Dear America

I must admit you both mystify me and frighten me. The current administration is especially worrisome. Before I go any further, I must state I am writing the from outside your borders, so I have not extensively studied your history.

As I understand it, the United States was settled by immigrants fleeing tyranny and religious persecution in various parts of Europe. If this is as accurate as I’ve been led to believe, can you explain something please? Why is it you, in the form of your government are trying to prevent people fleeing a similar situation from entering your country? What ever happened to “Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses yearning to be free…”? Or does that not have an asterisk after it? Something like *”Provided those masses are white Christians”?

Since January 2017 I’ve noticed something of a paradox in your country. There appears to have been an increase in xenophobia, which is commonly defined as “a fear of foreigners”. This of course could lead to the situation described in the previous paragraph. Yet at the same time your leader seems to have no problem interfering or attempting to interfere in the affairs of other nations through threats of tariffs or other means. America has long considered itself a shining beacon in the world, worthy of being emulated. Unfortunately, in the past almost two years, the current administration has dimmed that beacon and turned that perception into one of bully and laughingstock.

On the level of the individual, I admit I am completely baffled by the way you approach politics. From what I’ve seen, both online and through personal contact, if your parents vote for one particular party, that’s the way you vote. Is this because “what’s good enough for m parents is good enough for me” or did you examine the parties and candidates and make your own decision? My sons were raised to think for themselves and to question things. One result of that is that the politics of my oldest son are nothing like mine. But he’s taken the time to look at candidates and issues and reached his own conclusions. I also cannot fathom the way many of you register as supporters of a particular party.

Another thing I and many of my friends fail to grasp is the chauvinism displayed by many Americans. Yes, we too are proud patriots, but we don’t feel the need to proclaim that by flying our national flag from our homes. National pride is a good thing, but by constantly telling everyone what a great country your have, you actually come across as insecure about that greatness.

Finally, I’ll just come out and admit it: Your President scares the crap out of me. How many times since he was sworn in on that day in January 2017 has ne pushed the world to the brink of war? People, a war with another nuclear nation won’t just affect the two warring parties. Radiation won’t magically stop at he borders of the nations involved. It will affect all of us. An analogy might be the Icelandic volcano that erupted. The cloud from that grounded all air traffic in Europe for weeks stranding thousands. Radiation from a war would spread over a much wider area. I can only hope that last night’s election results can put a leash on some of his more outlandish pronouncements and actions.

I am also deeply disturbed by presidential actions and directives aimed at the LGBT communities. Whether he wants to admit it or not, many people who stand under this umbrella are making valuable contributions to American society, such as serving in the military. Yet he wants to legislate them out of existence,

I haven’t studied political science or international relations. I’m just someone who observes then thinks about what I’ve seen. What I’ve written here is based upon that, one more observation before I close: it will take the United States of America at least a decade after the current administration leaves office to recover from and repair the internal and international damage.

Cat,

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Submissions wanted from LGBT and HIV communities

I’m a transwoman and my co-writer, a positive woman, are working on a project detailing how society treats members of the LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities at the various stages of our journeys. A few years ago, I spoke with a psychologist at CAMH in Toronto who thought such a book would be a great benefit to them in their work.

We have our own experiences to draw on, but would like to hear other people’s experiences. No names will be used in this and any submissions will be checked to remove any clues that might give away your location. For example, if a submission from Toronto refers to “streetcars”, that would be replaced with the term “public transit” and any route names or number removed. Additionally, specific cities will be removed and replaced with either the name of your province or state, or a more generic term such as “midwest” will be substituted. We will do everything we can to protect your identity.

We both have friends in the LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities, so can call upon them for information, but that would be quite localized in scope. We need to hear from others, not just in Canada, but from anywhere. We especially would like to hear from transmen, for their experiences would no doubt be much different from my own. If you have generally found acceptance, great! Please tell us for that may give those just starting their new lives hope that things will get better. If you’ve experienced discrimination, or worse, please share that as well. Others need to know what pitfalls and danger may await them. Either way, we would like to share your story.

If you are willing to share your journey, you can send it to us at the following email address: 1outcastsofsociety@gmail.com Please remember the “1″ at the start of the address as the address without the numeral is taken.

Thank you,
Cat.

The timing is suspicious

As I wrote on May 1 in “It’s about time”, Toronto mayor Rob Ford has been in rehab. Today he announced he will return to work on June 30.

I find the timing of this somewhat suspicious. Keep in mind that our Robbie has never attended any event involving the LGBT community, except on one occasion he raised the rainbow flag for IDAHOT, during his term as chief magistrate. World Pride is being held in Toronto this year and coincidentally, it ends June 29. While he claims not to be homophobic, some of his recorded comments and his failure to attend any event related to Pride seem to indicate otherwise. His usual excuse for not being at Pride is that it is a family tradition that they go to the cottage the weekend of the pride parade. At least this year, he can use his time in rehab as the reason.

Toronto holds an annual Caribbean festival in early July. Robbie has never missed this festival and since he is returning on the last day of June, he will once again be able to attend (and probably make a fool of himself as usual).

Every mayor since Mel Lastman, who admitted he wasn’t sure about the parade but later said he’d had “a blast”, has taken part in the parade, riding on a float and spraying the crowds with a supersoaker. Actually, since the parade is usually on one of the hottest days of the summer, that could be considered s public service. But not Robbie. For him, jumping up along a parade route holds more appeal than riding the parade route on a float surrounded by “queers”.

Ah well, civic elections are coming up in October and if Toronto is really smart, they will kick the buffoon to the curb.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat

They can’t be serious

In addition to the “mainstream media” I also read the website for Xtra!, which describes itself as “Canada’s Gay and Lesbian News, among others.  Every so often, something interesting comes up there, such as an item from today that elicited the comment in the title.  The Toronto District School Board is launching a study on the question of whether they should have what they are describing as a “queer-centric” high school. This they define as a school where LBGT teachers and students wouldn’t have to worry about bullying and other problems.  As the TDSB sees it, this would be modelled on the “Afric-centric” high school started last year.  In that case a portion of an existing high school was set aside.  I saw a news report earlier this month that said the “Afric-centric” high school had six students enrolled.

I have problems with this, in fact with both of these ideas for various reasons.  One reason is that the TDSB is once again wasting money on a needless study.  Last spring, after much debate in Queen’s Park (Ontario’s government) an Act was passed calling for GSAs (Gay-Straight Alliances) in all Ontario schools, including Catholic schools.  Considering this, which is supposed to be safe haven for LGBT students, is now required in schools, why would the Toronto Board feel they should have separate schools?

That brings me to my main point of contention with both the “Afric-centric” and “queer-centric” schools.  I went to school in Ontario starting in the 1950’s.  Granted memory fades, but I don’t ever recall a time when Toronto schools weren’t integrated.  Now, with the “Afric-centric” and these “queer-centric” schools, it appears the TDSB is trying to introduce segregated schools. Makes me wonder if this is 2012, or 1912.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

(To answer the question:  yes, the avatar is really me.  It’s from a modelling shoot I did in May)