Here is the story of that week from my journal.If we are to start anywhere, here is the best place.
July 4th 1994
it was a nice day.Josh and I prepared the house for company; we were hosting a “friendly” BBQ in Ft.Lauderdale. Alan and his hubby and other friends from the complex were coming, a veritable who’s who of my social circle back then. It was a great day. We cooked and ate at the picnic table out back – the drag queens in the adjacent area were entertaining, and the conversation was light and campy. The day wore on into night, and fireworks were going to be shot off over Ft.Lauderdale beach. So we piled into the convertible and headed out for the five-minute drive across the bridge to the beach. Parking was a nightmare, but eventually we found a spot to sit in. I remember that things were happy and there were no worries; we were out celebrating the holiday. After the fireworks we came home and imbibed a great deal, and sat down to watch the new film out on video, “Philadelphia” with Tom Hanks. Little did I know how much life would…?
Imitate art that week?
I watched with a certain attention, as if saying to God, “I know what’s coming so please be gentle with me, because I am not sure I am ready to do this or die.” It had been a year since the first time I was tested at “Planned Parenthood” and that test came back negative.
The second test was done in a city hospital lab, and those results came back negative as well, but six months later we found out on the news that the lab had switched our (100 gay men’s) HIV tests with a retirement home lab list. It was freaky when 100 elderly folk got positive HIV tests back from the lab, OOOPS – someone made a HUGE mistake.
Anyway, that was that.
Around 8 o’clock I called my parents to wish them a Happy July 4th; there was another piece of information I needed to get across to them, and this was not going to be very easy, I had been feeling pretty sick since January, and checked 7 of the 9 symptoms off the list from “If these things are happening to you — you might have HIV” wallet card.
The conversation started light and airy, then all the air left my lungs and I could not breathe. And this is how it went
Pleasant conversation, then I dropped the bomb!
I have some news for you.
Yes, what would that be?
I’ve been feeling a lot sick lately and tomorrow I am going to see a doctor…
I could hear the wheels spinning in their heads. My mother had been working in Home Health Care for a number of years and she had seen what AIDS can do to a human being; couple that with what they were watching on TV and she was having worse case scenario visions in her head!!
They were watching “Philadelphia” at their house at the very moment I called. Suddenly my mother must have looked at the TV and she screamed. Yes, that’s right, I am sick, and I need to go get tested tomorrow, it’s time. My father was listening in on the extension, and I am sure he was beside himself; his fag son was sick and putting two and two together led to only one conclusion.
Josh was sitting in the living room while I had this conversation, he didn’t say a word. I had to prepare him for what was coming; Josh and I would never see the end of the week together. In the end, I would never see Josh again.
After a bout of hysterics, I told them that everything would be all right and I ended the phone call. That night I did not sleep at all, and Josh was all over the place. He was such a quiet and calm young man; we were both young then. We had only been dating for a couple of months by that point. Tomorrow’s test was just a formality; I knew already the answer I would get confirmed in a few days’ time. I did not tell any of my friends that night. Todd and Roy were in Provincetown on holiday. But I would eventually call Todd.
Tuesday July 5th, 1994
I got up this morning, with one item on my list of things to do today, and Josh did not sleep all night and was restless and upset. I got him up and ready for work and I drove him to work, and then proceeded to the clinic where my friend Ken was working.
It was in a little “medical mall” type building.The offices were on the second floor of the suites. I parked the car, put up the top and sat in silence and I prayed. “If there is a God up there, please, whatever happens, I am not ready to die.”
I find it peculiar that certain prayers at certain times remain locked in my memory on certain days of my life. I locked the car and walked the fifty feet across the parking lot and went into the office, where I was asked to take a seat and wait. Do you know what it feels like to be told “hurry up and wait?” I just wanted to get this show on the road.
You see, where I worked, at the nightclub, Ken, my friend, was the nurse for the masses. He worked off hours at the free clinic, he donated time to events, and he did home visits and took care of all of our friends who are now dead, at that time, so he had seen a lot of friends die in the five years we lived in Ft.Lauderdale. He was a very emotional man, who wore his heart on his sleeve and I knew that.
This was a hard week for him; any new diagnosis is hard when you are such close friends and part of a dynamic community where everyone knows each other intimately. We had seen each other over the weekend at the bar; I worked all weekend long. He knew that I was sick; because he was the one I went to when things got dicey. I think he knew as I did, but I think we both wanted things to be different. Alas, they weren’t.
Ken was preparing himself to do what he had to do and keep a straight face and be strong in front of me, you know, be positive about things, and keep up appearances so that I would not crack under the pressure.
It was time. Ken came and got me and escorted me to the lab, and he did not look me in the eye the entire time I sat there, tears falling from his face. It was quick, and painless. Afterwards he sent me off into my day. I signed the papers and went for the door; Ken was right behind me. He walked me to my car, and stopped and he sobbed in my arms. I was relatively calm. You see I was only 26 years old, and many of our friends had been gruesomely sick and died long drawn-out deaths. It was NOT pretty; many of my friends had KS, and cancer and some of my friends lost their minds and many of them died alone, because friends, lovers and family had thrown them out on the streets to die. Ken and I were people who cared for these people from the day they were diagnosed until the day they died. It was sad.
He said that he would call me in a few days and let me know when the tests come back…
And he tried to leave it at that.
I grabbed him and looked into his eyes and I told him,
“I know, and when you call I will know, just by the tone of your voice!”
He kissed me goodbye and I went on with my day.
I don’t remember what I did to pass the time until Josh got off work, but we tried to live normally and not get too upset over things. All I remember is that once the word went around that I had gone for the test, my friends started pulling away. It was the longest week of my life.
Friday July 8th 1994
the week passed by without incident. Thursday I waited impatiently for the phone to ring, and every time it did, I would jump through the roof. Alas, Thursday night I went to bed, knowing that tomorrow it would come.
I got up in the morning and drove Josh to work and returned to the house. It was around 11 am that the phone finally did ring. It was Ken. His voice was shaky on the phone, and all he said was “Jeremy, you need to come to the office, and you need to come now!” Then the line went dead. I got dressed and headed over to the clinic. I already knew the answer, but you never know, right? I parked the car, and said my prayers, and I rested for a moment.
I went up stairs and logged in at the reception desk. Ken was nowhere to be found. After a little while they escorted me into an examination room; it was blue in color, very sterile and cold. I sat down on the table and I waited. A few minutes later the doctor came in, file in hand. I guess he wanted to make sure I was prepared for this.
“Well, no better time than the present,” he said.
Let’s get this over with. “Jeremy, you have AIDS and that’s the bottom line. “
“You are going to die.”
The words rolled off his tongue with the flair and style of a practiced doctor. He sat with me for a few moments while I considered my fate. I think he was hoping that I would say something.
“Thank you for that information,” I replied.
He said that we would need to do a few tests to get started; those labs would show just how compromised my immune system was, and what the next course of action would be.
I did not know how bad things were, but I would soon find out. Back then, who knew from death or life? Drugs were hard to come by, and there surely was no system of treatment in place for me to go to.
He dismissed himself and said that when I was ready, I could leave.
So I gave him a five-minute lead on me, then I gathered up my soul and I walked out the exam room door and out to the car. I looked down from the second floor and Ken was sitting on the hood of my car, waiting for me. When I got down to my car, Ken stood up opened his arms and embraced me; he was sobbing. I stood there; I guess I was in shock. I stood there and held him, while the wave ran over both of us.
I guess I was not prepared to show my cards just yet. We talked for a little while and we set out a plan of action for the next week. I would return to this lab and get some baseline labs drawn to get a more total picture of my immune system and figure out how I was going to proceed. (That’s what eventually happened in the coming days.)
I drove home. I was relatively calm. It’s funny that I was totally prepared to stand up straight and tall and accept my fate, but watching my friends and coworkers and family crack up was very disturbing. People with AIDS were pariahs! You did not touch them, you did not hug them, and you surely did not want your neighbours or family members to know that you socialized with or employed someone who had AIDS, God forbid we infected someone you knew or even transmitted our disease to you by touch or breathing in the same space!
I got home, and I sat in my space and I tried to make some decisions. Who do I tell and when? I don’t remember what I did that day, but I kept myself busy. I called Todd and Roy, and they were on vacation. When Todd got the news, he was sad, and immediately he stepped up to the plate and became the man who would save my life.
That evening, Friday, I went to pick Josh up at work; I forgot to clear the tape deck in the car. The soundtrack to “Philadelphia” was still in there. It was around 5 o’clock when I picked him up; the sun was setting in front of us as we drove east towards the house. I tapped the tape into the deck, and it started to play…
I watched Josh convulse in the front seat, and throw up out the car door. He was hysterical. I did not have to say a word to him, but he knew. When we got home, he went into the bedroom, he packed his duffle bag, without a word, he looked at me, said goodbye, and walked out the door, got into his car, and drove away. That was the last time I saw him.
Whoa, OK, one down … two more to go.
I had some dinner and proceeded to call my parents. You would have thought that an atomic bomb had been dropped on my parents’ house. My mother, having worked in the health field, said to me that I had gotten what I deserved. She and my father had had a week to consider this topic. We discussed my plan of action, and I called a family meeting that would take place in a week’s time. I wanted everyone to be informed and I wanted to know that I was not alone.
That visit did take place. And it did no good to ensure anything but the disdain and ignorance by my family to step up and get involved in taking care of the future. I had made my choice, by doing what I had done, and I got what was coming to me. My father had made that perfectly clear.
I still do not know, to this day, if James was the contact point of HIV. All I do know is that James was a diabetic and was suicidal. That he was sick those last few months that we were together, and I did his blood tests with his pen. I handled the strips several times a day. And that they tell me was the transmission point. I did not know he had AIDS until well after his death, when a friend of mine called me at work one day back in ’93 to tell me he was sick and had AIDS. I guess it took me a few months to “seroconvert.” This is the process the body goes through when it’s finally hit with viral replication and inception of a virus that the immune system cannot fight alone.
Over the next week, I chose my battles wisely, I told my inner circle of friends. The ones on the inside of the AIDS circle (that I was part of at work.) On the other hand there was the other circle of my “social friends” that had partied with us just a few days earlier.They would never set foot in my house ever again, in fact, and it was as if I had walked off the face of the earth, because I never heard from many of them ever again. The stigma of AIDS back then was deadlier then the virus itself.
Todd eventually returned to Ft.Lauderdale. My landlord and his lover were notified.
Interesting that many years later, I was at a Pride Celebration in Ft.Lauderdale, and my landlord’s partner was in a wheelchair and sick with AIDS. When we were friends at the time of my diagnosis, they were a happy couple, with all the promise in the world. I had no idea. I did not lose my apartment, my rent was frozen where it was, and they helped me pay bills and buy food. Within days Todd had returned and he came over and we talked. (God, we spent a lot of time talking!)
I was in self-destruct mode. And the stress of being sick with AIDS took its toll. I drank around the clock, I drank at work, I drank after work, and all I wanted to do was die. Todd did what he could at the beginning to keep me on the straight and narrow. He outlawed drinking while on shift, (I was working in a nightclub then) so that kept me sober while I worked.
I would then head out after we closed to the “after hours” club called the “Copa.” It was down the street from where our club was, and they served alcohol till 6am. So I had at least two to three hours to get inebriated nightly. That lasted until the end of August.
One night, I decided that the pain was too intense that dying was a viable option, seeing that I knew what all of the men I knew went through. I was at the Copa one night, and it was hot and I had drunk myself into a very nice BUZZ. The problem here was, I wanted more, and I got more. That night, I collapsed on the dance floor in an alcoholic overdose of gargantuan proportions.
I woke up in my friend Danny’s arms. The ambulance was there and oxygen was administered. I was still alive. That was the last night I drank. That morning, Danny brought me home and he stayed in my house for a week. I could not go anywhere except work. Todd was worried that I was going to try and kill myself again. So I had babysitters when I was not at work. I hit my first meeting on August the 23rd, 1994. By that time, most of the bar staff was all sober, and three-quarters of us were sick with AIDS.
Todd had a safe rule in effect. We had jobs, and we got paid. If we got sick, and could not come to work, our shifts were covered by someone on staff. We did not get fired for being sick. The bar secured for us medical treatment through the local clinic, where one of our friends named Marie ran a community clinic/drug farm.
Ken came to my house weekly to check on me. My world got A LOT smaller.
Everyone outside my work circle walked away. It took me a long time to get over that. They were punishing me for getting sick. Like I needed any more punishment!
The religious fundamentals were making their cases for eternal damnation for gays and people with AIDS, and speaking out whenever we went in public. Funeral homes stopped giving services to people with AIDS and their families because of religious and social pressure.
Life was difficult, But, I survived, because of the community I lived in and the grace of Almighty God.
In retrospect, “it was the best of times, and it was the worst of times.” and if God gave me a choice to go back and repeat any area of my life over again, it would be that exact period of time, and I would not change one single thing.
For years after my diagnosis, my friends died left and right, 162 people. The Names Project Quilt is a reminder of all the lives I touched and was a part of, and all the men whom I knew and loved.
All the men who were CRUCIAL to my survival (our survival) all the gay men who collected money for People with Aids, the drag queens we loved and admired and partied with over the year, the diehard supporters, are all dead now.
So many boys, so many men, cut down in the prime of life. We were foolish then, and uneducated. It was only after the storm hit that the reality start to sink in. When our friends started dying and we realized that “something serious is going on” did the community got smart.
We built infrastructure. We created homes and safe spaces. We cared for those on the streets, we collected money and food. We cooked and fed people, we washed clothes and in some cases we even changed diapers.
A year later, in 1995, I moved back to Miami, after Todd and Roy moved out west to San Francisco. I did not go with them, I was too young, and I had been banking on the fact that my S.O.B father would die and I would take back my mother. Well, he is still alive, all these years later, and I did not get my mother back. Do I have regrets? Sometimes I do. I sometimes think, “what if?” but that’s all they are, thoughts. You know what they say about living in “what ifs right?” So I don’t think about what ifs anymore, just what will be.
From my diagnosis date through the first eight years of my life with HIV/AIDS, I lived in the United States, and I speak about navigating a U.S. program of medical, social and government system. I immigrated to Canada in April of 2002.
Courtesy: Alex Stoddard (Archives)
The weather is looking up for the next few days. It could stay like this for the Summer as far as I am concerned.
The long goodbye continued tonight. My guys are coming to the end of their time with us, and our little community is growing smaller. We said goodbye to one of my guys at the Metro station, tomorrow is move day and Saturday he will depart for the rest of the Summer. Hopefully, he takes with him all the he has learned over the past four months. Canada Wide Calling is going to be very useful.
I departed for the church and met with my other guy for set up. He is going to be a much harder goodbye because he is moving from the city in the coming weeks. I will get to see him on his off days throughout camp weeks.
Again, we have filled him with everything we have got to give.
We read from Daily Reflections, Fear and Faith.
We carry one similar trait. Most of us carry a modicum of fear from our lives into recovery. And in life, a modicum of fear is a good thing, if only to remind us that we are human, and do feel.
There was a great deal of fear in my childhood. A lot of violence heaped upon a small child, if only because he had been born to a father who did not want him. And spent the better part of a decade trying to bring about the end of said child.
What do you do when you are drilled with fear, because you are unwanted, or better yet, being told that you were a mistake. Only to grow up and see the proverbial writing on the wall, and come to know your adversity.
And your destiny …
Then with time, one grows up and has made a life proclamation only then to be branded an abomination. That only adds to the fear of being “other.”
I never made the connection, in my drinking history early on, that I was drinking out of fear. I never blamed anyone for my drinking. I was taught that to be part of that we drank. So that is what I did. To fit in.
I was young and impressionable. I seemed to “fit in” I had all the right friends and drinking buddies. I was part of a greater “Whole.” A Community of sorts. The men I called friends took care of me and cared about me, seriously. They are all long dead now. For what it was worth, I would not have changed one bit of it.
Nobody said stop.
Life threw its curves, and I got sick. It was at this point that I began to drink out of fear. Fear of misery, fear of pain, fear of pain, and most importantly, fear of Death.
I thought it would be better to do myself in before the misery, to save me from what I was seeing in my friends lives. What do you do when a doctor hands you a death sentence and actually tells you when you are going to die?
Thankfully, Todd did for me what I could not do for myself.
He kept me close. He allayed my fears. He gave me a purpose and helped me deal with my fears with practical life lessons that paid off in spades.
I lived …
Most people I know, that means, most of YOU out there, probably never think about your deaths or the end. And you usually don’t think about death until it happens to you within family or friends.
For some of us, that came in spades. What do you fear, after surviving your death date? What could be worse than facing down your own death and surviving???
Everything else after that pales in comparison.
Yes, I went out and returned. The blip on my life radar.
I made certain choices and arrived here. I really did not fear the future because I had all my bases covered. I made sure, this time, that I was going to do it right, from the get go. And I did that.
There has been fear. But I managed. We managed.
I was never alone, at any point in my journey. I worked on my fear, resentment and guilt list on this fourth. All three lists are very short.
I am powerless over people, places and things.
I won’t ever get my day to state my case to certain people. I will never get to defend my life choices to state my case for becoming a grown adult man who is successful, despite the past and the way I was treated by some.
And I have to be ok with that.
I won’t ever get to say goodbye to certain people, if only because they set the rules and I have been forced to comply, not that I haven’t tried to assert myself. People die and I am here and they are there. What do you do when you don’t get to say goodbye? You go on with your life.
When people show you who they are the first time, Believe them.
I should have heard this lesson many years ago. It would have made it so much easier.
And I have to be ok with that.
I don’t fear my death any longer. When it gets here eventually, it will come on my terms, when I am ready to go. After I have fought death to the bitter end.
We choose when we will die. When we at last release our spirits from this life, in the hope of the life after. I’ve earned that choice.
Life is good. Life is as life is.
I have everything I need. And I am ok with that. I have ENOUGH…
I am working with some new folks as of tonight. We’ll see how that turns out.
It is trues that if a number isn’t used within the first 48 hours, it will never be used.
That is why we require a call every day. I am required to call every day, for my own sanity and sobriety.
When you know, Teach. When you have, Give.
There are always people waiting in the wings for someone to reach out and say, “I think you are important.” So let’s begin.
And so we have.
Pray for my guys. They need our faith and prayers.
More to come, stay tuned …
Anarchy and the kingdom of wisdom.
Lifted from: Don’t Eat Trash …
Some of us go to the kings throne point at him and say “Oh, your pretty alright, I like your crown, and this throne room is pretty dope.” And then we walk out ignoring the kings power and authority and start stealing and murdering and what have you. Then our roads start crumbling, our electricity is shut off, our crops fail and we think… what happened?
We want to live in the kingdom, but we don’t want to honour its king. We live in anarchy whilst dreaming of a just and democratic society. But justice has a rule book. So do good crops, and if kings don’t get honour, or if kings don’t get even co-operation, why should kings do anything for their people? Why repair roads if the people won’t pay for them, or help with their upkeep? Why should the king pay for our electricity?
One cannot expect to acknowledge a king without giving him kingship and have that king be king. One must acknowledge and give that king kingship to be king over their lives, do build roads, to give power, to love and adore the people.
Justice, community, nation building, economics starts on the bottom. Or at least it should. By giving the righteous king his kingship. Anarchy will always breed confusion, instability and most likely corruption. But the uncorrupt king breeds love and belonging.
The lord by wisdom founded the earth
By wisdom he established the heavens.
There is a way to do things.
The king knows it.
*** *** *** ***
I thought that I would not have anything to write for last night’s meeting, because the reading spoke of Anarchy, Democracy and Group Dynamics. I heard the reading and listened to folks share, but in the end I had nothing to say.
I did not stay for the business meeting because of people and personalities. I guess I am not yet over them. And Friday is the only meeting during the week where I Don’t have to do service.
Late last night I spoke to my sponsor about an issue on my heart. Something I thought was necessary seeing we are traveling to Vermont with people I have no respect or love for.
Living with AIDS/HIV has its perks and its drawbacks. I learned early on who to trust, who to love, and who to cut from my life on a dime. I learned to watch people intently. I learned to listen to them actively. And I’ve learned over the years that when people show you who they are, listen to them. Thanks Oprah.
I’ve told you of the two times I was told to go somewhere else to get sober. And those two events kind of define my life, in respect to who I associate with and who I will or won’t break bread with.
One of those men who were participant to one of those events is running in my social circle all of a sudden. He comes to the Tuesday meeting but still, today, won’t say my name in my presence. I’ve watched him over the past dozen or so years in the rooms. He has his issues, his anger and his perspective.
I may or may not agree with him, but I watch him nonetheless.
Speaking to my sponsor last night, I shared the event with him and spoke of who was present during the encounter. He was respectful that I could share intimate feelings of wrongdoing with him. I mean that’s what he is in my life for, to help me get better, get sober, in all facets of my life.
He listened while I talked, and did not interrupt me, and waited until I was finished speaking to give me his sage advice. He shared with me a story from his life in response to mine, to show me that he had shared my feelings that I was speaking of right then.
He told me to pray, and to meditate. And to send light to the man I feel animosity towards. I do what I am told. The best prayer I can offer in these terms is the resentment prayer …
“I wish you to have everything I want for myself and more.”
I did my prayers and meditation. During which I visit a friend who writes. He is a believer and a man I highly respect for his challenge to pray, work for justice and serve Christ as King, and God as Father.
And during my active meditation I came across something he wrote recently, and I posted it above for you to read for yourselves. It hit the nail right on the head.
I don’t speak enough of belief, or of the faith that I work on every day. Living side by side with death forces you to reckon with God. I’ve come to know God. I’ve learned how to seek and find Him. I know who God is and who God isn’t.
Faith takes daily work, daily prayer and daily meditation. I’ve learned how to do that. It is part of my daily ritual.
The past is the past. And the pain of the past has moved from a place of pain to a place of indifference. The past is there. I can look at it retrospectively. I no longer waste time reliving or fearing, or having bitterness towards that past.
I would be wasting precious time, pinning, or hurting incessantly.
It just doesn’t bother me any more. It happened, some of it hurt. But God has taken that pain and transformed it into Grace.
In the end I am indifferent to the men and women who maligned me. I don’t share space with them, nor would I ever break bread with them, ever.
So this man has reentered my life, and I have to share a car, space and meetings with him. And I have to be good about it. To be Christian in my love and respectful because that what God expects of us.
There is no amend to make. Just a movement towards respect. To see another human being, a flawed human being, trying to get better in his own way, and I must respect his process. And to learn from him, because he has more time than I do, but not as much time as my sponsor.
The whole point of this exercise is to one day be able to forgive.
Once you move from pain to indifference, And what once bothered you, doesn’t anymore, then I am ready to forgive.
Because it is always about me right? Wrong!
We are to forgive seventy times seven. And trust that God knows what He is doing.
And to remember that We are not GOD.
When life gets too hard to stand, kneel …
More to come, stay tuned …
Today the sun came out. It was a very pleasant day. The warmth is being received by the millions, grateful for it. Snow is melting and there is even grass peeking out between the swaths of ice and snow that is still piled up at the church. Along with the warmth comes rain … to start washing all the snow, salt and muck away.
And you know what comes after that, right? The BIG CLEAN.
As is usual at the end of winter, all the garbage, paper, cigarette butts, and all the shit that has been trapped in layers of ice and snow over the past six months will have to be cleaned up.
Today my new Passport was delivered. YAY for that.
I departed on time and arrived at the church about 6, with the bells ringing in the bell tower. The Angelus rings every night at 6. We sat a small group. We were missing a few guys, one of my sponsees was getting an award at school and the other was playing the piano for the event. But because I am the only key holder, I could not attend. Booo !!!
We read from the Big Book, There is a Solution, and pages 21 and 22.
Somewhere in there it mentions that “Invisible” line we all cross, when one is not enough, social drinking goes out the window, and we wind up with the obsession of “MORE.”
For some, they don’t even see the line. Or don’t know that it exists.
A particular visual came to mind as we read tonight.
My parents always encouraged us to drink at home. It was a food group in our home. Nobody ever mentioned alcoholism, even though it was right there in front of us, and nobody dared speak those words. God Forbid the neighbors found out that someone was an alcoholic.
They found out. They did know. Nothing was ever said. Not a word.
After work my parents would come home from work and dad would hit the liquor cabinet or the bar, and mom would pop a beer, and usually, work colleagues came with them to commiserate.
My mother worked in healthcare and hospitals. At one point she was working for a company that supplied medications and medical assistance to people who were sick and home bound and those who had just been released from hospital and needed a little extra T.L.C.
Some of those people were gay. Many of them sick with AIDS.
I am a teen ager now. I’ve begun to drink. I was NOT out of the closet yet. But I was well on my way. This story is the trigger that I vowed I would never come out to my parents, Ever …
My mother would come home and talk about those poor “Faggots” who were sick and how sickened she was that she had to enter their homes and give them meds and actually help them survive, when she thought that they should be dead. That happened day in and day out for months, while she had that contract.
It was very sad and sickening.
Everybody would laugh.
I wasn’t laughing. At all.
My shrink, at some point, later on, was speaking about integration into the Gay Community. And the way that that was going to happen, was for me to go to a gay bar, and drink… And wait for the fireworks.
I drank at home, at parties. But this green light meant that I could drink without impunity to what end I wasn’t quite sure. I never drank one drink.
By the time I was of age, I had run through my beer days. Once I discovered the thrill of hard liquor, I never touched another beer again.
I remembered all those derogatory things my parents said about The Jews, The Niggers, The faggots … I was ashamed …
Growing up I had a friend from South East Asia, we were friends for a very long time, AND he would show up later on in sobriety the second time, (he was always not that far away), but I digress.
He had dark skin. But he was not black.
My father decided from the first day he met that boy that he would never allow a dark skin boy to cross our threshold and enter our house, God forbid the neighbors saw a dark skinned boy, (who might have just crossed the tracks) enter a white house.
Hence the bigotry and racial sickness in my family.
I would later come out, far far away, and only when I was diagnosed did I ever speak about it to my family, to my detriment. I was an abomination.
So would you blame me if I began to drink that hatred away?
Anyways … where was I ?
From the get go, There was Never just ONE. One what? One Beer, One Drink? The would be preposterous. How do you just have one and that’s it?
Being a third generation alcoholic, that invisible line had been crossed. I am sure that the women in the family saw that line and watched their spouses walk up to it, look at it, then confidently walk across it, as if it did not exist.
Because any real alcoholic, would never admit they have a problem or admit that they themselves crossed that invisible line.
And that became my life. The rest they say is history.
I suffer from the obsession of More. In many other areas of my life, and it has taken me almost 13 years to learn that I don’t need MORE.
I am good with what I have. I don’t drink, well, I didn’t drink today, as my sponsor would remind me, so that’s a good thing.
All is well in my world.
More to come, stay tuned …
It snowed last night. There is a lot of snow piled up all over the core. Many are hoping that this was the last round for the season. In the past we have had snow all the way into May. The temps will moderate and rise over the next few days, so I am not sure they will spare the expense to clean it up off the streets.
It was a quiet weekend.
I departed on time and when I got to the church, there was three feet of snow piled up in front of the church doors, covering the stoop and out into the walkway. The shovel was inside the door, and I had to get the door opened to get it, which took some serious pulling and shoving a door barricaded by snow. It took me a couple of passes to remove all the snow, which is piled up at least three feet on either side of the doors, where the bushes are covered with ice and snow.
It is the last Sunday of the month, and we sat a fair number which was good. Several of my friends whom I haven’t seen in a while came and that was a good sign. We read from the Twelve and Twelve and Tradition Three …
“The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.”
Many talked about finding similarity when they got here, and over time realized that they were not that different from their fellows. Secondly, the word God popped up in conversation. Step Three and Tradition Three kind of go hand in hand.
Every time we read this tradition I zone in one one specific passage from the reading:
“We were resolved to admit nobody to A.A. but that hypothetical class of people we termed ‘pure alcoholics.’ Except for their guzzling, and the unfortunate results thereof, they could have no other complications. So beggars, tramps, asylum inmates, prisoners, queers, plain crackpots, and fallen women were definitely OUT. Yes sir, we’d cater only to pure and respectable alcoholics!
Emphasis added …
The first time I got sober, was in an LGBT room catering to gay sober folks. It was not a cake walk, as I have shared before that newcomers were regarded as race horses that should be bet on to see who would go back out and drink first.
I stayed sober, in spite of them, and on my first anniversary, I told the crowd to go fuck themselves. In my second year of sobriety, I moved from Fort Lauderdale to Miami. I was still counting the days to my death date doctors had given me when I got sober. I was on the bubble, to say the least.
I got connected to a club room in South Miami, (The Coral Room). The room was open all day and hosted meetings all day and night. Around the second year of sobriety, someone asked me to speak at a speaker meeting. It would be the first time I had ever spoken at a meeting in sobriety.
The room was packed. At least more than a hundred were in the room. And I got up to the podium and began to speak. Getting around to my diagnosis and my living with AIDS came up and as I started this phase of my share, all the men got up and left the room and went outside to wait until I was finished speaking.
At the end of the meeting I went outside and one of the men stepped up and said to me
“We don’t support or condone people like you, so please go somewhere else to get sober!” Needless to say I was floored.
I remained at that room for another two years, but I went to other meetings where I felt some sense of belonging. I pulled back, I stopped reading the book, I did not have a sponsor AND I trusted no one. Which directly led to my slip.
I went out on my fourth anniversary. Following all the men who went out at the four year mark. When I came back, I was on the beach, and went to Sober on South Beach for my return. They welcomed me and did not judge me.
A few months later, I ended up here in Montreal. I was five months sober the second time, and I was hitting different meetings all over the city.
Here in Montreal there are invisible lines drawn between the different Burroughs, and sections of the city. For the most part, people who live in one section of town, never cross that boundary to go to other meetings in other parts of town.
So one night I was in the West End. And hit a Friday night meeting. I was new in town, Did not know anyone and I hit this particular meeting. At first they welcomed me and then drilled me with twenty questions. As we talked they got an idea of my situation and my status.
Once again I heard those words … “We don’t condone people like you, please go somewhere else to get sober, you aren’t welcome here!”
That is something you don’t really hear about. People being told that they are not welcome and to go somewhere else. Especially if a particular group follows the traditions.
I never went to that meeting again, and for many years I never went to NDG for a meeting for a long time. On my tenth anniversary I spoke at a West End meeting and I told this story. People were shocked but some were not. This only solidified for me the fact that there are sick people in the world, and I should stay away from them. I haven’t spoken at a meeting since that night.
Tonight we read Tradition Three, and I shared this story once again. Many of the old timers at the Sunday meeting have never heard me tell that story before. We are a welcoming meeting. There are several LGBT folks at the meeting.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to Stop Drinking.
One of my sponsees was sitting right next to me, he was moved.
This lesson runs deep, because we must treat everyone who comes in the door kindly, compassionately, and with care. If we judge and are careless with our words, they may leave and never come back again.
No matter who you are, what age you are, what orientation you are, man, woman, boy or girl, everyone is welcome at our meetings, well welcome at ALL the meetings I go to.
There are assholes here and there. Sick alcoholics who can’t see past their own prejudices. Sadly, that is part of the times.
We transcend those barriers in many meetings, and that is a good thing.
It was a good night. Jobs are taken for the month of April. Painless…
Everybody checked in, everyone is well and good to go.
More to come, stay tuned …
There are some days, like today, where this image is appropriate.
One day the sun comes out, the next, it is shrouded in cloud.
One day it is cold, the next a bit warmer, and tonight going into tomorrow calls for rain, only for 12 to 20 hours we will rise above zero, enough to give us rain, then it is back down into minuses.
More snow will fall the middle of next week.
I got up early today after having a dream about Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge. It was a sweet dream, in the dream we were very close.
Then I woke up … I hate when that happens !!!
Hubby has left the job that was such a godsend, and paid the bills, because not all political aspirations can succeed. So he is home with me during the day, and I am getting used to him being here when I have my daily routine and ritual. Now that has to run with him present.
I am two steps away from completing my passport application. One, I need photos and Two, I see my guarantor on Monday for lunch.
Had my old passport NOT been so expired more than a year, I could have used the One Click form which was much easier to complete. I had to use the old method, the one where you have to jump through several circus hoops and get all kinds of signatures and legal proof of cit and recommendations and a legal guarantor.
The ease of which this has come to completion is a reminder that on any given day, I get what I need. And that I have all the people I need in my life. My cup is filled.
Tonight I purposely left later than usual, because of the fact that particular people are setting up, that I try not to interact with. But from point to point took 40 minutes. I arrived first, besides the set up guy.
He was almost finished. And we had 45 minutes to wait for the meeting to start. It is a good thing that my sponsor tells me to be kind and to be wary and to do the right thing in all situations. It was not as intense as I was fearing. Since I held out my hand it was empowering and kindness in action.
Today’s Topic, “Daily Acceptance.”
I cannot blame anyone else for the fact that I am an alcoholic. I don’t ever remember pouring liquor down my throat in an act of defiance or anger.
The old adage …”You hurt me so I’ll show you, I’ll hurt me!”
In the end my drinking was all self centered. All I cared about were the magical qualities that the drink was supposed to give me, but didn’t. It wasn’t about others, it was all about me.
On a daily basis, we have a daily reprieve, based on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake, so why tonight, am I sitting in the pity pot bemoaning what I don’t have?
One of my friends sitting next to me tonight, after I spoke, tilted his head over towards me and said “well, in this case the word is Fuck them.”
Blood is not thicker than water.
Sometimes we must build the family we need.
And in the rooms, as well as my tight social circle, I have everyone I need.
There is that small space in my heart that breaks because there are living human beings in this world bound by blood, who want nothing to do with me. And like a good alcoholic, I want to make it all better. And no amount of words or energy I put into these thoughts, is wasted time and energy.
Determining long ago that I would never become my father, or treat people the way he did all the time I was growing up, All those folks he alienated, I worked so hard at making it better behind his back.
I have those people in my life, who are active and supportive.
How can one live with themselves knowing that you hate so deeply?
I just cannot understand, 46 years now, and I still don’t get it.
I may ask the questions of God, and to this day he is mum, on the subject.
So my friends are right – Fuck Them.
It was a very quick ride home. The bus came right away, the trains came one after another, and in a flash I was back in my burg.
I got to see my friends. What a blessing.
I have everything that I need. So some gratitude.
I don’t need anything more than what I have in my yard.
Life is good.
More to come, stay tuned …
- Wall Name:ROBERT D LOGUE
- Date of Birth: 7/19/1943
- Date of Casualty: 12/5/1965
- Home of Record: WARREN
- County of Record: TRUMBULL COUNTY
- State: OH
- Branch of Service: MARINE CORPS
- Rank: LCPL
- Panel/Row: 3E, 130
- Casualty Province: BINH DINH
I want to share a story with you tonight. A life story, of a man I never knew, but he was the man my father named me after, the day I was born on July 31, 1967.
He looks so much like my father did at that age. It is uncanny !!!
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis lauded Jesus’ humble beginning as a poor and vulnerable baby as he celebrated his first Christmas Eve Mass as pontiff Tuesday in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Francis has dedicated much of his nine-month-old papacy to drawing attention to the plight of the poor, of children, and other vulnerable members of society.
In the world’s history and our own personal history, Francis said, “there are both bright and dark moments, lights and shadows. ” He added “if our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us.”
At the Vatican during the homily, Francis quoted the Apostle John, saying “‘whoever hates his brother is in the darkness”‘ and “‘does not know the way to go, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”‘
*** *** *** *** ***
Wow, Pope Francis really knows how to hit it hard. I so needed to read this passage reported from his first Christmas Eve Mass.
“whoever hates his brother is in the darkness… Because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
So true So true…
It is the Holiday before the Holiday. And as usual, traveling in the night was problematic. There were more buses going East, than buses going West. So on the way out we waited and waited …
We sat a humble group of folks, who came out of respect for the meeting and also, just for the chance to spend time with each other, before we all wandered off to fulfill family obligations this Christmas Eve.
The chair double dipped tonight, on a topic that, for many, is on the front of many brains during these days, Anger and Resentment.
“Anger is the dubious luxury of normal men, but for us alcoholics it is poison.”
I have been a bit angry and resentful.
The one thing I pray for every year, has not come to pass for me, again this year. And they say that if you pray for something, you must take the next action, thereby giving God an IN to help along that which you pray for.
I opened the holidays with a great effort, out of kindness and love. I took great pains to act in kindness, and once again, it was ignored.
Fuck me …
With all that is going on in the world, the lack of respect of each other from certain celebrity and certain family and politicians, is unnerving and upsetting.
And this week I reached a tipping point.
I culled my twitter account, now only including a handful of folks I want to follow. It bothers me to high heaven, the lengths some will go to denigrate and disrespect other human beings just because we are gay.
I am sick to death of politics.
I am sick of reading, watching, and focusing on people who do nothing but drink, get drunk, and fall down. So I have culled all those folks off my social media platforms. Maybe I am getting old in sobriety, but I just can’t stomach folks who drink alcoholically. Over and Over and Over … And think it is good video to watch on a daily basis.
The same went for Facebook. The only reason I keep it open is to stay in touch with friends here and there. I have culled all that shit that has gone too far and makes we want to puke.
We are Here, We are Queer, Get Used to It.
For Fuck sake …
God damn the celebrity with vile and unacceptable word of condemnation. And fuck the politicians who support them, and the media who give them time on their front pages and on news casts.
God Damn them all to hell.
It’s Christmas for Fuck Sake. Can’t we all get along for one day?
No, that would be too fucking difficult.
Thank the Baby Jesus I live up here, above the Northern Border.
I don’t give a shit about U.S. politics, celebrity with foul mouths, and all those people who rent them free space, because of the First Amendment.
Bullshit … Take them fuckers off the air for good.
Read your God Damned Bibles and try for some compassion and love.
And Jesus Wept !!!
It was good to see my friends. It is the one space on a regular basis that I get to spend time with people I care about and who care about me.
Tomorrow is Christmas. We shall cook and serve others.
I was promised a good story to read after presents tomorrow, so YAY for that. Thanks to a good friend.
I hope you all have a blessed Christmas filled with Light, Joy and Love.
More to come, stay tuned …
Courtesy:Teq (special archives)
It was a bitterly cold and snowy evening. But first …
Last week our “super” said that this would be the week that they were going to rebuild our bathroom.
Monday at 7:45 in the morning the workers showed up and worked all day long, pulling down the ceiling/rebuilding the ceiling, replacing the old bathtub/putting in a new bathtub, putting up fresh drywall in the enclosure, and putting in new water pipes in the wall for the new set up.
I haven’t had a bathroom for two days now.
There are two bathrooms up on the 20th floor, on the pool deck that we have been using instead. There are two shower/toilet set ups just outside the sauna. In all the years I have lived in the building, I have never used the pool deck or the facilities there until this week.
Monday evening they said they would be up here at 7:45 this morning, so we were both up. Hubby stayed home to work, and we waited…
There was pounding going on somewhere below our apartment, it could have been the builders in the adjacent building or they were tearing up another bathroom below ours, but you could hear the drills and pounding one would associate with hard work.
Around 9 a.m. my guy showed up, and yes he was late, because they were tearing apart another bathroom in the building. It seems that the owners of the building are spending a good chunk of money rehabilitating apartments recently.
They are very good with making sure that things run properly and that if there is a need, that it is taken care of. All I know is that the hole in my bathroom ceiling has been there for months and months. They finally got around to it this week.
Today they tiled the bath area. It looks really nice. They have spackled the entire bathroom, where all my doodads hung, Tomorrow they will grout and finish the plumbing and we will finally have a working bathroom.
After two days of being up at the crack of dawn, it seemed, and spending all day (up) not having my daily nap, has thrown me all out of whack. My little loveseat is not habitable as a sleeping couch.
I went upstairs and showered and shaved, (without a mirror), I’ve never attempted to shave without a mirror before. It was quite easy. I was ready to go early, but I was timing my departure to coincide with the key holder so I would not be stuck outside in the cold again tonight.
I had my gloves in my bag, because I haven’t needed them until this evening. It was snowing when I left and there is snow piled up all over the place, they haven’t gotten to our neighborhood with the trucks yet.
Did I mention it was bitterly cold out???
I got to the stop and the snow was piled up more than a foot deep besides the sidewalk. They plowed the main drag, and pushed the snow onto the wide sidewalk. Then the smaller plow plows the sidewalk proper. Which then creates a burm of snow between the sidewalk and the street, which doesn’t give you any space to stand roadside because of piled up snow, thankfully someone had dug a 2 foot path through the snow berm from the sidewalk to the street.
My hands were freezing, so cold they hurt, and then I fished my gloves out of my bag, by that time it was too late. But I put them on anyways. And I waited for a bus. It was close to 5 o’clock, and traffic on Sherbroooke going West was a nightmare. Eventually, TWO buses showed up, one after another. And I went to get on the bus and I took a step into the bus, and took a dive into the bus landing face first on the floor of the bus onto my knees.
The driver was like “WHOOPS !!!”
I got up, and paid my fare. The bus was empty for a few stops. On the way, like I said, traffic was bumper to bumper, and we passed a third bus going West towards Decarie, where the 24 turns North.
I arrived to an open door and a warm meeting space. We made some coffee and settled in. The chair arrived, and there were three of us as 6:30 approached. Thankfully, it became a meeting when several others showed up late, thanks to the fucked up buses/traffic running late or not at all. Falling snow and piled up snow is a problem for traffic.
People tend to loose their marbles when that happens.
We read from A.B.S.I. Number 5 – Maintenance and Growth.
But the reading is all about anger and resentments. Hence …
“Anger is the dubious luxury of normal men, but for us alcoholics it is poison.” B.B. pg. 66
We knew why the chair chose this reading, because we had chatted before the meeting about it. But it became appropriate for the group assembled. Some with serious time, some with a little time, and some with mere days. My buddy celebrates 25 years today, and I didn’t get around to call him earlier, my bad. He got to the meeting in any case.
The discussion went around the table. And with each person the topic was magnified and polished. I don’t get angry very often, but I get cranked by that odd newcomer who steps over a boundary, and that has happened recently. It took a couple of days but I got over it.
Aside from those minor instances, I don’t usually rent free space to people who vex me for very long. But I have spoken before about old hurts that reside in my heart and mind. And someone spoke about family and boundaries, and emotional sobriety, and wanting to be heard and standing ones ground.
It is the holidays, and all I want for Christmas it for certain people to acknowledge me and show some love and acceptance. I’m a human and I deserve to be loved and not shunned/shamed and placed in the dark for years and years because of bitter resentment.
Old, bitter, resentments and anger is a healthy trait of my family of origin.
That is not who I am or part of my lexicon. And every year I go through the motions of trying to beg God for a little grace, but that grace is a two way street only getting one way effort on my part.
You might pray God to do something, but if you don’t take the action first, how can He help you?
I can’t expect active, living alcoholics to get it. I can’t make someone want to be part of my life. However hard that vexes me. I just have to go on with those who do care about me. That is all.
Don’t rent free space in your brain to people who don’t deserve space.
Anger is pointless emotion, it only hurts you.
And if you realized just how little people think of us, those who vex and trouble us, that we think/crank about them when we harbor resentment and anger.
Do you really think that assholes and egos spend as much time pondering us from their position?
No they don’t. So why waste time on them?
Tomorrow I get my bathroom back. And the angels will sing…
THERE ARE SEVEN SHOPPING DAYS LEFT UNTIL CHRISTMAS !!!
More to come, stay tuned…
The weather is holding. It was a beautiful night to be out and about. I departed early for the church and my helper lady friend was waiting for me. We cranked out set up and coffee and then sat and chilled before the meeting.
We are finally at the stories in the back of the Big Book. This first chapter The Pioneers of A.A. speaks about these 10 stories that show that sobriety is A.A. can be lasting.
Pioneers of A.A. …
Dr. Bob and the nine men and women who here tell their stories were among the early members of A.A.’s first groups.
All ten now have passed away of natural causes, having maintained complete sobriety.
Today, hundreds of additional A.A. members can be found who have had no relapse for more than fifty years.
All of these, then, are the pioneers of A.A. They bear witness that release from alcoholism can really be permanent.
We began reading Dr. Bob’s Nightmare.
A co-founder of alcoholics anonymous, The birth of our society dates from his first day of permanent sobriety, June 10, 1935.
To 1950, the year of his death, he carried the message to more than 5,000 alcoholic men and women, and to all these he gave his medical services without thought of charge.
In this prodigy of service, he was well assisted by Sister Ignatia at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio, one of the greatest friends our fellowship will ever know.
Through the beginning of his story, we learn where Bob came from how he did as a young child and teen, and into his adult life. And at some point he crossed the invisible line into uncontrollable alcoholism.
He became somewhat functional when applying himself. But there at the came time, we read, when alcoholism stunted his growth both emotionally and academically. But in the end he pulled out the stops and finished his schooling.
We stopped at this point in the story till next week.
It seemed everybody fixated on academic stories and how alcoholism made it into our lives as young people.
I guess I will share some stories with you about that time in my life as well.
Bob was an only child, he speaks about it.
I was the first of two children, and had three years on my brother who came later. And I was thinking about this tonight and what I had seen as a small child being raised in the homes of die hard alcoholics. My grandfather was much farther gone than my father.
He had to have alcohol – all over the house. He was a bottle hider. He drank around the clock and especially before bed, as there was a bottle under the kitchen sink.
My father was a heavy drinker, yet, he was functional. In hindsight, I don’t remember him ever being taken away from work because of drinking, in all the years I lived at home. He seemed to skate through unscathed.
I on the other hand, was raised in a “nobody speaks of it” and there “is no solution and you lived with your lot” mentality. Alcohol was a major food group and was a daily ritual.
I began the task of bartender for my father when I was able to reach the kitchen counter and be able to mix him his nightly highball after work. Growing up and moving house in grade school, we bought a huge house with bedrooms, a yard, in ground sprinkler system and a POOL !!! We had hit the big time.
My father had two cabinets for alcohol. And a standing bar in the dining room. My brother and I grew up not far from alcohol. My drinking started in high school and it was a big part of socialization.
It was beer, that I found satisfying. Until my friends introduced hard liquor into the mix. We would have binge and purge parties where we would serve copious amounts of alcohol to party goers. For the girls we had a fail proof system to bring them to a party, get them drunk, and then get them home sober after our tried and true sober work after the fact.
The girls would bring two sets of clothing with them to the party. We would all drink, and they would get sauced over and over. One of us drove the first sober car, driving around town until they puked up what they drank and sobered up.
Then we handed them off to a second house for them to wash and redress, before the third car would finally bring them home.
I drank heavily in high school. And it showed in my work. I was an athlete and swam in junior and senior year and finally lettered.
Two significant occurrences in high school come to mind.
One, our final S.A.T. test. By this point we had taken that damned test twice and in my senior year, we had to take it again, a third time.
The night prior we all got drunker than drunk. I remember my friends bringing me home, BOMBED !!! Telling my mother that I was just a little sick because of the test the next day.
The next day I went to the school and my test location was in the library, which was in the biology wing of the school, there was a bathroom and gym workout hall in the same wing.
The module would start and I would begin bubbling in my answers, eventually I would get the heaves and have to rush to the bathroom and purge and get back into the library to finish each module in the time allotted.
I know, when all was said and done, my third score was higher than the first two.
Two, in my senior year I was drinking heavily and my studies were paying the price. I was passing, albeit, by the skin of my teeth. I was no mathematician and hated the subject. No matter how hard I tried I could not “get it.”
I was not part of the “in crowd” that partied together and cheated together. I ran in another social grouping. On my last math exam, I knew I was not going to pass, but in a “Hail Mary” kind of motion …
The cheat sheet had gone around prior to the exam. And I was not privy to that cheat sheet. I took that exam, however impaired I was at the time, on the last page of the exam I offered this to my prof …
“The exam is complete. I would also tell you that I am the only one in this room that did not cheat on this exam … “
I passed math, therefore, I graduated with my fellows.
My drinking career began in earnest after graduation. I knew something about myself that others did not. I am sure my parents were picking up on it. And my racist, homophobic, bible quoting, but never went to church father, continued to “beat it out of me, because I was abhorrent.”
When I finally moved away, I could drink without impunity. I have stated in the past that when I moved out on my own, I knew NOTHING about responsibility.
Paying rent, buying food, and making a car payments came second and third to my drinking. To the point that my car got re-possessed. That was a clincher for my parents. Probably, resentfully, my father bailed me out. We never spoke about it, but I am sure he never forgot nor forgave me about allowing alcoholism take something away.
I am sure they thought that I could not hold my alcohol in check like they did, and they would have been correct. I was a step beyond than my father.
That period of my life from 21 to 26 I was sunk in the drink. I got sober once, and became responsible. I had a really good job. And men who loved me. They saved my life.
The story does not change. I went out and stayed out a number of years, until I returned in 2001. God moved heaven and earth. And I decided to grow up and become a man, finally, whatever that meant.
I would not figure out what my manhood meant to me until much later. That is another story.
Moving out of the country was the best move I ever made in my life, however hated I was for leaving the country of my birth, it was an absolute break from the misery I was living at the time.
Coming to Montreal sober began the next leg of my journey. I was 34 years old. I had failed out of junior college and could not afford University in the U.S. so I didn’t go on. I had a place to live and meetings to go to.
And at my First Anniversary, I was asked what I wanted to do next, by my aftercare counselor, and I said, that I wanted to go back to school. By then I was hitched and living with my then boyfriend. That was a nine year academic career which I graduated with two degrees, Religion and Pastoral Ministry.
I have not had a drink in almost twelve years now. I came here sober and this is where I am going to die sober. One day at a time.
I have this hindsight to parse my life, and those of my family to figure out what made us tick, what made us drink and where that led us.
I do not know my father or mother or my brother. I am pariah still to this day and in their lives, they have shut off my light switch as punishment for defying my father’s social gospel. It has been more than 13 years.
I do not mourn them any more.
Many emotional reasons, alcoholism, lies and secrets tore apart my family, I may be the only sober member today, but who knows. I will never know.
It is a living amends to stay sober one day at a time.
More to come, stay tuned …
“The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage. All men of faith have courage. They trust their God. We never apologize for God. Instead we let him demonstrate, through us, what He can do. We ask him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. At once, we commence to outgrow fear.”
Page 68 Big Book
Thursday. Location: Montreal. 18c with clear skies
The weather has been very amenable. It was cool enough last night to open the windows for a bit. The month is quickly coming to an end. When I was much younger and quite more stupid, the run up to my birthday usually began one week out. The barhopping and drinking in earnest would begin. And each night all the way up through my birthday would entail much, much more booze.
And we all know how that ended…
July is always a tough month. But it the most important month of the year. It is not only the month of my birth, but the month that I learned that my mortality is on the line.
July 8th comes and goes every year. And I mark it with respect and dignity. People seem perplexed that I would mark an event like this openly. At a meeting not long ago, I shared this piece of info in community and got stares and questions afterwards.
In the beginning I had to learn how to live one day at a time. In fact, I had to learn this lesson more than once. Both instances were based on certain factors in my life.
I would string a few days together. And mark a week. And if I lived a week, I would mark two. And at the end of a month, I would be brave and mark another month. Such is the case when doctors give you your actual “End Date.” And tell you to go home and settle your affairs because death is imminent.
This year I kept to myself mostly. But with Pride every year, come the memorial public television shows like We Were Here and Milk. Many people I assume who have lived through the dark times of the 80’s and 90’s may have book collections that mark the tribulations in print.
Paul Monette is the consummate author of the AIDS years, having lived, loved and died from the disease. I have all his books in my library. And for the most part, I keep them as memorials. To remember how bad it was and to be ever mindful that I may go the same way.
I spent the past week of nights reading “Living on Borrowed Time.” The book details with great pain the months and years that comprised the life and relationship that Paul had with his husband/partner Roger.
It is difficult to read but important for me to pay homage to the men who were there when it all began, who died well before I came along with AIDS. But times were not much different in the early 90’s – there were dedicated drugs, nor doctors to treat us. We were treated like hazmat patients. We would be quarantined in space capsules in rooms away from general population and doctors and nurses would gown up like martian hunters to come near us.
The Christians called it God’s revenge for homosexuality.
Employers fired us. Landlords threw us out on the street. Family and friends and lovers left us because we were sick. Mortuaries would not process nor bury the sick.
But we did. All of it.
Every year I live is a great big Fuck You to the Christian Right. For all those people who left me on the roadside including my family I can only say I lived and I have lived well. I am the man I wanted to be.
Because men of faith took me in and gave me life when you turned your backs on me. And hence the thousands of men who were sick and went to their graves with what little dignity they had in their souls.
I lived … And I am still alive.
Tonight;s reading speaks about God, and no apologies. Courage and fear.
To live with a disease that is going to take your life one day is courage. Not taking a drink one day at a time, is courage. Learning how to live knowing you are going to die with certainty of a disease that is ugly and dirty is harrowing.
AIDS is not pretty. But neither is alcoholism. Both are takers.
But in today’s day and age, both are treatable and manageable.
After 19 year living this way, the fear of dying still exists in the back of my head. But every day I take my pills I earn a day of life. It is my job to take pills every day, if I do nothing during my day, the two actions I make are to take my pills.
I do what I need to do every day, every week and every month to stave off the drink. I don’t know how else to stave off dying. But I don’t fixate on dying, because if I do, I will only hasten the end for which I have been avoiding for more than a decade and almost two.
Our little men’s group is holding its own. We get the by and by visitor to come, but for the most part, it is a conversation between friends in a familiar space.
Do you have courage? How do you live it every day?
More to come, stay tuned…
They say the weather is going to change for the worse overnight and into tomorrow. The usual plans are now up in the air depending on whether or not the heavens open up and dump torrential rain upon us like out in the prairies.
Just thinking about torrential rain brings back terrible memories because of what happens to our city when it rains a little too much. Highways flood, streets flood. Our 1800’s drain system of the city become overwhelmed and water goes everywhere.
If we are lucky the church won’t flood like it did some time ago. Hopefully that much rain won’t fall, and we will escape the ills of the city along with mother nature.
It has been a quiet couple of days. Lots going on down south to which I am proud to witness in my lifetime. Not the balance of the U.S. states who DON’T have marriage equality, in my opinion, once the tidal wave begins will fall like dominoes and everybody will be a participant in being “equal” — still Florida does not have marriage equality so it matters not to me or my life at this point. So we can be hopeful of the future.
It was a breezy night and I arrived at the church with plenty of time to set up and enjoy the weather in the garden before the meeting. It is my belief that if we get one, or better yet two newcomers at the meeting, we get to do our jobs and do God’s work well.
As was the case tonight, new faces came and participated. As the meeting progressed and the shares began we learned a great deal about each other. And what we have learned is that there is a whole “other” group of people out there suffering in their addictions and one of our men is part of that grouping.
Sadly, I have to concur that there aren’t many open and affirming A.A. groups that openly support and welcome LGBTQ members. I have seen it in my own life.
And today I ONLY participate in groups that folks are Open and Affirming to ALL and not just Some.
I was sorry for them and inquired at the end of the meeting what I could do to help, hopefully we will see our new friend again and be able to reach out and minister to those who need it and are afraid of coming …
We shared on the run up to Step Three … “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”
The notion of changing our lives, turning it over, letting go of ourselves and become interested in others, coming to know a Higher Power and allowing him to guide our lives from this point on.
But so many people get stuck here and some never move past the log jam. And this is all down to what the world, society, and religion has forced down our throats about who God is and what he will do to us if we err and sin …
I heard something that resonates … When one of our men came in and got to this point, his sponsor said this to him … God is God is God. However it falls, God is God. Find him in your own way and come to believe that He will help you if you are ready.
Group of Drunk
Going Out Doors Good Orderly Direction
It’s all the same thing. The biggest help that Bill and Bob gave to the fellowship come in one short sentence. “God … As we understood him.”
It opens the door to those who have had such issues with God that they can’t come to believe because of the hang ups. No two powers are the same. No two alcoholics are the same. But eventually we find a power greater than ourselves.
What is His Work, and how do we do it well ???
That line shows up on page 63 of the Big Book. In the beginning it was all down to service to a group. To begin rebuilding your life, you had to give of yourself at the group level and become Part Of so that you can become One Of.
Suit up, Show up and be one of many, instead of alone and lonely.
I’ve said in the past and I repeat it often that “PRESENCE” is the greatest gift we can give each other. The meeting before the meeting and the one that follows the meeting is very important to outreach and working with others.
I come early, I set up and make coffee so that when YOU show up, we can have a coffee and chat a bit and i can get to know you better. That’s the whole purpose of community. Man is not meant to be alone. But there are those out there who are alone, and it is always my hope that one day I could walk out into the field with my fellows and welcome and affirm folks who are out there suffering.
Changing Attitudes, Tuesday Beginners, and Sunday Niter’s, Vendome Beginners and North End English are ALL open, welcoming and affirming.
We will welcome you and be part of your lives. We have all known suffering and pain, and through our groups we will help you heal your souls.
That is what I believe that Jesus would have wanted us to do. Because He always did what was right in front of him, he never really had a plan, it all played out day to day. But he welcomed and affirmed. Loved and cared for the least.
And that is what we do too … What is in front of us.
Tonight we had work come, and show up, right in front of us. Hopefully the words we shared tonight will nest and foster our guys to come back and visit us again.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
All the rain they promised us – did not materialize. However hard it tried to spit rain over night. Enough fell to wet the streets and douse the trees with a little moisture, but significant rain did not fall.
It has been chilly on the side of cold, cold enough to warrant a hoodie on top of a shirt, because I was cold wearing only a sweatshirt this evening. We stuck to the tunnel to transit from here to the church and back.
We arrived at the church and the hall was a mess of people, tables and chairs all over the place and people were coming and going hastily. We learned soon after that the great St. Joseph’s Oratory Choir performed at the church this afternoon, hence all the people.
We sorted out tables and chairs, and stacked the piles of chairs and put the ones we did not need back in the store room. Clean up took a few minutes and then we sorted out the room for the meeting that followed.
We sat a fair number of folks, and finished our reading of Chapter Seven, Working with Others. The final passage we read deals with family and relationships and how to navigate sticky places in new found sobriety.
The best I can be when working with others, is just to be present. And usually God will direct the scene as He sees fit. That’s why we have the twenty minutes prior and twenty minutes after guide. Because that’s when we got to work with others. Presence, the greatest gift you can give to your fellows.
*** *** *** ***
It is a parent day today. And navigating them is pretty artful. This is where I get to Debbie Downer a bit.
The last time I saw my mother was for twenty minutes on New Years Day 2001, when my parents arrived on my doorstep for an impromptu visit deigned by my father, but not long enough to create a “sticky memory” I don’t remember the substance of the visit or the words said, but I do remember the defiant “NO” I got from my father as to hosting a lunch for the three of us before they headed back on the road to Sarasota.
End of that thread …
Honor thy Father and Mother … The bible says so. I don’t see the logic in honoring someone who does not deign to recognize or honor me.
Being Gay and HIV+ were always the kickers in our relationship.
But I thought that when children grow up and become adults, they should be able to make decisions for themselves hopefully good ones that will help them prosper and grow further.
I made two decisions in sobriety – the first and second time, that served me. I took my right to exist and to move on from dire straits and was punished for making adult decisions. It was far better to be resentful and angry, rather than support a child in his decisions about his life. Fuck me …
My move to Montreal was fraught with anger. How dare I piss on my American heritage and dishonor my father by taking a birthright that was mine to take and leave all that I knew for a place that I would make my home.
Ohhh the anger …
My father spoke family gospel and what he said was the end all be all of any argument. And so it went. I spent a year, a calendar year, trying to salvage a relationship with my mother.
I wrote, called, sent packages, etc … to no avail.
My parents were so put out by my decision to move North that silence and punishment was their only recourse. But of course that was their modus opperandi.
The last conversation I had with my mother went this way … And I quote …
“If I or your father ever get sick or die, You will not be contacted, ever !!!”
That conversation took place more than 11 years ago. Fuck me …
Faggots do not get respect, nor dignity. AIDS ridden children get nothing but scorn and indignation. When the chips fell where they did people scattered, including my family. I had no choice or say in the matter.
I was fucked from the word Go !!!
So happy Mother’s day to you all.
How do you pray away the ache the rises in the heart about things you cannot change nor do anything to make better ???
I still don’t have the answer to that question.
It was a good day. Friends, fellows and a meeting. It can’t get better than that.
More to come, stay tuned…
Whew. What a week and weekend this has been. I remarked to a friend this evening that I haven’t been this busy with things to do in a long time. It is raining tonight, little wispy rain.
Our little meeting that is shaping up made a huge leap forwards today. The founders of the group met and we polished the minutes and readings, we talked about what we want to concentrate on and how things will play out. We also ponied up, paying our first months rent, which I will pay tomorrow. Word of mouth is working in our favor. All of the young men whom I have spoken to over the past few days seem positive that they will come. That may play out for a great showing on our first night (May 02 Thursday) …
We headed out to get the coffee perking and set up early for the Sunday Night Meeting. We sat a good group of folks. And we continued reading from the Big Book and Into Action through step 9.
” Made direct amends to such people, where ever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.”
We read in the book that “The Spiritual life is not a theory. We Have to Live It.
It was brought to attention that the end of that sentence is italicized, which means that it is important and should be made note of.
In my life, as it pertains to family, we had a tit for tat relationship. Many of the decisions I made, in sobriety the first time AND the second time, were in response to something that was done to me.
My father poisoned the well between my brother and myself and I haven’t been able to mend that fence. My mother was ambivalent, and she lives in resentment. In my life, if she copped a resentment against you, she would shut you off like flicking a light switch. And they did that to many family members, not only me.
Being Gay and HIV+ was a death knell. My father said some very hurtful things, and for a long time as I was growing up he would constantly tell me that I was a mistake and should never have been born. How do you counter something like that? What do you do? I did the only thing possible and I legally changed my name as to leave the family once in for all. And I was sober when I did that.
My father told me that I would never live up to the man he named me after, a soldier who was killed in Viet Nam. And a man I know my father felt something more than friendship, since a room in his house is dedicated to him openly.
Coming to Canada was another decision I made in sobriety. One because I could not afford to live in the states any more. And my mothers propensity for lying paid off for me giving me a birthright into Canada. How could I pass that up?
I tried for years to make amends. To keep communications open. I guess I expected blood from a rock, knowing my family history. The last things my mother said to me was that if they got sick and died, nobody would call me.
Fuck me for trying.
Amends are tricky things. And there were many takes on the topic tonight. Someday in sobriety I won’t be expectant of any kind of response, if there was a response. Silence is a bitter pill to swallow. But in my family silence is the tactic to punish those who have fallen out of favor.
That’s why we pray. To accept things I cannot change, and to accept that I am powerless over people, places and things.
I am grateful for the people in my life and the good things that come from meetings.
All is right in the world tonight.
More to come, stay tuned…
It is raining. The great spring wash has begun. As is usual, April brings showers to wash away the snow on the ground. It has been a couple of beautiful days with sun and warmer temps.
It is Easter Sunday and I had hoped for a good showing tonight, as for it is a holiday and the biggest night in bar traffic always comes on holidays after folks have spent the better part of the weekend with family, they need a night out for some liquor.
The same goes for members. Holidays, family, alcohol, a mix not for the feint of heart, beings people out of the house and to a meeting, which is why meetings are open on holidays.
As it was the last Sunday of the month, we read from the Twelve and Twelve. And it is the third month, so we read Tradition Three. ” The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.”
Have you ever …
Have you ever judged someone in the rooms, based on their story or circumstance? Have you ever felt that someone should go get sober somewhere else because it might happen that a particular person upset the delicate apple cart of members egos and attitudes? Have you ever shunned someone from a meeting because they were different ? Have you ever felt superior to someone new to the rooms, or towards one of your fellows ?
The only requirement…
The first time I got sober in Ft’ Lauderdale, I got sober in a gay room of A.A. a Lambda room. I was safe and amongst my people. As circumstances presented themselves, a couple years in I moved from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami to be treated for my HIV by a specialist. Because there was no infrastructure there to assist people with AIDS.
I began attending meetings at the Coral Room in South Florida. That was a club room, which meant it was open all day from 7 am to midnight, and housed many meetings a night – every night.
At one point, I was sober a few years, and I had never really shared my story with community up until that point. I was asked to share at a meeting, of course I said yes. I was at the podium talking and at the point where I got to where I came out and said that I was living with AIDS, many men got up from their chairs and went outside to wait until I was finished speaking. At the end of the meeting they took me outside and said …
DO NOT COME BACK HERE, GET SOBER SOMEWHERE ELSE !!!
Had I been versed on the traditions, I would have recited tradition three. This is a hindsight observation. I never attended that particular meeting again. I then settled at the late night meeting at 10, where people welcomed me with open arms. Just goes to show you that there are IGNORANT people in the rooms.
It was in that room that I planned and executed my slip.
I never returned to that place, when I returned the second time. The second time I got sober on South Beach in 2001.
When I moved to Montreal in 2002, I was hitting meetings all over the city. And it happened again that I went to a meeting on the West End, holed over by a family of sober folks. At the end of the meeting they starting plying me with twenty questions about my life and sobriety. A second time I stated the truth and once again I heard those words…
ISN’T THERE SOMEPLACE ELSE YOU CAN GET SOBER, OTHER THAN HERE ???
Once is enough to be told that one is not welcome, but twice is a problem. Being new to a city and meeting new people for the first time, it doesn’t bode well for a community to be so ignorant and intolerant of those with different struggles. I mean that’s what we pray when we recite the long version of the Serenity Prayer.
There are ignorant people in Montreal. To this day there are some who ignore me and will come to a meeting I sit in and ignore me as if I didn’t exist. I don’t know why this is, but I have my suspicions. Years ago, it was odd to find a queer in a straight meeting. We had queer meetings dedicated to the queer factor.
But over time, queer meetings fell apart and the LGBT folks scattered across the city to main line heterosexual meetings. We are everywhere today. And for the most part there is no qualm about it. We are all alcoholics, who want to get better, and far be it from anyone to tell someone that they are not welcome at any given meeting.
The only reason we would ask someone to leave a meeting is, and only when they get unruly and threaten anyone’s well being in a meeting. And in all my years I know of only One Man to be barred from a particular meeting, which is above and beyond the pale of any group conscience.
People come to a meeting because they suffer the same affliction we all do, a sickness of mind, body and soul. And the only way to get better is to put down the drink and come to a meeting.
I have always erred on the side of caution. When dealing with new folks, to allow them to sink in slowly, to be welcoming, to be grateful and to be of assistance. Never throw a book at them prematurely or to force them to “get it my way or the highway” or suggest they “come to” quicker than they are able, each according to their gifts.
There are meetings where old timers pound the book from the first meeting. I don’t agree with the heavy hand approach. Sobriety takes time, and all we have is time. Take as much time as you need.
Young people are suffering. We heard it again tonight. Conflicts about God, and spirituality are coming in between people. Egos and attitudes are coming to blows for some. And we hear as well that newcomer numbers are dropping on the young people groupings, all because of heavy handedness.
There are also some young people who deign to say the word God and have come up with their own set of steps rewritten to omit any reference to God, and that isn’t sitting well with older members.
Our book is meant to be suggestive only, we realize we know only a little …
It is written in the way it is written for a reason and the steps were written for a certain reason in the format they were set down to paper. Far be it from someone to rewrite them because of the God issue. In the end this is a spiritual program, and sooner or later we come to the God word.
However you get there … there is one who has all power that one is God, may you find him now … the words spoken in How It Works.
Seasons are changing. And people are shook up. And it is distressing to see these kinds of flare ups, but what can you do ? Always check your motives when dealing with others.
You belong when you say you belong.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.
I am grateful for my friends tonight and every night.
It was a good but painful meeting, but that happens occasionally.
Pray for our young people.
More to come, stay tuned…
Another week has begun, Passover began for my Jewish friends and family, and it is holy week in the Christian calendar. The most holy or Highest Holy days of the year. We will be partaking in services at the Cathedral on Saturday night for the Easter Vigil Choir mass – which is always a good production.
It was a busy day today. We spent the morning writing letters to the government and the bank who holds my student loan – the government is trying to hold me responsible for paying a $3000.00 loan, that should have been converted to a bursary because AIDS is a major functional disability and they did not adjust my account properly – and they did this to hundreds of thousands of other students as well. So we are contesting the loan payback and requesting the government to retroactively correct my file. Let Us Pray !!!
After a short power nap, I got ready to go for tonight’s meeting at Trinity Memorial this evening. We sat a fair number of folks. 90 % had less than a month. And a few with multiples of years. And it is a beginner’s meeting, so precedence goes to the newcomers.
We read from the Big Book … 32-33.
… Most of us have believed that if we remained sober for a long stretch, we could thereafter drink normally. But here is a man who at fifty-five years found he was just where he had left off at thirty.
[the man got sober - and went back out and never returned]
We have seen the truth demonstrated again and again:” Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” Commencing to drink after a period of sobriety, we are in a short time as bad as ever. If we are planning to stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that someday we will be immune to alcohol.
There is that pesky warning once again repeated in the text. Some folks just don’t read the book.
Many of our young people, find it a challenge to pick up the book and really commit with their hearts, the tough task of self appraisal and inventory. Long before we get to the God issue, the admission of the problem is necessary. And being young and impervious, so they think, of alcohol, they either remain on the outside looking in, or stuck in the revolving door [ in and out and in and out.]
Who really wants to get honest with themselves and have to, in due time, speak those words to another, let alone God himself ? I suppose that if you are at the point of utter incomprehensible demoralization, there is no other way but up.
How do you impress upon young people that this is the only way to get better and that just thinking about it and saying the words and warming a seat will keep you sober and lead you to a happy and fulfilling life. However hard the task to begin with, if we can commence to drink, at some point, we will commence to get better. Because to drink for us is to die.
I waited for the end of the meeting to share, hoping that the newcomers would take up the hour talking, and they did. I’ve spoken about my SLIP experience ad nauseum.
What did I know, and when did I know it ?
Alcoholism was rampant in my family. Three generations worth. It was there, and because we were taught never to talk about it or seek a solution, God forbid, it existed untreated and undiagnosed. I never said to myself that I would never become my father or my grandfather.
I had to move away to be Gay, because my father would never had stood for a faggot under his roof. At 21 I moved away to begin my adult life, with not a one tool for proper living. Who knew from responsibility. Jackpot after jackpot occurred and I did not know what to do.
But stopping drinking was not a choice I entertained.
Would that someone said the word STOP … in my twenties ? Had someone that knew me and my life story, said the word stop, would I have listened ? And I imagine that my life would have been so different had I gotten help then.
Everything happens for a reason. And this is the cross I bear to this day. I am sure that my alcoholism and stupidity played a part in my diagnosis at 26. The boy who I was with at that time, lied to me then killed himself. So I was fucked from the word Go!!!
I got sober in spite of the fact that I was trying to kill myself with the drink, not to feel the sorrow of knowing that I was standing on deaths doorstep and that I was surely going to die in a matter of time. I had the date marked on a calendar, I knew the day I was supposed to die.
The powers that be made an executive decision on my behalf, and while they remained in my life I was safe, safe from myself, and safe my alcoholism. But like all good things, they also come to an end. And I was left alone in a world that I knew not, because of the world that I was living in the past few years.
I had to relearn how to live in the world without the protection and direction of Todd and Roy. I stayed sober for a couple more years, but it just wasn’t the same. Once I hit my death date and I was still alive, I had to figure out what to do next ? Because I had not planned on living that long and the world was at large.
I was going to meetings. I had friends. BUT …
The heterosexual men in the room that I spent most of my meetings were dead set against my attending meetings at that room, and they told me so to my face.
I stayed sober in spite of them. But after while, I strayed away from the book. I had no sponsor, and I wasn’t communicating with someone I trusted. And I made an executive decision in sobriety that doomed me to my slip.
They say we plan our slips ahead of time…
All the boys at four years went out, including myself. And the slip was worse because I not only drank, but I became a drug addict. Thankfully when I came to the end of my drug use, I moved away from the source, and I never looked back, and never returned to using, even though I kept drinking for more than a year before I was led back to the rooms.
I know that feeling of shame and remorse. Having to begin at the beginning and how others think of me, because it was all about everyone else at the start. And the book also says that
“at some point we get hit by the Grace of God and we get sober”
And that happened to me and countless others.
The desire to drink left me and never returned. I can attest to the words in the book, I have a healthy respect for what it says and how it applies to my life.
And at eleven years, safe and sound was not working for me and I needed to change it up to freshen my sober journey, so I started attending this beginners meeting. To hear stories and meet new folks. Because one day, I may be present at the right moment and say the right thing, and maybe help someone never have another drink again …
The message take away:
A. That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives
b. That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism
c. That God could if he were sought
You never have to ever drink again … It can be done, one day at a time.
I am so tired …
I opened Pandora’s Box over the holidays, and now I find myself reliving memories, which for the most part, I have buried in my brain. After so many years one would hope that adults could look at a situation with time and thought and rise to the occasion and come to the table to rebuild. But when there are braces on your brains, and a patriarchal mandate over your head, people choose to live in the past and are unable to come into the present.
It is really sad …
Today was Sunday, and I needed a meeting. I left early and arrived in time to help set up as usual. We read from the Big Book and we finished the read through of More About Alcoholism. The room was packed. We needed to bring out more chairs as the meeting started to accommodate more folks.
Over the last few days my brain has been on overdrive. I spend my day doing what needs to be done, but when I lay my head down on the pillow for a nap, the rat gets on the wheel and the wheel spins at 100 mph.
My past is a veritable Pandora’s Box. And my sponsor is apt to tell me that I should just let it go and get on with living. And for the most part I can do that.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (YOU) (OTHERS)
The courage to change the things I can (ME)
And the Wisdom to know the difference.
I chose to open Pandora’s box this Christmas, by sending a card to my estranged family, to which they did not reply. I had a conversation with my aunt, who is in the same boat I am, (we call this the punishment cell)…
Just because I am sober now 11 years and a month, doesn’t mean that people in the past will consider allowing me entrance back into family, and in that I am forever damned.
And as of late, my brain has been on ” Haunt Mode.”
Every time I close my eyes, I get a playback of the past in HD color. And I can’t seem to shut the damn tv off. And I lay in bed and the images roll on like a film being played behind my eyes.
And it is driving me insane. You’d think I’d know better doing this every year like clockwork. But No, I just want to sit there with the hammer in my hand banging my head in because it feels soooo good.
I’m tired of this pain. Because it will never go away, until I hit my deathbed.
People stuck in the past are unwilling to rethink, and possibly forgive because there is fault on all sides. And that doesn’t diminish the pain that I feel because of the way people treated me. I do have feelings. I cannot change being gay and I sure as shit cannot get rid of HIV in my body. But to hold these things over ones head as punishment is terrible.
FUCKERS !!! that’s what you are. Unforgiving assholes .
So the Globes are on. I am gonna go watch.
More to come, stay tuned…
There are certain people in my life, or some I wished were part of my life that I would like to pose this question to … Because it pertains to our topic this evening.
But First …
There is snow on the ground, or what’s left of what fell the other night. In Westmount, all the yards I passed were covered in a blanket of snow that stuck.
I was up early today and as you can only sit in front of this box for so long before utter boredom sets in, I set off for the church a half hour earlier than usual to see just how much farther the Seville Project is coming along, and if my count is right, they are capping the 21st floor on Phase Three, It seems that another floor is going to go up next as the elevator shaft and columns for another floor were being poured today.
They are coming along quite nicely with the ground floor spots, which house a BMO Bank branch, they moved the rental office from the original space on our end to one farther West, underneath the Phase Three tower.
I cranked out chairs and two pots of coffee and a tea pot which went over very well tonight. It is quicker to perk a 10 cup pot of hot water, rather than use the tea kettle and having to wait for it to heat water, the stand alone coffee pot was used by many folks tonight.
We sat 45 folks. The room was full of new faces and a handful of newbies. It was a good crowd. The chair read from the Living Sober book, “Avoiding Anger and Resentment.”
It was an appropriate reading as it gives us a chance to read a passage that contains a spot checklist of feelings and emotions that may crop up in our days, not that I entertain anger or resentments, but looking at the short check list there are things I can ponder on any given day.
I am always on the lookout for pearls of wisdom from our women and tonight I was not disappointed as one of them spoke these words …
” An expectation is a premeditated resentment…”
I know that when I got sober this time, I carried around an expectation wish list for God of things that I thought I needed, now rather than later. And that list was dispatched with in due time. They did not quite fester into resentments. But more like annoyances, that were dispatched with “stay in your day” and “One day at a time” and “keep coming back.”
I’ve been angry in the past. And I can tell you exactly the day, location, and at whom I was angry at on that given day. It was volcanic, targeted and I threw my keys across the church and marched my ass out without another word.
Those I got angry with, did not stay long. And it was “be gone with you.” So it went. That was the last time I got really angry. It was one night, no more than twenty minutes and it was over with. I’ve never gotten so angry again. Needless to say that I don’t deal well with assholes with Egos… They just grate against my skin like petting a kitty backwards…
I don’t surround myself with people who would trigger anger. I have friends who are calm pools of water, Margaret Craven would call them “The Pool.” Then there are some people I know who are “Chek-wa-la” Fast moving water.
I try to stay out of Chek-wa-la.
Most of my friends from the rooms I see on a weekly basis. At meetings. Very few have graduated to “friendship outside the room” like “let’s go for coffee or something.” I have pissed some folks off here on the blog, and I know they copped resentments, it’s not my problem. How many times does one have to apologize in open community. any who …
I come from a family that was steeped in anger and resentments. My parents are the masters of cut and silence. My brother and his wife have followed in those social gospel teachings from my father, who preaches a solid line that must be followed or you yourself fall victim of the cut and silence.
I was the peacemaker. For the whole of my life, I worked diligently at mending fences and trying to hold together family. Over my lifetime, I watched my parents get pissed off for one thing or another and cop a resentment and cut and silence folks like my aunts and uncles, friends, neighbors, and especially my mother’s sister Paula. They ripped her to shreds.
I watched them punish people like 5 year old’s.
I did things in sobriety that were in my best interest. The first decision I made for myself I did during my first sober period. If I was the mistake that should never have been born, I just made sure that prophecy came true.
The second decision that I made for myself entailed my move North. Both these decisions were nails in my father’s casket. And I hammered them in quite deeply. BUT… once I was settled here, I spent the first two years here trying to mend fences and maintain family. I FAILED !!!
My mother told me in on uncertain terms that if she or my father got sick and/or died, I would not be notified and that keeping ties was unworkable. Those were the last words I heard from my mother more than 10 years ago.
And I battle resentments over family. I cannot change them. And every year I get to look at these resentments and I have to cope with what I cannot change. And it burns like hot chili peppers going down my throat.
11 years sober.
I finally decided to attempt communication. My mail would have arrived there this week. Now we wait to see if I get a response from them. I am not getting my hopes up. They are still angry at me, for many things, but because I am a non-person, a Persona Non Grata, Once the door is shut on you, you don’t exist.
Being Gay and HIV+ are my two killers.
I cannot change my sexual orientation and I sure as shit cannot change the fact that I live with a terminal disease. The door was shut on me well before I made these two life decisions. Fuck me …
I failed to follow the family gospel, because I did not share the same beliefs that my father passed down as gospel. I cannot change them. And I am powerless over them. It doesn’t elicit anger but a sickening in my stomach that people hold onto shit for years and years – choosing silence and punishment rather than communication and repentance.
Acceptance is the key to all of my problems…
What if you wake up one day and you’re not angry any more ???
I don’t get angry. You’d think that the next thought is …
I don’t get angry, I get Even!!!
My family was good at the ” tit for tat ” game. And I guess that in sobriety I played that game too.
There are only so many decades you can listen to “you were a mistake” and there are only so many times a parent can belittle or talk smack about you to your face that eventually you do something about it.
Your son is gay, instead of love, they chose hate.
Your son is HIV+, instead of support, they chose condemnation.
I was fucked from the word go, doubly so …
But my Belief is this: That everyone has a redeemable quality. At the root is the fact that we are not meant to be alone, and we only get one family, no matter how fractured that is. And I go barking up this tree every year. WHY ???
I don’t fucking know.
I want to be known. I was here. I lived. I survived. I have earned Respect and Dignity. Is that too much to ask for in this life?
What do you do? Get angry, Get even ??? People with AIDS were being thrown into the streets by family. I had nowhere to go. LGBTQ kids, to this day, are being tossed from their homes because they are gay.
That’s a familial tragedy.
I could no longer live under the hate/condemnation umbrella. I had to do something, or I was going to either drink or die. I chose the first.
And now I am here 11 years later. I am the boy who lived …
If you don’t want to be part of my life, so be it. But I tried. I am powerless over people, places and things. I don’t ask very much from my friends. And they say in sobriety, not everybody is going to like you or want to be your friend. Thank God I can live with that truth.
People with AIDS don’t waste time with people who aren’t in the gang.
You are either with me or you are not. It’s very simple.
I ain’t gonna chase you. I am 45 years old. I am sober 11 years. I survived the drink and the drugs. I survived AIDS – 19 years.
I’ve earned respect, because I am a dignified man.
I am not angry any more. It’s a waste of time and emotion. Why allow useless people to rent free space in your brain, for no good reason???
The end of the night came with whoopla and applause. My sponsor had a card, a medallion, and a small gift for me. We had cake. Everybody left happy.
A good night was had by all.
Wau Lam… That is all.
More to come, stay tuned.
Make a list of things you’d like to change. Expand one or all of the point into a post. How do they inform one another? What connects them? What does that say about you?
This photo was taken many years ago, I was a young twenty something, and the woman I loved more than life itself was still alive. My Memere …
This was a dream vacation we got to take together because I had a really great job and the ability to take friends and family aboard the ships on the odd occasion. There was no better way to repay her but with a trip to the Bahamas.
Oh by the way, this post is brought to you by Plinky.
It is Christmas. My 45th Christmas. Imagine, I lived to see 45 Christmases.
What would I like to change ???
I saw Sally Field on Oprah last night, speaking about her Human Rights Campaign Award for the Ally for Equality. And in her speech she spoke about her son, Sam. And how much she loved her son and that “God created him” so he’s gay, (then continued … Who the F*ck cares ???”)
And she said about the f bomb, that sometimes it is useful.
The holidays are really hit and miss for me. I love the holidays, and I hate them just the same. I find solace in doing for others on the holiday then reliving the knowledge that my family wants nothing to do with me.
I would change lots of things. I would love to see past resentments finally get rid of in my family. Instead of the way things are. Nobody speaking to each other, however I am in contact with my aunt in Florida. And my cousin in B.C.
Being gay is strike one on me. Being HIV+ is the second strike, and living abroad is the third strike. So what, I made life decisions for myself. It was all about me and not them. However I used them to get where I am today. Just luck my mother was still a citizen when I was born which afforded me a birthright.
I’ve been on the persona non grata list for more than a decade. And I wonder when do we stop punishing each other for growing up and making decisions in our lives. And when do we move from Resentment into Acceptance ???
It’s not all about Me – or all about You. It’s all about Us …
I sent out 25 Christmas cards today. That two boxes of cards, and postage came to more than $50.00 … A nominal expense, but I enjoy cards. Sending them and getting them.
I wrote out one card to my family, in the states. Just my signature and sealed and set it on the pile. Last night I got balsy and tore up that card and wrote out a second card. With an invitation to dialogue.
You know, I am 45 years old. I am past middle age, when it comes to HIV. I am living on borrowed time, as they say. What would you give to hear your mother say that she loves you? Or your father the same. Or your brother say that he was interested in dialogue after more than decades of silence.
I’ve earned every minute of my life. I am a big man. And though my family lived on tit for tat backstabbing, we all played a part in where we are today. Everybody is guilty, for things we did or said, and for things we failed to say and do.
If I could change some things in the past, like knowing what I should have done when my grandparents had their strokes – they might have lived longer and our family would not have self imploded like it did.
My Memere lived a long life. The regret of my life, is not going to her funeral. That is another sore spot, because my mother did not want her infected fag son to be seen by the family. So she barred me from the funeral and burial. What was I going to say, “f*ck you, I’m going anyways???”
People who believe in the bible so hard, they loose sight of what is really the meaning of life, and what the words in the Bible really mean. How can you espouse the bible and never set foot in a church? Did Vatican authority really force you to think, believe and say the things you all said?
Like Holy Mother Church was in the next room !!!
In sobriety we work our steps. And I have been through my steps. I made my lists and spoke to my resentments and pain. Some items on that step 4 list never get removed for good. There is still bitterness and anger. But what can I do, I am powerless over people, places and things.
I know better than to get my hopes up. My 11th sober anniversary is on Sunday and what a sober gift it would be to reconnect.
All you gotta do is Google me. And there I am. I am not hard to find.
What does this say about me? Family is everything, when you have none. No gay boy or girl, should ever be sent away or forced out of their family just for being gay. No way, No how, No argument. No gay adult should feel less than because members of their own family deny they exist because they are gay.
Time is a precious commodity, once wasted it can Never be regained. We all live on borrowed time, we are all going to die, and would you rather go to your grave with resentments in your life, or a clear conscience, surrounded by family?
Shit, I have a great friend in the sphere and on twitter who gave birth to a gay teenager (well he is a gay teenager today) and the second son is (Gender Queer) and son three is still too young to present. And she loves her boys. So does her husband Adam. I would kill to have a mom like Sam.
Times have changed, and You owe me at least respect.
The bible says “Honor thy father and mother.”
I find it hard to honor a human/humans who do not honor me. Love skipped a generation when it came to my parents. It seems they did not get the memo from the grandparents. They all died too soon to impart the message.
And I don’t know if I can teach an old dog new tricks.
Cue the music – start the fog machine – blue light GOBO slow pans across the floor through dimly lit space, and the first beat comes…
I am alone, it is early, the bar is not yet open, but I am there alone. Just me, the music and the spirit of God. Well, what little spirit of God there was at that time of my life. It is mid-summer in Ft. Lauderdale. I have just told Todd that I was going to die…
This was one of the hardest days of my life. How do you tell someone you love, that you are going to die? The day I was diagnosed, July 8th, 1994 was the worst day of my life. Bar none …
My then boyfriend packed his things and left in the car as soon as he heard the news. All of my friends found out and they all took off for the hills. The only people still standing by me were Todd, Roy, and a choice few friends at the bar that I was working at.
I called a family meeting and that proved to be a failure. Because I was first gay, now I was HIV+ and that was doubly sinful and abhorrent to them.
If you were around during the height of the AIDS epidemic you would have seen employers fire sick people from their jobs, landlords throwing tenants out on the streets. You would have seen families, lovers and partners toss their sick significant others out into the street as well.
We had nothing left but the little dignity we had left. And the ones who stayed were the ones who would care for, tend to, care for and bury the rest. Because back in the 90’s, there were no comprehensive care systems. We did not have drugs that we have today. We did not have doctors dedicated to taking care of us.
The medical systems had to be built from the ground up. Many doctors didn’t know from AIDS and they had to learn how to care for so many sick people.
I bought several poster boards that I made calendars out of and stuck them on my kitchen wall to mark the days I had left to live. That was 540 days …
My friend Roy used to tear them up whenever he came over because he did not want me focusing on the day that I was supposed to die. I had bigger fish to fry. And Todd kept me on a short leash. What he did saved my life. There will never be another man in my life like Todd.
Hundreds of people I knew died. HUNDREDS !!!!
Every year the quilt was rolled out, we went to see it to mark the new names added to the list of the dead. And we also went to see who was still alive.
This is why we celebrate World AIDS Day, because those who do not learn from the past are destined to repeat it. This generation knows very little of what it was like for us – back in the day.
That is one reason I opened this blog. To catalog and collect my memories. So that in case I die, I was here. I left my mark on the world with the stories of my life that I have collected here for you all to read.
Gay is still a dirty word in the world. And is still met with condemnation and abhorrence. The face of HIV has changed over the last decade. New medications have come along, and many of us who are left from days gone by, are now on those powerful cocktails of drugs that we must take daily to stay alive.
I was there when it all started for me. When there were no real set drugs and I tested every drug that came off the pike from the doctors I sought out after my diagnosis.
In the beginning, we had a drug farm in Fort Lauderdale, and they would collect medication from people who had died. They would repackage those drugs and give them to us, as we could not get medication very easily. And I did that for two years. I moved to Miami because there were doctors there who were trained in care for HIV positive folks.
And from those doctors, I tested every drug that came down the pike. And this has been what I have done here in Montreal, since the day I arrived here. I have the best in medical care here and a doctor who is on the cutting edge of HIV medical treatment.
HIV is not a death sentence, unless you live in a country that cannot get medication. Where death rates are terribly high. We need to do more to get drugs to countries that so badly need them. Drug companies need to do more for the world than what they are doing today. They are NOT doing ENOUGH !!!
Today we remember all those who have died.
We pray for their souls and their families.
And we ask you for your continued prayers and support.
If you don’t know your HIV status, then I suggest you get tested. If you are an active gay man, it is your DUTY to know these things. The owness falls on you to get tested and be RESPONSIBLE for your life and also for the lives of men you have sex with.
HIV knows no barrier, creed, color or sexual orientation. Straight people get HIV too.
Nobody is immune from getting HIV if you are not careful or diligent about sex. Doing nothing is stupid. There is no excuse for why you wouldn’t or shouldn’t get tested, it could SAVE YOUR LIFE !!!
Rapid treatment after diagnosis today can be very helpful to living a full and happy life. It didn’t use to be like this. In the 90’s HIV was a death sentence. Thank God I had what I had or I surely would not be here today writing to you.
Be Responsible. Be Diligent and Be Smart. Get tested !!!
Take care of yourself and each other.
“It’s not the cloud in the middle of the room, but the elephant in the room!”
It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Skies were blue, cool enough for a hoodie, and lots of time on my hands. Hubby was up and around early this morning and got some shopping done. Thank God for benevolent powers that be who upped my credit allowance on HBC.
Can you believe it that Thanksgiving is only a few days away??? The crunch of the holidays will soon be descending upon us very soon. There is a lot of discussion going on about the holidays, our group anniversary 54 years in December and the discussion about having the room open on Christmas and New Years day, since those holiday’s fall on Tuesday this year.
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It was a festive day today because we are sending one of our young people away to live in New York City, so we threw him a group going away party tonight. I wanted to do something special for him. We’ve watched him grow up over the last year and he’s a strong young man who will do great things with his life.
We read from the Big Book, continuing on Step 4 and our sexual actions list. One never knows where the discussion is going to go when dealing with such an intimate topic. It was very moving to hear what people had to share and do it so openly and honestly.
I never really think about sex, but it is a part of my life. I shared about some things tonight, but after I spoke, and the discussion went around the outer circle, more came to mind the longer I thought about the topic.
I have to say that sex was an ever present entity in our lives when I was a much younger boy. My parent’s were raised in the 1950’s. And were married in 1967.
My father’s reading library was always on display sitting by the toilet in the bathroom. And I knew very early in my life, I knew what road I was going to take because I had been “home schooled” in sexual activity and sexual orientation.
Lucky that when I was old enough to come home after school, I had plenty of time to investigate all the little secrets my parents kept. I remember when they would have visitors over, I would listen in on their conversations and I heard things that maybe a child sh0uld not know about.
It is amazing that my father had certain proclivities. And his reading material was skewed in a certain direction, but because (in hindsight) there was ample self loathing about certain sexual orientations that he always spoke in terms of as being Abhorrent.
When I was a boy, all I wanted was to be like my dad.
I thought sex was normal, either straight or gay. I didn’t see a disconnect here. And if it was good for dad, then it should be good enough for me as well.
There was a particular radio show on late night radio that I used to listen to that informed my desires as a young boy. I was engrossed in secrets. And by the time I hit puberty – I had complete knowledge of where I was going. And like any good father, he took each of us, (my brother and I) out for our traditional “Birds and the Bee’s” discussion dinner outing.
I never admitted my sexual orientation to anyone. Who knew that the direction I was headed personally, was sexual orientation (something different). I thought that it was normal to be sexually oriented in a certain way. If dad was reading about it – he must be thinking about it – so what is so bad about it?
My father has a very old skeleton in his closet. One that will never see the light of day. I have studied my life, and his life over the last 45 years, and I have come up with my own story, from the stories I was told as a young man.
As it turned out – my progression sexually was an outward reflection of what my father was internally. But he made a conscious choice to bury reality and marry into uniform society. One man – One Woman. Marriage – Home and children.
My father forced my mother on a number of fronts. One, to renounce her heritage. Two, to alienate her entire family, and Three, to vow a blood oath to her husband and fuck the children.
It was either your husband OR your children.
Some mothers get the luxury of having both her husband and marriage and her children. My mother did not have that choice. He abhorred me and loved my brother. I was a mistake, in his words. But my brother was to be the chosen one.
My parents surely knew the game was up when I was a teen-ager. My father was purely convinced that I was a mistake and the abuse he heaped on me is something no child should ever have placed upon them.
Being raised hard line 1960’s Catholicism, homosexuality was abhorrent. And had no place in his family. Gays, Queers, Niggers and Wops were just some of the words my father used on an every day basis. He was an equal opportunity offender. I had a best friend in sixth grade who’s family originated in South East Asia. Hence, they had dark skin.
One day I invited my friend over to visit after school. And my father almost had a heart attack. He opened with, what is that nigger doing in my house? He has dark skin, what if the neighbors see him here? What will they think?
That was just one example. That friend never set foot in our house ever again. All my friendships ever more happened away from home, in other people’s homes, not my own.
The first time my step mother introduced gay men into our lives, my father’s verbal abuse and physical abuse only got worse. He was so jealous that as a young man, I gravitated to those men, because they spoke to me kindly and shared stories with me and treated me like a human being. Where my father wouldn’t deign to even speak to those men, but he had to tolerate them sitting at my step mother’s dining room table. She would not allow him to spout his vitriol at the table.
I was schooled in all things gay by real gay men. My father would abuse me terribly after each dinner party to make sure he would “beat the gay” out of me. But once again, I offer this: If gay is so abhorrent, then why did you have gay reading material in plain view in the communal bathroom for everyone else to see?
And remember my mother swore a blood oath to him that said that she had to always side with him and never defend her children on any front. My father preached the social gospel for the entire time I lived at home.
I never shared my sexual orientation with anyone. Ever. When I was able, and dutifully unprepared for going out into the world, I packed up my life and moved to Orlando. I was too young, Too Green, and Totally unprepared to go into the world.
I was a raging alcoholic at 21. I moved into a high end apartment complex just outside the Tragic Queendom. I had no street smarts, nor did I know the value of a dollar, how to use that dollar and pay bills and rent and car payments. Because what other money would I have to drink with???
I had made exploratory forays into the community prior to moving so I knew gay people in advance.
And I was warmly welcomed into the community by a good friend who initiated me into the club. And I was off and running. All Good Boys come out at the Parliament House on Orange Blossom Trail. I did that. The Communards sang:
Never Can Say Goodbye … Patrick danced with me, and he was my first kiss.
What do you get when you mix the Tragic Queendom, alcohol and a band of boys fresh off the farm in a world of sex, drag queens, drugs and party time all the time?
I was a young boy, with cheek of tan. I was pretty. And I knew it. And that played in my favor for a long time. I could drink with the best. I had several room mates living in several apartments during those years. Boys were a dime a dozen, and seducing straight boys was a competition.
I was a sexually active young man. I won’t deny that. Everybody was having sex. This was Pre-AIDS. We never heard that word ever, until it started killing our friends. But like any naive young boy, we thought we were invincible and untouchable.
We never discussed AIDS among us. But when the first and second and third drag queen we knew died, it started to become reality. It did not impact me, nor would it for some time to come.
The one relationship that I had, that meant anything to me during that time was with a seasonal hire at the Tragic Queendom. His name was Charlie. I really cared about him. We got along famously. We slept together. The game was (Blender or Bottle). We would call one or the other and it was a one word question, Blender or Bottle.
That was code for – we are going to drink – and have sex.
Sex and alcohol was intertwined when I was a boy. It is our greatest asset. And for some a terrible weapon. It was difficult having honest relationships then. Because no man was off limits, even better if you were dating that man. Because if another boy could steal your boyfriend and sleep with him, that was a BIG score. Sex was an all out competition. That life did not last long.
I tried to marry out of that community. Meet a man, get involved and settle down. And I honestly tried that. But it never panned out.
From the age of 21 to 26, I was a sexual dynamo. And where there was alcohol there was sex. I had moved to Fort Lauderdale for a boy. He lied to me, he cheated on me, then he infected me. He never told me that he had AIDS. I found out after his suicide, with a backhanded comment by one of his friends who felt it her duty to inform me that he was gravely ill … so he killed himself.
I was tested once. It came back negative. Life went on. So did the drinking. I got a really good job. A job I wish, to this day, I still had with the same people, in the same place, alas, that time has passed, all those friends are dead, and the man who saved my life is across the country.
The day I tested positive for AIDS was the turning point in my sex life. I’ve told this story over and over again. You know how it goes.
I got sober a month and a half after I was diagnosed. I was diagnosed on July 8th 1994. I got sober the first time on August 23rd, 1994. My boss kept me on a short leash. I was too busy working and learning how to survive at the bar to even consider getting involved in a relationship. Because, if I am honest, who wanted a marked man?
I like this story. I was working at the bar for a long time. And I had a bartender position one night. And this really cute guy stalked me all night. After shift we went out to after hours to get acquainted. Which led to discussion, which led to me going over his house. He was undressed before he got through the front door of his house. And I panicked. Do I disclose ???
I chose to disclose right there on the spot.
I never saw a man put his clothes back on so fast in my life. He asked me to leave, and would you believe it, that man kept coming to the bar I worked at and never once did he ever acknowledge my existence.
I never had another relationship after that.
I was sober 4 years, living in Miami. I was coasting. Going to meetings, and staying sober. I had a tight group of sober friends. But I wasn’t buried in the Big Book. And I didn’t have a sponsor.
And you know Alcohol is Cunning, Baffling and Powerful, not to mention “PATIENT!”
I have heard it said that while you go to a meeting, alcoholism is doing push ups in the parking lot waiting for you.
I had been abstinent for a long time. But at some point, that little devious dragon called sex, started to beckon me. I had not drank, I was living alone. My friends were all taking care of me night and day. My friends actually all had keys to my apartment so they could come and go as they pleased, because they were all involved in my life. It was the most beautiful thing. I miss David and Logan.
I never spoke of this yearning to anyone. But I sought out the missing link. And I never told anyone what I was up to. My Bad …
I acted on that urge. I drank, I drugged and almost lost my life …
After that relationship ended. I moved back to Miami and into my solitary life. I had three friends. Mark, Ricky and Raphael. Mark my my using buddy, Ricky and his husband were caretakers for a while, until I was able to move out on my own.
You know the rest of this story.
I got sober again and took my last geographic move in sobriety.
I met a man, I fell in love and the rest is history.
Tonight a young married woman spoke these words to us: ” For the first ten years of our marriage, I kept waiting for him to leave! It took 13 years for me to realize that I don’t want him to leave…”
I can’t say that my early life was all bad. It was fun. It was what had to happen. We all grow up one way or another. I wasn’t ready for the world that I had placed myself into. Gay vs Gay is not very conducive for healthy relationships. I’ve known many backstabbing queens. I had relations with a few of them.
Would I relive that period of time again? Maybe. If I could have the same people who were there alive today. Alas, many of them died later on in my life. That first group where AIDS made its entry into our lives, followed me. It took friends in Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami.
All the pretty, young men, we used to be became sick, deformed and blotched. It was horrible. AIDS was the scourge that tore a hole in many lives.
The desire to live loose, drink and have nameless, faceless sex grew old. It is like two sides of a very sad story. Summing it all up … It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
I was waiting for him to leave…
In this photo Left to Right: My cousin Carol, My cousin Sandy, My cousin Michael in the front row on the polka dotted chair is ME and next to me is my cousin little Pete. The woman on the far left I don’t know and the man on the right with the beer bottle on the tray table is my father’s father Al.
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This photo was taken a LONG TIME AGO. Look how little I am there. This is in the back yard of our then home on Kennedy Drive in New Britain Connecticut. This is my first home memory it is where I was born as well my brother. We lived in this house until I completed first grade and we moved to Florida.
The house was a 3 bedroom raised ranch house with a nice front lawn and spacious back yard with the requisite swing set in the back and a sand pit under the second floor balcony off the back of the house. We had a basement that was well used and there was a huge staircase that led from the front door to the main level of the house.
Since tomorrow is Father’s Day, I thought I would get on the WordPress bandwagon and write something about my father.
From my earliest memories my father worked for Fafnir Bearings in downtown New Britain, and my father’s parents worked at the original Stanley Works tool makers just up the block from where my father worked. I remember visiting his work place on several occasions.
There were a few Holidays and snowy Christmases. I remember the holiday parties between all my extended family’s homes. My mother’s parents lived not far from our home and my father’s parents were not very far either. All of which could be triangulated in one neighborhood. I could walk from one location to another. And did quite often because we walked to school in those days, up the hill, in the snow, blessedly with our shoes. (if you get that reference, you get a gold star!)
Alcoholism is something that permeated our lives. As you can see above, my grandfather always had alcohol of some sort within arms reach of where ever he stood or sat down inside or outside the house. My father was not that alcoholic but he was an alcoholic. And I can say that because of the kind of man he was to his family.
Both my father and grandfather(s) were functional alcoholics, which meant that they could handle a job, wives and children. In hindsight, reading the Big Book, they really fit the bill in many stories.
In between the alcohol and the living of life there were bright spots. My father was a good man. He provided well above everything that we ever needed, at any given time in our young lives. He worked with his hands. He was a builder of things. Later on in life he lived vicariously through us when we entered scouts, much later on in the story.
I remember the holidays that he got up on the roof and hung Christmas lights, that theme would repeat itself over and over for the rest of our family life. Where ever we lived, there were always Christmas lights.
When we moved from New Britain to Homestead Florida it was a step down. We moved from a really big house to a little duplex in a shoddy little neighborhood on the edge of the Krome Avenue fields of South Florida. (we would learn that these fields were the bread basket of South Florida).
My father had movers move our stuff. But in between point A and point B, many of our things were stolen from the truck. It was a great loss to my father, in his bid for a successful relocation, we got hit on the way down.
We lived in that duplex for a year before my father decided to grow the family fortune and we moved into the city proper and we moved into another 3 bedroom house that we lived in from my second grade until 6th grade.
During those years there were plenty of family visits. Snowbirds from the North coming to bask in the Florida sun during the winters. Even family from Canada would come down to visit. Those were very happy times. My mother’s side of the family were from Quebec, where I now live.
There was the annual summer trip from Florida to Connecticut during the summers. Sometimes my brother and I would fly and other times, my father would pack the entire family into the all famous “family station wagon” and we would make the pilgrimage to Connecticut by car. And those were adventures.
We visited all points North on the way. The all popular South of the Border on the border of South and North Carolina. We drove the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and tunnel system. That freaked me out. To this day I have an aversion to bridges. But I am not averse to crossing the Jacque Cartier Bridge here for the fireworks festival during the summer.
We spent time in Washington D.C. We toured the Smithsonian and my father made his pilgrimage to the Viet Nam memorial in Washington D.C. That was a great road trip. We toured the Congress and House of Representatives. It was all very exciting.
And to this day, when I hear music from the 1970’s and 1980’s I can close my eyes and see in my minds eye, they exact place we were at when that particular song was playing.
We lived in that house on 33rd Street and 63rd avenue until I hit the sixth grade. Well, half way into it really. My father decided that it was time to move house and at that point we kids were put on notice to help my parents pick the next house we would live in. I remember that house hunt.
We looked at several houses all in the same locale much father South than where we had lived. We looked at what we called the Power’s House. It was a 3 bedroom house with a large garage, a yard FULL of fruit trees. We grew bananas, mango, avocados, oranges, grapefruit, limes and lemons.
The house had a pool. That was the big ticket item in my father’s upwardly mobile move up the social ladder. We fell in love with that house. And so that became our next address from my sixth grade through to my adult life.
Our family had arrived…
A lifetime of working and raising a family all paid off in this stately house that would house memories and tragedies. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew blew through south Florida and demolished our home. My parents were up North at the time of the storm and when they finally got to come home, there wasn’t much home to come home to.
I did my best to serve my family during those very dark times. My parents lived in a travel trailer while they rebuilt the house from top the bottom.
My father provided for us and we wanted for nothing. But the trade off was that we had to deal with a growing problem with alcoholism. And it didn’t only affect my father, but my mother as well and all of the family business and social friends. Alcohol was a social lubricant.
A favorite story I like to tell is of the one night that my mother’s brother and wife were down from Canada and the four of them were drinking at the dining room table and they were getting quite drunk. And seeing my mother crawl across the floor into the kitchen where she tried to fit a GLAD sandwich baggie into the tall garbage can. Try as she might, she couldn’t get that bag to fit the garbage can.
Then they got in the car with us kids and we went to one of those BIG BOX stores that you went in and took a clipboard and wrote down the call numbers of what you wanted and they got the stuff from the back and delivered it to you as you cashed out… My aunt is walking around the store grabbing kitchen utensils and then she walked out of the store with these spoons and forks, and nobody was the wiser, and nobody stopped her on the way out …
My father provided all of our needs like I said. My brother’s sports stuff, I was a protege organist. My father spent a great deal of money to buy me successive sized organs as I graduated up the ranks of my musical education. I had music lessons. I had recitals. I was really good. And had I kept on with that talent, who knows where I might have been today.
My father’s pride and joy was Christmas holidays when I would entertain family parties with holiday music. It was truly joyful. It made my father’s heart sing. His favorite tune was “The Entertainer…” You know the tune don’t you???
I played that song hundreds upon hundreds of times. It eventually wore on me. And It was good and bad. Because as much as my father loved us, he also hated me with a severe passion. One night my father got drunk and threw the organ seat at my mother. My brother jacked him up against that wall that night and threatened him with death if he ever hit my mother again.
So he came after me …
With all the good things I can tell you about my father. There is a trade off to all the bad things my father dished out on us as kids. I’ve shared this before that from an early age, my father’s words to me were always the same…
” YOU WERE A MISTAKE AND SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN BORN!!!”
He beat those words into me for the whole of my life. When his alcoholism reached a fever pitch I swore that I would never play that organ again and that he could take it back to the music sellers and get his money back. I never played another note in my life.
My parents were devout Catholic. And after my brother was born and my mother got a tubiligation they were excommunicated from the church officially. And it wasn’t until I made my Holy Confirmation in tenth grade that they met with a priest and were absolved of their mortal sin.
My father did not take well to my coming out. He use of colorful language with others as well as with family and friends, he liked the words homosexual and the N word. He was a equal opportunity offender. So I never came out to my parents. I moved away when I thought the time was right. But we did come to blows over homosexuality later on in my life.
I don’t know where my father learned to hate like he did. It surely did not come from the church. And my father rarely if ever touched a bible. But he knew what he knew. And he had a terrible secret in his closet that never saw the light of day and when he figured out that I was gay, that was the end of things for us. Even worse when I got sick and was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. He always believed that I got what was coming to me. And that I could die like all my friends.
My father was a good man.
My father was a bad man.
My father was a man.
The last time I saw my father and mother was on New Years Day 2001.
I had just worked an all night shift at a bar. And got home around 9 a.m. And my phone rang. My parents had been in Miami all weekend and were on their way home to Sarasota, where they live today. So they dropped by and I offered to take us all out for brunch, but my father declined the offer.
I had twenty minutes to visit with my mother while he waited in the car with the engine running. I don’t remember that conversation. But we walked around the block where I lived then and where I would eventually get sober.
My father gathered his wife and drove off …
That was the last time I saw either one of my parents …
Look ^^^ up there …
A new PAGE has been added to the blog. It is a presentation by Matthew Vines on the Bible and Homosexuality. I wish I could post video on this blog, but I can’t, so you are in for a good LONG read !!!
If you click on the page and scroll down to the bottom, you can directly go to his You Tube account and watch the video, which last a little more than an hour.
It is very sad – if you go to the video and read some of the vitriolic comments that have been left on this video, the theology is sound and has been proven by researchers in the field of scripture and theology. Some people are purely ignorant and stupid. You’s think that in today’s world – people could be so vitriolic.
It is all about acceptance…
For many years I contended with one writing that was written by a Pastor who I have known for many years. But Matthew, on the other hand, has spent the better part of 2 years researching this topic and his presentation is rock solid.
But it is well worth the hour you should take to listen to a young man who Loves God and Loves Jesus and speaks from his heart about the six passages from the Bible that many Christians use to demonize and perpetuate hatred and condemnation.
He has studied Hebrew, Greek and Latin and in depth covers all the scriptures and explains the history, context and meaning of biblical history.
Take some time to participate. Show him some love,
Because in the end :
Being different is no crime. Being gay is not a sin. And for a gay person to desire and pursue love and marriage and family is no more selfish or sinful than when a straight person desires and pursues the very same things. The Song of Songs tells us that King Solomon’s wedding day was “the day his heart rejoiced.”
To deny to a small minority of people, not just a wedding day, but a lifetime of love and commitment and family is to inflict on them a devastating level of hurt and anguish. There is nothing in the Bible that indicates that Christians are called to perpetuate that kind of pain in other people’s lives rather than work to alleviate it, especially when the problem is so easy to fix. All it takes is acceptance.
The Bible is not opposed to the acceptance of gay Christians, or to the possibility of loving relationships for them. And if you are uncomfortable with the idea of two men or two women in love, if you are dead-set against that idea, then I am asking you to try to see things differently for my sake, even if it makes you uncomfortable.
I’m asking you to ask yourself this: How deeply do you care about your family? How deeply do you love your spouse? And how tenaciously would you fight for them if they were ever in danger or in harm’s way? That is how deeply you should care, and that is how tenaciously you should fight, for the very same things for my life, because they matter just as much to me.
Gay people should be a treasured part of our families and our communities, and the truly Christian response to them is acceptance, support, and love. Thank you, and thank you to everyone for coming tonight.
A Fascinating read from: Don’t Eat Trash
Ok time for my two cents I suppose.
I have been discussing a few things with people for the last few days because of some decision in a state of a country that i don’t live in. Makes me laugh a little. Because a couple of days ago, it wasn’t really being spoken about. But the issue still existed.
I want to illustrate two things and see where that gets me.
Number one – democracy is not Gods best.
No where in the bible do you find the blue print of democracy. The trinity isn’t a democracy. Its holy. It is perfectly relational? Do I tongue in cheek think that the three members of the trinity discuss things and disagree on certain designs? Maybe. But are they relational perfect anyway? YES. More then our peon brains understand.
Democracy is a stunted version of what God envisioned for government. A very stunted version. And although most of the conservative right of the western world has convinced themselves and the rest of humanity that capitalism is Gods best, that is also a fallacy. Capitalism works in a supply and demand language, collecting as much as one can. Gods kingdom works on a giving and receiving mentality. Balance. Not consumptive excess.
So when one argues that God wants us to uprise and call on our governments to outlaw gay marriage, it makes me laugh. Because it makes Jesus look bad. When we call on our governments to give more in international aid, it makes me die a little inside, as we facebook our friends sitting next to us, buy our retardedly expensive cars that drive on a fuel that will cease to exist in 40 years and think ‘i have no money to help’.
- The spiritual elite – the hypocrites.
– The pagans that got in the way of the gentiles having access to God in the courts.
– and Peter.
– aaaaaand technically Satan by destroying the enemies power at the cross.
Why do we think we can attack sinners when Jesus called for no rocks to be thrown, no judgements to be made, and no stumbling blocks put in their way.
Where would one find a bigger stumbling block then presenting a Jesus that hates people and protests friendship even going as far as picketing funerals with signs that speak of God hating fags. Does God really hate fags?
Back to the point. Taking Australia for example, through wise choices and intelligent living we could each afford to personally send financial support to the developing world, making sure everyone can eat. Aid money accounted for. If the body of Christ took to loving and servant-hearted community, we would fully exemplify the freedom of Gods love, as opposed to carbon copying the world in our day to day lives and saving Jesus for the church service. We are a tribal people of significant influence over life and love. We need not mere nation state puppet governments, who can neither legislate morality or stop love from changing the world.
If Jesus was invited to a gay wedding, would he go?
As he walks in he begins to teach people how to live abundantly. He dances hard, he drinks wisely, he has crazy conversations, he’s honest and real and affirms people deeply. he becomes the king of the party because he is the best partyer. and people are drawn to his freedom-from-fear-of man. He walks out of that wedding with more people following him then if he stayed at home angry that gay people get to marry.
Secondly, if God calls us to not judge people outside of the ‘church’ could it be because he wants us soft hearted so that the holy spirit can move? But if we are elitist, judgmental – we toe the line of broken-relationship or ‘sin’. Let God do what he does best – healing the broken, freeing the captive. Hes much better at it then our sinful hearts, hands and feet.
The last few days i’ve heard scripture quoted as the reason we should out law ‘the gays’ as if a law would stop people falling in love. Does the fact that divorces happen stop you from being in a committed loving marriage? Does the law that permits tobacco being sold to people mean you have to be addicted to it or smoke at all? The law means crud-all when you are a free man. The law is for the guilty. But so is human non law.
If pedophilia wasn’t against the law does that mean we let people abuse our kids? FRAG NO.
And no i am not making a correlation between homosexuality and pedophilia. They are two completely different things. Pedophilia just seems to be the universal moral absolute. #pointmade
Lastly, to those who are already formulating comments to do with ‘But God says homosexuality is wrong, we must stamp it out’ God’s perfection speaks of everything less then holiness is wrong. We were designed for relational perfection. Pointing fingers is the echo from the garden of eden when Adam first felt uncomfortable being naked of Gods holiness. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil means we compare, judge, become prideful and faux humble.
God wants YOU, reader, to be able to love uncomfortably, and unceasingly.