combat not collaboration

Dear you,

I’ve watched you over the years, especially in your recent posts on social media.
You act like you are playing both sides, however it is quite clear to all who see you whose side you’re actually on.

Especially those of us who did the heavy lifting through the years we fought for the right to exist as human beings and not a medical diagnosis or psychological disorder. Those of us who fought for equality and to have our right to exist recognized legally.

I suspect you’re the type who feels that now because you can exist as a “nice gay,” that the battle is over for you. Aided by your lack of melanation, your male gender and your traditional Christian family values. You got the right to marry your partner and you have a comfortable existence with your job, your house and 2 cars, you can even adopt a child if you wanted to. There is nothing for you to fight for, right?

I suspect you’re the kind of person who would vote Conservative or Republican because you’re more interested in protecting the status quo and your financial security over ensuring that other people have the same access to equality as you.
Those other folks just need to be quiet and polite and things will work out okay for them! Right? WRONG!

Your constant admonitions to community activists to be quiet and respectful indicate that you haven’t understood why you have the rights that were won for you. I suspect between your conservative political stances, your conservative religious values and your fiscal and financial conservatism, you actually were not present for much of the fight. I suspect you were comfortably ensconced deep in the depths of your Brooks Brothers suit filled closet, but popped out when all the dirty work and heavy lifting was done.

We didn’t get where we are by asking nicely. We didn’t get where we are by being polite. We lost a huge swath of at least two generations due to a disease which killed millions. We had to battle to even get this disease recognized as the public health crisis it was. We fought battles in courts, in legislatures, in laboratories and yes, in the streets. Just so you and I did not face being imprisoned, having electroconvulsive therapy or worse because of who we love.

By the way – “those other folks” – the lesbians, the trans communities, the drag queens, the BIPOC queers and the leathermen and womyn were the people who led the fucking fight. You know the ones that you just wish would be a little less outrageous, a lot more polite and acted respectfully…

We didn’t get where we are by collaborating. We got where we are by engaging in a decades long combat with a system stacked against us. Being loud was what made our fight public. Being loud was what made our fight political. Being loud was how we got the comfort you are currently enjoying.

I will continue to raise my voice. I will continue to fight so that others can have it too.

managing expectations

As decorating the Christmas tree is often a trip down memory lane for me, I’ve learned to take it easy on myself and allow myself time to process the emotions that arise as I revisit my past through the things with which I adorn my tree.

This year struck me as slightly different, as I pulled out the one ornament that usually triggers a strong emotional reaction.  The Christmas ornament depicting a large polar bear holding a smaller, seemingly younger, polar bear as if protecting them. This is the ornament that Larry gave me for the last Christmas we had together. He was working as Santa at the Toronto Eaton center, and one of the stores had this tournament, which he had personalized. Ironically it’s the only personalized ornament we had – I sometimes wonder if he knew it would be our last.

Over the past eight years I struggled with the decision to put this tournament on my tree.  This year there really was no struggle and it graces a spot of honor on the front of my tree, where I can see it if I look carefully enough for it.

At the same time, I’m struggling with the fact that this will be holiday season number seven, observed as a widower. Even more so I will be alone, for the most part, due to COVID-19. Especially telling as I would normally be very busy singing at various churches, performing holiday gigs. I won’t even have an Advent Carol and Lessons or Christmas Eve services to sing at this year.

Heck this past weekend would’ve been my annual “No Coal in Your Stocking” concert – Another decision I struggled with this year as to whether I could make it work online, as bringing in 20 to 30 musicians, hoping an audience would stay and donate to the musicians would be a near impossible task.

Meanwhile, many of my friends are celebrating newfound love, newfound family, new homes and new beginnings.  I rejoice for this!

But at the same point, here I am, living alone with a senior dog, worried about my mother who is recovering from cancer.  Working in a job that when it goes well, I feel like I’ve helped someone and achieved something, however most of the time due to COVID-19 I feel like I’ve been spinning my wheels.  It’s hard not to feel stuck in a rut.  It’s hard not to feel lonely.

It’s hard not to get depressed.

I could note that certain things are affecting me harder this year, particularly my Seasonal Affective Disorder. Those gray rainy days we had a few weeks ago were very tough on me and I had to kick and scream in order to get my good full spectrum lamp out of my office at work. I could note that certain things that I didn’t expect to hit me as hard, such as purging my house and decorating my Christmas tree, hit me far harder than anticipated.  I could note that I am so touch starved for the last time I was hugged, it actually hurt and confused me more than it gave me comfort and peace.

This is where managing expectations has become a key factor in my life. This is where managing expectations has become a survival technique for me. I count myself lucky to have survived December 2013 and December 2014, as in both years, I was quite depressed and barely functioning as a human being. I’m quite sure I can stare down the barrel of Christmas 2020 as I’m definitely nowhere near the rock bottom I hit after my husband and father died. But at the same time I’m being cautious and carefully watching where my heart and brain are taking me.

I’ve accepted that I will be working from home for the foreseeable future and I’m okay with that. I am enjoying not having to commute into Toronto every day and also am enjoying the ability to spend time with Chloe and the improved work life balance I have seen. I’ve accepted that I won’t be able to see my American friends and family in person for the foreseeable future. Until BOTH our countries get COVID-19 under control, I don’t expect the border to reopen and honestly, I won’t feel comfortable travelling until things start “turning the corner.”

I’ve accepted that while I live in a house that is, ostensibly, too big for one person, the nature of my existence is not currently compatible with that of apartment or condominium living. As I am working from home and actively isolating myself to be able to be in contact with loved ones, I need a variety of spaces to live and work from and the house is providing me with this. As I continue to “right size” my existence and rid myself of objects that are cluttering up my home, I am more comfortable in keeping the house and am beginning to see its potential. Perhaps when I retire from the day job, I can revisit plans to move and downsize – but right now…it’s just not in the cards.

I’ve accepted that my outlet for artistic expression has necessarily had to pivot and that shifting the focus off my music and back to my clowning needed to happen in order to maintain my ability to express myself. To be honest, sometimes I feel best when I have painted on that smile <insert hackneyed crying on the inside stereotype here> but it does help to bring joy and laughter to the world. I’d like to think extending some positivity and love out to a world that is struggling with division and serious anger management issues can help.

I’ve accepted that Chloe is a 15 year old dog who is showing the signs of her age. I’ve accepted that her time in my life is drawing down but I will enjoy her company and loving companionship as long as I can.

I’ve accepted that I will likely be going it alone for the foreseeable future, I often joke that since COVID-19 hit, I’ve accepted my role as a hermetic monk living in East Hamilton. Dating as a widower in my 40’s has been enlightening and horrifying at the same time. Under COVID-19, it just ain’t going to happen and that has honestly removed a lot of anxiety from my life. I’ve accepted that the feelings of loneliness will occur but they will pass. I’ve accepted that if I’m destined to share my life once more with someone, it will happen in due course.

I’ve accepted that 2020 has turned out to be a year unlike any other and that no one anticipated the shit show it has become. I’ve accepted that the only thing I have full control over in any situation is how I react and respond to it and the choices I make in responding to any circumstance will have an impact as to how the year continues to progress for me.

I’ve accepted that despite all I have accepted, that I will still continue to be tested and that, yes, I am struggling with things and that yes, I just might have to ask for help along the way – as I have – a lot – recently. This is all part and parcel of managing expectations to survive a brutal year.

Blessed Be. Dona nobis pacem.

accountability not vindictiveness

So far I’ve been called vindictive, mean spirited, and cruel.

Keeping in mind that the same people who are calling me these are often the very same people who spent the past four years calling me a sinner, a sheep, a snowflake, a sodomite, a faggot and even far worse.

These are the same people who have warned me that “people like me” Shouldn’t get used to having equal rights, such as being able to marry the people we love, own homes, and not face possible termination from our jobs.

These are the same people who have tried to justify separating young children from their parents, just because they tried to flee to freedom and increased opportunity.

These are the same people who excuse and turn a blind eye to excessive violence perpetrated by the police against people of color, just because they feel that it “might have been necessary” despite evidence proving otherwise.

These are the same people who have accepted caging people in interment camps along the border, Forcing women to be sterilized against their will, and are willing to sacrifice entire swaths of their countries population because they don’t want to wear a mask to protect others.

They’re upset that they don’t get to hug and make up and pretend the last five years didn’t happen. They’re upset that I plan on holding them accountable and perhaps even stopping it from happening again.

They can come willingly into the future or we can drag them, but I will do everything I can to make sure we get there. And that means we don’t just forgive and forget or kiss and make up.

My behavior and words do not reflect my being vindictive. I’m merely playing by the rules established by these same individuals for the past four years.

But here’s what I will NOT do…I will not tell them they don’t have any rights because I disagree with them. I won’t make it legal to fire them because I disagree with who they love. I won’t suggest they leave their country.

Demanding better, demanding changed behavior, and asking for an apology is not having or showing an unreasoning desire for revenge.

It’s asking for accountability. It’s how adults act and own their beliefs, actions and behaviors. And I’m holding these very same people to their beliefs, actions and behaviors.

dear santa

When Larry decided to portray you, I was introduced to a world of incredible people who set aside their lives to portray you, eventually leading to their being shaped by you and what you represent. I thank you for Larry’s friends and mentors who continue to don the suit of red. Many have become good friends, mentors, working partners and spiritual advisors to me.

Having you in my life figuratively and in many cases, literally, has helped me survive the past seven years as there is a constant reminder of the magick, spirit and love that you represent.  The men in the red suit who have remained in my life or joined me on my journey are blessings to me – I am reminded to love and give freely of myself through their actions.  My faith in humanity is refreshed when you reveal your presence through them.

Your biggest and best gift to me was Larry being given a focus and drive – even through the worst cancer threw at him.  Your next greatest gift to me has been that the men who portray you that stood behind and beside me and supported me when my world crumbled, many of them held me up to ensure that I didn’t fall apart.  At least two of these folks have been a large part of my life before you entered it and they remain a large part of my life.  They continue to support me in their actions, words, prayers and deeds and they remind me that faith can be a powerful thing when given the right intent and reason.  Because of them I still believe.

You have given me a good friend who both portrays you but also has taken me under his wing and works with me to create an experience where believers can share in your spirit and we can spread a message of peace and giving.   David continues to know exactly when I’m not in a good head and heart space and he reaches out to remind me of what is important and keeps me grounded.  In him I’m reminded that the spirit of St. Nicholas can still exist in an over noisy and complicated world.

You have given me a good friend who both portrays you but also has taken me under his wing and works with me musically.  David has been my most ardent supporter, believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.  He still does.  David continues to know exactly when I’m not in a good head and heart space and he reaches out to remind me of what is important and keeps me grounded.  In him I’m reminded that the spirit of St. Nicholas and St. Francis of Assisi can still exist in an over noisy and complicated world.

Make me an instrument of your peace indeed.  Both Davids are such and they bring peace within themselves wherever they goes.  Thank you.

This year, I was to have been blessed to spend time with many others who bear your mantle and joyously bring your blessings to us over two events.  Sadly due to the pandemic all travel and public gatherings have been stopped or reduced to “virtual” meetings, however I’ve been able to remain connected to the community and continue to communicate, educate and learn with the people who spread your message.

In them, you have given me spiritual supports and guides who show me that faith is a personal thing and can be balanced with my scientific mind’s desire for rationality and evidence.  Just as I believe in your existence in the hearts of the people who portray you, I believe in a higher power that exists in the hearts and minds of people who are searching for more than what appears on the surface.

David, Michael, Glenn, Hal, Bruce, Robert, Lee, Glen, and Stephen have shown me this higher power through their actions, words and hearts.  Again, they all have shown faith in me, when my own faith and belief in myself is often sorely lacking.  I thank you for their presence as it’s nice to have someone in my corner when I don’t feel like it’s warranted or deserved.

You have given me the drive to keep going when everything within me fought forward motion.  I continue to make and release music that represents who I am and provides a glimpse into whom I am striving to become.  I continue to create and build an entertainment experience that provides a sense of beauty, wonder and magic in a world that is sorely lacking these qualities.

You have continued to keep my family in my life and I am blessed with a supportive and caring Mother and an amazing brother, sister-in-law and nieces. 

So.  For once, it’s time that someone thank you for all you have given me.  Gifts that aren’t material, however gifts that have supported me, provided me strength and continue to keep me alive.

Thank you once again, Santa, for all you have given.

I love you dearly, I believe.

myke.

P.S. I hate to sound like a broken record, but I’d still like to ask you for one thing. Over the past couple of years, I have missed being cuddled, I’ve missed coming home to someone special to share my thoughts, emotions and love with. Dating has been pretty near impossible and I’ve pretty much given up at this point. While Chloe does her utmost best, I’d still like two arms to hold, comfort and reassure me at some point.

the unbearable clarity of sadness

I find it intriguing how the political and societal upheaval that has occurred over the past few years continues to divide people.  I’ve found that there is precious little room for middle ground as propaganda, misinformation and the response to certain events begins to shed the light on society and humanity and how people view issues of equality and human rights.

Many people react with horror as they watch people react to news with mass protests, anger and, yes violence.

Many of the same people have reacted with nonchalant indifference as children are separated from their parents for trying to access the same freedoms that we have, or being killed due to a warrant being executed on the wrong address or as officials who willingly admit they believe certain human beings are not equal and don’t deserve the same rights and freedoms of others are appointed into power.

I wish I could say I was angry or shocked with these people, but I’m not.  I’m sad.

I’m sad that they feel that the very things their families came to the United States for should be no longer available to others.

I’m sad that they feel that people are denied their rights to a fair trial and that “oops we made a mistake” is a pardonable reason when human error results in a death and wonder if they would be so forgiving if the victim was less melanated.

I’m sad that they feel that people like me are undeserving of the right to love who we love because we love differently than they do means and that we should even be treated as criminals or undergo dangerous and cruel medical and psychological treatment to make them feel more comfortable about themselves.  Or worse, just lie and hide who we are, trapped in a prison of their expectations.

I’m sad that they feel that the right to life ends after the baby exits the womb and that once born, it’s every person for themselves.  And that because of that they feel that doing simple tasks to protect others that may cause a slight amount of personal discomfort is an infringement of their rights and freedoms.  

I’m sad that they feel the proper response to disagreements over any of these issues is anger, hatred and increasingly these days – violence.

I’m sad that they think that “when this is all over” they think that we will go on business as usual, when they’ve shown me that they feel people like me are undeserving of the same treatment, rights and freedoms that they feel entitled to.

I’m grateful that in these uncertain times of great discord, they have shown me EXACTLY WHO they are and what they stand for.

I’m grateful that I now know EXACTLY WHO in my life feel that people like me ARE deserving of the same treatment, rights and freedoms that everyone else is entitled to.

I’m sad that I’ll never be able to go back to “business as usual” with the rest of you. THIS is the unbearable clarity of sadness.

Namaste. Peace. I love you.

clowning as a verb

It’s funny, because after nearly 30 years of performing as a clown and family entertainer, the nastiest criticism I usually get is from fellow clowns. Particularly those with minimal experience (in this case, approximately 2 years working in a local Alley) in the field.

In over two decades of performing I have lectured at the international level. I have performed and educated at conventions across the continent. I have been on staff at one of the foremost clown educational programs in the world for the past three years. I partner with one of the most acclaimed educators, performers and writers in the field.

But based on the few pictures I have posted over the past couple of days, my portrayal of Phineus is “lazy and boring.”

Why? Because I don’t “look” like the stereotypical elf character. I don’t wear a pointy hat, I don’t wear pointy shoes. There’s no green in my costume, I’m not wearing tights… I’m not “whimsical, glitzy or shiny” enough.

My reply to this individual was blunt: I won’t win any costume contests – I have won make up competitions – but I really don’t care about beauty pageants.

However I get rehired every year, because of the entertainment value I bring. To me, the word clown is a verb more than it is a noun. I may not be the shiniest and flashiest thing there, but people have fun.

And people remember playing and singing with Phineus. And to me that’s what really matters.

If people worry that I’m not getting full makeup coverage because they can see some of my skin or my costume is “drab,” I’m not doing my job as an entertainer.

And by saying I “look boring in photos,” they discount the memories of the day. It’s not about me standing out. It’s about providing a fun experience and happy memories.

I also reminded them that elf or is not the main focus at an event with Santa Claus. Santa is the primary focus and it’s up to the elf or clown to keep the kids distracted while they wait to visit with the big man in the chair. Working with Santa is the one time that a clown should set their ego aside, because it ain’t about them.

And the Santas I work with use me particularly with the kids who are frightened of Santa, because I am such a gentle, “human looking” character. The children can relate to me better because I’m not so scary and inhuman looking. And I can usually ease them into visiting the big man in the chair – by making the experience a gentle and fun time and provide the happy memories for all.

The individual ended the conversation with the fact that they are working this weekend with another clown, who “isn’t particularly funny or spontaneous, but they look good so we can make it work out after rehearsing for an hour or so.”

I sighed and wished them a good time, and went back to rehearsing Christmas songs to refresh my memory. But I guess I can rest easy because I’m the lazy one who doesn’t care…

building a happy adolescence

In Grade 5, I was pulled from the school in which I spent the first few years of my education and transferred to a school located 2km away.  As I was out of jurisdiction, the school board offered to bus me the distance, however my parents didn’t relish the thought of having me up and dressed an hour earlier than necessary, so they opted for me to walk. I am grateful for that decision.  The walk gave me 20 minutes in each direction to be by myself and enjoy the relative quiet of my suburban surroundings.

Gifted school was quite an experience.   I was planted in a portable, set away from the school in the back field, in a class with 20 other misfits who were bussed in from around the school board.  What was it like?  Well, let’s just say the TV show “Malcolm in the Middle” is almost a documentary of my schooling from Grade 5 to 8.  For the most part, our class was thrown together in Grade 5, with some additions and subtractions each year.  But the core makeup of the Durham Board of Education’s gifted program graduating class of 1988 was the same group of students.

In Grade 6 we moved from one school in my home town to another school the next town over, a distance of 13km.  This, finally necessitated a bus ride to and from school (when I couldn’t convince Dad to pick me up), a daily ritual I both loved and loathed.

My memories of gifted school are a mixed bag.  I discovered how much of an outlier I am as social cliques drove me crazy.  I discovered that I didn’t feel the same way about having a girlfriend as other boys did.  I confirmed my need to retreat to the solitude of music on headphones and a good book.  I discovered that older men of a certain body type with facial hair made parts of my body react funny.  I discovered that I couldn’t rely on adults to protect me.  I discovered that people who hold power will abuse and use it so they can maintain power.  I discovered what being raped feels like and how one’s sexuality can be used against you to silence you.

I also discovered that true friends remain with you no matter what you are going through.  I discovered that your life will be only as good as the effort you put into it and that you gain nothing by trying to change yourself to please others.

That being said it’s sometimes easier to hide who you truly are, and if you don’t have the strength to fight at the time, it’s next to impossible to regain that strength.  I realized that my being gay would be problematic for me, both with society, school and yes, likely even my family.

Dad used to talk about the Gay Village in Toronto and, referencing Canadian history, the “FLQ Crisis on Church Street – Faggots, Lesbos and Queers.”  Even then, I knew he was talking about people like me and didn’t want to face the chance of losing my family because of who I loved.

I buried my feelings and hid my heart away.  I danced with the girls at the school dances and parties – when I had to – but mostly I plunked myself at the tape deck and CD player to play the songs that the other kids danced to.  I had discovered that music will continue to be my escape route and, while I despised playing piano, the bass guitar would soon become my voice and my place of relative security.

And I continued to build walls.  Around my heart because love was confusing and was painful.  Around my psyche because I was constantly exhausted, sad and confused.  Between me and others because I didn’t trust anyone.

I continued to bury myself in books and my walkman, listening to music by bands like Pet Shop Boys, A-ha, digging on stuff by Robert Plant and sometimes even sneaking a tape by Abba or Neil Diamond.  I often escaped to the Dragonlance books because being on Krynn was often easier than being me.

I continued to plug away at piano lessons, continued to grind at school and, until the rape, continued to be an altar server at church.  I stopped going to the 11am services because they were longer, more drawn out and the man who raped me attended them.  My parents preferred going to the 8am “Matins” services anyways because they were shorter, focused less on the ego of the choir leader and they could have the satisfaction of seeing either my brother or I still help “serve” Communion.  They didn’t know that this forced me to work with the man who helped protect my rapist and shame me deeper into the closet.

Having to face an abuser who manipulated me through fear and shame made me angry, but it also, albeit without me knowing, made me stronger and more resolute in establishing what is right and necessary for me.  Such as the decisions to leave gifted program behind for regular high school and to exchange my music education from piano lessons to bass.

By the time Grade 8 rolled around, it was clear that four years with essentially the same classmates with the potential of another five years (at that time High School in Ontario was a 5 year program for academically oriented students) was going to be a little bit much.  By Grade 8, we were having class meetings because of how dysfunctional our little group was getting and how good we were at pushing each other’s’ buttons and manipulating situations to get a rise out of each other.

We were becoming quite the group of little sociopaths and it was time for me to get out.  When it came time to make a choice, it was clear that I was going to go to “regular” high school and chart my own course, for better or for worse.

All the while, I continued to build the walls taller and stronger.

fear and loathing in hamilton

Mayor Eisenberger, Councilor Nann and the City Clerk

I am writing to express my serious concerns about the Integrity Commissioner’s report recommending the removal if Cameron Kroetsch from the chair of the LGBTQ+ advisory committee over his remarks concerning Hamilton Police Service’s failure to protect participants at the 2019 Pride festival.

I am stunned to see that Hamilton City Council is trying to silence an appointed advisory committee member by requesting the Integrity Commissioner to undertake this review. It seems that the City only wishes advisory committees to exist as set dressing for political theater only, rather than engage the actual communities in question in actual dialogue.

In this action, you have shown the citizens of marginalized communities that they are not valued and such engagement can be used against them instead trying to support and uplift those communities.

There seems to be a case of collective amnesia regarding the reason that politicians are usually described as ‘public servants’, and the focus now seems to be on only serving the segments of the public who agree with them, and continue to stroke their egos.

I am astonished that with 14 other complaints against Councillors, some of a very serious nature, all still unresolved, this was the Integrity Commissioner’s number one priority in the middle of a Province wide lockdown? A complaint that was brought forth anonymously on behalf of “City Council” after an in camera meeting. When members of the public wish to bring forth an Integrity Commission complaint, their names become public record, it is astonishing that Council would rather choose collective anonymity after an in camera session rather take responsibility for this action by signing their names to it. Whither “accountability”?

And how does Council even go about deciding to censure a citizen volunteer – appointed by council – for polite but firm criticism, when Councillors just a week or so earlier were berating citizen delegates calling them liars and hypocrites.  It seems there are two completely different sets of rules when it comes to decorum: One that applies to what is being said to members of Council, and one much more forgiving that governs what is said by those same members.

The right to face one’s accuser is a fundamental principle of justice, so to have the complaint leveled in an anonymous way by council as a whole – some members of which are no doubt straining under the gag order of an in camera process – reeks of suppression of dissent, and an effort to avoid being the target of political blowback by certain councillors who are clearly past the point of being willing to hear any criticism at all.

I sincerely hope that you appreciate that this Integrity Commision ruling on Mr. Kroetsch appears to be systematic oppression of the city’s 2SLGBTQIA+ communities and that the city is actively trying to silence advice, constructive criticism and the voices of the community.  The irony of all of this is that it occurs a few days after Council bemoans the lack of response to a survey of marginalized communities respect to the growing epidemic of hate crimes.

This action against Mr. Kroetsch is a shining example as to why citizens of marginalized communities are wary of your attempts to engage us.  Because you don’t seem to want to listen to what the communities have to say and you won’t hesitate to punish us and attempt to publicly humiliate us if you are uncomfortable or disagree with our experiences and voices.

I ask you to please reconsider this reckless and irresponsible move to silence an engaged citizen.

Regards, Myke Hutchings
Ward 3

building a happy childhood

Recently two friends have written extensively about their childhood and memories they have of growing up.

The first wrote about a memory that took them back to a happy period in their childhood.  I won’t get into details about their memory, but it spurred on some thoughts about my childhood and growing up.

I will say that for the most part, my childhood was a content one, my parents provided for my brother and I – honestly we were spoiled – and I was supported emotionally and spiritually.  I am grateful to have such loving and supportive parents who tried to understand me, when at the time I didn’t even understand myself.

At the same time, I really do not have memories of a “happy” childhood.  I have specific situations that I recall fondly, but I cannot say there was a period in my life where I was “happy” until I moved in with Larry.

Another good friend wrote:

“I often used to say that I hate children and after much introspection I can say that’s not true, it’s my childhood I hated. Kids still make me uncomfortable until I get to know them…But it would be unfair to me and my potential offspring to be a parent, and there’s lots of ways for me to support families and kids without having my own children.” 

This is the comment which spurred me to think more on things as I have been asked if Larry and I ever considered raising a child together and whether I would consider this if I find a new partner to share the rest of my life with.

My answer is a resounding no.  Partially because of the current state of the world and society we live in, partially because I don’t have many memories of a happy childhood and I honestly wouldn’t want to put another human being through that.

Again, as a child I was lucky, I had loving parents who provided well for me – we had food on the table, a roof over our heads, I had new clothing and things to occupy my mind and we went on an annual vacation (usually to Disney World) with one another.  I have an older brother who I mostly got along with and a few good friends, many of whom are still in my life.

I was also bored most of the time in my early childhood.  I taught myself to read quite early on, asking my mother at age three what a “lazzer” was (my brother had a game called Laser Attack) and I was sounding out the chemical names on the medicine bottles and cereal boxes by age 5.

School was both amazing and amazingly frustrating to me as teachers who “got me” would try to provide enrichment as I finished tasks early, however I soon became bullied as being the “teacher’s pet” or a “browner” (brown noser) because of this seemingly preferential treatment.  By grade two, I was regularly being pulled from classes to spend time with a special resources teacher for enrichment as the regular programming was frustrating to me and I was beginning to act out.

In grade three I spent large chunks of the year being pulled from classes for testing and enrichment exercises.  I spent many hours in a storage room turned into a small classroom with the special resources teacher who provided me with activities to keep my often wildly active mind stimulated, while she interviewed me as a subject for her Master’s thesis in gifted education.

I got used, at quite an early age, to speak into microphones and enunciate clearly.  I also learned, by age 10, to be wary of people with microphones asking personal questions as they often have ulterior motives.

I was being pulled away from my classmates and friends.  I was being “othered” by the very people who were supposed to support and help me.  And my parents supported this treatment as it kept my curious mind occupied and not acting out.

At the same time, I was participating in the church, taking piano lessons and playing with my friends.  During all of this time, I often focused on building things, like houses out of cardboard boxes, in which I could escape and be myself.  Places where I could “just be” and not have to worry about doing my school work too fast or being asked probing questions by teachers wanting to psychoanalyse me.

I didn’t have to worry about being strangled with a skipping rope by an older kid in the school playground for being a browner.  The skipping rope, of course, belonging to one of my best friends.

In Grade 4, the Board of Education I was in started testing students for placement in the Gifted Program.  Once again, I spent more time out of class being tested, interviewed and finally meeting with the child psychologist.  Mid way through the school year, I was told that in the next year, I would be pulled away from my classmates and sent to a new school.

I was excited but scared and when my being moved to a “brainer school” became public knowledge, even the kids who were kind to me began picking on me.  So I became the asshole kid they seemed to want to be – you want me to act precious and “gifted”?  You can bet I’ll behave that way!  With the kids at school, I became someone who I wasn’t because it seemed to be expected of me.

At the same time I withdrew further into myself and built a proverbial wall.

seven years

Dear Larry,

Seven years have passed since cancer took you from us. I celebrate your life and the impact you made on the people you met. I hope to continue to make the house a place of solace and respite from the overwhelming darkness of the world.

I am glad that you did not have to live through 2020. It has been a very tough year, and I can only imagine what the uncertainty of the coming holiday season would have done your spirits. Not to mention the fear of contracting COVID-19 with your extremely suppressed immune system.

Both you and I would be total basketcases, worried about your health.

I continue to support the Santas and help them spread the magick and spirit of the season year round. Chloe continues to bring me joy and little moments of peace, however she is truly showing the signs of her age. She’s not able to climb or go down the stairs anymore and walks are slowing down noticeably.

Mom had a visit from that bastard disease cancer, and struggled through treatment as the realities of Covid forcing her to be isolated from friends and family due to fear of infection. She is currently free and clear of cancer, with a follow up next year. I am being cautiously optimistic, as I know full well that “free and clear of cancer” can be a tenuous description.

I am helping the Pagan Pride Day Hamilton in organizing this year’s event. As we are unable to meet in person, we have taken the event online. I have used my connections in the community to arrange for speakers, entertainers and vendors. We are exploring maintaining connections in the community, despite being necessarily apart.

I continue to heal and grow as I explore what it means to be me. I still struggle with moments of loneliness and anxiety, however I continue to grow in strength and resilience. I miss you every day but also hope that I will someday find someone who will make me feel similarly to how you made me feel.

Maybe I can make them feel the way you made me feel – it would be a thrill to be able to bring such love and joy into another person’s life. That’s the least I can do to honour your legacy.

I love you.

I miss you.

Thank you.

m.