Okay, so yeah… I’ve been out of it. And I’m basically just back to say Merry Christmas before heading back into the land that internet forgot. Well, just my mother’s really, but it’s hard to use the internet at her place.
But for those who were wondering, the surgery I had went very well, and I no longer have any extraneous parts, and was able to keep all my original parts, which was exciting given I was told I would need to have some rather significant parts removed. (Click on the links there if you want to know what I’m talking about. For some reason I don’t feel as private about it now that it’s over. Weird.) I recovered quite quickly, with no complications, but my mom insisted on keeping me under her roof for about 3 weeks. And then I came home, rejoiced in my freedom and was promptly hit with another bizarre illness – benign positional vertigo. Something I would not wish on my worst enemy. Truly the worst thing I have ever experienced. Dizziness for 3 days straight. I don’t know if I can even begin to express how awful that was.
But it is over and I am fully functional now, and headed back to my mother’s for Christmas. We’ve got loads of people visiting from Bermuda as well as my Aunt from the States, so it should be a good time. I do really love this time of year, no matter how stressful family can be.
Anyway, I thought I’d leave you all with a little gift. I found this clip today, and it has nothing to do with Christmas but it brought me much joy. I think that the next time I find myself teaching English to children, I should include the phrase “put my pimp hand down”. So here you all go, with my love! Enjoy.
Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. Here’s hoping I can get back to blogging regularly in the new year.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Okay, so yeah… I’ve been out of it. And I’m basically just back to say Merry Christmas before heading back into the land that internet forgot. Well, just my mother’s really, but it’s hard to use the internet at her place.
Posted by JJ at 11:00 PM
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Okay, so I know that due to my very sporadic posting schedule, no one will likely notice this, but I am going to be out of commission for a while... my surgery date is finally here! Well, on Monday anyway. And I will be staying with my mother in Toronto during my convalescence, which means that when I come home from the hospital (on Thursday) I will still not be posting for about two weeks. Anyway, just thought you might all want to know.
In other news, I had a conversation with an American friend recently who had read my last post, and I was shocked to note the difference in the American way of thinking versus the Canadian way of thinking so I thought I would clarify. I very much believe in honouring those who have gone before and fought for my country, but I am not pro-war. I don't know a single Canadian who won't proudly wear a poppy in November, and who doesn't honour those who have served in our military, but on the whole, we are not a 'warring' people. That poem is one that every Canadian learns in childhood (they've even translated it into French) and I know that I was taught (I can't speak for all Canadians) that Remembrance Day was a day to not only remember the soldiers who fought and died, but to remember those who fought for my rights as a woman, my rights as a visible minority, my right to worship in the way I chose, my right to speak freely about whatever I wish... all my rights. It is a way to acknowledge the sacrifice that others have made that have impacted my life, and it is a reminder to not take those rights for granted.
Anyway, just thought I'd clarify.
Love to all!
Posted by JJ at 1:46 PM
Sunday, November 11, 2007
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
-Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
Posted by JJ at 11:44 PM
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
So I’m having a good week. Nothing dramatic, I just love this time of year! I’ve written before about how I kind of hate November, which I find rather funny when I think about how much I love October. To me, this is the most Canadian time of year… which doesn’t make a lot of sense, I know, but that’s the way it is. I moved to Canada as a little girl in the summer, and summer in Toronto is not that different (to a 5 year old’s eyes) than summer in Bermuda, so it wasn’t until Autumn started settling in that I began to feel the difference. This is the time of year when I am most grateful that I am not God, because I can tell you that I never would have thought of anything so crazy as having leaves change colour and turn the hills and parks into an impressionist painter’s idea of fire. It’s just amazing.
Anyway, I’ve just been in a good mood and noticing things that make me happy, so I thought I would list them.
1. Running hugs from children.
You know what this is, right? When a child runs at you with their arms open wide and then crashes into your legs, almost knocking you over, as they wrap their arms around you as tight as they can. Have I mentioned how much I’m enjoying supply teaching at a local preschool? I’ve been in there a lot and the kids love me and I love them, and I get running hugs from them on a regular basis. I don’t know that there is anything better for the ego than that.
I love pomegranates. And in Canada they are only around for a few months a year. I am usually very aware of when pomegranate season starts, but having recently returned from Korea, where the pomegranate season was kind of opposite to ours (and, incidentally, a lot longer!) I wasn’t paying attention. So today when I was grocery shopping and stumbled across a barrel of pomegranates in the produce section, I was barely able to contain the happy squeal that bubbled up in my throat. They are bloody expensive, but oooh… so yummy!
3. The Amazing Race.
Okay, so this one’s a little shallow… but it is one of my favourite shows. And if they ever wise up and allow Canadians on that show I will line up so fast to audition… I’ve already got a few potential partners lined up. Now, the Amazing Race isn’t on TV yet, but I just found out today that the new season is starting in November (which is good, because as I mentioned, I hate November). But here’s the thing, not only is one of my favourite shows returning to TV (again, I say ‘yay!’), but they are featuring for the first time a lesbian couple. And not just any lesbian couple, but Christian lesbians! Ministers, in fact! It’s pretty cool. (Hat tip to my beloved AfterEllen.com) You can watch the promo, if you like.
Okay, so I mentioned this in my little introductory paragraph, but I love Autumn leaves. Not just the colours, though – although they are amazing. I also love the crunch of walking through leaves on the sidewalk. That sound has an almost magical effect of me. Oh, it isn’t foolproof, but it almost is. When I hear my feet crunching through leaves I usually can’t help but smile. Oh and the smell! It’s kind of gross when you analyze it, because it is the smell of rotting leaves, but it’s such a nice, Autumn, Canadian (I know that it’s not just Canada that has this, but in my head it’s very Canadian) smell. When I first moved here, it was still legal to burn piles of leaves. I’ve since learned that that is bad for the environment so I disapprove of burning leaves on principle… but I miss that smell too. Sometimes people still burn them in the country, and so you can still catch the occasional whiff of that sweet aroma sometimes.
Oh, I can’t believe I almost forgot this… piles of leaves! We swept the leaves in the yard at preschool into piles the other day and without any direction all the kids immediately knew what to do… to jump in them, bury themselves, and toss them in the air! I suppose that doesn’t seem all that remarkable, but a lot of the kids at the preschool where I’ve been working are recent immigrants to Canada, and are from countries where there is no Autumn – a lot of middle eastern and African kids. I can’t remember if I was that intuitive with the leaves… I do remember that the snow freaked me out, but that’s a different story.
5. Good conversation.
Another obvious one. I just went out for coffee with a good friend last night and really enjoyed our conversation. We talked about various things like the definition of ‘evangelical’ versus ‘fundamentalist’ and… oh man, I can’t really remember all of what we talked about, but I do remember leaving thinking “There’s another thing that makes me happy… good conversation!”
6. The old French Canadian ladies in my building.
Yes, even the ones who never seem to realize that I don’t speak French. Oooh, and I had this exchange with one of these ladies yesterday in the elevator while wearing an “I love nerds” T-shirt.
Lady: “So… are you a nerd?”
Me: “Yes, I guess so…”
Lady: after pause, “… an actual nerd?”
Me: “Uh… well, yeah, I consider myself a nerd?”
Lady: “You are a real nerd?”
Me: (now wondering if perhaps ‘nerd’ means something different in French) “Well… yes. I am a nerd.”
Lady: “Can I have your card?”
Lady: “Do you have a card?”
Me: “Uh… no…”
Lady: “Okay. Do you work for the nerds?”
Me: “Ooooh… you mean the nerds who fix computers?”
Me: “No, I am a different kind of nerd.”
I didn’t have time to explain that I actually would define those who work on computers as ‘geeks’ because the elevator had reached my floor. Oh well. Maybe next time we meet I can explain. Speaking of ‘nerds’…
7. Nerd humour
Nerd humour also makes me happy… so here’s an example of something that cracks me up!
“At least my costume has pants!” Hee!
I went on a women’s retreat this past weekend, and the first night (or was it the first morning?) we sang a few songs, including the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy”. And it was awesome… all these women singing various harmonies and descants. So beautiful. And aside from the wonder of worshiping in song in a community of Christians, I just love singing in community… and hearing singing. And I do wonder if non-Christians have opportunities to sing like that. I don’t think they do, and I think that’s sad.
Actually speaking of the retreat, I have some thoughts stemming from the retreat that relate to this blog, but they need to be processed more before I post about them. But I figure that if I mention that fact that I will be more likely to actually write the post instead of having it just mill about in my head.
Anyway, I’ll end this here. It’s been a happy week. I’m enjoying it… November’s closing in fast.
Posted by JJ at 9:25 PM
Monday, October 08, 2007
First of all, I’d like to say to all of my Canadian readers – Happy Thanksgiving, eh? I didn't have much of a traditional Thanksgiving this year, I didn’t even head up to Algonquin park for my mom’s annual ‘look at the foliage’ outing. I do love foliage, but I’ve spent so much time driving back and forth between Ottawa and Toronto for doctor’s stuff (and I’ll be driving out there again today) that I just didn’t want to leave my home to go look at leaves. We get plenty of nice leaves here in our great Dominion’s capitol, thank you very much.
Anyway, it has come to my attention that I have been tagged by Just Me. Which is nice, because it gives me stuff to blog about. So… here goes.
1. What were you doing 10 years ago?
10 years ago I was in University (University of Ottawa, to be specific). I think I would have been in my 2nd or 3rd year. Either way I was horribly depressed. At some point around here I was put on anti-depressants, which I stopped taking about 4 weeks into it because they made me feel really weird – I felt like I was in slow motion all the time, it actually felt dangerous, like I had really poor reaction time. I was kind of afraid I was going to do something stupid like walk into traffic and not be able to move quick enough to get out of the way. I started going to professional therapy sometime around here, which was very helpful (although, it did not end up making me straight, as I secretly hoped it would).
In other news, around here I discovered Tori Amos, Sarah Maclachlan and Alanis Morrisette, which was fun. Ellen Degeneres came out of the closet, which really had nothing to do with me, except I had started watching her sitcom about 3 weeks before the now landmark “Puppy Episode”, and so it threw me for a bit of an emotional loop when that happened. I stopped watching after that. Hit at little too close to home.
2. What were you doing 1 year ago?
I was in Korea, teaching English to kids ranging in age from 4 to 13. The kids were great, but at this time last year, I was hating it very, very much; and was telling anyone who would listen how much I hated Korea and would never return. It would be about a month or two before I was able to separate my boss and work situation from the country of Korea and realize that the country itself isn’t half bad, I just worked for a dimwit, misogynistic idiot.
3. What are 5 snacks you enjoy?
Smartfood, movie popcorn with sour cream and onion topping (which is similar, I know, to Smartfood, but different enough that I think it qualifies), oatmeal raison cookies, Humpty Dumpty cheese sticks (which I have recently learned are only available in Canada, how about that, eh?), and grapes (thought I’d add something healthy).
4. What are 5 songs you know the lyrics too?
I’m going to skip all church songs, because there are just too many. And I’m just going to go with the first 5 that come to my mind.
a) God is a DJ by Pink
b) Space Cowboy by The Steve Miller Band
c) I’m Scared by Burton Cummings
d) Movin’ on Up – the themesong to the Jeffersons
e) Closer to Fine by the Indigo Girls
Don’t ask why those 5 came to mind, I have no answers for you.
5. Five things you would do if you were a millionaire.
a) Pay off my mortgage
b) College funds for my sisters
c) Tithe (that should be first, I know… but I know it wouldn’t come first in my head)
e) Travel… I mean, more than I normally do… oooh, I could finally go and teach somewhere where they don’t pay you. I mean, I could do that again, cause I’ve done that once, but I didn’t have a mortgage then.
6. Five bad habits.
Okay, now that’s just a mean one.
a) Over-processing. I’ve heard that this is a lesbian trait. Not sure if that’s true of all lesbians, but it is certainly true of me.
b) Messiness. Not sure how to word that better as a bad habit. But I’m messy.
c) Interrupting. Both myself and other people.
e) Avoiding problems. Not quite a habit, but I definitely do this all the time.
7. Five things you like to do.
b) Be with kids… they are just eternally interesting.
e) Watch movies/TV… it may not be deep, but I do enjoy pop culture.
8. Five things you would never wear.
I will qualify this, as “Five things I would never wear except under extreme duress, like if I was a bridesmaid in a wedding or to a funeral or something like that.”
a)Dress/skirt. I hate wearing them. And I haven’t worn them since… well, since I was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding.
b) Stilettos. They are just stupid. Although, I must admit, sometimes they look hot. But on other people. Not me. Never, ever me.
c) Earrings. Although, I occasionally wear clipons because my mom really wants me to, but they hurt. This is not because I don’t like earrings, it’s because the holes in my ears closed years ago. I could repierce them, I suppose, but why?
d) Bikini. Why do this to myself?
e) Um… fake nails. Not that I have ever worn them, or even really care about them, I just can’t think of anything else.
9. Five favourite toys.
a) Tivo – I just got one. It’s fun!
b) Digital camera
c) Computer, I know it’s way more than a toy, but I do play with it.
d) My ice shaver… I love shaved ice… I put it in a bowl and eat it with a spoon and it makes me happy.
e) Ipod… although I haven’t used it much since I’ve been home, it was endlessly useful while I was traveling.
10. Five things you hate to do.
a) Confront. Anything, really.
b) See the doctor (which has made these last several months so much fun… I’ve had more doctor’s appointments in the last 5 months than in the last oh… 3 years, this is crazy).
c) Clean. This is a problem when you’re messy like me.
d) Wake up. It’s not like I want to be asleep all the time, it’s just that the act of waking up is usually unpleasant.
e) Be touched by people I don’t like. I hate that so much.
Okay, so that’s that… Now, it’s my turn to tag. Only 3? And Just Me already Tagged Liadan so... okay. I will tag Eric, E, and the Marauder.
Have fun! And give thanks.
Posted by JJ at 10:51 AM
Sunday, September 23, 2007
It seems that being inspired to write a blog post by the Sunday morning sermon is going around!
I didn’t take detailed notes, like Just Me did, though… but there was one particular thing that my pastor said this morning that resonated with me (well, there were a few things, but one that made me think about writing this blog post) during his sermon on “Seeking the will of God”. He showed this little artsy video clip of this guy trying to figure things out, and the guy says at one point “Truth be told, I’m terrified of making the wrong decision,” and I thought “that’s me!” Absolutely terrified.
Let me tell you a little story… when I was in teacher’s college I had two separate teaching placements that put me in two very different classrooms being mentored by two very different teachers. The first teacher was a man I’ll call John who was, to put it mildly, a control enthusiast. He would stand in the room, while I taught, with his arms folded, and should I vary slightly from the ‘approved teaching procedure’ he had agreed to or laid out, he would jump in and set me back on track. If the children got a little restless while I was teaching he would very loudly get them focused again (it scared me as much as it did them)… and if ever the children seemed to not entirely understand what it was I was saying, he would completely take over and I would observe him, whilst taking notes, to see what he did differently. It was very stressful, but I totally felt safe when I was teaching with him there (well, except when he was yelling – he was very loud). I knew I couldn’t go wrong, because he would correct me. He would always direct to do things the way he thought was best.
The second placement I had was with a woman I’ll call Cindy. I don’t think it would have been possible for her to have been more different from John if she’d tried. She was even more laid back as a teacher than I know I’m naturally inclined to be, which came as a shock, especially after John. And she immediately put me in front of the kids, without so much as a 5 minute briefing on how or what she thought I should teach. And when I was teaching, she was almost always doing something else – cleaning the cupboards, departmental paperwork, preparing art projects… anything. And it worked out fine, until one day I went to teach a unit on counting money (it was a grade 2 class). I had prepared a lesson, I had the kids sitting in a circle, and I started to teach. It was a disaster. Within 5 minutes it was obvious that the kids were not able to follow me at all, and when kids can’t follow the teacher, they are easily distracted. I sat there (and stood and jumped and waved and did everything I could think of to get the kids to focus on me, even though they really didn’t understand the lesson I was teaching), trying so hard and knowing I was failing and wondering why Cindy wasn’t helping me. She was in the room, she was sitting at her desk. I could see her, going through some papers, and there was no way she could not know what was going on a mere 5 feet away from her. The math period ended, I got the kids dressed and outside for recess and then turned to Cindy, not sure what to say. Before I could think of anything, she looked up from her papers and very calmly said, “Well, that didn’t go too well, did it?”
I was angry. I admit it. She knew, she had sat there and watched me fail, and now she was mocking me. But before I could reply (which is probably a good thing) she said “So… you’ll fix it tomorrow,” and went back to her paperwork.
I stared at the top of her head for a few seconds, and then turned and started tidying up the mess my math lesson had made, kind of in a daze. And I did it. I went home, prepared a completely new lesson, came in the next day and taught it… and it worked. The kids got it, they were engaged, it was fun, and I felt wonderful… and once again, I got the kids dressed and outside for recess. As the last child was leaving, Cindy came up behind me and said, “Every teacher has bad days and bad lessons. Most mistakes are reversible. You did a great job today.” I stood there, and let that wash over me. And honestly, of all the things I learned in university (both my undergrad and in teachers college) that lesson has stuck with me the most.
Of course, I tend to mainly apply it to teaching, not to my general life. In my personal life, I tend to get stuck when making decisions. Something I’ve often said about myself is that I’m “very good at doing what I’m told”, and it’s true (although, I’ve learned recently that I am not good at taking direction if I either don’t respect the person I’m taking direction from or if the directions they’re giving me are stupid). I’m very good at doing what I’m told. I’m not so good at figuring out what I should be doing if no one is telling me what to do. I often get stuck in a decision and end up frozen, unable to do anything at all, because I don’t want to make a mistake. And, if I’m honest, I kind of think this is what has happened with the whole gay Side A/Side B thing. I don’t know what to do, I don’t know which is right. And I don’t want to make a mistake. I want God to speak up (even if He has to speak loudly and scare me) like my first mentor teacher and just give me the answer.
A movie I saw recently that really spoke to me was an indy-arthouse flick called Julie Johnson.
Now the preview kind of makes it look like it’s all about being gay, but it isn’t. It’s about a woman who figures out pretty late in life that she’s made a lot of wrong choices (and yes, the gay part does come in there, but it’s not as all encompassing as the prevew makes it seem), and when she turns around and starts making new choices how her life opens up. Oh man, the yearning I felt as I watched this movie, this woman who honestly isn’t much older than me, finally coming into her own… it kind of hurt, but in a very good way. It made me feel hope. And it made me think that I need to do something, need to take a step, any step… just get moving. Maybe I’ll make a mistake. Maybe that isn’t the worst thing in the world.
I’m still scared though.
Posted by JJ at 6:54 PM
Thursday, September 20, 2007
So in my last post, I wrote about why I’m happy when celebrities come out… how nothing changes a homophobe’s mind like actually knowing a real, flesh and blood homosexual.
Well, while stumbling around one of my favourite websites, I found some proof of that. A republican politician (who isn’t involved in a gay sex scandal… how refreshing!) has reversed his stance on gay marriage, despite the fact that 62% of his constituents will oppose him. What prompted this? Well, among other things, it appears that knowing gay people personally (among them, his daughter) forced him to realize that he could not support the ‘separate but equal’ stance behind the civil union option, and that he could no longer tell his gay friends and family “that their relationships — their very lives — were any less meaningful than the marriage that I share with my wife Rana."
You can watch the video of his speech here, it is quite moving, and not just a little bit inspirational.
Posted by JJ at 7:02 PM
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Two posts in two days! Insanity!
So, yesterday I was doing some cleaning, when I had a sudden realization, accompanied by a girlish squeal – Ellen’s back on TV. I missed her all last year because her show doesn’t air in Korea – which seems like it would be obvious, but they got The View, and Oprah… they should have Ellen! And I swear, it’s not the lesbian factor that makes me like her, I just think she’s hilarious and her show is awesome. (Funnily enough, the last daytime show that caused that sort of reaction from me was back when Rosie had her show… two lesbians, two fabulous daytime talk shows… hmmm… maybe that will be the new lesbian stereotype? Our equivalent of gay men and Broadway?)
Anyway, she had Hillary Clinton on for her first show back. Hillary has been on Ellen before, so honestly, I expected more of the same… funny, personable, not really political – you know; light, fluffy daytime talk show stuff. So imagine my surprise when Ellen just up and asked her about her stance on gay marriage.
First of all, it was very interesting to watch Hillary completely not answer the question Ellen asked, although, to be fair to her, with the political climate being the way it is in the US, I don’t think it is possible for anyone to come out for gay marriage and get elected, so I think she’s doing the best she can.
But it also got me thinking about a couple of other things. The first off being about celebrities coming out. I am totally of the opinion that a person should have the right to come out on their own terms, famous or not… so these fishing expeditions to out people against their will that are championed by people like that Perez guy bother me. A lot. (Incidentally, I should say that this opinion of mine is slightly different when it comes to people in positions of real power – as opposed to the false power of celebrities – politicians and the like, especially those who are so vocal about their hatred of gays… somehow it doesn’t bother me so much when their hypocrisy is exposed.) But watching that clip made me realize why I’m always so happy when a celebrity does come out. Every single time it happens, we become more human.
I remember this one time I somehow found myself in the middle of an intense discussion on the issue of gay marriage (before it was legalized here in Canada) with some ladies from my church. One of the ladies in the discussion knew I was gay, the others didn’t… I would have actually probably come out, except for one participant in that discussion who I fear may have run from the table in horror – perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but she almost certainly would have reacted negatively, and been horrified to think that she’d actually left her children alone with me on a few occasions. It was actually a pretty good discussion, with the exception of this one particular woman, nothing that was said was offensive or insulting… it was just some people trying to wrestle this issue out. The one thing that did bother me, though, was how clinical it was… they discussed this topic as if it actually didn’t pertain to real people. Just statistics, numbers, political viewpoints. It was just so impersonal. I kept trying to bring it down to people, mentioning the few gay couples I know, one of which I seriously keep expecting to get married soon (honestly, every time my friend calls me I get a little excited, hoping that maybe this time it’s “the call”). They would nod, and for a few moments the issue would be real to them, but then that moment would fade and gay people would go back to being the anonymous “other”.
Watching Ellen bring the issue home to herself, mentioning not just an anonymous girlfriend, but mentioning her by name, how it was important to her that the person she loves be protected under the law… I sat in my living room, wondering how many people at home who love Ellen, and have come to terms with the fact that she’s gay but try not to think about it too much, were suddenly seeing this issue as it pertains to an actual human being that they care about for the first time. Oh, I don’t thing she changed a whole lot of minds in that 3 minutes, but she may have made people realize that this whole fight is not about “attacking the institution of marriage” like the religious right insists it is.
Weird as this may be to say, I was proud of Ellen.
The other thing she got me thinking about was brought up just at the end. I’ve talked about it a little, but in the wake of yet another Republican gay sex scandal (seriously, what on earth is going on over there on the Right? Are they putting something in their drinking water?), I thought what she had to say about shame was really insightful.
And once again, it made me think about all of those celebrities who are rumoured to be friends of the family. They are totally within their rights to stay as closeted as they want, and until they come out themselves, well, it’s all just speculation and should be seen as such. But… I admit, I’ll be happy if and when they do come out, because as weird as it is to think about, their lives do effect me. Nothing tempers homophobia like knowing someone who is gay, and while few of us actually know any of these people, in our bizarre culture of celebrity, we all sort of do.
Posted by JJ at 11:51 AM
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
I came out for the last time when I was 25. I say for the last time, because I’d come out a few times before that, only to dive right back into the closet a short time later – usually deeper in than I was before. (I’m actually fairly sure that the rather major and scary depression I hit in my university years was due to one of these returning to the closet events.) I was in Ireland when I came out, far away from anyone who knew me (well, anyone who knew me before I went there), far away from anything familiar, and it still took me 9 months of squirming and wiggling my way out before I finally declared it – loud and proud – to myself, at least. I was gay, and there was no denying it anymore.
As I’ve discussed, there was a lot of relief that came with that declaration. I’ve described it to people this way – it’s like I spent my entire life up to that point swimming against the current, expending a lot of effort, but not really getting anywhere… and suddenly, I turned around and was swimming with the water. I could move, I could look around, I could enjoy what was going on; and all I could think was “Why the hell have I been swimming that way all this time?”
Of course, there was fear involved too. The obvious ones being “What are people going to think?”, or “Who will reject me?”. I’ve sort of gotten over those ones… well, except for my family, but family is always a different issue (which is why I’m so impressed by what Just Me is doing… that girl has some serious courage. I was going to say she’s “got balls”, but I always find that a rather infuriating expression, even though I’m tempted to use it. Seriously, what do testicles have to do with courage? Anyway, moving on…)
When I returned to Canada, newly out and newly proud (well… sort of proud, and sort of out), one of the first things I did was print off a lyric from an old hymn and tape it up right by the entrance to my apartment. The hymn was “O Sacred Head” and the lyric was “Lord let me never, ever outlive my love to Thee.” You see, that was my biggest fear… that coming out, acknowledging that I was gay would somehow lead to me leaving my faith. I actually prayed that prayer on numerous occasions. I don’t know when I stopped.
I’ve since moved apartments and been to Korea and back. My mom was here recently and she was going through some boxes I’d pulled up out of storage and she found that piece of paper and laid it out on my dresser. It was a rather obvious move on her part, she’s quite afraid I’m not a believer anymore (she actually asked me in the car if I “still believe that Jesus is the way to heaven”). Obvious as that move was, seeing that paper made me think, and wonder when I stopped praying that prayer, as morbid a prayer as it is. Oh, I still Believe, as anyone who reads this blog would know… but more and more (and I’m almost afraid to let this out into the ether, for fear of all of those who might find this to be a good thing, or even a joyful thing) I find myself thinking how much easier it would be if I didn’t, and wondering if it would be possible to convince myself that I don’t.
Yesterday when I was wandering around the internets, I found myself on Quasifictional reading this series of posts (I, II, III, IV, V, VI) describing how she feels having left her faith, and it broke my heart and scared me at the same time. It happens. Just as people can become Christians, they can become non-Christians too (I’m not sure how a Calvinist would see that, though), and it can just happen… I mean, it’s not something I can see doing intentionally. I can’t make myself not believe something any more than I can make myself believe something. I either believe or I don’t… and I do. But maybe one day I won’t. And that thought hurts me.
Posted by JJ at 1:36 PM
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
My 100th post! Wow.
Actually, it’s not my 100th post at all, I made a mistake a while back and labeled two posts with the same number, but I didn’t catch it until a long time later, and it would have screwed up some linking issues to fix it, so I just left it. Hope you don’t feel cheated.
So, guess who I’m babysitting for tomorrow night? The happily married lesbian couple whose house I stayed in for two nights. I’m finally going to meet them! I won’t get to meet their daughter, she’ll be asleep (super easy babysitting gig, I must say)… but I’m excited to meet these ladies. Although I’m preparing myself for the fact that it will no doubt be a very brief meeting. I mean, they don’t even have to show me where things are around the house… I’ve already stayed there for a couple of days and met their freaky cats (yes, they are lesbians and they have cats… no real surprises there). Still, I am excited.
Other than that, my life is sort of void of blog relevant news… well, not void exactly, just not full of anything interesting to share. Oooh, I did come out to another lady from my church. I sort of have forgotten how to censor myself in recent years (except around my mother, but then that’s a lifelong habit), but normally I’m around people who know or who I know won’t care. This was a lady I could best call an acquaintance, and I just said something that I didn’t realize sounded odd until she asked for clarification. I had a moment where I tried to decide what to say and how to get out of it, but then I just thought “ah, screw it”, and just told her. We talked about it a little bit and that was that. I’m realizing how not comfortable I am with the lie anymore… not that I lie, but letting people believe something that I know isn’t true is starting to feel wrong. (Again, except for my mother… but that’s not for wont of having told her… I’ve told her more than once… I’m not going through that again.)
Speaking of my mother, I just remembered a little anecdote from when she came to visit me a few weeks ago. We didn’t go to my church either weekend that she was here because she’s decided she doesn’t like my church. One of the Sundays we went to this church that she had heard about – a church more in keeping with her tastes and style of worship (ie: charismatic). Before the sermon, they had the announcements and this woman spoke a little about the upcoming provincial elections (for those Americans among you, that would be the equivalent of a state level election), and how important it was for Christians to vote in this election because “a lot of the issues that matter to us are decided at a provincial level… like education and what our children are being taught about sodomy.”
I sort of jumped in my seat and looked around to see everyone nodding solemnly. I admit I missed a portion of the sermon (which was of a sort that no longer really resonates with me anymore anyway… you know, lots of bells and whistles) because I was so angry. That was a rather loaded choice of words, and no one seemed to catch it… who wants to teach children about sodomy? The gayest gay activist on the gayest street in the gayest city doesn’t advocate teaching children about sodomy, and it’s using language like that that fuels the homophobic violence (like what happened to Christine’s friend). What is wrong with people?
Anyway, other than that, I don’t have much to say… so, in order to amuse myself I’ve started a new blog where I write about completely frivolous things. Check it out if you like. Oh, and I found out what I would look like if I were a character on The Simpsons. Enjoy.
Posted by JJ at 10:28 PM
Friday, August 24, 2007
Well, my loyal readers… if there are any of you left. I have, obviously, been not so much with the blogging lately. I’ve sort of been preoccupied. The medical issues I mentioned before have turned out to be a bit more serious than originally thought. Oh, still nothing life threatening, it’s just that in order to rectify the issue the surgery might involve a little more than what I was told before… I’m dancing around the issue, not really sure why, it’s not like it’s really private, but for some reason I don’t feel like putting it all out there on the internet. I hope you all don’t mind.
Anyway, I didn’t really realize how much it was bothering me until the other night when a woman I hardly know asked me if she could pray for me regarding this and I found myself quite suddenly sobbing in her living room. I’m not sure who was more surprised – this woman, who is quite nice, but with whom I’ve never had a conversation that lasted for more than maybe 3 minutes (and, incidentally, all of our previous conversations had revolved around her children who I often looked after… we’ve never once had a personal conversation), or me. I have been doing my best not to think about this whole thing, or really, anything at all serious… hence my avoidance of the blogging world – I haven’t even been reading other people’s blogs. But after leaking my emotions out in this woman’s home (and may I ask why crying has to involve so much fluid? It’s so undignified… ) I think I’m ready to venture back into the series of tubes that form out beloved internets. Unfortunately, I don’t really have much to share that is blog relevant, but at least I’ll be around.
Oh, and once again, I’ll ask for your prayers.
Posted by JJ at 2:08 AM
Monday, July 09, 2007
This is just a random sampling of what’s going on in my head.
So… today I saw Transformers. Because I’m a nerd. Oh, and at one point I was a prepubescent lesbian. I came out of the movie thinking about how, when I was a little girl I really, really wanted some transformers. Or any toy cars, really… but especially the transformers. They were just so cool. Thinking back about the toys I had as a little girl, I honestly can’t remember most of them. I remember the barbies I had, mostly I remember cutting their hair off of them – oh, and always having to redress them after these neighbour boys would come over for my mom to babysit. They were always stripping my barbies, and while I didn’t care about them very much, I didn’t like them to be naked. (Prepubescent guilt over having naked plastic women under my bed? Perhaps.) I did have a few toy cars, but… well, true confession time. I stole them. Sort of. I would find them in the local parks and just keep them. Actually, what I remember playing with the most were the cardboard centers of the Christmas wrapping paper – I’ve mentioned those before, they were my light sabors.
Now, I’m not sure how much of this is ‘toy amnesia’, and how much of it is a result of the fact that we were not really financially well off when I was growing up, so I don’t think I had a lot of toys just in general. Plus, I was always more of a reader than a player. I do remember being overjoyed at the birth of a male cousin on my mother’s side. Not that I didn’t love the girls there, I was just so excited about the prospect of cool toys being available when I went to visit. Unfortunately, he aged too slowly, so that by the time he was old enough for the cool toys, I was too old to be entertained by them for very long.
Ooh, I’ve just had another memory… I remember going shopping with my dad for presents for my little sisters (this is many years ago, when toys were still appropriate for them) and watching in stunned silence as he picked out this super cool dump truck with all kinds of moveable parts for my youngest sister (my other sister got hair brushes and fake jewelry), and feeling so much envy because he knew that that’s what she would want to play with. Not envy of him knowing specifically, but of the fact that there was someone – anyone – significant in her life who knew that she wouldn’t want a doll or something else particularly girly. There was no one like that in my life. I’m trying to figure out how to say this, because as many problems as I have with my mother, I think she worked really hard to be there for me while having to work, and go to school and all of those sorts of things when I was growing up. She feels a lot of guilt about that, and it’s kind of funny, because I can’t seem to alleviate it even though I don’t really feel like I was neglected. What I do feel is that I wasn’t understood (and that hasn’t really stopped). She bought me the things that she thought I should want, instead of what I actually did want (and it should be noted that she still does this even though she no longer works and seems to focus most of her energy on me… so it has nothing to do with time or neglect, it just has to do with her inability or unwillingness to really see me. I can’t begin to list all of things I own that I don’t really want in my home, but don’t feel like I can throw out because they were gifts from my mother. It verges on ridiculous.) So, yeah, I was envious that someone was seeing my sister for who she is (and I have no idea if she’s gay… probably not… just a tomboy most likely), and was happy to indulge her.
Anyway, all of that was a long tangent. As I said, I came out of Transformers thinking about how I never got the toys, and how some might see my desire for those boy toys as a sign of my burgeoning lesbianism, and I got all defensive. In my head. Because, of course, I was having this conversation with myself. Boy toys, I argued to myself, are just more fun. They actually do stuff. They have cool, moveable parts. Sometimes they light up, or they fly, or they shoot stuff out of their eyes. They are just more interesting. All of which, I think, is just true. Girl toys seem to focus on clothes… or accessories. And I can’t see how that’s interesting for very long. I can’t see how changing outfits can compare with saving the planet from evil alien invaders.
But as this little argument happened I suddenly remembered something else. I remembered junior high and Randy River. If you are too young to remember the 80s and/or you are not Canadian, Randy River was the store where all the cool boys got their clothes. Boys. Not girls. Boys. (It’s still around, apparently, but I haven’t see an outlet anytime recently.) And here’s what I remembered. I remembered that the main reason I got my first job was so that I could buy my own clothes because my mom refused to buy me anything from Randy River. She wouldn’t even go in the store with me. And I really, really desperately wanted a Randy River shirt. And one of those skinny ties. And maybe some suspenders. I remember having arguments with her, saying that no one would know if I wore a boys shirt (to which her response was the somewhat reasonable “If you think they’re that similar, then why do you want a boys shirt?”) Now, once again, I tried to argue with myself… I mean, it was the 80s, and a lot of girls were wearing suits, at least in magazines. But I couldn’t hold that argument for long, because I remember how much I wanted those clothes. I remember going to the mall by myself so I could go into Randy River, but never having the courage to actually try on any of the clothes I wanted. I did immedietely buy some pant suits, however, so I didn't have to wear skirts every time I was asked to dress up.
So, it’s not that I think that all tomboyish girls are lesbians, but… well, maybe lesbian fingers aren’t the only sign. Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about today.
Oh, and my thoughts on the movie? It’s exactly what you think it is. No more, no less. But I do have this to say… and warning, spoiler alert. But once again, it’s 2007, and still, the black guy dies. Or, actually, the black robot dies. Seriously. What’s up with that?
In other news, I’m an idiot. Christine actually links to both her interview in Glamour magazine and her appearance on Good Morning America from her site. How I missed that, I don’t know. But check it out. You can also check out her new site, Beyond Ex-Gay. Some cool stuff happening there.
Posted by JJ at 12:51 AM
Monday, July 02, 2007
So, I had my TV on today as I was doing stuff around my house, and there was this guy who was talking about how “gaydar” was real. I, of course, had to stop and listen. All he was talking about was a sort of list of statistical realities about gay people, like how gay people are more likely to be left-handed and stuff like that. I also learned that I apparantly have lesbian fingers.
This little segment reminded me of the craziest part of those conversations between my mom and my aunt that I really can’t believe I forgot to mention in my last post. My mom was talking about that guy in her church (the one who “used to be high up in the gay community”), and what he has to say about homosexuality… and I remember sitting there on my aunt’s couch trying to keep my mouth from falling open from the sheer absurdity of it. First of all, there’s the belief that homosexuality is “the enemy’s way of stealing good men from heterosexual women. Because, you know these men would make really good husbands. They’re gentle, and attentive. Sensitive and kind.” …and they could help you pick out your clothes, style your hair and decorate your home I guess. I found this a little confusing because this belief involves admitting that there are innate differences between your stereotypical gay guy and your average straight guy while refusing to believe that homosexuality could possibly be innate.
She then went on to expound on one of this guy’s theories on homosexuality that I must admit I had never heard before. The theory goes something like this. These men (for, of course, all thought on homosexuality seems to revolve around gay men… for some reason, no one really thinks about women) love women so much that they don’t want to get involved in the ‘heterosexual games’ that most men play with women. They don’t want to hurt women, or make women feel used, so they disengage from the ‘heterosexual lifestyle’ as a result of their overwhelming love for women.
Um… okay. That’s a new one.
This got me thinking of all of the theories I’ve heard from Christians on what homosexuality is, or rather, where it comes from. The first theory I heard was from my mom when I was around 10 or 11. My mom was taking this sign-language interpretation course and for some reason, her class was populated almost exclusively by gay men and lesbians. I believe there was one other straight woman in the course – she had thought there was one straight man, but he turned out to be gay too. Her conversations with her friends about that class were how I first learned that homosexuality was an actual thing (instead of this weird nebulous un-named feeling I had that something was a little strange about me)… and incidentally, how I first heard about AIDS, not that any of her classmates had AIDS, but they talked about it... this isn't really relevent or anything, it's just that I remember when AIDS started to be talked about in public I already knew what it was. Anyway, I remember being in the car with her (and perhaps someone else, I’m not sure), driving down Portage Avenue in Winnipeg and hearing her theory on what made all of these people gay. She said that it was a form of arrested development – that everyone goes through a homosexual phase in their lives when they are attracted to their same gender friends – but that they are supposed to grow out of it, but some people get stuck there and they turn into homosexuals. I remember this so vividly because I remember the feeling of overwhelming hope that I had, that one day I would just grow out of this. That I wouldn’t ever have to tell anyone, that one day it would just go away.
Incidentally, she also brought this theory up with my aunt (I can’t believe how much of those conversations I left out… although I may have blocked this portion out because thinking about my mom’s sexuality is icky), saying that she remembered going through a ‘homosexual phase’ where she ‘fell in love with’ her best friend. My aunt just stared at her, and my mom asked “Don’t you remember going through something like that?” To which my aunt quite quickly replied. “Nope.” My mom kept pushing, “Everyone goes through it Aunt L, don’t you remember? You must have.” My aunt just sort of tilted her head and gave my mom a searching look before saying, “Well, all I can tell you is that I never fell in love with no woman.” To which my mom replied, “Well, most people have.”
Now that I think about it, I must have just blocked that out, because I’m suddenly remembering another time that my mom talked about having feelings for women… the second time I came out to her – or rather, the second time we actually talked about it. She mentioned how she had had feelings for women sometimes, and maybe she had passed on the ‘spirit of homosexuality’ to me. “Or maybe it’s genetic,” was my response. She didn’t like that too much.
Anyway, those are my thoughts today. I’m working my way through the blogosphere, and I’ve learned that in my absence, Peterson and Christine have become famous! You can check out clips of Peterson on the Montel Williams show here , or on the Tyra Banks show here . Christine was on Good Morning America, but I can’t find the clip I was watched, and she was also interviewed in Glamour Magazine, but I haven’t been able to find that article yet. I’m still just getting back into the blogging world, so maybe I’ll figure that all out. Regardless, it’s pretty cool all the stuff they’ve been up to.
Anyway, I'll leave you with that for now. Love and all that jazz...
Posted by JJ at 2:04 AM
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
So, you'll never guess where I am right now (that is, if any of you are left... I know I've been neglectful). I'm not home, although I am in Ottawa. Right now, at this very moment I am writing to you from the home of... oh, I just realized I can't remember their names. I'm house sitting for some friends of a friend of mine. This, of course, is not all that interesting, except that this home I'm in right now is the home of two happily married lesbians and their darling little girl. At least, I think they're happy. They look happy in their pictures (but of course, doesn't everyone?), and my friend gave no indication that they might be otherwise.
I found myself looking around thier (beautiful!) home yesterday, to see how happily married lesbians live. Not snooping, at least, I don't think I snooped. I looked at books on bookshelves, and pictures on walls... CDs, DVDs, that kind of stuff. Nothing too dramatic, I'm afraid. They have a couple of seasons of The L Word on DVD, and quite a few Indigo Girls CDs. They also have two copies of Fumbling Towards Ecstacy by Sarah McLachlan, which is only interesting to me because I also have two copies of that particular CD, having once travelled far away from home only to discover that I had forgotten to bring it with me and rather than simply do without, I bought a new one. I do love that CD.
I don't have much to report about this, really. I like their home, it's very nice -- they're both obviously doing quite well financially. I can say that being in their home and seeing how -- for lack of a better word -- normal it is, I'm very glad that I can call them married without having to put quotes around that particular word. They are, in fact, truly married, and I think that's a good thing -- whatever the case may be for Christians and gay marriage, just being in their home has reaffirmed for me that I think it's a good thing that this couple has the same rights and status (as least as far as the law is concerned) as any other couple.
Anyway, I have meant to continue with documenting some of the experiences I had while travelling, but my life has kind of gotten in my way. It's nice to be home and among friends. I've managed to get some part time work, and for those of you who pray I would appreciate some prayers in that area. I still want to head back to Korea, but some cash right now would not go amiss. Actually, while I'm asking for prayer, you could pray for my health as well. Oh, I'm not sick or anything, but I have discovered that I will be needing surgery for something that is not all that serious but that needs to be rectified. This, of course, has put a slight wrench in my plans to be back in Korea by September, surgery wait times and recovery times being what they are... but it must be done. Heh, something else that makes me grateful to be Canadian... gay marriage and free health care! It's good to be home.
Anyway, I think I'll try and write out some what happened while I was in the US with my mom. So... as I mentioned I ended my "world tour" with a little time with my mother... unavoidable, it turned out. Well... unavoidable without starting a huge fight. We met in New York, went to two shows and headed over to Pennsylvania to visit one of my aunts (a great aunt, or cousin, or some such... one of those people I'm related to, but honestly, I'm not sure how).
You wouldn't think 'gay stuff' would come up while visiting with my aged aunt in her retirement community, but... well, it did. My aunt brought up the old governer of New Jersey -- the gay one (I don't know much about American politics, I'm afraid... at least not much about what isn't covered on The Daily Show). We were suddenly in the midst of a debate. Well, at least my mom seemed to think it was a debate, my aunt kept trying to change the subject, or at least end the conversation but my mom was determined to say her piece and be absolutely sure that her and my aunt were in agreement. It would have been funny to watch if it wasn't for the fact that... well, I'm gay, and my mom knows... although, as I said it seems she may have forgotten.
My mom brought up a conversation she'd had with a minister in Toronto who had included an invitation to the gay pride parade in his church buliten. Apparantly his response to my mom's question or why he would do that was "Well, there's not much about it in the Bible, and I think that there's not enough love in the world as it is."
Her face then was painted with an incredulous expression, "Not a lot??? What does he mean? It's so blatant!"
I did not challenge her on that for obvious reasons, but I really don't think she's thought about it that much.
My aunt then went on to try and explain that she has compassion for "those people", and to bring up another distant relative who had shown "those tendancies" from when he was "yea high". My mom jumped on that with an 'explanation' that included learning in the womb, being rejected (ie: if your mother wanted a boy and got a girl instead, then it's possible that your fetal spirit received that and when you are born you try to become what your mother wanted... I hope I'm explaining that right). And then she went on to cite a man at her church who 'used to be high up in the gay community' (what on earth does that mean???) who is now 'married and has children and is happy and everything!', who gave a talk at her church about how everyone he has ever counseled with 'that condition' has an issue with their father... poor fathering, abandoned, abused, etc... which, I'm sure is what is in her head as an explanation for me (if, indeed, she even remembers).
Then there was the weird part where my aunt and my mom were talking at complete cross purposes.
Mom: I think we need to just see things as God sees them.
Aunt: That's right.
Aunt: ... and I think God looks on us with love and compassion.
Mom: ...uh, well, I think God has said that somethings are wrong and are sin and we need to see it that way.
Aunt: ...well, I didn't say that I think it's right, I just think that we should have compassion.
Mom: Sin is sin. There isn't 'this sin' and 'that sin'. It's all sin.
Aunt: Exactly. We're no worse than they are. We all sin.
Mom: No, what I mean is that things are becoming hazy. It's not black and white anymore. It's all creamy and grey and there is no distinction.
Aunt: Well, it's not like I think they're doing right, I just think we need to have compassion and know that we all sin.
Mom: ... (she gave up somewhere around this point).
Of course, my mom is notorious for not realizing that people can disagree with her... expecially Christians. For her, the idea that there are Christians out there who don't believe that Bush was appointed by God to sit on the throne comes as a shock. (Heh, the political discussion between my Aunt -- who is an older black American lady... very very much a Democrat -- and my mom was hilarious! My aunt calling Bush a 'stupid, foolish man', and my mom going red in the face! Heehee!!!)
My mom tried a couple of times during our stay with my Aunt to get her to say something a little more condemning about gay people but my Aunt just wouldn't do it. She would go as far as "I think it's a sin, and I think it's wrong," and my mom would sigh in relief, but then my Aunt would continue with something like "but I don't think I understand everything. I think some people may disagree with me and I think that might be okay. I don't know everything." And my mom would scowl in frustration. During one of their conversations (during which I was quite mute) my Aunt told a story about an old doctor friend of hers who was completely homophobic and used to complain to her and her husband about a 'girly-boy' patient of his that he hated. He would come to my aunt's house and mimic this patient and say hateful things about him... and then the man died, and this doctor performed the autopsy and, to quote my aunt "wouldn't you know it... found a pair of ovaries in him! So, you see, we can't know everything. From that point on I decided it wasn't my place to judge any person for being that way."
My mom, of course, tried to dismiss this case as an anomaly, using the same argument that I've read in quite a few books on the Side B side of this argument... that we can't use anomalies as a reason to dismiss the law, and I admit that this argument has some merit, but what proponents of this argument fail to see is that those anomalies are actual people, with souls that are as valuable to God as any other soul. And to use an evangelical cliche, if that man with ovaries... or any one who is intersexed in anyway... had been the only man on earth, Christ still would have died for him. Which means that somehow, the Bible, the law, must apply to them. And to dismiss them from the argument completely is a cop out.
Anyway, once again, I hope to not abandon this blog for so long again. I haven't even gotten around to catching up on all of my blog buddies blogs (heh, say that 10 times fast!). That's a somewhat daunting task, but I'm determined to do it!
Mucho love to all of you!
Posted by JJ at 9:44 PM
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Alright, so here I will begin with part 2 of my chronological journey through my blog thoughts.
So, I ended my European excursion by flying to New York, where I met my mom and spent a week with her – 2 days actually in New York. Being a person who loves (LOVES) shows and musicals, I insisted that we see at least one show while we were there (I will not tell you how many times I went to the theater in London on the grounds that… well, it would be embarrassing). I actually very much wanted to see Wicked, having seen it in London and loved it (it’s my new favourite show) and I wanted to see the New York production… I like the idea of seeing the same story played out by different actors. My mom, on the other hand, had heard good things about The Color Purple, which made me very nervous. This may cause you some confusion, because, as I noted in a recent blog entry, The Color Purple is my favourite movie. If my mom hadn’t been there, The Color Purple would have been very high on my list of shows to see, it’s just that… well, it is my favourite movie, I’ve seen it many times… and I’ve read the book. The movie is fairly clear in expressing how the two main female characters have a lesbian relationship (incidentally, this is in no way the reason for this movie being my favourite), but I suppose if you chose to you can ignore this fact (it’s amazing how many people do). But I have also read the book, and the book is explicitly clear about the relationship between Miss Celie and Shug Avery. Miss Celie is a lesbian, Shug is bisexual, and they have a long term relationship that actually carries over into some of Alice Walkers other books (I went through an Alice Walker phase a few years back). So, when my mom suggested this particular show to me, I got nervous, because I didn’t know which end of the spectrum the musical would take… would it sort of skirt around the whole lesbian thing? Or would it be explicit… maybe somewhere in the middle? Where ever it landed on the whole ‘gay spectrum’ I was pretty certain I wasn’t going to enjoy sitting next to my mom during the show.
She was insistent, however (and in case you’re wondering, we reached a ‘compromise’ by going to both shows… an expensive compromise, to be sure), and so we went. And I was right, it was uncomfortable. It didn’t help that the first thing I did was look through the playbill at the song list to try see if I could determine how gay the show was going to be by the song titles. It didn’t really help me figure that out, but one of the songs in the show is called “Push Da Button”, and like I’ve said, I read the book, and knew exactly what that song was going to be about. I don’t think anyone would like the idea of sitting next to their mother during a song about… well, if you don’t know, I’m not going to spell it out for you.
So, where did the musical land on the ‘gay spectrum’? Much closer to the book than the movie, by which I mean it was extremely clear that Miss Celie was a lesbian, and her relationship with Shug was very much in the forefront. At one point I was actually afraid my mom was going to make a scene or walk out… I sat there praying that she would at least wait until the intermission to express her disgust. But aside from not clapping at the end of the big lesbian love song, she made no comment.
And at the end of the show, she jumped up and applauded long and loud, even shouting out an “Amen!”. As we walked out, she exclaimed “Wow, that was as good as going to church!” I was stunned. As I said to my good friend, “it’s like she just blocked out all the dykey bits!” She kept pointing out how she could see the actresses mouthing “Thank you Jesus” at the end (which is true, we had excellent seats, and could totally see what Fantasia was saying at the end, which was cool). And I cannot deny that it is an incredibly affirming and spiritually moving show, it is… I enjoyed it… go see it if you can. But seriously, my mom? The anti-gay crusader… she should have been all over that. But I wasn’t about to point that out to her so I left it alone.
The next day, we were walking down 8th Ave when she turned to me and said “You know, I woke up last night thinking about The Color Purple… it suddenly occurred to me that it could be a subtle advertisement for homosexuality.”
I stopped walking and just stared at her because… well, first, an advertisement? Seriously? No one who knows anything about the story could see it as an advertisement for anything really, no one is going to watch that show and think “Man, that looks like a good life, I think I’ll be a lesbian like Miss Celie…” I mean, come on! That’s just insane. But, to be honest, what shocked me more was her use of the word ‘subtle’. And she realized that almost immediately because she corrected herself. “Well, it wasn’t really all that subtle, was it?” I could only shake my head. She went on to say “well, at least it tried to explain it, you know, explain homosexuality in a new and different way.”
Again, there was nothing to say to that. The “explanation” that I’m assuming she saw was hardly ‘new and different’, it’s what conservative Christians have been saying for years… the only explanation that they can come up with for lesbianism (the Freudian explanations they use for male homosexuality seem to fall short, even to them, when it comes to women) is sexual abuse, or to use a quaint phrase I once read on one of those books “the misbehavior of men”. I, of course, being the coward that I am, said nothing at all in response to anything she said as she went on trying to justify the fact that she liked this show that showed a lesbian relationship in a positive light. A later conversation between her and my aunt (whom we went to visit after New York) went on to say that Miss Celie was so desperate for love, and Shug just wanted to ‘bless’ her… which, seriously, I wouldn’t mind a blessing like that! Just kidding. Sort of. But whatever my mom needed to do to get around it, it was weird.
And, as our conversations continued, it became quite clear that my mom has either forgotten that I’m gay, or has decided that I’m not gay anymore or something like that. She had stopped making reference to my ‘future husband’ after a conversation we had a few years ago where I told her flat out that I didn’t think I would ever marry a man and would appreciate it if she stopped trying to force that on me. But she told me, while we were out for lunch somewhere in New York that she has been praying for me to meet ‘a nice older man, I don’t know why I think he should be older, that just seems right to me’. Of course, that might have had something to do with the fact that she saw a ‘nice, older man’ start a conversation with me in a restaurant and thought that he was hitting on me, which I doubt, I just have some sort of weird personality quirk that makes strangers talk to me – male and female. I don’t know what it is, it just happens, and I doubt this man was hitting on me, but even if he was, well, I just am not interested. But back to my mom and the whole ‘gay amnesia’ thing. I don’t think I’ll come out to her again, I’ve had that conversation with her twice and it isn’t fun. Unless something happens (ie: I meet someone and end up in a long term relationship of my own), I don’t really see the point if she’s going to keep forgetting like this.
As a complete aside, I loved New York! I want to find a way to live there at some point… only for a year or so, maybe even just 6 months, but I don’t know how to go about doing that, as I would most definitely need a job, which means having a work visa and all that. It would be doable as a teacher, I think, but honestly, in New York I wouldn’t want to teach because I’d want to have time and energy to explore the city, so I’d kind of want a crap job, like sweeping up after shows on Broadway (that would actually be a total fantasy job, not a crap job at all!) or something like that that wouldn’t require much thought. Any thoughts on how a Canadian citizen could go about doing that?
And I’ll leave you with this, it has no relevance at all, except that I talked about Wicked earlier in this post and I love that show so very much -- the soundtrack is in my car and I'm having a blast driving singing along at the top of my lungs, so I thought I’d share a little bit of it with you. Enjoy.
Posted by JJ at 7:13 PM
Saturday, May 12, 2007
So… once again, it’s been a while. When last we met I was in Amsterdam. Had a wonderful time there, I was able to meet up with one of my best friends – and to meet his boyfriend for the first time (they’ve been together for 3 years, it’s pathetic that it took me so long to meet the lucky fellow). A weird thing happened while I was there. Well, it probably happened before I was in Amsterdam. I somehow lost a week of my life. I know what it looks like, my losing time in Amsterdam… but it is not what it seems. As a matter of fact, I’m fairly certain that I lost the week in Venice (I just LOVE that city!), but what happened was I was out with my friend and his boyfriend on what I thought was Sunday, April 2nd. I was right about the day, but I was off by a week. It was, in fact, April 9th, which really freaked me out. A week. Gone. I rushed from Amsterdam to London where I spent a few days before heading up to Edinburgh to spend more time with my dear friend (the one I had met in Amsterdam, quite by accident, at least on my part). I had a wonderful time with him, it’s always nice to reconnect with people – not that we’d been out of touch, or anything – God bless the internets! – we do manage to ‘talk’ quite frequently, but face to face is better. Much better for cuddling on the couch and the like (something that is very difficult to do via MSN).
Anyway, the reason I explain all that is to attempt to justify the lack of blogging. Once I realized my error, I felt kind of frantic and just didn’t really feel like I had time to blog and get all my traveling in. I could have done it in the extended time before, but… well, I just wasn’t aware of time passing. I suppose that’s a good thing, it’s a sign that I was having a good time, but still… I am still kind of weirded out by missing that week entirely.
Regardless, here I am, and I have blog-relevant thoughts and experiences to share! Yay! So… I have a few blogs to write and I’ve decided that writing them out chronologically is as good a way to go as any. So, we’ll begin in London. I once again sought out a gay-friendly church and, wonder of wonders, managed to finally make it to a regular service with an actual sermon (as opposed to a lecture having to do with the ‘topic of the day’), and it was wonderful! The sermon would have fit right in in any church that my mother would willingly attend… well, except for one thing. Once again, gender was avoided in referencing God… the term “The Parent” was used a lot, which, to me, sort of robs some of the intimacy from that language used in the Bible – The Father just sounds more personal. Maybe it is just me, but I don’t understand the problem with gender, maybe that’s just because I don’t have that issue myself. But other than that, the sermon was Bible based, thoughtful… and kinda Pentecostal. The preacher even referenced Azusa Street several times. People were raising their hands, shouting “Amen!”, even waving flags like they do at my mom’s church.
One of the most wonderful things that I encountered there happened at the first service I attended, which was Sunday afternoon… it was a small service, only about 7 people were there (it was during this service that I learned about the evening service with all the singing and stuff), and it was very meditative service. It was very nice, but what I was most impressed by? The first person I met there was a young girl, about 7 or 8 years old, who was there with one of her moms. She was outgoing, funny, confident, eager, secure, and yes, vocal about her love for Jesus… I know I can’t be making a diagnosis based on about 2 hours of contact, but she is the first child I have met (knowingly met, anyway) who is being raised by gay parents, and while I have never doubted that two men or two women can give a child the love and security they need to be happy, healthy, and well adjusted, it was just nice to see evidence of that. I suppose she could be severely messed up, but… well, I think making that assumption based on knowing nothing about her except for the gender of her parents would be even crazier than my assuming that I can tell whether or not a child is emotionally healthy after observing her for a couple of hours.
Anyway, I’m back home in Ottawa now (although I’m leaving tomorrow to spend a couple of days with my mom – Sunday is Mother’s Day, after all). I apologize, both for the long gap in posts, and for the haphazard state of this entry… I’ve written it rather quickly, and I don’t feel like taking the time to go over it and make it sound better… I kinda just want to get into the swing of blogging again. Hopefully this will do it. I probably won’t write again until I’m back from my mom’s, but for now, it’s good to be back, and I’ll be writing again soon.
Posted by JJ at 9:43 AM
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Okay, so I'm now in Amsterdam... just got here from Venice. Venice has got to be one of my favourite cities in the world. I just love walking around all the little streets and staring. It just makes me happy.
And now I'm in another city populated by canals. And I think I can afford to take a canal ride here, so I think I will. I would upload some pictures, but none of the internet places I've found here will let me connect my camera to their computers so I don't really know what I'm going to do with my pictures from Venice.
In place of the pictures I would upload, I thought I'd share will you all one of the scariest, funniest things I've ever seen... Alanis Morrisette singing "My Humps". I can't decide whether to laugh or hide. It's freaky funny, y'all. Enjoy. Or scream. It's up to you.
Posted by JJ at 7:31 AM
Friday, March 23, 2007
...Okay, so I`ve been out of the world for a while... well, out of the blogosphere anyway. Backpacking will do that. For those of you who want to know, I´m in Salzburg as I write this. A beautiful city that makes me want to skip around like a novice who has been sent away from her convent to look after 7 children of a widowed sea captain with nothing but a silly hat, a small carpet bag and an empty guitar case.
In case you´re wondering, I went on the Sound of Music tour yesterday.
Anyway, I`ve been tagged by E of Paradoxy, and what I am supposed to do is share 5 of my favourite quotes on any topic. So, without further ado, I begin.
5. "Justice is better than crying!"
-Pastor C. from my church in Ottawa. His 5 year old son was crying his eyes out and Pastor C was trying to get him to stop and tell him what was wrong, and in order to convince him to stop crying he uncorked this gem, following it with something to the effect of "if you tell me what`s wrong, maybe we can find justice. If you keep crying, then there will only be crying." Sound advice, at any age.
4. "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."
-Mark Twain. Fairly self explanatory.
3. "The heck do ya mean?"
-Jerry Lundegaard from the movie Fargo. Actually, I happily quote pretty much any line from that movie. This is just one of many great lines.
2. "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure."
-Eric Liddel, from Chariots of Fire. Every time I watch this movie, both times this line is said I cry.
And my favourite quote (that I can think of off of the top of my head) is...
1. "I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don't notice it."
-Shug Avery from the movie The Color Purple... which, in case anyone is wondering, is my favourite movie, so it stands to reason that my favourite quote would come from there.
So, there you have it. Now, I think I`m supposed to tag people so... I chose Marauder,Wan2forgetmaseff, and Liadan.
Till next time!
Posted by JJ at 8:50 AM
Monday, March 12, 2007
Yeah, it's been ages since my last post. A lot has happened.
First of all, the friend I wrote about (actually both of them) have since contacted me. The one I spoke most about actually called my mom to try and find a way to contact me in Korea. It was a really nice surprise! We had an excellent conversation... good to know that I haven't lost any friends.
Another change? Well, I'm not in Korea anymore. As the subject of this blog would indicate, I'm actually in Singapore... but only for a few more hours. I'm heading from here to Frankfurt, from where I will hop over to Vienna and be a total arthouse snob. At least, that's my plan.
What I've done is bought a "Round the World" fare to get myself home to Canada... where I plan to stay for a few months before returning to Korea in the Fall. So I will tour around Europe for a couple of months, spend some time with one of my dearest friends and then, if all goes according to plan, be home by early May. Chill for a bit, and then back to the Land of Morning Calm.
I haven't written for a couple of reasons... one being that towards the end of my stay in Korea I became insanely busy. Both work-wise and social-life-wise... which is to be expected, I suppose. Another reason being that I didn't really have anything to say. I made some really cool friends, who were lesbians, but there was nothing really to write about. I like them, we get along well. That's about it, really.
But I've been prompted to write another post by a relevant experience. I actually found a gay-friendly church in Singapore when doing some searching online, so I decided to go on Sunday. Finding the church turned out to be rather difficult. I wrote down the address very precisely, got very specific directions, left early, and found myself here.
Obviously not a church. I stood there for several minutes... you can see the numbers in the sign for the store, which was exactly what I had written on my little piece of paper. I wandered around for a bit, not really sure what to do. I asked a few people if they knew of a church in the building and they just stared at me. I felt fairly hopeless until I saw a girl standing beside a staircase, with a rainbow bracelet on. I practically jumped on her, I was so excited. It only occured to me later that her bracelet could just as easily have been of the non-gay-rainbow variety. Luckily, it wasn't. I jogged over to her, pointing aggressively at her bracelet and said something articulate like "The church... your bracelet... are you? ... church??" Her eyes grew a little before I think she actually understood what I was asking. Turns out she was waiting to meet some other people who were also going to this church for the first time. (I don't think it would hurt to link to it from here -- it's the Free Community Church). They showed up almost immediately, and we walked over to the church. Turns out I was in building 100, not building 100A... a very important distinction.
The service was nice. Yet again, I found myself at a gay-friendly church on a 'special' Sunday... this one was in celebration of International Women's Day, so the entire service (down to the very beautifully rendered womb in front of the pulpit) revolved around women's issues. It also explained the presence of all the women I saw, I had actually been rather shocked to see so many lesbians (well, I'm guessing), usually there's more men in the co-ed gay venues.
Much like last time, I found myself crying the minute the service started. Singing songs I sing at my church at home surrounded by Christ-loving gay people... it was a powerful feeling. I screwed myself together and stopped the tears because I was in the front row and there was this guy going around taking pictures (I think because it was a special Sunday... he was taking an absurd amount of pictures) and I didn't want to end up in some newsletter or something.
I'm still not sure I've heard a 'sermon' in a gay-friendly church. Much like last time, the speaker (I don't think she was the actual pastor of the church) was mostly speaking to the issue of the day), but it was still very interesting to me to hear terms you only really hear from gay people (ie: butch/femme/queenie/flaming) spoken from a pulpit. It's not like I use those terms a lot, or even travel in circles where those terms are used... but, and this is going to sound really cheesy, or whiny or something I know, but I felt... oy, I'm trying to avoid using this word, but I don't think I can. I felt included. Like, she was actually talking to me. It felt, well, exactly the opposite of how sermon illustrations that involve husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends leave me feeling.
One thing I have to say that I didn't like was that speaker made reference to "Mother God". She spoke about how she doesn't understand why people find this disrespectful, as it somehow would diminish God (who we know isn't actually a man) to be a referred to as a woman. And I see her point, a woman is no less worthy of respect than a man... but, it is disrespectful to refer to someone by the opposite gender than they have identified themselves as. For most people, this is simply the gender you are, calling me 'sir' is rude, not because I have anything against men, or think that I am better than a man, but because I am not a man. I'm about to go into some territory that I think will scare some people, but it's kind of like with a transgendered person. If someone introduces themselves to you as a man, and you continually refer to them using feminine pronouns because you know that they were once female... well, that's rude. You are refusing that person the right to identify themselves. And I'm not saying that God is transgender here, but He chose to reveal Himself as male, so who are we to change that?
Many, I know, will argue that the Bible was filtered through human hands who interpreted what they were told... but I'm still enough of an evangelical to say that while I may question a lot of how the Scriptures have been interpreted over the years, I do not question the actual Scriptures.
But that was only a small part of the service, which I must say I quite enjoyed. I couldn't help but think how nice it would be to just go to church and meet a girl there and maybe be in a Bible study together, and date and have a relationship that progressed in such a nice, normal, boring fashion... the way most of my friends found their spouses. That would be wonderful. Really, there are a lot of things that straight people take for granted.
Anyway, not having the internet at home means I'm paying to write this post... so I think I'll stop now. I feel like I owe you some more things, so I'll include a few more pictures of Singapore before I go... Sorry for the long absence!
Posted by JJ at 2:32 AM
Sunday, January 21, 2007
On New Year’s Day I got an email from an old friend of mine. We had gone to church together, and at one point had been kind of close. She, in many ways, is a kind of kindred spirit. We are both island girls who were transported to Canada at a young age, both black girls who grew up in a mostly white world, and therefore feel most comfortable in that mostly white world, while still knowing that we are outsiders (that’s a long turn of phrase, I know, but it was an important part of why her and I got along so well. Heh, both of us have had the unpleasant experience of being referred to as “whitewashed” by some of our black friends because we don’t conform to a lot of what people expect of us.) And then, of course, there is 'the mother factor'. This girl (who I will call H) and I actually became friends because our mothers became close, and both of us have had rather tumultious relationships with our mothers. The letter she sent me on New Year’s was to tell me that she had made some resolutions regarding her relationship with her mom, and it made her think of me so she was writing to let me know that she was praying for me. It was really sweet, and I was grateful.
The thing is, that was the first letter I had gotten from her in ages. Not her fault at all, I had completely let that relationship slide. The reason? I can’t handle being friends with people who don’t know I’m gay anymore. It’s just so frustrating. I feel like I’m lying, or hiding or something the entire time I’m with them. It’s irritating, and I feel ashamed or guilty (not for being gay, but for… I don’t know, deceiving them somehow), and I’m constantly feeling like I have to be on guard. It sucks and I just don’t want to do it anymore. So, I’ve let a lot of old friendships slide.
And then I got this email from H and I remembered how much I liked her and how much her friendship blessed me and I was sad. So I told her. Well, I mean I shot her back an email thanking her for her prayers, telling her a little bit about what’s going on in my life (ie: living in Korea, etc..) and then I told her I was gay. And I haven’t heard back. And I’m sad all over again. This is the first time that’s happened to me. I realize it hasn’t been that long, only a few weeks, but… well, it seems to me that she would have responded by now if she had anything to say to me so I’m thinking our friendship is over.
A few days after that email I caught another friend from that era in my life online, and came out to her as well. We were actually chatting, so I think that went okay… we’ll see. My contact with people from that stage in my life has kind of petered out (for the same reasons, none of then knew I was gay), so it could just be that they don’t feel the need to contact me or anything. But I haven’t heard from the second girl since our conversation either. I suppose it was bound to happen. My experiences with coming out have been, for the most part, quite positive. But, it still sucks to think that I may have just lost some friends. I know I wasn’t being a good friend by letting our communication slide in the first place, but I was hoping that with this ‘confession’ I would feel free and would be able to continue our friendships. We’ll see. It’s still a bit early to tell, I suppose.
In other news, I’ve made a new friend here. One of the girls from the lesbian group (who I shall call C) and I have been getting together fairly regularly. Actually, she’s not a member of the lesbian group, but she’s a friend of someone who is, and we got to talking one night and just clicked. No, I’m not interested in her, and she is not interested in me. It’s kind of funny how clear we were about that with each other the first night we got together, largely because she had just come from a situation where there was some lack of clarity on that front and it caused some problems. But it has been quite fun getting to know her. Last night we went out dancing, visiting a few of the lesbian venues that Seoul has to offer. In the first club/bar/restaurant (I’m really just not sure how to classify it) we mostly just sat and talked. And just as I don’t like being friends with people who don’t know I’m gay, I also don’t like being friends with people who don’t know I’m a Christian. My faith is important to me, and while I don’t talk about it all the time, I want to feel free to bring it up… the funny thing is, I’m more nervous coming out as a Christian to gay people than I am coming out as gay to Christians. I think it’s a result of the fact that the church has been so bad to the gay community that there is a lot of understandable bitterness. Much like I have done with a lot of my straight friends before I came out to them, I had dropped some hints to C about my faith in an attempt to see if she would be receptive. And last night when we were talking I decided to just do it… I just thought that if I’m going to be friends with her, I need to be able to talk about my faith. If I can’t ever talk about it… well, it would be just as frustrating, in fact it would be more frustrating to have to hide that part of me from her than it would to have to hide my sexuality from people… maybe cause I’m used to that, who knows. Anyway, I didn’t bring it up out of nowhere, it was in context (see, that’s the problem, my faith is often in context, so not talking about it kind of stifles my ability to communicate), so I said it in passing… using the phrase “I’m quite religious”, and just continued to explain what I was talking about (I was telling a story about something that is going on at my job), when she stopped me and said “Oh, so you are a Christian, then.” She’d caught my hints. I said yes. She then asked me “How do you reconcile that with being gay? Isn’t there a conflict there?” To which I responded, quite honestly, “I’m working on that…”
From there it got quite interesting. At least to me. It seems she grew up in a Christian home, and I’m going to guess that she comes from an evangelical tradition because she immediately slipped into the “Christianeze” that we evangelicals are so well known for, using phrases like “godly behavior” and “a lukewarm Christian”. Basically, her story is that she has left her faith because she saw no way to be both Christian and gay, and between the two… well, what most Christians don’t seem to realize is that only one of those two things is a choice. Only one of those things can be changed (for most of us) and so if you are gay and you believe that being gay and Christian are incompatible, there really actually isn’t a choice there. She actually said to me “I want someone to show me how I can be gay and Christian because I don’t want to burn in hell.” I sat there, and I hope this doesn’t come off as being too ‘holy’ or something, and thought “wow, so this is why we met.” And then I felt silly, because I really am so far from having answers… I’m still firmly planted on the fence between Side A and B… not a comfortable position, by any means. But I am also firmly convinced that there is no conflict with simply being gay and being a Christian. And there is something particularly sad to me about someone losing their faith… for any reason, really, but this reason of course holds a particular significance to me. We’ll see what happens. It could be that her faith was never that important a factor in her life, so maybe she doesn’t miss it. I just know that I would miss it, and so it breaks my heart.
We didn’t talk about that all night… only for about half an hour. We did get some dancing in, and had a good time. I’ll send her some links to some webpages… she was quite surprised to hear about the existence of other gay Christians. I think she thought I was an anomaly.
I should make it clear that even if there is no significant ‘event’ or ‘conversion’ or whatever, I’m glad to have met her. I love making new friends, and I really do enjoy her company. I don’t like the idea of ‘missionary friendships’, it seems so mercenary and heartless. I’d be friends with her regardless. And, hey, at least now I know she’ll understand if I slip into Christianeze myself.
Posted by JJ at 12:53 PM