PLUS: Sex is now illegal, or at least in very, very bad taste.
I hereby declare today Christmas on Victoria Day. I even have a slogan: “Victoria: The OTHER old, Canadian queen®.” It’s my truth. You are not the one who gets to negate that.
I may be losing it. Or I may be a fearless truth-teller. I’ve been at The People’s Secret Clinic for Chronic Anomie, not testing for covid-19, no, for my self-assessment on that score was negative. I could, of course, have just made up some symptoms.
But instead, I will say that I was having cryosurgery to remove a few embarrassing skin trudeaux. That kind of shit can play havoc with your self-esteem, and if they start to get bigger and change color, man, you gotta have ’em zapped. Already I feel full of integrity, more articulate, more transparent, more able to leave the room, more—freeland. You know?
There are a few glitches in the Red-Faced, Not A Reindeer department. I left things to the last minute again. Unfortunately, due to my late announcement, there is not a lot in the presents department this May Long Weekend Yule, and I say this to you as one who has, at the more conventional timing of the winter solstice, bivouacked across the unexploded minefield that is the War on Christmas and made it safely to the Allied Forces zone.
Santa is here, called out of his ongoing semi-retirement. Don’t let this one circulate, but he actually did at least triple-duty as the Tooth Fairy and maybe the Great Pumpkin, though I tend to think that last one’s a fake children’s myth instead of a non-verifiable, non-falsifiable real myth.
And I think he’s wearing a bathing suit made of white fur. Otherwise, I’d hate to tell you what is covering his midriff. But, as Brigitte Bardot as that all sounds, he’s not looking good. In fact, I think Santa took one long, last look at the privileged bunch of whining coronavirus freedom fighters that is North America and killed himself. At least, his skin is blue and he’s not responding when I shake him.
Santa was not strong enough to survive this world. He was big-hearted. He was like “Jupiter,” from Holst’s “The Planets.” Big and rambunctious, the life of the party, and then some. A little too quick with the booming laugh, the sincere handshake, the slap on the back that puts you face-first in a snowbank, or, since this is May, a patch of hostias and slowly-reviving rose bushes.
‘Tis a pity to be jolly. Or nice. Santa was jolly nice but unfortunately it is always a risk, with niceness, that you overdose. That is clearly what has happened here. A big smash of nice what done him in, for niceness is the Fentanyl of character traits: it must be measured out with granular precision.
I understand where he was coming from. We, the doubled-over serfs straining with the weight of the zeitgeist, are exquisitely sensitive. We are not robust. We have no resilience, that trait so lauded by those who make our lives hell. This is not because we don’t care, it’s because we care too much—about our agenda, ourselves, our being right. Rebranded as purity, our care has become exquisitely self-serving.
There’s this Japanese saying, “the whiter the paper, the more it shows the dirt.” Thus, one’s quest for purity produces not serenity but angst; not joy in one’s wholesome diet, pink, robust cheeks, and the blinding white sterility of one’s living space, but shrieks of horror at the dirty thumbprint on the sofa, the lipstick around the rim of the cup, the dribble of cat pee in the soaker tub.
To experience the full throttle angst and fury of the pure, just revisit the angry whining and clattering chainsaws of the Sandernista’s, the Bernie bros and babes, who insisted that Sanders, the most unelectable candidate for nomination since Ralph Nader, must face no criticism or challenge.
Yes, I’m still “going on about that.” I don’t know how quickly your Post Trump Stress Disorder will resolve, but I still awake screaming from dreams of supply-side cows being put through a meat grinder and hordes of hungry Mexicans and Miss Universe rejects breaching the forty-ninth parallel.
At least Americans had agency. At least they could say,
“Oops! Turns out voting for the overt racist, the man with zero experience of even local government, the man who couldn’t even pontificate about running government like a business because every business venture he undertook was either fraudulent or a failure, the man so lacking in brain power he had to have his daily security briefings reduced to pictures and so corrupt half his Cabinet ended up in prison, was not smart. Oh, well!”
And even then, the Biden/Harris win, though unequivocal, was less than breathtaking. All Canadians could do was sit and watch and wait.
Sanders handed us Trump in 2016, and who could say if he wouldn’t do the same in 2020? His supporters threatened to throw everything under the bus yet again, insisting on purity of choice over electability.
Search and you will find their flagrant misogyny directed at Clinton and Warren (deemed a “corporate lackey,” in which case I’m thirty-five Milton Friedmans), and their sinister shredding of Mayor Pete, who endured every bizarre criticism except the one they couldn’t make and still retain their wokeness: his being gay. Welcome to the new, pure, passive-aggressive politburo of the Lefty-left Left.
My homeless friend, or should I say one of my homeless friends, drops by. He recently has developed a hearing disorder, and I can’t figure out if this is an actual affliction or just a strategy. He speaks in the signature post-factual style: as though his brain has been replaced by a giant blender that churns out big, thick word smoothies with extra nut toppings.
mumble mumble Lake Shore Boulevard mumble there’s a homeless shelter Saddam Hussein is living there and he’s had a argument with a girl, he keeps pushing her over. There were marks on her face and what I don’t get is, why do they keep buying all those airplanes and stuff they don’t need?
No he isn’t and no he hasn’t, I respond with calculated serenity.
No he didn’t and no there weren’t and no they don’t.
I’m outwardly calm but inside my brain pan I’m losing my cool with this endlessly repeated story.
I reply, Saddam Hussein is dead. The Americans killed him years ago. You can’t have seen him.
He snorts with derision, as if I’d just told him I have received my opinions via implants in the soles of my feet. He reaches into his knapsack and pulls out a brand new pair of socks. I casually admire them and tell him I haven’t had a new pair of socks in five years. He gives me the socks. Just before he leaves he takes the socks and puts them back in his bag, but I pretend I’ve lost them, “Good grief, what did I do with my beautiful new socks?” and he gives them back to me.
I go for a walk with another friend, no longer homeless, possibly because he found accommodation in another galaxy. “I was held in the hospital for two weeks, he says, “while they put implants in the soles of my feet.”
“Why the soles of your feet,” I ask him. I sense there is a flatness to my speech, a deadness in my eyes.
“If I tune into the right vibrational frequency, it cures cancers. There are studies, but they don’t want you to know.”
“Joe, if vibrational frequencies could cure cancer, don’t you think that would be major news? I mean, cure for cancer, dude.’
“They held me against my will but I just pretended to take the medication.”
“Joe,” I say. “I think you should take the medication.”
The year 2021 promises to continue the world-wide trend towards doing what daddy tells us to do, and what daddy seems to be telling us is: Stop having so much of that nasty sex with those undeniably appealing renegades and just let me take care of things.
In Toronto, the prim raising of the testicles and tightening of the scrotum started years ago, with the closing down of the murkiest, least presentable clubs and bathhouses, nearly all of them last gasps of the leather scene. These were the kinds of places that caused awkward silences when your mom asked, over a plate of lime Jell-O Charlotte Russe and cups of Red Rose tea, “And where did you boys meet? At the final concert of the TSO’s complete Beethoven symphonies cycle, I think you said?”
How could you explain to mom that you’d spent the afternoon of the day Diana died in a bathtub on an open patio at The Toolbox, but not for the purpose of bathing and only showering in the most tangential sense? And that’s when you spotted Rodney, spitting out the end of his cigar, and—just knew.
(Flash forward to my appearance at the bail hearing for my friend, and the Crown asking me: “How did the two of you meet?” In a nanosecond I had to decide between telling the truth or telling a generalized version of the truth, and the truth was, “Squirt dot com!”
“Social media,” I hissed.)
Down went The Barracks, a bathhouse contained in a Victorian row house on Widmer Street, the grande dame of the infamous 1981 police raids. I like to think of the original inhabitants, in a blue version of “The Others,” returning to their former residence only to encounter daisy chains down the staircase, vats of Crisco in the dining room and slings in the servants’ quarters. Pardon me, can I just squeeze past? Most kind of you!
And down went Urge, ostensibly a porn cinema but in reality a sex club; and down went the Cellar, the sleaziest of the sleazy, where, in its early days in the nineties you could grope to your hearts’ content in the back corridor to the sound, every Sunday afternoon of classical music. On one particularly Swan Lake’d Sunday, I bumped into a friend who quite reasonably remarked, sniffing poppers like they were the last vial of oxygen, “It’s all very well if your fantasy is blowing all the male dancers in the Bolshoi Ballet.”
And none have sprung up to take their place. It’s all muscles and undetectables now, with two remaining joints where you can hit the gym and get buffed before you get banged. They ask you to open any bags, and if you have so much as a torch lighter, you’re out. The Dionysian revels of the seventies are so dead and historical, they might as well be ancient Rome.
I get the attraction of online cruising; it’s like the thrill I got looking through the Eaton’s Christmas Catalogue, where every toy and every boy in long johns was even more exciting and desirable than the one on the previous page. How could I possibly decide? I get it. But when the order from Grindr turns up and you don’t hit it off, what do you do? At the bathhouse you could just kick ’em out and head back to the all you can eat buffet for another one. Yes, I’m shallow and cruel, but you made me this way.
The internet is getting its cleansing baptism, too. No more Craigslist hookups, no more Backpage due to their inconvenient habit of offering underage girls for sale. Tumblr, doddering relic of the infant web, fell next, Carry Nation’d from the Wild West of porn into a milk bar for the vulnerable and weak who can’t fathom that equality of the sexes and the state-sanctioned proliferation of interesting, never-before seen non-binary gender identities will never cleanse the slut from our souls.
(For the record, I applaud Trudeau’s putting into legislation a firm reminder that we don’t get to pick and choose who gets equality based on what doesn’t offend our sensibilities.)
The reason for Tumblr’s purge? The inevitable, breathlessly reported existence of “child porn,” that mysterious, constructed dumping ground for all that we disapprove of; the Golgotha where we wail over our crucified innocence; the sin that lets us vent our free-floating rage at the injustice of life even on those who’ve only been accused.
As a gay man, I’m well aware of the power of this threat, the threat that somehow, somewhere, one will be the target of a smear campaign, the fantasy, so prevalent, that one’s computer will be hacked and somehow filled with taboo images, leading to arrest and the resulting savage response, shredded like a goat by serial killers in a prison cell.
Save the children! was Anita Bryant’s calculated cry. The trope that gay men are just child-sex perverts waiting for the right moment to make a move is a disgusting myth that never dies. It flows like a river of hellfire under the everyday landscape of normal life; it lurks in the dark corners like Scarbo just waiting to bare his teeth and pounce.
QAnon, the perv-Daddy of all conspiracy theories, proves that the child-porn trope is just so much mud to throw at your political enemies, knowing that it will stick like the infamous poison coat of mythology. And never mind that it’s Matt Gaetz who quite rightly is the current kinkmeister to be tarred and feathered. That hellfire river may have tributaries, but it flows out to the ocean of homophobia, already having burst sea walls in Russia, Poland, Hungary.
We in North America are so insular, we can actually fool ourselves that equal rights for LGBTQ2 are here to stay; we forget the lesson of 2016 to 2020, which is always: that rights exist to the extent to which you fight for them, constantly, daily, pushing back at every instance of prejudice you encounter, no matter how trivial it may seem; that justice is not the norm, it must be defended as a life’s work, and terror, not contentment, comes from smug complacency.
QAnon keeps the wheels of the myth spinning, ready for the day when your complacency has you picking daisies in a meadow, so it can power up and crush you. QAnon is the ground work for queers in concentration camps.
Far-fetched? They already discussed this: in the early days of AIDS, before its viral origin was discovered. We’ve been softened up with quarantines and lock-downs for COVID-19. Who needs microchips in vaccines? As always, the truth is transparent and chilling enough without having to speculate at the level of H.G. Wells.
I abhor all harm to children, starting with denying them the care and protection they need to feel safe and to thrive, with denying girls education, and assaulting them in the name of socialization and bending them to our adult wills. But let’s be real, here.
If there is truly a vast, dark, nightmare parallel world of child pornography out there, and I seriously doubt there is anything but a few tragic isolated examples, you’d think any enthusiastic Internet user, like myself or even you, would have accidentally stumbled upon it.
I haven’t, and neither have you, because our era’s obsession with pedophilia and child porn is not about protecting children at all. It’s how we mourn our lost innocence and loss of control. It’s us: We are the abused children we mourn.
We deflect attention from our complicity, our hypocritical inaction onto a fake target, something we claim we cannot control. It’s how we project our guilt at our own abandonment of children, our insistence that they are chattel, at the mercy of adults’ rage and neglect.
Every story of children abused by schools, by police, by marketers, by wars and poverty, by parents who beat them, by politicians who discount them, by societies that leave them hungry, or bomb their schools or racialize them, every instance of our inaction, proves that our professing to care for children is just so much a big crock of self-serving, self-absolving, hand-wringing bullshit.
Did you know? The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most rapidly and widely ratified human rights treaty in history—with 194 countries as “states parties.”
As explained by UNICEF on their website,
Children and young people have the same general human rights as adults and also specific rights that recognize their special needs. Children are neither the property of their parents nor are they helpless objects of charity. They are human beings and are the subject of their own rights.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out the rights that must be realized for children to develop to their full potential.
The Convention offers a vision of the child as an individual and as a member of a family and community, with rights and responsibilities appropriate to his or her age and stage of development. By recognizing children’s rights in this way, the Convention firmly sets the focus on the whole child.
The Convention recognizes the fundamental human dignity of all children and the urgency of ensuring their well-being and development. It makes clear the idea that a basic quality of life should be the right of all children, rather than a privilege enjoyed by a few.https://www.unicef.org/child-rights-convention/child-rights-why-they-matter
There are only three countries that have not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. They are Somalia, South Sudan, and—the United States.
If I start my resolutions now, am I late for 2021 or really early for 2022?
What will be my truth?