Robin Williams: Behind the jokes hid a darker truth

IMG_2803_Fotor 2

The weather has been less than ideal today. I woke up early to hear the first drops of rain hit the grass. It sounded so peaceful out here in this quiet house surrounded by forest.

By now many of you have heard about the death of Robin Williams. Depression is a mental illness that so many of us don’t want to discuss. I’ve always maintained on my blog the importance of raising issues that may seem uncomfortable to others.

We are living in an precarious time that I believe history will reflect on unfavourably. Where social media has forced many of us into this underground world. Those who are honest about the realities of our own lives and the brutal experiences shared by others are shunned, treated as though they are crazy, unstable; people to ignore.

The truth of the matter is that the world is not perfect, so we need to stop pretending that our own individual lives are. It’s not that it’s only irresponsible to hold these versions of ourselves as fact, but it’s also delusional and evidence of individuals who are blind to the world that is ever present around them.

We need to start talking about mental illness to eliminate the stigma that margianalizes so many people who are living in reality. Blogs and other social media accounts have established a phony version of life where the notion of perfection is idolized, celebrated, coveted.

I don’t know about all of you but I haven’t bought into this homogeneous culture that people have built for the purpose of ignoring sadness, or negative feelings.

Life is hard, and because of this fake culture prevalent in our society today, many feel the stigma of speaking out about it. I’ve most certainly been called crazy by more than one person in my own private life because I consistently refuse to play the game that has been created for me, without my permission.

One in five Canadians have a mental illness. That means all of us know someone either within our own families, friends and colleagues who are intimately aware of the affects of depression, and other mental diseases.

Think about how many times you have called someone crazy for simply articulating a feeling that makes other people uncomfortable, or for highlighting an injustice that everyone is ignoring.

That’s stigma. That’s creating a world that isolates people who we then label as “negative,” or “crazy.” And why do we do that? I’m not going to tell you why I think some of us do this, but if you try, you might start coming up with your own theories that demonstrate how foolish and insensitive you’ve been.

Today as I was walking around taking photographs I was reminded of a statement that Lisa made recently. She said that the world is so beautiful that she couldn’t imagine not being alive to witness it. The understanding that her corporeal form will one day be a stream of energy is incomprehensible.

For those who are living with mental illness, including depression, it’s impossible to appreciate these moments with nature, or friends and family. They only see a life of hardship, of brutality, of sadness.

But they don’t have to suffer alone with this. They need an outlet where they can be free to discuss matters that are difficult to comprehend.

That’s why I started this blog. It has created a forum for me to talk about frustrations I experience in daily life. Not to mention the horrors I often read about in the news that is inflicted on animals and other humans.

For my efforts I have often been labeled as insane. So it’s something that I have learned to live with, and though I don’t appreciate it, it’s telling of a global problem we all face.

I’m sad that Robin Williams committed suicide. I’m sad that there are so many others like him who felt that waking up to see one more day was too painful to bear.

About these ads

The weekend has passed :(

Lisa made some lovely vegetarian/tofu kebabs.

Lisa made some lovely vegetarian/tofu kebabs.

This past weekend was relaxing. I spent lots of time reading but most importantly, watching soccer and tennis on television. I hadn’t been as interested in tennis for years, but I was rooting for my imaginary boyfriend Novak Djokovic to win his second Wimbledon title; I was smitten even more when HE DID! Sadly he’s getting married to the woman he impregnated.

The World Cup has also been entertaining. I’m hoping for Argentina or Netherlands to take the crown. We’ll see. That’s all I have to say about that.

We also enjoyed a fire, some food and alcohol! For curious minds, the cottage is located on a family plot. It was once the location of three separate cottages, one was hit by lightning and burned down. Now only two remain. One of those two will be demolished at the end of September and replaced with a new state-of-the-art cottage. For this reason we’re spending as much time as possible there this summer before the construction starts. Plus a lot of packing needs to be completed.

There’s always people at the cottage which makes for a lively, yet tiring affair. This coming weekend there will be over 20 people in attendance, with some individuals tenting on the back lawn.

The pictures I took the last week in my underwear were self-portraits, and required careful planning. I took them using my camera’s timer. Because I get up so early no one caught me! Shhh…

In funny news Lisa saw a listing for a cottage that was on-sale, which compelled us to take a boat ride across the bay to check it out. Unfortunately it was priced at $1.3 million and when we got closer it was evident that not only was it out of our price range, but it was too ugly.

Matt remained at home in Toronto where he and Mike celebrated Netherlands’ Quarterfinal victory. The tenant downstairs text messaged Lisa at 3 a.m. to complain that beer was leaking onto her head!!!

Good times.

Ready for the barbecue

Ready for the barbecue

Someone wanted meat -- it always breaks my heart to know that this was once a living being

Someone wanted meat — it always breaks my heart to know that this was once a living being

Can you spot the property amongst the trees?

Can you spot the property amongst the trees?

A beach at Balsam Lake Provincial Park

A beach at Balsam Lake Provincial Park

This is the water that we drink!

This is the water that we drink!


Why we’re apathetic, according to me


This past weekend I was discussing the apathy prevalent in our modern society when a relatively wealthy woman, in her 60s interrupted to say that she doesn’t support my viewpoint.

I challenged her to consider the evidence.

1% of the population controls 80% of the wealth, and we let them get away with it. How is that possible if we’re not apathetic? There’s a reason why the masses aren’t revolting over decreased pay and cuts to pensions and benefits, while executives are making astronomical salaries.

How are they able to get away with this? Well it’s simple.

First the powers that be start cutting funding to education. That’s first and foremost, but of course that’s not all of it either.

Next they work tirelessly to make everyone feel bad and insecure about what they don’t have. Advertising companies are experts at this. Eventually we start wanting things we don’t need, like fancy cars, expensive trips to far away places, expensive clothes and jewelery, cell phones, televisions, the list goes on. We’re more than happy to go into debt to pay for these things, because we want to measure up — and what better way to demonstrate our self-importance than through the illusion of wealth?

Afterwards, we find ourselves in debt from purchasing all these products. Clearly we have to pay off our loans, but it’s a never-ending cycle because we have to constantly update all these gadgets to stay relevant in the eyes of our peers.

We then find ourselves stuck in really deplorable work environments. They want nothing more than for you to feel defeated, because a poor, indebted employee won’t cause any trouble.

You’re now their slave and they can start cutting your pay and all the perks that should come with a job, citing austerity measures, but things don’t add up because the CEO, who is responsible for the companies financial health isn’t taking any pay cuts. Wouldn’t that be something a real leader would sacrifice?

Well no. Because it’s all made up to make you feel powerless. Then you don’t vote, so the wrong people get elected. These officials are more interested in building relationships with wealthy corporations than their populus, who are a means to and end, but essentially worthless.

Then they control the media. Through the art of distraction a population becomes ignorant. Instead of leading the news hour with this uncontrollable corruption, newscasters provide the viewer with the most important news of the day, such as Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding, or the results of the World Cup match.

Look at Brazil! Millions of money has been spent on a sporting competition when over 50% of their population lives in abject poverty. Some players don’t even get paid to do what it is they love. All this for the sake of national pride! It is disgraceful, yet these wealthy individuals are able to get away with it.

At the end of every long day, after we’ve participated in the politics of work, and tolerated another badly behaved employer, and sat motionless in our cars for over an hour because of traffic, we make it home. We’re too tired to do anything but turn on the television and zombie out.

Why is that? Well, I think I just answered that question.

We’ll never revolt, because we’re more concerned with matters that are selfish and unimportant. And it’s all been designed that way.

My own body image issues

Gay males make up 42 per cent of all men with eating disorders. That’s ludicrous when it’s estimated that gays make up only 5 per cent of the total male population.

Last week I read an informative Freshly Pressed blog post that got me thinking a lot about gay men, and their body image issues. But mostly, since then, I’ve thought about my body in particular. So I spent the last week looking at myself in the mirror and taking some self-portraits. Mostly in my underwear.

After this last pride, I couldn’t help but notice the plethora of diverse bodies on display at every event I attended. The men brave enough to walk in public sans their shirt adhered to a specific body type: Chiseled bodies, visible abdominal muscles, groomed hair. Those that were less sculpted, kept their shirts on. The world breathed a collective sigh of relief. Everyone knew their place.

Then there was me. You ever watch television and come to the certain reality that none of the actors represent you? I mean, sure they might be gay, and you’re gay, but they look nothing like you. Then you’re told by mainstream media that they’re the type of guys everyone should try to emulate, they’re the epitome of the male specimen and you’ll never measure up.

All the boys, and girls, swoon over them like they’re the second coming. No pun intended.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the way I look, but there’s a standard to appearances that most gay men covet, and if you’re like me, you probably don’t fit into the appropriate category.

When my hair started thinning years ago I was really worried about what other people would think. It’s not even that I minded so much myself, I was okay with the natural change to my body, but I feared the judgment that would come from a relatively shallow society.

If I hadn’t seen someone in a long time, an old friend, or colleague, I would catch their eyes fixated on my hair. If someone was upfront enough to mention my challenged follicles, there would always be someone who pretended that they didn’t notice, or that it wasn’t actually happening. Ummm… I own a mirror, I know what I look like. And I’m okay with it, really, I am.

It’s disappointing how our shallow values run rampant in our culture. These are the things we worry about, when there are more pressing issues to deal with. Eventually I stopped caring about others’ perceptions and just embraced the change. To be frank, I had no choice. I was getting older, and that didn’t mean I was any less handsome or desirable.

But of course there was always someone who would make a disparaging comment about my appearance, usually it came from another gay man. It didn’t matter that they too didn’t fit into the Adonis stereotype. They were only too happy to point out that I didn’t either. Here’s the thing I came to realize: You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t.

For instance, if I appeased everyone else’s idea of how I should look then I would buy some Rogaine, or get a costly hair transplant. Really, if these individuals were successful in making me feel insecure, then I would take steps to correct the “problem” so they wouldn’t ridicule me any further. But that wouldn’t change anything. Then of course, they’d notice that my hair was miraculously lush and full again, so their focus would simply turn to the fact that I took corrective measures to make them happy. Either way, no-win!

Problem is nothing is going to satisfy them. They’re shallow people who will criticize you for naturally getting older, and for trying to reverse the process in an effort to stop their judgment. We must start challenging individuals who hold these beliefs.

This is why people get plastic surgery, because they’ve been made to feel bad about their looks from a callous public who think it’s their right to judge others on something as superficial as looks.

Gay blogs and pundits are only too happy to post photographs of hot men, and to ask that their readers rate them from who is the most to least attractive. Comment boards are saturated with remarks like, “He’s so ugly, stop going to the gym.” To the mundane, and trite, “I wouldn’t fuck him.” Umm… I don’t think he offered.

The malice demonstrated in magazines that target the gay male demographic are similar to female driven magazines that consistently tell women all over the world that they’re imperfect.

A few years ago, while I was at gay pride, a man on the street stopped, looked me up and down and then called me fat. Yep, he called me fat. Now at the age of 35 I’m five foot nine and weigh one hundred and sixty pounds. I think that’s just fine for my age.

I run four times a week and lift weights. But I also enjoy beer and eating out with friends. My body is both soft and muscular. I could go further to achieve those six-pack abs in an attempt to be “perfect” but I’m happy with how I look. I think I am my very own brand of sexiness.

So while I was lying around in my underwear on one lazy, hot, humid day, I took a photograph of myself. I’ve never done that before. Not once in my life had I ever photographed the entire length of my body — at least not to share with others!

Body 8

Already I can feel the criticism. Some don’t care, others have many opinions and some can’t believe I would post this at all! But the experience, of a camera taking my photograph, in just my underwear was liberating.

Sure I could spend more time at they gym in an effort to look like the standard gay guy, but I prefer moderation. Some time for myself, and others, and pets, and so on. So many gay guys will try to convince you that their obsession with body image has everything to do with health. But, as I’ve written before, these are the same individuals who on weekends drink copious amounts of alcohol, do drugs, sleep around and so on. Obviously they’re not too concerned with health, but rather vanity.

There are those who will look at my photograph and consider me something — and none of it good. At this age I really have no appreciation for shallow people, I don’t. I’m over them, have been for some time. There is nothing attractive about them.

Wouldn’t life be so much simpler if we stopped judging people on all this superficial criteria? Why is it so impossible for us to allow people to love their bodies just the way they are? Not everyone wants to starve themselves, or spend hours at the gym to look like a model on the cover of a magazine. They want to be accepted for exactly who they are: Perfect.

No matter how long we live there’s always going to be someone who will unfairly judge us for how we look. The idea that our society tries to fight aging, as though it’s possible, through purchasing expensive cosmetics full of poison that have been cruelly tested on animals, is an indication of how messed up our priorities are.

As we age, our hair will thin, our bodies will sag, our skin will wrinkle and even our voices will change. There is nothing wrong with any of this. It’s NORMAL.

We really need to spend more time with ourselves, naked in the mirror to appreciate how beautiful we are, and how gorgeous our bodies are. There is no one standard of beauty, it can be many things, skinny, fat, whatever it is.

But first we need to stop letting judgment affect how we view ourselves. Don’t listen to someone who says you are unhealthy because you’re fat. Tell them that your health is none of their fucking business.

Tell a gay man that to deem someone unfuckable because they have a receding hairline, or a flat ass, is stupid. Tell him that he’s actually afraid and more insecure than the people he’s so critical of.

Tell a straight man who judges all women against a hollywood female archetype to go fuck himself. Really, do it!

Most importantly though, we need to stop criticizing other people’s appearances too. We have to stop contributing to all this self-hate. Stop buying into all this stupidity that corporations have told us is FACT when none of it is. It’s been designed to make us feel bad about ourselves so that we’ll buy their products to fix something that isn’t broken: Ourselves.

Here’s one fact we should all begin recognizing more thoroughly: We’re all going to get old. It’s the part of life we all need to accept and learn how to be okay with. Because it is okay.

Oh yeah, I liked the first photograph so much that I took another one!

Food Matters

Make no mistake that the rise in diabetes, every form of cancer, and other chronic diseases is a direct result of our Western diet and lifestyle. There is absolutely no doubt that the way we live, and how we eat greatly effects our health.

Food Matters is a 2009 documentary that examines the current state of America’s food supply, and suggests that the over-industrialization of food production is making the nation sicker by the moment. The documentary analyzes the proliferation of chemical additives in “natural” foods, looks at the relationship between the lack of nutrients in the American diet and the nation’s rising health care costs, and offers tips for system detoxification.

The film presents the thesis that a selective diet rich in vitamins and minerals can play a key role in treating a range of health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and depression, often substituting for medical treatment. Further, it labels the traditional medical community as a “sickness industry”, which profits more from treating the symptoms of illness than curing the illness, accusing them of a general conspiracy to perpetuate poor health to maximize profits.

And repeat after me: It’s available on Netflix.

Ladies read more Grindr messages

A while back I posted a video of women reading messages gay men send other men on hookup apps like Grindr, Scruff, Growlr.

Well, here’s part 2, and it’s just as funny as the first one. Oh yeah, NSFW!

A plague

Few in the gay community know who Larry Kramer is. It’s a shame that each new generation is learning less and less about an era that decimated our community and the individuals who worked tirelessly to find a cure.

Not just a playwright, Kramer continues to be one of our most effective activists. In 1978 he published a controversial novel called Faggots. The book received emphatic denunciations from elements within the gay community for his one-sided portrayal of shallow, promiscuous gay relationships in the 1970s. His main thesis begged the question: How can a gay man possibly find love when he’s more concerned with having lots of anonymous sex?

For a long time Kramer was shunned by one-time supporters who found his account of their lives distasteful. Kramer said about his inspiration for the novel: “I wanted to be in love. Almost everybody I knew felt the same way. I think most people, at some level, wanted what I was looking for, whether they pooh-poohed it or said that we can’t live like the straight people or whatever excuses they gave.”

Kramer researched the book by talking with many men, and visiting various establishments. As he interviewed people, he heard a common question: “Are you writing a negative book? Are you going to make it positive? … I began to think, ‘My God, people must really be conflicted about the lives they’re leading.’ And that was true. I think people were guilty about all the promiscuity and all the partying.”

After the backlash Kramer said, “The straight world thought I was repulsive, and the gay world treated me like a traitor. People would literally turn their back when I walked by. You know what my real crime was? I put the truth in writing. That’s what I do: I have told the fucking truth to everyone I have ever met.” Despite its negative response Faggots became one of the best-selling gay novels of all time and is taught in universities.

There’s no denying that gay men can be promiscuous. Not all of them of course, but there is a section of our community that is obsessed with appearances, money, drugs and sex. In that way they are no different from many straight people.

One of the biggest arguments I have with gay men is the idea of body image. Almost every gay guy I speak to strives to look like a specific type of man and it typically involves a muscular, well sculpted body. These men often resort to talking about health to justify their obsession with their bodies, but then you observe them smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol excessively and indulging in promiscuous sexual behaviour and you think otherwise. Clearly health is not a motivating factor in their lives, but vanity is.

And that’s okay as long they’re honest about it. But why lie? Possibly because they feel there is something wrong with being vain. Being self-critical is a skill that not everyone develops. But all of us should challenge the behaviours that we consider acceptable and how they contribute to the world, either good or bad.

I’ve had many long talks with gay men who will defend their sexual freedom at any cost, even if it means putting their health in jeopardy. Many young gay men are without fear of contracting HIV. They now look at it as a chronic disease that is treatable with medication. It doesn’t take much research to find that most people who contract HIV age at a significantly higher rate than most healthy people.

We have not only a responsibility to our own health, but to the health of those whom we have sex with. If we’re having sex with many different people who are also having sex with many different people, chances are that we’ll get a disease. It might not be anything as earth shattering as HIV, but that’s not much consolation.

I’m firmly aware, to this day, that sexual freedom does not equate liberation. In fact, it can rob us of our lives in ways we never thought possible.

I’m not really interested in shaming people for choosing to live their lives however they please, but I do support responsible choices to ensure the health of everyone.

Kramer saw first hand the ravages of AIDS, and Faggots foretold an impending catastrophe that crippled our community. It would be a shame if we made the same mistakes that can lead to another inevitable plague. HIV and AIDS has already taken so many innocent lives.