Thursday, December 30, 2010

And the answer is... (42?)

So I am an educator by trade. As a gay educator, I am always in the spotlight of the criticizing eye of the adolescent. And, if you read my post entitled Moral Education, you would know that sometimes I encounter challenging and painful situations as a result of my sexuality - and that sometimes these make me angry.

That was back at the end of November.

Days after I posted Moral Education, a friend of mine uploaded Hint #6 to her facebook page and introduced me to something very, very powerful. Her fiancee (also a woman) and I were blown away by what we saw; it made the It Gets Better Movement seem trivial for all the reasons that it is trivial.

We can't promise people that it will get better later. We need to promise young adults that it will get better today, and make that promise come true. But... how do I do that?

Enter the fiancee's passion for gay activism and my interest in education. Somewhere, despite my frustration with the current generation of young people and their lack of work ethic, attention, or care, I have faith in education - in discovery - to change people. And if we are true to ourselves, we all know and feel on a daily basis that society needs to change.

So for December the two of us organized ourselves. We talk about gender theory and how we felt it needed to become something that everybody learned about - rather than just those who were in sexual minorities. We talked about how that is possible - how it fits into the curriculum in Saskatchewan and, (sadly) how it does not. We talked about what power we have to educate young people about gender and sexuality, and how this can be done with an approach of discovery rather than lecture. We talked about questions - to be asked and answered. We talked about our own sexualities and discovered things we never imagined about ourselves. We talked, because we know that these are concepts and topics that young people deal with everyday, that young people want to discuss as they try to figure themselves out, that adults don't want young people to discuss, and that young people feel uncomfortable discussing.

And from that, we made something that we hope is powerful and brilliant. A comprehensive discussion session - 1 hour in length (but potentially longer). Introducing the basics of the gender spectrum, the unreality of extremes - even introducing circular gender theory as something even less finite and more flexible. Providing students with basic ideas about gender - to liberate them all (even the "straight" ones from the ideas of being "straight" - the one's who are not "gay" but feel something other than "straightness"). We would present ourselves, honestly, openly, and carefully - answering questions about sexuality and providing ourselves as case studies.

We have people signing up to be a part of it. Including many of our "straight" allies who wish they had a better concept of sexuality before they discovered their friend was gay. Not because it informed them about their gay friends but because it helped them inform themselves about their sexualities. They were able to understand themselves better - they were liberated to understand themselves with more clarity but less "straight" and more "other".

In the coming weeks the fiancee and I have a meeting with the local Public School Board's board chair to ask their permission to enter classrooms. We are also in contact with our province's health curriculum consultant - we want to show them what is possible, talk about our approach, and outline how we imagine this affecting everyone positively. And how important it is to get this information to students at a younger age.

So there are circles (Hint #3). There are spectrums and women (Hint #2), and rainbows (Hint#1). There are questions (Hint #3, #4), and students (Hint #4, #5), and a reimagining of gender (Hint #6) - a reGendering - with our youth.

With any luck this will amount to something that is worth its weight in paper and time...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

And the answer is...


well, before we get to that, let me drag this out a bit more by telling you what I see. Perhaps you'll get to my point before you read it once you've read the hints from my perspective.

Hint #1 is a rainbow, similar in colour spectrum to that found on most gay pride parades though certainly not exact. It is a symbol of diversity in sexuality, non-sexuality, lifestyles and peoples.

Hint #2 is a straight line. This straight line happens to be on a shirt worn by a woman. The shirt is brown. The important part is the straight line (though the fact that I am calling it straight is of minimal importance).

Hint #3 is a question mark locked in a circle. Both of these parts are important. The former because it suggests curiosity, the latter because of the circle (which is in stark contrast to a straight line).

Hint #4 are hands raised in the air. As an educator, this is a familiar sight that is unfortunately less familiar than one would hope. Also, there are uniforms on - I am unfamiliar with uniforms at the schools I have experience in. Focus on the hands in the air - probably wanting to ask (or answer) questions.

Hint #5 is an image of a classroom. This is likely of a community colle judging by the room size and the furniture in the room, though it isn't necessarily so. There is somebody speaking at the front of the room and the students are, for the most part, attentive to what she is speaking about.

Hint #6 is a video about Reteaching Gender and Sexuality. A damned powerful video - that is worth watching numerous times and imagining what can be done with that kind of philosophy.

And the answer is... that I am doing something with that philosophy. What it is will be revealed in less than 48 hours. But I like games, and imagine that some of you might still be willing to play a long with me...

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Non-Hint

(I'm getting old)

(Today, I'm getting older)

I'll wrap up the hints next time. I swear

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hint #6

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hint #5

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hint #4

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hint #3

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hint #2

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hint #1

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Moral Education

It was a long day today at work.

While I've been navigating the crevasses of graduate work applications, I've also been using my two degrees to make money. As a substitute teacher for the Regina Public School Board.

And there I was today, during homeroom, directing class. And my ears hear something that I haven't heard since I was a student.

"Yeah, he's gay."

It was from the back corner. I can still remember the face of the young woman that made the comment.

I can still recall that instant when I felt as though shutting down was the only response that was valid. These people knew. They were judging me for it. There was nothing I could do about it anymore.

And then I did the worst thing possible.

I let the comment slide. And now, I know that, for anybody that she encounters who is gay, around whom she tosses around the word with a sneer and a knowing gracefulness of cool, that i have contributed to the fear that they feel.

And, on my drive home, I couldn't decide if I should've pounced on her. As a young First Nations (Metis?) woman, god knows I had the ammo - I am incredibly capable of whipping up hatred in an instant.

Why didn't I?

Was it because I don't believe in humiliating students (no, thats definitely not the reason), or was it because I refuse to use race as a trump card (i'd love to pretend so, but the fact that I could whip up hatred for this woman in an instant because of her skin colour tells me otherwise), or was it because I knew that, in the moment that I defended homosexuals from hatred, I was outting myself to these students?

I could've incited foolishness, dumbness, ignorance, She could've retaliated with the same in some way, I couldn't asked her how she feels when she heard commentary about First Nations women being prone to drinking when they were pregnant or men sexually abusing their daughters in a drunken rage, and I could've answered with fear and hatred and remorse and shame at her identity for things that she could not control, and she could've gotten angry and disgraced, and I could've told her that she had no right to inflict those feelings upon anybody else and nobody has the right to inflict those feelings upon her, and She could've agreed, and I could've said that I would expect somebody who has been the victim of cultural hatred in the past to fight against it in all of its manifestations (just to let her know that I was thoroughly disappointed in her character), and She could've gone home and told her parents and the Parents could've contacted my boss and told her about the scenario, and I could lose my position, because God knows that my "teaching practices" were questionable I was thoroughly out of line and it isn't the right of a teacher to treat minority students in any way to calls attention to their minority-ness, and I would not be able to respond because this woman would have the same power as I would have over my temporary student in my class, and once again I am faced with morality in ways that are complicated.

It was probably the last reason.

And so I was silent. And let the tacit hatred of homosexuals survive for another day.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I came to the realization yesterday that I don't allow my parents to love me.

I know that this must kill them. I wish that they could understand why. I wish that I could understand why.

Because I think that allowing somebody to love you is a beautiful thing.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Glee deals with impressive content. It did so again this week.

Perhaps though its surprisingly substantial stories are lost in the bubblegum pop (and for the record, any show that can make a Katy Perry song sound incredibly sexy deserves a field of Emmys). But they are there, and for anybody who can relate to Kurt Hummel, there are shockingly familiar.

This past week dealt with romance - and that sense that romance doesn't exist for those who are anything other than straight. How painfully familiar. It also highlighted how useless allies are, because they are not gay. They can stand up to hatred, but they can never make a gay man feel normal - feel as though they belong with the rest of society - as though every thought that they have is just as valid as the thoughts that one's friends has.

And then Kurt Hummel meets Blaine. Suddenly he has an ally who, like him, knows the pain of everything. And everything is painful when you are gay, coming out of the closet, and incredibly lonely and isolated.

Last night I went out with a bunch of friends, all of them straight. Some of my best friends. And I felt isolated (despite them knowing that I am gay). At one point the thought crossed my mind that they were "holding me back from being me". How selfish of me, but is this possibly true...?

A friend who is gay is totally different than a friend who is straight...

Also, I hate the term "no homo." But, just like "that's so gay", one can always say "no hetero". I think....

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Nothing quite like that.

One thing I'm learning regularly nowadays.

Never ever stop letting people love you. Tell them you are gay, be fearless in it, and allow them to love you as they always have and with a newfound pride.

Because they will.

Let them be your ally.

Because they will be.


I am very fortunate to have the friends that I have. They are all remarkable people.

Today I told a youngin' (18 year old) that I am gay. "And thats how that goes."

He wasn't surprised - said he'd thought it for a while. It didn't matter to him, didn't change our relationship.

As long as I didn't try to grope him (he's a football player, groping him would likely result in a concussion).

I mentioned my two rules: Straight men are "no". 18 year olds are "no". (He's not married yet, so he doesn't need to know about the last one)

I'm his mentor. From Bible Camp.

.... there is nothing like being gay to make you realize how much pride you have... and how regularly you undersell the ability of people to love...

Thursday, October 28, 2010


There is nothing like being gay.

Nothing I can imagine.

It forces you to eat your pride, swallow it whole. Allow it to progress through the endocrine system, leave the bladder and spilled to the ground. Rolled around in - smelled.

This is what being gay does to your pride.

Because you are constantly reminded that there is something wrong with you. Something not quite right with you - not quite normal. Something you can't ignore, avoid, live without. And yet is something you embrace.

Until you can no longer embrace it.

I wish I could tell that man who decided that Tim Hortons was a great place to very publicly discuss some men that he saw at Superstore that I am not a "faggot" - but that I am gay.

And I wish I could tell him that I completely embrace it.

But one of these would be a lie.

"... I focused on the pain.
The only thing that's real."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Yesterday, once the sun went below the horizon and all the warmth left the world, the snow began to stay. There couldn't have been much warmth to begin with - it had been snowing all day. But it was melting on the ground until the sun gave into the pressures of a rotating earth.

I don't know the full story of last night's weather system, but I can see the results when I look out of the window of this rented cottage in Maple Creek, SK. The ground is covered in about 2 cms of white stuff that is reminiscent of white stuff that was abdicated its earthen throne only 7 months ago. Like the prodigal son, it has returned to reclaim its rightful place as king of consciousness - making us ever-weary travellers, forcing us to alter our fashions before we are actually prepared, and allowing us to wonder whether or not sand has been put on the roads just yet to add some friction. Every morning.

Until the throne is abdicated again.

The snow has fallen. It has stayed. And winter is here.

And me, without a boyfriend to snuggle up to for warmth...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I've fallen in love with a man named Richard Kim, editor of the American magazine The Nation.

"When faced with something so painful as gay teen suicide, it's easy to scapegoat child bullies. It's hard to create a world that wants queer youth to live and thrive."

I'm going to keep him around.

(Reason that science is bad is forthcoming.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Disappointing Sex

A sample of a texting conversation that I had today with a friend.

Me: My conclusion in life: wow! Some people are definitely worth looking at.

Leah (friend): Lol! What do you meaaaaan?

Me: Just thought that I would let you know that the most beautiful person in the world was just in my general vicinity.

Leah: Lol! Thats weird, I just called Heather (her fiance) and she didn't say you were in her general vicinity! :P Who was he?

Me: I have no idea. But that did not prevent me from admiring how he fit into his pants all the ways from produce to the check out.

Leah: Ahahahah you are just wonderful!


And an unfortunate realization. The world is not interested in acting in love to everybody, and as a result, the world is not interested in transforming itself into a better place.

In an unfortunate twist, many "straight allies" have taken the tragic losses of life in the past weeks as a means of becoming ardent war-hawks, intent on ensuring that people can no longer have honest discussions about homosexuality.

I witnessed this on facebook recently, where somebody I went to church with commented on a mutual friend's status update about bullying gay teens. The person I went to church with commented that he loves gay people, but does not approve of their lifestyle.

This is something that we've all heard before. Many times, for those of us who straddle the social groups of church and gay.

And many people instantly attacked him. Many straight people, whose experience as a victim of gay bullying is arguably more vicarious than real, attacked him vehemently. And my heart broke instantly.

You see, this person that attends my church is actually a young teenager, trying to view the world as he has been raised, but just intelligent enough to be willing to step into an open debate about the topic. He is asked questions of his position, and he provides honest answers. And he gets asked more questions. And they become more and more pointed. And more numerous.

And more inappropriate.

Its a form of bullying. Intellectual in format, and it forces people to become more and more isolated and less and less willing to communicate.

You see, these suicides have arroused a massive alarm. Finally.

And yet, it has also caused an incredible amount of anger that, rather than looking to console and change the world, wants to point fingers and blame individuals. This instead of welcoming them, discussing, and allowing both to be changed as a result. And somehow I have noticed that to be the attitude shared by our "straight allies".

For some reason, those people who went through the scalding and terrorizing reality of gay bullying for their entire life (and who continue to go through it) appear to be more interested in having a heart to heart; a life-changing discussion. Changing perspectives demands, absolutely demands, love.

To my friend from church: thank you for your honesty, and your willingness to be vulnerable. Thank for sharing your verses, for saying that you do not wish to condemn and do not condemn anybody, and do not claim to know God's heart completely; thank for saying you love gay people despite their actions.

To those random people who claim to be allies: I appreciate your support for the cause of putting an end to gay bullying, but if you can't love everybody then I am not entirely certain that I want your love. Everything we do must be done in grace, must be done in the interest of change, and must put us in an equally vulnerable position. Otherwise we reinforce perspectives of being cold, arrogant, and lacking in love. None of these things are good.

To my gay allies: May we never forget that we have an opportunity to transform the world whenever people are prepared to honestly discuss with us. It is our responsbility to love, accept, and offer ourselves as a response.

(and next time, why science is bad...)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I wish I couldn't believe in God.

But Leonard Cohen's torture makes me remember that, even through my torturous attempts, I can only fail.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Kahlil Gibran

"Oh heart, if one should say to you that the soul perishes like the body, answer that the flower withers, but the seed remains."

Friday, October 8, 2010

I try very difficult not to be angryfrustratedconfuseddisappointedbetrayed by church.

And I would love, absolutely love, to feel as though I could walk into a church and feel completely at peace with the existence of God - not bombarded by feelings that the people there think that there is something wrong with me.

Because there is nothing wrong with me.

But I don't see the church fighting for justice when it needs to be fought for.

As most people are aware, September and October have been very trying months for the gay community as there has been a noteworthy number of lives lost to bullying. And this is tragic beyond all belief.

I wish the church would stand up for this loss - own up to its role in this loss (even as a non-oppressive force, the status quo in church communities is that there is something wrong with us - and make it clear that Christ did not live so that we could feel rejected by those who calls themselves his.

I try very hard not to get angry, and point fingers, and take rainbow-filled spray cans and paint hate-filled words for everybody to read on the exterior of their homes of worship.

Because I believe that It Gets Better.

All the time, It Gets Better.

And this can only, possibly, include the church. (Because the church owns too much culture to be excluded from it.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It Gets Better

There is no truth greater than the truth that Life Gets Better.

Gay high school students are more likely than any other demographic to attempt, and succeed at, committing suicide. I tried, and I failed. And my life is infinitely better for it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

An almost story about being in somebody else's underwear.

I've spent the last couple of weeks looking into some graduate school opportunities. For some reason I can't justify leaving Regina without it being driven by the need for more education - despite the fact that I feel exhausted the moment I see its golden lights on the distant horizon every time I drive home.

I'm thinking Vancouver. Is it safe to assume that a community that has existed for longer can offer me something that Regina can't? Or that I refuse to allow Regina to?

My friend, who is far far more well connected than I, says that she can't even think of anybody she could set me up with...

That said, my long underwear is now out of the cupboard. I am currently wearing it. And I am loving it. Its been cold here in southern Saskatchewan all September - which is unfortunate for the park's visitor numbers, and for me as I am not living in a winterized home. We've already hit the negative double digits in the night - my fleece was not sufficient to keep me warm.

The first night it was really cold, I didn't have any in Val Marie.

Aaron lent me his.

It is a good man who will lend his gay friend his long underwear.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Those heterosexual missionaries...

Last night Aaron and I went for a walk in the Grasslands. We looked at the stars. I pointed out a few planets, some stars, ancient constellations. Found a galaxy with the naked eye.

He asked me questions about what its like being gay.

I asked him what it was like being straight.

He told me about his loneliness. I told him of mine.

He told me I deserved somebody special. I told him the same.

Just a classic conversation between friends who are getting ready to say goodbye.

I realized that somehow, as a product of some completely unlikely friendship between two people who have no reason to have met, I was talking about being gay in Val Marie. I was honestly talking about the struggles of being a young gay man in Val Marie. Somebody was actually listening to me. It wasn't while I was alone. I wasn't silently crying in my bedroom, or looking for serious emotional support. I was talking about who I am - and I was helping him discover what a gay man can be.

I was happy; almost proud of who I was.

And I woke up this morning with a smile.

That simple conversation changed how I exist on this planet of Val Marie.

I wonder if he knows that...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

So I asked him

- Do you have any idea what your eyes do to me?

And he answered

- Yes. I've known for a long time.

So I asked him

- Why do you still let me look into them then?

And he answered

- Why do you let me look into yours?

I don't know yet if that is the end of that conversation.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Story of my life...

In the imaginary world of dualities conveniently constructed in a westernized culture rooted in a religious understanding of our environment which views the world as either good or evil (and nothing else), I am choosing to psycho analyze myself.

There are two parts of my mind.

One being the carnal, ravenous, incredibly sexual being. The other being the innocent, cautious, and frighteningly romantic creature.

Generally speaking, I imagine that the former is in control.

But there are four people in the world around whom I have to consciously put effort into not wrapping my arms around (likely the lower waist), kissing, pushing against a wall or couch, discovering, and imagining ways that we could continue to grow comfortable with each other.

One of them is a person in Val Marie, who is researching an endangered butterfly we have in Grasslands National Park called the Mormon Metalmark (don't get me started on the controversy of calling it an endangered species, I am more likely to side with the skeptics than otherwise).

His name is Aaron.

He is 30. Has incredibly sharp canine teeth.

Beautiful eyes.

He is here for three more weeks.

And I cannot possibly allow myself to get physically close to him when we are anywhere near alone, because I am certain that if that is so I may just lose control and flirt a bit too much. I am concerned that he may flirt back without realizing he was flirting back (a throwback to his younger days of boyhood fun, more than anything else I assume), and I would catch myself falling in love with him even more.

Time to work on making myself distant from those people that I want to spend time getting to know.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I want to remove myself from the Internet.

More specifically, I want to remove myself from Facebook. Is it too late?

You may be familiar with a man named Alex from previous postings on this blog. He is that man that I took out to do Astronomy with, the closest I have ever had to a date with a man, and the closest I have ever come to letting loose and allowing my tongue to plant a flag on his - to make it my territory to own, settle, mine, and exploit.

Well, Alex still talks to me on facebook. And he has pictures of himself on facebook. And I want to know, why is it that I can't stop looking, wishing.

Dreaming and failing to fall to sleep.

Why couldn't I have put more effort into discovering your domain and deciding what to do with it while you took advantage of an opportunity to be experimental. Hopefully.

I should've mentioned to him that, when I said I was a touch-guy rather than a sight-guy (talking about sex), and he said that I would one day make a wife very happy, I should've mentioned that I wasn't looking for a wife but a husband. Just as an off-hand, completely comfortable response to clear the air.

And make it all the more possible for him to explore my ______________ (fill in the blank) with his tongue, to make it his territory to own, settle, mine and exploit.

Friday, August 20, 2010

My biggest fear in life is that I will wake up for the rest of my life in a bed with nobody beside me.

My second biggest fear is that I will wake up next to somebody that I don't want to spend the rest of my life with.


Last week I was reading a friend's blog. They have decided to include advertising in their blog in order to support their children as little as they can. One of their pieces of advertising was for an online dating service for men.

I clicked.

I felt so much less than human, even without having signed up.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Promotions and Demotions

A gay youth sponsor, Tory Inglis, from First Presbyterian Church in New Westminster, British Columbia was called to task recently because of her involvement in organizing her city's first-ever Gay Pride celebrations. As a result of a front-page photo of her at the celebration, she was called into her pastor's office and asked to remove herself from the organization as they felt it promoted an improper lifestyle.

She decided instead to remove her membership from her church.

"Above all, I want to promote peace and love and acceptance," Tory said. "And in a place that condemns people for loving, I would much rather be in a place that accepts people for who they are."

As a community, we want to turn Tory into a martyr of hatred imposed upon us by the church. I don't oppose that in the slightest. But, as somebody who has left a church and my involvement with a youth group that I loved with every single muscle of my heart - and sang with the beauty of sunrise at each of its events - to ensure that this did not happen to me, I want to recognize the pain that Tory is surely feeling at this moment.

As Tory is somebody who still believes in faith, and the stories of love and acceptance that are pronounced throughout the Bible. They are good stories, even though they are interrupted by stories of God's hatred for the "other". As somebody who "believes", she feels as though she is dying right now. She has lost one of her homes, been swiftly rebuked and kicked out on somebody else's terms, and is now feeling as though a part of her is missing.

Which it is.

It is very difficult to replace the environment of the church once it has been lost. There really is something special about it.

So, Tory, my heart goes out to you. Not for the pain that you have already felt at the hand's of church-endorsed hatred, but for the pain that will continue to affect you for the months and years to come. I know that you will miss those children, their laughter and energy. I know that you will miss those moments in church when you are reminded of the goodness of the so-called God, and reminded of Its bigness and Its wholeness. I know that you will feel as though your world has crumbled into an ancient dust too fine to be held in your hands for more than an instant.

It will take you forever to forgive. Alzheimer's will set in before you forget.

For this, I apologize on behalf of the sins of the church - a right that I do not have but that I wish I did for this moment.

Continue to live beautifully, and strive for nothing less than promote peace and love and acceptance.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Things that make you happy.

Something is right in the world today.

Barrack Obama made a valuable decision, and refused to let the site of the 9/11 Twin Towers terrorist event become a monument to anything more than the lives that were lost in the devastating attack. It will not recognize the wars that developed as a result, or the economy that fell to pieces trying to maintain a conflict that cannot be completed.

Or the unrelenting hatred of Muslim people and their religion.

My hats off to you, Mr. Obama - for realizing the importance of maintaining our rights in the present to ensure a better future.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A ravaged heart...

Last night I went for a bike ride, making it about 10 km out of town. Just as I turned to head back I was reminded of the wonder of Saskatchewan.

This is why I will always want to come home, and this is how I shall measure it. There is no experience quite as majestic as watching the rays of the sun dip behind a cloud that will bring ravenous rains overnight. Watching spasms of light dance in the sky is an experience only rivaled by the thundering of the sun to its daily death; a beauty that cannot be conveyed with a clicked photograph or stroke of a brush deserves nothing but to simply exist.

I felt that my camera cheapened it.

But my momentary lapse in breathing did not. Did my heart skip a beat and my life lose another minute because of this series of momentary beauty that could not and would not cease?

Val Marie, Saskatchewan - you have found another way to steal my heart. And this time his name is Apollo rather than Ryan - a god driving a chariot into the depths of the rotating earth rather than a man driving a tractor to the farthest reaches of the Val Marie Flat.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Is this what they call prayer?

Last week I took an extended, 4-day long weekend, and went home to Regina.

I also went to the Bible Camp that I used to work for, and still view as one of the most significant places of my life. One of those spaces that made me feel connected to something larger than myself.

Upon visiting it, for the first time as an out-gay man, looking to visit some friends working for the camp administration, I came to realize that I've turned my back on something that is of great importance to me. Relationships.

Months ago, perhaps almost a year ago, after a friend of mine found this blog (well, was actually directed to this blog by a poorly placed comment on his own) and confirmed his suspicions that I was gay, I admitted to him that I was stepping away from a lot of relationships so that I wouldn't ever have to tell them that I was gay.

Including in these relationships were the dozens of young men who saw in me a passion for Christ's justice and a refusal to accept anything other than the ideal pursuit of economic equality and legal/social parity for all peoples.

I am certain that they feel somewhat betrayed by my actions.

And rightfully so. For I never gave them the chance to love me as I am by allowing them to discover that I am gay and choosing to get over it anyways (as I would hope many of them would). I lost my faith in my friends, and chose fear instead of love. In doing so, I have confused many of them and almost certainly caused many of them to direct their faith towards people and influences that I find less desirable. In doing so, I have broken promises to my friends.

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. I have lead your children astray in the interest of taking the easier road. I have been selfish and committed the greatest of all destructive deeds - breaking hearts, souls, and relationships. Have I learned nothing of love?

God, if you exist and if I am prepared to allow you to exist, please allow me to fix some of these relationships so that I can help these young men and women become the great adults that I know they can be.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thank god I am not a tramp...

I often wonder what is in between your legs.

And then I catch myself staring, at one of those awkward moments when everybody else is laughing, and I quickly adjust.

And yet I know that you've figured out that I can't stop looking at you; whenever I get a glimpse I want to keep staring. And then I make some offhand comment and try to interact with other people. And then I realize that I'm looking in your direction again.

I wonder where your tan lines are.

I wonder if the skin feels different on the bright side of your body - if it exists. Is the dark side seasoned?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Saturday, after spending 45 minutes convincing my friend that I was, indeed, gay, I was bombarded with that single question that drives me absolutely insane.

"Have you ever had sex with a man?"

No. I have not ever had sex with a man. I'm too much of a romantic to allow myself to become a slut - to allow myself to sleep with every man that would be interested in sleeping with me.

This is the more-than-third time that this question has been asked of me, which seems outright pathetic. Just because I'm gay does not mean that I have any experience in it. And, your knowledge of my gayness does not give you any more of a right to ask questions about my sex life than my knowledge of your non-gayness grants me the right to ask you questions about yours.

Most of the people that I make a point of telling tend to be relatively intelligent people. And still, I find myself disappointed by this question. It tells me that people still have a frighteningly poor understanding of sexuality - that it is limited to sex.

I hope that at some point I can convince them that sexuality is about so much more than sex...

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I happen to be in town for the August long-weekend, having purchased tickets to the traveling Cirque de Soleil show, Allegria.

It was last night - and may have changed my life. I want to be so incredibly fit that I can make that kind of magic happen with my body.

It was so impressive that it wasn't arousing. And this show involved many-a-shirtless man...

But my observations are more focused on the events that followed. I decided, with my friends, that I needed to be reminded that it is "ok to be gay" while I was in town - just enough to carry me through the next month of sexual prison.

So, off to the Rainbow Bar we went.

And I found the experience hilarious - and enjoyable for its hilarity - but so thoroughly immoral and disturbing that I had lost any interest in being there well before the night was over or the alcohol had worn off.

First of all, I hate going into a bar and being eye-raped by every single gay man in the establishment - being judged for my height, the colour of my hair, the size of my eyes mouth feet arms legs, the hair that pops out of my shirt, the brand of the shirt. I hate that they would smile at me in a way that they would never smile at somebody who may appear less attractive than I - and that I would never be permitted to know people who think that I am not their "type".

I hate being labelled for my sexuality the moment I walk onto the dance floor. I am forced into a niche market, with a specific purpose for a specific group of other people who have also been forced into a small niche. This is the gay pride that has developed?

I hate 19-year-old boys who know me from the University, become clingy because they recognize me/know my name/want to explore my body. I hate them even more when they are drunk. I hate them most when they are accompanied by numerous straight women who are effectively cockblocking them from contact with any other men in the bar, except for those who have enough compassion to give him a chance to be gay in the gay bar.

I danced with one of those 19-year-old boys last night. He was pathetic, and it broke my heart.

And I didn't even enjoy the dancing. I wasn't actually into it - despite the partial arrousal (can you blame me? I've been living in Val Marie for several months now...). Here I am, the hopeless romantic, imagining that all the eroticism of dancing in a bar happens automatically, and instead of being into the moment when it happens (even with somebody that I'd rather it not be happening with), I'm trying to remember the french translations for the five species of snake that live in Grasslands National Park.

I needed something to entertain me I suppose.

The most fun I had was dancing with my friend's female ex-roomate. We two-stepped for a time period. It felt like a more agreeable form of dancing to me. There was a sensuality, a sway, playfulness - it wasn't about getting as close as possible and feeling somebody else's penis rubbing against your leg. It was about the form, the pattern, the classic-ness.

I wish courting didn't have to involve going to the gay bar...

Spiders part 2.

Hatred produces a web of fear.

My friend’s wedding is next weekend. This is the friend for whom I am acting as the Master’s of Ceremony.

Yesterday, a friend of mine happened to come over for a bit. She and I have been friends since she was in kindergarten, so for about 17 years. My guess is that this friend is bisexual - she dabbles with temptation towards women, but can't imagine life without men. I can't imagine that kind of sexual torment.

She knows Brittany from Church - much the same way that I know Brittany. The two of them are a year younger than I, and ended up going to the same school for post-secondary education for a couple years. My friend became quite emotionally attached (perhaps even dependent) to Brittany - a dangerous thing to be; though it must be said that the two were never actually good friends.

Brittany is too conservative. My friend (Jen), is too liberal. They are both vocal, and both stubborn.

While she was over, Jen told me a story about a boy she was attracted to in her first year. He happened to be bisexual. Jen, rightfully, did not care - though, perhaps one could say that she should not have become so infatuated with him. Though, when Jen told Brittany of her attraction towards a self-professed bisexual man, Brittany condemned Jen for having been attracted to a creature with such twisted sexual desires (even though they would only account for a percentage of those desires).

Jen learned very quickly to stop talking about her love interests with Brittany.

That is part two of the web this venomous friend of mine has constructed.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Spiders part 1.

Hatred produces a web of fear.

My friend’s wedding is next weekend. This is the friend for whom I am acting as the Master’s of Ceremony.

I was thinking though, that this wedding acts as a landmark of shame for me. My friend, Brittany, is a homophobic princess of a human being that, as a result of my compounding fear and sense of increasing freedom, I am finding more and more difficult to enjoy spending time with. She talks about nothing worthwhile, and she gossips. She directs her life towards the possession of more grandiose things than those around her, and makes us all think that we should care.

She just doesn't seem to understand that I don't care about the colour of her car, or the brand of her shirt, or how much (or little) she paid for it. That stuff matters not.

But I do care about her wedding. This is the wedding that I was going to have a boyfriend for.

That is part one of the web this venomous friend of mine has constructed.

Monday, July 26, 2010

And so am I.

He is going back to Southern Ontario tomorrow morning. I may not see him again – ever.

My perfectly formed soon-to-be hairy man will leave me tomorrow before I have an opportunity to claim him just by telling him that I want to be his and I want him to be mine – and I want to be completely equal with him in relationship.

Tonight I took him out on a “date”. Neither of us looked at it as such, but my heart was racing as we approached my car and we drove away in a way that I can only imagine a heart races on a first date. On the drive out, I kept on catching the glint of the moonlight in his eyes, and saw a broken purity that demanded discovery.

I was going to go out to one of the trail heads to practice my Astronomical stuff. Looking through the telescope – lining it up to distant stars, and remembering the ancient myths of the night sky.

It was going to be perfect.

And then tonight had to be a full moon. Which meant that the night sky was almost as bright as that of the day – allowing me to see very few constellations, and even fewer stars. Ursa Major, as exciting as it is, is not really that exciting when there are so many more incredible sights to be seen in the stars.

This forced us to talk. Which brought all the mystery of this man to light.

He self-deprecates in a way that I am familiar with, and I realized how truly unattractive it is for somebody not to love themselves. In a sad way he reminded me of me – he said things about how he makes relationships that I could only relate to. He was feeling the need to settle down just to calm down his life – but he loved the randomness of his current life structure – he just doesn’t want to move again, and lose his friends again. That moon glint in his eye on the ride up was incredibly telling.

That being said, he was 19 – and entirely unattractive in a way that only 19 year olds who are at a dramatic crossroads can be. He feigned wisdom in a way that I hope I never did at his age – showing an understanding of the nuanced reality of the world, but never quite being able to articulate his limited understanding. For a young man who seems to dance through life in a nearly bohemian manner, his lack of poetry was disappointing.

By the end of our 90 minute visit, I may have been exhausted of him. I couldn’t even listen to him give me “advice” on whether or not I should stay in Val Marie doing the best job in the world for a couple more months.

And yet tonight it took every ounce of strength that I had left in my exhausted little body to not turn around from walking down the hallway to my room, wrap him in my arms, tell his injured soul that everything was going to be ok just so that I could force myself through his barrier of pride and shame, and invite him to my room to cuddle, and talk about nothing for a few hours. I would listen to him give me advice, but actually be lost in his eyes, nodding when he stopped speaking, and nestling into his chest.

On the way back from the Astronomy site, we were talking about our senses. He said he is definitely a sight person. I admitted I was a touch person - I love the experience of touch. He said that my wife would appreciate that.

He is straight.

And so am I. In Val-Marie.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Canada's second class world.

Canada seems to imagine that the people who live outside of it's borders are less valuable than those who live within it. A little twisted.

Canada has had white-asbestos banned from being an ingredient in the construction of homes, offices, factories (indeed, anything being built at all) for nearly a whole generation. This is because of the link between extraction and direct contact with the chemical and the acquisition of rare cancers.

But, somehow the numerous asbestos mines that dot Canada's Eastern regions have remained opening, operating, and frighteningly prosperous.

The customers of Canada's banned, carcinogenic, white-asbestos are those who live in countries who do not have building restrictions including the use of asbestos. So, we are no longer using our own cancer causing agents, but sending them elsewhere, so that we may profit from the product without having to witness its numerous detrimental effects. We also don't have to pay for the treatment.

They are poor. They are black/red/yellow/orange/not-white. They are not Canadians.

They are attempting to build up their infrastructure. It only seems fair that we give them a little bit of disease in the process. (Oh, how I love living very well off)

And I've thought about this (a great deal?). Just as I feel that companies should be forced to pay for the environmental effects of garbage and litter caused by their packaging (and poor stewardship), I think companies that expose people (employees and otherwise) to dangerous chemicals must be prepared to subsidize and pay for the treatment. I am certain this would have numerous detrimental effects that I haven't thought through, but I would like to imagine a world where the retail market makes up for its numerous mistakes.

But, I do need to put more effort into avoiding dreams.


On a side note - and speaking of dreaming...

Alex now walks around my house without a shirt on. He is just in the process of having hairs spurt out of his chest.

I don't think I can count how many times I have caught myself imagining my teeth nibbling his nipples as I traverse the canyon of his chest on my journey from his mouth to his ________ (fill in the blank), using my tongue as a rudder feeling the currents of his body beneath the ship of my body.

He makes comments that could only be understood as double-entendre by a monster as talented in manipulation as I am. I struggle not the blush.

And put every effort that I can into not blurting out my dastardly, exploratory intentions for his body.

Thank god he has irritable bowel syndrome. Aside from being unattractive, I'd hate to pleasure him so much that he would lose control...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Earlier this week I watched a "gay interest" film entitled Boy Culture. Earlier this summer I read a novel entitled A Single Man. Both were interesting, and both featured protagonists whose mind was often momentarily infiltrated by the audience. Telltale moments of passion and temptation, like...

"I didn't know whether to turn on all the water faucets in the apartment or jump in the shower with him."


"I watched him walking around the room, admiring my furnishings in his toga-like towel, imagining what the full body of the glimpsed glory of man hidden beneath truly could be."

And I've realized that this is what my internal communication has become. These momentary temptations, where I allow myself to communicate everything I wish I could see just a little clearer - just a little longer - just a little more. When you produce these incredible fantasies of being collected into the arms of hercules, kissed as though all of the power of creation were being forced into your mouth, and then ______________(fill in the blank).

This weekend, my room-mates friends from Southern Ontario have arrived. They are energetic, friendly, charming and charismatic. The best eye candy I've seen in town for quite some time (Brock, when will bailing be done so that you can come back to town). A little bit younger than me, but only by a few years.

One of them is named Alex. He wears loose skinny jeans, like a hipster. He's friendly, relatively knowledgeable. Seems to emanate with that false "realness" that everybody over 22 knows is actually just a man that enjoys beer more frequently than he should and has, at his young age, already managed to develop some telltale physical signs of alcohol induced aging. Also, my guess would be he smokes weed. He probably has a tattoo (which I wouldn't mind finding).

And, judging by his ability to grow facial hair, he surely has body hair (which means that exploring would be possible).

He is a good body shape. Nice eyes. Nice smile - sexy smile. An ass that fits into the pockets of his jeans just perfectly - a little round, but not obscenely large. A nice feature to grab.

Thank goodness for irritable bowel syndrome.

He told me today that he was afflicted by this - and that he could tell me some pretty ridiculous shitting stories.

This, my friends, is what we call "realness".

Thursday, July 22, 2010

danger, danger will robinson!

I can feel it happening again. I am becoming slightly more daring in my interactions with people in Val Marie.

I am aroused.
This is dangerous.

How much longer do I allow myself to care?

The best part of my job isn’t exactly the men that I work with, but I won’t deny that there are a few choice specimens of the human species who work in my office and by some product of chance were born with dicks and the ability to grow facial hair. One who works in a section of the park 150 kilometers away came to the office today.

Looking for my manager.

He has blue eyes, and a masculinity that refuses to shave his face of the six-day 5 o’clock shadow. He is tall, but not so tall that it distracts. Slender, lean, perhaps a bit muscular but not so much that it is his most defining feature. You can tell by the way that clothing hangs off of his body that he likes a good beer every now and then – there is a hint of a bit of fat.

“Do you know where Kathy is?”

- Yeah, she’s in a meeting in Kathryn’s office. Let me go grad her for you.”

That is what I did – off into the office room to collect my manager for this man that I thoroughly enjoy stealing glances at. When I came back out, Kathy close behind, my eye candy that is so rarely in my west block environment was bending over reading the titles of books in our Prairie Revegetation section of the office library.

He is a biologist – plants specifically. This is the kind of thing he likes to study. Plant revegetation is his primary role over in the east block, aside from general maintenance.

His body bends just perfectly to suggest that beneath his mud-encrusted denim lies a cute, hairy, potentially beautiful ass.

His name is Brynn. Who wouldn’t want that name to roll off their tongue for the rest of their life? – My husband’s name is Brynn.

Holy fuck I need to masturbate. Silently. So that nobody has any inkling that I am gay.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I wonder if he realizes that every time I look up at him and earnestly ask what it is that I should do with my life, I am really asking if he would be willing to leave his wife and travel the world with me, exploring the cultures and vistas of our sprawling planet just as I would like to explore the intricacies of his skin hair body teeth lips fingers penis tongue anus.

Nobody would have to know except for him, the walls - the mattress. I won't mention it ever. I'll just shine forever like a constellation slowly rotating around the planet telling everybody about the events that have happened thousands of years away and the events that will happen and that should and shouldn't happen, and people will try and understand them just as they do the stars - construct false stories and myths that only hint at the greatness of the truth. I'll be happy.

Instead though I'll ask him for help.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

and all his glory...

I can’t believe I was so foolish.

You’d think that I would’ve known better than to think that my parents would just have this figured out. They don’t have the slightest idea of the world that I live in everyday, and the constant reminders that are sent my way to continue to push me outside.

And how desperately I need them to stand up to that misogynistic, only slightly-veiled homophobic brother of mine.

His behaviour is insulting and threatening.

And my parents tell me that he will change his behaviour if I tell him that I find it insulting, or degrading, or hurtful. If I tell him I am gay, then he will know not to behave in the manner that he does around me.

My question is whether or not his behaviour around me matters that much – and why knowing I am gay should change his behaviour in any considerable way. Shouldn’t he being expected to have the integrity to act like a respectful person regardless?

My brother will only find out I am gay when my wedding approaches. And that is if I send him an invitation.

Until then, he will continue to make comments like this:

“The only reason a guy hangs out with that many women is to chase tail.”

And after my wedding, he will no longer make comments like that around me.

Which, really, brings to question whether or not telling him is worth it. Is it my job to change people, even those who are close to me, or should I just expect that people should get the sensitivity of oppression without being told?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Goodbye my Friend.

This is one of those moments in life that I hate. An event I wish didn't happen.

I have just seen the back cover of another fantastic book, set it down, and can expect to not pick it up again for quite some time.

And now I have to make an investment into another book and hope against hope that it is at least as good. Maybe even halfway transformative.

Thank you Mr. McCarthy and your story about Old Men.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Damn you Val Marie

I’ve got to stop allowing myself to do this.

I can’t keep on crawling into my cold bed at night, opening up my computer, clicking Quicktime and watching Glee. My psyche can’t handle it.

The Glee magic has affected me – infected me.

It hits me every night, and makes me feel so much more normal. Proud. Ready to conquer the world from the pedestal of my double mattress. Declaring myself for the gobbling hordes of 135 Val Marian residents and getting through by my own constitution and the bumping vitality of show tunes. Damn you Val Marie (I will preach from above the Whitemud Grocery Store) - Damn you and all that I have allowed you to do to me. I am gay.

And then I stay awake. For hours. Thinking of all the obstacles that are between me and there.

I feel like darkness. For hours.

And then I wake up, step out of the kingdom of my room into a hallway teeming with activity that comes with communal living. I realize I am even more alone out here than I am in my cave and away from my pedestal. I try to turn on a light for work - show some energy (and I'm well trained at faking this energy) - but day by day I lose more spirit.

I feel like darkness. For hours.

Remembering that Glee tells me to be myself.

And remembering that I will never get to be anything but straight in Val Marie.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Music and Love

I watched him lean over the pool table.

I think my tongue was licking the backside of my teeth in anticipation of that glimmer of lower back that would occasionally show as his shirt gently lifted above his pant.

Disappointment. He didn't need to lean over all that far for this shot.

"I listen to Metal."

Oh. You must be the only one in town. - He has decent muscles on his forearms. Through his shirt his biceps are just barely noticeable; he doesn't have man boobs. Hell, could it be that this man has pectorals? This man is in good shape.

His name is Peter.

"Pretty much."

I don't imagine there are many metal shows in town that you make it out to. - My turn. I miss my shot. I'm really not good at this game, but its pretty much the only time you get to watch straight men bend over. See their asses fill the fullness of their pant.

I'm getting good at playing the straight game again these days. I can even play pool with some degree of ability. Wait a minute - did that thought just come to my mind? What have I allowed my world to turn me into; somebody who only keeps myself in a box? Damnit, I'm a mess...

"Nope. But I lived a couple of years in Edmonton. That was a good place." - He sipped his rum and coke. Me, my beer. He shot. Missed - told me something about metal music. Apparently he chooses not to listen to heavy metal music, something about how its not good enough - impossible to hear the lyrics, bad intentions focused on making lots of noise rather than making music. He sounds very particular.

Finger Eleven came on the radio.

"I've seen these guys live. They are really good." Oh, really? In this moment I decided he knew nothing about metal music. Maybe in this country-dominated town this is metal music, but this isn't metal music. He is very fortunate that he looks good - I judge harshly on music.

I'm very fortunate that I can keep my gaze quite well guarded. I pass him the cue. I think it is his turn again. We talk about how Canada Day tired both of us out.

He wears those jeans that you don't see out here very often. They aren't Wranglers. More like a baggy jean - but not so baggy to fall below the waste-line. There is a calculated utility to these jeans - he can wear them to work comfortably, without feeling the pressure to show off the full beauty of his leg as a rancher. I wonder what he does.

Does this man have some image problem? Wearing jeans like that - a t-shirt. He just doesn't quite fit in here. He even trims his beard. He leans over the pool table. Xbox underwear. I don't see much of a farmer's tan.

I can't allow myself to judge him by his undergarment fashion. Its frugal clothing - bought at WalMart. A money saver - no reason to be concerned with spending when buying work clothes for Val Marie. Who is going to see you other than the locals?

The way these pants fall of his body makes it seem like he has a really big dick. Not fair, and a total fib. I've seen pants like this before. I could wear my pants like that. Stop.

I turn to my team partner and we start talking about tattoo plans. I've got some ideas. She does too. Somebody probably thinks we're flirting. She probably thinks we're flirting - she is guarded. She has a boyfriend. I'm pretty damn sure I'm not flirting.

I'm starting to hope that she doesn't think I'm flirting, but that others in the bar do. There is a lot of pressure to be in a relationship in this town, even as a summer student. A lot of pressure to be straight in this town too. I'm not going to do either, but I'm very good at putting on a poker face. Years of training that has started to crumble back; a physical and mental landslide that makes every movement ache.

The conversation in the bar has shifted. I overhear something.

"Oh yeah! Brock has never had a girlfriend!"

My ears perk up. Stop. Don't imagine this. Stop.

This man's name is Peter. No doubt, he is a man. And, despite his pants, his gait is more attractive than that of a rancher who has had his legs spread around the shoulders of a horse for most of his life.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cows and their Wranglers.

He walked slowly, with that classic cowboy strut that you find so mesmerizing and masculine but is just awkward enough that you are certain it is the gait that develops from spending 20 years riding a horse and slowly twisting and turning the shape of your hip bones so that they can get a more secure grip on the quadruped’s back. It is just barely unattractive.

His shirt was striped. Opposing forces of deep purple and an ocean-spray of blue. A dress shirt that was sorely being misused as a work shirt. He rarely wears these shirts when he isn’t working – I could tell he was just coming into town quickly. In fact I’ve only ever seen him in t-shirts – the bane of the male body; they never display everything that is going on just quite as well as a dress shirt does.

The T-shirt is like the speaker at a protest that tells all the facts and nothing more. The Dress Shirt tells all the facts, makes you understand why their important, has a little bit of charm and a heavy dosage of sex, and makes you fall in love. (On a side note, I really should start wearing dress shirts more often).

His brow was still sweating. It’s been really hot outside for a couple of days.

The other nice thing about dress shirts is that they can be altered. Sometimes they can worn with a tie. Other times they can have the first button undone. Sometimes the second, or the third.

In this case, the third.

I saw hair on the chest of a man whom I only allowed myself to think of as a post-pubescent but hairless child. I judged him by his level of maturity – a poor standard as he is a stellar man, but the standard I have decided to use. Besides, he couldn’t grow facial hair if he really tried – how am I to imagine that he has hair on his chest? (How am I supposed to stop imagining where else he might have hair and the different mazes and shapes that the collected mass of each strand forms?)

He leaned in. I could feel my groin tingling with sensation. Stop.

“Hey. Is Carson in here?”

No, I haven’t seen him.

“Oh, that’s the truck that he usually drives out there.”

Oh, which one is that? – He pointed.

His name is Brock.

As he walked away his slightly deformed gait was all the more attractive – and yet, not free of criticism. (Besides, he could much more easily wrap his legs around me than he could around an 800 pound stallion.)

I need to find a man to dance with.

The Rural Municipality of Prison and other Townships

So Val Marie has put me in a position that I would wish upon nobody.

I love this town - I love my job. I love that every evening I get to see an incredible sunset, or I can go for a bike ride through a well-protected and advancing National Park. I can go for a hike through the park and discover new wildflowers, new terrain, and new wildlife. When you work for a park with over 15 endangered animal species and another 30 endangered plants, you always, always get the sense that you may just find something that has been seen for a very long time.

I've found cairns, arrowheads, dinosaur bones - things that have not been known of for many thousands or millions of years. This is just part of my job. A fantastical day at the office.

And yet...

I've not been able to sleep for the past couple of nights though. And there is no good reason to be offered except for an intense fear that has been a whispering memory for the past year but that choked the vitality out of my life in the twenty odd years that existed before that.

I am afraid of being myself in Val Marie. This stairway to heaven is creaking a bit too much - I'm uneasy here. I'm hiding in masks that I didn't know I had anymore.

The casual bigotry, homophobia, hatred that suffocates me is expressed in that most-vile of all weapons - humour. I am not the only victim; I should be thankful that I am not Metis or Indian. But it is very casual - just as I remember it being in high school.

De facto.

As though nothing else has ever existed, and nothing else has any reason to exist.

The place in which I find myself is a prison of open prairie. Its as though I was released from my fear, my hatred of the world, my refusal to be myself for a short period and then reminded of the reality of my environment. I've pushed myself back into my cell. Closed the door. Locked it - hidden the key in Regina.

I knew this was going to happen. I just had no idea it was going to hurt this much. I don't even remember what its like to talk about men. The vocabulary is lost.

Last night I texted a friend of mine in Halifax, asking her to remind me that it was ok to be gay. It surprised me that I was silently crying in my bed - courteous and selfish enough to not want to wake my ever-present roommates.

I am so alone.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Where the Iron Curtain Persists.

A European Union Human Rights Court that has been deliberating a case presented by a gay Austrian couple about the right to marriage being a fundamental right has presented its findings. And it isn't exactly looking all that good for European people who have a strange, though completely natural, attraction to people of the same sex.

Or, for simplicity's sake, people like myself.

The court decided that the right to marry is not a fundamental human right, and as a result, the refusal (I prefer the term failure, personally) to grant the right of marriage to same-sex couples is not recognized by the court as representative of a breach of equality rights legislation.

I'm sure that makes sense to somebody, somewhere. Apparently that somewhere being in Europe.

My immediate response to this is to consider how this is going to affect my own personal life. I do not hide my interest in living in Europe, including in those nations that refuse to grant same-sex unions any sort of official recognition. There is fascinating history there that should be read.

But instead I am going to look into how this may affect gay couples in Europe. In many parts of Europe (I believe six countries) same-sex couples can get married. In many other parts they can be granted a civil union recognized (seven other countries). Eleven member countries in the European Union refuse to offer any sort of recognition to them. For some reason, the same love is denied the same rights.

Europe is a fascinating continent though. There are parts of Europe that have been leaders in granting same-sex couples state recognition and state benefits. Other parts are still stuck in the past - caught in an era of pre-Stonewall Riot intensity in fighting the "maniacal spread of homosexuality" amongst the population.

This is most true in those nations that were once satellite states of the Soviet regime. Under the regime of most of the Soviet states (and the socialist in me is pained by this unfortunate reality), homosexuality was illegal. It never received the recognition of state officials, it was never given the chance for tolerance in society because people refused to come out of the closet - they refused to out themselves, to be shipped off, and to never be seen or heard from again.

It is no longer illegal to be homosexual in any of the European states. But, judging by the social reality, it might as well be.

I can recall the moment when I was granted the right to marry. As I've mentioned before, I walked around school with a silent and hidden grin inside - I was happy. Joyful even. For the first moment in my life, I saw the hint that I could have a future - there was hope. There was the acknowledgment that I could be myself, regardless of the hatred that I sensed in my environment - and that I could be myself for the rest of my life. Disregard the fact that I stayed in the closet for another 6 years. I was joyful for one day.

I must also note that society has responded to the granting of same-sex couples the right to marry very, very positively. There has been a shift - a tremor in the ground that has altered the foundation of society. Suddenly, after getting used to it a bit, after attending a ceremony or two celebrating the love shared between two men or two women, society accepts gay marriage - accepts homosexuality. Not totally. Maybe accept is even the wrong term - it is a helluva lot closer to tolerance. But it has been felt by myself and everybody else.

But the state took a step, with less than 50% of popular support, on my behalf - it took an enormous risk, and it changed Canada as a result. Thank God.

Perhaps Europe, and the European Union Human Rights Court would like to take a note about this. The fact is that consensus is not going to take place in my life - but by forcing society to change for the better of the minority, Canadians have learned to accept the gay community just that much more. I refuse to accept that Europe, even though the fight is harder, would be different.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Life's a Dance.

I wonder if they can feel it. That moment of hesitation just before you say yes. Can they sense the insincerity of the touch, the eyes - the words? Can they smell it in the air.

Is there something even more primitive than this that triggers the question?

Last night I went out for a night on the town. Not much of one, because Val Marie is a town of 100 people and because I worked this morning at 8 am and had to be ready to interact with really enthusiastic flower-lovers as we hiked through the park and I showed them the dozens of plants that are currently in bloom. But it was still a night on the town.

I drank two Coca- Colas. Which is a lot for me - and which is far better than two Pilsner - which is repeatedly the worst beer available in Saskatchewan. It really is an unfortunate drink - horse urine. Even worse when you watch people pay to consume it.

Anyways, there was a concert in Val Marie last night. An Irish Soul Singer named Stephen McGuire. It was relatively enjoyable - and there were certainly moments that hinted at a talent far greater than what he exhibited last night. He convinced me that owning a loop pedal is a good thing, and that minimalism can be infectious.

Last night involved dancing. Particularly the two step.

So I danced. The two step. With the only partner I have ever known - a woman. It was quite funny how it is that we danced; long story short, she was forced to ask me by means of humour and embarassment.

I had fun. We sang a long to My Girl by The Temptations together.

I enjoyed the irony.

And looked forward to the day when I would be two-stepping with a man instead.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Just add water.

Last night I went out fishing at the Val Marie Municipal Reservoir. Despite not catching anything than the occasional boulder with my hook, I had a blast. For four hours. Good fun with good people.

Tonight I went swimming at the same place – the Val Marie Municipal Reservoir. It was quite hot today, so a small group of young adults wanted to head down and cool off.

Now – anybody familiar with swimming at beaches (or in general) is familiar with the general routine. People meet, promenade to the beach, and then miraculously agree to take off almost all of their clothing in front of everybody else.

That happened tonight, and I happened to discover a God in Val Marie. His name is Jeff. His is a name that will likely be whispered in my dreams. The first thing in Val Marie that is in my age group and is worth looking at, and who, despite his country upbringing, is one helluva nice guy.

As one of the millions of people in the world inflicted with a challenge known to some as “four-eye-ism”, I had to take off my glasses and become essentially blind to objects more than 3 inches from my face. I still played the dangerous game of Frisbee in the lake with my friends – often taking peeks at this man and imagining just how the muscles on his body were twisted and warping as he maneuvered not-so-gracefully in the rock-laden shallow water.

After twenty three years of training, I have gotten to be quite adept not only at peeking at things that I likely shouldn’t be peeking at (in my sexual profession, you’ve got to take the chances you get), and even better at filling in the blurriness of my vision with incredible details.

Jeff was Adonis. The great Statue of David, prancing around with his shirt off only feet from me. Stunning.

My room-mate who came with me said that one of the girls who joined us (there was an even split of three and three), Danae, was an attractive woman. “Man, I just find Danae so hot!” I smiled and laughed. Honestly, I couldn’t deny it – Danae really is quite hot. I was wanting to say the same thing about Jeff.

But I’ll never get to be anything but straight in Val Marie. How boring.

He’s blonde. Has an incredible smile – has just enough attitude to be called personality.

And his hair is curly.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I promised myself I wouldn't think of you today. That I wouldn't be reminded of the way your pants wrap around your legs with the perfection of a painting; how your arms fill your sleeves. Your smile shines. I wasn't going to let myself remember your name. Or the way that the left edge of your upper lip curls into your mouth whenever you smile or say words from another language. How your nostrils flare when you laugh. You are a masterpiece.

I wasn't going to remember how you audibly grunt, lifting tool boxes into the truck's carriage - preparing to go and fix the fence.

I avoid making eye contact with you, even in these moments when all I have of your existence is the memory of your eyes. They are blue, or maybe a little green. They shine with a vitality that is completely enrapturing. I would hate to reveal my temptation that is aroused by your mere presence - I know people read my eyes really well.

I'd like you to know how to read my eyes.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

There is no experience quite as powerful as a Saskatchewan storm cloud unleashing all its voracious fury on your single head – alarming your nerves, alerting your sensations, triggering your fear and wonder. This is the sound of rain. This is the feeling of water. This is the power of God.

The darkness of my Val Marie home in the night, blanketed by the sound of water splashing against the water-logged bentonite clay outside my window. The splashes of light from outside and the pounding symphony of creation as it bangs against the door and the grassland hills in the distance. A crackle. A boom. Pitter patter. Its mourns for an Adagio and then, in an instant, accelerando.

What is the tempo marking of nature?

Is this a cry? Or a celebration?

How can I sleep with this noise? The sensation of energy in the air? Life is happening now. How do I sleep? This is the meeting of the skeleton of nature - the sky, the earth, the clouds in between. It is my delightful purgatory to be stuck here in Val Marie, happening now. How do I sleep?

Encountering God is worth it in Saskatchewan.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


You know, I’m learning stuff about myself in Val Marie that I didn’t expect to learn. First of all, the moment you hear that rattle somewhere around you and you haven’t got the slightest idea where that noise is coming from in the thick green net of grass that has caught you, there is an undeniable fear in your gut. You are certain that you will die. Until you see the perpetrator. That snake. The same one that has been draining the blood from your face whenever you wake up in the middle of the night and think that something is on your bedroom floor. That is something that I have learned.

Rattlesnakes are terrifying.

Even moreso when you have a group of people trusting you to be the expert on how to handle encounters with them. Am I really supposed to know? Stand still. Let it make the first move – it will always be in the opposite direction.

Make sure that you check your floors after you wake up. Even if you live two stories off the ground. Early in the morning or in the middle of the night, you are certain that those venomous monsters have wings and are looking for ways to cause your muscular tissue to collapse by merely sinking their teeth beyond the thin layers of protective flesh and injecting their venom into my tissue.

It is their single goal in life. I am their prey.

I have been bitten a couple of times this week by snakes. The teeth have not thus far sunk in, and I have not made noise revealing my pain yet, but I can feel the venom spreading. Soon it will reach my heart, and I will stop functioning.

I don’t know how it is that I have changed. There were times when I could let these things wash over me. When I identified and yet had no ounce of pride in who I was made to be and who I look forward to becoming.

I knew that it would be hard to be in Val Marie for the summer – that my growing desire to be a part of a relationship would feel even more stifled here than it would be in Regina. That is undeniable. And frustrating. But I fully underestimated how painful it is to be cursed, insulted, and broken by words thrown as spears by people who do not know that their victim is nearby.

The residents of Val Marie, particularly some of the young men, have adopted the attraction between men as the grandest of all insults. Everything that sucks is gay. The term cocksucker is used to describe those men who are not well liked. Things that are disagreeable are gay. For example, tonight at the village bar the Stanley Cup final was being played. After the Chicago win, one of the girlfriends of a Chicago player came from the stands, jumped onto her boyfriend and wrapped her legs around him while he circled the rink on his skates. This is gay. Why? Because it is a public display of affection.

As I mentioned above, I was once able to oversee these insults – being gay was just a part of me that I could overcome, so the insults they were tossing out inflicted very little pain. Nothing I couldn’t surmount. It was just a part of my society, I accepted it. I looked forward to having a wife, with children that were birthed from her loins and the product of a night of passionate sex, and being totally in love with my life. Happy.

Tonight I want to cry.

I feel alone. So thoroughly alone.

Because I am still proud of who I am. Not just what I am, but who I am.

I just have nobody to tell that to. In Val Marie, Saskatchewan. The coolest place on earth.

Prairie Rattlesnake, Crotalus viridis viridis. My enemy.

Residents of Val Marie, Homo sapiens. My neighbour.

I have been bitten a couple of times this week by snakes. The teeth have not thus far sunk in, and I have not made noise revealing my pain yet, but I can feel the venom spreading. Soon it will reach my heart, and I will stop functioning.

It is their single goal in life. I am their prey.

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"

He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Home. Again.

So today was my first day off work in Val Marie, Saskatchewan. In this bustling town of 110 people, where every business except for my office closes on a Sunday, what is one to do for entertainment to last 24 hours?

Well, you'd be surprised how much is available. I've already found that two of my seven nights of freedom during the week are going to be routinely abducted by a movie being shown at the local community hall (this past Friday it was Clash of the Titans - which almost got me posting about Sam Worthington and how much I wish he would do just one scene without his shirt on), and another night devoted to an ongoing indoor soccer tournament between some of the local researchers (biologists and archaeologists).

Today though, I read. A lot. Finished off Nineteen Eighty-Four and am now moving on to A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood. When I wasn't reading, I walked around town and found a church with a piano that is open 24 hours a day. I quickly gathered my music from my home and practiced. For more than an hour and a half - it was so nice to return to an activity I was expecting to abandon for months. I also, almost, went to my first ever cow-branding - only missing my ride because of poor communication. When all that ended, I made myself a salad, packed it into some tupperware, walked to a local radio tower and climbed up to a platform, and watched the sun set. Sounds pretty much idyllic. If I ever figure out how to be gay in this town, I may just fall in love with it out here.

Interestingly enough, I was asked earlier today if I was gay. I think it was a passing question - perhaps even an attempt at a joke. I denied that I was - it wasn't exactly a safe sort of scenario. But this is the second or third time that I have done this since I have been 'out', and each time it makes me more and more retrospective about whether or not I am comfortable with who I am. And each time I ask this question, I get shoved between a rock (the reality that I may not be in a safe place) and a hard place (the principle that I should be proud of myself regardless of who and where I am).

But, once again I am spending too much time talking about myself when the point of this post is to develop the topic of Malawi and Africa and their ideals about homosexuality, because I have found an interesting article on BBC Newsworld that considers how Africans - at least those who have been informed - have perceived Malawi's defence of traditional sexual identities.

What I have found by doing some digging is an interesting story – a debate between the rich and poor, with Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza being used as pawns in the middle of an international storming of the bridgades. And many Africans being none-too-pleased with it.

You see, many people from countries that donate enormous amounts of aid to Malawi and other African countries that have laws against homosexuality have recently been thrown over the edge of tolerance for intolerable legal policy; the recent development of legislative documents in Uganda and the arrests of these two men have tossed them into the deep seas of international scrutiny. As such, many internationals (for lack of a better short-form term) have said that their governments should pull aid from countries that do not fully recognize the individual rights that many states in the West use as the compass for legislation. One person, writing under the name modernJan, wrote:

"Should we leave Africa to handle homosexuality at its own pace and in whichever way it sees fit?" Imagine it's the late 1930's and someone asks the question: "should we leave Nazi Germany to handle Jewry at its own pace and in whichever way it sees fit?" My answer: if Africa starts killing off homosexuals than the West should kill off the flow of aid money. How could anyone condone that gay people in the West pay taxes that are partly used to prop up regimes in Africa that persecute gays?

Her idea was mimicked by WilliamLondon1977:

Honestly, these backward little countries and their "we reject Western moral paradigms but we actually rely on their money and ongoing goodwill" - if they don't care about evolving towards globally accepted standards of human rights or how they are seen by more enlightened, developed countries, fine, we get it -- but they shouldn't expect any aid or anything. Try paying for your anti-retrovirals with a crate of chickens and see how far you get.

This is extremely sad indeed.


The response in Africa has been very different. Many Malawians have used this court ruling and their stand against international powers as a means of asserting their sovereignty as a state to create and impose their own laws. On a website called the BNL Times which acts as an online daily for Malawi, many blogs and features have offered their perspective on the events surrounding Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza’s arrests. What one finds is a high degree of pride.

In the view of Vales Machila, it is the right of the government of Malawi to enforce the laws that they have created within the confines of their constitution, even if they conflict with the ideals of the United Nations. This is the very definition of sovereignty; and, so long as the domestic population is in support of laws, they should not be repealed. It was the wheels of justice that turned and caught Chimbalanga and Monjeza underfoot, not hatred.

In order to defend his perspective, he references the Biblical ordinances against homosexuality – a source that is increasingly recognized as insufficient to defend legislation in the West. In Malawi, it would seem, that many of these laws are still valid. Machila also recognizes the role that power relationships between states has played in the development of international scrutiny:

Why should our laws be unimportant to anyone, just because we are a poor nation? This is abhorrent and grossly unfair. Malawi, by its own laws, committed no wrong in arresting and convicting the duo. It is most unfair for little Malawi to be threatened with aid suffocation for simply standing by its rights. Malawi, though tiny on the map, has rights too and her votes count on world forums. Where is respect for sovereignty of nations the world so much preaches about?

What I have found most interesting is that Africa has not always been a continent caught in homophobia. Like many ancient cultures that had limited communication with the Judeo-Christian world, homosexuality was once revered as a means of understanding the sacred. It was not uncommon for chiefs of African tribes to have, amongst their wives, boys and men with whom they would perform sexual acts. African homophobia is a product of colonialism – the laws upon which the modern African constitutions are based are European in origin. So, in a twisted way, the defense of Malawian laws against homosexuality is really a defense of the European influence in Malawi rather than a push against international pressures. What is being seen here is a complete acceptance of the immense changes that European colonization inflicted on the regions they took over, not a historically accurate reclamation of Africa – just a imagined sense of what Africa represents.

Daniel Nyirenda writes perhaps a more convincing tune, and also recognizes that steps are needed for Malawi to decrease their dependency on foreign aid so that they can stand up for their persecution of homosexuals in the future. He writes the following:

Some of the donors, in their argument, say Tiwonge Chimbalanga, a bride, and Steven Monjeza, groom, had not wronged anyone by holding an open gay wedding. This thinking is purely Western where they value personal freedoms ahead of societal freedoms. However, this argument is not a one-size-fits-all because here in Africa, we greatly respect societal values. It is against this philosophy that Monjeza and Aunt Tiwo, much as they did not hack anyone with a panga, they committed an offence by butchering the norms, cultures, the psyche and way of living of Malawian society. This line of thinking is one which Western people may find it hard to appreciate.

Once again, fascinating. What we see considered here is a conflict of worldview between the donors of the West and the people that are receiving the donations. According the Nyirenda, the open gay engagement that Chimbalanga and Monjeza used to celebrate their love for each other is an open defiance of the society that they live in and is, as a result, harmed the grander society. Interesting, as this same idea has been very strongly combated in the United States, where marriage equality still does not exist; what is argued south of the border is that gay marriage does not actually affect anybody outside of the couple. Nyirenda is attempting to argue otherwise as a cultural feature – though he provides no evidence, it is quite interesting.

I don’t want to paint all Africans, or all Malawians for that matter, with the same brush. There is a growing support, including some Anglican Clergy, that is pushing for greater levels of equality for homosexuals, starting by refusing to berate them as a people group in church.

Now here is the challenge for me as an individual that tries to have a more globalized perspective on the state of affairs, and attempts to imagine how powerlessness and powerfulness affect the ways in which individuals and states relate to each other. Here we’ve a situation in which the threat of removing International Aid has been applied to an issue that I find of great import – the propagation and development of international human rights.

And my response is this: What an easy way out.

In reality, international pressure very rarely alters how people view minorities. And it isn’t wrong for Vales to recognize that international pressures are likely being placed on Malawi because of their relative insignificance as an international power: similar international attacks are very rarely placed on China, Iran, or Saudi Arabia as they attack homosexual communities with equal and even greater vigor. Each of these nations is an economic and resource-rich powerhouse, capable of placing equal pressure on us as we can on them – and, it would seem, the individual human rights of homosexuals in Saudi Arabia are considerably less important than the West’s need to fill their car’s gas tanks.

And, in reality, Malawi does have the right to create its own legislation decreed by the ideals of Democracy and Self-Governance. Though both of these principles are somewhat fractured in modern international politics, it is not particularly naïve of the people of Malawi to want to maintain this ideal when they feel their rights for self-governance are being infringed upon. It is even a classic case.

In considering both of these realities, the only truly effective change can only come from within the state of Malawi – where the people of Malawi no longer feel as though the laws of the government reflect the realities of their life.

As an internationalist, even as a gay internationalist, I would find that the linking of foreign aid to gay rights is absurd, just as linking foreign aid to the refusal to sponsor abortion rights is absurd (thank you, Stephen Harper). In reality, foreign aid is about helping individuals and states create infrastructure and better the living standards of people around the world – providing necessary goods and services to people that otherwise wouldn’t have them. They are the closest thing that exist to international Equalization Payments and essentially a good thing in producing a more economically equal planet. Much as I like to think that my country has the right to impose their ideals (ideals I find generally much more agreeable than those found around the world) on nations when they are giving away my tax money, I would rather they put efforts into educating the population and providing the roots for the grass of change to grow out of. The more homegrown the legislation the more likely it is to last and change the society that it is meant to regulate. This is a good thing.

And, thanks to the efforts of Monjeza and Chimbalanga, some of these changes are starting to take place. A historic debate is starting in Malawi that may change the course of homosexual issues in Malawi and that region of Africa for the better. It seems that Harvey Milk may be living in Africa these days…

Anyways, I have to go out – Grasslands National Park was just designated as a Dark Sky Preserve and so we’ve got some programs coming up where we will be guiding visitors through constellations. Which means I have to know what they are and know how to operate a telescope. Which also means that I have the coolest job in the world – because the program also includes telling stories from many international cultures about the various constellations. This Wednesday I will be learning about some Cree stories from a Cree story-teller as he presents them to a class. I cannot wait.

Val Marie is the coolest place ever.