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Archive for the ‘ignorance’ Category

Rumania, Rumania…lost like the song

Posted by E on May 21, 2015

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I’m writing this post while listening to the old Yiddish song, Rumania Rumania. It’s full of nostalgia for a homeland that has been lost and now forgotten, for its sweet wines, hearty cooks and pretty girls – I’m including a YouTube link to the song at the bottom of this post.

My birthplace. My original homeland. The apex of so much pain, grief and longing. A place that has suffered a thousand years of wars, invasions, pogroms, oppression and terror, and is still in transition. Where it will end up in another century, I have no idea. It is a place I love and hate all at the same time, for so many reasons that are all intertwined so tightly in my heart that I could never fully separate the individual strings and emotions which, like arterial veins, crisscross my connection to this place.

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Romania is a painfully beautiful, lost country. From the moment you set foot within its borders, everybody from taxi drivers to people sitting on a park bench will tell you about the endemic government corruption, how the rich have ransacked the country and left the poor to despair. But what they don’t tell you, as they cling to the Orthodox religion with hateful fervour, is how religion and xenophobia has poisoned their own hearts.

Bucharest’s Gay Pride parade is on Saturday and already the hate and frenzy has begun online – on several blogs I’ve read people suggesting plans to attack the demonstrators in the name of Jesus and morality. Ever since the Revolution of 1989, the Orthodox Church has been growing in influence and, not coincidentally, so has hostility toward any change in humanitarian rights. Homosexuality has been legalized only since 1996 and to this day (despite having been part of the EU since 2007) Romanian courts still have not granted any form of recognition toward same-sex couples. Forget marriage – they don’t even acknowledge the union between a same-sex couple. Gays can’t adopt. Gays can’t donate blood. For all intents and purposes, gays cannot exist as gay without violent opposition.

I found it telling that, in contrast to North American Pride parades that celebrate fun, diversity and having a great time, the local brochure printed by Accept Romania to describe the march is focused on preventing attacks: after the march, make sure to walk away in pairs. Don’t wear things that can identify you for attack. Meet and leave via the metro, rather than on foot. In Romania, taking part in the Pride Parade is an act of defiance, of insurgency, of rebellion. It is the very definition of courage.

LGBT people here are literally prepared to fight for their rights, to risk being filmed on television and fired the next day, to risk being struck with stones and boots – something that we in the West take for granted. The Stonewall riots of 1969 are hardly on our minds as we walk down the street holding hands with our lovers, shoot our water guns and wear rainbow-coloured necklaces during our Gay Pride weekend street parties. It reminds me of the early days of suffragettes – where women who fought for the right to vote were assaulted on the streets and demonized in the press.

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The Romanian public’s rampant hostility and religious fervour, along with the idea that “We’re not the sinful West, we don’t have many of THOSE kinds over here” (actual words I’ve read on a blog today) is partially fed by ignorance. They don’t realize that gay people are everywhere, including in their own families, because most gays and lesbians rightfully fear coming out to their families and coworkers. How can they, when they live in a country where gays are often called “sodomites” by people who also refer to Jews as “jidani” and openly express contempt toward those of a different ethnicity (i.e. the Roma people). People here have been beaten, assaulted, sentenced to prison and murdered for their right to love.

On a personal level, it disturbs me how many of my own relatives are so brainwashed by dogma that there is nothing left between us. It’s disturbing how a cousin told me a long time ago that she’d prefer if one of her sons died than become a “poponar” (a derogatory term for gay males). Why should it matter to someone, who I love and choose to live with? Who I sleep with is none of her business – just as I don’t care whether she still has sex with the ugly, irascible, xenophobic husband of whom she often complained. Why is her opinion, anybody’s opinion in fact, more important and valid than mine – who appointed her judge and executioner? How can love for your own child be overwritten by such deep-seated hatred for homosexuality that you’d rather he or she died than be free to love whoever they want?

It’s disturbing how easily the previously oppressed have become oppressors. It’s a process I am still working on capturing in my new book, a process that was recently featured on Romanian news.

So for the record, for the sake of any relatives or former classmates who stumble onto this page: I am and have ALWAYS been gay. I love my partner deeply and I am also proud of my East European background. I am not sick, nor am I confused. The abuse (from both genders) that I experienced as a child has nothing to do with my sexual orientation as an adult. And I promise you that I’m not the only lesbian you’ve ever met. In fact, there are people in your own family, at work, sitting on the bus next to you, people just like you, who are attracted to the same sex.

In the end, I will ALWAYS side with love over hate. I will ALWAYS choose love and human rights over allegiance to blood and nation. And if you’d rather choose Jesus over accepting me, my life, my Jewish religion and my chosen spouse, then I am sorry for you but don’t need your judgement in my life. I don’t want to lose hope, but feel that it will take several generations to wipe out the hate I’ve witnessed over here.

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Posted in hate, history, homosexuality, ignorance, love, news, personal, religion, romania | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Orwellian student suspension over creative writing exercise

Posted by E on February 5, 2008

I awoke to today’s news at noon, and the insane story of a grade 12 student being suspended over a creative writing piece. The school’s justification for involving police and suspending the student: the ending culminates with a teacher being killed by a student.

 Check it out here: Story

They could have interpreted the story more than a dozen ways: as an expression of what is going on in schools today, as a literal commentary on student-teacher relations…but no. Cops have to be called in.

This makes me wonder: why are the writers of CSI Miami, Law&Order, and Numbers (to name a few), the producers and script-writers of gory flicks like Saw and Hostel arrested immediately? Why are they not interred in special custody in a barbed-wire encampment a la Guantanamo Bay and occasionally poked with pitchforks? Why aren’t all the creators of blood & gore video games arrested right on the spot? Like, today?

If you are going to stand there and justify punishing a student for a creative writing exercise that would make Stephen King giddy with excitement, then why not punish the world of which he is a mere by-product? Why ruin his chances of getting into university? Would this not actually feed any deep-seated fantasies he may harbour over doing away with his teacher – that is, since we are expected to accept this school’s decision on the premise that there was something in that story that made them want to run off and get a restraining order.

Oh wait…I know. They’re thinking of that crazy Korean guy who massacred dozens at Virginia Tech…and nobody did anything about the violent fantasies in his creative writing. But wait, other than writing some shitty fiction pieces, that guy actually harassed two students, threatened others, and scared his entire class to the point that they had him thrown out of it.

Did this Brendan Jones kid do any of these things? No. He merely handed in a homework assignment that had not been prefaced by: You can write only about pretty, lovely things, but you can’t write anything about violence in the society you are surrounded by.

Good going, you academically-stunted Heart Lake Secondary staff/jerks. How about you pass a mandate to preface every assignment your creatively-challenged staff hand out with: You shall write only that which your teacher would like to read.

Otherwise, why don’t you stick to marking the creative writing papers (gee, isn’t the very definition of “Creative” Writing that it is creative? Read: fiction) based solely on their scholastic, grammatical and topical merits, and leave your perversely-flawed subjectivity out of it.

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Posted in canada, censorship, commentary, culture, freedom, ignorance, media, news, ontario, politics, propaganda, rant, stupidity, teaching, toronto, writer, writing, wtf | 6 Comments »

Where are all the gay romanians?

Posted by E on January 7, 2008

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Where in the world are all the gay Romanians hiding? Come on, deal with the times, people – being gay has been decriminalized since 1989! It’s time for all those closet doors to bang wide open. Why are they not?

Following up on my last post about growing up under communism, I reflected on the legacy that has been passed down: one of hatred and fear of people who are different. Romanians are among the most intolerant people in Europe when it comes to gays, gypsies, and basically anyone who stands out from the self-imposed norm.

Until the 1989 Revolution, homosexuality was illegal and punishable with a 5-year mandatory prison sentence at hard labour. Since communism was toppled, however, the laws against gays were lifted, but in name only. I know there have been queer marches in Bucharest, and that there is a club or two out there. But there is virtually no internet presence to speak of.

There are plenty of sites that talk about Romanian gays, but they are written and hosted by foreigners. So where are all the Romanian gays and lesbians? What is attributable to their silence? Perhaps a combination of lack of computer skills and fear of retribution from friends and neighbours (since homosexuals have very likely taken over the number 1 most villified group in Romania, toppling the long-standing champions of that title, the Roma people, closely followed by jews and hungarians).

But whether I look online, on Facebook, on any of the other social-networking sites, there is a distinct absence of Romanian gays and lesbians.

The “New Right”, smugly claiming philosophical lineage from Eminescu and various other historical intellectuals, have marched and attacked gay parades, trying to cover up their hatred with an appeal to religion and questionable science of the sort that goes something like “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” But just like all through Eastern Europe, skinheads, neo-fascists and even staunch supporters of the old communist regime have banded together calling for “normalcy”, displaying Christian symbols (what else is new?) and ranting about “we don’t want to be a nation of faggots.” I guess they have to cling to such delusions, since they’ve lost the battle over the fact that the rest of Europe sees Romania as “a nation of gypsies.” Just ask any Italian. But I digress.

The point is – where is the gay presence in Romania? Where are the websites, the online journals, the activist logs? Romania is a deeply anti-gay country, and it will stay that way until people realize that gays are not some weird creatures who stand in the shadow of street corners, trying to corrupt their children. They ARE their children, their relatives, their spouses, their co-workers, their friends. It is only fear that keeps people from living authentic lives.

This week I decided to finally write my cousin in Romania, a woman who has been pestering me to keep in touch and write more often. There was a time when she wrote only to complain and ask for money, and I usually sent it to them whenever I could. But as of late, she has been asking me more questions that I have hesitated to answer. The point is, the woman is a bigot. I remember going back to visit several years ago, and being increasingly tired of her spewing rants against the gypsies and the “poponari.” I didn’t want to stay in touch more than the occasional holiday card or two.

But finally, I wrote back and told her exactly why I didn’t feel compelled to write back often, and how this had more to do than just the simple fact that my Romanian is somewhat shitty, especially when I try to express myself – after all, I left when I was 10.

So there we have it. I’ve done my contribution to come out. I only wish I could help out in the Romanian gay community, but I can’t do much at all if there is no community beyond guys cruising in the parks.

There has to be more, there has to be more done or nothing is going to change.

http://www.owlspotting.com/2006/06/06/romania-is-so-not-gay/ – This is a cool article that I just stumbled onto while I was looking for a romanian gay presence on the web. I encourage you to read it. But one of the best parts of it is this quote:

Romanians will deny they have an aversion to gays. They will go even further and deny any form of intolerance. They might even tell you the idea that Romanians can be intolerant is part of a Western smear campaign against our country. Romanians don’t hate gays. Nor do they hate gypsies, Hungarians or blacks. They just don’t believe any of these groups are really necessary for the country to function. After all, if God intended for the Romanian people to be Hungarian black gypsies attracted to people of the same sex, he would have passed on that memo to the Orthodox Church leadership.

Romania may hide under the EU blanket, or claim that globalization has broadened the horizons of its people, but reality remains as ugly and unobstructed as always. And the only way to change things is for all its gays and lesbians to come out of the woodwork and live their lives without shame or regret.

The only site I could find on the subject is Accept’s site: http://www.accept-romania.ro/ It is well-meaning, but half of the sites in the Links section are to porn sites. Great.

Are there any Romanian gays or lesbians out there in the blogosphere? on the net? helloooooooooooooooooooooooo………………

Are there also any Roma gays or lesbians? hellooooooooooo to you as well. Please feel free to write! The only mention of roma gays is on this site: http://www.globalgayz.com/g-romania.html

If you know of any cool Romanian lesbian or gay blogs or sites (and no, not porn), please add them here and I’ll link to them. Thanks 🙂

Posted in activism, blog, communism, culture, freedom, gay, homosexuality, ignorance, lesbian, politics, rant, revolution, romania | 10 Comments »

The Red String, and how we are all connected

Posted by E on July 4, 2007

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An ancient Chinese proverb talks of “an invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet. The thread may tangle or stretch but it will never break.”

I believe that everyone you meet, you meet for a reason, and every experience presented to you is a challenge to be learned from. This is not a religious belief but a personal, albeit somewhat spiritual opinion I hold.

I also believe that a parent is not one who carries a child for nine months, but someone who carries a child in their heart for a lifetime. Someone who is there for the smiles and the tears, the temper tantrums, the loss of baby teeth, the first day of school.

Adoptive children and their parents are brought together because they were meant to be together. Because they are on a spiritual level, if not genetically, parent and child. They are connected, not through blood, but through love.

Lately I’ve received some venomous mail from birth mothers who were using the same boring rhetoric about how adoptive parents  are acting “entitled” and “arrogant” about taking “other people’s children” and separating them from their birth families. (Basically suggesting that adoptive parents are legally kidnapping babies from their mothers via a subterranean, demonic ring of evil adoption lawyers).

I was astonished at their accusations. I wanted to say back to them: “Nobody held a gun to your head. You signed the papers. You may have been a teenager, felt pressured, etc, but YOU GAVE UP this child. (Maybe due to social stigma, poverty, depression, or simply not being ready to have a kid). BUT when you did that, the child became SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILD.”

I don’t understand how anybody can deny being responsible for giving a child away.  So you didn’t feel that you could be a parent to the baby. Fine. So you went and gave up all rights to him/her. I understand that there were tremenduous emotions involved in that decision, but WHERE ON EARTH do these people come from, to act as if these kids were kidnapped from them at gunpoint???

I wish there was some degree of respect for the people who actually TOOK that parentless child and raised him/her. They didn’t rob a mother of her child. That child didn’t HAVE a mother! Birth parenthood ended when the papers were signed. 

Dismissing a child’s adoptive mother and father (their REAL parents legally, and the only family they have known) as nothing more than arrogant, “entitled” jerks who want nothing better to do than satisfy their sadistic urges to kidnap and mentally torture a child by forcing them to “conform”, is insulting not only to them, but to that child.

Do these birth mothers REALLY think that they are helping their relationships with those adopted children (if and when they’d happen to meet again) or their psychological well-being by expressing such open-faced hostility toward their mom and dad?

Regret, jealousy and rage for having missed the most important milestones in the life of the person you gave birth to ought not to negate or deny the love that this child received from someone else: his or her parents. I would be thankful that someone loved them.

I’m certain that not all birth mothers feel like this – in fact, perhaps only a small fraction have such strong feelings. So before everyone in the adoptee camp freaks out, please remember that this post is about that small margin.

The relationship of parent and child goes so far beyond the nine gestational months spent in a womb. It’s about love, magic, and a connection that is much more than blood type. A red string ties each mother with her baby, even if the child is born thousands of miles away.

Posted in adoption, children, china, commentary, culture, family, ignorance, infertility, korea, love, parents, pregnancy, red string, surrogate, thoughts | 19 Comments »