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Gender Identity

Thoughts on gender identity and creativity

I was listening to CBC radio in the car last year while two celebrity men my age were talking like giddy little schoolboys about their hockey and baseball sports card collection. I envied their enthusiasm and pride in their collections and wondered why I never got the bug, even though at one point I had boxes and boxes of them that I had won from playing toss and match gambling. I loved sports and played virtually all types. I had a large number of cards only because I won them. Soon after grade eight I just threw them out. But as the celebrities waxed on about their collections I realized that I too had my own collections during my youth, and as William Wordsworth wrote, ” the child is father to the man”

In my boyhood the secrets of my future creativity were revealed and it was only on looking back did I realize how early my quirky creativity became apparent. My boyhood interests fathered the creative person I am today. I had two collections, one a stamp collection which I still have, the other a collection of match boxes from restaurants and hotels. My stamp collection was my art gallery. I loved the exquisite designs of Olympic sport stamps from countries all over the world, created by the best artists in each country.

I treasured these little lithographs. I selected them in the same way an art collector would. The match box collection also revealed this artistic bent. I selected them, not like others who collected them from as many cities or countries as they could, I collected only the ones which appealed to me because of their artistic design—- another one of my art collections. From a very early age I also treasured my Kodak Brownie camera and collected photos I took that I thought were fine art pieces. Today I have other collections of fine art. While I could never afford original paintings, I do own a Miro lithograh and Picasso lithograph and many lithos of the modern French artists, some fine Japanese woodcuts, as well as photos by Walker Evans, Josef Karsh and Robert Frank . These are my stamps and matchboxes of old.

But there is more to my creativity than just collecting. I remember in grade seven and eight, tearing out pages from magazines of dancers like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly with images of them leaping through the air with incredible grace and athleticism. I was never able to tell anyone of my interest or do anything about it because at that time a boy who was interested in dance had to be gay and I was terrified of being labeled that way. The only way I was able to come close and maintain my masculine integrity was to take up sports that captured some of the elements of dance. I became a gymnast as well as a springboard diver. In both cases I was able to perform my dance moves in the air and not be labeled gay!

When I retired, at the age of 58 as a school superintendent and returned to university to teach, I fulfilled a childhood dream and enrolled in a modern dance class at the Toronto Dance School. By this time I felt confident enough about my own masculinity that I didn’t care what anyone thought. In my class of 20 students, I was one of only two males and the other 18 were young women more than half my age. They were all hoping to improve their skills to the level that would allow them to gain admission to the school on a fulltime basis. What a sight to see me in tights amidst all this feminine pulchritude.

Our classes were held in a wonderful room with a high ceiling and the walls were covered with mirrors . I remember one crowning moment when the accompanist drummer led us though a routine that culminated in all of us rising up on our toes to one final climactic plie. As we approached the final moment and the drummer reached his final strum on the drum, and as we rose up as one, arms gracefully above our head on our tippy toes, the drum beat ended precisely at the moment when I unfortunately punctuated the final drum beat with a horrific thunderous fart. All twenty sets of eyes could be seen in the mirrors glancing my way and I turned pomegranate red. It certainly affirmed my masculinity. I did not attain admission standards for a fulltime place in the program.

There were other manifestations of my creativity that affected my identity. I began to sew. For years I made my wife’s clothing as well as my two daughters. My crowning achievement was making my daughter’s wedding dress. It was simple, elegant and chic. Again I feared that people would think I was gay. Whenever I publicly told anyone I sewed I always said “yes, I can make a skirt or a dress for my wife on a Sunday afternoon during an NFL football game.” It was in fact true, but it was an attempt to dissipate any thoughts of my sexual preference by adding this very masculine activity. How silly it now seems on reflection.

And it doesn’t stop there. I am avid flower grower and arranger. I made two massive flower arrangements for my daughters wedding that framed the ceremony . And I also love to cook . I studied French cooking while living in Germany and I devour cookbooks and cooking magazines. I am a very inventive and creative chef, if not a consistent one. As well, I love interior decoration. Our house and cottage are carefully decorated with many antiques that I have restored – collections of antique glass, fine artwork or my own photographs, and of course always fresh flower arrangements. My main hobby now is photography and I hold three or fours exhibitions a year of my work.

It is not that I excelled at all these hobbies, in fact I engaged in far more projects that I ever completed and fine detail and finishing are not my strengths. The old adage applies that I was a jack of all arts but master of none, but there is a record here from a very early age of an innate predisposition to artistic endeavors.

When you combine all these interests – the dancing, the fashion design and sewing, the interior decorating, the photography, flower arranging and the creative cooking, you emerge with a distinct stereotype of a gay male. I have always had this fear growing up of being accused as gay and as Seinfeld said, “not that there is anything wrong with that”, it is just that I didn’t want that label applied to me . It is interesting and regrettable the things I did to ensure no one thought I was gay, including, regrettably, at times displaying homophobia. It is only now that I am comfortable enough in my own skin that I can talk about it. I know I am a “raging heterosexual” and I am proud of the more feminine aspects of my interests and talents.

How to Help a Kid in the Hospital

A hospital stay is stressful for anyone, but it can be especially hard on a child too young to understand why they hurt or a teenager old enough to be concerned about their own mortality. However, friends and family can help relieve the strain and boredom of a young person’s time in the hospital in a variety of ways.

First, call a family member or a nurse on the child’s ward to ask a few questions. The questions to ask are:

  • Is the child ready for visitors?
  • What are visiting hours? Are some times better to visit than others?
  • Are there any limits to the child’s mobility?
  • Are there any dietary restrictions?
  • Is there something in particular the child needs or would like to have?
  • The answers to these questions will tell you if the child is in a restricted access area, such as an intensive care unit, what times of the day the child feels best or is most alert, and if there are any limitations on how the child can play and what he or she can eat.

    Armed with this information, the next step in creating a much-needed diversion from the hospital routine can be targeted by considering the child’s age and interests.

    Choosing the right gift

    In general, any gifts should be small (easy to put away or pack to take home), quiet (no clanging that might disturb other sick children) and inexpensive (so the parents do not worry about keeping track of an expensive new toy in addition to caring for their child).

    Good at any age, and free, are messages from classmates, family and neighbors. Most hospitals now host an online message service that allows people to send email to a patient. The messages are usually printed out and delivered by hand, sometimes by volunteers who are trained to provide a friendly chat if the patient desires.

    Be sure your message includes news about what is going on in the neighborhood, on the basketball team or in class. Children enjoy hearing what is happening outside their hospital room. Teenagers especially may feel isolated and out of touch with friends and school during long absences so a newsy letter helps.

    You can also volunteer to collect well wishes from classmates, neighbors and teammates and deliver one giant card or poster to the room.

    Consider age and hobbies

    When choosing gifts, be sure to consider what is appropriate for the child’s age as well as their hobbies and after-school activities. For instance, a set of small cars may be fun for a 5-year-old boy while a 15-year-old would probably prefer a selection of car magazines.

    Music helps distract and sooth all ages. A teenager with an iPod may appreciate some new tunes, while a toddler may enjoy a singing doll or a musical toy (just so long it is not a loud one).

    A snack basket may provide a welcome relief from institutional food and much needed energy for busy parents, but be sure the patient is not on a restricted diet.

    Other widely appreciated items include magazines, books, audio books, pajamas, art supplies and small craft projects.

    Schedule a visit

    Depending on the patient, perhaps the best way to help a hospitalized child is to visit. The friendly, familiar face of a neighbor can help a child pass the time, give parents a much-needed break, and distract the child from pain, loneliness and boredom. A small group of the child’s friends might bring in pizza and a game, especially if the patient is hospitalized during a holiday or their birthday.

    Remember to tailor the gift, whether a gift of time or a toy, to the child’s health restrictions and interests, and both the patient and parents will be grateful for your effort.

    Antique Collection of Old Guns and Photographies

    The dictionary defines the word antiques as a piece of art, or wood art or a decorative object that is made over 10 decades a go. There are people who have this hobby of collecting antiques. Antique collection could prove one of the most expensive hobbies eve, even more that of maintaining exuberant golf courses for gold players.

    The antiques are pieces of art from earlier period and are priceless and that’s why they at times price more than any one could ever imagine. There could be a wide variety of antique items that could attract the antique collectors. Stamps; furniture; jewelry; cars; paintings; statutes & sculptures the list is endless. Guns and magnificent piece of photography is no different attraction for such antique collectors.

    Antique Collection Of Old Guns

    The antique gun collection is becoming popular day by day. Gun being the boy toy attract lot of men. Gun is a symbol of pride and power. Especially when it is an antique gun it adds to the status and standard of the antique gun possessor as well. Not only because of the – power, pride and status that these guns brings, the trill associated with them because of them belong to some great legend from the past makes the entire concept even more exciting.

    If you practice collecting antique guns or are interested in it, the best source of information about adding more to your collection would be subscribing to the magazines that are available in the market, providing indispensable information about these antique rare pieces. If you are new in the field, to be on the safer side spend more time on researching and collecting information and start with relatively small and less expensive antique guns. The best source for information and purchase of such antiques are the Gun Shows that are organized by big antique gun organizations e.g. NRA.

    Antique Collection of Photography

    Photographs are no different when it comes to adding to an antique collector’s collection. The antique collections of photographs would have pictures from a very old specific era from – representing a country’s cultures or history. The collection might include beautiful pieces of photography by some well known photographers like – Strand, Paul; Modotti, Tina; Hine, Lewis; Levitt, Helen and many more the list is endless. Or would have beautiful images captured of a very early period, highlighting the culture and trends of that time.

    The black and white photo adds to the beauty of such photographs. Such collectors of photographers usually are interested not only in the antique photographs but also have shown explicit inters t in Vintage Photography; Photography from the Civil War and Old Photographs. There are various websites available from where these antiques photographs could be purchased. Though these photographs are priceless – there usually start from as less as $100 with out any upper limit to its cost.

    There are number of photo collections available which provides with a whole collection of the series including the negatives of the photos. The list of collections is endless however some of them are -Coloradoan Collection, Hancock Collection, Historical Collection, Map Collection, Miller Collection, Slide Collection, and Triangle Collection.