Telling Mom

(Originally posted on May 11, 2012 at I Dig Your Girlfriend.)

I love my mother.

I came out to her eight years ago, in an email, with practically the whole nation of Canada between us. I had only come out to a few people by then; people whose reactions I could more or less predict with confidence. But telling Mom was proving to be a challenge. Months earlier I had tried to do it in person but chickened out.

I was genuinely unsure of what she would say. She grew up Catholic in a tiny east coast community where gays might as well have been mythical creatures. It’s only now that I can look back and realize that I grew up that way, too.

There was nothing special about the day I decided to tell her. I guess I just felt ready. But I wasn’t brave enough for a phone conversation, so I laid it all out in an email. I reread it a few times, and then I hit “send.” I tried (unsuccessfully) to get a good night’s sleep. Continue reading “Telling Mom”

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Let’s Get Physical!

I’ve never liked going to the doctor. Growing up, I had no problem visiting the dentist, or the orthodontist, or the optometrist (even though those three conspired to make me a glasses and braces nerd for most of junior high). But seeing a GP was different.

I spent two stints in the hospital at an early age. I don’t remember much about that, aside from how strange it felt to be somewhere without my parents, and how startled people were that a six-year-old could spell the word pneumonia.

The hospital was a thirty minute drive for us. We only went there for major problems. For the rest, we had a local clinic, much closer to home. When my siblings and I needed things like booster shots (vaccinate your kids!) and antibiotics (bacterial infections only!), Mom would haul us to the little building by the school. The waiting room was small, with a handful of chairs and a play area for the kids. Continue reading “Let’s Get Physical!”

Microaggression

(Originally written on April 3, 2015.)

The other day Mo and I had to take our new car in for service at the dealership where we bought it last year (it shall remain unnamed). We got the usual oil change, and our winter tires were swapped for summer tires. I dropped the car off at the dealership in the morning and as I waited for the shuttle to come back to take me to work, I realized I had forgotten my purse at home. With some texting back and forth with Mo, we figured that the shuttle could pick her up after work instead of me, and then she could cover the bill.

The shuttle driver was an older gentleman who got talking with the other customer in the van about ice fishing on the drive over. When we arrived at my stop, he asked if he would be picking me up at the same location. I told him no, he’d be picking up “my fiancée”. I told him where she works, with mild emphasis on the pronoun. He then asked, “so when will I be picking up your friend?”

Microaggressions like this serve to remind me that not everyone is as accepting of my relationship and my identity as my family and friends have been. It wasn’t scary, and it didn’t ruin my day. It was definitely awkward, though. The driver refused to acknowledge the relationship I had specifically spelled out for him. People tend to take pride in their relationships. Amberly isn’t just my friend, she is my best friend. In having that title, a certain meaning and history to our relationship is conveyed to people who don’t know her. Mo isn’t my friend, she is my fiancée. She is the woman I intend to marry, and spend the rest of my life with. If you are in a heterosexual marriage, and you introduced your spouse to someone, and that person then called him or her your “friend”, do you think you might be a little confused? Miffed? Maybe offended? Would you correct the person?

There are many places in the world where being queer is very dangerous, and looking at our closest neighbour, I can see that living in Canada – even Alberta – is preferable to much of the United States. But the way politics are, and the stances that the right-wing political parties in Alberta have taken on some recent issues like religious freedom, and gay-straight alliances in schools, I am wary of things changing for the worse. How big are the steps between no gay straight alliances in schools, and being turned away at my doctor’s office when treating me violates the religious beliefs of my doctor?

In the end, we got a ride with one of Mo’s coworkers, and didn’t need the shuttle. We wouldn’t have taken it even if we had.


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My Invisible Girlfriend

(Originally posted on April 26, 2014 at I Dig Your Girlfriend)

Having a girlfriend is awesome.

Before Kate, I used to have an idea in my mind of what it would be like to be in a relationship. I was right about some of it, and wrong about some of it. I knew that being in love would be amazing, but I also worried that, as an introvert, I would struggle with not having enough time to myself.

Fast forward to now. It’s Saturday morning, and Kate has been out of town since Thursday. She isn’t due back until tomorrow evening. Old Mo would have relished this opportunity for quality alone time. Present Mo, on the other hand, started missing her before she even left, and cannot wait for tomorrow to get here.

I spent my single years imagining what it would be like to have a girlfriend. I pondered, and dreamed, and developed a myriad of assumptions that I would eventually be wrong about. There was one detail in particular that I had taken for granted. I had always figured that, when I finally did find a girlfriend, she would be a lesbian.

I was approximately half wrong. Continue reading “My Invisible Girlfriend”

Boxed In

When I ended my last relationship, I decided that from then on, I was only going to date people who identified as women. Although I’d been emotionally attached to plenty of my female peers over the years, the closest I had ever come to actually dating a girl was when I was thirteen. Knowing that preteen relationships are hardly a paragon of stability and understanding, I was determined to try again.

Unfortunately, this decision also coincided with a return to the dating apps which had led me to the not-so-great relationship I had recently left. Some of you may find this shocking (none of you will find this shocking), but people tend to make really big assumptions about who you are as a person when they look at your online dating profile, and they tend not to change those opinions once they’re formed. Continue reading “Boxed In”

A Lesbian in Pine Valley

I grew up in a household with only three television channels, one of which was French. Daytime drama pickings were slim. You could watch Coronation Street (a solid choice for those who liked listening to British accents), you could watch Another World, or you could watch All My Children. Our family watched Another World. I only had a vague awareness of All My Children in the background of my life. If you’d asked me back in the day, I probably could have only named one character. She was played by Susan Lucci, and her name was Erica Kane.

As the nineties wore on, and my inner gayness started perking up its ears, I subconsciously sought out gay storylines on TV. It was a semi-ideal time for that. Sure, we still had advisory warnings on episodes with meaningful same-sex eye contact. We still had the camera panning away from Matt’s kiss on a particularly daring Melrose Place. But things were in motion, and there was no going back.

With Another World cancelled in 1999, and with Days of Our Lives failing to hold my interest (one can only watch Stefano lock Marlena up so many times), my soul was left wanting for its familiar sudsy goodness. What a perfect time for All My Children to introduce a lesbian character! Continue reading “A Lesbian in Pine Valley”

#YEG – Small Wedding, Big City

When Kate and I decided on a quick and simple wedding, it just made sense to have it in Edmonton. This is where we live, after all, and this is where we met and fell in love. Edmonton may not appear at the top of anyone’s “queer friendliest cities” list (after all, our province is sometimes referred to as the Texas of Canada), but we were hopeful that our wedding day would unfold without incident.

We stacked the deck in our favour. We only invited two guests: a couple of confirmed non-homophobes (my sister and Kate’s bestie). Kate’s a Unitarian, which is like, the queerest church there is, so we knew her minister wouldn’t have any qualms about marrying us. The fine people at Derks had been friendly and professional in helping me find a suit, and our stylist (Jaclyn from Kinetic Salon) had been tickled to help us figure out wedding hairstyles. As I emerged from her swivel chair on the big day, legs slightly wobbly, she handed me a wedding card.

We felt supported by the small network we had assembled. But we had no idea what the rest of the city had in store for us. Continue reading “#YEG – Small Wedding, Big City”

The Ties That Bind

Guest post by Conar.

All right, friends. Today, we spin our queering wheel and turn our vehicle toward that most frustrating of topics: the homophobic relative.

*dramatic music*

We’ve all got one. Sometimes several. They rear their ugly heads at Thanksgiving and Easter alike, extracting cringes from all assembled with such oft-heard phrases as: “Well, I don’t hate them, I just disagree with them,” “Are you sure you’re gay?”, “You can’t like men AND women, that doesn’t make sense,” and my favourite: “Well, your lifestyle is your choice, I suppose.”

These phrases are usually (though not always) preceded or followed by casual racism, or sexist jokes, or both. My least favourite uncle is a walking stereotype of the bigoted redneck, and I am very grateful I only have to see him once or twice a year.

However, today we are discussing a different type of person, and often a much more difficult one to deal with. I like to call this person the Backhanded Bigot. This is someone who is not obviously homophobic or transphobic, who doesn’t say anything actively hateful, but can be dismissive, insensitive, and otherwise harmful, often without even realizing it. Continue reading “The Ties That Bind”

Journey Over Whiskey Bay

This week, I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw that a friend is having a book published.

Congratulations!” I messaged her. “You’ve worked so hard. I can’t wait to read it!”

And I meant those words. I’m proud of her. She’s brilliant, and she deserves all the success she’s had. She worked hard to get a tenured position in a field that’s openly hostile to women. She built her success increments at a time, and she’s finally being rewarded with the spoils of all that hard work.

But my celebration of her success was tinged with a sense of shame in myself.

There was a time when I’d planned to publish too. There was a time when I’d chased a tenure track career and the respect of a difficult field. There was a time when I’d hoped to travel the world and give talks and organize lectures.

There was a time when I thought I could control the way my life turned out. Continue reading “Journey Over Whiskey Bay”

The Wedding That Wasn’t

Kate and I got married last year, on September 27.

This wasn’t our first chosen date. It wasn’t our second or third, for that matter. We had originally settled on 2016, to give ourselves plenty of time to get everything done. We spent months making plans, changing plans, scrapping plans. We were going to get married in Nova Scotia in October, then Edmonton in June, then Nova Scotia in July. It would be a big wedding, or maybe really small, or perhaps sort of medium?

We navigated dozens of websites, flipped through tourism guides, and Google-mapped venues. We scrutinized photography samples, and menus, and guest accommodations. We took notes. We made spreadsheets. And, just like every TV couple you see planning a wedding, we lost our minds in the process. Continue reading “The Wedding That Wasn’t”