August 30th, 2002

The War

Last night, I went to see a musical: The Legend of the Dumbells. My sister works for the Confederation Centre and was able to get me a free comp ticket on last night, the last performance of the musical for the season.

The Legend of the Dumbells is a musical--one that had played at the Centre in the late 1970's--which was based on the misadventures of a troupe of entertainers taken from the ranks of Canadian soldiers fighting in the Western Front in the First World War. These entertainers did quite well, entertaining the men before they went off to die in any one of an near-infinite number of nasty ways, and ended up touring Broadway and Canada in the early 1920's.

I'm not normally a fan of musicals, perhaps contrary to stereotype. I did enjoy it, though; the jokes and songs were good, the performances were excellent, and it worked. No matter that it didn't live up to the unity of time; The Legend of the Dumbells served its purpose wonderfully. (Too, there was a cute guy whom I've had the fortune to meet in the cast; 'twas nice to watch.)

There's only one problem with The Legend of the Dumbells, I think, and it's far more of a moral than an artistic one. The First World War--irregardless of who you believe, even if you believe silly Niall Ferguson--was an immense human catastrophe. There's something, I think, about the ethics of finding such a war-related comedy funny without any immediate sense of connection to the War, to the suffering or its immorality or anything, that disturbs me.

(Which also raises the question: What if the First World War or its equivalent was inflicted on we modern satiated Canadians of the early 21st century? One thing about the progress of gay rights is that I won't have the fortune to claim my bisexuality as a way to avoid getting drafted.)
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    pensive pensive

The Parents

From Saturday evening to this Wednesday evening, I gave my parents the silent treatment. If they asked me to pass the salt, say, or to help them bring in the laundry, I did it. If they asked me about how I was doing, though--if I'd a good day at work, for instance--I simply ignored them. Mom, in particular, got frustrated, but I didn't care. If I'd suffered through four months of agony, what was four days to them?

I considered in part because of my meeting with Nola Etkin. Ms. Etkin is a chemistry professor at UPEI who also happened to be a lesbian, partnered, and a leading figure in the PEI general and UPEI campus GLBT communities. Over coffee at the Atlantic Veterinary College cafeteria (the only one open at this time of year; all of the exchange students staying in Canada rather than leave), we talked about a few things. Fortunately, the campus is quite tolerant and unproblematic, if ignorant; but then, ignorance is OK since it can be remedied and isn't immune to the facts, unlike (say) malign hatred. She'd suggested that perhaps I should give my parents a break, since they're probably taking things hard now.

So, I decided to take pity on them.

I gave them the number for PFLAG, and told them who was at the other end of the number. I left, giving them five minutes to digest that; then I came back and asked if they were interested. Now, unfortunately, Mom had the contact as a Grade 9 English and Latin teacher whom she hated--this is true, I do remember this on second thought--and didn't want anything to do with them. I then suggested family counselling; Dad then asked why we needed it.

We didn't have The Talk; I'm not sure if we ever will. If the past half-year has proved anything, it's that we're not a very close family and that the stars haven't exactly aligned themselves in our collective favour. Still, we talked about things. In part, their reaction Saturday night was a product of their having a bad day, between a sick dog (better now, we think) and clogged plumbing (also better). They wanted to know why I wanted to go to the dance since I was bi; I thought about explaining to them that it doesn't work that way, but I just took an easy way out and said that plenty of girls went there. (And not just straight girls, too!) And then, Dad wondered if me being bi would interfere with school like last time; I felt like jumping down his throat, but simply explained that having a social life was a rather different state of affairs from worrying if I'd have any relationship with my parents once I told them, which I'd had to do.

They're still considering family counselling. I'm more convinced than ever that we need to do it. Still, we cleared some psychic debris out of the way, at least; there's some accomplishment done. Now, for the rest.
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    worried worried