This opinion piece about the BC Government’s transfer of publicly owned and operated housing to private non-profits was published last week.
This is the part that was left out:
Defending Public Housing is Not Attacking Private Non-Profit Housing – They are Different
On moving in day, I surrendered use of the reserved elevator three times – once for the coroner to bring out the body of a man who had died (apparently by suicide) some days prior, once for the police to bring someone out in handcuffs and once for an ambulance to bring someone on a stretcher down.
At that moment I gave serious consideration to moving into my storage locker instead.
Over time I realized my first minutes were unusual for more than me. My neighbours are quieter than the ones in my previous market-rent apartment. If you hear blaring music as you walk by, it’s probably coming from my apartment.
One Christmas a friend gifted me with a generous grocery delivery so I invited some people in the building for a holiday meal. It became a tradition.
One of the men I invited over turned into an occasional food buddy and we would share dishes throughout the year.
During one of our dinners together he told me about being young and how things were different back then ‘back before you were born.’ (Nice thing about being around seniors is you are forever young.)
He had married, ‘because that is what you did’, was deeply unhappy, at some point he discovered a reason for the unrelenting sense of despair and a word for that vital part of him that had never been spoken or expressed – gay.
When he talked about coming to Vancouver and coming out he did literally seem gay – the other meaning – joy. Broad smile, beaming eyes and giggles as punctuation marks.
He was also an atheist- not the preachy kind – but his boundaries on organized religion were firm and though always a gentleman, I wonder how he would have reacted to seeing bible study notices taped on the elevator walls.
It sits with me every day – a man who had lived within and suffered because of other people’s ideas of what a man is and who he is allowed to love; a man, my friend, who cherished the freedom Vancouver had given him in allowing him to embrace and celebrate who he was.
He might have just laughed and shook his head or he might have thought, not again.