Saturday, May 29, 2021

Today: Pandemic Be Damned

 I shaved my beard off today.

For those of you who don't know, I grew a rather prodigious beard over the last several weeks. This was not a fashion choice. This was simply a result of laziness. I never really liked shaving and did so only because I needed to look tidy for work. But I'm retired now. But I'm living through a pandemic now. But I don't want to.

So it grew fiercely.

So it grew furiously.

So it grew and made a home for errant cheerios.

Food in the beard, an unexpected bonus, snacking available round the clock.

Last night I decided that I would shave the beard off. 

And then it hit me.





This is where I am now. This is where a lot of people are. Being thrilled at simply having something to do. Something attached to real life.Something that has nothing to do with existential panic.

I wish you could see me. 

Maybe I'll do a selfie this week.


Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Black Lives Matter: The question asked and, hopefully, answered.

 One of the best things about having a blog is the opportunity to keep a record, a diary, of your reaction to the world. 

One of the words things about having a blog is the opportunity to keep a record, a diary, of your reaction to the world.

As I have learned many times over the years, I have a lot to learn. I have been lucky to have readers who have held me accountable for something I've written or the way I expressed myself. I remember using the word 'schizophrenic' inappropriately, and after a long conversation, near argument, with a reader, I changed the text. Once done, I read it and realized that the change made things better.

Sometimes I'm wrong.

Sometimes I need to be corrected.

5 years ago I wrote a blog about the Black Lives Matter protest at the Toronto Pride Parade wherein the parade was stalled while negotiations went on about diversity and inclusion at Pride. I wrote something about that protest and a few days ago was called to account for what I'd written. Foolishly I'd erased the original post a few days after having written it so I didn't have it to refer to. In many ways, my memory does not match the memory of the woman who approached me about it. But she was a reader, she had found the post hurtful, and her memory of the event needed to be respected.

It took everything I had not to go into 'defense' mode. Somehow I knew this was an important conversation and I needed to listen to what she had to say. Sometimes listening hurts. Our conversation was long and I don't feel I can encapsulate it here, but what I can do is answer the question she first asked me, "Do you still feel the same way about the BLM protest at the parade as you used to?"

So here goes, and in fairness, my thoughts have been informed by what's happened in the past 5 years.

1) I am, and always have been, against all forms of racism but specifically anti-black racism.

2) The Pride parade began as a riot a fact easily forgotten. I sometimes shake myself because we were in the first march in Toronto and it was terrifying, no crowds cheered that day. I mistrust the crowd that shows up every year, who are they now, what violence can they do?

3) Marsha P. Johnson and other black transgender women led the battle at Stonewall and it is their activism that we carry into the future. Defiance and pride began the protests, but now pride alone lives on to march down the street, that is until BLM held an accounting of where we were.

And yes, if you are asking, I have backed up these beliefs in actions - cause therein lies the heart of apology. I hope this helps fill in as the blog I should have written that day.

Monday, May 17, 2021


 I remember her.

The first time I met her.

She was sitting at the end of the bar.

Messy drunk.

Loudly drunk.

And people all around her, mostly gay men, ignored her. It was as if her presence was just slightly less than tolerated. They all spoke of her disparagingly - using words that were meant to hurt. They called her, 'it'. 

I was new to gay life, new to the idea of gay bars, new to the social mores of the community with which I now identified. Even so, common decency told me that this was wrong. I did the only thing that I thought I could do. I said 'Hello'. Friendly like. Small town neighbourly.

She looked at me suspiciously but then replied, "Hello," and we talked.

Today is marked as a day against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia. We hold these days that have the implicit message that it's the straights that need to clean up their act. And, oh dear, they do. But we can't hold these days without looking to see our own behaviour. Are we guilty of the same things?

The nastiest thing that's ever been done to me as a gay man was done to me by another gay man, he suggested that someone 'like me' who looked 'like me' could not be gay, should not be gay. He was clear that the idea disgusted him. I remember this clearly. 

Everyone needs to double-check their attitudes and triple-check their behaviour. The enemy may come from within. So use this day to think about who you are and the attitudes you hold. All of us will benefit. But until then:

So if you ever see me.

Messy drunk.

At the end of the bar. 

Please say 'hello'.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Under the Arch

 I was doing a lecture yesterday broadcast out of Scotland when I noticed it. And once I'd seen it I simply couldn't look away. Let me preface this by saying that I'm not someone who spends a lot of time in front of a mirror, I don't actively avoid them but I'm not fixated by them either. I have a friend who can't walk by a mirror without stopping, even for a half step, to check himself out. I'm not that guy, I make fun of that guy.

Even so, I do recognize myself in a mirror and have gotten a little more used to seeing myself around because I spent lots of time on zoom, and go to meetings, and, teams, all of which have my image on the screen somewhere. So, yesterday about ten minutes before the end, I noticed it. There was something wrong with my face. Something that I'd never noticed before. I brushed aside my observation so I could finish what I was doing and once done, I took time to really notice.

My left eyebrow is permanently arched. I couldn't get it down even after a concerted effort. I couldn't feel it being raised, but there it was, in front of me, raised. One half of my face looked like I was watching a Biden speech the other looked like I'd just been told that Trump was coming for dinner. I got over it, so what, and then went on to my next meeting.

Later I was thinking about my eyebrow, deep, ponderous eyebrow thoughts. I  realized that arched eyebrow built a little bit of my childhood and, more than that, made its way into my adult life. When I was young my parents were told by one of my teachers that I had the 'gift of the gab' in response to their question about how I could be so, very, incredibly, verbal about everything, apparently, I was a bit exhausting.

My mother took to responding to how I arranged by day into tightly packed stories that I was eager to tell, with the question about the hero of my story, (me), by saying, "Who the hell do you think you are?"

The answer wanted was nothing, nobody, and certainly not the hero of any story.

This tactic worked, I stopped bringing home stories and began coming home to grunt out news of my day. Well, I quieter. I preferred that to facing questions as to my place in my own universe.

Growing up and into a life of training and lecturing, I rely heavily on the 'gift of the gab' and the stories that I have to tell. And no one has asked me for many years the question, "Who do you think you are?"

And it's a pity because now I have the answer. "Why, I'm Dave Hingsburger, pleased to meet you."

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Explosive Knowledge and the Love of Auntie Gladys

 I spoke to my Auntie Gladys only two days ago. I had been trying to get in touch with her ever since she entered the hospice where she had gone from the hospital. Even though I rang several times, the phone wasn't answered. I had heard from my brother that Auntie Gladys was very weak and needed assistance with the phone, I had to call and hope that one of her family or someone from the hospice was there to help her. I took a shot on Tuesday and the phone was answered by a nice woman who got the phone over to her. 

The voice I heard was barely recognizable, it was so weak and it seemed impossible it came from such a vital, powerful, woman. When I told her my name she didn't recognize it and instead asked if I was coming that day. I told her that I lived in Toronto and that fact didn't help her to catch my memory. Later, I mentioned Joe, Auntie Gladys always liked Joe, and that was it. The key. The pebble. She said, ""Joe!" "Dave and Joe" oh my hello" Joe and I both spoke to her and then we were on firmer footing.

I spent a little time telling her that I had such fond memories of her throughout my life, that she had enriched not only my life but our lives. She responded, "Yes, they are good memories aren't they." Besides 'bye, now' those were the last words that Auntie Gladys said to me. She died the following day.

After hanging up the phone, I thought about the fact that Aunt Gladys remembered me through Joe. It struck me that she was the second person in my family who knew about our relationship. That knowledge, that explosive knowledge, had no power that would change her view that I was still her nephew. She kept my secret until keeping it was no longer necessary.

I read again today that parents still, routinely, throw their kids to the streets once they know of their difference. It seems that their hearts simply weren't big enough, or strong enough to withstand the blast. Explosive knowledge had nothing on my Auntie Gladys, and I will forever be grateful to her because of it.

Monday, May 03, 2021


 We were standing in a line-up ready to check our groceries through. We'd waited about ten minutes and were now next in line. I could see the cashier finishing up and I knew once she'd cleaned the area we'd be good to go. Then out of nowhere a woman appeared, she wore flappable as if it was a couture line, she had in her hands a pre-wrapped sandwich, a bottle of water, and a fancy cupcake. She approached me and asked if she could go next, she had just a few things, then it all poured out.

It was short-staffed where she worked and her lunch hour was reduced to only the time it took to get something. "I never thought about the line-ups here, I should have thought of them, but really I have to get back, there are people depending on me." I glanced over at Joe and he smiled and we both agreed she should go ahead. She stepped in front of me just as it was time for her to go up and pay.

We heard it first, angry breathing, it was coming from the woman behind us in the line-up. She was some mad. As soon as we had eye contact, she lit into me, told me that I had no right to let that woman go in front of me, that my decision affected everyone waiting patiently in the queue. I registered shock on my face and said, "It was only a few things and she was pressured to get back to work. "How is that my fault?" she asked.

"It's not your fault, I said, "it was your cue to be kind."

Then, I was called up. We pulled our cart over to the side and said to her, "Go ahead, I inconvenienced you, this will hopefully make up for it.

She looked a bit chastened, but she went ahead.