Some people may think that this is easy to share so publicly what is usually such a private condition. I assure you all it is never easy to reveal the secret life of an addict yet, if I have learned anything during the past 13 years of sobriety it is this absolute truth: we are as sick as our secrets. Every secret I keep holds me back from a shameless life.
I wanted to share a few paragraphs from the emails I received yesterday. The ones that so precisely describe my own condition and seem to affect so many other people.
“I am living without TV and Internet at home right now, and Duncan, it is a pleasure! That was my addiction, 10 hours a day or more. The TV on, watching anything I could record, on my laptop doing really nothing.”
Internet and TV addiction. Zoning out on either means that I can no longer have a TV in my house and have to severely limit my Internet use. Inertia and procrastination. It may seem odd to some of you (especially as I am a film director) but both TV and the Internet grip me from the moment I come into contact with them. I don’t particularly care what I am watching-indeed when I lived in NYC I would watch the Home Shopping Network or QVC deep into the night. Why QVC? Because commercials irritated me and the HSN/QVC don’t have commercials. To put your minds at ease: I was never compelled to buy a Princess Diana Doll or a cover all face powder but I loved the passion of the sales men and women. In a complicated world their simplicity beguiled me.
“As for sex.. I had plenty in college like most people. I enjoyed it, now, being 27, the only sex that i crave is with someone I am in love with. I have not been in love in 4 years. The hooking up scene to me is old. Plus it helps that the gays in this are all superficial bastards. If you do not look like an Abercrombie model, they have no interest in you. One thing that has boggled my mind is the increase of bare backing! Why would anyone, not in a healthy loving relationship, want to expose themselves to a health threat that could kill em. It is just crazy.”
Bare backing-the scourge of gay community. Formerly the preserve of a few fetishistic ‘bug chasers’ bare backing (unprotected sex) is now de rigueur in the gay community. Commercials for anti viral drugs featuring Abercrombie type guys convince a generation of young gay men that HIV is no different from diabetes and can be managed with drugs-albeit expensive drugs that one is required to take for the rest of ones life. Thankfully, I am HIV negative and want to keep it this way. However, many men my age are ditching their condoms and their caution for ‘manageable HIV’. It is a travesty that the drug companies are allowed to go unchallenged by the gay community. Our politics have been high jacked by the gay marriage debate so issues of health and mental health are simply ignored.
“I just turned 46 last week and out of those 46 years, I was a sex addict probably 30 of those years. I have been sober from drugs and alcohol for the almost 12 yrs. I don’t want to get into detail, because I am sure you know the drill. Needless to say, I acted out constantly. I had no personal life and didn’t really see a LTR in my future. This addiction made drugs and alcohol seem like kids play.”
This, sadly, is the email that I get most from most gay men, the story that I am most personally familiar with. Trading the idea of a long-term relationship for a life of sexually acting out. It is our greatest problem and remains totally ignored by the gay press; the straight press yet needs the most attention. It is the secret that we are sick as.
As I found out from my gay brethren we are utterly unable to have any kind of meaningful discussion about our sex conduct. The gay press has totally ignored my presence on Sex Rehab for this reason. I expected it. Yet, if this unhealthy sexual behavior were not killing us, making us miserable I would not have appeared on the show. It is essential that our voices are heard and heard-by each other.
The last email I want to share with you comes from a startlingly handsome 21 years old.
“I never knew u were a sex addict as well. Its funny because I have been struggling with porn addiction also, I felt the same way when I came to America, used masturbation to help me cope.”
The gay men who are most threatened by the message of healthy sexuality are those who believe that it is only the unattractive, elderly or somehow impaired gay who want to wreck it for everyone else. It is obvious from our pornography, our clubbing, our drugging, our hook up sites, our literature, and the incidence of newly diagnosed syphilis and HIV infections that our sexual behavior needs scrutiny.
I am not in the business of taking anything away from anyone. However, it would be irresponsible of me not to at least try and reach out to a community that I love and have served loyally as an artist all my life with a message of hope.
PS Thankyou Dr Drew Pinski for sharing my blog with your Twitter followers. It made all the difference.