Tag Archives: queens university

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

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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

If a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission. ― Flemming Rose

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Religion is part of the fabric of Canadian society; Canadians hold a plurality of beliefs. The most recent census data (from the 2001 census) show that Christianity remains the most widely held and practiced religion with Roman Catholics in the majority at 43.2 %. People of non-Christian faiths make up a very small percentage of the population: Muslims 2.0 %, Jewish 1.1 %, Hindus 1.0 %, Sikhs 0.9 %, Buddhist 1.0 %. Freedom of belief and conscience is enshrined in Canadian law; it is guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in section 2 Fundamental Freedoms. That said, it is important to note that religion is a matter of private conscience. Canada is a secular nation state. There is no state religion in Canada. Religious belief is something one chooses; no one is forcing you to adhere to a particular set of beliefs and the rules of any particular religious institution. Issues are arising in the present over the accommodation of religious folk in the secular, public realm of Canadian society. Continue reading

Apologies for the White Privilege. I can’t help it. ― T.J. Bowes

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It is Christmas morning and I am just in from a morning dog run with my friend and hunting buddy, Jason Quinn, his dog Nos and my dog Hera. As I was driving home, I started thinking about a concept I see used quite liberally in discussions over the blogosphere, namely, white privilege. The term, white privilege, is defined as follows:

the set of societal privileges that white people benefit from beyond those commonly experienced by people of color in the same social, political, or economic spaces (nation, community, workplace, income, etc.). The term denotes both obvious and less obvious unspoken advantages that white individuals may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice […] It can be compared and/or combined with the concept of male privilege. (Wikipedia)

As a white man from a family with solid working class roots, I can honestly say I never stopped to think about the fact that I have a white skin or that in having a white skin somehow endows with me with privileges that are denied those with a different skin colour. Continue reading

“After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die.” ― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

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In memory of my beloved Juno (May 21, 2008 – August 15, 2012)

“Each of us owes God a death.” So I heard Gwynne Dyer proclaim in an episode of his television series War. Death is a reality; it comes for us all. When I was a small boy I did not understand the reality of death. I remember, I must have been three years old and seeing my grandmother with some old baby clothes and toys she said were my aunt Lonny’s. My impression in seeing this was to imagine that people must grow up, then grow back down to being babies again. I asked my mother if this was so and she corrected me, telling me no, people grow, then they grow old and die. She added that nobody wants to die, but everyone has to. I did not really understand what it meant to die and did not give it much thought until I was a little older, maybe five years old when I asked my mother and father “what happens when you die?” They told me “your spirit goes up,” presumably to heaven. I still did not understand and was a little frightened by the prospect, but decided that must be a long way off so I would not worry about it. Continue reading

Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.–Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

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While attitudes toward gay people have changed a great deal for the better in my lifetime, prejudice and stereotypes remain. There is one stereotype in particular that bothers me and kept me from coming out until later in life: that of the gay man as a predator from whom children must be protected. I am told I am good in my interaction with children and young people. I am gentle and soft-spoken and very easy going and children generally like me. Because of this, it was suggested that I consider a career in teaching by one of my mentors at Queen’s University. I was reluctant to go into teaching because of this stereotype. I was confronted with this stereotype and the prejudice against gay men as teachers in 1986, the year I graduated from Queen’s, when the Chairman of the Frontenac County Board of Education, in commenting on the amendment to the Ontario Human Rights Code which added sexual orientation to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination, was dismayed that he no longer had any legal grounds to refuse to hire a teacher if he knew he was dealing with an “obvious faggot.” Continue reading

Sapientia et Doctrina Stabilitas = Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times–Queen’s University Motto

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Mika and I are Queen’s grads. I graduated in 1986 with a B.A. in sociology. Mika graduated in 1996 with a B.Sc. in mathematics and computer science. The years I spent at Queen’s were a lot of fun for the most part. Political correctness was yet to take hold. Frosh week, was a drunken and ribald festival in which we were expected to use vulgarity liberally. I remember suffering quite a culture shock when my mother and father left me on campus. I have never cared for vulgarity personally and until I met with my Gael group later that day I was on the brink of calling and asking them to take me home. Once I was settled into my Gael group, no. 9–our group chant was “Number Nine is doing fine, the rest of you are fucking swine”–I began to feel better and joined in the ribald fun that continued for the rest of the week. Early into my first year at Queen’s, some students organized a game they called “Kill.” The game consisted of players who had completed an entry form giving their address on campus or in the student ghetto. Players were given an information sheet indicating where their victim might be found and to make a kill you used a toy pistol that fired plastic projectiles. To authenticate the kill there had to be a 2-3 witnesses who were acquainted with the victim. I made my first kill before I was gunned down outside my drama class. When you were killed, you gave the information form of the victim you were stalking to your assassin and the game continued. Somehow, in the current climate across college and university campuses, I do not think this game is played anymore. Continue reading

Mass appeal.

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Newman House and the seat of Saint Thomas More Parish where I was welcomed as a young gay man and confirmed as a Roman Catholic in 1986.

A chapter of a Roman Catholic organization called Courage has turned up at the University of Toronto Newman Centre in Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish. Courage is an organization that counsels chastity for homosexual persons. While this teaching is in keeping with Church doctrine, it is really quite unreasonable and unrealistic to expect gay people to choose either a life of solitude or a relationship without intimacy. This teaching is disputed by many Roman Catholics, gay and straight. Dignity, for example, is a Roman Catholic organization with chapters across the world that works for acceptance of gay people in the Church. Here is a link to Dignity Canada: http://www.dignitycanada.org/. Continue reading