Cubs Scouts to DeMolay

On my recent visit to Sydney I check out some of the places, other than schools, that were a part of my growing up and some of them are still standing !! One place was the First United Church on Whitney Avenue. It is no longer, as far as I can tell, a functioning church. Signage out front has been removed for one thing.

I went to the Sunday school here for a while. This is where I went for Cubs. My memory is quite vague though. I recall the uniform, neckerchiefs and the Jungle Book power structure of the dens. We earned badges of learning knots, doing community service. It was an exclusively male territory. Girls had Brownies, Pixies & such. Our den had a den mother though – wife of the the Akela. She died in a car accident & the dens attended the funeral service. There was lots of crying even though there was no badge for that.

I ‘graduated’ from cubs to Boy Scouts. Our troop meet at, what at that time I think was a Baptist Church, on the corner of Charlotte & Townsend St. (Now it is the United Heritage Church). Points & badges for being on time, tying knots & neckerchief slides. The troop did out of town a couple of times to do a treasure hunt with compass directions & cook outs. I got a badge for cooking – baked potato wrapped in foil in an open fire.

Next level possibilities were things like Air Cadets – which my dad though was too military. He was a Masonic member so I advanced to DeMolay. Both of which are exclusively male domains. In fact my dad was one of the organizers so I guess I’m one of the founding members. We met at the Masonic Temple on the Esplanade at Dorchester St.

Like the Masons it was very ritualistic, Knights Templar stuff. There was a password to get in – that sort of thing. We did fund-raising for community organizations, I think. I know there was at least on car wash. Once we were sufficiently organized we went to New Glasgow to be officially installed. The intent was good but I found the ‘religious’ stuff silly & the ritualistic aspects even sillier. I was not, in the end, a good candidate.

The Visit

I went up to my room. Parents can be so weird at times, even though I had changed, they had room had restored to pretty much to what it had been like when I was in high-school. Maybe that was when they were happiest with me. When I was still the boy who would grow up to fulfill their dreams of ae perfect heterosexual son.

True I had taken much of my furniture with me when I finally left home for university so they unearthed what had been stashed in the basement – including my old, narrow, single bed. I could remember the fight when I wanted to get rid of it for a larger one. Mom was sure a bigger bed would take up too much of the limited space in the room. She was right but at the time I wasn’t giving in a an inch. The oak frame had a new mattress on it though. The headboard had been sanded lightly but some of my carving still remained as reminders of time frittered away. Initials of girls, I now didn’t remember, in little hearts with my initials. 

Maybe some boys though, as then I didn’t know better, or maybe couldn’t admit what I sort of suspected. Like the only reason I went out with ‘D.K.’ who I remember as Darla, was because her older bother mesmerized me with his smile. I could still see his face so clearly while her’s a blur in a yearbook.

“I’m about ready to leave.” My Dad called up to me.


Outside, I looked over the house, the garden. It had been over five years since I’d been home last. Trees were bigger.

“You want a lift anywhere?” My Dad opened the car door.

“No, thanks. Think I’ll just take a stroll.”

“Enjoy. Some of us have to work you know.” He laughed.

I watched from the front steps as he drove away.

I walked to the corner and stood for a minute to look in each direction. One way was the walk to my grade school, another direction to my high-school and a third, the direction towards downtown. Which set of memories did I want to tackle first?

every Tuesday 2019


17 – Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

22 – Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

Tuesday 24 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre


15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible


Thurs 7 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre


The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA


Thurs 23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre


Thurs March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre


Fri April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s – sweet, eh?

Graduation Secrets

For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton.

Graduation Secrets

at my highschool graduation

in my village

I was sworn to secrecy

to never reveal the names

of those men & boys

whom I learned to undress

some whose names I never did know


many had faces I had never seen

doing my sacred ceremony

in garages with no lights

even the windows were blocked

not to permit any glimpse

as with the strip clubs

the men were allowed pleasure

without identity

there were times

when all that was allowed

was the undressing

there could be no kissing


my hands were allowed

to close enough

for the over heated warmth 

of our bodies to be felt

the rest was only for the imagination

to fuel our dreams of what could be

but would never be


we sacrificed the joy of actual confirmation

to the will of the moose

not to give in

was a testimony to our belief


yet there were times

when the darkness was dispelled

faces were clear in the street light

that shone on the back seats

of abandoned cars

were I would sometimes meet

those whose need was great 

to be undressed by me

they would send me notes

tied to a robin’s leg

requesting my services

even then visual contact

was kept to a minimum


with the seal of the moose

burned into the instep of my left foot

I was always to remember the vow I took

to respect the sanctity

of other men’s fear

In high school I became a member of DeMolay, as sort of Jr. Free Masons group. The ceremonies associated it with were secrets we were sworn to keep as part of the induction process. The ceremonies were banal to the extreme & I can’t remember any of them, not even the secret handshake. So some of the ‘secret’ here comes from that memory.

There was also this secret knowledge that I supposed I would learn when I left high school. The key to being an adult – like the secret to success. As if finally being old enough to buy booze without a permit would uncork adulthood. There is also the secret of ‘don’t tell anyone.’ Then there’s the sexual secret of being queer with no one to tell it too.

This piece looks as some of the myths of secrets & the power they hold over our futures. What sex I had before coming out was always cloaked in being hidden, sometimes under the excuse of ‘we were so drunk’ Here my hero indulges in sex-capades in which anonymity is part of the ceremony, because in the village sex is a ceremony performed in the dark. If neither party sees the other the sacred is maintained, as well as the secrecy. Those secrets often scar us, a brand on the foot, in ways that are often near seen by others, or even ourselves.

It ends with a respect for secrets – no not respect buy for a willingness to keep them without judgement. I’ve seen & see married men who have this secret life. Yes, even today there are active gay/bi men who are in the closet – who for their own reasons don’t want to be out or outed. I don’t think it is a positive thing but I don’t judge them either. The sanctity of their fear is up to them to break.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s – sweet,eh?