We ate stewed pear salad, grilled chicken and for dessert they served a strange, solid cake.
Of course the work I have been contributing to was just part of what was projected. I was incredibly proud to be asked to stand in front of the 1000 or so people and introduce myself.
Will Ferrell, Jay Roach, Ermin Chemerinsky and Jane Lynch all spoke beautifully on behalf of the ACLU and their various causes and friends.
During the interval both Usher (the singer) and Scooter Braun (2 million twitter followers) took the time to introduce themselves and congratulate me.
Of course, as usual, not one gay person, including honoree Jane Lynch made themselves known to me. The chasm that exists between me and the gay community in LA was even more evident than usual at this event.
Only last week the gay ‘director’ Guy Shalem texted me telling me that I deserved to be in jail… mocking the time that I had spent there, telling me that I only had friends I made in jail.
Guy Shalem is a gay Israeli fame-whore who lives in Los Angeles. I met him at some grimy gay party in the Hollywood Hills last year and he subsequently invited me to Griffith Park for a walk the following day.
The conversation on the mountain centered around his visa problems, his inability to make relationships work, his celebrity friends and his desire for younger boys.
He complained that Outfest were sniffy about his short film. When I saw it I understood why. ”Bruce Vilanch is in it.” He boasted, “They should love it.”
After all, he’s obsessed with celebrity… why shouldn’t Outfest?
So, it was mildly shocking to see Guy at the ACLU event. Wearing a bad suit and even worse shoes.
He had seen the video lauding the work we are all doing for those held on spurious ICE holds.
He heard the applause I received when they asked me to stand.
He heard Hector Villagra, head of the ACLU talking publicly about my personal bravery and commitment to the ACLU.
Guy is the perennial plus one to any gay celebrity. Last night, yet again, he was with Jane Lynch. He saw me, headed toward me and shook my hand. Apparently forgetting the vile things he said last week.
I told him in no uncertain terms how and what I felt about him coming up to me.
He motioned to his ugly short gay friends lawyer Aaron Rosenberg and his ‘husband’ that this was worth watching. They snickered, like vile bullying children, behind my back.
Let’s face it, Guy was only there for the free dinner and to stand with his famous friend and hope to ensnare other famous people with his puppy eyes and his maudlin sob stories.
The point of the evening was completely lost on him.
After I walked away from Guy other honorees came up to me and offered their hands.
One of them, an elderly female philanthropist said, “We are like kindred spirits, you and me.” I was so touched by her generosity.
So many kind people… not one of them gay.
Dude, my fat red dog ran away as fast as he could. The Little Dog stayed beside me as loyal as any dog can be.
I probably should have seen a doctor but, like my Grandmother and my Mother, a visit to the doctor is the last thing I do willingly.
It took an hour or so to persuade Dude to come back to me. For the rest of the day he looked at me differently. Like I was a stranger.
On October 1st I will be 16 years sober.
That means that I have not had a drink or a drug for 16 years.
I got sober and I didn’t relapse.
Gay men find it impossible to stay sober. They relapse again and again. The reason is clear: sex. Sexual addiction. I am not suggesting that all gay men who claim that they are alcoholic are in fact sex addicts but most gay men who can’t stay sober cite sex as the primary reason for relapse.
The simple fact of the matter is that most of the time, readily available anonymous hook ups quickly take the place of alcohol and drugs. When a sober man walks into the apartment of a super hot man doing crystal meth, sobriety is quickly flushed down the toilet along with HIV status.
I hear the story over and over again. Yet, as a community, we think we can get away with this risky behavior. It is an arrogant vanity.
Gay AA is a sad affair. I go periodically—mostly when I flee the super charged straight stag meetings because I find the straight, young newcomers too triggering.
While many straight sober people create a new life with AA that involves abandoning bars and other locations that might lead to relapse, gay sober men often want a sober version of the life they had before, complete with dance parties, bars and gogo boys. Any reason to have a party will do—including the absurd “three-month anniversary.” Or, as one galling invitation I received said, “Help Joe S. celebrate his one-month anniversary.”
Forgive me if I’m wrong but anniversaries are a yearly celebration.
Many of these sober parties are indistinguishable from their non sober equivalent: scantily clad men line up for espresso machines manned by disco short-wearing super hot straight guys more used to shaking cocktails than dispensing coffee to gay guys jacked up on caffeine. Unable to attend drug-crazed gay circuit parties, many gay sober men in LA flock to the sober circuit parties, such as Hot ‘n Dry, which is held annually in Palm Springs. These events are more likely to take someone out than any other reason I’ve ever heard in gay AA. Yearly, after this event, bedraggled gay men turn up at meetings, their eyes blazing from excessive drug use, taking newcomer chips. Should I be surprised? After all, the Hot n’ Dry ticket salesman had assured me that it would be “a sex fest from the moment you arrive at the Ace Hotel.”
The absurd idea that we can behave like we have always behaved as long as we have a deluded and lackluster understanding of the 12 steps just doesn’t work. Two years ago, after I appeared on Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew, I suggested that within the gay community, we might have a sexual unmanageability problem and was flooded with vitriol. But that’s not going to stop me from sharing what I believe to be serious issues.
The other serious issue within gay AA, in my opinion, is the resistance to God or a Higher Power. Most of my gay sponsees are understandably wary of God. The Christian God—the religious God—hasn’t made them feel very welcome in the past and has actually steeped them in shame and misery. To find that at the heart of AA is a God—even if it’s one of their own understanding—is anathema to most gay men. From what I can determine, most gay men just ignore the God part of the 12 steps—a relevant fact when the God part, in my estimation, accounts for roughly 90% of recovery. Working through the God options with gay men can be excruciating. Why bother looking for spiritual validation when they can get immediate validation on Grindr?
I used to love AA in LA; my love for it was actually the reason I first moved to LA. Now I hate it. It’s like a cult—sober grandees ruling over desperate men, the film industry providing the sickest of backdrops: men flaying themselves before agents and film executives in the hope of catching crumbs from the sober table I see this everywhere from the straight stag meetings, where misogyny and homophobia are expressed freely, to the sickest meetings of all: Gay AA in LA.
For all of these reasons and more, last November, after nearly 16 years, I stopped going to AA meetings. I was exhausted, disillusioned and utterly miserable. My last meeting in LA, at the iconic Log Cabin on Robertson in West Hollywood, was a gay meeting attended by 300 gay men.
I couldn’t walk away fast enough.
And yet yesterday, after a nine-month hiatus, I walked into a co-ed meeting in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I was an hour early. I helped set out the chairs in ten neat rows and then I made the coffee. During the meeting, I shared my resentments and my fears and afterwards, a tiny woman called Dianne came up to me and let me have two full barrels of her tough love wisdom.
“It’s time for you to get fucking humble,” she said. “Come back and do fucking 90 in 90 like a newcomer.”
She was right. After months away from AA, I felt spiritually bankrupt. I stopped fighting and did what we are all meant to in the rooms of AA: I gave in.
Later that evening, the young man I helped set up the meeting took me for dinner. We talked recovery. This morning, we had sex. There I was, doing the walk of shame, doubled down. I had once again fucked a newcomer, counting days. It’s my story in AA. The younger men find my honesty irresistible and I can’t say no.
When I first got sober in London, the only gay men I met in AA were old queens at the Eton Square meeting. I met a couple of gay men in NA but within the deluded gay community, at that time, there was a mantra I heard over and over that “quitting was for losers.” Several years later, after celebrities like Boy George got sober, the rooms of AA and NA filled quickly with what we now recognize as gay recovery.
Back then I was accused, by my drinking friends, of being a contrarian—of rocking the boat and spoiling it for the others. As it happened, I was in the vanguard. I remember being hounded by drunken gay men who were outraged that I might, just by being sober, challenge their powerlessness and un-manageability. Of course those very same men now thank me for introducing them to the 12 steps.
After a few months away from AA, I am ready to start again but, as Dianne said, I’ve got to get humble, forget all those years of sobriety and do 90 meetings in 90 days. For the first time in a long time, I value my life. I should have left LA years ago but I’m a tenacious old queen; I didn’t want to let go. Just one more meeting might fix me. Just more line, one more Vodka Tonic and the crazy opera playing in my head might stop.
Walking back into AA in New York was a relief, a joy—just like it used to be. I want to be sober. The only problem getting in the way of that is me. But I know that if I’m going to be able to do it, I’ll have to learn how to say no to sex. As a single gay man, the consequences are dire if I don’t.
This morning Robby picked me up from the house and drove me to Van Nuys.
The handsome deputy in the court room gives me a cheery wave, the clerk courteously holds open the door and even the wicked witch looks softer… more agreeable.
She’s only doing her job. I can’t be too hard on her.
After our short stint in the court we had coffee with my lawyer who is, it turns out, covered in tattoos.
Since 1984 I have been regularly tested for HIV. Since I was Robby’s age.
It has always been a fearful time for me. I’m sure it is for everyone.
I was given the wrong diagnosis in my mid thirties. A confused New York nurse told me I was HIV positive. For three weeks I thought I had it. Until I fled to London and the doctor told me I was perfectly ok.
In those days an HIV positive result meant certain death. The kind of death that included cancerous lesions inside and out. Opportunistic diseases caught from potted plants, cats and canaries. Dramatic weight loss and the most painful end.
Now, of course, HIV just means being wedded to big pharma for the rest of your life, a huge liver and for most people… a new closet to live in.
It occurred to me, as I sat waiting for my result, how I would tell you all if I had contracted HIV.
I live a public life. I am sure that the shame I have heard others talk and write about would envelop me too.
But, as I sat there I decided to tweet the fact that I was there and what I was waiting for. I gave myself no option but to come out and tell you… if I was HIV positive. I knew it wouldn’t be like telling you I had cancer.
I asked the counsellor what would happen if I was HIV Positive? He gave me the medical facts. It didn’t seem that bad. But we all know: it’s not the medical implications… it’s the social implication that packs the negative punch.
In the gay community there is huge prejudice around HIV and AIDS. The frank discussion we need to have about HIV is not being had.
After he read the result I looked obviously shocked. I really did not expect to be negative. In fact, I rather thought I might be seriously ill.
“Why?” He asked.
Because, and it grieves me to tell you this but after JB and I saw each other that last time… I had no way of drowning my fury so I trawled the internet and transformed from the ‘curious top’ to the ‘pig bottom’.
The pig bottom who wants to be fed. I think you know what I mean.
“Just cum in me.” I said. They were very eager to please.
“It was a suicide bid. The only one I knew would work. I hated him so much…”
“Did you hate him? Or you?” The counsellor asked kindly.
I smiled wryly. “I’m still HIV negative.”
“You dodged the bullet.”
You see, I have never been like most gay men… craving sex many times a day. I have never visited a bath house or a cruising park. I rarely meet the men I speak with on-line. I am not like you. I tried it once… not so long ago and it made me feel sick.
Pre bug chasing… I didn’t want to have sex with someone I didn’t know. It kept me negative. I wasn’t about to be shamed into having sex with anyone.
When I was a kid, men would invite me into their homes. The mere acceptance of a cup of tea somehow meant agreeing to full on butt sex.
They try to shame you. Get angry with you… but I fought back. Fuck off. I’m leaving. It saved my life.
Now the youngsters who get HIV are similarly shamed. My friend told me (he’s 24) that a guy he really wanted told him they had to fuck ‘raw’ (unprotected)… when my friend protested his amour said, “What? Don’t you believe me? I’m HIV negative.”
He wasn’t. Now… nor is my friend.
Are we kidding ourselves when we say that we are having protected sex?
There’s outrage because Paris Hilton is disgusted by Grindr. She’s right. We should all be disgusted. My women friends say, “There should be a Grindr for straight people.”
I tell them that a usual Grindr introduction consists of one word: Hung? Then: Clean? Then: Dick Pic?
Women are usually appalled when I tell them the way gay men cut to the chase.
I’m happy that I am HIV negative. I’m happier that my death wish has been thwarted. I’m happier still that all that hate and self hate came to nothing.
Writing my film has had a wonderfully cathartic effect on me. He is just a distant memory.
Even though I see him daily on the page he now exists as I want him to. Suffer and thrive the way I want him to… without ever having to suffer myself.
Today… today was a good day to be HIV negative.
Dawn. So much to be grateful for.
One day, when the storm has past, I will tell you everything. Not just the pretty pictures. Not just the elegant parties.
Saw Premium Rush with John and Valoree Papsidera at a plush private screening room.
An exciting, gritty movie with a huge problem at its core: The bad cop played by Michael Shannon is not really a bad cop… he’s too funny.
So, come the last scene, the conclusion… I was left feeling cheated.
The last scene is terrible.
I did not feel as engaged with the story as one might have hoped.
There were too many chances for the main character Wilee (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to make different sorts of choices. He could have called the police. He could have returned the package. He could have stayed at home.
Perhaps, like so many people, I am in denial?
It is not far off… the conclusion.
I have had a lingering cold/flu. Sweats.
Script notes arrive and I am loathed to open them, even though I know that they will be good. Brilliant.
How does one turn a life event into a work of fiction? Well, obviously, you have to jettison the truth.
I spent the larger part of yesterday in Venice. My favorite location. Stalking my favorite haunts. It’s like Whitstable. I know so many people. Casual acquaintances. Unlike my home town, where they have known me all my life, their understanding of me is based on what they read.
After the LA Weekly piece they are well aware of what is going on and mask their desire to pry with small talk.
Sometimes I wake up and think I should go to an AA meeting but I’ll wait until I am in another city.
It is the truth: art heals. Remember when I was sick five years ago with my leaky spine? Good God, that was painful.
Convalescing, I stayed with David Philp and his wonderful wife (art critic and broadcaster) Hunter Drohojowska-Philp in their gorgeous Beverly Hills home. She brought beautiful books for me to look at and set art work at the end of the bed.
The pale yellow room designed by Jenny Armit became a temporary sanctuary. Until I was well again.
I had a long chat with an old buddy in London, someone I worked with repeatedly in the old days. A great benefactor.
It’s cold outside and hot inside the house. I open the door and let the mountain in.
The garden, this year, has matured into the garden of my dreams.
Bumped into Drew Pinsky at CNN, we were both sprayed orange for our various TV appearances. He was sweet, as he always is. We hugged and gossiped. He asked if I had read Jennie’s book. I told him that I hadn’t but I’d get around to it sooner or later.
The children make me laugh. I sit with them watching Barbie cartoons and they mock Charlie’s new girlfriend (Charlieissocoollike) children can be very cruel and very funny.
Weird clicking on my telephone. I think my phone is being tapped. Why?
Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are dark side muppets.
They inhabit a world where only the mercenary survive.
They have no interest in the beautiful world around you unless it can be used to make more money.
They think conservation is for losers.
They will mine every last piece of coal, sell every last drop of oil, catch every fish, chop every tree without consideration for you or your children.
They have scant regard for other humans unless they have achieved what they define as success: huge amounts of money and power.
They believe in slavery.
In their dark world you will be enslaved with huge personal debt as soon as it is reasonable to impose it upon you.
So obese you’ll be unable to defend yourself, or run fast enough from crazed, gun-toting children high on prescription meds.
You will have no option but to eat cheap gmo food that causes rampant obesity in you and your family.
Your local school will be stripped of funds so your children remain uneducated and unable to intelligently question their plan.
They will teach your kids, when they can get away with it, the debunking of a thousand years of empirical scientific evidence in favor of ridged adherence to the bible.
You will fear being sick and die long before you are expected because of the appalling health care system that they proudly tell the world is the very best.
Finally, you will live in toxic shame inspired by Christian‘morality’.
If you ‘fail’ the system by becoming unemployed they will demonize you, your peers will accuse you of laziness. You will be encouraged to blame brown people for your misfortune.
Ryan and Romney will achieve their aim by frightening the oppressed proletariat with dishonest bogey men: the deficit, the end of the traditional family and foreign terrorism.
They will succeed as other tyrants have before them.
The people are simply too fatigued to fight their lies and mythology.
Complicated and realistic solutions have been long abandoned in favor of easy and inchoate sound bites.
I had a dream last night that I was fucking Paul Ryan. After I ejaculated I pulled my cock out of his ass… but it was no longer a penis…. It was a crucifix… Covered in blood shit and cum.
Finally, I rather like the new, gamine Miley Cyrus. A world apart from the generic valley girl she once was. What the hell is all the fuss? Proof (if you needed it) that people don’t really like celebrating individuality. Preferring the homogenous mass.
This morning, Mel picked me up from the mountain at 6.30 am. He drives a large, white Hummer, his dog and my dog are best friends. They are a similar size and their fur is the same colour.
I left a young black internet date in my bed and the twins slumbering downstairs. I wore the Martin Margiela sunglasses Joan bought for me last year and I only removed them when Mel dropped me off 6 hours later.
The last AA meeting I attended was held in the chapel in The Men’s County Jail. The speakers valiantly trying to spread the word whilst 400 tranny hookers caught up on the ‘T’ (gossip). I sat listening to them that Wednesday evening wondering if I would ever go back to AA, whether I would even remain soba when I eventually left the jail.
Last night I poured myself a glass of red wine. I didn’t drink it. I looked at it in the 17C crystal glass, I sniffed it occasionally but I didn’t have the guts to drink it. Just like I have not had the guts to kill myself, even though some of you seem like you’re waiting for me to do so.
Taking a drink is like the first step toward a painful death. Those of you who have not drunk for some time know what I mean.
Perhaps death is the solution? That’s what they promise in the preamble of Narcotics Anonymous: Jails, Institutions, Death.
I have experienced the first two, now I wait patiently for the third.
AA. I committed to it so many years ago. I was so damned willing, so entranced, so desperate. Now, I loathe it. I sat there this morning wishing I was drunk. My lips stained with red wine…preferably a rich Multipulciano. That twisted smile I smiled when I was drunk. Do any of you old friends remember that? That strange half-smile?
I sat there listening to their white, middle-aged, bourgeois stories, stories of their mediocre triumphs and their miserable disasters. Their engagements, their dying wives, their wayward medicated children…reassuring us that they were nothing without AA.
The most bumptious of them all flaying himself before us, describing himself as an arrogant scoundrel. His tearful confession masquerading as humility. Knowing, of course, that his well rehearsed speech would garner rave reviews from his adoring fans. He had, after all, relapsed publicly, he had gotten back on the wagon with the rest of us (even though he had deceived us) he reassured his brethren that ‘we do not shoot our wounded’.
When it was my turn to speak I felt that crooked smile on my lips. As if I were drunk. As if I had already taken the first sip.
They knew where I had been. They looked down their manufactured noses at the hopeless alcoholic who could not stay on the straight and narrow. The ‘arrogant scoundrel’ looked about him at his friends, scoffing, expecting me to prostrate myself before them…begging forgiveness.
Instead, I told them about the tranny hookers, I told them that I had been in resentment since Jake revealed himself. I let them know that the cloud of resentment, loathing, hatred had thickened so it blocked out the sun. I reminded them that, for the longest time, I had forgotten what it felt like to live in the light. I told them to re-read steps four and five and let me be a lesson to them all. Let my story remind them what it looks like when resentment smothers a recovering alcoholic like wisteria a stone house.
I told them that going to jail had been the best thing for me and they nodded and agreed but they had no idea what they were agreeing to.
After I spoke, others with similar ailments, similar pathologies felt able to share. They thanked me, they said that there was a fine line between sobriety and insanity. They reminded the others just how many of us kill ourselves after many years of sobriety. The darkness in men’s souls.
I was envious of those who had killed themselves. I have wanted to be dead for the longest time. I know what some of you will say…like Chris in Sydney and those of you who would prefer it…you would tell me to hurry on and do it. You would say, go on kill yourself, good riddance to you Duncan Roy.
But when the time comes and I hold the pills in my hand like a fist of squirming bugs…something stops me. Something tells me that just one more day and the pain of losing the man/dog/home you love might just diminish.
I may very well have ended my relationship with AA.
My great friend John Adler, my sponsor these past few years in AA and SAA abandoned me a few weeks after I was locked up. Even though his own sponsor is a child molester and child pornographer, even though his wife begged me to get her a club membership, apparently I am a danger to him and his family.
It was a betrayal that I never thought I would have to endure, it was the one and only time I cried in the jail. My best friend was a coward.
He wasn’t the only one.
I learned many lessons in the jail. I learned about America. I learned more when I read the comments posted after the piece published in the online version of The Independent. The difference between the British and the Americans. I was proud to be British yesterday.
For the record, I have to see the doctors tomorrow to work out what we do about three months of medical inaction. God may very well be doing for me what I cannot do for myself. If you know what I mean. The pain in my belly is occasionally overwhelming. It feels like my insides are being ripped out. My kidneys burning. The blood in my urine a daily reminder. A serious situation.
It is more serious than the stupid charges against me, charges I cannot find the time to take seriously. More serious than DA Anne-Marie Wise would want you to believe.
We sat in the deli after the meeting, before the long walk in the canyon, and Michelle Bachman was on the TV. She looks like Anne-Marie, she has that look those women who think they are powerful. Women who work for men believing the glass ceiling has been broken.
She’ll read this and she’ll try and prove how powerful she is…she’ll try and make life difficult, like she did when I was inside the jail, tacking on extra weeks of incarceration before the trial…waiting for me to buckle and except her pathetic ‘deal’.
Do your worst Anne-Marie. Your very worst will not hurt me. You cannot hurt me. You don’t know me.
You should have seen her in the court with her pile of papers, feeling very important.
Fingering that cheap jewelry as if it were Cartier. Taking it all so personally. She probably goes home and tells her children that mummy does very important work putting dangerous men behind bars. Not that she has been colluding with the super rich to steal from the poor.
You see, the resentment overwhelms. It gets me. It bites me in the neck like a vampire. It keep me alive…even though I should be dead.
Let my slow suicide be a lesson to you all.
I have spent the past day or so in bed. The dog is less sick, eating again. We have to get his drain removed. He is wearing the Elizabethan collar but hates it.
My left leg is getting better…my right ankle isn’t. Robby stayed over last night. Today he watered the garden, filled the hot tub, went to the supermarket and ran around the house as I finally caught up on all the various tasks that could be accomplished from my bed.
Jen and Jason were incredibly helpful. Anna brought supper.
Surrounded, as usual, with love. Occasionally it is hard to recognize just how lucky I am.
Robby and I have a wonderful relationship. We talk and play and the more I know him…the more I trust him. In fact, I might trust him more than any person I know right now. He has been a perfect antidote to JB. I feel hopeful again because he brings me love.
Crippled and confined to the couch he was pottering about the house making everything look good.
We were talking about how private one needs to be in life.
He is a tentative soul.
He wondered why I write every personal detail here in this blog. Make public what most people keep private. Something that delighted Jake until (of course) he was part of it, part of the narrative…then it wasn’t quite so alluring.
Learn this lesson: If you don’t like your private life being scrutinised…avoid public figures…you will lose your anonymity.
The reality guy who killed himself this week? He had no idea just how pernicious reality TV really is.
We mused about what remains private and what should be public. I am quite clear why I write everything here.
If, like me, you have lived an audacious, notorious life then for every eager friend there is a fool desperate to pull you down.
It is best to live without secrets. Many years ago I was taught that we are as sick as our secrets. What does that mean? If you are cheating on your wife you will be defined by your deception. If you are lying to your friends you will be hindered by self-doubt.
If I have made mistakes, told a lie, cheated a friend or been generally disreputable then I write it here. My part in what ever unfolding drama is worth noting. We tend to focus on who to blame and rarely acknowledge our responsibility.
Keeping my side of the street clean.
That is why I have struggled so badly with you-know-who. It has been incredibly difficult to own my part. I don’t want to admit my short comings.
I make him responsible. I blame him. I say: He lied to me. He cheated. He duped me. He did drugs in front of me. All of this is true…of course, but has to be balanced with: I am responsible. I lied to him. I chose somebody inappropriate. I allowed myself to be duped. I had no boundaries.
When I point at him three fingers point back at me.
What is the answer?
I aim to be ashamed of nothing. This leads, inevitably, to peace of mind.
You, dear reader, know everything! There’s nothing I’ve not written about. You know every insane thought, every defect, every leak and misery.
You know everything…so I fear nothing. Not one of you has anything on me.
When you live a lie you are vulnerable. I don’t want to be vulnerable.
Back to NYC next month to see JB in court but it’s fashion week and I’ve been invited to a slew of fashion week events. Robby will be in town so we can do some fun shit. I love that boy. Jenny will be there too and wants to come to court with me. Before we vanish to The Hamptons.
There is a great deal to do these coming autumn/winter months.
Through archival acquisitions, oral history interviews, public programming, exhibitions, and publications, the Research Institute is responding to the need to document the historical record of this vibrant period.
Between October 2011 and February 2012, a major exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum will present a survey of postwar painting and sculpture in Los Angeles.
It will be a great deal of fun.
In tandem with PST, Art Platform—Los Angeles, the west coast cousin of The Armoury, is collaborating with Pacific Standard Time to organize an extraordinary series of events and services to highlight this historic period and unprecedented weekend of art in Los Angeles. Rather wonderfully I am part of their VIP Programme.
Tonight Eric is bringing supper. The little dog will get better. I am willing him to. Help me think him right.
Dawn. Crows cawing. Dawn chorus.
There is so much dew it looks and smells as there has been heavy rain. I spend an hour every morning watering whatever I can from the path at the top of the house. I enjoy this.
There are so many snails.
Had lunch in Hollywood yesterday with a writer. Actually, we didn’t eat lunch. I drank some iced tea. Met the man who owns Mama Shelter in Paris. I have known him for years but I just didn’t know that he owned that hotel. You know we stayed there don’t you? This time last year.
How can I spend so much time wishing away the past?
Long conversation with a man in Sonoma who makes chicken coops. They are expensive but look great.
Jennifer bought fresh garbanzo beans which seem like they might be easy to grow in my garden. The melons are growing. The black tomatoes are doing well. Something ate the pumpkin seedlings. The lemon trees, after the wet winter, are laden with fruit. There are figs and plums and ruby grapefruit.
There are roses blooming all over the property.
What else can I tell you? I write my novel as per suggestion. It gets better and better. Perhaps I get better? It started as one thing and already, with a little intelligent coaxing, is evolving into something quite different. It started with vengeful intentions. Now it is getting funny. It started with a view to kill. Now it embraces the will to live. These are not my ideas.
I would prefer my original plan.
I have just a few weeks to finish writing The Scarlett Empress. It is by far the most commercial thing I have ever written. It is helping me though. Helping me think in a different sort of way.
The more I write the other stuff…the less I want to write this. Yet, this spurs me into action.
Three days until the ‘NYC on Sunday.Adventure’. The Dane arrives from
Becoming a Pilgrim. You’ll enjoy reading about it. I have had to keep the plan a big secret. I don’t want anyone ruining it.
The twins are running around the house in their boxers.
Pains in chest and arm. Balls ache once again. Nasty cough.
Breakfast with the beautiful Dane.
We stepped out of the restaurant for a moment to smoke and a young woman approached me.
She said, “I saw you on the show. You’re very brave.”
I felt like a total fraud.
I wanted to tell her that since the show I have broken every rule, every principal I had ever committed or adhered to. These past few moths I have run roughshod over all the progress of the past 13 years.
I feel like I am at square one.
Sure I didn’t drug or drink. Sure it was brave of me to reveal myself on TV…but look at the trouble it has caused. I let myself succumb to the vagaries of love. With a chimp.
The beautiful Dane wanted to know what she was talking about. I told him. I suppose now he’ll see everything. I wonder how he’ll feel about it? Time will tell.
I love talking with him. We talk and talk, his stories are riveting and compelling. This is more like it. He’s only 33. Suddenly we are surrounded by people we know. Friends we know rather than he or I.
Feel comfortable, relaxed and happy.
So happy I begin to cry, my nose stings, my eyes fill with tears. I think about what Jon said when I first got sober in SAA. He asked me to imagine what a relationship ‘looks like’ I cried then too. I just didn’t think it was possible. A healthy relationship with a healthy, kind man. Then, by way of alcoholic sabotage, I proved to myself and the whole world that I was incapable of making good choices.
Enter The Penguin. Exit The Penguin.
I am so happy to be in the bosom of AA. Surrounded by men and women whose language I respect, whose journey I relate to. Listen, there could be an argument made that every relationship I have ever had (except Matt) has been with active alcoholics/addicts.
Last night, after the poetry reading, I walked the dog…wrote this blog and went to bed. I woke at 6am to arrange the apartment for the return of the decorators. After our rather wonderful breakfast I caught a cab to JFK and am now on a plane to an undisclosed location for a couple of weeks in the sun.
I may have been brave (I was brave) when I told you all the truth about my childhood suffering but the consequences of being on that show have been very severe. I would never in a million years have met or absconded with, danced with, dillied or dallied with that terrible man. I would have remained ignorant of his ugly face, his dishonest world. I would never have worshiped his stinking hole or kissed his lying mouth.
I would certainly never have risked losing my sobriety. I came THIS close!
I would rather be single than take those risks again.
What does a relationship look like? I don’t know if it exists. Not because I am unworthy but because the damage has been done. If only you could see it on my face like a burns victim. If only you could see the ravages of child abuse on my face.
A relationship? The damage maybe too severe. I have to look at it like that. The war is over but I am limbless, traumatized, impotent, angry. There is nothing I can do other than STAY AWAY from normal human beings who say they love me.
They just can’t see.
They think I am healthy, able bodied, sane. Until they uncover the truth.
For the time being I will stick to my own kind. I am never lonely with my own kind. I never have to kid myself when I am with my own kind. My own kind never try and kid me. They treat me carefully.
What does a relationship look like? Well, it’s me, myself and I. That’s all I can hope for.
That’s all I will ever need or be able to depend upon.
Remember, if you meet me, that I am covered in the most terrible scars inside and out. You should think twice about getting involved. Alcoholics seem to see the scars and hold out their hands so I can walk proudly amongst you…but don’t be deceived.
I am not what I am.
Madness, when it comes upon me is a grueling mystery to solve. For months now I have been gripped with what started out merely as a broken heart.
When one begins to feel the onset of ones own brand of insanity it is always impossible to make sense of the confusing depth and range of emotions.
In the midst of the maelstrom it all feels so incredibly real. Yet, as we are well aware, once sanity returns: FEELINGS are not FACTS.
Regardless of how and why I experienced such a destructive wave of emotion I could only wait, as one does, for the storm to end.
It was galling that I had not suffered a comparable emotional torment for many years, fourteen in fact. As you have read on these pages, when I first got sober I had the same misery, the same terrible sense of powerlessness that has overwhelmed me every day since last January.
There is no way to prepare for such misery. One can only pray that it passes. That it passes swiftly and without too much damage being inflicted on either myself or others.
I have learned so much these last few months. Learned the very good and the very bad about myself. It is so incredibly lonely when one is gripped by such furious indignation.
After the storm inevitably there is the wreckage. After the storm, picking up the pieces of everything that has been smashed and knowing that it is impossible to mend what is so utterly broken.
Salvaging first and foremost ones dignity.
On this occasion I know that I have done irreparable damage to myself. I used to have hope and I no longer do. The reserve of hope that I was born with is exhausted.
In many ways I have been returned to that moment last January before we met when I had everything to look forward to. It is now up to me to start again. Start building, start a positive dialogue with myself that may include some sort of sanctuary.
My body is wrecked from these past few months. Fighting, fighting, fighting.
Fighting what was growing inside me, fighting the feelings, fighting my true intentions to be a good and better person.
I have no idea what comes next. I know in my heart, in the pit of my stomach, in my soul…that I will never attempt to have another relationship. I seem truly incapable of that basic human connection and unable to deal with the associated feelings of inadequacy that swamp me once I meet any person I value.
I dare not take that risk.
I know that all familiar avenues others take for granted are now closed to me.
When I was a child, the only way I could express my fury at the world was to smash everything in my room. Everything I held dear. It was my only option. There was nowhere to run, no place to hide.
And what of him?
Well, I hope and pray that he is already living a wonderful life, that he has great and extraordinary beauty ahead of him. I know that he is capable of things I can only dream about. I finally expunged his name from this blog and worked hard to uncouple him from me in the virtual ether. His ‘bit of fun’ turned into a nightmare for us both but I am determined to forgive him…the alternative will merely drag me into further insanity.
He is not the problem. He must be part of the solution.
If I am truly over this catastrophe then I must love him as much as I must love the unfair world around me. He is a stranger now. He will remain a stranger.
For what once felt so beautiful, as I predicted, must now be an inconsequential blip.
To this end I must accept any and all of my own shortcomings. I must see my part in this drama. Own my part in it.
I must let God take back the reigns.
There are other more important lessons to learn, adventures to be had…but I will not learn any of them unless I can truly forgive.
I didn’t really feel like doing anything yesterday. I just hung around at home. Then, rather dumbly, decided to go to Wholefoods on Union Square. It was packed. I bought spicy meatballs. I bought white chocolate.
I sent the more completed treatment (with notes) off to London. The more I think about it the more I want to shoot it there and not in NYC.
I am going on a road trip this weekend. Driving to Buffalo.
Dan and I had dinner out last night. As we were leaving the restaurant he pointed to an MLK quote written in chalk on a blackboard.
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
I have been dragging a big bag of hate around with me since I received that childish email this summer. A bag of hate bound up with cancer, shame, resentment..fear.
My hate and my cancer were inextricably linked. My hate for him.
I am trying to love. Trying to forgive. Not Jake, he’s just a silly symptom. I am trying to forgive my dad for all the terrible things he did to me. Once again. That old chestnut. How am I going to survive this legacy?
One more day.
The effects of childhood abuse can have more severe consequences for a gay man. A sizeable number of all people who are abused in childhood have extreme difficulty regulating their emotions as adults.
The effects of sexual activity, regardless of the child’s desire or participation are significant and damaging. A child is quite capable of strong sexual feelings but incapable of handling the emotional aftermath of such feelings.
Survivors of violent childhood abuse are complicated to say the least.
Balls not withstanding. The heavy snow and cold conditions don’t stop me from getting in my little car and driving to Canterbury.
We are only seven miles from one of the most beautiful Cathedrals cities in the world.
Meandering through the snowy Kent countryside listening to BBC Radio 4 I arrived, parked inside the Roman city walls and walked down Palace Street looking for a man to unlock my iPhone. The ancient and the modern.
I love Canterbury, I love the tiny medieval streets, the busy shops. I ended up buying a cell phone…as it looks as if I maybe here for longer than I anticipated and I have to keep in contact with the hospital. I bought the correct adaptors and leads etc for my lap top so I no longer need to pop into Georgina’s and use hers.
The economy seems really good. Really good. The shops are packed with paying customers. We are well out of recession. It’s like the British are embarrassed to let the American’s know that our economy is just fine.
The average British person really doesn’t have a clue just how bad things are in the USA. No idea at all. They don’t know about the unemployment, the foreclosures, the corruption or the burgeoning right-wing tea party movement. They are oblivious to Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck.
One day very soon they will wake up to a very different America and a very different world run by ignorant, xenophobic thugs.
All of the little restaurants and gift shops are packed with customers in Whitstable too. The Whitstable shopping equivalent: Venice CA the shops on the main drag Abbot Kinney are still boarded up.
If things are fine why is the government hell-bent of dealing so aggressively with what is evidently a self solving problem like the deficit? THE DEFICIT!
This British government is forcing austerity upon the nation because? Because the people have had things so good for so long?
This country is not falling apart, seems very stable and prosperous from what I can see..but under the guise of the DEFICIT reduction plan this new government stealthily returns to Thatcher type fiscal/social conservatism. The class havoc deliberately caused with unnecessary job reduction ends up merely furthering their class war aims.
Governments like drama.
British Governments, like Hollywood studio execs, cause problems so that they can be seen to fix them. The people, our British people, unlike the sleepy time/weed brained/prozaced citizens of my adopted home the USA…we will get off our angry asses and break some windows. Make our voices heard. No, you bloody can’t start charging our children for a university education…something you had for free. NO.
Thanks to the bankers to whom we are already indebted in so many, many ways we can give extra thanks that we can now officially add the innocuous word deficit to the list of things we are encouraged to fear. Along with Asylum Seeker, ASBO, global warming, that millennium bug thing (remember that?) and, of course…terrorist.
DEFICIT=TERRORIST. Something abstract and confusing to be frightened of.
In the UK everybody complains about their gas bill and it’s true that utility bills here are out of control…a recent price hike of 40%. Where the people have no option the corporation steps in and gouges whatever it can. Same as the Insurance industry. The law states that you must buy car insurance so the insurance industry just demands what ever it likes from whom ever it likes.
You want to know about the hospital? The German oncologist was very nice. Do you need to know more? We wait for further test results. Who could have foreseen that a jolly German oncologist would make his way center stage into my life.
I actually feel a great deal better already. I just trust European doctors more than American doctors and they agreed that me coming here was the best possible thing to do. Not having to worry about paying a huge amount of money to anyone anytime soon for what should be a human right sure takes the pressure off.
After it was all over at the surgery I came home and lay down under a pile of blankets and fell asleep. What with the Jake stuff this has not been a great year. Not one of my best. Not a great vintage.
The little dog just hates the snow and who can blame him? His little paws are soaked in cold water up to the ankles. He tags along after me very bravely.
last night Carol cooked a delicious dinner here at the house and we greedily scoffed baked potatoes, ham and a delicious salad made of crunchy endive and baby tomatoes and watercress.
Seeing Charlie tomorrow and others in London. Going to risk the roads in my little car.
Oh yes…I read yesterday that somebody somewhere in the US press demanded that Obama get some ‘backbone’. How dare anyone ask President Obama to have ‘backbone’ when his constituents lack any kind of skeleton what so ever.
In Obama the liberals chose a limp shield made of skin (albeit black) and gristle behind which to gripe about their own inertia.
My left testicle has a name..Lucille. Why did you call it a woman’s name you may ask? Well, that’s just the way it is.
I leave on Wednesday to have Lucille removed. Goodbye Lucille Ball. In a particularly bumptious mood today. Seems like the only way I can get through this. Becoming more rather than less. Dealing with my vulnerability and fear with monstrous emotions.
I have been feeling angry with him again as I face this fucking thing on my own. I really resent that I was so completely on his side, his support, his kindly ear when he needed it most but the MOMENT I needed a shoulder he fucking dumped me. Listen, I know the little creep couldn’t think about anyone except himself and I chose the most selfish man alive to depend on when things got tough..
It is just a bore to have to own my part in this but I am forced to. My part is that I should have no expectations of anyone ever but who the hell lives like that?
Tomorrow night Ashley is throwing a Goodbye Lucille party for me at SHLA. Instead of doing what I did on my big b’day and not inviting anyone I have asked everyone. Fuck them if they don’t turn up but I think that they will.
The reason I didn’t invite anyone for my lunch was that I didn’t want him to judge my Whitstable friends. That’s fucking ridiculous isn’t it? What lengths I would go to please him. I got mocked for that too. “You know that you find me irresistable.” Fucking rat.
I watched Taxi Driver again last night for the 100th time. I always feel so energized after watching how he deals with being a lonely misfit.
Here is someone who stood up against the scum, the dogs, the filth, the shit – here is someone – who stood up
I love the letter at the end from Iris’s parents. The suburban parents thanking the crazy guy for rescuing their daughter from hell. Yeah right…nobody gets thanks for doing a good deed. The only time I get letters from parents it’s to tell me what a cunt I am.
Mostly I love that Travis Bickel, like me, is so crazily angry at the world. Thank GOD I have AA to dump my shit.
Yesterday spent whole day with Ashley and Michael. We drive up the PCH to Jennifer and Jason’s house. They are moving so went ostensibly to say goodbye to their lovely house. On the way we stopped off at Malibu seafood for fish and chips: delicious.
This morning Julia Roberts was standing in line ahead of me at the Coffee Bean.
The young man who jumped into the car and kissed me is coming this afternoon.
Give me something to worry about that isn’t Lucille. Go on…
I just am.
I have been putting it off, putting it off. Why? Because part of me, a big part of me just wants to die. To never go through the pain of the past few months ever again.
When did I stop fighting to survive? When did the fight become too exhausting? I think there were moments on our European adventure when I knew I just couldn’t, wouldn’t carry the both of us. Between stations in Lille when I vanished to get food for the trip. I wanted to run away. That I had done so much for him with so little return.
The problem is: I stopped fighting for me too. The more honest I become…the harder life is. A lie can separate you from the harsh realities. A lie can make everything better. The more honest, the more in focus life becomes then the more brutal it is.
To love without trusting is almost too much to bear. This is the legacy any cheater leaves behind them: She will never trust another man. She will always be left wondering if, when her new man goes out, he is cheating behind her back.
At least I knew he was a liar and a cheat and chose to continue. To get involved. To catch him as he fell. All I ended up doing was colluding with him.
The legacy I am left with? Oh, I blame myself. Again and again.
Then, there is the perverse thought that we will be OK one day.
Until I don’t believe that we will be friends some time in the future then I am doomed. Part of me thinks that there will be a moment…even when I am an old man…that we will look back at our time together and smile. There is NO moment of resolution. There will be no quiet moment in the future the two of us forgive, when we will laugh at what happened.
It just wasn’t that funny.
I can never ever imagine meeting him again. Just the thought of bumping into him in the street fills me with revulsion.
Why am I writing about him AGAIN? I was doing OK..then:
All night I dreamt about JB. All night. I may be dealing with him in my conscious life but he is alive a kicking in my unconscious.
There are two dreams: One where we are making love shuffled in with another altogether more insidious dream. In the second dream he is changed. In the second dream he is a gay man enjoying his life. Subtle changes about his body include the hair on his chest manscaped.
Of course, in the dream, he had his lap top on his lap. He is chatting with Phil at the house in London. Telling her about his new apartment, telling her about going to gay pride.
He is letting us know that he is OK. That things worked out just fine.
He looked so normal and calm. Perhaps he really was just letting me know that things were OK. That he is OK. Communicating this through my dreams.
I dreamt about Issie Blow when she died, and Dione and the Big Dog all in the same way. They wanted me to know that they had found peace and it was all ok.
Like a grieving dream. There he was in his life. Getting on with it.
It’s odd isn’t it that the dream happened in London. In Phil’s house on Langton Street..though maybe not. It was there that we had the fight. There that he lost the iPod and encouraged me to shout at those kids.
I don’t think I will ever stay there again because of him and his stupid iPod. His clumsiness.
A night of terrible, roiling dreams. How long will this last? How long will he be so solidly in my head?
The problem is: I think he got away with it. Supported by people who think he is sick rather than duplicitous. By people who accept that his cheating was perfectly understandable in the circumstance.
The thoughts of JB bubble up over the fear. Swamped by him rather than face the facts. I know what’s going on. I know it.
Thankfully Ashley was at home and wrapped me in ice. I dare not go to the hospital because it will bankrupt me. Now at home totally incapacitated.
Began to panic about getting back to the UK with one functioning leg and a dog.
Have to go via Paris again. Not even directly to Paris but via NYC to go to court to get the money that Jake owes me. This really stinks. Everything conspiring to make life more difficult than it needs be. It was such a silly thing to do. How did I do it? I tripped up the path and instantaneously I could feel the tendons detach. Pop. Oh God.
Ashley cooked dinner for us. Her friend Emma arrived. They made steak and greek salad. After all that meat we ate chocolate and drank hot tea.
It rained heavily all night.
The night. Plagued with nightmares. A kitten hidden in a chair. Me as a child wandering into the road outside my Grandmother’s house in Herne Bay overlooked by my step-father. Torrential leaks from the ceiling coursing unchecked through the house.
This year has been ghastly. Made more so by Jake’s despicable antics.
Unthinking, callous, selfish.
I sometimes wonder how his parents put up with his lying shit? Of course! They love him unconditionally.
I wrote to Jake’s father asking him to persuade his son to just pay me the money. We have a court date fixed now. This is fucking bore. He is holding onto me. Refusing to let go of the final tendril. The last vestige. Let me go Jake. Pay me the money so I can go to the UK and get on with my life.
I am sure that he feels the same way…we were perfectly synchronised.
The drawings are by Jennie. She sent them yesterday. Drew them when we were in rehab. They have a real Picasso feel about them.