Welcome to my Hop Against Homophobia blog post. I have a special interview with two very cool Canadian men who'll talk a little about growing up as gay men in Canada and about how they do their part to keep the issue of homophobia, fear and hate from becoming, excuse the pun "closeted". The instructions for my give-away are at the bottom - I'll be choosing two winners at random from the comments -- winners' choice of an ebook from my backlist (even though I don't have much of one) or one of my two new releases for June (Lucius' Bite or Countdown to Daddies), plus two $10 gift cards to All Romance Ebooks.
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I welcome Patrick Levesque and Tyrell Witherspoon to Chaos in the Moonlight today on International Day Against Homophobia. Thank you for being here guys. I appreciate the Canadian support, eh. Lol. Sorry.
First of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
PATRICK: I'm 31-years-old, an entrepreneur, have two dogs (minature dachshund-chihuahua crosses) and am a kid at heart. I live in the beautiful city of Vancouver and I am the co-founder of Masc (shopmasc.com), a men's skincare & grooming product store and webstore, as well as the co-founder of Homroazzi.com, an gay info-tainment site boasting 30,000 visits a day.
TYRELL: I am 25-years-old and kind of a jack of all trades. I have a day job working for a transportation company but I am work on pursuing a full-time career in arts and entertainment. I am a musical theatre performer about to head to Winnipeg for a short run of Footloose and I also dance in film and TV here in BC. I am currently working on my second studio EP for release at the end of the summer. Oh ya, and I write for Homorazzi somewhere in there.
I hear congratulations are in order. Would you tell us a little about how you met, how your current status happened and whether you have any definitive plans yet?
PATRICK: When we first met over two years ago, Tyrell was living in Winnipeg and I was here in Vancouver. I guess he was a Homorazzi reader and had added me on Facebook as a result. Some time had passes and I looked through his Facebook a bit and saw the he was a dancer - a really good one and was auditioning for SYTYCDC. I thought it'd be great to highlight a dancer on our site and sent him a message to ask him. He was all over it, so I sent him a list of questions… One of which was if he "played for our team". That's right, based on his FB profile, I didn't even know if he was gay or not.
about how the engagement went down.
TYRELL: Patrick pretty much nailed how we met so I’ll go into the engagement. You the saying “when you know, you know?” That’s totally how it was with Patrick. Last summer, we started talking a lot about marriage and I was ready to pop the question. I had all these big plans to ask him during one of my live shows and even during Britney Spears’ show here in Vancouver. When all of those fell through, I was a little discouraged. One day while talking in bed, I mustered up the courage to ask Patrick to marry me. He said yes and we immediately began the process of telling our friends and family who were ecstatic for us! Wedding plans are underway and we are hoping to get married next summer!
Congratulations! That’s so exciting. J
Patrick, you grew up in Terrace, BC, and Tyrell, in small town Manitoba? (I was born in Virden, Man by the way) Can you tell me a little about growing up as gay young men in Canada? Did you come out when you were still in school? If not, what stopped you?
PATRICK: Growing up gay, I definitely was very afraid of anyone knowing and didn't come out while at school. In fact, the first time I told someone was two years after graduating from high school, the summer I was going to move away to finish my last year of University. When I had moved away to Victoria, I felt more liberated and that I could really be who I wanted to be. That being said, I was still hesitant in telling classmates and even my roommate at first.
When I fell in love with my boyfriend (who I was with for 6 years after that and who I started Masc with), I had to tell my parents. When I went home for Spring Break, I forced myself to tell them. I was tired of lying and keeping things from them. "It got better" after that. I didn't come out in high school because I didn't feel like I would be accepted. I was definitely not ready myself anyway and that's a very important part. Also, I feel like the world has changed so much since I was in high school (in good and bad ways) but overall find that there is much more support and more awareness in terms of gay issues through the various campaigns that have been executed in the past couple years.
TYRELL: I don’t think I really realized I was gay and what being gay really meant until the beginning of high school or grade 9. I had a few gay experiences throughout high school but never really opened up about them or told anyone. The summer after graduation, I finally came to terms with my sexuality and started telling close friends. I kept it from my family but unfortunately, was outed to them. I really wish I would have had the chance to tell them myself. It took a long time for them to really understand and my dad especially. After my mom passed away and met my stepmom, she really helped him understand that love is love and if I’m happy, that’s all that matters. What probably stopped me from coming out was the stigma that came along with growing up in a small town and the fact that they wouldn’t understand. (I grew up in Glenboro and Killarney, MB FYI)
As gay men and a gay couple in the public eye, what have your experiences been with homophobia in Canada? Do you believe it’s changed in the last few years? In a good or bad way?
PATRICK: I believe homophobia is changing rapidly in Canada. I personally haven't experienced it much if at all (thankfully), but I get the sense that it has become "not cool" to be homophobic, when in the past it was the opposite. Because there are so many rural cities and towns I know this isn't the case everywhere, but I believe it's heading in that direction.
TYRELL: Like Patrick as well, I haven’t had too much experience with homophobia however in the theatre industry, it is very accepted so I was lucky in that regard. In the music industry, it’s crazy how openly gay artists still don’t seem to get the recognition they deserve. Artists like Ricky Martin and Adam Lambert are really helping pave the way. It’ll take more artists like that to help everyone out.
How do you feel about Canada’s view on gay marriage in comparison to the rest of the world?
PATRICK: I think with all of the campaigns and celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and the likes that have stepped forward to voice their opinions on bullying and gay marriage, with even President Obama making history by endorsing gay marriage, more and more people are opening their eyes.
TYRELL: We are very fortunate to have the laws for gay marriage that we do in Canada and I know sometimes, it’s easy to take it for granted, especially when we watch what happens in the US sometimes. I think with Obama and Biden stepping up and saying they endorse gay marriage along with big celebrity names, times will change. We just have to keep fighting for what is right.
You’re both been involved in the website Homorazzi.com (Patrick, you’re one of the founders ) - would you please tell us a little bit about the website and what it’s all about?
PATRICK: Homorazzi is your source for the latest in music, movies, television, gay news & issues, eye candy, and more. Each of the writers on the site write from their own perspectives and opinions, and even readers are encouraged to send their own articles in. We've also recently debuted a 'Homorazzi' show on OUTtv (Canada's LGBT TV network) where a panel of four (including myself) discuss the same types of topics that we do on the site.
TYRELL: Patrick pretty much covered it all.
The International Day Against Homophobia is a very global way for people to reach out to each other and raise awareness. Do you take on gay and homophobic issues on Homorazzi.com?How important do you think it is for anyone - young, old, man, woman, gay, straight - to be aware of the issues involved with homophobia?
PATRICK: We absolutely do take on homophobic issues on Homorazzi.com and we try our best to do what we can in getting important messages and stories out there. It is important for all people to be aware of issues with homophobia because it affects everyone. Chances are everyone knows someone, works with someone, is related to someone and homophobia kills. It can only be stopped when people are more aware and when people speak up.
TYRELL: Definitely. I like to write about these issues as it drums up a good amount of discussion. The more people that are talking about it will help make it move forward. Homophobia has affected us all at some point – if not directly, to someone we know and it’s our job in the position we are in to help combat these issues and bring light to situations.
Patrick – you did a post on Homorazzi.com last year about online bullying. What was the reaction to that and have you and Tyrell experienced online bullying being that you’re both very public?
PATRICK: Yes, I'm glad you got to read that post! It's interesting, I didn't get bullied growing up (thankfully) and it wasn't until we first started the site that I had received some pretty hateful, and awful messages and comments. Since people can be anonymous online, they feel they can say whatever they want and there's no accountability or respect for the person on the receiving end.
It took some getting used to, but I realized that this was the unfortunate nature of the world I had ventured into. I have found that if you don't engage in it, they go away. I should also note that it got better… Since Homorazzi is still around after three years, I think the haters that wanted us to fail have been proven wrong and they've more or less silenced.
TYRELL: On Homorazzi, we definitely experience online bullying on a daily basis. The saying “everyone’s a critic” definitely becomes true when you put yourself out there. For the 4 people that like you, there are going to be 8 that don’t. You have to learn to have a thick skin and let it roll off your back or it will destroy you. Haters will be haters and every day, I work hard to prove them wrong and be the best I can be. Period.
Finally, you both just did a NOH8 photoshoot. How was that? You got to meet Adam Bouska? When do we get to see the pics?
TYRELL: The NOH8 shoot with Adam was awesome. It’s such a great cause and Adam does such a great job working the hundreds of people that show up to these events. He’s done great work to spread the word on this with his images and I am so thrilled so see so many people come out to participate.
One last question since I’m obsessed at the moment - I must ask you the very important question… who is your favorite Avenger?
PATRICK: Haha, well I haven't seen the movie yet (although heard great things), but I'm going to have to say Iron Man.
TYRELL: We haven’t seen it yet, but I do like Thor a lot. (Tyrell just got extra, extra, extra Brownie points in my eyes :P)
Thanks guys. I appreciate you stopping by and letting me grill you. I hope to run into you in Vancouver sometime when I’m visiting my daughter – maybe at
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1. Leave your name and email address.
I'll be picking two winners of something from my backlist
or one of my two new June releases.
Winners' choice, plus a $10 gift card to All Romance Ebooks.
Winners' choice, plus a $10 gift card to All Romance Ebooks.
I'll also post the winners May 21 on my blog, as well.
2. If you have any questions or comments for Patrick and Tyrell, I'll be glad to pass them along, or any comments in general are always appreciated.
3. If you haven't been to the William Neale - In Memory Of - post here on my blog - here's the link.
4. You can check out my books at kleeklein.com or
on my GoodReads author page http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5073338.K_lee_Klein
5. Keep on hopping - there's lots to discover
6. Join the cause in your own personal way
to make homophobia, hate and fear a thing of the past.