Some vegan love…

I got banned from an atheist group a few years ago because I’m vegan. It wasn’t against the rules or at least their stated rules. The mocking started out slowly, a few jokes about vegans… a few comments about how sanctimonious we are. Then it grew to the point where it seemed like the group talked more about vegans than atheism. And one person asked an honest, simple question. Where do vegans get their protein? And I answered.

Within seconds I was facing a barrage of questions? Why didn’t I care about the poor little mice being killed by threshers? Why didn’t I care about the children being worked like slaves to make my phone? I asked that person, the moderator, what phone she used because if she have a fair trade phone, I’d love to know the brand. She had no idea. She didn’t care about the kids, she informed me. She just didn’t like me because I was vegan. And then I was blocked.

When asked, people will claim they don’t dislike vegans per se, they’re just against the militant ones… the sanctimonious ones. You know those vegans. Except that’s not true. Know who else is sanctimonious? Mothers. You go onto a parenting forum and, faster than a toddler can drop a pacifier, there’s going to be a battle (especially about a toddler dropping a pacifier). And, sure, there’s groups devoted to laughing at sanctimommies but it isn’t the widespread hatred veganism receives. Hatred. For trying to do as little harm as possible. All you need to do in order to be “sanctimonious” is to have people find out you don’t eat meat. I think that a lot of people need to look through their dictionary for the real definition.

SciBabe  complained today that vegetarians are petitioning In N Out burger (a U.S. burger chain) for a veggie burger to be added to their menu and, of course, vitriol followed. You’d think from the comments that the head of PeTA was holding a gun to the owner of In N Out’s head, demanding kale and nutritional yeast get added to every product on their menu. Nope, they simply asked for an additional item to be placed onto there, something that’s available at almost every burger chain in Canada. I looked at the hatred and decided it wasn’t worth my time. I vented on my page instead and got this…

“I’m talking about the vegans who go into a fast food place and bitch because there aren’t any healthy options like there are absolutely no other places to go but of course since they’re vegan everyone on the planet has to accommodate them.”

“Like, I know there are vegetarian and vegan restaurants here. I’m not of either persuasion. I don’t like tofu or many other veget./veg. dishes, so I don’t go to those restaurants. I wouldn’t go there and ask that they add a hamburger to their menu.”

Do people not realize that vegans and vegetarians have family and friends who eat meat? We aren’t hatched somewhere then come winging in, fully grown, cawing “Meat is Murder”. We have friends who want to eat out with us, family who want to go for a group dinner, and sometimes those friends and family want to eat somewhere more meat based. That’s how I ended up sitting at Red Lobster a few years ago. I ended up at Swiss Chalet the same way. It’s also how I learned that Swiss Chalet has a vegan burger and that their dipping sauce is vegan too. I used to drink that sauce as a kid, that was an amazing find.

Plus vegan isn’t a type of restaurant, it’s a philosophy of doing as little harm as possible. My current favourite restaurant is mostly vegan. They also have grass fed, pasture raised beef; it would be no problem getting a burger there. That being said, it’s vegan and has vegenaise on top but most people wouldn’t realize it wasn’t meat and mayo.

Know why I think people bash vegans? Because we’re a minority and one of the last groups that are socially acceptable to hate. And that’s simply not cool.

Vegan Mom of a proudly militant vegan offspring

p.s. I only barely tolerate tofu

Shadowlands

I can almost see the colours in the shadows
Nearly feel the sun through the grey
Where’s the light at the end of my tunnel
The rainbow to brighten my day?

Cast a light for me in the darkness
Give a hand to hold until dawn
A beacon of hope through the shadows
A star to fill me with song.

I have a long distance to travel
A faint, jagged trail to climb
Please walk with me for a while
And help me to mend up my mind.

blue-hair-filter

Take Back The Night!

She bent down… just like this. It was obvious she was doing it for me. Then she said “I’m not that kind of girl”.

I’d dressed up a bit for this event. Put on make up, wore a sparkly shirt, I even added a rainbow bead necklace a friend just gave me. Listening to the two men talking nearby made me wish I could scrub off my face and put on something a little more ugly… a lot more invisible.

When she breaks up with her boyfriend, I’m totally going for her.

There was no indication that he saw her as a person in her own right. She moved solely for him and, when her boyfriend was done it was going to be his turn to have her.

But let me ask u this then let’s say I ask u to a dance and it’s a dream I really wanted and u tell me no and I go on a killing spree what would you say was the trigger point to my anger.

~ actual question asked to a friend ~

The Take Back the Night event started in an auditorium full of people… young and old… male and female. There were booths around the room where I got candy, a pen, and an apple. A Metis drumming group played at the front. I admired one lady’s sequined hat and then it was time to sit.

#webelieveyou

Story after story, in video and in person, of women who’d been raped, assaulted, molested, and beaten. Story after story where they were disbelieved because he wouldn’t do that. Story after story where women went to the police to be empowered and take back their right to bodily autonomy, only to have the police fail them too.

take-back-the-night

I was photobombed🙂

My ex had a favourite position, one which made it so I couldn’t speak and couldn’t push him away. I couldn’t change my mind midway because “no” wasn’t an option. I told him this in tears and suggested a hand touch which would mean “no”. He ignored it… twice. That was when I realized the ignoring was deliberate, he liked that I was struggling… that I couldn’t stop him. I refused to get into that position after that and he sulked like a small child being told “no” to seconds of dessert. I’m a person, not a serving of cake.

Whatever we wear
Where ever we go
Yes means yes
And no means no!

We spilled out of the auditorium, a large jubilant, defiant crowd… hemmed in by a strip of yellow caution tape and guarded by police. Pouring onto the road, chanting almost incomprehensible words. Did we want safety or ice cream? The echoes sounded like both.

Two, four, six, eight
No more violence
No more rape!

I walked home after the event with a neighbour. Cheers and laughter erupted ahead of us, followed by a faint “no-oo”. My heart felt like it was slamming against my ribs and I rocked as I walked. What could we do against a crowd? Both our phones were dead and he’s shorter and more slight than me. The soccer field ahead was lit; it soon became apparent a goal had been scored. My relief was instantaneous.

There were children scattered through the walk, blowing whistles and waving hand made signs. For now it’s just fun. How long will it take for the message to sink in? Will they be the change for the future? Are there enough of them?

Michelle? You go out for walks on your own? Do you really think it’s safe?

I used to. Maybe someday I will again.

On hair and gender…

“Can you cut my hair when we’re at Nana and Grandad’s?” Jeremy asked.

“Umm… yes,” I replied. I was a bit startled seeing as I’d cut their hair just over a week earlier. “How short?”

I was hoping they didn’t want too fancy a cut. I have no hair dressing skills. I can barely manage a simple braid and bang trimming. Well, hair dressers don’t seem to think I can manage bangs but my kids have never complained.

“Buzz cut,” Jeremy said happily. “You can use Grandad’s clippers.”

This was obviously going to be harder for me than them. I’d spent years fighting against so many people for their right to wear their hair the way they wanted, which was long (and usually dyed). Now suddenly they wanted it short (and undyed). But part of their right to bodily autonomy meant short hair as well as long.

“Okay,” I replied, hoping my reluctance didn’t show. If it did, Jeremy didn’t seem to notice.

I put on the #7 clipper first and soon the lawn was covered in clumps of hair. The cut looked good on them. Long enough to be feminine while short enough to be masculine.

“It looks good,” Jeremy agreed, looking at my camera phone (seriously, who needs a mirror anymore). “I’d like it shorter though.”

Shorter? Sigh. I pulled out the #5 clipper and began cutting again. Their hair became decidedly shorter. Soon I was done. The ears weren’t perfect but, if they wanted professional, they’d have taken my parents’ offer of a real hair stylist instead of me.

“Do you think he’s are feeling more like a boy again?” my Mom asked hopefully as soon as Jeremy hopped into the shower.

I thought back to the evening before. We’d been watching an anime Jeremy wanted me to see (Gurren Lagann if anyone out there’s interested) and they were excited about an upcoming character.

“Look,” they’d said, pointing at a bluish character. “They’re both a boy and a girl. They’re non-binary, just like me!”

“No,” I replied honestly but as gently as I could. “I think they just wanted short hair.”

I wandered into the family room a short time later, where Jeremy was sitting with their cousins… all playing on separate devices.

“Mom, this hair cut makes me feel more feminine,” Jeremy said happily.

And why shouldn’t it. Hair is just that. It’s not gender. It’s not even a secondary sex characteristic. It’s simply a head covering (and in my case a ‘blowing across my face’ covering).

The next night Jeremy informed me, once again, that they don’t think gender exists… that it’s just something society made up.

“Are you sure you’re pangender?” I asked. “Do you think you might be agender instead?”

Jeremy thought for a moment. “I think you’re right,” they replied.

colin-and-lara

Jeremy and their cat Lara. They’re not male or female… just perfectly themself.

Living invisible…

When I was a kid I used to wonder how Wonder Woman found her invisible jet. I mean seriously? I have trouble finding things that are visible while she opened a see through door and hopped right on in. Now I wonder if all those rumours are right and she really is a lesbian because, in that case, she would have had all sorts of practice in being invisible. Being LGBTQ brings its own invisibility.

Several years ago I went out shopping with friends of mine. They were shopping, I just was along for the ride. I’m seriously one of those “you can take me anywhere” friends. You’re filling your gas tank? Sure, I’ll come along. You’re buying a new bed? No problem.

In this case it was the latter. My friends M and P were in the market for a new bed and were going to be in my area so of course I’d join them. We mosied into a big Canadian bed and mattress store and I hung back while they priced mattresses and pondered firm versus extra support versus memory foam.

“Hello! May I assist you?”

A clerk came running up and immediately began talking to P and myself, completely ignoring M. This despite the fact that M and P were side by side actively discussing a mattress while I hung back at least five feet. But M and P are both male… invisible relationship.

The clerk finally clued into my complete disinterest and M’s persistent questions and started talking to M but there are layers of invisibility and M’s in a wheelchair… so theirs is a double invisible relationship. It took several additional minutes and some blatant “I’m going to be in this bed too” comments from P before the clerk clued in that P was not some sort of personal assistant of M’s but, in fact, his partner. They didn’t end up buying from there.

This week I got my official documents from the hospital, including my intake paperwork from the on call psychiatrist. Back in June I’d second, third, and fourth guessed myself. Had I really seen her flinch? She’s a psychiatrist! She works with troubled people every single day! She had to be more professional, she must have just leaned back. But no, she actually flinched when she realized I’m queer*.

paperwork

Would you look at that… I not only had an imaginary boyfriend but a pretend relationship too. Does it get any better than that?

No, but it does get worse. While she was awkward around me and invalidated my relationship, she completely invalidated L’s whole self. I was invisible but trans people are pretty much invisible squared. Although maybe it’s less invisibility and more buried under tonnes of total misinformation.

Want to know what the best way is to combat this invisibility? Don’t assume. Don’t assume the person with breasts is female and the person with an adam’s apple is male. Ask if someone’s in a relationship rather than saying “So, do you have a boyfriend?” And please don’t pair little children up into cutesy relationships, let them simply be friends. That’s one of the things I’m grateful for with my parents. They never assumed I was dating my best friend, they just let me play with him. Actually, my two closest friends were male and I never thought of dating either of them.

*wanders off to ponder whether every LGBTQ person has their own invisible jet and we just haven’t found them yet*

 

 

* The psychiatrist was completely wrong about how she realized my queerness. Having a trans boyfriend did not make me queer, falling in love with him when he was bigender and half-female did.

Our 26 hour vacation…

“Mom! Mom!! We need to get up in two hours so we should get up now, just in case!”

To say Jeremy was excited about our trip would be an understatement. I had my alarm set for 5am so they woke me at 3am. We were playing MarioKart at 5am just to keep me awake. I don’t play it any better before dawn than after. Thankfully I didn’t play any worse.

Then, finally, we left with our suitcase and bag full of food, all set for a day and a half of excitement… with only two buses and a train to get there. We got to the bus stop early, which meant we caught an earlier bus and an earlier train. Plus our train didn’t go past Union Station (in Toronto) so we had to transfer… and Union is under construction. Talk about anxiety! But we found our connecting train and then got front seats on the double decker bus…

Kathleen and Colin on the double decker GO bus

Jeremy was excited, they just don’t smile for pictures

The bus system announced it was only a 15 minute walk to Clifton Hill (the tourist trap of Niagara Falls) so we decided to save our money and walk to the hotel. Let’s just say I’m so glad Google Maps exist because we were walking the wrong way originally. But we found our hotel and it was just as elegant as we remembered.

elegance

Elegant and cheaper than the other hotels because it’s “old”… bonus!

Crowne Plaza

I bought a saver’s pack of activities back in July, which I highly recommend because it comes with WeGo bus passes (our room came with passes too). These buses took us, for free, all over the main tourist sections of the city and the buses were barely a block away.

Our first (and favourite) stop was the Whirlpool Areo Car, a gondola ride across the Niagara River whirlpool…

whirlpool areo car

Our next stop was at the butterfly conservatory. I’ve always wanted to go to one and, I think, next time I’ll go when it first opens so the place is more quiet. The crowds were too much for both Jeremy and myself but I loved the butterflies anyways.

me at the butterfly conservatory

One of my friends said I’m the friendship butterfly🙂

Jeremy wanted to ride the boat right to the falls. It was too late (and we were too overwhelmed) on our first night but I’m glad I insisted we go first thing the following morning because they loved it!

Colin on the Hornblower cruise2

Soggy Jeremy in the middle of the falls and the mist.

Horseshoe Falls and comorant

A cormorant and Horseshoe Falls

And then we went home, hours earlier than I’d planned. I’m glad we did too because we were both exhausted and overwhelmed on the bus ride home and so happy to be back in our apartment with our own beds and kitties.

I’m glad we went. It was a lot of fun and Jeremy’s already talking about our next trip to the Falls. Next time I’ll skip the water park passes as Jeremy’s outgrown the park (although I haven’t) and use the waterpark pass money for an extra night. But not for a few more years!

rainbow

Getting by with friends…

Today is not a good day in some regards. I woke up feeling suicidal and, quite frankly, the only thing stopping me from going to the hospital is spending eight hours in the ER waiting room and their crappy food once I’m admitted. But I’m home and I’m safe in my room. And one of the reasons I’m safe is you.

I was terrified when I discovered that cheque had been removed? voided? well it just wasn’t there anymore. That was my entire half of the rent just gone… and it was replaced in one day by friends. One day. It’s more than I expected… it’s more than I hoped.

I am so glad all of you are here. Thank you!