Archives for posts with tag: Gay community

I’m trying to write everything down but somehow the past few weeks have blurred into one long delicious adventure.

NYC and back again in the car.

Let me remember.

I drove east through death valley and this was the temperature:

Death Valley 118 Degrees

I drove through Utah during the day which was very wise.  Utah is very beautiful.  Devastatingly beautiful.

Emery Utah 2

You see.  I can’t find the words.

I stopped in Des Moines and enjoyed the state building and the wonderful contemporary sculpture park given to the community by John and Mary Pappajohn, a Des Moines venture capitalist and his wife.

I met a young hair dresser with blue hair.

Capital Building Des Moines

18 Year Old Des Moines Hairdresser

I stopped in Chicago and met a huge football player.

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I spent the 4th July in Chicago. The Fireworks terrified Dude, my little brown dog.

July 4th Boys

I arrived in NYC.  Just in time for the horrible heat wave.

It was so hot I had to leave the dogs inside the apartment during the day or risk them dying of heat exhaustion.

I sat uncomfortably in AA meetings.

I stayed on the upper west side.  A block from Central Park.

Central Park

We walked every day off leash at dawn around the Great Lawn.  We saw beautiful young men exercising.  We, being me and the dogs.

I explored Red Hook and saw a band at Dustin Yellin‘s place called Guerilla Toss.

Guerilla Toss

I met a beautiful man in the street and kissed him.

Sparky

Why was I there?

I had gone east to reclaim my gayness after months of feeling like an ex-gay.   Hanging onto the word queer as the only way to describe my isolation from the gays.

New York.

I spent my birthday at the cloisters with Richy.

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I read from my blog at a Lower East Side gallery and they paid me for doing so.

I met more interesting people on the street.

Michael 2

I helped a friend edit his movie.

Then, unable to stand the searing heat a moment longer, I drove to Sayville taking the first ferry to Fire Island.  The Pines.

I rented a small house on Cedar Walk but didn’t spend any time there at all.

From the moment I arrived I had one extraordinary experience after another.

Pines Domestic Life

I met cool people,  and coveted their things.

Beautiful FIP crockery

I was invited into their homes and onto their yachts, I met their friends and ate their food.  I returned their hospitality by paying for them as and when they would let me.

I walked to Cherry Grove where I had breakfast with John Walters.

I had dinner with Andy Tobias…

Andy Tobias

… in my favorite Fire Island Pines home.

My Favorite FIP House

Duncan Roy

I met a gang of charming gay men from NYC who were kind and considerate.

I spent time with all of them in the city once I returned.

This one is called Jon.

John Stevens Naked

As I let myself fall into the gay Fire Island days I began to remember how much fun being gay is.  Even if I was sober and a little bit older.

I walked the beach.

Fire Island Pines Beach

I had a huge old man crush on this beautiful boy:

Ian

Who worked here:

FIP Barman

I saw Justin Bond.

Justin Bond an Joan Fontein

I looked in at the house where we lived for so many years.

Grey Gardens FIP

And I met more men.

Blue Eyes

I spent time on my own.  I found an abandoned cock ring on the board walk.

Abandoned Cock Ring

I walked miles of boardwalks with the dogs who came home covered in tiny ticks.

Boardwalk Fire Island Pines

I finally met a beautiful man who left for India but lives in Paris who stole my head/heart.

I was so god damned happy.

The morning after the Pines Party I prepared to leave.

The Morning after the Pines Party

After ten days I took the ferry, then another ferry to Provincetown.

Provincetown Beach

I rented a small apartment on the beach and met more men.

Beautiful Man

I hung with my friend Benoit Denizet Lewis but the sparkle that used to exist between us has gone.

Benoit Denizet Lewis

We explored the graveyard.  We found Norman Mailer’s grave and a pretty headstone with a small dog carved into it.

Dog Grave

I ate a great deal but didn’t put on any weight as I walked so many miles every day.

I found this beautiful ceramic mirror frame:

Owl Mirror Frame Provincetown

I met more men.

Bulgarian Boat Boy

Eventually I drove back to New York and stayed with friends.  This is their view:

NYC View

I partied with Jeremy Kost…

…and his friend.

I had dinner with Dan at Mary’s Fish Camp.

Dan Hyman

I had dinner with Thom at my club on the roof by the pool:

Thom

I wore this chic watch:

Rolex

We worked on my film.

Franck in the office

Then, after another week in the city I took the car all the way home again.

I met a hitch hiker who travelled all the way to California.  His name is Albert.

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I stayed in The Lincoln Hotel in Chicago.

Bartender

Christian

I stayed in Denver.

Zach

I stayed in Utah.

We drove from Cedar City to LA in half a day.

We drove up the mountain in Malibu, up the drive and finally slept in our own bed.

It has been misty and cool.

Malibu Marine Layer

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Published today in The Fix and responded to in The Advocate….

On October 1st I will be 16 years sober.

That means that I have not had a drink or a drug for 16 years.

I got sober and I didn’t relapse.

Gay men find it impossible to stay sober. They relapse again and again. The reason is clear: sex. Sexual addiction. I am not suggesting that all gay men who claim that they are alcoholic are in fact sex addicts but most gay men who can’t stay sober cite sex as the primary reason for relapse.

The simple fact of the matter is that most of the time, readily available anonymous hook ups quickly take the place of alcohol and drugs. When a sober man walks into the apartment of a super hot man doing crystal meth, sobriety is quickly flushed down the toilet along with HIV status.

I hear the story over and over again. Yet, as a community, we think we can get away with this risky behavior. It is an arrogant vanity.

Gay AA is a sad affair. I go periodically—mostly when I flee the super charged straight stag meetings because I find the straight, young newcomers too triggering.

While many straight sober people create a new life with AA that involves abandoning bars and other locations that might lead to relapse, gay sober men often want a sober version of the life they had before, complete with dance parties, bars and gogo boys. Any reason to have a party will do—including the absurd “three-month anniversary.” Or, as one galling invitation I received said, “Help Joe S. celebrate his one-month anniversary.”

Forgive me if I’m wrong but anniversaries are a yearly celebration.

Many of these sober parties are indistinguishable from their non sober equivalent: scantily clad men line up for espresso machines manned by disco short-wearing super hot straight guys more used to shaking cocktails than dispensing coffee to gay guys jacked up on caffeine. Unable to attend drug-crazed gay circuit parties, many gay sober men in LA flock to the sober circuit parties, such as Hot ‘n Dry, which is held annually in Palm Springs. These events are more likely to take someone out than any other reason I’ve ever heard in gay AA. Yearly, after this event, bedraggled gay men turn up at meetings, their eyes blazing from excessive drug use, taking newcomer chips. Should I be surprised? After all, the Hot n’ Dry ticket salesman had assured me that it would be “a sex fest from the moment you arrive at the Ace Hotel.”

The absurd idea that we can behave like we have always behaved as long as we have a deluded and lackluster understanding of the 12 steps just doesn’t work. Two years ago, after I appeared on Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew, I suggested that within the gay community, we might have a sexual unmanageability problem and was flooded with vitriol. But that’s not going to stop me from sharing what I believe to be serious issues.

The other serious issue within gay AA, in my opinion, is the resistance to God or a Higher Power. Most of my gay sponsees are understandably wary of God. The Christian God—the religious God—hasn’t made them feel very welcome in the past and has actually steeped them in shame and misery. To find that at the heart of AA is a God—even if it’s one of their own understanding—is anathema to most gay men. From what I can determine, most gay men just ignore the God part of the 12 steps—a relevant fact when the God part, in my estimation, accounts for roughly 90% of recovery. Working through the God options with gay men can be excruciating. Why bother looking for spiritual validation when they can get immediate validation on Grindr?

I used to love AA in LA; my love for it was actually the reason I first moved to LA. Now I hate it. It’s like a cult—sober grandees ruling over desperate men, the film industry providing the sickest of backdrops: men flaying themselves before agents and film executives in the hope of catching crumbs from the sober table I see this everywhere from the straight stag meetings, where misogyny and homophobia are expressed freely, to the sickest meetings of all: Gay AA in LA.

For all of these reasons and more, last November, after nearly 16 years, I stopped going to AA meetings. I was exhausted, disillusioned and utterly miserable. My last meeting in LA, at the iconic Log Cabin on Robertson in West Hollywood, was a gay meeting attended by 300 gay men.

I couldn’t walk away fast enough.

And yet yesterday, after a nine-month hiatus, I walked into a co-ed meeting in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I was an hour early. I helped set out the chairs in ten neat rows and then I made the coffee. During the meeting, I shared my resentments and my fears and afterwards, a tiny woman called Dianne came up to me and let me have two full barrels of her tough love wisdom.

“It’s time for you to get fucking humble,” she said. “Come back and do fucking 90 in 90 like a newcomer.”

She was right. After months away from AA, I felt spiritually bankrupt. I stopped fighting and did what we are all meant to in the rooms of AA: I gave in.

Later that evening, the young man I helped set up the meeting took me for dinner. We talked recovery. This morning, we had sex. There I was, doing the walk of shame, doubled down. I had once again fucked a newcomer, counting days. It’s my story in AA. The younger men find my honesty irresistible and I can’t say no.

When I first got sober in London, the only gay men I met in AA were old queens at the Eton Square meeting. I met a couple of gay men in NA but within the deluded gay community, at that time, there was a mantra I heard over and over that “quitting was for losers.” Several years later, after celebrities like Boy George got sober, the rooms of AA and NA filled quickly with what we now recognize as gay recovery.

Back then I was accused, by my drinking friends, of being a contrarian—of rocking the boat and spoiling it for the others. As it happened, I was in the vanguard. I remember being hounded by drunken gay men who were outraged that I might, just by being sober, challenge their powerlessness and un-manageability. Of course those very same men now thank me for introducing them to the 12 steps.

After a few months away from AA, I am ready to start again but, as Dianne said, I’ve got to get humble, forget all those years of sobriety and do 90 meetings in 90 days. For the first time in a long time, I value my life. I should have left LA years ago but I’m a tenacious old queen; I didn’t want to let go. Just one more meeting might fix me. Just more line, one more Vodka Tonic and the crazy opera playing in my head might stop.

Walking back into AA in New York was a relief, a joy—just like it used to be. I want to be sober. The only problem getting in the way of that is me. But I know that if I’m going to be able to do it, I’ll have to learn how to say no to sex. As a single gay man, the consequences are dire if I don’t.

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There is a distinct similarity between Prospect Heights now and Brixton, South London in the late 80’s.

The ethnic mix, the 19th Century architecture, the potential.

Caribbean accents shouting over the sleepy neighbourhood.

A man, wearing his dreadlocks crammed into a woolen hat, screams at a lover. “Suck my dick you bitch!” his roadside companions say, “Chill man.” He ignores them, grabbing hold of his cock through his baggy jeans. “Go on, suck my fucking cock you fucking bitch.”

Every morning at sun rise I walk the dog through the fetid neighbourhood.

The once elegant streets, charming garden enclaves, Victorian arches to long abandoned mews. The beaux-arts flourishes and tatty pediments, the flaking eves and badly painted architrave in desperate need of wholesale renovation/conservation.

“This is the front line.” I hear a cocky young white boy say to his distressed looking girl.

The charming coffee shops and elegant restaurants are already here. Franklin is heralding the beginning of the great gentrification. Some of the multi-occupancy dwellings have already been restored to their original 19th Century grandeur. The streets will be reclaimed.

Yesterday, after my long walk, I met a young actor kid who sat with us and told his life story.  Later that day I met his gf, he gave me a button that says ‘Is That A Poem in Your Pocket?’  We are going to take some pictures today. I want to wrap him in a sheet like those Eve Arnold pictures of Marilyn Monroe.

I hung at the club with my old friend S and my occasional fuck…  Levi.  I met Anthony S for lunch. I took pictures of Hudson Taylor and discussed the extraordinary work he does for the LGBT community.

S and I had a lovely dinner at Cafe Select then headed over to the Bowery Hotel when we met occasional film producer Sofia Sondervan.  On the way there, S warned me that Sofia was prone to heavy drinking and bouts of anger stemming from post natal depression.  She told me that they had fallen out but S  had since forgiven Sofia.  Sofia had ‘taken a break’ from the film industry.  Sophia’s  most notable achievement in film? The lamentable Party Monster. The true story of Michael Alig.

Sofia is a sturdy woman, sporting large country hips perfect for child bearing. A character Thomas Hardy might have written  The  face of a jolly farmer’s wife, complete with ubiquitous ruddy complexion and broken veins in her nose and cheeks.   A solid, Dutch female,  roll-mop eating her way though her late 40’s.  Her large, masculine hands more suited to kneading dough that writing script notes?

At first she was utterly charming, her blue eyes flashing flirtatiously.   She showed me a picture of her dog.  She ordered martinis.  She was accompanied by a young woman who could very well have been her daughter.

After a few drinks some women disintegrate. Usually older,  blousy blonds… like Sofia.

She embarrassed us all by telling loud stories of S’s past  sexual conquests… then made sure single S was aware that she (Sofia) was married and had a child.  Her increasing drunkenness thinly disguising her passive aggression.  The subtext was clear:  like many married people Sofia looks down her nose at her unmarried friends.  The tyranny of marriage.  She announced that she had ‘fully financed and cast’  her new film.  Triumphal, decadent and wholly ersatz.

I asked, quite innocently, if the young girl sitting with her was her daughter.

Sofia baulked. “No”, she said. “How could you say such a thing? This girl is 29 years old”.

“Oh,” I said. “She looks like a 19-year-old.”

“Yes”, the girl said smugly, “I get that all the time.”

It wasn’t the most helpful thing to say. It didn’t exactly help Sofia out of the vain quicksand into which she now began to rapidly sink.

“How old do I look?” She asked.

“55?” I guessed.

Sofia ‘suddenly’ realized who I was. Her tone changed. She had been reading this very blog. She had read the LA Weekly article about me going to jail…

“What is the difference between jail and prison?” She mocked.

“I”m assuming that you are a bit touchy about your age.” I mused.

Sofia decided that this was a good time to unleash the hounds.

She told me what she knew… real and imagined. That I hated AA.  That she had ‘heard’ things about me from other people.  ‘She invented fights with Joe Simon and mocked the white in my beard. Yes, she tried to shame me for being older than her.  She pretended that I had ‘friended’ her on Facebook when the opposite was true.

For those of you who know me… and I mean… KNOW me… this drunken attack was ill-judged.  S left the table.  I cocked my semi-automatic and took aim into the fat, menopausal, drooping face of Ms. Sofia Sondervan.

“Do you want some good advice Sofia?” I asked quietly. “If you don’t want men to think you are 55 years old… lose some weight, get those unsightly bags removed from under your eyes and do something with your hair.” I smiled comfortingly into her bovine face. “I mean, let’s face it… your credits are lacking, your choices are poor. You should be at home with your husband… if he can bear the sight of you. If touching that aging, crepe skin and those white, wiry pussy pubes  still turns him on. At least you have your baby… the great thing about babies? They’ll give you unconditional love regardless of what you look like.”

She took it well. Gulped at her dirty martini and smiled at her friend.

“Did that make you feel better?” She asked naively. “Oh yes,” I said. “I can live quite well on a diet of pure vitriol.”

“Tell S, ” she parried, “Both of us are married.”  Her smug friend nodded in agreement and held up her left hand.  “…and we both have kids.”

As I was leaving I saw the equally reptilian Producer Dan Halsted sipping water with his pugnacious assistant in another part of the bar. All the freaks were out last night. He’s probably at an AA meeting right now conning the assembled crowd with his story of perfect recovery. Fuck. What a cunt.

Today the sea in the Gulf of Mexico is burning. Added to the slick of heavy crude oil toxic, jet-black smoke polluting the air we breathe.   The azure, pristine water marred with acrid plumes of shit colored oil.  The marshlands and beaches painted brown, the life there dying because we refuse to doubt our dependence on oil.  It is officially one of the worst man-made environmental disasters ever.

Yet, the massed people of the United States, indeed the world, politely ignored it.  Until now.  Blame is being apportioned, asses are being kicked yet today I will fill my truck with gas and think nothing of it.  I am complicit; I am responsible yet I do nothing.   Nothing.

It is maybe just the analogy I need to explain the human disaster caused by religious based homophobia that causes pain and suffering to those who live in it’s shadow.

Frankly, I don’t give daily thought to the fact that I am part of a community that is routinely demonized just as I choose to forget that hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil spew into the sea.  I have learned to live side by side a huge number of people encouraged to hate me and people just like me because of the way we were born and the sexual preferences we have.

Politically I have sat motionless on the sidelines whilst living in the USA.  I have not demonstrated like I did in London, I have not written to my representative in Congress expressing my outrage at how my rights are diminished or devalued.   I put up with things just the way they are because I feel powerless, that I am just one man with one lone voice against the angry mob.

Nowadays I am resigned, whenever I am with men who do not know that I am gay and say things that are blatantly offensive, to keep my mouth shut.    I do not blame myself for their views but as I grow older I am less likely to defend my community or myself.  It simply isn’t worth it.  I am tired of being the uppity gay.

I am exhausted by confronting inequity and hate in my life and I am scared.  Scared that I will not be able to fully defend myself against their physical abuse.

My entire career as an artist has been to serve the gay community.  My plays and films aimed at men like me.  I have been hugely admired (and reviled) as a filmmaker but even my gay friends do not respect that I describe myself as a ‘gay filmmaker’ a gay man who makes films for and about our community.  They muse that I could have done so much better for myself if I had abandoned my principles.  If I had gone ‘mainstream’.

All I ever wanted to be was a gay artist who uses the language and locations of our gay lives.  I am proud to have done so.  I am proud to have served my community thus.

I wonder how much damage we do ourselves in the way that we choose to be seen?  How can we expect those who loathe us to accept us when we do so little to let them know who we are?

What is my part in the public relation disaster that still prevents fellow citizens from owning and celebrating my existence?  What am I doing in my community to help those angry people understand who I am?   How can I expect the mainstream to accept my demands for equality when I essentially live in a hermetically sealed ghetto?

How can I expect my gay fellow travelers to start reaching into their pockets and paying for a PR campaign that somehow celebrates our diversity when all we are seen to want is the right to fuck?

Call me old-fashioned but the love I have for another man always felt far more subversive than the act of fucking.

How do you say ‘I love you’ to another man?  What does it mean when two men say that they love each other?  Having sex with a man is easy-isn’t it?   That’s why we all do it as often as we do..don’t we?  But to say ‘I love you’ to another man is perhaps the most shameful phrase I ever uttered.   My tongue, swelling in my mouth, choking me..rather than say those three tiny words to another man.

I love you.  I love you.  I love you.

What I know for sure about love between men is that others condemn the sanctity of that love.  That I still feel a vague embarrassment when I am seen to hold another man’s hand in the street.

We, as a community, do not promote ourselves as hopeless romantics but as half-naked sex maniacs.  By doing so we have become unwitting witnesses for the prosecution.   By publicly sexualizing everything we do we devalue what we have.  On Facebook the majority of my gay friends are shirtless in their profile pictures.  When questioned why he was bearing his chest in his Facebook profile picture one erudite gay friend said that he was ‘proud’ of his body and wanted to show it off.  It seems like a simple enough answer but is this what gay pride has boiled down to, our very own hard-fought perestroika reduced to this?

It seems so..undignified.

In West Hollywood there is a large poster on Santa Monica Blvd for a gay removal company; two half-naked men carry a small box grinning broadly.  At the premiere LA gay bar The Abbey there is another huge poster celebrating it’s twentieth year.  Three massively built and tattooed men, one of them mixing a martini on the rock hard abs of another; their naked truncated bodies engaged in what may be fellatio.

It was past this very poster out walking one evening last week when I had a full beer can thrown at me that very narrowly missed my head and landed squarely on my chest.  The accompanying homophobic insults are not worth repeating.

I hated the smell of beer on my clothes and the pain in my heart but I hated that poster far more.  It’s as useful as a picture of happy, smiling Jews counting dollar bills outside the Jewish Community Center.

The way we choose to be seen is the way we will be perceived.  I am told constantly that there are thousands of gay men who do not go to gay bars, who live happy lives in monogamous relationships who work quietly and steadfastly beyond the glitz of the gay ghetto but, amazingly, I have never met those men.  I don’t know what they look like.  I have never seen them, been introduced to them.  If I have never met those men then those who misunderstand us certainly never have.

The acrid smoke and crude oil are coming ashore; it destroys almost everything in its path.   If we do nothing perhaps nature will deal with it, break it up over thousands of years so I don’t have to think about it.  But, irritatingly, I am not that kind of man.   I worry about the herons and the oysters and the dolphins.   I am outraged by the incompetence and greed, just like I am every time my community is attacked because we do so little to let them know who we are, what we are, how we are.

Just seen all the furor about Stephen Gately. Even though Jan Moir is a bona fide cunt we must not lose sight of the fact that there is a crystal meth/sex epidemic sweeping the gay community, that new HIV infections in gay men are increasing insanely and syphilis is back with a vengeance.

There is no debate what so ever about the way we treat ourselves. Any criticism by straights is considered homophobic and any attempt at healthy debate by those of us who care passionately about our collective mental health is described as self loathing.

It’s easy to slash at Moir’s ugly mug it’s not so easy to look at her crude message and learn from it. Some of what that ghastly woman hinted at may be true. It’s a pity that we weren’t having that conversation first.

I recently put grindr on my iPhone and had to take it off within a week as with gaydar/manhunt/adam4adam etc. I became immediately addicted to the endless stream of available men within meters of wherever I was. We are NOT like straight people. We behave quite differently and it does us no good to pretend otherwise.

I have learned a great deal about shame based behavior in therapy and as a community of men we are particularly vulnerable.

Certainly from my experience as a drug toting slag I ended up feeling soulless and plagued by shame.

Gately may not have died because of excessive drug use, sex addiction etc. but many gay men are. Perhaps we need to start getting honest about what is really going on in our community rather than let the Daily Mail read between the lines.

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