Standing Guard

There’s a line in our national anthem…

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee

To my mind, those words aren’t about protecting our borders — they’re about protecting each other.

We are Canada.

All of us.

Unfortunately, we here in Ontario have been caught asleep at our posts. The conservative provincial government has rolled back sex education to where it stood in 1998.

They scrapped the sex ed program the liberals put in place in 2015 because apparently,  our kids don’t have to learn about consent, same-sex relationships, gender identity, online bullying or sexting.

Did I mention masturbation? 

No? Neither does Doug Ford’s 1998 retro program.

British Columbia, marching to the beat of different drummer, stands on guard for all its students.

Unlike Ontario, B.C. is not trying to turn the clock backward.  In 2016, they instituted SOGI — sexual orientation and gender identity program — with the goal of helping LGBTQ students and ending bullying based on gender identity.

Is the B.C. government getting flak from some parents and religious groups arguing that SOGI is “sexualizing our kids” and “telling them they are gender fluid”? Yes.

There were dueling rallies on the lawn of the legislature this past September, groups for and against SOGI shouting over each other.

Is the government backing down? No.

The province is committed to ensuring that every school is a safe space for all children.

The license plate says it all — Beautiful British Columbia.

Gay Pride In Canada Concept Image - Gay Pride Rainbow Flag And T

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Words Wound

There was a childhood rhyme that used to be bandied about …

Sticks and stones may break my bones, But words will never harm me.

You don’t hear it much anymore, because we know better. Words can and do harm us. Ask any kid being bullied in the schoolyard or on the internet.

Hate speech is a crime for a reason.

Words are powerful. Has there been a revolution ever that didn’t start with words?

Words are tricky. Not only do their meanings change over time, but context and tone come in to play too. Who uses a particular word, and how they use it, makes a difference.

How then do we judge which words are dangerous? Off the top of my head …

Think — less than. 

Any word, or group of words, that label a particular subsection of humanity as less than — those are the words that should never be heard.

I apologize for the preachy tone of this post, but …

I heard a man speak Thursday night, a Holocaust survivor. He ended his presentation by saying:

It starts with words …

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Boys in the Band

Way back when I was in high school, the movie Boys in the Band sparked by an Off Broadway play, was one of my first introductions into what life in the LGBT community was like. Not that we used or even knew the term LGBT etc. etc. back then.

To the fifteen-year-old I was at the time, the movie seemed dark and depressing, the characters miserable.

Fast forward almost fifty years and we have Boys in the Band on Broadway. The characters are still deeply troubled men but — I’m not fifteen anymore.

I know no one is happy with themselves 24/7, that we all deal with voices from our past that make us cringe, and that this snapshot of gay life isn’t the only picture possible.

This isn’t 1970 and things have changed — which I think is the point of this revival.

Plus, and this is what made me pull out my credit card, have you seen the cast?

Jim Parsons would be enough to get me in a seat at the Booth Theatre on his own, but he’s not on his own. Sharing the stage we have, the new and improved Mr. Spock, Zachary Quinto, the original Elder Price from the Book of Mormon, Andrew Rannells, and my personal favourite since he played a not-so-recovered thief in White Collar, Matt Bomer. The only reason there isn’t a string of exclamation marks behind Matt’s name is because I’m restraining myself 🙂

Boys

If you’re anywhere near New York in the near future, plunk yourself down in the Booth Theatre. Each and every one of these actors gives a stellar performance and there are a lot more laughs than I remembered 🙂

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Sign of the Times

I came across this sculpture today and I had to smile …

I remember a time when people talked about peace as if it would really happen. When both sexes wore their hair to their shoulders, the girls stopped wearing bras, and the boys all pretended they could play guitar.

The world was going to be a better place. We would make it better.

Yeah …

Created for the Toronto Light Festival last winter by Studio Rosenblatt, Symbolic Peace is a “laser cut steel sculpture meant to signify the strength of diversity within our community”.

Toronto 4 (2)

Maybe it’s time to bring back the 60’s  🙂

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Pride

For Pride this year, we have our first ever LGBTQ2 themed Heritage Minute.

For all you non-Canadians, Heritage Minutes are sixty second films that document significant people and events in Canadian history.  Often, moments and viewpoints are explored in these mini-movies that our high school history books failed to mention.

Case in point: Gay activist, Jim Egan.

Never heard of him? Neither had I.

Today, James Egan would be called a gay activist. Back in 1951, when he first sat down at his typewriter and pounded out an article entitled, I Am a Homosexual he was just a young man who was pissed.

Jim battled rampant homophobia with letters and op-ed pieces in the press, eventually taking the Government of Canada to court demanding spousal benefits for his life partner.

In 1995, Jim and his partner Jack Nesbit cruised down Yonge Street, the same street they could have once been arrested on for simply holding hands, as honorary grand marshals in the Toronto Pride parade.

Happy Pride 🙂

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Scary Stuff

Think It was scary?

It

Or It Comes at Night?

It Comes

Maybe something from the Friday the 13th franchise?

Want to know what has me hiding in a corner with my hands over my eyes?  The scariest thing on the screen today?

The Handmaid’s Tale

Scary 4

No ghosts, no zombies, nothing coming out of the floorboards to grab you in the night, but The Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t need CGI special effects to be truly terrifying. The monsters here are human and very real.

The scary thing? The loss of liberty depicted in the show has happened in other countries and could happen in any country … if we take our freedom for granted and stop paying attention.

 

As in any dictatorship, no one is free in this story. Women are cattle and men are tools. Being attracted to your own sex is a death sentence.

Religious platitudes justify atrocious actions … hmmmm … where have I heard that before?

It’s only fiction, right?

Scary 1

 

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Conversion Therapy

It was a mistake.

I knew any book set in an abandoned mental asylum was going to be too dark for me. I knew it, and I read the damn thing anyway.

Tin Box

Not that The Tin Box by Kim Fielding isn’t a good book. It is.

Fielding tells a story of two Williams — One arrested and consigned to a mental hospital in the 40’s for homosexual activity, the other trying to recover from religious parents and conversion therapy circa 2012.

I finished the book and thought I was okay … until I tried to sleep that night. Impossible. I kept thinking of that poor 1940’s William. I told myself it was fiction, fiction!

Fiction? Well … Yes, and no.

True, Fielding’s Williams are fictional characters, but what happens to them in the book has happened — and is still happening to LGBTQ people today.

In one of those freaky, maybe-there-is-a-Master-of-the-Universe coincidences, I opened my phone the next morning to find an email asking me to sign a petition to End Gay Conversion Therapy in Canada.

?????

Disgusting, but true. 2018 and Conversion Therapy isn’t banned nation wide. So far, only two provinces have declared CT illegal. Thank God, I live in one of them.

Really? What is wrong with this world?

How hard is it to say you be you and I’ll be me?

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Hello, Straight People;

You don’t exist.

Yeah, yeah, I know. You think you’re straight. You know you’re straight. You can prove you’re straight, just ask anyone in your contact list, or text your current partner, or check out your Instagram account.

Hey, you don’t have to prove anything to me. I don’t care one way or the other and — and neither should you.

Sexuality isn’t one or the other. It’s a complex, complicated, driven by external stimuli and internal interpretation, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink kind of thing.

Who says 100% straight doesn’t exist? That would be Ritch C. Savin-Williams, Director of the Sex and Gender Lab at Cornell University.

In an effort to get at the core of who people really are, as opposed to who they have been socialized to say they are, Savin-Williams conducted a study using pupil dilation to monitor arousal.

You, me, the guy with the laptop hogging the best seat at your local Starbucks; none of us can control our pupil dilation. Can’t be done. Can’t be faked, but it can be measured.

Results? No matter how a person self-identified their eyes dilated when they were shown sexual images of both genders.

A little more dilation here, a little less dilation there, but still a definite physiological response.

Conclusion? Sexuality is not binary, it’s a continuum.

Sorry, you’re only mostly straight 🙂

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We Were Wrong

This past Tuesday, a crowded gallery in the House of Commons stood witness, as the Prime Minister apologized to the LGBTQ2 community for four decades of state-sponsored, systematic oppression and victimization.

It was all very emotional. Hugs, handshakes, and cheering in the House, but … does it matter? Will this admission of wrongdoing on behalf on the Canadian government change anything?

Does it matter?

Yes. It is a clear statement of where we stand as a nation today and a blueprint for tomorrow.

Will it change anything?

Will Trudeau’s speech stop the neighbours from staring when a same-sex couple kiss each other hello at their own front door? Will it save a transgender woman from being beaten as she steps off the bus on her way home from work? Will it stop all the crude jokes and cruel taunts on the school ground?

I don’t know.

Will it?

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A Slow March Forward

According to a recent U.N. report, there is a global trend towards decriminalization of same-sex relations. Twenty-five countries in the last twenty years have repealed laws banning consensual gay sex. Five of them in the last five years.

Good news, yes … but …

France legalized homosexuality in 1791. 1791 ! Two hundred and twenty-six years ago. This is not a new idea, people. And yet, here we are in 2017 and there are still seventy-three nations where same-sex relations are illegal. Really?

Are we stubborn or stupid or both?  Yes.

It took the suffrage movement 118 years to work its way across the globe. From New Zealand, the first country to give women the vote in 1893, to Saudi Arabia where women were allowed to vote for the first time in 2011.

Homo Sapiens: We might walk on two feet, but we crawl toward equality — each and every time.

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