Archives for posts with tag: AIDS

Just Like You

Listen, I want you to know something about me.  I hate condoms. I hate wearing them. I love fucking raw. I love it. I don’t do it. I can’t do it.  I wanted to fuck my lover without a condom.  I want to cum inside you.  I love you.

This is what HIV looks like in 2013:

Brandon, he’s 22… he wants to be hog tied and fucked in the mouth and ass. He wants to meet me.

He wants me to ‘take control’ he wants me to beat him and fuck him.  He wants ‘verbal’. He enquired if I preferred him to call me daddy or sir.  I’m interested. This daddy loves an obedient boy.  We talk on the phone, he’s upbeat and sweet-natured but after we agree to meet he texts me:

‘Before we meet. I’m Positive. And I’m honest about it. Thoughts?’

I wait a moment. Restraint of pen and tongue.

I text him back. ‘Can we talk?’  I explain why I can’t meet him. I tell him that I’m scared and I don’t want to risk an infection. I’m too old to get infected. I lived through the AIDS catastrophe. I didn’t get infected.

The conversation I had with Brandon is not common. Usually when I say that I can’t have sex with someone who is HIV positive they spew vitriol.   They tell you that it was a ‘mercy fuck‘ anyway, that I’m ugly , that I’m ignorant… of course… I know what they are really saying.   They usually get what they want when they want it and woe-betides anyone who fucks with their plan.

Some HIV poz men feel that by being honest I will feel equally warm and fluffy and my respect for their honesty will translate into a fuck.

Let me tell you what I remember when someone tells me they are HIV positive.

I remember the gaunt, yellow faces of formerly beautiful young men crying because they don’t want to die. I remember men hermetically sealed from the world in plastic tents. I remember the smell of piss and shit.  I remember the quiet sobbing of newly widowed men.  I remember all of that and I cannot go there.

More controversially… when you tell me you are HIV positive I am confronted fair and square with your sexual history.  I imagine other men cumming inside you.

I just do. I can’t help myself.

That’s why I can’t sit facing the toilet when I am in a restaurant. Imagining people pooing and wiping their asses. It puts me off my dinner.

There are two communities. Two gay communities. The HIV negative and the HIV positive.  I have no interest in interacting sexually with the latter. I will be damned for writing that.

Brian says: ‘Duncan, someone who knows they’re positive and is on treatment can easily be less infectious than someone who doesn’t know that they’re positive and happens to have a high viral load, and is therefore very infectious.  That could be the issue of ignorance of which they speak. I agree no one has the right to go off on you for not wanting to play, but the issue is more complicated than pos/neg.’

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The issue is NOT complicated for me. I don’t want to be HIV positive.

The community with HIV is very eager to diminish their responsibility and guilt those without HIV into thinking it’s all ok just because they describe themselves as ‘healthy’.  They still have HIV and they can infect you… however low their viral load.  They claim they are ‘undetectable’ which means they have a very low viral load.

Undetectable is a big problem.  It is used incorrectly by many people to make others feel that the sex they have is safer than with those who are not undetectable.  Undetectable people are still HIV poz.  The condom breaks. You are now a slave to toxic chemicals.  A slave to big pharma.

Who are these undetectable people? These invisible men? Gay ghosts. Scarcely there.   Leaving behind just the whiff of AIDS.  HIV is totally avoidable in 2013. Yet, we still go on being the largest group of new infections in what is still an epidemic.  I don’t want to talk about Africa or straight people or intravenous drug users.

I want us to take some responsibility.   Especially those of you who are transitioning from the Neg community to the Poz community.  Those of you who make the choice… who made the choice last night to take a risk.  Those of you who thought, or did not think, as he came inside you… that you would risk the consequences of HIV.  You are packing your bags, you are moving to the other side. To the other gay community. The undetectable gay community.

Finally, one last nail in my gay coffin.

What’s this crap about gay men and shame? We can’t shame gay/bisexual men into wearing a condom?  Because they are gay or bisexsual and have shame about their sexuality?

We can’t shame gay men or bisexuals into making better choices for themselves?  Like we do smokers?  No… because the gay community must be shameless at all cost. We are gay! We live without shame.  We’ve been shamed ENOUGH.

Huh?

I say… shame those who knew they were HIV poz and took away the neg status of others by lying.  This really happens.  I know a few good men who have had their good health stolen from them by unscrupulous gay men.

There are two gay communities. One of them is HIV positive. The other is not.  Those who are not positive are described as elitist by those who are.  Those who are HIV positive scoff at those who are not… because the implication is: they weren’t pretty or handsome or desirable enough to get infected with HIV.

I am scared of getting HIV. Like some people are scared of snakes.

I am happy that I am HIV negative. In fact… I am proud to be HIV negative. Does that make me elitist?  Well, yes… if elitism means that I mostly took care of myself.

That I don’t have to buy costly drugs every month to stay… undetectable.

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Liberace Scott Thorson

I was asked to direct this movie, or a movie like it, ten years ago.

It was a script based on the autobiography of Liberace’s lover Scott Thorson.

I read the script, I met the producers, I met Michael Keaton who was, at that time, attached to the project.

Now, I don’t remember the script, I don’t remember the producers.

I remember meeting Michael Keaton in an obscure room in Santa Monica. Michael was very quiet, not at all enthused.

I remember asking myself why he would want to make this movie. I remember sharing ideas about performance and parameters.

He didn’t want to do an ‘impersonation’.

Another script about Liberace arrived, a more dynamic, dramatic and excessive script. It piqued my interest.

It began with Liberace’s final moments in the back of a limousine.

Liberace is often damned for claiming he wasn’t gay, for never admitting to his HIV status. That those around him at the end of his life went to extraordinary lengths to hide that he died of AIDS.

Of course, there are still people, (living people) who never admit they are HIV positive.

Such is the shame around HIV and AIDS.

But equally there were many people at the time of Liberace’s death who went to extraordinary lengths to reveal that he died of AIDS.

They exhumed his already buried body to prove their point.

There were too many people eager to shame him. For that’s what they wanted to do. Shame the gay man.

Liberace never said publicly that he was gay. He denied it. Again and again.

I sympathise with his denial. It was his choice, a choice we now condemn.

In these prescriptive times if you are not willing to say you are gay… someone else will.

Liberace was a brand.

Like Posh and Becks.  When David Beckham was caught cheating… they went to extraordinary lengths to protect their brand.

It’s understandable that Liberace lied on oath. He had everything to lose.

In those miserable homo-ignorant times there were plenty who would have delighted and profited from his downfall.

Lonely?

Reading the reviews for this film a theme emerges: Loneliness.

Mary McNamara LA Times: ‘A darkly moving look at two lonely men who briefly found something like love.’

Michael Thornton The Telegraph: The Lonely Liberace I knew.

There are countless other references to this ‘lonely’ man Liberace. His ‘lonely’ mother, his ‘lonely’ boy friend Scott.

Scott was ‘damaged’, Scott was a ‘gold digger’, Scott was a ‘lonely soul’. Scott was ‘played too sympathetically because he’s in jail for burglary’.

It seems like the prophecy of fearful mothers comes to pass in this movie, that their gay sons with end up alone, abandoned, unhappy.

The relationship between Scott and Liberace may seem familiar to any powerful, older man who lets a younger man into his life:

“They establish a bond that is a blend of romantic love, father-son affection, brotherly playfulness, and prostitution.”

Liberace, like Brokeback Mountain before it brings into hard focus the lives and loves of queer men.

There is the obligatory delight and revulsion (in equal measure) of the kissing. Two men kissing.

Two men kissing seems to remind many straight men that a tender intimacy can exist between men and that may very well interfere what they imagine we do.

The gay butt fucking they imagine… immediately… after meeting one another.

Men kissing, like men getting married, seems to inflame the homophobe.

I’m wondering why Steven Soderbergh wanted to make this movie, why a gay director wasn’t chosen?

Did he do it because it seemed like a cool thing to do? A straight man, so comfortable in his own skin that he can work with queer subject matter?

It still feels to me like straight boys (actors and director) getting together to prove a point.

With so many talented and extraordinary gay directors in the world how did this end up being made by a bunch of straight guys?

Was Liberace too difficult and distasteful and potentially divisive for a gay director?

When ever I have stood before a queer audience with my queer films (confirmed by other queer, male directors) the audience who have the most problems are those who want to say: I didn’t see me.

Gay man are desperate to see themselves and their lives as they live them in TV and film. It is perfectly reasonable for them to expect this.

Rather than the gay freak, the gay priest, the comedy gay… they, understandably, want to see themselves fairly represented. They want to see gay detectives, gay wedding crashers, gay teachers, plumbers, gay undocumented workers.

Many reviewers of Liberace: Behind The Candelabra smirk at the foolishness and naivety of the straight women who swooned at this obviously gay man.

I once researched a documentary about fag hags. All the women I spoke to who identified as fag hags felt adored and listened to, appreciated, respected by a man. Even if that man was gay.

Those women provide the clue to Liberace’s denial and downfall.

Liberace wasn’t lonely. He was a performing artist who found solace and validation, like many do, on the stage.

Every night he performed he bathed in the glory of his screaming fans. The unconditional love of his audience.

An adoring audience of many thousands will never be any match for the love of just one man.

I remember saying that to Michael Keaton as I sat there in that small room realizing who Liberace was.

NA 13

When I first started going to gay bars in Britain in the late 70’s we drove (with those lucky enough to own cars) twenty miles to Margate, a larger town near my home in Whitstable.

Margate is famous for being the birth place of conceptual artist Tracy Emin.

Margate was a derelict, regency ex-holiday resort.  Butlins had closed, Pontins was on the way out.  British people wanted to go to Spain where sunshine could always be assured.

The sweeping, majestic Palladian mansions were being torn down or turned into multi occupancy dwellings for the unemployed.

The crowd at the gay bar, run by morbidly obese Shirley was divided in two groups.  Two distinct crowds:  older, local men who had stayed local and younger men and boys who were using bars like this to spring-board into a metropolitan gay world.

The older men were routinely described as ‘bitter old queens’ by the younger men and there was indeed something bitter and suspicious about these older men that intrigued my teenage self.

Always the contrarian I hung out with them rather my teen peers and learned about these older men, their lives and their failed ambitions.

Older provincial gays who had been mocked, beaten and subjugated.

In Britain Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1965.

To me those old queens seemed incredibly brave for staying loyal to their home town communities.

To my younger ‘friends’ these men were simply stuck or foolhardy for not moving to the big city where their gay dreams could come true, their gay lives could be lived fully, openly and without fear.

My interest in them proved fruitless.  They may have been older but they were not very wise, stripped of ambition by soul rotting low self-esteem.

They wanted to be like everyone else.

I wanted to be different.

They mocked me as they had been mocked, they chastised me as they had been chastised, they still do.

Those older gay men waiting for younger gay boys to emerge from the shadows.  Supping gin and tonics.  Bacardi and coke.

Hanging around the local ‘cottages’ (public restrooms) waiting for straight boys to unload.  Playing an endless game of cat and mouse with law enforcement.

“So and so was sent to prison for cottaging.”  So and so would emerge a year or so later, jaundiced, older looking.

It seemed to me that these men had every right to be bitter.  They had every right to harbor resentments against a cruel society that deemed them criminals even after they weren’t.

The swinging 60’s, the sexual revolution, the progressive explosion, the post war boom really only affected my generation who grasped hold of the bucking bronco and held on for dear life until, of course, AIDS came along in the 80’s and we were all thrown far, far away.

The AIDS pandemic.  Fear in men’s eyes.  Disco dancing queens learning to dance to a different tune.

If I had taken pictures of those old gay men in the late 70’s they would have looked defiant, like those pictures of native Americans by Edward Curtis.  They were fat and badly dressed, their teeth were rotten, they were working class, they were left behind.

So, it amuses me now when I am described thus:  A Bitter Old Queen.

The advent of gay marriage, the normalcy of children for gay men (if they can afford it), the regular inclusion of gay men in prime time TV shows.  All of these changes have heralded a new acceptance, a new normal, a new peace of mind for young gay men.

Or has it?  A new generation with a new set of fears and anxieties.  “Will I ever earn enough to buy a surrogate child?”  “Am I pretty/handsome enough?”  “Should I be totally hairless?”  “Is my penis big enough?”   “Am I ‘straight acting’?  Will I get married?

A generation of gay men comparing and despairing.

What of us?  My generation?  Those of us who survived the great epidemic.  It seems that many gay men still feel left behind.

Shamed.

Last week I met a 55-year-old man who told me he was recently diagnosed with HIV even though he had, he assured me, never indulged in risky behavior.

He told me that older gay men were being revealed to be HIV positive because of a latent strain of HIV that only makes itself apparent after the age of 50.

A strain that has been there all the time, undetected.

I was shocked.  Perhaps I hadn’t dodged the bullet after all.

The man way lying.  I researched the claim.  There was nothing.  I asked my friends on Facebook if they had heard of this anomoly.  They had not.  They scoffed at the idea.

No, I reasoned, this man is a well-respected gay advocate.   As it turns out you can be a well-respected, well liked gay advocate and not be at peace with your HIV status.

Being gay for many men remains a hard task.

If I ever think of my ex boyfriend I still wonder what is was that kept him in the closet for so long.  Even now, after the revolution.  Why he created and maintained such an illusion? Risking his girlfriends health?  Lying to his family?

Then I wonder if we are all illusionist?

How easy is it in 2012 to tell the truth about being gay?

There seem to me like there are so many dirty little secrets that we hold onto.  That we continue to live shame based lives… even the youngsters, even when there is no reason to hide?

I wondered what we were striving for?  To join the military, to get married…

I got to thinking about David Petraeus resigning because he had an extra marital affair.  Adultery is illegal in the military but would those rules apply to serving gay men?  Would we, once married, be held to those same strict hetero rules?  Is this what we want?

Today I posted something about Israel.  Like most Europeans I find myself erring toward the support of the Palestinians.  I find the Israeli treatment of these falsely imprisoned people abhorrent and ironic.

What is the difference I ask myself between The Warsaw Ghetto and Gaza?

My American gay friends react with comments like:  all muslims are terrorists.

Just like I was told when I was a child that all homosexuals are pedophiles.

Those older, less educated, less principled, men were from a different time.  Embittered by circumstance, godless, hopeless.  Drowning their sorrows in great vats of beer, their greasy faced pushed against the window of life without ever joining in.

“No kissing at the bar, dear.”     Shirley would tell her clientele.  “No kissing at the bar.”

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This morning Robby picked me up from the house and drove me to Van Nuys.

Court day.

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.

Robby then drove me into Hollywood to the Gay and Lesbian Center where I waited in line for my annual HIV test.

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.

This week Paris Hilton was caught squealing at her friend’s Grindr. She’s right to be appalled. AIDS has taught us nothing.

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.

Gerard Falconetti looking like Robby

Sunday morning, children all over the bed.  Asking questions.  They want to know everything.  Inquisitive little things.  The sun is bright and warm.  My hostess is making blueberry pancakes and coffee.

Lily, their youngest, had dreams about heaven and hell.  Hell had something to do with a supermarket.  She said, “There were people in hell who shouldn’t have been there.” Which was a very astute observation for a 9 year old girl.

She’s Jewish, Jews don’t believe in heaven or hell.

The Little Dog is confused.  He’s a one man dog.  He’s been with J and J these past few months so his loyalty, understandably, shifted.  We are re-orientating him.  He slept with me last night.  Hung out at the house yesterday.  He lay on his bed as we toiled in the garden.

Robby and I spent the day doing errands.  I have my phone!  The garden is tidy!  The house is returned to normal!  The art is back on the walls!  Lost things have been found! There is food in the fridge!  The dog is happy!

Saw Safe House at the Malibu cinema with Robby, bumped into AA folk.  The film was ok but had one huge and unforgivable plot flaw.

Before the film we wandered down Cross Creek.  Wondering at the night.  The cold, damp breeze on my face.

Robby is the only person I tell everything.  He has seen me vulnerable and survived.  Not like Jennie and the others.  No room!  No room!

Last night we watched September IssueAnna Wintour really is an extraordinary woman.  She is also incredibly generous.  You know, don’t you, that she lent us her NYC house when we made Dorian Gray.  Hamish, I wish we had seen more of him.  I remember meeting Grace with Patrick Kinmonth when they worked at Vogue in  London and again, rather obscurely at a house in North Wales  years later.  She stole the show.

God, Andre Leon Talley is such a twat.  The least interesting character in the film…just because he tries so hard to be fabulous.  Inauthentic.  I knew him when I lived in Paris, we met at Karl Lagerfeld‘s house when Karl lived on the Rue de la Universite in the early 80’s.  Gerard Falconetti and I stopped by unannounced.

Falconetti’s brilliant grandmother Maria played Jean d’Arc in The Passion when she was 19 years old.

For some reason I remember touching Andre’s face, his skin was cold and soft.  Like an old handbag.

Gerard was 11 years older than me, so incredibly handsome.  A wonderful lover.  In 1981 Gerard played Meryl Streep‘s boyfriend in The French Lieutenant’s Woman.

In 1984 Gerard found out that he had AIDS and threw himself off the Tour Montparnasse.

Gerard was a generous, extraordinary friend.  He played Montserrat Caballe singing Tosca when I was sick with flu, he lifted my spirits with delicate macaroons from Carette.   He showed me the Paris I would later show those who have never been. The secret places we all need to know when we discover a city for the first time.

I have, somewhere, a note Karl sent Gerard referencing his grandmother.

That was then this is now…

I have a million things to do.  A great deal of catching up and making good.

I promised to write about being arrested.  Well, I will…but after conversations yesterday with my journalist brethren I’ll let them do the reporting and I’ll take a rest.  There’s still so much to tell you.

As you may know this entire being arrested thang was to do with this very blog.   What can or cannot be said.

Meanwhile on another part of the internet…you simply have to check out what is being said about me by identifiable enemies: an ex-employee calling me a sadist,  a gross individual from Province Town who attempted to malign me last summer,  some cretin accusing me of killing my own dog…these people are wrought with life affecting, overwhelming resentment.  It is so extreme it makes me laugh.

Baying for blood.  Send him back to jail!  Throw away the key!  If only, in some way, they could find a way of getting me locked up for ever…the death sentence even?

I am chuckling to myself.

Chris Lewis of Sydney Australia thinks I want your sympathy.  If I looked like Chris Lewis I would want your sympathy.  Even when he was young he was ugly.  You know very well that I report as I see…as truthfully as I am able.  It is my unalienable right to do so.  I don’t want sympathy.  I need your support.  Those of you who have stood by me, my God!  I never expected such amazing gifts.

Marilyn Monroe, of all people, said that for every fan excited to see her there were 10 enemies waiting to bring her down.   Being hated is an occupational hazard for those of us who do not live in the shadows.  If you think what people write about me is outrageous…try being Rachal Maddow.

Somebody called from the jail yesterday, he is as well as can be expected.  How quickly one forgets. Yet…you know me.  The lure of the uniform…the smell of ruminating men…ransacked sexual fantasies.

Do you know what a Nonce is?  It’s a slang word for a child molester.  I taught the men in my dorm at Men’s County Jail this very English word.  By the time I left they were calling each other Nonce, it was quite inappropriate…but very funny.

By the way, I didn’t get any Christmas cards whilst I was at the jail, I thought you didn’t care!  I now know that many of you sent cards and letters of support.  Apparently, they were all returned as having inappropriate content.  What were you sending me?

One’s body is weakened by three months of inactivity.  Working in the garden was exhausting yesterday.

Thank God for Robby.

As I lay here, at what ever time during that constant night…the ghosts of Wilde and Cocteau, Rimbaud and Verlaine come to me.  The fragrant, aromatic smoke he blows to me through the tiny hove carved between cells.  The great poet cries, “Hard labour!”  And all…for love.

A famous passage from the Ballad of Reading Gaol:

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard.
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word.
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

The line is a nod to Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, when Bassanio asks, “Do all men kill the things they do not love?”

A passage from the poem was chosen as the epitaph on Wilde’s tomb.

And alien tears will fill for him,
Pity’s long-broken urn,
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.

Yesterday a pair of young film makers turned up at the apartment to work with me on their well written but unfocused script.

The man was leaving as they arrived.

They said, “Wow, he’s gorgeous.  Where do you meet men like that?”

Not in clubs or bars, not grindr or Manhunt.  I meet men like that as we pass in the street.  He said, “You looked mean.”  I am…I suppose.  I do.  Keep the fuck away from me.

Anyway, the film makers sat down and we talked about their script.  It was revealed, during our conversation, that one of these young men had recently found out that he was HIV+.

This is the third time I have heard this story, or one like it this past month.  His sex partner had not told him the truth about his HIV status before he agreed to have unsafe sex.

He had been lied to.

I was shaking with rage.

Like J risked J’s life when he was fucking HIV+ artist Pal S behind her back, like X had been lied to…these innocent folk had made bad decisions based on the lies they were told.

On each occasion the liar had tried to make it the victim’s fault.

” You shouldn’t have believed me.”

“You must have realized.”

“I can’t talk about this right now, you are complicating my life.”

“What kind of straight man doesn’t play sports?”

He is 25 years old.  A young man dealing with a huge problem.  He told me that he feels like he has ‘gone back into the closet’, that ‘no one could possibly love him’, that he is ‘damaged goods’.

“How do you feel about the guy who infected you?”  I asked.

“He’s evil.” he replied.

“Misguided?”  I suggested.

No, I told myself, not misguided.  I knew he was right.  Deliberately infecting or risking the lives of others…is simply evil.

My phone rang, I made a plan to see a friend the following morning.  

The boys looked at me askance. What?  I said.  “I’ve never seen anyone make an arrangement like that on the phone.  We text each other.”  I felt suddenly dislocated from life.  How come I didn’t know?

The kid with HIV is now at the mercy of the pharmaceutical companies who stand to take millions of dollars from him as he tries to stay healthy.

The same companies who promote their products in our gay publications… paying top dollar to do so.

Look at the pictures.  Strapping, healthy boys living with HIV.

Big Pharma shaping this generations attitude toward HIV as a manageable/livable with disease… just like diabetes!

Turn your back on health education, embrace ignorance and a life shackled to Big Pharma.  Enslaved at 25.  My heart bled.

“I never knew anyone who died of AIDS.” he said.

When this young man was being bullied at school for being gay he may very well have been reassured by the biggest deception of all:  It Gets Better.  Dan Savage‘s message of false hope.

It is another gay lie.

We don’t treat each other very well.  We don’t talk about not treating each other very well.

They stop bullying us…we start where they left off.

If they don’t damage you…we will…with my lies and infected sperm.

It’s not getting better for the young man I met yesterday.  It’s getting a whole heap worse.  Straight bullies didn’t lie and infect him with HIV.  Gay men did.

Gay men lied to three of my friends…confirming that it is not just an HIV epidemic, it is an epidemic of lies, betrayal and life threatening denial.

Uneducated, shamed, arrogant, drug fucked gay men with no principles.

Just like Jake.

The only reason I have to come back to NYC so frequently is to meet Jake in court.  Prolonging the inevitable.

Forced, yet again, to indulge his tantrums, his ego, his selfishness.

Without me in his life to define him as the victim…what is he left with?  Without me and his appearances in court…he returns to the mundane fixtures and fittings of the life that was…if one can call it a life?

Yet, when I am here in NYC, I make the most of it.  Happily wiling away the days, finishing my novel, seeing movies, hanging with my buddies, walking the dog, enjoying the humid nights tangled in your arms.

When he left this morning we both said, almost in unison, ‘I don’t do goodbyes’.   I don’t.  He had his bicycle over one shoulder, he didn’t look back.  I can still smell him on my fingers.

I will have a shower when I get back to LA.

There are certainly occasions in one’s life when one wishes for a different outcome. Yesterday was one of those days.

Most of the day was just fine. Dan headed upstate to see his father and I was left with vacuuming duties. I walked the dog, made calls, wrote my blog. I enjoyed the beautiful spring morning sitting outside Mud cafe drinking their pungent coffee.

I sat in the steam room with Brendan and his buddy. Ian turned up for tea at 4 and we watched a little of the Kentucky Derby festivities on the roof of Soho House. Women in large hats and men is suits with white carnations pinned to their lapels.

After a short nap I changed into a very slimming Helmut Lang suit and headed up town where I met my friend Zack, his friend David and Austin. We ate huge New York steaks for dinner. The conversation centered largely around new incidence of HIV infection, our irrational fear of contracting AIDS and what these fears really mean. Remember, I was convinced in 1985 that I was dying of AIDS. I was so certain that the doctors who were giving me the negative results were lying to me that I ended up having three or four tests a week in clinics all over London.

I ended up in The Henderson Hospital in Sutton, Surrey.  A total wreck.

The conversation shifted to how gay men in the USA tend to just fight for the issues that directly affect them and not for the community of gay men with all its various needs. It infuriates me that a) the gays are constantly worried by what their enemies are thinking about them. b) they are frightened to be seen to fight for their rights. c) The gays who are shaping whatever equality legislation is being shaped are so arrogant that they can’t begin to accept any outcome other than the one that they have defined. Gay MARRIAGE for instance. Nothing less will do…even if it means nothing at all.

After dinner Austin’s husband Jake turned up looking great and we all headed over to Ken Mehlman‘s apartment. Why? Birthday party.

Austin and Jake had the right idea, they left immediately.  I waded into a vat of fascist molasses.

The level of discomfort I felt is almost impossible to articulate.  200 gay men who usually wear suits now dressed in overly tight tee shirts, chinos rolled up to mid calf and brightly colored accessories.

In the very heart of this wasps nest I saw Herndon Graddick a creepy representative from the absurd, self-congratulatory, gay organization GLADD. Another smug, gay clique that gives out awards to straight people for being our friends. Why do we give straight people awards for being our friends? Because we are so damned grateful. Thanks straight people.

Anyway, when I arrived there was Herndon Graddick sucking up to Ken Mehlman. Apparently I had fallen out with Herndon years ago. I couldn’t remember why. Apparently I sent him nasty text messages. He probably fucking deserved them.

Ken Mehlman’s apartment was so devoid of personality I thought maybe it was being staged for sale. His sterile bedroom was decorated in brown and beige and the bed looked like it was cast in concrete. Like him, his environment was hostile and ugly.

He is perhaps one of the most repellent individuals ever to come out as gay…apart from The Penguin. It made my blood boil that he had selfishly put his self-serving career ahead of his own needs as a human being or the needs of others (like the Penguin) and cruelly turned his back on his gay community, the same community that now sat around drinking his vodka served by a grumpy straight boy.

Ken Mehlman is morally bankrupt yet, because he has money, these vile, insipid queens flock around him with gay abandon. Ignoring that he betrayed every one of us.

He is like a Jew who relished throwing other Jews into the ovens at Auchwitz.

To my knowledge he has never apologised, he has never acknowledged his part in the ongoing homophobic carnage during his tenure as chair of the RNC.

True, this vile man acknowledged that, had he come out of the closet earlier, he could have impacted Republican efforts to pass state initiatives and referenda banning same-sex marriage. Fuck you Ken Mehlman.

NOT ALL CLOSETS ARE CREATED EQUAL!

His guests were just as disgusting.

Met this small, Jewish man who works for some gay rights organization. He was so fucking naive. He told me in all seriousness that they had found out through a ‘study’ that most straight people site ‘love and relationship’ as the reason for getting married and not (as the gays are always demanding) for rights and benefits. Hey buddy, tell your gay friends to start asking for their love to be recognized rather than a bunch of nebulous rights and we may very well get our message heard.

He was trying to persuade me that his mission was to get Ken to convince George W Bush to come out in favor of gay marriage. Think about that for a moment… think about it.

The same dwarfish, Jewish kid mocked the British for their Civil Unions. I was simply appalled. What a CUNT. I should have punched him.

As we left Zack and I decided to say goodbye to Ken and thank him for having us. Zack said, “You are my hero.” Ken made him repeat the line three times.

We left the party. Headed over to some deserted bar. Met up with cute boy from last night. I was so fired up by the inequity of the evening that I walked home, took dog to park and went to bed.

Woke up in a panic.  The thing growing in me.  That thing.  Must get it removed.  Have to get it removed but can’t move until everything is sorted.

Too much to sort out before I get there.

Manhunt Date number 9.  A 28-year-old Kuwaiti doing a PhD in architecture at UCLA.  He drove from Brentwood in the thick fog arrived at 10.30 was gone by midnight.  What do people think they are when they describe themselves as masculine?   What in heaven’s name does it mean?  Needless to say this was a huge queen under the thinnest veneer of ‘straight acting’.

The last ten minutes of the ‘date’ he was looking at his kindle and I was staring into the fire willing him to leave.

He left.

Poor lamb, driving up my foggy wet mountain in the pitch black only to be sent home because he didn’t meet my exacting standards.  He asked me about my past relationships.  Of course I told him the Jake saga but as I told him I thought..why am I telling you this?  Not even I am convinced by this story.

One interesting note, when JB was kicked out of his apartment by his long-term gf for being a lying, sociopathic, cheater Jake’s ex-gf  told him he had to pay his part of the rent until the lease expired..I think it expires this November from what I can remember…anyway.  When I told the Kuwaiti that he had been thrown out and had to live with his parents in Westchester the Kuwaiti was outraged that the gf had demanded half the rent.

The gays never get that bit of the story..why he couldn’t just walk away without paying her anything.  They never get the commitment/contract part of a relationship.  They squeal, as did the Kuwaiti, “Why should he continue paying his part of the rent in an apartment that he didn’t live in?”

When Jake complained to Pal the artist he was fucking with (allegedly) HIV behind the gf’s back about the rent issue…(Jake told me that he only found out after they stopped fucking that Pal was HIV positive..but I doubt it.  Pal doesn’t look like the kind of man who would keep quiet about his HIV positive status knowing that Jake was in a sexual relationship with a woman?  No, he looks like a responsible kind of guy.)

Well…

Pal, allegedly, told Jake to stop paying the rent and cut JA out…like a cancer.  This was a woman who had cancer scares ALL THE TIME!

Thankfully Jake did the right thing…he continued paying his part of the rent and the electricity bill despite casting himself as the victim to me and his gay friends.  He was so pissed when he got kicked out of the house…because it meant that he had to live with his parents.

He might have to behave responsibly.  Of course the moment he moved in he just did what he always did, acting out with drugs, alcohol and online hook ups.  But with the added advantage of having parents who would now co-sign his bullshit.

What a fucking moaner!  Unable to see his part in anything.  Complaining about his sister Emily’s wedding and the part he had to play in it.  Complaining about going to Cape Cod.  Complaining that he didn’t live in the East Village anymore.

You should have told the fucking truth!  How about that as a radical idea?

Weinstein pay him $7k to rewrite/line edit scripts for them.  He did three of them the fortnight before we left for Paris and he was still loathed to put his hand in his pocket to buy anything.  The day we drove all day to Cannes he bought me a Mars Bar.    I drove all day and he bought me a lousy MARS BAR?  And you are wondering why I am taking him to small claims court?  The day we drove from Sanary Sur Mer I packed the car with inexpensive and delicious food.

The first time I told him definitively that we should break off our relationship was when I realised that he was drinking and driving.  He would get totally DRUNK in NYC then take the train all the way to Katonah then drive to his parents house..drunk as a skunk…then call me moaning or crying about how TERRIBLE his life was…or text me from the train because he was lonely and I would (foolish me) always be there for him..because as he mocked in one of his last emails…”you find me irresistable…admit it.”

I did.  I found him irresistible.

Jake lived on the filthy underbelly of life because he chose to.

BTW art lovers!  Do look at Pal’s fantastic paintings…they are fucking GORGEOUS…if you are decorating a hospital.  He’s a handsome man.  Pity that he fell into Jake’s ‘straight boy honey pot’.  I wonder if he really did lie about his HIV status as Jake claimed.  Jake lied about everything.

If I were her I would sue that piece of lying shit.

My producer comes today to shape the treatment.   My friend RF tried to visit yesterday but blew a tire on the way up here.  I drove down the hill to find him forlornly at the edge of the road.  I had a long chat with Sharon about film funding.  Things seem to be picking up.   I worked more on the script and loved it.

I ate two bowls of corn flakes and felt tired in my bones.

My heart has been broken and rather than cry gently to myself I am so fucking angry.

That entitled prick has got away with murder and I am daily incensed by how he treated me and others.   Even 6 months after he came out he was still regretting his decision.  He would have been perfectly happy to stay in his vampiric relationship with her whilst he fucked men on the side.  That was a choice!  He knew exactly what he was doing and used her.  Don’t you dare lecture me about collateral damage!  I didn’t cause this mess.

JB is a reptile.

Raining hard here in Malibu but you wouldn’t know it if you look at the weather websites.

There is a leak from the skylight.   I really didn’t expect the rain for another few months.

Unexpected and welcome water for the garden.

My tummy aches and so do my balls.  Nothing much to report today.  I have to work my way through a pile of papers that need dealing with.

Neither of the dogs are enamoured by the rain.

Yesterday friends popped over.  It was nice to see them.

I may just go back to bed.

Oh yes, I went to WeHo to a gay AA meeting to get a 14 year ‘cake’ then dropped in on John.

I should get on my knees and pray.

I keep thinking about all those men I knew who died of AIDS.  Years ago.

Nancy Rubins

The Nancy Rubins show at Gagosian is the real deal.  Not one wasted wall nor expectation disappointed.  Spread over four galleries on two floors this energetic show needs to seen.  The huge newer gallery to the south of the original space has never been used so successfully.  It is devoted to an ambitious, spectacular forest of kayaks that delight and inspire!   Pewter colored boats strung together with high tensile wires exploding thirty feet into the air.

We were shown smaller bronze editions that somehow don’t lose their magnificence even though they seem like maquettes for the larger works.

The art was violent and beautiful just as one would expect.   Huge, crumpled graphite on paper pieces bearing down like storm clouds.  The whimsical collages..covetable.    A most enjoyable experience.

Nancy Rubin lives in Topanga, Los Angeles.

My day began with breakfast at Cecconi’s with John.   We talked about an art project for his store.

I called TW but he is in the midst of an obsession so cannot be relied upon to carry me away from mine.  My obsession to get out of dodge, to leave these filthy streets.

There was a rat that had to be dealt with in Malibu.

Chatted with travelling companion.  Listen, every day that passes until I get onto that plane to Paris is absolute torture.  I CANNOT wait.  He thought I sounded pensive.  Not really pensive, just bored, uninspired.  Bored of LA.  I need an enriching, invigorating, salubrious experience.

I am glad that I am taking a friend.  It is always so delightful to see things through new eyes.  I think we both need to run away.  What we don’t need is more drama, prying eyes or complicated love affairs.

Even my more evenhanded friends seem haunted at the moment.  Haunted by the prospect of no prospect.  The economy, the war, the oil spill..the groggy, ineffective Obama administration.

I remember moving here.  I thought, back then, that anything was possible in LA.  I was wrong.

I am tired of the interminable struggle of living.   Every day is a monstrous challenge. Every fucking day.   Driving, parking, dealing with half-wits.  Driving, parking, dealing with half-wits.

Nancy Rubins

Although I woke up this bright Sunday morning feeling a little less pessimistic I swerve from irritable and discontent to the inner peace of absolute acceptance..then it’s back to the dark side.  Malcontent, that’s what I am.  Even looking at art yesterday, as inspirational as it was, could not stop me yearning for Europe.

I wondered what steps I could take to not be on my own.

I thought about joining a dating site.  I tapped in the name of the site.  As soon as the site popped up I was reminded of a time when all I wanted was to hear the reassuring buzz of new messages.  Looking at that site was incredibly depressing.  Page after page of cock pics, ass pics and naked men.   On either side of the multiple cock pics were ads for porn sites.  Mountains of white, heaving flesh.

I have no currency on sites like that.  I am invisible and rightly so, I have no reason to be there.   No reason to be judged simply by my age, weight and the size of my penis.

I know that this plan works very well for many men.  I have heard from friends how relationships form and prosper.    Many things work for other people that have never worked for me.  The ease with which I see my friend become a fully fledged and engaged gay man has shocked me into knowing just how stunted my own experience has been.

The prospect of never being touched or kissed again fills me with fear.  Is it so unreasonable to want a man who loves me as much as I love him?

If I have learned anything these past few months it is this:  my heart sings when I am in love.  Not when I have sex that is disconnected from my feelings.   I wish I could!  I wish that I had been made that way.  But, the truth is..if I had been made that way I would have been killed by AIDS years ago.  Before we knew what AIDS was.  My reticence saved me though ultimately kept me on my own.

Nancy Rubin

I have never been so eager to meet someone yet so disconnected from the possibility.  I am resigned to the fact that it is totally unlikely to happen.

Friends, I suppose, are just as good.

I will be travelling with a great friend.  I am grateful for that.  Grateful to have a friend with whom I can laugh and although I once wanted more it is with the same resignation that I understand that what I have is just as good.

Some people will always be there.  Until the very end.  I hope that by sharing this journey he remains my friend.   Seldom have I experienced such ease with another and have, on occasions, confused that with being in love.

I spent almost the entire day with Dom.  We saw the show at Gagosian, ate lunch in Beverly Hills then I came home had a nap and cooked dinner for the both of us.  Carrot and ginger soup, pork chops and peas then cups of British tea.  It’s a quarter after 12 and he just left.  Shooting the shit, putting the world to rights.

As for sex addiction?  What of that?  Well, I have been really well-behaved.  Not acting out, not objectifying, intriguing, not making inappropriate comments, not looking at porn, not…well, not doing anything that might compromise my sobriety.

Dom Nancy Rubins

I think my friends here worry about me.  Think that I might be depressed.  They might have a point.  It has been a very, very hard six months.  Not with people, but with banks and aspirations and an inability to make art.

The trouble with LA is the lengths one has to go to make sense of every day.  I have been here for five years now.

Five long years in purgatory.

On Friday night I had dinner at Soho House with a new friend.  It was like dining with a ghost.   A beautiful man with no soul.   A beautiful man who referred to me as an uncle.  Again.  That fucking word.  Asexual uncle.   I didn’t pay for dinner.   Uncles pay for dinner.

Eating cheese and pastrami with lashings of piccalilli smeared over the top.  The inside of my mouth is burning.  My lips are burning with desire.  Not really.  My lips are just bored.  I am waiting for the mail to arrive so I can walk to bank and get on with the day.

I just scaled Mount Runyon with Sherpa Lil Dog, we saw two gorgeous yeti and had to: Alert! Avert! Affirm!    It’s simply no good for me to gaze longingly at the perfectly honed abs of my fellow Runyon climbers.

Yesterday I realized, after chatting with a friend of mine with HIV that the average drug company will make over $2, 000, 000 out of a single person with HIV during their life time.  Where is the incentive for those drug companies to educate gay men about staying negative?   Anyway, I am fast realizing that the sexual health education that gay men need is nothing to do with safe sex and everything to do with self-love.

The drug companies have no compassion for gay men, no desire to educate an underclass with no real rights, who are despised by most Christian bigots and have so little respect for themselves that they routinely get infected with HIV and become another $2, 000, 000 meal ticket for big pharma.

Pharmaceutical executives must be rubbing their hands in glee when another gay man converts from positive to negative.

This has to stop.  We must start educating the next generation of gay men to love themselves enough to make good sexual health choices.

I got to thinking about my friend Amanda and how we recently hit a bit of a rock.  I think deep down, even though she has gay men around her to dress her, she really has no respect for gay men. For many people we are clowns who have no right to complain or behave as anything other than grotesque queens.   We are, to her, useless absurdities.   Her notion that it is somehow ridiculous for us to have children, for us to have politics, opinions, etc.  She’s not alone; I think many people are outraged by all of that and more.

Whatever I may have written about gaybies in the past I now see gay men having children as a delicious act of rebellion.  It confronts homophobia head on.

Eric and the Little Dog

When I gave up taking cocaine and drinking I remember that friends would call at 3 in the morning on my house phone. I’d say, “Why the hell are you calling so late?” They’d mumble back that they were ‘drunk’. At 9 the following morning I would return their call. They’d say, “What the hell you calling so early?” I’d reply, “I’m sober.”

These people were my ‘lower companions’ and my house was always full of them. They were a tough crowd to convince that I was going to stay sober. Slowly but surely they all vanished, off to different parties or on some occasions dying alone in their rooms, needles in their arms. Lower companions are neither your social or intellectual or financial equals. They are people you only indulge within the context of your addiction.

The halcyon days of early sobriety. Clean sheets and brushed teeth. I got sober October 1st 1996. How I loved that first autumn and winter of my sobriety in London. Flying around town in that cute little green Porsche those other men said I drove like a handbag, living in that glorious house in Kensington and wearing wonderful clothes. Within two years that would all be gone. Those were the tough lessons of early sobriety.

Lesson one: Whatever I have right now is ENOUGH and enough is all I need.

My last but one blog before I pack up my twitter bag and change my blog direction.

Sex Rehab finale airs on Sunday and not a day too soon. Oh you ungrateful gay! How can you be so ungrateful? Nobody knew who you were before Sex Rehab! Now people know who you are. The stinking wind of semi-fame, fame for no good reason, fame for fame’s sake blows over me at night and wakes me gasping for air. Duncan the obscure. Could you have sunk much lower than reality TV!

Oh yes I could. I have. Much lower-but on who’s scale? People seem to think that those of my ‘co-stars’ who made pornography are pretty low on the unfathomable scale. Nah, they are just performers, wandering minstrels who offer vagina rather than lute. Their acting skills have kept me calm when the demons are upon me.

According to some, when one agrees to appear in reality TV, one surrenders any claim one might have had to integrity or dignity. Is that true? Even an obvious aesthete like me? I am a fucking dilatant! I am on life’s grand tour sampling what culture a country has to offer and this is America’s cultural phenomenon. Reality TV! How could I NOT have been a part of it? I commissioned a great portrait of myself by the artist VH1.

Back to today’s theme: Lower Companions.

I tried yesterday and the day before to reach out to Jennie but she ignored my calls and emails. I wanted to avoid the scorched earth policy I usually enact in these situations. I did not/do not want to lose my temper; I did not want to disguise my pain with anger. I did not want to hurt myself. So, I wrote a blog.

Joe

Yesterday’s blog caused my usual commentators some consternation. ‘I will never read another word you ever write!’ One woman scrawled. ‘Poor Jennie! Poor Eric.’ They bawled. Let me tell you something blog readers/commentators. I enjoyed deleting those pathetic comments.

That’s how far I sank. Hankering to be let into the Jenny and Eric club? Are you fucking kidding? Their shrill laughter and bad skin. Over lit kitchens and badly cooked food. That’s how far I sank. Swimming in the sewer with Jenny and Eric. Come on pornsters-bring it on!

I turned and said to Anthony Rendlesham, “Get behind me, Henry Higgins! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

So that was the state of my scrambled mind yesterday. That and dog issues to deal with and lawyers late at night and the reckoning-which is Polish for cheque please!

Can you remember a time when all your closest friend began to die all at once?

I had breakfast with John and whilst we were eating Benoit emailed me and I was flush with pride. Then, in the afternoon, after a long walk on Runyon with Isaiah who wore tight brown boots and a pompadour Joe stopped by. Beautiful, sweet adorable, bright-eyed Joe.

Joe asks me the most exacting questions. He was asking me what I was like when I was his age. I told him that by the age of 24 I had become a nihilist. That in 1984 we were four years into an AIDS epidemic that would go on to kill millions and millions of people but at that time just seemed to be killing my friends.

Nihilism is sometimes used to explain the general mood of despair at the perceived pointlessness of existence that one may develop upon realizing there are no necessary norms, rules, or laws.

I realized what had happened when I first met Joe and his gang of friendly friends. The revulsion I felt. These beautiful young men gathered around me talking and having fun and I felt nauseous. I called my therapist Jill and she said, “How old did you feel?” And I said, “Not like I was a child..more like in my early twenties.” And I saw that I had never ever talked about being left behind by my tribe who had all died and I had not. That there were so many funerals and tearful farewells with boys just like Joe. With friends who one felt abandoned by-even though they had died and I had not!

HIV

One day you faint when the gardener cuts his finger the next you’re wrapping the dead, emaciated body of a young man in a turning cloth because nobody else will do it.

Do you remember Danny and Evan? Do you remember how much they loved each other? How they couldn’t bear to be apart? How kind Evan was and how beautiful it was to hear Danny tell Even how much he loved him. Evan looked just like Joe and was just as full of hope. They both lay screaming in separate hospital beds surrounded by nurses dressed in body suits. Danny was screaming because he didn’t want to die. He was too young. ‘I’m too young.’

I asked Joe to imagine a world where he watched all his young friends die of AIDS. Every beautiful man he knew and loved dying in the most harrowing, ugly way. Regardless of income. Plagued by shame.

I don’t want to hear ONE criticism of me or my life. I lived through a fucking plague that killed all my friends and I survived! I survived. Survive to be excluded by people like Jenny and Eric? Fuck that.

And I never talk about it because I can’t. It’s not my tragedy-it’s ours.

Black people write to me and tell me that I will never know what it is like to be black. We all hold onto to our own experience and in moments of peril hold it out in front of us like a shield. And I whisper to myself that the blows may stop falling if I say: I am a black man, a gay man, a woman, an abused child, that I saw my friends, a generation of fine young men die of the most disgusting disease.

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