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SimonThibault.com

Journalist. Food Writer. Producer.

Filtering by Category: Queer

Beer and cheese, for one please.

I joked with a friend of mine the other day that less than two years ago, I knew next to nothing about beer. Now I find myself wanting to write about the most minute part of beer-making: the yeast.

A few months ago, I was told about a yeast lab in Ontario called Escarpment Labs. First of all, I didn't even know that there was such a thing as a yeast lab, let alone the role it could play in the lives of brewers. That little tip ended up being a story in The Globe and Mail's Food & Wine section, which you can read here.

Speaking of booze: The Coast, which is Halifax's alt-weekly, recently dedicated it's latest issue to all things wine. Wine and cheese are a perfect pairing, but the question is: what do you pair with what? I asked a few local winemakers for their thoughts. 

Jarry is a new publication that launched this month. The magazine "explores where food and gay culture intersect," according to its website. For the first issue I interviewed Frank Bruni, the New York Times' former food critic. Bruni is also the author of Born Rounda memoir about his life as a gay man and his sometimes tumultuous relationship with food. I was curious to know how Bruni views food today, now that he is no longer bound to a career as a professional eater.

Speaking of relationships and food, Halifax Magazine recently published a first person essay of mine on my own relationship with food, or rather, the cooking of food.  An excerpt:

If you were to come into my kitchen last night, you would have found a lone pot filled with potatoes on the stove. They’ll be for dinner tomorrow.

You see, these days, I am kind of like that pot: alone at the stove. It used to be that I was cooking for more than just myself. For years, I cooked for a significant other, who then became less-than-significant. Then, for about a year, I cooked for a couple of housemates. But about two months ago, my cooking ratios dwindled to focus on one.

You can read the rest, here. 

 

Blissful and Proud

Last week was a very gay week in Halifax indeed.

No, it wasn't Pride or anything like that.  But the Youth Project, Halifax's LGTBTQ youth advocacy and support servies organisation did have it's 20th anniversary party.  The Youth Project has had a big impact on the lives of youth throughout the province, a which was echoed in this story in The Coast.  

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Also in the city, noted performer/drag queen/viral sensation Panti Bliss was invited to come and speak on homophobia, a story which I covered for Daily Xtra.   An excerpt:

“The idea that a 10-minute speech about homophobia and oppression would have resonance for so many people around the world is still astounding and delightfully unexpected to me,” O’Neill says.  

But more than anything, O’Neill wants people to take all of this seriously.

“People imagine that if you are not being beaten up in the street or having ‘faggot’ screamed at you, then it’s not homophobia,” he says. “Just because homophobia is worse in other places doesn’t mean we have to accept lower levels of homophobia.”

Speaking of homophobia, I recently spoke at the ARCUP 2014 conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick.  The conference is aimed at journalism students and was hosted at St. Thomas University. I was asked to speak on reporting on social justice issues, namely LGBTQ issues.  

I have to say it was a little humbling to participate, especially the part where my talk was being live-tweeted.  

The talk I did focused on respect in journalism, with a focus on telling stories without being exploitative, using the example of the recent Katie Couric/Laverne Cox debacle.  

It was a great experience, and many thanks to those who invited me to participate.

 

 

Telling, not exploiting a story

The month of January is barely half done, and yet there have been some major news stories about the lives of trans people. 

There was the story of Cece McDonald, a transgender woman who was imprisoned for 41 months after stabbing a man who attacked her. McDonald was imprisoned in a men's institution - even though she does not identify as such- but was released after 19 months.  Orange Is The New Black's Laverne Cox had been championing McDonald's cause for quite a while, and McDonald's release could not have come at a better time. 

The reason is that Cox had just been a guest on the Katie Couric show. Along with guest Carmen Carrera, Cox took the opportunity to discuss why it is inappropriate to focus on one specific part of the experience of some transgender people: namely, the state of their genitals. 

As it happened, within days of the Cox/Couric/Carrera interview, a story I had been working on for a few months for Vice was published.  The story detailed how more and more transgender people are accessing crowdsourced funds to help pay for costly sexual reassignment surgeries, or SRS. 

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In an op-ed I later wrote for Daily Xtra, I confronted the issues around discussing the lives of trans people. It is often too easy to exploit the subject of a story, rather than simply tell it, especially when one can justify a certain line of questioning - and exposing - by stating that "a general audience would not understand."  It's too easy to limit not only the scope of the story, but the breadth in which a writer can tell a story. And when we as journalists do this, everyone loses. 


Grip Like A Vice

On Thanksgiving weekend in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, a man named Scott Jones was stabbed in the back and had his throat slashed. The story became national news for many reasons - the violence of the crime,  the small town location - but one of the main ones is because friends of Jones believe that he was targeted because he is gay.

Whether or not Jones was attacked because of his sexuality has yet to be proven, but the story did gain traction nonetheless. I was approached by Vice magazine to write a column on the subject of wether or not Nova Scotia (and Halifax, by extension) is a violent place to live.  

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An excerpt: 

 When Taavel died, I wrote and talked about the case in local and national media. It was nerve-wracking. As a journalist, I wanted to tell the actual, factual truth of the matter. But as a gay man, I also held a sense of responsibility to the queer community that I belong to, to say what mattered: we will not be frightened. 

You can read the rest of the story, here. 

  

News - December 1st, 2012

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I've been enjoying writing for East Coast Living for a couple years now.  Recently, I wrote a story about the joys of rediscovering old recipes, as well as the wonders of baking bread at home

I also had the great fortune to talk with a few mushroom hunters/foragers/amateur mycologists in a story for The Coast.

Over at Xtra, I wrote about how a group of local activists wanted to amend the Nova Scotia Human Rights Bill to include "gender expression" and "gender identity" in the act, therefore providing written legal protections for transgender individuals. A little over a month after that story appeared, things were already on their way to changing. The changes to the bill have now passed.