Saturday, December 26, 2009

Grammar Police [a new cult]

I think we should make a new cult out of it. The Cult of Cute Grammar Nazis.[*] Who wants to join? And we can all get pins like the one in the picture and we'll begin by conquering schools and universities and then we'll tackle the written press and once our army is strong enough, we'll clean up our biggest challenge: the web!

[*]The term Cute Grammar Nazi comes from a boy to whom I was explaining how anal I am (no pun intended) about syntax, grammar, spelling etc. to which he replied that I was the "cutest grammar Nazi" he ever met. This is clearly one of my favorite pick up lines, even if I did not end up picking him up by the end of it...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Race Fantasies, White Guilt and Sci-Fi Narratives [link to an article]

I stumbled across an article by Annalee Newitz today. I am still surprised (rightly so?) when Mr. Me post-colonial, anti-colonial, person of color in a white town, writing a thesis about race premised on intellectual and political race-fantasies of my own, reads something that makes something snap inside me such that I go: "Holy crap! How come I've never thought about it this way before?!"

And when I stumble on something that gets me to think out-of-the-box, I love sharing it! This article (link here) discusses white guilt and white racial fantasies within popular cinematic sci-fi narratives. I personally think it is a very interesting take. If you have any (differing) thoughts, I would love to hear them.

"Critics have called alien epic Avatar a version of Dances With Wolves because it's about a white guy going native and becoming a great leader. But Avatar is just the latest scifi rehash of an old white guilt fantasy. Spoilers...
Whether Avatar is racist is a matter for debate. Regardless of where you come down on that question, it's undeniable that the film - like alien apartheid flick District 9, released earlier this year - is emphatically a fantasy about race. Specifically, it's a fantasy about race told from the point of view of white people. Avatar and scifi films like it give us the opportunity to answer the question: What do white people fantasize about when they fantasize about racial identity?"
Read the full article here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Ballot for The Queer Behind The Mirror [nominated for the Canadian Blog Awards]

The Queer Behind the Mirror has been nominated for the Canadian Blog Awards in 4 categories: Literature/Culture, GLBT, Overall and Personal! The second round of voting has started already and will close on the 12th of Dec. If you want to see The Queer Behind the Mirror make it to the third round, please click here to cast your vote in whichever category you think deserves a vote.

I would like to thank all the readers and bloggers who nominated the blog! Thanks for your support.

I would also like to point out that some of my own favorite blogs have been nominated in various categories. Running along in the GLBT category are Feral Geographer, Gay Persons of Color, Ferry Tales and Driving Fast on Loose Gravel. They deserve your vote too, so please vote for them and please read them! Do check out the other lists of categories too. One of your favorite blogs may just have been nominated. And it's always a good way to discover new blogs and bloggers!

Happy voting and happy reading!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Somewhere Along the Way [free verse]

I think I injured my heart, somewhere along the way
from Kingston to Winnipeg. I don't quite know when.
I remember that shin fracture, twelve years ago
in a dance class. Pain, acute, shrewd, stretching
a rubber-band at the threshold of constriction.

I think I injured my heart, somewhere along the way
from Kingston to Winnipeg. I don't quite know when,
I don't quite know how. It snapped like a violin cord
tensed in a diagonal between my chest and my back:
thin line, contained, faster than the speed in a red car.

I think I tore my heart, somewhere along the way
from Kingston to Winnipeg. I don't quite know when.
Somewhere on the highway we watched the silence
reflect cemeteries and empty branches in the mirror.
Something tore open which wasn't you, which wasn't me.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Here's My Guilty Pleasure [what is yours? and a poem too!]

I have to confess to my guilty pleasure. I have to put it out there. I have to make it real. I have to make it known. In the process, will I purge the pleasure and exonerate the guilt?

If I have to put my guilty pleasure in Freudian terms, it is clearly oral in nature. It's all centered around lips that can lick kiss bite suck suckle push pull pout, around tongue that can circle triangulate lick suck twist caress moist dry harsh soft, around teeth that can bite tear stitch suckle clinch stroke... And then there's the cheek, the palate, the gum, the throat...

(No, this is not a post about blow jobs!)

It's been a few weeks now that my libido seems to have channeled itself into oral pleasures. As a consequence, all I've been doing is eating, eating and eating. I don't think it's got anything to do with giving up smoking, since this oral fixation started weeks ago while I was still a smoker.

So, I've been eating. Not just any kind of eating, but a lot of junk. And not just any junk. In one day, I can manage my normal breakfast lunch diner + two chocolate donuts + four Mars bars + a pack of 150 grams of Doritos + a 200 grams Marble cake. Don't ask me how much calories this comes up to in a day: I stop counting the moment it goes over a 1000 calories. (Abashed! Abashed! Abashed!)

The pleasure is guilty in nature. I often lock myself up in my room with food and I indulge so that nobody can see me as I taste with the palate of an expert and emit orgasmic sounds. At other times, I simply hog in a barbaric way and I squeal like a fat pig.

And like this wasn't enough, instead of daydreaming of cute boys and erotic situations, in libraries, I now very regularly pine for food-orgies. I crave this Greek fantasy of a food-orgy, of eating, of filling myself up, emptying myself by vomiting and then filling myself up again. Aristotle believed that indulgence in eating pleasures (greed, satiation, immediate instinctive satisfaction etc.) was of as base a nature as sexual pleasure that sought immediate satisfaction. This doesn't make me a great human being, does it?

This being said, my sex life went dead over the past few months. You know how people say that "a vibrator can't replace a man?" Well a dear friend of mine often says that "a man can't replace a vibrator!" All I have to say is that a man can't replace food!

So here are two things before I end. I will first of all tag Astreus, Ferry Tales and Feral Geographer in this post. Why don't you three tell us about your guilty pleasure (and then tag some other blogger?) Does tagging work in the blogosphere as well? Let's try and see...

And then, a poem by Mandy Coe. Mandy Coe is a British writer whom you may be familiar with if you listen to the BBC. (Here is the link to her official website.) Mandy Coe wrote this delicious poem called: Go to Bed With a Cheese and Pickle Sandwich.

Go to Bed With a Cheese and Pickle Sandwich

It is life enhancing.
It doesn't chat you up.
You have to make it.

A cheese and pickle sandwich
is never disappointing.
You don't lie there thinking:
Am I too fat?
Too fertile?
Too insecure?

Your thoughts are clear,
your choices simple:
to cut it in half
or not to cut it in half,
how thin to slice the cheese
and where you should place the pickle.

From a cheese and pickle sandwich
you do not expect flowers,
poems and acts of adoration.
You expect what you get:
cheese... and pickle.

You want, you eat,
and afterwards you have eaten.
No lying awake resentful,
listening to it snore.

Safe snacks.
It comes recommended.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Navel-Gazing: Is It What Being Queer Is All About?

[What I am about to say in this post may come across as controversial, as unreasonable and probably as anti-queer? Please feel free to disagree with me and let me know what you think. I'd rather stir a debate than keep quiet.]

Navel-gazing, I said: the narcissistic act of always looking at oneself, at staring at ones figure in the mirror and telling oneself: "I am important, I am important and I want the world to turn its gaze on me..." I acknowledge that I am narcissistic in many ways and I acknowledge that we all are. I acknowledge that we are all passionate about certain things; and passion and hard-work are a combo that I respect and highly revere.

There are those who are obsessed with things they do, watch, like, listen to etc. So all they want to talk about is their work, the latest video-game, the last episode of their favorite TV show, Whitney Houston's new album etc. And then there are those who are obsessed with something that is very inherently tied to their identity: their age, their sex, their race etc. Quite obviously, both these categories-- what we are and what we do-- have socio-political implications in their own right.

My interest here is in the second category. It seems rather obvious that one would obsess over part of ones identity particularly when one feels that she/he cannot live this part of her/his identity to the fullest. Thus, if I identify as a transgendered person of color who is restricted and discriminated against on a daily basis through my everyday life (not being allowed to enter a bar), or through the bigger structures that makes one count as a citizen (not being allowed health care unlike other citizens); I would get off my chair, protest, cry, complain, shout, show my disagreement etc.

The two questions I would like to pose here are the following: Is there a limit to this shout of protest and is there a way to voice one's protest (i.e. how is one protest)?

These questions have implications that are inherently tied to the legalization of same-sex marriages in the USA (and more generally, queer activism in the USA.) If I am to be honest, I think I am getting sick and tired of the issue. On a daily basis, I read 20 blog posts on the issue, I receive 10 other mails about it and 2 out of the 5 articles that I read in newspapers deal with the same issue. Okay, granted, we are all still trying to get over No. 1 in Maine and Prop 8 in California. But isn't it high time to get over it and get activated onto other issues that demand attention? How long will we play the blame-game, how long will we continue pointing to the "hypocrite radical right-wings" or the "religious fundamentalists?"

I do grant that the issue of same-sex marriage is one that is close to American citizens who feel discriminated against, but isn't it time to move on and leave things to settle for a couple of years before stirring them against? If Question 1 has been repealed because of the vote of 52.7% of the population and Prop. 8 has been repealed because of the votes of 52% of the population, isn't this good news? Shouldn't we be celebrating that roughly 50% of the population of these states support same-sex marriages and that this figure can only increase with the years to come? Shouldn't this be a victory in itself?

Maybe I don't feel close to the issue because I am one of those third-world persons from an island nobody even knows about (Mauritius, lost in the middle of the Indian ocean-- not South-Asian and not quite African yet-- lost in an ocean of its own), maybe because ultimately I don't care whether same-sex marriage is legalized or not in USA, maybe because we're making something that's ultimately not-so-central to our lives to be our daily wine, bread and discussions? How long does the navel-gazing over the "oh-I'm-so-important-and-I-need-to-have-the-right-to-get-married" discourse continue?

How many people in the USA are aware of the fact that Jamaica now has a "gay eradication day" for example? How many are aware that it was just in July 2009 that consensual same-sex acts were legalized in India? How many people are aware that more than 130 Iraqi gay men are believed to have been killed over the past year because the Iraqi militia has been infiltrating internet gay chat-rooms with the aim of persecuting Iraqi gay men? Isn't the obsession over same-sex marriage in USA a new form of colonialism in itself? (Dare I term it "queer colonialism?") Isn't it time to look out and realize that there is a whole world out there that demands attention too?

And let us forget the rest of the world for a minute: Doesn't North-America still have issues of its own? What about health-care? What about homophobic crimes? What about the rights of trans-people? What about transphobia? What about racism? Does the fact that we now have chatrooms, gaybars, pride-parades all over the country entail that marriage should be the only issue we need to work on? How many of us have actually paid any attention to the amount of discrimination and harassment queer kids still face in high-schools for example? And how many of us actually stopped sipping wine in the comfort of our couches to do something about it?

This now brings me to the second question I had raised earlier: Is there a way of voicing ones protest?? I have a feeling that queer activism is losing all of it's punch and energy as an active term that triggers change and socio-political progress. I always thought being queer meant being active, being a moving agent that questions, that does not take anything for granted, that moves around by distorting things and demanding that they be redressed in skewed ways. At the moment, I feel that what queer activism has been reduced too is a passive process of self-victimization. "Oh we are victims..."; "Oh we are being discriminated against..."; "Oh they are unfair to us..."; So let us just sit here gaze at our own sorry navels and whine and cry and tell ourselves and whomever wants to hear how victimized we are.

I have encountered a lot of youngsters who had such flaky attitudes even here in Canada. Fine, we've been victimized at a point of time (and we probably still are) for various reasons that have to so with gender, class, race etc. But how long do we go on indulging in self-pity? How long will we keep our gaze on ourselves? When do we get out of such self-pity and activate ourselves again?

Wasn't it Freud (or Lacan, I can't remember) who posited that homosexuality is a pathology that can be caused because the small boy fell in love with his own reflection in the mirror as an infant? Isn't this why one of the cliched stereotypes that generally goes around about gay folks is that they are just full of themselves and are concerned with their own image and their own parties and their own pleasures?

If I have a question to conclude it is: When do we stop looking ourselves and when do we start looking out there and doing something concrete about what needs to be changed?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Two Notes to the Bloggers (and Readers) Out There

1- National Blog Posting Month:

National Blog Posting Month (link here) started today. Damn, is it too late for this post? I don't think so. In just one line, the challenge is to post a blog-entry every single day throughout the rest of November. Rest assured, I am not doing it, so you won't have to put up with an article by me on a daily basis throughout this month! November will turn out to be cruel month for me and I know my blogging proficiency will decrease over the next two weeks.

However, you should check out the website and also check out the Queer Canada Blogs group that has been created. (link here).If you are more courageous than I am, it could be a great way to connect with people in more significant ways than Fakebooc and dating websites, to feel a sense of community with other bloggers (queer or not) and above all, to challenge yourself into getting into the habit of regular blogging.

2- Canadian Blog Awards Nominations:

The 2009 nomination for the Canadian Blog Awards has started (link here). You have 20 days to nominate some of your favorite blogs and there are many categories. I know quite a few ones I want to nominate myself. So please do nominate your favorite blogs and if you think The Queer Behind the Mirror is worth nominating, I wouldn't mind either! :P

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's Official: U.S. To Lift the Ban on HIV/AIDS Entry [finally!]

A few weeks ago, I wrote (here) about the efforts of activists from Immigration Equality (link here) and their attempt in getting the authorities to lift the 22-year ban that of the U.S. holds against foreign nationals infected with HIV. Indeed, one still cannot enter the U.S. territories if one is HIV-positive.

President Obama has now made it official that the ban is to be lifted as from January 2010. Mr Obama signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act and declared that "if we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it." He also declared that the entry ban had been "rooted in fear rather than fact." I am glad somebody actually finally brought up "fear" as a motive for what looks like rational action. Are gay men banned from donating blood and organs in most countries because of fear or because of fact? (That's a question that I shall deal with in greater details in an article that's coming up.)

The US is one of only about a dozen countries barring entry on HIV status.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Blog Is Famous! [big grin!]

Yei! Yei! Yei! (A triple 'Yei!' is a sure sign that I am happy!)

This blog has actually received a review! You can read it here. That's so exciting!

A grateful note to FeralGeographer (click here), to Queer Canada Blogs (click here) and to all the readers out there who keep dropping by!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Announcing the Nigah QueerFest '09

It's on: The Nigah QueerFest '09 will be launched on Oct 23rd at the Max Mueller Bhavan, Delhi. For more details about the QueerFest (the only of its kind in India) please check:

This year sees the 3rd consecutive year of the QueerFest. I was lucky enough to witness the birth of the QueerFest, and even luckier to be part of it last year where I was also one of the performers during the Performance Night. It feels a bit strange to be away this year, and there are at least 5 of us who had been part of it since the very beginning who'll be away. It's heart-wrenching, really, but I am glad there are other people to take over: politically conscious talented youth with a radical agenda, working very hard and having fun all the way.

On the program this year are: the film festival, the performance night, panel discussions, the photography exhibition, a book launch, parties, social events etc. The overall theme this year tends towards Queer Fantasies. For those who are close enough, I hope you'll get the chance to drop by at least a few of the events.

Happy QueerFest '09!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Quote [and a dedication]

[I would like to dedicate this piece to those four young women who have been so much more than just classmates to me over the past years. To Neds, Nisha, Namu and Supi... For still being part of the journey and because it's unreal much I miss you, and because I don't know why this piece makes me think about you.]

This quote is from Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies. A novel that I not only absolutely fell for, but that I am working on. Indeed, Ghosh's narrative is the driving force behind my thesis-- albeit being the content itself! Those few lines from the book are probably the ones that carried me away the most, and in italics, the line that made me gasp for air...

"Now that the disbelief was no longer possible, a great uproar broke out and people began to mill around, gathering together their belongings, taking down their washing, and hunting for their pitchers, lotas and other necessary utensils. The long-planned-for rituals of departure were forgotten in the confusion, but strangely, this great outburst of activity became itself a kind of worship, not so much intended to achieve an end-- their bundles and bojhas were so small and so many times packed and unpacked that there was not much to be done to them-- but rather as an expression of awe, of the kind that might greet a divine revelation: for when a moment arrives that is so much feared and so long awaited, it perforates the veil of everyday expectation in such a way as to reveal the prodigious darkness of the unknown."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Grad Students From a Simpsonsian Point of View [two utterly fantastic small clips!]

I found those two videos-- they're just fantastic! They are both really short, and taken from The Simpsons and they give us a rather cynical glimpse into the life of grad students! (Link here and here.)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Word of Thanks

Slightly more than a month ago, I threw my tantrum along with my distress up here on the blog, with this post. What seemed more like a cathartic act of frustration at the time resulted in an incredible expression of support of many who are so far, some closer, others who've have been close to me, many who are still close to me, and others who barely even know me...

I haven't updated anybody on what's happening over the weeks that went by because I was still working through the motions of it all. It's probably the ripe time now to thank EVERYBODY who responded to the call. All of you who left comments, who sent in e-mails, who supported me, who chastised me, who asked me to stop throwing my toys around and to simply put them in a box, neatly on a shelf so that I could start playing with them again.

Thank you, SO much. I'd like to thank that man too, who after an entire year without contacting me, sent me an e-mail. I am very grateful.

[And I should probably also clarify that I indeed don't care about the house, the job and the car!]

So where am I?

I am writing the GRE in a couple of weeks. I am also applying to two very competitive programs. I decided to stick to just two, however competitive they may be. Those are the ones that I want the most and that'll give me the space and resources to continue my work. Things may work out, or they may not... But at this point I don't really care.

If one takes the time to look around, one may not see any doors, or the doors that one may see may be locked. But always, somewhere, in some corner or high on some walls, there are open windows one can slide through. I've found many windows, and independent of whatever happens, there'll always be windows. There are ways and ways to do what one loves and all I can be grateful for is that I found what I love doing. I just need to play around with the ways of doing it now.

Yours with eternal gratitude, and with many good vibes...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Les Incroyables Aventures de Fusion Man [for the francophones out there!]

Ah, le monde de la recherche n’en finit pas de me surprendre ! Il est tout de même un peu fou ce sur quoi on tombe quand on décide de rédiger une thèse sur le genre, la sexualité, la race et le racisme. Et bien, il y a des jours comme aujourd’hui où on finit par tomber sur Les Incroyables Aventures de Fusion Man ! Donc, on se marre, on se marre et on se marre (au lieu de travailler.) Je le trouve très bien ce film : Qu’en pensez-vous ?

Ah oui, et si vous vous demandez comment je suis tombé dessus, c’est parce que le copain a Fusion Man est asiatique—vous avez bien remarqué, hein ?

And What Have Statistics Got To Do With It Anyway? [discrimation, statistics and two videos]

I am more and more amazed by how statistics are still very much used to reinforce discourses around forms of discrimination. Be it racism, homophobia, transphobia, any other forms of phobia, hatred, intolerance... You just name it, and there stands the Great Statistical Results that act as arbiters and that will adjudicate anything and everything in matters of (in)justice. Add in a few percentages here, a few figures there and back it up with the name of the agency that conducted the research and released the results (and please forget all the other details and variables involved in it) and there you are: you can legitimately put forward any claim you want!

So today I will have the great honor of posting two of my latest discoveries! They are both fantastic videos that I absolutely love.

So if you ever wondered what statistics have to do with racism, here is the answer!

And now, why not another video about how statistics demonstrate that homosexuality is a bad, bad, bad thing?!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Aplogies From a Grammar Nazi

Since I have a humongous pedantic inclination for good grammar, proper spelling and perfect syntax, a friend of mine who was playing seduction games with me once called me "Cute grammar Nazi!" I still don't know whether it was a compliment or not-- But it made me blush!

I realized that in my last 3 posts (which have been edited by now :P) there have been more syntactic mistakes and more typos than all the posts on my blog put together! I'd like to officially apologize. I shall make sure I draft my posts with more attention as from now on and I shall make sure I proof-read them carefully before publishing them. [Except when I fall in love, 'coz then I am too hysterical to focus on what I'm doing!]

Friday, September 4, 2009

Gentleman Reg [musical discovery]

Dame Yani took me to a concert last week-end, as part of the Peterborough Folk Festival. The entire event was rather interesting and together, we saw Gentleman Reg live. Most of you may not know who Gentleman Reg is, and neither did I till Dame Yani brought me to the concert. If you have watched J. C. Mitchell's masterpiece, Shortbus (which as I argue, is the best post-9/11 film I've seen so far-- but then, my reading of the film seems to be slightly unconventional), then you've listened to Gentlemen Reg without knowing who he (along with his band) is! Indeed, Gentlemen Reg contributed the song It's Not Safe as part of the Shortbus soundtrack.

Reg Vermue (and gosh, he's so hot and such a charmer on stage!) was born in Trenton, Ontario and one of his band members is actually from Peterborough. In the past year I didn't take to Canadian Indie Rock at all, despite the big craze here. But I think Gentleman Reg definitely triggered my interest. For you, here is Gentleman Reg live performing It's Not Safe, the song that is part of the Shortbus soundtrack.

Monday, August 31, 2009

These Socks [finally: some free verse!]

- I -

Those pink socks:
When I gave them to you,
You said you hated them:
You rolled your eyes in gay fashion
You tossed your hair like a fag
In your funny accent you replied:
"I'm not wearing these socks,
They look so gayyyy!"

And yet, these socks you wore
On that day:
You looked like a fag around the city
With shorts faded like the sea,
A shirt hued with the gray of monsoon skies
Sneakers the color of shit, and...

... Those two tiny socks
Growing over your calves
Growing over your pale skin
Hiding the almost invisible hair on your legs.

Those pink socks that I loved so much,
But that you hated.

- II -

These black socks:
When he gave them to you
(Or did he forget them at your place?
Did you keep them with a design in mind?)
You decided to keep them, worship them
Like a fetish,
Like a gift from the God that he was
So you could inhale, inhale, inhale...

The smell of lavender
And shoe polish on them
So you could take in the perfection
His perfection
In crumbs inside your lungs: "Solemnity of blackness:
The perfect socks, The perfect man, The perfect smell."

Those black socks:
Did you ever wear them?
Did you just revere them?
Or did you just keep them till for the right moment?

Those black socks that you worshiped,
But that he didn't care about.

- III -

I always wondered
Why you kept his socks?

Lying there in a drawer
For months
Amongst old pictures, books,
Other fetishes.

And then,
You returned them to him
(You could have burnt them
You could have thrown them away,
But no, months later?)
Did you keep them...

... So you could return them
Using the black, the lavender, the shoe polish
As a token
To finally go back to him
To build a bridge long destroyed?
Then, when he looked at you
He saw these socks he didn’t care about
And you… Whom he didn’t care about too.

- IV -

I always wondered,
Why you never kept them pink socks?

And on that day,
You returned them to me
(you could have burnt them
you could have thrown them away?)

But no,
You returned them to me.
Was it an excuse
To thank me
For something you didn’t need?
Or did you keep them…

… So you could return them
And tell me in a quirky accent:
“They look so gayyyy!”
As you returned them socks to me,
I saw in pink on a pale skin
The reason why I threw you away,
Like an old pair of black socks,
To be thrown away.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Housing, Capitalism, Olympics, Love Story... [two videos]

This first video gives you another take (in regards to social housing and the homelessness hunger strike relay) on the Vancouver Olympics 2010, for which this vast country seems to be bracing herself at the moment. Link here.

The second video is simply the trailer of the new Michael Moore. Capitalism: A Love Story should be released this fall. Ah, I'm looking forward to this! Link here.

Queer News of The Week

[Truth is, those are queer news collected, heard, read or spoken about over the past 2 weeks! I'm not good with the homework, am I? Been busy, been very busy, which is a good sign I guess!]

---- Toronto Pride Moved to One Week Later in 2010

This did not make much sense to me and I am still digesting it. Since the G8 summit is being held in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) in the last week of June, Toronto Pride 2010 has been moved to the first week of July. Traditionally held on the same week that Pride is held in NYC, Toronto Pride commemorates (or rather, is supposed to commemorate) the Stonewall riots that took place in June 28th, 1969. Next year, however, Pride week will run from June 25th to July 4th, the latter being the Sunday when the Pride Parade will take place.

At first sight, this doesn't seem like a big deal: It still falls within the Stonewall riots week. But a closer look at the events happening within these two weeks leads to questioning:

Tracey Sandilands, executive director of Pride Toronto, claims that the dates have been moved to a week later so as to accommodate the needs of the G8 summit: notably, police force and hotel rooms! Obviously, moving the G8 Summit is totally out of the question! So is it all about the police taking care of the dignitaries?

Looking at it from a more commercial, corporate and touristic point of view, we realize that next year, not only will Toronto Pride not coincide with NYC Pride, but the Pride week will also concur with Canada day (July 1st) and Independence Day in the US (July 4th.) Now, since July 4th is a Sunday, July 5th will be a statutory holiday in the US. Which means that more Americans get to attend Toronto Pride next year because they will not be in NYC on the one hand and since July 5th is a holiday in any case, they get to come down to TO, spend the week-end and they have a day to travel back! Smart, no?

I would have loved to have Pride and the G8 summit happen together though. And I think it quite a shame that the Pride dates were simply moved like that. Would G8 and Pride have really attracted so many people that Toronto would be unable to accommodate its guests? Politically, what would the scene have been if the G8 and Pride happened within the same time-line? Would there be queers all over the GTA protesting against the G8? Would the G8 protest itself have become the Pride and the Pride the G8 protest? I guess we'll never know. However, I think that having the G8 summit, Pride, Canada Day and the US Independence day all within the same week promises to raise many debates, questions and make it all the more heated and interesting. For more, please read here. It looks like Toronto will be quite the centre of attraction, won't it?

---- Iceland's Pride: How many were there?

Since we started off with the Pride, what do you think of this?

Over 80,000 people attended Iceland's Reykjavik Gay Pride Festival. 80,000? Well that makes roughly 25% of the entire population! Isn't it that rather amazing? 25% of the entire country's population! What you may want to know is that there are very few gay bars and no such thing as a village in Iceland, the reason being that Iceland, being accepting of all (!), the LGBT community there does not feel the need for separate (safe) spaces. What you may also want to know is that Johanna Sigurdardottir who was appointed Prime Minister in February 2009, is the first PM to be openly gay in Europe (or is it the world?) For those interested in a trip to Iceland at a point of time, you may want to have a look at this website.

---- Tiny Irish Villages 'Goes Gay': It doesn't get cuter than that!

We're again on the subject of Pride!

Now, that's probably the smallest Pride event in the world! With a population of just 250 people, the tiny coastal village of Easkey, County Sligo had "gone gay” for a day in the beginning of August in hosting what is thought to be the smallest pride event in the world. Organised by the Family Resource Centre of Easkey in an attempt to support the local LGBT community, the village was encouraged to simply go gay! The event has attracted some 80+ people. The village, which is best known as a surfing and fishing town and has just two shops, two pubs, two butchers and a post office. On the "go gay" occasion, the Family Resource Centre of Easkey hosted a reception and a shore-side barbecue.

---- Heard of Caster Semenya?

The story started in Mauritius actually! Since nobody ever speaks of that wonderful small island of mine, here we go! It was at the Germain Commarmond Stadium in Bambous, Mauritius, during the African Junior Championships (yes, Mauritius IS part of Africa!!) that South African Caster Semenya clocked the fastest women's 800m time by a record of 1:56.72. Now with the World Championship taking place in Berlin, Semenya was bound to be one of those to watch out for during the competition.... And she did win the gold medal! Then came in rumors of her being a hermaphrodite, the debate about whether she was male or female, the attempt to disqualify her... I don't want to get into this debate. I find it too unfair and too petty to even talk about it: What if she actually is a hermaphrodite? There aren't any hermaphrodite category in the Olympics from what I know, are there?! Anyway, for those who have been following up on the case or who may want to follow up, here is the last report that I read, dated 26th August.

---- Australian Jocks Pose For Photos to Fight Homophobia

The high-profile, super-hot, muscled jocks of Australia's national rugby team, the Qantas Wallabies, have joined in with the country's largest LGBT-focused health and HIV/AIDS organization for a campaign to fight discrimination against people of the LGBT community.

Team captain Stirling Mortlock and other players were photographed holding handwritten signs championing inclusiveness in sports as part of the This Is Oz campaign, an online photo blog where users can upload photos of themselves with messages that challenge homophobia and celebrate diversity and social inclusion.

---- Lutherans Allow Gay Clergy and Allow Clergy to Bless Same-Sex Unions

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA: Link here), which has approximately 4.7 million members in their 10,000 congregations across the United States, and which makes it one of the largest U.S. Christian denominations has not only taken steps to make it possible for people in same-sex relationships to serve as professional leaders in the denomination, but the churchwide assembly that met at the Minneapolis Convention Centre from 17th-23rd August, approved a resolution that commits the ELCA to find ways of allow congregations to recognize, support and publicly hold life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships. The Churchwide Assembly had about 2,000 participants that includes 1,045 ELCA voting members.

---- Activists Seek To End U.S. HIV Traveling Restrictions

Finally, finally, finally... I have been plagued, almost obsessed with the discourse that surrounds HIV and immigration, or sometimes, just the sheer fact of traveling. I realize that people on this side of the globe and/or in the EU rarely ever have had to do an HIV test as part of their visa requirements (wait, do they even have visa requirements?!) And I always meet those eyes of disbelief (almost like I was a liar) when I tell people that one is likely to remain circumscribed to ones own country if one has a sexually transmitted disease. [Oh and I've been meeting the same eyes of disbelief when I declare that I have an interview scheduled next month at the U.S. consulate for my visa and that I also have to pay 150 CAD to get one, just so I can go down for a couple of days!]

Nonetheless, if you want to read the full details here, activists are working on repealing the 22 years old ban on U.S. travel and immigration by HIV infected foreign nationals. “Ending the HIV travel and immigration ban removes a federally-sanctioned stigma and sends a strong, clear message that the United States is working to end discrimination against people living with HIV,” said Victoria Neilson, legal director for Immigration Equality, a group that works for advocacy on behalf of LGBT immigrants. President Obama added that his administration is committed to rescinding the ban on entry in the U.S. based on HIV status.

After all those years, I must admit I still feel bewildered: How does one rationalize such forms of discrimination based on HIV status? [If any of you can actually rationalize it, I would genuinely love to hear it.]

---- Vogue Evolution: A Startling Gay and Transgender Dance Team on MTV's America's Best Dance Crew

This is my personal piece of favorite news and I kept it for the last bit! You absolutely have to see this video. Vogue Evolution is an out and proud NYC dance group of color comprising of four gay men and a male-to-female transgendered person person, who combine voguing and hip-hop styles as they compete for top spot on Season 4 of MTV’s America's Best Dance Crew (ABDC).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lines from 'The Hours'

I once more watched The Hours yesterday. I always make it a point to watch it once every-year (Angels in America being the other film that I always watch at least once every year.) Those two obviously make up two of the three DVDs I actually have in my DVD (non)-collection.

Each time I watch The Hours I can't help but be surprised by how accomplished this film is. I think is it not just one of my favorite films, but it simply is my favorite film ever. Once more, it left me with an overwhelming sense of I-don't-know-what, and I realize how much more I learn and discover from watching this film over and over again. It's like "the moment" and the "morning of possibilities" open themselves up and linger throughout the duration of the film and more. Here are two of my favorite lines from the film. The second one being the voice of Virginia Woolf allowing the closure (if closure there is at all) of the narrative:

"Am I still up for all this
All this intensity
All those arguments
Doors being slammed..."


"To look like in the face
Always, to look life in the face
And to know it for what it is
At last, to know it
To love it for what it is
And then...
... To put it away"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday Epiphany

It was one of those moments. I barely remember. A moment may be. Just a moment. Some profane illumination that sifted itself in between the sheets and the pillow. I think he kissed me goodbye and asked me to sleep in-- he had to leave. Was there a kiss at all? I was in a deep slumber. The kinds that make your eyes feel like granite. When I woke up, it was to the revelation, the epiphany that had slowly remained dormant for long, till it matured and resurfaced.

"There can be miracles, when you believe."

That is how the song from Disney's The Prince of Egypt went. Belief, yes. That's what it was all about. Belief.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Queer News of The Week

I realize that I do end up collecting those bits and pieces of Queer News throughout the week and I decided it'd be a good thing to share them. Many of them may fall into the (not-so-total)-trivia category, but fragments are always worth keeping in ones pockets, purses and hats, isn't it?

Queer News 1: Do you know who Alan Turing was?

[Thanks Blair, for triggering the interest!]

I was somehow surprised (since I had never heard about it before) and excited to learn that the father of the modern computer was homosexual. Indeed, Andrew Hodges, who wrote Alan Turing's biography Alan Turing: The Enigma (Vintage books: 1992) describes Turing as "founder of computer science, mathematician, philosopher, codebreaker, visionary and gay man before his time."

Turing is often described at the father of modern computer for having formalized algorithms and computations with the Turing Machine. As rightly pointed out by Paul Gray in an article in one of the edition of The Time (March 29th, 1999)-- as part of The Time's project to list the 100 most important people of the 20th century: "But the fact remains that everyone who taps at a keyboard, opening a spreadsheet or a word-processing program, is working on an incarnation of a Turing machine." Turing was such an optimistic believer of artificial intelligence that he was believed to have said that "one day ladies will take their computers for walks in the park and tell each other, 'My little computer said such a funny thing this morning!'"

In 1952, Turing was convicted for gross indecency after telling the police (who were investigating a case of robbery at his house) that he was having an affair with a young man who might have known the burglar. Surprisingly enough, Alan Turing was always explicit about his sexual orientation. While he was spared prison, he was subjected to the injection of female hormones intended to reduce his lust.

On June 7, 1952, Turing was found dead. The causes of his death are still blurred, some suggesting an assassination, others an accident, but it is widely believed that Turing actually killed himself by eating an apple laced with cyanide. The death was officially ruled as suicide. Why an apple? Is it to be seen as ironical that it is the same fruit of knowledge that adorns the Mac products? It is widely believed though, that Alan Turing was re-enacting the scene from Snow-White, his favorite fairy tale.

[For those interested, Herbert Wise's 1997 film, Breaking the Code starring Harold Pinter is based on Alan Turing's life.]

Queer News 2: Lady Gaga comes out as intersexed?

Lady Gaga who came out as bisexual, has queer fans all over the world and also graced Toronto Pride 2009 with a superb concert has allegedly come out as intersexed. I found this fascinating: We are all queer, gay marriages is the hot topic of the moment all over the US, we are talking queerness and ethnic minorities, we are shouting at each other at the intersections of queerness and disabilities, I am so obsessed with transitioning and trans-issues that I am writing an entire thesis on it but: What about the intersex? How come we never speak about them? Where do they fit in the bigger queer picture?

Anyway, the post by Mark D. Snyder is available on QueerToday, here: It seems Lady Gaga confessed to having both male and female genitalia and said "It's no big deal!" Now, that's what just the kind of attitude I love and admire!

[As an aside, for the French readers out here, this book recently came out: Ni Homme, Ni Femme: Enquete sur L'Intersexuation by Julien Picquart (La Musardine: 2009) If any of you wakes up one morning with the wild desire to gift me something, you know what to do! Or at least, buy it for yourself, read it, and let me know how it is!]

Queer News 3: Tim Hortons comes out for an LGBT cause!

I once said here that Tim Hortons represented the epitome of my assimilation into Canadianness. Well Tim Hortons, Canada's largest coffee chain (that you can also find in Afghanistan: link here) and the Queer population were at odds for some 24 hours or so at the beginning of this week! Tim Hortons had in fact decided to co-sponsor a rally in Rhode Island hosted by the American National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Now, there's nothing wrong with that, since the event was a family day event. But, it just so happens that NOM is also the group currently leading campaigns to fight marriage equality in Maine, Washington, D.C., New York, New Jersey and elsewhere. Ouch!

So now, the question was immediately raised as to how a chain that purports to support 'local initiatives that make a difference' would support an event by such an organization as NOM? It looks like the queer community got angry and that the very Tim Hortons-loving LGBT community decided to take action. A petition, here, was immediately set in place to demand that Tim Hortons stops supporting NOM and other anti-LGBT group.

I once dated a French boy who very bitterly discarded all my ideas of political action and thus made fun of my view that petitions can always trigger a beginning of that process called change. Well, here is the proof that I may not have been totally wrong: Just 17 hours after the petition was launched (yes, just 17 hours and a couple of thousands of letters sent!!) Tim Hortons pulled its sponsorship from the event stating:

"For 45 years, Tim Hortons and its store owners have practiced a philosophy of giving back to the communities in which we operate. As a company, our primary focus is on helping children and supporting fundraising events for non-profit organizations and registered charities.
For this reason, Tim Hortons has not sponsored those representing religious groups, political affiliates or lobby groups.
It has come to our attention that the Rhode Island event organizer and purpose of the event fall outside of our sponsorship guidelines. As such, Tim Hortons can not provide support at the event."
Now, that's what I call action and that's what I call good and efficient political action. One small battle won, and there's still a long way to go. (Grin!) I think I do feel a deeper connection with a larger LGBT community after this event, and I do feel a certain connection to Tim Hortons and I do feel that maybe, nationalism in its various expressions and discourses could be reclaimed by queer movements: What do you think?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Now, THAT'S kewl! [Church Street Fetish Fair]

I just found this: There's a celebration of leather, fetish and fantasy communities on Church Street on the 16th of August. I wanna go there! I should go. It's coinciding with the Reenozaur's birthday week-end, but may be I should take her with me. And it's running for its 6th year and it seems round 20,000 people attended last year. That should be fun! It's like a leather pride of sorts!

Now, I am not into leather... Not at all! Leather's such a turn-off for me! But I do like metal (wink!), and I do have a fetish for exceptionally original underwear. Well it also depends on who's wearing them. And they'll be selling all sorts of accessories and gadgets. Not that I can afford any, but I think this event should be instructive!

Monday, August 3, 2009

I Bid The Man Thank You [a sonnet]

It is somewhere by the twilight
(When orange hues give way to blue
And fairies kiss in silver light)
That I bid the man thank you:

For magic powder that looked so true
For lullabies he wrapped me in
For whistling in the wind- that too
For fairy tales cast on my skin.

Ladybird in beard, dragon-fly on shin,
Smoky flakes, a cherry velvet drape;
Musing in a snow globe, he played the violin
As I folded myself, in the seam of his cape.

I bid him an adieu, in manner somehow askew.
I kissed the man thank you with feelings somehow untrue.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Book Discovery Day!

I just discovered this book today. It's by Samantha Murray who is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Somatechnics Research Centre/Department of Critical Studies at Macquarie University, Australia. It's called The 'Fat' Female Body (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) and it's about the production of the discourse on obesity and fatness in the West: "Exploring the rapidly increasing interest in obesity and fatness, this book engages with dominant ideas about "fatness" and analyses the assumptions that inform anti-fat attitudes in the West, looking at the intersection of medicine and morality in pathologizing "fat bodies."

The table of contents show the following:
Introduction: The "Fat" Female Body: Pathological, Political and Phenomenological Imaginings

Positioning "Fatness" in Our Cultural Imaginary
The "Normal" and the 'Pathological': "Obesity" and the Dis-eased "Fat" Body
"Fat" Bodies as Virtual Confessors and Medical Morality

Fed up with Fat-Phobia: Coming Our as "Fat"
Fat Pride and the Insistence on the Voluntarist Subject
Fattening Up Foucault: A "Fat" Counter-Aesthetic?

Throwing Off Discourse? Questions of Ambivalence and the Mind/Body Split
("Fat") "Being-In-The-World": Merleau-Ponty's account of the "body-subject"
Embodiment as Ambiguity: "Fatness" as it is Lived

Afterword: "Fat" Bodily Being
This is just MY kind of books! On a different note, I had gotten myself a hard-cover copy (hem... ahem!) of Denis de Rougemont's Love In the Western World (Princeton University Press, 1983) some time back. I finally picked it up and started plouging through it this morning! A real delight so far! I should probably go back to it right now!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's Done! It's Done! IPC 377 Read Down! [wohooooooo!!!]

That's it! It's done! Ho gaya! I can't believe it! Wohooooo!!

After years of waiting, lobbying, fighting etc. and after a bloody night where we were all biting our nails and couldn't sleep, we finally got to learn that the IPC (Indian Penal Code) 377, left-over from the British Raj has been scrapped! Wohooooo!!! I never thought it would feel like this! It does feel like one of the happiest days of my life! And who would have thought we would wake up one day and read the following headlines in the newspapers and news channels: "Delhi High Court legalises consensual gay sex"!!!

I think about the entire gang of lawyers, I think about Vivek (specially you!), I think about Mario, Siddharth, Gautam, Arvind, Dipti, Ponni, Priya... Well ALL of you! With so much love!

"What next?"-- I don't want to ponder on this question right now! It feels so good! It feels bloody good!

As this dear Mario would put it himself: "Section 377, 1860-2009. Colonial Ignorance, Prejudice, Violence RIP! Sodomy is no longer a crime in India! I am so proud of the Delhi High Court! I am so proud to be an Indian!"

As for me, I am not Indian, but I feel proud nonetheless! And so freaking happy!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Lovers At The Station [fiction fragment]

"When people say, "I didn't ask to be born," they are wrong. I think we did. That's why we are here. We have to do something nurturing that we respect before we go. We must. It is more interesting, more complicated, more intellectually demanding and more morally demanding to love somebody. To take care of somebody."-- Toni Morrison.


For the young girl, and so many others, who knew how to love. For a song that I did not sing.


The bus station: Lovers waiting.

No tears of joy. No impassioned kiss from starved lips. No hug intense like making love. No two bodies merging, holding on, in that instant where they'd become one. No "Good to see you!" No "I missed you so much" either. No reuniting embrace.

Those two lovers, at the station. Waiting.
Those two lovers, at the station. Parting.

I watched as he held her tight. I watched her white fingers on his hairy nape. I saw his brown t-shirt absorb her wet eyes. I saw her head buried in the square of his shoulders: An animal begging, in a coffin.

I smelt the cologne off his throat. I smelt the sweat off his armpit. I smelt her tears on the brown fabric. But above all, I smelt her grief like the dead roses on her grand-ma's grave: "Is this the end?" I felt his arms tighten around her body. I heard him soothe her with entangled fingers and whispering words: "I'll never forget you." I felt the stubble on his cheeks, the warmth of his nose and I watched them kiss, those two lovers.

His embrace became tight: "I will never, never let you down." But through her tears I saw her doubts. She, the young woman who loved: she knew. She could hear the embarrassment in his pulse, she could see words in his eyes resonating like bullets in a cold night: "Stop crying. Stop embarrassing me. People. People are watching."

The bus came, and they parted. She climbed in and he left. On his way home, he sent her an SMS: "I'm gonna miss you so much. Raspberry mango coconut pear honey kisses." A tear on the screen of her cell-phone. And then, another and another... The bus moved.

All this while, I watched those two lovers, at the station. I watched and I spied on her feelings, I listened to his mind and disturbed their embrace by putting myself between their loving bodies.

All the while, I watched, I listened, I smelt and I thought.

All the while, I felt like singing to her... The song that I did not sing:

"Please run away, young girl, please fly away!
For me too had a lover, with whom I parted.
Me too had a lover who went his own way.
He left me as well: teary, broken-hearted,
Though he promised, young girl, always... never...
But I trust you, young girl, for you could smell
And so could I! Sense him gone... Forever....
He will forget you, young girl, and that I can tell.
So here's his answer to your dreaded question:
This is the end, young bird, this is the end."

A Wound Like Your Love [an unfinished poem]

[I found this poem that I had started a few weeks ago. It was supposed to be of 26 lines (i.e. three stanzas of 4 cut by one line, and another three stanzas of 4, ending with one line.) But then I never got to finishing it; actually I forgot about it! The last line of the poem was supposed to be about how his love is/was like that wound. I read the unfinished poem this morning and decided to leave it this way. I lost the sense of how it should go. But may be that's because the wound is healing?!]


It started with a small cut: A line, a scratch?
Almost! Barely perceptible on my brown skin,
Like ethereal silver pressing on a pound of flesh
To stab or not to stab? To cut or not to cut?

A year later it stretched opened like a crack
In soil dead and dried, begging for water,
Imploring mercy, knee-bent, beseeching
To be covered, to be hidden under bandages.

The grotesque wound was of two minds,
Of two bodies, of two skins: My body partitioned
By the thick taste of blood and the purple of pus.
Over it I wrapped alcohol impregnated bandages:

Sterilized, clean: An act of forgetfulness.

But wounds under a bandage do not heal,
They simply hide like monsters under ones bed
And come out on full-moon nights and tug
At a hand left hanging, dangling from a sleeping body.

With the same fingers, I ripped the bandage off my skin,
I looked at the wound, deep inside, licked its beauty
Along with its pain, its pus, its rot like leeches in my flesh

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I'm OUTRAGED, almost out of breath.

I just read this article (link here.) Please read it. The article says that the Youtube video has been removed, but I found it here. I couldn't watch it. I feel physically sick. Literally physically sick. I'm just shocked.

And what is it? We are two days away from Pride?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I'm The Only Gay in The Village [muahahahahahahaha!!]

"I know that my children in later years, my transgender community will understand: We have to stand up and speak for ourselves! We have to fight for ourselves! We save their lives. We were the front line of the so-called 1969 rebellion of the Stonewall." — Sylvia Rivera from the documentary: Sylvia Rivera, A Trans Life Story


This post had to have the title it has. In my mind, it had this title for more than two weeks already, except I never got down to writing it. I have a lot on my mind in way of writing these days, except your mind and your writing, like the subtle scent of raspberries, gets crushed by surroundings and bigger events, and more powerful smells. Right now, as I sit in the evening shade at a table on the patio giving onto our backyard, as I type on a laptop that is not even mine, I think of alternative titles: "Post from a borrowed computer," "News of The Village and The (Other) Village," "I am broke and need money for a new computer," "Pride or Shame?" or better "Date no. 1-- The details!"

Last week, I spent my Friday afternoon in the (gay) village of Toronto with date No. 1 (again!!) So I guess it is high time to speak of the famous village of Toronto (and speak of date no. 1-- Yes, I will. So Ladies and Gentlemen, and Queers and Queers, please stop harassing me about it!!) What bothers me is that this post is not unfolding the way I wanted it to. My laptop screen has gone blank for days now, I feel handicapped, blind-folded almost, and totally out of place: I miss my virtual space, I cannot get work done properly, this makes me a tad stressed and I am too broke to even find a way to get my laptop repaired. It's funny (or may be not?) how an object gone can actually function like a phantom limb pinching through nonexistent life-tissues.

But the single mother has been nice enough and courteously offered me to use her old laptop (that her 8 years old generally plays on) till I am done with my paper-- for yes, I am on major research mode at the moment. All that to say that the pictures that I had taken to illustrate this post cannot be put up here since they are all on my (broken) computer, but I shall try my best to draw in broad strokes and finer ones, to conjure words as powerful as pigment so that you have an idea of my trip (now trips) to the village.

It may come across as rather surprising that I had never set foot in the gaybourhood of Toronto before. I mean how does a guy like me, who, throughout his teenage years, was force-fed with mouthfuls of the utopia idea of the gay villages in Montreal and Toronto not rush there when I've been here for 10 months already. (Ten months, doesn't it sound long? I've been here for 10 months already!) Well the answer may just be that I grew out of it, or that I am not a teenager anymore... Or, am I becoming too politically queer and too queerly political, or too radically queer and too queerly radical?! [The answer by the end of this piece if you keep on reading.]

Anyway, the (gay) village in Toronto is situated in the whereabouts of Church and Wellesley (which is very much downtown Toronto) and it has nothing to do with The Castro of sorts of the 70s as a ghettoized, politicized, out-of-the-norm urbanized space, as I had painted it in my mind. Not at all! Instead, as I paved my way through Church street, I was overwhelmed by a ridiculously gentrified space with the loathsome smell of consumerism. If disgust of the corporate there can be, the village in Toronto is where it reaches its climax. (Though there's the Pride coming up, but that's another story and we'll get to it soon.)

In order to be able to give structure to this post, I shall without further ado introduce date no. 1, for as a character (with whom I've had numerous arguments already) he seems central to my discussion of the gay village and the Pride. Date no. 1 is a graduate sociologist at the U of Toronto in Women and Gender Studies and he works on the class and race divisions (and citizenships) as represented within the Toronto Pride (ha! here you go!) To add to that, he is charming, gentlemanly (most of the times!), funny tall dark handsome bla bla bla... Well, no, actually, he is tall blond handsome, but that doesn't really matter, does it? The point is that Pride is the site of study for his thesis. Did I say that he actually lives in the village?!

Have you ever thought of being submerged under so much gayness such that you sweat gayness, you spit gay saliva and that you shave off gayness like hair off your face every-morning? Have you ever been so wrapped in the rainbow flag that your armpit smells like rainbow, that you take rainbow dirt off your toe-nails in the evenings and that your eyes can't distinguish colors anymore? Well, that's EXACTLY how you feel after an afternoon in the village. It's a traumatic overdose of corporate gayness. And when you're Queer (for I am queer and not gay, my blog is called "The Queer Behind The Mirror" and not "The Gay Behind The Mirror") at the end of the day, you just feel like screaming "I'M NOT GAY!!" and you empty your closet from all your clothes and you get back in and you hide there for the rest of your life till you decide to come out again and take action.

Coincidentally, while I was going through Date no. 1's book-shelf (I swear, I went to his place only to look at his book-shelf and nothing else happened. Erm... Kind of! Wink!), I found this very interesting book edited by Mark Sampson called Anti-Gay (1996) [click here for more, and there are some reviews here as well.] The book is all about the trash gay culture that I've been talking about to some of you over the past months. Far from being a sub-culture, it is more the mainstream middle/upper-middle class, highly pretentious, disgustingly consumerist gay culture that demands that as a gay man, you clone yourself into fashioning your body in a certain way (along with your other activities and above all: what you consume) in order to be accepted and be part of the mainstream. In the end, when you go to the gay village, if you've seen one man, you've seen them all.

What is of further interest here, however, is that if you've seen one "man," I said, you've seen it all! So "gay" in that sense has come to represent a homogeneous community that excludes women, that excludes trans subjects and I learnt from Date no. 1: that includes largely just white men. That's the point where a man like me ends up picking up a book like Anti-Gay and then screams: "I'm not gay!" Nonetheless, I remain queer (unless that gets appropriated as well!) Hopeful we may remain though, for I also found out that there is an entire collective shaping itself up on the west side of downtown Toronto and that they are calling themselves Queers and calling for a Gay Shame (as opposed to a Gay Pride) and their locality is called the Queer Village. I haven't been there yet, but that should be my next stop.

I thus learnt of various small pockets in Toronto involved with re-politicizing the Pride and what the Pride may just mean (Is there any meaning left at all?) The debate was highly ignited a few weeks ago through the public statement from the Toronto Pride committee that reiterated that the Toronto Pride does not have any affiliations to political entities or causes. Are you surprised and reeling of shock and probably wondering whether I (along with thousands of other people) read this bit correctly? If that's the case, you can check for yourself here. So what does that mean to have a depoliticized and apolitical Pride? Could it mean anything at all?

As well, I am still trying to make sense of the "LGBTTIQQ2S": Can somebody please help me with that? Is the act of adding more and more letters to the acronym a simple liberal act of elegance and praise of an inclusive nationalist discourse supporting so-called "multi-culturalism"? How far do we do in ringing our own (fake) bells?

The discussion went on feverishly (way too feverishly actually) with Date no. 1 as we were having a drink in one of the bars of the village last Friday. He argued that the combo "dress corporate+come to the pride+party+support the corporate+get drunk+have sex=how political action is to be seen in the Pride now." Now, for a man like me who claims never to have failed in gay (political) history, who is totally astounded that nobody even remembers Stonewall (it's just been 40 years for fuck's sake! 40 years and forgotten?!) and is shocked that nobody even remembers that the village in Toronto started through the "519" (a community centre which was the meeting place for various social and political groups) and as a reaction to raids that had happened in a Toronto bath-house in 1981; I AM APPALLED!

It enrages me almost. So off I went into the discussion of what constitutes politics and political action to start with (the act of reframing a certain mode of functioning and order, which the Pride doesn't not do but could do), about how the depoliticized and almost-conservative, totally homonormative space that the village is and that the Pride has become could not be called political... And the discussion went on.

By the end of the discussion which turned out to me a major argument, Date no. 1 said that he wouldn't mind being friends with me, that he is incredibly turned on by my brains, that he thinks I'm the best kisser he ever met but: "You're just so freaking opinionated. You know what? I REFUSE to date a guy like you!" And we hadn't even discussed things that I really feel for: like the post-colonial, war and militarization, race theory and racism, alternative histories, secularism (and the French laicite) or the one topic that makes me mad: whether women should be allowed to wear the veil or not?

So that's how yet another guy said he would refuse to date me because of my strong opinions about everything! That's how being so rigid in my thoughts, thinking processes and points of view brought about my downfall. I think I actually found my biggest flaw: I am too opinionated. But at the same time, I think that's the part of my personality that I like the most (more than my sarcasm, even!) What I think and what I believe in has been the result of years and years of thinking through the mess that is this world, and opened as I am to new ideas and possibilities and modes of thinking, I do think I am on the right track.

So to go back to the village and the Pride coming up, the feeling still is that we are not looking at the right things. How much more homonormative will we become? How depoliticized and apolitical will all action become? How much of history can actually be forgotten? What does an entire generation retain by watching Gus Van Sant's cinematic rendition of the life of Harvey Milk?

Nonetheless I am heading to the Trans Pride and all the Trans events of the coming Friday. One of the few things that I seem to still connect to. As to the Pride on Sunday... Well, let's see how my work goes throughout this week. If time off I need to take, time off I shall take.

To conclude, you might still be wondering why in the village would this post have the title that it has. Well here it goes: while going through the village the first time, I had an overdose of gayness. I mean, come on, in The (Other) Village, i.e. Peterborough, I am the only gay in The Village, ain't I? And I think I got used to be the only gay in The Village. I feel like a star of sorts and that allows me to always be the centre of attention! In the gay village of Toronto, I become just another HOT gay guy walking around!

That reminded me of Little Britain, that I found out, very few of you know about. Little Britain's adventures of Daffyd Thomas plays with the idea of being the only gay in the village, even when one is not the only gay in the village. (Please read here.)It's a brilliant parody of all those gay men who love to victimize themselves and have as much attention possible drawn to their being. Daffyd Thomas reminds me of Prof. Cao (read here, here and here.) Prof. Cao was a man whom we met in India, and he wanted to declare himself as the gay martyr of India. As a consequence, he always victimized himself and called himself "the only gay of the village." Daffyd Thomas is such a wonderful parody of such behavior.

I am leaving you here with a clip of Little Britain. We all deserve some British Comedy after all!

Drama Queen voice on: "But oh no! I am sure they will sue me and delete my blog! What else could I expect from those homophobes! They hate me. That's because I am the only gay in the village!"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Heard of the New Google Wave? [for all the google-freaks and non-google-freaks out there!]

As I discovered and tried new features to my i-google this morning (that I absolutely love!) and as I wonder what my life would be without all the google gadgets (and post-its as well!!) and as I know that many of you are worse google-freaks that I am, here's a small preview of the new Google Wave. I am sure, most of you have heard about it by now, but for those who haven't, here is the full 80 minutes demo-video; for those who don't have time, here are a few small clips taken from the demo video (the essentials really, it's exciting) and here's a sneak-peek of what it looks like.

The basic idea behind the wave is: if the e-mail was invented right now, what would it look like? It comes out later this year. This should be an exciting adventure!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Post-It Love [a video]

Many of you who know me rather well know about my obsession with straight lines (more here) and my other obsession: post-its. I use them always, everywhere, in all shapes and colors. You can find them in my room, in my office, but even in my kitchen, or sometimes on the mirror of the bathroom. It takes a lot (of post-its) for me to get organized! And come on, there is something exciting about post-its, don't you think?

Anyway, this film was screened last week at the Worldwide Short Films Festival in Toronto (link here.) Since it is available on Youtube, I thought I should share it. It's by Simon Atkinson and Adam Townley and it is from U.K. And it is just 3.5 minutes, so you can watch by clicking here. Sorry, couldn't post it on my blog straight away! It's doing weird things to the blog settings.

P.S: I once declared my love to a boy through post-its. It wasn't as elaborate as that, but it was still very creative in its own way. Sigh...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ha-Buah/The Bubble [gay love in times of war?]

"We all live in a bubble."

That's probably the one line that you retain from Eytan Fox's Ha-Buah or The Bubble (2006). "We all live in a bubble," that's the only line that you retain, I said, but then there are so many other images that you retain as well. Sounds and images transpire from the screen and stitch themselves on your skin, tie themselves around your toes while they lick your arm-pit and shroud your hair with a netted hat. You watch the film, and the next day, you wake up with a body and a mind that's no longer the same; a mind that is stomach-full with "food for thought" (probably the only other phrase that you retain from the film.)

So that's how it was: Reena (who wrote something about the film here) has been telling me about it for a long time. Last night we watched it. Today, I woke up with marble-eyes that seem to filter the world out and indulge in a bubble.

So in short, The Bubble is a film by Eytan Fox that's mostly in Hebrew (with some Arabic and English) and that explores the trope of same-sex love in the background of war: in this case the love between a Palestinian refugee and his Israeli lover all set to a background people of my generation have literally grown up with. In terms of technique, the film has a Dogme 95 touch of rawness that combines documentary with fiction, hand-held cameras, limited make-up etc. (Quite interestingly, the only times we have a zoom in any of the shots is when one of the characters is holding a camera and that we get the point of view of what the camera is shooting. Trivia, I know, but I found that interesting.)

Anyway, the entire production has an intense touch of the raw, and yet, a delightful one. The cinematography has the "explosive" impact (expression taken from the film) that only alternative or what is called "third-world cinema" can bring to your attention. The music is ethereal, yet very raw. The plot, often described as a gay and Israeli version of Sex and the City (I don't necessarily agree) is light, it takes in the music and draws it in and out like an embroidery, it has a claim of always attempting to be apolitical while thrusting the reality of world politics at your face and the love story is a simple one: a tale of deep love (you can't trivialize it and you can't glorify it either.) The cultural references range from Boyzone, Britney Spears, Michel Foucault and Judith Butler (which I found thoroughly entertaining.)

Since I am on the subject of the movie, I agree with Reena when she says (here) that one of the most beautiful scenes of the film is when the Palestinian boy asks the Israeli boy to fuck him as he sings Tim Buckley's Song to the Siren. This being said, there are a few other scenes from this film that were so well made that they are likely to flash into my mind for years altogether.

In terms of a sub-text, I read tales of childhood into the film, but when it comes to the text, the film weaves the story of love and war, while at the same time attempting to be apolitical. I see the purpose of seeing such a film within an apolitical frame as what adds the enjoyable dimension to the narrative all the way through to its concluding scene: It is time to move beyond wars and politics... To just love. Love, simply love.

I realized that my favorite same-sex love films so far have been the ones set in the background of war. There's been so much coming from Eastern Europe and the Middle East over the past few years. Am I just another sucker for war romance or do those representations allow me to see beyond the trauma of war in relation to same-sex love? I guess somewhere, such narratives bring back the idea of "displaced mysogyny" as they fascinate me: Is love between races (as "polluting" a pure race) the same as love between same-sexes (as preventing the purity of the race to proliferate)?

But may be I'm digressing. To conclude, if you get the chance, watch it. It is indeed a beautiful film.

We all live in a bubble...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Four Lines From a Poem [Lemn Sissay: Going Places]

This young man whom I regularly read posted a poem by Lemn Sissay on his blog today: Going Places. I won't post the entire poem here, but just those four lines that conclude the verse:

"I think I'll paint roads
on my front room walls
to convince myself
that I'm going places."

-- Lemn Sissay: Going Places.

(Thanks Michael.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Funky Rhyme [a poem]

[This poem is dedicated to Tanushree, for telling me to 'Funky it up!']

She read one poem, and then two
And then more, devouring them
Words, soft as strawberries
With a flow that rises, sets, varies
Like sweet breeze through the hem
Of her skin, her hair, her breasts too.

She found the words clear and crisp
But didn't like the rhyme pattern
AA, BB, CC...
"Funky it up" she said, "and let's see
Imagination & creation take a new turn:
Your words can be more than a repetitive lisp!"

So I set out to dance to different a chime.
Decided to funky it up like a mad dictionary.
Added transgressive tastes, acknowledged diversity
Like a naughty child: disrespectful, full of perversity
New rhyme licked fingers over top of jars feeling merry,
Over tastes of green-vanilla... red-chocolate... blue-lime...