3 min

Pride in Art a refreshing escape from escapism

One can only stomach so much Dante's Cove

Most people can only hear the names Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus so often before they are over-come with a dire need to commit homicide.

Living the life of a socially deprived hermit can definitely have its hazards. If you turn too far away from the world outside your hovel to gaze at the glittering lights of your television or computer monitor, you risk loosing yourself, or at least your mind, forever.

I have been on the hunt for a sense of community in Vancouver’s “gayland” for some time now. Amidst personal triumphs and grossly miscalculated foibles, I have done and seen things never before fathomed by my weary psyche. I have essentially broadened my idea of what and who “we” are. From the clubs to the gym to the bed, bathhouse and beyond, I have put myself out there like never before.

Yet, something occurred to me recently. After watching several hours of the mega-gay soap opera Dante’s Cove, I knew I needed an escape from escapism.

You may have come across the Cove and its assembly of wicked, self-obsessed, libidinous fools. Forgive them for not stimulating you on any level but the physical. The fault lies solely in the writers of this embarrassing B-movie dreck.

A moment of clarity came when I could actually feel the ashy remains of several million brain cells drifting out of my left ear. I knew I had to go get myself some of that there culture.

As a survivor of McGill University’s Cultural Studies program, I had the instinctive need to distance myself from heady discourse upon graduation. After four years of lectures, wine and cheeses, poetry slams, art exhibits and clusters of faux intellectuals who loved the sound of their own voices,

I had to begin deprogramming.

Fashioning myself as a kind of rebellious anti-intellectual, I wanted to run from the clutches of Michel Foucault and his over-analytical minions.

When I discovered that the Pride In Art organization had put together an event, I thought it time to sweep out the moss from the portion of my brain reserved for art appreciation and check it out. I also wanted to experience something “gay” that was off the beaten path.

Queerotica was a showcase for local talent to share passages from their salacious and often witty prose. It was also a way to pay tribute to Little Sister’s and its arduous battle against censorship.

From the moment I stepped into the hall, the “art appreciation” sector of my brain coughed up a furball and took notice.

It was refreshing to be around thoughts, ideas and expressions that had not been manipulated for the purposes of cheap entertainment.

Of course, I could not help but fantasize about whom I might meet as I walked alongside those in attendance. I imagined, but in truth did not expect, meeting an adorable patron of the arts. After all, my damn libido follows me wherever I go.

He would be standing by a photographic exhibit of genderfucked models portraying the Mona Lisa and David. We would catch each other’s eyes and make small talk on the subjects of artistic freedom and the losing side of the Culture War. A sardonic shrug here, an impassioned response there.

However, flanked by women on either side of me as I took my seat, I was taken aback. Lesbians. Those whom I had heard of and seen in passing had now congregated around me.

With an attendance that revealed 20 lesbians for every gay man, I knew this would not be optimal cruising ground. This came as a quiet relief. I could focus more on the night at hand and why I had come here in the first place.

Are lesbians generally “smarter” than gay men? Sitting among them, I took a trip back to my university days. In my Queer Studies class, it was the women who seemed to show the most interest. Eager to share a viewpoint or counter an argument, they seemed to have more invested in the class.

At any given faculty wine and cheese, it was they who listened to readings and lectures with such rapt enthusiasm, while my friends and I came solely for the free booze.

I thought of all those poetry readings of days gone by and could not quite remember any gay men contributing anything of consequence.

Once the readings got under way, I realized that my own musings were random, ridiculous and probably without merit. After an inspiring introduction from local legend Janine Fuller of Little Sister’s, several writers, of both the XX and XY chromosomes, read passages either from their own works or from material once banned by Canada Customs. To think Peyton Place was once considered too bawdy and daring for Canadian readers.

Situated in the back so I could quietly slip out if need be, I had some difficulty seeing those giving their readings. Each stood beside a large rendering of a nude woman. Thus, I could only see a foot-tall vagina and a breast as passages were read. It was trance inducing.

The event renewed my interest in the arts and particularly the contributions of those gay and lesbian artists in our midst. I have found the perfect antidote to the numbing effects of a trip to Dante’s Cove.