Monday, 13 October 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Canada . . .

 
Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada.
I was recently asked by a USA Facebook friend if “Canadian Thanksgiving is, in any way, like the American one?”  This reminded me that a co-worker mentioned recently that Thanksgiving is his favourite feast holiday because, unlike Christmas, there is no pressure - just pleasure!
Not ever having lived in the USA, my knowledge of USA Thanksgiving is entirely the product of the media (both TV and social networks).  The question, however, made be ponder a comparison.
 
I think Canadian Thanksgiving is mostly about dinner. Just as in the USA, it’s a family feast occasion and our usual menu plan is much like what I’ve learned our USA friends have: roasted turkey with fixings'n’gravy and pumpkin pie.  Stuffing (“dressing” to my USA friends) and cranberry sauce, round out the delicacies.  M-m-m-m-m!
Unlike, the USA however, Canadian Thanksgiving is too far from Christmas for “Black Friday” to have an impact.  Heck, the kids have barely started back to school for the year and we haven’t even had Hallowe’en yet.
Also, Canadian football isn't as popular as NFL or College football is in the USA so we don’t have a Thanksgiving game to think of watching even if we’re closer to our Grey Cup championship than our USA friends are to their Super Bowl.
As well, while the Canadian holiday (and it is a statutory or “bank” holiday) officially falls on the second Monday in October annually, I'd guess most Canadians will have had their feast on Sunday and will be resting up today, all the while savouring left-over turkey meals. :-)
A retired work colleague provided me with some (unverified) Canadian Thanksgiving trivia to amuse us:
·    The tradition of celebrating the fall harvest is repute to have been started in 1578 when English explorer Sir Martin Frobisher held a feast in what is now Newfoundland while he was searching for the Northwest Passage.  This was the first Thanksgiving celebration in North America.
·    The USA picked up the feasting tradition afterwards and have tied the festivities to the arrival of the pilgrims.
·    Turkeys are native to North America and were first imported to Europe by the early explorers. Apparently, the original native name for this bird is “Uexoloti”.  Difficult for Europeans to pronounce, the birds eventually became known as turkeys because they were traded around the Mediterranean by merchants from Turkey who were called “Turkey merchants”.
·    The use of turkey as the main course for Thanksgiving came to Canada when USA citizens, loyal to the Crown in England, migrated north to Nova Scotia bringing their customs with them.
·    The second Sunday in October was designated as Thanksgiving by the Canadian federal government in 1957. Prior to that, the observance of Thanksgiving had no fixed date in Canada.
My oldest two sons joined us this holiday weekend from their distant homes.  I love having all three of them at home but I had to note to my husband the other day, that if the two oldest lived closer to us and regularly had breakfast here, we'd have to raise hens just to keep up with the egg demand . . . holy cow, do we ever go through eggs (and bacon) when there are five men in the house.
I have much to be thankful for: my awesome husband and family, my friends and my wonderful country.  Happy Thanksgiving Canada . . .

Saturday, 11 October 2014

National Coming Out Day 2014 . . .

I think it is a fortunate happenstance that "National Coming Out Day" coincides with the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend.  This allows me to contemplate that which I am thankful for, as a gay man.
 
Coming out is an incredibly personal and often-times difficult process. It's a journey made easier with the love and respect of family, friends and colleagues.  In my case, it took me 48 years to come out, first to myself and then gradually to others.  But, once I came out to myself, the process has been painless and liberating.  I think my positive experience may a function of the "age of enlightenment" we seem to be living in; an era that has allowed me and those around me to find quick acceptance and to move on.
 
So on this National Coming Out Day 2014 and Thanksgiving weekend, I find myself feeling thankful for the great number of people who made my journey relatively easy.  I am truly blessed with a wonderful and loving family and group of friends. One can not be more "out" than being in a same-sex marriage and those family and friends made it possible for me to find and marry my love, Bill.
 
I've never been happier or more thankful than on this National Coming Out Day 2014 . . .

Monday, 26 May 2014

Acceptance is the crowning touch to happiness . . .


We are inundated daily with stories of intolerance and hatred toward the LGBTQ community.  Usually these stories emanate from the USA as our brothers and sisters struggle with equality in the cumbersome USA legal and political systems.  We’re also hearing alarming stories coming from Africa where it is still okay to be condemned to death for love.

I shake my head and count my lucky stars daily that my father insisted upon immigrating to Canada.  Not that it’s absolutely perfect here, but based on the media stories that abound, it’s one of the best places on Earth to be gay.

In my own life, I’ve found people either don’t care or are enthusiastic supporters.  I suppose those that are not in favour of my “lifestyle choice” simply shrink into the darkness and don’t express themselves.  That works for me.

Acceptance has come in a variety of ways.  Some subtle, others not.  Bill’s daughter is our own personal Pride parade.  She would shout her love and support from the mountain tops if she could.  Bill’s son, however, has been less than forthcoming with his support.  He has told us that he will not be attending our wedding because, while he is “okay” with our relationship, he does not want to “witness” it.  I’m not sure where this comes from because he gets along very well with Bill and I.  While he doesn’t want to publicly declare his support, he does display acceptance in other ways, such as calling up and asking me “what are you and your hubby doing today?” and during a photo session at Bill’s recent retirement, he said, “it’s time for the lovers to pose now”.  Small measures of acceptance are just as important.

My mother has been struggling with the concept as well.  She has never met Bill even though she only lives an hour away.  That is her choice.  Bill and I have been in our relationship for over five years and only now my Mom is asking about him in small ways like “what’s he going to do now that he is retired”?  I suppose that is also a tiny measure of acceptance.

Other forms of acceptance come when we’re in social settings.  The other evening, at a cast party for one of Bill’s community theatre productions, a hetero guy came up to me while Bill was performing at the karaoke and said: “that’s your future husband up there”.  Yes, indeed.  Other straight friends commonly refer to him as my “hubby” and others, more correctly, “my finance”.  We get total acceptance in that community. 

Recently I ran into another high school parent in the grocery store.  She chatted away about her daughter’s impending graduation when Bill walked up beside us.  I introduced him as my fiancĂ© and without skipping a beat, she inquired: “haven’t I seen you on stage”?  Well, yes, he was recently starring in a local production of “Man of La Mancha”.  We eventually ended our chat with her hearty congratulations for our soon-to-be wedding.

I have to admit that occasionally, a shadow crosses my mind as I allow myself to feel like a minority which, due to “programming”, implies “less than”.  I immediately reject the thought because we are all Earthlings and equal regardless of our sexual orientation, skin colour or eye shape.  I suspect those errant thoughts come from the media inundation and hopefully once there is acceptance for all, we can all feel safe and happy. 
 
Coming out has been the most liberating experience for me and "everyday" acceptance is the crowning touch to happiness . . .

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Wedding thoughts for a rainy day . . .

It’s raining again today.  Our plans have changed as a result.  We were going to go to Bill’s house to get some outdoor work done in preparation for listing it with an agent.  Now we’re turning the day into a “wedding” day.  In other words, shopping (ostensibly for wedding stuff).
The wedding is two months away tomorrow.  I’m not being phased by it yet.  It’s funny how some little things can cause me heaps of anxiety but often the bigger things don’t.  Sometimes I think it’s probably just because I don’t fully comprehend what’s going on.  That’s okay.  The thought satisfies me and I carry on without a care.  I need to learn how to apply this concept to the small things.
I am bowled over by the support we’re getting from family and friends.  The other day, I created a checklist of things we’d already arranged and I was amazed at what friends have already contributed:  venue, wedding invitations, photography sessions, marriage commissioner and the list continues to grow. 
There are still a few things to arrange and we’d better do that soon but I have absolute faith that it will all come together in time.
I like rainy days . . .

Thursday, 15 May 2014

You Can Play . . .

A few weeks back I received an email through this blog from Alex Sanz of the Associated Press.  He had seen a photo I posted of the 2012 Vancouver Pride Parade and asked if he could use the photo in an article he was writing on the You Can Play Project.  He was interested in the picture because it contained two of the feature interviewees of his article, Manny Malhotra and Patrick Burke.
 
The You Can Play Project is a campaign dedicated to the eradication of homophobia in sports.  It's premise is centered around the slogan, "If you can play, you can play."
 
 
 
I supplied Alex with two photos and they can be seen on his YouTube article published today:

 
On another note, I was truly showing my age today when Alex sent me the link to his "article".  My response before checking it out was: "I look forward to reading it".  LOL.
 
I'm not that interested in professional sports but I now know, if you can play, you can play . . .  

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Getting married . . .


 
In my younger days I was “Mr Marriage Booster”.  I loved the institution of marriage and I took every opportunity to extoll its virtues.  To me, being married is what a loving couple did as an expression of their love for each other and in so doing, solemnized their bond to each other publicly and without reservation.   It was how couples would “conquer the world” together.   Of course, being deeply in the closet at the time, marriage to me was the sole purview and domain of straight couples.  I don’t think I even dreamed of the concept being applied to same sex couples.

My infatuation with marriage came to a grinding halt when I suddenly found myself without one.  My wife made it very clear one day that our marriage of 19 years was over.  It was a shattering experience and changed my outlook completely. My view on marriage had soured and I looked upon it with disdain and cynicism.   

As I’ve written before, the failure of my marriage became the catalyst for me stepping out of the closet and I began to explore my new-found sexual liberty.  I immersed myself in learning about life as a gay man and occasionally, I would find myself in discussions about gay marriage.  I encountered the naysayers, the gay folk that believed marriage is too “straight” a concept for gay people and should be left to hetero’s and I encountered the same-sex marriage proponents that yearned for the same right to marry that everyone else had.  Still, after much discourse and thought, I hadn’t personally formed an opinion about whether same sex couples should be able to marry, let alone exercise that right.  For me, I was quite certain I was done.  I made sure everyone I met knew that I “will never cohabitate with anyone again and I will never marry again”.  Period.
 
In the intervening years, I have decided that same-sex couples have the intrinsic right to marry, even if the law doesn’t allow for it.  Simply put, the law must change and I’m happy to note that I live in a country that recognized this inherent right some years ago.  Regardless of my evolved support for gay marriage, my cynicism about the institution itself hadn’t waned. I still didn’t understand why anyone would want to get married, even if they could.
I’ve learned over the years to “never say never”.  And even when I was saying “I will never . . .”, I knew deep down within my cerebral cortex that “never” was not necessarily sustainable.  My intent to remain unencumbered for the rest of my life began to weaken when I met my soul mate, Bill.
The first test of my resolve came in the second year of our relationship.  As now, we lived in separate homes that are about 30 minutes apart, but as it happened that Christmas, we both had two weeks’ vacation over the holiday season.  I ended up staying at his place the whole two weeks.  It was awesome, but my goodness, how could it be?  I decided “I could do this”. “I like it”!  But, I cautioned myself, “I’m still never getting married!” 
A few more years have gone by and the love between us has grown immeasurably.  This fall, Bill needed to take some time off work for health reasons and this time he lived with me for almost three months.  It’s been a few years since our first cohabitation test and again it was awesome.  Just around the time he was returning to work, he turned to me and said, “You know, someday I’d like to get married again”.  Holy smoke, is this a proposal?  I didn’t know what to say.  “Can we think about this”?  “Oh sure”, he said “there’s no rush or pressure”.
The truth be known, I’d been mulling over marriage for some time.  But like coming out of the gay closet, I found myself fearful of stepping out of the “no marriage” closet.  After all, I had failed at that once and it wasn't, and still isn’t, pretty.   After that, Bill never said another word about his desire for matrimony but his unsolicited “suggestion” kept my mind occupied.  We have been “going steady” (he’ll hate the juvenility of that phrase) for over five years and in terms of our relationship, the years have been truly magnificent. I decided I would give him an answer over this past holiday season.  On New Year’s Day 2014, I said to him, “I’d like to talk about marriage again . . .”
Unless one is very famous or one does something extremely public, I don’t think a regular person can get anymore “out of the closet” than being in a same-sex marriage.  As we know, even people who appear “gay” may not be, but getting married to someone of the same gender will leave no doubt about that couple’s proclamation. 
As if there were any lingering doubts, Bill and I are delighted to announce that we are stepping “way out” of the closet as we’ve decided we are getting married . . .

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year . . .

 
My wish for you is that 2014 is everything that you want it to be . . .
 
In retrospect, my 2013 was pretty darn good.  In fact, it was a 1,000 times better than my 2012.  In the past year: I started the year living in a new home, my divorce was finalized, I went on a few trips, things at work settled down (although they are started getting weird again toward the end of the year), and Bill and I co-habitated for pretty much the last quarter of the year (although it was unfortunately because of his health).  So, all in all, a good year from my perspective.
 
We finished the old year with Bill, my sons and I drinking some bubbly while watching Ryan Seacrest and Jenna McCarthy (and unfortunately Miley Cyrus) usher in the new.  The kids had mostly fallen asleep but I woke them in time for the countdown.  I thought young people had more staying power than this!!
 
The new year promises much change and excitement.  The biggest change(s) is that Bill is retiring and he's moving in with me permanently.  We're both looking so forward to this.  It means a lot of work, each downsizing our own "collections of life" and consolidating into one place.  It also means getting his house ready for sale.  As Martha says: "It's a good thing".
 
So, wherever you are, here's to a Happy New Year . . .

Saturday, 28 December 2013

To comma, or not to comma . . .


I believe that I over-comma my writing.  I was going to seek your advice on comma'ing but then decided to Google it instead.  I found this great site: Grammar Book with a whole list of rules about commas (in fact too many rules to remember).  I tend to use rules 8 and 11 quite a bit.  Maybe too much. 
 
I'm probably still no further ahead.  Next, apostrophe's, but for now: to comma or not to comma . . .

Friday, 27 December 2013

Like a moth to a flame . . .

It fascinates me and I don't know why. 
 
 
It fascinates me to see the slow, downright evolutionary pace, with which our gay American cousins are having their human rights "granted" to them.   In Canada, we're only a few years ahead, having gained same-sex partnership rights at the end of the 1990's and out-right legal marriage since 2005, so from my own perspective, what's going on south of the border has no effect on me.  My intense interest, therefore, must come from the fact that I paid no attention to the topic when Canada was wrestling with this "demon" over a decade ago.  At that time, I was a deeply closeted, "straight acting" father with no interest in the affairs of gay people. 
 
How times have changed.  This past summer, like millions in the USA, I was riveted on the internet news feed, waiting for the Supreme Court of the USA to rule on this topic. And ever since that historic day, the anti-gay marriage faction's house of cards has been slowly crumbling.  Ever so slowly.  On last count, less than half of the USA's states have enabled gay marriage. 
 
Most of my current news comes from following gay marriage "pioneer" Stuart Gaffney on Facebook (www.facebook.com/stuartgaffney). 
Stuart Gaffney (r) and his husband John Lewis
His posts several times a day have me entranced by the machinations of the ultra right wing agenda as they throw every obstacle they can muster in the way of allowing people the basic human right to love whomever they wish.  The good news is they seem to be losing on a daily basis.  Even as that bastion of morality and values, Phil Robertson, while wrapped in a bible and standing before a burning cross, gets his duck called by A&E for voicing his racist ideals and his idiotic views of homosexuality, the "moral majority" is losing the battle.  Hallelujah!
 
Even though A&E has gone soft on patriarch Phil, I haven't.  He, his show and his family will still be "on hiatus" with me.   And although I have no say in the matter, I will continue to wish the best for those that desire the "land of the free" be truly that, and I will continue to observe the slow march to freedom for USA LGTBQ couples.  
 
Like a moth to a flame . . .    

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Season's greetings to you and yours . . .