Photo: The Parliament of Canada, with projected laser and photo story.
I am back at home tonight, after a whirlwind trip to our Nations Capitol, Ottawa. It was Pride Ottawa this weekend. Saturday was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine and humidity. Today (Sunday) was not so nice.
We stood in the rain with thousands of people to watch the Annual Pride Parade in the Nations Capitol. Rafa lives in the heart of the Village, so we had ringside seats for the parade this afternoon. We got lots of beads, water bottles, assorted condoms in pretty packaging, and other assorted items that were handed out by the marchers in the parade.
I have over fifty images from the weekend, that I will upload this week.
Ottawa is a really great city. It was the first time that I was on the ground exploring the area Rafa lives in. We had dinner at King Eddie’s Saturday night, and then we walked around the Parliament Hill neighborhood, ending up on The Lawn of Parliament Hill, for the Grand Fireworks display and the nightly, Northern Lights, Laser Light Show, that is a bilingual presentation, displayed ON the Parliament Building itself. This show runs nightly through September.
It is a genius presentation with lasers, lights and imagery covering the history of Canada.
There were thousands of people on the lawn. We had arrived a little over an hour prior to the show, so we had front row seats on the lawn, directly in front of Center Block.
Many years ago, when I got my citizenship, there was no party, no singing, no national anthem to be sung. Just my certificate and a welcome greeting by our NOW mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre.
We visited Parliament Hill, on our Second Christmas together, Hubby and I, but it was Christmas so we did not see anyone from the government.
Last night, Saturday, We sat on the lawn, watching this fantastic presentation, and at the end, they played the Canadian National Anthem. As the song began we were sitting, midway through, I was seeing people, get up and stand.
I got up and stood … I got very emotional, and stood there and sobbed.
Every time I hear the anthem played, especially at an Olympic Games, my heart swells with Pride for my country. Last night, I had a Spiritual Experience, during the anthem.
It sealed the deal for me, as a Citizen of our great country.
I got my Anthem, On the Hill, With my Best friend, who became a citizen, himself, last year.
To be on Parliament Hill, to celebrate our history with thousands of residents and thousands more tourists, I could not have been more proud to be a Canadian today.
And today, Sunday, we spent the day together at Pride.
I have lots of observations about people, places and things, to write about concerning Pride and the politics we saw in action. There was definitely a political agenda going on.
The whole fluidity issue, the racial divide and the struggle within the whole LGBTQ community, was apparent. There were many more girls and women at the parade, but not so many white men. Lots of families, tourists, and folks with serious axes to grind with the political establishment, other factions of the gay community, and the lengths our young people, on all sides, want to be heard and legitimized.
More on that later this week, once I’ve had time to think it all through.
Montreal’s week of PRIDE events culminated earlier today with the annual PRIDE parade which stepped off, just up the block from home, not that I was, in any way, inclined to go anyways.
The older I get, the less I am inclined to go out and parade myself in public, when at the parade all you see is buff beautiful people riding floats and marching. I just don’t get into objectification and all the pretty pretty people. Maybe I am just old and jaded, and maybe it is also the fact that I have bones with the Montreal Gay community that are old bones. I shop where I shop because of the people who work at those shops. And I have gay friends, inside and outside the rooms, but as a community as a whole, many of them turn me off.
But it was a party nonetheless.
I had people to see and things to do well before the meeting even opened, so it wasn’t like I had a block of hours to devote to going to the parade, standing around and people watching. I didn’t. And my people come first in any case.
Yesterday I spent the better part of the afternoon and early evening with some of my guys, since we haven’t been able to spend time together these past few weeks for one reason or another, but the stars aligned yesterday.
Today I had an appointment with a client who is a blog customer of mine. I do web customization and Word Press installs for some of my friends. People want to blog because of their profession and some for personal reasons. One of my clients is a film maker friend from the room, so I have been working with her for a while now, formatting and organizing a bilingual blog (read: French and English) as well as her films. Every Word Press theme is different and offers different perks, so I teach how they work and sit down with them to work out the kinks and the layout.
This site is an uber iteration of Modularity Light Theme. I have tweaked it and worked it out to work for me. Getting to know a theme and how it works, then making that theme work for you takes a while on intense, sit down and thrashing it out. Doing that on a laptop is not my preferred idea of fun, I’d rather work off my desktop. (read: Much Easier)
We cranked out set up between several folks. And our matriarch stood back watching happy, peppy people, smiling and laughing together and we all had a moment of gratitude.
We sat a full house. And we ran the read and the discussion all the way around the circle with not a moment to spare. Tonight’s read: The Car Crasher …
- One leads to MORE
- Having just one is impossible
- Controlled Drinking is useless
- We need to finally admit we have a problem
- And we cannot do it alone
- We need to come to the point where we realize Divine help
- Then ask for it and accept it when it comes
The theme of drunk driving was popular for discussion. How many of us did it, those who got away with it, and also those who got caught.
I noted that watching my grandfathers, uncles and my father drink with impunity was something that I paid close attention to. Because when I started drinking, I drank with impunity myself as well. And that did not go so well, because there were consequences for my actions, and I paid a heavy price from my family, which made me pretty resentful because why should I be treated any differently, than the way the family treated every other alcoholic in the family?
It was a common belief among us that God does take care of drunks.
It is harrowing to think how many of us tempted disaster by getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, with just us in the car, and for many, with their children in the backseat to boot. These stories are numerous. And Not uncommon. Nary a drunk and their alcohol can be separated for very long.
But I remember one particular day when my mother took me aside and said to me:
“Don’t ever drink and drive, because if you get caught, you are finished.”
That stuck in my brain for all these years. I did pay attention to those words, because I never got caught. I am not proud to say that I drove while intoxicated many times in my early drinking career.
The bar I haunted was mid way between work and home, in those days. I would stop for happy hour and tie one on, then drive the rest of the way home, one eyeballing the white line all the way, get home, change my clothes, and drive back, the same way I had come, to go back to the bar and finish off the night very heavily.
The one time I did get stopped at a checkpoint, I had a roll of Rolaids in my door pocket, so I ate the whole pack, hoping to get the scent of alcohol off my breath long enough to answer coherently, the cop who was asking me if I had drunk that night, to which I said … NO !
That was the last time I took that route home after that.
But like every alcoholic, the party came to an end, when I became a story in the back of the book, when the woman I was living with was getting sober, and I was the alcoholic tornado running through her life, locked me out and asked me to leave. I was not very proud of that either.
All of those friends I used to drink with, including myself, eventually got sober, just not all at the same time, which was a pin in the ass for the early sober folks who had to deal with us drunk a few more years before we would eventually get sober.
In our story our man knows he’s in the mix. He actually figures out that he has a problem, because every time he drinks, he gets fallen down drunk. So he attempts to do some “controlled drinking” which does not end up really working for him.
He comes in and gets some time, but he then begins to think to himself that, alright, I’ve got this licked. Maybe I will go have one beer. Which leads to more beer, which leads him to the pit of despair. He is powerless from the first one. And that for him, like us, One leads to MORE.
Funny how we, many of us, that is, battle with the notion of powerlessness. How dare you ask us to admit we can’t handle our liquor. And then proceed to tell us that alone we are powerless and that we need to find a power greater than ourselves who will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves? That Admission is crucial to getting sober. To finally get to the point that we are willing to concede we may have a problem and that we need help, and that when we ask for help, HELP does appear, seeming out of no where.
Some forget the harrowing details of their last drunk debacle. They get some time and then get cocky and believe that finally they have licked it, and they go back out for some controlled drinking. And that may take a while, but for some, it only takes very little.
Usually they end up in worse state than when they began.
I know why I got sober and how the rooms worked for me.
And I know, also that there are those who hate the very notion of the program.
But I will say this again.
If you come and you get sober, and you work the program like we did it, and your life does NOT get better, we will gladly refund you your misery and you can go on your merry way.
More to come, stay tuned…
It has been a very exciting couple of days.
Monday early on, my lady friend and I set out for the airport, via the express shuttle from our local Metro Hub. Arriving at the airport, Baby Mama’s flight was due in twenty minutes early, which only gave us a few minutes heads up to get flowers for mama and a balloon for LuLu.
In the arrivals area, there is a barrier that one is not supposed to cross, into the baggage claim area proper. People were crossing the barrier in front of us.
Across the arrivals hall we spied baby mama and LuLu coming. I crossed the barrier and went and greeted her and gathered her luggage and stroller/car seat contraption.
It was a cathartic moment, the day we all worked so hard for, for the last year.
There were tears and lots of hugs. Then the realization that mama was here and that it really happened.
We gathered the bundles and ourselves and took a taxi to her condo where she is staying. It is right down the hill from where she will be living come July 1st.
I have to say that AIR BNB have some really nice properties. And kind folks running them.
The condo is a basement suite with washer/dryer, (read: Fully furnished to high spec) Full kitchen/dining room, Full size bed/room, Fully stocked bath. Security system and A.C. and Heating. The living room is handsomely furnished with a flat screen HD tv and surround sound stereo system.
While we unpacked, the reality was starting to hit.
My lady friend took mama and baby grocery shopping, my old sponsor picked me up and we headed home to get the boxes and furniture that has arrived here for the baby. We drove back to the condo and unpacked and I put together the furniture and un-boxed the rest of the goodies baby mama had ordered.
We were all famished and exhausted, it seemed neither of us got very much sleep Sunday night, we ordered some Chalet Barbeque and shared a simple meal. Miss LuLu was a handful and was beginning to realize she was some place new, a new home and lots of new faces.
I think it was all a little too much for LuLu.
We took our leave around seven, when the second string ladies came to visit with mama and baby, so she was not alone. By the time I got home, I was pooped. I crashed.
This evening I met mama and we walked up to the meeting, stopping to show her where she would be living next month. Everything is local. The daycare is just down the road next to the new hospital complex, adjacent to the Vendome Metro station.
The new apartment is up the hill just a few minutes walk, and is equidistant between Villa Maria and Vendome Metro’s. The Tuesday meeting is just across the street from home.
The folks at the meeting tonight were warm and welcoming. The issue of the baby did not come up, it was wise that people kept that opinion to themselves, because by the end of the meeting Mama was in tears of gratitude that she was so warmly welcomed.
All part and parcel of who we really are. Warm and welcoming.
We finished Joe and Charlie. 35 weeks of Big Book lectures.
And the angels sang, Hallelujah !!!
If there is one thing this group has proven in the last year, is that we will go to any length to help our friends. Inside or outside the room. It took a village to make this event yesterday come together. Finding a home, seeing it and securing the address, going to the daycare and arranging baby care, (that was no small task). Then taking care of arrival and getting into her home, away from home.
This is departure week for my guys. Summer Camp starts next week, so people are traveling to get settled in early. Summer Camp is home away from home, it gives our folks another perspective so that they can devote their other skill sets to the task at hand.
Bittersweet because they will be gone until late August.
We are all very grateful and we could not be happier to have baby mama and miss LULU home with us. Their new chapter of life is now open.
More to come, stay tuned …
The weather is holding, which was very good tonight.
As the weather gets good, things to do outside increase. There is no time to waste when the weather is this good, because sooner or later, Mother Nature is gonna piss on us.
Tonight in Montreal, was the Tour La Nuit. The first of two bicycle events circling the Island of Montreal and the mountain. The Big Bicycle event comes on Sunday with the Island wide riding event.
I had checked on the transit website before I left to make sure I would not find my travel route blocked. Well, that did not go so well. I departed with PLENTY of time to get up to the church, and made it all the way to my bus transfer, and wouldn’t you know it, there was a stoppage sign on the pole at the bus stop. On TOP OF THAT there was a bus sitting in the bay, with a driver behind the wheel, going no where fast.
I stood for a bit, I had my tunes and my patience was ok. But that did not last. People started leaving the bus queue and others were talking to the driver. I waited, patiently. After while, with the bus still sitting there, I went to talk to the driver.
No Bus – Streets Closed – If you gotta get there, you are gonna WALK !!!
I half decided to turn around and come home. I got past the turnstile, and almost to the platform, and met one of my friends coming from a train that just went through. I told him, “no buses…” And his reply was, “well, we’ll walk it, 20 minutes tops!” I know the route, I could walk it blindfolded.
So we walked a mile to the church.
All the main streets were blocked off. The tour began at seven and began to wind its way around the island of Montreal. Numbers were nominal. We sat two groups. People had decided to walk the mile to the meeting instead of turning around and going home.
The weather was on our side tonight.
Two kinds of Pride
“The prideful righteousness of “good people” may often be just as destructive as the glaring sins of those who are supposedly not so good.”
In sobriety, is there any kind of good pride? Not really.
We are supposed to become, humble, quiet, right sized people. Knowing that we only know a little, that more will be revealed to us. That we are not the center of the universe and that that world does not revolve around us.
I don’t have all the answers.
I’ve learned a few things about pride, righteousness, arrogance and bullshit.
Over the years, I have learned to pick my battles wisely. Like my fellows, I have various opinions on every sordid topic that we are all reading and seeing on tv, hearing on the radio, and seeing in print. I just choose not to give you my opinion, unless that opinion is backed up with honest truth, book studied knowledge and/or practical life experience.
Over the years, I have dealt with certain self righteous people. Over the years, I have dealt with people who thought that I could not possibly be honest and sober (read: at that point in my sober journey). Even when those certain people were rifling through my life tearing me apart in word and action,
I learned that I should never engage negative criticism, for ANY reason whatsoever.
Just wait a while, keep your mouth shut and eventually they will tire, and they will go away.
Eventually they got tired, and they went away.
I survived, two of the biggest hits to my pride and my life, a few years ago.
I can say that I added a few letters to the end of my business card. Twice. And that paid out to one community that disparaged me in ungodly ways. I can also say that I stayed sober, after being hit by people who wanted to drag me through the mud because of my choice in recovery methods.
Now in my late 40’s I do know certain things as truth. I know who I am, and what my message is and what my goals are. And its not about self righteous pride or ego. I have enough people in my life that keep me in check.
We all laughed at ourselves for an hour. That was right sizing.
I walked all the way back from the church to the Metro. 20 minutes tops.
There were thousands of people riding their bikes around the city, all lit up, some dragging baby buggies behind them. It was very exciting and people were in a festive party mood. Many people had front row balcony seats to watch the spectacle.
The Summer Festival season has begun. For the next three months the city will be buzzing with activity across the board, from concerts, to Pride festivals, to fireworks, to the Best Jazz Festival in the world in July. Let us not forget, the biggest draw of the summer will be the Montreal Grand Prix, that is the crown jewel in Montreal’s crowning events.
I got on the train, came home, and in the end, I got here, at the same time I usually get home on a Friday night. No loss there.
More to come, stay tuned…
The Final Game Canada versus Russia, was a hard fought battle and when it came to an end
Canada won !!!
Our Young men can be proud of their achievement tonight. We are all so proud of you.
You did the Country Proud. Well Done.
Some people will say that Facebook is so wonderful because it connects you to people and gives you something to obsess over every day. I would add that Facebook is a double edged sword that on one hand brings me my family of choice, whom I adore.
On the other hand it opens up a can of worms that I’d rather not entertain, but I have a very sick perverse need to make a statement and get a rise out of certain people, because you know what, I am worth respect and dignity. I’ve earned it.
And some people, think I am unworthy and that I should be kept in the dark as a punishment for my choices, all of which were made because of certain people in my life, at that time.
They are the reason I became who I am today.
Hating someone because of their sexual orientation is so 1990 ! Hating someone because they made a decision to make important life decisions to stay alive, housed and fed is just so fucking selfish. I made selfish choices because they had to be made, because my life was on the line. And I wanted to live and live well, not die in a hole by myself.
Parents have children to raise them into well rounded adults who can go out into the world and make something of themselves AND when we grow up, aren’t parents supposed to be supportive and respectful of the choices we made as adults ???
Somewhere along my journey, my life became unimportant therefore, irrelevant of notice and should be scorned to the N’th degree.
To put it mildly, I would like nothing better than to become a battering ram and explode like a motherfucking bomb on certain people.
I live. I Lived. I survived.
I earned a place in this world, and no matter what you may think of me,
And they say that “what people think of me is none of my business.” I grapple with that.
I’ve earned respect, dignity and love.
It is obvious to me that certain people didn’t get that memo. And at this stage of the game at 47 years old, I want to sit on my soapbox, grind my teeth and become a very petulant faggot who is stark raving mad at injustice and ignorance.
I learned how to be petulant and sit on my soapbox when I was diagnosed with AIDS. That anger paid off when I needed it. Because when life depends on the responsibility of others to do a job, (well) that you must rely on for survival and they fail to perform said job well, becoming a cast iron bitch really pays off.
I’ve not forgotten how to be a cast iron bitch.
But they say that “Anger is the dubious luxury of normal men, that an alcoholic cannot afford.”
And on my birthday, at my Men’s Home Group this evening, we talked about anger and resentments from Living Sober.
I’ve learned in the past few years that I am a very nostalgic Queer man. In many ways.
I wax nostalgic about the past. I long for a specific period of my life to repeat itself, with all the people I knew in that life to be alive as well, knowing full well that we cannot go backwards, and the best of times and the worst of times was really, the best years of my life so far. In a way.
I have spent the last few years collecting things from my past. Photographs, memories, music, so forth and so on. The few family members who are active in my life and who love me for who I am have done wonders to help me with those collections.
I am also a very nostalgic alcoholic. Sickly and perversely,
I hold on to old anger and resentment, but they reside in a specific part of my brain, and only when poked at with a stick do I go there. Facebook gives me that stick to poke them with.
It fucks with my brain, my emotions and my sanity.
I think unclean thoughts. I think up old memories and I long to get up, get angry and become a petulant queer just to fuck with them because of the terrible way they have treated me for decades. I go places in my brain that mere mortals should stay away from. My brain is a location that without proper gear and a hard hat and safety goggles, that one should stay out of. Because I can become spiteful and nasty in a moments notice, Zero to Sixty in 2.0 seconds …
No Very Sober At All …
Wonder, I can be safely sane and spit venom from the other side of my mouth all at the same time. I learned this ability from the right people, who do this to me today.
I’ve learned a great deal about wisdom in my growing age. It began when I turned 40. It has been a long journey of learning certain wisdom, because I have enough years behind me to know for sure that I was there, then, and I learned something, and now I have certain hindsight to know wisdom, for sure. One of my guys asked me tonight what did I learn at 47?
I did not have an answer for him, wisdom usually comes after. Not before. And maybe this tirade of injustice will bear fruit and teach me some wisdom? This is how I am feeling at the moment, it is good that I have the ability to be honest and write it all out so that when I speak to my sponsor tomorrow, I can tell him what I said tonight and what happened and why.
Marines are supposed to be Tough. Strong. Honorable. Honest.
Sadly. there is one particular U.S. Marine who is a coward.
It is sad in today’s day and age that people can punish other people, family and ignore them like they do not exist. That we are unimportant. That we don’t matter.
Queer does that to you.
Hate does that to you.
Ignorance does that to you.
AIDS does that to you.
I get to sit here and pound my fist and make my mark in the world. Because if I don’t, who will?
And is it important in the end? They say you can’t get sober and keep ones ego, and that it isn’t all about me, and that I am not really all that important. And that I should accept where I am and thank heaven that I am alive and be grateful for God’s mercy and kindness and love.
It ain’t very sober but I still make the statement … Don’t you know who I am ???
Don’t you want to know, aren’t you curious? More than a decade has passed and I went on with my life despite your hatred and ignorance. Now I want to swing and scream in your face and provoke you to notice me and for once in my life, respect me. Acknowledge me …
That’s all I got. I am spent. Time for dinner.
More to come, stay tuned …
Today is my birthday. Last night I got an odd call from my aunt. Strange that she called because we usually speak on Facebook. Nonetheless, she called, and I figured there was a reason for the call, hoping that she had something to give me, and she did.
It seems my estranged father is on Facebook. He had sent my cousin a friend request, which she denied, and so I sent my father one right then and there. My brother is also on Facebook as well, but he has blocked me. So I looked him up while we were talking and started a short conversation with him. I invited him to friend up, and also to come by here and look me up and also sent him my mobile number to see if he would “man up” and call and speak to me in real time.
Today I am 47 years old. And in a maudlin kind of way, I am reflective. I am currently re-reading Halfway Home by the late Paul Monette, who died of AIDS around the time I was diagnosed in 1994.
I wonder if certain people wonder who I am today, and what I have done with my life and how I have chosen to live that life? And I wonder, does it really matter? Yes, it does. For the one fact that I survived a dreadful disease and I lived and that alone should be a point of respect. I have dignity, a life and I live it fully.
I have been sober now almost 13 years. The running joke is that if I lived to see another birthday, I would live to see the next Christmas. So I made it to my birthday today, so I will make it to Christmas.
So many years have gone by for old resentments and anger to fester any longer. I am too old and sober to remain angry and resentful. And I expect that others should be grown up enough to accept life on life’s terms and come to the table, like sane adults.
I matter. I lived. I am alive. I have earned my place in this world. I have earned the respect of my friends and my peers. And I have earned the love of a good man who cares about me and my life, and cares for me like no other has or had.
You just don’t know what years of silence does to someone.You just shut someones light off and plunge them into darkness, it is cruel and unjust. And you should be ashamed of yourself.
Here I am, take it or leave it. This is who I am.
Good and bad.
I lived, God Dammit. Respect !!! You owe me that much. That I lived…
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
Courtesy: Tyler Oakley
O.M.G. I am SPENT !!! Spent I tell you…
This weekend Dorval hosted the 40th Annual West Island Roundup. And our guests came from New York City, and the Gigantic – Atlantic Group of New York City.
They have meetings SEVEN nights a week, and the most anticipated meeting of the week brings out 600, yes that’s SIX HUNDRED people for a meeting.
Imagine a meeting that size here. I don’t think there is a hall open in our city that would hold that many people. HUGE !!!
The theme of the speakers was “The Work.”
You have to Do the Work. In order to be happy, joyous and free, you need to do “the work.” It was a similar message from all our speakers.
Last night, Saturday, we heard from the Founder of the Atlantic Group.
Today we heard from similar group members.
This morning our first speaker right out of the gate got up there and knocked it out of the park. Once that meeting was finished, the copies of his talk went up in smoke. They could not keep up with demand. And by the end of the day they took payment, addresses and told us that they would send us the talk, for those of us who bought ALL of the talks for the weekend.
Our guy got up there and extolled the virtues of “the work” and how it changed his life, from the life he was stuck in, using, abusing and hurting the ones who loved him, not to mention himself. That group is known for its bent on unapologetic Big Book Thumping.
The message here: Don’t waste your time with folks who don’t want it, because there is always someone in the wings waiting for you to work with them.
The odds of success are slim from the start. The percentages are not good. 1%
That only should embolden you to get up from your seat, get a book, and find someone to walk you through it.
Later on this morning we heard from an Al-Anon speaker.
And then they served everyone lunch from Scores restaurant. The place was packed for today’s events.
After lunch we got a One Two Punch by a couple who met in the Atlantic Group and later got married. We got to hear how a long sober couple works together in love and how they work with others.
Us alcoholics suffer from a hopeless malady of the body, mind and spirit.
And the way out of that misery and malady is through the solution that is laid out in the first 164 pages of the Big Book.
I spent the entire weekend with my friends. The people I love the most. The people who give to my life those things that nobody else can give me.
And a year to the date, exactly, I got to share this weekend with my guys. We listened, we chatted, we broke bread, and we discussed.
It is my hope that this weekend made some kind of impression on them that they can take into their lives and their respective sobrieties.
A year ago, I attended my first round up and it turned my world upside down. And I started doing “the work,” truthfully, I had a sponsor that was a hands off kind of sponsor, who really didn’t do “the work.” So I began to move away.
I changed up my meetings, I practiced my prayers for a year. I read the book. I participated in the lives of newbies for months. That is how I began “the work.”
I practiced until God put a new sponsor into my life. And after that my life changed again.
After 12 or so years, two men stepped into my life, and I got the opportunity to start “The Work” with them. Nothing makes sobriety more important or special that having someone to work with. Because they keep me on my toes. I must now do “The Work.” I must have a sponsor who does “The Work.”
I am, what they call, SANDWICHED…
I have a grand sponsor, I have a sponsor, I have myself, and I have my guys.
Not to mention all the others I work with or I am friends with. All those folks who come to my meetings, that I see every week. Meetings are important.
But more importantly, the guy who opens the door, sets up, makes coffee, welcomes guests, reads, shares, discusses, and then cleans up afterwards.
If there is no one there to do “The Work,” If there is no one to welcome the newcomer, then how would we survive? How would they survive without us?
Thankless jobs, but so vitally important. I have done that for the whole of my sobriety. Week in and week out. Month by month, year by year.
It is unrelenting work.
And in the end it all comes down to gratitude. Because I am only carrying on “the Work” that was shown to me by those who did “the work” before me.
And this weekend, I got to spend time with the one woman who welcomed me to my first meeting at the home group I began here in the city. She lives far away now and I don’t get to see her very often, so that was a treat.
It was a great weekend. And my batteries are charged. And so commences “The Work” that will carry us for the next year.
It was a great investment of time, talent and treasure for my guys.
And to close I got an email from the member who drove them out and took them home all weekend. saying how impressed she was with my guys’ kindness.
A great weekend was had by all.
IT IS TIME TO DO “THE WORK !”
Let us begin anew.
More to come, I am sure…
What happens when friends with similar loves get together for an afternoon of frivolity and scampering all over town? Naughty, Kinky, Fun time …
It is rare that we get to spend time together, and in real life, there isn’t real time to share intimate things with each other. Today was one of those days.
After hurried lunches and chores that had to be done first, we gathered at the hotel and set off for some adventure. The Old Port is still icebound. But the esplanade is free of snow and the grass was a nice shade of early spring green.
Our tour guide of the group explained all the intricacies of architecture from EXPO 67 and the sites situated around and in the Old Port complex. Many pictures were taken, but sadly, none of ourselves.
We did a fair amount of walking from one end of the Old Port to the other and then up to the Berri Metro and then on into the village. We had a short expensive coffee break on the way, after walking all that way.
I have to say that I make MUCH BETTER COFFEE … just saying !!! And it is cheaper too …
I am pleased to report that there are new shops in the village that I had not known of before. On the West end is a cute little leather/rubber shop with assorted bits and bobs. Toys, gear, clothing and all the stuff one would need for some good fun.
The shop keepers were very kind and pleasant. They chatted us up the entire time we were in their shop. It was nice to walk into a shop and be greeted and doted upon.
Ste. Catherine’s street is still traffic passable. And they have not decorated the path with the customary pink baubles hanging from the buildings across the path, that will come later on in June when they close the street off to traffic and it becomes pedestrian walking only, which will also lead into Pride.
We did go into the New and I think Improved PRIAPE shop.
The store was flipped upside down. The old employees are gone, opting for beefy, humpy men that look good in tight t-shirts. The music was pumping.
The fetish items (leather,neoprene,rubber) and all the assorted bits and bobs that go with them are now on the main floor. They have quite the collection of Oxball toys, they probably buy from them directly and repackage and sell at higher prices, or they get them from the U.S.
Where as in the old incarnation, a good amount of clothing was for sale in the main space. NOW, the clothing is gone. In/on the basement level, there is a wide assortment of underwear in many configurations. And some Nasty Pig gear, I was sad that they got rid of a good portion of that line, opting for more simple fare.
It looks like they streamlined the shop and are focusing on fetish sales up front, as the new floor plan speaks to. Canada has banned the sale of scents, and it is against the law to import them over the border or from Europe, so that sales point has all but dried up.
Canada bans a good deal of items from coming over the border. And when one orders from the U.S., shipping is extremely expensive, and is usually cost prohibitive.
We walked through to the West end of the village – it is quite sad. Mostly boarded up buildings and not so visually appealing as the West and Central district of the village.
We took the Metro back to the hotel and we shared our Tumblrs with each other, we listened to manga music, and assorted other musical selections.
Simply to get a few hours to share with good friends is priceless.
I could not ask for better friends. Who knows when the next time we will all be in the same place at the same time together again?
Love your friends, tell them so, appreciate them. Spend time with them when you can, because those times might be rare and far and few between.
A good day was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned …
Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Montreal has won Canada’s first gold medal of the Sochi Olympics — and her sister Chloe was on the podium beside her holding silver
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Mark McMorris wasn’t going to let a broken rib derail his Olympic plan.
The Canadian snowboarder needed acupuncture, massage therapy and plenty of rehab exercises to get back in form after crashing at the X Games late last month. He knew he would have to fight through the pain and impress the judges to reach the podium in slopestyle’s Olympic debut.
He did just that Saturday, nailing his second run to win bronze and give Canada its first medal of the Sochi Games.
Photos courtesy: CTV.CA
We are Canadians. And once again, our celebrated Athletes are going to show the world just how good they are. Here in Canada, the opening ceremonies begin at 11 a.m. tomorrow morning.
Another day – Another Train stoppage.
It seems that the STM here in Montreal, cannot get their shit together. Another situation shut down the green line while I was setting up the room, because I got a call that people were stuck with no way to get into town, which meant we were down a number of folks, and a couple of absences, we were only five.
I negotiated with the church to get the heat working and that was a big success. A little reprogram of the computer and we had glorious heat and with the booster on – it was quite toasty when I arrived at the church.
We read from the Twelve and Twelve … And Step Two.
“No man, we saw, could believe in God and defy Him, too. Belief meant reliance, not defiance.”
I learned that lesson long ago.
It was a quiet night.
More to come, stay tuned …
The weather is holding. It was a beautiful night to be out and about. I departed early for the church and my helper lady friend was waiting for me. We cranked out set up and coffee and then sat and chilled before the meeting.
We are finally at the stories in the back of the Big Book. This first chapter The Pioneers of A.A. speaks about these 10 stories that show that sobriety is A.A. can be lasting.
Pioneers of A.A. …
Dr. Bob and the nine men and women who here tell their stories were among the early members of A.A.’s first groups.
All ten now have passed away of natural causes, having maintained complete sobriety.
Today, hundreds of additional A.A. members can be found who have had no relapse for more than fifty years.
All of these, then, are the pioneers of A.A. They bear witness that release from alcoholism can really be permanent.
We began reading Dr. Bob’s Nightmare.
A co-founder of alcoholics anonymous, The birth of our society dates from his first day of permanent sobriety, June 10, 1935.
To 1950, the year of his death, he carried the message to more than 5,000 alcoholic men and women, and to all these he gave his medical services without thought of charge.
In this prodigy of service, he was well assisted by Sister Ignatia at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio, one of the greatest friends our fellowship will ever know.
Through the beginning of his story, we learn where Bob came from how he did as a young child and teen, and into his adult life. And at some point he crossed the invisible line into uncontrollable alcoholism.
He became somewhat functional when applying himself. But there at the came time, we read, when alcoholism stunted his growth both emotionally and academically. But in the end he pulled out the stops and finished his schooling.
We stopped at this point in the story till next week.
It seemed everybody fixated on academic stories and how alcoholism made it into our lives as young people.
I guess I will share some stories with you about that time in my life as well.
Bob was an only child, he speaks about it.
I was the first of two children, and had three years on my brother who came later. And I was thinking about this tonight and what I had seen as a small child being raised in the homes of die hard alcoholics. My grandfather was much farther gone than my father.
He had to have alcohol – all over the house. He was a bottle hider. He drank around the clock and especially before bed, as there was a bottle under the kitchen sink.
My father was a heavy drinker, yet, he was functional. In hindsight, I don’t remember him ever being taken away from work because of drinking, in all the years I lived at home. He seemed to skate through unscathed.
I on the other hand, was raised in a “nobody speaks of it” and there “is no solution and you lived with your lot” mentality. Alcohol was a major food group and was a daily ritual.
I began the task of bartender for my father when I was able to reach the kitchen counter and be able to mix him his nightly highball after work. Growing up and moving house in grade school, we bought a huge house with bedrooms, a yard, in ground sprinkler system and a POOL !!! We had hit the big time.
My father had two cabinets for alcohol. And a standing bar in the dining room. My brother and I grew up not far from alcohol. My drinking started in high school and it was a big part of socialization.
It was beer, that I found satisfying. Until my friends introduced hard liquor into the mix. We would have binge and purge parties where we would serve copious amounts of alcohol to party goers. For the girls we had a fail proof system to bring them to a party, get them drunk, and then get them home sober after our tried and true sober work after the fact.
The girls would bring two sets of clothing with them to the party. We would all drink, and they would get sauced over and over. One of us drove the first sober car, driving around town until they puked up what they drank and sobered up.
Then we handed them off to a second house for them to wash and redress, before the third car would finally bring them home.
I drank heavily in high school. And it showed in my work. I was an athlete and swam in junior and senior year and finally lettered.
Two significant occurrences in high school come to mind.
One, our final S.A.T. test. By this point we had taken that damned test twice and in my senior year, we had to take it again, a third time.
The night prior we all got drunker than drunk. I remember my friends bringing me home, BOMBED !!! Telling my mother that I was just a little sick because of the test the next day.
The next day I went to the school and my test location was in the library, which was in the biology wing of the school, there was a bathroom and gym workout hall in the same wing.
The module would start and I would begin bubbling in my answers, eventually I would get the heaves and have to rush to the bathroom and purge and get back into the library to finish each module in the time allotted.
I know, when all was said and done, my third score was higher than the first two.
Two, in my senior year I was drinking heavily and my studies were paying the price. I was passing, albeit, by the skin of my teeth. I was no mathematician and hated the subject. No matter how hard I tried I could not “get it.”
I was not part of the “in crowd” that partied together and cheated together. I ran in another social grouping. On my last math exam, I knew I was not going to pass, but in a “Hail Mary” kind of motion …
The cheat sheet had gone around prior to the exam. And I was not privy to that cheat sheet. I took that exam, however impaired I was at the time, on the last page of the exam I offered this to my prof …
“The exam is complete. I would also tell you that I am the only one in this room that did not cheat on this exam … “
I passed math, therefore, I graduated with my fellows.
My drinking career began in earnest after graduation. I knew something about myself that others did not. I am sure my parents were picking up on it. And my racist, homophobic, bible quoting, but never went to church father, continued to “beat it out of me, because I was abhorrent.”
When I finally moved away, I could drink without impunity. I have stated in the past that when I moved out on my own, I knew NOTHING about responsibility.
Paying rent, buying food, and making a car payments came second and third to my drinking. To the point that my car got re-possessed. That was a clincher for my parents. Probably, resentfully, my father bailed me out. We never spoke about it, but I am sure he never forgot nor forgave me about allowing alcoholism take something away.
I am sure they thought that I could not hold my alcohol in check like they did, and they would have been correct. I was a step beyond than my father.
That period of my life from 21 to 26 I was sunk in the drink. I got sober once, and became responsible. I had a really good job. And men who loved me. They saved my life.
The story does not change. I went out and stayed out a number of years, until I returned in 2001. God moved heaven and earth. And I decided to grow up and become a man, finally, whatever that meant.
I would not figure out what my manhood meant to me until much later. That is another story.
Moving out of the country was the best move I ever made in my life, however hated I was for leaving the country of my birth, it was an absolute break from the misery I was living at the time.
Coming to Montreal sober began the next leg of my journey. I was 34 years old. I had failed out of junior college and could not afford University in the U.S. so I didn’t go on. I had a place to live and meetings to go to.
And at my First Anniversary, I was asked what I wanted to do next, by my aftercare counselor, and I said, that I wanted to go back to school. By then I was hitched and living with my then boyfriend. That was a nine year academic career which I graduated with two degrees, Religion and Pastoral Ministry.
I have not had a drink in almost twelve years now. I came here sober and this is where I am going to die sober. One day at a time.
I have this hindsight to parse my life, and those of my family to figure out what made us tick, what made us drink and where that led us.
I do not know my father or mother or my brother. I am pariah still to this day and in their lives, they have shut off my light switch as punishment for defying my father’s social gospel. It has been more than 13 years.
I do not mourn them any more.
Many emotional reasons, alcoholism, lies and secrets tore apart my family, I may be the only sober member today, but who knows. I will never know.
It is a living amends to stay sober one day at a time.
More to come, stay tuned …
Another week has begun. Full of people and places. Things are moving forwards and I am hopeful that in the coming days, the answers I need are going to come, seeing that tomorrow is the end date for cv’s to be turned in for a high end job that hubby applied for. His deadline was August 1st, do or die.
I was up and out early this afternoon for Trinity Memorial. I enjoy this meeting because of the quality of the men and women in residence. There was much discussion about ourselves and another meeting we all frequent. I go to certain meetings with certain people because they are my friends and they tell me what I must hear and challenge me to grow.
I made a choice to join Vendome Beginners this month as things are in flux and a move to a new location is imminent. Hopefully by months end, (August) we will have a new dedicated space that is more intimate than the room we now use. It’s not very conducive to welcoming and warm.
We read from the Big Book, and chapter 5 – How it works.
Because we are a beginners meeting, we relate early sobriety to the newcomer so that they get what it takes to get sober, to stay stopped, and never have to drink again.
It was ordained then back in the day, the life I was coming to live here. And in time I learned how to live in this city, getting around, meeting people, and finding healthy relationships to know.
Having completed successfully, a geographic in sobriety, the plans were laid down and it all began again. It was good that I was hooked up early in sobriety with an aftercare counselor. I kept that sober commitment for more than two years. So on top of meetings and steps, I had someone that I was talking to on a regular basis that helped me integrate into the fellowship and the city at large.
I learned that I did not have to engage in other folks drama. That was a huge relief. The one story I like to tell about early sobriety was this one:
I was situated at my home group and it was the holiday season in year one. I had not had a drink in almost a year. Working my ass off as it went. One of our men invited us to host a meeting in his grand mansion in Westmount. We were about 30 in attendance.
The discussion went around the room, and one of our men, long sober, so we thought, started to share, that he’s been sober since August ’96, and that he had this wall unit with up lights in the ceiling and he enjoyed his drink of cognac that was in a fine crystal bottle that would shine with the up lights behind it.
What … You say you are sober – how long ??? And you Drink ???
WTF is that ???
I started levitating out of my chair, and my voice started to rise, thankfully, several friends of mine kept me from blowing my top at this not so sober member. He has long stopped going to meetings, though I see him every once in a while in Westmount Square.
Some are sicker than others.
We hear why we must continue to go to meetings, work with others, do service and work our steps. We know what the consequences are if we don’t do these things. The treat of a slip is ever present, and watching people with little time and some with lots of time go out is perplexing.
But we don’t ever have to drink again.
It was good to see my friends and share a bit with some of them.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…