by Anne Finlay-Stewart

I went to high school in the 1960s. Maybe the same school you did.

There were no gay people at my school.

The word did not even mean homosexual then. The Flintstones were still urging us to have a “gay old time”.

There might have been some fags or queers. Certainly there were boys that the other boys called fags and queers. And nobody – not their friends or the girls or their teachers – stopped them.

The result was that noone was homosexual in my school in the 60s.

Except, of course, they were.

Later in my life I met them. By then they were principals, playwrights and priests. I had attended some of their weddings – to people of the opposite sex.

Some were successful and content. A few were still in the closet. Some had been physically beaten up, divorced or disowned.

By the time I had a baby, I knew that making our home and family safe for him meant acknowledging what we had denied, or worse, in the past. That's where it starts.

Tonight we were part of a vigil for eight men.

Skandaraj Navaratnam, Andrew Kinsman, Selim Esen, Abdulbasir Faizi, Dean Lisowick,  Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Soroush Mahmudi and Majeed Kayhan. 

Men with families and friends, mothers and children. Some of them came to Canada because it was dangerous to be homosexual in their home country. They all came to the Toronto gay community where they thought it was safe to be themselves.

The man who killed them is my age. He went to a high school like mine in the 1960s.
Where nobody was homosexual.
Except, of course, they were.


photo: Joan Beecroft, from vigil February 14 at the Ginger Press