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Our most bloodthirsty enemy is ourselves

Our most bloodthirsty enemy is ourselves

From the heartfelt pleas of celebs such as Lady Gaga to new protective legislation coming from Queen’s Park, bullying is well on its way to becoming the newest cause du jour. Hell, it even has its own ribbons (ranging from purple to a sort of pinstripe-y black and blue). Of course, our community is no stranger to the dire effects of bullying: name-calling, baiting, bashing, torture, murder and suicide are all too common in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans youth, and it’s heartening to see mainstream society begin to dip its toe into our own particular cultural problem.
 
In light of all this positive, supportive media exposure, I can’t help but find it hugely ironic that we homos have such a strong propensity for bullying within our own communities. From catty sneers to drunken bitch slaps, gay men can be as vicious as any Grade 8 girl, staking out their territory with a ruthlessness that is as breathtaking as it is disturbing. Parties can become a nightmare if some nasty queen takes a dislike to you, engendering guilty laughter from others as he lets fly with the scathing wit so many of us were forced to hone in our own defence as kids.
 
But we’re not kids anymore. We’re adults living in a world that can still be quite hostile toward us. So why on earth are we still ripping each other to shreds? Sure, there’s the bitchy fag appeal that’s kept our profile in movies and TV shows so depressingly static, but when do we cross the line into the sort of behaviour that so many of us have suffered under from intolerant homophobes?
 
Celebrity blogger and reformed bitch Perez Hilton certainly knows of what I speak. Hollywood stars used to quake in their boots lest they elicit Hilton’s funny but cruel edicts regarding their hair, clothing or behaviour, until Friends star Jennifer Aniston finally asked him the simple question: “Why are you so mean?”
 
To his enormous credit, Hilton took Aniston’s query to heart, copping to the sort of bullying that he so often derided on his blog and vowing to turn over a new leaf. And he’s kept his word, wielding his humour in a less vicious manner – more of a gentle tease than an ego-smashing slam dunk. Some predicted this kinder, softer Perez would mean a loss of online viewers, but Hilton’s site continues to thrive, commanding some of the priciest online ad space available on the interwebs.
 
So, why are we so mean? Is it as simple as the idiom that most bullies are former victims? Or is it just fun to make someone feel sad?
 
Like so many of us, I was routinely bullied in high school. I had pop cans chucked at my head, nasty names lobbed about me like grenades, and a home life that bordered on torture. And yet, I remember so clearly that one day in Grade 10, sitting on the school bus on my way home and suddenly feeling the compulsion to join my fellow students in screaming obscenities out the window at a tiny effete classmate who had the courage to wear knickerbocker pants to school. Pack mentality? Or finally the chance to vent my own repressed hurt and rage at a weaker target? Probably a bit of both, in retrospect.
 
Recently, I began reading Xtra’s comments section. Huge mistake, some of my colleagues told me; online message boards are notoriously vicious, providing a safely anonymous outlet for the armchair bully’s vitriol. But I have to confess, I found the whole thing fascinating – not only because it’s pretty cool that readers had actually read my work and been compelled to comment, but also because I simply wasn’t expecting the level of mud being slung in my general direction.
 
The truth is, I’m not a great writer. I’m perfectly adequate at interviewing folks and getting their stories across, but my main talent is in getting my work in on schedule and with the least amount of editing fuss. So maybe if my ego were more engaged, I would have been hurt by what I read regarding my gender (indeterminate), my writing (abysmal) and my outlook (idiotic, bordering on lunacy). But it’s hard for me to take this stuff seriously, given that I’m still surprised Xtra continues to toss work my way.
 
Even harder when the taunting missives are signed with some fake name, made up to ensure its trollish master can revel in his or her anonymity while lashing out at others. But the question remains, why do we act like this, while still asking the hetero world to stop metaphorically and literally beating us up?
 
I don’t know. I’m not sure we’ll ever know, really. But it strikes me as tragically odd that, for a community whose losses from bullying are so current and so pervasive, our most bloodthirsty and tireless enemy may just be ourselves. 
 
 
 
 
 
  
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Comments

Weh! Why can't we all get along?
I don't know, Serafin. Your opinions on things seem to change with the wind as previously noted by me and others. It is possible I've made a mistake, and if so, I tentatively apologize though I'll withdraw that if I can back it up. I'll do my research and see. But I stand by the rest of it. You are equally capable of being a bitch until you shine up your halo for a day and get all self-righteous at 10 cents a word or whatever Xtra pays for you to tut-tut its readership. You claim we're being overrun by Christian morality and then claim you never said it. That's a fact. If I retract the Kyle Rae claim, will you respond to all the other points made here and elsewhere? Getting a "why can't we all just get along" lecture in Xtra rubs many the wrong way. And you say you like a scrap. Well bitch, you got one. That self-righteousness is a toxin you'd best avoid in future.
GRADE 10!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You bullied little gay guys in GRADE 10!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's who you are, Serafin. How dare you speak to this issue. You have NO authority or legitimacy to do so. NONE! Your character is clear. Grade 10! That's way old enough to know better. Why does Xtra support this shit? It's all shit spewing which makes sense once one discovers a bit about the shit spewers. Jesus H Christ. Disgusting.
Wish it, Want it, Do it.
by Brian Griffin. My head is about to explode. AHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is not going to turn out well, not at all. It's over man. We're finished. This can't continue.
Ripping Kyle Rae?
Nadine, your comment regarding my 'ripping Kyle Rae a new one' intrigued me -- and mystified me. I think perhaps you're mistaking me for someone else? I've only interviewed Rae once, and that was for a pretty straightforward article regarding Church St business closures. I get that you're terribly upset by my writing, but in this case you're targeting the wrong writer :)
Michael re: headshot
Hi Michael, nice to 'see' you again. The headshot is indeed out of date, though it was taken in Feb 2010 at Zuzanna Hahn's Richmond Street studio, not in 2005. It was all I had handy when the article was given approval (I had to actually download it from another site LOL).
LOL
How much do I love that the responses to this are exactly what I was talking about. But seriously, I do appreciate the responses, and that, even if folks don't agree, they still read what I'm writing. And Nadine, my dear, if you re-read the piece, you'll notice that I was referring to "we" and "us"... I was not removing myself from the equation. You may disagree with what I've said, but I'd hope you would have the integrity to least do so honestly :)
Blah, Blah, Blah
Of course Xtra tosses work your way. Augusten Burroughs is the cover this issue. Oh he's all fun and games, until someone get's hurt or kills themselves because they can't fix their brain. The narcissistic, whiny simple minded are running amok. Perez Hilton and Jennifer Anniston as the harbingers of moral guidance? We are doomed.
Pouting isn't sexy!
This may be a little off-topic, but walking down the street with a miserable, standoffish, sour pussface doesn't make you look sexy or cool. I don't understand why so many gay guys claim this pose as their own. Is looking like a frigid bitch what you're going for? Do you make friends this way? I know the city life is stressful and you have to your guard up, but maybe we'd be less mean to eachother if we didn't walk around looking so mean.
Little Fluffy didn't have to die
Maybe if you stopped playing infantile games of gender bull, you could grow up and learn about the REAL world and not the world of queer and gender theory you obviously live exclusively within. btw it is seraphim not serafin you dolt!
Profile Picture out of date
Hi Serafin - I met you once way back at a Fort York Food Bank Fundraiser 9/21/05 at thw Drake Hotel under ground lounge which Bryen Dunn and I organized, you performed a couple of songs. The picture we used to promote you was the one on the above story, which makes you look like teenager. Surely Xtra photographers or a friend could take a more recently flattering head and shoulder profile picture?

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