-based visual artist and HIV activist, John Richard Allen focused on battling HIV/AIDS social stigma. Much of his art was exhibited at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto in 2006. Launched in 2007, his HIV+ Queer online community POZPLANET currently has over 7,750 members on Facebook. His well-received HIVogue poster series celebrating international HIV positive public figures both past and present debuted at 2008 Scotiabank Nuit Blanche at Beaver Hall Gallery and was profiled by Karen Miranda Augustine in Possession: All That Is Sacred In Contemporary Art.
In 2010/2011, a house music track inspired by his HIVogue artwork was released by Jade Elektra with remixes by Vjuan Allure, DJ Fierce Tease and DJ Chip Chop. In 2011, a 5-minute PSA HIVogue: I Got My Education was screened at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) as part of the Disability Arts Movement Showcase. Also in 2011, he co-founded POZ-TO with DJ Relentless, a monthly dance party nightclub event created for Toronto’s HIV+ community. Over the years POZ-TO events have raised funds for ACT (AIDS Committee of Toronto), Black CAP (Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention), OutNPoz, PWA (Toronto People With AIDS Foundation), SOY (Supporting Our Youth). Presently he is working on quarterly POZ-TO events at Flash On Church in partnership with OutNPoz, and on a film project with longtime collaborators Caroline Azar and GB Jones.
Trans Heroes Award
Enza Anderson, a writer, activist and media personality, is a trans-woman who works and lives in Toronto. She makes Toronto’s world-renowned gay village home where she has lived for the last 30 years. Her quick wit, giving nature, and outgoing personality also play up to her former public persona as Enza Supermodel. From 2004 to 2010 she wrote a social column, The Hot Ticket, for Canada’s highest circulated free daily newspaper, Metro Toronto.
Today she divides her work schedule at the Bank of Montreal assisting clients as a Financial Services Coordinator. Her dedication to community is self-evident thorough the many hours of volunteer work she has contributed to various organizations. She currently serves as a board member of the Toronto Police Service LGBT2SQ Community Consultative Committee. While her activism work keeps her busy inside the gay community, her political ambitions have put her front and center for all to see. As a person who cares deeply about social issues, environment and quality of life for all, she garnered headlines in 2000 with a bid for the city’s mayoralty, and surprised many by finishing a respectable third. Be it politics, activism or being out in the public eye with her work as a newspaper columnist, Enza Anderson exemplifies the courage of what it’s like to be a trans-woman who works hard to make a difference.
Tyler Austin has been a positive and active force within the LGBTQ2S+ community for many years. He announced his authentic self to his family when he was only 14 years old. Thankfully they have fully embraced and supported him throughout the years. His career began as a Drag King and was carefully choreographed to bring attention to trans people and issues within the community. Tyler’s many performances throughout the years speak volumes about his advocacy and dedication.
His work includes but is not limited to: Pride Toronto (Performer), GSA Summit by EGALE Canada (Performer Winnipeg), PFLAG Durham Region (Youth Advocate/Mentor), Pride Prom (Performer / Guest Speaker 2015 & 2016), M.Bodiment by EGALE Canada supported by Movember Canada (Poster boy / Advocate), Local Durham Region Fire Dept. (Muscular Dystrophy Drive & Family safety). Mr. Austin has been celebrated often and holds the distinction of being the first transman in Canada to win the Labatt Blue entertainer of the year in 2007and to have placed second in the Toronto Mr. Leatherman competition; receiving the brother hood award as well as to hold a Mr. leather man title for Crews and Tangos in 2011.
Today, Tyler is enrolled in the Pre-Service Firefighting Education and Training program of Durham College. He is committed to his dream of becoming the first trans man to be hired as a Fire Fighter within Canada. “After coming out as a trans man and working so hard to become the person I am today; I can now follow my dream to become a Fireman. It is for me a way to give back; to be there for people who are at the lowest and direst point in their life.”
Rachael Lauren Clark
Rachel Lauren Clark is a passionate LGBT advocate and is currently the Secretary of the Board of Directors at Pride Toronto and President of the Queer Liberals. She has done human rights work with Amnesty International and been a volunteer at the 519 Community Centre in Toronto, Canada. Her work in human rights has spanned throughout North America over the past 20 years where her current focus is on Transgender civil rights and LGBT inclusion.
Rachel has a degree in Journalism from Morrisville State College and has attended Syracuse University, New York University, and is currently in the Master of Theology Program at Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto. She also served in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Navy. Rachel holds two technology patents, has started several websites, and has been an Information Technology innovator and an early Internet adopter. In her spare time, Rachel enjoys reading, exercising on her treadmill, and is currently working on several writing projects. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her partner Carol-Ann and two cats Felix and Fender.
LUX Award for the Arts
Bio to come.
Jeard Strachan – Honorary
Bio to come.
Person of the Year
Dr. Alex Abramovich ⭐️ Recipient
Dr. Alex Abramovich has been addressing the issue of LGBTQ2S youth homelessness for the past 10 years. Alex is an internationally recognized leader in the area of LGBTQ2S youth homelessness and is one of few Canadian researchers studying the phenomenon of queer and trans youth homelessness. Alex is extremely passionate about working with communities and young people and ensuring that their voices and stories are heard. Alex’s research has been highlighted extensively by the media, but most importantly, his work has had an impact on practice and policy and Alex has been working with Municipal and Provincial Government to help end LGBTQ2S youth homelessness in Canada.
Maurice Tomlinson – Nominee
Maurice was recently in Jamaica for a case challenging to the Jamaican anti-sodomy law, then to Cuba for some work with the LGBTI movement there. Maurice Tomlinson is a Jamaican attorney and human rights activist currently with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. He is counsel and/or claimant in cases challenging anti-gay laws before the most senior tribunals in the Caribbean; authors reports to regional and UN agencies on the human rights situation for LGBTI people in this region; conducts judicial and police LGBTI and HIV-sensitization trainings; and facilitates human rights documentation and advocacy capacity-building exercises. In 2012 Maurice received the inaugural David Kato Vision and Voice Award, which recognizes individuals who defend human rights and the dignity of LGBTI people around the world.
Kevin Levesque – Nominee
Miss Conception is an overnight sensation that has been 16 years in the making and her new show miss conception goes to the movies , featuring your favourite movie classics . This year, this international Female Delusionist® has launched her new show ‘The Wonderful World of Miss Conception – an all live singing show featuring you favorite story book characters with a twist!” When he is not touring, Miss Conception, aka Kevin Levesque donates his spare time to fundraising events. He has raised money for the People with Aids Foundation, Friends for Life Bike Rally as well as rode his bike from Toronto to Montréal. Kevin also has his own charity fund with Fife House called the Miss Conception Resident Comfort Fund.
Danielle Bottineau – Nominee
Rainbow Co Co Channel is a 29 year old transgender woman with a mild intellectual disability and learning disability and is a artist and activist In her community and was born and raised in Scarborough her whole life she believes is equal rights and love is solve no matter who u love it’s about connection and true feelings.. she supports her fellow friends and build a shield to stop homophobia and transphobia.
Youth of the Year
Mackenzie Mumby ⭐️ Recipient
Mackenzie is a 17-year-old student from Sinclair Secondary School. He is an activist for youth issues including those of mental health, LGBTQ2S+ rights and women’s rights. Over the past year, Mackenzie has been a member in many advocacy clubs such as “Girl Talk”, “Girl Up” and the “Gay-Straight Alliance”. Mackenzie has fought tirelessly to implement his school’s first ever fully accessible and lockless gender-neutral washroom after hearing stories of inaccessibility and discrimination from transgender students at his school. He demonstrated incredible bravery in coming forward to his school’s administration and taking a stand by implementing this washroom for all transgender students at his school.
Stef Sanjati – Nominee
Known as “breadmom” to her hundreds of thousands of YouTube subscribers, Stef Sanjati has devoted her time and energy to shining light on transgender issues as well as promoting a culture of self-love and confidence with her fun make-up tutorials and Q&As. By candidly sharing her struggles with transphobia, bullying, and misogyny, she’s created a space where many young people can know that not only are they not alone, but that they are loved and have the power to overcome adversity as well. One look at the comments on her videos will show that she’s become the centre of a movement that’s taken up her cause to spread love, acceptance, and even guidance to those on the trans spectrum but also anyone else who just isn’t sure who they are yet.
Ryan Boa – Nominee
Ryan boa (Boa) is a performing drag queen in Toronto. moving to the big city a year and a half ago, she has had a great career with ups and downs. She is well known around Canada’s LGBT community for surviving a brutal assault, last May and has since brought Hugh attention and awareness towards the subject of violence in the LGBT community.
Elise Bernard – Nominee
Elise Bernard is a 19 year old youth from Durham Region that is the voted volunteer chair of PFLAG Young Adults (YA) in the PFLAG Durham Region chapter. She pushed for this group to be created to help those who struggle at the ages of 18 to 29. Elise still persevered even though she is a mental health survivor. She is an advocate for safe spaces and has been since attending her past Catholic high school where she started a GSA.
Positive Business of the Year
Signs Restaurant ⭐️ Recipient
SIGNS is the first Canadian restaurant that is staffed with Deaf servers, bartenders, kitchen staff and hosts. Owner Anjan feels blessed to get this opportunity to mingle, understand and work with the Deaf community. One of his objectives is to utilize SIGNS’ platform for breaking the barrier between hearing and Deaf communities. Also, Deaf community people feel at home when they visit Signs restaurant, which they would have never experienced before. The response from customers has so far been excellent for this unique concept restaurant.
The Duke – Nominee
The Duke has been a part of the Leslieville landscape since 1870 – first as a restaurant, pub and Inn. In its newest incarnation it showcases Toronto’s best live bands and remains a vibrant part of the diverse community. Last year the Duke hosted kick off to Pride week and have already planned for this year. In addition, a number of events have been LGBT hosted previously and more continue to be planned.
Mikah’s Styles – Nominee
Mikah is a local Toronto stylist/salon owner with over 30 years experience. His talents include extensions, and wigs for stage, international runway and magazine models, cancer patients , burlesque performers, drag queens and the trans community. He has been a supporter and sponsor of many events throughout these diverse communities.
Hot House Café – Nominee
“Located in Downtown Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood, The Hot House Restaurant & Bar offers great food and wine, service, and a comfortable atmosphere at a reasonable price. We strongly believe in great service and great food and have been providing the highest quality of hospitality for over 27 years”
Inspiring Community Organization of the Year
Pride At Work ⭐️ Recipient
Pride at Work Canada is a non-profit organization with the mission to improve the climate of inclusiveness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees in workplaces across Canada. The organization provides consulting, programming events and networking opportunities for its Partners across the nation.
Hola – Nominees
Founded in March of 2002, Hola! is a social and support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons of Latin American origin or heritage.
Pride Durham – Nominees
Pride Durham is a non-profit organization that hosts Pride and social events in Durham Region including the annual region-wide Pride that takes place the second weekend in June celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered and associated peoples throughout our community.
Spearhead – Nominees
SPEARHEAD Leather/Denim Social Club is a gay men’s club and is Canada’s longest continuously running gay organization. Founded in 1970, SPEARHEAD has raised thousands of dollars for charity over the years as well as “Spearheading” some of Toronto’s favourite events.
Toronto Police Service LGBTQ2S+ Community Consultative Committee – Nominees
The mandate of the LGBTQ2S+ CCC is to work together in partnership with community representatives in identifying, prioritizing, and problem-solving of policing issues. Among other things, the committee has been offering LGBTQ2S+ youth bursaries for a number of years now with money raised through fundraising as well as financial support from Toronto Police. The committee, over the past year and a half, has been hosting forums specific to the Trans communities recognizing the barriers to reporting assaults against Trans community members.