As a young party animal who moonlighted as an AU student the werewolf battle was real for a younger version of this Fly on the Wall. Would I snarl and shred my way right out of my shot at a higher education degree? Or would I find a better balance between madness and civilized discourse, reading and romping? Luckily, in those years I met a kindly cabbie who gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever heard. Be your own best friend, he said. And as I learned the meaning of that simple phrase I learned to be a better me and a better student. After all, we are often our own best study buddy too at AU. Maturing our brains and growing up our decision-making and raising our personal scholastic bar are all pieces of the adulting puzzle.
So it was with sadness that I learned that my great mentor had passed away suddenly. All I have to go on now are memories of what mattered most in our interactions. It’s like how learning how to learn is about so much more than memorizing facts and figures and trivia answers. This article is dedicated to memory. Tiny town or burgeoning borough, we all have room in our hearts and neighbourhoods for LGBTQ people. In fact, what makes us most human isn’t who we love or dance with but how we impart our wisdom and learning to our future selves and to others in our life who matter the most.
Pride in the Fall, Pride During The Fall
After being pushed back from its original summer dates last year, Kelowna Pride Week managed to continue. “We were determined to find a way to mark Kelowna Pride Week 2020 in a safe, inclusive and celebratory manner” says the General Manager of the Pride Society (Halpenny, 2020) . Instead of cowering and cancelling the event entirely it’s a testament to their prowess to be affirmative and hold the event anyway. Fun times!
Like staying home to study when friends are out having a blast, sometimes the right thing to do at AU is to resist going with the flow of the social tide; in the case of Pride, cancel culture doesn’t claim another victim. Apt too, because queerness applies to more than just accepting assorted forms of sexuality—queerness bubbles fertile resistance towards social normality. Whether it’s saying no to an interior decorating trip to Jysk or opposing the concept of marriage in general, Pride allows folks to reveal aspects of resistance in all walks of life.
First a Quick Background Refresher, Puttin’ the Homo in Sapiens
Inclusiveness is the order of the day, and in modern Canada there’s a place for every type of love between consenting adults. Yet, lest we feel a little too superior and uppity about our progressive culture, let us to recall that peoples all over the world have special roles for those we now affix to a rainbow spectrum of letters. LGBTQI and the other ABC’s of identity suggest a new and expansive landscape whereas, in reality, cultures around the world have had a panoply of identities all along. Some indigenous North American cultures include a berdache (later re-named as two-spirited) gay identity discovered when young men intuitively danced the women’s dance at festivals (de Vris, 2020).
In India a third sex of transgendered males are likewise known as Hijras (Nanda, 1989). And in traditional Lesotho, Mummy-Baby relationships involve lesbianism between generations as a form of camaraderie and, yes, love (Sullivan, 2009). Roles are a part of every culture and for those who find themselves a bit outside or askew from the norm, there’s often a place of belonging for them too. But queer theory is about questioning identity in general, as we shall shortly show.
To challenge social norms is thus about more than just being who one is, as though an authentic essence transcended the flow of lived existence. Willingly or unwittingly, or both at once in a glorious dance, the notion of a stable identity underscores, not only our 21st Century’s normalized questioning of gender and identity roles, but the emergence of modernism itself. It also underlies the original sin of homophobia that led to Pride in the first place. That’s why today the concept of having a flag to fly undergirds the many flags available for sale on the Kelowna Pride website (Kelowna Pride, online).
And Now a Word From A Relevant Social Theorist…
The queer theorist Guy Hocquenghem wrote a 1972 book titled Homosexual Desire. The police brutality during a bust of a New York gay nightclub called Stonewall had added to the stew of cultural ferment that included women’s liberation, socialist ideologies, environmentalism, and especially the anti-war movement. All of this was liberally spiced with a desire for peace and love that endowed the baby boomers who were the first generation raised in the tranquil sunshine that followed the worst war in human history.
Everything was up in the air fifty years ago. Hocquenghem’s key premise was that queer desire is everywhere. He wrote that “If the homosexual image contains a knot of dread and desire, if the homosexual fantasy is more obscene than any other and at the same time more exciting, if it is impossible to appear anywhere as a self-confessed homosexual without upsetting families, causing children to be dragged out of the way and arousing mixed feelings of horror and desire, then the reason must be that for us twentieth-century westerners there is a close connection between desire and homosexuality. Homosexuality expresses something-some aspect of desire-which appears nowhere else, and that something is not merely the accomplishment of the sexual act with a person of the same sex” (Hocquenghem, 50). Desire, properly understood, might precede its object and thus only the liberation of desire from stable identities could bring about a better society.