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!