On Being An OPSWG – The Unbearable Heaviness of My LGBTQ Ignorance

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weighed down

Am I woke yet?

Nope, probably not…

This post is about my ongoing evolution as an older privileged straight white guy (OPSWG).

I admit it. I’m fairly LGBTQ ignorant, even to this day. Using pronouns scares me.

I remember almost like it was yesterday, the day I met Brian, a McDonald’s work friend in a Woolco store in Hamilton’s Eastgate Square Mall. The year was probably 1974 or ’75.

Brian and I were always friendly and “jokeable” with each other.

He had a ready smile and was easy to chat with, we were a couple of teenagers shooting the shit. That’s just what we were doing in-between the racks of shirts and pants in Woolco when I noticed an emblem on his T-shirt and naively asked what it was about.

With no sign of embarrassment or hesitation, Brian replied that it represented the Gay Association for Hamilton and that he was the President of the group.

I could feel the red rise in my cheeks as I tried to formulate a response… any response. I fumbled and hmmmm’ed and dug myself roughly out of my own discomfort. He was cool, I was flustered.

I liked Brian before. I still liked Brian. A lot.

Nothing changed in that moment except everything changed.

eyes open wide

Someone I absolutely, completely knew now to be gay was a good guy. He was no threat to me or a Boogie Man.

There was no such thing as LGBTQ in that era. It had no meaning yet. Sounds like a delicious summer sandwich, right? No, he was just homosexual.

I wasn’t actively anti-homosexual in those days.

But you might not have guessed it because I stood nearby on a number of occasions while some of my friends made jokes and derogatory remarks about the guys I knew who were “most likely” gay or had some effeminate characteristics.

It was cruel and hurtful and plain old bullying.

I was too weak to protest or stand tall and defend the young boys who were marginalized and ridiculed.

For most of my days, and like a zillion other dudes, the sight of two women kissing (or more) has unsurprisingly been a sensual turn-on for me. Conversely, the sight of two men kissing (or more) has – until recently – been a huge repulsive turn off. I don’t turn away anymore.

Everyday normal people doing “normal” human things and yet I had visceral reactions in different directions.

Meandering in the fog, I’m learning to change and correct course.

I had a good friend from an immigrant Italian family that I hung with for a number of years leading into high school. We were both in a classical-music-is-kind-of-cool stage. Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring was our hit song of the day.

jesu joy

He didn’t really display any outward signs of “non-heterosexuality”… sure, he wore tight pants that often showed the outline of his “manhood” (ewwwww), somewhat like the inverse look of a snake after eating a whole rabbit where you see a sharp outline of the ingested critter … but I think that was more young teenager stuff than a what-is-my-sexuality issue.

But there were others in the high school cliques around us that must have picked up on something and began to harass and make fun of him as a “faggot”.

Again, I did nothing to defend him against the bullying… and I do know now with certainty that he, like my McDonald’s friend Brian, is gay. Big deal!

Years have passed and I cringe at my lack of a backbone when others suffered needlessly over something that they hadn’t chosen to be… you might call it God-given… I go with plain old genetics.


I know my good fortune in life has been swayed hugely in my favour because of the womb I came from… billions of others have suffered oppositely because of the womb (or country) they burst out of.

I know my life has been simpler because I was born:

  • white-skinned and male.
  • “straight” sexually.
  • into a middle-class upbringing with access to good education.

As a result of no choices that I’ve made, I’ve been given the gift of relative ease in a difficult world.

Suffering should not have to be what triggers compassion. At the very least, can I (and you maybe too), show compassion for the life of others who are sent to the hitter’s box with two strikes and a cracked bat… a putter for the Tee shot?

Our inner thoughts and – sometimes – outer actions, might just as well put our knee on the throat of someone who is already at a disadvantage.

I’ve travelled fairly extensively in my adult years and have watched and heard others down-talk persons of other colour, socio-economic strata, different religion or cultural belief, gender, psychological makeup… you name it…

It never makes us or the world a better place.

No, I’m probably not woke and likely never will be. I’m still an OPSWG…

But I know that seeking out the kindness inside of us will never steer us wrong.

Each day I’m going to Yoda-try to evolve and be aware and reach a little higher up Maslow’s hierarchy… probably the closest this old heathen will ever get to heaven!

heaven reach




I Feel Pregnant With New Normal Spring

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chest burst

SPLATTER! My belly bursts open and ruby red blood explodes violently over spring’s natural art canvas.

Despite all the negativity associated with this viral pandemic – and there is tragedy in all directions, whether to health or economy or social structures – there’s an immense pressure of delight inside me that wants to burst out like the gooey creature in the movie Alien.

I pry my eyes open and check to see that I’m still intact after this scintilla of daydream imaginings subsides.

Yes! No burst belly. No blood. I’m all here. I smile.

This explosion of non-medicated pleasure must be akin to the feeling that others experience when they talk of being “Reborn”.

It’s spring.

The perennial Louvre that awaits outside my front door is so much more apparent to me this year. Thank you Coronavirus.

More than I can recall in decades. Thank you Coronavirus.

The lilacs and lily-of-the-valley are sweeter, the rhodos are more colourful, the Scarlet Tanagers more orange and chattery. Thank you Coronavirus.

Maybe it’s all a sense of nostalgia. Or … could it be my caffeine consumption has skyrocketed from lack of scheduled activity? Where’s the cause and effect?

Bottom line? I LOVE spring.

Spring blossoms - The Boston Globe

Sure, I like all the seasons, but I love Spring.

Spring and fall are like a pair of fraternal twins… similar in some ways, but definitely not identical.

Spring is Vivaldi’s helium-laced concerto… I listen to the bud-burst of violins and my mustard-stained T-shirt morphs into a tux, my bottle of Corona Lite becomes a delicate flute of champagne, and I speak with refined precision where once I generously littered my sentences with F bombs and ill-spoken slang.

  • Spring is a newborn lamb that frolics and delights in the moment with no thought for the future or worries or negative events that may befall it in months and years to come.
  • Spring is childlike and curious and naive.
  • Spring is young and full of enthusiasm and forward-looking hope and wonder.
  • Spring is full of light.

Fall too shares many of the same beauties as spring; temperatures moderate, chrysanthemums and asters bloom in profusion and crisp autumn scents fill the air from ripening fruits… but…  in those same beauties lie the seeds of a coming demise, a hibernation and creeping darkness.

Now, I wonder if we can compare the trajectory of our lives with the tenor of the seasons.

Are pubescent and teenage years our spring… our elder and retirement years our autumn? Is one superior to the other?

Is this even debate-worthy?

Beats me… but lets look further anyway…

I see teenage and elder times as the fraternal twins of our lifespan. They have their own sets of excitement and vivacity, and also their snags and nuisances.

Our spring and fall seasons.

spring and fall

  • I remember pimples and thick, dark hair… now I see smile lines and male-pattern baldness (you might see grey roots).
  • I remember worrying about the lack of puberty’s male frippery ie. armpit and groin hair growth, voice deepening… now I worry about excess hair growing on the rims of my ears.
  • I remember the boyish excitement of buying my first car at 17 and then worrying about where the hell I’d find the dollars to pay for the repairs needed on the beat-up old Rambler that got me to college… now I think of a lifetime of savings and healthy financial gains while simultaneously worrying about tanking stock markets and will there be sufficient money to maintain a lifestyle into these elder years.
  • I remember studying and working to learn the amazing wonders of human biology, hoping to pass interminable tests that would lead me forward and give me the basis for a life ahead of stability… now I live with the internal desire to learn and progress knowing that it’s out of interminable interest, curiosity, and passion.
  • I remember ridiculing (and being ridiculed by) “others” who were different (I won’t even outline who these “others” were, you make it up according to your own experiences)… now I cringe thinking back, and I understand today that understanding and compassion comes from meeting, interacting and living in the shoes of others – to feel their joys, pains and difficulties as they see them.
  • I remember the giddy elation of fresh love bounded by the heartbreak and loss of unrequited or broken-off love… now I revel in grandparent love and worry about the heartbreak and loss of loved ones that surround me.

The spring and fall of our lives… the children we love (let’s be realistic, and sometimes abhor) equally but perhaps for different reasons.

This year – this spring – has given most of us an opportunity to settle into a unique moment where we see and hear things just a little differently than we have in our past.

There is more fog when we look out the “future window” but more clarity in the present.

While I’ve always enjoyed the pleasures in the awakening of spring…

… with this season’s opening…

… I’ve unlatched my senses a tiny bit more than ever and saturated myself in the extreme charm and elegance of it all.

I’ll stay splatter free for now and contain that cute little alien inside me that wants to burst out… but only barely.

Thank you Coronavirus…

cute alien





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half life 2

The soul-shaking sound of metal crashing, blood dripping and tears flowing…

The answer to whom has been the greatest songwriting influence for me was savagely swept from this earth, violently and tragically 39 years ago.

Harry Chapin… 39 years old…. writer of musical stories like TAXI, CATS IN THE CRADLE, COREY’S COMING, BETTER PLACE TO BE, I WANNA LEARN A LOVE SONG and dozens of other amazingly emotional and vivid tales.

On the afternoon of July 16, 1981, Chapin was killed in a freeway collision with a truck while on his way to perform at a free concert in East Meadow, New York.

Almost half of Harry’s concerts were benefits to raise money for social and environmental causes… Harry wasn’t interested in saving money. He always said, “Money is for people”, so he gave it away.

I was fortunate to have sat and listened to an Ontario Place (Toronto) under-the-stars concert of Harry’s, way back in about 1976 or ’77. He was enthusiastic and ebullient, mesmerizing and spellbinding.

Today when I sit to begin a songwriting session, I almost always ask myself… “how would Harry look at this – how would he inject this story with warmth and life and love.” Of course, it’s a rarity that I ever come remotely close to achieving any of what he was able to accomplish before he turned 40.

But that doesn’t deter me from trying, and as it really should, it inspires me.

Of course, writing songs about artists that have come to tragic ends is not new at all. Don McLean captured the premature deaths of a number of musicians in his song American Pie.

Following here is my ode to the too-short life and personal impact of Harry Chapin…

Harry Chapin.jpg


by Larry Green

Alarm rang one summer’s morn
Thirty years ago erstwhile
The radio sang your voice again
gentle words that draw my smile
but this early candle’s flame gone numb
with breath caught short
when I heard them say
you’d played your final strum

The early clubs and roads on buses
your musical best friends
Your east coast Beach Boys
played concert halls and sang the gems
songs of cats and taxis rose the charts
guitar and cello sweet breezes
mixed falsettos filled the heavens
in starry summer parks


Your mischief smile has left me full
lit stages and the showtimes
like a jealous lover I glance your way
still learning from your stories now
though it took you only half a lifetime


Years slid by, I heard more tales
Sagas of a mail-order bride unfold
Wistful railyard yarns and a man who
sang bass while cleaning clothes
this magic muse you held inside
where lives emerged
from inner eddies
dark shadows on the road

Wet snow weighed heavy
burden on my windshield
you sang those first few strains
chalky road blurred with truth revealed
my eyes welled up, my gut cried out
your voice deepset with father’s pain
broken lives you wrote so dear
as if it was my private shame

Seconds too short
metal screams too loud
tales saturate sanguine into the ground


Your mischief smile has left me full
lit stages and the showtimes
like a jealous lover I glance your way
still yearning for your stories now
though it took you only half a lifetime



The stage gone black, Taxi meter expired
shadow embers smoulder dim
“Oh if a man tried
To take his time on Earth
And prove before he died
What one man’s life could be worth
I wonder what would happen
to this world…”

Harry Chapin2.jpg

Advice Column… Be The GOAT …


Mommy! Mommy!!

Watch me Mommy… WATCH ME!!!

goose watch

I’m locked in and feel the need to give a lecture… maybe it’s because my adult kids roll their eyes when I launch into my spiel… or maybe it’s a viral side effect…

… will you be my soundboard for a couple of minutes?

I’ve opined and pondered about the magic of 10,000 hours and/or 1,000 hours as keys to prowess in whatever area(s) your greatness lies…. the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT).

It’s not my original idea, but it is magic. Hard work magic. Stinky, sweaty magic.

YOU have greatness of a kind that is unique to you. Your mother knows… FaceTime or Zoom with her and ask her… send flowers too, after all it is Mother’s Day.

Now is the time to strike. Be the GOAT.

One thousand hours is somewhere in the orbit of 42 days…

… which sounds almost biblical in terms of Noah and arks and making sure we keep at least 2 Unicorns and 2 Ogopogos and 2 “Murder Hornets” alive during the big rain (saying this feels eerily dramatic to me as I look out my window and see a water curtain, the first big rain occurring in Summerland in far more than 42 days).

1,000 hours. 42 days. Passion.

1000 hours free

OK, I’ll give you sleep and meal time… let’s be generous and say 84 days.

Over many decades, I’ve squandered my 1,000 hours a 1,000 times, so do as I say and not as I do. But I honestly Yoda try, now more than ever.

So… If you’re on an employment recess, a vacation from your vocation… thank your lucky stars (as long as you have food, shelter, and good health).

This is your chance… your once-in-a-lifetime – once-in-a-hundred years – opportunity.

And especially, if you’re on the south side of mid-life, say, under 40 or so, listen up because the coming years will slip past like a Midsummer Night’s Dream.

COVID-19 has passed a beautifully wrapped gift into your capable hands and is daring you to open it.

Just Do It. Open it…

Capture the glorious “infection” of energy and motivation… the call to action.

Don’t: squander the gift.

Don’t: delve further into the cavernous recesses of Netflix or AmazonHuluHbo-world.

Don’t: rollover in bed… burp, fart… then eat one last potato chip.

DO: Wake up every day and set aside at least 2 hours to work into the passion that you feel. You need time (it doesn’t have to be all in one session, split it up into 2 segments if you wish) to let the muses and folkloric and genetic powers rise to the surface.

DO: Get a little obsessed. Focus. Drill in. But don’t become a stalker, OK?… channel your obsession positively. I am not your accomplice in court!


I’ve already served MY time in my younger days! That moustache is a crime!

Let’s sum up today’s mini-lecture, shall we?

You need patience and persistence.
You need confidence in yourself.
You need inspiration and cheerleading from any source you can find.

We all want to hear our Moms calling out to us telling us how wonderful we are… and if by chance you don’t have a Mom to tell you this… I’ll tell you… YOU are wonderful!

A year or two or three from now… I want you to look back and say to yourself… “as bad as the virus was, as worrisome as the time was, it gave me the gift to do important things that allowed me to explore my real self and find a fabulous path going forward.”

Make the 1,000 hours, these mere 42/84 days, your personal “ark building” moment and discover the GOAT gold at the end of the rainbow after the contagious rains let up.

Tomorrow, you might learn how to paint nudes, and NOT at PornHub!:


… and then …

…. move on to some group singing (Fleetwood Mac tonight!):  Choir!Choir!Choir! – check their FB page for details: https://www.facebook.com/choirx3/

OK…  now get out there (by which I mean stay in) and give your Mommy a big hug (by which I mean, from 2m away!)

moms day card 2020

The Clock Stands Still… The Race That Isn’t…

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BMO Vancouver Marathon / RUNVAN®


SUNDAY, May 5, 2019.





17,000+ of us fresh-faced/fresh-bodied fools smile and joke as we break into a slow jog down the long tree-lined tube … the chute leads us out of bucolic Queen Elizabeth Park… first into a gentle uphill climb… then turning hard right onto Vancouver’s Cambie Street and immediately into a 2 km.-long downhill slope leading onto the Cambie Bridge… overlooking some of this world’s finest ocean-mountain scenery on an early Sunday spring morning.

The beginning of any large race like this – the Vancouver Marathon/Half Marathon – is the danger zone.

All of us runners are looking down and sideways, gingerly avoiding bumps and crashes and possible trips over others’ feet that send us ass over teakettle.

The newly-risen sun is brilliant but the air is cool and delicious, filled with scents of fresh-brewed coffee and mentholated body rubs.

Families and friends already line the long asphalt route with funny signs and cantankerous noisemakers to stimulate and energize the jogging throngs.

Simultaneously run-breathing and laughing can be complicated sometimes.

OMG it’s breathtaking and inspiring and likely as close to endorphin spiritual nirvana as I can come. I’ve done this particular race for maybe 10 years now and I get monster goosebumps every time.

Yes – right as I publish this week’s post – this Sunday is the annual Vancouver Marathon/Half Marathon race.


Cambie bridge running

No boisterous crowds, no joyful noise, no communal sweat.


The first Sunday of May is a perennial event day like a hundred… a thousand… a million other world-wide events that won’t achieve their “annual” billing this time around the sun.

The year the earth stood still. The clocks stopped and went silent.

You and I can count on our fingers and toes all of the things we might normally do over the coming weeks and months… but not this year.

We take it all for granted because our lives have always been this way. (This is a needed reminder to us to avoid using the words ALWAYS and NEVER)

Remember Y2K?

We chewed our fingernails, anticipating and worrying for a couple of years leading up to the stroke of midnight.

It was going to be an end-of-the-world happening.

Respirators and electricity and computers would seize up and go to sleep. People would perish and insurrection would flame like Dante’s Inferno around the globe.

Nothing would be the same afterwards… except… everything was the same afterwards. We worried and anticipated needlessly.

But how many of us woke up on New Year’s Day of 2020, rubbed our eyes, and thought to ourselves… I wonder what strange and possibly horrific event will take place this year where my life will be turned upside down in ways I can’t imagine?

Now, 1/5th of the way into this new century, we’re barely a third of the year in and EVERYTHING looks different and none of us had the slightest clue of it all.

The Black Swan caught us in her trap.

black swan

So, this Sunday morning I’ll wake up early and slip into my running tights and shoes and head out into the early morning air.

Quiet. Still. No 17,000 runners. No noisemakers. No crazy signs.

I’ll absorb the (hopefully) gentle warmth of the sunshine on my face. I’ll smell the heady scent of spring apple blossoms and lilac.

It will seem just like a thousand other beautiful mornings throughout my life…

… everything will look and smell the same, but inside… in my inner core…

… I’ll feel a slight difference, a little like you feel shortly after a loved one has died and you know that your world will never be quite the same again.

On the surface, nothing has altered… the sun rises and sets, the moon continues to wax and wane… but beneath the still surface waters… the undercurrents have turned decidedly chillier … for a while at least.

And as I run along solo, I’ll miss the comradeship of those 17,000 people.

People of all colours and ages and genders and body types that shared with me a couple hours of intense sweaty physicality… a physicality we can only experience alone … for now…

And… ultimately friends… this is all small potatoes in the larger picture where many many people are coughing and feverish… people gasp a final breath in wards surrounded by gowned and masked angels… people are separated from family and adequate housing and food.

It’s all a stark reminder to me of how friggin’ fortunate I am to exist in a bubble of health and goodness…

I can wait for the clocks to start ticking again one day.