Little Kiwi and Bauhaus

Little Kiwi and Bauhaus
A Boy and His Dog

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.

Or over at The Advocate

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:

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)  (  ) 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.

Little Kiwi Loves Bauhaus

Little Kiwi Loves Bauhaus
Good Dog!