Little Kiwi and Bauhaus

Little Kiwi and Bauhaus
A Boy and His Dog

Monday, 29 August 2016

The Revised Ontario Sex Ed. Curriculum

In a typical move of shameless pandering to low-information voters, the conservative party of Ontario wants to scrap the revised sex-ed curriculum, as part of their party platform.

Why? Because they're counting on people not actually knowing what's in the curriculum, and choosing to promote appalling lies about it.

Here’s a rundown of the claims made by parents against the curriculum, and how they stack up to reality.
Claim 1: “In Grade 1 they will learn to reveal their private parts (not just name), they will see posters and flash cards of private parts, they will learn to touch the private area and identify it on themselves and others.”
  • Source: An anonymous letter written in Arabic and circulated in Peel Region.
  • Veracity: Students will learn how to correctly name private parts, as well as to recognize “exploitive behaviours” such as inappropriate touching. The curriculum describes a “teacher prompt” that encourages students to talk about “all body parts with respect,” so children will understand that “If I’m hurt or need help, and I know the right words, other people will know what I’m talking about.” 

  • Claim 2: “Grade 6 is about the promotion of self-discovery through masturbation. Our 12-year-old daughter or son, who is not even a teenager yet, will be asked in class to explore his or her own body by touching their private parts, masturbating and pleasuring their body.”
    Source: An anonymous letter written in Arabic and circulated in Peel Region.
    Veracity: In Grade 6, children are not “taught masturbation,” but they are taught that it is “common and is not harmful and is one way of learning about your body.” Children in that grade also learn about building healthy relationships and how to combat stereotypes.

    Claim 3: “Anal Play 101 class in Grade 8 would actually provide instruction on anal sex play.” 

  • Source: An anonymous letter written in Arabic and circulated in Peel Region.
  • Veracity: “Anal Play 101” is not a lesson plan — the title comes from an online article on the Planned Parenthood Toronto website. In Grade 7, children learn how to communicate that they don’t want to have sex, including anal sex. They learn that it’s best to wait until they are older to have any kind of sexual activity. They also learn how STIs are transmitted during sex, including anal sex.

  • Claim 4: “In Making Sex Feel Good unit, they will be asked to look at sexy magazines and movies to investigate what arouses and seduces them.”
    Source: An anonymous letter written in Arabic and circulated in Peel Region.
    Veracity: There is no such lesson called “making sex feel good” — the title comes from an online article on the Planned Parenthood Toronto website. Pornography is not brought up until Grade 9, and then only in the context of staying safe online.

    Claim 5: “It will teach Gay-Trans propaganda starting in grade 1 [age 6]. Destroy the idea of gender, natural law, heterosexual family normalcy. You choose your gender.”

  • Source: An email sent to the Star by opponents of the curriculum.

  • Veracity: In Grade 3, kids learn that some people have gay parents. In Grade 8, children will be expected to understand gender identity, including transgender identity as well as various sexual orientations. They will also be expected to identify how to “help individuals of all identities and orientations develop a positive self-concept.”

  • Claim 6: “Ignore Parents as first educators. Parents are mentioned maybe 6 times, and never as 'educators' in regards to sexual education of their own children or as the primary point of contact.”
  • Source: An email sent to the Star by opponents of the curriculum.

  • Veracity: Parents are mentioned dozens of times throughout the curriculum and are portrayed as an integral part of a child’s life and source for both answers and guidance. Children are also encouraged to spend time with their family.

  • Claim 7: “Consider Gender confusion starting in grade 1, with the propaganda that there are 6 genders and 52 sexual orientations.”
  • Source: An email sent to the Star by opponents of the curriculum.
  • Veracity: The curriculum does list six kinds of gender identity: male, female, two-spirited, transgender, transsexual and intersex. It only lists four kinds of sexual orientation: heterosexual, gay, lesbian and bisexual. 

  • Claim 8: “Consider dating and sexual suggestiveness and attraction in Grade 4.”

  • Source: An email sent to the Star by opponents of the curriculum.
  • Veracity: In Grade 4, kids learn that puberty comes with a host of changes, including changes to social relationships. 
  • “Relationships with friends can change, because sometimes people start being interested in different things at different times. Some people start ‘liking’ others. They want to be more than ‘just friends’ and become interested in going out.”

    Claims 9: “Be worried about pregnancy in Grade 5.”
  • Source: An email sent to the Star by opponents of the curriculum.
  • Veracity: In Grade 5, kids learn about how pregnancy occurs. But contraception and preventing pregnancy isn’t discussed until Grade 8.

  • Claims 10: “Replace the words Husband and Wife with 'Partner' by Grade 6.”
  • Source: An email sent to the Star by opponents of the curriculum.
  • Veracity: In Grade 6, kids learn that not every couple is heterosexual, and that neutral terms are more accepting.
  • “We need to make sure that we don’t assume that all couples are of the opposite sex, and show this by the words we use. For example, we could use a word like ‘partner’ instead of ‘husband’ or ‘wife’.”Here’s a rundown of the claims made by parents against the curriculum, and how they stack up to reality.

    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!"
    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.

    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.
    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.

    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

    Please, click the link and check it out!

    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 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

    Little Kiwi Loves Bauhaus

    Little Kiwi Loves Bauhaus
    Good Dog!