In a conversation I had a couple months ago with former Body Politic collective member Rick Bebout, he told me what for him is most significant about being a gay man. It’s not the rights we’ve won over the years, though they’re undeniably important. It’s not about equality either; though that’s also something early gay rights activists like Bebout fought for.
Bebout said for him being gay is about seeing things from a different perspective than non-queers. But it’s more than that, seeing things from a different perspective translates into how queers approach life. For many queers our sexuality not only shapes how the world sees us, but also how we engage with that world.
On that note I’d like to thank some important people in my life who have been more than generous in sharing their perspectives and experiences with me. I wouldn’t be the person or the journalist I am today without their support and advice.
Jearld Moldenhauer a founder of The Body Politic and Glad Day Book Shop, the oldest gay bookstore in Toronto, if not all of Canada. Now retired, he keeps busy traveling the world and adding to an extensive photography collection, some of which was on display in an exhibit during Pride 2006. He’s well informed on a variety of subjects and has allowed me to pick his brain on the history of the gay movement in Toronto many times. He’s also one of the most generous people I know.
John Scythes is Glad Day’s current proprietor. Over the summer I enjoyed several good chats with John while we sat on green plastic lawn chairs outside of John’s house in Parkdale. Formerly a general contactor, he has vast stores of construction knowledge. John lets his advice and humour come from the heart, and isn’t shy about offering either. He’s also strongly anti-censorship, having fought more than his share of censorship battles in court.
James Dubro is a freelance journalist and an authority on organized crime in Canada. James is also an Xtra contributor. He has a sharp eye for detail and a very fine writing style. In addition to his journalism James has authored several books, including Mob Rule and Mob Mistress. I count James as a close friend and always enjoy discussing current events with him over coffee at his downtown apartment.
Gerald Hannon is a former Ryerson instructor and longtime Toronto Life contributor. Not only is Gerald an accomplished journalist, he’s also unfailingly polite and well-spoken. Most of his work that I’ve read has stuck in my mind long after I’ve finished reading it.
There are many more courageous and funny queer people I know. I apologize for leaving them out of this blog. They also deserve recognition for influencing the world around them while sharing their perspectives on it.