Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Wow, its been over a week since I last posted. Crazy busy at work these days trying to get things done before my week off for the Outgames. As I don’t seem to be able to find the time to write my own words, I thought I would post someone else’s. The following is a speech given my Justice Michael Kirby, an openly gay judge on Australia’s High Court (their version of the Supreme Court), that he gave at the opening ceremonies of the Gay Games in Sydney. Hope you love it as much as I do.

“Under different stars, at the beginning of a new millennium, in an old land and a young nation, we join together in the hope and conviction that the future will be kinder and more just than the past.

At a time when there is so much fear and danger, anger and destruction, this event represents an alternative vision struggling for the soul of humanity.

Acceptance. Diversity. Inclusiveness. Participation. Tolerance and joy.

Ours is the world of love, questing to find the common links that bind all people. We are here because, whatever our sexuality, we believe that the days of exclusion are numbered. In our world, everyone can find their place, where their human rights and human dignity will be upheld.

This is a great night for Australia because we are a nation in the process of reinventing ourselves. We began our modern history by denying the existence of our indigenous peoples and their rights. We embraced White Australia. Women could play little part in public life: their place was in the kitchen. And as for gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities, they were an abomination. Lock them up. Throw away the key.

We have not corrected all these wrongs. But we are surely on the road to enlightenment. There will be no U-turns.

Little did my partner Johan and I think, thirty years ago, as we danced the night away at the Purple Onion, less than a mile from this place, that we would be at the opening of a Gay Games with the Queen's Representative and all of you to bear witness to such a social revolution. Never did we think we would be dancing together in a football stadium. And with the Governor. And that the Governor would be a woman!

True, we rubbed shoulders on the dance floor with Knights of the Realm, such as Sir Robert Helpmann and with a future Premier, such as Don Dunstan. But if an angel had tapped us on our youthful shoulders and told us of tonight we would have said "Impossible". Well, nothing is impossible to the human spirit. Scientific truth always ultimately prevails. So here we are tonight, men and women, indigenous and newcomers, black and white, Australians and visitors, religious and atheist, young and not so young, straight and gay - together.

It is put best by Corey Czok, an Australian basketballer in these Games:

"It's good to be able to throw out the stereotypes - we're not all sissies, we don't all look the same and we're not all pretty!"

His last comment may be disputed. Real beauty lies in the fact that we are united not in the negatives of hate and exclusion, so common today, but in the positives of love and inclusion. The changes over thirty years would not have happened if it had not been for people of courage who rejected the common ignorance about sexuality. Who taught that variations are a normal and universal aspect of the human species. That they are not going away. That they are no big deal. And that, between consenting adults, we all just have to get used to it and get on with life.

The people of courage certainly include Oscar Wilde. His suffering, his interpretation of it and the ordeal of many others have bought the changes for us. I would include Alfred Kinsey. In the midst of the McCarthyist era in the United States he, and those who followed him, dared to investigate the real facts about human sexual diversity.

In Australia, I would also include, as heroes, politicians of every major party, most of them heterosexual. Over thirty years, they have dismantled many of the unequal laws. But the first of them was Don Dunstan. He proved, once again, the astonishing fact that good things sometimes occur when the dancing stops.

I would also add Rodney Croome and Nick Toonen. They took Australia to the United Nations to get rid of the last criminal laws against gay men in Tasmania. Now the decision in their case stands for the whole world.

I would include Neal Blewett who led Australia's first battles against AIDS. Robyn Archer, Kerryn Phelps, Ian Roberts and many, many others.

But this is not just an Australian story. In every land a previously frightened and oppressed minority is awakening from a long sleep to assert its human dignity. We should honour those who looked into themselves and spoke the truth.

Now they are legion. It is the truth that makes us free.

I think of Tom Waddell, the inspired founder of the Gay Games. His last words in this life were: "This should be interesting". Look around. What an under-statement.

I think of Greg Louganis, twice Olympic gold medallist, who came out as gay and HIV positive and said that it was the Gay Games that emboldened him to tell it as it was.

I think of Mark Bingham, a rowdy Rugby player. He would have been with us tonight. But he lost his life in one of the planes downed on 11 September 2001, struggling to save the lives of others. He was a real hero.

Je pense a Bertrand Delanoe, le maire ouvertement gay de Paris, poignarde a l'Hotel de Ville au course de la Nuit Blanche. Il a fait preuve d'un tres grand courage - et il est un homme exceptionnel. When the gay Mayor of Paris was stabbed by a homophobe he commanded the party at which it happened to "Dance Till Dawn". Do that in his honour tonight. And in honour of the Cairo 52; the Sister movement in Namibia; Al Fatiha - the organisation for Gay Moslems and many others struggling for their human rights.

And I think of all of you who come together on this magical night to affirm the fundamental unity of all human beings. To reject ignorance, hatred and error. And to embrace love, which is the ultimate foundation of all human rights.

Let the word go out from Sydney and the Gay Games of 2002 that the movement for equality is unstoppable. Its message will eventually reach the four corners of the world. These Games will be another catalyst to help make that happen.

Be sure that, in the end, inclusion will replace exclusion. For the sake of the planet and of humanity it must be so.

Amusez-vous bien. Et par l'exemple de nos vies defendons les droits de l'humanite pour tous. Non seulement pour les gays. Pour tout le monde.

Enjoy yourselves. And by our lives let us be an example of respect for human rights. Not just for gays. For everyone.”

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Categorically Cruel

One great thing about being a gay person is the freedom to dress however you like. Of course some of us, myself included, get stuck in certain gay clothing traps, like leather pants in 40 degree Celsius weather or a sleeveless T in a blizzard, but there is still an abundant level of freedom for our taking if we want it.

This all came up as I saw this twinkie-something (my new word for the under 25 living among us) was walking down the street in pink flipflops, Jackie O sunglasses, charcoal capri pants and a very see-through white shirt opened nearly to his navel. I had a small chuckle to myself over just how very gay he looked, but then muffled that giggle when I remembered some of the things that I wore at that age (don’t even ask!).

But it got me to thinking that gay people truly are free to dress as “faggy” as we want. Well, at least in the “Big City”. And it becomes a reality that for gay people our dress is a reflection of ourselves. While the breeders out there may have the “jock” or “preppie” or those generalities, we’ve got so many others. It got me to thinking about all the types of gay people I see out there.

1. Gym Bunny – no matter what the season or the occasion, shirt exposes beautifully formed (and intermittently vein-y) arms, too-short-short-short flashing quads or snug jeans and a warning sign saying “If you brush against me shirtless, Beware of Stubble”.

2. Yupster – defined by the Urban Dictionary as someone who wears $300 jeans with a $10 T-shirt – defined by me as someone who spends an inordinate amount of time (and money) making sure that the name on their clothes is acceptable (to whom, I am never quite sure) and that they look as if no effort has been spent whatsoever in putting themselves together.

3. The Bedraggled – noticeable through the ample mop of hair on the head that while undeniably long is never (never, I say!) touching the shoulders – the higher up, the closer to God, jeans of a rather loose variety barely supported on hips and permanently wedged under all footwear.

4. Middle-Aged-Newly-Single-on-the-Prowl – characterized by a general air of cruising everything that walks, this gay guy who has been out of “commission” for a number of years suddenly finds himself back at the gym five days a week working off the spoils of a long-term relationship evidenced somewhere north of the border – typically has a decent body but is wearing the clothing that found him success far too many years and far too fewer pounds/wrinkles/grey hairs ago to really pull off any longer.

5. Juice Monkey – overly tanned and constantly wondering where his neck has disappeared to, the Juice Monkey has perfected the art of appearing as if no one else in the world exists outside of himself and other people who are basically mirror reflections of himself – when a vacant look is truly a glimpse into personality – See Stubble warning in Gym Bunny Above.

6. Former Juice Monkey – man once found under the category 5 whose former pecs of steel now require a man-bra, whose face resembles a leather muppet and whose previously vacant eyes now reflect a tinge of terror that all glory days have passed.

7. Non-Gay Gay – dresses as straight as humanly possible and is rarely seen in the confines of the gay world – partly political (“Ghettos Marginalize Us All!”) and partly out of a fear of letting loose.

8. Door-Just-Opened – the new, fresh from the closet gay man who in the thrill of liberation from the confines of that tiny space is found thrusting himself into every extreme of gay bahaviour and is noticeable through his tight fitting jeans that barely (or do not at all) cover a well trimmed bush, a brightly coloured collared shirt that either does not meet the waist or is opened to the navel, fashionable sunglasses, some type of hat (preferably worn to the side), and his last girlfriend, conveniently converted into best fag-hag until she realizes that she will not get him back not that she will ever find someone else with him occupying all social time, located on one arm and a man-bad (or murse to some of you) on the other.

9. Embrace-It – the bid burly man who has decided to embrace the fact that he will not be a Gym Bunny or any of the others above and thrives in his beer belly, baseball hat, black T-shirt and slightly dirty jeans. Hair can be found everywhere and is frequently the nicest of people since he isn’t trying to impress anyone by false means.

10. Muscle Mary – a gay classic: Either of the Gym Bunny or Juice Monkey varieties whose voice and / or mannerisms just don’t go together with the body image.

11. Leatherman – permanently porting the skin of some dead animal no matter what the weather, a bottle of poppers in once pocket, a pack of smokes in the other, and a well rounded knowledge of sex toys preferably black in colour. Frequents the same small number of bars and has been known to occasionally mix with Embrace-Its. Gym Bunnies and Muscle Marys who dress up as Leatherman for circuit parties are not to be confused with true Leathermen.

12. Circuit Boys – rarely seen wearing a shirt and only seen during the daylight hours rushing from one venue to another or attempting to find their way home from a venue (either theirs or someone elses), the Circuit Boy does not have a long shelf life and will generally convert into one of the above after a number of years. The Circuit Boy can be characterized with large pupils, a layer of dance sweat, and a large number of friends whose names he can’t quite recall at this moment.

13. Top-of-the-Pops – gay men typically in their forties or beyond who have all the right cards in their wallets and a stack of bills, the Top-of-the-Pops are at the height of their professions and can be found frequenting gay bars between the hours of 5 and 8:30 and then at some upscale restaurant after that until around midnight. Their clothes are always top of the line and tend to hide any body flaw that might be under there and are obsessed by great shoes. Tend to attract certain number of any of the above especially when there is a country place or free drinks involved.

Well, I am sure there are others, but those are my categories of the day (gotta love stereotyping people as a pastime!). And which am I you may ask? Well, I’ve been a few of these at some point, but like usual I have no perspective on myself at this point in time.

I guess you could put me in the category of Approaching-Mid-Thirties-Bitchy-and-Full-of-Himself... :)

Friday, July 14, 2006


I recently read an article where it was noted that the person being interviewed had books lying all over the house. When questioned why they were not on shelves, she responded by saying that she didn’t like the idea of pointing out to people, “Oh, look at how well read I am.”

This thought has stayed with me for a long time after I read this and it has gotten me to think about the things that I do to get myself either noticed or to elicit a specific response.

Of course this goes beyond the typical gay dress code of showing off your body, package, great hair, etcetera , etcetera, etcetera. This is just our version of plumage I guess (although throwing in a feather boa certainly emphasizes the plumage aspect). I like to pretend that I don’t care what other people think, but that too is a big lie. I am constantly engaged in some sort of activity designed (generally unconsciously) to heighten people’s opinion of yours truly.

Steering a conversation in a certain direction so that I can talk about some fascinating anecdote about myself is certainly not unknown in my repertoire. I will also wear my suit jacket even in the blistering heat because I feel that people will look at me with professional regard (not – ooo a professional – but ooo – he must have a good job). I guess the same thing holds up for putting university degrees on walls. I also love talking the dogs on walks on busy streets since they provoke the “he’s so cute” response.

Is this all just pompous? Perhaps – no – probably. But its also so very human.

Well, but even that is pompous. Why do I always think that if something is normal for me, it must be a human trait? Its like that wonderful line “No one ever thinks that they are a bad person.”

Monday, July 10, 2006

Wild Weekend

This weekend certainly was quite an active one!

A very old friend of mine came into Montreal on Friday night. Johnny and I were frat brothers and great friends in Edmonton. Right now he lives in Vancouver and works for a large tobacco firm (yes, he’s a smoke peddler!) that is based in Montreal. He has training here all this week with the possibility that he will be transferred here. So he came in early to spend the weekend hanging out.

On Friday night, Johnny and I went down to the Montreal Jazz Fest to catch a bit of the excitement. He was completely fascinated with the plethora of people there (not to mention the fact that people could drink on the street). After a couple of hours, we along with Bud went out for a great dinner of sushi and saki.

At 11 we went out. My next-door-neighbour got us some free tickets to see a show at the Just For Laughs Theatre starting at 11:30. The show was called “La Clique” and it was an adult burlesque circus. Sounds odd but it was utterly fantastic. From the woman who was able to perform magic tricks completely naked, to the guy who could lift another guy above his head using only one arm, to an incredibly sexy muscular German man lying shirtless in a bathtub and then performing acrobatics soaking wet using ropes, the show was astounding. Very sexy and completely hilarious. Was a great time.

The next day, I was hung over in the morning, but Johnny, as a true Vancouverite, went for a jog! Our neighbour, Sam (this smoking hot lesbian), Bud and I decided while Johnny was jogging, that since the clock had struck noon, that it was time for afternoon cocktails. The temperature was 30 C, so we stayed in our backyard drinking for the next 6 hours.

Well, then my age showed and it was time for a nap. After a little 30 minute snooze, it was off to walk around the Latin Quarter and the Plateau to show Johnny a little more of the interesting neighbourhoods of Montreal. Dinner again – although this time a terrible one – and it was back home.

But this was no time to rest. Being a straight guy, Johnny wanted to catch some of the famous Montreal strippers. So it was off to Super Sex downtown. Now, it has been many years since I have seen a naked woman in person and a long long time since I have been to a straight strip club. Jesus, the guys get very rowdy. Screaming all the time. And just generally going nuts. I thought a few were going to have a cardiac arrest when a couple of strippers did a little lesbian action number. But I knew that I was definitely gay when I spent more time looking at the stripper’s shoes than their naked flesh.

One of the uniquely Montreal aspects of this place though was the odd number of women who were at this show with their boyfriends. Wasn’t expecting that.

But the best show had to have been with a guy that was there for his bachelor party. He was brought on stage, his shirt and pants were taken off. And then the strippers used his belt around his neck to lead him around stage like a dog. This wasn’t the degrading part however. Next they forced him down on his stomach and proceeded to tear off his underwear exposing the hairiest ass I have ever seen. And then they whipped his ass raw with belts and finally ended with them ripping off his underwear completely and taking a Polaroid of him butt naked on the stage!

The next day was the World Cup so it was off to an Italian bar to watch them go crazy. And they did. And so last night I was asleep at 9:30 wondering how I ever was able to do even more every weekend and keep going.

Johnny is in town for another week, and I truly wonder how I am going to make it through it all.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Foot in It

What a strange country I live in. I have seen more flags of other countries being waved around and worn by Canadian citizens during the World Cup than Canadian flags on Canada Day.

Do we have that much of a void of national identity that we need to seek out our ancestors to reach the level of fervour?

Or is it just our pathetic attempts at football/soccer that make fans need to look elsewhere for vicarious involvement?

Addedum: Thanks to Say What for this picture - Makes me want to watch a hell of a lot more soccer

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