Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thought for the Day, #58

In January and just this week, I received emails from Anonymous Joe, who's employed by a large school district in Canada.  Joe's experience working with children over a long period of time generated a couple of exceptional quotes I want to share with you, which confirm a theme that runs through many of my posts.  

In January, Joe wrote:

The personal link you’ve made between self-worth and the ability to maintain long term monogamous relationships is the consensus amongst mental health and sexual health practitioners worldwide.

Sex or love–which one is it?
And, this week, Joe wrote:

Self-worth is a key factor in long term monogamous and healthy intimate relationships, gay or straight. Kids will pass off sex for love because they don't have a healthy self view to believe they can expect and demand both (no sex without committed love). 

It's true.  I don't have a degree in psychology or sociology.  But I do have fifty-plus-years of life experience as a gay man.  And I know what I'm talking about when I make a direct connection between low self-esteem and mistaking sex for love.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bravo, University of Alberta (Updated)

Imagine my surprise when I read the following in a full-page ad from the University of Alberta, in the Saturday, March 15, 2013 edition of The Globe and Mail:

Accepting Gay Youth with Straight Facts

Remember that old nursery rhyme your parents used to tell you:  "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."  Sadly, it's wrong.  "That's so gay," "faggot," "dyke" and "No homo" are some of the most common derogatory expressions used in schools today, but the least addressed by teachers.

For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, words have the power to shape their identities and possibilities for the future.  Put simply: words can hurt or heal.  But sometimes our silence speaks much louder than our words.  It's time we stop the silence surrounding the daily expression of casual homophobia in our schools, families and communities.

Our institute at the University of Alberta is helping to break the long-held silence that surrounds sexual orientation and gender identity in our schools and communities. Through innovative projects such as, Camp fYrefly and the Family Resilience Project, we are using the power of research to both educate people and inspire action for positive social change.  

It's what's next in helping raise awareness and understanding of the struggles of sexual and gender minority youth among us, and empowering them to embrace their identities at school and home and in their communities.  It's work that has the ability to not only change lives, but also save them.

Kristopher Wells
Associate Director
Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services
University of Alberta
116 Street and 85 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta

The first question I have to ask is, what's going on at the University of Alberta?  In my mind, at least, Alberta has one of the most redneck reputations of all the provinces in Canada.  Yet its largest university has an Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services.  (According to the website, the ISMSS opened in January 2008, replacing and subsuming a couple of other organizations.)  Does every large university in the country have something similar to it, or is UALBERTA on the cutting edge?

The second question is, where is a similar declaration from the largest university in the province where I live–the University of British Columbia?  Why did UALBERTA take the lead?  Where does UBC stand on this issue?  Why wasn't UBC the trendsetter?

Great job, UALBERTA and, specifically, the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services.  You should be very proud of your stand on this important matter and for setting the example for all post-secondary institutions in Canada.

This is me standing and applauding you.


Postscript on Wednesday, March 20, 2013:

The very same one-page advertisement I referred to above also appeared in today's edition of The Vancouver Sun.


This is the kind of homophobia the ISMSS is combatting.  

Here's a short video featuring Kristopher Wells, Associate Director for the ISMSS, talking about what the university program seeks to do.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Do The Work Now

Something I wrote to a reader in an email today resonated with me, and I want to share it with you.

The purpose of this blog is very clear and encapsulated in the sub-title:  Together, elevating the experience of being gay by learning to understand, accept, and love ourselves.  

A corollary to that might well be, if you don't understand, accept, and love yourself first as a gay person, you cannot possibly do the same for that special someone when he enters your life.  (Or, as I wrote to my reader, if you hate yourself because you're gay, how can you love someone who is also gay?)

I have seen, or heard of, a good many gay male relationships fail because one, or the other, or both partners were filled with self-loathing.  Their sexual orientation became the single greatest obstacle in the success of their relationship.

Given how many of you I know want to find that special person, be in love, and build a life together, I implore you to start doing the work on yourself right away.

The time to do the work isn't when you're in the throes of a relationship, when your focus should be on the other person and not on you.  Get yourself together now, while you're still single.  I know from experience what I'm talking about.