2 min

The American cure

Growing bored with Sodom North

Credit: David Hawe

Lately, I’ve become homo- phobic, or, more accurately, homo-allergic.

When friends ask me out for drinks, I invariably say, “Sure, but no gay bars.” I spent Pride Day bicycling in Niagara On The Lake, possibly the least likely place on earth to see a pair of prismatic orange hot pants. The last “gay movie” (isn’t all cinema queer?) I saw was David Lynch’s brilliant Mulholland Drive, where the lesbian couple drive each other to murder and insanity. And don’t start me on gay art, especially my own.

I could offer the usual End Of Gay, Anti-Gay, Bruce LaBruce-isms and cultural demise theories to support my misfagthropy, but the truth is far less academic. I’m bored. Bored with Church St, bored with club kids and leather bears, bored with alterna-queers, bored with the film festivals and the art openings, the bathhouses and the drag numbers, the court cases and the representational politics. Worst of all, I’m bored with me.

Like a lot of Toronto faggots, I’ve started to take my freedoms and pleasures for granted. Like the majority of Toronto fags, I’m addicted to novelty – and, as any addict will tell you, there’s nothing more dispiriting than a post-high crash.

What to do? High colonics? Shoplifting? Bingo on Sundays and Bowling on Wednesdays (no…. nononononnono)? Canvas for Jack Layton? Dial-A-Bottle? Massage therapy, the kind one relaxation purveyor indelicately describes as “Erotic butt work?”

Or shuffle off to Buffalo? Yes, Buffalo. Sad, old, run down rust belt post industrial economy Buffalo, New York. An hour and a half south west of Hamilton, follow the brown vapour trail.

A couple of weeks ago I led a pack of smarty pants local queers down to the old grey mare by the lake, and what I saw would curl any Toronto baton twirler’s frosted hair.

Don’t get me wrong, Buffalo is an exceedingly friendly place. The people are sweet and open faced, restaurant service is aggressively attentive, the men are all tall, mustachioed and bulky (the way God intended), and complete strangers will shake your hand in gay bars and ask you questions about who you are and why you’ve come to visit. Overall, a shocking dose of decorum and natural ease to a chill-blasted Ontarian.

However, the reason queer Buffalites are so palsy-walsy and happy to see new faces is not all sunshine and American bonhomie, but it is a good reason to prescribe a weekend foray for jaded, sick-of-it-all Hogtowners. Queer folks in the US have no rights.

When you tell a Buffalo fag or dyke you’re from Toronto, the first thing they say is, “Why would you come here?”

The next thing they tell you is that Toronto, and Canada in general, is one big snowy Sodom.

Americans marvel at Toronto’s seemingly limitless number of gay bars, baths and political fights. They can’t believe there’s an entire nation half an hour away that protects its queers with the Constitution and any number of human rights commissions, let alone is about to grant them the right to marry. Sodomy is still against the law in 14 states, and several states prohibit homosexual hanky-panky specifically.

Going to America makes me feel guilty about my own spoiled whining, as if I’ve stumbled into a camp full of starving refugees and announced that I’m sick of crème brûlée.

“If only,” you can hear Americans thinking, “if only I had enough to be bored with.”

It’s natural to take what you have for granted, but that doesn’t mean it’s smart.

Of course, I’ll continue to bitch about the trashiness of Church St and its sneering denizens. I’ll rail against our relentless corporatization and straight makeovers, our clones, Aberzombies and fractious subcultures (after all, I never claimed to be smart).

But the next time I catch myself turning down drinks and drag in favour of some frat-boy-clogged College St bar, I’ll close my eyes, think of Buffalo, and head – no, run – for the homos.