Little Kiwi and Bauhaus

Little Kiwi and Bauhaus
A Boy and His Dog

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Saying Goodbye to a Hero

Jack Layton, leader of Canada's New Democratic Party (NDP), passed away a few weeks ago. He was a man I had admired for many years, and his death struck a chord with more Canadians than I think even he would have expected. For decades Canadian elections were a back and forth battle between the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals - whichever party didn't win was always the Official Opposition Party. Well, not last time. The PCs won (boo! Hiss!) but for the first time in Canadian history, the NDP was the Official Opposition. The Liberal party suffered an historic defeat and the NDP an historic success. Canada's Green Party even won their first official seat, which thrilled me as I think Green party leader Elizabeth May is an absolute dynamo. An historic win - sending a message to not only the Liberal party to get their shit in order, but a message to NDP supporters and millions of other Canadians - we need to remember we're a country with multiple parties....we don't need to concede and vote for "the lesser of two evils."

I first met Jack Layton while I was out dancing at "Buddies" - my local go-to dance club - on a Saturday night out in Toronto when I was around 20/21 years old. Jack had come by to meet the young queer people of the city. Think about that - a candidate for Prime Minister going to one of the local gay nightspots to dance with the young gays, talk to them, listen to them, share with them, encourage them to vote and take an interest in politics.

Jack Layton always marched in the Pride Parades, too. Often his supporters had adorable signs which read "I'm a Layton Homosexual." Cute, eh?
(The last picture I've posted, though it's hard to read, is a snapshot of a chalk message which reads "Thank you for always marching in the Gay Pride Parades" - that's how important this man was to LGBT People - a leader that didnt' pay lip-service, this was a man who genuinely was proud to stand in solidarity with us, and call us Brother.)
This was a man, who with his wonderful wife Olivia Chow, absolutely championed the Equality of LGBT people. Ethnic minorities. The working class. The elderly. The poor. The needy. The "Us's", as Harvey Milk would say.

Was he perfect? No. Show me a politician that is and I'll show you a unicorn. But Jack was an incredible and compassionate man. Simply put, he made me proud to be a Canadian. He embodied what I love most about this country. He gave me Hope that a politician can be elected for the right reasons.
His absence is still felt. Weeks after his death, chalk messages and memorials and flowers and gifts still adorn the plaza of the Toronto City Hall. We won't see something like this in a long, long time.

It's been a number of weeks, and I still get a bit choked up about this. It was amazing for me, as a young guy still coming to terms with my comfort as a gay man, to find myself dancing and talking and sharing experiences with a legitimate party leader, and candidate for Prime Minister of Canada. It made me feel like I was worth something.
Thanks Jack.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Carrying Self-Hatred into Adulthood

You know, it's one thing when this sort of nonsense is being spouted by the younger gay guys who are still struggling with finding themselves in a homophobic, misogynistic patriarchal world that worships all things White!, Straight!, Male! and (for lack of better word) 'Typical."

I can *understand* it in the younger people. But to be passing off this same bullshit as one is approaching 40? REALLY? That's just sad. He's not talking about specifics, either. It's utterly amorphous concepts. Truly, think about it - he's not saying he doesn't watch "Glee" (heck I don't watch it either, but I don't make a point on Grindr or gay-social sites of saying I DON'TWATCH GLEE!), he's saying that he isn't into guys who LOOK LIKE they watch "Glee". He has an idea of what a person who watches Glee looks like, and acts like, and he's scared of that. One more grown-ass man who's still living in fear of the things his asshole father considered "Gay Stereotypes" - baseless, ignorant stupidity.

So....Oh, boo-hoo hoo. I got called a faggot by a gay man who thinks he can pass for straight (in a tank top and army shorts on a patio? gurrrrl, that's like Official Homo Summer Wear!). Oh no. I'm crushed. The reality is this - this guy calling me a faggot will not make his own life better. In fact it will continue to make his own life worse. He only finds security in being gay by making sure he's not seen as "one of those faggots." Until you as a gay man can stand on your own two feet as a gay man, without downplaying, compartmentalizing, editing, censoring or "distancing" yourself from other gay men, you will never ever EVER find happiness, joy and authenticity in life.

Who was this guy? Quite likely the guy that joined in making fun of the "school faggot" as a child.  I'm sure a lot of us have met those guys later in life.  We remember them, they made fun of gays, laughed at fags, didn't get targeted themselves of course.  And then years later we see them at Woody's one night.  You join the throngs of haters in hating "them" in hopes the haters won't laser in on you.

The good news is that a lot of young gay people are learning this at a younger age. They're getting over these issues before they reach their midtwenties, or even actual adulthood. Alas, there are the throwbacks - the guys that never got over it. Good luck in life to any of you who think you will find happiness as a gay man, entering into gay relationships, when you're still being "proud" of your supposed ability to pass for something that you're not.

And here's the kicker - you're actually not fooling anyone. You may think that people can't 'tell' that you're gay, or don't know - you're wrong. They can tell. They know. And they also all know how insecure you are about it. That's why they never bring it up. Sure, they've askedgeneral questions, expecting you to mention a boyfriend, or some indicator that YES, you are in fact gay. And then they notice how you avoid it. No straight people are vague about their heterosexuality - only insecure homosexuals try to pull off that shit and pretend it isn't glaringly obvious.

S0 YES, they notice. Yes, they know. Yes, they can tell. And so they can also tell that you're a doormat - an insecure boy posing as a man. It's just terribly weak.
Nobody has bluntly asked "are you gay", because:
1. nobody asks that question because in a still-bigoted culture it's considered "rude" and "too personal" to ask such a question.
2. they can tell and they can tell how insecure you are about it and how you avoid it, so they therefore don't bother to bring up something that you clearly have such ridiculous baggage about.

Nearly 40 and still taking pride in (unsuccessfully) passing yourself for something you're not? I can't think of anything less *manly* - that's being an insecure little boy.

This is not about masculinity, nor even perceptions of it.  It's the sheer simple fact that no masculine, confident, secure gay man would say the things this man has said.  This is what self-hatred looks like. And that's not masculine.

*edit. I was recently mailed this new pic of the same dunce. Love the new words. What a big man he is, eh? ;-)

Monday, 12 September 2011

352.6 Miles or 567.454694 kilometers (as we say in Canada)

I didn't do a 9/11 post, like everyone else on planet. I did, however, compete in yesterday's unofficial "Most Deep & Meaningful Facebook Status" competition. Not to make light of the September 11th attacks, nor the 10 year anniversary of them. I, like many others, do have "my 9/11 story" - my memories of that day, my memories of my feelings on that day, and the greater impact of knowing that we do indeed now live in a "Post-9/11" World. Yes. The world changed. As one in the arts, who was in the US that day (Boston, to be precise), who was unable to get home for a number of days, and as one who has lived in NYC and thus knows a great many people who lost a great many people on that day understand that I am not mocking the sentiments the day brings, nor am I pretending it doesn't hurt me either. It does. A lot. The fear, the loss, the emotional pull to those you want to have close to you but for whatever reason cannot. I get it. I feel it. I honour it. In the grand scheme of things I did indeed "learn something" out of the emotional maelstrom (I've always wanted an excuse to use that word!) of conflicting emotion and fear that 9/11 was and in many ways still is. Live for Now. Honour Every Moment. Love instead of Hate. Find grace instead of anger, forgiveness instead of vengeance. Make each moment count because it might be your last.

True sentiments, to be sure, no matter how Hallmark Cardtm they may seem. But that's not all I learned. It wasn't all kumbaya.

Yesterday I just made the choice to stop looking back. Here's what I've learned 10 years later.... I have been given a gift to still be here - ten years later. I honour it by looking forward. I was a 19 year old twink when it happened. Heck, I'd only graduated highschool a few months earlier! And where I was in my life was not a positive place. It was a life of hurt. I'd just Come Out, I was full of self-doubt and insecurity and out of my teenage desperation for validation I was (at the time) dating a guy who in truth certainly didn't like me very much, let alone love me, and yet we insisted on inflicting pain on each other for way too long because, hey, that's what stupid young dudes do. Two incompatible Kids playing Grown-Up.
It's a pattern I repeated in many relationships in my life. All kinds of relationships. Kristin Wiig's character in "Bridesmaids"?? Hi, Me! For real. Seeing that was like "Ouch, me."

But I'm not that anymore. I won't kneel (unless you make it worth my while, *wink wink*) and I won't allow myself to be mistreated by people and (mis)used by them as a tool to repair their own deflating egos or angers.

In all areas of my life I let people use me. My acting teachers pointing it out - I "apologize" with my pelvis when I stand - the pelvic tilt; subconsciously physically submitting to people, letting them control me. Friends who kept me around because they liked having a "sidekick", not an Equal. Work - employers and fellow employees who treated me like shit because I let them. Relationships - boys who liked how I made them feel about themselves; desired, sexy, powerful, in control. Sex. They didn't like me, they liked being a King.
The years spent allowing myself to let other people use me for their own intentions. I have let myself submit to people, and I have allowed them to use me. It was my doing. A codependency I clearly sought out. It's self-punishment.

Not the most expected lesson to be gleaned from the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, yet I can't deny that that's what I was feeling. That's where my mind is today - and that's where I was 10 years ago.
It's been ten years. From 19 to 29. Nineteen - The kid who let himself be used by anyone and everyone in the hopes that one day they might be 'nice' and thus make me feel like I was finally worth something. The kid who would go running back to a 'boyfriend' that not only didn't love me but didn't even actually *like* me, because we clearly were more scared of being alone than of being unhappy with each other. Being terrified of sex at the same time as thinking of little else. (hi, I was a teen). I mistook a case Stockholm Syndrome for Love with the first dude I was ever with (that's sorta canon for all of us, right?) and that was a fun beginning to my association of sex and my sense of self-worth. I was involved in a "secret sexual relationship" with a guy, at age 18. I asked him why we couldn't date publicly and was flatly told "We can't...everyone will laugh at me." That's my first experience being with a guy - being told, straight up, that we can only be together in secret because people will laugh at him if they find out he's seeing me. And I believed it. And I carried that for years, and didn't even realize it. People didn't want me, not the "me" that existed in public. Young enough, insecure enough, and in truth SAD enough to want something to be something it utterly was not, nor really should have been. You hold onto pain and pretend it's love because at least it's something.
I know that you can't love anyone else, and nobody else can truly love you, if you don't love yourself. It's the main thesis of every self-help book ever. There. I just saved you buying one and reading it. That's the message. Most importantly, at this junction in my life, is the acceptance that some cycles will repeat until you put your foot down and demand that they end. Things "keep happening to you" because you let them. People "hurt you again" because you allowed them to. You can't care too much if they don't care as much. Just accept it and step back as well. It's cool. I'm 29 now. Homey gon' play dat.

It's amazing what you learn in a decade. In a post-9/11 world where countries and cultures still wrestle with racism, bigotry, religious fervor and phobias, lies and wars and fights. Truth in art and lies in politics. Forging friendships with people who (finally!) speak the same instinctual language. Friendships, even seemingly "trivial" ones, that are incredibly meaningful, and caring no matter how brief your time together. The person whom you can call up a few times a year on the phone, and rather than any sort of guilty "I know we haven't talked in a while" energy you both just pick up right where you left off. You get it. We have our own lives in different places and spheres of social existence. But we still care. We reach out to each other and respond to each other. Sometimes you reach out to someone, and the response takes a while. Maybe a few weeks. Maybe months. No ill will, just not priority. Sometimes the response never comes. Sometimes we deserve it. Lord knows I've earned it. You try again, and then again. No response. And then you feel like an idiot, an asshole, an annoyance and a failure. Gut kicked, you then realize that you do this, too. It's not "bad", really. Not even negative. At least not always. You just don't care. That's really it. "You'll get back to them." They keep reaching out, and you (for whatever reason) just go "uh...meh....uh.." because you just don't care. And you're allowed not to. And you may get back to them, and you may not. In life there are many types of relationships in which you care about someone more than they care about you. And we all do it, and we've all had it done to us. Friends. Lovers. Partners. Acquaintances even. Energies change, energies shift. Sometimes one feels it, sometimes you both feel it. Most times, though, one person feels it more than the other. So they step back. I've stepped back. I've been stepped away from. We don't all run in sync forever. And that's ok.
Like that Tori Amos lyric, "Girls, you've got to know when it's time to turn the page, or when you're only wet because of all the rain." *Yeah, I was that boy in high school with his Tori Amos obsession. Blame her for all of this.* I apologize to everyone I clung to too hard. I apologize to anyone and everyone I've pushed away. I also forgive everyone who hurt me. Yeah. I forgive you for everything that you will never apologize for, or even admit to. Those that used me know that they used me. And I'm saying that I know that you know. And you won't apologize. I forgive you anyway. I'm just ending a pattern in my life that's only ever hurt me. Its hurts badly, eh? But it's ok, because we all go through it. And we all mend. Standing there, on two feet. Like little Rory Calhouns.
And then, at age 29, a kiss that changed my life and made me know that it's all worth it. That someone can actually like me because they actually like me, not just that they like the way I make them feel about themselves. And it happens with different people, and it's almost magical. The moment your energies just go *ZZZING!* and you snap into each others orbits. I think of my incredible flatmates in London whom I love so dearly. Did you notice I said that sorta British-y? My love for my best friend in the entire world, Ryan, who for ten years has allowed me to grow and stumble (but never so hard that I can't get up) and accepts my weirdness and calls me on my shit because he loves me. And I love him. The people you share your life with whom you connect on an instinctual level. I don't know how else to describe it without sounding like a hippie.
And that kiss. Oh, that kiss.
No matter how far away we are, or whatever crazy turns the universe throws at us, nothing will ever change the truth and purity of it.

So there.

Little Kiwi Loves Bauhaus

Little Kiwi Loves Bauhaus
Good Dog!