felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Marched in the Pride parade again. Haven't missed marching in about a decade, I think, though it terrifies me being at the centre of such a large crowd. I hold on tightly to my banner and don't let go, and it's okay.

But it's still important. And it's still something deeply important to me.

Yesterday, I tabled for the New Democratic Party at community day. We were visited by Jack Layton (leader of the party) and Olivia Chow (our immigration critic). I'd met them before, but they actually hung out awhile. I helped Olivia put up banners.

It was tiring - I've had next to no sleep this week. But it was nice to be part of it again, and tired as I am, I am sad to see it gone so fast.

Also, the rain held off until the parade was over, so it was a rainless parade again. Clearly Mother Nature is on our side :)
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So, most of you have probably heard that for the first time an American court has ruled that unequal marriage violates their constitution. This means that same-sex marriages are back in California - though there are higher courts and there will be more challenges.

If upheld, though, it could theoretically end unequal marriage across the US.

I've been number-crunching. According to Wikipedia's population numbers, 295,302,688 now live in jurisdictions with same-sex marriage worldwide - a little less 5% of the world's population. As I mentioned on Facebook, it is now available in 5 continents - Norway's and Argentina's claims means you can get same-sex married in Antarctica.

Now we just have to push same-sex marriage in Alaska, Denmark, and Russia - the remaining jurisdictions with Arctic claims - and in Britain, France, Australia, and New Zealand for the Antarctic claims. Once we have them surrounded, they'll just have to surrender.

As for the remaining two continents - Asia and Oceania - the race is on. New Zealand is where the good money is in Oceania - they've been talking about it. As for Asia, Nepal is likely the best bet. The court has ordered them to bring it in, but since they're rewriting their constitution right now all other things are on hold. LGBT rights are expected to be in the new constitution, though, so that would pretty much clinch it.

Yes, I know. Icon out of date. But I can't update it right now, and even if I did it would be out of date next week. I wasn't able to get population figures for New Makoku, so it's not included in the statistic above.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So congratulations to Iceland and Portugal. Nine countries, a handful of American and one Mexican district, and that's it, so far. About 5% of the world's nations, but everyone that comes over makes it easier for the others - and embarrassing for those that resist.

I need to update my icon. I can't right now, though.

Of course, there are still countries that kill us, still. There are lots of countries that still jail us. Will they move on, or dig in deeper, when they watch the rest of the world move in fits and starts toward sanity?
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So I became the last person on earth to see Avatar this week. Probably the last person on earth. The indigenous Dongria Kondh people of India are using the film to draw attention to their plight. Poor Chinese folk are using the theme song to protest the demolition of their homes. So it seems to have made it out of the bubble of well-to-do West.

And this movie has had a lot of resonance. And that's because it is brilliant as a work of art, and - just as importantly - touches some important nerves.

The genius, the genius loci, and flaws of Avatar - long and spoilery, but who hasn't seen it really? )

So in short, if there's one person left who hasn't seen it, they probably should. Its only seriously flaw is the racist implications of being Dances with Wolves in space. But there's so much else there, just in terms of its sheer beauty, and its ecological and its spiritual themes, that I have to recommend it.

In more immediate political news, please call up your MP and ask how they're voting on bill C-389 tomorrow. That's the bill to give a small number of basic equality rights to trans people - on-the-job and as-a-customer stuff at airports, at banks, and with the federal government. It's minimal, but it's a start. Currently it's legal to discriminate against trans people in pretty much everything.

If you don't know who your MP is, you can use your postal code here to find out. The real risk is apathy. Most MPs probably don't think you care, and they have a nasty habit of playing hooky from the House of Commons when they think the public doesn't care.

The transphobic, meanwhile, will be in the House for sure to vote against it.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So it's Remembrance Day - a day to remember all the naive kids who went off to the meat-grinder of two World Wars, without any real idea what they were getting into.

In the US, it's a shopping holiday. In Canada, it's a solemn event. We wear poppies and gather at cenotaphs to remember the dead, and talk about trenches and No Man's Land fenced off with barbed wire, and a generation of kids whose fathers didn't come home. Increasingly we talk about the things in World War II that can't be forgotten either - Nazism and the Holocaust first and foremost.

True remembrance can only serve the cause of peace. Maybe that's why this country was so committed in those two wars, and so reluctant since to go to war - maybe this yearly ceremony is part of that reluctance.

This year I'm thinking especially of the gay veterans never compensated for what they went through, in two World Wars. I hope the apology I proposed goes somewhere, but it seems every reporter wants to talk to a World War II vet over this, and it's too late for most of the victims in that war.

The apology should still come, though, while there's still a few around to hear it.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
This week, the bill I proposed about LGBT veterans was profiled in both Xtra and Slap Upside the Head.

Hopefully this remains an issue. Maybe after the dark days are over -- after somebody throws Harper's ring into Mount Doom or something, and we get a prime minister who isn't a national embarrassment -- these veterans can actually get the compensation they deserve.

I did a quick update on my historical site about it here.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Today is the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which is the touchstone moment of the gay movement in the United States. Celebrations are planned all over Canada.

Don't get me wrong. It's worthy of commemoration. But yesterday, another anniversary passed that no one's talking about -- the 40th anniversary of the day the omnibus bill was made a law, making homosexuality legal in Canada.

It was the result of tireless efforts on the part of our activists, starting with Jim Egan. Egan became Canada's first gay activist in 1949, and our only one until 1961. He tried constantly to get others to campaign with him, but they wouldn't. They were too scared.

And they had a reason to be. Penalties were actually getting harsher. As late as 1964, a man named George Klippert was sentenced to prison for the rest of his natural life -- as opposed to a "life" sentence of 25 years -- as a "dangerous offender," because he'd had consensual sex with several men.

Egan retired from activism in 1961 -- his partner begged him to, because of the death threats. By then, he'd opened up enough of a space for the first activist organizations -- starting with Vancouver's Association for Social Knowledge. Activists from ASK and the groups that followed risked their jobs, their families, even their lives to fight an unjust law.

And they're the reason homosexuality was legalized between consenting adults in Canada on June 27, 1969.

So please, take a moment to remember the activists who fought for our freedom. Stonewall was a great event, but it was not the beginning of our movement in Canada, and saying so does a great disservice to everyone who risked so much so that we'd have the right to live our lives without fear.

(cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] queer_mtl)
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Happy Midsummer/Litha to those who celebrate it!

I've lived like a hermit for much of the last week, which I think I needed. I'm about one-third through the a revision of what looks to be a complete second novel, but other than that and work, I've had a lazy week.

I am quite proud of this, though. That resolution was my idea. [livejournal.com profile] montrealais encouraged me to draft a resolution, which he helped edit and presented. He also brought it to MP Peter Stoffer's attention.

Parliament's out so I'll have to wait until after summer to see where it goes from here. It's highly unlikely that it'll pass -- private members' bills rarely do, and even in a minority government, the Opposition parties can't force the government to act on a bill that involves spending money.

Still, it's a thrill that something I wrote is going to be debated in government. And maybe it'll start the ball rolling on a debate that'll end in a real action. It'll probably have to wait until we have a prime minister who's not evil, though.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
We had a good going-away party for [livejournal.com profile] em_fish yesterday at Café L'Étranger. It was good to see her again. I'm going to miss her during her year in Australia, but I'm happy she's she's coming back (and with [livejournal.com profile] sassysairs!).

Except for the party, I've been mostly indoors since the weekend, working on editing. I'm about two-thirds through the current edit. It's come a long way, this version, and I find I'm comparing myself favourably to some of my favourite writers, which I haven't done before.

ETA: And this song from a Dutch kids' show is so sweet it almost made me cry:

felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Just thought I'd wish a Happy Pride to anyone here who's celebrating it in Montreal -- pretty much everywhere else has had their parade by now. Although I understand there's at least one Pride event in Ontario in September, thus violating the ancient dictum of our forefairies, "Pride goeth before the fall."

I hope it's a good one.

The community day was quite nice yesterday as well. I'm really glad the new organization has taken over for Divers/Cité.

I'll be marching with the NDP, as always ^_^
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
For those of you who aren't on [livejournal.com profile] montrealais's LJ, I re-post the following snippet of a story that appeared in Canada.com about an ex-gay therapist abusing his patient:

"WINNIPEG - A former Manitoba Bible college counsellor was convicted Thursday of repeatedly molesting a young student during a role-playing game in which he promised to make the sexually confused man "go straight."

The 60-year-old accused pleaded not guilty to sexual assault at the start of his Queen's Bench trial earlier this week.

The alleged victim testified Monday about months of "touch therapy," which included sexual encounters with the accused at various locales, including at a retreat in Gimli, Man., Winnipeg's Fun Mountain waterslides and even in the floodway surrounding the city."
I think it's important to draw stories like this to public attention. In Canada especially, LGB folk tend to be quite complacent about our situation. Gaybashing doesn't often make the news, and neither do ex-gay programs, nor queer teen suicide, and so we've lulled ourselves into believing these things aren't happening.

Yet there are ex-gay programs operating in this country. Some use electroshock or physical torture methods. Others use emotional abuse to scar young people just on their way out of the closet. And -- as this story reminds us -- these programs attract abusive individuals who are eager to prey on the vulnerable in their care.

The operation of these programs ought to be a criminal serious offence, though that's not likely to happen under a prime minister who hired a former head of Focus on the Family -- one of the country's leading anti-gay organizations -- to be part of his inner circle in the PMO.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Health Canada has decided to exclude gay men from donating organs. Here's a link. We cannot even give an organ to a friend or relative. This joins the ban on gay blood and gay sperm (the latter of which, frankly, smacks of eugenics).

The worst of it is that every self-loathing, hand-wringing gay conservative has come out of the woodwork defending the policy, on the grounds that gay men are the group most likely to have AIDS.

But for all that, putting human rights on the altar of pragmatism won't even make the blood supply safe. It's risky sexual activity that you should be screening for -- including risky heterosexual behaviour. The question that needs to be asked is, "Have you had penile sex without a condom in the last six months?"

That question will never be asked, though. It can't be asked, because if it were, the blood and organ supply would dry up.

It's the elephant in the room when it comes to sex, AIDS, blood, and organs. Most gay men I know practice safe sex even in monogamous relationships -- even when they've been together for years. No heterosexual woman I've ever discussed sex with did the same -- the ones I've talked to about this considered "safe sex" to be "with birth control." One woman I spoke to online said she'd rather die than question her husband's fidelity.

And that, my friends, is part of the reason why heterosexual women are the fastest-growing demographic.

Given the other option of trying to change the sexual behaviour of heterosexuals, Health Canada has chosen for the much easier route of a purely cosmetic change in policy that rehashes the old stereotype of gay men and AIDS. It gives the supply an appearance of safety, and if it demonizes a minority, then so be it.

It'll probably take another tainted blood scandal for us to realize that it isn't actually working.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Among whom principally to challenge [the value of poetry], step forth the moral philosophers; whom ; whom, methinks, I see coming toward me with a sullen gravity..., rudely clothed, for to witness outwardly their contempt for outward things, with books in their hands against glory, whereto they set their names; sophistically against subtlety, and angry with any man in whom they see the foul fault of anger.
-- A Defence of Poesy
, Sir Philip Sidney, written in 1583
So I'm plugging away, trying to get myself out of the late 16th century before the month ends. I still have Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and Shakespeare to cover before I reach the 17th.

(Fortunately, there's very little to cover in the 17th, especially since the Cavalier Poets have gotten short shrift on the reading list. It's basically just Donne, Milton, and Pope holding the fort -- I guess people were too busy fighting, what with the Civil War and the Commonwealth and so on.)

Meanwhile, here in the 21st century, Montreal played host to an international conference that brought activists together from six continents to trade information, run workshops, and hammer out a statement -- the Montreal Declaration -- that will be presented to the UN. The goal is to have the UN take LGBT equality as seriously as anything in the UN Declaration of Human Rights (also written in Canada).

And this will be difficult not only because a lot of countries are run by extremist bigots. And because even many of those that aren't are dangerously infected with absolute moral relativism (Postmodernism's most vile and disgusting spawn), which is proving a very popular philosophy with those politicians who don't want to be bothered with such messy things as fundamental human dignity.

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September 2011

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