Gays of Our Lives

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Gays of Our Lives
Gayness, Blackness & Gay Marriage in Canada
Cut by: Davita Cuttita

This article is in two parts, it will highlight:

1- Why & How We Have Gay Marriage in Canada
2- Blackness & the Gay Community

You can dance to it, shake to it, drink to it, eat to it, or share it. Or hate it. Read one part, or both parts, or either parts. Feel free to leave a suitable comment. Wash, rinse and repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat…forward.

1. GAY MARRIAGE IN CANADA: HOW & WHY

Firstly, in regards to some ignorant people blaming Black people in general for the passing of Prop 8 and the consequent banning of gay marriage in California, I think it’s been fairly established by many bloggers, in particular; the Angry Black Woman, that 7%–10% of the vote is not enough to make-or-break the other 93% who also voted “yes”.

Also, not all gay people are White and that no, Black people don’t owe anybody (votes) for jackshit, Obama (God bless him!) is not the King of Black people and furthermore, all Black people are not all homophobes. I feel sad homosexuals are feeling (further) hurt and marginalization from this bill. I’m not gay but I’m not completely frigid; either.

Just thought I’d acknowledge that.

Case closed, moving on to the rest of the article…

So my friendly Amerikaners or other non-Canadians, some of you must be wondering WHY are same-sex unions legal in Canada?

Because things just work differently legally here. Also, nobody can argue with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Since ALL our rights are in there and if somebody else doesn’t get something, then you’re being a big, fat, hypocrite asshole by not following the law you swore to uphold by giving some people some things while not giving those same things to someone else. It’s not about my opinion or anybody elses’—who cares? The charter doesn’t—it’s about the law of the land and if the law of the land says everyone gets ABC well; you better damn well make sure they get it Governmenty-person and if a bill matches with the requirements of the CCRF and is approved when all the political parties vote: it becomes the law; end of story.

Also, the public wasn’t allowed to vote on it. Ever. And really, most didn’t want to and pretty much considered the issue an open-shut case.

Same-sex marriage (and divorce) has been legal in most parts of Canada (eight out of ten provinces, 1 out of 2 territories) since 2003 and was was finally legal for the entire nation in 2005.

Currently, only four countries in the entire world have legalized same-sex unions in the “marriage” sense (some places allow “civil unions” rather than marriage), so it’s still a pretty rare thing.

For everyone blaming the Churches for the backlash, please don’t overgeneralize with that trite  religion=groupthink bullshit. It just doesn’t. DUH!

For example, some (“progressive”) churches, synagogues and other (non-)faith based organizations conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies; however religious institutions that perform them must be in agreement that yes; they have no problem with a man-and-a-man or a woman-and-a-woman can get hitched. So, just like any other couple seeking to be married; the religious institution must approve of your union and consent to performing the ceremony. Otherwise, you could always try someplace else or just hit up City Hall.

Did people protest? Yeah, sorta.

Did people write to their representatives? Yeah, of course.

Did people voice their support/distaste for the bill? Yeah, sure.

Was there dissent in the government about the bill? Not really, the vote was 175 yes–123 no for legalization.

Also, to those of you with knots in your stomach at the thought of same-sex couples; I, personally, can tell you that Canada is still EXACTLY THE SAME as it was before and no, it did not rain fire.

Yet…BOMBOMBOOOMMMMMM!!!  …/end senseless humour.
(Although I’m still kinda considering the benefits of that compared to the impending snow…~_~)

So there you go. That’s how it works in Canada in a nutshell covered in sIrop d’érable.

Now, some of you may read all that and be inclined to think that maybe all Canadians are all extreme Liberals that plant trees, accept everything and anyone and are probably not religious at all which is untrue: 80% of the entire population claim to be a member of either Judaism, Christianity or Islam while 16% have no religious affiliation and the remaining 4% follow non Judeo-Christian based religions.

Sex changes are also free here as they’re covered under our Universal healthcare plan.
Nina Arsenault (who used to be a prof at my university until she went on into the entertainment industry) is a prime example.

2–Blackness & Homosexuality (from a straight perspective)…

I come from Jamaica.

Culturally, we are NOT accepting of homosexuality—at all. It is completely taboo; no questions asked.

Growing up in Canada, my father in particular; drove home the point that any of us “becoming” homosexual would not be accepted at all.

To slightly expand on this topic, when speaking with some Black people it always seemed to them as if homosexuality was some sort of “White disease”:

“Oh, White people, they are so open and accepting to anything and a lot of them hate anything to do with God; they are all so selfish—of course they’d become homosexual! They are such morally bankrupt people! Look how they’ve destroyed the world with bombs, slavery and war!”

Well, what I just listed is the most extreme case of homophobia I’ve encountered in the Black community and of course, I am going to be honest and say that I’ve only happened upon it once or twice. No, they were not friends or family; just random people.

At the same time, I don’t think it’s only Black or Coloured People who perceive homosexuality to be some sort of “White-Only” disease. I think some White people and perhaps even, some White gay people tend to place emphasis on White gayness while simultaneously ignoring the struggle (and existence) of gay and trans People of Colour.

This was illustrated in The Simpsons some years ago. Homer feared Bart was “becoming” homosexual and decided to teach Bart how to hunt deer to somehow make him “man-up”. His friends protested his decision saying that if Bart was gay, there was nothing he could do. Homer then retorts their comments saying, “Name one gay Indian!” (also note that hunting is a rite of passage into manhood for many cultures). Of course, behind the intended humour of that quote, it makes the assumption that being gay is something only White people do which is of course, untrue.

As a Jamaican by birth, I feel as though I should tell Westerners this: DO NOT force Jamaicans to change and adapt your Western values to convenience yourselves. I think this is a common tendency—other, wealthier countries will go to another poorer, less developed place and not try to show them a different perspective or even pitch in to make life better for everybody; rather they try and FORCE their beliefs upon that culture for their own, personal comfort so that they never really feel “out of place” or “away from home” and do almost nothing to benefit those suffering.

A while back when I accidentally stumbled across this article on Pandagon (which I never read), talking about how disgusted some people were with the Jamaican government investing more money into protecting tourism rather than protecting gay tourists.

Of course I commented because the government isn’t singling out who to protect and who not to because it doesn’t have the power or resources protect ANYONE at all. Take these real life examples…

Over the summer of this year, my older brother’s girlfriend and her mother were innocently murdered–shot to death–in cold blood in their own home three months after my brother had been shot by a stray bullet walking home from a bus stop. My brother has a three year old daughter (with a previous girlfriend). What would’ve happened to her?

Staying at a relatives’ house with my mother and younger siblings six years ago at age 16 (we were there to bury my Mom’s mother), I remember scrambling to turn off all the lights and all of us lying in the dark on the floor, scared shitless as people attempted to break down the door and come inside to steal our luggage and possibly slaughter us.

Ten years ago my Uncle was shot at close range in the back of the head outside of his house leaving three children behind and before my other grandmother (father’s side) passed away from diabetes three years ago; she’d been shot twice in her old age–one incident was in her own home as someone attempted to murder my Aunt in her sleep and was startled when my grandma snuck up behind them and smashed a figurine over their head to protect her. My grandmother died years later with the same bullet beside her heart because they couldn’t remove it at the hospital for fear of killing her.

OK, hold on…who the fuck shoots old people!? OLD LADIES, at that?

My brother lives in Waterhouse, which has the highest murder-per-capita rate in the world. The death count from January 2008–April 2008 is already over 480 people. Jamaica only has a population of 2.7 million. In 2007 alone, over 1500 people were murdered. Murder rates for women have increased by 30% in one year.

My heart bleeds…

We have roads to fix, crushing poverty, a near-worthless dollar, declining almost anything valuable you can think of, increasing almost every crime and murder you can think of, a useless police force, children to save, schools to build and people to keep alive; famillies. We have a lot of dragons to fight and it’s HARD to fight dragons when you’re starving, have no money, no voice, no protection and someone has a gun to your head or worse still, to your kids’ head.

Jamaicans know this and are trying really hard to work towards it, even with a shitty, broke government and crippled economy. It’s a beautiful place with beautiful people, it is my first home and first place I love and its not ultra-violent 365 but if you visit, for God’s sake; go to a resort.

And let us take care of our skeletons in the closet, thanks.

We’re trying with nothing but hope and it doesn’t help when privileged (White) Westerners blame scared, misinformed people for being and acting scared and misinformed about a lot of things; including homosexuality.

At the same time, as not only a Jamaican but as a Black girl; I think it’s important for all human beings everywhere to realize that hey; WE ARE ALL HUMAN BEINGS. Right or wrong, straight or gay, Black or White, male or female (or Trans), we all have to eat, sleep and breathe.

People are people. Scary but true; I know.

Homosexuals are not monsters and nor are transsexuals or bisexuals.

I had to accept that in order to move on from that notion that gays were “eerie” or “weird”, which I did believe as a child.

During (Catholic!) highschool, a lot of my friends came out to me; including one of my best friends. I saw how other kids treated him and his other friend that just came out as a lesbian, how they yelled and threw things at them whenever they walked through the hallway or harassed them outside shopping malls after school.

“Yeah, he’s gay” is what my mind knew but “he’s my friend!” is what my heart would say.

That little voice is what made my hugs warmer when he was sad, my words funnier when he was worried and my temper calmer when we just couldn’t see eye to eye. I will always love him and all my other friends and family; no matter what.

I’ll never fully understand gay people and I am still basically a part of a culture that marginalizes them and exhalts the norm–it just comes with straightness; “straight privilege”, if you will. However, that doesn’t excuse me to treat them with any less common courtesy or respect they treat me with nor should it excuse the law from doing the same.

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~ by davitacuttita on November 13, 2008.

7 Responses to “Gays of Our Lives”

  1. Brave post, especially part two. I cannot imagine what it’s like to have to deal with such an amount of loss as you’ve had in your young life.

    You are truly a brave and noble spirit.

    I think it’s fair to say one of the lesson to be learned is that slipping into bigotry to fight bigotry is in itself corrodes your judgement.

    This ultimately threatens to unravel your ability to fight for what you need, as opposed to what you may want.

  2. Hi there, wriggles!

    Thanks for reading and commenting! Also, thank you very much for the compliments–I really try to write my best & be my best.

    It’s unfortunate that the stories above are only a small portion of all the tales detailing my personal experiences with violence in Jamaica but I really wanted to drive home the point that if people can’t live in comfort and be accepting of their own lives and circumstances–which is quite easy to do in a first world countries–it’ll be difficult for them to do much else. I’m glad you understood.

    Also, you are definitely right: bigotry most certainly does beget bigotry and it’s pretty hard to fight other dragons when you’ve used hate to turn yourself into one. Good point!

  3. “Since ALL our rights are in there and if somebody else doesn’t get something, then you’re being a big, fat, hypocrite asshole by not following the law you swore to uphold by giving some people some things while not giving those same things to someone else.”

    This part, I didn’t quite get. The US Constitution is full of hypocrisy, but that never stopped our government from denying people rights. What makes the Canadian Charter so much harder to argue with?

  4. You’re most welcome davita, it’s my pleasure. I’m adding you to my list of mind stimulants (in blog form that is), so that I can keep up with you latest musings.

    I can’t wait to read your -mind loss over Obama one, I actually laughed out loud when I caught the title!

  5. Hi Nia!

    To answer your question, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was created in 1982 (after the Civil Rights bill of 1960) and all of these different Charters are then built directly into the Constitution. Once that happened here, it became a federal statute and as a federal statute, all the laws therein are guaranteed government reinforcement and any “conflicts” (i.e. same sex marriage) that arise are guaranteed more stringent review–you can’t just throw the issues away or ignore them and all the government parties MUST review the issue and ensure it matches with the Charter.

    So basically, ANYONE that doesn’t have a right listed in there is by law; having their rights violated and MUST be served. Parties do debate and argue but in the end, a violation is a violation. The Canadian government does try to get away with stupid shit once in a while but people/lawyers are usually quick to point out that the Charter pretty much tells them they can’t be assholes but with fancy big words.

    That’s the best I can do in a nutshell but the wikipedia article is impeccable on the issue. I linked it in the article but here it is again if you’d like to know more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Charter

    Wriggles: Thanks for the add! I’ll be haunting you regularly as well… *_* BOM-BOM-BOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!!

  6. Kudos for knowing how the Canadian legal system works.

    And for explaining it to me =3

  7. Of course, Almira. Anytime!

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