A Duty to Come Out

Jian Ghomeshi started a debate on Tuesday on Q about whether LGB people have a responsibility to come out and act as role models. The debate was in response to Rick Mercer’s rant last week about the suicide of James Hubley. In his rant, Rick told gay people that they had an obligation to come out so they could be role models for youth. Interestingly, Mercer was chastised for not overtly coming out overtly in his rant. He responded asking how many times does a man have to come out before it sticks. I have never heard Mercer come out. However, I did think he included himself in the group responsible for providing role models.

I agree with Mercer. I have always argued that LGB adults have an obligation to be role models. We need to be out publicly. The more public our role, the more people we come into contact with, the more obligation we have to be out. I understand that for many people there may be a price but the ironic thing is that when you come out and remove the power and the fear things will generally work out fine. There is power in numbers – the more of us who stand up and come out the fewer stigmas there will be over time.

I do not, however, support outing.[1] I think people need to be in a place where they feel comfortable coming out. I just hope they do it sooner rather than later.


[1] That’s not entirely true. I support outing politicians who are gay and who actively do things to harm the LGB community. Particularly those politicians who are engaging in homosexual sex covertly.

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Published in: on November 3, 2011 at 7:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Spirit Day

October 20th is Spirit Day. I wore purple all day. This year there is even more urgency given the suicide of James Hubley. I could go into the details of why James felt he needed to commit suicide but they are all too familiar to a queer person. Suffering under the pressure of knowing you are despised for something you cannot control or change is unbearable for most of us. Somehow most of us get through it.

Growing up queer in a Christian-centered county like Canada can be difficult. When I was a teen you didn’t talk about being gay. You didn’t your parents, your friends, your teachers or your counselor. It just wasn’t done. You live in fear that someone is going to figure it out. So you learn how to live a lie. Even though I had some gay male friends in high school, I still didn’t feel like I could come out. Hell, half the time you can be so pressured to conform to the hegemony of heterosexuality that you are even confused about your own feelings. Kids like James who come out in high school have a very lonely road to walk. If they don’t have adequate support from the school and their peers the consequences can be dire.

Hurbley’s suicide caused me to reflect on what my path had been. I can remember coming out to my Honours professor at the University of Calgary. I don’t remembrer why I needed to do it, likely it had a lot to do with being authentic. He didn’t blink. It was no big deal and we went right back to discussing whatever book I had just read for my independent study class. I was out on campus. I volunteered for the LGTB organization; I was there when the right-wing nut jobs posted death threats on the door of our office.  We reported it but the university administration did not take it seriously. It scared us to say the least.

In my thirties, we had moved to Vancouver. It felt like we had gone from a lesbian desert to the Promised Land. We could walk down Commercial drive and see lesbians everywhere. We held hands for the first time in public in the Davie Village. We had community everywhere. Meeting other queer women was as easy as hanging out with our neighbours or co-workers. We felt free to just be.

In 2003 we got married. Married for real. We didn’t expect a change in the quality of our relationship but there was. It was good. We were family now. We had the same last name and we had the acceptance of my family. But it seemed that while there had been great changes for us, there was more bullying of youth everywhere for being queer. The more society moves towards acceptance it doesn’t make sense that things should be worse for the youth. I don’t understand it.

Here is the thing about being different. You are never really safe. I repeat, you are never really safe. While life can and does get better for queer people as we move through adulthood, we are never, ever truly safe. People can talk a good game and can act properly and say all the right things but still act upon homophobia. I know because at 45-years old I became the target of bullying. A great deal of this bullying was simply because I was a lesbian. It took all of my strength to get through it.

I don’t have an answer. I wish I did. I feel very bad for the Hubley family as they grieve the loss of their son. I want the world to be different. I want it to be a safe place for queer people, all of us.

Published in: on October 20, 2011 at 7:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Childhood Dieting

We have known the dangers of childhood dieting for a very long time. Restricting calories in children can cause metabolisms to slow down and impact growth and development. Not all children are overweight because they eat too much. Enter Paul Kramer who has the audacity to write and publish a book called: “Maggie goes on a Diet.”

My first question, the one no one interviewing him seems to want to ask, is: what does a pasty, fat white man know about female teenagers and obesity? Talk about white, male privilege. He feels free to reify beliefs about the obese while clearly being so himself. Why does he think he has the right to exploit young women who are struggling with their weight by writing a prescriptive book for them when he cannot deal with his own weight issues?

We have only seen glimpses from this book. However, what we have seen shows that Kramer does not even understand obesity. He shows a young 14-year old Maggie standing in front of the fridge and eating food for comfort. He gives the bullies a pass by forcing Maggie to change rather than holding those who torment her accountable for their behavior. Perhaps worst of all he demonstrates that once Maggie becomes ‘thin’ and a soccer player she gains a certain amount of fame and people know her name. Implying that Maggie is only worth recognition when she is thin is a horrible message to send to young women. I am sure that Maggie has other things going on for her besides the shape and size of her body. What about her mind or her other accomplishments? The message that women are defined by their bodies is one that has over stayed its welcome.

I was that obese child. I was put on diets from age 8 on. Every time my mother put me on Weight Watchers I gained weight. I was never that child eating in front of the refrigerator at night. I would not have dared eat more than what was provided by my parents. Regardless of what they did or what they restricted I did not lose weight.

I was bullied all the way through school. I can remember having to get home before the bullies knew I left or they would chase me down and beat me up. A woman who lived in our complex would let me come to her house right after school. Her house was closer to the school than ours. I would wait there until everyone had cleared before I went home. I never told anyone about the bullying. I tried to solve the problem myself by staying out of their way and being very quiet. It never worked.

I am incensed that a man has chosen to write a book telling young girls to lose weight. I hate his display of white, male privilege. Obesity is a complicated disease. It is not simply a matter of calories in, calories out. If it were, I would weigh 125 pounds.

Published in: on August 24, 2011 at 1:16 pm  Comments (2)  
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Random Detritus

I went to submit my passport application at the Service Canada location in Maple Ridge and I have to say I was impressed by the service. We did my passport application and then I decided to get a new SIN card in my married name. My SIN card was free which was lovely! The province of BC could take a few lessons from the feds!

I heard more new stuff today with regard to that other situation I have in my life. It was from 2 different sources and it was very hurtful. It has made me very sad again today. Bullying is wrong.

I hated losing an hour of sleep on Sunday but I have to say that I love driving home in the light. It makes it so much easier.

I am feeling like crap. My colon is swollen and my stomach is bloated. I want it to go away now. It makes everything so much more difficult. I am not comfortable in my own skin right now and I find it frustrating. I have had a bunch of tests done and everything is fine. Well, one isn’t back yet and my thyroid function is a little low. Other than that I am exhausted. I am having a hell of a time getting up in the morning and really I just want to sleep. I hope something breaks soon. I feel like crying I am so uncomfortable and finding everything so difficult.

 

 

Published in: on March 15, 2011 at 8:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Hope

This is such an amazing video. It gives me hope for the future. However, I worry about a disconnect between talking about acceptance and actually integrating it into one’s worldview. Even though the pink shirt campaigns have existed for a couple of years, school bullying is still occurring at a high rate in schools. While I completely support events like this flash mob, I wonder what the students’ understanding of acceptance really is. If one were to ask some questions about how acceptance plays it in their daily lives.

For those of you with children what do you see?

Enjoy the video!

Published in: on February 10, 2011 at 10:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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