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…
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:
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.’
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.
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.
It started with a short message and ended up with a whole bunch of choices I never expected.
Not in my wildest dreams.
I’ve read what you had to say. Now it’s my turn.
Stepping away from the mess. It’s not so messy. It seems like it was planned.
This pantomime. Look at the cast of unusual, freakish characters. Look at them.
Boys and men, trans and women.
Young girls. Yes. They are here too.
So you wrote me a poem. No title… of course.
We were connected .
When it expires we are expired.
The order? It was a good idea. It was a great way to formalize the end of our association. I can only imagine that you feel much the same way I do.
I wish we had never met.
Don’t you shudder whenever you think about it?
I understand why you needed to rewrite the narrative.
I took advantage of you?
You had far more to lose by telling the truth.
When assigning blame, I take full responsibility. I should have walked away.
Everyone I trusted advised me to do so. Everyone I trusted.
Instead, I pinned my hopes on you. I found your interest in me all at once baffling and inspiring.
A romantic relationship was impossible.
Because I am a broken, sick man. Incapable of intimacy.
You sold me:
A big fat lie.
Yet, we never talked about my lies. Yes, I lied to you about almost everything.
Lies I had held onto for a very long time.
This man is a liar. Just like me. Did you ever think that?
The last time I checked, and that was some time ago, you seemed very happy wearing your new clothes, your relationship, your job and your family.
I am delighted. You will make a much better job of being a gay than I ever could.
Your ability to form and maintain relationships will mean that you’ll have everything you always wanted. Everything you ever dreamed.
The questions I wanted to ask… I have no reason to ask.
The truth set you free and I am very proud of you… even though I have no desire to set eyes upon you ever again.
May 6th 2013
When did you have time to write that? Was it really meant for me?
Did you wonder if I should reply? Did you think I could?
There are no words left.
The storm rattles the house, thunders down the drain pipes. Torrents of rain over the mountain. Hammering down onto the wide, new leaves.
Make some toast and lime marmalade. Boil some eggs. Stand naked in the warm rain.
I haven’t written anything for so long.
Perhaps I just ran out of things to say.
Roger Ebert died. He wrote to me recently urging me to write more. I have no idea why.
The house in Malibu is filled with my things again and the garden, this beautiful spring, overwhelms me.
Moving back in gave me the opportunity to start editing once again. I threw out three huge boxes of old clothes. Cashmere, labels, everything loved for a moment back then. Helmut, Yves, Issy, Comme des Garcons… boxy shirts from another era, trousers that I can (after my op) still get into but have lost interest in.
I kept all the Helmut Lang couture. It’s just too special.
I feel myself floating over the surface of my life.
The road trip across the USA was spectacular. Chicago, Denver, The Rockies, Utah and Vegas. Just me and the dogs and a car full of art and luggage. I met lovely people and saw cities I had only ever heard of.
I never went over the speed limit.
The operation to have my gall bladder removed was painful but since having the surgery I feel wonderful.
I didn’t realize how much pain I was living with. How the pain made me grumpy, listless and intolerant.
Now, without that girdle of pain, without the imminent GB attacks… I feel perfectly happy. Peaceful.
I can concentrate. perhaps that’s why I need to write?
During the past few months so much has happened. Things I can tell you and things I can’t.
Yet, after the moment passes, I can’t be bothered to write it down.
Editing the huge amount of stuff I own to a few essential pieces. Taking my old stuff to vintage stores, consignment stores and auction houses has been cathartic and profitable. Who knew things were so valuable?
But more than that. It feels like I am winding down. Not is a morbid way.
With less stuff and less girth (since the op I lost a great deal of weight) I feel not only lighter but more agile, more energy to do important things (for me) more time to devote to others, causes, delights.
As you know, those who know me, I like my decisions to be made for me. I LIKED my decisions to be made for me.
Recently I have taken control of the reigns. Less at the mercy of Duncan Roy. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Last Monday I qualified at an AA meeting in the East Village. A twenty-minute qualification.
I skipped the drugs and drinking part of the story and talked exclusively about how I got sober and how I stay sober.
Since returning to NYC I had thrown myself back into AA. 90 meetings in 90 days. A new sponsor and a new sponsee. I quickly realized that there was no place for me in the gay meetings and opted for the straight/mixed meetings in far-flung places.
I could blast gay AA if I could be bothered… but I can’t. Needless to say, it’s just not for me.
Monday morning, during the qualification, I nearly burst into tears. In fact, I nearly burst into tears three times.
Once describing seeing the word God in the written steps of Alcoholics Anonymous at my first meeting, the second when describing how humbling it was spending time with the tranny hookers I met in jail and thirdly when I remembered the final moments of my using.
I have never ever cried when qualifying. I knew by the end of my share that something was seriously wrong with me.
I had a fun weekend with a young Texan. We visited the New Museum, had various lunches and dinners with friends but all the while I felt listless, irritable, prone to bad temper.
We had HIV tests, we explored Williamsburg. We looked at art, we bought action figures.
Tyler left on Sunday.
Within hours of his leaving my pee had turned a dark umber.
I felt the return of the pain in my chest that I often commented, when ever I had it, on Facebook.
I told them:
Is this flu or depression or anxiety or kidney failure? Guess what folks… the terrible chest and back cramps have returned with a fever…
The terrible chest and stomach pains that I learned to dread, that had plagued me for the past two years were getting progressively worse.
Now, added to everything else… the pale brown pee. I knew things were… serious. But I remained optimistic that by the morning the pee would return to normal.
On Tuesday morning, despite my optimism, my pee had turned the colour of coca cola.
I called a doctor friend at Cornell who made an appointment to see me immediately.
In huge pain I made my way to his office on the upper east side.
He prodded and poked then had me take a sonogram which revealed the cause of the problem: gall stones… lots of them.
One of them, he suggested, may have lodged in the bile duct and the bile was now backing up into my blood.
By Tuesday afternoon my eyes were bright yellow.
I told my doctor friend that my mother had her gallbladder removed and my father had died of pancreatic cancer. He baulked. He couldn’t be sure that this wasn’t cancer until they had probed a little more.
He took blood and sent me home, making an appointment to see his urologist friend this week.
When I got home I went directly to bed. The pain worsened. I was in difficulty. I called my doctor. He told me to go to the ER.
The doctor called ahead so I was quickly admitted and given a massive dose of morphine.
In a painful daze, during the next day, I had the blockage removed.
The young gay man who removed the stone was incredibly chipper, explained what he was going to do and soon I was asleep.
They shoved something down my throat and into my tummy. They cut into the bile duct and removed the obstruction. They checked my pancreas.
It was ironic: the gall bladder and the pancreas irritating each other. My mother and father at war in my tummy.
I woke up.
Thank GOD it wasn’t cancer. It was a gall stone. But my pancreas was angry. The doctors urged me to have the gallbladder removed.
The following day I was wheeled into surgery and had my Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal.
I woke up with a dull thud in my belly and four small incisions.
The surgeon described my gallbladder as ‘severely traumatized’.
The bladder had been suffering for many, many years and within hours of surgery I knew that I was waking up without just the physical bladder but without a huge emotional burden.
I felt free. I feel free.
A day longer in the hospital recuperating and they sent me home.
Dear Cristina sent a car to fetch me and Stephen and Roy filled the fridge with wonderful things to eat.
My time in the hospital was made so much better by everyone who works there.
The doctors, surgeons, specialists, nurses and orderlies.
Every one of them treated me with respect, kindness and the level of care I received was without comparison.
Each doctor looked me in the eye, introduced themselves and shook my hand. They described in detail what was going on and gave me options.
The surgeon bantered and made one feel at ease.
The nurses said goodbye to each patient when they left their shift.
Every person I met wished me a speedy recovery and good luck.
Even though the hospital remains over crowded (since hurricane Sandy) and we were housed in former waiting areas and reopened buildings the staff were sublimely professional.
The other patients, however, were terrible. They complained about everything. The staff remained, in the face of this rank ingratitude, resilient.
I saw drug addicts in the ER demand morphine. I heard men rudely tell nurses that they ‘didn’t do’ wards. I heard cantankerous men demand their diapers changed. The nurses were treated like care slaves. Like servants.
The lack of any kind of humility from most patients was stunning.
I apologized whenever I could for the behavior of my fellow patients.
I’m sure that fear and pain determine the behaviors of most people in hospital.
I’m sure that the entitled rich expect so much more because of the high insurance premiums they pay and the poor… well, they never get to treat anybody as they are treated.
Still, it’s no excuse. Bad manners prevail.
It was another peculiarly American experience, one I will never forget.
The dogs were happy to see me but I was less happy to see them. I couldn’t deal with how much attention they demanded.
I lay in my bed watching the Oscars. A long way away from that terrible, cruel world.
There is a week of mayhem to report. A week of extraordinary conduct. A week of moving back east.
I can’t show you his face.
Only in NYC.
Then, I meet a woman who KNOWS all about my film. I mean, she knows the story like an urban myth. But it’s not a myth. It’s the sad truth.
“Oh, I know this story,” she said. Her eyes sparkling with anticipation. “I think he’s my friend on Facebook. Yes, look…” she pulls out her smart phone and there he is. I push the phone away. I shouldn’t be looking at that.
“What was he thinking?” she roars with laughter.
Women love my film. It confirms everything they think they know about men. The injustice of men.
Dead five-year olds. 20 of them.
The children are shot dead by a crazed, entitled white boy. The little bodies buried this week. Lined up against the wall and executed. You know they didn’t have a clue. You know they did as they were told.
I thought about the little dog facing the lethal injection.
A horrific pendant: ten Afghan children are splattered into the mud by a drone.
Somehow their little brown faces are missing from the media. Somehow the little white children in Connecticut are worth more.
We asked you to vote for him, now he’s letting us down all over again. Surprise, fucking surprise.
I saw a man being mugged on the 5 train. Into Manhattan, a stealthy, tall, nimble black man rips an iPhone 4s out of an asian man’s hands leaving him with his ear phones on his head. The rest of us sat amazed.
The white people urged him to call the police but he said, “I’m already late for work.”
I’m buying a parker. It’s lined with blood-red shearling. Like the monkey they found in Ikea.
Dinner in the neighborhood, dinner at the Mercer Kitchen with Courtney, dinner at the Standard Grill with Brock.
Dinner with Cristina who I have not seen for 30 years on the floor of her palatial Upper East Side home. It was as if all those 30 years just melted away. That we were friends again from last week. Funny, compelling, brilliant, beautiful Cristina.
Dinner with new gay AA friends in cheap diners.
Dinner at Mary’s Fish Camp with Benoit. We stop at Boxers (gay bar) on the way home. There’s nothing for us. Benoit peels off leaving me on the street and as I wait for the green light a handsome green eyed man says hello.
At first I wonder why. Why is this stunningly handsome 27-year-old man saying hello to me.
Then we’re in Barracuda kissing each other.
I’m wearing that huge fur hat.
I can’t kiss him any more. I can’t suck any more spit out of his mouth. I can’t look into his green eyes.
I am so overwhelmed by him I walk through the rain until I am soaked to the skin. Wondering how it happens? Wondering how it ends up like this?
All the way home I’m humming Nature Boy to myself.
In the morning my room smells of damp fur.
Woke up early. Wanted to get the daub onto the stove. It’d been marinating all night.
Then, something about the process, the action of stirring the pot, as it began to simmer…broke something in me. Like I was having a rare moment of clarity, sanity…and I felt a terrible guilt for the way I had treated…not him…but his parents…drawing them into our drama. Collateral damage.
I wanted to write to them and tell them how sorry I was.
They were innocent.
Then I found that Avadon picture of Ginsberg and his long-term lover Orlovsky. And I thought about them ‘long-term’ and what they were thinking, or not thinking when they kissed for the camera.
I thought about the way they, we…I…describe what we have as long term.
Long term insists that we take what they had seriously. Ginsberg had not just met some man on the street and taken him into the studio. He had made some sort of commitment. Long term.
And I thought that marriage would be just that…long term. That our beards would grow long together. That I would never ever tire of looking at you. Kissing you.
Then I remember that I am here in LA. You send me a picture of Washington Square. It’s all I need right now. A picture.
The whole house smells of beef in red wine, fresh herbs, fresh garlic.
I had lunch with Robby on Monday. We ate a lamb burger at Gjelina. I drank ginger and mint italian soda.
He has been having a wonderful time. Earning masses of cash, loving his man and roaming with his homies. Yes, I wrote that.
On Wednesday I met a friend for lunch, a lunch that didn’t end until 3am. He is 23, he lied about his age. He told me he was older. A masculine dilettante.
Have you heard of Red Medicine? It’s that restaurant, Jordan Kahn’s place…that everyone is talking about.
We ordered far too much. Each baffling plate arrived covered in flowers or Dadaist condiment.
We ate: DUNGENESS CRAB / passion fruit, brown butter, black garlic, Vietnamese crepe, hearts of palm $32
We ate: BEEF TARTARE / water lettuce, water chestnut, nuoc leo, chlorophyll, peanut $15
We ate: AMBERJACK / red seaweed, buttermilk, lotus root, tapioca, succulents $16
Then, after dinner, we lay in the back of his SUV by the beach and kissed each other until my face was raw, my heart was racing, my legs were trembling. I was so completely overwhelmed that I could not drive for ne’er a mile before I had to stop and beg a cigarette from a passer-by.
He is beautiful. He gnawed at my neck until I could not bear it any more.
So, that’s what love looks like in a warm climate. For a moment. Not long-term. Not to be taken seriously. Just a moment. I have trained myself not to yearn for more.
So, the daub will cook for four more hours until it is tender. We will eat it with home-made noodles.
I just put my AA ‘Big Book’ in the trash.
Does this mean I will die? Well yes, eventually.
Does this mean I will drink again? Maybe, but not immediately.
Does this mean that I’ll stop believing in god? Definitely not.
“Like any cult, religion or philosophy, AA leans heavily on the good will and participation of its members. I like the saying “if you like everybody you meet in AA, you aren’t going to enough meetings“. People should not be accountable for ideas, only for their actions. I have never had high expectations of AA, and so they are usually exceeded by the results.
“Faith without works is dead. The book is overrated, Duncan, everybody knows that. But the Love in AA is palpable.”
Dan my friend wrote the above. Men like him initially convinced me AA was good. I was attracted to the nuanced reasoning, the warmth of the members, their ‘spirituality’. I was not wrong, people like Dan were the reason I kept going back.
Explaining AA to the uninitiated is like teaching a baboon how to knit.
Writing this, even now, I can convince myself to haul the AA Big Book out of the trash…that things weren’t that bad, that I should look at ‘my part’, that if only I had worked the 12 steps just a little bit harder. The reason I moved to LA? The reason I uprooted my home, my life…myself? Alcoholics Anonymous.
The comfy Palisade stag meetings, the jolly Rodeo social, the stoic recovery center. I loved UTA owner Jeremy Zimmer’s Saturday morning industry meeting where the producers, writers, actors and directors came to flay themselves before the UTA grandee.
I was rapt by the harrowing story of child sex abuse and violence therapist Sean McFarlane dramatically told when ever he was asked to testify. I watched ‘Big’ Robert gather his flock of new comers/sponsees at the 7am Bank meeting and take them diligently through the twelve steps.
It took five years to see through each of these scam merchants.
Jeremy Zimmer uses his meeting to ensnare and compromise celebrities in trouble. Fellow alcoholic industry folk, realizing that Jeremy is a sick man do not risk leaving the meeting, nor do directors and actors who want his patronage. Jeremy Zimmer is a sadist. Laughing and joking as men cry pitifully about their ‘rock bottom’. The only men he has compassion for are men that mean nothing to him professionally.
Sean McFarlane, perhaps the worst scam artist in the AA SAA organization, effectively getting rich men to pay to sponsor them. Sponsorship is a service supposedly supplied ‘for fun and for free’ from elder AAers to the new comer, helping them understand the 12 steps, helping them understand the Big Book of AA…a sort of bible written by Bill Wilson the founder of AA.
Sean thinks nothing of taking huge amounts of money from naive new comers for his sponsorship services. Sean (pronounced seen) McFarlane, provides counseling as a sex therapist but I have no proof that he has any formal training nor counseling himself, nor support, even a sponsor? If anyone has proof that this monster has any training… please provide it.
Sean oversees the fate of cheating celebrities who routinely fall from grace and into his Wednesday morning SAA meeting… needing their family back, their reputation saved, their need to disguise their pedophile peccadillos… putting humpty dumpty back together again.
Sean thinks he is a very big deal, a super hero, leaping over imagined cars to save his clients from tranny hookers bent on destroying his clients.
As for Big Robert, the multimillionaire ex basketball player…well it turns out that this self-proclaimed AA guru is in fact a compulsive liar who, whilst banging his sponsees heads with the big book bible… is in fact gorging on un-prescribed prescription meds. He routinely tells his group of sycophantic male followers that AA does not ‘shoot its wounded’… which is patently untrue.
I thought, when I moved to LA that finally… I had come home.
It is evident from the 2006/7 blogs that I loved it and it loved me. A family of men and women who could always forgive, would always forgive. Well, that was the first of my mistakes. I was wrong about them. Perhaps when I moved here AA was different, I was different?
AA is a cult. Like scientology it trades on the secret lives of its members. Like scientology it requires devotion. Blind devotion. Like scientology there is a vile abuse of power. Those who want to wrestle the leadership, become gurus, lie and steal… all in the name of recovery.
Most so-called addicts and alcoholics are mental patients with no mental hospital to go to. Look at the beautiful man at the top of this post. His name was Evan Landry. He was a friend of mine. An AA friend. Wow, I was bowled over with Evan, his aggressive, sexy ways… his vulnerability. He served in Iraq, he was an MMA fighter, I saw him fight.
He had a sexy girlfriend he shared with Mike Tyson but wasn’t above going to… how shall we say… the dark side. Well, last night Evan Landry killed himself. Another AA tragedy. Today his friends think it is ‘sad but not unexpected’. They have buried so many friends, their indifference is as unexpected as Evan’s OD.
People like Sean McFarlane will remember him, use his death as evidence that we must never, ever leave AA. His PTSD unaddressed, all he needed (according to his AA friends) was the 12 steps.
Like prescribing leaches for terminal cancer.
In the USA there are a hundred treatment centers where addiction can be fought with the ubiquitous 12 steps… if you have the money. In my experience getting help with any other mental condition is almost impossible. Evan Landry put his faith in AA like so many of us did… but our problems were complicated by AA and sadly may have killed dear Evan and many men and women like him.
I don’t go to AA funerals because they are a sick joke. I might, however, go to this one. Just to laugh at the hypocrites who killed Evan with their medieval prescription for a better life.
Scintillating few weeks. I am happy. Even though I shouldn’t be. I have no idea what is keeping me so buoyant…not smoking, not eating wheat, full moon, going to AA meetings? I really have no idea.
So many little things are giving me a great deal of pleasure.
The ripe figs I picked yesterday morning, the aubergine and tomatoes, the trips into Beverly Hills with Robby. The California sunshine, the hot nights, the pool lights that I managed to fix so the water glistens at midnight.
This too will pass.
The weather has been gorgeous, the company stimulating. The future a glorious mystery…the past not jumping up at me like a badly trained dog.
A great deal is going on…but my energy is being used creatively. Will let you know asap.
Anyway, just as you all seem to think I have vanished…
Here I am.
As I embark on my 15th year of sobriety are things as I imagined they would be?
Well…they are as they are.
In God‘s perfect world there is nothing I can’t handle.
I have enough.
Enough is all I have.
What was it like before I got sober? It was a daily, living hell.
This is the day I that I yearly recommit to sobriety and this is the day that forces me to take stock and move forward unburdened.
The day where I take a thorough inventory, both good and bad.
Some things need left behind. You know what I am talking about.
Some things need embracing.
Life needs to be lived.
For all the love/health/death/aggravation of the past year…today I am strong and secure. Today.
It seems that although forgiveness is key…it is a hard thing to swallow.