We can always call them Bulgarians. — Samuel Goldwyn (Attributed)


Dining with my friend Plamen at a restaurant in Sofia.

sofia pride-960x600

“We can always call them Bulgarians,” is a quotation attributed by Wilella Waldorf to “Samuel Goldwyn or somebody” in the New York Post, September 17, 1937. (as cited in The origin of “Bulgarian” as a euphemism for sexual minorities.) The euphemism was used in American cinema and theatre when referring to gay and lesbian characters on screen and on stage starting in the first half of the 20th century. What made me think of this is my recent trip to Bulgaria. I left Ottawa, bound for Bulgaria, on July 14th and returned on July 25th. I met up with my friend Plamen in Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria, and embarked on a whirlwind tour with him as my guide and interpreter. We had a great time. Bulgaria has a rich history and culture going back to antiquity and today Bulgaria is a peaceful and prosperous society. During the tour, we did not visit any gay bars or clubs in Bulgaria. This was not on the itinerary, still, in the back of my mind I wondered what life is like for gay people in Bulgaria. Do gay people live openly in Bulgarian society or do they remain closeted and if so, why? Continue reading


When a man does a queer thing, or two queer things, there may be a meaning to it, but when everything he does is queer, then you begin to wonder. ― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes


002 (5)

Geoffrey and Mika in their library.

I cancelled my subscription to what was formerly Huff Post Gay Voices when the editorial director Noah Michelson changed the title to Huff Post Queer Voices earlier this year. Michelson justifies substituting “queer” in place of “gay” on the grounds the “word is the most inclusive and empowering one available to us to speak to and about the community.” (Noah Michelson as cited in OUT) The thinking behind it is people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, etc. form a “community,” that is they share a collective group identity. Following this train of thought, Michelson asserts “‘queer’ functions as an umbrella term that includes not only the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people of ‘LGBT,’ but also those whose identities fall in between, outside of or stretch beyond those categories, including genderqueer people, intersex people, asexual people, pansexual people, polyamorous people and those questioning their sexuality or gender, to name just a few.” (Noah Michelson as cited in OUT) I get that “queer” is used by some as a blanket term for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, etc., but I heartily disagree with and refute of this point of view. Continue reading


Today, the degradation of the inner life is symbolized by the fact that the only place sacred from interruption is the private toilet. — Lewis Mumford



Using the toilet is a basic human need. Everyone needs to relieve themselves and defecate; these are natural bodily functions. As  small children, going to the bathroom is typically a shameless affair. It is not unusual to do your business under the care and supervision of a parent or caregiver at home and in public washrooms. I remember accompanying my mother into public women’s washrooms as a small boy when I had to go. As we grow older, using the bathroom becomes a more private affair. People generally prefer to respond to the call of nature without an audience. This preference was brought home to me the time while serving in the Canadian Army I found myself and my regiment taking part in an exercise at a National Guard camp in Grayling, Michigan. In 1979 at least, the U.S. Army did not concern itself with privacy in the washroom facilities for the lower ranks. The urinal was an open trough and the “shitters” were in a row in plain view. Pooping in plain view of your comrades took a little getting used to. Fortunately, with existing etiquette concerning public washrooms one is generally assured a modicum of privacy. In addition, public washrooms are designated for men and women separately. This has long been the norm and quite reasonable, so how did public washroom etiquette become such a hot button issue in recent history? Continue reading

I get stage fright and gremlins in my head saying: ‘You’re going to forget your lines’. — Alan Rickman


I remember listening to a recording of a very interesting interview Richard Attenborough gave on a radio program back in the 1970s. He discussed his role, that of John Christie, in the motion picture “10 Rillington Place.” John Christie was an English serial killer who was hanged for his crimes in 1953. In particular, Attenborough discussed how he went about inhabiting the character of Christie. What struck me in the interview was his opening comment (offered in a lighthearted tone),  something to the effect that “actors are dramatic people.” I chuckled when I heard his comment. “How true this is,” I thought. He continued the interview explaining that he needed a very deep level of concentration to inhabit the character of John Christie. In addition, in a subsequent interview Attenborough credited the director, Richard Fleischer, who instilled in him the confidence he needed to successfully inhabit the character of John Christie. I understand the need for a deep level of concentration and confidence to successfully inhabit a character. This comes as no surprise, but listening to Attenborough discuss acting technique made me think of stage fright, the actor’s nightmare. Continue reading

I think we must suspect that his ‘conversion’ was largely imaginary. […] Fine feelings, new insights, greater interest in ‘religion’ mean nothing unless they make our behaviour better. — C.S. Lewis


There is a great deal of discussion about Kim Davis, the clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky, jailed by U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning who found her in contempt of court on September 3, 2015. She defied the court order to issue marriage licenses as required in her capacity as County Clerk. Davis refuses to issue marriage licenses in protest of the Supreme Court of the United States ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015 that made same-sex marriage lawful across the United States. She justifies her refusal to issue marriage licenses on the grounds of her religious objection to same-sex marriage.  As she stated: “to issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience.” (New York Times) The question here is whether her refusal to issue marriage licenses is genuinely a matter of faith and conscientious objection to same-sex marriage or, as many of her critics allege, simply a cynical ploy on her part to draw attention to herself and feather her own nest in the process. Is this nothing more than religious hypocrisy on her part? Continue reading

It is an infantile superstition of the human spirit that virginity would be thought a virtue and not the barrier that separates ignorance from knowledge. — Voltaire


“Virginity is like a balloon; one prick and it’s all over.” So went the punchline of a joke I remember from my high school days in the latter half of the 1970s. At the time virginity was largely associated with the virtue of teenage girls and young, unmarried women; it was something they were expected to safeguard until marriage. It was an issue for teenage boys and young bachelors too, but in a different way. For a boy during adolescence and a young man, generally, he wanted to give up his virginity very much, and before marriage if possible. The sexual revolution was in full swing at the time. The period between the 1960s through the 1980s saw the legalization of abortion and birth control, the decriminalization of gay sex and gradual acceptance of people engaging in sex outside of marriage.  Nevertheless, I remember a degree of discomfort experienced by some of my classmates in grade ten health class when the sex education portion of the curriculum was presented. Despite the liberalized attitudes toward sex that emerged in the West during the sexual revolution, the age one chooses to give up their virginity (if at all) and to whom remains a delicate issue. Continue reading


“The joy of killing! the joy of seeing killing done – these are traits of the human race at large.” ― Mark Twain, Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World

quote2 teddybear

The killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe by an American trophy hunter has fanned the flames of  the controversy surrounding sport hunting. A familiar claim made by people opposed to sport hunting is that sport hunters “like killing things,” that is to say they enjoy killing for the sake of killing. This claim typically leaves me at a loss for words as it is so egregiously wrong. Yes, I enjoy hunting, but no, as hard as it is for you to believe, I do not like killing things. While most of my hunting expeditions are in pursuit of game birds I enjoy big game hunting too. To date my big game hunting experience is in the pursuit of the whitetail deer. My introduction to the sport of whitetail deer hunting was by Jason, one of my hunting buddies and a seasoned deer hunter, in 2011. It was not until my second season in November 2012 that I shot my first whitetail deer. It was a happy and exciting moment for me; the successful conclusion of the hunt with a whitetail deer harvested and secure in the knowledge it was a fair chase as the deer we hunt are wild, not the least bit habituated to humans. Continue reading