This is Brian. In July I will complete my sixth decade on earth. Living to 60 is not that surprising for most North American middle-income white cis-men. It is a bigger deal for me- see my recent blog post for some background on why that is. To celebrate the event I am planning a week-long trip around south-western Ontario and Metro Toronto. I have family and friends in London and Toronto; they will be the anchors for my trip.
With my birthday being in the middle of summer vacations, I am setting aside the week of June 10-17th for the first week, and Sept 9-16th as a second week. I am not looking to become rich from this tour. Rather, it is my birthday gift to queer communities across Ontario. That said, any contribution of meals, accommodations or funds for travel expenses are appreciated.
I want to meet and talk with queer folk (young and old) across the area. In addition to the stories in my blog, I’ve published my chapbook In Pursuit Of A Dream. If any central or southwest Ontario #LGBTQ groups offer to host an evening (or afternoon) of poetry/ storytelling/ taking questions, I’m all in. Sister Flirt would welcome invitations to speak as well.
I was born in Toronto in 1958. The family moved to North Bay before I started school, and then to a village that became part of Mississauga, before settling in West Elgin in 1968. After graduating high school I moved to Chatham, working at James Photo and K-Mart and joining Theatre Kent for the group’s initial season. I returned to Toronto in the Spring of 1978, after coming out as Gay to the readership of the Chatham Daily News in response to a Letter To The Editor. I have not stopped stating my opinions since.
Just a little too young for the Stonewall Riots, I began exploring political and sexual activism in my home town. Fighting for basic civil rights and non-discrimination protection quickly pivoted to protesting repeated police raids on gay bath houses in Toronto and elsewhere. ‘Operation Soap’ in February 1981 had long-term impacts on police/community relations as well as shining light on issues of censorship and police over reach.
Just a few years later what we now know as hiv/aids exploded in gay communities across North America. Rather than worrying about building a career I worked various retail jobs (and one summer as a bath house attendant); keeping my energies for community work. That work ranged from volunteering with the Aids Committee of Toronto, Casey House Hospice, and the Mr Leatherman Toronto committee to membership in Trident Metro Toronto and the Toronto Order of Perpetual Indulgence. I was also a volunteer peer counselor on the GYT Gay Youth Toronto single-line phone service.