Leaves Change, Then Fall

How amazing is this, that we can literally hold each other through something as challenging as the ending of a relationship? How amazing is it that our hearts can hold our love and our hurt, our caring and our grieving, all at once? We feel mature, and deeply grateful for our growth leading up to this point.

Originally posted on Andrew Shopland’s Blog

There are very few things that can get me to clean my room, but my boyfriend coming to visit for a few days is one of them. I had just finished vacuuming when he texted me.

“Hey Are you by your phone?”

For a self-identified millennial he has a strange yet endearing habit of using his phone for actual phone calls. I reply and in a moment I can hear his voice. I know immediately that something is up so I sit down on my floor and breathe. He’s struggling to say what he needs to say. I don’t remember many of his words, but one sentence stood out.

“I love you, but as a friend.”

My heart drops. I’m not shocked; this wasn’t out of nowhere like my last break-up was. But it still hurts. When I finally find my voice, I’m a bit surprised by what comes out.

“Can you still come over?”

“Of course,” he says. He’ll be on the five o’clock ferry.

The call ends and I find myself laying on my newly cleaned floor, not sure what to do, but also confident that laying on the floor is exactly what I need in this moment. After an indeterminate amount of time my phone vibrates with a text from a friend. It seems like the world outside my room has continued on. I tell him what happened. I text my roommate. I text my faerie lover in the midwest. I text my mom. In response to their “how are you doing?” they receive my #sadgayfloorselfie.

I decide that I can’t just tragically lay on the floor until he gets here, so I put on some self-esteem (glitter in my stubble, and some eyeliner) and drag myself out the door. First stop is Waterfront Station to get myself a Compass Card. This is what self-care looks like for a transit nerd. It is hard to not smile a little when I tap it for the first time. Next stop is comfort food: tempura donburi. Finally I return home and add tea, pillows, and blankets to my floor kingdom.

He texts me to say he’s nearby. I put on pants. I light a candle, praying for ease in whatever comes next. Then he’s at my door.

We embrace, holding each other tightly, as if to never let go, knowing that’s exactly what we’re doing. We collapse onto my bed, taking turns holding each other as we cry. The magnitude of the situation only fully hits once my face is buried in his chest, his arms around me. This relationship is ending and I am full of sadness and grief. This relationship is ending and I am full of love for him. I marvel at my ability to simultaneously feel deep sadness and deep love. I know he is feeling the same way too.

I look up at him, tears in his eyes. He’s wearing a ball cap with pistols on it from a country bar on the island. The image is so indicative what I love about him. Unabashed masculinity and unabashed emotional vulnerability.

He says comforting things to me. They are platitudes and yet they come from a place of complete honesty. I know he means them. He affirms that he doesn’t want to loose me from his life completely. Again, I know he means this, and I let him know that it’s important to me too. I love this man. We’ve grown together. He knows me deeply and I him. That’s an invaluable investment.

We shift to talking about our adventures since we’d last seen each other. He had been to a music festival. I had been to a retreat. We share our experiences and the emotions that carried us through them. We laugh. We stare into each other’s eyes.

A new feeling arises in us. A sense of pride is bubbling up amidst the deep sadness and the deep love. How amazing is this, that we can literally hold each other through something as challenging as the ending of a relationship? How amazing is it that our hearts can hold our love and our hurt, our caring and our grieving, all at once? We feel mature, and deeply grateful for our growth leading up to this point.

And then it’s time for him to leave. I walk him to the door. Our last kiss lingers. He looks back at me across the threshold, his hands in the shape of a heart on his chest. I can see some of my glitter shimmer on his face.

I return to my room. I give thanks for how beautifully it went. I put out the candle and I say goodbye.

leaves change, then fall
the wheel turns

Joella and Jay: The Importance of Allyship and Family

while it may be challenging at times, queer folks can (and do) navigate the world on their own…but having an ally can make it easier, and more fun, to navigate the world together.

One of my favourite ways to explain the importance of allies, is something that I heard from Jen about allyship in the queer community. It’s this idea that while it may be challenging at times, queer folks can (and do) navigate the world on their own…but having an ally can make it easier, and more fun, to navigate the world together.

Allies are also critical to the queer movement, because allies can often access spaces more easily (and safely) than some folks, and can therefore advocate or do work in those spaces.

When we heard about Jay and Joella’s story, we were excited to capture and share this brother and sister relationship. After watching a documentary “For the Bible Tells Me So” on how five American Christian families dealt with their family members coming out, Joella was inspired to make a film about her own Filipino Roman Catholic family and when Jay came out to them. Though the film deeply resonated with Joella, she found that there was a lack of diverse representation of a person of colour’s experience coming out to their family (out of the five families, only one was a family of colour). This influenced the creation of their film “It Runs in the Family”, which documents Jay, his relationship with family and religion, and along with his sister traveling to the US and the Philippines to meet their other queer relatives. They have intimate conversations on how they have reconciled their Roman Catholic faith with their sexual orientation while maintaining their family ties.

“It Runs in the Family” produced by OUTtv Network and directed by Joella Cabalu will have a festival run starting late 2015 with a broadcast television release next summer 2016.

To find out more information please visit the Facebook page.

And be sure to check out the teaser below!

It Runs in the Family – Teaser – Courtesy of OUTtv Network from Joella Cabalu on Vimeo.

Connect with Joella on:
Twitter @joellacabalu
Instagram @joellacabalu
LinkedIn: Joella Cabalu

Connect with Jay on:

Website http://jaycabalu.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jaycabaluartworks

Twitter @jaycabalu

Instagram @jaycabalu_artworks

The Politics of Sexy: Race, Body Politics, and Desireability

Nomonde and I had conversation about sexual currency, “attractiveness”, race, and body politics

…and we filmed it for Love Intersections! 🙂
Sexual Currency is not something you choose, you are assigned it – but I think it’s something that, I think it’s important to emphasize, that you can reject. You don’t have to accept the way people see you or view you, you don’t have to accept the way people think about whether you are attractive or beautiful. That is something you choose. And the only way I think you survive this world? Is by deciding what your own sexual currency is going to be.”

‘Regalia: Pride in Two Spirits’

We are very excited to finally be able to release the short film “Regalia: Pride in Two Spirits”, that premiered last night at the 2015 Vancouver Queer Film Festival this year, at the Bright Eyes, Queer Hearts youth shorts program.

Last night, we premiered “Regalia: Pride in Two Spirits”, at the 2015 Vancouver Queer Film Festival this year, at the Bright Eyes, Queer Hearts youth shorts program!

Regalia: Pride on Two Spirits from David Ng on Vimeo.

Big thank you to our team member and friend, Duane Stewart, who shares his story as a First Nations queer person, who identifies as “Two Spirited”.  Duane talks about the importance of culture in his life, and his journey coming out to his family!

On Being Chinese, Culture, and Identity

This past Monday, I was walking through the streets of Chinatown, and someone yelled at me “You’re going to starve in World War Three, you yellow piglet!!”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

This past Monday, I was walking through the streets of Chinatown, and someone yelled at me “You’re going to starve in World War Three, you yellow piglet!!”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

It was a painful reminder that no matter where I am, even in “Chinatown”, as a person of colour I don’t belong.

I don’t need to list the reasons why reclaiming culture for a person of colour isn’t popular.  It’s much easier – and safer – to “be more white”.

Which is why for me, reclaiming my culture was more than just a journey to embrace my Chinese heritage – it’s an act of resistance:

This video is for every time I was called a “chinky faggot” (by white gay men),

For every time someone laughed at the food I brought to school,

For every date with a rice queen that I’ve ever subjected myself to,

For every time someone is “shocked” that I’m Chinese and I suck at math,

…This video is for a safer future for everyone – including yellow piglets.

Introducing Duane!

Duane R Stewart-Grant is Haisla from Kitamaat Village and Nuu-Chah-nuthl from Port Alberni. His Haisla name is c’ee’hixid and he is from the Raven clan.

Full Regalia shotIntroducing our newest collaborator and team member – Duane 🙂

Duane R Stewart-Grant is Haisla from Kitamaat Village and Nuu-Chah-nuthl from Port Alberni. His Haisla name is c’ee’hixid and he is from the Raven clan.

In 2006, when he was living in Kitamaat he worked for Kitamaat Village Radio (KVR 96.1FM), where in 2008 he became the radio station manager until 2010. While working at KVR he started learning and growing closer to his culture.

In 2006/2007 he participated in the Star in Your Own Stories with Chee Mamuk, Hello Cool World and 11 other youth from the Haisla Nation. In three days they produced and stared in their own little story called Stand True. Stand True talks about how rumors can spread around like HIV/AIDS. Through Stand True, Duane was able to travel all over BC and he even traveled outside BC for the first time!

Duane came out to his family on May 4, 2010, but knew he was two-spirited at an early age. Through his travels he did with Stand True he met many other Two-Spirited people who were out, strong and proud to be two-spirited, he looked up to them for guidance during his journey.

When he moved to Burnaby in 2013 he started dancing with the Git Hayetsk Dancers and started apprenticing with Mike & Mique’l Dangeli. He now is learning to carve, paint, create regalia, dance, and is drawing First Nation art. Duane hopes to one day bring his knowledge back home and start teaching the next generation what he has learned!

Silent Pain: Rape Culture in the Gay World

If patriarchy has taught men that women are property; subordinate, unequal – that sex is for men’s pleasure, not women’s…and if heteronormativity has taught society that queer folks are inferior and deviant, and if being truly free means relinquishing our communities from these systems that use power to subjugate and hurt us…why are we allowing this sort of pro-rape culture to exist within our communities?

Grindr Guy: “Hey, you’re cute”
Me: “Thanks, you too :)”

Grindr Guy: “What are you looking for”

Me: “Friends, Fun, whatever goes”

Grindr Guy: “Can you host?”

Me: “No, sorry”

Grindr Guy: “You can come over?”

Me: “Can we meet first somewhere for a drink?”

Grindr Guy: “Why don’t you just come over, and we can fuck”

Me: “I would prefer to meet somewhere first”

Grindr Guy: “Why don’t you want to come over?”

Me: “Because I’ve never met you, and I don’t feel comfortable with that. That’s kind of where I set my boundaries.”

Grindr Guy: “Boundaries? Why? Are you scared I’m going to rape you?”

——

Adjusting to dating life after a (tumultuous) long term relationship has had it’s added stresses with the advent of these dating apps; which did not exist the last time I was single.

Time and time again, I come across (gay, cis) guys who outright refuse to respect boundaries, and to be blunt – it’s really fucked up.

By all means, be upfront about what you are looking for – I’d much rather have all of this (honest) information laid out in front of me before we meet/hook up, but when someone puts down a boundary of where they feel safe, why is it that some gay guys think it’s okay to push around it?

Guys – we have some serious work to do.

We know, as gay guys, that the hurt that homophobia and heteronormativity has in society is rooted in the power that it has.  Decades of gay, queer, trans*, black, women and feminist organizing has fought to challenge the way that power is exercised in it’s various forms to hurt, oppress, and subjugate “The Other”.  Challenging the way that power is accessed, and used to hurt people is at the heart of how we can truly be free.

If patriarchy has taught men that women are property; subordinate, unequal – that sex is for men’s pleasure, not women’s…and if heteronormativity has taught society that queer folks are inferior and deviant, and if being truly free means relinquishing our communities from these systems that use power to subjugate and hurt us…why are we allowing this sort of pro-rape culture to exist within our communities?
As a survivor of rape – twice – I recognize being pushed on my boundaries is obviously a huge trigger.

But how many of us gay, guys are navigating this toxic dating community, and aren’t saying anything?

How can we allow this to continue?

In love and solidarity,

David Ng

Why We Need Intersectionality: a Meta Response

If patriarchy teaches men that we need to take up space to “win”, then feminism gives us the opportunity to learn that if we have a voice, sometimes there is power in silence, and in allowing other people to speak

Laverne Cox

In response to the Feminist Current article by Meghan Murphy “Laverne Cox’s Objectified Body ’empowers’ No One“.

“[…]  If women or transwomen were truly allowed to love themselves, I doubt they’d be spending thousands and thousands of dollars sculpting their bodies in order to look like some cartoonish version of “woman,” as defined by the porn industry and pop culture. The fact that Cox’s body is seen as “subversive” because she is trans doesn’t change that. Her body doesn’t look subversive. It looks like any other objectified female body, sculpted by surgery and enhanced by Photoshop.” – “Laverne Cox’s objectified body ’empowers’ no one” – by Meghan Murphy

By David Ng

My first encounter with feminism was life changing.

When I was 14 I discovered feminism.  It was kind of an accident…I was looking to discover sexuality, but instead I found feminism.

When I was in grade 9, I joined a youth sexual health advocacy organization, where we learned about sexuality through a feminist, anti-oppression lens.  It was like I was given a new pair of eyes to see the world in.  I already had the knowledge – but now I had the words to articulate my experiences: being a racialized body – a yellow body, a gendered body, and as someone who is queer.  All of these things that I was experiencing, I could finally put a name to it.

Sixteen years later, as I read Murphy’s article on trans women’s bodies, I reflect on my own journey as a feminist activist, and how I relate to other people in my community, who intersect with my struggle.

One of the biggest learnings I have had as a feminist, is the power of owning my own struggles.  The value of looking at the way my activism starts with my own journey.  The only way that I can ever have solidarity with any one, or any other community that is not my own, is through truly engaging with my own struggles, my journey, and my truths.

Yes I may see a problematic situation over there, and over here, but I need to begin my work with my own struggle – rather than speaking about other peoples struggles – yes, they intersect with mine, but they are not my own.

I have to thank the black feminists in the second wave who brought us the notion of “intersectionality” – a concept that this entire blog and video project is predicated upon.  Black feminists (like Kimberlé Crenshaw) called out white feminists during the second wave, who were speaking for “women”, while ignoring the struggles that black women were facing.  Intersectionality implores us to contend with the multitude of ways that other facets of our journey, such as race, gender, sexuality, what sex we are assigned, affect our access to rights and privileges. Intersectionality allows me to grapple with my own positionality, in relation to my community members, so that I can begin to forge solidarity with other communities – so that we can begin to do work together.

So when I read the way Meghan Murphy writes about trans women’s bodies, I am reminded that we can have a voice without silencing and negating the voice and agency of other people and their struggles.  As a cis queer man who is a feminist, this is something that I have to remember and check in on, on a regular basis.

If patriarchy teaches men that we need to take up space to “win”, then feminism gives us the opportunity to learn that if we have a voice, sometimes there is power in silence, and in allowing other people to speak (Gayatri Spivak).

This is why I love feminism so much.  For me, it’s not about pointing fingers and making my points loud and heard – it’s not about screaming “this is oppression! this is not right!”.  Often, it’s about listening and waiting for the opportunities where we can build community and solidarity… instead of building barriers.

In love and solidarity,

David Ng

Jen & David on a bench

In response to David Ng’s response to the Feminist Current article by Meghan Murphy.

“This is why I love feminism so much.  For me, it’s not about pointing fingers and making my points loud and heard – it’s not about screaming ‘this is oppression! this is not right!’.  Often, it’s about listening and waiting for the opportunities where we can build community and solidarity… instead of building barriers.” – David Ng

By Jen Sung

Sometimes we do need to scream, “this is oppression! this is not right!” Right now Black America is screaming – in agony, in solidarity, in agony, in silence, in agony.

David so eloquently referenced the origins of “intersectionality”, from the depths of black feminist mobilizing. How can we talk about the experiences of others when we don’t occupy the same lived and very real embodiment of racialized and trans* lives?

Right now my body is reacting to the hypertension in America right now. I am not thinking about Meghan Murphy as she narrates the voices of others outside of her own. My body does not know what it is like living in Black America.

But my body knows what it is like to have others paint layers upon layers upon layers of racialized and sexualized expectations, assumptions and stereotypes onto its canvas. That canvas turns into a living carcass. I live and breathe inside the carvings of race, gender, sexuality, and time.

So I learn silence while my body screams – screams to break out of the suffocating coats of paint. It is debilitating.

I do not deny that patriarchy is systemic, and that it perpetuates violence against women. Nor do I deny that rape culture exists.

I also do not deny that I have privilege as a cis-woman who is aligned with her assigned gender. So I listen to those whose experiences are outside of my own. Rape culture affects us all.

I do not deny that I conform to societal standards of what is considered to be feminine, but gender doesn’t make up the entirety of my motivation to conform, and subvert — my race and sexual orientation do, too.

I embody race and queerness just as hard as I do with gender, some days it’s more, some days it’s less. They all live in the same body. My body. And my body is part of a collective of bodies that are living, breathing, dying, suffering, working, playing, listening, dancing, living.

But just because I am part of a collective of bodies doesn’t mean I get to speak for, reason, argue – on behalf of that collective. Complexities make interesting narratives that shape our world. We are enriched by the stories of others whose differences teach us to be more open. I will always have limitations to what I know because I trust in the fundamental truth that I only know what I know, and don’t know what I don’t know. Until then, I learn to listen – and listen to learn.

If supporting those who pose naked in an “objectifying” way is letting patriarchy “win”, then I must be a bad feminist. But I know I’m not. I wrote “Ask me again why I need feminism” because feminism taught me how to listen, and extend my hand out in spite of, and especially because of — difference. That is the beautiful thing about paradox.

Will Meghan Murphy listen too?

In tenderness,
Jen Sungshine

Reconstructing Gay Biracialism

I feel being mixed-race is an opportunity to interrogate how identities can be reconstructed, and envisioned into social change that mirrors the queer rights movement. When being mixed-race and gay challenges how I navigate my own sense of privilege within the queer community that has lacked acceptance, I can only think of where race and queerness intersect.

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Being biracial and gay is an interesting mix. By being mixed-race, I challenge categorical thinking and normativity that is too often encountered in our lives:

“What’s your race?” I’m asked.

“I’m half Chinese, English and a bit Scottish,” I reply.

When my biracial identity is neither accepted culturally as White nor Asian, when I am indeed literally Asian and White by blood, I feel this sense of non-belonging:

“Oh, you don’t speak Chinese?” I’m asked.

“No, but I wish I could,” I reply.

And perhaps this sense of non-belonging is perpetuated by my failure to pick up Chinese as a kid, or maybe because non-belonging feels synonymous with being gay, sometimes. When our identity becomes our sense of security, when race is so often embodied as our sense of community, when being gay severs our relationships with others and ourselves:

“So, do you have a girlfriend?” I’m asked.

“Umhh…no…” I reply.

I remember being told that being gay was a choice that would put me on “the bottom of society,” where I would find no success.

I can only think of how culture transforms our identities beyond race. I’ve noticed this insidious trend to normalize “gay culture” into something fathomable by the mainstream: the idealized body of an attractive, middle-upper class, cisgender white man who resonates images of power, authority, and acceptance (see this article). These images and identities that command respect contrast with the insecurity that “gay culture” has had to latch itself to. And in turn, much of what I feel I’ve had to embody as a gay individual has leaned towards this normalized, white, classed, “attractive” stereotyped fantasy.

I will never forget a quote by Fred Wah, a Canadian poet, who wrote about being mixed-race and his fear that his White privilege would make him become “not the target, but the gun.” I’m writing this piece so that as a mixed-race subject, I can tackle the pervasive racism and normalization within the queer community.

Of course, I think it helps that my last name, Holmes, can create this immediate sense of whiteness on paper, but how would that be different if my last name was Wong, my mother’s patriarchal name? Would people have an immediate change in expectation? Would something as trivial as a name convey different ideas about personality and culture? I think to an extent, I have autonomy over culture, but I don’t over race. How people perceive “Hawaiian, Filipino, “White”, “Asian”, “mixed”, Spanish, or however far or close people have been in guessing my “what are you?” will always portray immediate ideas from race that govern how people perceive me.

Yet, how, as individuals can we facilitate dialogue and movement surrounding this phenomenon? How do we start talking about race, gender, class, and the continuum of privilege and disprivilege when we are expected as a social justice movement to be focused solely on a singular issue? Is it tolerance, patience, respect, and understanding that are needed to understand each other from a privileged and marginalized vantage?

I think the answer lies within our lived experiences. I think back in history when interracial marriage was banned, when fears of miscegenation in post-colonial North America became a social threat. When homosexuality was greeted by the death penalty.

If anything, I feel being mixed-race is an opportunity to interrogate how identities can be reconstructed, and envisioned into social change that mirrors the queer rights movement. When being mixed-race and gay challenges how I navigate my own sense of privilege within the queer community that has lacked acceptance, I can only think of where race and queerness intersect. I think of how we can construct this façade to normalize “gay culture” within ourselves, and how we can connect historical racism to contemporary challenges faced within and beyond the gay community. Being mixed-race is a product of social change away from racism, and in turn, I see challenges within the queer community as an opportunity to connect in solidarity.

– Andy Holmes

New Friends Sharing Stories on Love Intersections

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Over the weekend, we met with Jay and Joella Cabalu, who are sharing their story about Jay’s journey with his sister, Joella, his family, faith, and sexuality.  They are also sharing part of that journey for Love Intersections 🙂

One of my favorite parts of this story, is how Joella talks about being an ally to Jay and the queer community, and what an important role allies play in the community.  Allies are part and parcel of the queer community – and we need more of them!

We are also excited to be bringing on board a friend of mine, Duane Stewart-Grant, a two-spirit artist, dancer, and activist from Haisla Nation, who will be sharing his story on Love Intersections as well.

Thank you to Jay, Joella, and Duane, for taking the time to share your stories with us!

in love and solidarity,

David Ng