Reflections Step Seven

The month of July, this year, has been a month of reflection and thought. It is like I have been working through a personal inventory of myself, and what I have learned about myself. My good points, and my bad points.

I have a particular Gay experience to draw upon. I have said, in the past that, things were not so easy, in the very beginning.

Living with AIDS, was not easy. Watching other people CRACK UP in front of me and my friends was disturbing. Loosing everyone, I thought would be in my corner, was a terrible by product of getting sick.

Ignorance was rife …

I learned early on after that, that it was not so important what people SAID, what was more important what people DID.

Living on the edge of society, well under the poverty level, procuring services that decided life or death, was paramount. I learned what were Cast Iron Panties, and how to put on those Cast Iron Panties very early on.

Several times I actually had to use them. Let me tell you that, if you said you’d do something I needed, on any level, and you failed to do that thing …

Hell hath no fury like an AIDS sick man.

A very TRUE STORY…

Back in the late nineties, after I got sick, for years, I had tried to get disability Insurance from the Government and I failed several times.

At the last, I stopped taking my medication for a month, I did not shower, or change my clothes, once. About a month in, I had a disability appointment with someone who could sign off on my application and grant me much needed financial support.

He, in the past, denied me that financial support.

So unwashed, sick and dirty, I walked into his office and sat down in front of him. He started talking to me. I took a deep breath and I coughed on him.

He stopped talking right then and there, and signed that application with not a further word of argument.

True Story …

You learned the character of the people around you, by their words, and indeed their actions. This piece of advice still applies today.

I know how alcoholics treated me when I came into the program twenty five years ago. Had that experience been more positive and supportive, this year I would have reached twenty five years sober.

Alas, that was not my experience.

Todd knew more about humility, honesty, and love, than any man or woman I know, to this very day.

Had he not stepped in and took me into his orbit, and taught me all the lessons he had, I would have surely died.

I spoke about this tonight, in my Step Group Study. In this meeting are a handful of LONG SOBER men whom I like and trust.

When I returned to the rooms in 2001, it was people who first hugged me and welcomed me into the SOBE room. They really cared about me, and that meant the world to me, and kept me IN the Room.

When I moved to Montreal, I looked for those same attributes in the people I met when I first arrived. In the first little while good people were Hit and Miss.

When I found the group I would HOME in for twelve years, the way I got sober and stayed sober, was by watching everyone else around me. I listened to them talk, lots of talk. I watched them make decisions, good and bad.

Most importantly, I paid attention to my friends who drank again, and again, and again.

I stuck and stayed while masses of people were drinking again.

I knew what NOT to do. I knew who to avoid, and who to stay away from.

Alcoholics are fallible people, we know this. Bill said as much in many of his talks before General Conference Meetings, for years.

None of us are perfect, none of us are better than another. Least of all ME.

Many years ago, I entertained a long sober man and asked him to sponsor me. An NDG man. For all intents and purposes, I stay away from NDG Men.

Why you ask ? I’m Gay.

Nothing turns my stomach quicker than a heterosexual man who needs to talk to hear himself talk, the pussy loving, hockey fan, who just has that air of heterosexuality about him. Men who overcompensate for being straight. Pissing contests are usual. And the size of their penises.

For a few years, I hung out with these men, because they were sober longer than I was, then. I did not go to their meetings, BUT I did attend several Twelve Step Retreats in Vermont with these men.

Imagine being the only queer banana in a car, driving to Vermont with overcompensating heterosexual men.

God give me strength.

At the very first group meeting, at the very first retreat I was at, in Vermont, I came out to the group of men. Because I was the only queer member in that group, for several retreats.

I quote …”Oh we accept you and we love you and we want to be your friend.”

That was all well and good. All that changed when we hit our first communal meal together.

I went through the buffet, got my food, and found a seat at an open table. I sat down, and I waited. And I watched.

I watched every single man, who said they accepted me among them, grab their own food, walk by my table, and sit somewhere else, not one of these men chose to break bread with me.

This happened at every retreat I was at, over and over.

Right then and there, the nails in their coffins were hammered.

Some time would pass, and my NDG sponsor having witnessed the worst painful experience I had ever experienced in Sobriety, spoke to me and he humiliated me in front of our group.

I swore I would never share space with any of those men ever again.

After the shooting at the Pulse Club in Orlando, I was devastated. Because as a kid in my twenties, I drank in that building too. I knew the story of the kid who did the shooting. I knew that he scoped out both Pulse and the Parliament House, where I had my Coming Out Experience.

I wanted to drink so bad. But I knew I could not.

I turned to meetings to save me. Most importantly, a Big Book Reading Meeting. I knew that if I read the BIG Book through, I would NOT DRINK.

There were 45 men and women in that meeting. All the Queer men in the program on the English side, ALL OF THEM, sat in this meeting.

I was a wreck for eighteen months. Emotionally and mentally.

Not One Man or Woman, GAY or STRAIGHT wanted to know me. Not one of those men or women said one single word to me, personally, at any time, before or after any of those meetings over eighteen months.

Not One Alcoholic said those words to me…
“I Know How You Feel, Let Me Tell You How I Dealt With That.”
NOT ONE !!!

I’ve NEVER heard those words come out of ANY sober mouth, in all the years I have been sober, EXCEPT from Lorna Kelly who came from New York to speak at a Round Up. She spoke those words in front of everybody.

I think I was the only who who heard her. To This Day.

And in the end one of those queers, who read the same book I did, got to the last chapter of the Big Book, and we read HOW to stay SOBER and NEVER drink again, HE DRANK AGAIN.

Because he IS constitutionally incapable of being honest with himself.

Now I am not, in any way, stating that I am better than anyone else, but I do know the work I have done in as many years to stay sober. I know every man and woman who participated in my sobriety TO DATE.

Todd taught me about My Place in the World and in the Universe. I know my place in the world. I know, that as long as I serve others, to the best of my ability, I can maintain some semblance of humility.

I commented tonight, at the meeting that last night, I had a visceral reaction to some folks who came into the meeting last night.

I just don’t have any desire to be friendly with some of my heterosexual counterparts, because of the way they treated me over the years. They walk in the meeting and announce their presence, and I’m just like:

SHUT THE FUCK UP AND SIT DOWN.

I was SO uncomfortable sitting in my chair, that at one point, before the meeting, that I actually got up, and walked outside, to sit with my friends who were hanging out, outside the church on one of the benches.

I had no desire to sit there and listen to people I have no desire to want anything that they have. I stayed sober, by watching and listening to everybody else. That may be a good thing, or a bad thing.

I am a Gay man who survived AIDS.

So I am a bit more judgmental of people, in a way that other queer men are not. Not that there are NO QUEER men in the rooms who want to be my friend, so when we sit in the same room, they have nothing to say to me and I don’t have anything to say to them either.

I know who my friends are, and who I take solace from, and those men and women who contribute to my sobriety.

It just struck me odd last night, that I had that kind of reaction sitting in a room, I regularly sit in on a weekly basis. And I brought that up with my old timer friends tonight at the step meeting.

People are not apt to speak to me about anything I say in meetings, and old timers rather keep to themselves, and they don’t usually offer counsel, or criticism, or tell me to just shut the fuck up and listen.

I find that odd. That people won’t call you out, or say anything when we share in meetings. It’s like I am having this particular sober experience, and nobody is playing pin ball with me, there are no bumpers on the side, banging me back into play.

It’s like I am running on my own.

If I don’t ask someone directly for advice, nobody offers advice.

That strikes me as odd too.

Just a few observations about myself.

The Curve – Early Review

https://cb-x.com/

It has been a day, IN, the Curve Chastity device. My early remarks still hold. CB-X sells the entire package as a unit. Like I said earlier today, CB-X sells package sets, of various numeric CB- 3000 and CB- 6000 sets.

They also sell parts individually. And since I learned that they sold individual parts, that complement the CB 3000/6000 systems, and can be used interchangeably, that made my decision to shop from them appealing.

I began with the purchase of additional side items that complement the CB systems. The Package Sets come with an entire system of space rings, of various sizes, extension rings that are used to either extend or draw back the base ring and the cage portion of the device.

Once you add the other items, like the Points Of Intrigue, then the other sized spacers come into usage, because you are adding length to the connection pin, so you need the proper spacing tube to attach the Points, and connect the cage to the unit, then get it to lock.

The device package comes with 1 lock, and 2 keys. And it also comes with three plastic registered locks that can be used, in lieu of the pad lock.

Everything in the Chastity system works together, as a unit, and you can, by choice, add to the dimension and creativity of your chastity experience.

The Points of Intrigue runs you $49.95 CAD, plus shipping and the exchange, because they calculate CAD for me automatically. The Plastic Registration Locks will run you (30 count $15-95 CAD).

I’ve been using the Curve addition all day. It fits like a glove. I said earlier that The Curve is a larger solid cage, that is wider/and longer/than the original CB-6000 Plastic Cage.

In order to get into the original cage, Insertion is easier if you are an average man. My friend that I purchased a CB-6000 for in early summer, did it in one shot, with a little lube assistance. He did not have an insertion problem, and his is still on him to date.

I, on the other hand have found that some chastity devices, I have tested from other sellers, who asked me to review their products, the cages were small. They indeed had larger cages, but on the whole, when I made the order to test the product, I chose the mainstream cage, sadly, it was too small, and the product was sub standard, and rather than say negative things about a high selling item to a particular demographic, I chose to say nothing, and thank them for the experience. But moved on from it.

I found that that CB-6000 cage worked for a while, but after my medical misfortune and problem with a severe genital infection, I could no longer fit in the cage properly, and I went back to the Bon-4 metal cage, until the Curve arrived today.

I love the Curve cage. It fits wonderfully, and I am very pleased with the purchase, and would recommend this product for you to try.

If you buy the CB-6000 in a retail sex shop, you can buy several products, the CB-3000, the CB-6000 and the CB- 6000 Curve, in specific packs with the pieces that come with them.

In the pack you will find the CB-X info flyer, inside the pack. And you can go to the site and register, and then shop the additional parts, as individual items, if you buy a full pack and find the cage might be too small for you.

The general thought in chastity devices that most men come in one size. That is a misnomer. We don’t all come in one standard size, as I have found as I have continued this chastity journey.

One cannot test chastity devices because of the bodily fluid issue, so if you are going to buy a chastity device, be sure of the size of your member against the size of the cage.

The CB-6000 cage is standard. The CB-6000 Curve is larger. I recommend that if your Mister is larger than normal, and you don’t fit the standard sizing options of the general CB product, going a step larger might make your purchase better, and you won’t have to shop a larger cage once you get home, if you find you are larger than the cage in accommodation.

Like I said … Once you buy, you cannot return it.

If you buy it, it is yours, then it falls to your wallet to purchase a larger cage, that if you are properly informed before you buy, you won’t be making additional purchases to find the right sized cage for your system.

Buyer Beware !!!

I love my CB-6000 system. It is a much better product made of serious hypo-allergenic solid plastic that is thick and secure. Much better than other products I have tested for other sellers.

If your Mister is Larger than usual, then go with the CB-6000 CURVE.

You won’t be disappointed.

CB-X Master Your Mister

CB-X.com
https://cb-x.com/

In the month of May, I had been using my original chastity device that I has initially purchased at Priape. The Bon – 4, metal cage.

It is bulky, but, unlike the CB-6000 does not come with the additional issues that I had. I like the metal cage set up because it is easy access, and goes on without a hassle. And I can wear it long term and not worry about cleanliness and other internal issues with the plastic device.

In May, like I said above, I purchased a CB-6000 set up, which is a 3 part plastic ring set up with a plastic cage. For a while it worked well, but after a few weeks of being in it, there were issues with the size of the cage, and also, there was a cleanliness issue as well. Because once you are in the cage and it does not come off, you can develop issues, where you must take it off to clean within. And that became a necessary task.

Along with the new CB-6000, I had said some time ago that I was having drug issues with my Diabetes medication, that posed a problem for two months, until I finally figured out what the hell was going on with me.

I kept having to take the cage off, and finally, it seemed I was outgrowing my cage, because I could not fully get into it, and urination became an issue. With the size of the cage, and my size, and the my body issues, they were not working together.

So I went to the company that makes the CB-6000 range cages and many other parts you can buy as single parts, and they all work with the 3 ring CB-6000 system.

The company supplies many other CB products, and the parts that go with them. There are various models, colors, and types of chastity devices. From CB-X you can get parts individually, that are not available in retail shops. I mean, you can buy a whole set up and all, but if you want to specialize your own set up, buying parts individually, that go WITH your particular chastity device, is well worth it.

This is The Curve. The Curve comes in a pack like the CB-6000, they sell at Priape, here in Montreal. I chose to buy the CB-6000 instead, not thinking about the size of the curve cage, in relation to my CB-6000.

The cages are made of rigid non-allergenic plastic that once they go on, and you lock the lock, or you use the plastic registration locks you can buy separately, there is no taking it off, unless you need to. Unlike other chastity products I have tried, this CB-6000 range is a much BETTER product. it is made securely, and works much better than others, I have seen or used.

I had bought several odds and ends over the past few months to complement my CB-6000, like a bag of 30 plastic registration locks, a set of Point of Intrigue that go into the CB-6000 set up making things a little prickly to say the least.

Today my CURVE arrived in the mail. And I was pleasantly surprised with it, namely, that it fits, entirely. In one shot, I was in and all was well. The CURVE is larger than the CB-6000 cage. It is longer and wider than the original that I had purchased. Making it a much better cage set up than the original CB-6000. It has air holes in the cage itself, and because it is a larger cage, I won’t have the attendant issues I had with the first cage.

Chastity has been a work in progress as I prefect the cage I am using and because with the CB-6000 you get an info pack in the box from CB-X.com, where you can register, and add other parts and cages to your collection, and not have to buy the entire set up, that costs in excess of $200.00 CAD for a cage.

The Curve came in at $125.00 CAD, with the exchange. The Curve ran $70.00 plus shipping and the exchange, so it was well worth the money I paid for it.

CB-X.com for all your chastity needs.

Friday Night

My friend Jacob, in his Rocket Tights from LED Queens. I have a pair myself.

Tonight we had a great discussion about One Day at a Time.

And I thought to myself, how crazy my life once was. This being July and all, and I reflect on my life, as it turned out. From what it began as twenty five years ago. Then I was age 26.

When I got sick, I could not focus my thoughts, until I learned how to do that, thanks to Todd. I relate this story, as it happened.

The week I was diagnosed, I had gone to the store and bought poster board squares. I plastered them to my kitchen wall, and drew out a calendar, for three months. I numbered the months, as usual. And I began counting the day until I was supposed to die.

I had 576 days … according to my doctor.

I was waiting to die. This was even before I got suicidal. And that episode go me into recovery, at Todd’s insistence.

His lover, Roy, was my first sponsor. He came over the house one day and saw my calendar on the wall, and asked me what I was doing ? I told him, “counting the days until I die…”

He stepped into the kitchen and ripped the calendar off the wall and tore it up into pieces. He then said, You are not going to do this.

When he left, I went out and bought more poster board, and did it again, the same reaction happened. I then did it a third time. And once again, he ripped them down off the wall.

Over the next eighteen months, Todd taught me focus and control. He gave me a method to cope. And it worked famously.

I lived.

But, for the longest time, I was living with one foot on the floor, and the other on a banana peel. I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop, because, I was still waiting to die.

I was sick for a long time. But I felt that my suffering was salvific. And that if God has a sense of humor, he would not let me die, miserably, like all of my friends did.

I lived.

The change happened, I reckoned tonight, about the ten year mark, that would have been in 2004. I was already living here in Montreal, and my doctor treated patient Zero, the French Flight Attendant.

He promised me life. A good life. If I followed his direct orders, which I followed dutifully.

I guess, at some point, in this sober time period, I was more consumed with staying sober, and not thinking about Dying.

My Higher Power was working for me. God, that is …

I stopped waiting to die. Finally.

In the last eighteen years, my life got BIG. And my life got good. At the thirteen year mark, going into fourteen, all 12 Promises had come true, Albeit, very slowly. But they did.

A friend said, tonight, that the main ingredient for a good life in sobriety, all has to do with one thing… GRATITUDE.

He said that if you can be grateful every day, you will stay sober. Despite yourself.

I concur.

Spiritual awakening happen at the oddest times, and we don’t necessarily realize what they are until they are in the rear view mirror and you have some hindsight behind you to look back and say …

Oh Yeah, that WAS a GOD moment, wasn’t it …

Grateful.

Memories of a Time Gone By – Crazy S.O.T.B.

Cue the music – start the fog machine – blue light GOBO slow pans across the floor through dimly lit space, and the first beat comes…

I am alone, it is early, the bar is not yet open, but I am there alone. Just me, the music and the spirit of God. Well, what little spirit of God there was at that time of my life. It is mid-summer in Ft. Lauderdale.

I have just told Todd that I was going to die…

He wept.

Over the next few weeks, the teaching would begin. The team rose to the call, one of the boys was sick and was left on the side of the road with nothing but what little dignity was left in his soul. All I needed would be provided come hell or high water. Wild Horses would never stop the charge for life. We were all sick, we were all dying. Save for two people in the entire organization. My champions would save me, if I wanted it or not. Death was not an option and I would either get it or I would die…

So it began…

At that time, the temple of sin was alive and things happened so quickly that if you blinked you would miss it. The temple was filled with every earthly delight, Dante would have been pleased with our Garden of Earthly desires, carnal, profane and truly sinful. I loved every minute of it.

The rule was set…

You have a life, outside the temple. When you come to work, you leave your baggage at the door, do not bring it in here. No exceptions. Come to work, and you will serve me your Master and do whatever you are told without question without complaint, is that clear!

Yes Sir…

I took that time of my life as sacred and profane, but that is another story. You can read about the Sacred and the Profane over there in Pages… This is another thread to a long running story of how this boy was made a man, a saved man, a profane man, and in the same vein Sacred. You never know where your lessons are going to come from, and you are grateful for the wisdom and time people took out of their lives to care for you and teach you lessons that nobody else was going to teach you. So pay attention Little One.

This is your life we are talking about…

The gobos are tracking across the floor slowly through smoke and mirrors as the music plays just for you. I learned very early on, in that space that music would identify particular moods, paint particular pictures. Farkle and I had a ritual. He IS the only one left from the fray of men who lived and died from the temple of sin. We began each shift in our own way, begging god another night, another day, another minute. I was surrounded with warriors fighting their own significant battles with AIDS. I was not hit by the KS demon. I was not plagued by things I saw and witnessed, thank the creator. It was ugly. It was brutal and it was most importantly the fight of the century for all of us. Many men went to their deaths in our arms. We bathed them, clothed them and in the end we buried them.

Angry Larry…

When I got sober there was a man with AIDS named Larry, he was a drunk like me. But he was unique. He sat with a bottle on the table and a loaded revolver to shoot himself. He carried that gun with him and showed it to every one of us, and he told us relentlessly that he was going to kill himself. He got sober with the rest of us. Over the years following his spiritual awakening, he did something that no one else thought to do.

People with AIDS were being left in the streets. Mortuaries would not process sick people, they would not touch a body that had been infected with AIDS. Families would not bury their children. We did that. Larry opened his services to the community and he became another champion of the cause. I knew him. He eventually got rid of the gun, so I heard.

For a few minutes during transition, I would warm up the smoker, fire up the turntable and start the computer so that I could worship my God to the music of my soul. I did that every night. I worshiped whatever was going to save me.

I was servant to the men. I was servant to my Master. I was a slave for God, be he dressed or undressed. You never saw God until you witnessed true beauty of the soul in all its carnality. There is something sacredly profane about this part of my life. What went on inside the temple stayed in the temple. Many months would pass and I battled my demons of alcoholism before I finally fell into the pit of death, and there happen to be somebody watching from the sidelines.

Danny saved me that night. He was the man who cradled me in his arms, oxygen mask on my face and had called the paramedics to try and revive me. Danny took me home that night, and did not leave my apartment for a week. He fed me, bathed me and cared for me, under that watchful eye of my Master Todd. When the word was spoke, action was taken, and hell hath no fury if you did not jump when told to. Todd was very protective over his boys and men.

We were reminded that Todd had lost love to AIDS. Bob was buried across the street in the cemetery that faced our building. It was hard – it was painful, and it was sacred. Kevin and Larry did things for me that no man ever did for me in the real world. We were the three musketeers. We were the team to beat in bar management and service. We ran a tight ship and we were accountable, respectable and reliable. We proved a mighty force against the odds we all faced.

Let’s get it on…

Shift was begun at eight. The wells were filled the beer was stocked and the ice bins were full. Put your money in the drawer and let’s get the music thumping. Like clockwork at the strike of eight bells the first note hit the turntables. They were lined up around the building. Cars were parked all over the place. The temple worship had begun. Heaven was found amid the souls of suffering men who knew they were all marked for death, but for tonight, whatever you desired was fulfilled. You could drown away your sorrow and dip into the well of living water if you wished as well. You have never lived until you party like your dying with crowds of undulating flesh as far as they eye can see. The ghosts of those men now inhabit the fantasies and dreams I have still to this day.

One by one, two by two, they died in our arms. We held them until they took their last breaths. Memorialized in the careful and blood soaked threads of quilts, as the years went by, they started collecting by the dozen, then by the hundreds. If you’ve ever seen the entire quilt unfurled, all the men who were part of my life in those first years of my epidemic life, they are all together in death, as they were in life. Memorialized until the end of time. And we remember each of their names.

So many young boys torn from life before they knew what hit them. Men who infected them had died as well. Many of my friends were taken on trips that were detrimental to them, and just robbed them of life that was still left to live.

Todd saw to it that I would never go there…

You come to work, dress as you will, you obey me and do not waver from my eye, for I know your carnal desires and you are too young to tempt the devil with his dance. Because I surely did not know what could befall me if the right charmer enticed me into his web of desire, and they all knew I was fair bait. But in order to dine from my buffet, you needed explicit permission of my Master, who never allowed any man to defile me like many had been. I was off limits. I never crossed the line provided because that meant disrespect and I could never bear to break my Master’s heart with disobedience.

I loved Him, and He loved me – I had many problems. I was depressed and angry and resentful. I had the scars of traumatic visions of my dead lovers corpse in my head, and the words of his mother still ring in my ear today “I hope that every night until you die, that you see the corpse of my dead son in your field of vision.” That curse still lives with me and will go with me to the grave. Five day old corpses are not pretty. I had to identify the remains when all was said and done. Save that he was wearing jewelry that I could identify and part of him was still recognizable – God forgive me…

I remember that day, it was early afternoon the morgue called me from work to come and do the deed. I drove in and looked upon him in that room, I wept tears that burned into my soul forever. I just could not imagine – the pain was so hard to bear. I drove over to the bar. Bill was working behind the bar. I drank until I could not stand up on my own. I drank for a week, straight…

Todd and Bill needed to find me a solution and quick, because I was on the outs.

I started suicide therapy in a group setting that lasted 32 weeks. Nothing like rehashing death week after week, until the pain was purged from your soul, but is it ever? Months went by until I got my news.

But they cared for me in all my brokenness. A young angel would earn his wings back. Come hell or high water. In the end, when all was said and done, at the end of the day I survived, but so many did not. And each night I offer them prayers in hope that when I meet my death that all of them will be waiting for me in the Temple Of Earthly Desire in the promised land of the Kingdom of God, where the sacred and profane are mingled with the blood of the Almighty and the blood of my friends who have gone before me, on that day we will be cleansed of our sins.

And forgiven by God…

Amen

Goodnight angels of men

In a church,by the face,
He talks about the people going under.

Only child know…

A man decides after seventy years,
That what he goes there for, is to unlock the door.
While those around him criticize and sleep…
And through a fractal on a breaking wall,
I see you my friend, and touch your face again.
Miracles will happen as we trip.

But we’re never gonna survive, unless…
We get a little crazy
No we’re never gonna survive, unless…
We are a little…

Cray…cray…cray…

…Crazy yellow people walking through my head.
One of them’s got a gun, to shoot the other one.
And yet together they were friends at school
Ohh, get it, get it, get it, get it no no!

If all were there when we first took the pill,
Then maybe, then maybe, then maybe, then maybe…
Miracles will happen as we speak.

But we’re never gonna survive unless…
We get a little crazy.
No we’re never gonna survive unless…
We are a little…
Crazy…
No no, never survive, unless we get a little… bit…

Oh, a little bit…
Oh, a little bit…

Oh…
Oh…

Amanda decides to go along after seventeen years…

Oh darlin…
In a sky full of people, only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
In a world full of people, only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
Crazy…
In a heaven of people there’s only some want to fly,
Ain’t that crazy?
Oh babe… Oh darlin…
In a world full of people there’s only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
Isn’t that crazy… Isn’t that crazy… Isn’t that crazy…

Ohh…
But we’re never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy.. crazy..
No we’re never gonna to survive unless we are a little… crazy..
But we’re never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy.. crazy..
No we’re never gonna to survive unless, we are a little.. crazy..
No no, never survive unless, we get a little bit…

And then you see things
The size
Of which you’ve never known before

They’ll break it

Someday…

Only child know….

Them things
The size
Of which you’ve never known before

Someday…
Someway…
Someday…
Someway…
Someday…
Someway…
Someday…

Working with Others

I listen to a very small number of sober folks today. I hear a lot of talking, but most of it goes in one ear and out the other, because why waste mental space on people who don’t have anything I want, RIGHT?

For a very long time, I was not sure I had anything to offer the public, in the way of working with others. I stuck close to service. I made a lot of coffee, and have at least two church keys on my key ring today. I am an opener of meetings, a setter upper, a greeter and an all around welcome wagon to several meetings across town today.

Twelve years would pass, before I hit the presentation of THE WORK. Twelve years of running by the book in service, presence, and sharing when appropriate. Still, I was not sure, that I had anything to give away, which helped me, in retrospect, hone my skills at listening attentively, feeling compassion, empathy, and gratitude.

Until the time came when I heard the message I needed to hear, from the right person to change my life and my sobriety.

Lorna warns us of the fragility of people with “Time” in the rooms, not necessarily the newcomer, per se. She says that “Those are the people we should pay close attention to.” For certain reasons, I don’t need to elaborate right now.

Bob, another member who came here in 2012, to the West Island Round Up, the same event Lorna attended too. It was Bob who turned me on to THE WORK, (i.e. the Big Book), and Prayer, (i.e. the 3, 7, 11 shuffle). He told the crowd of people gathered there all this same information. Nobody listened to him.

I, on the other hand, went to him, after his talk and inquired about how to make all this work. He told me what to do. I went home, and did exactly as he said to do. I wrote down the 3rd, 7th, and 11th step prayers, and laminated them and put them on my computer.

And I prayed every day, several times a day, for as long as it took to change my life. Because he told us that if we did pray, and in time, we would become spiritually fit and then the universe (read: God) would order things as He saw fit.

That took about seven months of fervent prayer, not always perfect, but I did my best to pray, honestly and humbly.

One Tuesday night I was sitting in a meeting, and about halfway through my phone rang … very out of the ordinary. Who would be calling me, I had no idea. Nonetheless, I stepped outside and answered the call.

A good thing too.

On the other end was a hysterical young person, who got my number from who, I don’t know, but he called me. That was the day I had something to offer another human being in the program.

That sparked a series of life events that changed the course of my sobriety.

Today I sponsor a few men and women. I have worked my steps. Several times. I’ve read the Big Book through from cover to cover, four times in six years. I finished my last round of steps last fall, with a young person I really wanted what they had. That was a good thing.

A Vision for You says … “Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got …” It took me a long time to trust that I had something to give away, and we don’t know that we’ve even got it ourselves, Lorna is apt to say, “Until we give it away.”

That’s my story and I am sticking to it…

Memories of a Time Gone By: Day 5

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 washed 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 West 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.