Saturday, April 24, 2010

How do you do?

My friends - have you ever been altered by popular culture? Has it struck you in a surprising way, hit something of very personal importance? Brought you to tears?

I have had the pleasure of being transformed by popular culture very rarely, but I feel like tonight may have just made that happen again. Tonight, I watched Avatar again - this time without the impressive three-dimensional figures weaving in and out of the theatre. Instead, I was sitting at home, on the couches that my family has had for more than 30 years, and I was able to focus on the events rather than the action of the story.

I'm curious, how is it that I
can live in a
post-Avatar world?

I live in Canada, a land once inhabited by the First Nations of the Americas. Treaty 4 is the treaty that allowed for the white people of Europe to settle here and slowly accept that the barren plains of the West could become a home to them. And yet, it was already the home to many - thousands of people that had been ravaged, murdered, and relocated.

My Canada and its history is deeply rooted in this atrocity against humanity.

And we are told little about this history and, somehow we pretend that this history exists in the past rather than creates the present and determines our future.

So, my friends, how do I live in a post-Avatar world when the story presented by James Cameron's lense, minus the last 40 minutes, is the story of my nation's creation and expansion. When the land upon which my European-style home and European-style life exists was once the land of another culture that grudgingly offered it to us in negotiations that were not understood. How can I pretend that my European power, my whiteness, is not the reason that I have had numerous opportunities in my life? That my family has a considerable amount of money? That we never have to worry about putting food on my plates?

Why is it that I have power in my society? Why is it that I have the power the choose whether or not I have power?

How does the past inform my present action?

These are questions that bring me a great deal of shame, because they force me to realize that the life I lead is less-than honourable or ideal. I am not good at articulating this sensation at all...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The girl with dark hair was coming towards them across the field. With what seemed a single movement she tore off her clothes and flung them disdainfully aside. Her body was white and smooth, but it aroused no desire in him, indeed her barely looked at it. What overwhelmed him in that instant was admiration for the gesture with which she had thrown her clothes aside. With its grace and carelessness it seemed to annihilate a whole culture, a whole system of thought, as though Big Brother and the Party and the Thought Police could all be swept into nothingness by a single splendid movement of the arm. That too was a gesture belonging to the ancient time.

I'm right now reading the novel 1984 by George Orwell. This is probably a bad thing because I start writing finals tomorrow and I have found the story to be absolutely fascinating. The world that Orwell has created seems to be real, with a complete and compelling image of what life in an oppressive state is actually like. It is fascinating.

The story is often noted as a mirror to the oppressive state created by Stalin in Soviet Russia that allowed people in the West to more fully appreciate the freedoms that they have. I can't deny this assertion; I've not researched at all into Orwell's goals with the book at all. Based on what I have been learning about Russia under Stalin over the past 6 months though, I would struggle to argue with Orwell's all-encompassing depiction.

And yet, I come here offering a slightly different perspective.

On Friday night I went to the local gay club. Had a great time dancing with a lot of great people. Talking to some good people. Meeting a few people. And I saw things - incredible things. Like two people of the same gender dancing on the dance floor. Kissing with incredible passion - an intimacy that I would find only appropriate in privacy and that is startling in public. And, in the same way that Winston is not attracted to these memories because of their inherent sexuality, these memories from Friday night have a near-poetic importance to me.

They are a proud, strong stance in opposition to a society that has put a lot of pressure on them to conform. Every graceful movement on the dance floor is a musical line with the punch of The Time Are A-Changing. It speaks wonders not only for what that one person believes, but also about what they have experienced and are refusing to accept.

In particular I love watching my two friends dance together. Their relationship is not only inspiring because of its mere existence, but because of the intimacy that these two people share. It feels natural to watch them be together - and both of them are so comfortable with their existence that this kind of observation is possible.

There has been more than one scene in the three chapters that I have thus far read where I have thought of my own experience as a closeted gay person and my experience in releasing myself from the chains of shame. With the grace and carelessness of this relationship, it seems to annihilate a whole culture, a whole system of thought, as though heterosexism and the fundamentalists and the trials of history could all be swept into nothingness by a single splendid moment of love.

With my next post I'm going to prove that I am more than gay. Believe me.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


What does it mean to have Gay Pride?

Over the past couple of days, many of my friends who blog have been writing responses to this question in light of the recent postings for Straight Pride by the Tea Party (that right-winged collection of tax and health-care opposing individuals in the states).

Months ago, as one of my first blog entries, I wrote about an interview with Hugh Jackman that I had read, in which he stated that sexuality is such a small part of our being, and that to be restricted to one's sexuality as the single defining aspect of one's being is quite unfortunate.

And I agreed with him back then. And I agree with him now. I am so much more than gay, in the same way that many of my friends are so much more than straight. The fact that many of my straight friends have had to fight to discover their identity just as I have (though, I would argue whether or not they have had to fight to preserve it in the same way that many homosexuals have) points to this fact. Our sexuality is nothing.

And yet... it is everything.

I have one friend, to whom I came out months ago, who said that I needed to stop using the term gay as the one that best defines myself. I never quite understood this response, but it remains his concern. I haven't any idea where this criticism is coming from, but it is rather hurtful. I remain an admittedly fragile person while telling people that I am gay - I have not yet adopted the idea that people are going to have to just live with it (even though I have to live with the fact that so many people are straight).

And so this question of Gay Pride is an important one for me to consider. Daily. As I try and discern how it is that I now exist, as an out-gay man, in a society that doesn't understand me but is willing to mostly tolerate me. As long as I'm not holding hands in public, or kissing my boyfriend in a playground while surrounded by children.

Do I shout my sexuality from the hilltops? Be militant about it? Do I turn every issue into an issue of gender? Do I push people to come out themselves, just so that the gay cause can advance?

I hope not.

My Gay Pride is about me finally accepting everything about myself and being willing to share it with the world that I live in. And learning that the response that I get is of infinitely less importance than my willingness to experience love in a way that I have never felt it before.

I read this on a blog recently. It was a comment left behind.

"Being gay is the most important feature of my life for two reasons. Two very important reasons. It is how I love. And it is who I love.

When I meet that guy that I am going to fight for and fight with, I will be in the most defining relationship of my life. Being gay, and being attracted to and falling in love with him, is the most defining characteristic in your life. That is why we come out. That is why we tell people who we love."

Fundamentally, I am gay. I am so much more than gay, but gay nonetheless. It determines who I love, and how I am transformed by that love. A lot of me is not dependent on me being gay, but a lot of me is.