September 30, 2014

Dear Rob Ford.

Dear Robbie,

The day you got voted in back in 2010, I came home and cried.

I had come to Toronto because of the diversity and openness. I had only been in Toronto for a few months when you got voted in. I’d only just heard your name, and didn’t really know much about you. But the small bits and pieces I’d seen of you showed me that you seemed to be homophobic, racist, generally bigoted, and so confrontational and argumentative that you’d likely be impossible to work with.

And, well, over the past 4 years, you’ve pretty much proven all of those things to be true.

And I’ve hated you for all of it.

Amongst my close friends, I’d openly say that if you dropped dead from your tumours, from your drug and alcohol abuse, or from walking out onto the street and getting hit by a streetcar… Well, that couldn’t happen soon enough and I’d be the first to dance on your grave. Thinking about you made me feel such rage, anger, and hatred… But I also felt that something was wrong. That it was not good, nor healthy to look forward to someone’s death like this. But I couldn’t help but feel the way I felt about you.

You see, Rob, you represent everything I’ve had to fight against my whole life. I saw you, and I was able to put all of these shitty things I’ve had to deal with every day and parcel them into you. So if you died, if you went away, part of me thought that maybe all of those shitty things would go away, too.

You, and people like you, foster such hatred and separation and discrimination… You are perpetrators of all of these things, Robbie - but ultimately, today, I see that you are also a victim here.

You have lived a privileged existence. You are white. You are straight. You are male. You are rich. In our culture, you’ve got all the trump cards, buddy. How could someone like you be a victim?

But yet, you are. I don’t know what happened to you, Robbie. But someone in your life made you hate yourself. Someone in your life made you believe that you’re not good enough and that you’ll never be. And you have internalized all of this and believe it yourself. Your racism, your homophobia, your belligerence, your need to always be right… All of these things come from the fact that you hate yourself, you feel defective, and you need to put others down and always be right lest people see the truth about you.

But I see you today, Rob.

I see the truth. 

I see how much you hate yourself. Only someone who hates themselves, only someone who believes that they are not enough will try to numb those feelings with drug abuse, “drunken stupors”, and throwing out such rage and hatred at the world.

And shit, buddy. I feel sorry for you. You keep trying to numb the pain, but ultimately, you’re just hurting yourself. You’re not cutting yourself with a knife, but you might as well be. I’ve never abused drugs and alcohol, but I’ve hurt myself in other ways over and over again - so I get it. Self-hatred is it’s own form of maddening torture. But ultimately, you’re hurting yourself because you don’t know any other way.

I get it, man. Someone god knows how long ago told you at a vulnerable age that you’re shit, that you’re useless, that you’ll never be good enough, and who knows what else.

And I get it because I’ve been there, guy. 

Can you believe it, Robbie? You and I have something in common. 

You, a straight, rich white guy - have something in common with me - a gay, not-rich brown guy. In some ways, you actually have it worse than I ever did. As a gay, not-rich brown guy, I can only do so much to hurt myself. But you? You - with all your privilege and wealth… You have the means to REALLY fuck yourself over. And clearly, this is one credit card you’ve maxed the fuck out of.

WE have something in common.

Shit. 

You probably don’t believe it, and neither do I. Yet here we are. Mix our blood from our wounds in a cup, and it’d all look the same. 

So today, I’m putting down my hatchet. I wish you would, too…

But I know you’re not ready to. Frankly, I don’t know if you’ll ever be ready to before you really do die. And it’s sad. Because if you don’t stop hurting yourself before you die? Well - that just means that whoever hurt you long ago… They win.

So in October on Election Day, I of course won’t be voting for you. I hope you and your brother lose for the good of the city.

But ultimately? I just hope you eventually stop hating yourself. I’ve spent a good chunk of my life living that way, and now that I don’t, I couldn’t imagine going back to living like that again.

So Robbie? 

I hope that you stop cutting yourself soon, buddy.

Cheers,
Ruban

May 17, 2014

PSA: Park Your Car, and Get Your Blood Flowing Safely.

If it's finally warmed up enough in your area to put your car away for a while, make sure you heed the advice in this PSA to stay safe!

March 30, 2014

Love, Loss, and Life.

It amazes me how often, things happen right when you need them to.

====

Today was a busy, full day. I helped a friend move. I went home, and got some work done. I had fun, and it was a satisfying day, but I felt… Well, emotionally heavy.

I was reflecting on everything that has happened over the past year - especially considering my odometer rolls forward another year in less than two weeks. Yep - I’m turning another year older!

And what a year it’s been! My relationship ended. I found my Mustang. I had a wild and adventurous summer. I had something traumatic happen in the fall that shook me to the core… I just bought a beautiful 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham in mint condition. And I feel settled in myself and my life in a way I never thought possible. Overall, I’m pretty damn happy!

But the one thing that seems to elude me is finding a partner - someone who’s truly ready for a good, healthy, adult relationship.

I’ve been questioning lately whether it is indeed possible to find such a partner, and I was moving closer to the conclusion that maybe, such a relationship wasn’t in fact possible. Maybe I’m asking too much? Maybe my destiny in life is to be single for the long haul? These are the sorts of things that were going through my head. I think we’ve all been there at some point.

I had a good heart-to-heart talk with a friend about all this, and I was feeling a bit better about life, love, and everything else afterwards. But, I still felt this heaviness I just couldn’t shake.

It was a warm spring night tonight, so I parked my Cutlass in the Village and went to my favourite pub with a good book. I talked to some of the other patrons, a couple of guys my age at the next table. And an older guy on my other side joined in our conversation. His name was Stan.

He was visiting from the East Coast for a few days, he said.

“Oh yeah? What brings you here?”

“Well, I retired early recently… Because… My partner of 16 years died suddenly of a totally unexpected heart attack almost a year ago. And after that, I realized that I’d better start really living my life now because I never know when it’s going to be taken away.”

Jesus Christ, what do you say in response to that? I just sat there in stunned silence. I couldn’t imagine being in a relationship for 16 years - and if I was - I couldn’t imagine suddenly losing my partner out of the blue.

After a good long pause, I said, “Wow - I… I’m so sorry to hear that. I can’t imagine what that would be like. I do totally get the importance of living your life now, though. That’s what my last year was about.”

I told him about my breakup, finding my Mustang, and then running off on my own terms last summer. By this time, Stan had moved over and was sitting across from me at my table.

My curiosity had gotten the better of me, and I sensed that he wanted to talk about his partner… So I asked, “What was he like? How did you guys meet?”

“We met almost 20 years ago, in a line at a movie theatre. He was in front of me with a bunch of his friends, and we just happened to strike up a conversation… He went to his movie, I went to mine… And we bumped into each other in the lobby after our shows. We chatted again for a few minutes, and then he had to go. But before he left, he gave me his business card, and asked if we could get together for coffee or something soon.”

I was floored. In my world of iPhones and online dating… I couldn’t imagine something so random leading to a 16-year marriage!

Stan told me about the life he had with his partner Tom. He told me how his parents thought of Tom as another son. And how, when his mother was in her final days with Parkinson’s disease… How kind and gentle Tom was with her.

He told me how Tom would leave cutesy sweet notes around their apartment for him to find. Or how Tom would text him with encouraging messages before a tough meeting or presentation at work.

Stan and I talked about relationships, and I shared how I’d love to meet a partner who shares the work of life and with whom life is more enjoyable.

“I know exactly what you mean! Tom and I… Well, it was the little things… I would would cook Sunday brunch for us and look after the kitchen. Tom would look after the cars and make sure they were always gassed up. We each did what we did best in our life together.”

Stan told me about how he and Tom had their own, individual lives and interests… But how they also identified as a couple, without losing their individual selves in their relationship.

“In the first week after losing Tom, I had to go and gas up the car. I pulled up to the gas pump, and stared at it dumbfounded for a moment. You see… I hadn’t used a gas pump in over 16 years. Tom did that. I remember the gas station attendant called me through the intercom and asked if everything was OK - if there was a problem with the gas pump. And I said that no, there wasn’t a problem with the pump - there was a problem with the user!”

Now that? That’s love. Wow. The room suddenly seemed to get a bit dusty.

I never thought that a gas pump would be a metaphor for love, but it totally just happened.

I told Stan, truthfully, that I’d never heard such a story of love between two gay men before. Ever.

Before walking into the pub, I had been beginning to think that such a relationship or love was not possible. But lo and behold - in front of me was a man - a gay man - who had lived it. I could not say any more that the type of relationship I wanted wasn’t possible.

It was time to go, and so Stan and I stepped outside into the spring night.

I showed Stan my Olds Cutlass, the newest (oldest?) member of this family of cars I’ve apparently begun to build. We hugged, and he went off to his hotel, and I got into my Cutlass.

I closed the door. The noise of the world outside went silent. I put the key in the ignition, turned it, and the American carbureted beast started up. I turned the car around, and started the drive home. My mind was abuzz with the amazing story Stan had shared with me.

I began to think that maybe… Maybe what I was looking for in a partner might actually be out there? It dawned on me that…
…I bought a Mustang a year ago.
…My hands were wrapped around the wheel of a mint ’87 Cutlass right now.
…I’d just met a total stranger who shared an incredible story of love, partnership, loss, and the importance of really living life. Right when I needed to hear it.

If those three things can happen… Well, I say anything is possible!

February 3, 2014

The Scarf.

This is something I wrote almost a year ago. I’d forgotten about it, and reading it took me back to that time. It feels like a lifetime ago! It also reminded me of how something that seems like an inconvenience can turn into one of those wonderful, perfect moments that you always look back on fondly.

A few weeks ago, I'd taken two weeks off because I'd hit burnout from my job. I decided that since I was already working in Boston, I'd pop across the harbour to Provincetown, MA for my time off. I love Provincetown because it's a beautiful fishing village right on the northernmost tip of Cape Cod, and it also has a large population of GLBT folks. As a gay couple, you can walk around holding hands and nobody bats an eye. It's really freeing to be able to engage in the simple act of holding your partner's hand without worrying about getting dirty looks or worrying about getting attacked.

My boyfriend flew down to join me, and we spent a relaxing week in Provincetown, finished off with a couple of days in Boston. In Boston, we stayed in a gorgeous Victorian house owned by this bookish professor type - Tom was his name. Walking into his house, well, it was like a Victorian salon! Ornate hardwood floors, beautiful solid wood Victorian furniture (including a fainting couch), and stunning chandeliers. I could easily have pictured people getting together, smoking, drinking, and talking about a variety of topics ranging from pop culture to politics to philosophy. Or, a room full of underground intellectual rebels smoking cigars and plotting to overthrow the establishment. You get the idea. Such a cool house!

We left Boston, went back to Toronto, and it was in the second week of my vacation that my boyfriend and I decided to end our relationship because of some fundamental incompatibilities. It was a mutual decision, and I felt real closure, so it was ultimately a good thing.

About a week later, I got a message from Tom and he said I had left my scarf at his house. I was annoyed at my oversight, and this was tinged with sadness. Getting an e-mail from Tom reminded me of my ex and my breakup, which, while ultimately for the best, was really fresh on my mind.

January 30, 2014

Viewer Question: How can I introduce my boyfriend to my traditional parents?

A question came in from one of my viewers:

"I've been dating a guy for a while, things are serious, and I'd like to introduce him to my parents. My family is South Asian, and I'm not quite sure how to do this... I'm in Australia. Any thoughts?"

It's a complex issue, for sure - so I hope you find this video helpful!