Little Kiwi and Bauhaus

Little Kiwi and Bauhaus
A Boy and His Dog

Saturday, 13 August 2016

The Divide That Was Always There



Toronto Pride 2016 - the Honoured Group was Black Lives Matter, a group being honoured specifically for its tremendous activism.  What did they do with their platform as the Honoured Group? They did the very thing they were being specifically honoured for - they protested.  They brilliantly and justifiably used the platform that the Pride Parade could afford to stop the parade for 30 minutes, addressing the issues of systemic racism that have been largely ignored by many communities, including the still-very-white-focused gay/LGBT community.
(I say gay/LGBT because I think it's rather obvious that White Gays end up being the focus of nearly all LGBT dialogues, unfortunately)


So, what happened after this stopping of the parade? This peaceful sit-in to address racism?

Well, a great many white gays lost their damn minds.  Many took to Facebook and social media to complain about how "they" tried to ruin "our" day. They? OUR? Excuse me? BLM is us.  BLM is queer people of colour. This is their day too, and as the Honoured Group it was actually more of their day than anybody else's.

And that goes for #WeAreOrlando, too.  We all felt the pain of Orlando. I attended numerous vigils in Toronto.  I wept, uncontrollably, for days and days on end. There were days when I felt like I would never stop crying over it.  But we honoured Orlando, in Toronto, with vigils and speeches and gatherings and a spot in the parade.  So when I hear someone say "BLM stole the spotlight from Orlando!" I need to correct that B.S. The spotlight should always have *been* on Black Lives Matter, it was their spotlight, their moment, their year to be seen and heard.  We can honour the victims of the massacre in Orlando without diverting attention from where it should have been this year - on Black Lives Matter.

The rhetoric on social media from gay white people was staggering, and racist.  Racist in the specifics of the language used. "They violently took the parade hostage!"
No.
They sat down.
Nobody took anybody "hostage" at pride. BLM didn't hold anyone or anything "hostage". There was no violence. There were no guns. Stop using language of violence about people whose actions were peaceful civil disobedience. They sat down. It was a SIT IN. That's not "holding people hostage", and using that term makes you sound damn racist. Be aware of how the words you're using continue to affect the communities who were protesting.
Oh, and until Black Lives *Truly* Matter, then saying "all lives matter" is as much a dismissal of systemic racism as "straight pride" is a dismissal of the realities facing LGBTQ people.
Remember when gay men were staging public die-ins because the world didn't give a fuck that we were dying? Remember how we had to disrupt people to wake them up to the fact that we were dying? How soon we forget, apparently. 
You're more upset about a parade disruption and a possibility that there won't be an official TPS float in a parade than you are about systemic racism, and black people dying. 
Your apathy is racism. Your apathy is why BLM exists as it does now. 
And you sound like those bigots of yesteryear complaining about black folks being "uppity". 
I had a great pride. I spent it with great people. I loved marching. I loved talking about the importance of BLM with folks on the parade sidelines, as we waited while they staged their tremendous protest. 
Black Lives don't mean as much to you as having (what you think is) "your day" disrupted by incendiary sociopolitical protest done via peaceful civil disobedience. 
And that's shameful.

There's also the "I support BLM, but...." crowd.  It seems that some people think "not being a racist" is enough. It's not.  We all need to be actively anti-racist. We need to be proactively anti-racist. Apathy is racism.
Aparade delay is nothing compared to decades, centuries in fact, of systemic racism and discrimination and prejudice.
BLM will not be placated, and they shouldn't be. They will not kneel.

"they should have just been happy to have been included in the parade" smacks of "we're letting you eat at this lunch counter, now stop complaining about other issues that affect you every day"
Or, you know, "you can marry now, so why are you still complaining?"
Well, "we" are still being targeted, and bullied, and murdered.
And "we" are not the only ones.
What BLM did is the epitome of how to do Civil Disobedience.
Homophobes tolerate "us" when we don't ruffle feathers and Get In Everybody's Faces.
and it seems many white people will "tolerate" black people as long as they too "don't ruffle any feathers".
BLM is an activism movement and they used their position as Pride's Honoured Group to do what it is that they do.
We wept for the 49 dead in Orlando, and yet it's becoming very clear that many in my "community" haven't the time to shed a single tear for the ongoing systemic racism that affects the black communities.
This demonstration during the parade brought the BLM movement to many of the folks who have chosen, yes CHOSEN, to remain aloof and absent from its dialogue.
And don't give me "well, their tactics were wrong!" - it's not as if there haven't been decades of "peaceful, tactful, calmly worded pleas" against systemic racism.
PRIDE, the movement, was borne of a response to police brutality. That the white gay community has a better relationship with the police today than we've had in the past does not mean that POC and queer POC are not still utterly getting different "treatment" than my white ass does.
I have friends who are police officers. I have queer friends who are police officers.
This is not discounting them, nor any on the police forces that truly do "serve and protect", and are supporters and allies to all marginazlied communities; this is about wanting more than mere lip service. don't have a float one day and spend the other 364 mistreating the black and brown communities. the transgender communities.
And BLM did not "ban" the police from marching in the parade.
Rather than being upset by what happened in the parade - talk to members of BLM. Talk to the people who are still experiencing the harmful effects of systemic racism.
the orlando massacre should have woken many people out of their complacency over "where we are" as an LGBTQ community in greater culture.
BLM's protest should be waking you up to exactly what many in the black communities continue to experience, daily. don't be "put off" by their methods - understand why it is they're doing what they're doing.
If you listen, i assure you you'll understand.
Black Lives Matter stopping the parade was a glorious well deserved moment and I fucking love them for it.  Did you forget that Pride is political? Did you not realize that trans POC face astounding levels of violence and persecution?  Did you forget that every gay person owes their existence as openly-gay people to People of Colour and gender-nonconformists?
Are you realllllyyyyyyy gonna whine that your parade was halted for 30 minutes while the black community is demanding attention be paid to decades (CENTURIES!) of systemic racism? 
yes, make no mistake - true Stonewallers would be proud. This was some stonewall shit.

A friend said to me, as we talked about how BLM's protest exposed the long-ignored divisions over ethnicity in our community, that he suspected that had BLM stopped the parade to protest Gay Male blood donations, they'd have had the support of everyone in attendance.  But, you know, they protested systemic racism and discrimination - things that many white people don't care about because "it doesn't concern them".   I tend to think he would be correct.  
You'll dance to their music.  You'll co-opt their culture.  Some of you may even sleep with them. But you won't stand up for their justice.

And it's being noticed.






"I'm Not Defined By Being Gay"



Very proud to have a piece in the Huffington Post, on the front page of Queer Voices.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-phrase-gay-people-need-to-stop-using_us_57a8e3f4e4b02251db3fcc8a?section=


It's been interesting reading the comments on my little article; interesting in a sadly-ironic way.

It seems rather clear from the negative responses to it that I've hit a nerve.  I knew I would.  I've been hearing these very same "rebuttals" for years, and they're all coming from the exact same place.

The sad irony is that those claiming to rebut my article, my thesis, are in fact confirming its accuracy. 100%. Confirming it in any and every way it could possibly be confirmed.

Or, perhaps, they didn't read the whole thing and leapt in to comment before realizing that, had they read the whole piece, I not only didn't make the claims they insist I'm making, but I rather clearly explained the aspects they're bringing up as problematic.

But when someone says "I'm not defined by being gay because I'm not like those effeminate lisping fashion gays!" they're not rebutting my article - they're proving exactly what I've written: that how they feel about being gay is still defined by the negative attitudes about Gay Stereotypes espoused by the people in their own lives.

No matter how clearly I write it, some people don't seem to read it properly. So I'll try again.
*ahem*
We are all defined by being gay to the exact same degree, no more and no less than any other gay person.  Being defined by being gay does not mean we are limited by being gay - it merely means that being gay is a part of the many things that define who we are.
Either way, it's entirely what I expected from more than a decade of openly proudly gay-and-queer Outspokenness - that those who argue against an empowered gay identity do so because they don't yet have it in them to attain and claim one.


What's been most interesting is this - commenters aren't saying "WE" aren't defined by our being gay, they're saying THEY aren't.  As in, OTHERS ARE, but THEY AREN'T.

You know, like I called out in my essay.
*sighhhhhh*

No hard feelings toward those expressing negative reactions to my article.   How could I begrudge someone who has not yet found the security in their gay identity that I've found in my own?

And to those who let the words sink in - may you shine, and may your newfound understanding of why we need to give up the Language of Apology help inspire others around you to embrace what it means to be gay, and help others Come Out so we can end this culture of homophobia, both external and internal.




Sunday, 31 July 2016

What You Should Never Say When Someone *Comes Out* To You



Very very honoured to have this post of my being published over at yourtango.com

Please, click the link and check it out!


http://www.yourtango.com/2016290236/what-you-should-never-say-when-someone-comes-out-lgbt

In light of the massacre in Orlando, I think it's a discussion that needs to happen.  For too many years I've seen LGBT people who can only "be themselves" when they're away from certain people in their lives, usually family members.  This too-often happens even if they've Come Out to them already, they feel a pressure to "not be that gay" to the people whom they've Come Out to.

I hope this post helps non-Queer people realize that we Queer Folk need to be free to discover who we are, with no caveats about "being the same" - because "the same" has been a lie.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Little Kiwi and Bauhaus!

Ok, so PowerpuffYourself.com is the cutest thing ever.  Here's me and my trusty pup sidekick POWERPUFF STYLE!


Friday, 5 February 2016

Why I Self-Identify as Queer




The first time I ever learned the word "Queer", as a pejorative slur, I was 11 years old. In French class in elementary school a classmate asked me if I was queer. My answer, which I gave instantly, was "Very".
Then he ran to his buddies and said "OMG Raymond admitted he was gay!"
That confused me. I wasn't aware of that connotation. Being an actually-smart 11 year old who knew what words meant, I knew queer meant different from the norm. Unusual. Unique.
I was more than ready to embrace being different from my classmates and peer groups, I wasn't yet ready to accept that I was gay.
Being born in 1982, "queer" wasn't a slur my generation heard or used too often. As a matter of fact "GAY" was the slur. That was the words used "against" me.  Before that, as a young boy, it was "GIRL".  Followed by "Fag".
I understand that we all find acceptance and peace in life in different ways. Mine, however, have never been couched on trying to convince people that i was just like them, that I was "Still a Normal Guy".
 I'm not. I'm anything but ordinary.

One of the things I love most about my elective Queer Identity is that it binds me forever with any and everyone else who has found empowerment in being different from what society and culture may expect from them.
As the heroine of one of my favourite films of last year said, "In this world there's an invisible magic circle. There's an inside, and an outside. And I'm outside"
And I love being outside. And I love the people i've met on the outside. 

Huffington Post has changed the name of their "Gay Voices" section to "Queer Voices", and boy has that angered a lot of mostly-gay mostly-white mostly-cisgender men.  Queer, being inclusive of the greater LGBTQ communities, addressing our intersectionality. 

QUEER - From a different point of view.  Unique. Unusual. Not Common. A Deviation from the expected-norm. 

And yet, the people who are angry about this change seem to have two arguments they're relying on.
1. They were called a "queer" as a slur back in 1970 and have never gotten over it
2. They continue to choose to view the word "Queer" solely as a word that means "different" (pejoratively different), or only has negative connotations.  They refuse to see the word as anything other than a negative slur.

The number of men who've said to me "You don't understand! OUR generation were called QUEERS as we were beaten up!"
Ok.  And my generation was largely called 'GAY' as we were beaten up, but you don't see us running around in a hissy-fit of trigger-warnings crying about it.

Well, some do.  Some gay men still have a negative association with the word "Gay" and prefer to say that they are, uh, "Men who happen to be into other men", or more commonly "a guy who happens to be into other dudes" - in other words, how they feel about gay is still defined by the anti-gay attitudes of the non-gay people in their lives.

There are even a stranger and sadder subset who refer to themselves as "g0y" (with a big fat zero in the middle, ironically) because they don't want people to think that they're into Anal Sex or doing "stereotypical effeminate things".  I'm not making this up, Google "g0y" and you'll see a whole lot of internalized homophobia with a side-helping of crazy.

My elective queer identity has given me more courage and empowerment than I could have ever imagined. I'm a proud gay man, and a proud queer one too. My strength comes from embracing that I am different. I make no bones about it. I have no desire to be seen as 'normal', and I stand proudly alongside any and everyone who exists outside the perceived cultural norm. Queer - from a different point of view. Unique. Not common. A deviation from the expected. That's me.

One of the reasons I've always loved the chant "We're Here, We're Queer, Get Used to It" is that it's defiant. It's not "we're here, we're gay, please tolerate us on a set of conditions"

When I hear men saying that Queer will "only be a negative word" what they're saying is that they will never work to overcome their first learned feelings for that word as a negative.

When they say that the word was used as an insult about them decades ago, they're saying that they've spent decades allowing the use of that word, as pejorative, to affect them for decades. 

It's a tremendous waste of one's energy and through process to continue to give excuses to cling to negativity.

Bravo, Huffington Post. BRAVO Queer Voices.  And THANK YOU to all the self-identifying Queer people who helped me find my voice and courage, and the beauty and community that does indeed exist On The Outside.


*EDIT - I've also heard people say "what about if they called it FAGGOT VOICES?!?" Well, for one, that would be exclusive as it would pertain, again, solely to gay men. But, um...this was the birthday stuff I got from my best friend this year.  Note the card. So yeah. Faggots rock :D

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Gay Literature - Get Reading it



My favourite series of novels is the Buddies Cycle by Ethan Mordden.  These books, and Mordden's work in general, was introduced to me by my best friend when I was a wee blonde-haired Gaybie back in 2000.  They changed my life; they changed my outlook on being a gay man.  They are largely responsible for my transition from being "OK" with being gay to "HELL YEAH!" about it.  I got my nickname "Little Kiwi" from a character in the books whom my friends agreed I was just like, as an 18 year old twink.
They are, in order, "I've a Feeling We're Not in Kansas Anymore", "Buddies", "Everybody Loves You', "Some Men Are Lookers" and "How's Your Romance?".

They follow a family of gay friends in manhattan through the 1970s to the early 2000s. And they are without question the most glorious evocations of gay life and camaraderie that I have ever read.  You should check them out.  My ass says so.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

I'm Not Gay, I'm Just A Dance Major (and other teenage nonsense)

Matt Baume, one of the world's brightest, cleverest, sexiest and most charming of writer/commentators out there, recently interviewed me for his podcast series.

http://www.mattbaume.com/sewers-shownotes/2015/6/30/im-not-gay-im-just-a-dance-major-ep-15-the-boys-in-the-band


Or over at The Advocate

https://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/2015/07/02/coming-out-closet-front-cast-mamma-mia


Baume is a national treasure and it was a true pleasure to be interviewed by him, talking about my Coming Out, my experiences in the arts as a gay man, and the art and literature that helped shape me as the gay man I am today.

Enjoy!  And follow Baume.  He's swoon-worthy.


Friday, 26 June 2015

Marriage Equality in the USA





it started with people gathering secretly in living rooms, with the windows shut and the doors locked, asking "So, what are we? How many more of us are there? Who else is like us?" Over time we would congregate together, eventually in slightly-more-public places, eventually taking them over and they became a place "for us". Those places become our villages, communities, and more and more of us would leave our homes and small towns to get to the cities to find out who we are, and how many more of us there were. we have faced persecution, oppression, and discrimination from the people who are supposed to love us, from the forces who are supposed to protect us. we lost so many along the way. we will lose more.
and yet we will not stop until we can all stand up strong, in the bright light of day, and face a world that is no longer predisposed to prejudice against us. equal rights. equal treatment. equality. fairness. freedom.
where Coming Out will no longer be seen as a terrifying moment akin to your life ending, but to a joyous new step toward a life of love.
where we will no longer question if we'll be treated with dignity and respect. where a kid can look outside and see that even if the people in their family and community are not supportive, the government is on their side, and respects them as a human being of equal worth. the law is on their side. intelligence and compassion favour them over hatred and exclusion.
may this help ease centuries of hate. may it unleash waves of lives half-lived so they can become they lives they were intended to be.  there is more to our fight than the freedom to marry, but our fight is useless without that freedom. our lives, and our love, are valid. 
you can try to drown it in a sea of tears, lock it up in chains for a million years. run from it, hide from it, but one thing is clear,
you can't stop love.


Monday, 15 June 2015

The Church I Grew Up In


It's always been a little strange for me to read newspaper headlines and see news stories in which there are cries of "Persecution Against Christians!"  I look, and I look, and I'm not seeing stories of people being persecuted for their generosity, or kindness, or for their work trying to provide aid to others.  I see no one being denied the religious freedom to extend kindness and grace and love to others.  Mainly, when I see those hysterically-shrieked claims it's because someone is upset that the discrimination, prejudice and bigotry they're espousing in the guise of their faith or "sincerely held religious beliefs" is being called out, challenged and questioned.

Too many times people hold up their "Christianity" as a reason to discriminate against and promote prejudice toward LGBT people, rather than as a call to extend greater understanding, compassion, empathy, generosity and LOVE toward others.  It gets blurred with Fox News-style headlines like "Persecuted just for being a Christian!" when the reality is that someone who's been using their Christianity as justification to persecute others has been justifiably reprimanded for it.

Which brings me to the church I grew up in.  I was lucky enough to be raised in the United Church of Canada.   Why lucky? Well, let me put it this way: I came out to my congregation when I was still in high school. The only true change that resulted from that was that it put who I am in proper context to the people who'd known me since I was a toddler.  I learned how to speak in public by reading as a lector on Sundays, starting at age 9.  I'd go to the front of the church, read passages from the bible, and that was how I first became comfortable with speaking in public.  It's something that's ended up serving me rather well in life.  My congregation in that church helped build me up to be the man I am today, with tremendous love.
They've asked about my boyfriends over the years, and many of those wonderful people keep encouraging me to "Find a nice man to marry so that they can dance at my wedding."    Many members of the church have joined my family and I in Pride celebrations, marching in the parade, and attending PFLAG and LGBT benefits.  They've become advocates.  A few of them have had children and even grandchildren Come Out to them.  That alone is remarkable.   My peers, the kids I spent those mornings in Sunday School with?  We've gone out into the world - and embraced diversity in all its glory.  Many of us have married "outside of the faith", a great number of us have seen our beliefs change, and evolve. Many embrace atheism and agnosticism, while still expressing a positivity for what our church has given us, and others.  These people are Friends and allies to LGBT people, those of different cultures and religions and walks of life.  You see, we weren't taught to fear others, or to think them as lesser beings.

It's difficult for some people to realize how a tightly-knit church community can be a bad thing; if you're not a part of the knit, it can feel exclusionary and not inclusive.  When you realize that the only way to keep a place in that community, and "on the good side" of the people who've thus far been kind to you is to maintain a lie about who you really are, it negates the worth of such a "close-knit" group.
My church community has always been a positive part of my life.  We are truly there for each other through the highs and lows of life. We share our joys, we comfort others in times of crisis and pain.  We celebrate the births and we mourn the losses together.  Every year for twenty years we hosted a large Christas Eve dinner at our family home with a number other families from our church.   They've become more than friends, they are my family.  When you remove dogmatic prejudice from your religious ideology, you foster an environment where people truly support each other, and truly love each other. There is no greater poison than putting bigotry and ignorance into your holy waters.
My friend Shannon recently wrote a tremendous piece that touched on this, which you can find here:
http://www.addictinginfo.org/2015/05/12/an-open-letter-to-the-black-church-your-homophobia-is-the-height-of-hypocrisy/

I am one of the very few people I know who had a truly, 100%, positive experience growing up within a Christian Church.   The approach to faith is rooted in understandings of historical context, and the messages are of love, courage and hope.  I never once heard any mention of "Hell", in any moment I ever spent in that church. I cannot recall a single sermon in my entire time attending this church where the talk was of HELLFIRE! and SIN! and DAMNATION! and ABOMINATIONS! and how we're all just awful human beings and if we don't REPENT! we're DOOOMED TOO HELL FOR ETERRRRRNITY!  JEEEESUS!
Never happened. Sermons were, and remain, rooted in how we can let go of pain and fear.  How you can use your faith to find comfort, and the strength to make things better for yourself and others.  It promotes the call love each other more, and recharge ourselves to be the best people we can be.

Nearly all of my gay friends had the exact opposite experience in the churches they were brought up in.  Even a great number of my straight friends, most of whom are now parents, choose to no longer attend the churches in which they were raised, and certainly will not be raising their own children in similarly closed-minded institutions.  With all you learn in life, it's very hard to bring yourself to be a part of an institution or organization that continues to promote not just backward views on LGBT people, and women, but also looks down on cultural diversity: that "non-believers" are lesser, or sinners, or that there's only One True Path in life.  Ideologies that Separate rather than Unite.


More than a decade ago, my church voted to marry gay couples.  Marriage Equality has been legal across Canada for more than a decade, and it's been left up to each individual church to decide whether or not they'll be providing marriages for gay couples.   There was a long process of discussion and conversations were had that we all benefitted by. The church voted in favour of Equality. After all, it's the Christian thing to do.  At least in our church.

We recently had a special service to commemorate the congregation officially become an Affirming one (another long process that required paperwork, passionate discussion, and a lot of openly emotional testimonies) - and I was asked with a number of other members to give a reading during this service, just like when I was a kid. I arrived Sunday morning to see a sea of pink,  the Sunday School kids came up with the idea to wear pink on that day. The entire church congregation joined in. Men, Women, Mothers, Fathers. Children. All in pink. It took every ounce of strength I had to not let tears just flow out of my eyes the entire time.  All I could think was how wonderful it was that any young LGBT person growing up in this church would be free to be who they are without fear.  And that anyone who wasn't a "member" of our communities, was a friend and ally.
As for myself, my struggles with being gay as a child were never at any point religious.  Cultural, for sure, as I was indeed bullied at school as a kid for being "gay" - the fear was what other people may say or do, but never "what God thinks of me."  I never was taught to think that being gay was a sinful thing, and so going to church on Sundays was never the exercise in terror and secrecy that it has been for far too many LGBT people, and their families.

When I've talked about my church online I've often received messages from people in conservative denominations who rant on and on about how my church is false and I'm a sinner and I'm damned to hell, and it's a sin to be gay, and Anne Frank shares a spot in Hell with Gandhi because they didn't accept Christ as their Personal Savior and the One True Son of God (whatever the heck any of that even means...), and generally encourage me to repent.
Belonging to that kind of church won't make you straight, no more than belonging to a type of church like mine (if any) will make a person gay.  What my church helped enable was for me to live in this world as a well-adjusted openly-gay-and-loving-it man.  There are terrified children all over the world, and even here in Toronto, whose families are told by the heads of their church or religious group that LGBT people are evil, sinful, broken, damaged, sick, possessed and worthless people.

People don't seem to realize that being anti-gay, or harbouring anti-gay religious beliefs, does not mean that your own children will all be straight.  Parents need to truly consider what messages they are imprinting on their children.  Raising a child in an anti-gay church environment simply increases your chances of seeing your own child get carried down the aisle in a casket, rather than walking down the aisle to marry the person they love.  You cannot make you gay child straight, but being anti-gay is a great way to make your child hate themselves. Do a google search for "gay teen suicides" to see what the results of that can be.

Often when people think of religiously-fueled bigotry they think of the Westboro Baptist Church - whose official slogan seems to be "God Hates Fags."  As gallingly hateful as they are, the shocking reality is that the Westboro's, with their out-there-extremist hatred are actually not the most harmful religious entity to LGBT people; "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin", has driven more people to suicide and torn apart more families than "God Hates Fags" ever has, or ever will.
Often they will say "you're discriminating against me because of my Christian beliefs!"  Which is utterly untrue.  We're calling out the specifics you are promoting that are discriminatory, bigoted, and harmful.  If your Christian beliefs revolve around being intolerant and prejudicial toward LGBT people, or those of other faiths or walks of life, I'd encourage you to rethink what it means to be a "Christian."

We get churches that demand celibacy from their gay congregants, likening physical expressions of love and intimacy to murder and "other sins", which results in deeply troubled gay men like Matt Moore ( a "Christian" homosexual blogger)  ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/matt-moore-ex-gay/  ) who occasionally get caught having gay sex, only to return to the internet Blogosphere with long-winded excuses about "giving into Satan's temptations" - or worse, lying and saying that they're not gay anymore because after much prayer God changed them.  You know, because God can't cure cancers or end famine or wars because He's too busy making a self-hating gay boy in Louisiana develop a taste for the ladies.....  Demanding celibacy under the threat of "your immortal soul" is not that different from neutering a dog: you're easier for them to control when you have your balls removed.

The selectivity with which people choose to claim "biblical fidelity" is a never-ending dance of evasion, hypocrisy and mistruths.  What people need to question is Why they choose to cling to such harmful beliefs.   Many people who've been raised to believe that "all those Others are Sinners" have managed to break free from that destructive way of thinking.  Some lose their religion entirely, others find it has changed into something that makes them a better person, a happier person, and a person who actively cares about others.
I'm not asking anyone to give up a faith that brings them comfort and joy.  I'm asking people to consider the impact that specific messages, delivered by specific religious denominations, are having on their children.  And themselves.

It encourages me greatly to know that any young person growing up in the church I grew up in will not be forced or pressured into a life of lies and deceit and ignorance.
I've attached the program from the Affirmation Sunday for you all to see.







Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Why Is Jason Herasemluk So Consumed With anti-LGBT Hatred?

Jason Herasemluk, is a man from Alberta who is seemingly very very upset about the much-needed revisions to the sex-education curriculum in Ontario.  So upset about the revisions that he's taken to Facebook to show everyone ....well.... that he's the reason these revisions are so needed.  It's no surprise that a man who harbours these utterly bigoted opinions was a member of the Alberta Alliance party of yesteryear, but how crushing to hear that he's involved in groups seeking to *HELP FAMILIES*  - I guess helping families with LGBT children or family members doesn't count, eh?

As I've written about before, it's blatantly obvious that the objections to the curriculum are based on either lies and misinformation, or flat-out anti-LGBT animus.

What's appalling is that a man with an interest in politics would take to Facebook and explode with this bigotry that is not only deeply disturbing, but utterly juvenile.

Canada - is THIS what we can expect from members of the "Progressive Conservatives", in 2015??
A man who denies the reality of LGBT youth suicides, utterly denies that young LGBT kids are killing themselves, and then goes on to show that he's the reason they do kill themselves at a disproportionate rate.  Appalling.
























Saturday, 18 April 2015

Making Money from Hatred

A fool and his money are easily parted.  We now have people making bank by being anti-gay, and insisting that it's their religious freedom to deny basic business services to LGBT people.  Because that's totally what Jesus insisted you all do.




Wednesday, 17 December 2014

My Last Visit From Santa Claus


I cannot quite remember exactly how old I was when Santa made his last visit to my house, but I do remember the last present he ever gave me.

My sister and I sat by the tree on Christmas morning, and amidst the presents for all were two special-seeming, identically-wrapped gift boxes for us with our names on them.  We unwrapped them and inside each was a classic traditional teddy bear and a personalized letter for each of us. The letter was from Santa Claus himself.  I remember reading it with a smile on my face, and a lump in my throat.

He started by wishing us a Happy Christmas, and thanking us for the milk and cookies we left out for him, and the carrots we'd left for his reindeer.  He explained to us that as we were growing up, the things we now wanted for Christmas were things that parents can buy in stores; things for big kids, things for kids who are only a few short (yet blindingly fast in their passing) years away from becoming teens - video games, music, electronic devices like a walkman or "CD player".
Santa explained that at his workshop he makes toys for little kids; he doesn't make CDs and Nintendo games.  And so, he wanted us to have one last present from him,  something classic to remember him by - The Teddy Bear.  One Last Toy to treasure as a memory of his years visiting us every Christmas.  He thanked us for the years of milk and cookies.  Told us how wonderful it was to have watched us grow up, and how Good we were as brother and sister, always looking out for each other, taking care of each other, and being kind to one another.  He reminded us to always do that, and that he would see us again one day when we were grown up and had children of our own, delivering toys for them on Christmas morning.

I do remember being in the first grade, which for me was being in a class split in half with second-grade students, who did love to impress the first-graders with their expansive knowledge of the world.
Some of those kids would tease us around Christmastime about "the truth about Santa Claus" - and I remember the actual anxiety those "truths" gave me - a combination of embarrassment, fear, crushed hope, disbelief, and a sadness (I suppose) about what seemed to be One Less Magical Thing in this world.  Not wanting to seem like a naive kid, but not wanting to give up on magic.
I remember being at a friend's house and his mother saying to us, after my friend explained to her what the second-graders had said, that "Santa is real for all who believe in him."   Having recently been read "The Polar Express" in class, where a young boy who asks Santa for one of the bells from the sleigh, this sounded familiar.  When the boy in the story gets home, and rings it, his parents cannot hear it and claim it must be broken.

"At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe."
            - Chris Van Allsburg, "The Polar Express"

It can be a tricky process of navigating how to gently ease children into the maturation process without rushing them,  or condescending to them or babying them to the point that they become socially-awkward and "behind" their peer group.

I must make a confession to Santa - I already knew that he wasn't the one who gave me the Nintendo Entertainment System, before he wrote me his final letter.  But that didn't make that letter any less special.  I remember giving my Mum and Dad a really long hug that Christmas.  Part of it was simply a child's needing comfort after a confirmation of something I'd reluctantly already known.  The other part was how incredibly moved I was by the gesture Santa had made for my sister and I, and realizing how lucky I was that Santa had chosen to say what he'd said, in the way that he'd said it, showing that he completely understood what it means to be a kid going through the process of growing up.

Thanks, Santa.











*edit
This Bear is not that Last Teddy Bear. That Last Teddy was given to a shelter many years ago.  This here is Lachlan "Lachie" Mor - Big Bear, a gift from my Granny and Papa from Scotland when my sister and I were toddlers. He ain't going anywhere. ;-)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

How Not To Start a Conversation On Grindr....





What to say instead? Here's a brilliant suggestion: something worth replying to.  You might, for example, make reference to the content of the profile of the guy you're planning to message.  Like citing a specific thing he's said.  His profile says nothing? Then you're likely responding merely to his photo - in which case save yourself the time and get to the point.  That said, if you're looking for "more" in your Grindr-interactions, consider only messaging people who seem to have something to say, and whose profiles give you "Ins" to initiate conversation.

Or, simply keep doing what you're already doing, but if it's not getting the results you want then .... well..... put two and two together: you need to change your game.

Yes. No Grindr shame here.  Have fun, happy Grinding, make good choices.

Monday, 7 July 2014

I Love My Non-Gay Parents

Sometimes ironic satirical statements are lost on the masses, and sometimes young folks who are still in their collegiate "Me-Against-The-World" phase see attacks where there are none.  In any case, just hoping this clears up any confusion as to what this button of mine means.

:-)

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Stop Being Part of the Problem, Not the Solution

Grady Smith posted a video where he "comes out", his own words, as a Gay Christian - who chooses celibacy because he thinks it's a sin for gay men to "act on" their feelings.


His supporters have chimed in, and it's clear that they feel what I'm pretty sure Grady feels (he's yet to address my questions clearly,  so I'll update when he does so) - that non-Christians go to "Hell" when they die.  Because if you don't have "faith in Jesus", you go to Hell.

So, Anne Frank is in Hell. With Gandhi.  And the more than 6 million Jews exterminated in the Holocaust. And everyone else who doesn't follow their one narrow interpretation of one of the world's many religions and denominations within said religions.

Here's Grady's video. Below is my rebuttal video, and forgive me for not being more articulate - I popped the thing off in a few minutes.



 Hey, I'm a gay Christian. How come my church doesn't demand celibacy from me? Oh, right. Because the denomination and congregation I was raised in isn't a dogmatic cult. We don't even believe in Hell. Or exclusivity. Or that there's "one true faith."

Grady has disabled the comments on his video, which is sort of like when NOM or Fox News disables the comments on their videos: when too many folks come in to rationally and intellectually shred your arguments like tissue paper, it's the coward's choice to pretend those comments were never made.  Maybe Grady can get a job at Fox News...

However, some of Grady's supporters chimed in on my page.  Here are some from "Jake Reusink" - I've been around long enough to know that the evasive double-speak can only last so long, and eventually Jake Reusink just cops to the truth - he believes that "All Non-Christians Go To Hell", which of course is also the long-abandoned proposed sequel to Don Bluth's animated "All Dogs Go To Heaven."

Flippancy aside, these beliefs are harmful.  Very harmful.  Religious Beliefs are currently the number-one enemy of LGBT Equality - which is not to say that all religions are anti-gay.  But Grady's is.  As is Jake Reusink's.  "You can be gay, you just can't act on it."

Bollocks.

So, I posted by rebuttal and Grady terminated the comments section on his video.  I highly doubt he
will get his parents on camera as I asked him to. I highly doubt he will be clearly direct about the specifics of his beliefs.
But his supporter here, Mr. Jake Reusink, spelled them out.  And doesn't even seem to realize how ugly they are.  Here they are, for your enjoyment.



A funny thing happens when guys like Grady Smith and Jake Reusink reveal their core belief about "Hell" - they instantly prove that they don't have Faith - just Fear. They don't love God. They don't love Christ.  They believe that if one doesn't then that person goes to "Hell".

Thus these two boys do not Love God nor have "faith in Christ" - what they are doing is merely lip-service; done to ensure that they don't go to Hell, which their chosen religious cults have driven into their minds.  
Who is more generous, the person who Gives because they feel that Giving is the right thing to do, or the person who Gives because they think "God wants them to?"

If you love God you cannot believe in Hell. The second you expose your belief in Hell you prove to everyone that your faith hinges entirely around "doing whatever you feel you need to to not go to Hell."


Now, for some added satirical irony to wash away the taste of religious bigotry. *btw, Satan isn't real. Ask any Satanist*


Sidenote, and not a happy one.  While Grady's video pretty much was only seen by gay audiences, that alone is damaging enough.  A young man whom I'd met before through outreach programs, and who's been struggling for years to un-learn all the "if you act on it you'll go to Hell" messages his family and church drummed into his head, tried to kill himself just two weeks ago after seeing Grady's video.  He'd made much progress, but Grady's reiterating of the ignorant nonsense that "gay sex (even in a relationship) is a sin" was enough to set him back.  My young friend is alive, he's in the hospital, but we nearly lost him.  He jumped off of a bridge, after figuring his life was going to be empty or destined to lead him to "Hell." His sister had forwarded him Grady's video, with a message saying "SEE? This is what you should be doing."

So, thanks Grady,  for helping drive a struggling young man to suicide.

EDIT
Grady has now removed his two "gays need to be celibate because God says acting on it is a sin" videos from youtube.  Clearly, sharing his ignorance with the world resulted in a resounding level of "what the fuck are you talking about?" instead of the "yay! you're right! acting on being gay is a sin!" he likely expected due to his only ever interacting with similarly bigoted "Christians."  Doesn't really undo the harm he's done, but at least his lies cannot be spread to others.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Stonewall - 45 Years Later




We're here today because they were there that day.
                                                                                  Go out and hug your brothers and sisters.
I am proud to be a part of this community and culture.  I am proud to be out and visible in a world that wants us to be invisible and silent.  I am proud to be a part of a culture and community whose very existence proves that "the way things are" will not mean "the way things are going to say".   More and more of us Come Out every day, all over the world, in every type of family unit and dynamic, in every culture, within every religious and socioeconomic circle, all over the world.  And we will continue, as we shall outlast every fight against us.

Go to pride events - enjoy the revelry and the celebrations.  And remember that the celebration of joy and community did not come without many a fight, and without work from many people who lost all they that had in order to ensure that future generations will not have to deal with the outright hatred and violence that marked their daily existence.  This is no mere party.


Bond with your brothers and sisters - the fight is in all of us, as is the strength to continue; it's in our blood.  From the groups meeting in living rooms to discuss "who are we? what are we? are there more of us? how can we help each other?", to pre-Stonewall riots at the Black Cat Tavern in California, sit ins, small protests,  the Mattachine Society, and the many nameless faceless men and women who stood up to be counted and changed the world by being honest and open - the movement continues and it's picking up speed.

The more you learn about LGBT history the more proud you will be to be a part of our diverse communities.  We have a wealth of vanguards and heroes to be inspired by.  To the misfits and outcasts and Queens and Queers who challenged the status quo and refused to be hassled and assaulted any longer - thank you, thank you, a thousand times Thank You.

Happy Pride.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

"My Dad Says You're a Fag"





Well, a piece of mine has been published over at the incredible GoodMenProject site.
www.goodmenproject.com

the link is here: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/dad-says-youre-fag-hesaid/
"My Dad Says You're a Fag"

Check it out. And Happy Pride to everyone.


Monday, 23 June 2014

Thank You, Mum and Dad

Many moons ago I had my first experience participating in the Toronto Pride Parade, to help promote "Sugar", a film my friend had produced.



 I thought I'd surprise my parents, who were planning on coming downtown to watch the parade with me, my sister, and our friends.  My sister was in on the scheme, and kept telling my parents "Raymond's nearby, he's almost here."  And then suddenly, there I was - on top a limo, in the parade.  I leapt off, rushed to the sidelines to hug them, and then shouted "THESE ARE MY PARENTS!"    
                                   *THUNDEROUS CHEERS FROM THE CROWD*
It was such a blast, and my mum later said that she wanted to be in the parade.  I informed her that she can't just "be in the parade", but that she has to actually be a part of something. "Well, maybe I'll be a PFLAG parent!"  Sure, you do that, I thought.  Well, she did.  And so did my dad.
The very next year there I was on the sidelines with my sister and our friends, watching as my parents marched by.  I shouted, got their attention, they ran over for hugs, and then continued on their way.  At that moment I looked around and saw that everyone around me was doing the exact same thing I was doing: crying our eyes out, with happiness.




What would follow the next year would be a new tradition - our marching together as a family.  Easily the most wonderful feeling in the world.  In an age where we're still dealing with LGBT kids being kicked out of their homes, mistreated by their parents and shunned by society it is still vitally important that we march. My dad holds high his "I LOVE MY GAY SON" sign, because too many fathers don't, and won't.  My mother speaks out because mother's in Russia and Uganda cannot speak out and express how proud they are of their LGBT children.



My parents went from being PFLAG volunteers, attending the monthly support meetings to give support to other families, to manning the 24 hour support line phones, to my father becoming the Treasurer and my mother becoming the President.  I remember that phone call from Dad while I was living in Brooklyn, "Oh, by the way, Mum is the President of TorontoPFLAG now."
Oh, ok.  How about that.
It makes perfect sense as long before I came out my mother and father were already stepping up to be A Mum and A Dad to many friends of my sister and I, whom for whatever reason didn't have parents in their lives in the capacity that they were needed.  A friend who moved to Toronto from another city, or province or country found a *Mum and Dad* in my parents.
Fittingly, they've devoted their retirement years to being a Mum and Dad to the LGBTQ communities of Toronto - and to anyone who needs a hug, a shoulder, a listening ear and a support.

In 2013 my Mum was even honoured as the Grand Marshall of the Toronto Pride Parade.  Yes. THE GRAND MARSHALL.  My Mum.  My wee Scottish Mum. Icon.


My mum has now, after many hard-working years, stepped down as President of TorontoPFLAG, and  as she was making this decision she said to me, "I hope you're not disappointed that I'm stepping down."  *As if* I could ever be disappointed in anything she or my father have done.   She and my father are going to continue to give support and be PFLAG-ers, but not in the roles they've been occupying for years.  Time to do that *retire* part of retirement.  They both deserve a rest, they've been doing tireless work for years.
This was my mum's final public speech for PFLAG, at city hall honouring the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia.



A fitting send-off.  Yet that's not all.  Just recently she was honoured by Toronto City Council for her work on behalf of the LGBTQ communities.  What an honour to see my wee Mum get a standing ovation from city counsellors.











She has become a local gay icon. She has become a Mum to all those who need one.  She has helped put families back together, and through speaking in schools across the city has helped children learn to love themselves, and support their peers.
Every year on Mother's Day her Facebook wall is FLOODED with messages of "thank you! i love you!" from so many people for whom she has become the best mother-figure they've ever known.  Every gay friend that first met my Mum said the same thing: "She's just like Debbie Novotny!" - Sharon Gless' PFLAG Mom character on Queer as Folk.
I will forever be grateful to have been born to my mother and father.  More than grateful.  I have a Unicorn Existence, being born gay to this family in this city in this country in this time in history.  They inspire me, they humble me, they empower me, and their love and strength is what drives me every day.

Thanks, Mum and Dad.  I love you more than words will ever be able to accurately express.  Happy Pride. Enjoy your retirement.  You've changed lives, you've saved lives, and you inspire us all.

Little Kiwi Loves Bauhaus

Little Kiwi Loves Bauhaus
Good Dog!