I am writing this letter to thank you. No, we’ve never met, although I’m sure you and I are separated by less than two degrees of separation. C’mon, we’re gay and Canadian — it can’t be that many degrees.
My thanks is for you doing what you do and saying what you say, no matter what. It takes a lot of courage (or balls) to do that. When I was a just a baby gay, living in rural Nova Scotia, I would often watch Kids in the Hall, and there you were, on television. An openly gay man doing everything from queening it up to butching it up, depending on how you were feeling. You showed me I wasn’t the only homo alone; although I wasn’t having parties — I was voguing in my living room.
I know it hasn’t been easy, being openly gay and being unapologetic. I’m sure you’ve lost certain opportunities, or maybe didn’t get what you were promised. I recently read an interview with you, where you told bullied youth to “grow a pair.” I did grow a pair, and you were one of the reasons.
Seeing you on TV made me know that if I did, things would get better, because I made them better. The character that really made me feel okay to be gay was Buddy Cole. Although you took flak for the character, Buddy was unapologetic about who he was. I would tape episodes of KITH and rewatch Buddy as he would name off queer icons, which I would later look up to discover their secrets, looking for an identity hidden amongst all the references. My best friend and I would quote entire segments of his monologues to each other and laugh, even though we had heard the joke at least a dozen times. As a kid who knew he was gay (and was apparently rather flaming), Buddy taught me to grow a pair and tell guys to fuck off when they harassed me. So I would like to thank you for that.
Although I sincerely doubt that in the 20-some years since you were on the air no one else has said thank you for being unapologetic, I still will.
PS: I did meet Paul Bellini once in a gay bookstore in Halifax. He bought a first edition of Belle Poitrine by Patrick Dennis, a purchase I still envy him. A few years later, he sent me some of his video/film works. I guess we have one degree of seperation. Say hi to him for me, would ya?