Toronto Media Co-op

Local Independent News

More independent news:
Do you want free independent news delivered weekly? sign up now
Can you support independent journalists with $5? donate today!

The Other New Gays Talk Back

Interviews from "Dawn of a New Gay, or Drawn Out Old Story?"

by Frida Press

Elie
Elie

Below are the transcripts from the interviews used in the article "Dawn of A New Gay, Or Drawn Out Old Story?"

ELIE:

What was your reaction to the article, “Dawn of a New Gay”?

To be completely honest, my initial reaction was "Why the hell did no one tell me my bow-tie was crooked?". I hadn't had time to read the full article till after the backlash had started but it didn't take me long to be just as appalled as everyone else. I was disgusted at the writer's arrogance and thought the piece reeked of privilege and ignorance. Beyond that, I was mortified that people thought that I, as well as the other guys on the cover, agreed with the article's content let alone were interviewed for it. We were only sent 5 questions on the day the piece was going to print to use as quotes placed under our individual photos and had nothing to do with the direction the article took.

 

Who are you? (Please give us a brief self-summary to give context as to who you are in society. Please include things such as gender, sexuality, race, where from, any privileges held or not held you think is worth mentioning that inform your reality.)

I'm a 24 year old Lebanese guy who grew up in Dubai, U.A.E. and moved to Montreal in 2003 to study at Concordia University.

 

Aguirre-Livingston lists a few things that 'we' the post-modern gays apparently have. Do you have a university degree? Tell me a bit about getting it.

I graduated from Concordia University with degrees in Human Relation and Creative Writing. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have been able to immigrate to Canada to get a degree while also escaping the incredible amount of homophobia and hate present in the Middle East. Post-secondary education is the reason I came to Canada, the safety and acceptance I have here is the reason I stayed.

 

 Do you have a home? (Take that in whatever context you like, not just a roof.)

I only moved to Toronto a few months ago so although I may have a roof over my head, I'm still building my social network here. This city is large enough that you can completely disappear in it should you not have a good group around you but I must admit that the support and feedback post-The Grid has definitely made me feel like moving to Toronto was a smart move on my part.

 

What about a career?

I'm still bouncing around, so I'll have to get back to you on that one. I have started a small greeting card company with a friend which will be launched on Etsy soon though.

 

How do you feel about the statement, “Post-mos don't hang rainbow flags in their windows or plaster them on their bumpers. Do you? If not, why not?”

I think that's a ridiculous statement because I think the idea of the 'post-mo' is ridiculous to start with. I have a flag but whether or not I hang it anywhere has nothing to do with my support for and my involvement with the LGBT community. A person can plaster a rainbow sticker on everything he owns but do nothing more for the community and you can have another person who's never once touched a rainbow flag in his life but spends every waking hour fighting for equal rights in Canada and abroad. The rainbow is an incredibly important symbol for our community and anyone who disregards it is spitting in the face of everyone who made it possible for us to live freely today.

 

How much does the difference in class (economic position in society) have in this retelling of the gay narrative? What is your experience with your narrative being silenced by gays of the privilege described by Aguirre-Livingston, whether yours is more common or not?

Had my parents not been able to afford sending me abroad to study, I'd still be stuck in Dubai where homosexuality is punishable by death. I'm incredibly fortunate to have been able to leave and I'm very conscious of the fact that there are many others in Canada and around the world who aren't as lucky as I am. 

A lot has been said about the disposal income and significant buying power that gay men now possess, but this is an exclusively city-centric and extremely narrow narrative. If we are to venture to more rural areas of this country, we'd still find an incredible amount of people who don't have the means to move away to relatively safer cities which completely contradicts the retelling of what it's like to be gay today. Beyond that, this doesn't even touch the thousands who end up on the streets because they're families don't accept them for who they are and are forced into homelessness.

 

What deeper issues with the gay community, the world of journalism or Canadian society in general do you feel the article makes obvious to you?

I think the article brought light to the fact that certain members of my generation have the tendency to be apathetic. Yes we may have more rights than ever before and most of us didn't have to fight to earn them to start with, but the work is not done and the struggle is not over. We're still being persecuted in every corner of the globe and it's our duty to help make sure that every LGBT individual on this planet can live as openly and freely as we do. In saying that, sweeping statements such as that are even more poignant when you think about all the people still being gay bashed in the supposedly queer friendly metropolitan cities that we live in. 

 

Do you feel that your experience as a queer person in their twenties living in Toronto was described by Aguirre-Livingston's article in the Grid? What is your experience, if not the utopic world of cottage weekends, accepting parents, and running multi-billion dollar companies that he describes for the 'post-modern gay'?

I don't think it was accurately described in the article and I'm sure most people will agree with me when I say that his experience is rare. My parents aren't as tolerant as Aguirre-Livingston's are and reacted extremely negatively when my homosexuality was brought to light. Not only did I receive a three hour beating and was told by own mother that she'd forget she ever gave birth to me had I 'chosen' to be gay, I was also forced to read the Bible for months to pray 'the gay away' and ask God for forgiveness and was treated like a leper by my family for a very long time. Instead of going to the cottage on the weekends, I was almost thrown out on the street at the age of 13. My story is not unique and there are millions of others out there who have similar (and often worse) experiences. I'm lucky to have gone through what I did and come out stronger on the other side. I've said this before and I'll say it again, we're very lucky to live with the rights and the privileges that we do, but we're far from living in the utopic world that the article claimed we live in.

 

Is there anything else you'd like to say about the article or the issues it draws to light?

Paul Aguirre-Livingston's experience is his and no one should discredit him that. One day, someone will write an article similar to his (albeit less arrogant, ignorant, and irresponsible) and it will come at a time when it's appropriate and accurate to everyone's experience. As I stated in my response in The Gaily, the silver lining here is that the LGBT community has been galvanized and everyone's passion for the community has been fired up which is something that needs to be done every once in a while.

 

JOHN:

What was your reaction to the article, “Dawn of a New Gay”?

This article was so stupid. The writer seems preoccupied with his own life and unable to see that it isn't everyone else's.

 

Who are you? (Please give us a brief self-summary to give context as to who you are in society. Please include things such as gender, sexuality, race, where from, any privileges held or not held you think is worth mentioning that inform your reality.)

I am a straight-acting, masculine man and I am gay. I am twenty six, half Jamaican and half Canadian, from Toronto. I will never tell my family or friends that I am attracted to men because they will never accept it and they will hate me. I will marry a woman because if I don't they will suspect. If they found out they would disown me and likely try to kill me.

 

Aguirre-Livingston lists a few things that 'we' the post-modern gays apparently have. Do you have a university degree? Tell me a bit about getting it.

I am studying part-time but I work as a landscaper.

 

 Do you have a home? (Take that in whatever context you like, not just a roof.)

I rent a room in an apartment building. I don't own my own home.

 

What about a career?

I've been doing manual labour and construction for the last eight years, but I want to get into nursing.

 

How do you feel about the statement, “Post-mos don't hang rainbow flags in their windows or plaster them on their bumpers. Do you? If not, why not?”

If I were straight I would think that it's stupid so if were out and gay I probably wouldn't either. People should do what they want though and I think gay guys our age do hang rainbow flags. I see them all the time in residence at school.

 

Do you feel that your experience as a queer person in their twenties living in Toronto was described by Aguirre-Livingston's article in the Grid? What is your experience, if not the utopic world of cottage weekends, accepting parents, and running multi-billion dollar companies that he describes for the 'post-modern gay'?

No definitely not. My life has been nothing like this. I grew up in a family with five other brothers and sisters. My brothers and sisters all either live with our parents or are on welfare. All that stuff he wrote about suits and neckties and weekends at the cottage I was thinking “this guy doesn't know anyone who didn't have a trust fund” or something.

 

Is there anything else you'd like to say about the article or the issues it draws to light?

No.

 

 

TYSON:

What was your reaction to the article, “Dawn of a New Gay”?

When people said something that didn't fit with his opinion, it didn't make it into the article. In journalism you interview people to find out what's going on, in blogs you don't.

“He says things like the young gays of today, but instead he means 'me'”. “It's not, it him. His experience. If he were writing “you know what, I don't like the village and don't identify with queer politics” in his blog that would be fine.

 

Who are you? (Please give us a brief self-summary to give context as to who you are in society. Please include things such as gender, sexuality, race, where from, any privileges held or not held you think is worth mentioning that inform your reality.)

I am a twenty five year old queer poly trans-man, originally from Nova Scotia and resident of Toronto for the past four years. I am Metis although I pass most often with white male privilege and yet I have not experienced the utopic gay life Aguirre-Livingston describes in his article. I don't have a university degree, though I went to university. In the first semester I received death threats because I was queer. One night some drunk guys started pounding on my door trying to break it down. I was stranded in my room with no phone to call security. For some hours I sat at the window ledge thinking how if they succeeded in breaking down the door I would jump out the window. It was only three stories- not enough to kill me, but not something I wanted to do. After that I moved out of residence but I couldn't afford to get a new place somewhere safer because I had already paid for my room in residence for the semester. The school wouldn't refund me because they said I didn't have a valid reason for moving out and breaking the contract.

 

Aguirre-Livingston lists a few things that 'we' the post-modern gays apparently have. Do you have a university degree? Tell me a bit about getting it.

I don't have a university degree, I went to university. In the first semester I received death threats because I was queer. One night some drunk guys started pounding on my door trying to break it down. I was stranded in my room with no phone to call security. For some hour I sat at the window ledge thinking how if they succeeded in breaking down the door I would jump out the window. It was only three stories- not enough to kill me, but not something I wanted to do. After that I moved out of residence but I couldn't afford to get a new place somewhere safer because I had already paid for my room in residence for the semester. The school wouldn't refund me because they said I didn't have a valid reason for moving out and breaking the contract.

 

 Do you have a home? (Take that in whatever context you like, not just a roof.)

I was homeless for awhile while going to university before finding a place and a part time job to pay for it. The stress of being homeless, the added stress of needing to find this job to pay for the new place which I hadn't budgeted for in the first place resulted in my failing some of my classes and not returning to that school in the next semester. Now I live in a collective.

 

What about a career?

No career to speak of, yet.

 

How do you feel about the statement, “Post-mos don't hang rainbow flags in their windows or plaster them on their bumpers. Do you? If not, why not?”

I probably would put a rainbow flag on my bumper if I could afford a car.

 

How much does the difference in class (economic position in society) have in this retelling of the gay narrative? What is your experience with your narrative being silenced by gays of the privilege described by Aguirre-Livingston, whether yours is more common or not?

It probably plays a significant role. If only because my financial situation has probably brought me into contact with more people who have faced and are still facing extreme marginalization.

 

What deeper issues with the gay community, the world of journalism or Canadian society in general do you feel the article makes obvious to you?

Post-mos aren't in the village because they're not that political or don't have a need for that kind of community. I don't spend that much time in the village because it seems to me that the village does mostly cater to privileged white cisgendered gay men. It bothers me that Pride for instance, has become so depoliticized. Last year at Pride I recall someone saying that Pride shouldn't be used as a forum for political agendas and likened it to a Santa Claus parade. It worries me that there seems to be a lot of queer people of privilege that don't realize that there is a great deal of difference in the origins between the gay Pride Parade and the Santa Claus Parade. In a time when trans people still do not have rights or protection under Canadian law, when polyamoury is illegal in Canada, and when publicly funded catholic schools are allowed to refuse to have GSAs (gay straight alliances, an action/support group) and this is not considered discrimination, I find it frightening that some people think that the fight for equal rights is over.

 

Do you feel that your experience as a queer person in their twenties living in Toronto was described by Aguirre-Livingston's article in the Grid? What is your experience, if not the utopic world of cottage weekends, accepting parents, and running multi-billion dollar companies that he describes for the 'post-modern gay'?

Certainly not.

 

Is there anything else you'd like to say about the article or the issues it draws to light?

I think it's great that there are queer people who can be out and still have this privilege. The main issue with his assumption that his experience with privilege is more or less universal.

 


Socialize:
Want more grassroots coverage?
Join the Media Co-op today.
2795 words

Join the media co-op today
Things the Media Co-op does: Support
Things the Media Co-op does: Report
Things the Media Co-op does: Network
Things the Media Co-op does: Educate
Things the Media Co-op does: Discover
Things the Media Co-op does: Cooperate
Things the Media Co-op does: Build
Things the Media Co-op does: Amplify

User login


Google+
Subscribe to the Dominion $25/year

The Media Co-op's flagship publication features in-depth reporting, original art, and the best grassroots news from across Canada and beyond. Sign up now!