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Archive for June, 2017

Canada 150 … We Are Not United

International Aborigines Festival in Malaysia

I’ve lived in Canada now 15 years. And I work in a community that suffers greatly.

First world folks who come from the First World, seem not to care about those who do not come from First World communities. Canada is a nation of many.

Many people, from many walks of life.

Before the white man came to Canada, Indigenous populations owned the land that was taken from them. Reserves were set up, and as land went to Canada, Indigenous populations were sequestered on reserves.

Many of those reserves today, are Third World Communities.

  • Many homes are condemned, because of lack of utilities and basic working ability.
  • Many Communities cannot be reached by road, either by plane, boat, ferry, or ice Roads. They are not connected to infrastructure and they should be.
  • Many homes have no running water.
  • Many homes have no heat.
  • Reserves scattered all over Canada, are far-flung, and are not connected to First World facilities or infrastructure.

The farther North you travel, the more remote the community, as far as the Arctic in the North, to the Up Coast in the West, to the farthest islands in the far North of B.C.

I have advocated for my people. I’ve written the government over the years. I work with the less fortunate in our community here. I have indigenous friends, who got sober with me and now they work within their communities, in ways that the white community does not.

Our sober communities are diverse, and our Primary Purpose tells us that we must serve every single human who walks through our doors equally. Thankfully, we do this well. We try to make a difference in our own communities.

This is not always a shared commitment across Canada.

There are too many poor Indigenous people across our land. They cannot get by alone. They cannot afford creature comforts that we take for granted. If you went to buy groceries in an Indigenous grocery store, you would pay hand over fist, huge amounts for simple food, that we pay a pittance for ourselves. They do not have access to humane health care and have to travel to larger cities to access care.

  • There is not social equality.
  • There is not economic equality.
  • There is not social equality.
  • There is not housing equality.
  • Our Indigenous populations go without all those comforts, White, Anglo, and Francophone communities expect and take for granted and feel entitled to because of their heritage and birthright as Canadians.
  • Yet, we consign our Indigenous Peoples to lives of Less Than.
  • That is ABOMINABLE !!!

Change must come to Canada across the land.

Truth and Reconciliation has begun, but has fallen short of itself. The Inquiry into Indigenous Missing and Murdered Women has fallen short of expectations. We have not served our Indigenous populations accordingly.

The Residential School program that killed the dreams of millions of children, taken from their homes, into religious communities for assimilation. Entire communities were destroyed. Languages were eradicated. Children were abused beyond what was conceived by those who thought they were doing Canada a favor by turning indigenous children into white religious Canadians.

Respect and Dignity were ignored. Our Indigenous populations demand respect, and we owe them that and so much more.

I don’t think the world knows just how much our Indigenous people suffer. They live within the borders of a country that is First Rate – First World. Yet, Our Indigenous people’s are not respected or dignified the same way we dignify each other as Canadians.

We do not even bother to stand up for those who were here long before any of us were here. Our nation spent millions upon millions of dollars to have a party of all parties to celebrate Canada’s 150th Nation wide, and here in Montreal, our 375th.

In the background, in green spaces, and in small communities and surely in all the homeless shelters, our Indigenous people reside.

Alone, Forgotten, Ignored.

We cannot justify a party for our country, when millions of our own people live Third World existences in a First World country.

That inequality is glaring and openly evident.

That Tee Pee on Parliament Hill needs to be there. Canadians need to open their eyes, their hearts and their lives to the people we ignore and disrespect on a daily national basis. We cannot claim pride for country, when members of our communities have nothing to speak of but the land we ceded them on their reserves.

The Many Indigenous people’s of Canada deserve so much more than the lip service we pay them today. We speak of how good we are trying to make towards reconciliation, and missing and murdered Indigenous women, but simply, we have failed our people who need justice, truth and peace of mind.

The heavens will rain on tomorrows party we are told.

The Great Spirit weeps for those who go without.

It is a shame that today, we do nothing more than what we think is right and just.

It is NOT Right and Just.

We owe our Indigenous Populations Respect, Dignity and Equality.

I know what my people need in my community.

It falls upon YOU to know what is needed in your communities.

We cannot claim Unity, and not be Unified for ALL Equally.

It is a shame. And it is shameful indeed.

How fully we receive – yet so many do not.

How entitled and expectant and taken for granted we live in this Country we call HOME.

In our First World lives, we ignore and commit indignities to those who came before us. We cannot continue this progression without loosing our souls and our dignity, while ignoring those who need more than we give them.

Not everyone will party with you. Because we have failed our most vulnerable.

It is the children who suffer. We have failed them time and time again.

We owe their parents dignity and hope. A job we have failed at time and time again.

Remember them as you celebrate Canada.


Friday: God.Creation.Puzzle Pieces

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This post is brought to you by The Book of Mormon, No, the Real Book of Mormon.
Jacob: Chapter 5.
The Vineyard.

I have spoken in the past about God, the universe, and where I believe we exist in the grand scheme of things. That a little portion of the universe is in us, and the universe is the heavens. And if both exist together as a whole, yet in two places at once, we are eternally connected to all that is, which brings us into unity with the universe.

And God.

The Universe (read:God) knows all, and sees all, and facilitates all. Before we even think a thought, or have a feeling, or speak a word, the universe, connected to us intimately from within, already knows what is in our hearts.

The Universe Always Conspires to Help Us.

Even if we don’t want that help, or know it is there for us, but I know today, that over time, the universe reveals to us, the wonders of life, creation and inspiration.

I had an enlightening conversation with my Elder friend Spencer last night. While in Montreal, on his mission, that ended last fall, Spencer realized a progression of coincidences began to happen, in rapid succession, over long periods of time.

But we know, there are no coincidences, only God. For those who believe in God.

We met on a Metro platform, and over the weeks, as we sat together and talked about God, Faith and Life, that coincidental progression began again.

We did not know one another, but as the days and weeks progressed, our conversations turned into serious topics. And as God is, made manifest to us.

Spencer was LIT with God. This young man, knew his book, knew his faith, and knew his God. He was a miraculous presence in my life. And subsequently, we are friends to this day.

It was serendipitous.

On our last meeting together, I handed Spencer my 14 year chip to take home with him. He carries it with him to this day. I gave him a mission to take home with him.

It was the best piece of advice he had been given while on his mission.

I asked him to purchase a journal, and begin documenting all the lessons he learned while he was here. He had journal-ed while he was here and he had certain dates of importance and certain stories recorded.

Events only, not what he learned, or how he felt, or how each situation made him feel.

It was only when he went home, with my direction to write, did he begin to learn the wisdom of his mission.

We have spoken here, at length, about being ON THE BEAM, when it comes to God and Spirituality. Spencer and I, are, On The Beam, together.

Returning home, he wrapped himself up in the transition of going home, beginning his university career, and over that first month, we had not reconnected yet.

He Fell Off The Beam, so to speak.

We had ventured up a mountain, saw and met God, and when we parted, we both came down from that mountain. Spencer into darkness, myself into unknowing.

We now know, that we have to carry that mountain within us, every day, to the best of our ability, some days are better than others. There is wisdom in that.

Spencer said that while he was off the beam and disconnected while we had not begun to talk again regularly, it was a very dark and disorienting time for him, one that he does not want to repeat.

Our subsequent re connection was the best antidote for the darkness that fell upon him.

We know this now, because hindsight is our best teacher.

Last night, Spencer mentioned God, and thus it went:

God did not just throw everything together in one fell swoop, and BANG, the Universe was created. No. God carefully selected and collected all the constituent parts together, very slowly and methodically. Every perfect piece that is everything, is gathered together, over long periods of time.

And then creation happens. God knows what he is doing, in the cosmic realm.

So it went with Spencer’s Mission, followed by our friendship.

In hindsight now, Spencer speaks of God, thus…

Over that two-year period, looking back now, through journals, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and effects, God sprinkled our paths with bread crumbs, puzzle pieces, so to speak.

Sometimes, we need distance between the past and the now, to see the wisdom of God, in the grand scheme of things.

These coincidences, or as the Big Book calls it, God Consciousness, are littered throughout Spencer’s Mission and my life. The past few months of his mission included meeting me and beginning our friendship.

There were many spiritual lessons to be learned by both of us, from one another. And as these coincidences began to unfold, it fueled our spiritual journey together.

Spencer knows now, the wisdom in his experiences, because he added experience, feelings and outcomes to those journal entries.

The DOT on the map, with one event, became a web of everything, that is still in motion to this day.

Over time, God reveals puzzle pieces to us, one at a time. And Not all at once.

Little by slowly, God reveals his plans and ministrations to us. It might not seem that way to many, who do not necessarily see things in Spiritual or Godly terms.

But we do. Because we have eyes to see and ears to hear and hands to work.

There is a tapestry that has unfolded for both Spencer and myself.

Every decision we make. Every person we meet. Every person we minister to, is on our path for a certain reason. We either have something to learn from them, and/or they have something to learn from us.

There are no coincidences, as to why Spencer was standing on that platform that afternoon, and we met, greeted and now we are here almost a year later.

God’s handy work, at revealing “Little Things” one at a time, takes time to reach the point where a partial picture, most of the picture, or the whole picture is revealed.

Both Spencer and myself know, today, the picture of his mission. In our discussions, we have greater understanding of those two years, now that we are removed from them.

And God had dropped puzzle pieces, one at a time for both of us.

Spencer was on his mission, and I was in my life.

It was on that Metro platform that God introduced us, for a specific reason.

Spencer to speak of God, and my needing some serious spiritual help at the time, because my life was in turmoil and had fallen apart. And Spencer was the spiritual glue that put everything back together, along with a few key people in my life.

The Vineyard …

In the book of Jacob, the master of the vineyard and his servants are caring for olive trees. Some had fallen fallow, some are doing better than others. And some are dying.

As the story unfolds, the trees that need help are rooted, dug out, watered, and cared for. In some of the trees, the dead branches are pruned, and in some trees, they graft wild branches into them to fortify and save the trees.

Over time, the wild branches take over the good tree, the roots are overcome, and the wild trees bear bad fruit. Unusable an unprofitable.

Over time, trees are moved from one location in the vineyard to others. Some to good soil, and some to not so good soil. The subsequent outcome is that some trees prosper and others do not.

And in the end the vineyard falls into disrepair and all the trees end up in fire.

The vineyard is lost.

What do we have ? Good trees, Bad Trees, Good Fruit and Bad Fruit and Wild Fruit.

Not all the fruit harvested is worth anything.

So it goes with people. People, like trees, and all living things, need nourishment, love and care. A vineyard can be small, or it can be huge.

In our lives, there are good trees and bad trees. Some trees take root and grow by the work of our hands and hearts, and some do not root, do not grow, and turn wild unto themselves.

Sometimes we have to prune our vineyards.

We are finite humans, with only so much capability of maintaining a vineyard.

Humans, cannot be all things to all people all at the same time.

Hindsight speaks once again…

Both Spencer and I were working in our respective vineyards, when we met.

I have shared with you, in the past, some of those encounters, after the fact, looking back on his mission. I also have hindsight into my own vineyard.

The pruning of my vineyard was beginning before we had met. As the trees that were wild, and the trees that we not growing accordingly, we pruned right out from under me, much to my dismay.

I had been in the middle of an emotional upheaval when Spencer came into my life, and the serious pruning had been done. Looking back, God, in His infinite wisdom, knew what He was doing. It is only now that we learn the how and the why…

Jacob Chapter 5.

In my work, I cannot be all things to all people, and I have only a certain amount of spiritual, mental and emotional energy to devote to my peers.

Some of my trees rotted out from under me. Some of my trees needed to be cut down and burned. And just a certain few of my trees still exist, are growing in good soil and are prospering.

My vineyard is much smaller today.

Those people who were not growing and sapping me of my good will and love, have been pruned away. Those people who remain in my vineyard are good trees who have grown up around me and they bear good fruit.

The Basis of Recovery is to have a spiritual experience, and for each of us, in our own ways, to expand our spiritual lives.

The basis of Mission is to meet people in the field. To bring them the Book, and walk them into a community of faith. The vineyard is full of different trees that respond each in their own ways, to our working in them.

Some trees took root, grew and prospered. Many did not.

Spencer came and planted me a tree. It has grown, prospered and bares good fruit.

Our relationship is the fruit that was bore, so many months ago.

Not everybody IN our lives, are meant to BE in our lives forever.

Some are meant to be there for just a season, others, may be around longer. It just depends on God’s plan.

The people meant to be in our lives, stay for one reason, because we invest in one another, to the degree that we thrive on each other’s presence.

The bane of recovery, not everyone who walks into our lives, will stay.

Some will take root, for a bit, hang on for dear life, and many will fall away, go fallow and end up in the fire.

Then there are those who will take root, grow, prosper and bear fruit. The odds are stacked against the many, but a handful succeed.

Knowing who to invest in, and why is the key.

Knowing when to prune our vineyards is key, also.

I thought that pruning my vineyard on my own was a bad decision, until I learned that I did not need permission to prune my vineyard.

In the end, God did the pruning for me.

Now I Know…

Spencer read me excerpts from Jacob chapter 5, last night. I read the chapter myself today, and the lesson about the vineyard was instructive and divinely appropriate for me right now.

I know that if I pray, and don’t get a direct prompt, then I have to go listen to my friends talk, and usually, an answer comes, if I have ears to hear it and eyes to see it.

Living On The Beam takes a lot of work, patience and commitment.

One either decides to invest in a Spiritual or Godly life, or you don’t.

Those who do invest, seem to take root and live much better lives.

Last night, I spoke to a friend about gratitude, after the meeting.

Our visitor was from out of the city, she was sober a while, and had a fresh new message we had never heard. The story about loosing everything, coming into recovery, and then getting most or all of it back, are few and far between.

Our woman last night had lost it all. And now 11 years later, she is eternally grateful for the rooms, and of us, who took care of her.

And a thought came to mind last night as we were walking home …

People who come from the First world have huge problems with gratitude. They don’t know the rest of the world from Adam.

People who come from the Third world, have much less a problem with gratitude than their peers. Because they know what going without means and feels like personally.

And so it went in my vineyard.

My First world trees fell fallow and ended up in the fire. My Third world trees all prospered and are doing better than the others.

Not sure where that thought came from, but it made clear sense to me as I shared the words with my friend.


Wednesday: The Dollar Store is selling STUPID

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Have you ever shopped at a Dollar Store ? They are located all over Montreal. There is one around the corner from home, another in the mall up the street, and what ever neighborhood you are in, it is a forgone conclusion, that YES, there will be a Dollar Store in your neighborhood.

Now, If you are familiar with a Dollar Store, most everything in the store costs a Dollar. Except those items with Two Dollar Stickers on them.

But let’s go with the Dollar, its cheaper.

I have an observation to make …

They are selling STUPID at the Dollar Store. And if we are honest, STUPID rules the day, and it’s all over the web. It makes the News, It makes You Tube, and it makes the National News at night.

I don’t know about you but, Stupid is all over the place. Especially if you live in the United States, and you are stuck watching the Greek Tragedy, that is the U.S. Government and its STUPID leader … (Read: He who should not be named).

The RICH want to get richer, off the backs, health and well being of those who are NOT RICH. We’ll give tax breaks to the rich and jam a Healthcare Bill through that takes millions of people OFF healthcare, just for shits and giggles.

STUPID !

I watched a You Tube video today about a young couple, expecting a baby. They have a channel they wanted to PIMP OUT and get more views. The boyfriend grabbed an encyclopedia and she grabbed the most powerful semi automatic hand gun that is on the market. A .50-calibre Desert Eagle handgun

He believed that the encyclopedia would STOP that Semi Automatic Bullet from tearing apart the book he was holding.

From One Foot away, she fired said gun, the bullet went into motion, traveled through the book, and killed him. She is facing charges of second degree manslaughter.

STOOPID !!

If you have a Twitter Account, Face Book, Snap Chat, or any other Social Media Account, it is probably true that at least one person, or maybe more, has Stupid as their Default mode of communication.

This past weekend. I went on a HUGE un-follow spree. I culled my Face Book, and destroyed my Twitter page. Because let’s face it …

Social Media = STOOPID !!!

It just astounds me the level of Stupid that is playing out today. I think people have just lost their frigging minds.

I’ve always been told that I should engage my brain before I open my mouth. And as a writer, we are supposed to TASTE our words before we spit them out.

And finally, if you don’t have something NICE to say, Come sit by me …

10 points for the reference …

Better not to say anything at all, if you have nothing nice to say.

The U.S. President watches Fox News. And he Tweets at 5 o’clock in the morning.

You’d of thought with Melania and Baron residing within the walls of the White House, that the President would mellow and calm down. I at least offered that observation on the day they moved into said house.

Stupid still exists.

I am an 80’s kid. I had a car. I had a dial phone in my bedroom. We had a dial phone in the kitchen. And a cordless phone in the family room.

If we wanted to talk, we’d get on the phone. For me, if I wanted to talk, I visited my friends houses and did things outside.

WITHOUT the addiction of a Smart Phone.

Even if they did exist back then, I’m sure we would have stuck with the old faithful getting together at a pizza resto or other food establishment, because of the resident PIN BALL or PAC MAN or ASTEROIDS game.

There is a PAC MAN game in the Forum, right up the street. You can play for a quarter.

Stupid is as Stupid does.

Right now, there is too much stupid in the world.

And we need to call it out and take stupid out of the conversation, before more stupid does any more damage to the already stupid shit that had transpired recently.


PRIDE: We’ve Been Forgotten

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This is my life. This is my Pride. This is who I am.

Attending Pride last Summer in our nation’s Capitol, Ottawa, when all was said and done, I wondered why I even bothered to go in the first place.

I mean, Really !!! Black Lives Matter, Militant Black Lesbians, Feminist Preachers, sharing how white men have invaded their lives and made them worse, Trucks carrying Port-o-Potties, because Trans people cannot use their correct bathrooms … Every other marcher handing out condoms to the waiting crowds standing in the rain as they walked by.

NOT ONE MENTION of AIDS. NOT ONE MEMORIAL FLOAT. NOT ONE WORD.

It was like, we did not even register on the map. I did not register on the map either.

I stood there, dumbfounded at the stupidity and shallowness of the presentation rolling by me in the rain.

THIS, AIDS, IS my PRIDE.

A part of me that lives on today, when men like David Kirby and Peta went to their deaths, having no drugs, or even the possibility of survival.

These men are dead.

Hundreds of thousands of men, (and some children) are dead, because of how we were relegated to the edge of society. Ignored by governments, turned away by families and churches, turned away by friends, lovers and family.

If you want to know what I think of PRIDE, this is where we start. Before there were militant black lesbians, or Trans men and women, or bathroom issues to contend with, there was US. You are here, because WE were here, before you.

This is where PRIDE began. To get the world to notice US, dying all around you, because the world did not act in time, with what we really needed. And sent so many people to their deaths because of ignorance, stupidity, arrogance and hatred.

I will not march in a Pride parade or even attend again, because, WE have been Forgotten. Times have changed, yes, I concede. It is written that

“Those who forget the past are destined to repeat it.”

July – The Month that I revere with solemnity and honor. The month that I learned I was going to die, like all of my friends.

I survived.

And as long as I live, the memory of my brothers will never go unforgotten.

**** **** ****

The Story Behind the Photo that Changed the World’s Perception and AIDS

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David Kirby, near death, lies in bed with his family by his side in Ohio, 1990.

In November 1990, a gaunt, dying man appeared in the pages of LIFE magazine.

That man, David Kirby, had already made a name for himself as an HIV/AIDS activist in the 1980s, and was in the final stages of the disease in March 1990, when journalism student Therese Frare began photographing Kirby’s own battle with the virus.

The following month, Frare captured Kirby on his deathbed surrounded by his family. He died soon after it was taken, and his family’s grief came through the haunting black-and-white still frame.

The photo took on a life of its own after being published, and the story surrounding it is as moving as the image itself.

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David Kirby’s mother holds a picture of him from about ten years before his death, when he was a healthy young man.

David Kirby was born in 1957 and raised in a small town in Ohio. As a gay teenager in the 1970s, he found life in the Midwest difficult.

After finding out about his orientation, Kirby’s family reacted the way most did then: negatively. With his personal relationships strained and no obvious way forward for him, Kirby set off for the West Coast and settled into life in the (still partly underground) gay scene in Los Angeles. He fit in well there and soon became a gay activist.

In the 1970s and ’80s, homosexual behavior was still illegal in most states. Normal adult relationships for gays carried the risk of arrest and prosecution as sex offenders.

In California, in 1978, the so-called Briggs Initiative, for example, had sought to ban openly gay residents from working near children in a public school. Activists had been crucial in the initiative’s narrow defeat, and Kirby began attending rallies and protests to widen gay rights in the state and nationwide.

As activists tend to do, Kirby built up a network of contacts who would later help him raise awareness of the disease that was stalking his community.

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The 1970s were a time of increasing social and political consciousness for the gay community.

Unfortunately for David Kirby, and for millions of others, the Los Angeles gay scene was an epicenter of the burgeoning HIV/AIDS epidemic. The first scientific description of what we now call AIDS was published as a series of case studies of Los Angeles residents who were treated at the UCLA Medical Center.

Kirby got to town just as the infection was taking off, but before anybody knew what was going on.

It was typical of gay men in “the scene” to have multiple partners in quick succession, and protection was almost never used. Combined with its long incubation period and slow, enigmatic onset, the disease was well-positioned to spread from person to person with impunity.

Nobody knows when Kirby was infected, but by the early 1980s, clusters of unusual cancers and respiratory illnesses were cropping up among gay men in every major city in America.

Kirby was diagnosed with AIDS in 1987, at the age of 29. Without effective treatments, or even a clear idea of how the virus was killing its victims, the diagnosis was a death sentence. It was known by then that the infected had from a few months to a couple of years after the onset of symptoms to live.

Kirby decided to spend the time he had left in AIDS activism. He also reached out to his family and asked to come home.

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David Kirby’s mother, Kay, administers medication through her son’s shunt.

AIDS activism was desperately needed at the time.

Around the time that David Kirby was diagnosed, an elementary school student named Ryan White was expelled from his classes and barred from school property after a blood transfusion left him HIV-positive. The general lack of knowledge about AIDS had induced something close to panic in the public, and parents were afraid Ryan might have spread the disease to his fellow students.

There was also a prevailing idea that AIDS was a “bad-person” disease, given that its principal victims by that point had been gay men, drug users, and prostitutes.

Perhaps as a result of this stigma, research funding had been shamefully deficient in the early stages of the epidemic, and activists of the time worked to both dispel the myths and fears around HIV and to encourage more funding for research, as well as to fight absurd “public health” measures such as expelling children from school and, in at least one case (presented in all seriousness in a New York Times editorial by William F. Buckley), tattooing a warning onto the buttocks of known AIDS patients.

At the first hospital where Kirby stayed, one of the nurses wouldn’t even let him hold a menu for fear of contagion. Instead, she called out meal selections from the doorway.

In this atmosphere of fear and borderline superstition, Kirby and other AIDS activists talked, lectured, wrote, and appeared on television to reach as many people as they could to demystify the illness and encourage empathy for the people suffering from it.

By 1989, Kirby’s condition had worsened to the point that his family could no longer care for him at home. He checked into the Pater Noster AIDS Hospice in Columbus, Ohio.

One of the caregivers there was an HIV-positive transsexual man who went by the name Peta. The two became close friends, with Peta often visiting Kirby even on off days.

Kirby’s condition worsened through the winter and spring of 1990. That April, Peta started bringing a friend, a graduate journalism student Therese Frare, to visit. With the permission of Kirby and his family, Frare began documenting Kirby’s ordeal with her camera.

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Peta leans over David Kirby, who wears a diaper in this photo.

From the beginning, David Kirby gave his enthusiastic consent to the photos. As an activist, he correctly believed that an accurate photographic record of his death would humanize the burgeoning AIDS crisis and help people who’d never seen the disease to empathize with patients. His only condition was that Frare not personally profit from the photos.

Over the month or so that she visited the hospice, Frare shot several rolls of film, covering David’s rapid decline, his family’s grief, and the tender care he got from Peta.

On the evening of the photo that would soon become iconic, Frare and Peta were visiting other patients when word reached them that Kirby’s condition was heading downhill fast. His family had gathered to keep watch over him, and the end was expected within hours if not minutes.

Peta rushed into the room, briefly greeted the family, and began speaking to Kirby and holding his hand. According to her own later account, Frare respectfully stayed outside of the room until she was called in, then she took up a discreet spot in the corner and didn’t speak. She snapped a few photos, staying out of everybody’s way, until Kirby stopped breathing.

The last photo captured Kirby staring off into space as his father groans in anguish and his mother and sister cling to each other nearby.

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Frare submitted the photos to LIFE, which ran the story in its November 1990 issue. It also won second place in that year’s World Press Photo competition for General News.

The image spread from national fame to international recognition in every country where AIDS had already taken a toll. In its 20th anniversary retrospective on the photo, TIME estimated that more than 1 billion people have seen David Kirby’s last photo.

The exposure was not all positive, however. Right away, Catholic groups, in a rare foray into functional aesthetics, complained about the composition of the photograph. The way Kirby’s father cradles his head, they argued, is blasphemously close to a very common motif in European Christian art called the Pieta, in which the grieving Virgin Mary cradles her dead son Jesus after his descent from the cross.

Other criticism came from gay and HIV/AIDS activist circles when a colorized version of the picture was used in Benetton’s 1992 “United Colors of Benetton” campaign. As it happened, the family had given the company permission to use the photo as a way of spreading the image to more people than would otherwise have seen it.

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Peta lies in bed in the Pater Noster Hospice, where he had spent countless hours as a volunteer caregiver.

After David Kirby’s death, many of the people involved with the photo stayed in touch. Frare eventually moved to Seattle and found work as a freelance journalist. Peta, the half-Sioux, half-white, transgendered caretaker who had brought Frare into the hospice, continued working with dying AIDS patients until his own condition worsened in 1991.

Frare took several photos of Peta during his decline, and when he could no longer look after himself, the Kirby family took care of Peta — out of gratitude and love for how he had cared for their son. Peta died of AIDS-related illness in 1992.


Friday: Faith, Action and Dr. Bob

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The weather has gotten dreary, wet, humid and miserable. Thanks to tropical storm Cindy. She stormed the gulf coast, and now she is making it rain here, and it is supposed to rain for the next three days.

Which meant numbers were down. But we had a good showing.

Faith … What is Faith. Not sure ? Take the action.

We talked about Faith and Action tonight. If you don’t have the former, then you need the latter. And how do we do the latter ? We go to a meeting.

As many meetings, as it takes, for you to hear someone who has a message or you identify with the words, and you take that EXTRA step and go talk to said person to see

  • What it is that they have
  • How did the learn what they said and/or did
  • And how do you replicate that piece of advice
  • You take a SUGGESTION and you RUN with it
  • As far as it will get you

So many of our young people struggle with Faith, and God and Suggestions.

Many people want the easier softer way, and only the die-hard newbies will listen when you tell that WHAT it is that YOU DID, and WHAT happened because you did that thing.

If you are new to the rooms. Sit down, open your heart, and listen.

Listening is an ACTION step. It will come to pass, that if you sit in your chair long enough, you are going to sink in and then you will hear just what it is you need to hear.

You might have to hit a number of meetings, over a LONG period of time. In Montreal, there are plenty of choices of where to go, around the clock, every day.

I know, I did not know what to do, and I needed people to show me what to do. And I connected to all the right people when I needed them. And over the years, certain special sober folks appeared, because I went looking for them, where ever sober people gathered.

Meetings, Step Series, Round Ups. Going out-of-town.

It may happen for you tomorrow, and maybe it won’t. That is the adventure, RIGHT ?

If you want to get sober … If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, THEN you are READY to take certain STEPS…

It’s written in the book.

If you don’t have faith, let us show you faith. Sit with us and listen to our stories. At some point, even you will identify with at least one human being sitting in that same room as you.

The last Paragraph of tonight’s read mentions the first meeting between Bill W. and Doctor Bob, on that fateful night, I wrote about a few days ago.

Dr. Bob got sober, because Bill told him HIS story. And for the first time in his life, he met another human being, who knew what Dr. Bob was going through. Bill was speaking his language. On June 10th 1935, Dr. Bob recorded his first full day of sobriety…

And what did that take ? One alcoholic talking to another.

Honestly.

If you don’t have something, then take your needs to a meeting, and lay them down on the table and speak your words.

ALWAYS take your needs to a room. ALWAYS. Because you would be surprised how often you will find exactly what you NEED on a need to know/have basis.

If you glean everything a room has to offer, EVERY single human being who walks into a room has something you might need. All you have to do is ask. That is why we stress the 20 minutes before and after.

Every single person in the room has something to offer, even if they don’t know it themselves.

The forward action of faith, is showing up, every day or every night.

You might not know what that looks like, but if you just try, one day at a time, your actions will become faith.

I promise you that.

I spoke to three people on the way out tonight. Hopefully they will return the next week for another dose of Friday Night Sobriety.

It’s the Best night of the week.


Thursday: Drink Your Way Across Europe

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It was a beautiful day today. I did some shopping early on, and hosted one of my guys for another week of Big Book reading, (Read: Booking). I opened and set up the meeting, since many of our folks are away for a few weeks, so we are low on workers for the next month, it is all hands on deck.

We are sitting at the beginning of two weeks of National Holidays, First, here in Quebec, the St. Jean Baptiste Holiday, (For you Separatists out there) not that I have many Francophone readers, or that I am that political to tell you what I think about “Separatist Politics.”

Next weekend is Canada’s 150th Birthday Celebrations countrywide. Canada Day on July 1st, will be the BIGGEST celebration Canada has ever seen. Montreal celebrates 375 years of existence.

Needless to say, Our Provincial and City Governments have gone to great lengths to beautify the city. Millions upon Millions of dollars have been spent to bring Montreal up to speed for our tourists and to get the people on the ground excited to be living in such a wonderful city that IS Montreal.

Who am I to complain …

We who live here want to know WHY they spent so much money on shit we really did not need, while millions go without. We need so many things for our people, that we are not getting, even though the government seems to have deep pockets to spend on rock stumps on the mountain, and electrifying the Jacques Cartier Bridge for the world to see on NEWS CAMS all around the city pointed at the bridge at night.

People need healthcare. So many people need clean water, and homes that are not mold ridden and Indigenous people who live off island REALLY need lives, better lives at that. We need food on our tables, child care, medical assistance, homes, clean water, like I said, there are too many Canadians going without, while the government spend a shit ton of money on beautiful …

WHY ???

Anyways, back to this evening.

Our speaker, a young lady friend of one of our men got up and spoke. We clicked right away. I know her, because I know her boyfriend. They are sober together.

She worked in Travel for a few years. I did myself as well. While I was still drinking too.

We got to compare notes on all the sick ways we used to travel.

READ: Drink Your Way Across Europe.

Nothing was more fun, than on a Friday afternoon, getting on a plane, (in my office we ALWAYS flew First Class) because we could. Free Passes were always a nice perk.

San Francisco, New York, Chicago, London, Paris, or Rio …

The fun started before the plane even took off in those days.

She asked me if I remember any of my trips. I do actually.

I did some serious drinking in my young life. You’d imagine that I was pretty pickled before I hit the ripe age of twenty, seeing how much liquor I could put away.

I am amazed to some degree that I survived those years.

I know, for sure, that I was Stone Cold Sober, when I went to see the Vatican. Because I climbed all those stairs up inside the Cuppola to the roof of St. Peter’s to see St. Peter’s Square from that high up and the Vatican Gardens below.

I drank SO MUCH in Munich that I put a public tour bus out of commission because I was so sick inside that bus on the way back to the city, that I ended up on the pavement, and the bus went in for a deep cleaning and never went back into service.

UGH …

Not A Pretty Drunk at all. Not the most famous memory, but a memory nonetheless.

A good night was had by all.


The Passing of Sly

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Sly was a huge part of the LGBT Community. His photography is Legend. I learned of his passing just a few minutes ago. I pay tribute to his contribution to our community, and share my thoughts on his passing.

 

There will never be another Sly Hands.

You will not be forgotten.


Tuesday: Harmonization FAILURE !!!

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I have been riding a wave of feeling good, looking good, and hopeful that my medical condition was about to get much better with labs on the table coming today.

I was terribly Disappointed with my doctor visit today.

  • Yes, I have lost some serious weight
  • Yes, I have been on the Keto Diet since the end of March 2016
  • We added Edurant (HIV) medication (once daily dosing)
  • And upped my Trulicity (dosage weekly)

My HIV numbers are stellar. Cd4’s are above 1000, but:

  • My sugar test stick at the clinic was 20.7
  • My resting fast was 20 on paper
  • And my sugar number was 9.5
  • My Triglycerides were high as well (they have been see sawing for ever)

It was obvious today, that the Harmonization Tests of both types of medication have Failed. Either the drugs are conflicting still, the dosage is wrong, or put bluntly, my doctor could not find an “on paper reason” for my numbers to be so, “out of whack” today.

With serious weight loss, and corrective diet, and reworked medication, a change should have appeared on paper, and didn’t.

My doctors had a phone conference as I sat there, when they decided to test me right then and there to check my sugars, by test strip. Which landed at 20.7.

I test at home and my numbers bounce from 10, up to 20 on any given day. Even if I have a restricted diet, and I am not putting bad food into my system and I am eating a restricted diet, the numbers should be working in my favor, but they are not.

Friends have said that I need to keep my head on and wait to see what the Diabetes clinic says at my emergency appointment on Friday morning, and not jump to any conclusions.

I might need insulin corrective medication added, or just rework my insulin regulation  or they are going to change the mix again.

Some people, I have heard, cannot regulate their sugars successfully and need serious medical intervention. It seems I am at that point myself.

Stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries: Remembering Ebby T.

A.A. #3 Bill D.

The month of June is coming to a close. And this evening was the last “reading” meeting of the month. Last week, June 10th, (1935) was the 82nd anniversary of Dr. Bob’s first full day of sobriety. This also marks the first day of the Fellowship of A.A.

Where it all started.

This week, I decided to go full bore and offer up Dr. Bob’s Nightmare, for the group to read. It is good to be the chair, because we get to choose what it is we will read, weekly.

The discussion went around the room, and one of my old timer friends, a man who was there at my first meeting at Tuesday Beginner’s more than fifteen years ago, spoke about EBBY T.

Not many  tend to remember Ebby T. in the grand scheme of things.

Back in the day, before the fellowship came together with Dr. Bob and Bill, Bill had his first pass at sobriety, in the guise of Ebby T, sitting in Bill’s kitchen one night.

Ebby had gotten sober via the Oxford Group. The forerunner of the Fellowship.

Ebby and Bill were talking over drinks, sitting in Bill’s kitchen. Bill filled his tumbler with drink and offered one to Ebby.

Ebby replied to Bill, “No Bill, I’ve found religion…”

Obviously, Bill did not take to that first pass.

Eventually Bill did get sober. Ebby did not stay sober over the years, but he did die a sober man.

Dr. Bob was a hopeless case. His story is quite drastic, as to the story he relates of just how bad it had gotten at the bitter end.

Dr. Bob tells the story of his activity at home. I can see that house in my minds eye, because my grandparents had a similar house that was built, back in the forties. I spent a number of years in that house and I could see, where Dr. Bob had hid his liquor.

(Read: All over the house)

My grandfather was a drinker like Dr. Bob.

Lorna Kelly talks about the night that Bill had contacted a priest, who led him, that fateful night, into Dr. Bob’s life.

Nikos Kazantzakis tells us that

“To always chose the easy path is Treason for the Soul.”

On that night, as Bill was standing in the Mayflower Hotel in Akron Ohio, his business deal had fallen through, he was broke, and he wanted a drink.

Heaven Held Its Breath, in that moment …

What was Bill going to do ? Off to one side of the lobby was the bar. A drink seemed the most logical choice. But was drinking a choice Bill wanted to make ?

On another wall, was a telephone and a church directory. Bill knew that his sobriety hinged on talking to another alcoholic. He made a number of calls, that went no where.

On his last dial, from that church directory, Bill reached a parish priest, whom he inquired if that man knew someone that Bill might speak to.

I kind of remember Henrietta Sieberling somewhere inside this rendition. But I am not sure of that. But she sticks out in my minds eye.

Dr. Bob was that other man, that very night.

Dr. Bob was a mess. His life was in the hole, but his wife, Anne Ripley Smith, had other ideas. She had been searching for a solution to her husband’s drinking problem.

Dr. Bob, quotes himself in the read by saying …”We alcoholics seem to have a gift of picking out the world’s finest women…” Admitting that Anne was a woman he was blessed to be married to.

At the start, Bill told Anne that he only had fifteen minutes to offer their visitor.

Dr. Bob writes: “We entered the house at exactly five o’clock and it was eleven fifteen when we left.” A friend of Anne’s had called Anne and told her that Dr. Bob, might want to meet this man (read: Bill) who might help Dr. Bob stop drinking.

Dr. Bob goes on to write: “Of far more importance was the fact that he was the first living human with whom I had ever talked, who knew what he was talking about in regard to alcoholism from actual experience. In other words, he talked my language.

Bill knew all the answers, and certainly not because he had picked them up in his reading.

The theme of One Alcoholic talking to another, is how we get sober and we remain sober, for our lives sake. If we don’t connect, sobriety does not work.

It is all about that most important blessing … CONNECTION.

Dr. Bob did stay sober for a few weeks. He went to a conference in Atlantic City, where he found the drink again. But he returned to Bill and on June 10th, 1935, Dr. Bob achieved his first full day of Sobriety.

The dawn of the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous began.

The very next story in the Big Book: Is about Bill D. Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three.

This photo (Above) is the seminal photo you will find in almost every General Service Office world wide, and in New York’s GSO. The photo is of Bill W., Dr. Bob and Bill D. Sitting in his hospital bed.

Bill D. was the Pioneer member of Akron’s Group Number 1. The First A.A. group in the world. Bill kept his faith; therefore, he and countless others found a new life.

Bill D. was the first successful transmission of the message of recovery, and Bill D. did remain sober and founded Akron recovery.

Bill closes his story with this gem:

If you think you are an atheist, an agnostic, a skeptic, or have any other form of intellectual pride which keeps you from accepting what is in this book, I feel sorry for you. If you still think you are strong enough to beat the game alone, that is your affair.

But if you really and truly want to quit drinking liquor for good and all, and sincerely feel that you must have some help, we know that we have an answer for you. It never fails, if you go about it with one half the zeal you have been in the habit of showing when you were getting another drink.

Your Heavenly Father will never let you down.


Friday: Humbly, On Our Knees …

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In the Original Manuscript of the Big Book, on page 26 of that manuscript, Step Seven reads: Humbly, on our knees, asked Him to remove our shortcomings, holding nothing back.

There are such religious notions, peppered throughout the Original Manuscript. Not all of them made it into the first printing of the Big Book in 1939.

I actually have a First Edition Big Book, printed in 1939.

Some of the more drastic “suggestions” that might seem, just a little too harsh for the sensibilities of those who see the Judeo-Christian influences in the Big Book, a problem in getting sober, were scrubbed from the final copy that went to print.

In one pass at my Steps a few years ago, in reading the Twelve and Twelve, approached Step Seven with this process: Read Step Seven, and find every word Humble or Humility.

Step Seven is the Step where we encounter this term. Humility.

  • What does it mean,
  • What does it look like,
  • And how do I find it for myself ?

For me, as I have stayed sober, Humility has been defined and refined over my years.

One friend tonight said that for him, “Humility was the recognition that he was not as big as he thought he was, but also that he was not as small as he thought he was either.”

Others talk about being “Right Sized” What does “Right Sized” mean ?

My definition of Humility, at this moment, means, “I don’t know.” I also add that, one specific old timer has offered to me that, “If I think I know something, I’d better sit down, and keep my mouth shut.”

Humility asks us to be Vulnerable to that Power Greater than Ourselves.

We constantly work towards turning it over, to that Power, which I choose to call God, every day.

Humility has been the lesson that has been hammered home in my life over the last year.

When the Orlando Tragedy happened, I threw in my spiritual towel and I cursed God. I fell apart in public, and fell to my knees, sobbing, pleading God to help me, because I was bereft, and had no idea how to begin to figure out why I was on my knees sobbing.

It all begins, when we get on our knees.

We might not know the reason why ? But to defer to God, and set one’s self before God in humble supplication, begins on one’s knees.

I learned that in Seminary. Why we prayed, and why we knelt and what it meant as men who came together to learn how to follow God. The men who were leading us, in the end, turned out, not to be the finest example of humility, based on the scandals they caused during their tenures in their priesthoods.

I wanted, so badly, to count myself as a man who would serve God. I made God that promise all those years ago, as a teen-ager, with stars of God in my eyes.

That promise to serve God would take my entire life to figure out.

It has to be the right time, the ground fertile, and I would be able to fulfill that promise, one way or another.

A year ago, I fell to my knees, and was rebuked by a man who was LONG sober, rebuking me that “You think you are so special, that we should treat you differently, You are such a child.”

I could have slapped the shit out of him right then and there. I could have hurt him seriously, in that moment, but my better judgment took over, and I got up, wiped my face and walked away, keeping my mouth shut, and not saying a word or acting on my impulses.

Thank God, Elder Spencer came into my life.

I don’t think I would have made it without him, today.

Sometimes, I have shared, that I need to be Bitch Slapped by God, in order for Him to get my attention.

Oprah has a better definition of this process:

God speaks to us in a whisper. If He whispers and we miss it the first time, He will whisper again. If we miss it the second time, He hits us over the head with a 2 x 4, if we miss Him the third time, finally, He drops a wall on top of us.

I actually lived this out a few years ago.

I’m not sure God was trying to get my attention, with a catastrophic massacre of kids in a nightclub to get me to notice Him. But He had my attention for sure.

Which led to an entire year of trying to find God, after I had cursed Him as I sat where I am sitting right this very moment.

Enter Elder Spencer … There are no coincidences. Only God.

I was there at one time, now I am here.

Now I Know !

The message is loud and clear. My life and sobriety are all about God and His goodness and kindness. I can let go of that old, tired and miserable story.

Sobriety today is about Humility, Faith, Love and the Atonement. 

The Atonement makes everything work.

Without it we are nothing, and can be nothing.

Humbly, on our knees, we asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Holding Nothing Back.


Thursday: Now I Know …

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It was a full and beautiful day. And Now I Know …

After a year of searching, talking and listening, Now I Know, what it is I am supposed to be doing. Now I know, what brings me joy. Now I know, who I need to be with.

Now I know, that friends I am connected to, friends I have known for a long time, that I never really connected to intimately, like those that I HAD been intimately connected to, have come to the fore.

There are friends and fellows, searching for connections and solutions. And over the past week or so, new connections have been forged. And working with others has come in small and simple ways.

They say … “IF you build it, they will COME.”

A Booking (read: Big Booking) series that began last Summer 2016, with Joe from New York City, with a small intrepid group of First Gen students, worked the 12 week program. We then endeavored to find other like minded folks on both the French side and the English side.

At that time, we hosted an Open House for the French side, and 50 women showed up and a handful of men. We opened a dedicated meeting serving the French side, to sister up with the Sunday evening meeting on the English side, doing the same format.

Big Book in both French and in English.

That 50 plus group of men and women were partnered with men and women, on both sides, and over the calendar year, all those men and women, went through the Book.

Now, all those men and women are taking another generation through The Book themselves. And the 2017 campaign has opened. The initial Gen Booker’s from last Summer, are beginning a new Summer session with another Gen of men and women.

I begin my next Gen Booking myself in August, for the second time.

On Sunday last, a young man who has been showing up on Sunday’s came and asked me if he could do the Booking himself. Today, we sat for our first Booking Session, that will run 12 weeks.

Tonight, at the regular Thursday meeting, a very good friend spoke. The same man, who, when I spoke a few weeks ago, did the Thanking.

Before the meeting I sat and listened to a Fifth Step from one of my men.

Then at the meeting, I heard my friend speak. He hit many salient points that I had spoken earlier in the evening. My friend has spirit, and he has God, and He lives in the solution, every day.

And as I sat there listening, I said to myself, Now I know.

I know my message. I know my experience. And I said to my friend afterwards that, I should have known better, when I got up there and made a fool out of myself.

Now I know, what I should have said. But like a good alcoholic, breaking the rules about intention, I had to have a fucking script, thinking that I needed to tell a specific story, for whatever fucked up reason I had.

When I should have really spoken the message that was supposed to be spoken and wasn’t, and listening to my friend talk tonight, I Got The Message.

I’ve spoken my displeasure. I’ve spoken my words. And I’ve said to those who needed to hear it, “I Don’t Give a Fuck anymore…so Fuck It.”

I’ve had spiritual teaching from my Elder friend Spencer. Who is a very bright light, whom, it seems, God smiles upon, every day.

I have faith. I have God. I have a Heavenly Father who loves me, and wants the best for me, and so I am surrounding myself with really good people.

Now I Know.

I know what I want to do, and why. Every day I am presented with choices of what I AM going to allow in, and what I am NOT. Every day I am presented a choice of what I want to do. How to Pray, and what I am going to engage with.

I don’t have to engage in thinking, and acting like a miserable dry drunk.

God has been very gentle with me. And gives me that persistent PUSH in the right direction, because I hear it in my heart, and the prompts come, and have been coming far more often, maybe because I am paying attention to that Still Small Voice Within.

Tonight Elder Spencer said to me that, “if he had the chance to go back to the beginning of his mission, with what He Knows Now, he would do it in a New York Minute.

His younger sister is just a few weeks into her two year mission in Montana. And a brand new crop of young Elders and Sisters are engaged at the M.T.C. Elder Spencer is right back at the beginning of a new mission, sharing stories about His mission, with a new crop of missionaries.

Indeed, he spoke his intention to return, so God has brought him full circle to return to the beginning of a mission for a group of young men and women, with ALL of the wisdom he learned on his mission here in Montreal, that ended last Fall.

When Elder Spencer went home, I gave him homework. Home work to record the wisdom he learned here, on paper. Which he did gladly.

And that homework led him to this new job. One he had not anticipated when he got home and finished his first semester at B.Y.U.

Successfully I might add.

Now he has come full circle. And I reminded him of this blessing that he intention ed himself. We both believe that when we met and through today, that there were too many coincidences between us, that were confirmed spiritually before our eyes.

And we both acknowledge that there are No Coincidences. Only God.

I feel renewed with a new solution, based in Love and God and the Book and Prayer.

It is all about the Daily Surrender and the Quality of that Surrender.

The work is there to be done. And Now I Know…

NOW I KNOW …


Tuesday: The Importance of Time

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So you went back out, and you either DRANK or USED or BOTH.

What happens now ?

What happens with all that time you banked, before you walked out the door ?
Do you loose that time, or does that time still matter ?

There are two schools of thought on these questions. I’ve heard them discussed over the years, but in recent years, I’ve heard no mention of the options in open community.

Option #1: Time on the Continuum exists and is still in motion, your slip is but a blip on the time line, so keep moving forwards.

Option #2: You HAD time, but you slipped, your continuum has stopped running, NOW you go to the BACK of the line and start over.

This came up today while talking to my best friend.

I’ve mentioned over the past few months, the number of friends I have who decided against better advice, to go back out and drink and use.

Here, in Montreal, my “Core Group” is trying to figure out how to help our friends, and get them back on the horse and reconnected.

We decided, as a group, to give keys, jobs and responsibilities to those who need to reconnect. Service will keep you sober, because you become accountable. Turning, back benchers and slippers into Service Hounds is what we have decided to do.

Will it work ? That is yet to be seen.

When I accrued my four years and had orchestrated my slip, I really had nothing to return to, as in accrued sober knowledge and time. I was too busy trying to survive.

That was the greater challenge, even if I took that life for granted, and pissed away that time endangering my life with more drugs and more alcohol.

I have a friend, one of our men, who went out at almost the four year mark. He was good, and stable. In the end, he fucked off, and isolated, and that black hole swallowed him whole.

My friend speaks of it this way … “He needs to practice his Emergency Exit Plan.”

Everyone needs an Emergency Exit Plan …
Everybody, no matter how long you are Clean and Sober.
You need to put your oxygen mask on FIRST, before you can help someone else !!!

Had he done that, he could have avoided using again.

I’ve learned in sobriety that in certain cases, I must be liberal in my approach to my friends and fellows.

My friend, returned with three years banked in the hopper.

Does he go back to the end of the line, or does he just keep going ?

He has ALL that TIME, in history, knowledge and sobriety.

He knows what to do, it isn’t like he forgot.

Pushing him to the back of the line, is detrimental, I believe to his well being.

The time one spends on a slip has to be calculated on where you land when you return.

If you have some serious time banked, and your slip is brief, (sometimes that can also be disastrous) You need to figure out where you are in your head and in your life.

The worse the slip, the harder the climb back into life.

Some people don’t make it back. They resign themselves to sobriety loss, and decide to just pack it in. They might be in a meeting, but they have disconnected.

Time has no meaning for them any more.

What does my friend do ? Well, right now he is doing service and he’s pounding his meetings. He feels shame and fear because of what he did to himself, and now what came of his actions upon those he worked with and friends he has known.

We know he is his own worst critic.

My friend and I talked about the TWO OPTIONS plans.

We agree that Option #1 – works for him.

He needs to get back on the horse. Yes he is marking new time, but with years of sober time banked behind him. So he has all that experience to work with, in figuring out what he wants to do now.

There are those who come back, and they reconnect, but they need to re-engage with The Book, The Steps and Meetings. (also contingent on how long they were absent).

We need to provide for everybody ALL the TOOLS they need to recover.

We are human, and we need to be reminded that (If we had time) that time still exists, on the continuum. You just don’t STOP living, because you slipped.

So let’s give you tools and trades to get back into the game as quick as possible, so that this time, you STICK and STAY.

We don’t need to punish people by telling them to go to the back of the line, now you start over in sobriety, that none of your past time matters …

That is NOT true.

All time matters. It matters by the strength of that banked time.

In my case, my past time was pretty non-existent. What I got the second time around mattered more now, than it did the first time around. The messaging was off, I wasn’t in the book, I wasn’t connected to a sponsor and I was my own worst enemy.

So the second time I DID start over from scratch.

Because I had nothing to bank on …

What if YOU have TIME to bank ON ? And you SLIP ?

Would you rather get back on the horse and pick up where you left off, or would you like to go back to square one, and start over, as if your past banked time, did not exist in the first place ? Or that your past time did not matter ?

The choice is yours.


June 12, 2017 – A Year Later – I Remember Them

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This One Tragic Event, turned my life and my sobriety upside down. And began a Year of wandering meetings, looking for God, Seeking help for myself, that did not come as it was needed, when it was needed. I walked this road alone, save for Elder Christensen who was a balm to my soul when I most needed God.

I learned that some things in sobriety have to be experienced, felt and spoken about, even if people didn’t listen to me. Or want to listen to me. Sobriety gave me a challenge and I walked through it, the best way I knew how. I did not drink over it either.

Which was One Serious Blessing.

I’ve not be shaken to my core like this in recent memory. In the end, I grew from this, in locating my grief and experiencing the pain that rocked me to my inner core.

I remember those young people, taken too soon, from lives that were yet to be lived. I mourn for their families who will gather tomorrow. My thoughts and prayers are with them every day that I walk this earth.

I have not Forgotten. And I will Never Forget Them.

Tragedy of the Heart – Revisited

Last night around 3 a.m. I saw the first report of a shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and my heart sank. Why did he choose that club and not another, (The Parliament House) which would have been at max capacity at that hour as well, and then I was relieved that he did not choose that site as his first hit, because he would have hit my home, or, that place I called home for so long.

I chose to move to Orlando because I thought that that was a safe place to be Gay. That was where my journey of becoming a citizen of the gay community was to begin. So I moved there. I became part of a vibrant community of people I loved and respected. People who would shape the life I have today in ways I could never imagine.

Tragedy in other places, is not like a tragedy that hits at your home. Tragedy by extension and degrees of separation have less intensity when they are far removed, or far away. Last night’s tragedy hit me right in the chest. My heart broke to think that my brothers and sisters of life were targeted by a crazed gunman who wanted to kill homosexuals. Hate crime or religious ideology? That question is still unanswered.

In any case, I can imagine what that loss feels like having spent so much time IN that community for so long. I have a long and devastating relationship with death and tragedy. I lived through some of the darkest times in Gay history. And now another story of tragedy has been written.

Families lost loved ones, friends have lost friends, the community at large has lost souls to senseless violence, and the relative safety of a city that welcomed and cared for their own, is no more.

There are no guarantees of safety and freedom anymore. I look back at life some twenty or more years, and I know what relative safety felt like, to not have to fear going out to a public place and having to worry about some crazed human being stalking us like animals on a safari hunt.

Guns are too easily sought and bought. The availability of these firearms undermines the safety of every human being where ever you are. That is more so in the United States. Canada has its gun issues, but as long as I have lived here, I have never felt threatened to go out in public for fear of my life.

Every day, the fear of being killed is a new set of skills for the human being. This insidious fear has been forced upon us by those who would seek to kill us for a myriad of reasons, and nobody is safe, it seems, any longer. Relative safety is a thing of the past now.

I’ve been watching these mass killings day after day and it saddens me to no end. And now, with this latest tragedy, I am forced to speak these words in testimony to my brothers and sisters that lost their lives so tragically last night. I can do that because for a few years, I was one of those brothers and sisters.

I cannot tell you how this tragedy makes me feel. When religious ideology kills indiscriminately, my first reaction is “An eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth.” If ideological killers kill to prove a point, killing humans in inhumane ways, the rage in me reacts first. All sense of Christian values leaves me.

It is reported that the gunman pledged his loyalty to Isis, which makes him an ideological killer, there is no forgiveness for those who kill senselessly because of ideology. I make no excuses for them, and I wish them direct judgment and death. It is all well and good that this gunman is dead. Because he killed his fellow humans in cold blood for reasons we still do not know, and there is no forgiveness for a human like that. Even though I know when that man made it to where ever he ended up, I was taught that whatever God there is, forgiveness will follow, even if I cannot.

There are no words I can say right now, that haven’t already been said by those who have been in the loop since last night. My heart is broken in this senseless loss of life. All I can do is say a prayer for those departed and for those who are left to pick up the pieces.

The Orlando Gay Community is family, they will survive this, in time. Phillip De Franco said this yesterday, “There is no silver lining to this story, no good ending, for now the pain is acute and one day this pain will recede and the intense feeling won’t go away, but will be less, but not forgotten.”

I stand with my brothers and sisters tonight in solidarity and hope.

I wish I could go back and be of some comfort, but that is not an option, so all I have is this place to tell you how hard this hit me and why, and to allow myself to feel this tragedy because it hits me right in my heart of hearts.

Eternal rest grant them and may perpetual light shine upon them.


Sunday Sundries: The Changing Faces …

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It was another beautiful day in the neighborhood. Much warmer than it was yesterday, and we will take any day full of sun, as we can get. It might be the second week of June, but before we know it, it will be the beginning of September, and Summer will all but be gone.

For the past few months, I have witnessed new members coming to our rooms, that we have not seen, at all, in the past. Montreal’s Jewish community is legendary. When I got sober, this time around, it was the Jewish Chabad community, who took me in and cared for me when I needed it most.

Whenever I am able, I give back, until I am empty.

It seems, as of late that, we are serving the Hasidim community on a much more personal level. I’ve been listening to our men talk, about their struggles, their families and their troubles with addiction.

Addiction knows no barrier when it comes to the who and the why. Everyone is fair game. With communities that are insulated, they usually deal with daily problems, “in house, among themselves.”

Montreal is a city that is based in communal living. With many religious and ethnic communities existing side by side. But again, there are certain conversations that are only dealt with, inside the sacred circle of that respective community.

For a handful of men, they have left the security of their communities, and they have found their way into our rooms. And I have been paying attention to them, personally.

Today we read from the book, and the chapter: The Perpetual Quest.

It is a story about a woman, who reaches her bottom, and finds her way to the rooms, in her city. The portion of the read I focused on was the last three pages of the story, where she hears just what she needs to do to stay sober.

I chose the reading, because, if we could cut, copy and paste this portion of the story, and hand this document out to newcomers or, more to the point, to anyone who has a desire to stop drinking, we would have our work done for us, in one swing.

Many people talk about the suggestions.

Service, Meetings, Big Books, Steps and Sponsors.

Everybody hears the same message, from the get go. Many of us would rather eat dirt, than follow a simple suggestion.

This problem exists everywhere. There is a lot of anger being spoken about. Yet, we come to meetings, anyways. Because we are told that if we show up, the rest will fall into place.

Getting sober is just the tip of the iceberg for many members and my friends. Many people come with multiple problems, and are cross addicted, or have more than, “just a drinking problem.” And I heard those words spoken again tonight.

Our new men, who come from their respective communities have said to us that they deal with more than just drinking. And people across the board, beg the question, “what do I do with the twenty four hours, each day?”

One answer I heard tonight was, “well, as long as you are sitting in a meeting, you can knock that hour off the time line.” And “the more meetings you fit into your weekly schedule, the less time you have to spend in your head.”

When we come into sobriety from whatever addiction we inhabit, we begin to cleanse the temple of our bodies, that God has given us.

I was not sure how to approach this topic with our men, I just spent the last hour with my Elder friend Spencer and he gave me some sound advice, at how to bridge faiths.

Now I have an idea of what I need to do. God brings certain people and problems into our lives for a specific reason. We either know what to do, or, we know other people, who might know what to do, or we ourselves learn what it is we need to know, in order to serve the greater good.

I have faith. I have the book. I have my knowledge. And I have God, in my pocket.

If some have left the security of insulation, searching for a solution they need, because they have suffered and have transgressed their scriptures and proscriptions and doctrines and covenants of Judaism, they have come to places that I exist in.

I have a desire to help them, and tonight, I was taught, what it was that I did have, by someone I respect fully, and now from him, I know what I can do, with the tools God has already given me.

There is a three fold recipe that is necessary for transmission:

  • One, you need a Human Being
  • Two, you need the Book
  • Three, you need a problem that you can give context to, teaching wise

If you have these three dynamic pieces, miracles happen.

Spencer was at the MTC this week, and he met a young missionary.

While Spencer was here, in Montreal, he worked in Cornwall, a few hours drive from Montreal. While there he ministered to our young man’s grandfather, who was, later, baptized in the church.

His grandson, our young Elder in training, there in Utah, had met Spencer here, while on his mission. It was a Miracle Full Circle moment for him. Because our young man said to him, weren’t you in Canada, that answer was yes. Weren’t you in Cornwall, that answer was also yes, he put the pieces together that before our young man was called to his mission, he met Elder Spencer here in Canada, during His mission.

How often do you see someone in a foreign country, and meet them and share time with, and then find out that they are right in your own back yard, preparing to go on their very own mission ???

That is a miracle for sure.


Friday: The Quality of Surrender

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It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The first really BIG weekend in Montreal has begun. The F1 Grand Prix, is the penultimate event of the season for the city and the millions of people who come from far and wide to participate.

It only gets better from here, with the Festival Season that opens over the next month.

I did nothing all day. I did my shop early and came home and crawled back into bed. I’m not opening any longer, which frees me to head out a little later than usual. I got ready to go and took my time in getting to the church. The transfer out was quick, and I arrived at the church to find a friend sitting on the church steps, enjoying the sun, so I sat with him for a bit and chatted.

A new group of young men are on the stage to open and set up. We, (read: the group conscience) spoke and we handed the keys and responsibilities to them, so that they would be responsible and show up and become service hounds in the process.

Experience over the years has taught us one true thing …

Service will keep you sober.

The reading WAS Step Three …Actually … The Step Three Prayer.

I heard many things spoken. But one young man said something that I actually wrote down. Step Three is an important step. It is the first step where a prayer is asked of us.

It asks of us to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him.

Step Three reads: Made a decision, to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

This appears on Page 63 of the Big Book.

The three most important words in the Big Book, appear on page 112.

Read This Book …

This young man said: Surrender has to come first, before we utter this prayer out loud. Our surrender affects everything else that comes afterwards.

The Quality of my surrender dictates how everything will turn out.

How much do we surrender when we pray ? 10%, 50%, 100%

I can concede that I need to “Turn it over,” But in my case, my surrender usually has conditions, or the usual, “Yeah BUT.” My sponsor said to me, not long ago, that I needed to open my fist and turn my hand towards God and Let Go Absolutely.

With No Conditions, or Explanations or Expectations.

Surrender is the whole point of getting sober.

I can’t – He Can – So I will let Him.

We cannot do this thing alone, which is why we need to go to meetings, and we also need others. I know, for me, that when I pray to God, I am either going to get an Up/Down response, or if the Up/Down does not come, I need to go to a meeting and listen to my friends and get a vertical person to person response.

If God does not talk to me directly, I usually find that He speaks through other people in any meeting I go to. It usually works that way for me.

Lately, God needs my attention. And I either accept that or I do not. I know that when God needs my attention, he removes something from me, in order that I have more of me to pay attention to Him.

That is either the removal of people, places, things or activities.

We believe that we always need to be engaged. Always doing something, helping everyone else, trying to wrest control over a situation that might be OUT of control.

I’ve been spread too thin for too long. People have taken advantage of my good will. And eventually, I get pushed over my personal limit of Fuck It …

So I sat in front of the church this evening, with nothing to do, talking to a friend.

That was a particularly good God Moment.

When I got sober the second time, I was ready to surrender. And in the moment when I got on my knees and prayed to God, I surrendered.

The rest you can say is history.

Because I am right here, right now.

And We did not drink today.

And together, the entire room, spoke with one voice, The Third Step Prayer.

It was a good thing …