Yesterday I celebrated my 55th birthday. Actually at about 4:30 yesterday I completed my 55th year here on Earth and started my 56th trip around the Sun. This morning, as I contemplated the next half (or 1/3 more likely) of my time here, I also looked back. Reflections can be tricky; they often hide or distort even as they appear to be clear and sharp.
These thoughts were also inspired by the following message one of my nephews left on my Facebook page:
Happy birthday!! I don’t know what to wish for you this year, so instead I’ll thank you.
Thank you for SHOWING me way equality matters. Not that I wouldn’t have gotten
there on my own, but seeing you have to fight for everything inspired me to take up
your fight! Thank you for *ALWAYS* being you even when it would have been easier to
hide as someone or something else. But most of all thank you for being my uncle, and
proving that love knows no bounds, and love is just love. Even between two boys 🙂
I love you
35 years ago last Fall I came out in the pages of the Chatham Daily News (in s/w Ont) in response to a Letter to the Editor regarding a gay rights activist who had been interviewed on CBC. Later that year I moved back to Toronto; city of my birth and, gods-willing, where I will expire in some distant future. This was less than 10 years after the ‘de-criminalization of gay sex’. Whatever you might say about Pierre Trudeau (and plenty of people have lots to say about him) the then Justice Minister (later Prime Minister) said at the time “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”
Regardless, I doubt that any of us at the time dared dream the rights we were fighting for included full Marriage Equality. Non-discrimination protection for work and housing, feeling safe on the streets; these were important goals. I volunteered for the peer-counseling phone line (single line) of GYT (Gay Youth Toronto) to help other young gays deal with loneliness and rejection. While I am saddened to see that the USA still does not provide national non-discrimination protection (look up “ENDA” in your favourite search engine for the sad history) and the number of suicides by gay youth continues to deprive us all of an incredible amount of talent, love and future blessings, society has made great strides. Progress in human rights, equality and basic decency comes in spurts (a carefully-chosen metaphor) without a clear trajectory. It is messy. The relief at times seems temporary….. OK enough of this train of thought….
When I came out (1978, remember) self-identifying as gay was a daring political statement. It was a rejection of the diagnosis of homosexual, and the derogatory ‘fag’ ‘queer’ ‘canary’ ‘swish’ ….. Now of course self-labeling as queer is a rejection of the gentrification and mainstreaming of ‘gay’ (see this post for more on that topic).
I do seem to be rambling somewhat- but my thought patterns have been like that for as long as I can recall. So, in conclusion I am touched to know I’ve had a good influence on at least one person, that I have lived long enough to see full Marriage Equality in my homeland (and about a dozen other countries) and gods-willing will be around long enough to see full Marriage Equality in this, my second homeland. Oh and perhaps to officiate at some of those ‘same sex’ marriages. Yah, in preparation for the once-unthinkable I am now ordained in the Universal Life Church and fully licensed to perform marriage ceremonies in Ohio.
Look at me Mom !