Prior to the 1970s, house parties were an essential element of the homosexual social scene. Photographs of these private affairs are rare. The few that are available in archival collections memorialize a history of forced seclusion. One of the most tantalizing photographs I've come across in my research of Canadian LGBT history is of a trio of men attending a Christmas party in 1956. Standing in front of a decorated tree, a young man with a then-stylish pompadour delights in opening his gift while another man, who has his arm around him and another gentleman, looks on.
A minority is defined as dangerous by a segment of society that clings to traditional views of acceptability. They fail to recognize prejudices inherent in their views until a hard-won fight for equal rights and shifting zeitgeist forces them to move on, foisting their fears on the next marginalized group.
Schools have traditionally emphasized conformity as a way to encourage fitting in. Those who do not conform can find themselves facing discipline for infractions that, in other circumstances, would draw little if any attention. How well can rules to create conformity work for a transgendered teenager? Not well at all.
My wife, Jónína, and I are proud to have been asked to participate in WorldPride 2014 by sharing our views and our own personal story. Jónína and I have reason to be thankful. But our joy is mixed with sadness. For it is difficult to enjoy a life of freedom, tolerance and full human rights while hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions, of our brothers and sisters in other countries have to fear for their lives every single day.
I've been living in Italy a long time and the deeper issue here is that there is a concept of family that has just not yet evolved to a point that the rest of the western world may feel is acceptable. But I have to say, if Canada is an apple, Italy is an olive. You just can't compare them. I'm not making excuses, but trying to explain that this is a society that moves as slow as a sloth, in spite of all the genius and innovation it has historically gifted the world.
My best friend for a quarter century has been "out of the closet" all of his life. Me -- since I was 26. We find we agree on almost everything except Mariah Carey, Katy Perry and gay pride. He calls Pride "a bunch of half-naked gays taking up space on a main street -- why bother?" I say it is one of the most important celebrations a gay or lesbian may choose to partake in.
Obama has somehow managed to come across as a socialist during this election -- a man who believes in subsidizing insurance companies, who is consistently violating international and domestic law by killing people via drones, and only recently came to the epiphany that all people should be free to choose the person they marry. More alarmingly, however, is the ease in which the Conservative base in Canada has managed to sympathize with Romney. This of course brings a very important debate to the forefront: is the Harper government much further to the right than they would like to let on? After all, it seems rather odd that Canadian Conservatives could find anything in common with the current Republican Party of today.
In 40 years, Pride has evolved from a secluded picnic on Hanlan's Point to a series of diverse celebrations that reverberate throughout this very gay city. I am a 20-something city boy who came out at a relatively early age and received unconditional support from family and friends. In many ways I fit the so-called "new gay" stereotype -- I likely won't be attending the parade on Sunday but I likely will attend a pride event at a west end bar that is as hip as it is gay.