The Week — Jan. 31: Kissing for the cause

Kissing turns into activist move, then from a kiss to a wedding and, finally, high time for a celebration

Marwo Abdi and her husband Mohammed Adam hold a sign saying “bylaw infraction” to highlight kissing irony.

Kissing for the cause

Perhaps  the Downtown Victoria Business Association thought this would be just another year of romantic kissing with its fourth-annual “Kiss in the City” contest. But this is the capital — every sweet gesture is good cause for protest.

A group called the Disruption Collective has decided to clamber onboard the DVBA’s contest, with members kissing their way into commentary on the city and association’s treatment of marginalized populations; namely, those on the streets. Group participants posted a number of the requested smooch photos on the DVBA’s Facebook page, all strategically shot beside “Private Property,” and “No Trespassing, Loitering, Soliciting, Camping” signs. Some even took to holding their own chalk boards with choice messages to the DVBA. When the photos were removed from the association’s Facebook because they “did not comply with the spirit” of the contest, kissing activists questioned who, exactly, is allowed to linger a little longer.

“The point we are trying to make is that it’s fine for some to stand in those spaces, but if you don’t look like ‘the right kind of person,’ you aren’t welcome here,” says Serina Zapf, who came up with the idea after reading the previous article in Monday and realizing the contest only really applied to a “certain” group of Victorians. “We thought this would be a playful way to disrupt a fun contest, and challenge people to think about who is being represented here — who is allowed, and welcome, to show affection.”

A representative posted the following on the DVBA Facebook page: “Some images that did not comply with the spirit of our Kiss in the City contest, in accordance with our contest rules, were removed earlier today. We are always happy to speak to any concerned citizens about issues in the downtown, and do so openly and often.” Despite the messages, DVBA general manager Ken Kelly says all submitted photos will still be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Zapf says the move has been empowering to many members of the community who never would have considered entering the contest before, especially those who have felt socially profiled. While Zapf says members of the group will continue to post photos until the contest deadline of Feb. 3, she isn’t holding out hope that the images will qualify, despite the fact that they are within contest city boundaries and, she says, do not inherently conflict with any of the visible contest rules.

“It would be awesome if an image actually won,” Zapf says. “Like the one of Marwo Abdi and her husband Mohammed Adam — they are lovely people, and they totally deserve some nice jewelry and a night at the Empress.”

To join in the smooching drama, or try for the prizes, enter your 2013 photos at facebook.com/DowntownVictoria. See rules at downtownvictoria.ca.

From a kiss to a wedding

If you’re ready to tie the noose, er, knot this Valentine’s season, soon-to-be brides can find all their excitement this week, and support animals, too.

“The Modern Bride Show,” hosted by our favourite Pet-A-Palooza creators the Just Love Animals (J.L.A.) Society, will be showcased at The Bay Centre on Sat., Feb. 2, 10am-6pm. While the event is free, the one-stop wedding planning event is a fundraiser for the society’s upcoming summer pet expo.

See the latest in gowns, tuxedos, photographers, florists and cakes, enjoy complimentary manicures, pedicures, chair messages, makeup consultations — even a “man cave” and on-site sex therapist. Win prizes, play the “Honeymoon Game,” or just watch a live performance by the Victoria Soul Gospel Choir and the live wedding finale. More at: jlasociety.com.

High time for a celebration

Philippe Lucas is still making a smokin’ hot name for himself, even after his reign as Victoria city councillor ended in 2011. The research affiliate with the Centre for Addictions B.C. was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal on Thurs., Jan. 24, for all his work on drug policy, harm reduction and medical cannabis research. In addition to his efforts with Sensible B.C. on cannabis reform, Lucas recently published a controversial study on the substitution effect in Canadian medical cannabis patients, looking at the substance as an “exit drug” instead of a gateway. With the Queen’s nod, that’s an effort well done. M

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