Thursday, March 22, 2012

Living A Life Of Few Apologies

Greetings from downtown Kitchener, where the temperature is 25 degrees celsius and sunny.  I'm sure it will cool down tonight, because we all know the phrase "in excelsius day-o." Oh yes, I just wrote that.

Today's blog is about living a life of few apologies, as you may have surmised by the title; if you didn't, a visit to Mr. Obvious might be in order. :)

Let me begin by saying that we're all dicks sometimes. We all do things, myself included, that offend or hurt other people, and sometimes - hear that - sometimes we absolutely need to apologize to the person who is offended.

Having said that, I'm tired of tip-toe-ing. I'm tired of being afraid that when I write one of these blogs that I'll offend a person or group of people. I'm tired of erasing paragraphs because of what Biff or Tina will think.

I think there comes a time when you have to live your life exactly how you feel you should live it and stop apologizing. If someone is offended, they can tell you about it and perhaps you can have a dialogue. Maybe an apology will be in order, maybe not. I personally used to be someone who kowtowed  to almost whatever anyone wanted. I did this to ensure that people would like me. I've always wanted to be liked. I have an early memory from Grade 1 or 2 when my crush at the time, Shannon Abel, was over at my place for someone's birthday party and everyone decided to play house. I chose to play the dog because I wanted her to pet me and take care of me - true story. (Actually, that happened just last month, but we won't go there..hahaha).

So who am I, and what am I proud of?

1) I am involved politically as part of the New Democratic Party which is a left-leaning party currently serving as the Official Opposition in Canada. This pisses some people off who I am close to. According to them, this is one sign that I have few morals if any.

2) My title with the local NDP riding association is LGBTQ Representative. This just solidifies to some people that I have jumped the shark and am godless and align myself with the disgusting. Really. I have had a family member - not my brother or mother - consistently refer to Ellen for years as Ellen Degenerate, and I expect their language is much worse when I'm not within earshot.  To them homosexuality is THE greatest sin, and people within the LGBTQ community should get on their knees and repent. (I have a feeling many within the LGBTQ community enjoy getting on their knees just like straight people, but it's not in order to repent!)

3) I am a huge proponent of ecumenism and inclusion and tolerance when it comes to religion. For about 21 years I was an evangelical, born-again Christian and it is unfathomable to some people, including family members, that I am not anymore. One family member - not my brother or mother - actually thinks that it is because I live in a multicultural city that I've been corrupted and "fallen away from the truth."  I do not identify with any one religion, though I am a big proponent of the Progressive Christian movement. One day I might return to Christianity. This could be a shock to some. But it will be a form that is not exclusive, homo-condemning, or one which believes it holds the ultimate truth.

4) I am increasingly speaking out about my experiences with mental illness - depression, anxiety, bi-polar (though when my shrink told me this I argued that I am only attracted to women and have no interest in arctic bears.)  Some people would tell me to hush up a bit about it, or just release it, or pray it away. Their intentions may be good, but I will continue to speak about the hell that mental illness can bring to a person's life.

5) I enjoy sexual humour, which some may find inappropriate. I emphasize "some."  This is due to two reasons probably: firstly that I enjoy sexual jokes as part of my humour, and secondly that I was f'ing repressed well into my twenties (see my evangelical upbringing above.)

6) I make fun of religion, including the form of Christianity that I once adhered to. If God is so strong, guess what - HE/SHE CAN TAKE IT! My guess is that if God were a personal being, he/she would be laughing when I make some of my jokes about the faith.  Part of this is catharsis.

The name of this blog is The Loving Room. And sometimes love means saying you're sorry. (There is a phrase going around that is absolute shite which says "Love means never having to say I'm sorry," but that's for another entry.)

But becoming the person you were born to be can often mean going against the flow and how others have previously expected you to be and act.

I'm here, I'm not queer (though I love those who are), I'm left-leaning politically. I am not an evangelical fundamentalist, I live with mental illness, and I have a wicked sense of humour.

Enough kowtowing, enough walking on tip-toes, enough fear. This is who I am.

Mark Andrew Alward