“I Love Like a Lesbian”

1 03 2012

Wanted to post this one.  It’s from my reading at thrilLITERATE last week, the last one I read.

A friend didn’t understand the poem and although I could attribute it to his innocence and general naiviety about the world outside of his farm, perhaps there are others who don’t get it.  To understand it, you have to know about stereotypes, mainly that lesbians fall in love and get together VERY quickly.  I make fun of it but I also explain how I, as a gay man, am like that too.

Alright, now that I’ve told you how to interpret the poem, here it is:

So much to be proud of

2 08 2010

It’s almost the end of the day.  I’m sitting at home, in my boxers, after a day of fun and generally being happy, which is a rare occurance (not to say that I always have miserable days, but that I’m usually neutral/meh on the whole).  I woke up bright and early at 11am to help my buddy Steve film some performers down at the Sunset Beach Pride thingy at around 1pm and do some interviews.  I knew I wasn’t going to make it to see the entire Pride Parade, which I figured was alright, but I managed to get down to Sunset Beach just before one, where the parade was still happening.  After texting Steve and getting no response about where he was, I decided to pass the time by watching the parade.  Might as well, right?

Now, I’ve been to the parade a few times, each year seeing more and more of it.  Even with the crappy view, I was able to see some pretty awesome things; MLAs all dressed up, various LGBT groups, and of course, super fabulous costumes.  But the thing that really made me so happy to be there was simply how many people were there.  They couldn’t all be gay, obviously, and a large number of people were straight, which amazed me.  It’s not that I think all straight people are bigots or whatever, but I guess I didn’t have a good grasp just how many great heteros there are in the world.  And heteros who bring their kids!  It’s probably stupid of me to be surprised and in awe of parents who bring their kids to the Pride Parade but maybe I’ve been reading too many stories about anti-gay groups who argue about “what their kids should and shouldn’t see” and how “indecent” the whole gay thing is, etc.  It’s small things like these that really make me appareciate living in such an awesome city like Vancouver.

And across the street from me: Asian ladies, not unlike my mother, which again, floored me.  I guess I assumed, again, that most, if not all, Asian/Chinese mothers like mine were homophobic or at the very least, uninterested in going to see a parade full of queers doing queer things.

Apparently not.  Those women were reaching out for mardi gras beads, smiling and taking pictures of the parade and seemed to be having a good time.  And if they can be here and and be happy, I don’t see how many, many more Asian mothers can’t do the same.  I see no reason why my mom won’t one day come with me to the parade and have fun, and maybe, just maybe, be proud of me.

When the parade was over, I went down to the stage area by Sunset Beach when I got a text message from Joe, my other friend helping out with filming, saying to go behind the stage.  I got there and plunked myself down in front of the stage with earplugs in (thank god I brought them).  We filmed a bunch of local acts performing and then finished up.  I went to get some food since I was eeeeeempty and saw that there were sizeable lines for the food stands around, which were mainly hot dogs and smokies.  The entire area around Sunset Beach was pretty crowded and it made me happy again that people were coming out to see and participating.

I’ll make this part short–I walked all the way to Japadog, got an Oroshi dog (yuuuuum!) and went back home, tired and happy.  My mom came home and we went out to one of the nearby restaurants for dinner and when I came back home, I felt the urge to dance.

Now, before you wonder what the hell’s gotten into me, I should say that I occasionally have tendencies to move a little, get my groove on, if you will, and I settle this by doing a little jig and that’s that.  But for some reason, I really wanted to move myself and go crazy and more specifically, do it in a club, which is even more unlike me, as I stay away from clubs like top 40 radio.  Maybe it was my inner gay coming out… whatever it was, I knew I needed a more serious dose of dance to cure it this time.

I set out to see what my friends were doing and I guess most were too busy to respond.  So instead of going down to the club alone, I held a dance party in my room, and man… it was great.  I danced for about 20-ish minutes, mainly to my recent purchase of the Scissor Sisters’ album Ta-Dah!, but I was also in the mood for some Madonna.  As my cat stared at me and probably wondered, “People who have seizures are supposed to be on the floor…” and even though I probably looked like an idiot, flailing around the small space of floor in my room with my mother just outside watching horrid Chinese tv, I felt great–I felt great to be dancing; I felt great to be living in such a wonderful city; I felt great to be myself.  Me, the gay Chinese boy who is a damn good pianist, can write in a whole bunch of genres, has directed a short film, can semi-speak three different languages (not including English, of course), and is an awesome boyfriend, if he were in a relationship.

There is so much to be proud of, in all of us.  And maybe once in a while, we need to be conceited and say, “I’m pretty fucking fabulous.”

And then dance our asses off.

Saturday Morning Documentary: Freeheld

17 07 2010

Laurel and Stacie

Laurel and Stacie

At first, I thought watching a documentary short would be cheating for my documentary mornings on the weekend, but now that I think about it, it’s not the length that counts, it’s the fact that it is a documentary — a film that shows real life.  I was randomly scouring the pages on imdb like I do sometimes, aimlessly clicking on link after link of things.  I think I started off with Christopher Nolan’s Inception since it’s coming out this weekend, then clicked on Ellen Page, then clicked on one of her upcoming movies, titled Freeheld.  The synopsis was intriguing enough, about a lesbian couple trying to obtain pension benefits when before one of them dies from lung cancer.  As I scrolled down the page, I noticed it was a remake of a 2007 film of the same name, and instinctively thinking, “Oh god.  Another crappy remake”, I clicked on the original title.  What surprised me what that 1) the original is a 38 minute documentary short and 2) it won an Oscar.  More intrigued than ever and being very interested in social issues like this, I decided to Freeheld my film for this morning.

“You have denied Lieutenant Hester a pension she worked hard for.  A pension, that like every other officer who worked, derserves.  And you’re denying those benefits to her partner because her partner is not a man.”


The Freeholders

This is the opening line of the film, spoken by George Farrugia, part of the Gay Officers Action League (I didn’t know there was such a thing but I’m not really surprised).  Laurel Hester, a former Lieutenant of Ocean County, New Jersey, is dying from lung cancer.  She wants to pass on pension benefits to her partner, Stacie Andree but of course, there’s a problem — the county won’t allow it, that it only applies to hetersexual couples.  The film chronicles Laurel and Stacie’s fight for justice not only for themselves and their situation, but for same-sex couples in the county and in New Jersey.  What surprised me was how many people supported Hester and Andree.  Perhaps I’m merely pessimistic when it comes to gay rights and issues and assume that there must be opposition ALWAYS but I was pleasantly surprised.  The only people that were holding back were the Freeholders, the county officials who determine whether or not the benefits can be passed on; they are the people who can change the life for the couple.  As Hester’s health worsens, time slowly runs out for the couple to get permission from the Freeholders, who are hesitant to allow them the pension benefits.  Although the reasons behind their denial are only speculative (someone in the film suggests why they’re reluctant to say yes, but I won’t spoil it), they can’t ignore the voices of people in the room, powerfully chanting,”You have the power!  You have the power!”

There are few documentaries (and films, for that matter) that really resonate with me and make me cry.  But this little film does that.  It made me think of what would happen if I were in Laurel and Stacie’s situation, and made me very, very glad to be living here in Canada.  There are some powerful words spoken in the film, like this one by Joan Hervey, of the Garden State Equality: “Please don’t let her die.  Don’t let her die remembering you saying ‘No.  No, you’re not good enough; your 25 years of service was not good enough.  The criminals you put away, the lives you saved was not worth our time.'”

Thank you to Laurel Hester for such a compelling and moving story, and to Cynthia Wade for directing and making this film available to people.  It really touched me, and I’m willing to bet it did with plenty of other people.  Perhaps Laurel herself sums everything she goes through in the film thebest: “We’re just average people that have a home and a couple dogs and pay our taxes.  And we just wanted everything to be… equal.”


Supporters of Laurel and Stacie