Tuesday: Let’s Talk About Sex !


You know a meeting is going to be interesting, when we hit page 69, in the Big Book. The Paragraph that begins with … Now About Sex !

A fellow who is a bit dyslexic, shared last night, that instead of going to page 69, he went to page 96, where it says:

Do not be discouraged if your prospect does not respond at once. Search out another alcoholic and try again. You are sure to find someone desperate enough to accept with eagerness what you offer …

Kind of apropos when you go back to page 69, and we hit the sex inventory.

Sex is a taboo topic across the board.

Yet, sex is one of those issues that either keeps people suffering in their addictions, because let’s face it, sex and alcohol, go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other, can you? OR, sex, is one of those issues that send people back out to drink and use again, because they cannot either, one, face the issue head on, or, two, cannot get enough of it.

Shame, Fear and Guilt rank right up at the top of the list of reasons why we shy away from this topic. I mean really, I don’t know one single old-timer, in my time, in the room, who dared even to ask about my sex inventory. What straight man or woman wants to hear a gay man’s tale of woe?

Both men and women feel Shame, Fear and Guilt. Equally. 

They just rarely admit that in open community.

Everybody struggles with this question … How can I have sex sober, when all I know is sex while drunk and high? Many of my gay male friends struggle. I don’t have all the answers. All I know is what worked for me.

We all know the First Year Rule… No relationships for the first year.

How many people, follow that advice ? NOT MANY !!!

Really, do we really know ourselves in early sobriety, if we have not written a complete and honest (what is considered honest, in your first year) inventory ? Do we really know what makes us tick, if our sponsors don’t run through the ENTIRE inventory process ?

We all struggle. We just won’t openly admit that to many. Even our sponsors.

Until we do a fifth step and our sponsors look at us and say … YEP I did that !!!

I heard many good things last night. Honesty and forthrightness is common in our Monday group of young people. They are starving, well, not necessarily starving, but they are eager to jump right into dicey discussions, because we don’t often, NOT often enough, speak about this topic.

One of my friends says that sex is like oxygen. You need both, on a daily basis. And if he needs to check how sober he is, on any given day, he looks at his sex conduct.

When my father died, I wrote my sex inventory, in a letter to my brother. Telling him the story he needed to hear, right from the horse’s mouth.

My sex education began at home. With reading material my father had left out for public consumption. My father, when I hit puberty, in my early teens, did talk to me about sex, because he thought that would be helpful to me. Sadly, I was already gay by then, and he did not mention men to me at all.

In school, sex education began in Junior High. That was an eye-opening portion of our lessons. Right down to the actual birth of a baby, live and in color, in film format.

When I moved away to be Gay, alcohol, I was told, would “grease the wheels.” All I had to do was sit in a bar and drink, and wait for fireworks.

Back in the day, we all had certain assets. I knew what mine were.

Nightly BINGO was on the table, all the time. I moved into an apartment complex, right near the Tragic Queendom. That little section of town, just off Hotel Plaza Boulevard, was chock full of complexes filled with boys who worked in the Queendom.

Yes, that’s right … MANY a gay boys work at the Tragic Queendom.

If there was alcohol, drugs were not far behind. And sex, well, that was a given. I loved that period of time, mainly for “some” of the people who were alive back then. I could care less about many of the boys I was involved with. Because, let’s face it, we were not men in our twenties, because the mainstay of my twenties was irresponsibility.

Really not a MAN quality for sure.

I got burned more often than I cared to admit or cared for. Sad really. But who knew, I was in it for the long haul way back when? I did not hit that point, until I hit the ripe age of thirty-five.

There was no book on good gay sex, or how to be a good gay man. I mean, I knew how to date, and drink, and have sex. Beyond that, all bets were off. Rent needed to be paid and food put in the fridge, stuff like that.

Blender or Bottle …
The one relationship, I was truly fond of was Charlie. I really liked him. We spent a lot of time together, watching Mary Poppins, drinking and having sex. I don’t know what it was, but he was the real deal. There was no ruse or pretension. We both knew what we wanted from each other, and I think that was what was the difference from all the other boys I had dated in that period of time.

Either he or I would call and ask only one question. Bottle or Blender. If that was the question asked, sex was imminent.

No fuss, no bull shit.

Money was hard to come by, for me. Even when I was employed for what little time, I remember being employed. A lot of the time, I think about the time I spent traveling from point A to point B. Riding the Orlando, Daytona corridor and up to the Palm Coast, down to Fort Lauderdale and even Miami.

The pivotal period of time came when I hit twenty-five. And on that auspicious night I walked into the Stud, for the very first time. I had darkness in my heart and mind, and from the shadows, off stage, Todd (read: God) was watching.

Todd, the only human being, in my life, that harnessed the Power of God.

Knew, from our very first conversation, what was going on in my head. And in one fluid action, he sealed that deal for me. And endeared me to himself forevermore.

He knew, I wanted something hard. Little did I know, then, that He would have my better interest in mind. Because He did.

That fantasy life, I thought I wanted and dreamed and pined about, never came to fruition. Not Ever. Not One drop from that well.

Even working in a leather bar all those years did not produce one drop of sweet, dark, nectar. Even when I begged a certain couple to engage me.

Boulder-dash !!!

Todd was protecting me from myself, all along. And let’s face the reality, no one wanted to have sex with a man with AIDS, at least me, for that matter. Because many other infected men were riding the hobby-horse, all over the place. I just could not tap that well, for the life of me.

ONCE … not long into the drama, I was bar tending one night, and I happened upon someone who drew a fancy to me. It was probably the shorts and leather I was wearing that particular night.

After hours, we hit the COPA for drinks and some dancing. Later we went to his place to do the deed. I needed to DISCLOSE.

We were half-naked walking in the front door, and I just blurted it out. It was the first time, I would have had sex, after my diagnosis. I may have been deathly sick, but I looked good doing it, for better or worse.

I saw fear cross his brow … I never watched some one put their close back on so fast in my life. It was like the SLO MO film being rolled backwards right in front of me.

He asked me to leave and never speak to him again. And for that matter, he continued to patronize the bar, for the next year, ignoring me like I did not even exist.


A few years into sobriety, I hit that wall of people in the rooms, who did not want me around them. Which sent me into my head, and opened that chasm of the HOLE in my SOUL. And that whole sordid affair with a slip, drugs and alcohol.


We cannot live in If Only’s though.

Today, I know very well, that I cannot be trusted, in many cases, to my own thoughts alone. If for one moment, I don’t use the barometer check, I am in trouble.

All I need to do is close my eyes and visualize Todd. And ask one question:


What would Todd Do ???

When I met hubby, fifteen years ago, we had a short few months of dating and sex, and shaking up together, before the walls caved in on us, and he got very sick. From his nervous breakdown, to today, I can count on one hand, the number of times we have had sex, in fourteen years.

Because within his treatment for Bi-Polar disorder, what the doctors did not tell me, when we began his treatment, was this …

The man who went into treatment, was NOT the man I got on the backside.

Those toxic drugs cleaved away half of his brain. And the man I knew from me. He was entirely another human being when he woke from his slumber off the sofa.

Lazarus might have been raised from the dead, but he was no longer Lazarus.

In the gay world, disease is a deal breaker. Some said walk away, others counseled me to stay the course. I stayed the course. And a good thing too.

Relationships are not all about sex when intimacy is the goal. The good thing today, is that we have intimate time together. Sleeping next to each other, napping, or at night, is a most intimate time for both of us.

Just laying next to him in bed is just something else.

The breathing, the rhythm. The quiet. Intimate …

We reviewed our conduct over the years past. Where had we been selfish, dishonest or inconsiderate? Whom had we hurt? Did we unjustifiably arouse jealousy, suspicion or bitterness? Where were we at fault, and what should we have done instead?

In this way we tried to shape a sane and sound ideal or our future sex life. We subjected each relation to this test – was it selfish or not? We asked God to mold our ideals and help us live up to them. We remembered always that our sex powers were God-given and therefore good, neither to be used lightly or selfishly nor to be despised and loathed.

Whatever our ideal turns out to be, we must be willing to grow toward it.

I can honestly answer these questions today. I know what my ideal is. One thought that always reminds me of who hubby was, and is, is this …

I never want to break his heart.

And for that I am eternally grateful.

In the Hour of Need


“I know how you feel, let me tell you what I did …”

If you need to pray for spiritual help,
Saint’s John Paul II and Mother Teresa are your best bets…

You never know when life is going to turn on a dime and force you to face reality in a way you did not expect.

My best friend suggested I find someone (outside the fellowship) to talk to. And I had a contact up my sleeve. Last week, I made contact with a friend who was my academic adviser, mentor, professor and friend or many years.

We met when I began University in my second year of sobriety.

At that time, the run up to the Iraq war had begun, and expats here in Montreal, were marching in the streets. Not to mention everyone who joined in as Canadians. \

That was my first foray into Montreal Demonstrations. Let me tell you, Montrealer’s really know HOW to Demonstrate. We do it for any kind of reason, and we have the numbers to prove it.

Back then I was warned to sew Canadian flags to my backpack, so as to not get singled out and pummeled by demonstrators. That was a rude awakening for sure.

When I moved here, back in 2002, I was not settled in the life I wanted just YET.

I had one foot in the South, and one foot in the North.

I had not figured out my loyalty or where I stood in the world, because, I had made the move, but it took time to find my feet, so to speak.

Today I am 100% Canadian. Both my feet are firmly planted in Canada.

I have only one connection to the U.S. which is necessary, because it pays our rent.

I reminded my friend today of sage advice he had given me all those years ago, because it applied to our conversation today.

Not knowing where to turn or what to do, and not trusting myself just yet, I needed to learn how to navigate the city, the university and my life.

My friend said this:





I thought I needed to talk to my friend. In the end, I think he needed to talk to me.

My life is littered with little pieces of information, across a wide spectrum of topics. Like I said before, there are things I KNOW, for CERTAIN.

Life and Death are two of those certainties.

You never know what is gonna come at you. I sat with my friend, in the same cafe, that I spent 3 months talking to Elder’s Christensen and Sorensen. That is where I was introduced to the LDS Faith.

That was a whole other discussion. Let’s not go there.

Let’s just say that, that particular coffee shop, holds a very important place in my heart because that was where Spencer and I became best of friends.

I have a little of Spencer within me, which was very useful to me today.

My friend’s initial email said that … A lot had changed since we last saw each other, and somewhere, deep within me, I knew that the news was not going to be good. I was prepared for that possibility today.

I was right.

I know what it feels like to have someone tell me that I was gonna die. And I know what it feels like when someone close to you says the same thing, that they are going to die.

Today, my friend told me that he was terminal. That he had small cell Cancer, and that there was no cure, that every two months he goes for scans and right now, things are ok, but Fuck, you never know do you ?

What do you do in cases like these ? Swallow hard and try to find the right words to comfort and of understanding.

Been there, done that.

Spencer said to me earlier that I was in the right place for the right reason.

That my friend needed to talk to me, more than I needed to talk to him.

Spiritually speaking, we both are from Religious backgrounds. He teaches and IS an Anglican Priest. He was my teacher when I was working on my B.A. in Religion.

We both are Papabile.

And he knows my take on Saint John Paul II.

John Paul II always said that suffering is Salvific.

That there is saving grace in suffering, that suffering is something humans must do, it is unavoidable. Looking at it spiritually through John Paul II’s lens … We are saved through our suffering.

For many, many years, as a pope watcher, I studied John Paul II intimately. Like I have studied Francis intimately too.

I jokingly said to my friend today that maybe he should pray to John Paul. You never know when the intercession of a saint might work.

He admitted that he was in the Final Season of his life, and that he really needed to know what his calling was to be at this juncture of time. I asked him the very same question.

I told him what I did and how it felt. He told me to listen to God and to survey my life and see what I do well. And maybe, in determining what I do well, just might be, in certainty, what I need to do now.

We asked the same question of each other, HE had the answer for both of us.

Normal, mortal, human beings, never think about death and dying until it hits them squarely between the eyes.

We in fact, my friend as professor and I as student, had a class together called:
Death and Dying.

Nobody thinks about dying till they lose a parent or child. That is the ultimate loss. Friends and extended family, might be serious, but the further you travel from the trunk of the tree, the less the sting.

Having experience in Death and Dying, sets me apart from all of my friends and fellows. I have knowledge that not many people have inside of them, because I have been to the graveyard myself and picked out my plot.

Then I survived and realized that I did not need it.

While working at the bar, all those years ago, Todd’s lover Bob, lay in the graveyard that was located just across the street from the bar itself. Todd knew death already. And around us the next onslaught of death was taking place.

Todd kept me too busy to focus on dying.

That Pin Point Precision knowledge saved my life.

I know that with the utmost certainty.

If it were not for Todd’s Love and Grace,
(read: If not for God’s Love and Grace) I would not be here right now.

We all will die but it is not up to us to make the decision as to when.

However some want that choice here in Canada, to choose their own route, method and date. I want that choice for myself, I do really. I’m not going to end up in some hospital shitting in a diaper, unable to speak or feel.

I am going to go out on my own terms.

Today began another journey of walking someone I love to the final gate.

With Courage, Love and Compassion.

Friday: Trying to Maintain …


The world has turned upside down. Thankfully, I am still sober. I know what I must do to maintain. Perfection is but an illusion. Imperfection is the truth. The answer is within as long as one can be quiet enough to hear it.

This week has not been easy at all. I don’t remember the last time someone said to me that they were sick, and were in a hospital, being diagnosed with a virulent strain of PCP Pneumonia. An opportunist infection, indicative of a sero-conversion event, that has resulted in a flat AIDS diagnosis. This did not happen just Once, it happened Twice.

A very good friend, and his equally familiar husband, have BOTH been diagnosed with AIDS over the past few months. Sadly, an email I did not receive months ago, came to me last night, and I learned of these two diagnoses.

My one friend, had his pneumonia and his doctor told him that he was very sick, and that she would no longer be his doctor. Thankfully a Nigerian doctor took over and began the arduous job of trying to keep my friend alive. Last night we also learned that he has Lymphoma. What type of Lymphoma will not be know till next week.

Sadly, Had I known this information months ago, when the email was first sent to me, we may have been able to avoid what is going on right now with him.

Another friend, is preparing to receive a very serious guest here in the city, and the planning of mental healthcare has begun for him.

Things had been stable for a while now, and it seemed, it was just prep for the shit hitting the fan this week, all at once, and all at the same time.

I’ve come to the point in my journey right now that I need to sit back and be quiet. I need to listen and I need to stop taking on people and situations that are just not good for me, for a myriad of reasons.

With that in mind, I have turned my attention to the Buddhist Boot Camp, and Timber Hawkeye. I need a little direction and some simple spiritual truths at the moment.

I can’t help anyone, if my bank is empty. I need to empty my vessel, so it can be filled. I need some serious sleep, because I have not been sleeping well at all. And I have been agitated beyond my comfort zone with people in the program, locally.

I am too agitated to sit in certain meetings right now, seeing I walked out of a meeting, prematurely on Sunday last. Something I don’t usually do, ever. Now I know, why I am agitated, and I know what to do to calm myself.

There is no perfect solution to sobriety. Because there are no perfect examples in my sphere of friends. I need to stick to certain routines and meetings and people.

We may loose some people … And I know this intimately.

The Garden of the Sacred …


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…

Memories of a Time Gone By: Day 5

Tom Hanks Philadelphia

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.

Friday: Try …


Sometimes TRY is what we have to do to survive. And not some simple try, but a gut wrenching, painful, walk through hell, TRY.

Try becomes something entirely different when faced with certain INCURABLE death.

Nobody except those of us who have had to TRY, understand this kind of effort, and what kind of mental and emotional energy we are putting forth to survive.

First World people don’t really know what TRY really means until they are standing on the firing line faced with their own mortality.

We are taught in the First World, as we grow up, that we must get an education, and graduate at the top of our classes, get a job, make a home, find a wife and pop out a few kids along the way.

This is not a TRY proposition. It is a societal YOU MUST DO THIS proposition. The notion of TRY is not even present. It is something we must do, as taught to us by our parents and society around us.

This is a DO proposition. And NOT a YODA “There is no TRY only DO” action.

An old-timer quoted YODA in the meeting tonight.

For those of us who grew up in the Star Wars years, we all know this character and his teachings. There are many who incorporated Star Wars into our lives, in one way or another.

Growing up in the home I grew up in, I was constantly TRYING to do the right thing, living with parents who called me a mistake and continually reminded me that I should never have been born. They still believe this, TO THIS DAY.

Imagine that kind of stress, when you are trying to grow up like your friends.

I tried. I did the best I could do, until the time came for me to go out into the world.

The man I listened to said; that in order to belong that I had to TRY his method of entry.

I had to TRY to walk into a bar, take a seat and have a couple of drinks. That if I tried this, it would guarantee me acceptance.

For years after, I kept TRYING and I kept FAILING.

Instead of acceptance, I ended up sunk in alcoholism.

The end game did come, this week, twenty-three years ago.

That last morning, sitting in a bar at 7 a.m. I tried one last time.

It might have been exciting for the few hours that TRY lasted, in the end, that action of TRY took me to the end game for which I ended up in.

I TRIED to fit in, to become one with all. That was a HUGE failure.

On the day that doctor said to me that “This is the end, kiss your ass goodbye, go home and prepare to die,” There was no more TRY for me.

This was the end.

It was good that I had a card up my sleeve, in hindsight.

I called Todd, and he came to me and said “NO you’re not gonna die, not on my watch.”

The very last TRY I attempted, I certainly TRIED to kill myself, because I was not going to die a miserable death like my friends. I was going to go out on my own terms.

Todd (read: GOD) had other plans.

He set me on a path of TRY that changed my life. And it saved my life.

Every night, as I walked into that bar, He asked me to TRY, just for that particular night, and every night after. He gave me the space to TRY, making mistakes all along the way. Every mistake ended up in a lesson about life.

Can you imagine what it felt like to know you were dying, watching your friends drop to their knees, drinking and drugging their way to their graves, and know what the end game looked like, but at the same time, you were floating just above the water, safe from that gut destruction, because someone who loved you asked you to just TRY.

You have no idea what that felt like. Nobody does, except those of us who survived that war of sickness and death.

First World humans who get life changing news from their doctors, face this same kind of threat. Some sickness can be cured. Some people do survive.

However, many do not.

A death sentence of sickness is the same across the board. But a sickness that has no drugs to cure it, nor doctors to treat it, and a system of healthcare that did not exist, even in the late 1990’s, is a totally different BEAST.

And First World humans were celebrating in the streets and in their churches, they were celebrating in huge numbers the fact that us FAGS were getting what we DESERVED.

That Hell was a real place, and we were on our ways there.

Imagine what that felt like.

I know what that felt like, because those words came out of my parents mouths.

Todd asked me to trust him and to just TRY.

I cannot begin to describe what that kind of TRY felt like. I can, but I know, my words fall on deaf ears, because First World Humans really don’t care about us.

I TRIED my way into survival. As long as Todd was there, monitoring my effort to TRY, it worked. But when he left, my TRY lost steam, because I did not know how to TRY on my own. I just did not know how to do it any more.

I went to meetings for a while, and I was trying to stay sober. I did as some asked of me, within the rooms. I was trying to build a home, and I did that.

On that night I was asked to TRY in a room, to share experience, strength and hope, with what I knew about Experience, Strength and Hope then, I did not know what that meant. Not like I know it today.

How do you try any longer, when sober men come to you and say that “We don’t condone your lifestyle and you need to go away and not come back,” How does one continue to try when people in the program turn you away and ask you to GO ???

Left to my own devices, I TRIED life on my own terms, on my OWN WILL, ALONE.

Cue the SLIP music.

In the last year of my drinking, Delusional as it was, I was right back in the mix of “In order to belong, you’re gonna have to drink your way in.”

You really cannot TRY in a black out.

When I got to my bitter end, the only thing I could do was to PRAY.

At least I was still alive to pray.

God listened to my prayers. He sent the answer to my prayer.

I had returned to healthy TRY once again.

I sure as shit could not trust myself to do anything right. ALONE.

One step at a time, one day at a time, I tried to stay sober. I listened to people talk. I listened to books being read to me, because I could not really read them myself.

Gifts from God began to come to me and I ended up moving to Montreal.

A New Life was on the horizon. For the first time in my life, with the right people in my life and the right advice, I tried every day.

Fifteen and a half years later, I am still TRYING.

The past year has been TRYING on me emotionally.

And I learned the hard way, what TRY really means to sober people who claim to be sober, yet walk away when the tough gets going.

Many people did NOT TRY to help me. They did not TRY at all.

My friends walked away, because their limited perceptions were, LIMITED.

I am not perfect, yet I TRY, every day.

I have one friend, here in Montreal, who challenges me quite forcefully. A week does not go by, without him giving me certain advice about my TRY.

My best friend, who lives in Ottawa, is the only friend I have who tries, every day, to be part of my life.

NONE of my other friends TRY like He does.

But, If I go to a meeting, there, they try. They don’t TRY very hard, outside of the room.

I talked to a good friend of mine tonight, that I had not seen in a while. I told him, how TRYING life has been on me, and that I was still his friend, and that he can rely on me.

He knows I am trying my best to be the best version of ME. Today …

I am still alive today because I believe in TRY.

TRY works. So if you are on the fence with something in your life:

All you got to do is Let Go, and Let God, and you gotta just TRY.

Memories of a Time Gone By: Day 2

Tom Hanks Philadelphia

Tuesday July 5th, 1994

I got up this morning, with one item on my list of things to do today, and Josh did not sleep all night and was restless and upset. I got him up and ready for work and I drove him to work, and then proceeded to the clinic where my friend Ken was working.
It was in a little “medical mall” type building. The offices were on the second floor of the suites. I parked the car, put up the top and sat in silence and I prayed. “If there is a God up there, please, whatever happens, I am not ready to die.”

I find it peculiar that certain prayers at certain times remain locked in my memory on certain days of my life. I locked the car and walked the fifty feet across the parking lot and went into the office, where I was asked to take a seat and wait. Do you know what it feels like to be told “hurry up and wait?” I just wanted to get this show on the road.

You see, where I worked, at the nightclub, Ken, my friend, was the nurse for the masses. He worked off hours at the free clinic, he donated time to events, and he did home visits and took care of all of our friends who are now dead, at that time, so he had seen a lot of friends die in the five years we lived in Ft. Lauderdale. He was a very emotional man, who wore his heart on his sleeve and I knew that.

This was a hard week for him; any new diagnosis is hard when you are such close friends and part of a dynamic community where everyone knows each other intimately. We had seen each other over the weekend at the bar; I worked all weekend long. He knew that I was sick; because he was the one I went to when things got dicey. I think he knew as I did, but I think we both wanted things to be different. Alas, they weren’t.

Ken was preparing himself to do what he had to do and keep a straight face and be strong in front of me, you know, be positive about things, and keep up appearances so that I would not crack under the pressure.

It was time. Ken came and got me and escorted me to the lab, and he did not look me in the eye the entire time I sat there, tears falling from his face. It was quick, and painless. Afterwards he sent me off into my day. I signed the papers and went for the door; Ken was right behind me. He walked me to my car, and stopped and he sobbed in my arms. I was relatively calm. You see I was only 26 years old, and many of our friends had been gruesomely sick and died long drawn-out deaths. It was NOT pretty; many of my friends had KS, and cancer and some of my friends lost their minds and many of them died alone, because friends, lovers and family had thrown them out on the streets to die. Ken and I were people who cared for these people from the day they were diagnosed until the day they died. It was sad.

He said that he would call me in a few days and let me know when the tests come back…

And he tried to leave it at that.

I grabbed him and looked into his eyes and I told him,

“I know, and when you call I will know, just by the tone of your voice!”

He kissed me goodbye and I went on with my day.

I don’t remember what I did to pass the time until Josh got off work, but we tried to live normally and not get too upset over things. All I remember is that once the word went around that I had gone for the test, my friends started pulling away. It was the longest week of my life.