Surrendering my toaster?

Published 13, Feb, 2014

Is Ken Monteith gay or merely a pretender? Here’s how he rates his own LGBT-ness in light of his take on the heady spectacle of the spandex-laden Olympics and other current affairs.

Surrendering my toaster?

Before I sail off into my obscure metaphor, allow me to explain it. It’s an old joke about getting a complimentary toaster to mark one’s coming out — banks used to give small gifts to people opening accounts, so I believe that’s the origin. So now, all these years after my own coming out, I’m left pondering whether I need to return my toaster. 

I was saved from the notion that I might have to return the toaster over my lack of sexual activity by a friend who delightedly informed me that I might in a practical sense stop being a homosexual, but that I would always be VERY gay. 

So check off the sexual activity, but the gay might need some re-examining now… Maybe we can measure my gay status against the top issues of the day on the “gay agenda”. 


I always thought this was a bit of a waste of resources, trying to get access to an institution that I think has shown itself to be a failure. Why board the ship that sinks as often as it sails? But I have never been one to stand in the way of others pursuing their own silly dreams, so I wouldn’t put myself in the “no” column on marriage equality; I just wouldn’t be on the front lines or donating my resources to that particular fight. 

Oddly, I continue to be preoccupied by things like HIV and employment equality and not a future home in the suburbs with my 2.5 surrogate-delivered children. That makes me a bit out of step, but not quite on the other side of the line. 


And let’s add transphobia to that, too. Here I am clearly on board, Facebook sharing all manner of stories, not only of tragedies, but also of triumphs in this ongoing fight. I also think that we need to recognize the internalized versions of those social ills — we can’t help but echo some of the things that our society tried so hard to drum into our heads. We are all homophobic and transphobic (not to mention racist and sexist), and our success as human beings is measured by our ability to recognize and challenge those impulses and control them before they get out and hurt someone else.


Sounds good so far, if I may say so. But then there’s the background noise of the sporting spectacle that is the Olympic Games in Russia. My sport-watching proclivities have been the subject of a previous post or two, so it might not be a surprise that heeding the call to boycott the Sochi Olympics would be a little difficult for me.

Oh, I am very clear in my opposition to what is happening to LGBT people in Russia, but this population itself is not unanimous on whether we should boycott. But how can I resist the spectacle of things I don’t get to see at any other time…just try to remain indifferent to exciting and unpredictable sports like short track speed skating, ski cross and snowboard cross: it isn’t possible! So I watch guiltily and make notes about who I should be boycotting among the advertisers. I am also irked by the strange statements that leave one thinking that the Russian laws ever had anything to do with the athletes: the problem is not for Olympic athletes or spectators, it is for the LGBT Russians who have to continue to live in the country long after the last of those visitors has left. 

So is this a toaster-revoking offence? Not necessarily, he claims desperately. I may not be taking the “popular” approach of refusing to watch the games that are wall-to-wall on TV (which, when you think about it, is kind of like “Facebook participating” in a protest…click and you are done with your commitment), but I am affirming my gayness by objectifying the pretty boy athletes  (a lack of skin is more than made up for by an abundance of spandex) and cheering extra hard for the really gay events and the out lesbian athletes (no out boys, apparently). And if it helps, I will hurl insults at myself during the commercial breaks and beat myself at the end of the broadcast, and gleefully embark on the popular schadenfreud concerning the various glitches as they occur. 

But I’m keeping my toaster.