Sunday, August 29, 2010

One Year On

When I started this blog a little over one year ago, I didn’t know what lay before me. All I knew is that I had just burned out of my volunteer work (and gay life in general) at the ripe old age of 23. That’s one of the reasons why I started this blog--I wondered what lay ahead for my sexual orientation, if anything. This place has provided me with a forum where I could voice my thoughts and come to terms with an unavoidable part of my existence. One year on, a lot of wonderful observations and ideas have been expressed, many of them better in theory than in reality. I’ve made friends and lost them; I did fall hard for someone but then pulled back. All in all, another year goes by, a whirlwind of experiences. I’m perhaps just a little more bitter (if the frustrations expressed in my last posting are any indication). The good news is that I have retained my dignity: I’ve never told anyone my penis size (despite interest therein), never bothered to respond to the “top or bottom?” question that I seem to be hounded on a regular basis. And yes, perhaps correspondingly, I’ve never had any sexual relations whatsoever. I can’t complain too much, because I also know that there are many people across so much of the world that would have loved to live even my disappointing experiences. I still haven’t changed the “gay world,” and I’m not sure if I want to bother trying anymore. But that’s ok. Life has smiled fondly upon me and provided its own rewards—reasonable success at work and extensive travelling across three continents.

When I look back on my life a year ago, I realize just how much things have changed. A gentle, considerate man whom I love dearly and consider nothing less than a brother (Farid) had not yet entered my life. I also hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting all of you as well. I was just struggling, alone, forging my place in the gay world. When I finally put myself out there, I realized just how strange and foreign my perspectives of romance, monogamy and sex within the context of relationships really was to the community I was trying to assimilate into. In the end, I chose not to assimilate—my identity, my values, and my sense of self worth are more important. Like in the bar (see “First time in a Gay Bar”), I stand virtually alone in the gay world, dancing in my little corner, largely unnoticed, but proudly so. I’m happy to be here, be gay, and share what I have to share (even if there’s no reward in it). I hope I’m not being too sentimental in saying this, but at the end of the day I think I’ve found my place in the gay world, and it’s here with you.

A couple of weeks ago was the LGBT Pride Parade here in Montréal. I wrote an article about it last year, my first time at a pride parade, and shared with you the smile that came across my face when I saw a hot guy (later I learned his name is Éric) dancing joyously on top of a float. This year the blazing sun and view from the bridge was missing, but I had the pleasure to enjoy myself much more than before. Unfortunately, one family that I was supposed to meet there, the matron of which is a lovely, charming, tender bisexual girl who has been counting down the days to the parade for months, lost their cell phone and couldn’t get in touch with me. Despite this, I had what must have been the culminating experience in the history of this blog: finally meeting in person a certain fellow blogger--a bear who likes being tickled (actually, I didn’t ask him if he enjoy this kind of stimulation, although I will be sure to do that the next time I talk with him).

We had tentatively agreed to get together, after a year of virtual exchange, at the pride parade this year. Our busy schedules and my globetrotting kept us from hanging out before then, but at the last minute everything came together. I e-mailed him late in the week: hey, I just learned that the pride parade is coming up this weekend, wanna meet up? He wrote back right away, and I promised to arrive in the block he was going to be at wearing the brightest shirt I have (a red t-shirt that says “Bratislava”). This turned out to be a good thing, as it forced me to do my laundry that weekend, which I think to this date was probably the last time I did it.

By some miracle, I finally did find him after about a half-hour of searching through the crowd. I felt like such a cruiser, and people were noticing that I was staring intently at them (as if trying to derive some kind of meaning from their physical appearance). So eventually I decided to wear sunglasses (despite the dull overcast sky) so I could look around without being so obvious. Then his distinctive beard came into view, exactly like in the photos I had seen of him, except in person he seemed so much younger than he had led on in his various comments and communications. Hey Tick, enchanté! It seemed like we instantly clicked, as if we had always known each other. I learned right then and there that this guy, covered in tattoos, is as tender, fluffy, and charming as his darling kitten at heart, with a kind voice and a healthy sense of humour to boot.

The pride parade started a short time after Tickles and I met up and continued before us as a backdrop to our conversation. He’s definitely lived the pride experience before and explained the different groups that I wasn’t familiar with, while he recounted colourful stories involving some of the people marching in the parade. One example was a 40-50ish muscular man dancing in the procession, who Ticks identified as a certain Mr. Leather Montréal 1997, the very existence of which sent me into fits of laughter. What was the reward for being Mr. Leather Montréal, I asked? Apparently it means that he got to go to Chicago for a broader competition. And the reward for becoming Mr. Leather World? The grand prize, it seems, is an opportunity to play a role in porn movies. I chuckled, “that doesn’t seem like such a great reward,” and he replied, “Yeah, I know, but for some people it’s a fantasy.” On a more serious note, at one point during the parade there was a minute of silence for the victims of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Tick has known several friends who have died of AIDS (only one is still alive) and remembers the tragedy when the virus was first discovered in the 1980s—people in space suits because the disease was not well understood and the general climate of fear and uncertainty.

I stayed for the entire parade with Ticklish, a pleasure given the companionship he provides. Like the last pride parade I attended, there was certainly plenty of muscle and jiggling biceps represented at celebration this year. I think even Éric was there with his characteristic big smile as the bears strutted by. But none of them really made a lasting impression this time; I had a smile on my face before the parade even started. The physical splendour stretched out before me all seemed rather inconsequential, paling in comparison to Tick’s good company. So, looking back one year later, the adventure that this blog has provided has been worth it many times over just to have the opportunity to meet this one friend. Here’s to another year of blog entries (even if they may be infrequent at times), and as for Tick, I hope there were be many other opportunities to interact both on and off-line in the future.


  1. fluffy??????? me???
    i do have a softer side but it's not for everyone to see... only to those i trust.
    tickling? not really. the nickname is endearing but i'm way too ticklish to make it truly enjoyable. i'm more into hugging.
    it was certainly a pleasure to see you in person and i look forward to meeting you again, in a more peaceful setting, for a good conversation. but for a first meet, i think we did good.
    as for your learning experience on the blogosphere, you certainly brought to light a point of view most gays would avoid in their desire to conform to the standards expected of them, and since we all know that standards come from the lowest common denominator, they don't stand very high...
    we call ourselves a community but we all stand as distinct from each others as possible, only uniting in artificial environments (bars, sauna, parades, etc...) where we seem to embrace each other only for one purpose... the sense of community feels fake and unsubstantial [to me]. but it remains important to stand together for the political and social issues that can affect our daily life.

    i can only say that, gay life is what we choose to make it.

  2. Hey Ticklebear!

    Ok, so maybe fluffy is a little over the top :). In any case, the rest of it stands, and I'm glad to see you're doing well and back into posting regularly. I, of course, look forward to future get-togethers in a less hectic setting!

    I think this comment deserves to be a post in and of itself--succinct, direct, and so very true. Gay life is what we choose to make it; at the end of the day it's up to us. We can't blame the LGBT world for not giving us what we need; we've got to just tell the world what we need, and if the world can't give us that, then we have to stand our ground until it becomes available. I've seen so many people complain about the gay community, its faults and vices, yet these are often the same people who engage in the activities that make it that way. They say they're just giving in, because that's the only way things are done, but if they were to have a little courage to say what they really want then the LGBT world would be a different place. Furthermore, you are right, the LGBT world isn't really a community, and when it looks like one, it is just a façade, a good fake, a promotion/advertisement so to speak. This is a mistake I made often in the vocabulary of this blog. While not a community, the LGBT world is a culture, and as you so poignantly stated, the culture is based on the lowest common denominator and, as such, offers little richness or comfort. It's thus up to us to forge some meaning out of the experience, but we have to be responsible for our actions (no one else is making us stoop to the lowest common denominator, even when that seems it's all that's available).