Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happy Pride 2009 !!




Vancouver Pride culminates this weekend with the parade on Sunday, August 2nd. Since changing the parade route last year to include a portion of Vancouver's main shopping street, Robson Street, then along Denman St. to Beach Ave. and along English Bay to the Sunset Beach Festival Site, crowds are approaching half a million people! The weather is perfect. We are in the midst of a long, summer heatwave setting thirty year temperature records.
***
The Pride Society has developed a three year theme starting with Educate this year, Liberate next year and Celebrate in 2011. Click on their logo above to be taken to the Pride website and all the details.
***
Nelson House B & B is proud to fly it's rainbow from the front gable all year long. We are happy to be hosting the world round our breakfast table and heading towards our twentieth year in business serving the community.


Monday, July 20, 2009

The week that was.


What a week! I started off thinking about the hot summer of '69 - forty years ago. I am someone who lives very much in the present and usually resist a nostalgia trip down memory lane. Still the fates seem to have conspired to remind me just how many years I have been on this planet.


A former colleague from the Foreign Service contacted me and the rest of our peer group to mark the occasion of 35 years passing since we were all hired as "the best and the brightest". This number is pragmatically important as most of these former young bucks are now qualified for retirement and the full, golden pensioning off, reserved only for government workers and politicians. Of course, I wish them all the best of luck. Problem is that the email exchange was accompanied by a group photo of these guys, I mostly remember as twenty-somethings in the summer of '74 - now gone to faded government grey. Well, it was food for thought, but certainly no regrets that I took my career into my own hands over twenty years ago.


This weekend, I relaxed at Jericho Beach Park for the Vancouver Folk Festival. The wooded beachside park glories in a panoramic view of English Bay, the sailboats, the city skyline and the north-shore mountains. Among the myriad of performers, I particularly enjoyed Cheryl Wheeler's wit, Roy Forbes peculiar twangy voice, Lester Quitzau's bluesy guitar, Geoff Berner's caustic ironies, Bellowhead's fine English disco/seashanties and Mavis Staple's touch of history. She told the backstory of one civil rights song, written by her father for, and that became a personal favorite of, Martin Luther King. She began her own singing career in 1969 and is still going strong.


Today, July 20, marks the 40th anniversary of Man on the Moon. - July 20, 1969. I was a child who star-gazed and remember the science fiction spookiness of the Sovet Union's sputnik overhead. I remember the fuzzy black and white images and crackly sound coming LIVE from the moon. I went all nostalgic this week as I recalled Walter Cronkite's sonorous narration of this and other great events. The technical feat was,without a doubt, amazing. However, mostly I remembered Walter's American authenticity. He always seemed to represent the best of the USA.


As Mavis sang into the dusk at Jericho, the International Space Station, came out of the western sky - by far the brightest light among the early stars - and glided as swiftly and silently as time through Vancouver's sky. We danced and some of us waved.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Gay Lib...Gay Life


It is 40 years since Canada's Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, uttered the famous words: "The government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation."

In 1969, Canada legalized homosexual acts between consenting adults. In doing so, a weapon for prejudicial enforcement, discrimination and abuse was removed from the hands of the state. However, freedom and equality are not served on a silver platter. Gay, lesbian and bisexual citizens faced a decades-long struggle. Along the way, homosexuals earned the right to participate openly in the police and armed forces. In 2005, adoption rights and same-sex marriage finally became law in Canada. The bold and the brave claimed their civil and human rights. The rest of Canadian society is still in the process of education and adaptation. At least, it is now clear in this country, that the recognition of one citizen's rights is no loss for the rights of any other citizen.

This past week in New Delhi, India, a High Court judge threw out a 149 year-old section of the penal code, written by former British colonial rulers. The judge effectively decriminalized homosexual acts in the Indian capital with the words: " The inclusiveneness of Indian society traditionally displayed, literally in every aspect of life, is manifest in recognizing a role in society for everyone.... Those perceived by the majority as "deviants" or "different" are not on that score excluded or ostracized."

The change means a minimum of protection but so far, very little understanding and acceptance. It is common belief that India's federal system and ponderous judiciary will take a very long time to grant any further legal equality to sexual minorities, even though those minorities number in the tens of millions. Religious spokespersons and politicians will exploit divisions between people for their own narrow purposes. Still, this week's legal change is the beginning of a human rights revolution for India. In the world's largest democracy, there is new hope for a minority that has been wilfully ignored, compelled to participate in sham marriages and forced to live in fear of police and thugs.

India. Be bold. Be brave. In the internet age, today's young people increasingly take a world view. Change will come. And it may take India far fewer than the forty years that it took Canada.

The photo up top is a promo pic from Dostana - which translates as "Friendship", a successful and controversial Bollywood move that came out in 2008. The movie depicts two hunks pretending to be gay. Sound familiar? The movie's website videos are well worth a peek. You may ask yourself : "This is India?" Yes it is - always surprising.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Busy as a B & B

Nelson House is in full summer swing. We celebrated both Canada Day and US Independence Day with great conversations between Canadians, Americans, Brits, French, Germans and Danes. While tourism statistics tell us that BC may be missing some American friends this year, the international assortment around our breakfast table proves that the world is still coming to see Vancouver. Add to the mix that our B & B attracts both gays and straights and I lke to call it our "motley assortment" !

All of us have been enjoying the International Jazz Festival under wonderful sunny skies. Two of my favourite concerts were free and outdoors. Both musicians and audience demonstrated the exuberant, astonishing mix that is Canada's multicultural success story.

Vancouver's Delhi to Dublin is a group of five that mashes up Indian Bhangra, Celtic & Dub. The combined sounds of tabla, fiddle, dhol, Punjabi vocals, electric sitar and electronic beats create pure excitement. The soundtrack on their website gives you a taste of something somehow familiar and exotic.

And then there was the Toronto-based flautist, saxaphonist and bandleader Jane Bunnett and her extraordinary Embracing Voices project. Here she mixes top-notch jazz instrumentals with the soulful choral sounds of Cuba and Haiti. Watch, listen and...soar.



Please let me know if you like. There is more of the same - right here in Vancouver.