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Peter Gajdics Archive

Peter Gajdics

What I Wanted To Be When I Grew Up: Me, My Gender and I

October 10th, 2009
by Peter Gajdics

VANCOUVER, BC-

One day in grade six, Teacher asked us all to say aloud what we wanted to be when we grew up. “I’m going to be a doctor,” one boy announced as we all sat cross-legged in a circle. “I’m going to be a teacher!” a ponytailed girl called out with a raised hand. Another boy with red hair and freckles said he wanted to be a fire engine: a big, loud, red, fire engine. Teacher, a kind, grey-haired woman who always wore a blue, pleated skirt and held a piece of new, white chalk, corrected him by saying, “Don’t you mean you want to be a fireman?” “No,” the boy said, shaking his head. “I want to be a fire engine. A big, loud, red, fire engine.” Everyone laughed, but secretly I was scared that Teacher would ask me what I wanted to be. I was scared because I didn’t know what I wanted to be. There was no profession I could imagine myself becoming when I grew up. Would I even grow up? That was like imagining myself outside a forest when all around me it was dark and I was alone and really, if I’d been honest, although I already knew well enough not to be, all I wanted was to be at peace. Not a doctor or a priest or a football player—at peace. (more…)


Peter Gajdics

Running After the Hands

September 28th, 2009
by Peter Gajdics

VANCOUVER, BC-

Flipping through a recent issue of the local gay newspaper, I noticed two advertisements on facing pages. On the left was an ad for the local gay bathhouse with a picture of three young, hairless (at least clipped), muscled, and implicitly virile men tangled like weeds in each other’s sweaty but greedy arms; on the opposite page was a picture of another (young) man—blue-eyed, with three-day stubble, in a flaming red shirt—advertising the latest AIDS medication. The message, whether the marketers were aware of it or not, was powerful: have fun, and if (when) you get sick, buy our medication. Sex sells, even with illness looming offstage. (more…)


Peter Gajdics

Gender: Weltanschauung

September 13th, 2009
by Peter Gajdics

VANCOUVER, BC

After a nearly twenty year hiatus I am back in University, continuing my undergraduate degree in the only field of academia that makes sense to me to study as a 44-year old gay man who’s spent much of his adult life struggling with issues related to sexuality: gender studies. Assignment number one was to ask as many people as possible: What makes a “real man,” what makes a “real woman”? Naturally, I asked all my friends. Responses ranged from the straightforward (“this is pretty simple to me”), to the more complex (“this really is an existential question”). They also seemed reflective of the two broad camps of evolutionary thought: the “nature” (men and woman are fundamentally biologically different) vs. “nurture” (men and women are socially constructed to be different) argument. (more…)


Peter Gajdics

The Runaways

July 23rd, 2009
by Peter Gajdics

VANCOUVER, BC-

My eldest sister, Sara, was sixteen years old the night she ran away from home. My two older brothers and other older sister and I were in the den, sitting on the multi-colored shag carpet, watching “The Brady Bunch,” when Sara walked past us, clutching a bundle of laundry. No one paid her much attention; but as she walked through the room I looked up and she looked down and in that moment, that fractured, timeless glance, I saw her eyes, a searing, searching look inside her eyes. I have to go before I die; I can’t look back or else I’ll cry. Then she was gone, around the corner and down the stairs and, as I learned later that night, out of the house and our lives like an unwelcomed guest taking flight. (more…)


Peter Gajdics

Drawing Out The Sting

May 13th, 2009
by Peter Gajdics

VANCOUVER, BC-

Several weeks ago, while at my parents’ house, my mother started talking about her escape from the concentration camp in the former Yugoslavia, post World War II. Most of the stories my mother shared about the camp I’d heard before, many times before, and so it took me a minute before I realized what she’d said. This story was new.

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Peter Gajdics

Persona Non Grata

April 20th, 2009
by Peter Gajdics

VANCOUVER, BC-

My mother has taken to writing letters, in German, to her granddaughter, my sister’s oldest daughter. My niece is 14 years old, and has been studying German, my mother’s native tongue, for three years. When I asked my mother what she writes in her letters—not that it’s any of my business—she said, “I tell her about my experiences in the concentration camp. I think she’s old enough to learn what her grandmother survived.”

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Peter Gajdics

My Name Was Marrow

February 3rd, 2009
by Peter Gajdics

VANCOUVER, BC-

I was the shy, chubby kid who was poked and taunted by his elementary school classmates–the Rudolph, who wasn’t allowed in any Reindeer games. The difference with me was the name the kids all chanted, spat back at me with vengeance, was my own–pronounced, “Gay-dicks.”

The story goes that when my father emigrated from Hungary in the 1950’s, in order to Anglicize his surname, and make it easier for North Americans, he changed its pronunciation from “Guy-ditch” to “Gay-dicks.” He was still learning English at the time and, evidently, must not have realized the implications of such an alteration.

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Peter Gajdics

Polygamy, Prop 8, and the Misinformation of Right-Wing Conservatives

January 22nd, 2009
by Peter Gajdics

VANCOUVER, BC-

In a newspaper article, published this morning in Vancouver, BC, it was reported that the defense attorney representing a man charged with polygamy under section 293 of Canada’s Criminal Code, will soon be using gay marriage in defense of his client–i.e., if gays can marry a person of the same sex, others should be allowed to marry more than one person as part of their faith. The gravity of this situation cannot be undermined, or overlooked. Amidst the controversy of California’s Prop 8, and Canada’s own still recent legalization of same sex marriage, this line of defense, I fear, has the potential to reignite a fiery debate amongst the far-right. My hope is it doesn’t open the door for Canada’s Conservative Prime Minister to revisit the issue in the House of Commons.

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Peter Gajdics

Emery and Me

December 26th, 2008
by Peter Gajdics

VANCOUVER, BC-

When I was thirty-three years old I interviewed several gay men as part of a sex research project being conducted through the AIDS Organization where I’d started working as a “Public Sex Environment Outreach Worker.” Most of the men met me at my downtown office. First names were all I knew. I asked them a series of questions about their life, their sexuality, their coming out process, then let them talk. Some went on for hours. An opportunity to tell someone their story, to be heard, was all that many of the men needed. I listened to them as I’d always wanted, when I was a teenager, someone to listen to me.

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Peter Gajdics

Prisoners

December 2nd, 2008
by Peter Gajdics

VANCOUVER, BC-

When my mother was twenty years old she was taken from her home in Modosch, Yugoslavia, and jailed in one of the most notorious death camps in Petrovgrad, known for having nightly “killing parties.” Runnels had been dug in the earth, and every night a dozen prisoners would be led outside and horsewhipped till their blood flowed through the channels below, like veins in the earth, to a large pit at one end of the camp. From inside the barracks, she listened as the prisoners’ flesh was ripped from their bones. One month later she stopped menstruating. Two years later she attempted to escape, but was caught near the Romanian border and returned to the death camp.

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Peter Gajdics

Crossing Styx

November 1st, 2008
by Peter Gajdics

VANCOUVER, BC-

I WAS 24 YEARS OLD. It was 1989, and I had just moved from my hometown in Canada. I had come out to my Catholic family two years earlier, and since then our relationship had escalated from constant criticism to outright rejection. Isolated and confused, I sought professional help in the person of psychiatrist “Dr. Alfonzo.” In turmoil, I asked this doctor how I could best come to terms with my homosexuality as well as with the psychological effects of the sexual abuse I had endured as a child.

Alfonzo seemed to offer hope in a form of treatment based on Primal Therapy, the goal of which was to erase the mental imprints of my biological parents via intense, primal sessions, and then to replace these with the “healthy imprints” of surrogate parents.

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