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Queer Concordia graduates make their mark in the world

In the first in a series, meet four self-identified and proud LGBTQ alumni in the public sector, arts, academia and business
July 18, 2018
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By Richard Burnett

Evangelos Tziallas: Positive influencer in the public sector

Evangelos Tziallas, PhD 16 Evangelos Tziallas is a human resources program advisor at the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services in the Ontario Public Service in Toronto. | Photo: Courtesy of Evangelos Tziallas

Evangelos Tziallas, PhD 16, earned his PhD at Concordia’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, where he focused on communications, media and diversity studies and was a recipient of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship.

Tziallas published articles on the horror sub-genre known as “Torture Porn,” the queer Greek-Australian film Head On and on the gay social media app Grindr. His major areas of interest included surveillance, queer cinema, HIV/AIDS and cultural politics.

He currently works at the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services in the Ontario Public Service in Toronto and actively volunteers with the Ontario Public Service Pride Network.

What are you doing now?

Evangelos Tziallas: “I am a diversity and inclusion expert with intensive research, data analytics, training and human resources experience in the public sector.

I’m also a Positive Space Advisory Board co-lead at the Ontario Public Service Pride Network. I develop, coordinate and deliver LGBTQ training, answer questions about LGBTQ inclusion and gender pronouns, and I work with decisions-makers on matters related to LGBTQ diversity. I’ve also worked on our ministry’s groundbreaking and award winning guide for transitioning gender in the workplace.”

What does being part of LGBTQ community mean to you and how does it inform your work?

ET: “It means almost everything to me, actually. It allows me to bring my lived experience to the workplace, and truly develop an intersectional approach to diversity.” I not only get to make working in the Ontario Public Service better for LGBTQ people; I get to make working in the Ontario Public Service better for everyone.

What was your Concordia experience like?

ET: “Great! I got to work with renowned film professor Thomas Waugh and taught Queer Cinema two years back-to-back, which was a real highlight! Being in such a queer-friendly university like Concordia and queer-friendly department like the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema was a wonderful and enriching experience.

I had the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them, and now I take what I learned to make real positive change in my workplace.”

Ace Lehner: Bringing the trans community into the mainstream

Ace Lehner, BFA 03 Ace Lehner is PhD candidate at University of California, Santa Cruz, and is an artist, photographer and visual culture scholar. Photo: Courtesy of Ace Lehner

Trans non-binary artist, photographer and visual culture scholar Ace Lehner, BFA 03, is helping advance mainstream acceptance and integration of the trans community by exploring the representations of trans and non-binary people in contemporary art and visual culture. A PhD candidate at University of California, Santa Cruz, Lehner teaches, is a freelance writer and also works as a commercial photographer.

What are you doing now?

Ace Lehner: “In my dissertation I am looking at four different cases of trans self-representation, from high art in museums to selfies on social media. I also just found out that I will be chairing a panel on trans representation at the College Art Association Annual Conference in New York City in February 2019.”

What does being part of the LGBTQ community mean to you and how does it inform your work?

AL: “Personal experiences as a queer person inform both my art and scholarship and each mutually inform one another. Being a member of the queer community provides me with a lens through which to see the world.”

What was your Concordia experience like?

AL: “I was just 20-years-old when I moved to Montreal and studied fine arts at Concordia. Working as a peer counsellor at the Centre for Gender Advocacy, I learned how queer and trans identities intersect with class and racialization. I became more politicized and began to think critically about social-justice issues. It changed my life and I am still trying to do what I can to make the world a better place.”

Maureen Bradley: Teacher and mentor

Maureen Bradley Filmmaker Maureen Bradley’s We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Fabulous documented the 1990 Montreal police raid on the Sex Garage loft party. | Photo: Courtesy of Maureen Bradley

Independent Canadian filmmaker Maureen Bradley, BA 90, MA 95, teaches screenwriting, film studies and film production for screenwriters at the University of Victoria. Although Bradley shot her first feature film — Two 4 One — in 2014, she has made more than 50 short films.

She is arguably best-known for her historic 1990 documentary We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Fabulous, about the police raid on the Sex Garage loft party. Today the event is widely considered to be “Montreal’s Stonewall,” a turning point for LGBTQ rights in Quebec.

At the time, Bradley was a Concordia communications and media studies student and also the bass player for Montreal rock band Sons of the Desert. “I edited and produced our VideoFACT-funded music videos and have never looked back,” she says.

In 1992, Bradley reached her largest audience of more than 10 million viewers appearing as a writer-director on the CBC TV series Road Movies.

What are you doing now?

Maureen Bradley: “I have a quite a few projects in development, but I am working on a feature film about a teenage stowaway refugee from Angola who manages to avoid deportation in Vancouver by becoming a track star, and I am working on a short film that I hope turns into a TV series, about a trans man who transitions in the American Deep South in the late ’60s.”

What does being part of LGBTQ community mean to you and how does it inform your work?

MB: “Growing up queer, growing up working class, I always have that lens of being in the margins. So I do what I can to help — right now I am mentoring a black trans filmmaker. I am always keeping an eye out for students who aren’t mainstream.”

What was your Concordia experience like?

MB: “I came out at Concordia, though I didn’t come flying out. It wasn’t like that in 1987-88. Just being in classes with professors like Thomas Waugh was mind-blowing, because I saw it possible to be who you are and be respected.”

Frederick Litwin: Voice of dissent

Frederick Litwin, BComm 78 Frederick Litwin’s NorthernBlues Music record label promotes Canadian blues music. | Photo: Courtesy of Frederick Litwin

Frederick Litwin, BComm 78, is president of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa, the city where Litwin has also run his NorthernBlues Music record label since 2000. He wants NorthernBlues “to be a friendly home to Canadian blues artists and to represent some of the finest, and most interesting, musicians in the world.”

Litwin is a former marketing manager for Intel Corporation. A self-described conservative, he has long been an out and proud gay man and does not believe the term “gay conservative” is an oxymoron.

What are you doing now?

Frederick Litwin: “I am finishing my second book, called I Was A Teenage JFK Conspiracy Freak, which will be out in fall 2018. My label has two new CDs coming out in 2019 by Watermelon Slim who is one of my best artists.”

What does being part of the LGBTQ community mean to you?

FL: “I describe myself as a gay dissident. I am a small-C conservative who takes great issue with the LGBT establishment on many points. I took part in the second Pride march in Toronto back in 1982, and the thought that we can now exclude police from participating is just awful.”

What was your Concordia experience like?

FL: “I was in the closet at Concordia. I would surreptitiously go to gay bars by myself back in 1978. So I am happy to see how much gay life has changed for the better.”



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