This year I was the team captain for DreamTeamSupreme for GISHWHES. GISHWHES (the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen) is a week-long whirlwind adventure involving completing challenges all over the world. “Thousands of participants from more than 100 countries build their own teams with friends or are placed on 15-person teams (of new friends!) and for one week, through laughter, sweat and tears (of joy of course), they complete tasks (items) on a fun, inspiring and sometimes jaw-dropping scavenger hunt list” (www.gishwhes.com). The challenges for the hunt are silly, strange, and sometimes very difficult, but more than that, they bring joy to the world. Dressing up like a pirate and serenading elderly folks at a retirement home, having a giant water balloon fight, or performing a puppet show at a sick kids hospital is a joyful and loving experience. Not only does performing challenges always bring a smile to people’s faces, but it helps me to remember that all of our barriers are self-imposed and I should strive to challenge ‘normalcy’ in everyday life.
Our team came up with some pretty hilarious submissions, but here are my top five personal favourite challenges that inspired me to grow this year.
5. Sending myself in the mail.
This was surprisingly easier than I thought it would be.
4. My brother and I planted milkweeds in the garden for the monarch butterflies and the bees.
3. Serenading an Employee of a Business you Frequent
Well, this was embarrassing, but heck I did it! and I’m glad I did! Yay!
2. Tiny Spa. This was so weird and wonderful. I posted on social media “Who has mice?” and in a jiff I was off to someone’s house to create and film a tiny spa. I love watching this video for some reason. Over and over.
1. Although the mouse spa still makes me laugh and laugh and laugh out loud, my favourite challenge, without a doubt, was this one:
My little brother and I circa Y2K, and he and I recreating this pose in 2016.
So thank you GISHWHES, for helping me to play, laugh, and sing like a child.
Did you miss me?
I’m not sure where I’d gone…
Somewhere grey where I cross at the lights and go to bed on time like a good girl.
I didn’t even know I had left, until I stood under a blanket of stars watching fireworks and felt nothing. No delicious thunder in my heart, just loud sounds.
Shit, I thought. And I was lost and I did not know where to begin to look.
Don’t say that, you might rub someone the wrong way and heaven forbid. Don’t post that picture, it’s offensive. It makes you look like you think you’re fabulous. Be humble.
Shit, I thought. How did we get to this place?
Where waking up and doing things that need to be done is like endless paperwork
Or waiting in line for something I don’t even want
How did we get to this place? How do I come back to you?
The answer is that we can’t go back there. Back there I was different, with different eyes and different skin and I stood differently and I laughed like a different person. To get back to you we will need to meet somewhere new. Too much has happened for us to go back to there.
I pitched my tent alone in the darkness of the Knoll
In the whispering trees with a sea of twinkling lights in the distance, down a winding road I trod barefooted, naked, thinking about my life
The silhouettes of trees above my path spreading their long fingers, expanding and retracting like lungs
Down to the chamber of pulsing energy and warm frantic light
The drumming fire.
Smiling, dancing, closed eyes, moving my arms and legs like a playful stag, or the north wind spinning a snowflake
Sweating and casting a fire spell.
Hands burning with joyful pain, making powerful music
Feeling my heartbeat in my hands
Thundering like a storm
The fire popping and snapping as the dancers circle.
Stumbling happily through the dark forest in the small morning hours, past the fairies flitting and flashing in the trees
And snuggling into my little Gallifrey abode piled with soft blankets.
Kneeling in the shrine of the Huntress.
Hail the Huntress. (HAIL)
Eating bowls of fresh fruit and letting the juice run down my chin
Dirty and happy
Dress flowing loose and free.
And then back to the muggle world…
But I have kept you inside of me.
I feel you as I walk in the sun, swaying my hips gracefully
Tossing my hair beautifully
I feel you still as I walk beneath the streetlights of the city, your star-eyes tickling the back of my neck as you gaze down at me, striding confidently, my fingertips tingling with magic
I feel you and I remember that I am what I am, and to be anything else is serving time in a prison in my own mind
I am beautiful, I am powerful.
I have everything I ever asked for. Thank you for these blessings.
BREAKING NEWS: Woman posts this photo on Twitter, millions of people flip out.
I see quite a few people in a group I am a part of tearing this picture up. What is that about? This woman is called a slut, a bad role model for little girls, self-obssessed and narcissistic, too into make-up, desperate for attention, body-altering, etc.
Where does this hatred come from?
It comes from FEAR.
What I see in these responses is fear.
Fear of a woman who is displaying and being in her body any way she wants.
Fear of a woman who dares to think she is beautiful.
Fear of a woman who has money and fame and power.
Fear of a woman without shame.
I don’t know anything about this woman, but when I see this image I see someone brave, self-confident, and powerful. Give no fucks and get it girl.
This babe is a Goddess! This is some powerful magic right here! This woman is FIERCE. She has a spell on the whole damn world!
You know what the best part about being deeply and passionately in love with yourself and your body is? You are smoking hot and you don’t care what anyone else thinks about it.
If you feel a twinge of judgement when you look at this picture, go straight to a mirror, take off all your clothes, and admire your own curves. You’ve got it in you too girl, don’t hide it! Relax and rejoice in this woman’s power to be herself in whatever way she wants to do that. She is doing her, and it is working for her. Now you go do you in whatever way you want.
Falling into gayness: discovering queer community as a person with a disability
Connor: I have thought a lot about a constructive role for persons with disabilities within the Canadian urban gay community. I have spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which is about as sexy for a gay man as it sounds. Just as gay people are constructed as outside straight nature, I am somehow beyond gay nature. The tension within my personality between my intellectual aspirations and bodily constraints creates an interesting place from which to begin helpful critique and dialogue. And I think my answer, partial though it may be, can act as a bridge to build dialogue with HIV-positive people and trans individuals, both of which, though in their different contexts, struggle with issues of legitimacy within the gay community.
When communities function well, every member within that community thinks about how to bring experiences he has had to that community, even as he also learns from others. I was a member of a program for gay youth who want to be sexual health leaders in the community. After the program had officially ended for the day — thereby releasing the organization of any legal liability — we decided to go out for drinks. Foolishly, I was paying attention to one of the group members more than driving my wheelchair — among other things — because we were talking about teen romance fiction; and so, I drove off the sidewalk, overturning my chair, and getting a few scrapes. I was easily righted, and while I was horrified at showing stupidity and vulnerability to a group in which I had an uncertain place, they were equally horrified for my well-being.
Characteristically, the two group leaders embodied two necessary components of an effective reaction, and this is not to say that either of them do not have the other part. While the first one seemed to feel more pain than I did and hugged me, the other person immediately and rationally cleaned the scrapes. And I took great pains to deny that there was a problem, since I have a complex about being “an imposition” to begin with. Despite my ridiculous protests, however, it did feel extraordinarily good, perhaps even life-changing, for other gay men to recognize that I was hurt; — the first one with more visible empathy, and the other, by calmly and methodically fixing the problem. And I obviously extended the concept of “hurt”.
A few days later, I was having drinks with another member, and I said, “I wasn’t even in that much pain… Okay… I’m lying; it hurt like a… But he [the first group leader] was so upset… I made him cry… That’s like kicking a puppy… I felt terrible… And you guys were already walking slow!”
“GIRL I KNOW; it is like kicking a puppy. And I understand how you feel about making people overtaxed, but you have to let people know if you’re hurt. I know not all people want to help you all of the time, but some do at least some of the time. You have to trust people’s good intentions: otherwise you’re not being honest with them or yourself!”!
This is really good advice, and, like most good advice, it is extremely hard to follow. But I think we should. Being gay, at least in part, means you learn to be tough, and being disabled and gay, unfortunately, means you have to be even more tough… Sometimes. But not all of the time. Prejudicial attitudes toward persons with disabilities, particularly in the gay community, are alive and painful, but I’m not going to dwell on the too much. Often, I am excluded just as much on what people think, as I am by the barriers pose by what I think people are thinking. And I believe that sometimes my experience as being an anomaly within the gay community mirrors how many of us, myself included, sometimes relate to society as a whole. Pain is very real, and so too is vulnerability. Perhaps the most important interpersonal need human beings have, sadly lacking for many of us, is to be seen as valuable people, not in spite of but because of our differences. As I reflect on where I have been and where I want to go, as part of the broader discussion of where the community has been and where we want to go, it is important to think about pain as a possible source of strength, but only if we see healing as an everyday and ongoing practice.
Every person, and especially every gay man, has his own unique forms of trauma, which he deals with in his own way at his own pace. We need sensitivity, rationality, caring, aesthetic sensibilities, sexual expressiveness, resolve and many other qualities besides, if “the movement” is going to continue to transform society, as it has done in the past. Even as I myself repudiate what I have said by being a completely cruel, especially to women, and self-obsessed sassy queen on the regular, I think my disability combined with excessive pursuit of same-sex love, gives me a glimpse, however incomplete and temporary, of what many of us know already: the purpose of being gay — if one can even find one — is to explore the infinite ways one can relate to other men as a man, emotionally, intellectually, erotically, physically, and to push these relationships to their limit; such that, for brief moments, the world becomes a bit more bearable than it was before.(Un)fortunately the relationships I seem to be best at, because of happenstance, are ones involving dependency and caring.
This is a simplistic generalization, but many gay men — including most definitely myself — have a lot of difficulty with this, in part, because of our trauma and gendered existence. I repeatedly heard “boys don’t cry,” when that’s all I wanted to do. This is also the case for the current generation of young gay men who didn’t have to face the immediacy of the early HIV-AIDS crisis. I’m not saying that caring is the supreme value; sometimes I hate it. But if my very limited experience as a gay disabled man has taught me anything, it is that caring must and often does exist as an important value alongside others which we cultivate, particularly as part of an oppressed group.
Despite being constantly under suspicion, in my heart of hearts I know that I belong in the gay community because just as a sassy bitch exists inside of me, a disabled person is a big part of every Homo and every human being. Gay men do get hurt; at some point gay men do have performance issues and body image problems, and they do die. The only way I think life is worthwhile, however, is if one is willing to fall from time to time and have others, ideally, of course, young gay men, pick one up when this happens. Perhaps this is one of the very many valuable lessons contemporary gay culture can appropriate from Christianity. But, curse the gods again, not all of us are attractive. We are perpetually working on this problem, nonetheless, for better and for worse.!
I don’t eat pasta out of a box or a bag, because it’s not very good. Homemade pasta is delicious but it takes a lot of effort to make.
I had something awesome called spaetzle in Berlin with my dear friend Ilka and I haven’t looked back. It’s super easy to make and so-so-sooo yummy.
TOTAL TIME: 20 mins, tops
This recipe makes about twice the plate above. Double for 4 servings if desired.
Spoonful of salt
Dash of pepper
1/2 cup of milk
1 heaping cup of flour
Meatballs (or sausage, or tofu, or whatever)
First I diced the onion and slightly browned it in a pan. Then I halved the wee tomatoes and threw them in.
I let them simmer on low while I whipped up the spaetzle.
Beat the 2 eggs in a bowl with the milk and salt and pepper. Then mix in flour.
Get a pot of water boiling on the side.
I had homemade meatballs in the freezer, so I threw those into the simmering pan, and I had some spinach going limp in the fridge so I threw that in too! Put any nips and knobs in the fridge in there, like peppers, mushrooms, whatever you need to get rid of. Turn heat to medium.
So you put a collander on top of the pot of boiling water and plop the spaetzle dough into it.
It feels like madness but it will work out I promise. You push the dough through the holes, aggressively, swirl it around, poke it in with a spoon or your fingers, until it all drips through the holes. If you get impatient you can plop little bits into the water by hand, if you are coordinated enough to get small strings of it in. Boil that for a few minutes. Take one out and taste it to make sure it’s cooked. I betcha it’ll be effin delicious.
I added a few spoonfuls of alfredo sauce to the simmer pan and mixed it up.
Drain spaetzle. Put into a pot or bowl with butter and little cubes of cheddar cheese and mix it all up.
You can eat spaetzle plain just like that, by the way, or with parmesan cheese, or just the butter, or whatever you like. This alfredo-veggie-thing is just what I did today.
At Thanksgiving 2015 at the Sonier household, I had a truly delicious slice of pumpkin cheesecake. I decided to try making it myself for a pumpkin themed Halloween party at my house, inspired by my friend’s beautiful garden pumpkins.
I just made it again for a Christmas dinner party, and what better way to save this recipe for future reference and share it with others than to post it here?
Preheat oven to 325
1 1/4 cups of crushed maple cookies mixed with 1/4 cup brown sugar
folded into 1/4 cup melted butter
pressed into a 9 inch spring-form pan
3 packages (8 ounce) of cream cheese whipped til fluffy
1 can (14 ounce) of sweetened condensed milk
1 can (15 ounce) of pumpkin (or half a big one)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
Fold into whipped cream cheese the condensed milk, pumpkin, eggs, syrup, spices. Pour into crusted pan. Don’t forget that it fluffs up so leave an inch of space if you are not using a spring-form pan! Bake for just over an hour.
Mao, Tse Tung said that ‘political power grows out of the barrel of a gun’.
Hannah Arendt’s book On Violence explains why this idea needs to burn in a fire until it is dead* be powerfully rejected. Arendt is the brilliant mind that theorized the ‘banality of evil’ in her observation and analysis of the Nuremburg trials dealing with Nazis after WWII. On Violence discusses the difference between violence and power.
Arendt disagrees with Mao.
No matter how big your war chest is, no matter how many men with guns you put on the ground, drones you put in the air, or bases you set up to colonize foreign territories, you can’t kill power with violence (NB. America has over 600 military bases overseas.) Power rests in ideas. Governments that rely entirely on violence cease to have power.
Arendt uses the example of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia to illustrate this point. No matter how much force Russia used, or how many implements they had at their disposal, the power of Czech and Slovakian ethnic sovereignty lived and multiplied in the hearts of even children, making the occupation ultimately unsustainable (and horrific for both sides). Alternately, the recent incursions of Russia into Ukraine are complicated by the large population of ethnically Russian people living in Ukraine.
According to Arendt, violence is ultimately controlled by the state through police, military and mechanisms like juridical process. Power lies in the consent and consensus of groups. Power comes not from crazy individual citizens or dictators acting alone, but an entire network of people energetically supportive of those crazy ideas, both good and evil, like a democratic revolution (good) or Hitler’s bureaucracy killing millions of Jews (evil). The horrifying secret of the death camps that Arendt revealed was that most of the racist population was complicit in the massacre.
Governments that rely entirely on violence cease to have power. So as the population funding the occupation (American taxpayers) gets tired of the war, more violence is needed to sustain it. “The loss of power leads to the temptation of violence” (Arendt). “68% of the American budget is devoted to the military machine , thus America acts simultaneously as a counter-revolutionary force around the world and bleeds America itself dry, preventing any real movement towards solving America’s own domestic problems of poverty, racism and decay of urban institutions” (Radford-Ruether, Liberation Theology).
There comes a time when no matter how rich America + allies is, the sheer power of the idea of people that they do not want to be colonized turns into refusing to be occupied, and nothing short of killing every last thinking breathing person alive will stop guerilla attacks in the colonizer’s homeland. Radford-Ruether writes that “power is participating in the making of one’s destiny.” Who are these individual guerilla soldiers but people desperate to make their own destiny? (So desperate they are committing atrocities against their own neighbours.)
Solutions to our global crisis need to reject Mao’s notion of violent responses, “from the barrel of a gun”. Step one is recognizing that violence is not power, and we will no longer waste money and human lives establishing and arming the rise and fall of regimes from across the world.
So thank you, Trudeau—although this will not solve the crisis, it represents the end of running in a well-worn circle and expecting to get somewhere new.
wĭl′fəl: Persists in doing as she pleases, habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition. Headstrong, self-willed- not obeying or complying with commands of those in authority. ˈwāwərd/: Given to perverse deviation from what is desired, expected, or required. Swayed or prompted by caprice; unpredictable.