Wednesday: Open Doors

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Keeping it together, when we mourn loss, is sometimes sketchy. Emotions come and go, just like feelings. The farther from the point of impact, one gets, doesn’t necessarily put one in the clear. This is so true, depending on the circumstances of the loss.

Our kids are mourning.

I think, all of us, who are adults, feel for them deeply. Even more, if we, ourselves have children of our own. It is terrible and sinful that trolls in space have been demeaning and degrading the suffering of our kids.

I’ve heard it sad today that the next President needs to be a rousing, angry bunch of kids. They are on the march, and they are moving society and a nation, all by themselves. Albeit, with some superpower support from some in Very High Places.

I grew up in Florida. Over my lifetime, growing up, we had seen our fair share of crime that hit our home several times. But life was safe. I mean seriously, when I was an elementary school kid, we had keys to the house and we would come home after school and have all afternoon to hang out and play.

Our schools were safe. We really never saw the kind of violence that our kids have seen over the last ten to fifteen years. People had guns, but, if memory serves, we never thought about using them on each other.

Let alone, on our Kids …

I don’t ever remember any kid I knew, in any school I attended who had problems or issues that would have pushed them to kill innocents, because they walked into a gun shop and bought an automatic weapon, just for kicks.

There were plenty of guns in our house. And we used to go out to the Everglades and shoot cans and rocks. And there are always plenty of guns shows that used to pop up all over the place. But guns were not so much an issue when I was a kid, not to the extent guns are an issue today.

We need smart, and proper gun control.

We need to vote OUT those politicians who are in bed with the N.R.A. All those men and women who have taken SIX DIGIT SUMS from the N.R.A. for their continued
SHUT UP NESS.

We need to wrest control of society from all those who think that guns don’t kill people, and that guns are the constitutional way of life for everyone. Because that is the way it is for so many today. We need human beings in government, because the government is a mockery and a joke.

We need Serious change. And if anyone can do that, OUR KIDS CAN.

Stand with our kids. Support them. Love them. Raise them up.

Over the past little while, I have been posting stuff on Facebook for my friends I grew up with to read, because they all knew my father, and my family, all too well.

What I did not expect was what happened today.

I had been grocery shopping and my little “granny cart that could” was straining to hold everything that I had packed in it for the walk home. On the way back, I ran into a friend I got sober with, all those years ago.

He is of Native decent. And he is sober, almost as long as I am. after he got sober, a few years in, he went to work on the streets of Montreal, caring for the Inuit and Native populations who are strewn all over the city. He has an office, in Cabot Square, right up the street from home, and that is where we found each other this afternoon.

We are friends on Facebook, but we don’t connect there. He has been reading my writings, as they went up. And he was really excited to hear of recent events concerning my father.

He told me to mind my dreams and pay attention to them seriously. Because he said that if I am being visited, it is because my doors are open.

My doors have been open for the whole of my life, is why family, all returns to me after they have passed on. I shared with him that story earlier.

People don’t have to like us he said. Some people are just angry, and may not accept who we are today, even if we are sober. Trying to make restitution and goodness, sometimes is hard in coming. And sometimes we don’t succeed.

The one thing we have in our favor, is that We Are Sober Today.

I needed to hear his words today. They went right where they were needed.

You can always count on your friends. At least I can.

Always keep your doors open …

Octave of Epiphany

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Epiphany fell on January 6th. My father passed away on the following day, Sunday January 7th. I did not realize the solemnity of the weekend until I was sitting in church this morning, at the memorial mass that my friend and mentor, Reverend Donald Boisvert celebrated for me.

Sunday, January 7th was actually the Baptism of the Lord. Mark 1:4-11.

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And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.  John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

The weather was cold. There is snow piled up all over the place. At least the sidewalks are all cleared of snow, and it is piled up against the streets. Cars are buried as well.

We sat a small group for the memorial mass this morning.

This story, the baptism of Jesus, takes place at the Jordan River. One of my favorite authors, Brooks Hansen, wrote a book called “John the Baptizer” in it is a very compelling visual of John and his disciples, on the bank of the Jordan, as many people are coming from all points far and wide to see John, and to be baptized by him.

One of the early disciples, Andrew, shows up at the Jordan with the fellow-man named Nathaniel. Nathaniel does not make it into the twelve, but plays a prominent role in the story, as well as the Gospel teachings.

Andrew leaves his family, after feeling like a shroud is cast over him and he seeks to find something within. For a couple of days, he sits with Nathaniel on the banks of the Jordan, till the Sabbath, when John baptizes.

One odd day, a man from Nazareth shows up among the crowd. Every body recognizes him as a Nazorean, by his dress and his looks. The story that unfolds is legend, where Andrew, Nathaniel and the many on the banks of the Jordan, witness the miraculous baptism of Jesus by John.

I mused to my priestly friend after mass, about what my father must have been thinking when his time finally came up. And what took place when he stood before God, and made his peace, and I laughed and said …

Well, he must have gotten up there, and God gave him a very LONG LOOK. They probably had quite the conversation. And as we know, God is all forgiving, and I am sure that Jeannie and Alexander were waiting for him on the other side of the gate to welcome him.

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.