A Covid Wedding: Canadian Style

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Like many other couples during this past summer, Keith and Chris had to make a few changes to their wedding plans. First up, whittling down the guest list. At the time, Covid restrictions in British Columbia limited outdoor gatherings to 50 people or less.

The outdoor part was easy, the men having always planned on having their service in Keith’s parents’ backyard.

Scaling down the guest list from a cozy 105 to a painful 45? Not so easy.

Because the invitations had already gone out, Keith and Chris had to make a lot of tough phone calls. Tell people they cared about that they couldn’t come to their wedding.

When Covid concerns had their catering service bowing out, a determined Keith and Chris rolled up their sleeves and prepared all the food for the wedding party.

Amid all the Covid-dictated changes, some things remained the same. The couple didn’t have to go looking for another ringbearer…

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Their Bernese Mountain Dog, Gus had no problem walking down the aisle with them.

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Is God Wrong?

Who’s to say? Don’t we all see God in our own way, or through the filter of our parents’ voices? What God—if he/she exists—thinks, is and always has been, a mystery.

We though, with all our human failings, are often wrong.

Even those of us who try to get it right. Even those of us who believe they hold God’s playbook in their hands, who think they know God’s mind.

Redeemer University, a private Christian university in Hamilton, Ontario, is an institution that believes it has the inside track on interpreting God’s intentions. Believes it with a conviction that promises disciplinary action against any student engaging in sexual activity outside a heterosexual marriage.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada since 2005.

Do you see the problem here?

Redeemer is facing criticism from former students who take issue with the school’s edicts. LGBTQ students who walked the campus in guilt and fear. Questioning students who view the school’s policy as discriminatory.

Susan Ursel, a Toronto lawyer who represented the Canadian Bar Association against Trinity Western University on a similar issue, says Redeemer is discriminating against not only LGBTQ students, but any student who chooses to remain single.

Susan Ursel

“In a decent, multicultural, diverse society are there limits to what religion can do?” That, says Ursel, is the question before our courts today.

Is God wrong? Maybe not, but religions and religious institutions are another matter.

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Human Rights

A simple phrase, the meaning fairly jumps out at you. No explanation necessary—or not.

In recent weeks, former employees have gone public with allegations of racism and homophobia levelled against the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

The museum’s mandate claims it is “centred around the idea that respect and understanding of human rights can serve as a positive force for change in the world.”

Understanding implies knowledge, and for two years from 2015 to 2017, the museum adopted a don’t ask, don’t tell policy when conducting certain tours. At the behest of some schools, the museum staff was told to excise specific exhibits from their guided tours.

I’d give you two guesses as to what those exhibits were, but you only need one—LGBTQ content.

Staff members were asked to steer the students away from any displays that mentioned diverse sexual orientation or gender identity. They were told to stand in front of a same-sex marriage exhibit blocking it from the students’ view.

That this conspiracy of silence was even considered, much less condoned for over two years at a museum purporting to encourage dialogue about human rights—all human rights—is disheartening. One more example of how far we still have to go as human beings.

Note: The CEO has resigned and the museum has issued an apology. They no longer adapt any of their education programs at the request of schools.

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Gentleman Jack

Guilty.

I’m cheating on Netflix with Amazon Prime and Crave.

Netflix holds my heart, true, but…to quote Oscar Wilde, a man who knew what he was talking about, “I can resist anything except temptation.

I’m a weak person, lured away from my true love by Tim Roth in Tin Star winking at me from Amazon Prime. Tempted by Nathan Lane in City of Angels calling out to me from Crave. Seduced by Suranne Jones in Gentleman Jack smirking at me on Crave.

In my defence, I didn’t intend to cheat. I was just looking, you know, the way you do…

Top hat?

I stopped scrolling.

—For reasons I’m sure I don’t want to look at too closely, top hats get my attention, tuxedos too. Doesn’t matter which sex is wearing them, remember Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria?—

Top hat. I hit select.

Funny thing about guilt, the more you cheat, the less it bothers you. Fortunate, that, because I’ll be cheating until the very last episode of Gentleman Jack.

Set in 1832, Halifax, West Yorkshire, Gentleman Jack is a period piece with a twist. That twist is Ann Lister. From the first scene, from the minute she drops the reins, jumps down from a public coach she’s not supposed to be driving, and strides onto the screen, you’re hooked.

Ann’s who we all want to be, if we were only stronger, smarter, braver.

Did I mention she wears a top hat?

Tempted?

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Pride Pen Pals

Gay Pride in Canada Concept Image

June is right around the corner and with Covid-19 still a menacing presence, Pride will look very different this year. Goodbye to a million people crowding the sidewalks of Toronto and hello to celebrating in place, just you, your tablet, and Zoom.

Digital doesn’t sound appealing?

Looking for a more personal touch?

Buddies in Bad Times, Toronto’s queer theatre, suggests going old school this year.

Remember letters, envelopes, stamps? Actual writing, you know, with a pen? Buddies has set up a program, Pride Pen Pals, where queer folks can connect with each other through snail mail, share their experiences around Pride.

I think Buddies has something here, not that I don’t appreciate the digital world, but there is something about opening an envelope, pulling out sheets of paper that are handwritten…

Now that I think about it, I can’t remember the last time I received a real letter, opened an envelope that didn’t hide a bill.

Can you?

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The Boys

Sebastian loosened his tie.

“Long day?” Claire, his housekeeper/cook/lifesaver asked.

“Board meeting,” Sebastian said, liberating a beer from the fridge.

“Ah.”

“Boys home?”

“Upstairs.” Claire shut the oven, set the timer. “You might want to check on Ethan.”

“He okay?”

Claire shrugged. “You know Ethan.”

Sebastian nodded. “Yeah.” On a good day, Ethan wasn’t a talker. On a bad day, Sebastian had to beat the words out of him.

“Okay, the chicken’s got another fifteen minutes,” Claire said, washing her hands and slipping her wedding rings back on. “Everything else is in the warming drawer. See you tomorrow.”

“Thanks, Claire.”

His boys meant everything to Sebastian. They were the family he’d never thought he’d have. Halfway up the stairs, he knew Claire had been right. Ethan was worried about something, Sebastian could hear it in the tones he was pounding out of the piano.

The family room sprawled across the top of the house, Ethan’s piano sitting at one end, a seemingly never-ending sectional facing a large flat screen at the other, and various exercise stations plunked in the middle. The flat screen was dark, and it would stay that way until Sebastian gave permission for it to be on. It was a house rule, meant to remind and reinforce their central family dynamic—Sebastian was in charge.

Mark, racing against himself on a stationary bike, didn’t see Sebastian standing in the doorway, but Ru, sitting cross-legged on the sectional with his ever present laptop, did. A smile lighting his face, he closed his laptop and crossed the room to Sebastian. At thirty-nine, Ru was on track for tenure next year, and Sebastian couldn’t be happier for him.

Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony ended with a crash of fingerwork, and Ethan seeing Sebastian, smiled and abandoned his bench. At twenty-eight, Ethan was the youngest of his three boys, and played with the city’s symphony orchestra.

Ethan stepped in front of Mark’s bike, pointed at the doorway. Mark turned, grinned, and shut the bike down. The newest addition to their family, Mark had been Ru’s personal trainer. He still was.

“Boys,” Sebastian said, happy to be home.

With the ease of practice, all three men went to their knees.

“Sir.”

Versailles

Not the palace, the Franco-Canadian television drama that is now on Netflix.

Think sex, drugs, and poison. Throw in an exquisite setting—yes, the palace—elaborate costumes, and enough Oh, no! moments to make you say, Oh, yes! and you’ve got Versailles. A soap opera wrapped in history, wrapped in naked people with great hair.

Is this historical drama historically accurate? Who cares? It’s riveting.

Versailles has several main characters, enough for fans to have digital fist fights over their favourites. Personally, my vote goes to Philippe, duc d’Orléans, the king’s younger brother who never gets the chance to be everything he could be. Alexander Vlahos, who plays Philippe, makes those period costumes look good.

Versailles is three seasons of binge-worthy viewing, but don’t take my word for it. Check out the fan video created by MonChevy below. It may have you considering a flight to France 🙂

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Tweaking Tradition

I grew up in the East End of Montreal, just north of a Canadian Forces Base and West of a psychiatric hospital. Dancing was not a part of my world. Singing yes, drinking, sure—my mother’s family is Canadian by way of Ireland—but dancing, no. Not that it mattered, by the time I was in high school, formal dancing had virtually disappeared, to be replaced by standing across from your partner and throwing your head and shoulders about.

Forty-eight years on from my high school graduation and I still can’t dance. Taking dance lessons is on my list, along with a lot of other things I’ll never get around to, but in the meantime, I stand mesmerized, watching those couples who can swirl about the floor, graceful, confident…

Like Sophie Grau and Iris Klopfer.

After seeing videos of past Balls, Sophie and Iris, friends who identify as queer and have been dancing together for five years, decided to apply to make their debut at the Vienna Opera Ball.

It’s, as Sophie says, “the perfect dance.” One hundred and fifty couples in black and white formal wear, all dancing to the same routine, in the historic grandeur of the Vienna State Opera House.

LGBTQ participants, or not, Sophie and Iris have to adhere to the Ball’s strict dress code. Iris who, with her longer hair can pull off the Ball’s requisite hairstyle, is going with the dress, and Sophie, who is non-binary and feels more comfortable in a suit, is opting for the tux.

The Vienna Opera Ball, which dates back to the early 1800s, has 5,000 registered guests this year and will be watched live by 2.5 million viewers. Over the years, it has embraced a tradition of change, transforming itself from an exclusive event for the few to an elegant party for the many. With the inclusion of Sophie and Iris, the first LGBTQ couple to make their debut at the Ball, that tradition is tweaked yet again, merging the past with the future in grand style.

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Go, Katie!

It’s that time of year again; families and friends getting together, parties, and food, and beer—and fans huddled around their television sets.

Yes, it’s Super Bowl Sunday tomorrow and you can’t imagine how uninterested I am.

I had every intention of hiding out in the nearest mall or movie theater, while the rest of North America screams at their flat screens, but this young woman may change my mind…

Katie Sowers, the San Francisco 49ers offensive assistant coach, is the first female coach to work the Super Bowl. The first openly gay coach to work the big game.

For all the girls who were told they couldn’t and all the LGBTQ players who were told the same, here’s Katie to say you can.

Best of luck to Katie and her team tomorrow.

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Mystery Men

Ahead of the curve —Two men tie the knot in 1957.

The ONE Archives Foundation in Los Angeles, a non-profit dedicated to preserving LGBTQ history, is on a mission. Having stumbled across a series of wedding pictures taken in the 1950’s, they want to find the grooms or, at least, find out who they are. 

So far, all they know is that the pictures were dropped off at a drugstore in Philadelphia to be developed and that the owner of the drugstore, deeming them inappropriate, refused to return them to the unknown grooms.

To that end, they’ve created a website, OurOneStory.com to help find these men. Not an easy task as the couple must be in their 80’s or 90’s now. The historians have become sleuths, hoping that if they spread these pictures around someone will recognize either the grooms or their guests.

Incredible to think that this little chunk of history has survived, that these pictures have somehow made it from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, and that they weren’t destroyed by the offended drugstore owner.

Also, in your face to all those morons who picket and scream and fight against school boards who want to “normalize” homosexuality. The cretins who rant about the corrupting influence of social media, who insist the liberal agenda is destroying family values and “turning” good kids gay.

These two men knew who they were, and who they wanted, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t learn that in school, or see it in an Instagram post.

Captured in black and white, a celebration, a moment in time, and a silent witness to the fact that same-sex attraction is, and always has been, one of the threads that inform the tapestry of human sexuality.

Sorry, stepping down from my soapbox now. For more wedding pictures, please check out this link.

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