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.
Courtesy: BarackObama Tumblr
The Greatest Commandment Matthew 22:34-40
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
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You wonder if all those voters read the same bible as I do? And if they do, why did they vote the way they voted? Because in the end Love will win. You reap what you sow people. And one day, you will reap it big …
FACEBOOK PAGE: Repeal Amendment One
The Majority voted on the rights of the Minority. It is a sad state of affairs that you have turned back the clock, instead of embracing the future.
It is time for the L.G.B.T.Q Community to get up.
To begin the movement to REPEAL AMENDMENT ONE !!!
Stand up and be counted.
And woe to you ignorant bastards that voted for One. Woe is you.
It is a terrible day for our community and we stand with you to say
North Carolina voted the wrong way on history, acceptance and inclusion.
We will have our day, you can’t stop the wheels of change. The day will come and we will be the victors …
ALL PRECINCTS HAVE REPORTED:
Here are the stats:
There are 6,296,759 registered voters in this state
2,164,074 people VOTED or 34.37%
4,132,865 people DID NOT VOTE
There were 1,303,952 votes FOR the Amendment-61.05%
There were 831,788 votes AGAINST the Amendment-38.95%
We lost by a total of 472,164 VOTES
SHAME on the over 4 million people who chose NOT TO VOTE.
A Feature Length Documentary by David Weissman
“Of all the cinematic explorations of the AIDS crisis, not one is more heartbreaking and inspiring than WE WERE HERE… The humility, wisdom and cumulative sorrow expressed lend the film a glow of spirituality and infuse it with grace… ONE OF THE TOP TEN FILMS OF THE YEAR.” Stephen Holden, New York Times
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Earlier tonight as I was writing “We are not meant to be alone” hubby had put on this documentary that was airing here in Canada tonight. And so I sat through this film reliving the past 20 years of my life in stark detail.
Listening to the story tellers just breaks my heart, because I was there through the worst time of our lives. You just cannot imagine what it was like. Thinking about it is one thing, listening to someone narrate that time period is heart wrenching.
You know, the further I get from the past, the less I tend to think about it today. But every once in a while, and this rings especially true during Pride Months these documentaries play as reminders to those we lost.
I want so badly to tell you that YES, we are not meant to be alone and that we are all loveable no matter what devastation or situation we find ourselves in. And I think somewhere deep down, hubby’s message in watching this film was to say, yes I remember for you and you are not alone here in this life.
Things in my neck of the woods were as frightful as they were in San Francisco and in many big cities in the very beginning. When AIDS came to Ft. Lauderdale, we were all taken aback by the horror of just what AIDS was doing to our community.
Thank God – T H A N K G O D that what I saw did not happen to me. Because it was ugly. I have documented all these things in PAGES, but for the moment I am drawn to address this topic here and now because it weighs heavily on my heart and soul.
When I sero-converted I was so sick. I thought for sure that I was going to die at any moment. But my friends and keepers in the AIDS care circle had other plans for me.
The film speaks of finding a cure …
that there should be more than AZT…
Back in those days we were all taking AZT because there was nothing else to take. We even went the lengths to collect old drugs from people who had died, and those drugs were taken to drug farms and re-purposed for use for those who were still alive and fighting to stay alive.
God forbid you had to go to a hospital. They would break out the hazmat suits and moon goggles and scrubs. It was heartless the way that the medical community treated us, for a long time, until they got trained to be able to deal with us without all the fear that was running rampant through the cities.
There were no specialists, no real doctors at that point, it was hit and miss because there really was no social medical safety net to take care of all the sick. But there were enough people to begin with that took on the task of treating what they could with whatever they had on hand.
I know for myself. I took tons of pills to try and find something that worked. And in the beginning that was AZT. It made me sick, and we had little pocket timers that would go off every four hours to remind us to take our pills.
Eventually in Miami there was dedicated doctors who were in the loop of medical research that I got involved with and what these doctors did for me is nothing short of a miracle.
With Genotype and Phenotype testing, they figured out the strain and type of virus we were carrying, then from that they proceeded to attaining tables of drugs that we could take that had promising results in the lab. And as drug companies pushed out pills we took them.
We did not wait for test circles to form on others, we tested all those meds ourselves. So that every year we survived, we had data to share with the rest of the world as AIDS was a worldwide epidemic.
But medication was expensive especially if you could not afford your pills. There were no insurance plans designed for this – people were selling their life insurance policies and going on government disability to be able to afford treatment. I know it took me three attempts to finally get disability coverage in the U.S. I had to almost kill myself to get my social services person to sign off on my form.
Let me tell you what the government made us go through to get disability insurance. We had to be on deaths door step, sick unto death before they would finally clear you. I got so sick that on the day I finally got signed I walked into the office, not having bathed or shaven in a weeks time, hacking and coughing all over the place for someone to fear me enough to sign on the dotted line so that I could get assistance. It was heartless and cruel the things the government and the state did to those who were sick.
They made us little white boys go to places that white people don’t go to in broad daylight. Trekking from one side of the city to another taking bus after bus and train after train just to get social assistance. Needless to say that once a cast iron bitch always a cast iron bitch.
People were so afraid of the sick. God forbid you sat next to us on a bus, or a train. God forbid you had to deal with us directly.
- I watched families throw their sons out into the streets.
- I watched lovers toss their loved ones out into the streets as well.
- I witnessed land lords toss sick people from their homes.
- I witnessed employers fire and cut people off from insurance and livelihoods.
- I witnessed so called Christians get on their hellfire and brimstone horses and watched them burn us all down to the ground with hatred and fear mongering.
- My Own family turned against me when I got sick. They would rather condemn me rather than help me so fuck them …
It was Sick. Absolutely and Totally Sick !!!
And still today that hatred simmers in certain circles. And every year we go through these periods of time when we are raw with emotions that some fuck comes along and throws salt in the wound just because they feel righteous !!!
The One Good thing that did happen was it galvanized those who were left into care circles and care givers. AIDS separated the men from the boys and the girls from the women. You learned just how devoted your friends were to you and just how much they meant to you while they were still here.
And FUCK all you haters out there. Heartless Bastards…
So many of my friends died. All I have is a photo album of the last time I saw the Names Project Quilt show in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami I think it was. This blog is a testament and my memory for those years of my life when I thought that I too was going to die.
God in his infinite wisdom had other plans for me. There was a life to live. There were things I still needed to do, and people to meet and places to see. Today I have the best doctor in the world. He treated patient Zero, the French Flight Attendant back in the old days. I truly lucked out when I moved here to find him and get into his clinic.
It is sad that there is still no cure. But death is something of a second thought now. We are living longer. I had a doctor who told me that when I die that it won’t be AIDS that kills me. And that was a long time ago.
I’ve always said that if science ever gets to the point that time travel is possible, the time I would go back to is the period of time that I was first diagnosed, because it was the Best of Times and it was The Worst of Times. I knew then that I was loved and so cared for that I wanted for nothing. And I think that that is what saved me.
There wasn’t time to sit and wait to die. I was too busy being taught how to survive and in that time I did not sit in my shit and play with it. Time was of the essence and men nor horses were going to keep me from winning this fight.
Every day that I look in the mirror I thank God for Todd and Roy and all the others who took the time to teach me and to love me and to make sure that nothing took me down be that sickness or man.
Never Forget and Remember still that on your daily goings on, you never know who you are sitting next to on the bus or on the train, or walking down the sidewalk, you never know what battle someone else is engaged in.
It Gets Better. We are still alive. And our stories should never be forgotten.
We Were Here … I was there, and I am still here.
The battle in this country between the right and the left is raging. Since the right has no answers to the economic questions we face, they’ve decided to concentrate on dividing the country on so-called “moral” issues, one of those being the demonizing of gay and lesbian people.
Little by little, they are losing the battle, as we see states individually legalizing gay marriage and recognizing that our forefathers intended that ALL are created equal and marriage is an equal right. But that doesn’t stop the right from carrying on their battle.
Something terrible happened this past weekend in Maryland and the fact that it was Maryland, a state that has just proclaimed that all are equal and has enshrined that concept into state law, goes to highlight the lengths to which the right will go. In this instance, the right was personified by Father Marcel Guarnizo, who officiated at the funeral of a former family member of mine.
She was no longer a family member because I divorced the man who was her blood relative. But with social media these days, a person can remain in touch with those who, although there is no longer a family connection, are still people who are valued.
My friend Barbara, the daughter of the deceased woman, was denied communion at her mother’s funeral. She was the first in line and Fr. Guarnizo covered the bowl containing the host and said to her, “I cannot give you communion because you live with a woman and that is a sin according to the church.”
To add insult to injury, Fr. Guarnizo left the altar when she delivered her eulogy to her mother. When the funeral was finished he informed the funeral director that he could not go to the gravesite to deliver the final blessing because he was sick.
EDIT: A letter of apology was sent from the Archdiocese of Washington. This story has gained a lot of traffic over the past few days. I join the call for Father Marcel Guarnizo to be removed from the parish and taken out of pastoral ministry, what he did was unconscionable. And he should loose his position as a parish priest. Put him somewhere where he can no further harm parishoners like this ever again.
Here is that apology:
Biography data: Via Wikipedia
Matthew Wayne Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998) was a student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming, in October 1998. He was attacked on the night of October 6–7, and died at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12 from severe head injuries.
During the trial, witnesses stated that Shepard was targeted because of his sexual orientation. Shepard’s murder brought national and international attention to the contention of hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels.
In 2009, his mother Judy Shepard authored a book The Meaning of Matthew: My Son’s Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed. On October 22, 2009, the United States Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (Matthew Shepard Act for short), and on October 28, 2009, President Obama signed the legislation into law.
Shortly after midnight on October 6, 1998, Shepard met Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson for the first time at the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, Wyoming. It was decided that McKinney and Henderson would give Shepard a ride home.McKinney and Henderson subsequently drove the car to a remote, rural area and proceeded to rob, pistol-whip, and torture Shepard, tying him to a fence and leaving him to die. According to their court testimony, McKinney and Henderson also discovered his address and intended to steal from his home. Still tied to the fence, Shepard, who was still alive but in a coma, was discovered 18 hours later by Aaron Kreifels, a cyclist who initially mistook Shepard for a scarecrow.
Shepard had suffered fractures to the back of his head and in front of his right ear. He experienced severe brain-stem damage, which affected his body’s ability to regulate heart rate, body temperature, and other vital functions. There also were about a dozen small lacerations around his head, face, and neck. His injuries were deemed too severe for doctors to operate. Shepard never regained consciousness and remained on full life support. While he lay in intensive care, candlelight vigils were held by the people of Laramie.
This is the next topic that I will discuss very soon, so watch this space.
I’ve been feeling a little out of sorts. Lots of things going on in my brain. Questions, concerns, feelings, emotions.
People are talking about Pride, as June is Pride month in many places. Pride won’t come to Montreal until the beginning of August. Pride is not something I think about these days. We’ve not talked about going as of yet, yet some writers are talking about the topic ad nauseum.
Another calendar year is coming to a close on the 8th of July. I mark my 17th anniversary living with AIDS. Nobody seems to care. Nobody brings it up and it is not a topic of conversation in any of my social circles. Among my short list of gay friends, we never talk about it. Nobody mentions it.
I go to the doctor and he is non-plussed. My doctor visits are like any other day. It is a rote event on the calendar every few months. The appointment begins and ends with not much fan fare. I’m alive, the drugs are working, I live a good life, so if it ain’t broken don’t fix it. My doctor never mentions the word mortality because I guess as long as the numbers are nominal then there is nothing to discuss.
Another generation of young people are coming up through the ranks. A generation who know nothing of what it was like and they don’t think about AIDS unless it is forced upon them in ads and print articles.
What is out of sight is out of mind.
None of the gay folk I read on a daily basis mention any word of std’s or AIDS or anything of that matter. For the most part it is all about Grindr, and the hunt for sex. With technology comes the easy effort in finding ones next conquest. And you have to be between the ages of 24 and 30, young cut and hot. Many of us oldsters don’t fit in today’s acceptable demographic. And because of that fact, the young don’t care that we exist, nor do they take the time to pay us any mind. Just spend any time on Tumblr or You Tube.
If the storytellers don’t speak up and tell the stories of the past, the topic would never get talked about in any case. I don’t have to rehash all the memories from the last 17 years, all you need to do is click on the pages and read for yourselves.
I don’t know, I’m feeling a little forgotten. Like if I don’t initiate contact between any of my friends, they would not initiate contact either. Facebook is the easy out, we are on every day, we read statuses and messages and I guess that’s all part and parcel of technology. Connection at a distance. As long as you are updating your status every day, there is no need to see each other.
Sobriety is a rote activity. I follow the same routine every week. Week in week out day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. People come, people go, they don’t seem to take notice of me. I see the same people at the meeting every week. I visit assorted meetings every week as well. I come and go almost unnoticed. Nobody asks how I am doing or what I am up to. It’s amazing that I can walk into a room, sit down with my coffee, sit through a meeting and go and not speak to one person from that meeting. Not many people extend a hand, and I guess I have to admit that I don’t either.
I was talking to Holly earlier tonight and I said that sobriety is not what it was like ten years ago. People have come and gone. And being Gay in straight sober circles doesn’t seem to work for many people in the rooms. As long as I don’t open my mouth or share anything personal, they are ok. I don’t make issue of homosexuality in the rooms. I came out to Holly earlier and I did not think twice about it, and she was cool with it. I told her about what some people have said to me over the years and how people treat me in our meeting. AA might be all inclusive from the outside, but from the inside it is very exclusive.
I do my meetings, I keep to my routine. I am cordial to people and say hello here and there. And on the odd occasion someone will remember me at certain meetings because I follow the same schedule every week. I was surprised last week at Friday West End that people know my name because I read for the meeting a few weeks ago, because a man sat down behind me and I heard someone ask him if he knew my name, and he did.
Tonight at the meeting we had the 27 folks, we ran long and we made a decision from the chair that we would run long to allow all the folks in the room the chance to share, and it came that the last person to share really needed that two minutes to hear himself speak. And some had to complain about running long …
I don’t get it, alcoholics spent hours upon hours in a bar getting hammered and if you told them to leave or cut short a bar visit they would get up in your face. But should an AA meeting go over the hour mark, heaven forbid… That was an issue some people had when we changed the format that we were actually going an hour fifteen, which some people bitched and moaned about.
I am waiting until these bitchers and moaners come to the meeting and need an extra few minutes to share just to cut them off at the pass, just out of spite. It has always been understood that the chair usually never cuts someone off during a share. However, some folks at the meeting now go on and on and we have allowed that to happen. Maybe we should tighten up that portion of the meeting.
A home group for me, is the place that I call home, where I can share what ever’s on my mind, and that goes for everyone who walks in the door. If you sit in a chair you get a chance to speak. No matter what some pissy members might want. If you can’t sit for a few minutes more to give someone a chance to share, then go out and fucking drink … UGH !!! God give me strength…
I guess it’s not always about me now that I’ve come to the end of this piece. Or maybe it is. Something to maybe bring up next week in private with a friend.
I guess I just maybe need to be acknowledged. Maybe I need to feel relevant and important, that I am not just taking up space, where nobody notices me like a piece of furniture. You can’t put words in someones mouth nor can you expect a lot from alcoholics.
Expectations, that is a lesson I learned a long time ago. Expectations, you can have them, but not put very much importance on them, because people are people fickle as they are, if you never expect, then you are never dissatisfied.
Does it matter that I have survived? Does my existence really matter to anyone besides myself? People don’t know, nor do they ask about life in all its complexities. In the program I have acquaintances – but very few friends who are part of my inner circle. In the last nine and some odd years, nobody has stepped up to be that kind of friend.
People are non moved that I do the lion’s share of the work every week in order to put on a meeting, and still have the audacity to bitch and moan about something they don’t like. Which I am like, you know what, Fuck off …
People take for granted the fact that we work very hard to keep the meeting up and running every week and yet every week someone has to bitch. Fucking alcoholics. Some of them are never satisfied.
Thank God I am powerless over people, places and things.
Lifted from: Walking with Integrity
For Immediate Release: October 18, 2010
Today, as leaders of Christian communions and national networks, we speak with heavy hearts because of the bullying, suicides and hate crimes that have shocked this country and called all faith communities into accountability for our words or our silence. We speak with hopeful hearts, believing that change and healing are possible, and call on our colleagues in the Church Universal to join us in working to end the violence and hatred against our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters.
In the past seven weeks, six young and promising teenagers took their own lives. Some were just entering high school; one had just enrolled in college. Five were boys; one, a girl becoming a young woman. These are only the deaths for which there has been a public accounting. New reports of other suicides continue to haunt us daily from around the country.
They were of varying faiths and races and came from different regions of the nation.The one thing these young men and women had in common was that they were perceived to be gay or lesbian.
Each in their own way faced bullying and harassment or struggled with messages of religion and culture that made them fear the consequences of being who they were.
In the past two weeks, cities like New York have seen major escalations in anti-gay violence. Two young men attacked patrons of the Stonewall Inn, legendary birth place of the LGBT rights movement in the United States, locking them in the restroom and beating them while hurling anti-gay epithets.
Men on a Chelsea street, saying goodnight after an evening out, were attacked by a group of teens and young adults, again hurling anti-gay slogans and hurting one person badly enough to require emergency treatment. And nine young men in the Bronx went on a two-day rampage beating, burning, torturing and sodomizing two teenage boys and their gay male adult friend for allegedly having a sexual relationship. “It’s nothing personal,” one of the now arrested said. “You just broke the rules.”
What are the “rules” of human engagement and interaction that we, as people of faith, want to teach our congregants, children and adults alike, to live by?
Many have responded from within and beyond the faith community offering comfort and support to the families and friends of Billy Lucas, Seth Walsh, Asher Brown, Tyler Clementi, Raymond Chase and Aiyisha Hasan. Our hearts, too, are broken by the too soon losses of these young and promising lives, and we join our voices to those who have sought to speak words of comfort and healing.
Many others, however, have responded by adding insult to injury, citing social myths and long-held prejudices that only fuel division, hatred and violence – and sometimes even death.
We, as leaders of faith, write today to say we must hold ourselves accountable, and we must hold our colleagues in the ministry, accountable for the times, whether by our silence or our proclamations, our inaction or our action, we have fueled the kinds of beliefs that make it possible for people to justify violence in the name of faith. Condemning and judging people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity can have deadly consequences, both for the victims of hate crimes and those who commit them.
There is no excuse for inspiring or condoning violence against any of our human family. We may not all agree on what the Bible says or doesn’t say about sexuality, including homosexuality, but this we do agree on: The Bible says, “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God and God in them.” Abiding in love – together – is the rule we must all preach, teach, and seek to live by.
People of faith must realize that if teens feel they will be judged by their church, rejected by their families and bullied by their peers, they may have nowhere to turn.
Too many things go unspoken in our communities. It’s time to talk openly and honestly about the diversity of God’s creation and the gift of various sexual orientations and gender identities – and to do that in a way that makes it safe for people to disagree and still abide in love.
It’s time to talk openly and honestly about the use and misuse of power and authority by those we entrust with our spiritual well-being. It’s time to make it safe for our clergy colleagues who are struggling to live what they preach, to get the help and support we all sometimes need.
The young people who took their lives a few weeks ago died because the voices of people who believe in the love of God for all the people of God were faint and few in the face of those who did the bullying, harassing and condemning. Today we write to say we will never again be silent about the value of each and every life.
To that end, we pledge to urge our churches, our individual parishes or offices, our schools and religious establishments to create safe space for each and every child of God, without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. And we ask you to join us in that pledge.
Today, we personally pledge to be LGBT and straight people of faith standing together for the shared values of decency and civility, compassion and care in all interactions. We ask you, our colleagues, to join us in this pledge.
An increasingly popular bumper sticker reads, “Guns Don’t Kill People — RELIGION Kills People!” In light of recent events I would add religion kills young people: gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender young people.
Perhaps not directly, though. And religion is certainly not the only source of anti-gay sentiment in the culture. But it’s hard to deny that religious voices denouncing LGBT people contribute to the atmosphere in which violence against LGBT people and bullying of LGBT youth can flourish.
The news is filled with the tragedies of teenaged boys who were gay and decided to end their living hell by committing suicide. Maybe they weren’t even gay, but merely perceived to be by their peers, who harassed, taunted, and threatened them unmercifully.
These were real kids with real names. Asher Brown, an eighth grader in Texas, shot himself in the head after endless bullying by classmates and despite attempts by his parents to get school authorities to take his harassment seriously. Seth Walsh hung himself from a tree in his California backyard after relentless bullying by classmates. Asher and Seth were 13-years-old.
Billy Lucas, a 15-year-old high school freshman from Indiana, was only perceived to be gay. But the unrelenting bullying ended with him taking his own life. Seven students in one Minnesota school district have taken their own lives, including three teens.
With the exception of Brown in Texas these suicides are not happening in Bible Belt regions of the country, where we might predict a greater-than-usual regard for religious thought. Instead, they are occurring in states perceived to be more liberal on LGBT issues: California, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
The case of Tyler Clementi is especially instructive about how far we have to go in accepting our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender children. Clementi was an 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University whose roommate secretly filmed a sexual encounter he had with another male student and then posted it on the internet.
Think about it. If Tyler had been heterosexual and instead filmed having sex with his girlfriend, it would still be an inappropriate invasion of his privacy and tasteless to post the video online. And it certainly would have been embarrassing for Tyler and the girl. But chances are he would have been the recipient of some congratulatory remarks from friends about what a stud he was. And if he was straight he likely wouldn’t have contemplated — not to mention successfully accomplished — his own suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
No, Tyler was a victim — not of an inner disturbance of depression or mental illness–but of an external and in part religiously inspired disdain and hatred of gay people.
Despite the progress we’re making on achieving equality under the law and acceptance in society for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, why this rash of bullying, paired with self-loathing, ending in suicide? With humility and heartfelt repentance I assert that religion — and its general rejection of homosexuality — plays a crucial role in this crisis.
On the one hand, Religious Right hatemongers and crazies are spewing all sorts of venom and condemnation, all in the name of a loving God. The second-highest-ranking Mormon leader, Boyd K. Packer, recently called same-sex attraction “impure and unnatural” in an act of unspeakable insensitivity at the height of this rash of teen suicides. He declared that it can be cured, and that same-sex unions are morally repugnant and “against God’s law and nature.”
Just as many gay kids grow up in these conservative denominations as any other. They are told day in and day out that they are an abomination before God. Just consider the sheer numbers of LGBT kids growing up right now in Roman Catholic, Mormon, and other conservative religious households. The pain and self-loathing caused by such a distortion of God’s will is undeniable and tragic, causing scars and indescribable self-alienation in these young victims.
You don’t have to grow up in a religious household, though, to absorb these religious messages. Not long ago I had a conversation with six gay teens, not one of whom had ever had any formal religious training or influence. Every one of them knew the word “abomination,” and every one of them thought that was what God thought of them. They couldn’t have located the Book of Leviticus in the Bible if their lives depended on it yet they had absorbed this message from the antigay air they breathe every day.
Add to that the Minnesota Family Council’s Tom Prichard recently saying that the real cause of the suicides is “homosexual indoctrination,” not antigay bullying, and that the students died because they adopted an “unhealthy lifestyle.”
Susan Russell from All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, points out how ludicrous these statements are in her “An Inch at a Time” blog:
Thirteen and fifteen year olds are not ‘adopting a lifestyle,’ they’re trying to have a life! They’re trying to figure out who they are, who God created them to be and what on earth to do with this confusing bunch of sexual feelings that they’re trying to get a handle on. They need role models for healthy relationships — not judgment and the message that they’re condemned to a life of loneliness, isolation and despair.
On the other hand, what’s the role of more mainline, more progressive denominations such as mainstream Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in these recent tragedies? Mostly silence. And just like in the days of the AIDS organization Act Up, “silence equals death.”
It is not enough for good people — religious or otherwise — to simply be feeling more positive toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Tolerance and a live-and-let-live attitude beats discrimination and abuse by a mile. But it’s not enough. Tolerant people, especially tolerant religious people, need to get over their squeamishness about being vocal advocates and unapologetic supporters of LGBT people. It really is a matter of life and death, as we’ve seen.
I learned this in my dealing with racism. It’s not enough to be tolerant of other races. I benefit from a racist society just by being white. I don’t ever have to use the “n” word, treat any person of color with discourtesy, or even think ill of anyone. But as long as I am not working to dismantle the systemic racism that benefits me, a white man, at the expense of people of color, I am a racist. And my faith calls me to become an anti-racist — pro-active, vocal, and committed.
Some progressive religious groups — the United Church of Christ, Unitarians, Metropolitan Community Church — have long been advocates for LGBT people. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has recently made great strides in welcoming gay clergy. And my own Episcopal Church has put itself at great risk on behalf of full inclusion of LGBT people in electing two openly gay priests to be bishops.
Still, even in these progressive churches, there is much to be done.
Cody J. Sanders, a Baptist minister and Ph.D. student in pastoral theology and counseling at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas, recently wrote on the Religion Dispatches website about how important it is for churches to act:
Ministers who remain in comfortable silence on sexuality must speak out. Churches that have silently embraced gay and lesbian members for years must publicly hang the welcome banner. How long will we continue to limit and qualify our messages of acceptance, inclusion and embrace for the most vulnerable in order to maintain the comfort of those in our communities of faith who are well served by the status quo? In the current climate, equivocating messages of affirmation are overpowered by the religious rhetoric of hatred. Silence only serves to support the toleration of bullying, violence and exclusion. In the face of what has already become the common occurrence of LGBT teen suicide, how long can we wait to respond?
As good Christians and Jews we must work to change the religious thinking, rhetoric, and practice that communicates to our LGBT children that they are despised by their Creator. We must learn to object to anti-gay jokes the way we learned to tell our friends that we would not tolerate racist jokes. We must demand that our schools not only have antibullying policies, but that they follow through on stopping the practice of bullying. We need to lobby our congressional representatives for the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA, H.R. 4530, S. 3390). And we must proclaim openly, loudly, and often that we love our children unconditionally in the way that God does — always wanting the best and most healthy lives for them.
These bullying behaviors would not exist without the undergirding and the patina of respect provided by religious fervor against LGBT people. It’s time for “tolerant” religious people to acknowledge the straight line between the official anti-gay theologies of their denominations and the deaths of these young people. Nothing short of changing our theology of human sexuality will save these young and precious lives.
The day has come, let us mark it with pride and respect. For all that is wrong with the world today, and with all the violence we have seen meted out on LGBTQ kids we must stand and acclaim with one voice that “We are here – We are Queer – Get used to it.”
The National Coming out day is a yearly tradition to bring a message of hope and support to those people who still live in the closet, or in secret. It is a day for us to open the door for many LGBTQ kids to come into community, where they will be loved into the men and women that they were meant to be.
There are so many things in life to experience and there has been so much death and crime perpetrated on people just because they were gay or suspected to be gay.
Hate still exists in this world. And we must stand up and say that YOU will be counted by God on that final day. You who shame us and speak such slander and injustice upon us. You believe that God will allow you to abuse us and to use such language with us, that goes against everything that God stands for. God will deal with you on your last day, I am assured that, as I stand here.
Coming out is a monumental time in a young persons life. And those of us who are here should stand up and be ready to welcome them into life. Coming Out is monumental in any persons life, no matter what age you or where you come from. We are here for you. And we love you just the same. God created you, he loved you into existence.
Therefore let us celebrate the lives of LGBTQ kids today. Let us celebrate all of us in this vast community of LGBTQ people. If you are pondering coming out, there are people out here who will help and guide you.
Let us speak with one voice for Equality. The time has come for LGBTQ people around the world to be given equal rights under the law. We deserve every ounce of support that we can get in turning the tables in the U.S. and in many places of the world, that still see us as second class citizens. We MUST have equal rights. Laws MUST be changed. The light of change has come, and it begins with me, and it begins with You. We are not second class citizens. We are just like you, humans, created by God, we deserve every ounce of respect and dignity that you have yourselves.
Make it a good day for you. Bring your friends, bring your families, bring your significant others.
Just come and BE with all of us.
It has been a long day. I did not sleep last night, and stayed up all night long, doing some house cleaning. I went to drop off labs this morning, and pushed back my appointment another week, to allow enough time for all the tests to get done properly.
The Blog name has changed – although I am still redirecting traffic from the old domain. I am pondering shutting off the feed in the coming days, I don’t know if I want to do that because it will shut down all existing traffic, and there are too many people who have linked to this blog from other sites which would be a pain in the ass to go change all of them.
I slept for a couple hours today before class. Cliff told me the other night that sometimes we need to digress to move forwards, and that I should seize the opportunity, and so I do that every day. One day at a time.
Class was good. We are working on days, dates, numbers and our resume in French. We have a resume exam on Wednesday, which means we must answer questions about ourselves. We had time in the lab as well tonight. That is going well.
Traffic is up these past few days, it’s amazing how much traffic is being generated by the suicide of so many young people. That seems to have lit a fire under people’s asses to read and do something about it. There is just too much abuse out there being perpetrated by politics, the church and kids who have nothing better to do with their time than to bully kids because of their sexual orientation.
Every child’s life is precious, and the loss of so many lives this past month is a crime. I think the bullies AND their parents should be held accountable. What you did was reprehensible and just plain wrong. So many of my friends on You Tube have already made their videos about this topic and more are to come throughout the coming days.
There are ways out of bullying. There are places to go and people to call. Stand up and be counted and don’t let another bully push someone to take their lives, because that is just a shame.