Thursday, September 30, 2010

Because Bloggers Ought to Be Rewarded Too [get a move on, lazy fellas!!]

This goes to all the bloggers out there, and to all the regular readers of the blogosphere:

1- I'm happy and very grateful to announce that I received an e-mail telling me that The Queer Behind the Mirror has been nominated for the 2010 Canadian Weblog Awards in the following categories: Best Written, LGBTQ and Writing & Literature. According to the e-mail, the Canadian Weblog Awards "is a new, juried competition with public nominations. The shortlists of nominees will be announced on 1 December 2010, and the finalists will be announced on 1 January 2011." I hereby encourage you to read the Who, What, When, Where and Why of the New Canadian Weblog Awards by clicking here. And I of course thank whomever nominated me. Whomever you are, I appreciate the act. Let's just hope this blog can be up to the standards of the jury now!

2- MUCH MORE IMPORTANTLY, while I was doing some research about the Canadian Web Blog Awards, I found out that the Canadian Blog Awards (not to confuse with the Weblog) is presently on and that the nominations are open till October 9th. So, I hereby immediately urge you to nominate and vote for your favorite blogs. There are plenty of categories and I was lucky to find some really good blogs thanks to the Awards last year. Please click here for more information about how to fill in the forms.

There are many blogs that I will be rooting for, and if I may, I'll take the freedom to mention those few that I absolutely adore (amongst many others that you can find on the blogroll): Gay in the City, Agatha Photography, Crooked Lunch, Driving Fast on Loose Gravel and Reflections on the Majdanek

And when it comes to the French-Canadian blogs of note, Mon'Oncle Ti-Guy, La Boite a Males and my total favorite, Vies de Fous.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Saudi Gay Man Seeks Asylum [and there goes the armament]

None of us probably know or remember Mohammed Abdalla al-Khilewi. In May 1994, Mohammed Abdalla Al-Khilewi was first secretary at the Saudi Arabian mission to the United Nations in New York when he issued a declaration on the embassy letterhead proclaiming King Fahd to be “despotic” and he called for a retribution of the country’s wealth and power. Fearing for his life, he defected his country and was granted asylum by the United States of America.

Sixteen years later, in 2010, another Saudi diplomat seeks asylum in the USA. The reason: He is gay and fears for his life. Ali Ahmad Asseri, first secretary of the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles claims that his employers have refused to renew his diplomatic passport, that effectively terminates his job, after they found out about his sexuality.

According to Brian Whitaker, Middle East editor at The Guardian, “if American officials accept Asseri’s story he is almost certain to be granted asylum. The Saudis may grumble a bit about that for the sake of appearances, but letting him stay in the US would spare them the embarrassing and potentially damaging question of what to do about him if he returned home.”

A Saudi to ever publicly declare himself gay is something that is indeed unchartered territory. Along with Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen, Saudi Arabia is one of the four Arab countries where homosexual acts are punishable by execution. Though no “gay executions” have been reported in Saudi Arabia since 2002, there have been documented cases of raids on gay parties as well as penalties such as flogging and imprisonment.

Coming at a time when President Obama plans to sell advanced aircraft and other weapons worth up to 60 billion dollars to Saudi Arabia-- in fact the biggest arms deal in US history-- maybe we should be raising questions of democracy and human rights along with those of armament and militarization?

[Read more about Ali Ahmad Asseri here. Read more about the $60bn arms sale to Saudi Arabia here.]

At Times, I Beg You [free verse]

At times, I beg you.
I beg you to stitch me
Like that black button
On your faded plaid shirt.

At times, I beg you.
I beg you to fuck me
Like a skilled seamstress
With a needle in hands.

At times, I also beg you.
I beg you to thread your words
Like barbed wires into my skin
And finally tell me...

... Tell me that you love me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blue Crystal [sunday evening]

We have a conversation about blue crystal. Without so much of a warning sign, I take off my trousers and show her the hole in my cheap Wal-Mart's George boxers. I stick a finger in: "wear and tear," I say. I put in another finger and I abruptly tear the grey fabric apart. "There," I say, "you see my ass. It's probably the only part of my body that I find remotely attractive. I live with the daily fear that it will lose its round firmness someday. And you see my penis. It's small, eh? I compensate by telling myself I am intelligent. And you see those hairs here? I hate them, but they keep growing. And look at my black-spaghetti legs, not very glamorous, are they?..."  

Not so much as a nervous laugh... This is how, naked, I show her all the imperfections in my body, all those bits and pieces that I conveniently cover with a confident strut, layers of make-up and silky facades.

It's with my imperfect nudity that I tell her of my Sunday evening blues. I tell her of the haunting sadness of my Sunday nights, of the broken melancholia and whole loneliness, of the pieces of blue crystal over my thick lenses, of the voices in my head stressing over and over again, and going through what the coming week ought to be, will be, should be, had better be... I tell her about my earliest memories, my childhood and how they are covered in blue crystal too. I recollect with vivid nostalgia the Sunday nights, the crystal-blue gloom of having to face yet another week.

"Is it strange, that even my earliest memories are impregnated with the Sunday evening blues?" I ask her.

She remains silent and kisses me with love. Just her lips, and mine, my face in her hands and her silent language.

I go back home, send her a note telling her it is just the Sunday evening blues, that I am making a cuppa tea and that I will spend the rest of the evening reading in my couch. Deep inside, she feels the boiling taste of orange pekoe tea on her tongue and she knows it is just the Sunday evening blues, the constant replaying of the coming week in my head, the crystal-blue voices... Deep inside she also knows that I miss my French lover, and that I will sink in my couch and read the Sunday secrets over at PostSecret thinking: I might have to send a crystal-blue card too...

Friday, September 10, 2010

From Homophobia to Islamophobia [and back]

It’s been a few days now since Pastor Terry Jones, the pentecostal preacher from Gainseville, Florida has been making the headlines. Author of the book Islam Is of the Devil, Mr. Jones has plans of burning copies of the Qur’an in order to commemorate the 9/11 attacks.

Since making the headlines, Pastor Jones and The Dove World Outreach Centre (that has a congregation of about 50) has been warned of the possible repercussions of such an act. While U.S. President Obama condemned such as act by arguing that “what he [Jones] is proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans”, and warned that the execution of such a plan would simply boost support for terrorism, General David Patreus, the commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan has warned that the burning would endanger the lives of US soldiers and the security of US troops.

Already, there have been various protests against the burning in Kabul and Pakistan where effigies of Mr. Jones have been burned alongside the American flag. Mr. Jones’ burning has also been condemned by Foreign Ministries of Indonesia, Bahrain and Pakistan amongst others.

Mr. Jones said on Wednesday that he would not cancel the Qur'an burning, and that his plan to burn the Islamic holy book was intended to draw attention to his belief that “something’s wrong.” What we probably also need to remember at this point is that a few months ago, in March and April 2010, Pastor Jones and The Dove World Outreach Centre had already pointed out to something else that was "wrong."

Indeed, Mr. Jones had also launched the “No Homo Mayor” campaign against the Gainseville mayoral candidate Craig Lowe. The congregation had posted an antigay video on its website urging citizens of Gainseville to take action. The video said: “ Here in Gainseville, they’re getting ready to have a run off election between two candidates, and one of them is openly a homo, gay... uh... a fag, whatever you want to call him. (...) We got one running for mayor of Gainseville, trying to convert Gainseville into Homoville. We can’t have it. (...) We cannot afford a homo mayor.”

Mr. Craig Lowe still got elected and became the first openly gay mayor of North Florida. Gainseville is home to 130,000 people, home to the University of Florida and is proud of its reputation for cultural diversity and tolerance.

According to South Florida Gay News (link here), Mr. Jones was ousted from practising in Germany because he “ran a church in the western German city of Cologne until last year when members of the congregation expelled him,” because “he wanted to help a homosexual member to pray away his sins.” In Germany, where civil unions have been legalized since 2001, where gays are allowed to openly serve in the military and where the Mayor of Berlin is openly gay, Mr. Jones’ behavior was seen as too “radical” and was thought to suffer of “delusional personality.”

[Read more about the Qur'an Burning on BBC here and here, on The Guardian here; and more about Mr. Craig Lowe, the openly gay mayor of Gainseville on the Advocate here and here.]

Something Borrowed & Something Blue [nothing old & nothing new]

I thought I'd write a series of posts
Of things borrowed and of things blue
About things old and about things new.
I thought I'd write our love story
My love story: that's how we met,
And fell in love, and then I thought:
Maybe... Maybe there's hope too?

I thought of French deaf women
Meeting English hearing women
Falling in love for the first time
With other women, exchanging vows too.
I thought I'd speak of all those odds:
Possible impossibilities, impossible possibilities,
Meeting on different continents, and loving too.

I thought I'd narrate our story
In the tongue that we shared, dreamt,
Made milky-way plans, that we destroyed too.
I also wanted to write us an ode,
A dedication to us, to you
But like wet earth that dries to scorching sun,
I ran out of words, of lines,
Of feelings, and of love too.

So this is the world's oldest story
Repeated heart-beat of a ballad ancient:
For I might have something borrowed,
I might have feelings blue,
But it's the same refrain, the same song
And that's nothing old and nothing new.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Over at Driving Fast on Loose Gravel, Mae Callen told us about The Gay Deaf wedding. Their wedding, she said was conducted in four languages: English, American Sign Language, French and Quebecois Sign Language. She also said that it rained during this simple wedding under a big tree in their backyard, that guests huddled under umbrellas and that "when a French Deaf woman, and an English hearing woman can meet, and fall in love, for the first time with another woman - well you know that there is hope for us all."

Slightly more than two years ago, a white French man met a half-brown/half-black Mauritian man in India. What were the odds? They fell in love, or so they claimed. At the time, I thought: 

Maybe... There actually is hope...

for all of us...

including me...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Something Borrowed

On Driving Fast on Loose Gravel, about Something Borrowed, Something Blue, here is what Mae Callen said: "And when a French Deaf woman, and an English hearing woman can meet, and fall in love, for the first time with another woman - well you know that there is hope for us all."

Is there... really...


... for all of us?