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Nearly a year later

It will be a year next month. Boyfriend and I will have been together for a whole year of our lives, which probably sounds like nothing to couples who have been together for five years or a decade or more, it probably sounds like we made it through the honeymoon phase. But having never really made it through a whole year in a row this feels like a moment worth celebrating. I know, I probably sound like a teenager, but it’s kind of amazing to be here staring down the barrel of a year for only the second time since I was actually a teenager.

I spent my first half of my 20s pining for a dead love, dating someone who spent our first anniversary with his ‘other’ girlfriend and sleeping my way through agencies and sports bars. It wasn’t a good start, if I’m honest. But I had a lot of fun, I got drunk with many an Irishman, I danced around kitchens baking brownies, I fell in lust and I never worried what would happen next because when it did go south it just meant that I would have a great story to share. So what if he broke up with me in seven words, most of which were the same. Who cares if he declared his deepest darkest secrets to me last night, he’s sober this morning. Everything was a story to tell my friends over drinks.

Bad dates are practically a rite of passage in any major North American city. Toronto gets a new Tumblr every other week completely dedicated to how ridiculous dating in this city can be. Does he live North of Bloor? Yep, that’s not happening. Voted for Ford? Not a chance in hell. Does he pronounce the second ‘t’ in Toronto? He’s basically a tourist. Does he work on Bay Street? Definitely not, I saw American Psycho. We’re picky because there are so many options, but with over two million folks living in our ‘mega city’ it’s really easy to pick wrong, a lot, which I did like it was my job.

Am I happy that I’m not dating anymore? Yes. But it’s not because of the craziness that comes with being single (that was actually pretty fun), it’s because I finally don’t have to pretend anymore. I was always myself with the guys I dated, sure, but it was like a diet version of myself. With Boyfriend I’m learning to stop apologizing for being me, I’m learning to speak my mind and not just in a way that I think people will find entertaining, and I’m learning that love looks a whole lot like falling asleep in someone’s arms on a Friday night after marathoning the latest Netflix original series.

Is a year a long time? No. But at almost 26 this relationship is the first I’ve ever been in that’s built on more than just a desire to tear each other’s clothes off on a semi-regular basis and that is worth celebrating.

My tears over Sochi and the IOC

When the ignorance of governments, businesses, and organizations is overwhelming we can’t forget what we are fighting for.

I cried twice this summer.

I’m not much for crying, I have a tendency to express my deepest feelings through irreverence and sarcasm. This year, perhaps showing my advancing age, I found myself twice at a total loss for words and broke down in tears.

The first was during Toronto Pride. I was spending my Saturday at a garden party in the gay village and wandered away from my friends in search of a drink. The beer table was located not too far from the makeshift dance floor right beside a splash pad and jungle gym. I got into line and took stock of the scene in front of me.

Young friends laughing with each other enjoying the ambiance, old couples holding hands without fear of slurs or hatred. I saw a straight mother in her fifties dancing with her twenty-something gay son and his partner.

My moment turned into a living cliché as an acoustic version of “Born This Way” came over the speakers I saw two toddlers splashing each other calling out in opposite to directions, one to her two dads and one to his two moms. I couldn’t hold it in anymore and I turned into a sobbing, blubbering idiot.

In that moment I wished I could invite anyone who thinks there is something bad or wrong about being gay to stand with me and take it in.

I cried because it was everything we’ve ever worked towards. It was everything I had ever hoped to see in my lifetime. It was love, happiness, and unequivocal acceptance. It was just right.

My second set of tears came just the other day on the streetcar upon reading that the International Olympic Committee has sided with the Russian government, agreeing that gay and gay friendly athletes expressing themselves would be espousing some kind of political agenda and should be punished, either by arrest at the hands of the Russian police or reprimand from the Olympics themselves.

I thought of all the brave Russian people who are trying their best to survive right now and cried for them, and I cried thinking about how this opportunity for the men and women of the IOC to stand up and exhibit just one sliver of the bravery that these Russians show every day had reduced them to sniveling cowards.

The organizing body behind games meant for international cooperation threw the fags and dykes under the bus.

They’re in good company.

Amidst calls for Canada, harbringer of anti-discrimination laws and gay marriage, to pull out of the games in response to Russia’s draconian, hate-fueled laws there has been little response. Who cares about these homos anyway? Pulling out would punish the athletes, and apparently playing a game is more important than the livelihood and human rights of those stupid fags.

Our national broadcaster, despite having a number of queers they keep behind the desk to deliver you the news, sees it fit to continue covering the games. The excuse the CBC has cooked up is limp at best, using the Kremlin’s homophobic spectre over the games as an excuse to continue traditional sports coverage as if it were also news, despite the fact that they would be in direct contravention of Canada’s Human Rights Act to send (or not send) any gay reporters there to watch curling and speed skating. Besides, they just spent $100 million in taxpayer money to broadcast the games — the livelihood and human rights of those stupid fags obviously isn’t worth that much.

Sponsors Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, two of the biggest brand names in the world, haven’t made any motions towards stripping their names from the Sochi games, despite having both funded two of the largest gay celebrations in the world in NYC and San Francisco in recent years. I mean, bigots and homophobes eat Big Macs and drink Coke too, right? So, despite having already pledged their support to gay rights in the past, these big brands have to get their advertising while it’s good, nevermind us stupid fags.

When I cried on the streetcar they were tears of exhaustion. What can any one of us little people do in the face of giants like governments and multinational corporations and groups?

Part of me feels utterly defeated. Every broken bottle at Stonewall and every chant at the Toronto Raids worth nothing. Every gay person being arrested in the 38 African nations where it is a criminal offence worth nothing. Every single drop of blood from every single stupid fag like Matthew Sheppard worth nothing, and it has brought us here, to a place where we can’t even convince our own government, media, or businesses that we are human beings worth respecting or even protecting.

It is so frustrating and overwhelming to see my people being arrested and murdered, to see that all of our voices shouting can do so little.

And then I remember that scene in the park and I get it.

I’ve seen the perfect world, the one we are fighting for. I’ve felt the love, happiness, and acceptance all around me in one fleeting moment and I know that we can’t ever stop fighting until that world is real for us and for everyone around the world all the time.

If the IOC will side with the Russians we will shout twice as loud until our voices are heard. If Coca-Cola will sponsor these games we’ll dump it out in the street with the Stoli. If Stephen Harper and the CBC won’t pull out in order to send a message to Russia that these are despicable, evil laws we will bang on every door, write every letter, sign every petition, and march in every street until we are heard.

There is no giving up. Human rights and dignity are all or nothing. We have a responsibility to do everything we can to save our brothers and sisters in Russia and around the world, and if us little people scream loud enough in the ears of giants we can begin to change the future.

And if we can’t be respected and protected for who and what we are in this life than I can pray it will become true within the lives of my children, so that when they see the love, happiness, and acceptance surrounding a gay family in the park they won’t stop and cry, they won’t pause and reflect. They won’t even bat an eye.

 

 

You can follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

Life’s Lessons from a Septuagenarian

It is often at the dusk of our life that we seem to value the life we had and live. I turned to the elderly to sail through seemingly tough times. Here is what I have learned so far…

 

1. Trust only a person’s actions, not their words. Much can be promised; little of it gets done.

 

2. Surround yourself with people who will either help you grow as an individual or who keep you happy. You are better off alone than with false friends.

 

3. Always have a plan. Time passes swiftly and one day you will not realize when you turned 60. Set New Year resolutions; you may not follow them but you will at least know where you want to be.

 

4. Be happy or learn to be happy. Create your pockets of happy moments, like adventurous travels, risqué affairs, insurmountable challenges, etc. These will be the memories you will return to when in distress.

 

5. Don’t fight to change people or things. Change your perspective and everything around you will change itself. If there are people bothering you, discard them from your life and stay out of theirs.

 

6. Gain control over anger and emotions. Maintain silence and refrain from making any decisions when too excited, depressed or upset.

 

7. Do not envy or compare yourself with anyone else. Know that everyone has their own set of miseries to deal with.

 

8. Be good to your spouse, friends and children. Your treatment of them will decide how your old age is going to be.

 

9. Learn your finances well. Money has more value than everyone else advocates. Use it wisely.

 

10. Remember to never lose faith and instill ample patience. Everything has a way of working out in the end.

Things get worse before they get better

I’ve heard that things always get worse before they get better, but really? Just when things were starting to get better we found out that Boyfriend and I both have close family members who have been diagnosed with cancer. You’d think that after all we’ve been through the universe would give us a break, but as it turns out that isn’t in the cards yet.

So we hold each other, we love each other and we try to support our families as they deal with what comes next. But despite all the pain this summer has brought with it Boyfriend still manages to make me smile, he still manages to make time for me and he still makes me laugh in that totally embarrassing out loud knee slapping kind of way.

I wouldn’t have made it through the summer of 2013 without him; I couldn’t have picked a better partner to stand by my side and I only hope that I give the same thing to him. If I can give him half the strength he gives me we’ll be in a good place because he needs me now and I want to be the one to support him.

I know that we’ll make it through all of this drama a better couple; we’ll make it through stronger and more together than we’ve ever been. But you get to a point where you start to wonder how much more you have to deal with before life gets easy again. At least I wondered that before I remembered that life isn’t easy and that the ‘easy’ relationships I’ve been have never been good; easy isn’t good it’s just easy.

Being with Boyfriend isn’t hard, but life is. When you’re really with someone, I mean committed we’re in this for the long haul with someone, you will inevitably deal with drama, heartache and loss, but you’ll deal with it beside someone you love and that is what makes the bad nights tolerable. I’d really like it if we had a couple of weeks where all we got was good news but life doesn’t often work like that.

Even if things do continue to get worse I’m going to focus on the positive. In the words of a great friend, I’m going to choose love, because I do love him and no matter how hard things are for either of us we make each other better, happier, more sunshine-y people.

I chose Boyfriend almost a year ago. I chose to let go of my fears and commit myself to someone who was worth committing to and I’m lucky that I did because without him this summer would have been nearly impossible to get through. So life, give me whatever you’ve got because I’m walking through life hand-in-hand with my favourite person, because I’m strong and he makes me stronger but mostly because when you choose love you can do anything.

Women of the week: Susan Jamieson

Sometimes a personal crisis can give you the needed perspective to change your life.

In 1995, Susan Jamieson’s daughter was diagnosed with A-plastic Anemia. Doctors prescribed a treatment of blood transfusions, a treatment neither her daughter nor Jamieson supported.

“We are grateful to live in a country that respects religious freedoms and our family supported our daughter’s constitutional right to ask that hers be respected. Now 31, Tarin still remains the youngest child in Canada to have gone to court and ask for the right to have a say in her medical management,” says Jamieson.

Prior to her daughter’s illness, Jamieson had overseen marketing and sales programs for numerous high profile companies such as Sheraton Hotels, American Express, Budweiser and Pepsi. She took a leave of absence to focus on this medical battle but in 2001, with the disease in remission, Jamieson returned to the work world with a new, more refined focus.

She now serves as a managing partner in JoSuTa Group, a company whose directive is “A desire to help people be healthy.” With clients such as Greenzone, Food Diva and Score-Up, JoSuTa is helping people make informed decisions and working to make the world a better place.

A fine example of her impact: In 2007, she travelled to Dubai to be a guest on a radio show and discuss organic fertilizer. Her segment would prove to be incredibly popular, bringing in a floodgate of callers. The show quickly made the decision to cancel the other scheduled guests and Jamieson was the featured guest for the full hour.

In 2012, Jamieson learned about First Do No Harm. Produced by Asia Geographic Entertainment, this documentary, according to its website, details the “controversial and paternalistic” history of blood transfusions and “the knee-jerk rejection of new knowledge because it contradicts entrenched norms.”

Very excited by the concept of the film, Jamieson sought out the producer and asked for Canadian distribution rights.

“You might say I came to the table a little more motivated than most,” she says.

A key source for her pitch: “She Decides: How to Reach the Most Important Audience for Your Health Campaign,” a report published by Fenton Communications which details the critical role women play in making health decisions for their families.

Once she successfully secured the rights, Jamieson began reaching out to Canadian and U.S. companies, using both her personal story and statistics on targeting the women’s segment of the market. Her goal, she says, is to get these companies to support a potential paradigm shift on the subject of blood transfusion use.

“I am not interested in starting a discussion about individual choice – the question I am asking all women to think about and answer for themselves is have you made an informed choice about the use of blood in your medical management?”

“Yes, I recommend all women make the time to watch the film, educate themselves and then consider, with the assistance of your family doctor, what your stand on blood transfusion use is for your family,” concludes Susan.

 

 

 

Best friends

I realized recently that Boyfriend is my best friend. I have many bests: there’s #BoyBestie and my Lemon, who I lovingly refer to as my heterosexual life partner; there’s Jen, Nus, Reg and Yaw and really too many amazing bests in my life to count; but the person who I call when I need someone, the person who I call when I want to share great news or moderately good news or just talk to about nothing and everything is Boyfriend. He’s my best friend.

I’m sure there’s a definition or a Thought Catalogue article somewhere that attempts to define what exactly a best friend is, something that uses big words or includes a list of the top bestie duos of all time; are you and best friend more like Monica and Rachel or Joey and Chandler or something along those lines. But for me it’s a little simpler and a lot less ‘90s.

Boyfriend is the only person who calls me a Wild Shannon because for some reason he thinks of me as a Pokemon. There’s literally no logic to this but it makes me laugh uncontrollably. He’s a terrible dancer but we have a dance move that no one else understands and sometimes we’ll do it at the same time. It’s embarrassing and only kind of adorable. We have shows that we watch and we never TV cheat, ever, no matter how hard Netflix makes it for us. We have our own language; we get each other, even if no one else really understands why we’re laughing or what it is we’re talking about.

When it comes down to it though Boyfriend is just the person I’d rather be with; hanging out and watching a movie with him is better than a night out with anyone else. I love my friends and I am so lucky to have them in my life but I had no idea what it felt like before this past (almost) year to be someone’s partner.

Boyfriend is my best friend and I had no idea it could all happen this quickly, I had no idea my life could change in so little time, but I can’t imagine a world where I don’t get random text messages that somehow light up my entire face even though most of the time they are just pictures of cats with silly comments.

What worries me most though are the what ifs. What if we break up? What will I do then? How will I handle that? I try not to think about it but every relationship before this ended; did they end so I could find Boyfriend or do relationships always end? And that’s the big difference between having best friends and being best friends with your boyfriend: My closest friends love me unconditionally, they don’t get to break up with me, but Boyfriend could if he wanted to.

So I’m hopeful, cautiously optimistic if you will. I’ve got nothing to worry about but the idea of losing someone who I love that much scares the hell out of me.

 

#TOpoli with Sarah Thomson, Adam Vaughan, Andy Byford, and Travis Myers (July 22, 2013)

#TOpoli explores politics, transit, city building, and more more in the city of Toronto with a digital edge and a constant eye on the #TOpoli hashtag while live on the air.

#TOpoli with Sarah Thomson, Monday July 22:
Sarah welcomes guests Councillor Adam Vaughan, TTC CEO Andy Byford, in-studio guest Women’s Post editor Travis Myers to discuss the future on development on Bathurst with or without a Walmart, issues of funding transit, LRTs versus subways in Scarborough, the Downtown Relief Line, and much more.

 

 

Follow Sarah on Twitter at @ThomsonTO and Travis at @TravMyers.

Date night

I’ve been on a lot of dates: with boys I liked; with boys I hoped would call and never did; with boys I was serious with; but I’ve never been on a double date, not really. The Big Ex didn’t want me around his friends because his relationship with me was somehow different from his relationship with his friends. In the end I realized that he was just never sure about ‘us’ and we stayed together for as long as we did because I was filler, I was the girl he dated before he met the girl he loved and he was the man I needed to be with so that I could appreciate what was coming.

So on Saturday night Boyfriend and I went for drinks and a movie with two of my friends, a lovely couple who glow with happiness in love in a way that probably would have made me a little sick when I was younger. No one can be that in love right? That’s movie love, heartbreaking, crazy, sick to your stomach, put a radio over your head in the middle of the night in love. But my friends have that and I look up to them because I hope that after a couple of years Boyfriend and I will be like that, crazy-happy and living in sin. My Catholic upbringing leads me to believe that living in sin would be awesome, like when you first move out on your own and realize that there are no rules and you can go to the store and buy candy at midnight, just because. I assume that is what living with your partner is like, please don’t correct me if I’m wrong.

I was a little nervous to try this double dating thing, being new to healthy and happy dating. I was worried that Boyfriend wouldn’t get along with my friends and I really wanted them to like him and like us together. I shouldn’t have been worried, they loved him. The best thing about being with Boyfriend is that when my friends see how happy we are together they immediately like him.

The only hiccup to an otherwise perfect evening was that when I was being fake angry with Boyfriend my friend pointed out that, “It’s not going to work. No one believes that you’re actually mad when you’re so clearly in love with each other.”  Since Boyfriend and I still haven’t said that very terrifying four-letter word, I was afraid that he would freak out, I was nervous that my feelings had been outed and he would start acting weird. He didn’t. Nothing changed, except that he knew he’d won this particular battle.

So we haven’t said the words yet. I’m pretty sure they are going to burst out of my mouth any day now, and it’s nice to know that everyone can see how in love we are. It’s a win for me at least… now I know I’m not crazy. Not completely anyway.

Win the Wrap Your Body Slim experience

This is your chance to win a great package from the fantastic health and wellness company Wrap Your Body Slim. One lucky winner will receive a basket filled with goodies such as a detox body wrap, facial wrap, a Vemma (vitamins, essential minerals, mangosteen & aloe) sample bottle, a Verve sugar free energy can, a Bod-e Burn can and a Thirst packette. Enter today for your chance to win the Wrap Your Body Slim experience.

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Tuesday, August 13th, at 2 p.m.

 

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