LGBTTQ History Month (Or Queer, as I will refer to it)
I just found out it is Queer History month. I didn’t really have time to prepare a blog for this, so I’m going to totally wing it and take you back, back, to 1993. It is Saskatoon in midwinter. I had just hugged a girl with breasts and realized a) I liked breasts and b) I was a lesbian. I was fourteen years old. I did not have the internet. We had the Teenage Body Book, so I looked for the section on homosexuality (what a dry clinical word). Basically it said that LOTS of teenagers had these same sex feelings but most everybody moved on to happy heterosexual relationships, and not to pin a label on yourself at such a young age, of course pinning a heterosexual label is fine at ANY age.
Fast forward to coming out, Mum took it well but she said two things which she has denied saying ever since, “Are you sure?” and “Can’t you just be bisexual?” Anyway, she went to Ottawa and crashed the women’s bookstore for me to buy volumes of lesbian literature, some adolescent stuff, some sex books (no pictures), some comics, I forget what else. Her friend gave me two dozen roses to celebrate. And life pretty much continued like that for a while. I carefully selected people to come out to, I read everything I could get my hands on, I started buying the Advocate and learning politics, I rented Desert of The Heart over and over until I found Madchen in Uniform which I watched over and over. And I found the local queer youth group.
Finding the youth group was a fluke. I’d actually gone down to AIDS Saskatoon because I realized my safe sex knowledge was woefully inadequate with my sexuality. Use a condom. Hmmm. I mean, I had no dildos, I didn’t know anyone else my age with dildos, and I knew I’d do other things (I still wasn’t totally sure what). So I ended up at AIDS Saskatoon with a ziplock bag of dental dams, finger cots, and a latex glove and a wee pamphlete on Safer Lesbian Sex. Remember, this was the early Nineties. The AIDS epidemic was still HUGELY on peoples minds and all the people my age were getting drilled with safer sex messages (I believe this has sadly fallen by the wayside). Anyway, I noticed a pamphelete for a group called QYSS (pronounced Kiss). It stood for Queer Youth Support Service or something like that. And I was underage to go. By then I was fifteen, and you had to be sixteen (I later sucessfully lobbied for this to change to twelve). Anyway, I went to my first meeting on a chilly winter day and met a sweet boy who is now a well known DJ, and a round lesbian. Nobody else was there. Attendance was always erratic and dependant on infighting and who had just broke up with who. Anyway, they took my for french fries and the boy kept saying Mary and I was so green I thought the lesbian’s name was Mary.
I kept going, we met in a tacky tiny boardroom with wood panelling and went through circle check. Everybody talked about how they were doing. That was mostly all we did, and then go for fries and dish. One boy told the round lesbian her peanut buster parfait looked like a bad rim job. I had to learn all these terms really quick or they could zing me and I wouldn’t know it. Gay boys taught me how to dish, be catty, look good, and be generally flamboyant. They were great. We learned about a lot of things but the gay community really wasn’t interested in giving much to us. Mostly we were an exploitable labour force for the annual Pride Dance decorating community. God, blowing up fucking balloons, hanging garlands off those ridiculous heads at the Ukrainian Hall. It was pretty boring. But we all did it because there was nothing else to do.
Oh yeah, and we changed QYSS to OPY, Out And Proud Youth, which seemed happier. But then a facilitator wanted us to be more mature, and a smart ass gay boy said “So what should we call ourselves then? MOPY?”
A drag queen tried to seduce me while we watched Egoyan’s Exotica.
I met my first lover in art class. We’d been at high school in the same grade ever since grade nine, but even though she was cute I never paid much attention to her. I think she just sat down at my table because there was no where else to sit. The other person sitting with us was my friend the cutter, but she’s not really relevant to the story. Anyway, we started chatting, I started getting crushed out, my best friend told me to forget it because she had to be straight to look like that. (Ha! My first introduction to high femmes!) Anyway, flirt flirt flirt, we’d flirt all over. I gushed about her to the queer youth group. Then my friend the bisexual man met her and fell in love. ARGGGG! This happened just after I came home from my second ever screening of my first ever video at Out On Screen in Vancouver (about 1995). They went on a date and I was heartbroken and seethed.
And then we had a threesome. (And her nails were really long)
And then we all had a fight.
And then his house burnt down.
And then . . . it was grade twelve by then. People had cottoned on to the fact they had a budding bulldagger roaming the halls, so I’d get shoved or have epithets yelled at me, people threw cans from moving cars, that sort of thing. I was really hating Saskatoon by this point and kept reading the catalogue for Emily Carr to get through the year. I tried to start a GSA at my school but no one was very interested in the meetings on the front lawn even though I brought chips. We all knew who we were at the school, the queers I mean. Mostly bisexuals and a couple gay boys. And I guess the five of us felt conspicuous to all sit together, some were quite stealth.
I went to my grad with two dates who were women, one of whom has since died. And then I swirled out of high school and by the end of the summer I was on a plane to Vancouver.
I’ve seen a couple people from high school since then, one of my best friends, my first lover, a girl who since came out, I know one of my high school pals is a 911 operator now. I’ve been tempted to dial those three numbers just to find her, but that’s too much trouble. I found a guy I was sure was gay and yeah, he’s come out since then.
And that’s about it for my queer teen history. I wish there was more salacious stuff in there, like wild nights of lesbian debauchery, but I didn’t get much play.