Between the lines

Who are you?

Richard Burnett
Queer spaces and places : that was the working title of a conference panel on identity and community that Queer McGill asked me to speak on this past winter. And with the increasing assimilation of everything queer into the mainstream, it certainly is important to remember who we are and who we aren't. Many of us continue to believe queers and straights are very much alike except for what we do in bed (and even that's stretching it...). But scanning mainstream magazines and daily newspapers should make us see and understand otherwise. I mean, how else can you explain Canadian Alliance leadership contender Stockwell Day who, when questioned by journalist Matthew Hays of the Montreal Mirror (June 8), says of gays working in his campaign, "First of all, as far as my campaign, I don't ask people if they're homosexual, lesbian or heterosexual. People who are working on my campaign are doing so because they believe in me. That doesn't mean that they necessarily agree 100 per cent with everything I believe. But in principle they're saying we think you can take this Alliance to the next step and we think you'd be good for Canada. So I don't ask. Nobody has to pass a sex test to be on this campaign."

I say any faggot happily campaigning for social conservatives like Stockwell Day — folks who'd like nothing more than to see everything queer outlawed — should have their asses whipped.

"In life, I guess the beautiful thing about the human experience is that we can agree to disagree and still be together. I have yet to meet any other individual, including my wife, who agrees 100 per cent with me on everything. I work with a lot of people, where we have disagreements in many areas. But you know, we call our campaign a campaign of respect. I appreciate that I can work with people and even sit down and talk about our differences and why we disagree and sometimes you find mutual ground when you do that, and sometimes you don't. But you respect each other as human beings and can still work together."

Yeah, and I really respect Day's facility for not answering questions. A professional liar, if ever I heard one. Hays, of course, kept the best question for last : What would Day say if his son was gay?

"Do you know what?" Day retorts, "On personal family items, I never drag my family into the discussions. I just don't think it's fair. I don't want to drag my family into the spotlight, other than my wife, who I do drag around... My personal life is fair game, yes, but I don't reflect on my kids. I appreciate your question, but I don't want to discuss that."

Just imagine having that loathsome excuse for a human being as your father. Ughh.

Things don't get much better over at the National Post, who headlined a June 10 piece on World Pride in Rome this July, "Gays seeking dust-up with church."

Now, we all know Conrad Black is as wonderful a human being as Stockwell Day, except with some of the world's most influential newspapers under his control, this press baron has the power to make queer lives quite miserable.

Aspects of the increasingly bitter fight between World Pride organizers and City of Rome officals — not to mention the Vatican which is conducting its own smear campaign to get World Pride cancelled — are all slanted in favour of the anti-gay forces. World Pride organizers, for instance, are depicted as insufferable militant activists, and all gays and lesbians are consistently, clinically described as 'homosexuals'.
"The compromise proposal for a brief postponement [of World Pride], however, was doomed from the outset..." the Post reports, because of gay intransigence. "The prospect of U.S.-style showdowns has dismayed some Italian homosexuals, who have long followed the rule: Don't tell, don't ask, just be what you are."

Now *that's* the kind of homosexual the Stockwell Days and Conrad Blacks of the world really like: closeted dykes and fags who won't rock their world.

"It is not legitimate to throw one's intimate life in the public's face," the Post quotes gay filmmaker and 'practicing Catholic' Franco Zefirelli. "Exhibiting such shameless showing off does not help refute the sort of platitudes that trap homosexuals into sad and squalid clichés."

When even our own turn against us, that is why we need queer spaces and places more than ever. I've said it before and it bears repeating, if our lives were left to the Stockwell Days and Conrad Blacks and Franco Zefirellis of the world, we would always be seen and treated as less than human. And our predisposal to integrate and internalize this homophobia is often the price of our own assimiliation. So remember during Pride this summer exactly who you are.

Richard Burnett's nationally syndicated column Three Dollar Bill can be read locally in Montreal's Hour magazine and the Ottawa X Press.