Happy Pride

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David Miller and the City of Toronto kicked off Pride week here by raising the rainbow flag up in Nathan Phillips Square yesterday.

I often hear people tell me how much they hate Pride, because it’s too crowded, commercialized, stereotypical, “insert excuse here”.

I only came out to myself around the age of 28. I’m 35 now. I think I had been aware for a few years prior that I was at the very least, bi…. but hadn’t really been able to focus my thoughts and actually give it a name. I just knew it to be wrong.

Growing up in the 70-80’s and being beaten, humiliated, ostracised, my personal property as well as my parents vandalized, led me to deeply bury whatever notions I may have had about myself.

It was only when I moved away from Montreal, and started over here in Toronto, that I began exploring and to discover who I really was. It’s seven years later, and I’m still coming to terms with some stuff.

Intimacy/sex is a major one. I wasn’t sexually active as a youth, and the few relationships I had, with girls, never progressed beyond the best buddies stage (duh, you think I would have clued in there). So I was never really prepared for how much sex is linked to, at least, the gay part of the LGBTQ community, but let’s not get into that.

What I did learn was to like myself for who I was, to stop hiding, and just accept. It’s easy here in Toronto, and now when I go back to Montreal, I don’t live in fear either, of what people may think. But what about the smaller communities, that may not have well established LGBTQ communities, and no outlet for people to be themselves? Are these individuals doomed to download gay porn or surf gay chat lines so that they can link up quietly with other individuals? To pretend to be something they’re not so that they can just get through the days?

Canada has now celebrated it’s 3rd anniversary of gay marriage. On June 10th, 2003 Ontario made marriage available to anyone, no matter their sexual preference. The rest of Canada’s provinces have since followed in those steps, but that doesn’t mean that the fight for acceptance isn’t over.

There are a lot of places where being LGBTQ just isn’t talked about yet, outside the major metropolises. For these people, Pride isn’t about the big Unity-type parties, or getting laid. It’s about being allowed to celebrate themselves, even if it’s only for one day.

In London, Ontario, which does have a Pride parade, the onlookers are separated from the parade by a fence that’s been put up along the side walk, just in case some rowdies decide to storm the floats of people just having a good time.

In Russia, the first EVER Moscow Pride parade, which went on despite Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s banning the event, was overwhelmed in violence by ant-gay demonstrators. 75% of the attendants were hurt.

In China, a number of gay websites have been shut down. There are an estimated 48 million LGBTQ people there, and regretfully little is being done to help them in stopping their isolation and coming out. China is also woefully behind the time when it comes to addressing the prevention of HIV.

Approximately 35% of gay teens attempt suicide before coming out in North America.

Pope Benedict and the Roman Catholic church, are still spewing their filth that allowing us marriage or the right to adopt is a sin. Because of Rome’s proximity to Italy, it’s recently elected leftist government may decide to backtrack on their electoral promise of bringing to the table the right for LGBTQ marriage.

Here in North Am, there are portents indicating that there may be a theological war, as many Catholics and Clergy disagree with Rome’s stance. The end results may wind up being similar as to what’s going on with the Episcopalians and Anglican church.

In New York City, Kevin Aviance, a popular drag queen, was beaten horribly by four individuals, one of them 16 years old.

in 2002, Gwen Araujo, a transgendered teen, was beaten to death by some “friends” when it was discovered she was previously male.

There are a million other tragic stories, and more, occurring daily.

This is why we should celebrate Pride. It is defiance of those that want to push us back into the closet, or into an early grave, and to give hope to those who have yet to come to love themselves just for being who they are.

Forget about the commercialism and crowds. If that bothers you, grab your car or bus and go and celebrate Pride in one of the smaller rural communities instead. Stop being such cynics and remember that if it weren’t for Stonewall and a bunch of drag queens, you wouldn’t have the guts to even have that cynicism.

Me, I going to celebrate this year by being in the Pride Parade Sunday, on the TCHC float. Seven years ago, I couldn’t walk around without wondering what people were thinking of me. Now, I’m going to be in front of close to a million.

Happy Pride!!!!

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What is Self-Esteem?

self-esteem-quotes

Self-esteem can be defined as the value we place on ourselves. The extent to which we value ourselves is a product of our past experiences, recognition we receive from others; especially those that are significant to us. It is the support, love and recognition (or lack of it) that we receive in early childhood that influences how we feel about ourselves today.

Most often we love ourselves to the extent that we have been loved. And we are able to love others to the extent we love ourselves.

Our sense of self-esteem is directly and intimately related to our ability to experience satisfaction in life. When our self-esteem is low we may become depressed and passive, or angry and violent. As our self-esteem rises, so does our enthusiasm, creativity, energy and effectiveness.

Before we can make any significant changes in our lives, we must first begin to value and like ourselves. Self-esteem is established through recognition of our strengths and accomplishments, or positive feedback received from other people

Correction/Retraction

I have received some new information which has shed light on a horrible accusation I made about a wonderful person in our building here at 250 Davenport. I have corrected the entry, but just to let you the audience know what happened, I will tell you.

I was under the false impression that the reason the community library had sort of fallen to the side, because Mary was not willing to allow people access to it, except when she and Pamela were available, which is fair to an extent when you consider they are just volunteers, and no one else seemed interested in helping them up until this past year, or those that did want to help, wanted to make it their personal fiefdom, no matter their good intentions.

I seem to be repeating some of those mistakes, and making false assumptions based on half-assed information. That or sometimes just letting my feelings take over, which is why for the love and respect of one of my most cherished friends, I am printing this correction, and listing the facts with which she supplied me with.

FACT:  Many years ago, (1970’s – early 1980’s) this building was designated for seniors and physically disabled adults.  At that time, the library was open for anyone who wished to use it.

FACT:  During the 1980’s, the legislation pertaining to  what was then Metro Toronto Housing changed and the building was forced to begin taking in families with children, as well as the mentally ill.  By the early 1990’s, people, such as you see today were moving in, albeit on a smaller scale.

FACT:  During the 1990’s, the library area was vandalized repeatedly and the furniture which included comfortable chairs, coffee tables, a sofa, etc. were all stolen.

FACT:  After these events, the Management of the building decided to close the library.  As nobody expressed an interest in volunteering their time to supervise the library, it remained closed until Mary and I opened the clothing centre a couple of years ago, at which time people began using it again.

I apologise to anyone I misled with my past entry. I will also endeavour in the future to try to avoid this by checking my facts first, providing CERTAIN PEOPLE allow for the fact that my feelings are genuine too, no matter how wrong their reasons may be. This place is supposed to be an outlet, a method to help exorcize them to an extent. It’s a technique called journaling which I learned in CAMH. Thank you for respecting that please.

Celebr-Asian

As a tenant rep, I represent a wide  range of people in my building. One of these groups is the Asian community. Last month was Asian Heritage Month. I decided to volunteer and help out Community Housing put on our own celebration commemorating the valuable contributions all Asians have made to our society and world.

I truly never realized just how big Asia was until I saw it on a map. For example, I didn’t know that Afghanistan was part of it, and forgotten completely about Russia.

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Anyhow, we (C.H.U.25 & C.H.U.10) focused on 6 countries as part of our event, and for the past month we have been getting everything arranged. We titled it Celebr-Asian: A Taste of Asia, and we had a sampling of foods from the selected countries. There were SO many types, and I wish I could remember them all. We had dancers from the Philippines, a Chinese choir, and I had made arrangements to have Vincent Ng from the Chinese Cultural Centre of Toronto. We had expected a turn-out of maybe 50-60 people to be there. We could not have been more wrong

Heck, there were 50 before we opened the doors, by the time we started to serve the food, there must have been almost 200. We couldn’t serve them fast enough, all the while trying to cut the finger sized servings we had ordered into smaller portions, so that everyone could try a piece.

The event was an overall success. I had a lot of fun, got to meet a wide variety of people, including the Ambassador of Taipei. I felt useful again. This more than anything else is why I became a tenant rep. What a great feeling.

Bit of this and that

Well, I didn’t win the car in the end. Came close though. Out of fourteen finalists in the 24hrs.ca Contest for the 2007 Dodge Caliber, I was in the final four in the elimination round but my luck came to a close when they drew my name. Oh well, these things happen and I still walked away with a free iPod Nano so who cares?

Had our buildings first Tenant rep meeting on Tuesday. Things didn’t go as well as could be expected. Attendance was down, despite the advertisements being up for 3 weeks in advance, but it could have been due to the sweltering weather. That and certain individuals coming in late and verbally sabotaging Curtis, Michelle and my efforts didn’t help either. Still, it was a lesson learned, and we’ll just keep trying to strive forward. Our goal is still to try to bring the idea of “community” back to Community Housing. It just might take a bit longer than we anticipated.

I really need to learn to talk with my co-representative. Both of us want the same thing, but we’re working apart rather than together. Sure, we both have our own individual projects, like the Asian Heritage Month project I’m working on with other members of Community Housing. I’m not even sure what Michelle is working on privately, and therein lies the problem. So starting tomorrow (Saturday) during the Annual 250 Davenport Garage Sale, I’m going to track her down and see what the two of us can hash out putting our heads together.

Another piece of good news in the past week is the involvement of Seneca College of Applied Arts & Technology. Carlisle Kemp-Jackson, a part-time Library & Information Technician Program Professor has thrown his and his students weight into resurrecting the buildings library downstairs that I volunteer for. It has deteriorated in the past few years; due to vandalism and safety issues in the past, it was decided by various parties that it was better to remain locked except when needed. Now that I have some valuable new resources available to help,  I can hopefully get the ball rolling and garner some new interest in the place.

Carlisle is going to have a team of his students, who need valuable practical experience, come in and categorize, itemize and computerize all the books, put them on a computer, which is being donated, as well as train me in library technician skills. At the end of the project, we’re going to have a ceremony unveiling the revitalized library to the public.

My newer computer died. Just days after I got it too. Bummer. A good portion of last week therefore was spent  torturing myself on a Compaq Presario 2240. Working on this creature was like watching molasses running uphill in the middle of January. Thank goodness Drew showed up on Saturday night. I was about to toss the bloody thing off my porch here on the 22nd Floor, and claim insanity as an excuse  if it actually hit someone.

Drew was able to cobble together a new computer from the parts of the 3 defuncto’s into something much better. The only problem that arose had something to do with the hard drive, but he’s working on it as we speak and hopefully the problem will be over when he comes back on the 9th of June