“A weird approach”

Email exchange with Rosie DiManno on the Homewood murders

From: “DiManno, Rosie” <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: On the ‘state of the street’: your thoughts
Date: Sun, 3 Feb 2008 14:04:43 -0500
To: Astrid Idlewild

Dear Astrid,
Since you state off the top that you don’t often read my column, I see no reason to share my thoughts on sex trade workers, all of which have already been stated in print.
It’s a weird approach you have, I must say.
Best…rosie d.


From: Astrid Idlewild
Sent: Mon 1/21/2008 8:51 AM
To: DiManno, Rosie
Subject: On the ‘state of the street’: your thoughts

Hi Rosie —

I will admit right out now that I don’t often read your column. As an urban studies student at the UofT, that distinction goes out to Chris Hume, who nine times of ten makes me want to pull out my hair in constant frustration.

I’m now enrolled in a half-year course taught by your former colleague, David Stein, called (rather unambiguously) “INI308H1S: The City of Toronto”. In this course, he plans to guide us through assorted contexts (e.g., politics, budgets, transportation, multiculturalism, etc.), applying a contemporary lens astride layers of this city’s past, where that brought things now, and where it might take things hence.

For our current assignment, a paper on “urban consciousness”, writing about how our experiences in Toronto have been shaped or changed over time, I’m running with what I know: transportation infrastructure and marginalized queer populations. Somehow, by using some of David’s “ways of seeing the city”, I want to somehow adjoin these two very different experiences just enough to tie them to my own acquired understanding of this city. It might be a futile proposition, but hey, it can’t hurt to try.

(That’s my job to worry about, and not why I’m writing you.)

I guess what’s driving me to write was to ask you, frankly speaking, what your feelings are on the state of sex worker safety now (particularly visibly queer sex workers), promising prospects for life after sex work, or opening more life chances beyond and away from sex work for at-risk kids — versus say in 1996 when Marcello Palma went ballistic; in 1992 when Patrick Johnson did the same; in 2003, 1987, and so on.

These questions nag at me for a few reasons — not least because I arrived in Toronto for the first time on 25 May 1996 (the same week as the Palma killings, which I noticed you wrote about a few times). I soon observed the following month at Pride a kind of schizophrenic duplicity from the local queer community about these problematic conditions hitting so close to home, yet most attendees that day didn’t even discuss it, much less acknowledge it. For reasons as these (and many others), I’ve detached entirely from the queer world, largely as a response to this kind of secondary, externally-decided designation upon “fringe” queer populations here and elsewhere — rather than granting these individuals for the same kind of self-determination, self-empowerment, and self-ownership around which the gay and lesbian community mobilized in the 1970s and 1980s.

Also, relative to 1996, I’m a little older, a little more world-weary, and a lot more jaded from having arguably seen too much. So to even flirt with this topic in the company of a person I don’t know is going out on a limb on a few levels. It’s a tough, raw topic for me, I guess — one which I tend to bury as a function of survival and going after life goals. Like, yanno, university. :)

Anyhow, if you have any time to respond and have some thoughts to share based on your reporting experiences, I would be grateful to hear them. Thanks and take care.