It started with a short message and ended up with a whole bunch of choices I never expected.
Not in my wildest dreams.
I’ve read what you had to say. Now it’s my turn.
Stepping away from the mess. It’s not so messy. It seems like it was planned.
This pantomime. Look at the cast of unusual, freakish characters. Look at them.
Boys and men, trans and women.
Young girls. Yes. They are here too.
So you wrote me a poem. No title… of course.
We were connected .
When it expires we are expired.
The order? It was a good idea. It was a great way to formalize the end of our association. I can only imagine that you feel much the same way I do.
I wish we had never met.
Don’t you shudder whenever you think about it?
I understand why you needed to rewrite the narrative.
I took advantage of you?
You had far more to lose by telling the truth.
When assigning blame, I take full responsibility. I should have walked away.
Everyone I trusted advised me to do so. Everyone I trusted.
Instead, I pinned my hopes on you. I found your interest in me all at once baffling and inspiring.
A romantic relationship was impossible.
Because I am a broken, sick man. Incapable of intimacy.
You sold me:
A big fat lie.
Yet, we never talked about my lies. Yes, I lied to you about almost everything.
Lies I had held onto for a very long time.
This man is a liar. Just like me. Did you ever think that?
The last time I checked, and that was some time ago, you seemed very happy wearing your new clothes, your relationship, your job and your family.
I am delighted. You will make a much better job of being a gay than I ever could.
Your ability to form and maintain relationships will mean that you’ll have everything you always wanted. Everything you ever dreamed.
The questions I wanted to ask… I have no reason to ask.
The truth set you free and I am very proud of you… even though I have no desire to set eyes upon you ever again.
May 6th 2013
When did you have time to write that? Was it really meant for me?
Did you wonder if I should reply? Did you think I could?
There are no words left.
The storm rattles the house, thunders down the drain pipes. Torrents of rain over the mountain. Hammering down onto the wide, new leaves.
Make some toast and lime marmalade. Boil some eggs. Stand naked in the warm rain.
I haven’t written anything for so long.
Perhaps I just ran out of things to say.
Roger Ebert died. He wrote to me recently urging me to write more. I have no idea why.
The house in Malibu is filled with my things again and the garden, this beautiful spring, overwhelms me.
Moving back in gave me the opportunity to start editing once again. I threw out three huge boxes of old clothes. Cashmere, labels, everything loved for a moment back then. Helmut, Yves, Issy, Comme des Garcons… boxy shirts from another era, trousers that I can (after my op) still get into but have lost interest in.
I kept all the Helmut Lang couture. It’s just too special.
I feel myself floating over the surface of my life.
The road trip across the USA was spectacular. Chicago, Denver, The Rockies, Utah and Vegas. Just me and the dogs and a car full of art and luggage. I met lovely people and saw cities I had only ever heard of.
I never went over the speed limit.
The operation to have my gall bladder removed was painful but since having the surgery I feel wonderful.
I didn’t realize how much pain I was living with. How the pain made me grumpy, listless and intolerant.
Now, without that girdle of pain, without the imminent GB attacks… I feel perfectly happy. Peaceful.
I can concentrate. perhaps that’s why I need to write?
During the past few months so much has happened. Things I can tell you and things I can’t.
Yet, after the moment passes, I can’t be bothered to write it down.
Editing the huge amount of stuff I own to a few essential pieces. Taking my old stuff to vintage stores, consignment stores and auction houses has been cathartic and profitable. Who knew things were so valuable?
But more than that. It feels like I am winding down. Not is a morbid way.
With less stuff and less girth (since the op I lost a great deal of weight) I feel not only lighter but more agile, more energy to do important things (for me) more time to devote to others, causes, delights.
As you know, those who know me, I like my decisions to be made for me. I LIKED my decisions to be made for me.
Recently I have taken control of the reigns. Less at the mercy of Duncan Roy. Do you know what I’m talking about?
The definite seasons on the east coast. The passing days, changing. Slowly.
Each day has a brand new identity. New light. Color.
The bland, endless Los Angeles summer has finally come to an end. After 8 long years. I am heading home.
I pull on my knee-length, woolen socks and my heavy boots.
I am going to therapy… daily. I am finally addressing the issues I have been ignoring this past year. You know, those pesky medical issues.
Strangely, without warning… even though we share the same streets. I never see him. Nor do I wish to conjure him, manifest him, make him appear… I had lunch with one of his co-workers the other day, a youngster (we met at an AA meeting) who wanted his job.
It was funny being at the same table as someone who works in close proximity to him. Their opinion.
They knew the story. An urban myth that they delighted in fact checking.
Of course there’s loads going on (Film/House/Social) but somehow I don’t have the energy to write it.
I take pictures and let that suffice.
I found a picture of Joe. He’s obsessively going to the gym. A man mountain. In his late 60′s now.
I scarcely ever think about him. Isn’t that odd? To have no thoughts about someone who was once the center of your world.
December 2nd 2013. Just one year away.
I didn’t stay at home last night.
I sat quietly. I am wearing my black pantaloons (Miu Miu), a Stetson, raspberry colored hand knitted socks with sky blue trim.
They were rudely spouting one ill-informed cliché after another, rudely condemning: green solutions, ‘cripple’ access around Santa Monica, the ‘fiscal cliff’ etc.
The old white men are stuck in another age, another time… baffled by a changing world… still unable to comprehend how Mitt Romney lost the election they were convinced he’d win.
I wanted to ask them questions but I knew nothing they had to say would tell me anything I didn’t already know.
Their fears laid bare: Black leaders, electric cars, marriage equality.
“They’ll all cry that they voted for him.” they convinced each other.
I felt like I was on the winning side. Their Schadenfreude didn’t feel dangerous… it felt old-fashioned.
On the way home I listened to something on NPR about a group called LA Jews for Peace.
A group of Jewish Americans committed to peace in the Middle East through a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an end of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, and opposition to American militarism, imperialism, and exceptionalism.
Their spokesman bemoaned America’s UN vote against Palestine.
America, like the old white men at the coffee shop, seems unable to comprehend or adapt to the changing world.
What the white men at the coffee shop don’t seem to acknowledge: they have more in common with their President than they seem to realize. I mean… Obama is only half black, raised by white folks… cup half full lads? Surely?
Obama owns his whiteness in the Whitehouse and flays his blackness on the stump.
Barry Goodman (old white jew), unfriended me on FB the day the UN recognized the Palestinians right to statehood.
Just nine nations voted against the Palestinian Authority’s upgrade to nonvoting observer state status, which passed the General Assembly 138-9, with 41 abstentions.
Voting “No” on Thursday were Israel, the United States and Canada, joined by the Czech Republic, Panama and several Pacific island nations: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau. The Pacific nations typically support the U.S. and Israel at the U.N. on key General Assembly resolutions.
In the face of this terrific news self hating jews like Barry Goodman reacted like spoiled, entitled children.
In a unanimous resolution passed Sunday, Israel’s Cabinet said it would not negotiate on the basis of the General Assembly’s recognition of a state of Palestine in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.
Astoundingly, he bleated:
“The only way to Palestinian statehood and peace is through direct negotiations with Israel.”
Then he told the rest of the non compliant world he was going to hold onto money that was owed to the Palestinians and build all over their shit.
I don’t trust any of the gay men I meet in LA. Industry men.
I had lunch with one of Bryan’s boy toys yesterday, the second in one week. I met a technician Bryan works with, Bryan says, “I don’t want to direct movies, I want someone else to direct them and I critique their results.”
After I started defending the Palestinians during the Israeli bombardment Guy S (second rate Bryan sycophant) tells me that they all hate me. That’s like music to my ears.
I call Tom. Tom denies what I already know to be the truth.
They know, they all know that sooner or later I’m going to write everything down.
Hollywood Babylon style.
It’s just a matter of time.
December 2nd 2013. Just you wait Henry Higgins, just you wait.
Listen to it.
Doesn’t it inspire you? Inspire you to write or paint or reach out?
I have been re-writing my script. Tinkering. It’s all about nuance now.
The balance of power shifting subtly between two lovers.
I saw new pictures of him. He looks less grotesque. Like he is finding his own style. Owning his beautiful smile. Owning it.
It makes me happy to know that he is thriving. That he is going to make a better job of this than I ever could.
That he will enjoy the benefits of being a young gay man in 2012.
I have been all over the place recently. High and low. Good and bad. Always present. Never shamed.
At LACMA I was more interested in the spectator than the art.
Some people are art.
I have been in the company of old men in those strange AA rooms. In basements, church halls, galleries. Yes, there is an AA meeting in a gallery in Venice.
I like old people because I am in training to be one. Surround yourself with old people and you might learn to age with dignity.
I like getting old. Watching the lines on my face get deeper. For those Peter Pan gays amongst you… you’ve got it coming. ha ha ha.
I’m sitting in The Chateau with Elizabeth and a professional gambler.
He’s my age, boasting about the 20-year-old girls he can snare. But he’s not owning it. He’s not proud. He’s telling me like he tells his friends that he owns a Water Lily by Monet.
The painting just stares back at him blankly.
It has no value. She stands at the end of his bed, naked… looking at him blankly. Wondering what to do.
I re-imagine the grotesque freaks.
They have not attacked either Lebanon or the people of Gaza since the mid east shape shifting Arab Spring. Times have changed, time has strengthened the international hand of Hamas. Making the incredible credible.
It heralds the new order.
Within hours of Hilary Clinton‘s departure from Egypt the new president announced (temporary) extensive new personal powers. There are popular demonstrations planned in Cairo today.
I railed against Israel on my Facebook page. In Europe they ‘liked’ my stance, in America they didn’t.
Here their brains are fried by Israeli propaganda. Pro Palestinian aristocrats in England wrote private notes of support. Americans urged me to stop my public support of the people of Gaza.
Sneering at pictures of dead Palestinian children.
The temptation is to see the tragic bloodshed in the narrow terms of the Hamas rockets and Israel’s right to self defence.
Israel has that right of course… and it’s worth restating.
This is not just about rockets and self-defence. It’s about 1.3 million Palestinians crowded into a tiny strip of land (or “prison camp” as David Cameron called it), most of whose families were refugees from land now occupied by Israel and who feel that their hopes of a viable Palestinian homeland are further away than ever.
Yes, the Israelis withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but Israel’s continued blockade has strangled Gaza’s economy and only served to encourage the militants.
“When Israelis in the occupied territories now claim that they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population they are crushing… You can’t defend yourself when you’re militarily occupying someone else’s land. That’s not defense. Call it what you like, it’s not defense.”
AA. It has been a welcome return. Looking for a sponsor, working out a year of resentments. Sitting in those rooms with those beautiful boys. Refusing their interest, I cannot be trusted with it.
Based on a True Story.
This is based on a true story. Everything you see has some basis in truth. The sun is shining. I am in bed. Over looking the Pacific. Getting older, a performance artist. A sober man.
Not dead yet. I wondered who would love me and the love (when it comes) comes from the most unlikely source.
Last night we sat in the Chateau Marmont with a professional gambler. We ate pumpkin pie. We drank hot chocolate. Vincent arrived with two beautiful Swedish boys. I was in bed before 12.
The fridge groaning with left over Thanksgiving food whilst the starving homeless roam the streets like so many tatty zombies.
The criminal matter is resolved.
Do you want to know what happened?
As part of a plea deal crafted by the DA and my lawyer, I plead NO CONTEST to a misdemeanor. My sentence? An 18 month gagging order and a 52 hour course in anger management.
There was no jail time, no fine. It was all over in 20 minutes.
I smoked a cigarette outside the courtroom. So did the DA. She sat there in her black coat. Sitting where she always sits. Behind a wall.
Like a naughty school girl. Smoking.
And I felt like it was going to be OK. Because she was smoking too.
The judge said goodbye, the bailiff smiled. The stenographer watched with interest.
I said goodbye to my lawyers and drove to Venice.
I had a lot of thinking to do.
Her name was Natalie Volk. She was very apologetic. Her husband got out of the car. Natalie must have been 80 years old, he was older. She touched the back of the car to make sure it wasn’t all a bad dream.
We exchanged personal details. I’m not going to call her insurance people. I know what they’ll do to her. How punitive they can be.
I paid for their gas. I made it seem like a terrible imposition.
Absurdly, I didn’t want other people to think I was being hijacked.
I went to buy myself a soda. The woman at the checkout said, “That was really kind of you, they were homeless.” She smiled and said, ”I’ll pay for your soda.”
I felt badly that I hadn’t been kinder to the homeless women.
On my way out of the service station I saw the most beautiful black man. A solid wall of muscle. He was walking up Lincoln Avenue. I circled around until I found him. I stopped the car and asked him what he was doing.
I dropped him off at his apartment. He invited me into his empty place.
At 5am I drove him to the gym where he worked.
Perhaps I should have given him more? More than a chai latte?
As I drove home up the PCH. Looking over the Pacific Ocean. I thought about the previous day.
All that public money wasted. All that time taken by highly paid District Attorneys, Attorneys who could have been solving real crimes.
Money that could be spent repairing a local school. Money that could have been spent investigating white-collar crimes.
I was listening to John Martyn. Solid Air. Synthesized sea gulls. A heartbeat. My heart is still beating.
Whatever may happen. How ever bad it gets. It is is up to you… yes you… you can turn the worst things that happen into the most extraordinary adventure.
As anyone who has a creative bone in their body knows, to carve something artful out of wherever you find yourself… well. It’s up to you.
So, it was no coincidence that, after I spoke to the reporter about The Trust Act, after my involved and specific conversation with the lawyer, after I had recorded the Youtube video….
I sat down at my desk and rewrote the ending of my script.
What a killing crime this love can be.
This is for you Daddy. You bad, bad man.
On Friday at 10am I will stand before you all again, on your televisions, in your newspapers, sparking up the internet.
Damning the authority.
On behalf of the brown people.
And after it is all over? I am left on my own. Well, that’s not entirely true. Because I have you.
I want to tell you about my neck. The arthritis in my neck. The arthritis that makes my arms numb. My fingers tingle.
I am pleased not to share that with anyone.
The audience is singing along with the familiar tune.
It is 2am. The dog is farting. He’ll want to go out in the middle of the night.
While the outcome of the fight is disappointing, I am thankful for activists who appealed to Governor Brown by signing thousands of petitions then making hundreds of calls to his office urging him to sign the bill.
Adam Luna, is the Political Director of America’s Voice, a leading immigrants rights organization wanted to share this message:
“While it was a bitter disappointment to see the governor veto the TRUST Act, I wanted to let you know how much your activism and solidarity made a real difference.
11,300 petition signatures (more than any other organization!), which were hand-delivered in Sacramento, hundreds of phone calls — it was amazing.”
Those of us in the immigration reform movement know that this is not a fight which is going to be won overnight and the governor said that he’s open to making a deal next year because he knows that you, and we, won’t rest until the fight is won.
While Governor Brown’s failure of leadership on this issue is disheartening, the campaign for fair and sensible immigration policies will go on.
Next week I will be announcing my very own action against the secure communities protocol that incarnated me and thousands of people like me.
A few months ago a young, gay Australian man here legally in the USA on a tourist visa was arrested for peeing in public (a sex crime felony in the state of California) and held in the Men’s Country Jail until he agreed to be deported.
IMMIGRATION REFORM NOW!
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.