I came out in 2007 at the age of 48 (I wrote about that here if you're interested) and after a difficult period of adjustment and self-examination decided to start dating after many years of self-imposed seclusion. It wasn't easy, especially since I live in a rural area and meeting other gay men usually involves travelling to a city where I sometimes feel like a fish out of water. I met a few nice guys and some real jerks, but in every case a budding relationship ran up against the brick wall of politics. I'm a conservative - I was born that way. However, being a conservative in the gay community is usually an insurmountable obstacle to dating. (I wrote about one such foray here.)
I dated a guy who dumped me when he asked me "You're all for lower taxes - tell me exactly what you would cut from the budget to pay for it?" When I suggested that the CBC and the LCBO should be privatized and transfer payments to the provinces eliminated to force them to deal with their own economies, he went apoplectic and ended our relationship the next day. I met another guy on a blind date whose first attempt at polite conversation was a joke about Stephen Harper; when he noticed I wasn't laughing, he said "Don't tell me you're a Conservative?" When I replied that indeed I was, but I considered myself more of a libertarian, he actually banged his head on the table of the restaurant where we were eating and moaned "What, don't you believe in roads?" I went on another date to a cabaret theatre where the main act was three drag queens making jokes about Conservatives (example: "Stephen Harper is so stupid he thinks the Kyoto Accord is a car made by Honda") while my companion roared with approving laughter.
So, it was with a little trepidation that I went on a blind date in August 2010 with Michel. I didn't have high hopes. We had chatted on the phone and I'd found out that he was French Canadian, born and raised in Montreal, but had lived in Ottawa for almost 30 years where he works as a financial analyst for the Federal Government. Little warning bells were going off; bilingual French Montrealer, federal civil servant - probably a Liberal. Oh well, what did I have to lose? I met him for lunch in Ottawa's Byward Market and, as usual, tried not to talk much about politics.
We hit it off well, and lunch extended into a four-hour stroll through the Market, stopping at cafes and ice cream shops. The subject of the Harper government inevitably came up, but Michel surprised me when he said "You know, this is Ottawa's dirty little secret - working in the civil service under the Tories is no different than working under the Liberals - we're just doing our jobs. They won the election and they have a right to implement their policies." Wow. When we walked past a grocery store with some Portuguese signs in the window he said "Why does anyone speak Portuguese anymore? There are only, what, three countries in the world that speak it? Why don't they just speak Spanish in Brazil like all their neighbours?" I cautiously said, knowing that he was a Quebecois pure laine, "Doesn't that same argument apply to Quebec?" and he floored me with his answer. "The difference between Brazil and Quebec is that Brazil is an emerging nation - nothing has emerged from Quebec except spite. That's why I live in Ottawa."
At this point I was smitten. When I dropped him off at his house, I said "I'd really like to see you again" and he replied "Of course!" We've been in a relationship ever since. Michel is a real rarity - an independent thinker. He loves to discuss politics but isn't shy about challenging me or sensitive about being challenged. We watch Ezra Levant on Sun News and his head doesn't explode. He doesn't think Pierre Trudeau is the greatest thing to ever happen to this country.
So, a few weeks ago he called me up and said "Guess what I got you for your birthday?" Then he revealed that he had bought two ringside tickets for the Fight for the Cure fundraiser for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. It features a four-course gourmet dinner, but the undoubted highlight of the evening will be when Justin Trudeau steps in the ring with Patrick Brazeau for three rounds of Olympic-style boxing, announced by Ezra Levant. Brazeau is a 37 year old bruiser with biceps the size of hams and has a black belt in karate. Watching him box Trudeau is going to be epic; and watching it with my boyfriend is like a dream come true.