RANT

 

 

I remember when the news first broke some time ago that Donald Trump was seeking the Republican nomination.  Like many others, I thought it was a joke…some elaborate hoax dreamt up for popular consumption.  Maybe the Donald was trying to increase his Twitter following since his usual bickering had become stale and Cher stopped biting back, or perhaps he now hoped to launch some twisted new reality show idea (the Apprentice goes to Washington anyone?) But soon realization dawned that he was actually serious, and we watched as his terrible Trump train left the station with all its “deplorable” and “degenerate” followers hanging on tightly, as it bulldozed its way over anything and anyone in its path.  Our attention then turned to the conspiracy theories as a form of explanation.  The one I clung to most was that he’d been a friend of the Clintons once, so perhaps he was now somehow working for them in some devious, underhanded, and convoluted plan to elect our first female president by making a total asinine buffoon out of her only competition.  And what a friendship he and Bill Clinton must have made.  When the “grab her by the pussy” debacle broke, also known as Donald’s version of locker room talk, he noted how he and Bill Clinton had engaged in “worst conversations on the golf course” (please don’t let there be a recording, please don’t let there be a recording…) But then I started following the news stories and the media as they chronicled his rise to political power and “glory”.  I saw the meanness and cruelty and the hatred that seemed to underlie much of the commentary – HIS commentary – and with that look in his eyes, one of scorn mixed with contempt and a lack of awareness of just how damaging one could be, I knew he was serious.  And so I started to worry.  And then, as I watched the polls and saw how close the race seemed to be, I was scared.  And this past Tuesday…well, by then I was pretty much out of my mind.   I guess the stress clearly showed on my face, as I had stopped at a local grocery store on the way home from work and this older gentleman, a total stranger, walked up to me and shook his head, and whispered “it doesn’t look good.  It really doesn’t.  I think they’re actually going to elect that guy President”

So what went wrong?  We can spend weeks and months analyzing it.  We can blame Hillary for being unlikeable or unrelatable.  We can say that Donald stood for outright change, and that people were tired of the same old politics and feeling ignored and forsaken by their leaders.  We can lay fault with a flawed electoral process that sees the person with the popular vote lose, as was the case with Al Gore in the 2000 election.  We can hate on social media, for spreading ignorance and lies like some absolute truths, and a biased, jaded media for only reporting or questioning what they judged important and newsworthy, based on their own bloated self-interests.  We can consider all these things, but what we can’t seem to consider is what this entire experience – this nightmarish ordeal – says about all of us.  Now some would argue that we’ve become so politically correct as a society that many are afraid to express what they want to say, or challenge what they believe needs to be challenged for fear of being wrong or ostracized. And that because of that, the rise of Trump – this man that could say what no one else could say like no one else could say it – is the logical and inevitable outcome of that.   But you know what?  I say FUCK that.  I believe that is absolutely unfair and categorically untrue. Trump is a bigoted, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, hate mongering, law breaking, politically regressive, serially lying, morally corrupted monstrous bully of a man in an ill-fitting toupee who will set, not only his country, but this entire PLANET back decades in his attempt to crush the spirits of anyone who is against him.  In the last few days we have seen what a post-Trump world will look like, and it is uglier than we likely could have ever possibly imagined.  We have seen an increase in acts of hatred, aggression, and outright violence against people of colour, immigrants, and LGBTQ communities, and I fear that’s only getting started.  You see, those that supported him – those that secretly wanted to support him – feel that Trump speaks for them, that he says what they can’t say, and with Trump in the White House, holding the biggest megaphone of all, he now gives people some self-perceived onus or privilege or freedom to act out how ever and towards whoever they see fit.  It’s a Trump World, and in it women are to be played with, abused, and discarded; gay people are immoral and the cause of many of the world problems; people of colour are criminals and misfits who do not belong in the US of A; disabled people are to be made fun of or ignored.  And the list could go on and on and on.  Trump ran and won on what’s been described as the most extreme and regressive platform in the history of the Republican Party, one that was undoubtedly tailored to match his bluster, to go to the most extreme in any conceivable way on every issue. Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and his Mexican border wall are front and center, along with his pro-life, anti-abortion stance (which will make no exceptions for rape or the mother’s health).  The platform will require the Bible to be taught in schools and make religion a central part of legal decision-making.  Trump has promised to appoint family value judges to uphold family centered values, aka anything not white and conservative, and he rejects any need for stronger gun control laws, despite the mass shooting epidemics that face his country.  And this platform makes as its centerpiece the denial of basic civil rights to gays, lesbians and transgender people. It repudiates same-sex marriage, and believes a “natural marriage” is only one that between a man and a woman.  It also defends merchants who would deny service to gay customers and legitimizes their right to discriminate.

Yet with this in mind, we’ve already seen the Donald, who campaigned on promises of everything and anything to get elected, reverse his stance on things like Obamacare and taxing China and jailing Hillary (I think the return of waterboarding still stands though).  His transition team is full of the very sort of Washington insiders and lobbyists he campaigned against, so it appears that  his “draining the swamp” of career politicians must now wait.  We’ve seen Trump name three of his children (Ivanka, Eric, and Junior….um, sorry Tiffany!) to run his global empire AND he has given them prominent roles on his transition team (because clearly there’s no conflict there?)   As for his Cabinet plan, there are rumblings of Ben Carson as a pick for either Secretary of Education or Secretary of Health and Human Services.  Now, Ben Carson is a retired physician who is a creationist and believes evolutionary biology is essentially a fairytale, and that being gay is a choice because people “go to prison straight and come out gay”.  So yeah, THAT guy could lead all education or health/human services initiatives in the country.  Then there’s talk of dear old Sarah Palin as possible Secretary of Interior, overseeing federal lands and the national park services, which means – “drill baby, drill!” – it will now become open season for oil and gas drillings on public lands.  And since Trump has already loudly proclaimed that climate change is a hoax perpetuated by “the Chinese”, what does any of that silly environmental nonsense stuff really matter?  Now as dangerous as all that really sounds, the one to really watch out for is vice president-elect Mike Pence.  He who is “a Christian, a Conservative, and a Republican, in that order”.  Pence has been at the forefront of the GOP’s battles against birth control access and abortion rights for years, and cuts that led to the closure of Planned Parenthood and an unprecedented HIV outbreak in rural areas of the state where the family planning provider had been the only HIV testing center. He signed a controversial “religious freedom” bill into law that licensed discrimination against LGBTQ people, which following some significant backlash he later revised.  Most concerning of all, Pence supports conversion therapy, a contoversial “treatment” used with LGBTQ people to “turn them straight” that has incorporated electric shock treatment and chemical castration in the past. Together, he and Trump have been described as the “perfect storm of classic, out of touch, Grand Old Party extremism.”  And what’s most frightening about all of this is that, with his sort of cabinet in place, Trump may truly become the most reasonable person in the room.

But here’s the thing.  We don’t get to admire Trump for his “remarkable rise to power”.  There’s nothing to admire here.  What Trump did was tap into every dark and insidious place he could find to promote white extemism. He turned over every rock to find it’s ugly underbelly.  He fanned the flames of hatred and ignorance and intolerance and from it sprung forth an inferno that consumed the country.  And as much as we can’t admire Trump, we don’t get to blame Hillary. She didn’t lose over some corruption scandal.  She didn’t lose because she’s unlikeable, stiff or cold.  She didn’t lose because she didn’t appeal to the poor or the working class.  She was the ONLY choice. And she lost because she’s a WOMAN, a strong, opinionated, determined woman, and our patriarchal and misogynistic society could not deal with that.  And what we should have known is that these attitudes and belief systems were there all along.  We have grown complacent and soft.  We thought the great U.S. of A a country so progressive it had elected a black man for two terms, so surely there was a place at the head of the table for a woman in power.  We thought we’d achieved so many of our goals with LGBTQ rights, and we believed we were opening our hearts and minds to the plight of immigrants.   And yet there were some pretty big goddamn signs we weren’t quite there yet.  The rampant racial profiling, the abuse of black men by law enforcement, the mass shootings targeting people of colour or LGBTQ communities.  Maybe Donald’s promise of change reached out and touched those people affected by all those things we didn’t see, or didn’t acknowledge, or chose to ignore – the disenfranchised lower class and the working poor.  But in the end, we were fooled by a great con man.  The only change we will see will be a dangerous, ignorant, regressive one.  Trump is most dangerous in that he is an arrogant, selfish, small minded man who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, and will be far too proud to ask for clarification.  A Trump government will strip away rights of those most marginalized and oppressed.  It will disregard serious concerns for our already fragile environment, and eliminate any policies and structures we have safeguarding wildlife and ecosystems against climate change.  It gives voice and reason to the irrational, and it will allow ignorance, intolerance, and hatred to thrive and grow virtually unchecked.

So do we just give up and say that evil has triumphed? Do we shout out platitudes like #LoveTrumpsHate or continue to tell our children that bullies never win (because clearly they do), and then call it a day?  Do we check out and check back in four years later?  Will we still be here four years later if we do?  And as a Canadian, why am I even concerned?  Well, as citizens of this planet, as someone who believes strongly in social justice, and with our neighbor the US as a daunting influence with a  looming shadow, we have a LOT to worry about.  So here’s what I’m going to suggest: When you go to social work school like I do, you spend much of your time thinking and talking about oppression, and about privilege, and about one’s social location – where they are positioned in society in terms of one’s gender, race, orientation, class – and how we manage the resulting privileges and oppressions we face day to day. As a white male living in a middle class neighborhood, I have experienced privilege.  As a queer person who grew up in a lower/working class neighborhood, I have experienced oppression.  If you’re wealthy, or have access to higher education and health coverage, you have privilege.  If you’re a woman or a person of colour in our world today, its damn sure you experience oppression.  In her book Becoming an Ally: Breaking the Cycle of Oppression (if you’ve never read it, DO!), Anne Bishop displays very simple wisdom in telling people that in order to fight oppression we must be willing to fight ALL oppression, and recognize that my oppression is not worse than yours, and so on.  It’s good advice, but there is one chilling line I remembered from this book in the days since the Trump win that that’s given me some clarity in the chaos.  Bishop said “we carry with us the blueprint of our culture’s oppressive patterns to be reproduced wherever we have influence”.  We carry it with us, the ugliness and the hatred and the ignorance we have seen.  It is generational, bred within us to the very core of our being, sometimes buried, often hidden, but in times like this given power and influence and life. But we can challenge that terrible birthright.  We can recognize that ALL oppression is bad.  We can stop caring about our rights or the rights that affect us most – women’s rights, gay rights, black lives matter, all of it – and start caring about them ALL.  We can stop thinking that there is some hierarchy to oppression because there isn’t.   OPPRESSION: IT. IS. ALL. BAD.  When we see someone being bullied or harassed, we can help.  We can side with the victim, comfort them, acknowledge that not everyone feels THAT way.  We can make certain they know that some of us are different, and that some of us are better.  We cannot let racism, sexism, homophobia and bigotry become more normalized than it already has.  We cannot become more desensitized to violence and sexual exploitation than we already have.  If you witness acts against others, be sure to stay safe but at the same time don’t stand for it.  If you experience acts against yourself, reach out for safety and support, because you will find it. Seek out allies that share  your beliefs.  If someone is ignorant than challenge that ignorance with knowledge and awareness and even understanding.  You don’t know what their experiences have been.  You don’t know what dark paths they may have walked.  But you know what can and are willing to tolerate, and you know what you’re not.  Stop using Facebook and Twitter as you’re ONE source for news and information.  Start challenging our media to be less sensationalized and more inclusive in their coverage.  We have differences.  Acknowledge them.  Educate yourself if you have to.  Educate others when you can.  Be KIND to one another.  Be KIND to yourself. If we do all of that, maybe somehow we can survive what’s yet to come.

I’m up for the challenge. Are you?

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Love VS Hate, Hate VS Love

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Senseless.  Tragic.  Unfathomable.

Those are the words we hear during times such as these, as sombre politicians and law makers parade before the cameras offering their sympathy and support while they ask people to pray for the victims and their families during such unimaginable grief…as if sitting somewhere in silence and praying to no one in particular is our greatest call to action.

We hear these same leaders say things like “this could have happened anywhere….but today it was our city’s turn” as though we’ve come to expect shootings such as these like we might anticipate rainfall for the weekend.  We watch as people come forward, giving exclusive interviews to the media and gaining their desperate fifteen minutes of fame as they claim some expert knowledge of the shooter.  They tell us how unhinged this person seemed for so long, how angry, violent and unpredictable was their nature.  And how they needed serious psychiatric help and no one would listen..and yet this so-called cry for help on their behalf always comes after the true horror of these events unfolds.  Never preemptively, never proactively, and almost always posthumously.

As I reflect on the past few days in Orlando, so many things run through and rattle about in my mind.  First, the staggering realization of such a profound loss of beautiful young lives, cut short in their youth and their prime, as they gathered together as a community, to laugh, to celebrate, and to dance.  To live, and to freely love.  If you’ve ever been to a gay dance club, you’ll understand, at its core, what an unabashedly joyous and fun-loving place it can be.  A place where people are free to let loose and be themselves without fear or recriminations, to let all thoughts and worries and sometimes even reason  get swept away as they lose themselves in a crowd of positive energy, flashing lights, and pumping beats.  Clubs such as these SHOULD be a safe haven for our community, and a celebration of love and acceptance for all who enter it’s doors…but early Sunday morning past it became a literal hell on earth, only our latest example of how terror and hate continue to wreak savagery in our modern world.

As a society, we’ve become desensitized to this degree of violence and mayhem.  For many, we shut it out completely and become almost numb to it, while others acknowledge it briefly before we quickly move on to our daily routines, with our Pinterest finds or the latest Game of Thrones spoiler, or some new fad diet or workout routine.  Or, for some, perhaps we truly become overwhelmed by it and are unsure of just what to do with all of our grief and our upset and our rage.  Most of all, that is where I find myself these days.

I question what I thought I knew.  I once again am left to wonder if we perhaps we haven’t come nearly as far as a society in our acceptance of LGBTQ people as I once thought we did.  With this singular terrible act, I am left with the possibility that I have only been deluding myself, convinced that the world had changed and that my rights and my beliefs, and those of my “family” of brothers and sisters,  were as valid and as important as anyone else’s.   That I was embraced and accepted by society at large, and that I was free to love whomever and however I choose.   And more than anything, I HATE that this self-doubt has come creeping back in, to take up residence in some dark, dusty corner of my mind.  Someplace I thought I’d locked away and banished forever.

So where do we assign blame for this latest tragedy?  Where do we focus our frustrations and our sadness and our anger.  There seem so many places.  I’m angry at today’s pop culture, and how we continue to glorify mayhem and violence in our TV shows and our movies, our music and our video games.  We rest easy at night thinking of the fun and the entertainment value of it all, and convince ourselves that no rational or sane person could truly be motivated or inspired to carry out some heinous act through the influence of Call of Duty or the Walking Dead.  But do we stop to consider how these games and movies and music we become so addicted to absolutely sensationalize and glorify violence,  paint unrealistic portraits of sex and incredible distortions of body image, and promote misogyny, bigotry, and homophobia?  Who truly profits from this?  When we try to justify or rationalize it to ourselves, do we stop and consider those less rational than us?  What about those significantly less rational and dangerously more radical?

I’m sick over the lack of gun control laws and the pervasive influence of the NRA on the political landscape in the US, particularly the power and influence it seems to wield, supporting the very politicians who built their careers around stomping all over the rights and freedoms of the LGBTQ community, women, and minority groups everywhere.   Consider these statistics: In the US there have been over 1200 was mass shootings (defined as incidents where 4 or more people are shot) in the past 3 years.  And in these past two weeks in June there have been 74 deaths and 125 people wounded that are attributed to gun violence.  That’s 199 people in less than two weeks!   Let that sink in for a moment.

I’m saddened for the young members of our LGBTQ community.  What does this absolutely horrific and devastating hate crime say to them?   What happens when what was once considered a safe and welcoming space becomes a literal hunting ground of terror?   And now we are forced to bear witness as the  world media avidly works to downplay the idea of this as a “hate crime” against gay people everywhere and promote it more as some insidious plot stemming from ISIS and other terror regimes, as though our response to one should outweigh the other?  Or is it because the political gain is so much greater when we can invoke the fear of terrorist attacks?  How much does it sting to hear of blood shortages but know that, because of your sexuality, you are unable to donate to your very community that so desperately needs help?  How must it feel to hear these latest reports that the shooter was gay himself, and was perhaps facing some profound and terrible internalized homophobia that led him to his actions that day?  Are we suggesting that being closeted and conflicted can therefore lead to murderous thoughts and rampages….that we as a community somehow ignored and rejected this man, and in turn created our own monster?

So are these the messages we must take away?

No.  They are decidedly NOT. But in order to make sense of the senseless, in order to find meaning in the tragedy, we HAVE to learn something.  We have to find something that makes us better and stronger and more united than before.   Once again, we are forced to look for meaning in the darkness and the chaos.

And so, the message is this:

Stop glorifying the shooter.  Don’t try to understand their motives by giving them some international spotlight they do not deserve.  Remember that often these actions are fuelled by some sick need for attention that’s gone unfulfilled,by their desire to leave some terrible mark on this world and incite others to do the same.

Do not give him – do not give anyone – that sort of power.

Stop trying to process the fact that some unhinged individual with violent tendencies and a history of spousal abuse, someone who was investigated by the FBI TWICE for possible terrorist connections, was still readily able to buy assault rifles and handguns within the span of a day or two and then use them to such terrifying ends.  There IS no logic there.

Remember and honour the victims.  Celebrate their lives and let their spirits live on by holding close the ones we love and reaching out with compassion and tolerance to those that we do not.

Accept the simple fact that gun control laws save lives.    Australia adopted stringent gun control laws in 1996 following decades of violent outbursts and has not had a single mass shooting SINCE.  Not one.  Let that be our statistic.

Stop using religion to promote hate and intolerance.  Let our religious teachings centre on love and acceptance, not some warped interpretation of some loose guidebook allegedly written hundreds or thousands of years ago.  They were meant as a reflection of that time, not ours.

Stop attacking Muslims and immigrants and refugees.  Stop vilifying people who are probably more frightened than you are. Stop equating all Islamic people with terrorist and radicals, and acknowledge and accept the fact that a small faction has  perhaps perverted the Islamic religion to their own sick and twisted ends and means.

Accept that this was undoubtedly a hate crime against the LGBTQ community, carried out by an AMERICAN citizen…a mentally ill and repressed homophobic man, radicalized by a father who appeared more concerned his son would be considered gay than his newfound infamy as a mass murderer.

Don’t let a hateful, knuckle dragging, fear mongering and all around repulsive human being such as Donald Trump actually have a chance to aspire to the “highest office in the land” by allowing him so spew venom and hate and actually use this tragedy for his own personal political gain.  It sickens me to the core that a tragedy affecting LGBTQ people could be a true catalyst to his rise to power.

Be mobilized, demand change, fight oppression and hatred in ALL its’ forms and promote peace, acceptance, and harmony.  Embrace diversity in all is beautiful forms in this world and stop marginalizing others.   Accept differences and worry less about these stupid conflicting opinions.

Realize that ALL life is precious, and that our time here is simply too damn short, and enjoy each day as some kind of blessing.  And know forever that love is love is love is love….

 

 

WRONG

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Sometimes I can be wrong.

I don’t admit that easily, but it’s true. I can be rash, opinionated, and vocal without truly having all the facts. I will support the good cause, champion those who are persecuted or downtrodden, and fight for action and social justice, and a big part of that is because I’ve seen so much injustice through the years. I want this world we live in to be a better place, and I truly believe it can be. So when news broke about Jian Ghomeshi and his firing from the CBC, I was angry, frustrated, and quick to rush to judgment.

And I was wrong.

Now I can’t say I’ve been an avid follower of Jian like so many others. But as a creative type, I’ve admired his creativity, and how he managed to parlay that into such an incredible career trajectory: from his indie pop beginnings with “Moxy Fruvous”, his sophisticated and hip presence as a host of “Q” on CBC radio, and the debut of his bestselling memoir 1982, there was nothing Jian couldn’t do. Like some shining star in the northern constellation, he seemed like some magnetic unstoppable force, perhaps now poised for international stardom.   When I first learned of the allegations, my mind IMMEDIATELY went to thoughts of racism: a case of that bastion of white, upper class patriarchy known as the CBC attempting to marginalize this man of colour. Then, I thought, here this same elite guard of conservative blowhards ready to dismiss him as a “pervert” and pass judgment on his “unusual bedroom antics”. It’s like the way homophobia “works” in this country. We are ready to describe what we don’t understand as disgusting or perverse or immoral. And then finally, when more people started to come forward with stories about Jian and his wicked ways, I thought, perhaps desperately, that these were people jealous of his success, looking to undermine, discredit, and somehow harm him.

No. I was wrong. And as more and more brave women come forward with their stories, forced to now share to their world some secret hidden shame, I’m angry again, this time for very different reasons. My reality check came first from another Facebook post, a column by author Chad Pelley in the Newfoundland arts and culture paper The Overcast. In it, Chad talked about “the real take away message” from this whole ordeal, and that is that women who are assaulted by men – by powerful men in particular – are now afraid to come forward due to the public persecution and shaming that THEY would most assuredly endure. He noted that while comments about the story were mostly supportive or added to the conversation, over 20% were decidedly NOT, with many of those blaming the women, minimizing the story’s impact, or excusing it by way of the BDSM lifestyle (something I admittedly don’t know much about, but what I do know tells me that bondage and discipline is more about a role play of power inequalities between equals who are players in a game involving consent. Something this clearly was not).

There exists in this country a rape culture, and its pervasiveness seems to grow year after year. We tell our young women “if you dress a certain way, if you act a certain way…you’ll draw unwanted attention”. We lecture them to “never leave your drink unattended at your party…you don’t know what might get slipped into it”. We tell them to lock their doors at night, and walk with a buddy, carry a phone for emergencies…and if they don’t do all that, well, I guess at least they have been warned. But I wonder does it ever occur to us to teach our young men what it means to treat another human being with dignity and respect? I’ve worked for many years with aggressive youth, the vast majority of them young males, and often when they are emotionally dysregulated these same youth will act out verbally. They might threaten me, or scream at me to “fuck off”, but for more female colleague the focus and intensity of their aggression is that much worse, and I’ve literally heard hundreds of variations of how to viciously belittle and degrade a woman: bitch, whore, cunt, slut…and the list, sadly, goes on and on. But little boys weren’t born with this vocabulary. This is learned behaviour. As a society, what are we teaching our little boys? What are we showing and modeling for them everyday that seems to tell them this is some accepted norm?   That this is somehow OK?

Here in Nova Scotia, we need look no further than the case of Rehteah Parsons, a young woman bullied to DEATH, and failed miserably by both our justice and mental health systems. Local police and RCMP decided, after much public pressure, to seriously follow up on her allegations of rape only after her death by suicide after months and months of cyber bullying over her assault claims, and even then chose to prosecute the accused not for rape but for making and distributing child pornography. Recently we have learned of the “always on stalker case”, a story detailed in The Coast by Hilary Beaumont of two women relentlessly harassed by a jilted ex who, among other things such as making harassing phone calls, showing up at places of work unannounced and distributing private nude photos, went as far as to actually place ads as his former girlfriend online seeking a “rape fantasy”, and sending those who responded to her door. When these women sought help, they encountered roadblocks and barriers through the police and mental health, to the degree they have no faith there even is help for women like them today. And finally, there’s the fine example of Saint Mary’s University, where a chant about rape was used (and had been used for years) as a bonding exercise during frosh week. When someone finally pointed out this is wrong, student leaders stood like deer in the media headlights glare, seemingly unaware why there was uproar over the chant and why we might expect someone to be held accountable. And all the while as this unfolded, the country’s media seemed to shake its head and do a collective “tsk tsk” about the “inappropriateness” of it all. You know, boys will be boys and all that. But rape chants aren’t “inappropriate”. Swearing in front of your grandma, talking on a cellphone in a theatre, wearing high heels on a mountain hike, and most guys in Speedos (I don’t care if you THINK you look like Channing Tatum or not – you don’t) are inappropriate. To be clear, distributing pictures of drunk girls being assaulted at parties, placing ads seeking rape fantasies on your ex’s behalf, and rape chants of ANY kind are taking inappropriate to a whole new disturbing level, and therefore requires a swift and appropriately measured response.

There are no winners in this story, only losers. The women who suffered at Ghomeshi hands get to relive their trauma all over again, some privately and others very publicly. Other victims of similar circumstances who felt they couldn’t come forward get to vicariously live through someone else’s pain, and feel those familiar stirrings of their own self-doubt.  A media giant in this country perhaps failed to protect its employees from a known predator in its mix, perhaps afraid to lose their very own “goose that laid golden eggs” as some have speculated, while writers and journalists and music industry types snickered and gossiped about rumours and innuendos for years, and yet did nothing to stop it. And young women in the media…reporters and editors, interns, assistants, and on air personalities – share talk now of their secret code: lists they share with one another, lists of powerful men to be careful around or avoid, to never get to close to or be alone with. And then there’s Ghomeshi himself, an Iranian man, a man of “colour” who for many has served undoubtedly as a symbol of cultural diversity breaking down “white barriers” in this country. It is a sad day that such a symbol is now gone.

So what can we do to make a change, as bystanders in this country, particularly as men? We can call out misogyny and sexism every time we see it…on the streets, in our beer ads, in our music videos. We can stop treating women’s issues as special interest groups in our governments. Women are more then half our country’s population, so by definition they are therefore NOT a special interest group. And with all the time and energy we invest in teaching girls how to be “safe” and “careful”, we appear to spend disproportionately less teaching our boys to be “moral” and “good”, to never violate the rights of others, to never marginalize or oppress. Again, this doesn’t come instinctually. This is learned behaviour, instilled in our young at an early age and reinforced time and time again through the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of our collective society.

Let’s teach the world a simple lesson – right from wrong.

Children need role models. Be THAT role model. Let’s show them a better way, starting today.

SOCHI’S Gay: Ellen Page, Michael Sam, and a Tale of Good Timing

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There’s something to be said about good timing.

I don’t mean being ON time.  As someone who’s spent an absolute lifetime perfecting the art of chronic lateness,  I would never speak to THAT.  I mean choosing the RIGHT time….that quintessential second to raise your voice and be heard, or  that now or never moment to jump to your feet and take action. During the journey of most lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, there inevitably comes THAT day.  When it comes  you either peek your head out of that figurative closet you’ve lived in and take some cautious steps out into the world,  or you cozy back up in the corner with a blanket and think “I’m just fine just hanging out in here for now, thank you very much” or you go all ninja like and attack the door, kicking and screaming until there’s nothing left but splinters and sawdust.  Now truth be told, for most of us the journey to outness isn’t that literal, and for many it often involves variations of all three of those options, sometimes during some very different stages in our lives.   Some roads on this incredible journey are dark, with fear, intimidation, and self loathing at almost every corner,  and other paths are brighter, full of hope, promise, and some hard-won feelings of acceptance and belonging.

Ellen Page’s moment came on Valentine’s Day,  as she stood, nervous but brave, on a small stage in Las Vegas,  ready to finally share her story.  Here, at the inaugural Time to Thrive conference (sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, an organization dedicated to the betterment of the lives of LGBTQ youth everywhere), Page delivered a very eloquent, very moving, very personal speech.   She spoke of being fearful of coming out and how, as a result – now listen up, because this is important – not only her relationships but also her spirit and her mental health suffered greatly.   Page spoke of her belief  that gay people should be able to love freely, openly, and without compromise,  and that together we have suffered “too many dropouts, too much abuse, too many homeless, too many suicides” as a direct result of people being bullied, mistreated,  abused, and rejected simply because of who they are, and for living the life they were born to live.

Now the cynic might look at Ellen Page and roll their eyes and say clearly they knew about the “lesbian thing” years ago, or complain about these celebrities who feel the need to share all the intimate details of their sex lives with the world.   Just sorting through my Facebook feed alone the last few days I’m quick to discover comments like “why do these gays feel the need to come out anyway?  I didn’t come out STRAIGHT” or “it doesn’t matter to me if someone is gay or not, I just wish they’d keep quiet about it so I wouldn’t have to know”  (Alas, it will be hard to deprive myself of these little nuggets of wisdom, but somehow I sense some Facebook UNfriending soon).

As important as Ellen Page’s  coming out has been, she’s not the only one making “gay waves” in the news today.  Michael Sam, a defensive lineman from the University of Missouri, announced last week that he was gay, and is now poised, post draft season,  to become the first openly gay player in NFL history.  Sam noted his coming out was driven by concerns someone else might leak details of his private life, and he felt the need to “own” his own truth, saying “no one should tell my story but me”.  Sam’s candour has been divisive among the professional sporting world, but for the most part he’s been shown mad support and acceptance, particularly from his fellow players and coaches.

It’s ironic that these two people, heroes to many, have come forward at a time when we’re celebrating the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.  The controversy that surrounds Sochi has certainly affected my enjoyment of the Olympic games on a personal level.   This is disappointing because, as a guy who’s not so great at sports, the Olympics are my chance to feel like a total jock.   Or, at the very least, play armchair athlete and sit around in my underwear, drink beer, and scream at the TV “are you blind??  That was clearly just a twizzle and not a triple toe double loop, you big idiot!”

Like many other parts of this world, the rights of LGBTQ people in Russia have long faced legal and social challenges, with gay people often subject to various forms of abuse, harassment and discrimination.  What makes Russia “unique” in this respect is that just eight months before the start of the Games, Russian President Vladimir Putin passed a law making the distribution of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors illegal.  The media claimed the legislation was blatantly  “anti-gay”, while LGBTQ rights activists took it one step  further by condemning the law as a return to the Middle Ages, and the government’s way of effectively banning most forms  of LGBTQ culture.  Since the passage of the anti-gay propaganda law, the media has reported the arrest of many gay rights activists, as well as an alarming increase in incidence and severity of homophobic violence, including attacks by ne0-Nazi groups against young minors.

This struggle for gay rights that has now played out on the world stage serves some very good and important purposes.   It has made  the International Olympic Commission reconsider just how hosting the games in a place like Sochi contradicts the principles of their Olympic charter regarding anti-discrimination in sport, and will likely force them to review these principles and more carefully consider proposals from future host cities.   Above all,  it has uncovered blatant human rights violations suffered by LGBTQ citizens of one of the most powerful nations in the world, and brought to light the discrimination, abuse and hardships visited upon them each and everyday.  It is a cry for justice that will not go unheard long after these Olympic Games are done.

S0 how important is the idea of movie actresses and professional athletes announcing to the world they are gay and ready to live their life out loud?  I say it’s more important than you know.  The whole process of coming out for many is a terrifying one.  A gay kid is first already burdened with this terrible knowledge that they are different from everyone else.  Their differences single them out – to be made fun of, left beaten down,  made to feel their worth as a person is somehow less.  And no matter how true it is, even when surrounded by others a gay kid often feels alone in the world… isolated, mistreated, and misunderstood.  It’s challenging enough to navigate all the wonders and mysteries and awkwardness of adolescence for anyone, but for a gay kid it becomes, for these reasons and more, so much more difficult.   So imagine, if you will, that artsy loner kid who now finds herself a kindred spirit in Ellen Page, or the basketball fan who sees in his sports hero Michael Sam a glimmer of himself.  Imagine watching these proud gay Olympians hold their head high and represent their sport and their country with dignity and grace in a place that would marginalize, reject, and condemn them.   Accepting you are gay means accepting, in many ways, that as you travel down those roads in life, your path is going to be just that much harder, with enormous obstacles and burdens along the way.  But it can also mean that life, despite it’s hardships and its compromises, will ultimately be that much more grander, richer, vital, and fulfilling.   We can say “it gets better” but we need to live by those “better” principles, or otherwise the message is meaningless.   That means standing up for what’s unfair and what’s unjust.  It means being brave and opening ourselves up to the world, being that role model that others need so that they might  grow and learn from our strengths and from our weaknesses.  It means recognizing we’ve already lost far too many beautiful lights, and taking five minutes, as Ellen so perfectly noted, to recognize each other’s beauty instead of attacking each other for our differences.  It means loving and accepting ourselves, so that we’re at a good time and in a good space to do all of these things.

That’s the kind of world I want to live in.   That’s the kind of world I plan to live in.  Won’t you join me?

Pride Flag in Halifax for Olympics 2014

Not My BIG BROTHER


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Racism is stupid. Abuse towards women, on any level, is wrong. Homophobia is just another word for hatred. In our modern world today, what is it about race that defines a person’s worth? What does gender or sexual orientation really have to do with equality anyway?

It seems these days that CBS’ Big Brother believes they have the answer – some quantifiable truth about what makes HIM better then HER, or YOU better then ME. Anyone who’s read this blog, and anyone who knows me, knows I’m a huge fan of the Big Brother series (I even sent in an audition tape for the Canadian version of the show). As entertained as I’ve been by the show in the past, I’ve always been most fascinated by it from a social experiment perspective. A bunch of strangers, forced to live together in a house, cut off from society and the outside world, from all the things they know and love…video taped and audio recorded…as we WATCH and LISTEN to them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week…. until one by one, through some wacky competitions, tests of endurance and trying (and crying!) emotional games, you eliminate them all until one player is left standing, crowned the winner, given a prize of $500,000.00. I’ve both cheered and despised characters in the past such as Rachel and Brendan, Dr. Evil, Brittany, Mike Boogie, Janelle, and Dan. And as memorable as they are, this year’s cast will likely become the most famous of all…. and all because of the toxic, harmful and hateful environment they bring. Big Brother’s no longer fun…. it’s just mean.

Social experiments by nature can have strange outcomes given that they involve humans, those unpredictable and complex creatures that we are. Sometimes social experiments can expose more then they bargain for due to the nature of the individuals involved. And so if you consider BB a science experiment, it’s safe to say it’s one that’s now gone horribly, even viciously wrong. It started out innocently enough. Aaryn, the worst offender of a pretty damn offensive bunch, started out sort of Lindsay Lohan Mean Girls like, but then quickly turned…some sort of Amanda Bynes, pre Civil War maybe. Aaryn viciously makes fun of Asian and African American houseguests by resorting to cruel and untrue stereotypes, and mocks a gay houseguest while constantly attempting to out another she suspects is a “homo”, all the while denying she does any of it. Her surfer boy toy David complained his dirty sheets were the result of African American Candice sleeping in them. Her klansmate…I mean housemate GinaMarie is just some awful caricature of what Brooklyn pageant queens would be (I’m sure there MUST be some nice ones -it’s a big city and a big industry, right?) who perhaps has watched one too many Sopranos episodes and thinks she now lives in one. Big dumb Jeremy, a Native American himself who seems to laugh loudest and longest at the racial jokes, has introduced the lovely word “meat wallet” into our collective lexicon. We can thank him for that, along with “don’t trust the queers” Kaitlin, for sharing said meat wallet with that ol’ romantic test-driving Jeremy. Then there’s Hitler lovin’ Spencer, who admits to bruising his girlfriend, and waited for an audience to call gay housemate Andy “Faggot Andy” to his face. Andy himself has made fun of Asian American houseguest Helen, although at least has had the sense to look pained and uncomfortable during a few others’ racist tirades, while Amanda, self professed fag hag and lover of all things queer, likes to poke fun, a.k.a. humiliate her best gay pal as often as she can. It seems, from what we’ve seen, that perhaps Howard, Elissa, Helen, Candice, Jessie, MacRae and Judd as the only “decent” people in the house (with Judd noting “don’t these people know they are on TV and there are things you shouldn’t say”). At the very least, they haven’t felt the need to demean and disrespect their fellow houseguests over and over again and instead seem to have chosen to take a higher ground. Or wait…. is that their actual stance, or is it game play?

If you were to consider – and stay with me now – the game, as a microcosm of American society today, is a higher ground what we truly need to see represented? As a strong African American male, does the fact that Howard knows how rampant the racism runs in the house yet chooses to do nothing about it, keeping his head in the game and the eyes on the prize, make him weak? Is the end result, the prize money, the endorsements, whatever might come…. worth all the hurt and the hits his pride must take time and time again? I suppose the same could be said for all the houseguests under Aaryn and gang’s vengeful wrath. What does it say when Helen puts aside her feelings and tries to form a secret alliance with Aaryn, the woman who condescends and viciously makes fun of her at every turn? I wonder first what it does to her psyche, but then I wonder what it does to ALL of our psyches. I watched a teary eyed Julie Chen respond to the racism controversy the other day, stating that hearing Aaryn’s comments brought her immediately back to the ‘70s and being teased and verbally abused by her peers, and how shocking it was to realize that those ideals still exist today. I remember hearing Spenser use that charming term “Faggotty Andy”, which quickly brought me back thirty years to a couple of female classmates pointing at me and flailing their limp wrists and mouthing the word “fag.” But not like it happened thirty years ago…. but as though it happened just yesterday. Somehow I doubt Julie Chen and I are the only one flashbacking amongst all of this. CBS seems to feel that these contestants will suffer consequences for their behavior on the show and in real life, and that whatever those consequences will be will somehow be enough. And sure enough Aaryn, GinaMarie, and possibly Spenser will all find themselves jobless upon exiting the house, and unless the KKK is recruiting poster children I doubt we’ll see many endorsement deals. But even that doesn’t satisfy me, or seem quite enough, and it shouldn’t satisfy you. I believe they need to set a reset button on the whole thing. Cancel it. Or if the show must go on, start over, fresh and new with a whole new group of people. Or as a ratings grab, bring back some old favourites. Bring back the Brittanys and the Dans – hell, bring back Rachel – but get these vicious, dangerous people out of the house. They won’t lose viewership. Fans WOULD watch that. Stop giving these terrible people airtime to spew their horrible, hateful beliefs. There is a precedent. A UK version of Big Brother has done this in the past, cancelling the show after a large public outcry against blatant racism towards an Indian contestant which eventually resulted in both a lost season and sanctions against the network responsible for airing it. But of course CBS won’t do anything of the sort. Ratings of a once struggling show are on the rise, and everyone (including me, obviously) can’t stop talking about Big Brother these days. Part of me wonders if CBS KNEW the firestorm that would likely erupt in the house. How could this many bigoted, self centered, ignorant people get past network censors? How could someone like Aaryn possibly screen as SANE and pass a psychological exam? Perception once was that CBS was hiding the racist, editing people like Aaryn in a positive way until outcry began over the live feeds. But was this a strategic move by the network to spark the controversy, and light the flame? Controversy brings attention, attention brings ratings, and ratings bring money. Period.

I feel sorry for these people, both the victims and the perpetrators. I guess, unlike them, I count myself lucky in that I grew up in a family that taught me good ol’ right from wrong, in a house with very strong female role models in my mother and my sisters. I’m blessed to have attended a school with children of many different cultural backgrounds and ethnicities, from whom I learned how rich and diverse our world could be. I’m so fortunate I reached a place where people of the same sex could feel safe and discover feelings or explore relationships with another in an accepting environment. I’m not racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic….you won’t find an “ist” or an “ic” here, no matter how hard you look, and I’m proud of that. Big Brother’s a train wreck, yet I can’t look away, as much as I wish I could. Part of me wants to see the day when Howard or Helen finally snap and right all the horrible racist wrongs that have happened. Or that ultimate comeuppance or just desserts that will fall people like Aaryn, GinaMarie, Jeremy, and Spenser. Because surely that day will come, right?

Kudos to Big Brother Canada for avoiding this kind of drama and playing the game with a bit more class. I mean, they made a breakout star out of a 6 foot queer black man with a love of cross dressing and glitter….let’s see BB US try THAT.

It’s sad that in 2013 THIS is the world we’re shown. And I for one am so glad it’s NOT my world. I truly hope it’s not yours either.

Dear Jodie

Jodie-FosterI love Jodie Foster.

Some people quote the Bible, or lines from their favourite books, or lyrics from a song. I quote Silence of the Lambs. I mean, just the sight of sunblock has me screaming “it rubs the lotion on its skin and puts it in the basket!” I’ve followed Jodie’s career most of my life, and along with cheering all her amazing accomplishments, in roles like my beloved Silence, Taxi Driver, The Hotel New Hampshire, and the Accused to name a few, I’ve forgiven her for the seemingly unforgiveable, like continuing to hire Mel Gibson when no one else would touch his racist, homophobic, misogynistic ass, and for Panic Room, a movie I actually liked but one that will forever be marred for inflicting the wooden depths of Kristen Stewart’s “acting chops” upon an unsuspecting world. So as I watched her rather mesmerizing speech at the Golden Globe awards, I wondered was THIS something for which I could proudly cheer her on, or scream in horror “oh no, she’s pulled a MEL… again!”

Seems the answer’s actually both

See, as much as I love Jodie, I love lesbians. Over the years, lesbians have been some of my bestest friends. Those gals can drink like truck drivers, make great wingmen at bars, and are wicked spotters at the gym. And truth be told, I’ve been accused more than once of having some pretty strong lesbian sensibilities myself, with my love of short hair and hoodies, cargo shorts and aviators, beer samplers and junior hockey, Wonder Woman Barbies and She-Ra, Princess of Power, and the musical stylings of Alanis and la Goddess Tori Amos…. but come on, DAMN, you have to admit, those sapphic sisters know where it’s AT.

Just this past year, we’ve had a rush of casual gay MALE coming out stories in Hollywood (I’m looking at YOU Zachary Quinto!). Celebs like Zachary or Big Bang’s Jim Parsons will now suddenly drop a line or two seven paragraphs into a small magazine story (something about their organic vegetable shopping spree at the local market with their male partner of a zillion years, then shrug it off and talk about their next indie role). Now with all due respect to Ellen and Portia, the way I see it, it’s the ladies turn. And after a near miss a few months back (I’m looking at YOU Queen Latifah!) I held my breath, thinking Jodie was going to do IT. You know, become this year’s Anderson. Sort of.

And then she did. Sort of.

Yes, in a six and a half minute rambling yet elegant, “am I missing the inside joke here?” to “she really gets me!” kind of speech, Jodie gave up one of the worst kept secrets in Hollywood and “came out”, noting she’d first done so back in the stone age to “trusted friend and family….then gradually to everyone who knew her, everyone she actually MET.” Now to me, that sentence alone says a lot about our society and its’ celebrity obsession, and our need to know the most intimate and secret details of the Hollywood crowd we so admire. Our Jodie is NOT Honey Boo Boo as she noted….her life and the life of her family is not some goofy reality show for our daily amusement and consumption. So bugger off, she’s saying, let me live out my fifty but still smokin’ and currently single life in peace.

Now some people are of the mindset that, as a celebrity, one gives up the right to a private life….that everything you do, everyONE you do, should be public knowledge. Not so I say. I work with kids with behavioural issues and with their parents on developing strategies to deal with said behavioural issues. Most days I love my job, and if I must say so myself, I’m really good at it. But that doesn’t mean that, when at Costco let’s say, I should drop my jar of pickles the size of my head and rush over to intervene when some little seven-year old darling baby boy is screaming he wants the new rated M for mature Call of Duty game while his mama is screaming “STOP THAT OR WE’RE LEAVING RIGHT THIS MINUTE!!” even though I know 1) she has no intention of leaving ’til she gets that latest Fifty Shades knock off and 2) junior will smugly get whatever he wants just to SHUT HIM UP! And sure enough, fifteen minutes later baby boy is clutching his killer game while machine gunning the massive hot dog lineup mama has dropped everything for and is now waiting in, just to get him a jumbo sausage with extra ketchup. No, as much as I sometimes want to, I won’t step in. I gave at the office, so to speak, and so, in my twisted logic kind of way, has Jodie.

I want to celebrate Jodie’s speech. I want to say “Hey,my sistahs! Finally you can give Ellen a break and get a new poster girl! For realz this time!” But there’s something about the vagueness of her message that doesn’t sit well with me. Because being vague implies that maybe there’s something there that should remain hidden, something that is still shameful to just admit. By flirting with the rumours, then addressing them in such a roundabout way, doesn’t make Jodie the role model I want her to be. But only part of me feels that way. Because listening to Jodie’s message, really LISTENING, I realize her words just make her seem more human, more real to me. And it makes me think of my own experiences and those of friends and how, as gay people, we’re almost constantly “coming out” to people. We constantly feel this pressure to take the spotlight and make this great proclamation about our lives. A need to explain away the important people in our lives, to defend who and what we are. To define our own “modern families”. Scarlett Johanson isn’t pressured to grab a mic and shout “I am a man-eating HOE and you are my next victim!” Ryan Gosling isn’t forced to say “watch out! I WILL sleep with your woman cuz I’m a big ol’ hetero STUD!” So in that respect why must Jodie shout from the mountaintops that she not so secretly wants to do Megan Fox? It’s because we insist upon it. We save those precious moments of full public disclosure for the queers among us. And so, on that note, BRAVO to Jodie for taking her own road. I’ll respect her coming out story. Because it’s her story, and all stories are different. And I won’t treat her life as a reality show, because unlike Honey Boo Boo, that’s not how Jodie rolls.

To be honest though, I can’t promise I won’t obsess over Jodie’s love life, especially if she soon bags a hot celebrity girlfriend. Because, after last night, one thing Jodie truly confirmed….she is one fine smokin’ hot single lesbian. And an “on the market” available one at that.

Chow Down at Chick Fil A

CHOW DOWN AT CHICK-FIL-A

I have a secret.  A secret only a few very select people know.
Something I only just this past week shamefully admitted to my boyfriend of four years…
I LOVE fried chicken.  In particular, Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken, with its 11 secret herbs and spices.
It reminds me of hot summer days of my childhood when, after a day of swimming and sun burning at Front Lake or Dominion Beach, we’d all pile into the car (or at least as many of us as could fit) and head off to the nearest KFC to get a monster bucket of chicken, with all the fixings: golden french fries, coleslaw,macaroni salad, soft rolls and hot gravy.  Sometimes if someone was feeling really extravagant, we ordered the potato salad too (never as good as mom’s though!)  AND as an added bonus to all this yummy goodness, we got to use paper plates and forks, and when you come from a family of five kids plus their  friends and your very own large extended family hanging about on any given day, and your chore that week was to wash AND dry all the dishes, THIS was a major blessing!  And so, sandwiched inevitably as I was next to my much bigger and left-handed brothers, my much smaller and woefully right-handed self would clash elbows in an all out war before those crispy fries got cold, battling for bread rolls and gravy, creamy coleslaw and ice cold pasta salad, and the most mythic, legendary piece of them all: the keel (Hell, I didn’t even know what keel meant – it’s actually the breast bone of the chicken – but I knew I’d fight to the death for it, or at the very least until my brothers would hold me down and stick their disgustingly wet fingers in my ears until I screamed and gave it up!)
Over the years I tried to branch out, with a dabble or two into Mary Brown and her offerings, and a weekend special here and there at Sobey’s or some local pizza joint, and as a grown up I even tried to make my own healthier, oven baked variety.  (Also, I learned about things like clogged arteries and double chins, and decided the rare and occasional indulgence suddenly suited me best).
But alas, nothing could compare to the good Colonel.   And to be honest, dining alone on a Toonie Tuesday could never compare to the epic battles of my youth.   Where was the fierce competition, sense of adventure?  Where was the yelling, hair pulling, and tripping one another (and that was just the fight over who got to CARRY the bucket!)
Would I ever recreate that long ago magic?
So it was with some interest that I heard a few months back about a possibility of some famous deep fried chicken franchise known as Chick-Fil-A possibly opening in Halifax. Could it be I’d find a newfound love, where I could trick a group of  innocent and naive friends into going out for dinner, and then before they even knew what was happening jump ’em and hold them down with the threat of some wet willies or atomic wedgies until they gave up the most desirable pieces and were left, sad faced and still hungry, holding nothing but some small, sad, shriveled wing?
But then Chick-Fil-A hadto go and ruin things and bring the Baby Jesus into it.

Now, unless you’ve been living in a box somewhere, cut off from all society and its many trappings, you  have seen, heard, or read about the controversies surrounding Chick-Fil-A these day.  Founded in Atlanta  by the Cathys, a southern Baptist family with some pretty deep religious convictions, this once small town American family restaurant has grown into a monstrous chain, going from 1 store in 1964, to over 1600 strong present day.  Dan Cathy, son of the company’s founder, and current President and Chief Operating Officer, has come out raging in the media (well, perhaps ol’ Dan wouldn’t approve of “coming out” or “raging” as the best choice of words) as a very outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage and a strong supporter of conservative Christian causes.  EXTREME conservative causes that Chick-Fil-A has allegedly bankrolled for a cool 5 million,  like Exodus International, those zany “straight advocates” who support “ex-gay” reparative theory (ie, they promise to “pray the gay away” and restore you to blissful heterosexuality) or the Family Research Council, who’s charming philosophies put forth the idea that gay men are all mentally ill pedophiles, that gay sex should be illegal and criminalized, and that they’d support gays being exported from the country. (Not sure what island nation they plan to ship them off to, but I’ve gotta admit, that would be SOME party!)  I’ve since googled this stellar organization, and came across images of a few of their founders such as Tony Perkins (no relation to Psycho) and Peter Sprigg, and seems to me one thing they all have in common is an unfortunate case of “Gay Face”.  Or in other words, I doth wonder if they protest too  much?

People everywhere seem to be taking sides, with liberal mayors in cities such as Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco telling the Cathys that their chicken lovin’ but homosexual hatin’ selves aren’t welcome in their towns, so they can forget about any expansion plans (although technically it’s illegal to block a business due to a person’s religious beliefs, according to that pesky Constitution of theirs, so not sure how THAT’S going to work out for everyone).  In recent days, former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who demonstrated his racist roots with some ill informed attacks on the Barack Obama’s childhood experiences during his failed presidential nomination bid, and his stupid roots by crying downright moral outrage over the Chick-Fil-A anti gay backlash, and  calling for Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day, urging people across the country to demonstrate their love and support for “a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse” by showing up at the chicken chain on August 1 and blissfully buying their way to obesity, cardiac arrest and Type II diabetes.   Chick-Fil-A went on to record sales that day, and as a counter move by some prominent gay activist  groups, same-sex couples were encouraged to protest with “Kiss Ins”, by storming their nearest Chick-Fil-A and taking videos and pictures, then later posting them online,  of some good new fashioned same sex PDAs.
Then, most recently, a (former) CFO for a medical manufacturing  equipment company in Arizona by the name of Adam Smith got fired from his job after berating some girl named Rachel who was working the drive thru at Chick-Fil-A when Mr. Smith drove up to express his righteous indignation at this “horrible company with horrible values”.  Calmly and politely keeping her composure throughout, although looking on the brink of tears, young Rachel  gets berated – and worse, videotaped before even having the opportunity to run off and check her hair or makeup – while  Mr. Smith has his say, who then rides off yelling he’s “totally straight, I just can’t stand the hate.”  Well Mr. Smith, while I’m sure you at least thought you were well intentioned, and undoubtedly  ‘mos everywhere appreciate the straight man support, I have but one thing to say to you: You, sir, suck.  Furthermore,  ANYONE who gets all up in the face of some fast food drive thru worker person SUCKS.  You see, as a former drive thru worker myself, I know what it’s like first hand to be barely 17 and be expected to work “close” and stay out til almost 3 am on a school night and STILL smell like raw meat during your 10 am history class the next day, no matter how much Irish Spring and your dad’s Right Guard you use.  And THEN, while at work, having to deal with the irate customers who are throwing a hissy fit because you accidentally let an onion touch their Big Mac or you forgot the damn sweet and sour sauce for their chicken nuggets.   Trust me, I doubt being the Chick-Fil-A drive thru girl is Rachel’s dream job (NO offense, but for that matter, who wakes up one day and says “I know, I want to be a medical manufacturing equipment guy when I grow up!”).  No, she probably gets to scrape by on minimum wage, and you were probably just one small example of any number of jerkfaces she must encounter and strategically maneuver about, all the while keeping a bright smile on her face, day after day, night after night.  Next time you want to express such an opinion, ask for the manager – from my experience, they are better paid (although probably still not nearly enough) to put up with the average customer’s crap, and, more likely then not,  they’re probably off  napping, taking a 2 hour coffee break, flirting with the new girl half their age or busy yelling  at the new guy why they are so much  better then him.  See, if you yell at each other, then Rachel and the new guy are left alone.  Also, it’s pretty clear now that all you’ve accomplished  in this messy situation is to go and get yourself fired, while likely getting Rachel one kick ass promotion.  I figure when she’s running the show and starts supporting anti medical equipment manufacturing groups, shutting down companies like yours and insisting we go all holistic and home-grown instead, you’re going to be one even sorrier dude then.
However, I think it’s important to note that with all this drama, we’re forgetting one very important demographics in all this:  the chickens.  Think of all those poor little chickens who got plucked and flash fried and gave up their very lives to satisfy those good Christian masses.  And then the poor few that survived the All Appreciation Day Massacre, likely gone to waste the very next day as all those good soldiers that lined up the day before now run screaming from those very same Chick-Fil-A stores, worried they’d catch ” the gay” with all those demonstrations of man loving and girl on girl action.
But seriously, with that said, I truly think that, at the end of the day, everyone needs to calm down.  It’s CHICKEN!  And not even boneless, skinless chicken, but deep-fried!  And I’m not sure what YOU believe in, but as the good Catholic boy I was raised to be, I do believe somewhere there’s a higher power, and I’m pretty certain that He/She/It  has a hell of a lot of better things to do then intervene in the affairs of some Southern deep-fried chicken franchise and its wacky owners, even wackier supporters, and the latest folks they’ve antagonized this week.  Also, might I suggest that if all those good Christian soldiers wanted to show true appreciation for life, liberty, justice and God above, then perhaps they could’ve lined up outside a local food bank and donated the cost of a spicy chicken sandwich and waffle fries to it, rather than fattening the already deep pockets of the Cathy family and their at best suspect and mostly insane causes.  Or perhaps, in a better world,  the Cathys could support some causes I’d be willing to get behind, like banning the term “sushi pizza” (its raw fish people, it’s got NO place on a pizza pie!) or criminalizing the sale of skinny jeans everywhere (I don’t care how small and cute you think your butt looks, this “human sausage look”, where I can visibly count the small change in your pocket, looks good on NO one!)
I must say I do find the whole idea of the “Kiss In” as a form of protest rather amusing.  Who wants to join me in a big ol’ same sex make out session at the nearest KFC so I can protest those artery clogging halcyon days of my youth?
Although don’t be fooled….I’m really just there for the 2 piece and the neon green glowing coleslaw.  With a side order of  jabbing elbows and wet willies of course!

PS I “borrowed” the title “Chow Down at Chick-Fil-A  from a video by Willam Belli, a FIERCE queen and star of RuPau’s Drag Race.

As she notes, “if Drag Queens endorse Christian owned Chick-Fil-A, is it still an endorsement?  NOPE”

Check it out. It’s FUNNY!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sO-msplukrw&feature=channel&list=UL