Why is Pride Important?

In light of the #heterosexualpride hashtag trending on Twitter, in light of the Orlando, FL massacre, in light of countless instances of institutionalized and individualized homophobia, is this question even worth asking?

Recently, a friend of mine who is marrying his boyfriend in a year from now was booking wedding photographers. Once the photographer found out it was a ‘gay wedding’ she declined the offer because as this photographer said so pointedly, they only do ‘legitimate weddings.’

Another friend of mine was once kicked out of a youth group because it was discovered that she was gay.

While I don’t have any close trans gendered friends, it comes to mind that I have students in my classes sometimes poking fun at Caitlyn Jenner.

Do I really want to press on bruises of the LGBTQ community by bringing up all the instances of prejudice and discrimination that are thrown in that community’s face every single day? Can you really ask someone who would spew this kind of hatred why pride is important? Is it true what Brian Kinney said on Queer as Folk, that “there are two kinds of straight people in this world — the ones who hate you to your face, and the ones who hate you behind your back”? I don’t believe that last statement for a moment. But, if you are a member of this beautiful, diverse, amazingly familial community that faces this kind of disgusting and somehow socially acceptable discrimination, can you blame someone for believing this?

Pride is important because every life deserves equality. Pride is important because of the alarmingly high suicide rate among LGBTQ teenagers. Pride is important because to this day, it is still considered somewhat acceptable to call someone a ‘sissy’, to hashtag ‘#nohomo’, to proclaim to men that being gay is the worst thing they can possibly be. Because people are afraid to come out to their friends and family because of how they might be perceived differently by those who love and care for them. Because trans-gendered people are arguably THE most discriminated group of individuals on this planet.

Pride is more than just a celebration of homosexuality; it is a celebration of diversity and of its importance. Pride is about being proud to be different and sticking it to the bullies, and the bigots. I’ve participated in pride celebrations not as a gay woman but as an ally, and despite being an outsider in that community, I felt completely at home because despite that the LGBTQ community is one that often experiences hate, never responds with anything except love.

Pride is important because it gives voice to the voiceless, no matter who they are and how they identify.

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Reconnecting with who I am.

After coming back from my first ‘real’ vacation in about two years, I realized that one of the reasons I’ve been struggling so much to be happy and stress-free this past year is because I’ve lost so much of what makes me me. The stuff I love — long, long walks; going to concerts; shopping; rain; being energized by the mere casual presence of interesting strangers; having afternoon beers and/or food with my best friends; looking at the ocean; walking my boyfriend’s dog with him; running; karaoke — is not something I have the time and/or resources to do lately, and so it’s been a tough go since September to not necessarily be able to do these things. I just had my ten days off and did all of these things, and it was beautiful and wonderful and captivating and I felt more like myself than I have in months. I’m disgruntled to be back at work tomorrow after having such wonderful, full days off to do all the things I really and truly love to do but at the same time, my holiday was the motivation I needed to truly be who I was and am meant to be and that’s enough to push through the next few months and think less about what the future holds and think more about who I can be and continue to be right now.

Aloneness.

Time is going slowly, for a weekend. The weather is balmy for March in northern Alberta. I’m sitting by myself having just taken a post-gym shower after taking my sweet time to get myself out of bed, drag myself to the gym in the first place, and rage-sweat to a workout I didn’t want to do but felt like I ‘should’. These are the kind of weekends I love once in a while. My loved ones are gone, I get to spend time alone without feeling pulled in any other direction except my own. I don’t have some big family gathering, but today I don’t want one. Today I want to walk around in the sun and listen to my favourite songs and enjoy complete solitude, with the occasional smile at a passerby.

Some of my best, most amazing memories have been times when I spent time by myself, just me, and my headphones, or a live show. I do stuff alone all time and the first few times I did this, I was driven to do so not out of the desire to be alone but out of the desire to do something else so badly, I didn’t care if I was alone or not. Since those times I sometimes seek out the enjoyment of solitary activities and I revel in that time. Concerts are fantastic alone; walks are the best when you’re by yourself sometimes. Music sounds better when you can sing it loud as all hell in the car on a lone drive. I love these moments. They’re memories, inside jokes, private laughs and contemplation that I have just with me. Nobody else knows or cares about them. There’s a collectiveness you feel with strangers even without speaking to them, and there’s inner peace and bliss.

Memories I wish I could re-live.

There are so many days I wish I could go back to, or rewind back and watch again as if I’m re-watching my favourite movie. I’ve been thinking about a few of them today that give me chills with their resonance and those memories are keeping me strong and motivated this week.

  1. The first time I heard “I love you” was one of the most magical feelings I’ve ever felt. While it never gets old to hear it every day, that first time I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. It was something  I could sense was coming and I didn’t know when. But he picked the most perfect moment. If I could re-live that a hundred thousand times, I would.
  2. The first time I kissed someone I actually liked (and, at the time, thought I was in love with) ended so poorly, I don’t even want to get into it. But now that I’m at a safe distance and I can look at this moment with the pure innocent nostalgia that I think the Good Lord intended me to feel for this moment later in life, I’m perfectly satisfied saying I’d love to re-live it. It was another cold nighttime kiss (I apparently love those) but snow fell around us and I could almost envision this moment before it even happened. The moment led me on a string of horrible heartbreaking pain but it was all worth it for that few seconds of awkward, teeth-clicking, bag-of-trash-sitting-outside-his-apartment-door magic.
  3. Concerts, even if you see the band multiple times, are experiences that cannot be repeated; you can’t redo the set list, the moment, the feelings, the people around you, the joy. The two shows that stand out to me as the ones I’d most want to re-live are the most recent time I saw Ryan Adams at the Orpheum in Vancouver, and the very first time I saw Ryan Adams & the Cardinals in Vancouver back in 2007. There was nothing quite like that first time; having been at my peak of Ryan Adams’ music, I think my whole body went into shock when I saw him for the first time. I can barely remember it. Fast forward eight years to the most recent Ryan Adams concert-going experience, Ryan Adams, injured with a broken rib, pained his way through a full band set until opting to go acoustic so he could finish up the show unscathed. It was sumptuous and full of feeling. I was leaving that city in just a little while and to bid it goodbye in this way, and think of my true love while all of this romantic amazement was happening, were just too much. I was on Cloud Nine for days afterwards.
  4. I wish I could go back and re-live my meal at Mama’s Fish House in Maui, HI every single day. Not only is the restaurant shockingly beautiful and surrounded by the most amazing scenery anywhere around ever, but it was by far the best meal I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.
  5. The first time I ran a half-marathon, I had just moved to Vancouver and I worked so hard that I was in the best shape of my entire life. I can’t believe I was ever that small or that fit or that disciplined. I’m running another one this summer which will demand similar attention and hard work from me (I’m trying to get back there already!) but there’s nothing like that first time. Those last fast strides to the finish line were unreal and I felt so accomplished. I used to be 200lb and a size 18-20. To be able to run all that way in a reasonable time was something I once thought completely unachievable. I felt like I could have climbed Mount Everest afterwards.
  6. This one is a bit odd but I wish I could remember and re-live the first day I woke up not suffering from my first heartbreak. Time eases all wounds (though arguably, never completely heals them in many ways) and all I needed was time. But there must have been a day sometime after the dust settled that I woke up and the first thing I thought of wasn’t him. And I went about my day without feeling those familiar pangs and longings and sadnesses that I could never express without looking like a crazy person who had no right to complain about how my whole heartbreak went down. That day existed. I don’t remember it, but you think I would. If I had to make a guess, it might have been the day after he gave me that birthday gift I politely accepted without hardly a word, as it had been a few months since I decided to let him go and take my life back. I had lost almost 20lb that day. He sat across from me, and I didn’t talk to him. After that, I could have woken up completely free.
  7. The first morning I woke up in my Vancouver apartment, alone, was a surreal feeling that I never thought I’d get to experience and I wish I could re-live so badly. Those days were some of my deepest and most important and most happy. Normally I’m in a good emotional space but a bad physical space. When I lived in Vancouver I was in the best physical space I could ever be in. But my emotions were all over the place. I loved the freedom and excitement of being in one of the biggest and most beautiful cities I know of, being able to live how I wanted and be anonymous and ride the skytrain around every day. I loved waking up and smelling the ocean. I loved going for long, carefree runs in Stanley Park or around the downtown area of the city on days when the fog was too thick and the hills were too big. Occupying that space was the best. Waking up for the first time and not knowing the life that awaited me when I first moved there is something I wish I could sink my feet into once again.
  8. Lastly, I would love to re-live the moment when I saw my boyfriend for the first time after our first three weeks of distance. I got on a plane and I was vibrating the whole time, nervous and anxious and excited and unable to control my emotions. I felt like a caged animal about to be freed from captivity. I was worried things would change between us; I was concerned he wouldn’t love me anymore; I was afraid it would be awkward; I was nervous about how I would react to him. But instead, I was heading down the escalators to the Arrivals part of Edmonton International Airport and and I saw him waiting for me and I ran to him. I thought I was going to knock him over. We were pretty quiet but tightly holding hands the whole way home. Nothing had changed. I was pretty sure then that nothing ever would.

“The One”.

I go back and forth about whether or not there is such a thing as ‘the one’. I was watching this video by the brilliant Tim Minchin who I’ve only just heard of and thinking about whether or not there is just one ‘right’ person for everyone or if just anyone could potentially be the right person if they showed up at the best time.

Sometimes I believe in fate and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I have to believe in fate because it’s the only thing that keeps people going when the world seems too dark to continue on. Sometimes I think that the world is a frightening place that throws unexpected curve balls that are the stuff of nightmares at you and if you have some kind of faith or belief that someone controls the puppet strings of the world, it is easier to forgive, to pray, to hope, to see 11:11 on the clock and close your eyes a little tighter for a private moment of wishing.

Other times I believe there is only randomness of life; because how else could you lose who you thought were your three very best friends when you were certain that you were brought together with those three people through the pure amazingness of fate? And how else could you end up in a place where you never, ever, ever thought you’d be just out of desperation because where you thought you were fated to be completely let you down and filled you with sad disillusionment?

If there is such a thing as ‘the one’ though, it doesn’t mean there’s someone for everyone and only that one person can possibly make you feel completely fulfilled. I think it means they make you feel so good, so complete, so full, so loved, so loving, so much better than you are, that you can’t imagine anyone else filling that role in your life, even if they weren’t handpicked for you from someone out there in the atmosphere guiding everyone’s light.

If ‘the one’ exists, it’s something that you feel inside of you. It’s a story that was written that you happened to read and didn’t share with anyone. What ‘the one’ means, is that you feel like you’re a boat that’s found its light house by accident when maybe you were looking for a different port, or you were completely lost and not looking for a port at all.

I don’t know that there’s one specific person for everyone, but when I sit with my significant other, my partner, my boyfriend, my other half, the person who holds a piece of my soul, and his arm is around me and I’m nestled into the crook of his neck and nothing needs to be said, I feel like there is. I feel like there couldn’t not be.

Love makes you believe in so many things you didn’t think you could ever believe in. It’s a strange mix of anger and passion and comfort and complacency and laughter and tears and fervent belief and fear and trust and cunning. If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be this affirmation affiliated with the feeling of believing and understanding love for the very first time.

Is there ‘the one’? If there is, I hope everyone finds their one so they can experience first-hand how I feel right now.

 

Attraction.

Sometimes I think of the people I loved before (or thought I loved… or didn’t actually love but thought I might eventually grow to love if it was ‘right’ in the end) and it reminds me of what it means to be attracted to someone. What does it mean to be “attracted” and what does it mean to be “attractive”?

When you’re in high school, attraction is all about looks. They like to pretend in high school that they know what it means to be actually ‘in love’ with someone beyond their looks and there may be that capacity there eventually, but I’m of the opinion that when we’re young, we go for appearance first and foremost. And if there is something beyond that, then maybe we struck gold. When I was in high school I had pretty Abercrombie & Fitch male models stuck to my desk in residence and on my locker. I had this huge crush on Josh Hartnett because he represented this tall, dark and handsome ‘hot guy’ I’d love to be with. But I was young. And when we’re young we have just one layer of what makes attraction attraction. We scarcely remember or look at multiple layers.

As I’ve grown older I’ve realized sincerely that attraction is looks, but it’s so much more than that: there’s no scientific formula to falling in love. It’s not something that can be forced, changed or ignored. You meet someone and you feel this initial electricity with them. You can’t explain it but there’s just something you see in them that you know almost instantaneously you couldn’t feel with anyone else. Are ‘looks’ a part of that? Of course they are. But only a small part. And sometimes that little bit of fairy dust magic that is sprinkled on you when you know you’re falling in love is sprinkled before you even know you’re attracted to that person. And then it hits you: they’re the hottest person you’ve ever laid eyes on.

In life we spend so much time looking a certain way for the benefit of others. We try so hard to meet a standard of beauty that supposedly is to help us “feel the best we can about ourselves”. But it’s important to ask yourself, where does that come from? It doesn’t come from within. The motivation does, but what is being strived for comes from some mythical societal standard and we don’t really know where those come from. It’s important to note that attraction is completely subjective. There’s no rhyme or reason why we feel attracted to someone. There’s no magic spell that we can cast to force people to fall in love with you. There is just love, or there isn’t. By all means, meet the standards that society prescribes to equate to beauty. But, it’s not going to help you find love any more than anyone else.

Happiness 20.0.

I’ve been really tired today, and I’ve also been thinking a lot. I’ve been thinking about how it will be two weeks since I’ve seen my boyfriend (the longest we’ve been apart since the end of July) and I’m thinking about how long distance relationships are so hard as a result of not ever being able to spend ‘enough’ time together that you’re really, truly “good” by the time you leave the person. I survive long distance relationships because I have trust, love, and understanding of the circumstances we’ve both been placed into. It doesn’t come without challenges, but I’m able to survive well enough most days. It’s not perfect, but the person is perfect for me so I’m willing to put up with the circumstances.

I remember the first time he told me he loved me. I remember what the weather looked like, and the temperature, and the night… I remember what was going through my head when I heard those words for the first time. I remember thinking about how lucky I was to have found someone who was so good for me, and so good to me, and who accepted the goodness I could and wanted to bring to him.

This year has been so hard as I juggle my career and my relationship alongside my insecurities about my practice and the fears I face when I do what I do every day. I have so much to prove. I have so much to lose. And I do it because when it’s good, it’s so good. But it’s also frightening. And all the life stress makes it that much more difficult to swallow.

But this weekend I realized the most important thing I could realize at this juncture: it’s right. I have doubts and I struggle and that’s why I went on this silly ‘happiness posts’ thing in the first place. But I’m with such an amazing person. And he makes me feel and be more amazing every single time I see him, whether he’s bestowing romantic surprises on me, or whether we’re just sitting on his couch watching TV. I’m lucky. And I know how lucky I am.