Open Letter To Irwin Oostinde About Homophobia, Charitable Status & Mental Health Stigmatization!

Is this man a hypocrite?

I got some rather unsavoury hate-mail from Irwin Oostinde’s W2 Media Centre today- and I think it says a lot about his organization. Yes, it did address some of the questions I asked in my article about W2. That said, it raised a whole lot more of them. Have a look at what they had to say- my letter to Irwin comes after the screenshot…

(click to expand)

Dear Irwin,

It was rather cowardly for you to have a staff member respond to an article written about you, wasn’t it? Not only that, but I believe you have a human resources issue that needs attention. This person is hurting your organization’s ‘good’ name. Let me address the issues they raised, and then leave you with a few questions of my own.

1.) My Writing About ‘Progressive’ Organizations

I’m glad to see that your employee is such a great fan of mine that they have such deep understanding of the subjects I write about. Honestly, it warms my heart each time I hear that a stranger has been reading my work.

That said, I think they did the Progressive community a disservice here. Because, the people & organizations I write about tend to be those who promote violence, hate and/or are dishonest in their operations. It is unfair for him lump-in these organizations with the progressive community as a whole.

2.) Defamation

Everything I wrote in my article, was 110% accurate- I strive, as much as possible, to do as much research as I can before I publish. In this case, I challenge you to find a single inaccuracy. So, the first paragraph of your employee’s letter is simply a cheap (and dishonest) shot.

3.) Organizations W2 Works With

First, in my article, I directly mentioned that the screenshot may not tell the whole story. It is good to hear that I was right on that. Still, you haven’t answered the big question- what percentage of those events serve people in the DTES? Because, to be honest, I’ve never seen anyone from that community entering your building. I would hope it is in the top-percentile- because, it is your remit to serve this population, is it not?

On this note. Can you please explain why you banned Ben Pearson from entering the W2? It is my understanding that this is where Occupy Vancouver holds its Finance Committee meetings. Are you participating in blocking of his attending?

4.) Make-Out Booths

The screenshots I posted didn’t say ‘kissing booths’, they were clearly marked as make-out booths- regardless, that’s just semantics. When I wrote my article I consulted two gay men about what these booths would be used for. They said, without hesitation, that they would be used for sex.

I just consulted a third gay man and he said, also without hesitation, that they are most likely used for “blow jobs & drugs it’s better than having to use the washrooms”. When I asked him if some people may use them simply for kissing he made a belly laugh that woke-up one of my house mates. This may not be accurate- another gay man just told me that the drugs normally come first!

I noticed, when reading the club rules, that they made no mention of restricting their use for sexual encounters. It was quite the opposite really- if not, can you please explain the use of the word ‘consensual’?

Oh, and what is the W2’s drug policy?

5.) Homophobia 

There’s a funny thing about people who label themselves as ‘progressive’. If one writes the truth about what they are up-to, and they don’t like it, they tend to pull-out their ‘race/gender/orientation cards’ and start throwing around more labels than a Parisian fashion night.

In this case it is quite laughable really. I live in a house with three gay men Irwin- the label doesn’t stick. In fact, when I told them how your employee labelled me as ‘homophobic’ they all had a good, hard, belly-laugh.

Not me though. Personally, I’m deeply sickened when I see someone use such labels in an attempt to smear people. Many people have worked their whole lives to battle the issues of sexism, racism & homophobia. People who misuse these labels cheapen the work those good people did to fix these parts of our society. You should have a long, hard, talk with them about their misuse of this tactic.

6.) Charitable / Non-Profit Status

I have a question for you Irwin. It seems, from your calendar of events, and from the language that your employee used here that your organization has a strong focus on ‘progressive’ events & organizations. Is this true?

Can you please confirm if your organization is a charity or a non-profit? And, of you have charitable status, is it not a conflict with tax laws that you are focussed on ‘progressive’ organizations?

7.) Mental Health Stigmatizaton

It is disturbing to see that your employee decided to go all Lauren Gill on me and make unfounded accusations about my mental health. First, using these criteria, would you make the same judgement on other reporters who write or -speak critically about ‘progressive’ organizations? Would you say the same thing about Ezra Lavant?

More importantly your other operation, Gallery Gachet, gets over $200,000 of annual funding from Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) for events & services focussed on mental health- right? How can an organization who is funded for this purpose imagine using mental health stigmatization as a political weapon?

I’m guessing this isn’t the sort of behaviour you would approve of Irwin. So, I’d like to give you the opportunity to have your employee send me a written apology for this mental health slur before I file a formal complaint. I look forward to seeing this on Monday.

Best Regards,

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