Toronto
3 min

Head & shoulders above the crowd

Being six-foot-four has advantages, especially during happenings like Montreal’s queer arts and culture fest Divers/Cité where thousands of sexy lovers of life congregated, Jul 27 to Aug 2, to take in events like drag diva Mado’s yearly extravaganza, Mascara.

This year’s Mascara ended with an eye-popping tribute to “The world’s number one icon: Madonna.” Madonna in the waning hours of my birthday? And I just did a bump? And I could see over the multitude of heads before me? Most poor other buggers craned for some kind —  any kind — of view. It doesn’t get any better.

Yes, I saw it all. I always see it all. Once in a bathroom lineup at a big, bad boy’s party ages back, waiting eternally before an occupied stall, finally peeking over the top wall — with ease — to find out WTF was taking the user so damn long, I spied with my little eye two occupants busily barebacking.

When you are as tall as I am (and here add the fact that I check in on my gym scale at 210 pounds), it’s not just about the view. For others you are the view, there’s no such thing as unobtrusiveness.

It’s especially true if, like me, you’re not one of those sweater fags, all blendy-blendy. If, like me, you’re more the fag who might wrap your mop of hair in a red bandana and sport huge, white, round sunglasses that Nicole Richie would kill both Olsen twins over, the notion of being unobtrusive is an utter mystery to you; unsolvable, like how Dan Brown gets published.

Anyway, this scarf-glasses-and-general-bigness look I describe is what I had on when I was spotted at Montreal’s Gare Centrale, heading back to Toronto following my Friends for Life Bike Rally/birthday/Divers/Cité celebration weekend at the top of August. The spotters were two separate families, units each comprised of male and female parents, one with a set of ’tweens, the other a set of teens.

I should also mention that I was with my boyfriend who is rather dead hot, so by the time Miss Scarf-and-Glasses-Thing and her beau caught the wide eyes of the aforementioned straight families waiting for trains, stuffing trans fats down their gobs, I, always all-seeing, couldn’t help notice the noticing.

They noticed the glasses, the do-rag, my skinny jeans rolled up Huck Finn style. They noticed the height and bigness passing them. They noticed we were holding hands, Patrick and I.

They started to whisper — I see it all, I always do — and they fought not to look. They thought they were being discreet, only discreet people don’t suddenly lean, whisper and fight not to look (finally acquiescing to observe peripherally because apparently we were that much of a spectacle passing by).

I stared back but they couldn’t tell because my eyes were hidden behind my fucking amazing dinner plates for glasses.

By the time we purchased espressos and passed them again I had fashioned a song. Once we got right next to them, en route to the first-class lounge (those sunglasses get me in anywhere), I sang it, off-key as is my talent. I sang so loudly that others around us stared at the even-more-aghast-than-before family who were the object of my serenade: “Love comes in all shapes and sizes/And isn’t diversity a beautiful thing?”

The family unit suddenly froze like a Grade 12 drama class tableau. Then we passed family number two at a doughnut shop picking at crullers and were soon spotted again. Lean. Whisper. Stare-but-not-really-stare.

I raised my glasses off my nose, peered under, locked eye contact. To their horror they couldn’t break their stare after I’d caught them with my own, and then? Did I have the nerve to wave as we walked by? Smile? Perhaps later the two families united to form a support group but I’ll never know.

One of the wonderful things about growing is that as years go by many of us stop caring what others think as they observe us, hear us, interact with us. For many of us this is the only direction to go, having started at the far end, the awful, approval-seeking end. And sometimes it’s even entertaining to toy with those — be they straight or those sad, eat-their-own queers — who take it so deeply personally when you are not the same.

I pointed all this out to the boyfriend who has noticed none of this past five minutes of activity, who thought the singing was just me being silly. He smiled as if I imagined it all.

But then he is only five-eleven.