Today, I need to talk about two men who deserve some applause for the good they do. I am not particularly close to them. I haven’t even seen either of them in person for some years now, but both have been acting like the kind of person I aspire to be. Not perfect; just good, willing to stand up for what they believe, and happy to share some humour and fun along the way.
My recent interactions with both of these men have been through social media, and I’m impressed with how they are balancing the use of these platforms to promote an agenda of anti-violence with solid, bold, direct messages while still being accessible, personable and funny.
Chad. I met Chad when we were volunteering together. He has gone on to become the Executive Director of the Rainbow Resource Centre in Winnipeg where he and his team help the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered and two-spirit people in our community (http://www.rainbowresourcecentre.org/). Chad is out there killing ignorance with kindness. He’s not afraid to call out bad behaviour, educate people on what would be better, and give them the tools to join him in supporting a better alternative. He is doing simple, meaningful things and he is thanking others for doing the same. The best part is how he tempers all of the good with some good healthy fun. A link to a petition in support of Manitoba Bill 18 and a shout out to some college staff and students to helped a person in need, followed by a picture of kittens with mittens. A post about ending the AIDS epidemic and a post thanking MPs for supporting legislation that defends equality, followed by a reference to a fantasically hilarious movie from the 1980s and a funny self-depricating post about his morning run. Chad’s ability to balance calls for action with appreciation and laugher make me aware of the work we need to do out there and on ourselves, and he shows us a good time. Medicine with a spoon full of sugar, so to speak. I admire this efforts and love his humour.
Gaz. I met Gaz when I took a course from him – one of my best learning experiences ever (http://thebestdefenseprogram.wordpress.com/about/). He continues to teach counter-violence and he demonstrates with passion what victim-blaming is and why it’s wrong. Gaz isn’t afraid to call bullshit when he sees it. He’s also good at seeing what others miss. Gaz uses strong language, and it’s warranted. He’s quick to celebrate and share good ideas, he encourages people to really think and determine their own perspectives, and can poke mile-wide holes in meaningless rhetoric based in power-hoarding. Gaz shares information and gives people simple options for how to act with self-respect and equity. He combines this with a sharp, sarcastic, no stupid deed should go unchallenged sense of humour. He will post an outstanding video challenging people to stop being inactive bystanders to assault and share a righteously angry rant from an assault-survivor about how she was assaulted but not broken, but he has also shared a link to a super-hot pole-dance. He will write about the primary, secondary, tertiary and quatrinary victims of sexual assault and about how men have a responsibilty to make both public and private spaces safer for women, but he also posts pictures of his very handsome dogs, his tattoo and a 2 minute video of a ‘singing cat’ with an uncannily human-like voice. Gaz is ‘a good read’ and a good guy. I love that he is both ‘no-nonsense’ and ‘full of nonsense.’
I am very lucky to have a lot of good men in my life who I am close with. I have a number of male friends I get to see regularly who impress me with their honor, kindness, intelligence, sincerity and humour just like Chad and Gaz. Today, I felt a need to say thanks to all of them but to Chad and Gaz in particular because they are putting themselves out there loud and proud as for helping and against harming.
I truly admire the genuine confidence both of these men have.
They have earned my respect.