Showing posts with label gay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gay. Show all posts

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Gay Liberal Opposes Gun Control

By most standards, I’m liberal: I’m gay (and support GLBT equality), and support progressive taxation, breaking up the Mega-banks, alternative energy, a social safety net, legalized cannabis and compassionate immigration laws. I’m the president of my local teacher’s union, believe in mandatory profit-sharing, and a national health insurance plan. Most of my friends – both “Facebook” friends and flesh-and-blood friends generally agree with my positions.

But when it comes to the Second Amendment – well, I am going to stand apart from the crowd.  I do not support the current efforts to curtail firearm ownership.  And I hope my otherwise liberal friends will at least give me the benefit of reading why I am not on the bandwagon.

1) This nation should NEVER adopt legislation as a response to a crisis.  Our track record in every area is awful, because we let emotion and politics and a blind desire to “do something!” drive the program…and we often make big, big mistakes.

After Pearl Harbor was bombed, the nation demanded that government do ‘something’ in the name of security.  

 That ‘something’ was one of the most shameful chapters in American history, as our government rounded up 110,000 Japanese-Americans, sent them to concentration camps, and confiscated their property. President Franklin D Roosevelt did this through an Executive Order, which allowed local military commanders to designate "military areas" as "exclusion zones," from which "any or all persons may be excluded." This power was used to declare that all people of Japanese ancestry were excluded from the entire Pacific coast, including all of California and much of Oregon, Washington and Arizona. It took until 1988 for a formal Presidential Proclamation apologizing, blaming the actions on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”

And yet, we did it.  And it was clearly unconstitutional.  But we did it in response to a perceived crisis.

Fast Forward to 9/11…and we did the same thing.  The Patriot Act, NDAA, the right of Government to spy on library and bank accounts without search warrants, actual public hearings seeking to deny Muslims the right to open up mosques, the suspension of habeus corpus, the indefinite detention of Americans without charge or trial, and the ongoing tragedy of Guantanamo Bay show that we are still all too willing to engage in overtly unconstitutional acts when we respond to a perceived crisis.  Every time you remove your shoes to get on a plane, and every time a TSA agent strip searches someone’s grandmother, you continue to see these effects.

We even do it in legal areas unrelated to security:  In 1993, the Supreme Court of Hawaii ruled that a government must show a compelling state interest to prohibit gay marriage; the emotional howling of conservatives – who feared that conservative states would have to accept same-sex marriage – led to an emotional passage of DOMA, the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act,” which has been ruled unconstitutional in no fewer than eight federal courts, including both the first and second Circuit Courts of Appeal.  

Whenever we say, “We must act now!,” and act based on emotion, we do a historically terrible job of complying with our own Constitution.

I have read a number of very strong opinions lately, and am struck by how little people actually know about firearms. Raised on a generation of Matrix and shoot-em-up movies, much of the public believes that semi-automatic rifles simply let loose with a burst of bullets. Very few seems to understand that a semi-automatic does no such thing – it’s one trigger pull, one bullet – but in the heat of emotion, facts don’t seem to matter.

2) Making something illegal – or harder to obtain – does not make it go away. Rather, it drives the good or service underground where it is controlled by criminal elements – the very thing we do not want to do.

Once again, we can look at actual, objective history: 

We outlawed alcohol, and it didn’t go away.  Instead, it went underground, and its distribution was controlled by crime families.  Violence increased significantly as these families battled for territory.  The same is true of today’s Drug cartels.  We outlawed gambling, only to see it driven underground. As expected, the openness of offshore internet gambling accounts has actually increased the visibility of the ‘service,’ and reduced criminal violence. Until 1965, birth control was illegal in Connecticut, and until 1972, abortion was illegal in the majority of US states.  Do you think that no one in Connecticut used birth control, and no one obtained abortions?  Rather, both were relegated to unsafe, shady operations that resulted in tracking difficulty and more crime.  And finally, thirteen states enforced laws outlawing sodomy…do we really believe that gay men lived celibate lives until The Supreme Court overturned these laws in 2003 (Lawrence vs. Texas)?

Outlawing human activity, goods, or services has *never* eliminated the market for those goods and services.  It has only served to drive them underground, off the radar, and into the hands of criminal and shadowy elements.  

Is that what you want for firearms?

In the wake of Newtown, I wish people would be honest and admit that the guns used at the Newtown massacre WERE STOLEN.  They were ILLEGALLY OBTAINED.  No amount of registration, background check, or prohibition stops this activity.  There is an irrational disconnect between most of the proposals being floated and what actually happened at Newtown.

3) Please, in the name of all that is Honest, I am asking all of our politicians to cease parroting the mantra that goes, “Oh, I fully support the 2nd Amendment, but we need restrictions/controls/limitations…blah blah blah”

Let me lay some Constitutional Law on you folks: the Second Amendment is NOT about hunting or sports.  It’s about personal protection – and that includes protection against the police power of the State.  You don’t have to like it or agree with it, but that is our legal history.

Some have recently developed some twisted interpretations, suggesting that the Second Amendment is too obsolete, or only applies to rural hunting situations, or is only meant for state militias (not average citizens).

Enter District of Columbia vs. Heller, the landmark 2008 Supreme Court case, which held,

“The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”

Not militia use – any individual.

Not hunting and sport - Personal Defense.

In so doing, the Court invalidated a hand-gun ban and a trigger-lock requirement.
 The Second Amendment was drafted and adopted in order to allow every-day citizens to protect themselves against government tyranny.  It is a defense against both criminal elements and the police state - a defense denied to Jews in the Warsaw ghetto and, tragically, to Matthew Shepherd, the iconic gay youth who was beaten and tied to a Wyoming fence a decade ago.   
On an all-too-frequent basis, we read of gay men beaten with tire irons and baseball bats and left as bleeding pulps in the streets of our urban centers.  In 2004, the FBI reported that 1,482 gays were violently assaulted – some killed, some permanently disfigured and crippled.

This gay man will not be at the mercy of criminals, nor will he wait for the police to arrive.

Do I wish each of these guys carried a pistol?  Damn Straight. But cities – notably New York City and Chicago – make it near impossible for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves or carry, even if they are walking through high-crime areas late at night.

When seconds count, knowing that the police can be 5 minutes away offers no solace.

4) Constitutional Rights are not ‘contingent’ upon licensing, approval, background checks, or government permission.  You have a Right to speak, without the government deciding you are stable.  You have a right to form and engage in a religion, even if the government doesn't like it.  You have a right against self-incrimination, even if you are the most vile criminal.  You have a right to be compensated if your property is taken by eminent domain, without a public vote on whether we like you or not.  And you have a Constitutional Right to defend yourself with firearms, without government ‘permission.’ 

People are clamoring for ‘background checks.’

Can someone tell me what you are looking for in this background check? Mental stability? Criminal records?  How about a credit check? 

Do I think that convicted felons should be able to carry firearms?

Yes, I do.

[WHAT?! OK, Thom, you went too far here….!]

Hear me out:  1 in 6 black men in this country has been jailed. It is a societal embarrassment that our so-called “War on Drugs” has decimated the minority community and made ‘criminals’ out of people who never hurt anyone.  In some states, young men are branded ‘sexual offenders’ for ‘crimes’ as innocuous as peeing in public when drunk. People involved in one-time violent crimes, who have paid their debt to society and have reestablished themselves in their community wear a Scarlet A on their chest for the rest of their lives.

Should we disqualify anyone with a criminal record? 

Better be careful: it may not be long before we all have some ‘stain’ on our background, either because of an innocuous crime, or a credit rating that says we are a ‘danger,’ or songs downloaded from the internet, or because we had the audacity to support a group on a Facebook post that the government has branded a “terrorist” organization.

The clamoring for "background checks' is not being accompanied by an explanation of what we are actually looking for - and what is fair. 

After all, it is the government against which the Second Amendment is meant to protect me that would be performing the background checks. 

I will not give up any of my Constitutional Rights without a fight to the end.  That includes:

Speech (whether you agree or not, and whether you find it ‘hateful’ or not.)

Assembly and Protest (whether I have a ‘permit’ or not, even when the cops come armed with tazers and pepper spray.)

Religion (whether its ‘mainstream’ or not.)

Press (Whether I have a ‘press pass’ or not. I will use my phone as a camera to film police activity. It is my RIGHT.)

Right to Remain Silent (even when a cop pulls me over and asks me where I’ve been. I do NOT have to answer.)

And yes, the Right to Bear Arms….even when the State or the public prefer to render me defenseless.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Gay "Pride" Month - I Finally Get It...

I’m 52 years old, and this past weekend was my first “Pride” Parade.

 I’m not 100% sure why I never attended, but I know that I always was skeptical about the whole thing. I think I just didn't understand why there was such a thing to begin with. Outside of a reason to party, these parades merely seemed (to me) to simply give more conservative folk another reason to hate gay men and women: young hardbodies gyrating on floats in speedos, men fabulously dressed up as women, a heavy dose of sexual innuendo…I wasn’t sure what good this would do for anyone.

But this year, I decided not only to attend Boston’s Pride parade - - but to march in it. Being older-than-dance-club age, and having a belly that disqualify me from the cover of Men’s Health, the obvious choice was to march with MassBearz, a fairly recent organization of gay men who identify with the “Bears” subculture.

 We gathered at 10:00 am in Boston’s back Bay, for a parade that began at 12 Noon, only to find that we were towards the end so we never stepped off until after 1:00 pm. The 30 men gathered blew up balloons and played the “hurry-up-and-wait” game as we watched larger groups of political campaigns, flashy floats, and musical sound systems gather around us.

And then we stepped into the streets, and started along the parade route, smiling and waving and handing out candy gummi-bears to the crowd. And the further along the route we went, the closer we got to Boston City Hall Plaza, the larger the crowds grew – and something amazing happened.

Now, I have experienced parades before - being raised in a fireman’s family, parades where a standard part of the summer, and for a number of those summers I played snare drum in the Baldwin Fire Department Drum & Bugle Corps. But no parade had prepared me for this.

The crowds went crazy for us. Cheering, clapping, yelling out, “We LOVE you, Bears!” and generally going over the top to applaud us. Not a few people here and there, but massive walls of tens of thousands of people lining the streets of Boston. By the time we reached the ‘finish line,’ my partner and I were both in tears. And I now understand the importance of “Pride” parades.

It wasn’t for the press, or the politicians, or the sponsoring companies seeking gay dollars, or the local businesses hawking water and rainbow flags, or the disapproving.

It was for me.

It was for those of us who marched.

It was for those of us who can name a dozen or two kids in high school who made fun of us and called us “faggots,” who could now witness a hundred thousand people cheering us.

It was for those of us who, comparing the short-comings of our less-than-ideal male bodies to pumped-up movie images, could witness thousands of people proclaiming their adoration of those middle-aged bald spots and soft bellies.

It was for those of us who never ‘fit in’ in high school, and could now feel like we were the Kings of the city.

It was for those of us who never won an athletic letter (much less get picked for any team sport until no one else was left), but who now felt like we were being held up on the crowd's shoulders after winning the game.

It was for those of us who felt awkward and unsure and self-conscious speaking with girls, only to have women by the thousands giving us “thumbs-up” signs and asking to have pictures taken with us.

Pride is, indeed, about just that: Pride. Pride in who you are, pride in your skin, pride in your commonality with your fellow humanity.

I get it now. I’m sorry I wasted all these years. But I won’t waste the future…you can bet that I’ll be found at a Pride Parade every June.


Friday, May 25, 2012

NJ Black Caucus Agrees With Tully's Page, Opposes Harris Court Nomination

The New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus has issued a press release to the Associated Press opposing the nomination of attorney Bruce Harris - a black, gay attorney - to New Jersey's highest court.

"The nomination of Mr. Harris [by Governor Chris Christie] sends the wrong message -- that we can only achieve diversity on the Supreme Court through lowering the bar for qualifications," said Sen. Ron Rice, the caucus leader. "In a state with many distinguished African-American lawyers and judges, nothing could be further from the truth."

The caucus also expressed concern that Harris told the governor he would recuse himself from cases involving gay marriage, an issue for which Harris had advocated before being nominated. Harris, who has a degree from Yale Law School, is gay and lives with his partner of 32 years, Marc Boisclair.

Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer), the group's second vice chair, said,

"...It's doubly inappropriate to commit ahead of time to recuse oneself from a case based on one's race, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Mr. Harris's promise on recusal sets a dangerous precedent and only emphasizes why he is not qualified for the job."

We applaud Coleman for this stand, which echoes precisely the arguement outlined in this blog in January of this year, when we broke the nomination story and urged New Jersey Legislators to reject Harris.
(Full Story)

On January 30, we wrote:

“The nomination of Harris was initially greeted with excitement in civil rights circles, especially since Harris is both openly gay and partnered.

Unfortunately, Harris’ appointment is conditional upon his recusing himself from any same-sex marriage issues. Governor Chris Christie is on record as opposing same-sex marriage. Christie insists that Harris voluntarily offered to recuse himself, supposedly because three years ago he wrote to several state senators asking for their support of a same-sex marriage bill.

Whether this is Harris’ unsolicited offer or Christie’s requirement is immaterial: it is a dangerous (and illogical) precedent that enables the Executive and Legislative branches to stick its collective noses into the outcomes of judicial cases where it doesn’t belong.

Every Court nominee arrives at the bench with a history of advocacy, either through the legislative process, or through written judicial opinions. This is nothing new. What is new is the pre-emptive strike against specific judges from hearing certain issues.

When President Obama nominated the Hon. Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court, there was a brief storm of opinion when she commented, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” Sotomayor, who was ultimately confirmed to the Court, was not suggesting that Latina women were somehow smarter than white men; rather, she was expressing a well-settled understanding that diversity is important in the legal system. Those who have struggled to answer a police officer’s question because they do not speak the language; a woman who has feared for her life in spite of a restraining order issued against her abusive boyfriend; an immigrant afraid to report a crime because of their residency status; and a gay man who is denied justice after being beat on the street by someone who then claims the ‘gay panic defense' - understand life and the American legal processes in ways that are different than those who do not have to deal with such issues. That is why diversity is important, especially in the Judiciary.

To be certain, Judges should recuse themselves from some issues. Title 28 of the United States Judicial Code set standards for judicial recusal, naming four specific occasions. A federal Judge must recuse himself..."in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned."

...[O]n its surface, Harris might be accused. A logical analysis, however, as well as history, shows this to be utter nonsense.

Having an opinion on a legislative issue (what “should be”) does not imply that impartiality on a judicial issue (how the law “is” to be applied) is compromised.

First of all, being gay does not disqualify Harris from ruling on marriage issues. If it did, his being a black man would also disqualify him from racial discrimination cases. Furthermore, if being gay disqualifies him from cases involving same-sex marriage, then being heterosexual or married would also disqualify most other judges, since the opponents of gay marriage claim that same-sex marriage harms traditional marriage. This would disqualify both gays and judges in traditional marriages, thereby creating the unacceptable situation of only allowing single judges to rule in such cases.

Second, Harris’ advocacy on behalf of gay marriage can not possibly be deemed to render him impartial in a legal case. As stated above, advocacy for legislative issues does not imply impartiality in Judicial cases. As proof of this, I offer none other than Reagan-appointed Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

As a State Senator in Arizona, O’Connor not only advocated, but actually cast a procedural vote in favor of a bill to repeal the state's criminal-abortion statute. Later, she voted against a measure to prohibit abortions in Arizona state hospitals. In spite of this, no one ever suggested that O’Connor needed to recuse herself from abortion cases before the Court, and she was confirmed by a vote of 99-0.

Later, in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 492 U.S. 490 (1989), which upheld some restrictions on second trimester abortions, O’Connor not only participated, but wrote a concurring opinion in which she explicitly opposed overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision. In 1990, she was the critical swing vote in Hodgson v. Minnesota, 497 U.S. 417 (1990), which looked at whether a state may require notification of both parents before a minor can obtain an abortion. Again, O’Connor not only participated, but provided the swing vote with the liberals in ruling 5-4 that a state could not do this, and then also provided the critical swing vote with the court conservatives in ruling 5-4 that such a law would be valid if there was a judicial by-pass in place of notifying both parents.

Never in the course or aftermath of these decisions was it ever suggested that Sandra Day O’Connor should have recused herself due to having a position on abortion issues as a state legislator.

The notion, then, that Harris should recuse himself from same-sex marriage cases simply because he favored same-sex marriage legislation in New Jersey is not only unprecedented, it is dangerous: it eviscerates the entire purpose of appointing a representative, diverse court, and calls into question a judge’s integrity before he or she has even had the chance to hear a case.

The caveat that Harris recuse himself is an unacceptable condition of his approval. If this is Christie’s doing, shame on Christie; if it is Harris’ offer, then shame on him.

Either way, this nomination deserves to be defeated as a rejection of the politics of control over judicial rulings.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

An Easter Message to my Liberal and Agnostic Friends

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke 4:18-19

With those words, Jesus proclaims the Christian message.

To care for the poor, the hurting, the prisoner, the sick and disabled. Other passages include specific concerns for widows, aliens, and orphans.

The “Christian” message has gotten a bad rap. Many of my liberal and gay friends have an almost knee-jerk, visceral reaction against “The Church.” Their reaction is understandable: the American Christian image is often limited to either the anti-scientific, academically deficient rantings of protestant fundamentalism on one hand, or the corporate and wildly-out-of-touch Roman Catholic hierarchy on the other. But anti-Christian jokes and comments still hurt, because as an educated, gay Christian, my faith is not the same as the caricature they so often see parading as Christianity.

The harsh, controlling, oppressive fundamentalist approach they see does not reflect the first several hundred years of the Christian Church. In fact, American fundamentalism is unique to the United States, and to the last one hundred and fifty years. It is a gross aberration.

In fact, American Evangelicalism is nothing short of an academically dishonest Cult.

For its first 400 years, the Church managed to operate without a single, agreed-upon set of Biblical texts. Rather than quote the Bible verse by verse, using excruciating hair-splitting exegetical methods, leaders in the early church quoted and misquoted from the Bible and other sources, loosely and freely, adding important ideas and drawing from multiple writers. Even Jesus himself does this: the quote at the top of this blog from Luke is such an example. Jesus is loosely quoting from two different earlier versions of Isaiah 61, and actually ends up stating a third version that is yet different from both.

The point is that for the early Church, a literal word for word dissection was never part of the program. Using the “Bible Only” as a Rule book for life was never part of the program either. And understanding everything written as “literal” was unknown to early Christian scholars.

Instead, in real Christianity, there is something much more holistic going on: it involves an understanding of the concepts and the ideas and the spirit that underlies the ancient writings and teachings. More important, it embraces a living, breathing, and growing understanding of man’s relationship with the spiritual and with each other that invites a constant re-discovery and better understanding of truths for each generation.

And overall, it is about love and caring for the entirety of the common creation. I think these passages bear out this thought:

Matthew 25:37-40 Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Leviticus 19:9-11
When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.

Isaiah 5:8a
Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left

Psalm 82:3-4
Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

Zechariah 7:10
Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.'

Luke 14:12-14
Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,14and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

This is my Christianity. It is the Christianity I celebrate in my home and in my Episcopal parish. It is real and alive today. It is a Christianity that rejects Ayn Rand’s selfishness. It rejects a desire to ship immigrants home. It rejects the belief that making the poor ‘stand on their own two feet’ is proper. It rejects hoarding land and wealth as one’s own. It rejects a punitive attitude towards prisoners. It rejects the condemnation of single mothers. And it rejects the notion that America is the new Promised Land.

And it is in that spirit that I wish even my skeptical agnostic friends a Happy Easter…because that is the message of my Christian faith.

Christos Anesti! Tha Crìosd air èiridh! Christus is opgestaan! Le Christ est Resurrecté! Kristus Vstal A Mrtvych! Pikhirstof aftonf!

(“Christ is Risen” in liturgical Greek, Scots Gaelic, Dutch, French, Czech, and Coptic Egyptian)


Friday, April 06, 2012

SugarBear Weekend – A Bear’s Guide to the Gay Village of Montreal



[Traduction dans le Français ci-dessous]

If you are unaware of the term, Bears are a subculture of gay men. I’m a Bear. I will never appear on the cover of Men’s Health Magazine, or be featured on an advertisement for male exotic dancers: I have a belly, and there’s not a hard abdominal muscle in sight. Rather than shave my face (or my neck or my chest or my belly), I allow my body hair to grow naturally wherever it sprouts. However they are defined, "Bears" represent a decidedly masculine side of gay culture; we are often mistaken as straight men, because we most often appear like "regular guys." We also tend to like our beer and our bourbon, and parties, and are a fairly tolerant, live-and-let-live lot. And we tend to be pack animals: there are Bear ‘events’ (called “Bear Runs”) all over the world, every weekend, enabling us choose any weekend and get away to have a party with old and new friends.

In 2005, a small group of Montréal Bears decided to share their French-Canadian Bear culture with the International Bear Community, and the very first "SugarBear Weekend" took place. With hundreds of participants each year, SugarBear Weekend has now become the largest bear event in Canada, promoted with a trademark “big furry lumberjack.” The event is held at various locations throughout the Gay Village of Montréal, a compact, walkable section of Montreal that is the epicenter of gay life. Like Greenwich Village in New York City or the Castro in San Francisco, “Le Village Gay” (or simply, “The Village”) is the heartbeat of Montréal’s gay culture. It is French enough to remind visitors that they are in a land as closely related to Europe as to North America, but “Anglophone” enough to insure that American visitors can navigate the nightlife and order a beer in a nightclub without a problem.

Of the eight SugarBear Weekends that have occurred since 2005, I have attended the last six (2007 – 2012) and, hopefully, will continue to attend for years to come. Based on my six SugarBear experiences, all of which took place during the last weekend of March, I offer the following diary from 2012 as a typical gay man’s foray into Montréal.

Day 1 (Thursday): There are usually no events planned on Thursday, but that’s just more of an excuse to arrive early: It gives you a day to get settled and go anywhere without a schedule. This past year, we arrived early – 1:00 pm – and enjoyed a full day before the planned activities began.

If you’re going to Montréal, don’t look to book a hotel. There are no large traditional hotels in the middle of the Gay Village – but there are more than a dozen Bed and Breakfasts, all catering to gay men, that put you within a few blocks walk of everywhere you want to be. I have stayed at several (such as Absolument Montréal and Sir Montcalm), and have visited others. The Conciergerie, perhaps the largest, always seems to bring smiles to guests’ faces – but it is located on Rue St. Hubert, at the far western edge of the Village, and after a while its distance from the center of the Village can get annoying.
As for me, my favorite has always been La Maison DesJardins, located a mere two blocks from the center of everything on Rue Logan. Beautifully appointed rooms, a friendly staff, a home-like feeling, delicious breakfasts, a reasonable cost and the perfect location is hard to beat….but they go further. In the backyard of this guesthouse is a hot tub available for guest’s use, and upon arrival at our B&B, our first stop was the hot tub, wine in hand.
For those of us guys who love dogs (and every Bear I’ve ever met loves dogs), La Maison DesJardins comes with an extra bonus: Gaia, a huge, lovable, friendly English Sheep Dog, who will gladly visit with guests if permitted. For our money, La Maison is *THE* place to stay in Montréal.

After our dip in the hot tub, we spent the afternoon walking Rue Sainte-Catherine, the main road through the Gay Village. Visiting shops and coffee houses, one is constantly aware of the French love of art, design and form; the architecture of houses, the parks & monuments - even the parking lot designs - all reveal a French appreciating of beauty in the built environment.
In the center of the Village, we stopped at “Le Club Sandwich,” an overgrown diner, for our traditional first night mean: Poutine. Poutine is a French Canadian meal consisting of beef gravy and farmers cheese melted over French Fries. I take mine “Lyonnaise,” meaning that I also have sautéed onions and actual beef mixed in with mine. It may be a bit hard on the waistline, but – just as I always have a bagel with lox for breakfast before leaving New York City – I always have Poutine before starting my first night in Montréal.
And that first night is always enjoyed at Le Stud, on the corner of Avenue Papineau and Rue Ste.-Catherine. Le Stud is a nightclub with 4 bars (and a fifth on weekends upstairs), a DJ, and a small dance floor, and is packed with middle-aged Bears on any given weekend night. It is the “headquarters” of SugarBear Weekend, where we register, get our event passes, and run into dozens of men we have seen many times before across the northeast and in Montréal (Bonjour à Nate, Richard, Hank, Volker, Stéfane, Thierry, Gregoire, Marc, Timothé, Tatsu, Rusty, Mikel, Jacques, Jean, Pierre...) As usual, we got too involved in the first night’s party, and don’t get into bed until after 3 o’clock in the morning...

Day 2 (Friday): This is the first official event, a “Beach Party” in March, which, really, is a euphemism for a gathering at a local bathhouse.

Now, a good friend of mine (Chaz) once put together a list of 10 things a gay man should never, ever do. One of those items read, “Do not *ever* try to explain a bathhouse to your straight friends.” And actually, that’s good advice, so I won’t. But I will say this: this year’s “beach party” was a little disappointing. In the past, the party was held at the “Sauna 456,” located, appropriately, at 456 Rue de la Gauchetière Ouest, which requires a taxi ride as it is located slightly beyond the Village. But the ride is worth it: the first floor contains an enormous swimming pool, a nice-sized sauna and steam room, a lounge and sitting area for conversations, and an actual bar with food and beer. One can enjoy a very innocent party here, and there was room for funny contests (such as inked butt prints…) Or, one could enjoy the dark labyrinths that exist upstairs.

But this year, the 456 was closed for renovations (we hear it is supposed to open again in November 2012), so the party was held at the Oasis in the Village instead. Unfortunately, the Oasis is smaller and lacks the first floor amenities that 456 has, and proved somewhat boring overall. There is another sauna just a few blocks away, “G I Joe,” but we didn’t have the opportunity to visit this one (although I have only heard positive reports).

Instead, as good Bears, we focused our energies on eating.

Last year, quite by accident, we stumbled, quite by accident, into an incredible Italian restaurant. This year was no different: we took a chance on a restaurant named “Resto-Pub St. André” on the corner of Rue St.-Andre and Rue Ste.-Catherine…and found ourselves having food orgasms.
My partner Danny and I each tried the Fettuccini au Saumon Fumé (Fettuccini with smoked salmon) that was absolutely amazing.
The smoked salmon was, as far as we could tell, a high quality cut of lox, cooked in ample amounts in the fettuccini cream sauce. The dish was rounded out with small diced tomatoes and smothered in melted cheese with a scallion garnish. We both fell in love with our waiter, Raul, for his efficiency and friendliness. As I attempted to order our dinner in my broken French, he assisted with the correct French phrasing and then repeated everything in English to make sure the order was correct. On delivering our dinner, he then offered us freshly grated cheese and cracked pepper.

It was one of the most delicious meals I have ever eaten, and the price was on the low side of moderate. We are going to try to reproduce it at home for Easter Dinner.
We complimented our dinner with Chanvre Blonde, a red-colored, Hemp-based blond beer that was delicious and complicated, beginning with a floral-citrus aroma, an initially nutty taste, and a slightly hop-like bitter finish. This was the first and only hemp-based beer I had ever tasted, and I loved it.

After dinner, we headed down to the corner of Rue St. Hubert and Avenue Viger, to the Auditorium des Archives Nationales du Quebec, where the Image+Nation LGBT Film festival which has been operating for 21 years), entertained us with two movies: The Rescue, 18-minute comedic short comparing the search for a boyfriend to the process of adopting a rescue dog at a shelter; and Boystown, a full-length Spanish-made film that can best be described as zany drama.

In the past, SugarBear organizers have tried multiple events on Friday nights, from fashion shows to dinner theaters, all of which were colossal flops. This time, they got it right – it was probably their best Friday night event so far, and we were glad we attended.

Day 3 (Saturday): This is “The Main Event.” The key gathering during the weekend is a full day of eating and drinking at a local SugarShack, in the finest of Quebeçois lumberjack traditions. We began by gathering once again at Le Stud (which opens at 10 am) for the obligatory Bloody Marys. When the school buses arrived, we men piled in and filled them for the trip to the Handfield Sugar Shack near St.-Marc-sur-Richlieu, some 40 minutes east of Montréal. Again, I have been to several sugar shacks near Montréal, and have always found this one the most welcoming and efficient, and the food ample and delicious.

When we arrived at mid-day, the owners greeted us, as always, with free samples of “Caribou,” a traditional stomach-warming drink. Various publications describe Caribou as a mixture of 3 oz. vodka, 3 oz. brandy, 12.5 oz Canadian sherry, and 12.5 oz Canadian port; or perhaps 3 oz. port, 1.5 vodka, .25 creme de cassis, and a splash maple syrup.

I however, have it on the good authority of a local Québecker who makes it all the time or their sugar shack (and speaking on the condition of anonymity), that Caribou is 4 parts Port, 4 parts Tawny Port (or Sherry), 1 Part Canadian Rye, 1 part Scotch Whisky and a splash of Maple Syrup – and that is how I make it home. Regardless, we drank a lot of Caribou, as we continued to order it once we settled inside for the feast.

In the dining hall, a blazing fire was roaring in the fireplace at one end, where fiddlers played French jigs and reels. Long picnic tables were lined up end to end in three long rows, and a hundred and fifty or Bears settled in with their buckets full of Molson or carafes of Caribou in anticipation of the piles of food which would follow.

Pork Pâté for spreading on fresh bread. Bean Soup. Fried Pork Rinds. Scrambled eggs, baked potatoes, and mountains of ham, all optionally smothered in maple syrup. And more again. And at some point, a Bear breaks into playing spoons in time with the fiddler, and someone else whoops, and a few guys start to wrestle, and the level of laughter increases, and more food comes out….and when there’s finally no room to eat any more, they bring out Maple Syrup Pie, quite possibly the sweetest substance known to mankind. And in the midst of all this frivolity, a raffle was held that raised over $700 for REZO, a Canadian organization dedicated to "the health and well-being of gay and bisexual men." This was the first I remembered them raising money for an organization, and I think it's a great addition to the weekend.

Rolling us out the door, we then made our own ‘sugar-on-snow’ by pouring hot syrup over shaved ice and using popsicle sticks to roll the syrup into sticky lollipops.

And many of us slept on the bus ride home….only to catch our second wind for another night at Le Stud, and another nightcap in the hot tub back at La Maison DesJardins.

Day 4 (Sunday): Today we said our goodbyes. First we explored the sale at Priape, Canada’s largest store catering to gay men with fetish wear, leather, and other items of interest to gay men. Unfortunately, as is so often the case at Priape, the merchandise is geared for a younger, slimmer set; I couldn’t find a single pair of jeans with a waist size greater than 34 – and very few of us Bears are going to fit into size 34 pants. We did find some neat leather wrist cuffs with a hidden compartment to hold id and cash, so we picked up a couple. Fortunately, Priape is not the only store for us in The Village….a new store, the Fetish Armada, is located just down the street on the corner of Rue Ste.-Catherine and Rue Montcalm. It’s smaller, but friendly and eager to do business with larger men; much of their business is custom work.

By Noon, it was time for the farewell brunch, held at Le Planète on Rue Ste.-Catherine (if you’re getting the sense that Rue Ste.-Catherine is where everything happens, there’s a reason for that. In the summer, it is closed to automobiles and becomes pedestrian and sidewalk cafe heaven.) Le Planète is a small and cozy food establishment…but I have to admit that its main draw was neither the food nor the modern decor….but a staff of adorable young bears (“Cubs,” as we call them) racing to and fro to take orders, serve Mimosas, pour endless rounds of coffee, and deliver meals.

For those who live locally, the day would end with a late-afternoon Lumberjack Contest at The Stud. For the rest of us who work on Monday morning, an afternoon departure is more in order. In the past, we have always made a quick stop in the Old City of Montréal, a retail district that is the site of the original settlement and characterized by narrow streets and alleys paved in cobblestones and lined with 300-year old stone buildings. While the Old City is home to dozens of T-shirt and tacky knick-knack shops, with a little time one can find unique paintings, artwork, glass lamps, Inuit carvings and other specialty items.

But this time, still full of maple-drenched ham and exhausted from our weekend, we headed home. We hope to return some day in the summer months to see what it’s like in warmer months; but whether we do or not, we will return to Montreal next March for SugarBear Weekend 9 for certain.
Montréal and the Province of Québec are wonderful, enjoyable places right on America’s doorstep; it’s a pity more Americans, gay or straight, don’t cross the border and partake in Montreal’s joie de vivre.


Vendredi 6 avril 2012
Week-end de SugarBear - le guide d'un ours du village gai de Montréal

« Ours ? »

« SugarBears ? »

Si vous êtes ignorant de la limite, les ours sont une culture secondaire des homosexuels. Je suis un ours. Je n'apparaîtrai jamais sur la couverture du magazine de la santé des hommes, ou sois décrit sur une publicité pour les danseurs exotiques masculins : J'ai un ventre, et il n'y a pas un muscle abdominal dur en vue. Plutôt que rasent mon visage (ou mon cou ou mon coffre ou mon ventre), je permettent à mes cheveux de corps de les élever naturellement là où pousse. Toutefois ils sont définis, les « ours » représentent un côté décidément masculin de culture gaie ; nous sommes souvent confondus en tant qu'hommes droits, parce que nous apparaissons le plus souvent comme « les types réguliers. » Nous tendons également à aimer notre bière et notre bourbon, et parties, et sommes un sort assez tolérant et live-and-let-live. Et nous tendons à être des animaux de paquet : il y a des événements de `d'ours (appelés les « courses d'ours ") partout dans le monde, chaque week-end, en nous permettant choisissez n'importe quel week-end et partez pour avoir une partie avec de vieux et nouveaux amis.

En 2005, un petit groupe d'ours de Montréal a décidé de partager leur culture canadienne française d'ours avec la Communauté internationale d'ours, et le tout premier « week-end de SugarBear » a eu lieu. Avec des centaines de participants tous les ans, le week-end de SugarBear est maintenant devenu le plus grand événement d'ours au Canada, favorisé avec une marque déposée « grand bûcheron velu. » L'événement est tenu à de divers endroits dans tout le village gai de Montréal, un contrat, section walkable de Montréal qui est l'épicentre de la vie gaie. Comme le Greenwich Village à New York City ou Castro à San Francisco, « Le Village Gay » (ou simplement, « le village ") est le battement de coeur de la culture gaie de Montréal. Elle est assez française pour rappeler des visiteurs qu'ils sont dans une terre comme étroitement lié à l'Europe quant à l'Amérique du Nord, mais « anglophone » assez de s'assurer que les visiteurs américains peuvent diriger la vie nocturne et commander une bière dans une boîte de nuit sans problème.

Des huit week-ends de SugarBear qui se sont produits depuis 2005, je me suis occupé des six derniers (2007 - 2012) et, si tout va bien, continuerai à s'occuper pendant des années à venir. Basé sur mes six expériences de SugarBear, qui ont eu lieu pendant le dernier week-end de mars, j'offre le journal intime suivant de 2012 en tant qu'incursion d'un homosexuel typique dans Montréal.

Jour 1 (jeudi) : Il n'y a habituellement aucun événement prévu le jeudi, mais c'est juste plus d'une excuse à arriver tôt : Il te donne un jour pour obtenir arrangé et aller n'importe où sans programme. Cette dernière année, nous sommes arrivés tôt - le 1:00 P.M. - et apprécié un jour complet avant que les activités prévues aient commencé.

Si vous allez à Montréal, ne regardez pas pour réserver un hôtel. Il n'y a aucun grand hôtel traditionnel au milieu du village gai - mais il y a plus que des douzaine lits - et - les déjeuners, toute la restauration aux homosexuels, qui vous mettent dans la promenade de quelques blocs partout de vous veulent être. Je suis resté à plusieurs (tel qu'Absolument Montréal et monsieur Montcalm), et ai visité d'autres. Le Conciergerie, peut-être le plus grand, semble toujours apporter des sourires aux visages des invités - mais il est situé sur la rue Hubert de rue, au bord loin occidental du village, et après un moment sa distance du centre du village peut devenir ennuyante.

Quant à moi, mon favori a toujours été La Maison DesJardins, localisé de seuls deux blocs du centre de tout sur la rue Logan. Il est difficile de battre des salles admirablement désignées, un personnel amical, un sentiment intime, les déjeuners délicieux, un coût raisonnable et l'endroit parfait….mais elles vont plus loin. Dans l'arrière-cour de cette dépendance est un baquet chaud disponible pour l'usage de l'invité, et sur l'arrivée à notre B&B, notre premier arrêt était le baquet chaud, wine à disposition.
Pour ceux de nous les types qui aiment les chiens (et chaque ours j'ai jamais rencontré des chiens d'amours), La Maison DesJardins vient avec une bonification supplémentaire : Gaia, un chien de moutons anglais énorme, aimable, amical, qui visitera heureusement avec des invités si permis. Pour notre argent, la La Maison est endroit de *THE* à rester dans Montréal.

Après que notre immersion dans le baquet chaud, nous ait dépensé la rue de marche Sainte-Catherine d'après-midi, la route principale par le village gai. La visite des magasins et des cafés, un se rend constamment compte de l'amour français de l'art, de la conception et de la forme ; tous l'architecture des maisons, les parcs et les monuments - même le parking conçoit - indiquent une appréciation française de la beauté dans l'environnement établi.

Au centre du village, nous nous sommes arrêtés « au sandwich à club de le, » un wagon-restaurant envahi, parce que notre premier moyen traditionnel de nuit : Poutine. Poutine est un repas canadien français se composant de la sauce au jus de boeuf et du fromage de fermiers fondus au-dessus des pommes frites. Je prends les miens « Lyonnaise, » signification que j'également sautéed les oignons et le boeuf réel mélangés dedans au mien. Ce peut être un peu dur sur la taille, mais - juste comme je prends toujours un bagel avec le saumon fumé pour le déjeuner avant de quitter New York City - j'ai toujours Poutine avant de commencer ma première nuit dans Montréal.

Et cette première nuit est toujours appréciée chez Le Stud, sur le coin de l'avenue Papineau et de la chambre de rue. - Catherine. Le Stud est une boîte de nuit avec 4 barres (et un cinquième des week-ends en haut), le DJ, et une petite piste de danse, et est emballé avec entre deux âges concerne n'importe quelle nuit donnée de week-end. Elle est « siège » du week-end de SugarBear, où nous enregistrons, entrons nos passages d'événement, et course dans des douzaines des hommes que nous avons vu beaucoup de fois avant à travers le nord-est. Comme d'habitude, nous devenons trop impliqués dans de la première la partie nuit, et n'entrons pas dans le lit jusqu'à 3 heures le matin.

Jour 2 (vendredi) : C'est le premier événement officiel, une « partie de plage » en mars, qui, vraiment, est un euphémisme pour une réunion à un bain public local.

Maintenant, un bon ami à moi (Chaz) une fois remontés une liste de 10 choses un homosexuel devrait jamais, pour ne jamais faire. Un de ces articles lus, « pas essai de *ever* expliquent un bain public à vos amis droits. » Et réellement, c'est bon conseil, ainsi je pas. Mais je dirai ceci : la « partie de plage » de cette année était peu une décevante. Dans le passé, la partie a été tenue au « sauna 456, » situé, convenablement, à 456 Rue de la Gauchetière Ouest, qui exige un tour de taxi pendant qu'il est situé légèrement au delà du village. Mais le tour la vaut : le premier étage contient une énorme piscine, une salle gentil-classée de sauna et de vapeur, un secteur de salon et de séance pour des conversations, et une barre réelle avec la nourriture et la bière. On peut apprécier une partie très innocente ici, et il y avait pièce pour des concours drôles (tels que le bout encré imprime…) Ou, on pourrait apprécier les labyrinthes foncés qui existent en haut.

Mais cette année, les 456 étaient fermés pour des rénovations (nous entendons qu'on le cense s'ouvrir encore en novembre 2012), ainsi la partie a été tenue à l'oasis dans le village à la place. Malheureusement, l'oasis est plus petite et manque des agréments du premier étage que 456 a, et d'ennuyer légèrement prouvé globalement. Il y a un autre sauna juste quelques blocs loin, « G I Joe, » mais nous n'avons pas eu l'occasion de visiter celui-ci (bien que j'ai seulement entendu des rapports positifs).

Au lieu de cela, en tant que bons ours, nous avons concentré nos énergies sur la consommation.

L'année dernière, tout à fait accidentellement, nous avons trébuché, tout à fait accidentellement, dans un restaurant italien incroyable. Cette année n'était aucun différent : nous avons pris des risques sur un restaurant appelé « rue André de Resto-Pub » sur le coin de la rue de rue - André et chambre de rue. - Catherine… et trouvé ayant des orgasmes de nourriture.
Mon associé Danny et I chacun a essayé l'Au Saumon Fumé (Fettuccini de Fettuccini avec les saumons fumés) qui était absolument étonnant.
Le saumon fumé était, dans la mesure où nous avons pu dire, une coupe de qualité de saumon fumé, cuite dans des quantités suffisantes à la sauce crème à fettuccini. Le plat a été arrondi dehors avec de petites tomates découpées et étouffé en fromage fondu avec un scallion garnissez. Nous tous les deux sommes tombés amoureux de notre serveur, Raul, pour son efficacité et amitié. Pendant que j'essayais de commander notre dîner dans mon Français cassé, il a assisté la rédaction française correcte et alors répété tout en anglais s'assurer l'ordre était correct. Sur fournir notre dîner, il nous a alors offert le fromage fraîchement râpé et le poivre criqué.

Il était l'un des repas les plus délicieux que j'ai jamais mangés, et le prix était du bas côté du moderate. Nous allons essayer de le reproduire à la maison pour le dîner de Pâques.

Nous avons complimenté notre dîner avec la blonde de Chanvre, une bière blonde rouge-colorée et Chanvre-basée qui était délicieuse et compliquée, commençant par un arome de floral-citron, un goût premier à noix, et a légèrement houblon-comme la finition amère. C'était la première et seulement la bière chanvre-basée que j'avais jamais goûtée, et je l'ai aimée.

Après dîner, nous nous sommes dirigés vers le bas au coin de la rue Hubert de rue et l'avenue Viger, au DES de salle archive Nationales du Québec, où le festival de film d'Image+Nation LGBT qui avait fonctionné pendant 21 années), nous a amusés avec deux films : La délivrance, short 18 comique minute comparant la recherche d'un ami au processus d'adopter un chien de délivrance à un abri ; et Boystown, un film Espagnol-fait intégral qui peut mieux être décrit en tant que drame fou.

Dans le passé, les organisateurs de SugarBear ont essayé des événements multiples le vendredi soirs, des défilés de mode aux théâtres de dîner, qui étaient des effondrements colossaux. Cette fois, ils l'ont obtenu droit - c'était probablement leur meilleur vendredi événement de soir jusqu'ici, et nous étions heureux nous étions présents.

Jour 3 (samedi) : C'est « l'événement principal. » Le rassemblement principal pendant le week-end est un jour complet de la consommation et du boire chez un SugarShack local, dans le plus fin des traditions de bûcheron de Quebeçois. Nous avons commencé en recueillant de nouveau chez Le Stud (qui s'ouvre à 10 AM) pour le Marys sanglant obligatoire. Quand les autobus scolaires sont arrivés, nous des hommes avons empilé dedans et les avons remplis pour le voyage au sucre Shack de Handfield près de la rue - Marc-sur-Richlieu, environ 40 minutes à l'est de Montréal. Encore, j'ai été à plusieurs cabanes de sucre près de Montréal, et ai toujours trouvé celui-ci le accueil et efficace, et la nourriture suffisante et délicieuse.

Quand nous sommes arrivés à midi, les propriétaires nous ont salués, en tant que toujours, avec les échantillons libres de « caribou, » une boisson de estomac-chauffage traditionnelle. Les diverses publications décrivent le caribou comme mélange de 3 onces. vodka, 3 onces. eau-de-vie fine, xérès canadien de 12.5 onces, et porto de Canadien de 12.5 onces ; ou peut-être 3 onces. porto, 1.5 vodka, .25 creme de cassis, et un sirop d'érable d'éclaboussure.

I cependant, l'ont sur la bonne autorité des gens du pays Québecker qui lui font toute l'heure ou leur cabane de sucre (et parler de l'état de l'anonymat), ce caribou est 4 parts de port, 4 parts de porto fauve (ou xérès), 1 part Rye canadien, 1 part de whisky écossais et une éclaboussure de sirop d'érable - et c'est comment je le rends à la maison. Sans se soucier, nous avons bu beaucoup de caribou, car nous avons continué à le commander par le passé que nous avons arrangé à l'intérieur pour le régal.

Dans le réfectoire, un feu de flambage hurlait dans la cheminée à une extrémité, où les violoneurs ont joué les gabarits et les bobines français. Les longues tables de pique-nique étaient extrémité alignée à finir dans trois longues rangées, et cent cinquante ou ours ont arrangé dedans avec leurs seaux pleins de Molson ou de carafes de caribou en prévision des piles de la nourriture qui suivraient.

Porc Pâté pour écarter sur le pain frais. Soupe aux fèves. Écorces frites de porc. Les oeufs brouillés, les pommes de terre cuites au four, et les montagnes du jambon, tous ont sur option étouffé en sirop d'érable. Et plus encore. Et à un certain point, un ours divise en jouer des cuillères à temps avec le violoneur, et quelqu'un d'autre hue, et quelques types commencent à lutter, et le niveau du rire augmente, et plus de nourriture sort….et quand il n'y a finalement aucune pièce de manger plus, elles mettent en évidence le pâté en croûte de sirop d'érable, très probablement la substance la plus douce connue de l'humanité.

Nous roulant dehors la porte, nous avons alors fait notre propre `sucre-sur-snow'par verser le sirop chaud au-dessus de la glace rasée et à l'aide des bâtons de popsicle pour rouler le sirop dans les lucettes collantes.

Et bon nombre d'entre nous ont dormi sur la maison de tour d'autobus….attraper seulement un notre deuxième vent pour une autre nuit chez Le Stud, et un bonnet de nuit différent dans le dos de baquet chaud à la La Maison DesJardins.

Jour 4 (dimanche): Aujourd'hui nous avons dit nos goodbyes. D'abord nous avons exploré la vente chez Priape, le plus grand magasin du Canada approvisionnant aux homosexuels avec l'usage de fétiche, le cuir, et d'autres articles d'intérêt aux homosexuels. Malheureusement, de même que tellement souvent le cas chez Priape, les marchandises sont adaptées pour un plus jeune, plus mince ensemble ; Je ne pourrais pas trouver une seule paire de jeans avec une taille de taille plus grande que 34 - et très peu de nous des ours vont s'insérer dans le pantalon de la taille 34. Nous avons trouvé quelques manchettes en cuir ordonnées de poignet avec un compartiment caché pour tenir l'identification et l'argent comptant, ainsi nous avons pris un couple. Heureusement, Priape n'est pas le seul magasin pour nous dans le village….un nouveau magasin, l'armada de fétiche, est situé juste en bas de la rue sur le coin de la chambre de rue. - Catherine et rue Montcalm. Il est plus petit, mais amical et désireux de faire des affaires avec de plus grands hommes ; beaucoup de leurs affaires est travail fait sur commande.

Par Noon, il était temps pour le brunch d'adieu, tenu chez Le Planète sur la chambre de rue. - Catherine (si vous obtenez au sens cette chambre de rue. - Catherine est où tout se produit, il y a une raison de cela. En été, il est clôturé aux automobiles et devient ciel de café de piéton et de trottoir.) Le Planète est un petit et confortable établissement de nourriture… mais je dois admettre que son aspiration principale n'était ni la nourriture ni le décor moderne….mais un personnel des jeunes adorables soutient (« Cubs, » pendant que nous les appelons) l'emballage en avant et en arrière pour prendre des ordres, sert des mimosas, verse les ronds sans fin du café, et fournit des repas.

Pour ceux qui vivent localement, le jour finirait avec un concours de bûcheron de tard-après-midi au goujon. Pour le reste de nous qui travaillent le lundi matin, un départ d'après-midi est plus dans l'ordre. Dans le passé, nous avons toujours fait un arrêt rapide dans la vieille ville de Montréal, une zone au détail qui est l'emplacement du règlement original et caractérisé par les rues étroites et les ruelles pavées dans des pavés ronds et garnies des bâtiments en pierre datant de 300 ans. Tandis que la vieille ville est à la maison aux douzaines de T-shirt et le bibelot visqueux fait des emplettes, avec du peu de temps un peut trouver les peintures uniques, les lampes de dessin-modèle et en verre, les découpages d'Inuit et d'autres articles de spécialité.

Mais cette fois, encore pleine du jambon érable-trempé et épuisée de notre week-end, nous nous sommes dirigés à la maison. Nous espérons renvoyer un certain jour en mois d'été pour voir ce qu'est il comme en des mois plus chauds ; mais, que nous fassions ou pas, nous reviendrons à Montréal en mars prochain pour le week-end 9 de SugarBear pour certain.
Montréal et la province de Québec sont les endroits merveilleux et agréables juste sur le seuil de l'Amérique ; c'est dommage plus d'Américains, gai ou droit, ne franchissez pas la frontière et ne participez pas à joie de vivre de Montréal.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Why a Gay Man Gets Excited About Super Bowl XLVI

It’s the stuff that Disney feel-good movies are made of: my single memory of playing football in junior high school was accidentally catching a ball that somehow landed right in my hands - - and then running in the wrong direction.

I have a similar memory from basketball. I would always allow myself to be blocked, so that there would never be a chance that I would actually catch a pass. But one time it somehow happened (I think the opposing team just gave up on bothering to cover me). I caught the ball. In my panic, rather than pass it or dribble it, I ran with it. Ooops.

There was the wrestling demo in grade school, where the gym coach flipped me around and my neck cracked as it bent backwards and I ended up seeing stars for 30 minutes. And the little league game where the pop-up fly landed not in my glove, but hit my voice box square-on, causing me to black out.

Now, I shouldn’t make it sound like I’m a TOTAL dork...I can play volleyball pretty well, I’ve finished (poorly) in a few 10k foot races, I used to ski fairly well, I can bowl and shoot, and I found some major mojo in the gym once I saw the results in my arms and chest from a lot of hard work while weight training.

Still, it is a little odd that the kid who used to find any excuse in the world to escape gym class; who openly identifies with the gay community; and who only learned at the age of 51 how to throw a football with a spin (thanks to his teenage son) – can actually get excited about the Superbowl.

And that excitement is not just limited to the Superbowl - as an adult, I have enjoyed the World Cup in a gritty pub in Holyhead, Wales; followed the NY Mets during the US Baseball season; and remain fascinated by rugby and the culture surrounding it. Somewhere I decided that my relative incompetance and ignorance in sports skills did not have to last forever. But for the most part, I am still a very ‘late bloomer’ compared to my male counterparts when it comes to sports, so it stretched me to my limits six years ago when I created a college-level course in Sports Economics. When it comes to discussing the media revenue streams to the NFL or the salary structure of pitchers in MLB, I can hold my own – but when my students start throwing around names and statistics and player numbers, I get that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling I got when that football somehow landed in my hands in junior high.

Reading through the threads on Facebook today, many of my gay friends are making funny comments about the Superbowl, and being kind of campy about it…looking forward to Madonna’s half-time show, wondering how well the uniforms will fit, preparing to make Cosmos, and musing about how good-looking the ‘goalies’ will be. All in fun, all acknowledging in a sideways kind of ways that they, too, like me, were the “outsiders” as kids who never “got into” sports, and for whom sports was a dreaded opportunity for humiliation.

But aside from the tongue-in-cheek and campy threads, there are many more that are basic “hurray-for-our-side” or “Who are YOU supporting today?” threads. And therein lies, I think, one of the reasons for the pervasive hold that professional sports has on our society.

In teaching that Sports Economics course, the very first topic we seek to answer is a deceptively simple question:

What is the product that professional sports is selling?

Students who take the course are often sports-a-holics; with the exception of one or two females per class, they are exclusively male; and they are often the kinds of jocks with whom I had *nothing* in common in junior high or high school. As they grapple with this question, they often wrestle with the idea that Professional Sports is ‘selling’ leadership, teamwork, safe expressions of warrior-hood and male aggression, unrealized dreams, superstar brands, and entertainment; and to be honest, there are elements of all of these things at work in sports.

But the conclusion they always reach is that Professional Sports teams are selling something much more elusive in today’s society: Identity.

Both of my grandfathers worked their entire lives in a single company. My dad worked in several capacities for the same government unit his entire life, and my mom worked for one company for the majority of her adult life.

On the other hand, between the ages of 24 and 52, I have worked at nine different jobs.

My mom and dad got married and bought a house that was 3 blocks from where my mom was raised, and one mile from where my dad was raised. When they retired, they moved to smaller condominiums and apartments within two miles from there (They originally moved to Florida for a short time, but realized they wanted to be "home" and they came back to NY). My mom still lives in the same community in which she was raised. My father’s distant relatives remain in the NYC, all within an hour of where his ancestors stepped off the boat 370 years ago.

On the other hand, though I was born and raised in NY, I left there at the age of 30: I have since lived for 8 years in Massachusetts (in three different houses) , and 14 years in New Hampshire (in six different places). Statistically, I’m typical of most Americans: according to the 2010 census, the average American moves 12 times in a lifetime (which explains why I am about ready to ‘retire’ and settle down a bit!)

In this fast-paced century, where people have Facebook ‘friends’ they have never met on the other side of the world, where they move every 8 years, and where they change jobs 10 times before the age of 42 – “where is home?” What is “home?” With a growing integration of ethnicities into the American salad bowl, a growing number of US citizens simply call themselves “Americans” on the US Census rather than holding to older European nationalities (I did this myself on the 2010 Census: it was easier than choosing more than 10 ethnicities).

And so, with global communications and fast-paced mobility, Professional Sports Teams offer a sense of ‘belonging,’ of identifying with a particular location regardless of one’s ‘temporary’ or ‘transient’ station in life. Today’s Facebook threads are full of people emphatically supporting the NY Giants or the New England Patriots – and the strongest fans are precisely those who see one of these teams as their “home team.” Their identity is, in some way, wrapped up in these non-military warriors representing the “homeland.” Native New Yorkers living in California will root for the Giants; native Bostonians in Texas will be cheering for Tom Brady.

And for that reason, this gay man who couldn't throw a football until last year is preparing the guacamole dip, reading the online sports news, spicing the shrimp soup, picking up some more beer, watching his boyfriend wire up the surround sound system, and getting out the ingredients for some kick-ass Hero sandwiches.

And routing passionately for Eli Manning and the New York Giants.