When I was a boy, merely 25 years old, I met Todd the first night I walked into his bar. i was looking for trouble and he knew that from the first time he set eyes on me.
We had a conversation, and if you looked into Todd’s eyes, you would have thought that you were looking into the eyes of God, Jesus. I knew from that moment I needed to know him. And so I set out a plan to work for him, which did come to pass, soon thereafter.
I don’t know if you are familiar with gay subculture, it might not be something you’ve ever encountered before. But before i got sick (at 26) a year and a few months prior, Todd opened a second bar, where I was employed.It was a rough and tumble leather bar. You know, leather clothing, rough and tumble clientele, all that jazz.
It was the world I sought out, after the education in Gay I got from my father, I knew exactly what it was I was looking for, and the night I first met Todd, he knew that as well, without ever having me to explain it to him. There was only one reason I walked into his bar, and it wasn’t for pleasant conversation.
When I got sick, and told Todd I was going to die, he told me Not on his watch.
Todd became my Master, My Protector, My Guide, My Friend, all the while he was my employer.
Every man in our world knew that Todd was on my side, and they knew, by His Words, never to touch me or engage me physically or sexually.
I was protected from the get go, without my knowledge at that time. He passed a decree in the bar, and everybody obeyed his rules while under his roof. Nobody ever touched me. And I did not have sex with anyone for a very long time. It was a bitter pill after I had found the holy grail of what I really desired, but Todd, like I said, knew that from the get go, and he knew that if I was allowed to explore my darkest fantasies, I would end up in real trouble or even dead.
Too many of my young brothers got mixed up with the wrong men and all of them died. I was the only one who lived in that grouping along with my friend mark, who now lives in Florida. He was the dj in the bar. And I worked with him too in the dj booth.
In the beginning when I was in my head about death, Todd has to curb me in and sort me out. And the relationship we formed did that for me, because he knew what he was doing, and I am still alive here with you, so he did something right from the beginning.
The chain and lock, is a significant item of clothing between two men. We call it a collar. The collar, in our world, signifies that we have been spoken for, because the man who provided it to us, is the man we are in relation to. it is a ritualistic piece of clothing, because it is not an item freely given to just anyone. But it shows that the man who gives it, thinks we are worthy to wear it, and respect the man who gave it to us. It marks us as untouchable to other men in the leather world, that we are “Spoken for.”
And other men see that outward token on us and they know to leave us alone.
Wearing a collar is an outward sign of inward desire. Todd will always be the man who saved my life. He was the Master of my sinking ship, that he kept from sinking. Nobody else did that for me. He chose me to save, and he could have saved any random other boy in that bar, but before all the others he chose me. He loved me. And I knew that. And for the rest of my life I think of him daily when I get up in the morning and I am still alive.
You know, I am tired of some of our sober men in the rooms. All I get from them is critical judgment about my weight, my body, and my choice of clothing. And that irks me to no end. because I am not going to become a fifty plus year old frumpy miserable man, like they are.
I fucking work my ass off, I am in the book, I work with others, and I do service. I do a hell of a lot more than many of those men, but they would never criticize my sobriety openly, because I work my ass off and they come and sit in judgment and are miserable. And I see that and I know what I’ve done, and how I got here. And I know what they do not do on any given day in sobriety.
Yesterday morning I went to Home Depot and bought the chain and lock I am wearing right now, because it reminds me of the commitment I had with Todd and that he had with me, and how he loved me more than any other boy in the world then. And I thought to myself that I would no longer hide the most important part of who I am because of some assholes in the meeting, if they cannot deal they can go fuck themselves.
Nobody can take my story away from me, because I am the ONLY gay man who survived AIDS on the English side, Everyone else is dead, and all the gay men we know together, don’t want anything to do with me, because of their prejudices and judgments. You saw how they treated me when I was at my worst when we were at that Monday meeting for those 14 months.
So I am wearing an outward sign of inward desire.
Todd is in my heart and in my soul, and honoring that man for the rest of my life, as I do, just grew out in another dimension in my outward life.
It does not make me sick, or demented. Because most straight men, think I am demented to begin with, so that is a no brainer.
It just means I was loved, by a man who saved my life, when I was supposed to die. The last word I will utter on my death bed will be Todd’s name.