Gay characters slotted as comic relief have been a staple of popular culture for decades, reported the Toronto Star Dec. 13 in a feature about the movie Brokeback Mountain. “It’s the Cage aux Folles syndrome – The Birdcage, pick one from the list,” said John Greyson, citing the gay French farce that spawned an American adaptation in 1996. Greyson, who teaches film in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, is perhaps this country’s premier gay filmmaker, said the Star. While Hollywood has produced a handful of earnest attempts at dealing with gay issues – Greyson cites Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) as an early example – he agrees that mainstream films dealing with gay issues have shied away from the idea of gay people as fully realized, sexual beings. By all accounts, Brokeback, which is already topping some critics’ Top 10 Films of 2005 lists, is more than a gay story. Greyson knows Annie Proulx’s story well, but hasn’t yet seen the film. “There are so many ways to talk about this story,” he said. “As much as I want to see how [director] Ang Lee has dealt with the gay aspect of the story, I’m equally interested to see how he’s dealt with the class issues, the issues of rural poverty.”
Lawyer could live anywhere, but Jane-Finch is home
By conventional standards, Roger Rowe does not lack for options. At 45, he enjoys a thriving law practice, a rewarding volunteer career, a guitarist’s role in a lawyers jazz band and a rich family life with his wife and three children. With his Osgoode Hall pedigree and a Supreme Court of Canada win on his résumé, it’s safe to say Rowe can live wherever he wants, reported The Globe and Mail Dec. 13. Indeed he does – not in Rosedale or High Park or the Annex, but in Jane-Finch, Toronto’s ground zero for gun violence. That others might question Rowe’s choice of neighbourhood only confirms to him that he’s made the right one. In a world where privilege is often seen as a free pass out of life’s problems, Rowe sees his as a way in, to where the solutions, if there are to be any, must be found.
He wishes more people would see it the same way. “It’s like we’re being left, really, to fend for ourselves,” said Rowe, who has lived in Jane-Finch, in the city’s northwest, since his undergrad days at York, where he earned a BA in sociology in 1982 and a law degree in 1987. “If we have to fend for ourselves, then it gets scary.” Rowe is referring to the sense of isolation that residents, many of them poor and black, have been feeling for years, and more acutely in the wake of an unprecedented year of gun killings. In turn, people who live outside the area feel increasingly fearful of it, and ever more distant from its seemingly intractable problems.
York grad named judge
The federal government has appointed Gerry Taylor to the Ontario Superior Court, reported The Record of Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo Dec. 13. Taylor graduated from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School with an LLB in 1975 and was admitted to the bar in 1977. He has been certified as a specialist in civil and criminal litigation.