Meet Our Influential Community Members

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Spencer West


Spencer West is a successful gay disabled content creator, motivational speaker, author and activist. After losing both legs from the pelvis down at the age of five due to a genetic disease, Spencer West tackled challenge after challenge, learning to navigate a world set against those with disabilities. He is known for summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, opening for Demi Lovato’s 2014 World Tour, starring in the documentary Redefine Possible: The Story of Spencer West, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival, and author of the best selling book Standing Tall: My Journey.

What is your favourite queer film?

I have always loved Brokeback Mountain. Although Toronto is my home now, I grew up in the state of Wyoming. Brokeback Mountain not only did a great job of depicting Wyoming and the culture of the time, but it was also the first queer film I saw in a movie theatre. Plus, hello, Jake Gyllenhaal! So dreamy!

What is your favourite thing to wear in your closet?

One of my favourite go-to shirts, is an old grey t-shirt with the shape of a mountain on it covered in the Pride flag colours. I bought it at Pride in Toronto the year I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. I always feel immense pride when I wear it, both for my queerness and having summited Mt. Kilimanjaro.

A few outlets Spencer wanted to take a moment to highlight:
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (https://capesforkids.ca)
Rainbow Railroad (https://www.rainbowrailroad.org)
Black Lives Matter (https://blacklivesmatter.ca)

    Instagram/TikTok: @spencer2thewest

Jax Irwin 


You can catch Jax Irwin on Virgin Mornings with @adamwylde and @onairtj weekdays on @virginradiotoronto. She can be spotted here sporting our IO brand logo tee and toque, and how cute does she look?!

What is your queer anthem?

I’m not entirely sure if it would be considered an “anthem”, but Robyn’s ‘Dancing on My Own’ immediately transports me to a sweaty loud queer bar dancing with friends. That song screams late night Pride dance parties to me, and makes me oh so nostalgic. We’ll dance again soon...right?

Who is your favourite queer icon?

Madonna forever and always! She not only created a soundtrack for decades of dance parties, but she's just so much fun. 

What is your favourite thing to wear in your closet?

Currently: Any matching sweat suit, because let's face it.. 2020/2021 are the sweat suit years. Pre/Post pandemic: My (fake) leather coat because I'm WiLd aNd DaNgErOuS 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Instagram: @jaxonair, @virginradiotoronto

Ashley Iris Gill


Ashley is a Black Queer Cinematographer from Toronto, Canada. Currently working as an in-house DP at Publicis NA, as well as represented by Sesler II as a Cinematographer. Ashley’s heart lies with film as she really couldn’t see herself doing anything else other than being a chef. Cooking is her second passion, which she says is “my plan B even though I don’t believe in plan B’s”. Ashley first got involved with Inside Out as a young queer who just wanted a hub to watch queer content. She has found that Inside Out has always been a safe space for her to learn and meet new people. Her involvement grew significantly when she became a jury member for our first digital festival last year. She continues to be a joyfully member of the Inside Out family as well as an inspiration for queer BIPOC filmmakers and folks everywhere. 

What is your favourite queer film?

My favourite queer film is Pariah. It's actually not really my "favourite" but it's a film that resonated with me & Bradford Young is my favourite Dp. When I came out to my mom I wrote her a letter and included Pariah as a film to educate her so it'll always be one dear to my heart. Moonlight is a close second because of the beautiful Cinematography.

What is your favourite thing to wear in your closet?

As someone who's always on set, my favourite thing to wear are Jean joggers,& a comfy crew neck. 

A catchphrase or word that best suits you

"Pilot" it's tattoo'd on my wrist.As an athlete growing up, piloting was the way to get thru things on the court. I adopted that into my life. Whenever I'm going thru something, or feel stuck, or just need to shift my perspective.. pilot your thoughts, pivot your perspective, pivot your approach to things. 

    Insta = @ashleyirisgill , TikTok = @craftedbyaig , Website = https://sesler.com/

Tyler J Sloane 


Tyler J Sloane is a multidisciplinary performance artist. Their art emphasizes marginalized voices that intersect mixed-race and queer identity. Exploring these themes through various projects: Photography (Series: Self In Response to Influence of Violence & Community, Light Our Bodies, and Fruit Basket ), Visual Art (Installations: Self in Response, Breath On One Land, and But When), Community Arts (Program: It’s All Queer Pride (2018-2021)), Burlesque (as Tygr Willy (BoylesqueTO, HausBoat, Passion Fruit)), and Theatre (Plays: Hummingbird, Mx.).They are currently the Performance Arts Artist Associate with SKETCH Working Arts running the Queering Place residency with Naty Tremblay, the In-Conversation Series Buddies In Bad Times Project host with LeZlie Lee Kam at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre Company, and also the Education and Mentorship Director at Elevate Equity. 

What is your queer anthem?

I'm going with what immediately came to mind. Desires by Years and Years. It spoke to my liberation of queerness and history of navigating falling in and out unrequited love with men, and facing new responsibilities as a young adult.

Who is your favourite queer icon?

Immediately I go to Elton John, Freddie Mercury, but I think of Marsha P Johnson too. Contemporary wise I go to Indya Moore, Olly Alexander, or MNEK. All pioneers. 

A catchphrase or word that best suits you?

 "We love to see it." - I use this often describing what I love, but say it as though I'm not the only one that loves. I use it affirmingly, cheekily, and flirtatiously. "Hydrate" - I really do tell people to hydrate. 72oz per day!

What is your favourite thing to wear in your closet?

I love - often in this combo: Socks, Hoodies (Sometimes cropped and definitely comfortable), and fun underwear; jocks, thongs, briefs, lacey things etc... 

Insta = @tylerjsloane @tygrwilly_, twitter = @tylerjsloane

Liz Bertorelli


Liz is a content creator, strategist and small business owner based in Toronto. By day she works as a marketing lead at TikTok, and by night, Liz works on her current side business Passionfruit, an LGBTQ lifestyle brand. She's passionate about design, photography and bringing the community together (and hopes to be able to get back to doing that again, soon.)

What is your queer anthem?

The first song that came to mind was Dancing On My Own by Robyn BUT I'm a big ABBA fan so I really have no choice but to say Dancing Queen 🌈👑. It might not be my favourite ABBA song of all time, but there's nothing quite like scream-singing it when it comes on at a gay bar. 

What is your favourite thing to wear in your closet?

This might be my nostalgia speaking but my favourite thing to wear right now is a black jumpsuit that I bought on my last work trip to LA. It’s from a small business called Big Bud Press, it’s really well-made, and they sell jumpsuits in every colour of the rainbow. Plus, you really can’t go wrong with a jumpsuit.

A few outlets Liz wanted to take a moment to highlight:
The 519 (https://www.the519.org)
Black Lives Matter (https://blacklivesmatter.ca)
The Trevor Project (https://www.thetrevorproject.org)

Insta = @lizbee9 @shop_passionfruit, TikTok = @lizbee9

Queer Collective 

Emily (She/her), Karbon (She/her)

Emily is the Director of Creative Design and Production at Conscious Economics. She is passionate about creating accurate and positive digital representation for the entire queer community. Through Queer Collective, the non-profit organization she co-founded, Emily has been working to create the digital representation we all deserve and amplify the voices of local queer artists.

Karbon is the Director of Digital Content and Production at Conscious Economics. Aside from videography and photography, Karbon is also a professional dancer. Her practice focuses on street styles such as popping, krump, locking and house. Karbon uses her creative skills to drive social change by amplifying queer, BIPOC and environmental issues through art and entertainment. 

Together, Emily and Karbon founded Queer Collective; a non-profit organization dedicated to creating accurate and positive representation for the LGBTQ2S+ community with a focus on uplifting local queer artists. 

What is your favourite queer film?

Emily:  The documentary MAJOR! really had a lasting impact on me. It follows the life of Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, she's a transgender activist and huge community figure. The documentary does an incredible job at exposing and recounting the injustices faced by trans women and more specifically trans women of colour. Throughout the movie you start to feel really connected to all of the people featured and at the end they show how many of them had passed throughout the filming of the documentary. That has really stuck with me in a way that no other piece of media ever has.

Karbon:  Sense 8 has to be my favourite. It's a tv show rather than a film as I tend to gravitate more towards series shows but the reason I love it so much is because that was the first time I was introduced to a group of people in a film where they were just so unapologetically themselves and actually gave some accurate representation of the community. Sense 8 has some beautifully filmed sex scenes that just normalizes lgbtq+ love and shows the really beautiful sides of it and complex relationships that I really just resonated with the message and beauty of it and it opened my mind to what is possible.

Whats your favourite thing to wear in your closet?

Emily:  My cheetah print bike shorts, they embody my soul. 

Karbon:  My bucket hat. Not sure why, but it gives me confidence, it makes me feel safe, it fits my head perfectly and I feel like I can truly express myself in it.

Who is your favourite queer icon?

Karbon:  I tend not to have icons or idols but if I were to highlight anyone at all I think it would be Elliot Page. They have proven time and time again that exploring your identity is something that can change in meaning or definition over time, and that all of those life experiences are valid regardless of what you choose to identify as or how you express yourself in the future.

What is your favourite queer anthem?

Emily: Look by Leikeli47 always gets me feeling my absolute GAYEST

Insta = @queer.collective, @Iam_karbon, @emgiosk

youtube = http://queercollectiveto.com