Share the hardest “goodbye” you’ve ever had to say.
This story is one of the most important stories i have ever recorded here. Among the many memories recorded on this blog, this story stands out as one of the worst days of my life.
Here is the story about the night i met Todd in 1993, ending on the day i said goodbye to Him in 1996.
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It was a normal night in my life. i had left James and was living alone. i drove to a particular strip mall and parked my car, got out, and walked into a little hole in the wall Leather Bar, i was not familiar with.
Nonetheless, that night began this life i live today.
i was a strange little boy, walking into that bar. i was not a regular, but a stranger. i knew, in my heart what i knew. Fantasies of magazines read, years before, in secret, when my father left them in the bathroom to be consumed, when he was not at home, were running in my head. i don’t think my father ever caught on that i was reading his gay smut left out, by a married man, who had a skeleton in his own closet.
Little did i know what was about to happen to me.
i ordered a rum and coke, and took a seat on a stool, in the area reserved for conversation. i sat for a little while.
There was CCTV in the bar.
And i was being watched.
From out of the shadows, walked a Shit Brick house of man. He greeted me, told me His name, Todd, and sat down next to me. He had those eyes of Jesus, water blue and as deep as the ocean.
i was transfixed.
One never knows when we will meet someone of His caliber, someone who can look into your eyes and divine what lies behind them. In a few moments, the man who sat down next to me, knew my innermost desires and the deep darkness of my hidden heart.
What happened next, stole my breath away and knocked me out of my known reality.
That Shit Brick House of a man, raised his hand, and slapped me clear off my stool and i flew across the floor. It was not a hit of malice of any kind, but a test of my heart. i think He wanted me to get up and say, “please, Sir, may i have another ?”
i don’t remember what i said, i think i was in shock, really. i knew that i loved him from that very moment. And i would do anything to be close to Him, in any way that that desire lead me.
From that moment on, i was beholden to Him. He knew what i was, who i was, and what i had intended on doing, when i walked into the bar.
In the days and weeks that followed, i spent every night in the bar. i met people. i met the employees, and in that bunch of men, would eventually arise, my first sober sponsor, Todd’s lover Roy. Who got sober one year before i had, in 1993.
i eventually quit my day job. And lived for my nights with Todd and His crew.
One night, we learned that the bar was closing, and would be rebuilt at another location on the other side of Ft. Lauderdale. This was my chance. I stepped up, with a few other intrepid men, and i became part of the wrecking crew. i remember that night, as if it was yesterday. The final view of that bar, was an empty space, that had been stripped and wrecked to pieces.
i had to prove my worth and i did just that. i worked for weeks, sweating, pushing and building the bar we called home from the ground up. Under Todd’s watchful eyes, i worked my way into Todd’s employ.
It was the most important decision i had ever made, up to that point in my life.
Todd took me in.
What we did not know then was, that Todd would become God as i understood Him, when i found out i was sick with AIDS, and was going to die.
i had survived James’ suicide, my diagnosis of AIDS, and i eventually got sober, at Todd’s command.
Todd would see to it that i would live. And here we are right this very moment.
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None of my friends today, would understand the life i had lived so many years ago. i am a particular type of gay man, who had a lived experience that nobody in my gay world today, lived themselves, which sets me apart from them, by this clear distinction of life experience.
None of my friends know AIDS like i know AIDS.
Many people, on the outside, in the real world, do not know the underbelly of the Leather World as i do. The world believes, in many circles, that Leather men are sick and deviant, and could not possibly know love, or live a proper life or have proper relationships. But we did.
And we Died.
When i studied religion in university, my mentor, friend and professor, taught a class about the Leather Lifestyle. He had a course outline, based on reading. i had life experience that proved very beneficial to the class reading and discussion.
i cannot express how these few years had changed my life and gave me tools that nobody else could have given me, in the way and method that Todd gave them to me.
I have said, retrospectively, that the day Todd walked into my life from the shadows of the old rendition of the bar we built together, God made manifest in my life.
I share this story now, because it is a good preface to the next portion of my life journey, because without Todd’s story, there is no life for me to speak of.
This is but one small chapter in a lived Book of Life recorded on this blog.
Writing is a full time job. Recording your life’s stories are some of the most beautiful and some of the most painful experiences you will ever write about.
This post is communion with the “God of my understanding,” who came into my life, when i most needed Him, and that “God of my understanding” has kept me here to share with you some of the most important stories and lessons i have in my memory arsenal.
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This is part of an ongoing story that i have shared here on the blog at great length. I was working at the Stud for a long time. From 1993 to i think maybe 1996. The bar had had it’s day and the crowds used to pack the house night after night. Those were the good old days.
At some point in the timeline, the owner of the bar had lost his partner Dennis to AIDS and things began to head south. We worked day and night to keep the bar afloat, but like i have heard it said before, sometimes you get your day and then it is over, and you have to move on to bigger and better things.
Certain people were brought into the organization and i was not very happy about that, in no uncertain terms. Ray was his name and he was bad news. He was a man who did nothing to gain my respect, but he muscled his way into the bar and into management – how that happened i cannot remember.
i was living a parallel life while at the bar. You’d have to know something about living behind the veil of the leather lifestyle. Living in this place for me was safe and secure. i was protected and cared for. And this strange man made his way into the bar and attempted to take over the running of the bar.
Todd was at a loss to stop this from happening. i did not like this man who came in and he did not like me because my alliance with my Master was absolute. And nobody was going to come between us, come hell or high water.
i went to work on shift one night and things had taken an ominous turn. Ray was sitting in the office and Todd and Roy were collecting their things and were escorted out the door by security. We had been overtaken by forces that we were powerless to stop.
i did not know what was going on or why? But i had my moment with Todd and He told me to behave and not make waves and to do my job. He walked out of the bar and that was the last time He and Roy ever set foot in the bar.
For a number of days – i don’t think it was very much longer than that that, i had had enough and ended up quitting my job, opting for a new position at another club in Miami. One of the DJ’s that worked with us landed me a good paying job at club Ozone.
Before i made that trek south, i had to deal with Todd and Roy. There was a secret that my Master never told me about, and i was never invited inside of that Fidelius secret for Todd’s own personal reasons. If you were invited into His dungeon, you did not speak of it to outsiders or anybody else. i knew one boy who was a friend who shared with me his secret.
Of all the fantasies i had harbored in my heart, none of them came to fruition. While working for Todd and living under the watchful eye of my Master, i was never taken into any man’s lurid world of S&M. Todd knew that i was a hard player and had i ever acted upon any of my fantasies with any chosen man in that bar, i could have gotten lost, hurt, or ended up dead.
There were men who abused boys in their charge. Some of them did die in the charge of some of those men.All of them died, within the space of two years.
This went on for a long time, and that’s why Todd had his rules about me in regards to other men that came into the bar. If you wanted to get to me, you had to get through my Master first. Nobody i knew of, ever asked His permission to claim me. It was better that way. i could come to work and dress any way i like and even act out all those fantasies going on in my head and had witnessed on a nightly basis in front of my eyes. Through the eyes and experiences of my friends and guests.
The day came when i was called to my Master’s home for one final job that was entrusted to me alone. He gave me the job of dismantling this secret room. Having heard about it in the past and finally setting foot inside of it, was a watershed moment for me.
Todd had taken me inside the Fidelius charm.
It took me two days to do all the work and it was then that i learned that Todd and Roy were leaving for San Francisco and there was no turning back. i was only 28 years old. i was still young and i had responsibilities that i thought were important.
Todd did not ask me to go with him. i think he thought it was better that i stayed where i was. i was still very sick and i needed the care that was being provided for me by Health Link. i had not ventured south to look for a new doctor to treat me yet. That would come later on.
i lived inside my leather head for so long that i was so used to what was going on. The day that i had to say goodbye to Todd came so suddenly. They packed up the truck and the car and i stood in the driveway at the house and sobbed. i wanted so badly to go with them, but i knew that i could not.
He hugged me and told me to remember all the lessons He taught me and that i knew where He would be. They got in the car and drove away. That was the last time i ever saw my Master, as the dust settled behind the car.
i was saying goodbye to the man who saved my life, the man i loved more than anyone else in the entire world. Todd took on the monumental task of taking care of me and by extension all of the men who worked in the bar. i was his favorite. It was me He chose to save at that time in my life. i lived every day to serve Him and by extension the men in the bar.
That life came to a screeching halt and the life i had lived for so long, was over. There was no turning back, i had to go on and find the way to survive without Him.
i cannot tell you how important a man Todd was to me … suffice to say, no other man has ever filled that spot in my heart. Not even my husband. He inhabits another part of my heart in other ways. There will never be another Todd in my life. i had Him for a season or two. And like they say, all good things must come to an end.
i had to go back into the world. i packed up my home and headed south to Miami to attempt reintegration. i had a job at the time and i had found a doctor to treat me. Dr. Jose would be my savior. He had access to drugs and treatments that i could not get in Ft. Lauderdale.
i remember walking around the city by myself trying to figure out how i was going to reintegrate back into the normal world and leave the world that i had lived in for so long behind.
i attempted reintegration. i failed, miserably.
i could not make it work alone, by myself.
When Todd and Roy moved to the West coast, i knew that i could not follow them, however, many of the men who worked at the bar did. Few of them are still alive, but a good number of them have long since died.
i harbored the idealistic fantasy that one day my father would die and i would go back and claim my mother back into my life and that i would remain at her side and take care of her as long as she lived.
But alas, my family never came together, my father did not die and the last time i saw my mother was on New Years Day 2001 for all of 25 minutes on their way back to Sarasota. This is one of those regrets that i have, that i stayed for family that never came to fruition. Family was a wasted idealistic dream.
i don’t know what would have happened had i gone to San Francisco.
i will never know. Because i am in Montreal and not San Francisco. i have spoken to Todd on few occasions since moving to Montreal. And I see Him here and there, in the business he runs today.
Protect in confidence this story, and please respect its dignity as well.