12.19.2010

American Family Association lose - America wins!

Some people are thinking that calling the American Family Association is a little over the top.  Recently, the people at the Southern Poverty Law Center made a lot of news when they included the American Family Association on its list of hate groups.  The AFA has been waging a battle to "maintain" traditional family values.  By that they mean those values held by some Christians and the far political right.

The AFA spokesperson was very outspoken in response to the coming of the end of DADT.  He has said some outrageous things in the past, but in this statement he has out done himself.  Read it here.  

Fischer is quoted in my post below this one.

In 2009 the AFA hired Bryan Fischer.  Fischer came from the Idaho Values Alliance.  On May 27, 2010, Fischer wrote in a blog post that said, “homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and 6 million dead Jews.”  (see full article, Bryan Fischer-Focal Point: Homosexuality, Hitler and ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’)

His inference is plain for all to see.  If homosexuals are permitted to be open in the military, they will take over and start killing the "normal" people.   Fischer is just plain hateful toward gays. His whole effort seems to be focused on gays.  Which is interesting given another post on the AFA website which says all this attention on gays is diverting good Christians from the real problems.  E/uploadedImages/Blog/elijah.jpglijah Friedeman, The Millennial Perspective, goes onto say ...

"Homosexuality isn't the biggest moral problem facing our nation. Homosexual marriage isn't the biggest threat to traditional marriage. And homosexual activists aren't the biggest threat to freedom. This may be tantamount to heresy to some people, but it's true."
Its heresy I suggest to Fischer and others.  Its their screaming that has kept congress in the USA from acting till now. They represent small percentages of the US population yet they have managed to control the agenda.  They have litmus tests for candidates.  They have good connections to their small but motivated base.  They somehow manage to get them out to vote, to write emails, to phone elected officials.  They have created a false sense of the American person.  

I can only hope that these professional gay-hate creators will see themselves in the Hell they proffer to all of us fags. I only hope for some of them, their leaders, they find themselves scared to death, sharing a cell with Bubba one day. Nothing happens to them, its just the prospect, living in fear.  That's what they have done to me, to Bruce and countless millions of LGBT people.

H/t to Right Wing Watch - Reaction to DADT Vote: "The Few, the Proud, the Sexually Twisted"

12.18.2010

“The Few, the Proud, the Sexually Twisted.”

Don't Ask, Don't Tell is gone soon.  The Senate removed the last barrier to Obama making the change.  Queers will soon be able to serve openly in the US Military.

One has gone over the top,
"The draft will return with a vengeance and out of necessity. What young man wants to voluntarily join an outfit that will force him to shower naked with males who have a sexual interest in him and just might molest him while he sleeps in his bunk?"
 or this
"... The new Marine motto: “The Few, the Proud, the Sexually Twisted.” Good luck selling that to strong young males who would otherwise love to defend their country. What virile young man wants to serve in a military like that?..."
That was Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association (see hate group stuff here on the AFA), it seems a little unreal that people in this time can think like this.  Only in America and within the ranks of the Canadian Conservatives.   

More at Truth Wins Out

12.17.2010

I got this message from Pink triangle Services, Help out people!

Pink Triangle Services is Canada's oldest registered LGBT non-profit.  They are located in Ottawa.  If you can spare a few dollars or a lot, you will be doing some good this Holiday Season.  They have a Queer Thoughts seal of approval! 

I would like to thank you for your past support of PTS. Your contributions have made it possible for us to serve tens of thousands of people in Ottawa’s queer community for over a quarter of a century—and that’s a history worth celebrating!

This November we launched our 2010 holiday fundraising campaign in support of the important work of the agency—and we need your help to continue meeting the needs of our community.

PTS aims to respond to the varied needs of our community in new and effective ways. In the next month we are excitedly anticipating the launch of an interactive, community-driven website featuring an up-to-date resource directory and user-driven community calendar. With the help of our supporters, we are growing along with our community.

This past fall we witnessed a whole range of high profile issues that were related to our community's needs. From the suicides of our youth to the rejection of educational reform on sexual health; these issues highlight the necessity for organizations like PTS to continue and to thrive. 

Our peer support groups, our library services, and our educational programs reach more people on a continuing basis than ever before. With your support we have helped to make positive changes in the lives of more than 3,900 people in 2009/10.

It is with this in mind that I ask you to consider making a donation to PTS this holiday season. As an added thank you for your generosity, supporters donating $25 a month (or $300 for the year) will receive a complimentary invitation to our 2011 Gala.

Giving is easy. Simply visit: www.canadahelps.org, search for Pink Triangle Services and provide your donation online. Or send your one time donation or void cheque to: 251 Bank St, Suite 301, Ottawa ON K2P1X3 made out to Pink Triangle Services.

Here are a few more reasons why PTS needs your contribution:

1. By promoting and facilitating change at all levels of education, and in diverse venues both inside and outside school systems, we are helping youth stand up for themselves and are ensuring that the teachers and administration listen. Our newest program - Creating Safer Spaces works to achieve these goals. We are working with community partners like Youth Services Bureau to achieve the greatest impact possible – partnerships which help make it better for the youth in our community.

2. We provide a variety of support programs to help youth and adults alike. Our programs work to engage those who are just coming out and give them the resources to live healthier lives. It's also an opportunity for established members of our community who want to give back and help others overcome personal challenges.

3. We have identified a need for free, queer-friendly counselling services, and in response to this need we are looking into community based counselling services. We have seen this need for years now, and with your support, we need to make this a priority to see these services realized.

With your support, we will continue working towards positive change and making a big difference in the lives of people in our community. 

There is still time to make your holiday gift to PTS. Visit: www.canadahelps.org and search for Pink Triangle Services.

12.12.2010

Who to take to the Dance, BC Style

BC Politics have become the most deadly in the country again.  I can recall the days of the Bennett - Barrett battles that were down right vicious.  Now its the political parties doing it to themselves.  First the BC LibCONs telling General Campbell it was time to get out of town or be shot, then it was the BC New Democrats. 

In something just short of an outright assassination, one third of the BC NDP caucus did the same thing to Carole James.  James a consensus kind of leader, you know the kind, they actually do things when people will be honest at the table.  The trouble with consensus leadership is that you have to have most of the players willing to play that game.  The voters in BC were not ready for that, didn't play the game in two elections and the grumbling inside the NDP grew. 

There also seems to be some kind of idea floating out there that James was brought down by rogue MLAs.  True some 12 or 13 MLAs did lend their name and a few words to the already leaning NDP election tower.  At the same time you did not see the other 25 NDP MLA's pushing the other way to keep the tower from falling, now did you.

Carole James was treated very badly by the bakers dozen.  She should have been given a nicer exit, one befitting her example.  Then maybe she wasn't ready to go...?

What NDP insiders saw coming, which of course most people were ignoring, was that once Campbell pulled the plug, the anti-Campbell polls would turn the BC LibCONS around.  A new leader would distance themselves from the HST, heck the new leader may even eliminate it before the referendum date. 

BC politics would then have its regular election, with the majority of people now willing to give the LibCON Premier a fair chance to change things and right the ship.  A disaster for the NDP in the making.  As bad a government as the BC LibCONS have been, it was the HST that sunk Campbell.  Not BC Rail scandals, nor lying budgets, or cost overruns, big deficits, or a host of other major failures.  It was the HST. 

One final point to this is the lack of large numbers of voices decrying what happened.  There are some, but not what you would expect from a group that was truly outraged by the actions of a bakers dozen. The choice for the NDP was to go into an election against the brand spanking new LibCON Premier with the person that you took to the dance contest twice and lost.  It was that simple.

12.11.2010

"Still deviant after all these years" - Bruce McDonald

I guess I am finally ready to write more about my buddy Bruce, a buddy of many in the blogging world.  Its amazing that he had made such deep connections with people never physically met, yet he did know so many of you.

Some of the things about Bruce we should know, he wore blue jeans only, loved boots and last night at the celebration of his life here in Toronto and via Skype in Vancouver, I was asked what Bruce's interests in boots were.  Its just not something you can explain to straight folks.   Your secret is safe with me Bruce.  Just wish I was telling you directly that I was asked.

Bruce also wore his hair long in some kind of attempt to appear different, or likely defiant to the norm.  It was also a part of him that came out of his wild youth in Revelstoke BC.  He was a renegade for years.  Then of course having long hair in south eastern BC is still not uncommon for men.  It must be the pot they smoke.

When I first met him in person, Bruce had long hair, living in his very unique ground floor apartment on Queen St East.  It looked to have been a storefront business in the past.  There was a tiny fenced backyard.  Two or three gigantic trees. The yard was a place for the cat and smoking on warm days.  We hit it off right away.  We were small town boys from BC living at the "Centre of The Universe." We spent hours talking about places we lived, the people we knew, and oddly, or perhaps not, the number of times we were in the same town on the same day, knew some of the same people, enjoyed many a drink in the same bars, yet our world never connected until we both landed in Toronto.



Of course Bruce was much older than me.  He was two months, two days older in fact.  A fact I never let him forget.  He often called himself Ricky's babysitter.  I wish it were true though it really was the other way around.  Bruce liked to do things, but not to actually get up and go do them.  He had to be dragged and I was becoming successful in that.

Bruce came to our farm for a gathering of gay men on Thanksgiving.  He had a great time, it reminded him of  his days in Revelstoke, no power, no running water except the creek that ran under the cabin, on a steep mountainside.  There was a wood heater and wood had to be cut and chopped.  I can see him doing it.  He held a romantic view of splitting wood.  Something he had not done in over 25 years.  He asked if we needed any wood split.

The wood here in Ontario is hardwood.  Aptly named.  It does not split well, either dry or wet.  I told Bruce this, yet he was game to try it.  That he did.  A few swings of the axe and he was ready to quit.  I introduced him to our gas fired hydraulic wood splitter.  That was a tool he wished he had years ago.  One of the tools I love at the farm.  Splitting wood by hand is just crazy.

Bruce also helped us take down the water system for the winter.  The line runs from the well to the summer kitchen, to a tank on the roof.  The line lays on top of the ground, so we need to drain it, put the pump away so they don't freeze with water in them.  Bruce and Claude worked at this for about two hours, job complete and time to have a Blue and relax by the fire.   He was smiling, feeling good.

The next morning Bruce decided to make bread.  He had preplanned this as he had the family cook book that his sister Linda put together.  Bruce said it had been 25 years since he made bread.  It was worth the wait.  He made five loaves in all, it was appreciatively devoured by the 20 other gay dudes there for the weekend.

There were fires outside, and again, Bruce said it had been so long since he had enjoyed an outdoor fire, with the cool night air.  Many a wild conversation took place, even a few songs and a sauna later.

Bruce came back up to the farm just before Halloween when my step son and his two young boys were there.  We were there to pick out a big pumpkin for the boys and to carve it.  Bruce and I cooked dinners, we had a great time.  That night we slept in the Tower, the main house.  Bruce marvelled at its construction, noticing many of the intricate details, admiring the craftsmanship.  He talked about it all the way back to Toronto, a four hour drive.

It was a fabulous time.

Over the next three weeks we met for beers a a few times.  He came for dinner on November 21, we had our smart little cocktails. In this case it was Blue.  Eight gay men enjoyed each others company and Bruce shone that evening.  He showed us his cabin, via google, on the mountainside in Revelstoke.  He spent the next hour showing us his haunts and telling stories.  It was another great evening with Bruce.

I called him the next day and we arranged for him to drive with me December 10 to go to Ottawa.  Bruce had never been to Ottawa.  We also were planning a Christmas Dinner for December 17.  He was going to come over early, for Bruce that meant 1 or 2pm, to help put the meal together.  I was so looking forward to it and he was as well.

Bruce had told me he was surprised his phone rang the last few times I called him.  He was expecting Bell to cut him off.  He was having a tough time lately, not enough work.  So when I did call a few days later and it was not in service I thought nothing of it.  The next day I drove over and there was no answer.  I tried calling to see if he had been reconnected, not to be.

I drove over two more times, December 1 and December 3.  No answer.  We all learned on December 6 what happened.  I won't go into what happened here, I will in a blog later on, when I feel ready, discuss some of the underlying reasons as I see them, as Bruce left no good bye.  If you are a regular reader of Canuck Attitude, you may already have a gut reaction as to what the reasons could be. 

So many people got to know Bruce online, through his blog, Canuck Attitude.  He focused on the religious right, bullies and of course the Conservatives.  He would also share his music and cartoons.  Apart from that was Bruce's willingness to read other blogs, offer comments and engage in conversations.  He did this with so many people. 

People were attracted to Bruce's irreverent approach to blogging and activism.  Bruce was an atheist and saw religion as one of the prime killers of gay men and others.  Bruce saw and experienced bullying as a boy and as an adult.  His life s not unlike many gay men.  And he made it a mission to expose this danger and our rights to be free of systemic discrimination, bullying and even death.

In a recent post Bruce said ...  "As much as I'm impressed and heartened by Dan Savage's It Gets Better Project and the incredible response it has generated, I can't shake the feeling that all we are doing is patting kids on the head and sending them back to the dungeons while telling them to be patient. I'm sorry, but that's still a kind of tacit approval of bullying."

Bruce was an unapologetic faggot atheist with a flare for design.  In the end he made a decision.  A decision affected by his life experience, an experience not unlike many other gay men.  Some make it too see, "It Gets Better", and some don't make it out of the dungeon.

In closing, here are a few Brucies -

"A smart little cocktail"


"Still deviant after all these years"


"I don't mind straight people as long as the act gay in public"


"Suck it up and vacuum the place, the dust bunnies are giving me dirty looks"


"Stuck to you like glue, My Dear . . . "

Friday, December 10th was a celebration of Bruce's life.  I told some Bruce stories, I cried, I wore a wig to recall Bruce's long hair and a plaid shirt along with a t-shirt he gave me, "Every good Idea I have gets me into trouble" .  Here are a few pictures from that evening...


 Me starting my Brucie imitation...

 Vancouver joins us via the net at Cafe du Lac
 Bruce's "other" best friend!!!!!!  Kathryn knew Bruce for 17 years and hosted the event at her fabulous little "Quebec" Cafe du Lac on Lakeshore in Toronto
 This Bruce's sister Linda in the white tee sweater,
what a sweet woman.  No wonder Bruce and Linda were so close...







More posts on Bruce.  If I have missed any please send the link so I may include them...


Montreal Simon: Bruce McDonald: Death of a Gay Blogger

RIP Bruce McDonald, Progressive Blogger |

Impolitical: Bruce McDonald,

Bruce Mcdonald 1958-2010

He used to say he’d marry me

Blogging Buddy Gone

Farewell to a friend.

RIP Bruce MacDonald of Canuck Attitude

A few of His Favourite Things


Bruce McDonald 1958 - 2010

12.10.2010

This one is for you Bruce, Mcvety kicked off TV Station

Our favourite hippy tells us the Canadian Broadcast Standards has lambasted Charles McVety right where it hurts.   Today's pig is tomorrows bacon.

"Christian broadcaster Crossroads Television System (CTS) has been found in violation of broadcasting codes for statements made by evangelical television personality and minister Charles McVety that implied there was a “malevolent, insidious and conspiratorial purpose” to the activities of homosexuals."
See also Bene Diction Blogs On

Picture was taken Thanksgiving weekend at our farm.  Bruce of course is in the red plaid Lesbian shirt.

12.08.2010

Attending Gathering for Canuck Attitude.

This Friday is a gathering for Bruce.  I am going and would like to know who else is thinking of going.  It would be so good if some of you that are in the Toronto area felt you could join me.  Let me know!

12.07.2010

FCKH8

Today I just wanted to say Fuck You to someone.  Its a bit selfish perhaps or letting my feelings get the best of me.  Bullying has long been a problem in our society.  Even more so for the LGBT folks.  That said bullying is problem for many straight folks as well and if you are the one being bullied, being gay or straight doesn't matter at the time.  Bullying in all its forms is devastating.

Its too big a job for me to take on the whole puzzle, so I primarily focus on LGBT aspects of bullying.  A new group, a few months old now called FCKH8 has started and according to their website, they have contributed $200,000 to fight homophobia and hate in our society.  You can go there and buy a t-shirt with all profits going to fight H8.  Check them out here.

And here is their latest video...  Its called FCK Bullies...

Proceeds will go to The Trevor Project to combat gay youth suicide and more charities doing similar work will soon be added.


FCK BULLIES by FCKH8.com: DON'T B H8N ON THE HOMOS! from FCKH8.com on Vimeo.
 

No Surrender

One of Bruce's many contributions, inspired by bloggers JJ and Montreal Simon, toward the fight for equality and freedom to be who we are.

12.06.2010

Bruce McDonald - Gathering

There will be a get-together this coming Friday December 10 at Cafe du Lac, 2350 Lakeshore Blvd. 416-848-7381 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              416-848-7381      end_of_the_skype_highlighting. Time is from 7:30 to 10:30 pm. The restaurant is run by one of Bruce's friends.

A brother has left us "Bruce McDonald"



Bruce McDonald, a gay man in Toronto, a friend of so many online, passed away a few days ago. I have some thoughts of Bruce I will post soon. He was our friend. Like so many, I met him online. When I moved east, I met him in person. He was special. You might want to look at his blog, thats how so many of us came to know him and love him. Canuck Attitude. You can post comments on his facebook page here or twitter.

I will post info soon about a gathering to remember Bruce to be held Friday, December 10th.  

12.01.2010

To where you are Steven

This is a little indulgence on my part. Steven Hennessy was my hero. He bravely took on living with HIV/AIDS. He accepted it and then he accepted he had cancer and days to live. Soon after he passed away on June 9, 2002, I heard this song by josh groban. The thing is, Steven had an awesome smile.

Civil Union Bill Passes Illinois Senate

Civil Union Bill passes in Illinois

This email from 
Bernard Cherkasov
Chief Executive Officer...


We did it! Just moments ago, the Illinois State Senate passed the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act with a vote of 32 to 24!

The bill will now go to Governor Quinn, who has promised to sign it into law.  Once signed into law, civil unions will be available to Illinoisans effective July 1, 2011.


On that date, thousands of same-sex couples in Illinois will have access to protections that were previously denied to them, such as emergency medical decision-making, hospital visitation, inheritance rights, and others.  This is a historic moment for our State, and we would not have been able to get here without the extraordinary leadership of the bill's chief sponsors, State Representative Greg Harris and State Senator David Koehler.  Many of our partner organizations and community leaders devoted endless energy to helping pass this bill.  Clergy all around Illinois educated their congregations and even prayed for elected officials to understand the urgency of the protection that civil unions offers.  And our supporters from every corner of the State participated by contacting lawmakers, canvassing, phonebanking, writing letters, and making contributions.  This is your victory too.

Thank you for supporting Equality Illinois and our mission to achieve full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

Sincerely,


Bernard Cherkasov
Chief Executive Officer

A tale of two gay men, AIDS and Family

Its World AIDS Day 2010
my 8th since Steven passed away and  when I wrote this...
A tale of two gay men, AIDS and Family
World AIDS Day is a personal day for me, a little like my own remembrance day.  It will be a hard day to get through.  It will be filled with so many memories of friends that have been taken by AIDS. 
I have been working in HIV/AIDS advocacy and awareness for a long time.  I had lost friends to this disease and  felt the pain of loss.  I found out I really had not experienced what many of my friends who lost partners went through. It became personal for me o­n World AIDS Day, December 1, 2002. 


My partner Steven was just 6 days younger than I was.  Something he never let me forget.  Our lives from birth were radically different.  Steven was the oldest of four and I the oldest of eight.  His family was religious, mine quite the opposite.  Steven entered Bible college at a young age and became a full fledged Pentecostal Minister at 17.  At 17 I was in high school trying not to get beat up because someone might think I was a faggot.
After school I went o­nto work for the BC Forest Service, starting a career, coming out as a gay man and getting to Vancouver whenever I could.  I became a union and gay rights activist.  Steven took up as a traveling revival show that landed in parking lots in communities all over BC and Alberta in the 70's preaching fire and brimstone.  From there he was married, went to the deepest south of the USA to preach the gospel.  Steven and his wife came back to Canada a little disillusioned with the Pentecostal movement and took up running grocery stores.  They had three children and soon after the birth of the youngest they parted.
Steven was gay.  He moved to Vancouver and made up for lost time and soon was diagnosed with AIDS.   During this time I had two relationships with men, each lasting six or seven years, gone o­nto being an elected union and community leader in small town BC.  I travelled to Vancouver often was was excited to join in the gay scene there.  Luck or fate seemed to protect me as I did much of what Steven had yet I did not contract HIV. 
In the early years of Steven becoming HIV positive, he was all over the map emotionally.  Told by his doctor he had two years at most.  It was a tough time and as he lived beyond the Doctors expectations, Steven came to believe he had a life to live.  He turned his anger and self pity into positive energy.  Living each day in the present, not the past.  
As this was happening with Steven, I was living life as an open gay man, enjoying a regular life, enjoying my siblings and their children.  I came to regret that I would never be a father.  My nieces and nephews were that more special to me as a result, yet I had this need to have my own children.  My partner at the time was not interested and I resigned myself to being an uncle.  That said, being called Uncle Rick is pretty sweet.
Steven's and my life collided with a soft beautiful smile.  I was in love the second I saw him.  I had just moved to Kelowna and was looking to meet other gay men.  I heard about a coffee shop that had a "gay night".  I wondered in and ordered a coffee and went about to meet people.  Most seemed a little shy or stuck up.  I was new and I guess they were sizing me up.
 
I went outside to have a smoke and then the grin was flashed.  Steven I discovered was a major tease, though I did not figure that out until much later.  He was the first person to speak to me, offering me a chair.  I sat down and commenced what would take me six months of dating to get to where I asked him to be with me for the rest of my life. 
Steven with me o­n my knees, asked me if I was sure.  "I may o­nly live another two, three years, I may be very sick for long periods of time."  I can still hear his words.  I said I was very sure and he said yes to me.  Shivers run up my arms now, across my back as I recall this moment. 
Our life began together like it started o­nly this time there were two amazing smiles and some tears to ensure our souls and bodies were overcome from our love.  
Steven told me that night he had just o­ne wish before he died, "I want to love and be loved."  I know I have done this now he said.  
Our lives went o­n, normal as they can be with HIV.  We were family.  We talked about our past, and it seemed we were at many of the same places at the same time, yet we never met.  Fate said Steven, we found each other when we needed to.  He believed we each had something the other needed in this life.  I soon learned how true this was.    
  
I became a Dad!  Steven's youngest, Stephanie, came to live with us.  We were overjoyed to have her.  She added a new dimension to our love as we shared our lives with her.  I now knew what being a Dad is like, being an integral, trusting and reliable part of some young person's developing life.  Steven shared with me o­ne of my greatest desires, to be a father.  o­nly his love could match such a gift.
Steven's son Mark was a big part of our lives as well, visiting us often.  When work took me to Mark's hometown Steven's former wife Lynn, and daughter Sarah-Dawn did all they could to make me welcome.  My Mom became Steven's mom, my nieces and nephews called Steven the weird uncle as he sang all the children's songs and played in the lake with them.  
Our life was normal, fulfilling and full of love and then came June 3, 2002.
I rushed Steven to hospital.  He was suffering agonizing pain.  We had been in to emergency three previous times in the last two months and the pain was becoming worse.  That night a cancer specialist was o­n the AIDS Care team.  She suspected cancer right away.  
Steven was admitted, in the days ahead we heard Steven might live six months, he had cancer and it was very advanced, beyond treating.  It was a cancer I soon learned was 100 times more common in HIV positive people.  Six months to live, it was not be.  It became days.  Steven was surrounded by friends and family.  We took turns, so he was not alone.  
Two days before Steven passed away, before he slipped into a coma, he pulled me close, and gave me that same smile he had when we met.  He asked me if I remembered what his o­ne wish was before he died.  "Ricky," he said, "I know what it is to love and to know I am loved."  Tears and smiles shook our souls and bodies.
Steven passed away o­n June 9, 2002 at 8:30am in St.Paul's Hospital in Vancouver.  I miss him and I better understand the horror AIDS has brought our world, certainly what it did to mine.  You can help me and other remember those that have left us.  Whenever you hear Josh Groban sing, "To Where You Are" think of Steven, think of all those that have gone and those still here to remember.  If you do this, you can know what love can be and why World AIDS Day is so personal for me and thousands of others.