Last Tuesday, as Rick Mercer got into the swing of his rant about our collective need to make things better for gay teens who increasingly see suicide as the only solution to their struggles, I thought to myself, “Yes, wonderful, spit it out then, Rick.”
But by the end of “Rick’s Rant,” in which Mercer called for gay public figures to be more visible so they might serve as role models to gay teens, he hadn’t outed himself. Hypocrite! I thought. But his words were powerful, and I went to YouTube to rewatch the video clip the next day. Commenters there, I noticed, shared my feeling that Rick had stopped a bit short, that if he was calling on other gay public figures to come out, he should have said he was gay, too. But a response to one of those comments shed some light on the matter (in what was the first and will likely be the last instance of YouTube feedback enlightening me — or anyone, ever). “You know he’s gay. I know he’s gay. Guess he’s not that discreet.”
And that’s exactly the point that Mercer was making in his rant: no one needs to go around waving flags if they don’t want to, but gay teens, and their bullies, need to be more aware of gay public figures going about their lives, happily and successfully. Still, his words have since been picked apart by various media outlets, including the Globe and Mail, whose editorial on Friday accused Mercer of wrongly placing the burden of responsibility squarely on the shoulders of closeted gay public figures. (more…)
A month ago on this blog, I wrote an open letter to Jack Layton in the wake of his announcement that he’d decided to step down from his duties as Leader of the Opposition to focus on his cancer treatment. It spoke of the hope, that very real belief that I shared with a lot of Canadians that Jack and his moustache would be back in Parliament at the end of the summer; but now that we know how his story unfolded, that hope smacks more of denial.
When I started chemo for Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2001, I was nineteen years old — one of the few patients under fifty at my cancer centre. A social worker put me in email contact with Rachel, a twenty-two year old with a brain tumour who was undergoing treatment at the same time. Rachel described her cancer in a message to me, explaining that her doctors gave her a one-in-twenty chance of surviving five years. With my own nine-in-ten survival rate, I was floored. She followed her explanation with, “Oh well, we’ll see how things go.” She assured me that she would one day marry her boyfriend. I don’t know if it was denial or hope, or if those two things are the same, but I agreed that she would.
We stayed in touch for a few months and shared funny stories of hair loss and the awkward but usually endearing things said by people who don’t know what to say, but as we both carried on with our treatments our emails dropped off. Six months into my treatment I was told my cancer was gone. A month later I got an email from Rachel’s boyfriend letting me know she’d passed away. (more…)
I think I speak for most, if not all, Canadians when I mutter “damn it” and sigh heavily.
The reason Canadians of all political leanings paused at your announcement yesterday is because cancer has an eerie but largely unspoken grasp on everyone. Few among us are untouched by the disease, and this latest news of yours is a reminder that life has a way of shaking even the sturdiest of foundations, especially, it seems, when we could really use the stability. A person can’t swing a CT scanner in this country without hitting someone who either has or has had, or knows some who has or has had, cancer. Very little shock lingers after an announcement like yours because disbelief is quickly ousted by a familiar sense of disappointment — not again.
Any oncologist will tell you that cancer is not a single disease; it’s a blanket term for a type of disease that takes on many different forms and implications. Today, while some observers dig around to figure out what particular kind of cancer you’re battling now, others among us know it really doesn’t matter. Any cancer survivor will tell you that cancer is cancer. Regardless of who you are, how old you are, where you are, and what the sickness interrupts: it’s cancer. (more…)
The only reason the sky didn’t fall yesterday is because this damn heat rose and held the sky up.
Obviously, this puts you in a bit of a pickle. You made all those grandiose predictions about how terrible the record-breaking temperature would be, but besides that moment when you got stuck with a “don’t walk” signal before crossing the street on the way from your air-conditioned car to your air-conditioned office, you barely broke a sweat all day. Embarrassing? Sure. Very much so.
Every time this kind of weather occurs, which it does often, inevitably, at least once a year, without incident, it feels like the first time for you. That’s because you’re an emotional person (some might say neurotic, alarmist, ridiculous), but no one should judge you for that. Don’t worry, plenty more predicted catastrophes have come and gone without incident — Carmageddon, Snowpocalypse, the “shoegaze” era in rock music. There are ways to make today’s walk of shame easier on yourself. (more…)
What was supposed to be less than three hours of testimony from News Corporation executives Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch, and Rebekah Brooks, in response to allegations of phone hacking and other serious wrongdoings at News of the World, the recently folded London tabloid belonging to News Corp.’s News International, instead stretched out to nearly five hours today. However, very little new information was gleaned from the executives. All three stuck to a strategy that the committee of British MPs found difficult to penetrate. The Murdochs and Brooks each claimed ignorance about many of the goings-on at News of the World, apologized for the damage that had been done (particularly in the case of Milly Dowler), and expressed their commitment to journalistic integrity. Read our play-by-play account and analysis of the events of the day, which reached an early climax when Murdoch Sr. took a shaving-foam pie to the face two-and-a-half hours into the proceedings.
9:40 am EST: Rupert and James Murdoch are before the British Commons’ culture, media, and sport committee. Rupert interrupts his son’s opening apology: “This is the most humble day in my life.”
9:49 am EST: James claims no knowledge that Brooks, former editor of News of the World, or other resigned executives had prior knowledge of the hacking allegations. “There is no evidence today, that I have seen, that there was any impropriety by them.”
9:51 am EST: Rupert Murdoch is called on. Seems a bit shaken and skirts questions to remind the committee of his tens of thousands of dignified employees. News of the World only 1 percent of his company’s operations.
9:54 am EST: Rupert claims no knowledge of much of News of the World‘s wrongdoing and blackmail allegations, despite international press coverage — deflects to son James but MP Tom Watson holds the spotlight on Rupert. James eager to jump in. (more…)