3 min

Goodbye to little lies

Moving on from self-censorship

“I wand you to have dish, to weemember me by,” he said. Then he fell off the curb.

My friend had presented me with a sign he had stolen from the bar we were at. I had just told him I was moving back to Vancouver.

The sign was shaped like a Tom of Finland character, but with feet. He was wearing nothing but a belt, and a hard-on that was out of proportion, even by Tom of Finland’s standards.

It was the first thing I hung up in my apartment.

“Are they gay?” my landlady asked, not long after I moved in. She was watering the lawn in the middle of a ban.

I was surprised, not just by the question, but by how loud she was.

The couple looked back. They were a man and woman couple; the man’s long hair made him androgynous. I stood there, mouth agape, taking a step back from my landlady so as not to be associated with her.

Did this woman not know I was gay? I think I’m pretty obvious. Should I tell her? Was it her business? As someone who is “out,” wasn’t I obligated to?

“Not that I care if someone is gay,” she said.

Now both of us were hiding something.

One of the things that attracted me back to Vancouver from San Francisco was that the gaybourhood is just a thread in the fabric of the city, not the whole damn quilt. I remember tour buses parading through the Castro, and thinking, “We’re here, we’re queer, now stop taking pictures.”

I was a little suspicious of my new landlady. You can’t judge a person by their apartment, but surroundings are revealing nonetheless. Hers looked like it had been ransacked. The place was decorated with furniture that had been abandoned by previous tenants. There has to be a rule in Feng Shui against that.

I wondered about her ability to run a building. I wrote off my instincts as paranoia and signed the lease anyway, desperate as I was for a building that took dogs.

My instincts were right.

As evidenced by her apartment, my landlady wasn’t proficient in home repairs. She could barely hold a screwdriver. Instead, she delegated her work to her common-law husband. Whenever he came up to fix something, I took down my friend’s sign. I didn’t want to freak him out, make him think I was going to make a pass at him.

My landlady’s husband shared her work ethic. The repairs were only half-done, or overlooked, and he would have to return a couple of more times. Each time I would take down the sign as a courtesy to his sensibilities-never mind I was paying a fortune to live in a run-down building.

Then the blinds I had been waiting a month for finally arrived.

“Are you going to be home?” she called to ask.

“I’m at work.”

“Do you mind if we go into your place?”

Did I mind? I had only been mooning the street for a month.

But there was the dog to consider. Not that he would do anything. And then there was the sign. Fuck it.

“Go for it.”

I came home to find my blinds up, my dog locked out on the balcony, and that someone had started a new roll of toilet paper. You would have to be blind to not see my sign from the toilet. I hung it there for that purpose.

My relationship with my landlady deteriorated; it had nothing to do with the sign and everything to do with her being inept. I ended up taking her to arbitration and getting out of my lease.

More frustrating than her incompetence was that I had altered my lifestyle for her-censored myself when she couldn’t even be bothered to clean her apartment when I signed my lease. It made me realize that I’m not as out as I thought I was. And it bugged the hell out of me.

Last week at work the manager held up a sign that someone had posted on the bulletin board. It read: “Hot wax on your ass.”

“Why?” he moaned.

My manager is by no means a prude, but the owner has two tweens, whom he has to consider. The owner, on the other hand, will let his sons kill time at Little Sister’s while he’s busy, but won’t let them read comic books because they’re too violent. And then there are those who think club posters are too graphic for kids walking by on the street.

There’s always someone to consider. There is always the potential to offend. You just have to remember that those who are offended are usually the most offensive.