Saturday, February 13, 2010

Toronto the Protestant ? Valentine's Day in the Ice Box

Valentine's Day is tomorrow. Yes, February 14, that day every year when couples are expected to exchange overpriced, tacky Hallmark cards to profess their love. Chocolates are also big. But even the most amateur coffee table sociologist will tell you that Valentine's Day is really about getting laid.

With that said, I turn to two of Toronto's alternative publications for their takes on V-Day. The current issue of NOW Magazine on the stands is the Love & Sex issue. In 'Toronto the Cold' by Joshua Errett, the writer digs for answers about why Hogtown is so harsh when it comes to finding other horny sluts who want it as much as you do. Errett interviews Justin Parfitt, CEO of dating company FastLife, who puts his finger on the psychological baggage that weighs heavy on Torontonians. "We put up barriers that seem to come from previous generations... there's a sense of reserve here that simply doesn't exist elsewhere," Parfitt told NOW. Maybe we've taken our mothers' advice not to talk to strangers to heart.

What barriers from previous generations would those be ? Shawn Hitchins nails them in his cover story for the current Fab Magazine, 'Are Toronto gays heartless ?' Hitchins writes, "Toronto has white Protestant roots, a work-based culture and an identity that disseminates into the smaller communities and municipalities that feed its' workforce." My own experiences after living in Toronto for 6 years confirm this. A shared sense of reserve and uptight morals dominates this city's social environs.

Last night I asked an acquaintance if he'd ever cruised at a certain Starbucks on Church Street. His answer: "I'm not that kind of girl." This is admittedly a very general example. But I've seen so many similar instances over the years I've been here that the sum of my impressions have formed a nearly complete portrait of the city's psychology when it comes to sex and relationships.

That said, I don't mean it's impossible to meet people or form lasting relationships in Toronto. But there's certainly a high level of difficulty involved. This isn't to say that everyone can, or should, get along. But we can certainly make things easier by finding a way, collectively, to ditch this useless religious baggage. There's no point in being burdened in the 21st century. We should realize by now that nothing is true and everything is permitted, to borrow Hassan-i Sabbah's famous quote.

On an unrelated topic, the 2010 Olympic Games opened in Vancouver last night. I'm looking forward to catching some of the Figure Skating competitions. I'm curious to see what U.S. competitor Johnny Weir will perform. You can watch him performing to Lady Gaga's 'Poker Face' here to get an idea of how talented and tight the man's routines are. And here's a short interview clip where Weir shows his thoughtfulness and intelligence.

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