Monday, June 30, 2008

Toronto Gay Pride 2008: The Video

I almost didn't make the beginning of the big Pride Parade.

I didn't get up until half an hour before it was supposed to start. No time to grab a coffee or something to eat. Just enough time to shower, grab my video camera, and run.

And when I got there and looked for a place to shoot the parade, my heart sank into my sneakers. I've never seen so many people in my life.

It was scary.....but BRILLIANT.

When so many straight people turn out for a gay parade...including thousands and thousands of new Canadians with their children in tow...and everybody has a good know something AMAZING is happening.

The highlight of the parade for me?

The sight of Gareth Henry and his human rights contingent marching by to draw attention to the plight of gays and lesbians in Jamaica and other countries.

And the equally wonderful sight of gay soldiers marching in uniform for the very first time.

"The message to the public is that the Canadian Forces is an employer of choice. We have employment opportunities that people can pursue, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation...."

Good for them.

And good for the Toronto police too. For being super cool and friendly. And for handing out red stickers with the letters RHVP or Report Homophobic Violence Period.

Which my lucky teddy is now wearing...

To remind me that once the party is over, the struggle against bigotry continues.

My greatest disappointment? Not being able to meet Gareth Henry and shake his hand. But you try to find someone in a crowd of more than a million.Good luck.

As for The Video....making it was harder than I thought. Standing there for three hours in the muggy heat trying not to faint from dehydration ......or hunger.

Only to get back and discover that something ....probably a shot from a supersoaker... had crapped out the audio track.

So I covered the video with the classic Sister Sledge song which sums up how I feel about my LGBT brothers and sisters all over the world...

Oh well....I guess you just had to be there to feel the excitement.

And the heat....

Did I mention I'm thinking of switching my account to the TD Bank?

Seriously though....Pride Day was MORE than awesome. I had a fabulous time AND I got to have a rack of BBQ ribs and an iced coffee for 6pm. Bonus.

And the best thing is after a full year of rest I'm sure I'll have the strength to do it all over again.

Thanks to all the gay and straight people, and the heroic volunteers, who made Pride Day such a success.

It was a great party. But now it's over.

And the struggle continues...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Gay Pride and the Wicked Witch of the Wente

Well I must admit it was a great way to welcome me back to Canada. The rainbow colours of the freedom flag shining from the CN Tower.... to mark Toronto's Pride Week.

I could hardly believe it. I left miserable Con Canada and returned to beautiful Gay Oz.Too bad it comes with its very own Wicked Witch of the Wente. To poop on the parade.

Yes, folks, it's that time of year again. Time to get out the feathers and the leathers and the nipple rings, and celebrate the wonderful diversity that is Pride Day.... There are transmen who prefer sex with men, ones who prefer sex with women and, for all I know, ones who prefer sex with budgies.

I really don't know what to say about this piece of homophobic garbage. What is that crummy old right-wing hack going on about? Has she even been to the parade?

And why does that batty Republican Con spend so much time obsessing about a transexual biological woman who got pregnant? Or trying to link gay pride to that AND budgie bestiality? Don't tell me I think I can guess.

But apart from the bigot batshite, what really floors me is this weird statement:

Many (actually, most) of my gay friends think it's all become a bit nuts. They're not transgressive - they're bourgeois. They're weary of the Pride Parade's tired clichés - the campy drag queens, the naughty costumes, the celebration of sex, sex, sex. Yes, it mattered once. But now it just seems faintly vulgar. They're going to spend the weekend gardening.

I mean really. Since when did WEARY, BOURGEOIS, BITTER, and BORING become something to celebrate?

I wonder if La Wente takes these gay poodles walkies around her trendy neighbourhood?So they can pee on the For Sale signs. Or shit on their own kind for a pat on the head. Or a gourmet doggy biscuit.

Even as the hate goes on.

A large number of hate crimes, one out of 10,appeared to be motivated by sexual orientation, with most committed against homosexuals. That category had the highest quotient of violent crimes, with more than half of its 80 reported incidents involving violent acts.

Luckily MY friends and I make really BAD pets. We don't beg for straight acceptance. For us Gay Pride is a chance to stand up to the violent hatred directed against us, defy the bigots, and celebrate who we are.

As well as of course, a great excuse to hold a Great Big Party to which EVERYONE and straight or invited.

So we can all have some fun TOGETHER.

Which reminds me...

If the Wicked Witch of the Wente doesn't take her own advice and fly out of town on her broomstick this weekend. And instead decides to buzz the parade like a big old horsefly...and bombard us with her stinky droppings...I'll be forced to take DRASTIC action.

And douse her with my superduper supersoaker.

Just like Dorothy did...

Aaaargh.....@#%&!!! ....I'm melting !!!!! I want my SUV !!!!! Gimme a latte ... or a mud wrap !!! I need an ENEMA !!!!!!


Holy scarecrow. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could melt homophobia that easily?

Happy Pride Day everybody!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Scottish Journey and the Stone of Destiny

On Edinburgh's Royal Mile the tourist hordes swarm the gift shops buying tartans, shortbread, and Nessie dolls.

If I'd been here a few days earlier, I could have watched Prince Harry follow a pipe band down the street. Which is sooooo disappointing. Now I'll probably NEVER get to check out whether he's as humungously hung as they say he is. Or ask him to show me how to snort vodka without drowning....or going blind.

But I suppose you can't have EVERYTHING. And anyway I'm not interested in the monarchy or the invented Scotland.

I'm here to attend my parents big wedding anniversary, get away from the stench of Stephen Harper's Con Canada, and decide whether to take a leave of absence next year to help the cause of Scottish independence.

As you can see, the situation here is both depressing and encouraging.

Whether independence comes about in the short term may be considered doubtful, but what is certain is that the brisk air here is full of a brash new confidence. The past several decades have seen Scotland adjust well from the loss of its old heavy industrial base to an economic mix based on “silicon glens,” financial services, offshore oil, tourism and a strong university sector.

But even though the weather has been cold and wet, it has been an AMAZING journey. If a somewhat lonely one.

I begged Sébastien to join me.... if only for a while. But he said he couldn't ....and that besides this was one journey I should make by myself. So I did.

I travelled all over the place, I visited my old haunts like the Lake of Trouble and the Black Isle, stuffed myself with my favourite Scottish foods, went fishing a lot , attended political meetings. And even joined in the entertaining debate over the so-called Stone of Destiny.

Not that I really give a fig about that sort of stuff. Scottish history is not just the history of Kings and Queens. And any stone which is said to have been used by Jacob as a pillow, is obviously as fraudulent as religion itself.

And about as inspiring to me as Jesus in a French Fry.

But I just LOVE those kind of debates. They seem so noble and clean compared to the ones back in Canada.

Except that in my little Moray village ... many miles north of Edinburgh....NOBODY is talking about any of the above.

Here people are going on gloomily about rising gas prices, falling home values, the tabloid crime of the week, how hard it is to find a Polish plumber, and the Scottish government's decision to wage war on the country's bevvy culture.

That's part of the real Scotland...the one the tourists don't see. Where young people kill themselves or others because of alcohol and drugs at twice the rate of anybody else in the U.K. Where dozens and dozens of young children are admitted to hospital every year for binge drinking. And, where in places like Glasgow, there are way too many violent, self destructive, youths or Neds.(non educated delinquents.)

Who will attack you for nothing, and try to kick you in the head, or stab you or cut your face. I know. I've fought them enough. Achieving Scottish independence will be hard. Changing that legacy of despair and violence will be even harder.

One thing though is for sure. Scotland doesn't need a Stone of Destiny to be an independent country. Its history demands it. It needs to become one to restore the pride of its people and deal with its own demons. And sooner or later it will be one.

As for me...after weeks of agonizing over what to do, the decision came to to speak... in this ancient harbour where I spent so much time as a boy.

I was fishing by myself when somebody snuck up behind me....grabbed me with both arms so I couldn't move or fall off the pier... and said:

"Can I borrow your fishing rod....or do I have to fight for it?" In French.

It was Sébastien. At first I couldn't believe it. I was stunned. One moment I was lost in the past...and wondering where I really belonged. And the next moment I wasn't.

Then I saw my parents, and my sister and her family, and they were all laughing, and I realized that EVERYONE knew that he would be here just in time for the Big Party. Everyone except me. Aaaargh....

Which is when after deciding not to kill the guy, I suddenly realized that I don't want to live without him. Not even for just six months. Not even for such a noble cause. And while am at it ....I also don't want to live without my old dog Kerouac. Blame that one on the Bone of Destiny.

So what did I learn from my search for hope? Nothing really. Nothing that I didn't know before.

Just that I'm a hopeless idealist, you make your own hope, and home is where the heart is.

And of course, that if I hadn't moved to Canada in the nick of time, I might have been a Ned myself.

Like the Wee Man from Glasgow...

Isn't that a SCARY thought?

Lucky Canada. Lucky me. Scotland forever !!

See you all soon...

Monday, June 02, 2008

Leaving Canada to Search for Hope

One of the things I love about biking down trails like this one is you never know where you are going to end up. Just like the journey of life itself.

How could I ever have known that I'd be leaving Canada to look for hope? In the once hopeless place I came from.

Because there ain't any here.

Stephen Harper's rotten Con government has brought this country to its knees.They act like loutish fascists in Parliament. Or like sinister Communists parroting the party line. They are trying to criminalize abortion, censor our movies, jail more kids, and condemn drug addicts to death. They are misogynists, gay haters, racists, Kyoto killers, oil pimps, death penalty supporters and Pentagon stooges. They have destroyed our reputation abroad. They are a foul stench upon the land.

But we can't do anything to get rid of them because the left is divided and weak. And until it unites into one party....or forms a coalition.... nothing will ever change.

So I'm going back to Scotland to see if I can help with this project.

Because a new country on Robbie Burns Day is now more than just a dream.

In Scotland the SNP government is acting like a government should. It's helping young people, and old people. It's standing up for the rights of women and gays. It's fighting bullying and feeding poor children in schools. It's against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has declared Scotland a nuclear-free zone.

While here in Canada Stephen Harper's Cons are trying to make government a bad word, and turn our country into a jungle.

In Canada I'm not a separatist.

In this place I am...

Down by the bleak shores of Lochindorb ....the Lake of Trouble in Gaelic.... I can dream again of helping to build a new and better country. And figure out what to do with the next year or so of my life.

It's not easy leaving Canada. Because it's my country now. I love it with all my heart. Just like I love you know who...and all my friends.

But life is too short to live without hope. Some people can live without it. I can't.

So my journey begins. And it's a long one.

Here's a humble little video I made of my last trip....from Glasgow to my family home in a little town...or big village...on the northeast coast.

Scotland is a small country with big beautiful dreams. Con Canada is a big country where all dreams have died. A smugness that smothers, and a stench of pure right-wing evil that is stinking out the planet.

I wish it wasn't so. I'm so sad. I had such high hopes. But I gotta go now. Sébastien is calling me. History waits for no one. And planes don't either.

Goodbye, au revoir, hasta la vista, beannachd leat !! Thanks for reading my blog.

It's been an AMAZING journey.

But where will it END?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Yves St Laurent: Fashion Icon, Gay Victim

I know that straight people like to think that all gay men are haute couture geniuses...or fancy dress faggots. Or work in the fashion industry. So I'm sorry to disappointment them.

I don't know fashion from a hole in the wall. It bores me to tears. It's so hard to whip up a nifty combination from jeans, t-shirts, hoodies and leather jackets.

And the only reason that there are so many gay men in the fashion industry is because it's one of the few businesses that welcomes them.

But I couldn't help note the death of Yves St Laurent.

And this little detail tucked away at the bottom of the story...

Taunted as a schoolboy because of his homosexuality, Yves St Laurent suffered mental and physical ill health for much of his life and he appeared in public only rarely.

And I really liked what he had to say in this story.

About the booze and the drugs and all the other bad stuff...

"Every man needs aesthetic phantoms in order to exist," he said. "I have known fear and the terrors of solitude. I have known those fair-weather friends we call tranquillisers and drugs. I have known the prison of depression and the confinement of hospital. But one day, I was able to come through all of that, dazzled yet sober."

So I'm going to have to tip my grubby baseball cap to this real haute couture gay genius.

I guess he really showed the bullies.

Didn't he?

The Insite Appeal: When Ideology is Murder

I'll never forget the first time I came face to face with a heroin addict.

I had just moved into a place I had rented in Vancouver's Yaletown. I was flicking through the channels on my TV when on the inhouse security channel I saw some guy shooting up in my doorway.

At first I was fascinated eh? I had heard about the city's legendary drug addicts. And there was one live and on TV ..... right on my own doorstep!

Then I freaked out. I barrelled down the stairs intending to kick his ass out of there, only to come face to face with a scrawny, sickly, whacked out teenager.

And when I saw his arms I immediately forgave him. Both of them were covered with bloody tracks, scars, and ulcerated sores. From his wrists to his shoulders.

I can't remember what he said... except that he wanted to go to Hawaii. All I could do was give him some cigarettes, and make him promise that he would see a doctor IMMEDIATELY.

But who knows what happened? Did he listen to me? I doubt it. Did somebody reach him in time? Is he still alive? It still bothers me.

That's why I was so glad to hear about about this wonderful site.

Where people like that poor kid could get treatment, receive counselling, and hopefully be cured of his addiction before he overdosed in some other doorway, or got AIDS or Hepatitis C.

And why I was so angry when I heard about this disgusting decision.
Because how could these monstrous Cons put their hideous ideology before the lives of their own people?

The Insite project is supported by doctors, frontline workers, police officers, and even the merchants in the neighbourhood. It's the only sensible, human, and Canadian thing to do. Harm reduction. Period.

You know it's one thing to let them get away with shaming our country all over the world.

But murder is murder.

And enough is ENOUGH...


P.S. For Kevin.... hoping he made it to Hawaii.

Or Australia.

Or just far away from this...