Last Monday I qualified at an AA meeting in the East Village. A twenty-minute qualification.
I skipped the drugs and drinking part of the story and talked exclusively about how I got sober and how I stay sober.
Since returning to NYC I had thrown myself back into AA. 90 meetings in 90 days. A new sponsor and a new sponsee. I quickly realized that there was no place for me in the gay meetings and opted for the straight/mixed meetings in far-flung places.
I could blast gay AA if I could be bothered… but I can’t. Needless to say, it’s just not for me.
Monday morning, during the qualification, I nearly burst into tears. In fact, I nearly burst into tears three times.
Once describing seeing the word God in the written steps of Alcoholics Anonymous at my first meeting, the second when describing how humbling it was spending time with the tranny hookers I met in jail and thirdly when I remembered the final moments of my using.
I have never ever cried when qualifying. I knew by the end of my share that something was seriously wrong with me.
I had a fun weekend with a young Texan. We visited the New Museum, had various lunches and dinners with friends but all the while I felt listless, irritable, prone to bad temper.
We had HIV tests, we explored Williamsburg. We looked at art, we bought action figures.
Tyler left on Sunday.
Within hours of his leaving my pee had turned a dark umber.
I felt the return of the pain in my chest that I often commented, when ever I had it, on Facebook.
I told them:
Is this flu or depression or anxiety or kidney failure? Guess what folks… the terrible chest and back cramps have returned with a fever…
The terrible chest and stomach pains that I learned to dread, that had plagued me for the past two years were getting progressively worse.
Now, added to everything else… the pale brown pee. I knew things were… serious. But I remained optimistic that by the morning the pee would return to normal.
On Tuesday morning, despite my optimism, my pee had turned the colour of coca cola.
I called a doctor friend at Cornell who made an appointment to see me immediately.
In huge pain I made my way to his office on the upper east side.
He prodded and poked then had me take a sonogram which revealed the cause of the problem: gall stones… lots of them.
One of them, he suggested, may have lodged in the bile duct and the bile was now backing up into my blood.
By Tuesday afternoon my eyes were bright yellow.
I told my doctor friend that my mother had her gallbladder removed and my father had died of pancreatic cancer. He baulked. He couldn’t be sure that this wasn’t cancer until they had probed a little more.
He took blood and sent me home, making an appointment to see his urologist friend this week.
When I got home I went directly to bed. The pain worsened. I was in difficulty. I called my doctor. He told me to go to the ER.
The doctor called ahead so I was quickly admitted and given a massive dose of morphine.
In a painful daze, during the next day, I had the blockage removed.
The young gay man who removed the stone was incredibly chipper, explained what he was going to do and soon I was asleep.
They shoved something down my throat and into my tummy. They cut into the bile duct and removed the obstruction. They checked my pancreas.
It was ironic: the gall bladder and the pancreas irritating each other. My mother and father at war in my tummy.
I woke up.
Thank GOD it wasn’t cancer. It was a gall stone. But my pancreas was angry. The doctors urged me to have the gallbladder removed.
The following day I was wheeled into surgery and had my Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal.
I woke up with a dull thud in my belly and four small incisions.
The surgeon described my gallbladder as ‘severely traumatized’.
The bladder had been suffering for many, many years and within hours of surgery I knew that I was waking up without just the physical bladder but without a huge emotional burden.
I felt free. I feel free.
A day longer in the hospital recuperating and they sent me home.
Dear Cristina sent a car to fetch me and Stephen and Roy filled the fridge with wonderful things to eat.
My time in the hospital was made so much better by everyone who works there.
The doctors, surgeons, specialists, nurses and orderlies.
Every one of them treated me with respect, kindness and the level of care I received was without comparison.
Each doctor looked me in the eye, introduced themselves and shook my hand. They described in detail what was going on and gave me options.
The surgeon bantered and made one feel at ease.
The nurses said goodbye to each patient when they left their shift.
Every person I met wished me a speedy recovery and good luck.
Even though the hospital remains over crowded (since hurricane Sandy) and we were housed in former waiting areas and reopened buildings the staff were sublimely professional.
The other patients, however, were terrible. They complained about everything. The staff remained, in the face of this rank ingratitude, resilient.
I saw drug addicts in the ER demand morphine. I heard men rudely tell nurses that they ‘didn’t do’ wards. I heard cantankerous men demand their diapers changed. The nurses were treated like care slaves. Like servants.
The lack of any kind of humility from most patients was stunning.
I apologized whenever I could for the behavior of my fellow patients.
I’m sure that fear and pain determine the behaviors of most people in hospital.
I’m sure that the entitled rich expect so much more because of the high insurance premiums they pay and the poor… well, they never get to treat anybody as they are treated.
Still, it’s no excuse. Bad manners prevail.
It was another peculiarly American experience, one I will never forget.
The dogs were happy to see me but I was less happy to see them. I couldn’t deal with how much attention they demanded.
I lay in my bed watching the Oscars. A long way away from that terrible, cruel world.
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.
In the separate but equal ‘gay voice’ section of the Huffington Post yesterday there was another ‘outraged’ homo article about the Pentagon censuring LGBT web sites like Towelroad but not ‘hate speak’ web sites Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter.
The Pentagon, like many large companies that control internet access, have deemed that LGBT sites are mostly inappropriate for work place viewing.
Why? The gays scream. Why do you censor us and not Rush Limbaugh?
A quick comparison.
Rush and Anne, although not my personal cup of tea, do not illustrate their ‘hate speak’ web sites with images of copulating straight people.
In hetero land hard core pornographic images are rightly limited to porn sites.
In homo land we are subjected to random pornographic illustrations (or advertising) on sites purportedly aimed at debating current queer affairs. Images that I would not want to share with my co-workers.
Today, in the reputable queer news site Towelroad, well written articles about Bradley Manning run along side a pornographically illustrated story about the death of a gay porn star.
Interestingly, the porn star died of HIV related complications.
Something that supposedly doesn’t happen any more.
Even though every recent statistic sadly proves that HIV is on the meteoric rise in the bare back obsessed gay community… to say so out loud is deemed homophobic/selfloathing.
As for hate speak? Have any of you read the hate filled rhetoric on most homo web sites… aimed mostly at other gay men?
As I have written many times: queer men willingly take up the cudgels to beat and bully fellow queers where their supposed hetero persecutors dropped them.
BTW Gays… a differing opinion is not hate speak.
The separate but equal ‘gay voice’ section of The Huffington Post is filled with either outraged queens claiming homophobia or cooing doves describing a gay kiss on net work TV.
A reflection on the vapid, with us or agin us culture so many of you subscribe to.
As usual we refuse to look at our part in the problem. We claim: They are doing it to us. They are to blame. We are blameless. We do not deserve scrutiny or self-examination.
The Elmo guy is not a pedophile. He’s a persecuted, misunderstood gay man hounded by the straight media.
In the separate but equal ‘gay voice’ section of the Huffington Post there is a story about an angry ex ‘gay for pay’ porn star who claims that the devil comes out of his ass.
Why? Why is this story about straight insanity in the ‘gay voice’ section? Surely it should be on the ‘crazy white hetero’ page along with all those crazy white, straight mass murderers.
By the way, I’ve never understood why it isn’t ok to be ‘separate but equal’, sometimes it’s just easier.
Like being a Hasidic Jew, I want to be separate so I can get on with my business and enjoy my culture without prying eyes.
Of course I need to be equal, however, so I don’t live in resentment.
As a charming postscript I wanted you to know that after my ‘i am not gay piece’ the other day, the gay and lesbian Legacy Project contacted me and as a result my films will not be burned by jack booted gay men… but all of my queer themed films will now be archived (with pride) at The Legacy Project.
As for the film I am currently making? Let me tell you. We have come a long way in 20 years. A very long way.
When a black straight producer wants to make your white queer film… that’s what I’m talking about.
Nope. Not any more.
I AM NOT GAY. I am OUT.
My New Years resolution: don’t call me gay.
I am The Other. I am simply… Out.
I have resigned my gay membership. I renounce the word GAY.
The Other is different from you. He is neither superior nor inferior.
He is not alone. He is out.
Are you kidding? I still like sex with men… but I’m not interested in being gay.
Do you understand what I’m saying… gays? Yes you. I’m talking to you.
I’M TALKING TO YOU! Yes you, the gay in the bar, on the street, editing his Grindr profile.
Let’s face it. This separation will work out just fine for both of us.
I loathe you and you hate me.
I know, amongst other things, what galls you… you (particularly) don’t like when men in their fifties own up to having a rich and varied sexuality:
I’ve been called a ‘dirty old man’ by more gays than I ever have by straights for wanting or having beautiful younger men in my bed.
The gays write it anonymously. They post it all over the place, whenever they can. As If I should be ashamed?
You, you who have cornered the market in nihilism, immorality, homogeneousness, bitchery, selfishness, self-aggrandizement, self-obsession… in fact anything with the self prefix… apart from self-awareness.
I am peeling off the parade. I am letting the party wend its way elsewhere.
They told me at Triangle House in LA when we were making our documentary about older gay people: they say that old gay people end up going back into the closet because… it can get ugly… it can get dangerous.
They say that gay men are more likely to end up homeless than in any other demographic… because they have no community.
You gays are the very worst at hating yourselves. But you reserve more venom for the elderly homosexual than any other group.
It is a sickening idea to many young gays, that we (the elderly) exist.
Some young gay people believe that past 50 our penises shrink appropriately into our bodies. Retract.
No longer a threat to anyone.
I thought that when I became old… I would start wearing women’s clothes.
Where do young gay men learn how to be dignified old gay men?
I learned from older men in AA how to be an older man.
The respect that AA old timers get, applauded for their contribution to the community of AA stands in stark contract to the respect that older gay people don’t get from younger gay people.
Unless, of course, they are famous… or comical freaks… or rich enough to buy the boys they used to get for free.
Young gay people don’t want to be reminded that the party comes to an end.
I resign my membership. I am no longer a true believer. I’m handing back my awards, my medals, my history, my pride.
It’s yours not mine. Take it.
I renounce: gay pride, gay film festivals, gay beaches, gay basketball, gay bars, the gay ghetto, the gay plague, gay marriage, gaybies, gaydar.com, gays in the military, gay cruises, cottaging, felching, gay news, gay voice, gay face, the gay sub section in the book/video store/Huffington Post.
I’m praying the gay away!
The terms of this divorce:
You can keep it all. The gay plays I made, the gay films I directed, the gay art I painted/etched/sculpted.
Take everything I ever made in your honor.
If you don’t want it? Burn it.
When I offered our award-winning film catalogue of gay films to The Legacy Project (the gay and lesbian film preservation project) based out of UCLA… the gays turned it down.
Even though AKA had won the LA Outfest audience award and opened (and closed) many gay film festivals all over the world with all of my films.
The Legacy Project said no to the free gift. They wanted me to disappear.
They don’t want any evidence that I existed. As a man or an artist.
“He’s trouble.” ”He’s angry.” ”He’s a parasite.”
Gays! Look at what you’ve become!
Examine, for just one goddamned gay second…. the mediocrity! Your righteous indignation! Your mock elegance!
Being with you is like drowning in cold tea.
I don’t drink or take drugs. Tom blew weed into my face. He put vodka into my virgin mary. That’s how the gays bully one another.
Try wearing something unusual when your companions just want to be invisible.
“Who does he think he is?”
Their artificially deepened voices. The plaid shirt, the super hero tee.
The cloak of invisibility.
Tom asked incredulously, “What are you wearing?” A man who wears nothing but ugly jeans, ill-fitting t-shirts.
Tom has an ‘opinion’ about individuality: He doesn’t believe in it.
These gays are terrified of being seen. Gripped by the politics of invisibility.
At least that grotesque, lying freak I used to date… he and his boy friend have some sartorial audacity.
Even if it is TOTALLY misguided.
Who are these gays? These invisigays?
Like Tom, they may appear normal:
How can a gay man expect to age with dignity when nobody gay wants to age at all?
I saw it in LA… my destiny. If I chose to take it.
At first, Adam looked just like any other confident gay man claiming to be 48.
His gay parties are the talk of the town. Richer than most of his friends, though not very well connected … not to the real gay power in LA.
Adam invented the heart valve.
At one of his parties (to his chagrin) I photographed every single one of his guests.
A snap shot of LA gay life.
He has never been elegant, he has never been a great beauty. He will never be tall.
He is, however, manicured, botoxed, his teeth reinvented, his flawless skin, his demeanor… (that only great wealth lends you).
It was at that last raucous party I attended (as a plus one) I saw him upset (rattled)… why?
He looked like an old, vulnerable man.
“What happened?” I asked the gays.
They told me imperiously (as if it were obvious) that the young, chiseled boy he imported from NYC just wanted him for his money.
Adam looked… beaten. Crest fallen. His frail hands shook, the delicate skin around his eyes failing.
The gays stood around helplessly as their host fell apart. They stared into the plastic cups of vodka. They played with their nipples.
The pimps and the whores waited silently by the sodden beer pong.
He turned the music off. Finally, he threw everyone out.
They lined up on the steep drive. A hideous parade of grotesquely young boys, graded online or in public bars for their sexual prowess, their social fallibility, their youth.
The man who invented the heart valve, it seems, suffered from a broken heart.
Take the gay man who gave up his 160k surrogate child for adoption because she had a small birth defect on one of her legs.
Yes, you heard me.
When we interviewed the doctor who makes hundreds and thousands of gay dollars from the gayby industry… he told us that the gays want perfection. Nothing less will do.
Take it all… this gay culture. This gay community. Take it.
Take the video of Bryan with 25 Bel Ami boys jacking off over him.
Moisturized with Czech sperm.
Or the man/boy with the huge cock who they pay to sleep with a hooker and unbeknownst to him… tape him.
This tribe of entitled, elitist gays clinging to gay marriage and their smart phones.
I had lunch today with a 30-year-old man/boy who just came out. ”Why did it take you so long, ” I ask, “To tell the truth?” He said, “I didn’t… (he paused dramatically) …I mean I still don’t… I don’t want to be gay.”
“That’s ok,” I reassured him. ”You can describe yourself however you want.”
When, as frightened teens, blooming… prepubescent boys… infants… when we understand that we want to fall in love and fuck and suck and slide into another man… what choices do we have? To describe ourselves?
Gay is the only way.
And if you don’t know what you are. The gays will tell you exactly what you are.
The gays are so prescriptive.
He’s gay, they claim conspiratorially. They claim anyone ‘hot’ is gay. They all know someone who had sex with Tom Cruise or Hugh Jackman.
“He’s fucking his ‘assistant’.”
Oh Yes! He’s had sex with a man… he’s gay. He’s experimented… he’s gay.
Hollywood does not lend itself to morals.
CAA agent Kevin Huvane. When you first meet him, he shakes your hand and pulls you toward him. Trying to pull you off-balance.
The first time he met me… it worked (I was rocked) the second and third times I was prepared and we set to a gay tug of war, an argy bargy, him attempting to pull me and me attempting to pull him.
The fourth time I let him pull me onto him. I crashed into him. His tiny frame overwhelmed by 6′ 2″ me. He landed in a heap beneath me. ”Oh sorry,” I said. ”You pulled me toward you. I lost my balance. Sorry… Kevin.”
He’ll put you on a ‘list’ they told me. ”I’m on so many lists.” I murmured. ”More lists than Cathy Griffin.”
He wasn’t far from the truth.
At first, I was outraged by their attempts to isolate, malign and lambaste me.
They had tried for years. Without success. Every time they try… they fail.
This last time… the jail. What the hell did they expect? That I would buckle?
Those who throw rocks at me are seldom innocent of that which they accuse.
The Gays, have become so… bourgeois. Do you understand what that means? Let me refresh your memory:
Marked by a concern for material interests and respectability and a tendency toward mediocrity.
When I was young… gays like you knew their place.
They stayed in the closet. I mean. Coming out of the closet was brave! Now anyone can do it and become a fucking hero.
Gays… why are you killing yourselves?
You kill yourself because you can’t take a joke, because you can’t hold your liquor, because you can’t say no to crystal… because you don’t want to be gay.
I don’t remember young gay people killing themselves in the UK.
It gets better?
What gets better?
Better than death?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled when any oppressed group gets a bit of equality… but what will the USA gays do with their equality?
I’ll tell you.
They will make it even harder for the rest of us to be different.
There is a hideous conformity to which these young gays feel they must adhere.
Gay life in the USA. A blushing desire for ‘straight acting’ has become a tsunami of heternoramativity. The foundation on which this miserable gay monolith now stands.
Who are you?
A greek god, perfectly muscled, forever young… dressed to be ignored, as bland a personality as he can effect.
He is Peter Pan, he is Hercules, his personality as glittering as the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
Do you care about anything other than marriage equality? No.
He eats what his parents eat. He would vote republican if they could only find it in their neo con hearts to see that the gays are perfect conservatives.
So. We are divorced. I am no longer gay. I’m OUT. I’m out of here. I’m out but I’m not gay.
Happy New Year!
With a last moment, radical change of plan the boy and I found ourselves in Woodstock, two hours north of NYC.
An effortless drive with Amelia and Stephanie.
He had arrived from Toronto the night before… looking even more beautiful than I remembered him. His flashing green eyes, his perfect pale skin.
The house is cozy and beautifully decorated. The land around it manicured.
The kitchen well designed for making huge dinners for many people.
We drove into the quaint town of Woodstock for Santa’s arrival. We arrived too late.
There are very many, odd-looking people in Woodstock. This seems to be the place where hippies come to die. During their twilight years communing with the ghosts of Jerry Garcia and Janice Jopling.
We gawped in awe at the Hippy Alternative Santa with his bearded female companion.
We wandered the tiny shops that sell scented candles and argyle mittens.
In one of the curious hippy shops an old man wearing a black robe… playing a long flute asked Stephanie riddles. She looked askance. ”I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She said.
It was a bit too Lord of the Rings for me.
A few too many gardenias painted on the clap board.
Christmas Eve we ate gigot, a traditional French Christmas eve treat. We sang Christmas tunes in the kitchen as Mary (our hostess) cooked.
A late night. The boy curled around me. The dogs at my feet. The night before Christmas.
We woke on Christmas morning to a light dusting of snow. Thrilling!
We ate toasted panatone and coffee for breakfast.
The boy and Stephanie made cookies… they tasted divine.
After Christmas dinner we checked our tarot cards by a roaring fire. It caused Stephanie a certain amount of comfort and tears.
Amelia suggested that we celebrate the solstice with pagan rituals. We burned the past in the fire and toasted our good fortune.
Late last night we watched The Impossible which made us all sob.
Occasionally we (he and I) would sneak away from the party and… well you know the rest.
Here you go:
Sunday 23rd 2012.
New Harris tweed trousers. They are so thick and keep the cold wind from whipping around my legs.
I had two very different experiences on Friday.
The first, an unfortunate spat on Facebook with a Canadian writer called Michael Rowe.
I think you know, those of you who read this regularly, that I struggle with marriage as the means by which gay and straight people find parity.
That marriage in of itself doesn’t seem to work for many of the people who sign up for it… so why do so many men and women in the LGBQ community want it so badly?
Is it just because they want the ‘benefits’?
I thought about it a great deal this week.
For those of us gay men and women who are now in our early fifties marriage was never an option. I never hankered after it, nor cared to think about it.
I read this in a British newspaper.
British MPs are planning to create an “exception” in marriage law for same-sex couples and will not alter the definition of adultery.
Either they don’t take us seriously or we don’t take us seriously?
Perhaps gay marriage is indeed separate from straight marriage because we can’t be trusted with monogamy?
Those I respect seem to value marriage equality… so I have been posting thoughts and feelings on my Facebook page.
I am perturbed by how many angry responses I get whenever I write about my marriage equality concerns.
If marriage equality was all we needed or wanted are we selling ourself short? Are we like any cultural minority that lives side by side the majority needing to be tolerated rather than nurtured? Do we need to be understood? Do they need to learn our language? Or, like Hasidic Jews do we evolve separately once we are ‘equal’. Somehow this is not attractive to me.
This question incensed Michael Rowe.
Where are you getting “all we needed or wanted” from? It’s a basic right. That’s not “tolerance,” that’s equality and strength.
The conversation continued privately.
Talking to Michael was like talking to a Zionist. Realizing that his problem with what I was saying was more about me than the conversation I decided to tread carefully. He is the sort of man who believes that any gay who comes out of the closet is an unqualified hero.
I’m not an intellectual, nor am I particularly bright… but I am willing to listen… and I am desperate to understand why I am so conflicted about marriage equality.
Because, I think, it doesn’t seem like equality at all.
So, why am I bothering to fight for something I simply don’t believe in?
It feels like another way to join another elite gang. A gang that will, if given half the chance, bully you mercilessly.
I’ve seen straight women do this. Brag about their married status to their unmarried friends. Causing those unmarried women to burst into tears when they are far enough away from their persecutor.
I asked Michael what he thought marriage would do to our gay culture. I said, I really want to understand your position.
Not sure what there is to “understand.” Until there is no foundation of complete legal equality for LGBT people, the rest of it, worrying about “our culture,” is frosting with no cake. That’s my position.
Our gay culture is very important to me. Even if it is on a separate page, in it’s own section at the book shop or the video store or on Netflix. I enjoy the separation. You see, I’m not very interested in what straight people make of me or the culture that has sprung up around me.
What will marriage equality do to the gay community?
How will these huge changes affect us and our behavior toward other gay man and women.
If a gay man tells his straight friend that he is getting married will his straight friend feel a flush of envy?
I asked if Michael felt ‘more equal’ than his American friends? He said:
Of course I do. I have approximately 300 more rights than American gay couples whose relationships are not legally recognized, rights that have financial and legal implications.
And no, I don’t feel sorry for gay couples who aren’t married by their choice, but I do feel sorry for those who don’t have that choice.
I don’t think that screaming about how proud you are not to be married carries a lot of weight when that right isn’t even on the table.
Like employment protection. Or do you also feel that a law that protects LGBT Americans from being fired also hurts “our culture?”
Oh dear, Michael was watching the NRA press conference at the time so his irritation may be excused.
He is, as you know, a very important Huffington Post blogger.
A ‘gay voice’. In the separate but equal ‘gay voice’ section of the Huff Post.
There is a great deal in this last quote that may make you wince… as I winced.
I come from England where Tony Blair gave Waheed Ali carte blanche to equalize the lives of hetero and homo sexual people.
I remember eating lunch in Malibu with Waheed who explained to me how the legislation was written.
He explained that the word Marriage may have been attractive to some but perhaps a little too divisive. They chose civil unions as the way forward.
Total equality (excluding the word marriage) was a great incremental step in the right direction and one that the majority of my gay friends in long-term relationships were happy to embrace.
Michael is not so sure.
“Civil unions” aren’t marriage, and they’re not equality.
He continued inaccurately:
They weren’t “chosen,” they were all they could get because no one would allow them to be married, with full marriage equality, including the rights of citizenship for spouses.
Just to be perfectly clear: the British do have rights for citizenship for spouses and UNMARRIED partners.
Now, that’s what I’m talking about.
After many years of legal parity, the British gays… from a position of strength are asking for the word marriage and asking a very conservative government to boot. They are certain to succeed.
Civil Union may be the best incremental baby step on offer?
What are the incremental baby steps that seem to get American gays no closer to federal recognition of same-sex marriage?
Married Michael Rowe is very proud of his life.
He has achieved what his parents probably wanted for him all through his childhood. The dream of a heteronormative existence.
The rest of the conversation disintegrated into name calling. He called me tiresome, I ended up calling him a cunt and he blocked me on FB and that was that.
If I were in my early thirties I might think that this is a golden age for gay men and lesbians. That I could enjoy a fully ‘out’ existence, meet the man of my dreams, marry him, buy some surrogate children and live happily ever after.
That is a perfectly lovely dream to have.
But I am still in two minds. Shouldn’t we all be fighting for something more than marriage, that marriage should not allow those who are to have so much more than those who are not?
This is not equality.
Some married gay men (like Michael) are already behaving like my mother and grandmother behaved toward their spinster/old maid/barren friends. Looking down their married noses.
Do I feel cheated out of different sort of gay life? If I had grown up around gay men getting married would I have thought differently about the men I dated and the future we could have had?
I have, undoubtedly, missed the man/man marriage boat. Joe and I talked about it briefly.
When I was growing up the thought of marriage (one man to another) was simply not a consideration. Like an orthodox jew would never think about eating bacon. I didn’t really think anything of not being married.
Being brought up in a small town where the majority of my straight peers had children but no marriage… marriage seemed Victorian and absurd. The people who were getting married were not… cool. They were… boring.
My straight friends who remained unmarried with many children did very well for themselves. They ran successful businesses. Their children went to great universities. They struggled and excelled equally along side those children who came from married families and broken homes.
There really was no difference between them and any other child.
The emphasis on family values seems to have gripped the gays as firmly as the straights.
What ever family means we don’t want to be left out of the explanation.
We all have a family of sorts. Some have blood relatives, others have an extended family of strangers.
Obviously, I have invested in the latter and have never been let down.
Which brings me to the final part of my blog today.
Sitting with the dogs on Franklin outside my coffee shop of choice I met a young Rabbi.
Charming, Cambridge educated and very enthusiastic.
He invited me to Shabbat the following Friday night.
I had, of course, enjoyed many a Friday night with the Cohen’s in LA. David, his wife and their 6 children. 40 people for pot luck dinner around a huge table on the lawn then talking about world events with a talking stick. It was perfect.
This Shabbat was very different.
There were several rabbinical students. I arrived mid prayer. For an hour we prayed.
The most exquisite boy with the most beautiful voice (and a baby) sang something on his own before the others joined in. When he started singing I began to cry.
They prayed and sang (they sang in Hebrew) and faced East, my rabbi friend was particularly enthusiastic. I sat beside him and he kept apologizing for everything, as if it were a trial for me to be there… when in fact it was beautiful.
I sat there thinking about the gays. After my run in with Michael.
I wondered if they would have confused my thoughts about how beautiful the singer was with wanting to fuck him. That most of my gay friends wouldn’t have just enjoyed him, they would have wanted to fuck him. ”He’s hot…”
We ate a huge dinner. We washed our hands ritually. After the dinner and conversations with truly wonderful people (I avoided talking Palestine) we sat together for more prayers and a fascinating chat about the Torah.
The young rabbinical students and scholars discussed in a really modern and interesting way what I had been taught was the Old Testament.
Jacob, Joseph and the blessing of the Pharaoh:
My years have been few and difficult.
They talked about other things.
A young man with thick, raven black hair told us he had just visited Sandy Hook. To offer ‘solace’.
At first I was irritated by the apparent intrusion, it seemed so arrogant.
I was wrong.
He explained that the town was packed with people from all over the world. That he had witnessed a funeral of one of the murdered children and the parents of the dead child were holding up signs in the car that said, very simply: ”THANK YOU.”
I found him after dinner and thanked him for reminding me that it’s easy to let other people do the difficult tasks.
If Sandy Hook had been an isolated incident then I might have felt differently but Sandy Hook is part of a macabre American theme and we must all, collectively… own it.
It is our responsibility.
That young Jewish man and his five friends had taken responsibility and travelled to Sandy Hook.
By doing so, they had a spiritual awakening. They were thanked by the parents of dead infants.
They understood (unlike those of us who did not go) something more about America, about bravery, about priority, about consequence.
The two parts of my day could not have been more different. The childish spat with an entitled gay man and the spiritual warmth of new family offered me by a group of heterosexual strangers.
Inclusion versus exclusion.
Last night Lady Rizo and I had dinner with Winston Churchill’s granddaughter. I was not the only gay at the dinner for 50. I avoided the other gays.
I have nothing to say to any of them.
There is a week of mayhem to report. A week of extraordinary conduct. A week of moving back east.
I can’t show you his face.
Only in NYC.
Then, I meet a woman who KNOWS all about my film. I mean, she knows the story like an urban myth. But it’s not a myth. It’s the sad truth.
“Oh, I know this story,” she said. Her eyes sparkling with anticipation. ”I think he’s my friend on Facebook. Yes, look…” she pulls out her smart phone and there he is. I push the phone away. I shouldn’t be looking at that.
“What was he thinking?” she roars with laughter.
Women love my film. It confirms everything they think they know about men. The injustice of men.
Dead five-year olds. 20 of them.
The children are shot dead by a crazed, entitled white boy. The little bodies buried this week. Lined up against the wall and executed. You know they didn’t have a clue. You know they did as they were told.
I thought about the little dog facing the lethal injection.
A horrific pendant: ten Afghan children are splattered into the mud by a drone.
Somehow their little brown faces are missing from the media. Somehow the little white children in Connecticut are worth more.
We asked you to vote for him, now he’s letting us down all over again. Surprise, fucking surprise.
I saw a man being mugged on the 5 train. Into Manhattan, a stealthy, tall, nimble black man rips an iPhone 4s out of an asian man’s hands leaving him with his ear phones on his head. The rest of us sat amazed.
The white people urged him to call the police but he said, “I’m already late for work.”
I’m buying a parker. It’s lined with blood-red shearling. Like the monkey they found in Ikea.
Dinner in the neighborhood, dinner at the Mercer Kitchen with Courtney, dinner at the Standard Grill with Brock.
Dinner with Cristina who I have not seen for 30 years on the floor of her palatial Upper East Side home. It was as if all those 30 years just melted away. That we were friends again from last week. Funny, compelling, brilliant, beautiful Cristina.
Dinner with new gay AA friends in cheap diners.
Dinner at Mary’s Fish Camp with Benoit. We stop at Boxers (gay bar) on the way home. There’s nothing for us. Benoit peels off leaving me on the street and as I wait for the green light a handsome green eyed man says hello.
At first I wonder why. Why is this stunningly handsome 27-year-old man saying hello to me.
Then we’re in Barracuda kissing each other.
I’m wearing that huge fur hat.
I can’t kiss him any more. I can’t suck any more spit out of his mouth. I can’t look into his green eyes.
I am so overwhelmed by him I walk through the rain until I am soaked to the skin. Wondering how it happens? Wondering how it ends up like this?
All the way home I’m humming Nature Boy to myself.
In the morning my room smells of damp fur.
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.