Asshole Intolerance

Tolerance. I fucking hate that word.

First of all I always spell it wrong and it gives me the squiggly red line and I have to go back and fix it which throws me off my writing. Second, it’s the lowest level of being a good person. Alright no, the lowest level of being a good person is admitting that gay people exist. Alright no, the lowest level of being a good person is admitting that Anne Hathaway is gorgeous. Then gay people need to exist (looking at you Ahmadinejad), then tolerance.

Tolerance (fuck I really do spell it wrong every time) is something you have to do but only because your parents told you to. It’s like, those poor gays can’t help it, so we should be nice to them, I guess. It’s going to be hard to convince everyone to be nice gays, but are we really okay with a recalcitrant “Fine, I guess suppress my disgust with you if I have to.” Can’t we do better?

Sure there will be holdouts but they will fall into one of two categories: assholes and some old people. If we continue to set the bar low at “you can’t fire someone just for being gay or trans” younger people will get the impression that this tolerance bullshit is appropriate. Tolerance (fuck) is when you can barely contain your disgust when I walk down the street with my husband. I get anxious when I walk down the street holding his hand. It doesn’t make me anxious that I’m not being liked, it makes me anxious because I’m still terrified that someone’s tolerance (ha nailed it) will run out. That in a group of drunken idiots one will “slip up” and beat the shit out of me. Or worse, out of the people I care about.

I was reading Hey Notradamus! one day in highschool and I had the realization that if someone started shooting up the cafeteria, I would rather get shot than watch one of my friends die. It’s not noble, it’s practical. At the time, my self-loathing meant I couldn’t picture a happy future for myself. My friends would all graduate, get married, have kids and I was a dead end anyway so hey Mr. Gunman, pick me.

That’s how I grew up thinking that I would die in a world of tolerance. Even though gay marriage was an option and I was out, I still didn’t have the sense of self-worth to acknowledge that “it get’s better”.

It Get’s Better

It get’s better is another kind of tolerance that bugs me. Telling someone it gets better is an important, hopeful sentiment but is also a little condescending. It’s like telling someone not to panic or to calm down while their house burns down. It get’s better might give some people hope but it’s also a trendy way to absolve people of guilt. I’m not guilt’s biggest fan, but it does serve a kind of weird evolutionary role in that it tells people to do something about it. Guilt is what you get when you tolerate a shitty situation.

You didn’t call your mom on her birthday and now you feel guilty? Call her. Your crush wants to hang out but you already made other plans? Reschedule. A bullied kid commits suicide? Get angry and do something about it. Call on politicians to support anti-discrimination measures. Help get anti-bullying measures which explicitly protect sexual identity, perceived sexual identity, gender identity, and gender expression adopted in schools. Better yet have them include LGBT people and issues in the curriculum.

In a tolerant world, gay people exist, but only when you’re older.

I suppose I’m projecting my definition of tolerance a little when it comes to this last point. Gay people should be tolerated because they can’t help it and at the same time they’re written out of society entirely because somehow mentioning gays to children will turn them gay. This Orwellian double-think held by people is probably the worst part of everything ever. Gay’s should exist but we can’t talk about them to kids because of some old-school, asinine belief that gays are depraved deviants and we don’t want to corrupt the children. It’s supremely fucked up. It’s confusing to me. I can only imagine what kids think. Oh no wait, I was once a kid who had to deal with this kind of erasure. It made me suicidal.

So how can we talk about gay people without talking about gay sex, which I think is the icky thorn in most assholes sides. Strangely enough, there’s more to gay people than the super fun sex we have. At a policy level it means that if you don’t want to explain to kids during sex-ed that gay people exist, tell them that gay people exist before sex-ed. There is more to being gay than having sex with men. Reducing it down to it’s most basic meaning, being gay means that I can love another man. That is it and there are a million – or a dozen – picture books on the subject so even if you aren’t comfortable with gays you can let them read about it. Once we get over our societal inability to talk about the gays except for in hushed tones as adults, the kids who actually are gay won’t feel like lepers. In fact they might even be just as happy and healthy as everyone else.

If we’re aiming for a tolerant society, I’m afraid that we’ll all fail and that it’ll suck. Instead, let’s raise the bar a little and aim for a time when I don’t have to ask you to pretend I’m not straight to get the respect I deserve. I don’t know what the word for this is just yet, but we can get there together. Otherwise people are going to have to tolerate more snarky rants.

Also the last few times I spelled tolerance/tolerant I spelled it right. So yay tolerance. Fuck I misspelled it again.

Harry Potter 2/4/7

It’s the end of the year and so, like everyone else on Facebook, I’m already tired of year in review posts. I’m introspective enough and don’t need to review photos where I look awful of nights I barely remember. Further, I’m not usually one to comment on how blessed I am because normally I make fun of people who do. Instead, I’m going to Disneyland with my husband, because we’re adults.

Before we’ve even left for the airport, however, I can’t help but get excited. Not just because I’ll be at Disneyland, but because like all bibliophiles, I get excited at the thought of long trips of uninterrupted reading time. To me, the idea of a long car/plane/bus/packhorse is almost as exciting as whatever lies at the end of it. Pensively I recall some of my road-trip reads, Geography Club on the 10 hour trip through the Rockies, or And Then There Were None while hungover on the way home from my Fagette party. But some of the best, the very best memories of books were when I read Harry Potter 2, 4, & 7.

Nostalgia grips me as I recall each of them. I disappeared into The Chamber of Secrets largely on the way home from Disneyland when I was in grade 8. It was early January and I remember picking it up at a bookstore on one of the last days of the trip. I assumed at the time that it was some kind of serendipity that I would find the sequel to the amazing book I finished the night before we left. Of course this was me being stupid as at that point in time, the third book had been out for some time and J.K. Rowling was to readers (and non-readers) what One Direction is to 12 year old girls and gay men.

In any case, I burned through it quickly but reverently as though each word were scribbled on parchment. While the rest of my family was sitting in the airport sad to be leaving, I was enthralled by a book and was eager for the return home. The trip itself is that much more memorable because of The Chamber of Secrets. In the same way, reading The Goblet of Fire on the way to my parents cabin (and obsessively re-reading it while there) has created a distinct association between the two. It was like how some people smell freshly mowed grass and think of their childhood.

By the time The Deathly Hallows came out, I was fortunate enough to pick it up from a convenience store at 6 am when my nightshift in North Vancouver ended. Instead of going home, I headed out to my future-husband’s parents’ house which was a trek in an of itself. We were going camping that weekend and I didn’t have time to go home so I sat immersed in the book on the skytrain. I didn’t care that I was covered in concrete and smelled like sweat and tobacco. I was already at Godric’s Hollow and couldn’t be bothered. Eventually I had to look up from my book, but only because it was my turn to hold my newborn niece.

I suppose the point of this whole rambling, anti-nostalgic inspired, nostalgic entry is that books aren’t just isolated adventures that you put down once you’ve finished them. They aren’t distractions or a time consuming pastime. Good books aren’t just amusing words which come together to form a story, good books are part of what makes your own story. Now when I think of The Chamber of Secrets, I remember the excitement of going to Disneyland (and can gloss over the arguments that my brothers had in the airport). The Goblet of Fire conjures up me sitting with my family around in a small cabin, heated by a wood stove and illuminated by a flickering candles. The Deathly Hallows reminds me of the dewey grass on the morning I was going camping  on our inaugural annual Siblings and Significant Others Camping Weekend Extravaganza. At some point in my life, books stopped being something I read, and became something I participated in and gladly share this with others (even if no one gives them back).

And what they did, what they created was greater than art because you live your life in it.

~Stanley Tucci as Nigel, Devil Wears Prada

So this week I’ll be thinking of my favourite things, and hope that on this, my first trip to Disneyland with my husband, I’ll have chosen a really excellent book.