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The Ubyssey Feb 9, 2007

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Minding those subtle gaps
The curse of the 90s was that the
word 'gap' became equated with
khakis, vests, and white-on-white ad
campaigns. The word lost its meaning. But what is it? Isn't a gap just the
space between two things? What's
interesting or intriguing about a
space? About the lack of something?
What spawned this issue is trying to
establish what that something is.
What are these gaps that permeate
our world, especially looking at it in
a queer context? We're all part of
communities that are anything but
black and white, and it's all those
funky shades in between that enliven
Whether hunting for a gay bloodline, comparing public versus private queer identity, or zeroing in on
the multitude of gaps surrounding
bisexuality, this issue is a fragment
of the  exploration through these
gaps. We've strapped on our hiking
boots, packed the tent, a good air
mattress, and some warm woolen
socks to see what we could find in
there. It's not as chilly as I would
have predicted. The terrain is quite
hilly, though, and the landscape is
thoroughly captivating. Were it not
for our deadlines, we both might still
be in there, contemplating, pontificating, and wondering. Our world is
only as interesting as our gaps.
Strange that the absence of something is what makes us interesting.
So when you find a minute, bundle yourself up in your gear, and take
a visit. You won't love all of the
views, but if you stand in the place
where I first took it all in, you'll find
what you're looking for.
And send us a postcard to tell us
what you think.
I love the gaps between people's
teeth. When I was 16 1 got braces.
They hurt like hell, made it difficult to eat popcorn and carrots
and hard candy, and permanently
altered the terrain of the inside of
my mouth with their poky, poky
metal bits. At the time I thought
they were worth it, but now I
sometimes wish I'd left my poor
mouth alone. Somewhere, in a
parallel universe, is the Nicole
who opted not to get braces, and
her teeth are probably pretty sexy.
This is what I am thinking about
when I see people with gaps
between their teeth. To me, they
represent potential, the potential
to live life as it was meant to be
lived, without the intervention of
poky metal. (Also: they are sexy).
When we set out to do the GAPS
issue, it was because a lot of topics
we wanted to explore seemed to
be about gaps in queer and trans
experiences and communities: the
gap between queer youth and elders, the gaps that bisexuals inhabit, the gaps in our favourite TV
shows and movies that are being
filled by slash fiction and art We
talked about exploring them,
bridging them, minding them.
Can/should we bridge all gaps?
Like the gaps between people's
teeth, gaps in our communities
can be both sexy and full of potential. They are places where we
have room to grow, to reimagine
the world on our terms. But before
that can happen, we need to
acknowledge them. And that's
what this issue is for.
—Nicole Maunsell
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Friday, 9 February, 2007
Pride Issue
Dave Deveau
Nicole Maunsell
Editorial Board
coordinating editor Erie Szeto
coordina ting@ubyssey.be.ca
news editors   Colleen Tang &d
Brandon Adams
news@ubyssey.be. ca
culture editor lesse Ferreras
culture@ubyssey.be. ca
sports editor Boris Korby
sports@ubyssey.be. ca
features/national EDITOR
Momoko Price
photo editor Oker Chen
Champagne Choquer
productio n@ubyssey.be. ca
copy editor Levi Barnett
copy@ubyssey bc.ca
volunteers@ ubyssey. bc.ca
research/letters Andrew MacRae
webmaster Matthew Jewkes
webmaster@ ubyssey. bc.ca
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A Rachael Sullivan is haunting Tony Flavell-the Jen Currin of Sylvia
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Leah Dowe to Michael Kushnir this Dave Deveau: Nicole Maunsell and
Sam Sivertz, Alexandra Clarke and Derek Eidlck, Jalnita Dadlani and
Carrie McKay police-spies.Where is the Kai Steingarten in Kellan
Higgins that has not been decried as Claudia Li by its Kasha Chang in
power? Where is the Leigh-Anne Mathieson that has not hurled back
the Caroline Chuang reproach of Eric Szeto, against the Brandon
Adams and Colleen Tang parties, as well as Boris Korby adversaries?
Two Jesse Ferreras result from this Momoko Price: I. Oker Chen is
already Micheal Bround by Champagne Choquer to be itself a power.
II. It is Richard Andrade time that Andrew MacRae should openly, in
the face of the Paul Bucci, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this Levi Barnett manifesto of Matthew Jewkes.
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Number 0040878022 THE UBYSSEY Friday,9 February,2007
PWP: An introduction to Slash
Star Trek: The Original Series, which
aired from 1966 to 1969, inspired a
lot of fanfiction. In those pre-Internet
days, fans would write stories about
their favorite characters and submit
them to fanzines to be published. In
1974, a fanzine called Grup published a story called "A Fragment Out
of Time," which featured Captain
Kirk and Mister Spock having sex.
There had been a lot of fanfics written
about the friendship between Kirk
and Spock (K/S), but this was their
first erotic adventure.(The term
"slash" comes from the forward slash
between K and S). That was the birth
of slash fiction.
Soon there were entire fanzines
devoted to K/S fiction. The genre
expanded to include other popular
TV shows, movies, and books.
Today, the Internet has allowed fan-
fiction to move beyond the underground realm of fanzines to become
an online subculture. There are websites devoted to slash for nearly
every object of fandom, from The
Lord of the Rings to E.R.
When writing a slash story, fans
will choose two (sometimes more)
characters from their favorite story
and "ship" them. "Ship" (from relationship) is in this context a term that
means: "pair them up in a sexy or
romantic tale." Many stories focus
entirely on a sexual encounter, which
gives rise to another piece of slash
jargon: PWP, or "Plot? What Plot?"
Some stories are less explicit and
deal more with romance. Most slash
websites require stories to have a
descriptive header at the beginning,
telling the reader what they can
expect The header usually contains
an indication of the sexes involved.
M/M = man on man, F/F = female on
female, M/M/M = man on man on
man, and so on. PWP may also make
an appearance. Some sites have
adopted the MPAA system, rating sto
ries from G to 18A.
Most "ships" are inspired by
homoerotic subtext in the storyline
of show, movie, book or comic book.
Slash storylines often represent
what could be happening between
the characters in scenes that the
creators could not show. If two characters seem to have a tender (Kirk
and Spock) or obsessive (Harry
Potter and Draco Malfoy) relationship on screen, it is grounds for an
erotic encounter offscreen. Often,
characters are assumed to be bisexual until proven otherwise, and act
The creators of the original stories
tend to have mixed feelings about
slash fiction. Some are happy that
their work could inspire the imaginations of their fans, while others are
not so keen (J.K Rowling supports
non-sexual fan fiction).
One of the most interesting things
about slash fiction is that it's written
mainly by heterosexual women.
Slash has always been women's fiction, starting with "A Fragment Out of
Time", which was written by a fan
named Diane Marchant Gay men
also enjoy slash, but the driving
forces behind the genre are heterosexual women. This is presumably
why most slash fiction deals with
M/M relationships. There are some
stories about sex between women,
which are sometimes termed
"femmeslash," but these are rare in
comparison to M/M slash.
Femmeslash is written by women as
well, both lesbian and heterosexual.
Straight women like gay sex. We
don't often see this featured in popular media, unlike straight men's
interest in lesbian sex. It has long
been recognized in Japan, however,
where a genre of anime and manga
featuring love and sex between young
men is wildly popular among schoolgirls and housewives. These stories
are called shonen-ai, which means
"boy-love" or yaoi, which may be a
backronym for a Japanese phrase
meaning: "No peak, no point, no
Why do straight women like gay
sex? Some think it's the dynamics of
the relationship. Slash provides a
venue for imagining equality
between the two partners-something
many do not experience in the
dynamics of heterosexual relationships. Here at UBC, however, when
asked why they like gay sex, most
women will reply: "Because it's hot!"
Who needs more of an explanation
than that?
Openly homosexual relationships
are in pitifully short supply in most
mainstream popular fiction, especially in the sci-fi/fantasy genres. So if
you want to read about gay sex in a
story that could possibly involve
aliens, robots, wizards, and werewolves, you need to find yourself
some good slash. Or some bad slash.
You'll find both kinds in abundance
on the Internet: just type the title of
your favorite work of fiction, followed
by the word "slash", into your favorite
search engine, and you'll be amazed
(and quite possibly aroused) at what
you can find out there. Enjoy.
Examples of slash pairings:
Harry Potter
(Harry/Draco, Sirius/Snape)
Lord of the Rings
(Legolas/Gimli, Frodo/Sam)
CSI (Greg/Gil, Danny/Mac)
Buffy (Spike/Angel, Buffy/Willow)
X-Files (Mulder/Skinner)
Firefly (Mal/Jayne, Mai/Simon) T
Unpack your face
/ want to unpack
My race,
I want to shove it
Under the rug,
Put it in its place.
Step on it,
Trod on it,
Ground it into dust.
Mistrust, cynicism
Reduces the fuss.
Cry me a river,
You say
There are no future leaders
Here today.
We sit down, shut up
Give up, our egos
Freeze for a moment. ,
Don't try to please them,
Just listen.
To the sounds, voices
Untold a million times before,
They fold over,
Lay down to rest,
To test,
Our complicity
Is best.
Shame on us for being.
Shame on you for fleeing.
Test the waters,
Unpack your race
And show your face.
Mine is a subtle truth
To taste. ▼
Being Queer and Conservative
When I tell people I'm queer I normally receive a positive reaction. I get
the usual questions about "if my parents know" and "when did I come
out" and "if I'm seeing anyone special." When I tell people I'm conservative and queer, the reactions are
Queer conservatism is not a new
phenomenon, but in the last few
years it has been brought into the
limelight. In the United States the
largest queer conservative group is
the Log Cabin Republicans. This
group of queer individuals most
often consists of registered and voting Republicans, and a lot of them
also agree with the Republican platform. Along with Log Cabin
Republicans, there is a growing network of queer conservative bloggers,
the most famous of which is Andrew
The main question I get when I
explain my political views is, "how
can you be both queer and conservative?" And I have to say it is a difficult
question to answer. Most people do
not understand how I can adhere to a
party that tried to outlaw same-sex
marriage and where some of the
members disagree with my lifestyle.
It is also difficult within the queer
community to be conservative as you
are most often seen as being a "traitor" or "self-hating." When I was
younger I was your stereotypical
activist I was against war, Bush,
America, eating meat, etc. The last
couple of years, however, I have felt
myself becoming alienated from
these views. I felt there was a pressure that if I was queer I had to subscribe to leftist views.
Being Queer and
Conservative is not
about being a traitor
to the community
or a self-hating
homosexual, it is
about belief.
I realised that I didn't want to be
forced to hold some opinions and
not others. This does not make me
a "cookie-cutter conservative" but I
don't think it makes me "lefty"
either. I am not your stereotypical
"scary conservative." I support gay
marriage, women's issues and
social justice. Embracing some con
servative values comes more out of
family tradition and how I was
raised. My support of the military
is an example of this, as many
members of my family have served
this country in times of war.
Being queer and conservative
is not about being a traitor to the
community or a self-hating homosexual, it is about belief. We live in
a country where we are free to
choose what we can believe in and
what we cannot. A diversity of
opinions and belief is needed if
you want a truly great country.
Does this mean I agree with everything in the Tory platform? No, it
does not. I was angry when they
tried to outlaw same-sex marriage
and happy when the motion failed.
Does this mean I should stop
being conservative? No, it does
not. I believe the Conservative
Party still has a way to go on issues
affecting the queer community
and that is why I am staying conservative. Instead of separating
myself from the Conservative
Party out of anger and disgust, I
want my presence known to those
who disagree with the way I live
my life. Working within an organisation is also a good strategy to
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For more information, visit bcit.ca/health/enviro or call
School of Health Sciences
Information Session
Tuesday, February 20
5:00-7:00 pm
BCIT Burnaby Campus
Building SE2
3700 Willingdon Avenue
To register for this free
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Read today's issue of
The Ubyssey for contest details
Contest closes February 16,2007,
1 Sense
Friday, 9 February,2007 THE UBYSSEY
Why choice is
a queer i
When I found out that the theme for
this year's Ubyssey Pride Issue was
gaps, the first thing that came to
mind was the largest and most
annoying gap on campus: The
Genocide Awareness Project. A program of the Centre for Bio-Ethical
Reform, located in California, GAP
attempts to "teach" people about the
horrors of abortion by juxtaposing
images of fetuses with historical
forms of genocide including the
Holocaust, Rwanda, lynchings in the
southern US, Cambodia, Wounded
Knee, etc. The images equate women
who have exercised their right to
choose with people such as Hitler or
members of the KKK.
But why should queer people care
about choice? We can't get pregnant
by accident anyway... First of all, that
statement is completely misleading.
Bisexuals and pansexuals can be in
"opposite-sex" relationships and can
choose to have children and/or build
a family. Some people who identify
as lesbians have sex with men, and
some gay men have sex with women.
And really, oppression is still oppression. If women do not have the right
to control their reproduction, how
can we expect that queer people are
going to have the right to control
their relationships, how they form
relationships and how they have sex?
If the government can force a woman
to carry a pregnancy to term, and
give birth, then the government can
tell you that you cannot have anal sex.
Furthermore, trans people often
have medical needs that must be
addressed. Their access to surgeries
is fundamental to the right to control
their bodies.
The list is endless as to how the
right to choose fits into the larger
umbrella of queer rights. Oppression
takes many forms and it can be hard
to recognise. As corny and cliche as it
is, none of us are free when other
people are being oppressed. It is the
responsibility of everyone to fight
oppression when it occurs and in all
its forms.T
Proud of what, exactly?
I'm a strange sort I'm not the kind of
person to lead a picket, but if there's
a way to silently help a cause, I'll
more than happily lend a hand. I
believe in a fairly unrestricted market, though I definitely consider
myself squarely in the centre-left.
When it comes to the issue of being
gay, I have an answer that might surprise many people that don't know
me well.
Growing up in a secular Jewish
household, the concepts of injustice
and persecution, tainted by the overwhelming shadow of the Holocaust,
were frequently-revisited themes
every holiday. Yet, from a young age,
I knew that I lived in privilege as a
member of the Canadian middle
class. We had the appearance of a
fairly normal family, unobtrusively
living a quiet, suburban life. How
could I ever be subject to racism?
I remember the first time that I
was explicitly targeted as a Jew. Not
even for my beliefs—I'm an atheist—
but for the beliefs of my ancestors,
for my ethnic background.
I also remember the first time
that I was explicitly targeted as a gay
man. Seeing as I might have been
killed, I was very lucky to have
escaped with little more than a black
eye, bloody nose and bruised ego.
Nothing makes one understand
injustice quite like a boot to the face.
So what does this have to do
with being proud? Shouldn't I be
proud to have been persecuted and
For decades, our transgender and
transsexual brothers and sisters have
fought next to us for many of the
rights that we enjoy today: privacy,
security and equality. Every parade,
every protest, every vigil, we have
had them at our side. And yet, their
dedication often goes unrecognized.
Trans men and women still have to
fight for recognition in such basic
areas as housing, healthcare, employment and public space (although the
AMS should be commended for taking the subtle-yet-bold first step of
introducing a gender-neutral, accessible washroom in the SUB).
Here's a gap to fill, and an awfully
large one at that: I'm profoundly saddened that trans men and women
are subject to the discrimination that
they face every day. What's even
more upsetting is that they are often
forgotten by many gays and lesbians,
even seen as we ourselves were seen
fifty years ago: as sexual deviants.
Pride, in my mind, implies satisfaction with who one is due to one's
accomplishments. Today, I am not
proud to be gay. Neither am I shameful, however; it's simply the way I was
born. Until gays and lesbians begin to
use our political muscle to advocate
for our trans brothers and sisters on
a large scale, I cannot consider
myself proud to be gay.
Now that the topic of same-sex
marriage has been established and
confirmed by Parliament, gays and
lesbians are more secure in Canada
than they could have ever hoped to be
a generation ago. Let's stop being
insular and start helping those that
helped us; it's well beyond time that
we did. T THE UBYSSEY Friday,9 February,2007
Are there truth pills? I'm imagining taking one right now. I will
only spew the truth as best as I can. But truth might not always
equal reality. All I can promise right now is that I will try my
hardest to make it so.
My name is Matt. I'm 21 years old and I'm from the United
States. I have three sisters, and sometimes I think that has shaped
me into being who I am. I am studying in Germany; I really like languages and since this is me vomiting the truth, I think I could say
that I'm pretty good at them. I'm like a sponge. I have some French
friends here and I've been trying to pick up French from them for
about two months. So far I can lead a decent basic conversation in
French. I also speak Spanish.
I'm also an alcoholic. At least I think so. I'm going to be a coward
and try to blame it on Germany: drinking is so acceptable here and
there is nothing else to do. But I think I also drink because I'm not
okay with who I am. I don't know why I chose German to study or
why I chose Germany in which to study. No, really, I'm following the
honesty thread and I still can't pinpoint it. I suppose it could have
something to do with the fact that I think Germans more or less have
to accept whatever comes their way due to their turbulent history in
the last century. Maybe it's also because Cologne is in Germany, and
Cologne is reputed to be the San Francisco of Western Europe.
My queer community has only one queer member: me. The
other member is a straight girl. She says people are like puzzles; she
wants to find all the pieces and fit them together. I tell her good luck.
The pieces to me are so far away from one another that I don't think
any amount of searching or glue will put them back together. I'm
passive and plagued with the indecisiveness that accompanies passivity. That's why I don't understand why I'm so clear about the fact
that I'm gay. I've tried so hard not to be, forcing myself to date girls
or hook up with girls or talk about attractive girls...but I am gay.
Even though it might sound strange, I would rather tell my
straight guy friends or acquaintances that I'm gay and face any reaction they might have than tell my straight girl friends. I don't like to
tell girls. Nevertheless I've told her, the card-holding, membership-
paying, volunteer-gala-organising member of the gay community
that is Matt. There is something about her that makes me open up
completely. She asks too many questions and I offer too many
answers. Her own personal puzzle is as complicated as mine. What
I'm about to say may sound selfish and harsh but I don't care: I don't
want to solve her puzzle. Someone else will always be there to do
that for her. I want her to solve mine.
Girls often have crushes on me. She says it's because I know how
to talk to them. I see it as more a curse than a blessing. I really like
to talk to girls, I think they're interesting, but it usually ends up piss
ing off my guy friends because the girls almost always try to make a
move on me. Because my one and only member and I both have
puzzle pieces locked in treasure chests at the bottom of the Pacific
(hers) and the Atlantic (mine), or fossilised in Himalayan caves, or
buried deep within the earth not to be discovered until somebody
finally digs that tunnel to China, or at the bottom of Croatian waterfalls being continually eroded until they become shapeless, our
friendship feels timeless. I go to her house for dinner at least three
nights a week and when we cook we are synchronised like we are following fluid dance steps choreographed expressly for us. She'll
never fall in love with me and she thinks she's too smart for love.
That makes her safe.
Our mutual friends marvel at our friendship. They laughingly
call us husband and wife. That bothers me even though I feel protected by it She laughs it off but it makes me depressed. It makes me
depressed because I don't think there is a guy out there for me who
I'll click with as well as I click with her.
Can other people's puzzle pieces fit in your own puzzle? Could
our unfinished and crudely assembled puzzles somehow form
together...not for life, not for eternity, but just for now until I'm comfortable and can find another way to somehow feel complete?
I'm going to ask her if she would be okay with that. T
Raw foods
They feared I'd eat green & purple vegetables,
make friends with masseurs &yoga instructors,
come to like being a body of water,
everything in me dizzy
except the sun.
It's so bright out here.
I use my hands to make fire.
Let me know when we can drink cocktails.
A cup of you, a cup of me.
This heat does not smell human.
Still, it's never too late to hear of one's beauty.
Of love during childhood we are certain
there was none.
Spokes of silence revolving in her eyes.
On behalf of the newspapers, we apologise.
You were my first friend.
We ate tea & fruit
to the sound of matches flaring.
You made life in the pond
more elegant
with your descriptions of corn hair.
On the most ordinary sheets of paper
men keep rabbits.
In the most unlikely circumstances you give in
to laughter.
Where hills frown there will be war.
Squatters on the river apply mascara
to their moustaches.
Keep shining like those who refuse to be gendered. T
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Between me
and myself
That normalcy within me extends, meets
your normalcy, and confuses. That meeting adds up the distance between us,
which is greater than the distance from
face to mirror and back to reflection.
What happens in that mirror-space
(which is no space at all) when I lift those
mirrored arms, pull a lock of hair here,
adjust cloth there? Shape, assemble. I
look into the mirror and I think it is
clear. Clearer than the film, the glare of
light, the particles of cultural debris that
interrupt your eyes. Yet, between me and
myself is a sharp clink, a sudden chilling
smoothness that draws a line between
what is seen and what is never seen by
anyone but me. You cannot know what
separates us if all you see is your own
composition of my self-projection. We
are each to one another a figure of each
other's making. What does it take to
change the linear gaze? To see not what
we reflect but what we see? T
Friday, 9 February,2007 THE UBYSSEY
6000 Lullabies
What goes  around  comes
Like a merry-go-round.
Ring around the rosy
My pockets are filled with
Hus\ahush a
We all fall to the ground -
The sotmd amplified, soni-
Rolling heads, talking heads,
Mushroom clouds, shrouds
Of complacency.
Literacy literally unfolds
The masses, surfing
The   streets  in   search   of
Beats pounding, their feats
Reaching for glory,
Instead of gory stories
Which die with the hands
Of tragedy, tragically   ,
Sifting and sorting foy
Buried lost treasuye,  treasured
As relief from grief.
Perpetual nehd  unfed for
What goes  around  comes
around... W
Don't let a thief ruin your day
Take control.
Use an anti-theft device.
Win 1 of 5 immobilizers or
1 of 10 steering wheel locks
Enter to win at The Ubyssey office,
room 23 in the SUB building.
Contest closes February 16, 2007.
Top 10 fears of car thieves
1. Police Dogs
2. Being taken down hard by the cops
3. Bait Cars
4. A witness with a cell phone
5. Phoning my mom from jail
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8. Auto Theft cops
9. Anti theft devices
10. Killing themselves or an innocent bystander
Enter contest to win 1 of 5 gift certificates for an
electronic immobilizer with installation valued at $180
each, or 1 of 10 standard automobile steering wheel-
lock devices valued at $50 each by filling out a ballot
at The Ubyssey student newspaper office, room 23
in the SUB building. No purchase is necessary. Gift
certificates for immobilizer are valid only at Ralph's The
Mobile Electronics Store and expire on March 31, 2007.
Winners must correctly answer a skill testing question.
Contest is restricted to University of British Columbia
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Contest closes on February 16, 2007 at 3pm PST.
Full contest details available at The Ubyssey office.
"Don't let a thief ruin your day" Contest
Drop off this ballot at The Ubyssey office, room 23. SUB onitding.
Contest closes feu. 16,2007. Full contest rules available al The Ubyssey cilice.
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Special issues coming up!!
Write for the following issues!
Women's issue corning out March 9
Meeting: February 14,11am
women© ubyssey.bc.ca
Comics contest!!
Think you got what it takes
to create a good comic? Test
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Colours issue coming out March 16
February 12,1130am
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Submit comics
Submissions March 2nd.
Rant coming out March 23
contact: webmaster@ubyssey.bc.ca
Cash prizes!!
More info in the following
Anyone can attend!!
Anyone com enter! THE UBYSSEY Friday,9 February,2007
I work with youth. This is something that
I've done since I was a so-called youth.
Everyone breaks down what youth means differently so by some organisations, governments, grants, non-profits and banks I'm still
technically a youth. I work with teenagers at a
camp that, until recently, was called Camp
Rainbow. Ironically enough, I'm not out there,
though I am out in all other aspects of my life,
minus my senile grandmother who thinks I am
my father's new wife, or sometimes my sister.
I feel it's unnecessary to explain my sexuality to
her because she wouldn't be sure who was coming out to her and she would be very worried
about my dad if she thought he had married a
lesbian. So Camp Rainbow was my last closeted terrain. I justified not coming out at camp a
lot of ways—despite its very queer sounding
name it has nothing to do with gay things. It's a
camp run by co-ops and credit unions that also
have a rainbow flag in addition to a whole extra
stripe (they call it indigo but really it's baby
blue). I wanted to be able to connect with
campers and teach them about communication
and cooperation without them feeling weird
about me. Heck, I wanted them to be able to go
canoeing with me without them feeling weird
about me. There's nothing worse than awkward
conversation in a canoe for three hours. I love
my job. I think I'm really good at working with
young people. Then came the camper who
changed it all. I had a heads up that he was
queer because my then-girlfriend's mom had
been his school principal and Career and
Personal Planning teacher and he had written
an essay in which he talked about being queer.
I guess the essay fell more under the personal
planning section and less the career. So when
I met him on the bus to camp I sat next to him.
We talked and when itwas natural to talk about
having a girlfriend I did. We were close that
week and he came out to me which was very
touching—though as I mentioned unnecessary
since I had already heard about it through the
gay vine. He asked me why I wasn't more out
at camp and I explained my rationale about
how camp wasn't about that and why make
things awkward when you were trying to build
a community, people are people, etc. "Bullshit"
He said it in that articulate teenage way. He
said I was scared and that I did have to talk
about it because otherwise I was not talking
about it. At the time, I thought his idealism was
endearing but that he was very young. God, I'm
a prick sometimes.
Two summers went by in roughly the same
way and the camper became a staff member.
We were participating in forum which is the
most excruciating camp activity that we do if
you happen to be queer. We divide into boys
and girls and go talk about how hard it is to be
a boy or a girl. We get back together and the
boys ask the girls questions and vice versa.
These are the important questions, the
deep questions, such as "how much do you
guys care about boobs?" and "why do girls
always go to the bathroom together in
groups?" I'm serious, both of those questions
have been asked every year and I have worked
for this camp for seven years. Seven years! So
we're in the final circle, boys and girls together, and the question that gets asked is "Why do
people hate gays so much?" And my heart
starts pounding in my throat and a bunch of
teenage hands go up and that then-camper-
now-staff looks at me. I know he can't come
out and he would in a second. He can't
because he is sleeping in a dorm with the
boys. Boys from all over BC, mostly smalltown
BC and while we try not to have assumptions
we all assume that boys from rural BC are
going to feel at the very least uncomfortable
with gay counselor sharing their bedroom, let^
alone their shower. The talking ball is going
around the circle and it gets to this girl,
April. April is four feet tall and enterSj
singing contests at shopping malls. Shei
told me she wanted a nose job and onj
the second day of camp she called
me fat..sort of. We were in the
bathroom and it was during a :
global dinner, an activity we do i
to simulate how 20 per cent of
the world uses 80 per cent of/
its resources. So only one table
is fed and the rest get rice, but *
actually at the end we feed them""
all. Tiny April storms into the bathroom and I am in the other stall so she doesn't
know it's a counselor. "I hate this camp. My
mom will be so mad. I am trying to lose
weight. I was doing so good, too! I gained four
Me in other washroom stall: "I'm sure in
your life you've put on more than four pounds."
April, confused: "No."
Me: "Oh."
"I'm nearly ninety pounds, though."
Me, trying to be funny again: "Wow I haven't
weighed so little since I was ten."
We both flush. Exit the stalls. She looks me
up and down and says, "Fat much?"
So this is the girl holding the talking ball.
And she says, "I just think it's really sad for
the lesbos because they don't want to be that
way. And it's really hard to be a man trapped
in a woman's body." As if this isn't bad
enough for some reason,
after April speaks, everyone starts using "lesbo"
like it's the correct,
term. I put my hand^
up. I feel like A
I might throw upi
or maybe I need^
a snack; something bad
is going on
with my
b 1 o o
sitting next to me is a really sweet deaf girl
and I wish she wasn't using the term "lesbo"
because I'm next and I'm going to sound like
I am criticising her when in actual fact it's
April who is provoking my fury. But I feel bad
because I don't want to seem like I'm picking
on the deaf girl and then I feel bad for not
wanting to pick on a deaf girl because she's
just like any girl.   Political correctness is so
hard. Why won't they stop saying lesbo? It's
my turn.
"I think the problem isn't so much people
hating gay people but not seeing them. I
notice we're all saying 'they.' 'They have it
hard.' And while I wouldn't refer to myself
as a lesbo, I am queer and probably so are
other people here so it's not 'they,' it's us.
Also being transgendered or a man trapped
in a woman's body is different than being
gay." I came out in a big circle holding a talking ball. That is the least comfortable way for
me to come out ever. I hate having to say it; I
try to make myself just generally queer
enough that people assume. But teenagers
haven't learned to look for short hair and a
labret piercing, sensible shoes and a fondness for folk music. So I had to say it. I felt
sick to my stomach after that meeting.
But also brave. And I opened a floodgate. The next day a camper came out
to me on my morning run. She was
from Peachland and actually I
think she had figured it out since
she had a fondness for folk
music and a short hair cut.
Last summer I was
out at every camp, not as
dramatically so as
at that first camp of
the sumer but definitely out. And no less
than ten campers
came out to me.
They were from
all over the
they were
male and
and I
o o d .
It was
still awkward but I got to
give some advice on how to be successful
with the ladies to girls from Surrey—not
known for being very queer-friendly. So I was
gay at Camp Rainbow and even though I felt
like I was so over being gay, some people
aren't. I wave the flag sometimes because if
no one's waving it the people who need to see
it can't. So I wave it and I make sure there's
no baby blue stripe. T
My Gay Grandpa
Gay youth, gay seniors, and the missing link
I've heard academics argue about the existence of a gay bloodline, and about the creation of one. If there isn't one, how do we
overcome that? Like our grandparents who
have passed family histories down through
the ages, how do we ensure that our stories
are not forgotten? How do we create a sort of
mentorship between the old generation and
the new? In most urban settings, the only
environments in which queer youth and
queer seniors are likely to meet are hyper-
sexualized: bars, bathhouses, Pride events.
So, where do we find our gay grandparents?
I'm fortunate enough to work in theatre,
and thus have come in contact with many
older queers who have become mentors.
Theatre openings, festivals, commissioned
plays from artistic directors who take an
interest in my work; all of these experiences
have helped spawn friendships. But,
inevitably, the sugar daddy question comes
up. There is something strange, to the outside eye, about intergenerational friendship.
Somehow because we live in a community
saturated in sex, it is automatically assumed
that sex is the trajectory of any relationship
that stems from it. What is it about inter-generational friendships that must connote a
sexual dynamic?
A 20-something friend of mine has lived
with his 60-something best friend for years.
There is no sexual intimacy between them.
They have many shared interests, primarily
having to do with the older man's deceased
lover, a prominent Canadian writer. It was
his death that brought these two together: a
longtime fan of the writer and his widower.
In many ways the older gentleman sees in
my friend a young version of himself and
wants to help him realize his dreams. Does
this relationship become any less valuable as
your average friendship because of the generational gap? Why must it cause us to raise
eyebrows? To question it wholeheartedly?
Two things are working against us in the creation of this bloodline: getting us all together to
foster these contacts, and our own inability to
accept these friendships for what they are,
rather than judge them on the assumption that
sexual contact is involved. We must tackle these
one at a time.
Can the creation of discussion groups (a
dry and unattractive term) help unite the
bloodline? Since we don't inherently have gay
grandparents, wouldn't it be of beneficial to
find some? Certainly, I have friends who have
gay siblings or uncles and aunts, but it is not a
given that we have an older person to compare
our experiences with. I'm not saying that life
revolves around our queer experiences, but
we can't deny that our experiences are shaped
by our queerness. If we want to learn from our
community's rich history, find where we fit in
the landscape of queer activism, and simply
get a social understanding of queer issues, it's
pivotal for us to make contact. The onus is on
all of us. Having said that, ultimately, what can
we do? How do we approach people without it
feeling like a come-on? It's a bigger problem
than it seems on the surface, because we have
no neutral meeting ground. Young men going
to the Pumpjack are eyed because we're the
odd ones out. Older men at Celebrities or the
Odyssey get the same treatment. Perhaps in
the ongoing East Vancouver queer revolution,
we can find a way to foster change. I am part
of a new group that's hoping to revamp the
queer nightlife by bringing back the ClubKid
days, going out in elaborate costumes, in character, as a sort of performance-art oeuvre. Why
must this be a young queer's activity? By no
means am I saying that this group (Vancouver nightlifers on Yahoo! groups) is the solution, but maybe it's up to us to create new environments instead of begrudging the existing
ones that aren't allowing the reunification of
queer kids and their gay grandparents.
Even if we're able to create these new pockets where we can interact, how do we prevent
ourselves from jumping to conclusions? Or
even from expecting a sexualized atmosphere?
I am by no means one to sit around and accuse
the rest of the community of something: I am
equally guilty. I'm full of judgment at times, but
that doesn't mean that it's not possible to shed
our preconceived notions and open ourselves
to the possibility of something new...
In Toronto I had gay grandpas. One was a
drag queen, still decked out in heels even at 76,
the other was his partner of 50 years. I found
that inspiring, both the heels and the longevity
of their relationship. In a community in which
relationships aren't necessarily encouraged
and fidelity is often considered a punch line, it
opened my eyes to an understanding of queers
and our history. Hearing about the early years
of their relationship, about their unwillingness
to actually admit to one another that they were
in a relationship together as a result of the turbulent world around them, made me deeply
grateful for how far queer rights have come. I
miss that interaction, that connection. Perhaps
all of this is inspired by my longing to bring
that same experience to others of my age. We
have a lot to gain from integrating ourselves
into older queers' lives. And vice versa. So why
not give it a try? T 8
Friday, 9 February,2007 THE UBYSSEY
Smack dab in the middle
Musings about
attraction and identity
Since as far back as I can remember, I've
always felt attracted to men and women. What
is most attractive about others? Is it sexual
activity with different bodies, gendered roles or
masculine and feminine traits? I've wondered
this myself—especially when trying to explain
why it is I choose to call myself a bisexual. The
best place to start is usually at the beginning,
outlining the sheer magnitude of this label or
identity (which is just as important as any
other!) I start with a realisation, as cliche as this
is. It is Outweek, after all.
The best realisation I had occurred the
night I went to the only gay bar in town. It was
my second visit, as I happened to run into my
dearest gay male friend, let's call him Steve,
and his then-boyfriend 'Tom,' who invited me
for a drink. I had been driving home after
dropping off my boyfriend when Steve crossed
in front of my car at a stop sign. The last and
only time I had been to this bar there was a
drag show, which meant that it was unusually
busy and festive, so it was nice to be there on
a regular evening. Once inside, the bar was
dark, sombre and smelled of beer and stale
smoke. There was dance music playing, but
only two or three courageous people were
dancing. I settled in with Steve, his boyfriend
and a handful of other people they knew who
were playing pool at the time.
I leaned against an empty stool and nursed
my non-alcoholic drink while Steve and I caught
up on his adventures since we had last seen
each other. At some point he left, probably to
get another drink, and soon enough I was
wrapped up in conversation with a woman
who would become my TA in the fall. We chatted mostly about school and the course she
would be teaching, nothing personal but I could
tell that I was holding her attention, which
made me feel special. Steve tried several times
to gently extricate me from the conversation or
intervene, but I ignored him. Realizing that his
efforts were ineffective, I could feel him watching me from a distance—well, only a few feet
away, which is far enough in a dark, noisy bar.
It didn't matter much to me: I was far too
absorbed in my conversation with Sarah, hoping to impress her with my intellect and wit—a
shining example of an eager student, too bad
she wasn't my TA just yet. Despite this, things
were going well. I was beginning to enjoy the
attention and my confidence grew as we spoke.
All of this diminished, however, when she
asked me if she could buy me another drink. It
wasn't my lack of thirst that drove me to quickly end the conversation and head home; it was
the possibility that she actually wanted to 'buy'
me a drink and prolong our conversation.
Noticing my quick retreat to the door, Steve
stopped me and asked if I was okay. I said that
I was and that I would call him the next day.
During my twenty minute  drive home,  I
replayed the moment Sarah asked me if she
could buy me another drink, over and over in
my head. The significance of the moment resonated within me for days afterward. An actual woman  found me  attractive
enough to want to buy me a
drink in a gay bar!     This X   ^     BYJENCURRIN
realization was important ^O     Your crippled career,
because it meant that I  j      <fr
could in fact attract
other       women
and the possibility  of  falling  in
love with another
woman became a
reality—not with
Sarah,  but with
someone.      Yet,
there was a man I
was pretty mad
about;  he  and I ^
had dated off and on N
through   high   school
and now were pretty serious   in   university.   What \^
makes this  a different story
from that of a lesbian 'coming out
is that I stayed with Mike for two more years.
I told him I wouldn't marry him without
exploring my attraction to women, but I also
would stay with him because I loved him dearly and loved our summers of sexual exploration. He was kind and we both grew up over
the years we were together, but then we eventually grew apart as well.
I tell this story to describe the moment lov
ing all people became a reality. There are other
moments when I knew I was attracted to
women. I could tell a dozen stories where my
attraction to other women welled inside of me
despite my heteronormative upbringing/socialization. But what is it that makes me want to use
the label 'bisexual' to describe my sexual identity? Perhaps its is the recognition that I am
attracted to many people of many
.   genders and it is not necessarily the idea of particular geni-
'/    \   talia or other body parts—
my neverlasting lover. Is)        t ^'s deeper than that It
Our loud loud language.
Tombs of a penniless summer.
You said penis is as penis does.
This and that crossed like bikini straps.
Ships slipped by with no greeting.
High noon, pronouns behind us.
Couldn't pass for a man.
Neither could I.
(Imagine an apple-animal grazing your cheek).
You kept biting my hand; I couldn't wait
to be rid of you.
The waitress in costume with blackened teeth
called our table tomb-like.
Caramel light, an otherwise boring hour.
could be the ability
//• to choose whom
I can love and
the power created in that choice.
It is partly
the idea that
I can surprise
some people,
those who may
have only known
me to date men,
or others who are
surprised that I would
make comments about
attractive men, when they
have only know me to date
women. I like the amount of surprise that can be built into the bisexual label—
sometimes I revel in it. While this 'identity' can
take on renegade-like qualities, I do not recognize many of the stereotypes articulated about
bisexuals in myself. Yet, I know the perpetuation of these stereotypes works to reinforce
much of the biphobia I encounter. Currently, I
am often viewed as a lesbian, because I am
deeply committed to another woman. Still, the
label bisexuality fits and I wear it with pride,
despite our relationship of nearly five years.
Since the moment in time when I realized
that I could attract/be attracted to both men
and women, I have continued to explore both
intellectually and personally my understanding of sexuality, identity, desire and attraction. This has taken many forms but mostly
recently I have given a great deal of thought
to which people I find attractive and the common qualities that might exist. Might there
be a pattern to all this despite my bisexual
label? While there are a number of qualities
and characteristics that I find attractive,
intellect being of first and foremost importance, in the category of gender I have found
an unusual pattern emerge. I like gentle
men, and strong women. I have found myself
increasingly uneasy around men who display
a great deal of stereotypically masculine
behaviours/traits/characteristics. In the case
of women, the most feminine of women I do
not view as attractive, and find myself wanting to be friends rather than lovers. My
desire seems to lie somewhere in between
these polar and somewhat unattainable
opposites. This more recent realisation I
have found oddly comforting. I have taken it
as a sign that I might have moved beyond the
gender dichotomy. This has been especially
important since the bisexual label tends to
reconstruct or rely on a binary gender system, but in my case it doesn't. For me, it actually allows for greater variation, to think
beyond body parts, to who people are and
what characteristics I cherish that move
beyond physique. It has been this recent realization that compelled me to write this piece
and hopefully encourage others to think
about (bi)sexuality differently. T
OMG, it's TBC: instablity, invisibility, identity
I'm not one of those bisexual people who will
tell you that everyone's bisexual, really. I don't
like it when people try to define my sexuality for
me, and I'm certainly not going to try to do it for
anyone else. However, when I consider all the
different forms that bisexuality can take, I do
think that more people are bisexual than one
might assume. People are scared to consider
that they might be bisexual, and I don't blame
them (unless they turn their fear towards me).
It's not easy. You have to deal with being invisible, constantly told you don't exist, that it's just
a phase, and that you'll make up your mind.
And if that wasn't enough, there's always the
Bisexual Identity Crisis.
I'll be going along, fine and happy, secure in
my bi-fabulousness, flirting with the boys and
the girls as I walk down the street, and then,
BOOM. I get a crush on someone, or someone
asks me out or I start dating someone.
Suddenly, I begin to question whether or not
I'm really bisexual. Suddenly, everything I know
about myself doesn't seem true.
Why am I so invested in the bisexual identity? Why do I panic when mine is threatened? If I really believe (as I do) that identity
and sexuality are amorphous, shifting, 'so-
explain' them things, why would it matter if it
really was a phase after all? Because deep
down inside, I know it's not just a phase.
Throughout all my identity expressions,
bisexuality has been a constant for me. The
crisis, I think, comes from all those voices
telling me I don't exist getting louder as I
approach a committed relationship. Because
once bisexuals are in a committed relationship, they really don't exist. People see you as
straight if you're in a hetero relationship and
queer if you're in a same-sex one.
It especially becomes a problem for me
when I find myself attracted to/dating a man.
Somehow, it would be much worse for me to
discover that I was straight than to find out I'm
a lesbian. Often, people, including partners,
won't understand why someone would find it
necessary to continue to participate in the
queer community. If you're not going to an
event to meet potential dates, then why are you
going? There's generally a lack of understanding that queerness is not all about sex. And it
hurts for me to think that I wouldn't belong or
be welcomed in the queer community if I was
dating a man. It's one of the first places I have
belonged and a community that I've devoted a
lot of time and energy to.
And then, I snap out of it. I see a Johnny
Depp movie or watch Melissa Ferrick stroke her
guitar and think "oh... right" I swear up and
down that next time, I will remember that who
I'm dating doesn't change who I am. I'm queer
even if I never date a woman again.
The Bisexuality Crisis (a name some
friends and I came up with years ago while
bonding over the shared experience) is common, but rarely talked about. Even writing
this, I feel like I'm providing fuel for bipho-
bic discourse aimed at making people fit
into a false dichotomy: one or the other,
straight or gay. It's not easy to admit that I
sometimes have doubts, but talking about it
with other bi people has only ever reaffirmed my identity for me. Refusing to
entertain doubt is far more prohibitive to
growth and self-awareness than taking the
risk of exposing myself.
Maybe now that I've written this I should
post it on my wall so that the next time TBC
strikes, I can read it as a stern reminder. Along
with a picture of Johnny Depp and Melissa
Ferrick. Oh, and note to self: meet more gen-
derqueer/tranny/non-gendered folk. T


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