There is a moment when you know it’s over. That his proximity disgusts you. That no amount of love can disguise what was or what could be. These photographs were taken at the moment, the moment I knew for sure. The fast train to Paris from Cannes. A beautiful boy sat opposite me and I wanted to ravish him. I couldn’t wait to say goodbye to the loved one. Yet, I knew, the moment we parted I would not stop thinking of him. From the moment I woke up to the moment I fell into a fitful sleep. Gone, the door slammed. He was dead to me long before I made it impossible for him to do anything but take drastic measures. It was the worst kind of grief because nobody died…
This morning Robby picked me up from the house and drove me to Van Nuys.
The handsome deputy in the court room gives me a cheery wave, the clerk courteously holds open the door and even the wicked witch looks softer… more agreeable.
She’s only doing her job. I can’t be too hard on her.
After our short stint in the court we had coffee with my lawyer who is, it turns out, covered in tattoos.
Since 1984 I have been regularly tested for HIV. Since I was Robby’s age.
It has always been a fearful time for me. I’m sure it is for everyone.
I was given the wrong diagnosis in my mid thirties. A confused New York nurse told me I was HIV positive. For three weeks I thought I had it. Until I fled to London and the doctor told me I was perfectly ok.
In those days an HIV positive result meant certain death. The kind of death that included cancerous lesions inside and out. Opportunistic diseases caught from potted plants, cats and canaries. Dramatic weight loss and the most painful end.
Now, of course, HIV just means being wedded to big pharma for the rest of your life, a huge liver and for most people… a new closet to live in.
It occurred to me, as I sat waiting for my result, how I would tell you all if I had contracted HIV.
I live a public life. I am sure that the shame I have heard others talk and write about would envelop me too.
But, as I sat there I decided to tweet the fact that I was there and what I was waiting for. I gave myself no option but to come out and tell you… if I was HIV positive. I knew it wouldn’t be like telling you I had cancer.
I asked the counsellor what would happen if I was HIV Positive? He gave me the medical facts. It didn’t seem that bad. But we all know: it’s not the medical implications… it’s the social implication that packs the negative punch.
In the gay community there is huge prejudice around HIV and AIDS. The frank discussion we need to have about HIV is not being had.
After he read the result I looked obviously shocked. I really did not expect to be negative. In fact, I rather thought I might be seriously ill.
“Why?” He asked.
Because, and it grieves me to tell you this but after JB and I saw each other that last time… I had no way of drowning my fury so I trawled the internet and transformed from the ‘curious top’ to the ‘pig bottom’.
The pig bottom who wants to be fed. I think you know what I mean.
“Just cum in me.” I said. They were very eager to please.
“It was a suicide bid. The only one I knew would work. I hated him so much…”
“Did you hate him? Or you?” The counsellor asked kindly.
I smiled wryly. “I’m still HIV negative.”
“You dodged the bullet.”
You see, I have never been like most gay men… craving sex many times a day. I have never visited a bath house or a cruising park. I rarely meet the men I speak with on-line. I am not like you. I tried it once… not so long ago and it made me feel sick.
Pre bug chasing… I didn’t want to have sex with someone I didn’t know. It kept me negative. I wasn’t about to be shamed into having sex with anyone.
When I was a kid, men would invite me into their homes. The mere acceptance of a cup of tea somehow meant agreeing to full on butt sex.
They try to shame you. Get angry with you… but I fought back. Fuck off. I’m leaving. It saved my life.
Now the youngsters who get HIV are similarly shamed. My friend told me (he’s 24) that a guy he really wanted told him they had to fuck ‘raw’ (unprotected)… when my friend protested his amour said, “What? Don’t you believe me? I’m HIV negative.”
He wasn’t. Now… nor is my friend.
Are we kidding ourselves when we say that we are having protected sex?
There’s outrage because Paris Hilton is disgusted by Grindr. She’s right. We should all be disgusted. My women friends say, “There should be a Grindr for straight people.”
I tell them that a usual Grindr introduction consists of one word: Hung? Then: Clean? Then: Dick Pic?
Women are usually appalled when I tell them the way gay men cut to the chase.
I’m happy that I am HIV negative. I’m happier that my death wish has been thwarted. I’m happier still that all that hate and self hate came to nothing.
Writing my film has had a wonderfully cathartic effect on me. He is just a distant memory.
Even though I see him daily on the page he now exists as I want him to. Suffer and thrive the way I want him to… without ever having to suffer myself.
Today… today was a good day to be HIV negative.
Jess and I decided to put on our best togs, book into the coolest hotel we could find (Hotel Amour) and spend the weekend in Paris.
I woke early on Dean Street and to my delight a young man popped over to say a sweet goodbye. He stayed a few minutes. His lithe, hairless, Irish body for my delectation.
I packed…a punch and my suitcase. After a HUGE English breakfast, we were on the train to Dover. When we got there however, this grey miserable Kentish town, we realized that we had missed our last train from Calais to Paris.
Good naturedly we decided to press on and agreed that once on the boat we would ask if anyone, by any chance, was going to Paris and could we cadge a lift?
Well, one might think that would be a hard task to accomplish. Initially it was. I sent Jess (red tight sweater, full lips) to schmooze the lorry drivers but they were mostly Polish so immune to her pigeon French and hand gestures. She cut no ice with these gruff eastern Europeans.
Whilst she was gesticulating wildly and grinning like the Joker at fat men…I met a beautiful 24 year old soldier called Nick with blue eyes and the sweetest nature. Surprise, surprise!
Nick hung out with us for the duration and I couldn’t stop thinking about him…he was/is gorgeous.
Anyway, finally, we found a British coach driver with abnormally bad teeth, pallid complexion and a weasily midland disposition called Leigh. He wanted our cash so we willingly handed over 200 euros for a lift to Paris. What he failed to tell us was that the majority of the other passengers on the coach were so drunk that they could not sit squarely in their seats, farted continually and made conversations that made even me blush. Not because they were lewd but because they were so puerile.
I have not been in such ghastly company for ages. Jess described them as ‘pond life’.
They all suffered, like children, from the disease of more. More food, more alcohol..and of course Penny from Wolverhampton, sitting directly behind me could not think of anything but her suppurating vagina as she tried hopelessly to blow one man and coax another into the bathroom..neither of whom would have anything to do with her.
Penny (Pennoy) then grabbed my head and told me to look at her. I said, “Have you met my wife?” She then leapt out of her seat to kiss Jess, her alcohol sodden body falling onto my poor, sober friend.
Anyway, seething with resentment, my jaw clenched for three hours we finally disgourged in Paris…as it happens a few kilometers from out hotel so, in a few surprisingly short moments, we were eating delicious cheese and drinking Badoit before falling into a deep and deserved sleep.
I slept with Jess because of a room issue. She does not snore, fart or talk in her sleep. I, on the other hand, could not stop thinking about my blond squaddy and what I would do with him if it was he and not her laying beside me.
The room issue is now resolved…so perhaps…nah…well…maybe.
Today we shopped. Collette, Lanvin, Comme…etc. My post tumour life. We ate lunch at Costes. Hanging out with Jess is so much fun. Last time I was here I was with the HIM who I rather cruelly but accurately described as Jean-Baptiste Grenouille the guy from the novel Perfume in my vlog.
Slinking behind me like a crippled, foul-smelling, dwarf.
Waiting at JFK outside a Peet’s Coffee and Tea drinking a paper cup of inflated airport priced coffee. Peet’s charges a dollar extra to drink coffee at JFK than at any other location.
I am now up in the air on my Virgin America flight back to LA writing this. My back is sore from clambering around Cooper’s air mattress and there is a small child behind me deconstructing the tray table. Over and over again. When he is not slamming the tray table he is kicking the back of my seat. On no occasion has the accompanying parent corrected the child. I am in no mood to correct the parent.
Apart from my deliciously pro Octomum rant, the blog post that caused the most negative reaction from readers was my blog about civility-also inspired by airplane etiquette. The lack of civility between people simply interacting, in public life, or between countries.
Some examples stick in my caw: Paris Hilton’s ex bf pissing on a homeless person, the guy on the flight to New York shoving his seat forcefully back ward or the racist congressman Joe Wilson calling President Obama a liar in the White House.
There is little or no politeness/humility/vulnerability evident anywhere and that, as far as I am concerned, is the end of civilization. Nor, I am afraid, are any of those attributes neither considered virtues nor championed by the media.
Yet, arrogance and self-centeredness is sadly understandable. The culture of self-obsession encouraged by ‘therapy’ (I’m too selfish to have a relationship, I’m working on MY stuff). Languishing in self. We are all we ever think about.
Against a backdrop of unsanctioned wars, lying politicians, unchecked larceny committed by public servants entrusted with our hard earned money! On top of all THAT-we deal with the cheaters and the liars who emotionally asset strip within the context of personal relationships. Who wouldn’t just concentrate on their own stuff?
When I arrived here I warned myself that I risked losing everything and that indeed may very well happen. The entire system is based on taking as much as possible from any working mans pay cheque legitimately or illegitimately-preferably as quickly as possible.
It still amuses me to hear people here tell me how much more tax we pay in the UK. That UK citizens are not free, that our healthcare stinks. Total lies! Comparatively Americans pay far more tax than the Brits yet get nothing useful in return. The only thing Americans really love spending huge amounts of money on is security. Hence the theft of billions of dollars in Iraq on bogus reconstruction projects and bribes to terrorists organizations supposedly keeping the peace. Their huge taxes, their government, their church and now the corporations enslave Americans. As I have said on numerous occasions slavery did not end in 1863, that was merely the year slavery was mandated for the rest of us. We are all enslaved.
Enslaved by debt, obesity, shame and fear.
Whenever I write about inequality I am accused of America bashing. Go back to Whitstable they squawk-if only I could get back to my darling home town-but for the meantime I am here and whilst here in the land of the free I can exercise my right to free speech. Is this what freedom means to you all? The freedom to steal from each other? To treat each other like shit? To allow some the right to marry and equal rights and not others? What kind of half-baked FREEDOM is this?
Is it wrong of me to want the very best for every man? To understand the frailties of men and make provision for them? To face up to the messes of my own making? Am I responsible to offer my hand when those around me are drowning or do I just think about myself?
We watch images of people desperately trying to feed themselves in Haiti or after Katrina and describe it as looting. Every day the government and the corporations loot from every one of us. This time they have gone too far, destroying the middle class, creating an unbridgeable gap between rich and poor.
My detractors fail to understand how much the British taxpayer gets in return for our supposedly huge tax payments. I can only speak on behalf of my family but during the past half century I have received excellent health care, three free years of university education as well as the BBC, public arts etc. The list goes on and on.
And, as much as I used to loath them-we even get a jolly good, year round entertainment called The Royal Family with all the prerequisite dramas of any good soap opera: Murder, marriage, duplicity, infidelity.. you can’t write this stuff.
I left behind, on the cold winter New York streets, a man that I love. Conflicted about us he may be but I believe in my heart that he will find a true path and follow it. If only he could let himself off the hook. I looked into his eyes and told him that I loved him. I kissed his mouth and eyes and remembered how hard it is to say I love you to another man. I remember the first time I loved another man-when I was just a boy. To another man? When two men say I love you how special and different that feels.
Man, manly, love.