“He’s from the northern Cheyenne reservation in Lame Deer, Montana. When we say, “He’s a Chief,” that doesn’t mean he leads from the top down, that pyramid power structure. He’s a leader from the ground up, where we serve our people. Our family, we do a lot of work in our community to empower our people and to help them stay connected to that resilience so we can all rise.
Phillip is going to bless everybody. He’s going to share a few words and a prayer and he’s going to bless everybody in this room tonight.” - Lynette Two Bulls
Set aside your political leaning or any complaint you have about the choices that various governments in Canada have made lately, and just look at this photo. It’s nearly impossible to imagine it being taken in any other country. Really look at it, because it was iconic the moment it was shot.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Canada’s current prime minister would make an appearance in Toronto at one of the largest gay pride parades in the world - maybe he could have dressed in a natty suit and his signature tan lace-ups, and waved to the crowd while waving the flag. That alone would have been enough to make history, to feed the news cycle and to build the Justin™ brand. Maybe even snag another GQ cover.
But, no. Appreciate what is happening in this photo. This G7 leader decided to bare his hairless chest in a salmon-pink shirt, and slip into curvy white jeans (there isn’t a straight guy alive that can pull off white jeans without irony - don’t even bother disagreeing with me), and shake his baby-maker under a high, July sun while being hosed down by a hundred water pistols wielded by all manner of race and colour along the straight, L, G, B, T, and Q spectrum. And in this picture, you can just make out the guy in the hat to the right of Trudeau’s jubilant armpit. He’s a recent émigré to Canada. A 5-foot-1, gay, HIV-positive Syrian refugee, which, if you look it up, is the definition of completely fucked back in his devastated homeland. And yet, there he is, marching and dancing next to the leader of his newly-adopted country, agog in the middle of Yonge Street.
Some might say that this is simply a picture of liberalism gone wild, or of biblical deviance, or of political opportunism. Go ahead – knock yourself out. Or, you would be partially correct to see this as a photo of a minority group celebrating a wider acceptance of its claim to humanity. It is that, and a great deal more. To look at this photo and not grasp its significance is to not only succumb to shallow, jaded and isolated thinking, but also to take for granted a level of freedom that is absurdly great in comparison to the utter bleakness in other corners of the world right now. This is a photo that says, “You have the freedom to not only feel love here, but to demonstrate it, celebrate it, sing it and shine it. Don’t squander it.”
Once the sun sets they turn the generator off and sit around the kitchen table in the dark. Scully lights a candle.
“Your instincts are good,” Skinner says approvingly. “Lay low after dark.”
“Why?” Will asks, cocking his head.
Skinner looks at them, then nods toward Will. “Maybe we should wait until…”
But Scully shakes her head. “This is his life now,” she says quietly. “He has the right to know.”
“They’re rounding people up,” Skinner says. “Saying it’s for public safety. It happens at night. Frankly, I assumed that’s what happened to you.”
“Not yet,” she says.
Skinner shakes his head, emphatic. “Not ever.” He glances over at Will, briefly. “You cannot let them take you.”
Scully echoes, “There are worse things than dying,” and Skinner gives her a hard look.
“I mean it, Dana.” The older man looks distinctly uncomfortable. He sets his glasses down on the table and rubs the bridge of his nose, trying to decide where to start. Finally he says, “So where were you?”
“Driving,” Scully says. “Looking for my nephew. West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky…it’s all the same.” She swallows. “Empty. We stopped in dozens of towns and we can’t have seen more than a few hundred people.”
“The first wave of attacks had an extremely high casualty rate,” Skinner says gruffly. “I don’t have information for other cities — the president was keeping those numbers close to his chest — but in D.C., they estimated a forty percent casualty rate on the first day, and more than half of those were fatalities.”
Mulder shakes his head, disbelieving. “What could kill that many people?”
Skinner shrugs. “They were organized. Bombs, fires, coordinated shootings. And then — I assume you’ve seen victims of the disease. It’s highly contagious. It only took a few hours to blockade the cities, but people had already left. And within the cities…”
She looks at Skinner. “Are you—” she asks, and he nods shortly.
“Clean. I’m immune.” He raises an eyebrow. “As are you, I assume.”
“Scully?” Mulder asks.
She changes the subject. “What about the rest of the world? It can’t be like this everywhere.”
There’s a long pause. Skinner says, slowly, “The president…retaliated.”
He lets that sink in.
Will is the first one to speak. “Does he even know who attacked us?”
“Does it matter?” Skinner snaps. “Someone had to take the blame. It wouldn’t have mattered, anyway. They shut down the airports but people crossed borders on foot. The first cases of the disease appeared in Toronto, Vancouver, and Tijuana six hours after the attacks.”
“And where is the president?” Scully sneers the word.
Skinner waves his hand, dismissive. “Holed up in a bunker somewhere with a dozen men and the nuclear codes. No one is taking control of the situation, if that’s what you’re asking.” She can see his Adam’s apple move as he swallows, hard. “We’re on our own.
Will says, "So this is it. The end of the world.” His voice is flat, affectless.
“Probably,” Skinner agrees, looking the boy in the eyes. “But we’re still here.” He looks to Mulder, and then to Scully. “The question is, what are we going to do now?”
Kevin Spacey listens to questions during a news conference prior to a screening of American Beauty at the Toronto Film Festival. With Sam Mendes, Peter Gallagher, Thora Birch and Mena Suvari. September 11, 1999 (HQ)