Just a joke: days 646 — 650

It’s the best medicine

Humour is a weird thing, but I believe it can be studied scientifically.

Experiment: take 14 or 15 budding standup comics, fresh out of a 5-week class, and have them give a 5-minute set one after the other in an apparently random order. 4 were men, all cis and straight*. The rest were women, all cis and only one openly queer in her set.

(* None of them pinged my LGBTdar and I figured they’d have worked it in their material, so I feel pretty confident in my diagnosis.)

Result: all the women were funny, including the friend I’d gone to see. None of the guys were that funny. Jokes about Trudeau and other politicians, one guy joked about offending his Indigenous wife’s relatives with the word “Indian,” another joked about¬†creeping on 15-year-old girls or something… Their humour was largely lazy or mean, revolving around making fun of other people. The women talked about sex and menstruation and relationships and little details of life that are hilarious when viewed in the right light. There was empathy there, which I just didn’t get from the guys.

Conclusion: cishet dudes aren’t funny.

Does that sound harsh? Sorry, guys, I don’t make the rules. You can’t argue with science. And this isn’t an outlier, either; I’ve been to other default-straight standup shows that were much worse, with cringey overt misogyny where all punch lines boiled down to “cos bitches, am i right?”¬†I don’t need that kind of crap in my ear-holes.

Anyway, let us talk of happier things. Like foggy Sunday nights. I’d come home from vball still photoless, but fortunately I spied the Sheraton hotel surrounded by a nice halo of foggy drizzly damp. That would do nicely.

And fall colours. And more fall colours. And yet more fall colours. And a gorgeous shot of cloudy morning sky over Davie Street. Y’know, if self-discipline to go to the gym isn’t enough to get my ass moving in the morning, maybe the thought of more photos like this will do!

It’s not actually a Stargate: days 641 — 645

Chevron seven, locked!

This post is all about warm tones. The soft gold of a sunset, the russet on wood hues of a cider drink at the Storm Crow, the earthy tones of a cooked turkey, and oh look another sunset.

The only exception would be Friday night: as I came home from work, not feeling very inspired, I turned around and shot my street, with a glimpse of the North Shore mountains and orangey evening sky in the far background. It’s nice, I think, but kind of nondescript, so I’m extremely puzzled at how popular it eventually became. 23 likes on IG and 9 on Facebook, which for me is a lot. What am I missing? Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not complaining, I just… don’t get it. Not the first time this happened, and I figure that’s the way it goes. I’m good with it.

Saturday, just on an impulse, I went for a walk in Yaletown. I’ve shot photos of it before, mostly in the summer before and after grass volleyball. The real target (which I wasn’t even thinking about, but is obvious in hindsight) is this thing, which is very definitely not a Stargate. I’ve driven by it a million times, and always vaguely thought it was an homage to the franchise, even though the proportions are wrong. Turns out, though, it’s an homage to Yaletown’s industrial past, and this particular ring was part of the previous Cambie Bridge, which was a swing bridge to allow bigger boats to pass. Fascinating! This was all before my time, since Yaletown was all prettied up and gentrified for Expo 86. Only a few mementos like this exist anymore, including Engine 374 in the Roundhouse. I wonder how many others are around? That’d be a fun hunt.

The vegetarian spider: days 631 — 640

In her pretty little parlour

It’s been days of random stuff, taking in what Vancouver has to give me.

The Harvest Moon after volleyball. Harvest moons are apparently supposed to be orange for some reason, but I really couldn’t tell. And I’m a bit peeved that my phone still can’t take better full-night moonshots. Also, I’ll be honest: I’ve been doing that thing where I laze around all day Sunday, and only get off my ass to go play Intermediate. This shot was taken as I got home and realised I didn’t have a photo because I didn’t want to do yet another shot around the gym.

I really need to be better about that.

Mind you, Monday was looking up. Here’s a rare morning commute photo, of pigeons near Vancouver Centre Station. I also took a few closer shots of that one pigeon on the bike, but it turns out pigeons aren’t that pretty up close. Who knew?

Lately I’ve been pulling longer hours, so here are some photos I took as I got out of work: Granville Street. The West End from Burrard Bridge. The sunset from Burrard Bridge.

On Thursday I took the scenic(er) way home, along the waterfront for a bit. I really like this photo of Harbour Centre behind 333 Seymour, almost making it look like it’s the same building. And here’s one of North Vancouver. I do miss not having a physical zoom, but this photo’s all right.

I’m pretty sure I’ve shot the Vancouver Block Building before… maybe it was only years ago, back when I used Flickr? At first I wanted to capture the building alone, but that turned out to be impossible. I don’t mind though, this is a really good shot, contrasting the lovely white stone with the more modern glassy towers. MicroSoft wasn’t around in 1912, was it? No, I’m thinking of IBM. Which I don’t think is that old either but I’m too lazy to check.

Looking it it now, the photo has a little bit of a slant, which usually I try to correct before posting. This is all right, though. Gives the whole thing a certain je ne sais quoi. I’m slowly edging out of what I thought is acceptable, photography-wise. And maybe I’m making mistakes along the way, but that’s the fun of exploring.

The next day, coming home through Davie Village, I spied with my little eye… a spiderweb. Actually two webs, each with a pretty orb weaver in the middle, in some bushes by the sidewalk. I got as close as my lens would allow, careful not to disturb the webs, and noticed the biggest spider had a little seed in its web. Neat! Useless to her, but it made for a great picture which I’m absolutely including in my Year 2 retrospective.

And it got me thinking: are there any vegetarian spiders? Turns out, yes! Or, sort of. Bagheera kiplingi isn’t totally herbivorous, but it seems to be pretty close. Just goes to show, Nature has enough tricks up her sleeve to one-up any silly little jokey hashtag in your photos.

Werq the stairs: days 624 — 630

In which I reminisce about bookstores past

The weather in Vancouver is still mostly good: sunny when I go buy slip covers at Bed Bath & Beyond; or when I stroll to work in the morning; or when Vancouver House is framed by the setting sun and wispy cirri, and when I turn around and see Yaletown towers all tinted gold.

That one’s going in my 2018 retrospective for sure!

Things turned a little wetter on Thursday, though that also brought RAINBOWS. Believe it or not, I don’t remember seeing many rainbows in Vancouver. Maybe the conditions aren’t right, because if it’s overcast all the damn time you won’t get proper refraction? Don’t ask me, I’m not a rainbowologist.

But speaking of rainbows, it’s time for a stroll down queer memory lane…

1221 Thurlow Street was torn down last week. Not a big deal, I thought at first; the little Korean ribs place had been vacant for a while, and it’s far from the only West End spot to suffer this fate. However! I picked up on my social media feeds that this address was a very special one, for between 1983 and June 1996 it was the home of Little Sister’s, Vancouver’s LGBT bookstore. And then I did remember looking up the place when I moved out west in August ’96, because of course I did. And I vaguely remember being confused about which address it was at. I probably checked out both just to be sure.

Funny coincidence: the Vancouver Men’s Chorus sang a specially commissioned song about Little Sister’s in their summer show this year: the store was on the second floor above a restaurant, and on the landing was a little bulletin board where you could post classifieds, catch up on what was happening in the community, or cruise other book-lovers. Though I’ve never known the store at its old Thurlow Street location, I can easily imagine what it was like. Let’s travel further back…

After coming out in 1992, one of my my favourite places to hang out was After Stonewall, Ottawa’s LGBT bookstore. David Rimmer, the owner, was the sweetest guy you’ll ever meet; he was the first to tell me what “Stonewall” meant, and sold me the freedom rings that were all the rage back then, and which I still flaunt ever year at Pride. It was on the second floor too! 105 Fourth Avenue, just off Bank Street. A quaint little house in a quiet neighbourhood, easily accessible by transit. And am I dreaming, or was the House of Speculative Fiction located on the ground floor? Yeah, I’m pretty sure it was. Boy, there’s a gateway drug for you: grab all the curious folks and fill them with tales of other worlds, other genders and sexualities, then get them curious about the other bookstore upstairs…

After Stonewall was a safe space, where a young queer nerd could stop and relax and learn and try to find himself. It was cozy, and crowded with books and magazine racks and greeting cards and the little table with jewellery across from (ie: 5 feet from) the cash register. Their new space at 370 Bank St was bigger, more accessible and closer to downtown, but maybe it lost some of that cozy familiarity? Then again, maybe that’s just nostalgia talking. I believe both After Stonewall and Little Sister’s gained more than they lost by moving to their new digs. We don’t need to hide our bookstores away on second floors of small old houses anymore.

Still… yeah, I get it. If I heard 105 Fourth Avenue was torn down, I’d mourn. And first chance I got I’d visit the spot, and try to listen for the ghosts, the sounds of pages being turned, of baby queers hungering to discover a history and culture they never knew.

But hey, let’s end this post on a happier note: RuPaul. I remember reading about her for the first time in The Advocate (probably) and being very confused with how articles mostly used “she/her” but sometimes “he/him”—hey, we’re not born knowing the nuances of gender and drag, right?—She was at the ’93 March on Washington, which I still probably have a VHS tape of somewhere. I remember clearly one bit where she said “People always ask me where I see myself in ten years. I see myself in the White House, baby!” Which, well, didn’t quite happen. But Ru did go on to superstardom and, as problematic as the show is, RuPaul’s Drag Race has elevated many, many queens to stardom as well, and brought drag into the light.

A few of these drag stars were in Vancouver Saturday on the Werq The World tour: the top four of Season 10 (Eureka, Asia O’Hara, Kameron Michaels and Aquaria); Valentina from Season 9; Kim Chi and Bob the Drag Queen from Season 8. It was an awesome evening. Bob is hilarious, Kim Chi is gloriously nerdy, Kameron is beautiful, and I guess Asia will never live the butterfly thing down.

Who knew all this would be possible twenty-five years ago? Who would have thought parents would ever bring small children to a drag show? Who would have thought a year ago I’d ever be a Drag Race fan? But it is, and they did, and I am. Just goes to show, you never know what the future will bring.

Fringe and foilage: days 611 — 623

[sic]

It’s still summer—technically—but you wouldn’t know it from looking around. The sky’s greyer, the air is cooler, and the trees are turning all sorts of lovely shades.

We start off late Labour Day evening, as I went on one of my impulsive walks and ended up at the A-Maze-ing Laughter public art thing by English Bay. I’ve shot a few public art pieces in this challenge so far, but never this one. Maybe because it was out of my way? But I walked around the laughing men, noting how the light changed when cars turned from Davie on Denman. Tried to use that but there wasn’t enough traffic late at night… oh well, I didn’t need the extra light anyway.

The first photo of fall foliage marks the end of summer, right? These half-orange leaves up the street had been taunting me for a few days, and I finally gave in on the way to work. Other fallen leaves beckoned, and eventually I started seeing red everywhere.

I’m told film folks call this “the magic hour”: that time when the setting sky tinges everything with just a hint of gold. It looks especially lovely on Vancouver’s silver towers, and the little patch of reflected light in the water is a great bonus. I’d say I was lucky to catch it, but this was just one of about ten photos I shot on Granville Bridge. Luck had nothing to do with it.

Another way I know summer’s over? Indoor volleyball is starting. Whether that’s drop-in at Britannia or with VGVA, no more burning my feet on sand, or slipping on goose poop at David Lam. I’m gonna miss all that, but I’ve also missed indoor 6’s play. So it’s all good.

(Also: Jeebus, my 18th year! They’ve been pretty good years overall.)

Mid-September is Fringe Festival time, and one of the shows I planned to see was a Die Hard parody. Problem, though: I’d never seen the movie! Solution: watch Die Hard with my Fringe-going friend so we’re both ready!

So let’s talk about the Fringe Fest. I saw a total of 9 shows: 4 on Saturday the 8th, 1 on Monday the 10th, 3 on Thursday the 13th, and 1 on Saturday the 15th. In order:

Fake Ghost Tours: a very silly and definitely 100% true peek behind the veil at Granville Island’s supernatural past, complete with stories of horny sailors, man-eating seals, burning bees, tragic crinoline and ghost gentrification. Some parts could have used a little more planning (walking around on narrow streets, and getting in people’s way when we stopped), but even the goofy janky stuff was clearly rehearsed and polished. 2 irreverent thumbs up, and I’m glad it wasn’t raining.

Dyck Spacee: an improv number in the style of an old-timey radio show about a daring detective and his tough-as-nails secretary sidekick… which fell flat. Maybe other performances were better, but in this one they had a lot of trouble keeping up the energy, the narrator (I felt) took too much control of the action, and the other players couldn’t play off each other since they were all facing the audience and their mics. So it seems to me the show’s very format was working against it.

I posted a hashtagged selfie to enter some draw but I felt kind of bad about it.

Die Hard: The Musical-ish: Oh my sweet Eighties, I Eighties loved this Eighties song and dance extravaganza to all things Eighties. A fourth-wall-breaking retelling of the movie’s plot, with the expensive scenes papered over, drizzled with Top 40 hits from the era, it was a delicious feast for the eyes and ears.

Hullaboo and the End of Everything asks “what happens to imaginary friends when their human stops believing in them?” It’s a quirky and affecting piece about growing up, gracefully accepting the inevitability of change, and facing the moral choice to become a monster. Awesome.

I picked Trevor and Margaret mostly because it was playing at XY in my ‘hood. It’s the… interesting tale of an unrepentant abusive asshole, his girlfriend and his father. I liked it? Kinda? Well done, though it was unpleasant to sit through sometimes.

Fun fact: in the director’s notes, Trevor is identified as a gay man, though he’s played by a straight man and doesn’t himself identify as gay (he has a girlfriend / fiancée and sleeping with guys is just “a hobby”). Interesting bit of casting.

Precious Little: I’m a sucker for stories about stories. About language and communication and consciousness and memories and difficult life decisions and oh my god this was so good. Hard to summarise since there were so many interweaving plotlines and layers, but trust me, it was wonderful.

Bonnie & Clyde: The last days of the notorious outlaws, as they reminisce about their lives and we flash forward to their deaths. My friend was bored out of her tree, but I loved the acting, the contrast of gritty reality vs soaring legend, past dreams vs precarious present. Maybe not everybody’s cup of whiskey, but I liked it, and that’s all that matters.

The Shape of Things: a tale of art, truth, betrayal and transformation. Beautiful, cruel, infuriating, hurting so good in all my heart’s tender spots, it was all those things, and smarter than me, because I seriously did not see the twist until it was right in front of my face. Great job.

Angels and Aliens: an awkward hookup leads to a universe-controlling game as two roommates process their feelings for each other while competing to shape human destiny. Smart, sweet, funny and wonderfully acted. Many thumbs up.

Goodbye grey skies hello blue: days 597 — 610

I can breathe again

The smoke hit its peak in Vancouver right after the VQFF ended. Even at night the smog was visible, and the moon very orange. Sunsets were very, very orange. The North Shore Mountains were very, very grey.

Tuesday was the worst; for whatever reason I wanted to see what Lost Lagoon looked like, and I was not disappointed. I do love this photo—and I am planning to including it in my Year 2 retrospective—but I hate what it represents. I don’t want this to happen next year, but I’m scared that this is the new normal until we run out of forest to burn.

The very next day, things were looking up! And kept looking up that evening as I enjoyed a drag show at XY in support of Positive Living BC. Look at all these lovely ladies!

Visually, sunsets were back to normal too, which means a lot of sunset pics. Here’s Digital Orca, one of the many public art pieces around the Convention Centre! And here’s a nice little one taken from Prospect Point. I’d been wanting to make the trek there for a while, and now I know (a) the best way to do it, and (b) that I can walk under Lions Gate Bridge. And (c) there’s a pedestrian walkway under Second Narrows Bridge, overlooking the train tracks! Now that’s one for my bucket list.

But also, in this late August week, I saw many hints that the summer was ending. I call this series “Shadows on Buildings in the West End”. You wouldn’t see these angles if the sun weren’t so low in the sky. The annual end-of-summer BBQ and croquet evening at my friend Kenn’s house in the burbs is another sign of the times, as is my annual pilgrimage to the PNE to check out the horsies and cows and pigs and assorted critters; and also, the main exhibit which seems to always be some permutation of nerdy sci-fi stuff, and an excuse to trot out old arcade games. One year it was Missile Command, this year in happened to be Donkey Kong. Not that I’m complaining (too much), but it does get kinda repetitive. One year they had a whole thing on the history of candy, that was original. I’d like to see something like that again.

The seagull framed by the setting sky, I don’t know what that portends.

So here we are, heading into September. I’ll miss summer, with the outdoor volleyball and Pride and all those fun activities. But I’m okay with this. Cold and rain and snow will help me appreciate the summer more when it comes around again. And hey, rain has its own beauty, as does fall foliage of course! Not to mention that indoor volleyball starts next week. I’m looking forward to this new season, and to see what I will make of it.

PS: because I couldn’t find a way to fit it anywhere else, here’s a photo of a bee landing on a flower. It was one of half a dozen I took around the Maillardville Village clock, and I didn’t realise later just how gorgeous it is. Look at those wings, they’re only a little blurry! According to Wikipedia a bee’s wings beat 230 times / sec, and according to the EXIF metadata on my phone, the shutter speed was 1/3906 s. Holy cow, I didn’t know my phone could do that! Thanks Pixel 2, I got to marvel at a bit of Nature I never thought I’d see just with the phone in my pocket.

The 2018 Vancouver Queer Film Festival: days 583 — 596

Moving pictures in pictures

The week after Pride is always kind of weird. My first draft for this post was titled “The in-between time”, because it really is: a few days between big public pageantry and parades, and the more low-key (but no less sincere) pageantry of queer cinema.

BC Day, I finally got my ass off the couch and down to Sunset Beach, where for some reason I decided to walk / crawl down to the end of that little spit of rocks facing Burrard Bridge. I probably looked like a huge twit edging my way cautiously along those rocks, and I probably won’t do it again soon because it really wasn’t that fun, but the view was nice.

You know one thing I love about the West End? All the random little gnome doors and things. This one is on the 1500 block of Nelson Street.

Oh, and the other way this time of year is “in-between”: grass volleyball at David Lam Park is over, and all I have left is the memories of the junk food I had at the nearby DQ.

Thursday, the opening gala! I’ve already blogged about all the feels the show made me feel, so I won’t repeat myself. Summary: all the feels.

Friday, Octavio is Dead!‘s overly shaky cam made me leave halfway through. Too bad, though, because it looked really interesting. I meandered towards the seawall and walked home, snapping a pretty sunset on the way.

Saturday I had to check out the brand-new Burnaby Pride! Not so big now, but I’m sure it’ll grow. And that night I saw Alaska is a Drag, which is actually not a biopic of Alaska Thunderfuck. No, it’s a very enjoyable story of boxing, drag and crazy dreams in a small Alaska fishing town. I felt the resolution came right out of nowhere but it was a fun ride.

Sunday, the Sets on the Beach tournament, which meant summer vball season with VGVA was really and truly over. Which is a bit sad, but it means I get my Sundays back for a little while! I had planned on seeing a couple movies that night, but soon figured that was absolutely not going to happen. Too bad, I really wanted to see The Fruit Machine; Freelancers Anonymous looked good too.

Monday: a double showing of Troublemakers 3.0 (a super-inspirational series of interviews between local LGBTQ+ elders and youth) and 50 Years of Fabulous, the story of San Francisco’s Imperial Council. I went for the history, because though we have our own court system (the Dogwood Monarchist Society) I always saw it as a rather silly and outdated social thing, but I was impressed by the good they’ve done, and still do. Plus I learned a lot about pre-Stonewall queer history! And had to laugh at how the first Empress named herself after Joshua Norton, who also reinvented himself as royalty. Only in San Francisco!

Hey, remember that nice pink sunset from Friday? Say goodbye to all that. The smoke reached us, and a week later and the sky still hasn’t cleared. In fact it’s only gotten worse. I took a break from movies Tuesday—had to pace myself, and nothing really jumped out at me, so that was all right.

After White Rabbit, the Wednesday centrepiece gala, I wandered home and took a shot of Emery Barnes Park. Not my first, but I wasn’t feeling super-inspired, photo-wise, and my head was full of the movie. It was a weird and kooky piece, and apparently very open to interpretation. One saw it as about moving on from trauma, and being present and grateful. Me, I didn’t get the “trauma” part; I saw it more as a tale of alienation and performance, each of us locked in our little worlds reaching out for true connection. When you find it, that’s a real gift. When you connect with yourself, your inspiration and your bliss, that’s a gift too.

Or at least, that’s what I got from it.

Thursday: out at SFU Woodward’s I saw the amazing Saturday Church, a musical featuring queer / trans youth of colour in New York. It’s beautiful and heartwarming with gorgeous song and dance numbers.

Friday at the York Theatre: the first show was a short (1/2 hour-ish) film on the Vancouver Men’s Chorus, followed by a Q&A, but preceded by a great song-and-dance number of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now. Goddamn, that song is catchy. And it was followed by The Coast is Queer, the annual (and always excellent) showcase of local LGBTQ+ filmmakers.

Saturday: a documentary on the Leitis of Tonga. I found it a fascinating look at traditional Pacific Islander third genders, royalty and old social orders, imported Christian homophobia and transphobia, and modern human rights discourse—but still centering the real flesh-and-blood people at the heart of it all. Great stuff, but that’s what I expected from the makers of Kumu Hina. The other show I saw, Malila: The Farewell Flower, was less engaging. I was intrigued by the description of a tragic love story steeped in Buddhist spirituality, but I feel it lost a lot in translation. Oh well, that’ll happen.

Between shows I went out for a walk in Gastown.

And the closing gala: The Miseducation of Cameron Post, a movie about fundie Xian gay therapy that still managed to be pretty funny. Didn’t think they’d manage it, but here we are. I think they must have toned down the real psychological torture somewhat, though what we saw was still very nasty. Quibble: I would have liked to see the main characters do more than run away—that place needed to burn! Still, I’ll take what I can get.

Summary of my VQFF experience

(hey, haven’t done one of these in a while!)

Number of shows seen: 11.5. Not a bad number, though!

Favourite feature film: 1985. With very close runners-up Saturday Church (which won the OutTV Go People’s Choice Award) and 50 Years of Fabulous.

Favourite short film: Pass the Salt and Colors (winner of the Gerry Brunet Memorial Award for best short). Oh, and The Pigeon.

Shows I would have liked to see but didn’t: Oh boy, there’s a lot!

  • Octavio is Dead! on the first Friday— I saw half of it, so I guess that counts? Would like to see the rest.
  • The Fruit Machine on Sunday — I already knew some of the story, but it never hurts to brush up. Unfortunately I realised I’d have no energy after Sets on the Beach
  • Freelancers Anonymous also on Sunday, looked like a fun time
  • A Moment in the Reeds looked sexy and I heard good things about it later, but I gave myself a night off Tuesday
  • The Coast is Genderqueer — I really wanted to support this new show, but there was no way I could see both this and the Friday night shows I had planned
  • Indigiqueer Shorts From Turtle Island — I really was tempted, but I wanted to see Leitis in Waiting (which I enjoyed) and Malila: The Farewell Flower (which I didn’t enjoy so much).

Vancouver Queer Film Festival review: 1985

We know the story

I wasn’t planning to write reviews this year—too much going on, at work and elsewhere—but I’ve gotten my heart ripped out by the opening gala film and it is not letting go of me. I need to get it out of my head somehow, so here we go. The only review this year!

1985 is a simple and familiar story. If you haven’t lived it, then you know someone who has, or you’ve read about it. I realise it will probably best resonate with queers of a certain age, but 1985 was not that long ago, and though the height of AIDS paranoia is behind us, we still deal with Christian homophobia, fire-and-brimstone preachers on the radio, and Madonna’s latest tour. We still deal with shame and silence. Besides, aren’t the 80s all the rage these days? I half-expected Andrew to be fighting the Demogorgon or something.

Bottom line: we know this story. Its simplicity and familiarity is what makes it beautiful and heartbreaking to me. Director / screenwriter Yen Tan paints a picture with elegantly minimal storytelling, and I’m there. We’ve got a simple cast of characters: Adrian who escaped his small Texas town for the big gay city lights of New York; Andrew, his drama-class-loving little brother; salt-of-the-Earth Christian working-class parents who have no real clue how to relate to their children anymore; Carly, his hip, prickly bitch of a best friend who also managed to escape but only to Dallas, and with whom he hasn’t spoken since he left.

So Adrian is home for Christmas after three years away. Everything’s nice and Jesusy. The mom is sweet, the dad is a blue collar man’s man but nice enough. They ask about his job at the ad agency (it’s going great! in fact, he just got a promotion!); he offhandedly mentions some recurring bouts of stomach flu; they bring up Carly, who they still hope he’ll marry someday; Andrew confides to him about going to Madonna’s Virgin Tour concert, about their parents ripping down his Bryan Adams poster, and how local churches recently burned a bunch of pop and rock records.

We know this story.

We know this story and we already know the secrets everyone’s not telling and the silence is only making things worse. When Adrian and Carly reconnect by going to a gay bar (her idea) and her trying to jump his bones (he’s not yet out to her) and then calling him out on not calling or writing or anything, all he can say is that he wanted to make a fresh start in New York. Carly is pissed at this non-answer and kicks him out, leaving all his secrets still unsaid.

Sidenote: I both love and hate how much I related to Adrian in this scene. Though I was fortunate to grow up in not-small not-Texas Ottawa with a supportive family, I was acutely aware of the disconnect between the gay and straight worlds, and I knew in only one of those worlds could I find myself and be myself. And that was the nineties, how much worse would it have been a decade before? I also understand the urge to move far away, start over and never look back. Sad to say, I’m also not the best at staying in touch with old friends.

Come Christmas morning, Adrian’s gifts are lavish. A nice jacket for dad, a pretty cashmere shirt for mom, a big shopping spree at the local music store for Andrew, and a week at a Hawaii resort for the rest of the family. Not him, though, he’ll be too busy with his new responsibilities, but he wants everybody to have fun!

Secrets come out one by one. It turns out Adrian’s father knows pretty much everything—wanting to find out what his son was up to, he called up his job and then went to visit his neighbourhood. So now he knows that Adrian was fired from the ad agency, and saw him with his arms around another man. However—big stoic Texas man that he is—he wouldn’t even have said anything if Adrian hadn’t chanced on him drinking alone in the backyard. He was ready to take this secret to his grave, and makes Adrian swear never to tell his mother.

Adrian later reconciles with Carly and tells her everything. He can barely make ends meet since getting fired for being gay, he has AIDS, already buried several friends, doesn’t expect to see another Christmas and just wanted to see everybody one last time. In spite of his protestations that she wouldn’t be able to handle it, Carly promises to be there for him no matter what.

And his mother? It’s not clear what clues she picked up, but she seems equally on the ball. While dropping Adrian off at the airport, she gently tells him he can tell her… when he’s ready. Adrian briefly breaks down, but does not tell her anything.

The ending montage is accompanied by a voiceover of Adrian recording a message for Andrew. I don’t remember the details, but it’s a message of encouragement and hope: that he may grow up to feel different, but if he stays true to himself and nurtures his gifts, he’ll be okay.

So… some thoughts:

The movie is shot in black-and-white (the description specifying that it’s B&W 16mm); I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that stylistic choice. It’s how old-school home movies are shot, right? And this is nothing if not an intimate family movie. My first impression was that it heightened the disconnect between that era and this one; and, maybe it was part of the minimalist storytelling, trimming down some extraneous details to make the audience focus on the action and dialogue.

It only struck me later that at no point in the film do we see any of the main characters actually utter the words “gay” or “AIDS”. All the big revelations are done offscreen, between scene cuts. Even now they all keep dancing around each other, never telling the full truth. It’s okay, though. We already know.

And the big question: is this a hopeful film? It certainly doesn’t look like one on paper, but the more I think about it, the more I believe it’s full of hope shining through the darkness. All these secrets are just coming out, all these connections growing. But is it too late?

Adrian will die. We know his story, we know how it ends. Or do we? His story isn’t over yet: the ending montage shows him back in a New York club surrounded by friends, dancing and kissing a guy. Maybe he’ll be among those who make it. But even if he isn’t, we know he’s already made a difference. There are other stories just beginning, another queer generation just being born. We can’t change the past. But it’s never too late to change the future.

Pride week: days 576 — 582

Being gay enough

We start off with… a big boat in the Coal Harbour Marina. For all I know it’s owned by some rich gay sugar daddy! So, you know, let’s count this as queer representation.

Tuesday was LOLGBTQ!, a fundraiser for Qmunity featuring diverse local queer / trans comics. All with different takes on the funny, and all fucking hilarious. It was a smashing success, and there’s talk of making it a semi-regular event.

Wednesday, fireworks. We got there after volleyball, just before the show started, so we had to stay at the southern tip of Sunset Beach. View wasn’t too bad, though, and it did mean I didn’t have to worry about blocking people behind me as I took photos.

Thursday, the Big Gay Sing! Take some VMC members, add a whole bunch of fans who may or may not actually have good singing voices, project lyrics on screen, and away you go. I think I missed it last year for whatever reason, and I’m sorry I did because it’s always a blast. The audience was loud enough that those nearest me probably only got minor auditory damage.

And on the fifth day, he rested.

Saturday, busy busy. First the Dyke March. Some friends were marching, but they were all nonbinary or woman-identifying, so I took the hint and figured hey, it’s been a while, why not just sit back and watch for once? I really do love the Dyke March, how small and community-focused it is, and way more radically political than Sunday’s Pride Parade. No big floats from banks or telecoms or whatnot, but you do see signs like this.

Home, nap, recharge, then briefly out for a little private cocktail party, then off to the final night of fireworks. Different crowd, different location: this time we set up shop north of the Inukshuk, right at the water’s edge, as close to the barge as possible while still staying on land. And when I say “at the water’s edge” I mean we worried the rising tide would reach our blankets. Still, it was totally worth it for these absolutely amazing shots.

And then, the parade. As per usual, I walked with Greater Vancouver Allied Athletics, an umbrella group of many of Vancouver’s LGBT sports organisations. Also as per usual, I had a great time. The crowds were fierce, the boys were hot, those guys with water guns on Denman were very much welcome. Though I say so myself, I looked quite smashing in a volleyball jersey, beads, the old freedom rings I’ve had for over a quarter century, and the Storm Crow rainbow pin with the BLM colours… but then you’ve got some people like my friend Zak who only need flawless pecs and abs.

Anyway, the day was great. After the parade I went to a late lunch with some volleyball peeps, then home to recuperate. They were going to Numbers for drinks and karaoke, but this little introvert was running on fumes; I needed a shower and a bit of “me” time before I was ready to face the crowds again. I finally headed out… and waited in line over 45 minutes with music from the dance floor blaring in my ear… and I was done. Full stop, batteries dead, I headed home, and that was the end of my Pride week.

Well, not quite the end, since I could hear the whole neighbourhood partying for a few more hours—that’s what you get for living in the West End. And I’ll admit, I felt the FOMO… I know there’ll always be a part of me that wants to be with the Cool Kids, going to the coolest parties and flashing the coolest pecs. I ironically captioned my selfie with “am I gay enough”, because I’d covered myself in rainbow crap and, well, on this day can you ever have too much rainbow crap? But a part of me feels the pressure to do Pride the Right Way, meaning partypartyparty in clubsclubsclubs.

I know that’s not me, and I’m (mostly) okay with it. I also know that I’m doing more and more social things at Pride every year, and I am totally okay with that too. Social skills are skills that can be practiced, and social stamina can likewise be improved with practice. I am practicing. And I am improving.

I dunno, maybe sequins or rhinestones on my outfit next year?

Pride prologue: days 566 — 575

Opening acts

We start on my birthday weekend, which was actually a week after my actual birthday. Blame my friends for having stuff already planned, and myself for planning things at the last minute. 47 isn’t a number with a lot of oomph, right? On the bright side, it’s just a number, and birthdays are arbitrary dates anyway. I can celebrate anytime, and did.

Sunday was the Pride Sports Day, formerly Picnic in the Park. Not only did they rebrand, they moved it from Brockton Oval to Second Beach. Probably for the best: more accessible, a bit more parking, more shade around the park, more stuff nearby. I kinda didn’t want to go, since it was hot, and I still had beach vball in the afternoon. But, a bit more practice wouldn’t hurt, I felt I should support Pride events, and it would get me out of the house. So off I went.

And it was fun! I ended up not playing much volleyball, instead sitting (in the shade!) in the VGVA booth. And eating popcorn.

Monday I saw pictures of BLM-Vancouver’s March On Pride. It looks like they added brown and black lines to at least one of the rainbow walkways at Bute & Davie, and I got the urge to see what it looked like as soon as I got out of work. Kinda faded now, but someone did helpfully point out that it was Art. And I agree.

Looks like the new 8-stripe rainbow (6 + brown + black) is spreading beyond Philadelphia. I wonder how it’ll compete with the old-school 8-stripe (6 + pink + indigo) even in the same city. That’ll be fun to watch.

Then, a bunch of non-queer stuff during the rest of the week. A little table under Burrard Bridge (do people actually use it? I guess that was queer in the sense of “odd”); a lovely shot of the evening sky from David Lam Park; some random sights and Canadian passive-aggressive graffiti on my evening commute.

On Friday I went to the Pride Premiere party at the Vancouver Art Gallery. It was a fun time, though I got there too late to see the main drag acts. That’s because I was hanging out at a friend’s rented condo in the Sheraton Wall Centre. A deluxe apartment in the sky, you might say. It’s a gorgeous view of both the city and the sunset, but my acrophobia was acting up something fierce. I could not live long with these floor-to-ceiling windows, and the occasional bout of vertigo. No, seriously, I lost my balance twice in an hour. Guess I’ll stay in my 2nd floor apartment a while longer.

Saturday, instead of watching the fireworks I decided to get the hell out of the West End to watch movies. A very good one (Ant-Man and the Wasp) and a very not good one (this atrocity. Wasn’t even the first time I saw it. I regret nothing). Sunday was the last day of VGVA beach vball. That’s… kind of bittersweet. The summer’s not over, but it won’t stay forever. Silver lining: I’ll be grateful when the weather cools down.

More Pride events coming up this week. Vancouver’s only just begun to queer.