I am not a patriot. I have never bought a plastic made-in-China Canadian flag, tee-shirt or any other red and white trappings on July 1. As a gay Torontonian, Pride takes precedence for my family on that particular long weekend. There are Canada Day/Pride hybrid paraphernalia for the festively conflicted, but I am not one of them and have never indulged in a rainbow maple leaf temporary tattoo. While I do appreciate my extreme good fortune in being born Canadian, and applaud the courage of my parents who, separately, and both impossibly young, left all they knew in England to make a new life, I had nothing to do with it. My parents met, married, and procreated here. Luck made me Canadian. I didn’t earn it. It was thrust upon me in what was, ironically, the most patriotic of years.
I was born in 1967—aka The Summer or Love—two weeks before the country’s much ballyhooed centennial. Amid all the hoopla that included nickels emblazoned with bunnies, a confederation train, and a brand new font—The Jacques Cartier typeface—there was even a push for fornication in the name of the nation. I cannot claim the title of The Centennial Baby—that honour is bestowed upon Pamela Anderson—yes, that Pamela Anderson—who entered this earth on July 1, 1967 at 4:08 a.m. in Ladysmith, B.C. I am, however, numbered among the lesser Centennial Babies, some 370,894 of us, including Pamela, our anointed queen, who, according to Stats Can, collectively squalled into existence as our respective parents’ personal centennial projects. It was not a popular contest, apparently. There were 16,816 more live births in 1966.
While I have seen enough of human frailty in the form of early cancers and chronic pain to greatly appreciate the fact that I am still on the right side of the turf and in sort-of-okay shape, I can also tell you this—no one enjoys turning 50, not even Pamela Anderson. So, amid all the colonial claptrap celebrating 150 years of nationhood as defined by a dead white Scottish dude, I have a request. Can the Federal Government remember the now saggy pool of surviving Centennial Babies and cut us all a cheque? It doesn’t have to be a big cheque, but please do make it symbolic. How about $670, because, and I think we can all agree on this, $67 is just a little too cheap. The $670 would be fair recompense for the inability of any of us to avoid our 50th birthdays. For those of us who want to try to forget, it will also be more than enough to keep ourselves and those closest to us sufficiently lubricated or numbed in our drug of choice to deaden the cloying effects of all that orgiastic flag waving. One last request, and I think I speak for the remaining 370,893 of us who are still alive when I say this—please do go ahead and cut a special cheque of $6,700 for Pamela Anderson.