Two confessions: I went to Nuit Blanche last night in Toronto. I saw many an identity and many a queer. Aside from the fact that the weather was so cold my pseudo-balls shriveled and left me wishing for hot water bottles in inconspicuous places, I loved walking around the city at night with all of the wayward wanderers. Watching all of the people with their itineraries and various heart’s desires it felt easy to be one among many, happily snuggled into the mass of mobile dots wearing toques.
I was lonely. And all of the Furries with soothers in their mouths, pierced Doms, life-sized nests, paper-mache fish, purple-headed ravers, walls of star-doilies, and delicious street meats could not change that. Nor could my amazing friends or that guy I saw standing in his own vomit while his pal held his head up and laughed. My loneliness keeps me warm, and I was calm in my feeling of “being disappeared,” as my nephew would say, in this city of Art walks and police-busts.
Watching balloon structures dance on Queen, or grown adults huddled inside artistic Outhouses roasting marshmallows, made me recognize my place in Toronto more acutely than I’d done before. This city is not P.E.I. Not simply because of the buckets of people and their various montages of spectacular self-presentations–tattooes on faces, white masks, paints and numbers all over backs and breasts, hipsters in hipster wear, tourists hoarding IPhone cameras– but because of the feel.
P.E.I. feels small, secretive and unsustainable.
Toronto feels like a place where a lonely gay can sleep.
One of the exhibits I saw at The Gladstone Hotel was a pile of post-its that everyday people had written their everyday secrets upon. With leading questions like, “what would you like to see before you die?” written at the top, inky-reveals were everywhere. There were the cliche answers: Paris, Machu Pichu, World Peace. And the intriguing confessions: AIDS, my mother’s ghost, a decent recipe for low-fat chocolate cake. Then there were the impossible desires: “I would love to see Rob Ford and his brother enter a library.” What I adored, though, was that each reveal was written in kid’s marker, taped side-by-side to one another, anonymous voices in tandem, becoming a longer narrative about sociality.
Thinking about this thesis, my sometimes friend, sometimes enemy, I am left wondering what it is I want from it. What my reveal would look like. What do I want to see in The Lonely Gay, through it, under it, before it dies? If given the chance in one, quick statement, written in green Crayola, what would I declare?
When I was in New York a year ago last I came across a memorial art-piece. Paying homage to the people who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001 a wire fence had been constructed to display thousands of tiny, beautifully painted tiles that people had made in order to commemorate a moment that seemed unfathomable to grieve.
Again, I found myself lonely in a big city, enveloped in the hugeness of the buildings and the freshness of the people’s faces and breaths as they laughed their way along, eating bagels, walking arm in arm in the rain, not noticing their to-do lists or their crooked teeth.
I had the same moment then, staring at these tiles, when I tried to summon a response to the question: what will you write? The question then became: What can you write about mourning in a city you have not lived in, do not think of as home, and are unconnected to?
Nothing came to mind then as nothing came to mind last night. I seem deficient in responses, recognitions, and reassurances. A lot of Rs. These are also, I think, the things my thesis is waiting for from me. Or my professors. Or my dad. Or me. We’re all waiting for something to say when nothing is sayable enough.
Okay I’m hungover, so please forgive the abstract thought process here, but I think that in a way writing this thesis has given me a perspective on responses and the expectation of reciprocation. I began this PhD with the expectation that finishing it would give me something. A return, a pride, a headache, whatever, a something. In a way that’s also what I wanted from Toronto. Looking at the art pieces last night I again had this sense that I needed something, that I was owed entertainment or, in the very least, a beer. But when I saw the canvas of peoples’ secrets sprawled before me, their personal revelations laid bare, what happened to me was that instead of feeling a connection to them, I missed P.E.I., my home, and its repression, whispers, and silence.
Sometimes I think Cordelia, King Lear’s daughter, was on to something. When Lear, her King and father, asked Cordelia to tell him she loved him in front of his Court she chose, instead, to say said nothing. For that she was imprisoned. Then she died. And maybe that’s a part of what people fear about loneliness, that sense that you are locked up with or to or because of something you’re not sure you actually deserved or wanted. Or worse, the possibility you’re locked up alone. Not sure but I think after Nuit Blanche I see this city in a new way. A lonely way, as always, but a lonely way that is reassured by stillness. So today, I will let my horoscope speak to itself:
Horoscope for Sagittarius for October 2, 2011
There’s a deep well of self-confidence inside of you — but you have to consciously tap into it. Today, put yourself in challenging situations that require a bit of boldness. Give yourself permission to shine, and you will shine brighter than you ever have before. As far as love and romance are concerned, this is an opportunity to try a new technique or a new idea, and to move things to the next level.
Sounds nice. Too bad I’m staying in bed.