Thursday, February 25, 2010


Here's a quote I found on YouTube today.  It came attached to a video of figure skater Johnny Weir performing to Lady Gaga's "Poker Face":

Is masculinity just not attractive anymore?  I mean what the f--- is happening?  I am 100% in support of homosexuals, but do you have to be a flaming fairy?  Why can't people just be normal dudes that happen to like dick?

All right, then.  Where do I begin with this comment?

As coarse as this writer's terminology and thoughts are, unfortunately, he speaks for a lot of people.  His argument is the age-old, it's all right for you to be gay as long as I can't tell you are.  And, if I can tell you're gay from the way you look and act, then, one, you offend me, and, two, you're not normal.

Like I said, where do I begin?

First, I need to come clean.  I'm not proud of this, but I admit a part of me cringed when I watched Weir perform his routine in the video.  Yes, he's flamboyant in his attire, expressions, and movements.  Yes, he's unmistakably gay.  Yes, in my opinion, he seems to lay it on a bit thick in terms of putting his homosexuality out there.  But that's my prejudice, and that of anyone else who's offended by what they see.

Perhaps what bothers me most about Weir is that he's been in the public eye a lot lately, especially at the 2010 Winter Olympics here in Vancouver, displaying his flamboyance and--wait for it--perpetuating the stereotype that ALL gay men are, in the words of the quote's writer, flaming fairies.  Arguably, the biggest reason why I have a problem with that is, one, I'm gay, and, two, I have my own effeminate characteristics that I've worked hard to downplay over the years (admittedly, so fewer people would be able to readily tell that I'm gay, and so that I won't have to see their disapproval, scorn, and disgusted expressions).      

But, you know what?  Here's the thing.  Why should Johnny Weir, or I, for that matter, have to go out of our way to downplay what we are?  Just so we fit into someone's--our culture's--nice, neat definition of what masculine is?  Just so we look and act like some socially acceptable model expected of all men?  Just so we're not discernibly gay?  Just so we don't upset the sensibilities of someone who claims he's one hundred percent supportive of gay men, but isn't at all?

Wouldn't it be nice if gay men were masculine like straight men, and, because of that, weren't discernibly gay, so that our culture could categorize us in the same comfortable box as all men and didn't have to deal with the fact that we like other men?  Honestly, sometimes, I've wanted that too, but only because to demonstrate in any way that you're gay makes life so much more difficult, and no one needs to go through that, especially since he's only being himself.  

Fact is, Johnny Weir is who he is.  To him, he is normal, and to be anything other than who he is would not be normal--at least not for him.  So if the writer of the quote above can't deal with that--and, frankly, if I can't deal with that, even though I'm gay myself and should know better--well, then, too bad for us.  Unfortunately, those comments still have the capacity to crush and, in Weir's case, to force him to defend himself at a recent news conference, where homophobic sentiments were all too obvious.

Makes me wonder if the people at the news conference, and the writer of the quote above, are gay themselves, since some of the worst homophobes are gay.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Quote from Jeff Bridges

A quote from Jeff Bridges, referring to his role in Crazy Heart, in the February 22, 2010 issue of Time:

'"You don't have to be who you think you are," Bridges says.  "That's a wonderful thing, to think you can be reborn [p. 120]."'

Queer Canada Blogs

So yesterday at about this time, I was on my way to the public library to work on my writing--without my laptop, because I can't leave my blog alone when my laptop is around--when I decided to check my email, just one last time.  You know, before I couldn't check it again for several hours.  Lord knows what might happen if I didn't check my email for several hours.

Turns out I had an email from feral geographer.  Who?  I asked myself the same question.  The subject read, "You've been added to Queer Canada Blogs!"  What?  Still didn't make any sense.  How many times have I received an email from someone I didn't know, where I was concerned that, if I took the chance and opened it, my MacBook might become infected with a bug.  Again I read the "From" and "Subject" lines, and, curiosity getting the best of me and realizing the risk to my computer was likely minimal,  I decided to open it.  I'm glad I did.

Here's what the email said:

I'm feral geographer and I blog at . Along with Mae Callen of Driving Fast on Loose Gravel (, I'm working on creating an active blogroll of queer blogs from Canada and/or by Canadians. The project is called Queer Canada Blogs (, and we've added This Gay Relationship  <> [in case you didn't realize it, that's the name of my blog]!
Please check it out and let us know if you have any suggestions for other blogs we can add.

Knowing I had to leave for the library right away--noon is my self-imposed deadline to get writing--I sat in my chair at my work table for a few more moments to ponder the email.  Then, taking just a few more minutes, I clicked on some of the links to determine if the websites referenced were legitimate, or if I'd been duped (I approach everything with a measure of skepticism and cynicism; that's just the way I am).

When I accessed the Queer Canada Blogs blog, I perused it quickly; frankly, couldn't make out what I was looking at (because every blog has it's own distinct format that needs to be negotiated around); and decided to check it out later, when I arrived back home after my writing session at the library and had a few minutes that didn't cut into my writing time.  Then I closed Entourage, shut my computer, grabbed the laptop bag I'd already packed, and left.

But I felt different about myself after I read that email.  As I readied myself to leave and walked out the door, I felt...exhilarated.  I felt lighter, carefree, happier than I've been in a long time.  After diligently working on my blog for almost a year, composing nearly 250 posts--my goal is to write that many by my blog's first anniversary--I'd been discovered (well, I hadn't been discovered, my blog had, but I still felt like I had).  And I was thrilled to no longer be unknown.

True, I've been fortunate indeed to have a handful of supportive and empathetic readers who've graciously travelled with me to places I never dreamed I'd go when I started writing my blog on February 27, 2009.  And I'm grateful beyond measure to those readers and their contribution to what I've written.  But how could I deny not being excited by a total stranger locating my blog in cyberspace, where the vast majority of websites, blogs, and the like, will never be discovered by the average person, because there are just too many of them.  This is one time, perhaps, when being gay, and having a blog with gay content, has a benefit.

As I drove my car down ___ and turned onto ___, I was distracted.  I tried to imagine what having my blog included in a blogroll could mean--everything from having more readers, who decide to become regular followers, to, if I was very lucky, literally being discovered by a newspaper, magazine, or publisher that liked my voice and wanted me to write for it (all right, I realize that's total science fiction, but it happens to some writers, doesn't it?).  Was this the sign I'd been waiting for that all the time and work I'd put into my blog since last winter had been for good reason after all?  Then, as I saw all the children play in the brilliant sun in the yard next to the road, I remembered I was driving by an elementary school, and I had better observe the speed limit of 30 km if I knew what was good for me.

Excitement turned to concern as I merged onto Lougheed Highway and proceeded downtown.  I tried to recall some of the posts I'd written, some, like Chris's and my move to ___________ and setting up our new home, that were innocuous, but others that expressed what could be unpopular opinions about gay men and gay life in general.  I knew that what I'd written over the months had been exactly how I felt, and that I hadn't held back anything, because, even though my blog was on the World Wide Web, it was not well-known and, presumably, wouldn't be seen by a lot of people.

But now, in light of the inclusion on Queer Canada Blogs, I could expect more people to see it, people who didn't know me from the next gay man, who would not know that my heart was in the right place, but who also wanted more than anything to go on record as expressing thoughts and ideas that I held to be true and that meant everything to me.  What would total strangers think about what I'd written, and I could I expect to receive less than supportive and encouraging comments from those who were really offended by my opinions?  I couldn't worry about that now, I told myself, as I tried to keep my focus on the road without injuring myself or, God forbid, anyone else.

At the library, after entering the quiet study room and setting up my work space with the papers and books I'd brought, my mind continued to wander to the prospect of my blog being far more public than I ever imagined it would be.  And I was still concerned about someone seeing it who would be angry at my assertions, insulted by them even, but I told myself this was no time to censure what I'd written.  The last thing I saw myself doing was reviewing all of my posts on gay relationships and being gay and making scrambled revisions to them to ensure they were more appropriate for public consumption.

The fact is that I'm entitled to my opinions, and my blog is the one place in the world where I can express them in a public forum and go on record for what I believe to be true.  And what I believe to be true is neither outrageous nor radical, not by any stretch, considering the opinions some people have on other subjects.  And what I believe isn't unique either.  I'm sure many gay men hold the same opinions I have about other gay men. Just because we're all gay doesn't mean we necessarily agree with or support each other in everything we say and do.  There's too much diversity within the gay community to guarantee that.  

Over the several hours I spent at the library, I did a reasonable job of keeping my mind on what I wanted to accomplish, but, near the time I had to leave, I took out a piece of paper and began to make a few notes on other posts I could write and add to those already published on gay relationships and being gay.  If my blog was going to be included in a list on Queer Canada Blogs, by God, I'd have to be sure I had a majority of posts on issues affecting gay men.  I'm sure not too many of my potential new readers would be that interested in my musings on moving from Victoria to Maple Ridge, renovating our home, hitting the age of fifty, or the challenges an aspiring writer faces.

And, yet, those are as much a part of me as being gay is.  Each of them can be looked at within the context of being gay and being in a long-term gay relationship, which is exactly the reason why I haven't split them off into separate blogs.  They prove a point that I've tried to make repeatedly in my posts about being gay:  I'm a human being first, and gay second.  Meaning I experience all the same things non-gay people do:  from the stress of a move from one geographical location to another; to discovering what a mid-life crisis looks like when you arrive at a pivotal age; to taking a big risk by leaving a secure job in favor of pursuing a life-long dream.

As I recorded new ideas for posts on the subject of being gay, I realized I'd already written nearly everything I wanted to, expressing opinions I'd long held, in some cases repeatedly over a number of different posts.  In the weeks and months to come, I'll do my best not to repeat myself again, although, admittedly, overlap will occur because some of the things I believe to be true about being gay affect many different facets of life.

And, sometimes, I believe that what I have to say now, although similar to what I said before, might be more meaningful, because I've had time to think of a more effective way to say it, or because I was better able to get my mind around the thought I had.  Above all else, perhaps, my blog has been a testing ground for helping me to better understand how I feel about what it means to be gay.  What I write here isn't just for the benefit of other people; it's for my benefit too.  I still have much to learn about myself, which I know will help me with whatever I go on to write in the future.

What I'll continue to do as I write this blog is express my truth about what it means to be gay and to be in a gay relationship.  And I'll do that without concern for whether what I have to say could anger new readers I've gained from my blog being included in Queer Canada Blogs, because that can't be a consideration when I sit down to write.

Ultimately, my blog is for me and about me.  The first and only person I need to make happy with me.  Don't get me wrong, I hope what I write will continue to appeal to all different kinds of readers, willing to join me on my journey, but a writer can never try to write what he thinks other people will like.  It doesn't work that way.  He can only write what he likes, and, if other people like it too, so much the better.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

All Gay Men Should Be In Long-Term Relationships

"There's nothing more lonely than a gay person growing old alone."
-- Nancy Golden (from Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal,
Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay
in America, ed. Mitchell Gold, pp. 129-130)

The other Sunday, Chris and I were out on our early morning walk/jog for exercise.  At one point on 102 Avenue, I was slightly behind him and struggling to keep up.  I looked up to see the back of his head, and the thought that came to me was, I'm a different person because of you, because I've been with you for almost eighteen years.  In fact, not only am I a different person, I'm a better person.  I'm a person I couldn't have been without you.  And it all clicked into place for me once again that all gay men need to be in committed, long-term (and, dare I say, monogamous) relationships.

Okay, I'll admit, part of the difference in me is the result of the natural aging or maturing process.  I don't need to tell you that, as you get older, you become a different person.  You become more of who you were meant to be, just because of what you've gone through over time.  You come into yourself more fully, because you've been around long enough to get past youth and everything that goes along with that.  It seems a shame, but I think it takes leaving youth and taking on maturity to do that.  I don't believe the twenty-five year old version of me was who I was meant to be.  I was on my way to getting there, but, when I look back on who I was then, I'm painfully aware of how different I was compared to who I am now.  I hadn't even come out as a gay man yet, for goodness sake.  How could I be who I am today if I'd never done that?  

When you're single, you think you know who you are.  There's that period in your late teens and twenties, when you separate from your parents and begin to make your own way in life.  It's a heady experience, being free from the restrictions of mom and dad.  It's a time when we begin to see all the possibilities for our lives and, in some respects, the limitations too.  There's only so much a single person can do all on his own.  Life could feel incomplete, and it might just be because you aren't sharing it with someone else.  Many single people will tell you they've never been happier, that they couldn't imagine being in a committed relationship, that there's too much of the world to explore and to experience without having to compromise all the time to make someone else happy.

But I was single for many years, and, honestly, I was miserable.  Seemingly, just like everyone else who was single at the time, we were all looking to hook up with someone else.  The gay clubs were full of people desperate to find someone, if not for a lifetime, then perhaps for a night or two. When the lights went up at 2:00 a.m., we saw in each other what we all were--single, alone, and lonely.  Sure, we'd danced and partied like it was 1999, but, at the end of the night, most of us went home alone, to our empty apartments and our empty lives.  What's the old axiom?  You're no one until you're with somebody?  Well, I believed it because I knew it was true.

At that time, some local newspapers were filled with ads for people wanting to meet other people:  men wanting to meet women; women wanting to meet men; women wanting to meet women; and men wanting to meet men.  Every weekend, after I finished my final hours of work late Friday afternoon, I picked up the latest issues of "The WestEnder" and "The Buy and Sell."  Yes, even "The Buy and Sell" had ads for people wanting to meet each other.  Every time I looked at the personal ads in that paper, I was reminded of how much trying to link up with a life partner was like buying a car.  Both of them might have been used, having been driven around the block more than a few times, but, if they were very lucky, to the right buyer they'd be just perfect.  

I can't tell you how many Friday and Saturday nights I stood at the front window in my West End high-rise apartment, looking over all the other apartment buildings right up to the skyscrapers of downtown Vancouver, wondering when, or even if, I'd meet the right person for me, taking me away from the funk and emptiness of being single.  Surely, in all of those hundreds and thousands of apartments in Vancouver's gay village, God had placed someone who was the right match for me, the person I was meant to spend the rest of my life with.  But where?  Where was he?  And how, among all those people I encountered in the city on a daily basis, coming and going through their daily lives, would we possibly meet?  The likelihood of it seemed infinitesimally remote.  I doubted it would ever happen.  I'd lost faith.

Did I simply buy into the message society constantly feeds us that we're nothing without someone else, or did I know in my heart and in my soul, because we human beings are genetically hardwired to feel incomplete without someone to share our lives with, that I had to be with someone else?  I think it's the latter.  I don't believe for a moment that we're meant to spend our lives alone, because there is so much to be enjoyed when you're with someone else.  In fact, how is it possible to enjoy life fully, as fully as it should be enjoyed, if you don't have someone else to enjoy it with?  It's like success, which we've heard time and again is nothing without someone to share it with.  And I know this to be true as well.  

But it isn't just a matter of having someone to enjoy life with or to share success with that makes being with someone you love the height of the human experience.  It's what the other person does for us that we can't do for ourselves.  Sure, if we're fortunate enough, and can undo much of the crud that happens to us as we're growing up, we might actually learn to love ourselves to the degree that we should but that few of us do, with or without someone in our lives.  But you will never, ever truly experience love if you don't have that someone special in your life to show you what loving and being loved is all about.  It's not until we give ourselves completely to another human being that we truly become ourselves.

Beyond the experience of love, which, after all, is the whole point of life, being in a long-term, committed, and monogamous relationship takes you deeper into yourself and into another human being than you could ever get otherwise.  Sure, you learn about each other's stuff, but who would we be without our stuff.  You have stuff, I have stuff.  In that regard, we're all the same, and the question becomes whether the stuff you and your partner share is too much--in which case you'll find yourselves constantly pulled apart--or if it's acceptable, in which case you'll work through it together.  In actual fact, a relationship is meant to force you through your stuff, helping you to make peace with it.  Without that relationship, you'll always carry the weight of it around, whether you know it's there or not.  A relationship is the key to unlocking hidden parts of yourself, the parts that get in the way of being the real you, of fulfilling your purpose for being here.

In a relationship, a partner reflects back to you who you really are.  No, not who you think you are or who you want to be, unless your relationship never descends to the level of intimacy that we human beings are capable of and crave.  In your partner, you'll see not only all of what you inflict on other human beings, but also what you inflict on yourself.  When you see the hurt and the pain and the suffering you put your partner through, in his eyes and in the expression on his face, you'll see who you really are, and, hopefully, you'll also see the opportunity you have to change and to become a better person.  Without that person in your life, you and your darker side are unleashed on the world, and, unchecked, you increasingly limit the likelihood over time that you'll ever find someone to share the rest of your life with, so set in your own ways will you become.

What I've seen time and time again in the gay community is the hesitance of gay men to really and truly connect with other human beings in meaningful ways.  While they celebrate being single, free, and sexual, gay men alight on each other's lives, continuously flitting from one experience to the next with this man or that.  What they rarely do is remain stationary long enough to allow themselves to get close to someone else, or to allow someone to get close to them.  It's far less risky to share themselves physically with other men--in some cases, lots of other men--and engage in potentially life threatening activities, than it is to share themselves emotionally.  And what they do in the process is disallow themselves the opportunity to truly be with someone in a meaningful way, in a way that will show them who they are and who they could be.

I feel sorry for single gay men.  I was one in the past, and I know how unhappy, unsatisfying, and meaningless that existence is, despite everything they might think or say to the contrary.  If single gay men could recognize their own homophobia, do the hard work to overcome it, and wholeheartedly take the only risk worth taking--that is, to open their hearts enthusiastically to other men in the context of committed, long-term, monogamous relationships--they'd discover for themselves all that I've written about here, and how much happier and truly fulfilled they could be.