Toronto
3 min

Happiness without the numb or tipsy part

Okay, so here’s something interesting. It’s been in all the news reports that Gen Peter Pace, commander of the US military, says that homosexuality is immoral.

Imagine I have a missed paragraph in which I stare blankly, à la Bea Arthur as Maude Findlay or Dorothy in Golden Girls.

Then lean in close as I pull out my Extreme Makeover Home Edition-style bullhorn and say:

“And war isn’t?!”

This is where it starts to get ridiculous.

So what am I going to do, rant? Not fun. And helps no one. And will lead to a lot of eyes skimming the column for entertaining keywords. Maybe I’ll sprinkle some in.

Paris Hilton!

So although I won’t rant, I will speak up perhaps.

Lindsay in rehab!

I used to think that speaking up was a bit 1980s. We did so much speaking up back then you could hardly hear yourself inhale the poppers while you fan-danced to Wang Chung in your parachute pants and Chinese slippers.

But as opposed to being outré, I think it may just be back in.

The other day I was watching Good Morning America and there was this 15-year-old kid on the show. That’s not the gay angle yet — wait for it. He referred to himself as an abolitionist, which immediately made me think of 1800s and muttonchop sideburns and stovepipe hats, but he was referring to modern-day slavery. He said there are more than 27-million people working as slaves in the world today. (Still not gay, but I’ll get there.)

Oh, wait — Brangelina’s baby! Britney’s bald!

Watching him talk, in a flash I realized how pertinent that word is. “Of course he’s an abolitionist. That’s not a dated term. It’s completely contemporary.”

Further to that, why aren’t we all abolitionists? I know, you’re like, “Jane, I can barely keep up with my Penis Enlarger spam, don’t laden me with a cause.”

Here’s where it gets gay.

As gay boys and lesby ladies we are “unliked” by a huge percentage of people in the world, a number that increases as you enter geographies where women are men’s version of a Chia Pet or the Confederate flag adorns bumper stickers and legislature.

But the benefit of being an outsider is that it actually affords you a compassion and a depth of character that those who aren’t challenged don’t have. (See footnotes re: Why Models Aren’t Funny.) And since life isn’t supposed to be a cakewalk, but more so a series of challenges to rise to and be victorious over, we are the lucky ones, in a way.

I used to think Happiness was an absence of problems, but then I realized there’s no such thing as an absence of problems. Happiness is getting though. It’s being okay, no matter what befalls you. Not because you’re numb or tipsy. (Hey, who had that mid-’90s-cam on me? Rude!) It’s because you’re still standing.

Since we’ve all faced discrimination, “dislike” or worse, we have the benefit of getting stronger from it and are therefore people who can truly make a difference. The triumphant ones instead of the slouches we might otherwise be. I think that’s awesome.

We’re the lucky ones. We really are. There are so many homos whose mere experiences of getting through whatever life tossed their way made me want to do better. To be more.

The fellas I know who’ve lost their boyfriends to AIDS and are still here, changed but somehow still sparkly and wonderful and full of hope — they inspire me to find courage when I need it. The gals who have been through the effing wringer and stand there in the sun, hearts full of expectation of good things… holy shite. I freakin’ love you, homos!

My friends Diane and Janis who have been in the neonatal ICU with their sweet and wonderful little baby Jonathan since he was born four months ago, and who still have who-knows-how-many more months till he’s able to come home — that’s the kind of courage I want to have.

What I think I’m saying is that we have so much to offer as a community. And by that I don’t mean as a group. I mean as individuals with a uniting experience, like hockey fans but with better hair. It is my suggestion today that we do something with it. In whatever way. Turn the poison into medicine.

In whatever way. For whoever you want. But use your superpowers, my friends.

It’s as simple as forgiveness, getting over a grudge, pushing out a “cheerful” when you feel a “snippy” coming on. Or it’s as huge as finding a way to love yourself when it seems the whole world would rather you didn’t.

And then pass it on.