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LADIES FIRST

Women in the community who made 2016 their bitch
By Abi Slone

This past year, a number of feats of note were performed by cis- and transwomen, non-binary female identified folks, lezzies, dykes and queers, butches, femmes, and those who would rather not label themselves. They parented, published, and embraced politics in their every waking moment. They made space and took space for those in the community who stood beside them, went before them, and were coming up behind them. They made beautiful things, and they encouraged other people to make beautiful things.

In the last issue of In Magazine we profiled Jill Andrews, a beloved member of our community who excels in her badassery. Here is a small, small sampling of a few other women in the community who made a mark on 2016.

Watch out 2017—we’re coming!

Carolyn Taylor
Comedienne, writer, and gal about Toronto, Taylor sharpened her wit ad-libbing at Second City and writing for This Hour Has 22 Minutes. She’s been nominated for a Gemini, a Canadian Comedy Award and a Canadian Screenwriting Award, and is currently the showrunner and one of the stars in the Baroness Von Sketch Show, which launched in 2016 and was renewed for a second season. With a core cast of four exceptional women, the CBC show is smart, satirical and funny as fuck.

Zoe Whittall
Toronto-based, Quebec-born writer Zoe Whittall has been doing all the right things. Over the past 15-plus years, she’s been honing her craft and bringing to life four novels and three books of poetry, including the 2016 Giller-shortlisted The Best Kind of People. If that weren’t enough, Whittall is also a writer for the second season of the Baroness Von Sketch Show, and has written for Degrassi: Next Generation. And if you’re lucky, you may even see Whittle doing a little standup on a Dawn Whittwell bill.

Dayna McLeod
One thing this Montreal-based intermedia artist never is, is dull. Always genius, in September of 2016, McLeod followed up her one-year durational cougar-inspired piece, entitled Cougarlicious, by inviting people to a concert in her uterus. Uterine Concert Hall employed the use of DJs and a small speaker designed to play music for babies through the vaginal wall. The speaker also came equipped with an earphone so the concertgoer could hear the music before it “made it to the speaker.” For a truer uterine experience, concertgoers could listen to music literally being played in her uterus, through a stethoscope.

Janaya Khan
2016 was a busy year for Khan, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto. With a mandate at BLM that states “To forge critical connections and to work in solidarity with black communities, black-centric networks, solidarity movements, and allies in order to dismantle all forms of state-sanctioned oppression, violence, and brutality committed against African, Caribbean, and Black cis, queer, trans, and disabled populations in Toronto,” it would be impossible for anyone to take the events of the past year lightly. Khan certainly didn’t let 2016 pass by without a fight, being instrumental in the Pride wakeup call and the action at Toronto Police headquarters downtown.

Evalyn Parry
Having rounded out her first full season at the helm of Buddies in Bad Times as artistic director, this creative powerhouse is keeping it together and feeling like family. At her roots, Perry is a “queer, feminist theatre-maker.” In the spring of 2016, in addition to leading the charge at the oldest running (or thereabouts) queer theatre ever, Perry and regular collaborator Anna Chatterton did a two week-run of Gertrude and Alice, which won well-deserved critical praise and the nomination for Outstanding New Play at the Dora Awards.

Leslie Chudnovsky
In 2016, Chudnovsky was awarded the Jane Jacobs Award, which “celebrates individuals who contribute to the fabric of Toronto life in unique ways that exemplify the ideas of urban visionary and activist Jane Jacobs.” It couldn’t have gone to a more deserving person. The head of Supporting Our Youth since 2000 (she stepped down this year), Chudnovsky’s contributions to the community throughout the years have been immeasurable. The number of lives she’s enhanced, as well as the guidance she’s provided, culminated in her acceptance of the award in 2016.

ABI SLONE is a writer, editor and traveller. She is not a natural redhead.

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