People who drink and drug, seem to forget their mortality, and their sense of well-being, once we pick up that first drink or a drug. I don’t know a single man or woman who has not said, in a meeting, that before they picked up, said to themselves, “this might kill me!”
It might not kill us right now, but given enough time and abuse, we bypass the jails, we bypass the institutions, and we end up Dead in the Ground.
There are warnings out there, from people in the know, that if you abuse drugs and alcohol, you too will eventually die. And usually quicker, when you play the mortality game with the Sacred Temple, that is our bodies.
A long sober lady friend of mine, who passed away last summer, used to say, about herself that, when she drank, in order to attain a certain goal, she would allow a man to “Touch the Sacred Temple.”
How many of us think about that fact ? None really, until it is too late.
I have many friends who tempted fate, with their excessive drug and alcohol use. We number in the double digits on Monday night. In many other meetings, those numbers are quite higher, because some of my long sober friends, tell horror stories about themselves. That is knowledge in the bank, for sure.
My sponsor, for instance, spent the last portion of his using days in New York City, shooting up and having sex. When he met his now wife, he had AIDS and HEP C. They procreated and produced a son who never tested positive. She never tested positive either, and when she learned about this fact, she was none too happy about it.
Imagine what she went through, getting tested over and over for nine months ? I can imagine, because I was on that end of a test myself a number of times, until I had hit that proverbial Jackpot and my diagnosis.
The good thing about my sponsor and I was this … We both ended up here in Montreal.
In the beginning, many years ago, I was treated in Miami for AIDS. And my doctors kept me alive. I was one of the first patients in that medical clinic to receive Phase One Issue drugs that had just come off the pike for use in general community.
That did not last long because of that little small voice that assisted my SLIP.
When I came back, I had fallen out of Florida’s State Medical insurance program, because I was out-of-state too long, and I had to start back at the beginning, which took longer than I had anticipated.
I had done myself in, so I paid that ultimate price.
My sponsor had been here for the entire 35 years he has been clean and sober. He, like myself, found the fountain of eternal life, in the doctors we both have today.
He had a double dose of reality with two major illnesses. HEP C is much more lethal than AIDS is, in the Big Picture. The liver is a serious organ. And if that one goes, the rest of you goes with it.
There is no coming back from HEP C, you are a dead human being.
I watched a very long sober man, when I first came in, many years ago, be well and healthy, living with HEP C. A number of years later though, his fate changed. The HEP C got the better of his body, and in a matter of four days, JUST FOUR DAYS, he was dead.
I saw him on a Sunday, and he was alive. On Thursday of that same week, he was dead.
My sponsor was treated by the best doctors money could buy, through the year 2014. After several treatments with Interferon, he went into remission. All the while, in Montreal, the city is well stocked with the luminaries of AIDS treatment professionals.
Doctor Mark … A life taken too soon. He was a master at his craft of saving lives.
We just lost a Major Luminary not long ago, our research Head of Science and clinical trials. My sponsor never took another drug or drink, after he got sick. He jumped the border and settled here with his family.
I was not so lucky.
After returning from my slip in July of 2000, to Miami, I would not jump the border until April of 2002. On my first visit, over Easter of 2002, I found a place to live and the doctor who treats me today. When I landed here in April of 2002, I was still not yet a citizen, and that took some time. In February of 2003, I was given my citizenship. Which cleared me for treatment in Quebec. (In the meantime – My doctor back home was sending drugs over the border to treat me while I waited).
Like our woman, in tonight’s story, who had found out her liver was failing because of the excessive way she drank, she had a choice to make when she got sober. For her, there were no two ways about it. She needed a new liver, and transplant teams, across the board hold to certain standards.
They aren’t going to give up a healthy organ to a drug or alcohol pusher…
So she had to walk through tests, some random, and some not. She had to adhere to certain rules of engagement. And like me, she waited for a liver to come, as I waited to get into the clinic I desired. Both of us put ourselves in mortal danger.
On our Own Dimes.
All three of us; our woman in the story, my sponsor and myself, all survived.
When I got into the clinic, I was given an ultimatum. I would be treated. In exchange for my drugs, I would become a drug test patient. And for the rest of my years, to this date, I am still testing new medications, as they roll out of the science departments in Canada.
Over these fifteen years, I have tested numerous types of drugs. Each patient with AIDS/HIV, is unique. None of us carry the same strain. In the beginning they tested all of us to Genotype and Phenotype our strains of the virus.
With that information on hand, as each drug came out of the lab, depending on what strain we carried, we would get certain drugs, that would work for us, so they thought. Which was why we were testing the drugs on ourselves. Because if they worked for us, they would eventually get passed into general populations around the world.
I had to adhere to certain rules and regulations. I was tested many times to make sure I was clean and sober, and every time I drop labs, to this day, they test me for substances.
There are no two ways about this sober life. I am not only responsible for my own life, I am responsible for every life that comes in contact with the drugs I am taking right now. There is NO ROOM for fucking up a treatment regimen because if they get failed regimen data, that drug becomes useless because we did not adhere to treatment protocols.
That Skews the data.
Folks who come to recovery, get off Track A – and they get to choose Track B.
If they choose Track B – they get their do over.
Medicinal patients in the program, know that they fucked up their lives, and if they want to live, they are going to make the Track B choice. Many of my friends who made that Track B choice, are alive because of cutting edge science, here in Montreal.
I can say that, without a doubt. I know several of my friends are alive right now, because they got clean and sober, and sought out medical assistance from our World Re-known Science Labs here in the city.
I know, like our woman tonight, for myself, I was in no way prepared to change what I was doing, when I got sober the first time. I knew I was going to die, and I also knew that I was not going to suffer like many of my friends did. I was going to kill myself with the drink, Until Todd got a hold of me and changed that outcome.
He did quite well, don’t you think ? He made a wise choice.
Until I take my dying breath, I will sing THEIR praises, because of the Goodness of God, made incarnate in Todd.
In the beginning we make the decision to drink and drug. To some extent we all know, we made that decision. It might not have been a logical decision then, and we may not nor never admit that in open community and for many an alcoholic and drug addict, the fear of death was nonexistent.
We chased the HIGH or the Magical Affect of Alcohol, not death in and of itself.
It wasn’t until we had that Mirror Experience, or we sat in a jail cell, or was told that we were very sick, and for a few of us, we were going to die, if we did not Shape the Fuck Up.
For many, that takes several kicks at the can.
Today, those of us who have made successive passes at the can, and did GET clean and sober, our jobs, in our community, is to drive that point HOME, that, if you continue on this path of self-destruction, You Too Will Die.
There won’t be another chance to get this right.
Many of our young women, early in the rooms today, were Itty Bitty Bad Asses.
The girls usually can out drink and out drug the boys. The Sober Women in Montreal, the young ladies and some of our older ladies, were serious party animals, and could quite clearly, out do their male counter parts.
Which is why we have to work twice as hard to keep the women, IN the ROOMS, clean and sober. Because if we fail them, they are dead women.
Some of our young men are just as bad, and always need that swift kick in their asses on a regular basis. I’ve lost several good friends to the beast over the last few months, and a handful of them as well, have slipped over the divide and are stuck in the proverbial revolving door of addiction and using.
I can’t seem to get them to be able to admit they are powerless over their drugs and alcohols of choice. They seem to think that a Friday “Night Cap” is good for them, instead of being responsible and smart.
How do you say that to your friends, and not alienate them from the fold ?
All we can do is be present.
We pay a lethal price for alcohol and drug abuse. But if we GET IT, we want you to KEEP IT and STAY. Because the alternative is jail, institution or
Bodies only last so long on this earth. Sometimes the damage is so severe there is no coming back from our using and drinking.
Some of us got very fucking LUCKY.
Never look at a chance to live again, twice. You might never get another chance.
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 were 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.