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:: S A M E  S H O W  D I F F E R E N T  S U B W A Y ::
By Ponyta
Toronto, Canada

I was inspired to take photos of the posters in the Toronto subway system after talking on the phone with a dear friend of mine who lives in Kentucky. She was telling me how repressed life can be in the Southern United States where the powers that be still see fit to pass anti-gay legislation when no one is looking. I told her that I felt quite blessed to be living in Toronto, a gay mecca by comparison.

Here, one million people gather every year at the end of June to celebrate Pride. The city offers vibrant lesbian and gay culture in the form of a thriving gaybourhood (Church and Wellesley), a lesbian and gay film festival (InsideOUT), gay-friendly churches, gay soccer, gay hockey, gay parenting groups... you name it, we gay gay gay got it. To illustrate my point further, I told her that there were currently flaming 4 x 6 foot posters promoting The L Word (Thursdays at 10PM on Showcase) in most of our subway stations. Upon hearing this, my friend was quite inspired. So I told her that I would send her a photo to prove to her that the times they are a-changing.

When I hung up the phone, it hit me. This all-too-rare lesbian visibility in a very public place needed to be documented. Since advertising is ephemeral by nature, I knew that if I didn't pick up my camera and get to it immediately, the posters would likely soon be gone and I'd be left thinking "Did that really happen?" So I went for a long subway ride with my SLR and took some old-school analogue snapshots. My mission was to try to incorporate the subway signage with each poster.

To my delight, I found no defaced posters in my travels. Torontonians are a tolerant, often open-minded bunch. Toronto is said to be the most multi-cultural city in the world and different cultures co-exist peacefully, here, side-by-side. But back to the posters...

Sometimes the juxtaposition of the L Word poster and subway name made me laugh. Broadview was a personal favourite. I couldn't help but digitally colour in the L's of some of the subway stations' names in pink. At Old Mill station, I was surprised to find a collection of three (!) L Word posters on the Eastbound platform. I couldn't help but think that the inside joke wasn't
just mine and that someone thought: "Three L's in the name? Three L Word posters needed at OLD MILL." You will notice that there aren't many people in the photos. That's because I didn't want to invade people's privacy. The photos were taken once the platform had cleared.

While shooting, I experienced some technical difficulties with a lens and a flash which caused me to have to go back into the subway system and re-shoot certain stations twice. By the second time, most of the posters had already disappeared. They are now all gone.

Ephemeral, indeed. It was mind-expanding while it lasted and I hope it will be inspiring to others.

Email me with your comments.

Toronto, Canada
April 2005









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