Hello, My name is Jeremy and I am a Tired Old Queen !!! 40 is the new 30, and in a few days I will celebrate my 47th birthday. I survived AIDS and I am in a place I never imagined or dreamed of. I am in new territory and I don’t quite know what to do with myself these days, so we are figuring it out “on the fly!” by the seat of my pants… just the way I like it …
July 24 2014
The hookup atmosphere in nightlife may have died off, but now there’s room on the dance floor for an older generation. And you don’t even have to know who Liza is to have a good time with them. (But look up Liza, by the way.)
One night, at a nightclub where I was extremely popular, I tried to get into a VIP section, thinking it would be a piece of cake, as usual. But there was a new, 20-ish guy guarding the rope there and he was quite open about not wanting to let me in. As I walked away in dejection, I heard the guy mutter to a friend, “Tired old queen!” I was so horrified I nearly fell over and reached my inevitable death state. I was 29 years old — hardly ready for the glue factory yet. But in the gay club world, where aging seems to be particularly abhorred, I was already heading toward an AARP-like milestone and clearly not eligible for VIP status anymore.
And that was nearly three decades ago! By now, I should be a “tired old queen” times 1,000. I should be shipped directly to the Elmer’s factory on a no-return basis. I’m a walking billboard for the “It Gets Older” campaign, and someone young clubbies probably need to avoid, since older people are generally a reminder of mortality, not something anyone wants to think about when they’re drinking, dancing, and enjoying their own freshness.
But fortunately for mankind, it hasn’t worked out that way. I happen to have good genes, so I look younger than I really am — no, really. Also, all these years of immersing myself in creative scenes and writing about them have given me a certain cachet, so I’ve actually been getting more appreciation than revulsion these days. And I think there’s also been a sea change in the world, a “40 is the new 30” (and so on) feeling that people get better, not older — and gays, as usual, are on top of the trend. As people live longer and garner more visibility for it, there’s not as much ickiness surrounding the fact that they’ve survived. And survived. And survived.
I haven’t had anyone — even club kids — call me a “tired old queen” in years, and I’m thrilled about that. Of course there’s still a downside to being close friends with Father Time: For one thing, you don’t always get offered opportunities because the sense out there is that you’ve shown what you can do and it’s time to let other people try it. But it’s gotten better to be a TOQ, as long as you try to stay relevant without being too needily obvious about it. You need to keep up with the upcoming gays and their references without coming off like grandpa in a scrunchie. It’s important to not lecture too much or offer Sophia Petrillo-like stories of the golden days; they’re boring, even to other old people. (Except for the delightful 29-year-old story that I started this piece with, naturally.) But you also shouldn’t go out of your way to try to sound hip, unless you want to remind people of their grizzled aunt who insists on wearing bikinis by the public pool. In general, oldies should never act like they’re on the same plane as the young, unless they’re Madonna — the only one who can possibly get away with that sort of thing.
Unfortunately, sticking to my aged references may keep me in my comfort zone, but not in others’. Not long ago, I mentioned Liza Minnelli to a 21-year-old woman, who looked as blank as if I’d mentioned Russian composer Alfred Schnittke. She’d never heard of Liza, Cabaret, or even Judy Garland. Granted she wasn’t a gay man, but still, I thought for sure there’d be a little recognition bell ringing, even if just on the order of, “Wasn’t she in the Sex and the City sequel?”
But within the gay world, even preschoolers have heard of Liza, so things are OK. And as gay marriage becomes increasingly prevalent and paves the way for more people looking for partners who’ll love them when they’re old, I think the community will focus less on the vanity, self-consciousness, and fear of aging that has often plagued us in the past. We’re not as shame-based and superficial as we used to be — for the most part — and that carries over into the way we treat other members of the community and, ultimately, ourselves. Meanwhile, my own vanity has prevented me from joining groups like SAGE, which for 46 years has provided valuable support for older LGBTs, because that would be an admission of my wizened state that would be hard to turn back from. (It’s sad, I know, but getting older is complicated.) But I’m still ready to embrace many aspects of being an old gay, as long as my brothers and sisters make room for me and my hanging flesh.
And they have been! Even in bars! These days, the younger gays don’t go clubbing to get picked up — they know they’re going to take care of that via various sites and apps — so the sight of a senior on the dance floor is no longer considered a horrifying cock blocker. More inspiringly, there’s also an open-mindedness about different types of people and their right to coexist, thanks to increased savviness, so the presence of an old queer no longer seems like a visitation from the Ghost of Christmas Future. If anything, the sight of Larry Kramer, Edward Albee, Harvey Fierstein, or maybe even little old me might perk up just about any party.
So when you see me coming, don’t start cringing and yelling “tired old queen!” Don’t even mutter it to your friend. Try instead to think of me as a welcome opportunity for some wit, insight, and Liza talk, as well as a source of information on the more oppressive (yet wilder) days of being gay. We finally woke up and were able to celebrate fat people as “bears,” why not treat older gays as pioneers and wisdom spouters? I won’t go so far as to say “Without me, you’re nothing,” but let’s face it, I definitely helped.
Illustration by Paul Tuller
Here is the story of that week from my journal.If we are to start anywhere, here is the best place.
July 4th 1994
it was a nice day.Josh and I prepared the house for company; we were hosting a “friendly” BBQ in Ft.Lauderdale. Alan and his hubby and other friends from the complex were coming, a veritable who’s who of my social circle back then. It was a great day. We cooked and ate at the picnic table out back – the drag queens in the adjacent area were entertaining, and the conversation was light and campy. The day wore on into night, and fireworks were going to be shot off over Ft.Lauderdale beach. So we piled into the convertible and headed out for the five-minute drive across the bridge to the beach. Parking was a nightmare, but eventually we found a spot to sit in. I remember that things were happy and there were no worries; we were out celebrating the holiday. After the fireworks we came home and imbibed a great deal, and sat down to watch the new film out on video, “Philadelphia” with Tom Hanks. Little did I know how much life would…?
Imitate art that week?
I watched with a certain attention, as if saying to God, “I know what’s coming so please be gentle with me, because I am not sure I am ready to do this or die.” It had been a year since the first time I was tested at “Planned Parenthood” and that test came back negative.
The second test was done in a city hospital lab, and those results came back negative as well, but six months later we found out on the news that the lab had switched our (100 gay men’s) HIV tests with a retirement home lab list. It was freaky when 100 elderly folk got positive HIV tests back from the lab, OOOPS – someone made a HUGE mistake.
Anyway, that was that.
Around 8 o’clock I called my parents to wish them a Happy July 4th; there was another piece of information I needed to get across to them, and this was not going to be very easy, I had been feeling pretty sick since January, and checked 7 of the 9 symptoms off the list from “If these things are happening to you — you might have HIV” wallet card.
The conversation started light and airy, then all the air left my lungs and I could not breathe. And this is how it went
Pleasant conversation, then I dropped the bomb!
I have some news for you.
Yes, what would that be?
I’ve been feeling a lot sick lately and tomorrow I am going to see a doctor…
I could hear the wheels spinning in their heads. My mother had been working in Home Health Care for a number of years and she had seen what AIDS can do to a human being; couple that with what they were watching on TV and she was having worse case scenario visions in her head!!
They were watching “Philadelphia” at their house at the very moment I called. Suddenly my mother must have looked at the TV and she screamed. Yes, that’s right, I am sick, and I need to go get tested tomorrow, it’s time. My father was listening in on the extension, and I am sure he was beside himself; his fag son was sick and putting two and two together led to only one conclusion.
Josh was sitting in the living room while I had this conversation, he didn’t say a word. I had to prepare him for what was coming; Josh and I would never see the end of the week together. In the end, I would never see Josh again.
After a bout of hysterics, I told them that everything would be all right and I ended the phone call. That night I did not sleep at all, and Josh was all over the place. He was such a quiet and calm young man; we were both young then. We had only been dating for a couple of months by that point. Tomorrow’s test was just a formality; I knew already the answer I would get confirmed in a few days’ time. I did not tell any of my friends that night. Todd and Roy were in Provincetown on holiday. But I would eventually call Todd.
Tuesday July 5th, 1994
I got up this morning, with one item on my list of things to do today, and Josh did not sleep all night and was restless and upset. I got him up and ready for work and I drove him to work, and then proceeded to the clinic where my friend Ken was working.
It was in a little “medical mall” type building.The offices were on the second floor of the suites. I parked the car, put up the top and sat in silence and I prayed. “If there is a God up there, please, whatever happens, I am not ready to die.”
I find it peculiar that certain prayers at certain times remain locked in my memory on certain days of my life. I locked the car and walked the fifty feet across the parking lot and went into the office, where I was asked to take a seat and wait. Do you know what it feels like to be told “hurry up and wait?” I just wanted to get this show on the road.
You see, where I worked, at the nightclub, Ken, my friend, was the nurse for the masses. He worked off hours at the free clinic, he donated time to events, and he did home visits and took care of all of our friends who are now dead, at that time, so he had seen a lot of friends die in the five years we lived in Ft.Lauderdale. He was a very emotional man, who wore his heart on his sleeve and I knew that.
This was a hard week for him; any new diagnosis is hard when you are such close friends and part of a dynamic community where everyone knows each other intimately. We had seen each other over the weekend at the bar; I worked all weekend long. He knew that I was sick; because he was the one I went to when things got dicey. I think he knew as I did, but I think we both wanted things to be different. Alas, they weren’t.
Ken was preparing himself to do what he had to do and keep a straight face and be strong in front of me, you know, be positive about things, and keep up appearances so that I would not crack under the pressure.
It was time. Ken came and got me and escorted me to the lab, and he did not look me in the eye the entire time I sat there, tears falling from his face. It was quick, and painless. Afterwards he sent me off into my day. I signed the papers and went for the door; Ken was right behind me. He walked me to my car, and stopped and he sobbed in my arms. I was relatively calm. You see I was only 26 years old, and many of our friends had been gruesomely sick and died long drawn-out deaths. It was NOT pretty; many of my friends had KS, and cancer and some of my friends lost their minds and many of them died alone, because friends, lovers and family had thrown them out on the streets to die. Ken and I were people who cared for these people from the day they were diagnosed until the day they died. It was sad.
He said that he would call me in a few days and let me know when the tests come back…
And he tried to leave it at that.
I grabbed him and looked into his eyes and I told him,
“I know, and when you call I will know, just by the tone of your voice!”
He kissed me goodbye and I went on with my day.
I don’t remember what I did to pass the time until Josh got off work, but we tried to live normally and not get too upset over things. All I remember is that once the word went around that I had gone for the test, my friends started pulling away. It was the longest week of my life.
Friday July 8th 1994
the week passed by without incident. Thursday I waited impatiently for the phone to ring, and every time it did, I would jump through the roof. Alas, Thursday night I went to bed, knowing that tomorrow it would come.
I got up in the morning and drove Josh to work and returned to the house. It was around 11 am that the phone finally did ring. It was Ken. His voice was shaky on the phone, and all he said was “Jeremy, you need to come to the office, and you need to come now!” Then the line went dead. I got dressed and headed over to the clinic. I already knew the answer, but you never know, right? I parked the car, and said my prayers, and I rested for a moment.
I went up stairs and logged in at the reception desk. Ken was nowhere to be found. After a little while they escorted me into an examination room; it was blue in color, very sterile and cold. I sat down on the table and I waited. A few minutes later the doctor came in, file in hand. I guess he wanted to make sure I was prepared for this.
“Well, no better time than the present,” he said.
Let’s get this over with. “Jeremy, you have AIDS and that’s the bottom line. “
“You are going to die.”
The words rolled off his tongue with the flair and style of a practiced doctor. He sat with me for a few moments while I considered my fate. I think he was hoping that I would say something.
“Thank you for that information,” I replied.
He said that we would need to do a few tests to get started; those labs would show just how compromised my immune system was, and what the next course of action would be.
I did not know how bad things were, but I would soon find out. Back then, who knew from death or life? Drugs were hard to come by, and there surely was no system of treatment in place for me to go to.
He dismissed himself and said that when I was ready, I could leave.
So I gave him a five-minute lead on me, then I gathered up my soul and I walked out the exam room door and out to the car. I looked down from the second floor and Ken was sitting on the hood of my car, waiting for me. When I got down to my car, Ken stood up opened his arms and embraced me; he was sobbing. I stood there; I guess I was in shock. I stood there and held him, while the wave ran over both of us.
I guess I was not prepared to show my cards just yet. We talked for a little while and we set out a plan of action for the next week. I would return to this lab and get some baseline labs drawn to get a more total picture of my immune system and figure out how I was going to proceed. (That’s what eventually happened in the coming days.)
I drove home. I was relatively calm. It’s funny that I was totally prepared to stand up straight and tall and accept my fate, but watching my friends and coworkers and family crack up was very disturbing. People with AIDS were pariahs! You did not touch them, you did not hug them, and you surely did not want your neighbours or family members to know that you socialized with or employed someone who had AIDS, God forbid we infected someone you knew or even transmitted our disease to you by touch or breathing in the same space!
I got home, and I sat in my space and I tried to make some decisions. Who do I tell and when? I don’t remember what I did that day, but I kept myself busy. I called Todd and Roy, and they were on vacation. When Todd got the news, he was sad, and immediately he stepped up to the plate and became the man who would save my life.
That evening, Friday, I went to pick Josh up at work; I forgot to clear the tape deck in the car. The soundtrack to “Philadelphia” was still in there. It was around 5 o’clock when I picked him up; the sun was setting in front of us as we drove east towards the house. I tapped the tape into the deck, and it started to play…
I watched Josh convulse in the front seat, and throw up out the car door. He was hysterical. I did not have to say a word to him, but he knew. When we got home, he went into the bedroom, he packed his duffle bag, without a word, he looked at me, said goodbye, and walked out the door, got into his car, and drove away. That was the last time I saw him.
Whoa, OK, one down … two more to go.
I had some dinner and proceeded to call my parents. You would have thought that an atomic bomb had been dropped on my parents’ house. My mother, having worked in the health field, said to me that I had gotten what I deserved. She and my father had had a week to consider this topic. We discussed my plan of action, and I called a family meeting that would take place in a week’s time. I wanted everyone to be informed and I wanted to know that I was not alone.
That visit did take place. And it did no good to ensure anything but the disdain and ignorance by my family to step up and get involved in taking care of the future. I had made my choice, by doing what I had done, and I got what was coming to me. My father had made that perfectly clear.
I still do not know, to this day, if James was the contact point of HIV. All I do know is that James was a diabetic and was suicidal. That he was sick those last few months that we were together, and I did his blood tests with his pen. I handled the strips several times a day. And that they tell me was the transmission point. I did not know he had AIDS until well after his death, when a friend of mine called me at work one day back in ’93 to tell me he was sick and had AIDS. I guess it took me a few months to “seroconvert.” This is the process the body goes through when it’s finally hit with viral replication and inception of a virus that the immune system cannot fight alone.
Over the next week, I chose my battles wisely, I told my inner circle of friends. The ones on the inside of the AIDS circle (that I was part of at work.) On the other hand there was the other circle of my “social friends” that had partied with us just a few days earlier.They would never set foot in my house ever again, in fact, and it was as if I had walked off the face of the earth, because I never heard from many of them ever again. The stigma of AIDS back then was deadlier then the virus itself.
Todd eventually returned to Ft.Lauderdale. My landlord and his lover were notified.
Interesting that many years later, I was at a Pride Celebration in Ft.Lauderdale, and my landlord’s partner was in a wheelchair and sick with AIDS. When we were friends at the time of my diagnosis, they were a happy couple, with all the promise in the world. I had no idea. I did not lose my apartment, my rent was frozen where it was, and they helped me pay bills and buy food. Within days Todd had returned and he came over and we talked. (God, we spent a lot of time talking!)
I was in self-destruct mode. And the stress of being sick with AIDS took its toll. I drank around the clock, I drank at work, I drank after work, and all I wanted to do was die. Todd did what he could at the beginning to keep me on the straight and narrow. He outlawed drinking while on shift, (I was working in a nightclub then) so that kept me sober while I worked.
I would then head out after we closed to the “after hours” club called the “Copa.” It was down the street from where our club was, and they served alcohol till 6am. So I had at least two to three hours to get inebriated nightly. That lasted until the end of August.
One night, I decided that the pain was too intense that dying was a viable option, seeing that I knew what all of the men I knew went through. I was at the Copa one night, and it was hot and I had drunk myself into a very nice BUZZ. The problem here was, I wanted more, and I got more. That night, I collapsed on the dance floor in an alcoholic overdose of gargantuan proportions.
I woke up in my friend Danny’s arms. The ambulance was there and oxygen was administered. I was still alive. That was the last night I drank. That morning, Danny brought me home and he stayed in my house for a week. I could not go anywhere except work. Todd was worried that I was going to try and kill myself again. So I had babysitters when I was not at work. I hit my first meeting on August the 23rd, 1994. By that time, most of the bar staff was all sober, and three-quarters of us were sick with AIDS.
Todd had a safe rule in effect. We had jobs, and we got paid. If we got sick, and could not come to work, our shifts were covered by someone on staff. We did not get fired for being sick. The bar secured for us medical treatment through the local clinic, where one of our friends named Marie ran a community clinic/drug farm.
Ken came to my house weekly to check on me. My world got A LOT smaller.
Everyone outside my work circle walked away. It took me a long time to get over that. They were punishing me for getting sick. Like I needed any more punishment!
The religious fundamentals were making their cases for eternal damnation for gays and people with AIDS, and speaking out whenever we went in public. Funeral homes stopped giving services to people with AIDS and their families because of religious and social pressure.
Life was difficult, But, I survived, because of the community I lived in and the grace of Almighty God.
In retrospect, “it was the best of times, and it was the worst of times.” and if God gave me a choice to go back and repeat any area of my life over again, it would be that exact period of time, and I would not change one single thing.
For years after my diagnosis, my friends died left and right, 162 people. The Names Project Quilt is a reminder of all the lives I touched and was a part of, and all the men whom I knew and loved.
All the men who were CRUCIAL to my survival (our survival) all the gay men who collected money for People with Aids, the drag queens we loved and admired and partied with over the year, the diehard supporters, are all dead now.
So many boys, so many men, cut down in the prime of life. We were foolish then, and uneducated. It was only after the storm hit that the reality start to sink in. When our friends started dying and we realized that “something serious is going on” did the community got smart.
We built infrastructure. We created homes and safe spaces. We cared for those on the streets, we collected money and food. We cooked and fed people, we washed clothes and in some cases we even changed diapers.
A year later, in 1995, I moved back to Miami, after Todd and Roy moved out west to San Francisco. I did not go with them, I was too young, and I had been banking on the fact that my S.O.B father would die and I would take back my mother. Well, he is still alive, all these years later, and I did not get my mother back. Do I have regrets? Sometimes I do. I sometimes think, “what if?” but that’s all they are, thoughts. You know what they say about living in “what ifs right?” So I don’t think about what ifs anymore, just what will be.
From my diagnosis date through the first eight years of my life with HIV/AIDS, I lived in the United States, and I speak about navigating a U.S. program of medical, social and government system. I immigrated to Canada in April of 2002.
Today the sun came out. It was a very pleasant day. The warmth is being received by the millions, grateful for it. Snow is melting and there is even grass peeking out between the swaths of ice and snow that is still piled up at the church. Along with the warmth comes rain … to start washing all the snow, salt and muck away.
And you know what comes after that, right? The BIG CLEAN.
As is usual at the end of winter, all the garbage, paper, cigarette butts, and all the shit that has been trapped in layers of ice and snow over the past six months will have to be cleaned up.
Today my new Passport was delivered. YAY for that.
I departed on time and arrived at the church about 6, with the bells ringing in the bell tower. The Angelus rings every night at 6. We sat a small group. We were missing a few guys, one of my sponsees was getting an award at school and the other was playing the piano for the event. But because I am the only key holder, I could not attend. Booo !!!
We read from the Big Book, There is a Solution, and pages 21 and 22.
Somewhere in there it mentions that “Invisible” line we all cross, when one is not enough, social drinking goes out the window, and we wind up with the obsession of “MORE.”
For some, they don’t even see the line. Or don’t know that it exists.
A particular visual came to mind as we read tonight.
My parents always encouraged us to drink at home. It was a food group in our home. Nobody ever mentioned alcoholism, even though it was right there in front of us, and nobody dared speak those words. God Forbid the neighbors found out that someone was an alcoholic.
They found out. They did know. Nothing was ever said. Not a word.
After work my parents would come home from work and dad would hit the liquor cabinet or the bar, and mom would pop a beer, and usually, work colleagues came with them to commiserate.
My mother worked in healthcare and hospitals. At one point she was working for a company that supplied medications and medical assistance to people who were sick and home bound and those who had just been released from hospital and needed a little extra T.L.C.
Some of those people were gay. Many of them sick with AIDS.
I am a teen ager now. I’ve begun to drink. I was NOT out of the closet yet. But I was well on my way. This story is the trigger that I vowed I would never come out to my parents, Ever …
My mother would come home and talk about those poor “Faggots” who were sick and how sickened she was that she had to enter their homes and give them meds and actually help them survive, when she thought that they should be dead. That happened day in and day out for months, while she had that contract.
It was very sad and sickening.
Everybody would laugh.
I wasn’t laughing. At all.
My shrink, at some point, later on, was speaking about integration into the Gay Community. And the way that that was going to happen, was for me to go to a gay bar, and drink… And wait for the fireworks.
I drank at home, at parties. But this green light meant that I could drink without impunity to what end I wasn’t quite sure. I never drank one drink.
By the time I was of age, I had run through my beer days. Once I discovered the thrill of hard liquor, I never touched another beer again.
I remembered all those derogatory things my parents said about The Jews, The Niggers, The faggots … I was ashamed …
Growing up I had a friend from South East Asia, we were friends for a very long time, AND he would show up later on in sobriety the second time, (he was always not that far away), but I digress.
He had dark skin. But he was not black.
My father decided from the first day he met that boy that he would never allow a dark skin boy to cross our threshold and enter our house, God forbid the neighbors saw a dark skinned boy, (who might have just crossed the tracks) enter a white house.
Hence the bigotry and racial sickness in my family.
I would later come out, far far away, and only when I was diagnosed did I ever speak about it to my family, to my detriment. I was an abomination.
So would you blame me if I began to drink that hatred away?
Anyways … where was I ?
From the get go, There was Never just ONE. One what? One Beer, One Drink? The would be preposterous. How do you just have one and that’s it?
Being a third generation alcoholic, that invisible line had been crossed. I am sure that the women in the family saw that line and watched their spouses walk up to it, look at it, then confidently walk across it, as if it did not exist.
Because any real alcoholic, would never admit they have a problem or admit that they themselves crossed that invisible line.
And that became my life. The rest they say is history.
I suffer from the obsession of More. In many other areas of my life, and it has taken me almost 13 years to learn that I don’t need MORE.
I am good with what I have. I don’t drink, well, I didn’t drink today, as my sponsor would remind me, so that’s a good thing.
All is well in my world.
More to come, stay tuned …
It snowed last night. There is a lot of snow piled up all over the core. Many are hoping that this was the last round for the season. In the past we have had snow all the way into May. The temps will moderate and rise over the next few days, so I am not sure they will spare the expense to clean it up off the streets.
It was a quiet weekend.
I departed on time and when I got to the church, there was three feet of snow piled up in front of the church doors, covering the stoop and out into the walkway. The shovel was inside the door, and I had to get the door opened to get it, which took some serious pulling and shoving a door barricaded by snow. It took me a couple of passes to remove all the snow, which is piled up at least three feet on either side of the doors, where the bushes are covered with ice and snow.
It is the last Sunday of the month, and we sat a fair number which was good. Several of my friends whom I haven’t seen in a while came and that was a good sign. We read from the Twelve and Twelve and Tradition Three …
“The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.”
Many talked about finding similarity when they got here, and over time realized that they were not that different from their fellows. Secondly, the word God popped up in conversation. Step Three and Tradition Three kind of go hand in hand.
Every time we read this tradition I zone in one one specific passage from the reading:
“We were resolved to admit nobody to A.A. but that hypothetical class of people we termed ‘pure alcoholics.’ Except for their guzzling, and the unfortunate results thereof, they could have no other complications. So beggars, tramps, asylum inmates, prisoners, queers, plain crackpots, and fallen women were definitely OUT. Yes sir, we’d cater only to pure and respectable alcoholics!
Emphasis added …
The first time I got sober, was in an LGBT room catering to gay sober folks. It was not a cake walk, as I have shared before that newcomers were regarded as race horses that should be bet on to see who would go back out and drink first.
I stayed sober, in spite of them, and on my first anniversary, I told the crowd to go fuck themselves. In my second year of sobriety, I moved from Fort Lauderdale to Miami. I was still counting the days to my death date doctors had given me when I got sober. I was on the bubble, to say the least.
I got connected to a club room in South Miami, (The Coral Room). The room was open all day and hosted meetings all day and night. Around the second year of sobriety, someone asked me to speak at a speaker meeting. It would be the first time I had ever spoken at a meeting in sobriety.
The room was packed. At least more than a hundred were in the room. And I got up to the podium and began to speak. Getting around to my diagnosis and my living with AIDS came up and as I started this phase of my share, all the men got up and left the room and went outside to wait until I was finished speaking.
At the end of the meeting I went outside and one of the men stepped up and said to me
“We don’t support or condone people like you, so please go somewhere else to get sober!” Needless to say I was floored.
I remained at that room for another two years, but I went to other meetings where I felt some sense of belonging. I pulled back, I stopped reading the book, I did not have a sponsor AND I trusted no one. Which directly led to my slip.
I went out on my fourth anniversary. Following all the men who went out at the four year mark. When I came back, I was on the beach, and went to Sober on South Beach for my return. They welcomed me and did not judge me.
A few months later, I ended up here in Montreal. I was five months sober the second time, and I was hitting different meetings all over the city.
Here in Montreal there are invisible lines drawn between the different Burroughs, and sections of the city. For the most part, people who live in one section of town, never cross that boundary to go to other meetings in other parts of town.
So one night I was in the West End. And hit a Friday night meeting. I was new in town, Did not know anyone and I hit this particular meeting. At first they welcomed me and then drilled me with twenty questions. As we talked they got an idea of my situation and my status.
Once again I heard those words … “We don’t condone people like you, please go somewhere else to get sober, you aren’t welcome here!”
That is something you don’t really hear about. People being told that they are not welcome and to go somewhere else. Especially if a particular group follows the traditions.
I never went to that meeting again, and for many years I never went to NDG for a meeting for a long time. On my tenth anniversary I spoke at a West End meeting and I told this story. People were shocked but some were not. This only solidified for me the fact that there are sick people in the world, and I should stay away from them. I haven’t spoken at a meeting since that night.
Tonight we read Tradition Three, and I shared this story once again. Many of the old timers at the Sunday meeting have never heard me tell that story before. We are a welcoming meeting. There are several LGBT folks at the meeting.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to Stop Drinking.
One of my sponsees was sitting right next to me, he was moved.
This lesson runs deep, because we must treat everyone who comes in the door kindly, compassionately, and with care. If we judge and are careless with our words, they may leave and never come back again.
No matter who you are, what age you are, what orientation you are, man, woman, boy or girl, everyone is welcome at our meetings, well welcome at ALL the meetings I go to.
There are assholes here and there. Sick alcoholics who can’t see past their own prejudices. Sadly, that is part of the times.
We transcend those barriers in many meetings, and that is a good thing.
It was a good night. Jobs are taken for the month of April. Painless…
Everybody checked in, everyone is well and good to go.
More to come, stay tuned …
Courtesy: Alexander S.A.T.C.
The weather is getting downright balmy as of late. And it is only going to get warmer going into the weekend. We are sitting at (-10c/-15 c w.c.) but it is balmy. The flip side to this is after the freezing rain and the bitter cold over the past few days, everything is iced over. Sidewalks, roads, and not a lot of abrasive set out to make it passable.
We sat a full compliment tonight. Our chair invited a number of friends to “back him up” tonight because we had a bit of departure from the same ole same ole … Which was a good thing. New angles and new points of view are always nice to hear.
Sometimes recovery can get stale and old.
“More than most people, the alcoholic leads a double life. He is very much the actor. To the outer world he presents his stage character. This is the one he likes his fellows to see. He wants to enjoy a certain reputation, but knows in his heart he doesn’t deserve it.
The inconsistency is made worse by the things he does on his sprees. Coming to his senses, he is revolted at certain episodes he vaguely remembers. These memories are a nightmare. He trembles to think someone might have observed him. As fast as he can, he pushes these memories far inside himself. He hopes they will never see the light of day. He is under constant fear and tension – that makes for more drinking.”
B.B. pg. 73
Compared and contrasted to “The Who’s However much I Booze”
I see myself on t.v. I’m a faker, a paper clown
it’s clear to all my friends that I habitually lie; I just
bring them down
I claim proneness to exaggeration
But the truth lies in my frustration
The children of the night, they all pass me by
have to drench myself in brandy
In sleep I’ll hide
But however much I booze
There ain’t now way out […]
I loose so many nights of sleep worrying about my
Are the problems that screw me up really down to
him or me
My ego will just confuse me
Some day it’s going to up and use me
Dish me out another tailor made compliment
Tell me about some destiny I can’t prevent
And however much I squirm
There ain’t no way out […]
Won’t somebody tell me how to get out of this place?!
All the world’s a stage and we are merely her actors …
The memory that rose for me listening to these readings was of that block of time from the night I came out, to moving to Orlando, and beginning my life as an adult (so I believed). I failed …
I met friends who facilitated me coming out to my best friend on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. That ended badly.
I packed my house and moved to Orlando to an apartment I HAD to have but could not afford. Working at the Tragic Queendom was pointless. It was the greatest stage one could have at this time in our lives.
Everything revolved around the drink. Life, Friendship, Sex, Parties. The list goes on and on. I never had liquor at home. Drinking was an OUT event, on a nightly basis. I mean Disney built a whole entertainment Village across the road from where we lived, just outside the parks, to party and to drink. Imagine a bunch of different themed clubs, discos, party places, for the sole purpose of drinking, (a lot of liquor on a nightly basis) it was heaven.
Disney created the stage. We were merely actors.
Then you add in The Parliament House, Pool, Hotel and Entertainment Complex on Orange Blossom Trail, and Gay reaches its zenith.
Drag, Dancing and drinking … Every weekend. and most night’s when you got bored of Disney. It was a little slice of heaven. it was the best of times – it was the worst of times. I saw it all, did it all, and experienced various emotions, and had many experiences under its roof.
We were young, pretty and cheek of tan. twinks in their twenties acting like we were in our thirties. Backstabbing was a parlor game. And if you had a boyfriend, the ultimate goal was for someone to sleep with him behind your back. Single men were a dime a dozen, the big pay day was the “couple.”
Work and responsibility was one aspect of life that I couldn’t pin down or be responsible. But drinking and the act was all that mattered. And I did it well. There are many memories of these times I hold dear. Friendships I had, with folks long since dead now. Dancing, music and fellows.
But it did not end well. Alcohol killed the party. Because it only went from bad to worse. I could not act any longer. The picture was bleak. I don’t know how I navigated that time into survival. But I live to tell.
I just hung onto that lounge act for as long as I could. And that takes me to my mid-twenties. I got sick, I wanted to die, and alcohol was the vehicle. And even that failed me. I lived … and Got Sober.
Ego took over and sobriety lost its priority.
And even then, I was in my mid thirties now, trying to hold on to the facade of my twenties, trying to look twink, when twink went out the window a decade prior. UGH …
We are coming to know who we are in sobriety. We are coming to be the person we were meant to be. Because when we start drinking, we stunt our growth, emotionally and mentally, and we remain that age until we quit the drink and come to. Then we have to deal with all that baggage and grow up at whatever age we come in…
It has been a journey, to say the least.
I wasn’t sure that I would have survived that slip, because there was no logical or easy way out. Thank God for mercies and angels. Because I got to live again after that hell.
The rest they say is history.
More to come, stay tuned …
Courtesy: Daily Cute Boy
Another week, and the march to the end of the month proceeds. Several things have happened and they all point towards winter…
Last night I was reading a report online and it intimated that Quebec and Ontario would see snow by the end of the week. However, Environment Canada has yet to amend the weeks forecast to “snow or even flurries!”
It is currently 8c at this hour. A wee bit nippy. The TV people say we will hit the freezing mark this week for the first time in the season, but Environment Canada does not concur.
I decided to take the alternate transit to the church tonight. Instead of the bus, I took the Metro, because it is just up the street and drops me just a couple of blocks away from the Metro stop on that end. The transit took 40 minutes from end to end. About the same time it takes to make the run on the bus.
I walked through the mall on my way out and they are actively working on site, as new tiling is going in on the mezzanine entrance. I cannot figure out what they are doing behind all the new walls they put up in the last week. But the mall is changing by the day now, as we close in on the Big Reveal.
We sat a small and intimate group tonight. Most are familiar faces. And since we focus on 1,2 and 3, I went with Daily Reflections for the read.
It Doesn’t happen overnight …
“…The Big Book guided me in resolving all my problems. But it didn’t happen overnight – and certainly not automatically – with no effort on my part. I need always to recognize God’s mercy and blessings that shine through any problem I have to face.”
Our newcomers are working their steps diligently. And with the holidays coming up so soon, we are feeding them with all the knowledge and courage we can give them. Some will be traveling for the first time since they got sober to cities that are rife with alcohol, as is every place in creation.
It’s hard to send a newly sober person back home with a few months, and not worry that they might pick up. So all the work we are doing now for them may hopefully save their sobrieties.
It was a good night.
On the way home, one of my friends commented on my wedding ring, and he began talking babies … and he asked me if I was having a boy or a girl ???
And then asked about my wife … And I just said “I don’t have a wife.”
And slowly he looked at my other friends traveling with us on the bus and the light went on over his head – DOH !!!
Need I explain any more ?
I must have been giving off some kind of secret baby vibe.
See I could pull off straight if I had to. Because some of my friends seem to think I am straight. UGH !! As if !
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned …
Don’t you just love angels …
Well, the rain they said would fall, didn’t. It sprinkled overnight Sunday, for mere minutes. Other than that the skies have been clear. Once again tonight they call for rain from tomorrow right through to next Monday. UGH !!!
At dinner on Sunday, we had music playing on Galaxy, on the tv, and I wanted to listen to 80’s music, it wasn’t a good choice because the music sucked. Over the past couple of days I downloaded “The Cars” discography and Heartbeat City.
Heartbeat City, you could say is imprinted in my brain, because listening to it regurgitates a specific memory. I am sitting in my mother’s car, at a specific intersection, outside my best friend Peter’s house, just down the road from where we went to High School. If I close my eyes, I am right there. Like it was yesterday.
However this memory is more than twenty years old.
It was late Sunday night, and I thought what the hell, and I plugged Peter’s name into Facebook, and in less than 24 hours, I had a response. He indeed lives, has three children, lives in Seattle and works for Microsoft.
I didn’t at first click the friend request, I wanted a reply, either good or bad, before I sent one. His response was positive. Having kids and working at Microsoft is time consuming. And last night I sent a second message, a kind of mini 5th step and an encouragement for him to click my request.
Sadly, he has not responded. He said in his first response that when he left Miami, he didn’t look back, and maybe my looking back, was not good.
We’ll see …
In any case, I had new music to listen to on the bus ride over to NDG. I wasn’t sure what the transit time would be, and I have a newbie on coffee so I left uber early, and I arrived about ten past 5. Newbie arrived shortly after and then our key holder.
It was a small, intimate meeting with only a handful of folks. I decided to use the same passage I wrote about on Sunday from “The Vicious Cycle” from the back of the Book. And it was good conversation.
The approach to my anniversary is in full swing.
Reminiscing, old friends, memories, the year that was, where it is I want to take my chip, and who I want to give it to me.
I had decided this year that I wanted someone to give me my chip, who is involved in my life, goes to meetings with me, is invested in me and has seen me in action for the past months.
I picked a young friend to fill that role. He is a couple of years sober. And he is one reason I keep coming back. Because he inspires me.
This year it won’t be my sponsor giving me my chip. end of story …
I asked him before the meeting started tonight and I think I made his day.
My anniversary falls on Monday December 9th. And we will celebrate my anniversary on Friday December 13th at North End English.
I was thinking about old friends as of late. And after hearing from Peter and see him write that “when I left Miami, I didn’t look back” many of my Facebook friends who are online, said the same thing, because 90 % of them live somewhere else, have families, and never went back.
“… At seventeen I entered university, really to satisfy my father, who wanted me to study medicine there as he had. That is where I had my first drink, and I still remember it, for every “first” drink afterwards did exactly the same trick – I could feel it go right through every bit of my body and down to my very toes.
But each drink after the first seemed to become less effective, and after three or four, they all seemed like water. I was never a hilarious drunk; the more I drank, the quieter I got, and the drunker I got, the harder I fought to stay sober.
So it is clear that I never had any fun out of drinking – I would be the soberest-seeming one in the crowd, and, all of a sudden, I would be the drunkest.
Even that first night I blacked out, which leads me to believe that I was an alcoholic from my very first drink.” pg. 222 B.B.
Peter was my old drinking buddy. He was a classmate, and a fellow who was on the swim team with me in Senior year. We spent lots of time together. And even then, well before I graduated High School, I was an alcoholic.
After the first drink, the rest became like water. Because it was the first drink that got me drunk, and the rest, I thought at the time as, icing on the cake.
I even told him in my reply that I had gotten sober, and in hindsight, I should have stopped drinking when I was a kid, because I was WELL on my way to alcoholism. Imagine, getting sober at 16 or 17. And what my life would have looked like had I taken that step.
When I came out of the closet, I was seeing a therapist. And what did he tell me to do first? “GO to the BAR, sit down, have a drink, HELL have TWO, and see what happens.
If that wasn’t an invitation to drink I don’t know what is?
Alcohol, for me, was directly associated with the Bar. And the Bar was going to be the location that I would find my way into the Gay Community in Miami.
I spent a great deal of money, night after night, hitting happy hour and drinking, driving home after happy hour to change my clothes after happy hour, and go BACK for more.
I did that over and over again.
It was good that no one said, “hey, you might have a problem” because nobody at the bar, or among my friends, ever said anything to that effect.
I always ask this question…
What if someone told me to stop? Would I have stopped then?
Thank God we can’t time travel, because there are several stops along the past, that I would KILL to revisit. IF ONLY I could resurrect all the people who were there, who are long since dead now.
I guess all these memories are coming back to me now, like I haven’t run through all these memories several times over, over the years, because I am ruminating over my anniversary.
It isn’t insanity, and it isn’t crazy thinking. Not sure when an old post will come up detailing the YEAR THAT WAS, in sobriety. But surely these are bits and pieces that should go there, instead of here, but here they are.
And here is where I should stop because I am starting to ramble and another post is coming soon.
It was a good night. Good people and good things.
more to come, stay tuned…
The weather has definitely turned. It is fall. Cool enough outside to warrant sleeves and hoodies. It was a “Perfect Transit Night.” I was traveling by myself tonight and I departed on time and made two trains one after the other and my bus on the far end. And on the way back, the transit was tight and quick.
I arrived in time to help set up and hang out before the meeting. We sat a full house. Lots of familiar faces. Once again reading from A.B.S.I. and The Wine Of Success, the reading warns us of the coming on of “Big-shot-ism” once we gain some time in sobriety.
“As an insurance against the dangers of big-shot-ism, we can often check ourselves by remembering that we are today sober only by the grace of God and that any success we may be having is far more His success than ours.”
Sobriety having had it twice has given me certain insight and hindsight. That lessons I learned the first time around have repeated themselves, the second time around. I was a lucky one the first time around to learn the lesson about ego and being a big shot.
I had a job I loved working for a man I loved, and would do anything for him seeing he invested so much time in making sure I would live. My job was a service position, serving others, even when I was not feeling it myself.
The needs of the bar, at the time, while I was in the building came first, and anything I thought I needed came second. I did not have time to obsess over myself while at work and in the end, that saved my ass.
I knew my place. And it was a good place. Serving others is a very humbling lesson. I learned that I am no better than the next man, and really, the life I was living was one of service and gratitude, I had more than most. And I was a lucky one.
When I got sober the second time, I stood at the crossroads of life. I was either going to grow up, or self destruct. I chose the first, rather than the latter.
I built my life around meetings. And I did service. Lots of service. I watched similar sober folks rise, get sober, become a big shot and fall from grace.
It was not pretty.
The minute I think that I am better than someone else, I just need to readjust my view and remember where I came from and just how easily I could end up back there.
Certain men arrived in my life at crucial times who taught me those things I needed to learn to become a man. And once again, in marriage, putting the needs of another human being before your own, AND getting sober at the same time was a challenge. But it was the best lesson I have ever learned and it was then that I knew that I had arrived.
There were no medals or accolades for serving another human being. But the self esteem that comes with doing something really well and earning the trust and respect of your partner – come – husband.
My reward of these lessons was our wedding.
Life has been a long lesson in humility. Life without gratitude is a waste.
I must decrease so that He may increase.
Each day is a gift. Each friendship is a bonus. Having people I know, love and trust is the ultimate gift in sobriety. Being a humble servant is priceless…
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned …
“The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage. All men of faith have courage. They trust their God. We never apologize for God. Instead we let him demonstrate, through us, what He can do. We ask him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. At once, we commence to outgrow fear.”
Page 68 Big Book
Thursday. Location: Montreal. 18c with clear skies
The weather has been very amenable. It was cool enough last night to open the windows for a bit. The month is quickly coming to an end. When I was much younger and quite more stupid, the run up to my birthday usually began one week out. The barhopping and drinking in earnest would begin. And each night all the way up through my birthday would entail much, much more booze.
And we all know how that ended…
July is always a tough month. But it the most important month of the year. It is not only the month of my birth, but the month that I learned that my mortality is on the line.
July 8th comes and goes every year. And I mark it with respect and dignity. People seem perplexed that I would mark an event like this openly. At a meeting not long ago, I shared this piece of info in community and got stares and questions afterwards.
In the beginning I had to learn how to live one day at a time. In fact, I had to learn this lesson more than once. Both instances were based on certain factors in my life.
I would string a few days together. And mark a week. And if I lived a week, I would mark two. And at the end of a month, I would be brave and mark another month. Such is the case when doctors give you your actual “End Date.” And tell you to go home and settle your affairs because death is imminent.
This year I kept to myself mostly. But with Pride every year, come the memorial public television shows like We Were Here and Milk. Many people I assume who have lived through the dark times of the 80’s and 90’s may have book collections that mark the tribulations in print.
Paul Monette is the consummate author of the AIDS years, having lived, loved and died from the disease. I have all his books in my library. And for the most part, I keep them as memorials. To remember how bad it was and to be ever mindful that I may go the same way.
I spent the past week of nights reading “Living on Borrowed Time.” The book details with great pain the months and years that comprised the life and relationship that Paul had with his husband/partner Roger.
It is difficult to read but important for me to pay homage to the men who were there when it all began, who died well before I came along with AIDS. But times were not much different in the early 90’s – there were dedicated drugs, nor doctors to treat us. We were treated like hazmat patients. We would be quarantined in space capsules in rooms away from general population and doctors and nurses would gown up like martian hunters to come near us.
The Christians called it God’s revenge for homosexuality.
Employers fired us. Landlords threw us out on the street. Family and friends and lovers left us because we were sick. Mortuaries would not process nor bury the sick.
But we did. All of it.
Every year I live is a great big Fuck You to the Christian Right. For all those people who left me on the roadside including my family I can only say I lived and I have lived well. I am the man I wanted to be.
Because men of faith took me in and gave me life when you turned your backs on me. And hence the thousands of men who were sick and went to their graves with what little dignity they had in their souls.
I lived … And I am still alive.
Tonight;s reading speaks about God, and no apologies. Courage and fear.
To live with a disease that is going to take your life one day is courage. Not taking a drink one day at a time, is courage. Learning how to live knowing you are going to die with certainty of a disease that is ugly and dirty is harrowing.
AIDS is not pretty. But neither is alcoholism. Both are takers.
But in today’s day and age, both are treatable and manageable.
After 19 year living this way, the fear of dying still exists in the back of my head. But every day I take my pills I earn a day of life. It is my job to take pills every day, if I do nothing during my day, the two actions I make are to take my pills.
I do what I need to do every day, every week and every month to stave off the drink. I don’t know how else to stave off dying. But I don’t fixate on dying, because if I do, I will only hasten the end for which I have been avoiding for more than a decade and almost two.
Our little men’s group is holding its own. We get the by and by visitor to come, but for the most part, it is a conversation between friends in a familiar space.
Do you have courage? How do you live it every day?
More to come, stay tuned…
They say the weather is going to change for the worse overnight and into tomorrow. The usual plans are now up in the air depending on whether or not the heavens open up and dump torrential rain upon us like out in the prairies.
Just thinking about torrential rain brings back terrible memories because of what happens to our city when it rains a little too much. Highways flood, streets flood. Our 1800’s drain system of the city become overwhelmed and water goes everywhere.
If we are lucky the church won’t flood like it did some time ago. Hopefully that much rain won’t fall, and we will escape the ills of the city along with mother nature.
It has been a quiet couple of days. Lots going on down south to which I am proud to witness in my lifetime. Not the balance of the U.S. states who DON’T have marriage equality, in my opinion, once the tidal wave begins will fall like dominoes and everybody will be a participant in being “equal” — still Florida does not have marriage equality so it matters not to me or my life at this point. So we can be hopeful of the future.
It was a breezy night and I arrived at the church with plenty of time to set up and enjoy the weather in the garden before the meeting. It is my belief that if we get one, or better yet two newcomers at the meeting, we get to do our jobs and do God’s work well.
As was the case tonight, new faces came and participated. As the meeting progressed and the shares began we learned a great deal about each other. And what we have learned is that there is a whole “other” group of people out there suffering in their addictions and one of our men is part of that grouping.
Sadly, I have to concur that there aren’t many open and affirming A.A. groups that openly support and welcome LGBTQ members. I have seen it in my own life.
And today I ONLY participate in groups that folks are Open and Affirming to ALL and not just Some.
I was sorry for them and inquired at the end of the meeting what I could do to help, hopefully we will see our new friend again and be able to reach out and minister to those who need it and are afraid of coming …
We shared on the run up to Step Three … “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”
The notion of changing our lives, turning it over, letting go of ourselves and become interested in others, coming to know a Higher Power and allowing him to guide our lives from this point on.
But so many people get stuck here and some never move past the log jam. And this is all down to what the world, society, and religion has forced down our throats about who God is and what he will do to us if we err and sin …
I heard something that resonates … When one of our men came in and got to this point, his sponsor said this to him … God is God is God. However it falls, God is God. Find him in your own way and come to believe that He will help you if you are ready.
Group of Drunk
Going Out Doors Good Orderly Direction
It’s all the same thing. The biggest help that Bill and Bob gave to the fellowship come in one short sentence. “God … As we understood him.”
It opens the door to those who have had such issues with God that they can’t come to believe because of the hang ups. No two powers are the same. No two alcoholics are the same. But eventually we find a power greater than ourselves.
What is His Work, and how do we do it well ???
That line shows up on page 63 of the Big Book. In the beginning it was all down to service to a group. To begin rebuilding your life, you had to give of yourself at the group level and become Part Of so that you can become One Of.
Suit up, Show up and be one of many, instead of alone and lonely.
I’ve said in the past and I repeat it often that “PRESENCE” is the greatest gift we can give each other. The meeting before the meeting and the one that follows the meeting is very important to outreach and working with others.
I come early, I set up and make coffee so that when YOU show up, we can have a coffee and chat a bit and i can get to know you better. That’s the whole purpose of community. Man is not meant to be alone. But there are those out there who are alone, and it is always my hope that one day I could walk out into the field with my fellows and welcome and affirm folks who are out there suffering.
Changing Attitudes, Tuesday Beginners, and Sunday Niter’s, Vendome Beginners and North End English are ALL open, welcoming and affirming.
We will welcome you and be part of your lives. We have all known suffering and pain, and through our groups we will help you heal your souls.
That is what I believe that Jesus would have wanted us to do. Because He always did what was right in front of him, he never really had a plan, it all played out day to day. But he welcomed and affirmed. Loved and cared for the least.
And that is what we do too … What is in front of us.
Tonight we had work come, and show up, right in front of us. Hopefully the words we shared tonight will nest and foster our guys to come back and visit us again.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
What Are We?
The Reformation Project is a Bible-based, Christian non-profit organization that seeks to reform church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity. Read more below and visit our Statement of Faith to learn more about our beliefs.
We are a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the United States of America.
Our Plans and Our Vision
This fall, we will host our first leadership conference for 50 straight, gay, bisexual, and transgender Christians who are committed to reform. From September 18th-21st at Asbury United Methodist Church in Kansas City, KS, we will put them through a Bible boot camp. There, we will equip them with the tools and training they need to go back to their communities and make lasting changes to beliefs and interpretations that marginalize LGBT people. Once they go back, we will continue to offer them personal, financial, and infrastructural support for months and years to come. We will ensure that even those with the biggest and most daunting of goals will have the means to accomplish them.
Crucially, the aspiring reformers that we train will not be seeking to change their churches by asking them to ignore or look past the Bible. The Bible is not anti-gay. It never addresses the issues of same-sex orientation or loving same-sex relationships, and the few verses that some cite to support homophobia have nothing to do with LGBT people. Careful, persistent arguments about those passages have the power to change every Christian church worldwide, no matter how conservative their theology. The mission of The Reformation Project is to train a new generation of Christians to streamline that process and accelerate the demise of homophobia in the church.
After we build our leadership training model with 50 reformers this year, we will start to expand aggressively. As soon as we raise the money to do so, we will open a headquarters here in Wichita, Kansas. We will host more conferences, both in the U.S. and abroad.
Here in America, we will partner with churches and pastors to develop vocal and visible allies in every church around the country. We will launch regional offices in places where LGBT people have the least support, and we will work to reform the churches there from within. Soon, gay kids in Jackson, Mississippi and Kingston, Jamaica won’t just have to hear on YouTube that it gets better—they will have the personal support of outspoken, influential Christian allies in their communities who can ensure that it does.
How You Can Help
In order to make our vision a reality, we need your support. This spring, we are running our initial fundraising campaign on Indiegogo, we need thousands of donors to pitch in to reach our goal of $100,000. This will fund our first leadership conference in Kansas City this fall, covering all of the basic expenses of those who attend, and it will allow us to start laying the groundwork for the future.
A Message From the Founder
A little less than a year ago, I gave a speech at a church in Kansas about the Bible and homosexuality and posted the video of it online. Two years earlier, I had left school at Harvard and set out on an improbable quest to confront homophobia in my conservative Wichita church and find acceptance there as a gay Christian….
We are dedicated to training LGBT Christians and their allies to reform church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity through the teaching of the Bible.
We believe in:
- The inspiration of the Bible, the Word of God.
- The Triune God, eternally existent as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- The supremacy of God the Father, who created all things seen and unseen through Christ our Lord.
- The deity of Jesus Christ, only begotten Son of the invisible God, firstborn over all creation, fully God and fully man, head of the church, author and finisher of our faith; His death for our sins; and His resurrection and eventual return.
- The regenerative power of the Holy Spirit, whose fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
There is a reason I posted the prior article from the Daily Beast, because it resonated with me so vividly.
Let me tell you a story…
I graduated High School in 1985. I spent a year at the local junior college, but all the while, I was actively working at my home parish, I was an altar server, and a member of the youth group and later a Eucharistic minister.
In 1986, I applied to the Diocese of Miami – Minor Seminary in Miami. I took all the tests and passed, I guess. My parents were neither here nor there. It was because of my grandmother(s) that my passion for God was so strong.
All I wanted was to serve the church, And I did that without question during that year. I loved God with all my heart and all my soul. And I wanted to do right by my upbringing. But men at the seminary did not think that I was suited for ministry, that is why I only lasted a year.
You could say that when I was dismissed, God fell out of favor. I did not come out until I turned 21 and was well away from my family. What I didn’t know at 19 I should have in hindsight.
I was all of 19 years old. I had eyes for the church, and I was accepted into the minor seminary in the Fall of 1986 – thru – Spring 1987. I was a boy trying to find his way in a community of men who, in most cases, were older than me, also, (and this is purely hindsight observation) most of my peers knew who they were, as in sexual orientation.
There was a dichotomy of states I observed. I kept my nose clean, I did not make waves, I did my studies, went to chapel, participated in community, but still, I was an odd ball.
In hindsight, there were many things that I felt passionate about. A certain priest, had a problem with the drink. He would drink and find himself in the lodging hall and some of us took it upon ourselves to get him back to the rectory and into bed without incident. This happened more than once, and more than twice.
He eventually got sent away to dry out. And it was upon this campaign that I seized upon. I lobbied for him to be returned to us. Because he was a priest in a certain position of authority when he was sent away.
The priest who was installed as his replacement, was a Big Frock Priest. He loved his vestments, and you would have thought he had aspirations to the Vatican, by the way he held himself, marched through the chapel and wielded his limp fist. I did not like him. Because he had an ego of authority.
There were gay priests in residence at the seminary. It so happened that certain priests were taken out of their own churches because of personal issues that seemed as punishments for their transgressions. And were sent to live with us.
Among my fellows, there were surely young men who were gay. I did see them OUT in community, when I was asked to leave the community. Some of my fellows did end up being ordained. I have since seen them on televised masses on tv, and over the past years I have posted reports about the exploits of some of the priests that were in residence during my year.
I can tell you that YES there are gay priests in churches. And It would not phase me one bit to know that there are gay priests ensconced in the Vatican. It does not shock me to read items such that I have posted here.
One of the priests, whom I know was gay at the time, when I was in seminary, studied at the Vatican during his formation years. So it is not a stretch that there are homosexuals in the highest echelons of Holy Mother Church.
I will defend some men. Because although they may be gay, many of the priests I have come to know in all my years, are good upstanding priests who serve their communities without fail. They don’t run around in the shadows and act out as we have read below.
Some I will not defend.I do draw a line in certain situations.
As a young man, at that time, I had not come to any realization about my sexual orientation. And I must ponder how I would have turned out, had I remained in seminary and eventually ordained like some of my fellows. I don’t know how that would have turned out.
There were gay men in my formation class. Some were upperclassmen, some from other countries. We had a good population of seminarians from other parts of the Latin world. And it was apparent that some of them were terribly gay.
It was a bit off putting. We had orientation weekends when new prospects would come to visit the school, and for some, would be followed by coming online with us. One particular boy who came after me, brought along his trunk with his assorted speedos and colorful underwear. Which he wasn’t shy about showing off to us as he unpacked.
He did not last very long. He came and went in less than a season.
The rector of the seminary … Big Frock Priest … was a character. I would name him, but I won’t because that would bring me too much grief. I imagine that in hindsight, as an older man myself, today, that he was a priest with a flair for the dramatic.
You know when you stand in church and a priest raises his right hand to offer a blessing to the people, there is the regular way a priest would hold out his hand to offer that blessing. Then there was Big Frock Priest, who, like I said, had aspirations of higher office, his pointed blessings with hand held high in mock of a bishop or the pope. I can see it in my minds eye.
We’ve talked about Gay priests … and If they are the problem?
We cannot discount the countless men of faith who have abused their positions in the church to abuse children. Actions that are morally and ethically deplorable. I cannot condone these men.
You come to serve the church, and you come to serve God first and foremost. With that in mind, if you desire to abuse children, then renounce your ministry and be on your way.
I have known a handful of men in ministry. Many of them straight. But since my coming to Canada, and being educated here, my affiliation with the Catholic and Anglican Churches has introduced me to a group of saintly Gay Clergy in both the Catholic and Anglican faiths.
One of them is one of my best friends, is to be ordained later on this year.
There are gays in Catholic ministry. That I can confirm. It is not a stretch to think that there are gay priests in the Vatican. This whole gay black male situation in Rome is perplexing. But it would not surprise me if these allegations are true. There are priests, then there are those men who over step their roles and bring shame upon themselves and to us by their actions.
It’s kind of repugnant.
But what do you do with all that pent up frustration of ministry work day in and day out. having to perform for the masses and the bishops, cardinals and the many who pass through the gates of Holy Mother Church?
The gay priests I knew, who were schooled in Rome, were certainly members of a particular community, and surely there were others there are well. This is not just a North American Phenomena. Gays come from most civilized countries.
Pope Benedict XVI was always known as the bulldog, for his strict stance on Church doctrine. The late Pope John II appointed him to his position for the Doctrine of the faith, because he was so learned and highly educated and well known for his smarts and clerical knowledge.
With this kind of cleric in the highest office of Holy Mother Church, I don’t think for one moment that he did not know what was going on in his church? A watchdog of this caliber had to have eyes in the community.
But what was an 85 year old frail pontiff going to do about these men? What recourse was he to take, and what punishment could he enact? Who ever wins the next conclave is going to have quite the mess to clean up, in addition to all the scandals that are rocking the church from the inside.
Some gay men have good character and are good men.
Some gay men are characters and give us all a bad name.
Some gay clergy are priests first and human second.
Some gay clergy have blurred the lines between the sacred and the profane.
But what is the answer to these situations? Do we punish all the clergy for the transgressions of some? Do you defrock those priests who have been implicated in these tawdry accusations? Do you close every sauna in Rome and take into custody all those gay men who (the reports say) have damning evidence on those so called (transgression priests)?
What will unfold, and what is truth and what is false?
I guess we shall see.
I’ve stood in St. Peter’s Basilica, I have climbed to the top of the cupola and looked down into the papal gardens, and I have visited the tomb of St. Peter.
I don’t understand how men of faith could spit upon the church and their vocations by doing such stupid and repugnant things…
Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.
God is perfect; yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
I can’t imagine what God is thinking about these things.
I would offer that he isn’t terribly pleased.
The week has begun and things are moving as they will. It is (-10c/-15c w.c.) at this hour, and they tell us that flurries are on tap overnight.
We have been changing things up at the meeting. Trying to find jobs for new members of the group. If you give someone a job, they take on responsibility and the show up every week to do their service. So I have wrangled three new members to come and learn set up next week. Things this week were a bit dodgy and emails weren’t read and folks couldn’t make it …
I left early because I wanted to scope out the mall and more changes have been made to the footprint of the ground floor. It seems many more of the shops that sat in the approach to the Metro platform have been closed. Yellow, the Florist, Laura Secord, and another corner store have all been shuttered. I don’t know if they are being moved to the other side of the large open space, we shall see.
I arrived around 5 o’clock and got the coffee and water urn perking and I waited until someone showed up to finish setting up. We had a rush of women show up around 6 so we all pushed out tables and chairs.
Turn out tonight was WAY up. We sat more than 60 folks. They just kept coming and coming, and we used up all the chairs we had. Many of the newbies who made their first meeting last week, on the anniversary, returned this week. And a new handful of newbies came as well. It is obvious that we are doing something right because numbers are up as of late.
We read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step 2 … Came to believe that a Power Greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity…
… When we encountered A.A., the fallacy of our defiance was revealed. At no time had we asked what God’s will was for us; instead we had been telling Him what it ought to be. No man, we saw, could believe in God and defy Him, too, belief meant reliance not defiance…pg.31
Once again the shares went around the room, and of course we talked about GOD once again. We heard all those things you hear from newbies in the room, and from one of our old timers as well … “What is with all this God shit ???”
For most readers, we now refer you to the Appendix 2 of the Big Book and the reading Spiritual Experience.
We hear all those sayings that give us pause over the god bit like Good Orderly Direction, Group of Drunks, and Get Out Doors… We even heard from a newbie, with some time under his belt share that he has been attending young people’s meetings here in the city, and that some, have re-written the steps to void any mention of the word God.
He found that disconcerting that people with days and weeks were re-writing the steps to serve their own needs, instead of working the steps are they are written in all the texts.
Eventually, at one point or another, we come, we come to, and then we come to believe. God is not absolute or the end all be all, because some come and they find the power that works for them, but for many, in the end, we come back around to the word GOD.
I share my story about my SLIP being one big disaster. And how long it took me to find my way back. I was in no hurry and I needed God to step in and He did. I was pretty raw and ashamed. I earned a few months sober before coming here and I hit a lot of meetings.
The God I knew from childhood, I mused, now in hindsight, is not the same God that I know today. I came to meetings, my home group for one, with a list of expectations and what I thought were entitlements. Since I returned and I had a little time, I thought, God would give me what I wanted.
The old timers kept telling me to Keep Coming Back, and Stay in my Day. It took me eighteen months to learn how to do that. One day at a time. Little by slowly, God reduced my list to nothing …
In the end I got what I needed and not what I wanted. I began to trust people at their words. I listened to them like my life depended on it. Because it did. I learned to wait upon God. And over the last eleven years I have learned to look for God, to listen for his voice and to see him move in a meeting.
Stay around for a while, and you will come to realize that God exists.
The steps were written in a certain order, with certain words to say something particular. When Bill penned the steps it was with a pencil and a yellow pad, sitting in bed one night. The steps came easily to him, but it was the traditions that took a bit longer to work out and codify them into being.
There is not really a way around it, eventually we admit our powerlessness, we come to believe and we surrender. Then Spiritual Experience is possible, because if you are holding on white knuckling it – eventually you will tire of hanging on in such a way that letting go becomes a good possibility.
In the end one of our new members earned her three month chip. It took her ten years to amass three months sober time consecutively. We were so proud of her. Secondly, another one of our members took her year. Another proud moment for the group. Lots of newcomers at their first meeting tonight.
We had cake, we had lots of conversation. A good night was had by all.
That is all.
More to come, stay tuned …
The New First Female Premier of Ontario is also the first LGBT Premier making her a very important and one of the most powerful Lesbians in the world…
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Kathleen Wynne has been declared the winner of the Ontario Liberal leadership convention Saturday evening and will now become Ontario’s first female premier.
Wynne rallied support from party faithfuls through the day after entering the convention in second place. She pulled within two votes of the lead on the first ballot, behind only former provincial representative Sandra Pupatello.
The 10-year Member of Provincial Parliament, who held several cabinet positions during Dalton McGuinty’s time in power, celebrated diversity and inclusivity during her leadership campaign. She worked to position herself as a Liberal leader, and premier, who could take on Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives and NDP in the next general election.
“This is going to be a great government and we are going to build on the legacy of Dalton. We are going to build on the work that Dalton McGuinty has done over the last nine years,” Wynne said after being declared the next party leader.
Wynne was always at or near the front of the pack during the leadership race. Early numbers placed her among the leaders of a crowded list of candidates and she picked up the support of exiting Glen Murray at what seemed to be a pivotal moment.
The balance tilted further in her favour when Dr. Eric Hoskins, the first candidate removed from the ballot, threw his support in her direction. By the time the first round of voting was counted on Saturday, Wynne had caught up and sat in a virtual tie for lead, with just two votes separating her from Pupatello.
Still, Pupatello picked up an early endorsement from resigning candidate Harinder Takhar. She extended her lead in the second round of voting. But the surge was short lived.
Remaining candidates Charles Sousa and Gerard Kennedy pulled out of the contest and endorsed Wynne. A final woman-against-woman vote was held, but the writing was already on the wall.
Kathleen Wynne was declared Ontario Liberal Party leader after beating Pupatello 1150 delegate votes to 866 votes on the final, third, ballot. She will be sworn in as premier at a later date.
“Ms. Wynne has the best chance of being able to renew the party the way it has to be done,” Kennedy told Yahoo! Canada News. “I am hopeful she will make the changes that will get Ontarians interested, and eventually really enthusiastic about a new Liberal approach.
“She is a premier people will relate to in the sense of someone who pays very close attention to people. She respects and loves working with people, and she is going to be able to put together a different kind of agenda.”