3 min

Eat the red one lasts

I couldn't bring myself to admit this before

Credit: Xtra files

I once heard that the average age for women coming out is 35. Perhaps that is just coming-out urban legend, the homosexual equivalent of the Chihuahua brought home from the Sandals resort in, say, Mexico which turns out to be a giant rat. (Hey, what happens with the rest of that story? Do the lesbians keep the rat and take it to dog obedience classes in Riverdale Park?)

I have discovered there are all kinds of comings out. There is the debutante kind. I don’t know how they can still call it that, but there you go. How can you not envision a southern belle in a big dress making an entrance to the ball by passing through a bunch of lesbians in tuxedos with crossed softball bats?

There is the closet door flung open “I am what I am” homo-sexual variation. Or sometimes it is as simple as the admission that you don’t actually hate Charlotte Church the way you go on about; you actually love her.

There is the coming out that you like watching The Weather Channel, or on occasion make yourself a sandwich of potato chips and bread. Or the out loud admission that you once had a sex dream about Joan Collins. Who wants that on their permanent record?

There is the self-realization that no, in fact, you don’t think Jeff Stryker is hot. Or yes, you do think Kate Winslet is sexier with an extra 20 pounds. Or that you’re the kind of person who doesn’t actually like futons and, in fact, never has. Maybe you were scared to come out as a lone sane voice in the evangelically futon-crazed 1980s.

But that late average coming-out age of 35 (it must mean there are 96-year-old women going, “You know, I never really noticed Gladys before today”) has made me realize that admitting something sometimes takes a bit of time.

I finally came out a year ago. I realized, “Oh my God… I’m… I’m…. No, it can’t be. Me?”

How can you be one thing all your life and realize now that deep down you’ve been another all along? Have I been lying to myself? Have I lied to everyone else?

Oh my God. I have.

How could I not have seen it? I wore Grebs. That should have been the first sign. I resisted it for so long, and for no reason other than not feeling like I belonged.

I realized, “Oh my God, I’m Canadian.”

It was the beginning of December 2003, time to go get a wedding licence. She and I went to city hall and we brought our passports, mine from the US, where I grew up, and hers from England, where she grew up. Here we were, these two people from countries other than this one, able to get married here.

I gave the fabulous lesbian behind the desk at city hall my two pieces of ID – my US passport and the Canadian citizenship card I acquired as a reluctant and unamused teenager two months after moving here from New York.

I remembered when I got that card I was so distraught. I didn’t see myself anywhere here. I was New York and Central Park and Grand Central. Not Noodle’s restaurant. What the hell was The Cumberland Terrace?

I said “dawg” and “cawfee.” And the candy – God help us. There were no Milky Ways. No Hundred Thousand Dollar Bars. Toronto had Macintosh Toffee and Nibs. I thought I would perish. Instead of M&Ms, there were Smarties. That was a rude awakening. Smarties were like M&Ms – if M&Ms were made from baker’s chocolate and surrounded by a candy coating made of Chanel #5.

All the years I spent here, I always felt like an outsider.

I spent the next 25 years going back and forth between Toronto, and New York and Los Angeles. I kept coming back, but I kept thinking I should be somewhere else. Strange, because I really liked Swiss Chalet.

But then I sat in city hall with this beautiful sweet and lovely English girl, who loved me, too. And this fabulous woman behind the desk treated us like people and like we mattered and like it, in fact, would be okay if we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, officially recognized by the government of the place you lived. She smiled and wished us luck.

Talk about a feeling of belonging.

As we walked up Bay St, I realized what I have always known. What it took me so long to say out loud. Sometimes, it just takes awhile.

I am… Canadian.

Thank you, Canada. I love you, Smarties.