Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Casting Shadows ...

Yesterday afternoon, after work, Joe and I headed down to do some shopping near the gay village, a couple blocks from where we used to live when we first moved to the city of Toronto. Afterwards I suggested that we pop into a pub for an afternoon drink. Here's a fact that I'll bet most of you don't know, I've been teatotal (I have purposely misspelled that word - because this spelling suits me better) for many, many years now. I still enjoy going to a pub, still enjoy the atmosphere therein, but I just don't drink alcohol. The bar we went to had a little patio, comprising one table, and I pulled into place there. Joe got a beer and then ducked across the street to David's Tea to pick me up my favourite white tea.

We sat on the patio all the way through Joe's first beer and about half my large cup of tea. By then, even though it was cool out, sitting directly in the sun was getting hot so we went indoors. The bar is set up such that the whole front opens up in the summer so you can sit in the cool of the interior and still look directly out onto the street. We sat there and eventually a few older men, of which we have passing acquaintance joined our table and we did what old people do everywhere - compare doctors, compare illnesses and gossip. It was a nice couple of hours.

What struck me, on the way home, was how very public that had all been. It continues to be public because I'm writing this right now, here on this blog. We sat right on the street, out in the sun, watching people go by. Such an extraordinarily ordinary thing to do. Except it wasn't.

When we first moved to the city, no gay bars had clear windows. None had patios. Some of them were entered by back lane ways. Most of them had the sense of 'secret society' or 'private club' about them. I remember having the sense of leaving the world behind at the door. Leaving the hate, and the fear, and the prejudice, at the door. There was a sense of security, that we'd found a place of welcome - from the patrons, not necessarily the servers. Most bars back then were owned by straight people and we were often served with disdain - our money was good but we were not. Even so, most of us could ignore that as the price you paid to have space, to have a place to simply 'be' in the world.

I could not have imagined then, all those years ago, that one day we'd be sitting on a patio, on the street, having a drink and feeling no fear. I'd made friends with that fear, I believe that the recognition that the world was full of people who wanted to hurt me - kept me safe, kept Joe safe. I thought through everything we did and everywhere we went and everyone we let into our lives. I had a job that I could lose in an instant - and not just a job, I had a passion for the work that I did, a passion that is still there, still vibrant. I didn't want that ripped from me.

But I thought of none of that while we sat at the one table on the patio. I thought of none of that while we talked with a small group of old men at a table that overlooked the street. None of it. I just enjoyed the sense of being 'out' in every way that one could be 'out'.

It wasn't until we were on our way home that I realized what it meant to be free. I realized that though there are still those who wish us ill, still those who believe that we should die or be put to death, even with all that, there are moments, now, where it's possible to simply be ... out in the sun.


Anonymous said...

I am glad you experience this feeling. I am glad times change. (In Germany we have a big political discussion right now, if different concepts of sexual relationships and families should be taught in school nowadays.)

Making people think out of the usual box, without borders in their heads, would truly set us free for a more human level of living.

There is so much going on in my head along this thread of thoughts. I have to think it all over some more.

But I am glad and I think that is how it should be.

Love yourself. Then forget it. Then love the world.


Siting and enjoying the sun right now too.

Audrey said...

Hello David
and Joe,

It has been many, many years since I met you two (I worked at the FSI of BC). I learned so much and have, over the years, been able to share what I learned from you and the amazing "I" series of books...

Hugs and appreciation,

wendy said...

Here's to freedom and sitting in the sun. Too many years were spent captive and in the shadows.

Jayne Wales said...

Just a perfect day. That's how it should be.