Thursday: It MUST be the GAY

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When I moved to this city, I was the “new kid on the block.” I did not know anyone, but the friend I had come to visit, who would help me root and find a new home.

I was sober.

I hear my friends, my gay friends, tell their stories, and inside my heart breaks, because at some point, on my journey, I too, was once like they are today.

When I walked into the room, that would become sober central for me, I met women. A lot of women. Who were KIND to me. They offered me work to do, so that I would return the following week.

Over my sobriety, I have learned how to be kind to everybody.

I am, without fail, kind to everybody, gay or straight. I’ve not been unkind to anyone I know. I am observant, I am present, I listen, and I watch people. I know them.

There is NOT ONE gay member in this city, who wants to know anything I have to offer, even if I go out of my way to be present and to be KIND. I don’t understand.

REALLY !

On the flip side, my straight friends, are kind to me, in ways, others are not.

We all want to be seen, and heard. And to do that, requires a little bit of honesty.

Little by slowly, as we thaw out from disaster, and we find our chair, and we get comfortable IN that chair, we begin to find our voice.

Then it is all downhill from there …

I know what it is like to be shunned and be tossed out into the street, by people who should have known better. I know what it feels to not love myself, or to be kind to myself, or always beating myself up for one reason or another.

How it Works talks about learning how to be honest with one’s self.

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those people who do not recover are people who cannot or will not give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are CONSTITUTIONALLY INCAPABLE of being HONEST with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living that demands rigorous HONESTY.

Being kind, I think, over time, demands rigorous honesty, even when it hurts.

Over the last year, I have been through the most painful period in my sobriety. Something I have in common with who I heard speak tonight.

Some people get what they need, and others do not. Save, that over that worst year of my sober life, I kept going to meetings, and talking my head off, even if nobody wanted to do anything, because nobody did anything. But I kept showing up.

You’d think that the gay men and women, would rally round each other and support one another. Oddly, I have been kind to all of them, even though, my fellows cannot bring themselves to be kind in return.

I don’t know, it MUST be the gay. My kind of Gay.

I am the only SURVIVOR of the scourge of AIDS in this city. That makes me an outcast. However, gays, share many things in common. The same feelings, the same emotions, the same problems, and the same struggles. Been there, done that.

I’ve been nothing but kind to everyone. Always going out of my way to be supportive. And like I said, everything I have done in sobriety, is directly correlated, to what I saw, and what I see going on around me.

Sadly, how can you be sober, and NOT be honest with your peers ?

How can you not sit in rooms, night after night, week after week, month after month and year after year, and not collect tons of data on your friends, and when the time is right, to be able to walk up to someone and say … Get the Fuck Honest for God’s sake !

How to you carry the message, when folks don’t want to know what’s wrong or they don’t want your help ?

I met a newcomer the other night. Young, Gay, just moved to the city, needs someone to work with, needs to root, and find his way in …

I listened to him. And I spoke as well. I reached out – my phone has YET to RING, and after the meeting he was sitting a few rows behind me and I was like, HI !

Another gay, who I am overly critical about, because he is full of shit, I’ve spent the whole of HIS time in the rooms, trying to be his friend, and to help him, to no avail.

I write a lot. People do not like that I write A LOT. People do not like that I tell stories about the work I do, so brutally honest. People don’t want to be reminded about what they say, or what they do, in community.

How do you get sober, and not plan on doing any of the leg work to get there ?

I am back in the saddle next week. After taking a sober break from my Thursday meeting, because I pissed off a gay, because I told a story about his stupidity. Now we sit in the Thursday meeting together, mere feet apart, across the center aisle, and I know he has shit to say, and I have shit to say because I have worked on my script, every time I lay my head on my pillow at night.

And I know better.

I know that if I open my mouth, it ain’t gonna be sunshine and Jesus. If I shoot my mouth off, it won’t serve the greater good, nor move us toward God or goodness.

I know the difference between doing the Right thing for the Wrong reason, and, doing the Wrong thing for the Right reason. I know the difference between right and wrong, and good and evil.

The word Honesty came up several times tonight.

And I have been nothing but honest all the time. I’ve been brutally honest, even in my darkest hour, with people, whom I thought would stand with me and offer me something, ANYTHING.

Nope. Not Gonna Do It.

Fuck me for being honest.

I don’t know any other way to stay sober, but be honest in all my affairs.

Straight people are more at ease with me being honest, than Gay people.

Maybe it’s because I am older ? Fifty ? Sober ? Alive ? Honest ?

I don’t know, I just don’t get it.

I know what it is like to be fueled by alcohol and drugs, into doing things that when they were going on, seemed pleasant ? I followed the lie that alcohol was going to bring me Into Community and make it all work in my favor.

If someone will love me, then I don’t have to love myself, right ?

If love involves, self-denial, or actions that are below board, or pushing you to do something that you would not otherwise do when you were sober, is just WRONG.

How many times did I continually make that mistake ?

When I was tossed from that meeting, long ago and I went all out to find someone to love me, because I could not love myself, ALONE, I almost died in that Love Attempt.

Oh God, the things I did, in sobriety, that just fucked me up, because there was nobody who was there to say STOP for fuck’s sake.

When they tell us to STAY OUT of relationships in our first year, that is SOUND advice. I know, off the top of my head, how many of my friends ignored that little nugget of wisdom.

Nope, Not gonna do that …

I know, how many of my friends, are sunk in the “I cannot be alone, ergo, I am going to go find it, even if it comes between me and my sobriety.”

And I hear my friends struggle.

I know what it is like to put the RIGHT human, in the role of Higher Power – That definitely was Todd. Because when Todd stepped into my life, he was on a mission to save my life, and had I not done what he told me to do, I would be dead today.

I also know what it felt like to put the WRONG human in the role of higher power, when I did not know any better, IN sobriety. Oh the horror  !

I just know that I work my ass off to be the best human I can be. I have enough men and women in my circle who keep me honest and sober, in spite of myself. Not that I really have a problem with listening and taking advice. I would rather know what to do from long sober members, than trust what is in my head on any give day, which is why I go to certain meetings.

How difficult is it to be kind, even when it hurts ? Very difficult.

An observant alcoholic, who sees, listens and talks about what he sees, is a threat to people’s sobriety. I write here to help me, and maybe help You.

As long as I don’t mention names, I can carry the message outside that room.

I mean, why do we go to meetings, if we don’t bring home and unpack what we just heard, and use it to learn from, by writing it all down ?

I’ve been doing this the whole of my sobriety.

Honestly, I really cannot understand why honest kindness is so difficult.

Some people are sicker than others. And not everybody is going to want whatever sobriety you are peddling. That’s their loss not mine.

We are always moving towards greater complexity (read: God) and I practice being Godly and kind and honest. Some people just don’t see it that way.

Sobriety is Not Always Sunshine and Unicorns.

But I came to the point where I sat with God and I asked for my life to change. God did not disappoint. Hence the last year of my life was the WORST year of my sober life, yet to date.

It was Raw, Painful, Honest and Difficult.

Nobody came and sat with me. Nobody offered a word of hope or consolation. Nobody knew what to do with an overly emotional Gay.

What did I do ?

I kept going to meetings and I did service, like I was taught to do from the very beginning, and that kept me sober and sane. People were looking at me and measuring their words carefully. None of them offered anything but standard fare:

Keep coming back, It will get better, Do some service.

It would have been a lot easier if someone had sat down with me and showed me a game plan, alas, I had no playbook. No plan. I rode the wave as God bore it for me.

God was there, in the little things. And people now get what they get. Many don’t care, nor want to participate in my sobriety, in any capacity.

I have friends, who care. And for that I am grateful.

One friend in particular tonight, said as much.

Not Always Sunshine and Unicorns …

Wednesday: Playboy

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A Young Donald Trump on the cover of Playboy Magazine, 1990.

When my family moved into house number two, in Miami, when I was in second grade, it was a serious upgrade from our two bedroom duplex in Homestead Florida, where we first hit land when we moved from New Britain Connecticut to Florida, in the early 1970’s.

In 1992 – When Hurricane Andrew ran over Florida, Homestead Florida was wiped off the map. It was like a nuclear bomb had gone off and destroyed everything, and I mean EVERYTHING.

It took more than ten years to rebuild that city to what it is today.

Anyways …

My brother and I went to-day care after school for many years, until the day I staged a revolt in the bus taking us there, and I demanded our private bus driver to take me home. That day I got a key from my mother, and she went back to work, full-time, and I became my brother’s keeper for the rest of my life.

We were, what you could call, “Free Range” kids back then.

We knew how to go home alone after school, open and lock doors, in relative safety.

We had “neighbors” back then who paid attention to everyone else’s kids, because we usually wound up, in someones family room or back yard climbing trees and such.

I was more interested in family secrets. My brother did not like nor love me, because my father bred that kid to hate me from the word Go.

I spent every alone hour rifling through every little secret my parents had to themselves.

And I realized that what my parents SAID in the open and the Scripture they preached so vehemently, was NOT the same as what they did behind closed doors, namely, their bedroom door.

You would have thought my father had a Degree in Theology. The way he preached.

I HAVE DEGREES IN THEOLOGY AND WORLD RELIGIONS TODAY, IN FACT…

My parents lived a secret life, that nobody knew about, except me. However, I did overhear, one night, them discussing their sex life with the neighbors, whose daughter was a friend.

Back then, pornography was alive and well, (in the early 1970’s). It had been around a while, because my father had box upon box of porn stacked in a closet in the garage. Over the years, I did a lot of reading. I was in grade school. By the time I hit the sixth grade, I had already figured out what side my bread was buttered on.

I relate this story about Hugh Hefner.

There were, back in the hey day of the Great Miami Beach, big hotels, with huge chandeliers in their lobby’s, the family visit past time, was to drive up Ocean Drive, and Collins avenue, to peer inside those hotels as we drove by.

There was, also, a Playboy Dinner Club on Miami Beach.

My brother and I were so lucky one night, when my father took the family, my mother included, to have dinner in said “Playboy Club.” The women were beautiful, in their skimpy outfits with their bunny ears and powder puff tails. That’s about all I remember of that night.

I wasn’t interested in women.

My father’s reading habits were varied. For the rest of my years, through puberty, my father left pornography in the bathroom, where he would indulge.

They thought their secrets were safe, they weren’t.

I don’t think they really thought that their kids would indulge in a little smut every now and then while we contemplated our navels sitting on the toilet.

Never … Ever …

Along side the Reader’s Digest, was Playboy, Hustler and a little magazine called “Variations.” This happened to be my favorite smut. Because it included stories about men.

My father came home from the Viet Nam war, in the 1960’s with a skeleton. I was named after that skeleton, and for the rest of my life, my father abused me mercilessly, telling me that “I was a mistake and should never have been born,” even knowing that he had named me after a soldier he loved, who was killed in that war, and when he came home and had his first son, he named me after that soldier in honor of him, only to turn around and beat me senseless every chance he got.

My father, being the good father he thought he was, one night, took me to The 94th Aero Squadron restaurant, alongside the Miami International Airport, to give me my Birds and the Bees talk.

That restaurant still exists today. I have a link on my desktop to the webcam atop that building, to watch jet liners take off and land.

I was approaching puberty you see, and he thought it wise to give me a hand up, while with the other, He Beat and Abused me Severely.

The closer to homosexuality I got, the harder the beatings got as well. Because on the Down Low, he was reading Gay Porn, and I had come to believe that if it was good for my parents, then it was good for me. And if they could do something deviant, (I did not know what deviant meant back then) I could do something deviant too.

And everything would work out for me.

Well, it didn’t.

I had ample years to prune my puberty tree. I knew before I hit junior high that I was gay, but I had to “Play it Straight” for the cameras. Girlfriends, Prom, Dates, you get the picture.

I never once, openly admitted I was Gay. Not Once. I never said those words to my parents. But by the way my father abused me, and my mother allowed it to happen under her watch, they both knew, whether I said those words or not.

“Mom and Dad, I’m Gay.”

I think we can all agree, that every pubescent boy growing up from the early days of Playboy Magazine, till today, probably credits Hugh Hefner with their first orgasm, or quite possibly, their first wet dream.

There was, back in the day, a radio show, that I used to listen to late at night, on my little transistor radio, with the little single ear piece. Back then, on the radio, there were these, what I like to call, “Alternative Variations” on the dating game phone call in shows.

Back then, gay was done in secret, at night, under the cover of darkness, because God forbid, someone find out that you were gay, or that gay even existed, “In community!”

My father gave me the ammunition to build my secret life, that he was living. The same secret life, behind closed doors, and behind my mother’s back.

My father would never admit, to his grave, that he leaned Gay, while “Playing it Straight” for the cameras and the progeny he spawned.

When I hit twenty-one, my shrink, a friend of the family, had taken me aside and gave me some sage advice.

This is what he told me to do:

I want you to go to the local Gay Bar. Park the car, and go inside. Sit down on a stool and relax. Have a drink, hell, have two drinks, and see what happens. He also told me that alcohol was going to be the lubricant that was going to magically make me acceptable in the gay community of Miami. That was the WAY IN …

My alcoholism had already taken off by then. The first night, I was legal to drink, the race was on. And my alcoholism grew to steroid proportions.

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I moved to Orlando to be Gay because thats where every gay boy comes Out of the Closet and also, in Orlando, every gay boy worked at Disney World.

Which was TRUE.

My twenties, were a blur. Alcohol, Sex, Drugs, Irresponsibility …

Until the years that I began to work for Todd. A year before I was diagnosed with AIDS, 1993, through until Todd and Roy moved to San Francisco, in 1996.

I was twenty six when I was diagnosed with AIDS. My family did not want to have anything to do with me, and to this very day, they don’t have anything to do with me.

I got sober on August 23rd 1994. That lasted until my fourth year of sobriety.

I had a two-year window to learn everything that Todd would feed me, in learning how to survive AIDS, what to do in case of emergencies, and those PEARLS of wisdom he dropped into my life.

With Todd gone from my life, I could not keep it together. People in sobriety were very mean. When I spoke at that meeting at three years sober and was told by another alcoholic that “They did not condone people like me and that I needed to go away and not come back” my fate was sealed and my slip was not far off in the distance.

On my thirtieth birthday I legally changed both my first and last name.

EMANCIPATION…

In my thirty forth year, I moved from the United States to Canada, SOBER.

So here we are, mere weeks after my fiftieth birthday this past July …

On December the 9th, 2017, I will hit Sixteen years of Sobriety.

Hugh Hefner is dead. And Probably every boy with eyes to see, has probably, one time or another, thumbed through a Playboy magazine.

As Catholic as my parents were, and as staunchly, they believed that homosexuality was a sin, punishable by death, pornography was part of our house hold. My father left it out to be consumed. And I did.

I don’t know anything about my brother, save we grew up in the same house. He went on to marry and have three kids. And going on thirty years now, he’s never said a word to me edgewise. I don’t know him, nor his family.

And the last time I saw my mother, was on New Years Day 2001, in Miami Beach, for all of twenty minutes while my father waited for us to visit, while the car was running, parked in a fire zone, in front of the building I once lived in.

When I moved to Montreal, my mother cursed me saying that “If either one of them got sick and died, that nobody would call me nor tell me where they were buried.

I never spoke to my mother again, but three times, in the past sixteen years.

Last Summer, 2016, I called my mother to tell her that my cousin Carol had died.

Her response …

“You were a mistake and should never have been born.”

You know, at forty-nine years old, those words still stung. It took me months to get over hearing her say that to me AGAIN. Having heard those words come out of BOTH their mouths for the whole of my life.

That’s my truth about Hugh Hefner and Pornography.