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

When Anderson Cooper Came Out

Many times in the past when faced with that question “so what DO you do for a living?” I’ll launch into a convoluted explanation and then, recognizing that baffled look, sum it up as “I work with kids with behavioural problems and try to put ’em on the straight and narrow”. When asked how I came to do this work, I describe it as a happy accident (well, sometimes I think it’s happy!) but then I follow it up with “but really, it’s not what I was ever MEANT to do….I’m REALLY supposed to be reporting to you from some far off corner of the world live on CNN.”

Or, in other words, I was SUPPOSED to be Anderson Cooper, and that guy is living my life.

Anderson and I have had a love/hate relationship ever since we “met” also known as ever since he first graced my TV screen back in ’01.) I remember being pretty riveted by his coverage of 9/11, and then I started watching any and all of his TV appearances, bought his book, read his magazine articles…you know, began to closely follow his career. But lately I’ve begun to wonder….perhaps it’s Anderson that’s following ME.

I mean, we’ve both gone through our preppy stage, later learning to rock the polo and jeans look with a revolving pair of even more fabulous shoes each time. When I started going prematurely grey and had a receding hairline resulting in a billboard forehead, guess who went all silver foxy and grew a brow you could watch an IMAX flick on? And sure, Anderson has travelled to war-torn countries and reported on the state of affairs in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, but guess who’s
braved lunch meetings and had to fight the masses for the very last piece of meat lovers pizza, all the while evading those dieters who you just knew would love to claw your eyes out for even one discarded slice of hot pepperoni? And let’s not even talk about the lingering post traumatic stress from diving in the cooler for the sole can of Diet Pepsi!

But Anderson’s latest antics are simply the straw that broke the camel’s back! Years ago I came “out” to my sisters in an e-mail, I think partly describing some long forgotten boy I was infatuated with at the time, but ultimately telling them I was happy and content in my life, and at the end of the day the same ol’ me they’d always known (that exasperating, attention seeking, never stops talking brother from the same mother I’d always been.) So yeah…guess who writes a casual email to a friend, stating “fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and couldn’t be more happy with myself, comfortable, proud.” Well let me tell you…THAT sounds a bit familiar! So call it what you will – parallel lives, copy-catting, or, full-out Colin-wannabe – it seems once again I feel some kinship to good ol’ Anderson.

But, despite my frustrations with what can only be described as a clear invasion of my privacy by the AC and his 360 crowd, truth be told I admire Anderson. A lot. And I share many of the sentiments he’s expressed in the past week since he took these brave steps. For me, being gay didn’t define me, still doesn’t. But undeniably it’s a part of me, a big part of who I am as a person, what I’ve become as a man. But for a long time I struggled with WHY that piece should be so relevant, so present. Hetero friends didn’t introduce themselves by saying “by the way, I’m straight”. Friends of color didn’t say “in case you didn’t notice, i’m black”. I didn’t understand at the time why I should qualify things with “I’m Colin. And I’m GAY!” But with age and maturity (HA! Me, mature?) I’ve come to feel differently. Nowadays, I feel it’s important to be “out there”, to be visible. To be a valuable, contributing, upstanding citizen of the planet – a guy just like a lot of other guys – who just so HAPPENS to be gay. About a year or so ago, my partner Shawn and I were visiting my family in Cape Breton, and had taken my cute as a button little nephew Kyle for ice cream. Kyle and I are very close, and he’s stayed with Shawn and I on a few occasions for vacations and what he calls “sleepover adventures”. He’s young….I’m sure he can’t “define” what Shawn and I are to one another, but he knows we’re “together”, much like his mommy and daddy, or his Aunt Donna and Uncle Gord. He knows we live together, we do most things together, we share a home and even a bedroom together…and I think he’s bright enough to know we’re all “family” to each other. We’d been on outings with Kyle in the past – especially when I’m “home” in CB – where I imagined people looked at the three of us and tried to “figure us out”. There’s enough of a family resemblance between Kyle and I that some people have even mistaken me for his dad, so I know at least folks would get we’re related, but I’m sure in some ways Shawn’s a mystery. Is he a cousin, a friend, or – GASP – could those fellers be QUEER? This particular night we ran into a woman from Kyle’s school, and as they greeted each other, she said “your uncle may not remember, but I knew him when he was growing up too”. Kyle looked a bit confused, glanced at Shawn and I and then back to this lady and said “But….they’re both my uncles!” We laughed at the time, but I’ll never forget that night, those words, that pure moment seen through this innocent little boy’s eyes.

In a perfect world, gay/straight, black/white, male/female….none of it will matter. But it’s not a perfect world. And whatever advances we’ve made as a society in regards to inclusion and equality, we still face many challenges, many obstacles, many long roads ahead. THAT part no one can deny. But as Anderson noted, standing up and being counted matters for something. And fine…if he MUST continue to model himself after me, (I’ll admit he gets a bit more attention then I), if even one kid sees him on TV, one young person struggling with being bullied or put down for who they are, for feeling weird or feeling different, and they look to Anderson and aren’t just told but clearly SEE that it does get better, that someday soon they’ll be free to “love, and be loved” whoever they choose, then all this copying will be for some greater good.

Hmmm. Wonder after he reads this if we can drop the pretense and he can just hire me as his stand in. (Well he’d THINK I’m HIS stand in. We won’t tell him otherwise!!)

Yo Anderson, you listening? 🙂