Men and sexual acting out

The numbers of women who are talking about their experience with sexual assault and harassment is frightening. How many men are out there thinking that it is okay to force their inappropriateness on to anyone? How did these men get the idea that their behaviour is in any way acceptable? Where did these men obtain messages that their behaviour would be acceptable or at least ignored?

The fact that these perpetrators paid for agreements that silenced their victims points to their knowing that what they were doing was bad, reprehensible, and had to be hidden from public knowledge. These agreements-for-silence are the proof that these men are insincere and liars in their attempts to deny the behaviour or minimize it.

Our society is also responsible. We tolerate attempts at humour that are sexist, misogynist, misandric, ugly, demeaning, disrespectful, mean, threatening, abusive, and the list could go on. As a society we tolerate people speaking of others in disrespectful and ugly ways – the basis being gender, sexuality, skin colour, level of education, attractiveness, fitness, health issues, age, job, marriage status, religion, and the list could go on.

Our society is drifting into a time of disrespect for others, intolerance of differences, a sense of entitlement that dictates  if I think it I should get it, and a retreat from common decency.

We need to all take notice of how we can better express kindness and respect for each other.

Hate passed off as faith

Hate has always been part of world faiths. All the faiths incorporate some aspect of hate in their teachings while at the same time professing to be loving and compassionate. Here in Alberta the Catholic church continues to pass itself off as a moral guide but behind the words is hate.

Most recently the Catholic education system is working on a new curriculum that includes bigotry and discrimination as part of the education of its students. The LGBT community is frequently the target of this hate and it is once more.

Contrary to science, human decency, common sense, love or caring the church contends that “same sex relations are ‘not part of God’s natural order'”. I guess female priests are also against god’s natural order. Indigenous culture has also been against god’s natural order according to the church’s past behaviour. Birth control must be against the natural order as well.

Passing off hate opinion as facts and then using that to persecute groups of people in our society is what is really against god’s natural order. Hate is not a family value unless you are Catholic and then I guess you can take your pick of who to hate. You don’t need facts or science – just personal opinion because I am sure the church will back you up by finding biblical passages that support your hate.

Why do we allow faith groups to perpetuate hate without consequence. It is time that they be treated as any other hate organization. Canada’s federal law has been written to excuse hatred based on faith. This needs to change. Hate is hate and there is no excuse.

Gay romance novels

Gay romance novels are at the best a hit and miss venture. Some have appealing characters and stories while others have sex with a word or two of plot development to link the sex scenes.

I searched for electronic versions of gay romance stories a number of years ago. There were some really good novels available through iBooks but the cost was a bit high. Then I discovered Kindle Unlimited though Amazon.ca  . They have a huge selection of gay romance stories. Some are really nothing more than a short story while others are more similar to full novels. As I have found the quality varies considerably.

Kindle Unlimited involves paying a monthly subscription and you receive unlimited access to any book that is designated as part of the Kindle Unlimited program. I read a lot so it is perfect because I am reading a book every couple of days. I am limited to 10 books downloaded to my device but it is a simple process to get new novels and return those that I have completed.

I gather that these romance novels are self published so the editing can be poor. I have found that some have numerous spelling and grammatical errors and some of the language is so convoluted that I have had to re-read sections multiple times to understand what was being written. There are have been others where the author got the characters names confused and consequently got me confused.

Despite this I like the stories because the are generally light and great reading at bedtime. Also because of the cost I have no problems not finishing a story and deleting it when it seems particularly bad.

As I said earlier though gay romance novels are hit and miss in quality. Here are a few alerts about what you might expect:

  1. All the men seem model quality in looks and are young – they are aged 20s to possibly late 30s.
  2. There seems to be a similar plot line followed by many of the authors – two handsome men meet, these men start to like each other and then fall in love, a wrench is thrown into the plot line by a misunderstanding (e.g. seeing someone else on the side) or revelation of past emotional pain that makes it hard for them to trust, they then break up, and lastly they finally talk to one another and realize their mistake and continue to fall in love.
  3. A disproportionate number of the characters seem to be wealthy and/or first responders – firemen, police, military.
  4. Some of the stories actually develop the character and a plot. Others keep everything shallow.
  5. In the better novels sex augments the plot line. In others sex is the plot line and character development is a nuisance.
  6. Most of the authors are female and I still am trying to deal with woman writing about sex and emotions of men. Many authors portray gay men as more likely to include sex in any emotional situation – happy, sad, depressed, angry – have sex! Men are also portrayed as emotionally  unavailable. So many stereotypes of men and frankly not very romantic.

The bottom line is that there are sufficient numbers of these novels that hold the reader’s interest and draw you into the story. I continue reading these novels because of those stories.

Candidate bigotry

Public School Board candidate in Calgary – Karen Draper –  vented her stupidity recently by stating that the LGBT community was responsible for a terrorist attack in Edmonton. She also linked the LGBT community to attacks on her supporters regarding their belief in stopping immigration and her anti-Islam rants. Ms. Draper stated that the terrorist attack was the fault of the LGBT community.

Okay, not all candidates for public office are in their right minds. They bring their bigotry and discrimination to the political game. One thing I admire about Ms. Draper is that she did not mince words and laid out her bigotry for all to read. There is no guessing with Ms. Draper’s point of view.

What is so discouraging is that she wants to be a public servant and yet is so out of touch with public views. Sure there are people who think like Draper and perhaps she has convinced herself that she shares the view of many. However if you surround yourself with like minded bigots you can convince yourself that you are onto something. She is onto something – she doesn’t deserve to be on the public dole and the public doesn’t need to be subject to her disgusting views.

Well Ms. Draper, thanks for being transparent and I hope that you and your ilk receive the life you deserve.

Looks

How we look is both very personal and public at the same time. I know what I look like in an objective way. I know what I like about my appearance and I know where my flaws are. The judging of our looks starts when we become aware of how others in the public view our looks.

Unfortunately what others see isn’t as objective although it could be. It often has a lot of evaluation in the form of comparisons with either specific persons, general attributes, or social judgments.

Looks that start as observations  that we might agree with might evolve into the judgments that leave us feeling dissatisfied and possibly even depressed. Years ago I had a friend who I was fond of. One weekend we decided that he would stay overnight with me. In the course of the evening he told me to get out of my bed saying that my body was ugly. Until that moment I can’t recall having a judgement about my looks. After that moment my body image issues began to percolate.

On the positive side I learned more about my birth defect and what could be done surgically to correct it (nothing as it turned out – the deformity was not as severe as I imagined from my former friend’s comment). In reflection I learned how much I could affected my judgements about my appearance.

As I get older, my looks have changed. There are a lot of physiological factors associated with aging that change our appearance. Not that those changes are necessarily bad or good – they are just different.

Getting older has changed my perspective on looks in a positive way. It would have been great if I had that perspective all my life but I am glad that I developed that perspective at all.

Discrimination by Calgary Pride

The media here has been filled with news and opinion about Calgary Pride‘s decision to ask the city police to not participate in the Calgary Pride parade. They can participate if they do not identify themselves as members of the police force by wearing their uniforms.

Many of us older gay men and lesbians remember when we had no rights but faced a lot of discrimination. Thankfully we have many more rights that allow us the option to pursue hate and bigotry through the courts.

I have personal experience with the police and the  Victims Assistance program. I was robbed of close to $1500.00 by a person in our community.  I was treated respectfully and compassionately by the police and my being gay was never an issue. In fact they commented that many LGB people might not report crimes because of fears for privacy and also concerns for how they might be treated by the police.

Calgary Pride apparently has the belief that it is okay to discriminate against people – in this case members of the police force. Their rationale is that there are members of the LGB community who are not comfortable with what they see as institutionalized racism by the police and also the police representing abusive control over others.

As with any organization the majority of the Calgary Police Service are decent and hard working men and women.  There are some who have demonstrated that being a police officer should not be in their future and should be removed. That is likely true of any organization that you care to consider. I think that it is human nature that some of us lack a moral compass.

The gay rights movement over the decades was fighting the discrimination that focused on who we are as people. You could be a saint but the fact that you are gay or lesbian was enough to deny rights, dignity, and respect. It was horrible but as I wrote earlier we have options now.

Calgary Pride has convinced themselves that discrimination is okay for them to perpetuate. By generalizing that all police are suspect they use a generalization to label an entire group of people. Take some facts (some police officers are problem employees) and apply that to all police officers. That is what happened to gays and lesbians for centuries.

Calgary Pride has no business judging the police force when they are discriminating themselves. Calgary Pride needs to apologize and also reverse this discriminatory decision.

Better yet Calgary Pride could take the initiative to look at discrimination within the LGB community. Many subgroups in our community are subject to discrimination by other community members – People with HIV/AIDS, older people, people of colour,  religious  LGB people, bisexuals, people with disabilities, etc.. We (and Calgary Pride) need to look in the mirror and not be so quick to pass judgement on others.

Old or older

When we talk about who is old or older I am sure that we we know what we all mean but if we checked it out we would have different ideas.

I remember when I was in elementary school I saw two classmates kissing. I remember thinking that they were “mature” because they were kissing. They might have been just a couple of years older than me and I was about 6 or 7. If I were to see the same activity today I would not think that they were mature.

The challenge is that old and older are terms that are very relative to our own experience in life. I used to think that I would be old at 65 but now that I am 65 I don’t think of myself as old. I think of myself as older but even that is relative.

Looking in the mirror I can see that my body is older – less muscles, less hair, some age spots, skin is less taut – you get the idea. mentally and emotionally I don’t think of myself as old at all. I have the same intellectual interests that I did when I was younger, I remain active and curious in my life, I have an intact emotional range, etc.. However someone looking at me might think That I am old but have no idea that inside I am feeling younger.

I struggle with being seen as old based on appearance when I think my age is more to do with emotional and intellectual age than my body. No everyone thinks that way.

I have to confess that the span of years between my current age and the age that I would consider old is becoming shorter. One day I will agree that being old and older is me.

But that day hasn’t come yet…..

The sexuality alphabet

I have been around for awhile and when I was younger the sexuality alphabet was short  – LGB. Lesbian gay bisexual seemed to include everyone if you needed to put someone in a category. Whichever category you consider it didn’t capture the complexity of the individual – only the affection preference. At the time we were struggling to get basic rights so all the nuances were secondary to the basic issues – discrimination against people who identified as LGB.

In hindsight LGB left out many nuances. I don’t think that the intention was malicious but more indicative of the issues and times. Q (queer) was occasionally used as a self-descriptor but was also considered by many as a negative demeaning label. T (transgender) was in its infancy as a focus.

The indigenous approach to LGB was never a focus but back then discrimination against indigenous people was  pervasive. The LGB members of the First Nations were neglected as were most First Nations People.

Now I am at a loss. The sexuality alphabet as expanded enormously. I am not sure that it increases the complexity or understanding of sexuality but it offers a lot more options for labels that can be applied.

In a way I think that it’s destructive.  Our commonality is being divided into smaller and smaller subgroups which suggest differences but are in fact just different ways of describing the basics. Does it help LGB people communicate issues better – no. Does it help people understand the LGB experience – no. Does it help inclusiveness among LGB people – no.

Let’s leave the alphabet descriptors to personal discussions and reflection and leave the big discussions to LGB that includes all of us.

Officially a senior

Well, I turned 65 earlier this week so I guess I am now officially a senior. No more denying that I am not – my birth certificate says otherwise. Not that it is all bad as I qualify for senior discounts everywhere and a dollar here and there can add up I guess.

Now that I am officially a senior I know that I will get $2.00 off from my barber each cut. I can get a big savings if I choose to buy a seniors bus pass – $95.00 this year compared to $1,200.00 for a year of passes for younger folks.

The City of Calgary provides lots of information on their web page for assistance available to seniors. A lot of programs seem to be income tested so I/we don’t qualify for many of them.

Despite having the label of being a senior I don’t feel older. I feel perhaps more like 35 intellectually and emotionally but I can’t deny that physically I might be a rough looking 35 year old – however good for a 65 year old.