Move Along Now

I’ve had this thought in the back of my mind for nearly two weeks and have been meaning to record it in my blog, but I’m just now doing it. So it’s not exactly timely…

During one of the leaders’ debate — I believe the one in English — Gilles Duceppe countered, in response to Stephen Harper’s idea that the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman should be brought back as a free vote in Parliament, that the question of same-sex marriage has already been debated and passed through Parliament and there’s no need to go back to it. Very shortly afterwards, several commentators who oppose Duceppe’s sovereignty option used the same logic against him. Indeed, given that there have been two failed referendums, why do the Bloc and PQ insist on posing the sovereignty question a third time?

While asking this question is no a way of making friends in Québec, it’s nonetheless a valid question. I know some would argue that the 1995 referendum was “stolen” by the federalist forces, thus invalidating the result. But I don’t think that counterargument is as strong logically as the “why a third time” question. I know that as someone who in the last year has become less antagonistic to the notion of an independent Québec, I wouldn’t know how to answer that question without resorting to double-speak. That’s all I’m sayin’…

I’m sorry MaZe is away from her computer these days — though I hope she’s having a fantastic time in Montréal — because she might have some thoughts on this.

Oh, and speaking of MaZe, she mused a while ago about what kind of support the BQ might get if it ran candidates outside Québec. Well, it would seem there are some pockets of support in Fredericton, of all places. I can’t help wonder, though, if the people who put up those signs were sincere sympatizers or pranksters tired of the Québec question trying to say, “Go away, already!” I suspect it’s the former, but I don’t think we can dismiss the latter possibility.

They Say “La nuit porte conseil”

“Sleep on it.”

That’s a bit of advice people give each other when they’re on the verge of making a big decision. In French, the saying goes, “La nuit porte conseil”, which, literally translated, says “Nighttime brings advice.” I didn’t go to bed last night hoping that sleep would work its magic other than provide rest, yet I woke up with thoughts that I didn’t have or didn’t want to acknowledge when I wrote my last entry on my feelings in view of yesterday’s Indiana Jones sighting.

One comment in particular from that entry came back to me, namely “I can’t imagine a closure would ever have been possible given how a conversation with him always felt like walking on eggshells.” And today I woke up acknowledging that this makes me angry. I can’t easily define that anger, but I owe it to myself to try so that I can finally purge it and move on.

  • I’m angry that I let him use my hypersensitivity to avoid addressing issues head on.
  • I’m angry that I let hearsay go unaddressed and become an alternate narrative that bore no resemblence with the truth.
  • I’m angry that if he were in front of me right now, I wouldn’t know where to start, what to say, and would probably end up saying nothing …again.
  • I’m angry that I let my accommodating nature be so visible that it was there for the taking, ready to be used and abused by a user.
  • I’m angry that I turned a blind eye to situations or events that should have set off alarm bells.
  • I’m angry that I stuck it out with a former army buck because, my sexual self-esteem being where it is, I believed (and perhaps still believe, hence the lingering) that the non-athletic, more intellectually inclined person that I am will never again experience having a bodyguard type by his side.
  • I’m angry that I lost 30 pounds and denied the extent to which I did so in the hope of making myself more “worthy” of a bodyguard type and demonstrating to him that it’s possible to set a goal and reach it in a timely manner.
  • I’m angry that I made so many excuses for him while denying my own needs.

That last point is particularly touchy for me because I always have this fear of being thought of as selfish, of taking more than I give, so in many situations, I probably end up giving much more than I take yet still fear that I might be perceived as having ulterior motives for doing so. I know that’s really fucked up; however, I can see therein several lessons for me to learn, a balance I need to strike.

You know, this little exercise is forcing me to be totally honest with myself. I’m certainly having to question the superficial parts of my personality; however, I’m also brought to ask if any and all forms of superficiality are inherently bad. If it’s the dominating trait, then no doubt it is. But if it’s a minor trait, is it not useful in introducing a bit of lightness, a certain joie de vivre, to ride through the times when superficially is wholly inappropriate? While I realize a defense of superficiality might be dismissed as a defense of immaturity, of refusing to grow up, I’m not so sure it’s that black and white …because we should all know by now that one size doesn’t fit all.

Sighting

I was going over to Saddam’s (my corner store) and as I was driving up Isleville Street, I thought to myself that it’s funny Saddam hasn’t asked after Indiana Jones in a while. I walked into the store, and Saddam said, “Guess who I just saw?” Of course, I knew exactly who he meant. “That’s so weird!,” I said. “On my way here, I was thinking about how you haven’t asked about him in a while.” To which he replied, “Funny, I was thinking about you because I was filling my cigarette order, and just as I marked off your brand, Indiana Jones walked in. I hadn’t seen him since before his mother died.” Indeed, she passed in mid-September.

Neither have I, I thought, but didn’t tell Saddam. The last time I saw Indiana was in late-July or early-August when I bumped into him on Spring Garden Road, and the last time I spoke to him was three or four days before his mother died, when he called out of the blue for J‘s number in Montreal, at which time he informed me his mother was dying. I asked about what arrangements were planned and he adamantly replied that there would be none. I then asked that he call me anyway when she would pass, as we would like to know …just to know. But he never did. I found out by keeping an eye on the obits online, in which another guy’s name (certainly not mine) was listed in parentheses as his partner next to his. That brought BeeGoddessM to call me and ask, “Who the fuck is JoeBloe?” (BGM is always delicate.) And, truthfully, I had no idea. I didn’t even recognize the name.

Fast forward to a week before Christmas, and J calls me. He was in Halifax because his ailing grandmother and his old dog died, literally at the same time, in the same room. He wanted to reach Indiana while in town but didn’t know how to, and I was of no help to him. I have only a vague idea where he’s living these days.

I don’t understand why I still care, or why a tiny part of me still misses him. My “good riddance” column stretches out a mile, and the very short “But…” column is filled with qualifiers. Maybe it’s the lack of any kind of proper closure, the fact things just drifted, although I can’t imagine a closure would ever have been possible given how a conversation with him always felt like walking on eggshells. I also know the few things I miss are very superficial or fabrications of my own imagination. Yet, tonight’s Indiana Jones sighting caused a little knot to form in my stomach. And I hate that because, cognitively, I know there’s no point to it. All my friends have said in their own way that they’re relieved he’s out of the picture, for my sake. I agree with them unequivocally, and yet…

I remember the early days when I thought ours was going to be a casual friendship with extras. Then I remember the precise moment when he said something and that all changed. I remember thinking to myself, even though I had had a few drinks, that “this has become heavy” and the fun and lightness was over. Immediately running the other way at that instant would have been the most insensitive thing to do. But it would also have been the best thing to do — not just for me, but for both of us. Certainly it would have fortified his low opinion of and trust issues with gay guys, but in a general, non-specific sense. At the same time — and somewhat contradictorily — I don’t give a rat’s ass what other people think. As J has told me many times, anyone who knows me and knows him knows to take whatever he says with a grain mine of salt. So that’s not the issue for me. I know it’s that very narrow window when it was “casual with extras” that I miss very much to this day, and sometimes I wonder if it really happened or if it, too, was just a figment of my imagination.

Them Cowboys

Brokeback MountainAs planned, I went to see Brokeback Mountain with Stephanie and BeeGoddessM on Christmas night. I have to agree with Steph that it was a good movie — better than average — but certainly not the best ever. However, from what I’ve been hearing and reading, I’d have to say my reservations aren’t the same as most people who have reservations with this film.

Of course, some of the comments from naysayers at imdb.com are completely laughable and irrelevant. Some of them suggest that the fact the main characters were heterosexually married serves as evidence that homosexuality is a choice. Others say that it’s a “lust story,” not a real love story. One goes so far as saying that Brokeback is the work of Satan himself. These people went with their preconceived notions and prejudices, and were hell-bent on despising this film no matter what.

However, and conversely, I believe there’s pressure for fags, dykes, and open-minded “liberals” to love this film unequivocally and to reserve criticism on minor points like how the aging of the characters is unconvincing. I think the pressure is so great that it’s easy to be accused of harbouring inward or outward homophobia for not raving about the greatness or ground-breaking nature of this film. But I have to agree that this film, while good, should go down as the most overhyped of 2005. Films like Don’t Tell Anyone (Peru [1998], see my Dec. 29, 2002 blog entry and the imdb.com description) and the light-hearted Mambo Italiano (Canada [2003], see the imdb.com description) which was aired last night in French on Radio-Canada, managed as well if not better at addressing how it can be difficult, even impossible, to live in peace as a gay person or, more aptly in the case of Brokeback, someone who just happens to love someone of the same sex. Except that because Brokeback is a big Hollywood production, it’s as though the genre and storyline have just been invented.

Many of the sane detractors of Brokeback speak of being unconvinced of the love relationship between the main characters. But I, for one, think that’s the most successful part of the movie. One has to view this film in all its contexts. For instance, not too long ago, my mother reported having seen C.R.A.Z.Y., which I haven’t yet had the opportunity to see but have heard a lot about. She claimed not liking the storyline, in large part because she didn’t like the father’s treatment of or reaction to his son’s homosexuality. Undoubtedly she was thinking about her own reaction when she found out that her son was gay, back in the summer of 1982. I pointed out to her that C.R.A.Z.Y. was set in the ’60s and ’70s, so while it wasn’t that far from 1982, there were already huge differences in how homosexuality and homosexuals were perceived — differences which are almost as great as if we were to compare those perceptions in 1982 and 2002. She admitted that she hadn’t thought of that, that she hadn’t viewed the film in its temporal context (not that she actually said “temporal context”). But thinking back to the film with that notion in mind, she agreed that it altered her view and understanding.

The love between Brokeback‘s main characters is not only a love that dared not speak its name among cowboys from 1963 to 1982; it was a love for which they hadn’t the emotional vocabulary to express. Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) is the quintessential strong silent type who’d be unable to express love demonstratively even if he didn’t have this attraction to Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal). Ennis’s stoic nature (and resistence to taking his love for Jack beyond occasional rendez-vous on the mountain) can be infuriating when viewed through presentist lens, but he could not view things any other way given his context. This is what makes Brokeback such an authentic story; this is the heartbreak everyone speaks about, although I posit that heartbreak is more the viewers’ as a result of witnessing the story of Ennis and Jack. They say that after any couple’s (straight or gay) period of heavy passion, what sets in (or not) for the remainder is true love. I have no trouble seeing circumstances having turned Ennis and Jack as a “old couple,” perhaps more quickly than we’d expect under less stiffling circumstances. As such, it’s not such a stretch for me to comprehend Ennis’s outward reaction upon his first separation from Jack and his final separation, a point that seems to be a bit of a stumbling block for many who have viewed this movie.

So, if I’m so convinced that the storyline works, why do I not consider Brokeback a great film? Well, while I understand the effect that the pacing of the film is supposed to achieve and I agree that the cinematography is excellent, I think 15 to 20 minutes could easily be shaved off and still carry the story well. Also, while Ennis’s marbled speech provides valuable insight on his personality, it could be a little less marbled so that one doesn’t have to strain so much to understand what he’s saying. But I guess because this film has been hyped by many as nearly the Most!Revolutionary!Ever!, my expectations weren’t met, although I’m not sure what exactly my expectations were.

Maybe I expected something new, but once I took some distance from the specifics of the plot, I realized I’d already heard and seen it all before. So, I end up saying that it’s a good film and I would definitely recommend to anyone to go see it while it’s on the big screen. But I don’t think that in 2019, it will have risen to become a cult classic à la Thelma and Louise; rather, it will be remembered as a film that was talked much about in its time for having nudged the mainstream into an uncomfortable area. Yet the former legacy is what one would have expected if this film were really the Most!Revolutionary!Ever!

An Exhausted Cliché

In my Christmas day blog entry, I reflected on how the year that’s coming to an end will probably not go down as a good one for most people. If you viewed the Queen’s Christmas message — and never mind the debate about the relevance of the Queen — you were probably as struck as I was by its bleakness. Certainly, for it to have been cheery would have been callous, but I have to say it effectively echoed my sentiment that we’re going through tough times, and we can only hope that we have nowhere else to go but up from here.

As if to reinforce this feeling of sadness, there was a late-afternoon shooting on Boxing Day on Toronto’s Yonge Street, which injured six people and killed one teenaged girl. Gun violence in Toronto has reached unprecedented heights this year, one killing not too long ago occurring at the funeral of another young man who had also been shot a few days prior. There have been well over 50 gunshot deaths in 2005 in Toronto, a city which, despite its size, is unaccustomed to this level of violence.

That said, however, I can’t tell you how tired I am of hearing the same old clichés whenever something like this happens. By far the most meaningless is the claim of loss of innocence, which one Toronto detective has dished out when remarking on the Boxing Day shootings.

A comment like that makes for a great headline, but it’s been so overused that it’s long been devoid of meaning. In Canada, it was used — although maybe not in those exact words — as far back as World War I, with this country’s brave involvement in the trenches of Europe. In the States, it was used most memorably when JFK was assassinated, but also after Pearl Harbour and, in some case, post 9/11. To me, the notion of “losing innocence” implies going suddenly from a care-free, idyllic existance to one of fear, sadness and mayhem. But I don’t think that we were (or Toronto was) anywhere near that starting point when those shocking and senseless shootings happened yesterday. This event has certainly further eroded Torontonians’ assumptions and sense of safety, which is both sad and disturbing. However, it’s not like there was a child-like innocence to lose to begin with, given all that’s been happening all year in Toronto’s north side.