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23 January 2008


Are we to believe that being Canadian is more significant than being Gay? Simon Munnery's welcome re

By Simon Munnery

I came out of my front door the other day and there was a man walking past on the phone going “…yeah yeah yeah I got Sky – but you’ll never guess what I’m getting next: floorboards…”. It’s a question of priorities I suppose: With a sofa by the door for pizza deliveries and a good remote you’d hardly need flooring.

The sky is better than Sky©TM; no repeats; very widescreen; endlessly fascinating; no discernable plot: perfect telly. And however long you stare at it you never feel like buying anything – except perhaps occasionally cotton wool or candy-floss. And the detail, the work that’s gone into it – it’s truly awesome; terrifying. No wonder we watch telly.

So the structure of DNA is a double helix? My arse. It’s a twisted ladder. Double helix means two helixes – it tells you nothing about how they are arranged. It could mean two helixes – or should that be helae? – next to each other, or entwined – basically it covers any arrangement you can make with two springs; and given the state of my spring jar that’s quite a lot of states. So take that Watson and Crick. Double helix? Pah! And anyway surely that’s only the beginning of the structure; yes it’s a twisted ladder shaped molecule; a thin strand – but what is the shape of the knot it’s tied in? My guess is it will turn out to be a rough facsimile of the face of the individual concerned. Kismet.

Imagined conversation between two trees in winter:

I see you’re deciduous

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Must be awful I imagine.

I wouldn’t say that

But don’t you feel a bit… naked in the winter? You know – fragile, vulnerable, below par? I mean you look…. How can I put this politely?… a bit…well… on the indistinguishable-from-dead side.

Oh no no on the contrary; I feel invincible, light as air, invisible to the wind, cleansed, ready, coiled like spring. Anyway; you should know – you’re deciduous as well, or didn’t you realise?

I am not

Yes you are dear.

If I’m deciduous then how do you account for these beautiful thick green leaves that cover me from root to twig in the middle of winter?

I’m so sorry dear; didn’t you know? Has no one told you?

Told me what?

You’ve got ivy.

There is surely a propensity for any machine, device or system that exists to be used – buttons are there to be pressed; triggers to be pulled; tellies turned on; lobotomies to be done etc. – but is it true in the wider sense; that what can be done will be done? It is easy to think of a contrary example: We have had the technology for a long time now to put a homosexual on the moon. But why would you? It’s pointless. What would they do there? Collect rocks? Start a colony? Open a hairdressing salon? And set in the mind-shattering emptiness of the cosmos doesn’t the nature of a man’s sexuality seem at best ephemeral? How gays fare in space has seemed – up ’til now at least – an irrelevance to Nasa; perhaps even to humanity.

How does the gay community itself feel about this? After the great strides of progress in civil rights from Stonewall onwards why not a small step further – if it is a right to be out on earth is it not also a right to be out, in outer space? A giant leap from the closet to the final frontier, to boldly go where no one has gone before, and sing: I am what I am…

Even science fiction films, which historically have presaged every great technological advancement from the time machine onwards, have failed to depict a believable gay character in orbit. Sure, there was Captain Kirk, with his penchant for wrestling, his corset wearing, and his twinkle-eyed come-ons to first officer Spock – but he was never openly gay or recognised to be so at the time; it is only now looking back that this seems obvious; likewise with Freddie Mercury from Queen.

And in the case of Captain Kirk one cannot tell whether it is the character, or the actor behind the corset that is gay – or by extension, the entire collective male psyche of the United States; and me myself and I for that matter.

And where are the lesbians? Sigourney Weaver in ‘Alien’ is the only example (aside from the entire cast of ‘Women From The Planet Lesbos’ which is not technically a sci-fi movie). And many critics have argued that though it is set in space, the film ‘Alien’ is in fact an allegory of sexual identity, with the relationship between the Sigourney Weaver character and the hideous gnashing monster being a metaphor for coming to terms with having a vagina.

Of course statistically it is highly likely that one at least of the nearly five hundred humans that have so far ventured into space is – or was – homosexual. But if it were so it has not been recorded; as if it was unimportant – whereas Canadianness for example – or Canadaninity as I like to call it – is always mentioned; first Canadian in space… first Canadian woman in space… first use of Maple syrup in space… and so on.

Are we to believe that being Canadian is more significant than being gay? That the maple flag should eclipse the rainbow one? The truth is space travel is undertaken by huge industrialised nation states which have their own agendas; and the sooner the gay community wake up to this reality, stop lounging around in bars and begin their own space programme, the better. ‘Rocket Man’ sang Elton John. Yes – but that was twenty years ago, and what progress has been made in the interim? None to speak of.