#YQL – Taking Pride

Despite having recognized my queer identity at a very young age, I haven’t been able to attend many pride parades. Until very recently, I had only been to two parades, both of which were in Edmonton.

Thankfully, I added a new pride celebration to my list back in June. The Lethbridge Pride Parade was located on a downtown street, ending at Galt Gardens, a local hangout spot nestled between the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and a popular mall. Onlookers lined the street for a few blocks, clustered together on the sidewalk and sitting in the back of their cars to escape the muggy heat of the day.

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Onlookers wait for the parade to reach them.

The whole of downtown Lethbridge was bursting with rainbows. A variety of local boutiques participated in a last minute window display competition, and the pride flag flew outside of City Hall. Rainbow crosswalks were painted throughout the downtown core, and are still in place almost two months later. It seemed that Lethbridge Pride Fest did a great job developing initiatives for local businesses and government to engage in.

It was also nice to see that the parade took place on such a central road in the downtown core, although my friend and I almost immediately noticed that the street wasn’t blocked off. Participants in the parade were forced to walk or drive on only one side of the street, as cars whizzed on by beside them. Continue reading “#YQL – Taking Pride”

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#YEG – Introvert Yard Sale

Kate and I are embarking on a cross-country move later this year. In preparation for this dramatic life change, we’ve been sorting through our belongings and deciding what to keep and what to lose.

We have quite a few items that we’re happy to part with, and we could always use a little extra cash. Having a yard sale seems like a no-brainer, but as hardcore introverts, we’ve both always found the notion pretty unappealing. Sitting out in the sun, forcing conversation with strangers as they judge our stuff? No thanks.

Luckily, we’re living in the Internet age. Kijiji to the rescue!

(For our International readers: Kijiji is basically Canadian Craigslist. Not to be confused with Actual Canadian Craigslist.)

Kijiji is built for introverts, for a few reasons. First, the bulk of the communication happens over email and text (as opposed to face-to-face). Second, you create the ads, which means you’re in control of what people see. If you add enough photos and description details up front, you can avoid prolonged Q & A sessions with prospective buyers. Third, if someone wants to haggle over price, you can either make a counter offer or stand firm at your original price, all safely behind the curtain of the computer screen. (This is definitely preferable to collapsing under the stress of interpersonal contact and letting them set whatever price they want just so the awkwardness can be over.)

We live in Edmonton, a city of nearly 900,000 people, so our ads are reaching a large pool of people. Within the month of July, I’ve managed to sell fifteen items.  I have plenty of stuff left to sell, but I’m not worried. With every successful sale, I get better at this process. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way: Continue reading “#YEG – Introvert Yard Sale”

#YEG – Careless Whisper

(Originally posted on April 3, 2013 at I Dig Your Girlfriend.)

Every teen drama in recent memory that’s taken a crack at a gay storyline has included one virtually identical scene. The gay (or presumed gay) character – usually tertiary but occasionally a main player – is walking nonchalantly down the school corridor. Suddenly, he or she stops dead. The camera then zips helpfully around to show us what all the fuss is about.

A locker has been tagged, in spray paint, with the word “FAG.”

This exact scene has happened on Dawson’s Creek, Popular, and Glee, among other teen shows. It usually happens midway through Season Two. (For variety, One Tree Hill had a “DYKE” locker instead, which I suppose is refreshing?)

The scene always unfolds the same way: one word, one locker, and one victim forcibly made conspicuous in a crowd of his or her peers. The perpetrator is absent or invisible; a faceless coward, hiding behind a very small but powerful word.

Hate can be so paint-by-numbers.

Just yesterday, a friend of mine showed me some disturbing images from right here in Edmonton. They were photos of a home here in the city; a home spray-painted with racial slurs. I blinked at these photos in disbelief. Is this sort of thing seriously still happening, right under our noses? In a city, and indeed a country, celebrated for its diversity? In 2013?

Really?

Continue reading “#YEG – Careless Whisper”

#YHZ – Spelling It Out

Hi! My name is Mo, and I’m super gay!

Being loud and proud can be a tricky thing for an introvert. I’m a private person by nature, and whenever I find myself in a crowd of strangers (a scenario I actively avoid at all costs), my first instinct is to find a quiet, out of the way corner where I can sit and breathe and be left alone. In moments like this, I wish to be invisible.

Kate and I recently returned from our yearly trip to Nova Scotia. This was our first visit as wives! My family is always extremely warm to Kate (if you ask me, they could stand to tone it down a bit), but the area I’m from is rural and extremely small. I’m never confident of how non-relatives will interpret us. I don’t expect harassment, necessarily, but I do prepare myself for mild confusion and inappropriate questions.

The Mrs and I aren’t big on PDA in front of strangers. I think that’s equal parts introversion and queer nervousness. If we’re out together and we’re not holding hands or touching, I can understand someone not immediately guessing that we’re a couple. But sometimes people don’t clue in even when I’ve explicitly spelled it out. When this happens, it comes across as selective hearing, and that sort of bums me out. Continue reading “#YHZ – Spelling It Out”

#YQL – There’s No Place Like Home

The city I live in now, Lethbridge, is very well known for its wind. It’s not a rarity for winds to gust between 70 to 80 kilometers per hour on any given day (that’s 44 to 50 miles per hour, for our American readers). March 5th, 2016 happened to be particularly windy: research tells me that it got up to 34 km/h that day (21 m/h).

Although I’d already been living with the Lethbian wind (yes, we’re really called Lethbians) for about six months, I’d somehow managed to forget that factor while my friend and I were getting ready to go see DarkMatter perform. When we arrived, our carefully coiffed and sprayed hair was utterly destroyed by the wind. This wasn’t lost on the local hosts of the evening, who made more than one joke about the windy state of affairs. All of us guffawed merrily, and I, for one, felt slightly less bad about looking like I’d just arrived in Oz via tornado.

However, that night was a bit like arriving in Oz. When I’d told people up north that I was moving way down to Lethbridge, I’d had a lot of warnings about how conservative (and windy) the city was. I figured that since I would be attending a pretty liberal University, I’d probably be sheltered from the conservative ideologies of my fellow Lethbians. While this ended up being true, I also learned that night that the greater community wasn’t entirely conservative, either. Continue reading “#YQL – There’s No Place Like Home”

#CPR – Where the Buffalo Roam

Guest post by Devin.

Tumble weeds, cowboys, and a two million year old supervolcano that is overdue for an eruption, oh my. This is where I was born; the heart of the cowboy state. Well, almost. I’m directly from Casper, which is just a little East of the middle of the state, but an A for effort right?

I would be lying if I said part of my heart doesn’t still long for Wyoming. Nothing can compare to that wide open sky. The sunsets are phenomenal. But the people, oh man. While the state has, sporadically, done liberal things, it is still considered conservative in most ways. The state’s governor, two senators and the (only) house delegation are all Republican.

I mean let’s get to the elephant in the room: Matthew Shepard. I was living in Wyoming when that happened. I was young and didn’t hear about it at the time; I’m sure due to the graphic nature of the crime. But I was less than 200 miles from him. I know that is still quite a ways away and I didn’t know him, but realizing this fact; realizing that this horrific, brutal crime was committed in the same state that I considered home, was enough to make me sick. Continue reading “#CPR – Where the Buffalo Roam”

#YHZ – Small Town Homo

(Originally posted on May 12, 2013 at I Dig Your Girlfriend.)

I grew up in a tiny hamlet in rural Nova Scotia. Our backyard was big enough to play baseball in, and we lost more than a few fly balls in the woods behind it. My grandparents lived across the road from us, and aunts, uncles, and cousins were within walking distance. Flowers and blueberries grew wild, and on summer evenings the air sounded like crickets.

The beach was less than a ten-minute drive away. I would spend whole days there with my cousins, braving the cold water and painfully stumbling over uneven rocks to get to the wavy sand that waited for us waist or chest deep. We walked along the shore looking for shells, wearing our towels as skirts and letting the sun dry us. We chatted on damp picnic blankets, crunching slightly sandy potato chips and wishing the juice boxes had stayed cold.

Cable TV didn’t become available until I was seven or eight. Sugar cereals (beyond Alpha-Bits and Honeycombs) were almost exotic… we had to go all the way to “town” for those. Strangers weren’t really a thing – on any given Sunday drive, Mom and Dad could tell me who lived in every single house we passed. Whenever we needed a babysitter, my folks had dozens to choose from.

People knew whose kid you were just by looking at you. If you were getting into mischief in the afternoon, your parents knew about it by the time you came home for supper. For better or worse, you really felt like the whole village was raising you. Continue reading “#YHZ – Small Town Homo”

#YEG – Pride and Joy

(Originally posted on June 9, 2013 at I Dig Your Girlfriend.)

Yesterday may have been the best day of my life.

Pride (or Gay Christmas, as some call it) is a magical day. The city is cloaked in vibrant colours, and it pulses with unabashed joy from dawn to well after dusk. There is no other day of the year when I feel so completely embraced by everyone around me.

There’s usually a moment or two throughout the day when I’m struck by the fact that everything will go back to “normal” tomorrow. At these times, I wish everyday could be just like Pride – tens of thousands of smiling queers and allies strutting around downtown, radiating love at friends and strangers alike. Of course, Gay Christmas comes but once a year.  But I’m confident that the feeling I had when I finally dragged my gay ass home last night (a.k.a. this morning) won’t be wearing off anytime soon. Continue reading “#YEG – Pride and Joy”

#ORD – One Of The Boys

Guest post by Kristi.

Let’s just get this out of the way: my college experience consisted of three different colleges in three different regions of America with several gaps in between. I was basically the poster child for the idea that not everyone should go to college immediately after high school.

One of those three stints happened to be located in Chicago, Illinois; a hot, humid mess of cultures/culture shock that gave me some of the best and worst experiences of my life. Having grown up near a mid-sized city in the San Joaquin Valley of California–think “almond orchards and farmers everywhere, dotted with the occasional Confederate Flag waving off an old flatbed”–I knew nothing about living in an actual city, much less one as complex as Chicago. In some parts of the city, entire streets “belonged” to a culture: Division Street was Polish; Devon Avenue phased between Russian Jewish and Indian in an utterly fascinating way. Despite the prevalence of cultural diversity in the Chicago landscape, however, racial segregation is recognized as being alive and well.

Those of you who read “almond orchards and farmers everywhere” and thought “conservative” are right, which is why living in Chicago was also very much my first immersion in queer culture. Of course, when I was in high school I had a few gay friends (almost exclusively cisgender men), but none was out like the boys of Chicago’s East Lakeview neighborhood–affectionately nicknamed “Boystown.” Continue reading “#ORD – One Of The Boys”

#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”