A letter to Pam Wilkinson…

You don’t know me and, with any luck, you will never know me. I was the confused teenager going through high school in the 1980’s. No one raised a rainbow flag back then.  What we raised for was religion. We still were standing for the Lord’s Prayer. Too bad for the kids who weren’t Christian but it wasn’t an option to avoid. We could stand in the hall but we were still standing for the prayer no matter where we went. And there was a teacher in the hall to make sure of that. I bet you loved those days.

My classmates all grew up with Three’s Company and Jack’s over the top pretending of being gay. Being gay was a joke… when it wasn’t simply disgusting. Fellow classmates and even some of the teachers talked about driving into the gay section of Toronto just to throw rocks at people on the side walk. It was fun, they said. I hardly thought it was fun for the people getting pelted by stones but they didn’t matter. This was the 80’s.

I don’t have fond memories of school in the 80’s.

I started having suicidal ideation in high school, strong urges to jump over the railings in our local mall, strong enough that I walked by the wall at all times, just in case. I pushed those thoughts away, just like I pushed away any romantic thoughts about girls. I was already being teased, I wasn’t going to be a joke too. Those weren’t my thoughts, they were an aberration.

Sexual education was strictly cisgender and heterosexual. We learned how to make babies and the names of the genitals. Thanks to that education, I learned that what I was feeling was wrong. I didn’t know my own sexual orientation until I was in my mid 40’s. And I certainly never saw a rainbow flag until I was an adult with children of my own.

You were interviewed in an article claiming the rainbow flag is a wall. I disagree. The wall in my school years was built with ignorance, hatred, and ridicule and it kept me from learning who I was for decades. The rainbow flag is a bridge and a sign of community and hope. Countless faith groups support it, it’s not anti-Christian.

The sad part is you have taught your own daughter hatred. The part of the song you disagree with? The song that was played at flag raising?

If you preach hate at the service/those words aren’t anointed/and that holy water that you soak in, is poisoned.”

It’s not anti-Christianity, it’s anti-hatred. He’s saying that hate is not part of Christianity and God will not accept those words. How much hate is in your religion that both you and your daughter felt personally affronted by this.

You said that the rainbow flag builds “walls, not bridges. You can’t get groups to respect each other that way. You cannot broker peace if half the stakeholders have left the table in anger.”

I say that if someone sees a flag, which is widely known as a symbol of love, hope, and unity and see nothing but a wall, there wasn’t going to be a chance to broker peace in the first place. If you can’t handle the symbol of LGBTQIA unity, how can you handle the reality of talking to actual gay, lesbian, and trans people? What are you going to do when a drag queen wants a say, in all their glory? How about when a lesbian couple wants at least one book in the library with same sex partners so their child doesn’t feel invisible? Or a gay thirteen year old wants a Gay-Straight Alliance in his elementary school?

How can you broker peace with someone who wants you to be less than yourself, wants you to hide yourself to make them feel comfortable? You can’t. First it’s the rainbow flag but that won’t be last. You don’t want peace, you want ignorance. You want to not have to face any sign that the LGBTQ community even exists. And that’s not going to happen. So many of us struggled to simply be ourselves and we’re not going to let you push us back into being less than we are.

The rainbow flag is staying. We are staying. Get used to it.

rainbow_flag_insert_by_torbakhopper_via_Flickr

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Happy birthday to me…

It’s my 44th birthday tomorrow and I had my party yesterday, which a whopping three people were able to attend. Ironically enough, two could only stay for an hour then they left and an hour later the third guest arrived, so I had my party in shifts.

P couldn’t attend as his husband M was working and he’s too shy to come on his own, but he sang happy birthday to me on the phone and promised we’d all get together soon. Emma’s at her boyfriend’s family cottage for the weekend but she booked my actual birthday off and is taking me out to our favourite Thai restaurant for lunch. And two more friends are taking me out for dinner on Thursday.

I was my usual scatterbrained self although, like usual, I went into the preparations with the best of intentions. I even made a list of chores just so we’d be organized. I was determined I would have all the veggies chopped for the tempura and start frying it by 4:30pm so I’d be ready for guests to arrive by five.

The morning started off quite relaxed. We both took turns eating breakfast and showering then I leisurely washed the dishes while Jeremy cleared all his electronic bits and pieces off the table, couch, floor, computer desk, and chair. Then he cleaned the guinea pig cage while I gave the piggies a bath and trimmed their nails. Okay, that part wasn’t relaxing for the piggies but they smelled a lot better.

By then we were both starving and took the time to eat at our newly cleaned table.

“You’re so pretty,” I blurted after watching Jeremy for a while.

“Not handsome?” he asked, looking at me quizzically.

“Handsome too,” I agreed. “Would you rather be called handsome?”

He shrugged then said, “Not really.”

“What would you rather be called?” I asked. He shrugged again. “How about fabulous?” I suggested.

Jeremy snorted. “Like that would even work,” he said with all the scorn a seventeen year old could muster.

“You look fabulous,” I pointed out. I could tell by his expression he knew I was right.

“Yeah, I guess…” he murmured. “How about good?”

“Okay,” I agreed. “You look good.”

We cleared off the table and went back to our chore list. I was still confident we’d be more than ready in time. I could see my table all set; a scattering of glitter sprinkled across, my rattan lights softly glowing, my cake all covered in the candles we’d bought yesterday (I’d been aiming for mini sparkler candles but Jeremy fell in love with the rainbow candles with coloured flames instead), and my snazzy paper straws.

Four thirty found me yelling at Jeremy, “What do you mean you used all the vinegar when you cleaned the guinea pig cage? What am I going to mop the floors with?”

He looked at the empty bottle and shrugged. “We’ve got red wine vinegar under the cupboard. Would that work?”

I pictured the apartment smelling like the dumpster behind a bar then realized it was moot, there was no way I could sweep and mop before five o’clock and I still hadn’t made the frosting for the cake, let alone decorated it… and hadn’t even started chopping the veggies that I was supposed to be cooking right this minute.

“Are you okay Mom?”

“Not last time I checked,” I replied. “Can you sweep?”

He made a valiant attempt while I got the frosting ingredients out. Then I pulled the cake out of the freezer and sighed. I’d already had to dump the centre of both layers because they were gooey (vegan here… I didn’t poison anyone with raw egg goop) but they’d sunk even more. I put a bunch of frosting in the centre, hoping to fill it out a bit then started spreading frosting over the top. Crumbs started rolling everywhere but at least I was coating the whole cake in Oreo crumbs so they wouldn’t show up. That was when I realized a cake covered in baking crumbs looks like it got dropped into the dirt then dusted off and stuck on a plate. Hopefully it would taste good.

Jeremy was quiet when my first two guests were here. He said “hi” then went right back to the computer and his game. Then my third guest arrived and he turned into a model host. He insisted on giving her a tour of the whole apartment, introduced her to all the cats, and showed off his electronics. She’s a new employee, he’s never met her before, but somehow they just clicked. He got out a charger so she could charge her phone then showed her some features. At one point in the evening he made a huge derp face.

“I’m so handsome,” he joked.

“I thought you were good,” I quipped. He looked at me like I’d completely lost my mind.

“No, I’m handsome,” he said patiently.

Alrighty then. He’s handsome in public and good in private… at least until everything changes again with no warning.

The evening moved on to sharing different songs. It turned out we all love Penatonix. We listened to a couple of their songs then my coworker had a song to share where everyone took turns playing the same guitars. I shared a version of Royals sung a capella by a teen using a cup for percussion. Then Jeremy plugged his speakers into his netbook.

“I have a song,” he announced. He could barely hold back his grin. That grin just screamed mischief.

“Let me guess, Diggy, Diggy Hole,” I said drily. “It’s a Minecraft song,” I added before I sang a bit of the chorus. I only needed to sing a bit, the song is very repetitive. Jeremy’s grin grew wider.

“I bet it is,” she agreed. “He’s got a suspicious look.” Jeremy giggled.

A few soft piano notes… this definitely wasn’t Diggy, Diggy Hole. Jeremy had put on Same Love.

He started playing Same Love about a week ago, ostensibly for me. I like the song but I’ve never hunted it out (other than when it first came out and I showed it to both the kids) and don’t have it saved on my computer. Jeremy has it saved on his though and plays it several times a day.

My coworker started singing along and Jeremy switched from an “it’s just a joke” grin to a genuine smile.

It was a great day.

My Oreo cake