Gay, opera and…

A Canada Opera company in Toronto staged an opera “Hadrian” in November, 2018. It was a forbidden story of betrayal and sex. It had all the ingredients of opera, except the relationship were between 2 men, Roman Empire Hadrian and a Greek man, who was empire’s true love. The composer of Hadrian (Mr. Rufus Wainwright) is a gay man. The gay men are interested in opera for hundred years on the stage, but there is no big character about guy man on the stage. The almost nude body on the stage and the sex between the 2 men relationship may run away traditional audience but may bring in new audience according to CBC.

I watched CBC National about the above news. It made me think about my interactions with gay men and lesbians during my life.

I was born in China, and until I left China in 23, I had never heard anything about gays or lesbians. When I was a graduate student in Canada, I heard some of my girl friends talking about gays, and they showed some kind of scariness or at least nervousness. But I never had met a gay man.

After I have received my Ph.D., I was hired by the same university. I had quite a lot of collaborations with one of the colleagues from another faculty. Actually when I was doing my Ph.D., I was using her equipment and lab for research. So I knew her quite well. After almost 10 years, somebody told me that she is a lesbian. I remember I paused a little. This was the first time I was directly interacting with a lesbian. For some reasons, I was not surprised or nervous. Later thinking about it, I was surprised that I was not surprise or nervous. I had a very good working relationship with her. I respected her a lot. Several times she talked about unfairness and politics in the department. I was very impressed by her principle and straightforwardness. Keeping in mind that there were no women in Engineering. It was nice to have some people to talk to though she is from another faculty. Knowing her as a lesbian, I serous thought about it, it did not change at all my relationship with her. Several years later, she introduced me to her partner and 2 children. We became friends. The special thing for me is that we never mentioned the sex orientation of each other, everything was normal.

Around this time at the beginning of 90’s, I happened to see “The Kids in the Hall’, a Canadian sketch comedy consisting of 5 Canadian gay comedians. It was broadcasted by HBO and later by CBC. I was immediately attracted to the show not much the story but the gay men’s characters and manners. It seemed that these characters were only possessed by gay men. I was really impressed by one part of the dancing showing that how depressed and devastated the gay men were by being denied whom they were, and how they survived and thrived from it. One thing interesting is that some gay men express themselves to the extreme. The TV series left a huge impression on me. It really makes me see the gay men with my own eyes.

Recently I saw another show called “Four Gays and One Girl’. The girl asked 4 gay men various questions. I found 4 gay men were extremely relaxed, honest and elegantly funny. This is something extremely pleasant to me, don’t know why.

Five years ago there was a very famous homicide in Canada. A Chinese young gay man came to Montreal as an international student. He was killed by a local gay man and his body part was mailed to different parties. The police finally arrested the killer. I was closely following the news. One thing I noticed is that the police wanted to question the Chinese gay man’s formal lover. A Chinese young man from mainland of China showed up. It came to my mind that there are Chinese gay men in China. This is a progress in China, at least accepting gay populations. The second thing I noticed was that the victim’s parents came to Canada and sat in the court room, and later gave an interview. I was glad to hear the victim’s mom talked about his son fondly. I also noticed that there were some Chinese that were helping the victim’s parents. China has come a long way.

This year, Toronto had 8 gay men missing and the killer was arrested. So gay men are like us, some are really nice and some are evil. I observe them by my own eyes, nobody tells me.

I support the Canadian government’s law to accept gay and lesbian marriage. My thinking is that this is basic human right for a citizen. The government has the obligation to protect every citizen’s basic right not just because they are born differently.

I also asked myself if I was gay, and the answer is no. But why I have so much feeling toward to gay men? I guess when I started to have interaction with gays and lesbians, nobody imposed their views on me. I look at them by my own eyes and with my own judgement. Also it is very important to form these opinions at certain age, so we can make up our very own mind.


My friend HaoPei (斐皓) is a Stage 4 lung cancer patient, 37 years old. This picture was taken by him when he traveled in rural China after his diagnosis.

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