Christmas Rant

It Gets Better?

It’s six o’clock on Friday morning.  There’s more snow forecast and plummeting temperatures.  I really love the cold.  I love wearing long coats and big hats.  I love roaring fires and drinking hot tea in the street.  The little dog has miraculously grown a thick white coat and his previously bald belly is now covered in downy fur.

I spent the day in London yesterday.  Partly to deal with the Jake’s lost iPod incident and partly to see friends but mostly to go to an AA meeting in Soho and connect with my tribe.

I left my laptop and my iPhone at home and consequently enjoyed the train ride to London thinking..thinking about how it doesn’t get better.  Dan Savage‘s ‘It Get’s Batter’ campaign is a load of baloney designed to encourage gay youngsters not to kill themselves because anything is better than death.

The truth is not so obvious.  I have been thinking hard about America, about gays in America and how totally useless my gay brethren have been about getting things changed for themselves, politically, socially and morally.

I wrote to Peter Tatchell last summer asking his advice about how things could possibly change for gays in America..his response…from a brave, hard-hitting activist shocked me.  He thought the situation depressing and hopeless.

It is.  The people refuse to be seen.  They refuse to leave the comfort of their den, their TV, their fast food..they refuse to hit the streets and demand a morally accountable government.

The simple fact is this:  gays in America, for all the millions they spend trying to change the laws, with a ‘sympathetic’ Democratic government and a ‘change’ motivated President things have not changed one iota.  Marriage/Civil Union is still a state by state privilege and not a federal right.  Gays are still not welcome in the military and I have come to realize that gays are simply not welcome anywhere.

Gays are not welcome to live honest and open lives in they don’t.  The gays I meet in the UK are leagues ahead in their thinking and the openness.  They can depend on their government, their church, their judiciary to support them.

In a country like the USA where Christians define the moral terrain I have never lived anywhere that is so morally bankrupt.  The people are routinely lied to by successive Presidents, they are gouged by the government they elect, they are continually bullied by church and state and do nothing what so ever about it.

The people are not free.

They are terrified of their government.

Unlike our students in the UK who got off their asses and demonstrated (invigorating a generation of new activists) Americans angrily run to their expensive lawyers and seek judicial review for their many and varied problems which end up taking so much time to resolve that when their cases are finally heard the fire, passion and determination has been dampened…the urge for change forgotten.

Change happens: sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly.

I despair for the gays and the liberals and the moderates in the USA.  

Morality has been hijacked by the right because we were too cowardly to understand what it meant to us.

Mention the word morals to most gay men and they balk.

We have no morals. Jake invited me into his amoral world and I willingly walked through the door.  Most gay men think it is perfectly reasonable for him to have behaved immorally.  Morals don’t count for anything in the gay community.

How does it get better by not killing yourself?

Most American gay men I know have, at some time, wanted to kill themselves.  They have given it serious thought.  So, you don’t kill yourself…what have you got to look forward to?  The gay community riven by sex and drug addiction, by racism, by homophobia.  Yep, you heard it here.  The gay community is riven with homophobia.

Delicate gay men who don’t want to sleep with anyone unless they are ‘straight acting’  (read invisible).   They are terrified of looking in the mirror and seeing themselves age.  They are terrified that will never be rich enough to buy a baby.

Sometimes I wonder what will happen to Jake.  Will he settle down and want a baby?  Will he get the sex with everyone out of his system and concentrate on one man?  When I meet him twenty years from now, when I am an old, old man..will he have lived the life he bargained for?  Will he become one of those ghastly gay men flying around the gay world, refusing to grow up,  like some grotesque Peter Pan?

So, I went to court yesterday to deal with the Jake iPod incident.  I told the court that I was Not Guilty and now there will be a full on trial in March.   It made me hate Jake even more.  Fuck you Jake.  Timid, cowardly Jake encouraged me to go after those kids, standing behind me, not stopping me, encouraging me, knowing that I would defend him because I loved him.

He lost his fucking iPod.  He lost his iPod in a drunken blackout and I am now having to deal with this shit.  It infuriates me.

If you are a sober person..try and avoid people who take drugs and drink.  Please.

Had a lovely evening at Soho House, met Suzanne Portnoy who is great fun and told me that she stopped blogging because it impacted her sex life.  Ironically she too met a literary agent through her blog with romantic complications…those fucking agents.

William Borthwick the cool director and the very beautiful, very flirtatious blue-eyed Kenny Doughty on the terrace for mince pies.

They were lovely.

Had dinner at Wheelers with friends.  Haddock.  Delicious.

Gay Hollywood Malibu

Jane Fonda

I’m in Malibu.  It ‘s 7.30am.

A veil of mist has enveloped the house.

The fierce sunlight refracting through the pure white cloud is exactly the same light as if it had been snowing.

Yesterday, after making peace with the memory of JB, I met Michael at Solar and discussed scripts.  He is a delightful man.  I told him that I’d read his script but was loathed to say anything.

People ask for criticism but they only want praise.

I dashed off to see Danielle and she worked through her slate, her list of projects.

We sat opposite Jane Fonda who looked a little frail but still radiant.  I was briefly introduced and told her how much I adored Klute.   She shared a few anecdotal memories about the making of the film.

Bumped into Degan who is moving in with his younger boyfriend.  I didn’t balk.  I thought to myself (as the ghost of what could have been passed through me) well, that was then this is now.  As I’ve said before it’s quite obvious that I’m never going to have that moving in thing happen to me so I may as well just accept things as they are and get on with it.

There is no room in my life for melancholy.  I have devoted too much time to drama, misery and bad choices.

It’s an illusion that the young are happy, an illusion for those who have lost it.  The young know they are wretched, for they are full of truthless ideal and each time they come in contact with the real, they are bruised and wounded.

My meeting with the accountant was fruitful.  Apparently life is not quite as fraught as I thought it was.

I met Hillary in Venice and walked the entire length of Abbot Kinney gossiping and laughing.

We ate a light supper at Wholefoods.  I’m sorry but eating food outside a grimy supermarket is just too much.  I bought a grilled chicken that I shared with the Lil Dog.

Fantabulosa is the bio pic of actor and British TV personality Kenneth Williams starring Michael Sheen.

BAFTA organized a screening for the members in a small Santa Monica cinema.

It’s a sad film.  I identified very much with Kenneth’s sexual anorexia, his inability to form loving relationships with other men and the mask he wore to get through a life he considered useless.

Met the boy who played Joe Orton in Fantabulosa.  Kenny Doughty and his wife seem very pleasant.

“It is difficult to know people and I don’t think one can ever really know any but one’s own countrymen.

For men and women are not only themselves; they are also the county in which they are born, the city or the farm in which they learnt to walk, the games they played as children, the old wives’ tales they overheard, the food they ate, the schools they attended, the sports they played, the poets they read, and the God they believed in.

It is all these things that have made them what they are, and these are the things that you can’t come to know by hearsay, you can only know them if you have lived them.”

It seems so easy, helping my friend in London put his film together without any thought of directing it myself.  It has given me a great deal of pleasure.  Of course I know how to negotiate the making of a film.  A big film or a small film.  Films naturally find their own scale.

I’ve no idea yet what sort of film we will make.  We are currently looking for a great script.

It was lovely listening to Michael Sheen talk about Kenneth Williams.  He obviously developed a profound affection for Kenneth by simply walking in his shoes.   I wondered what the similarities were between these two very different men.

Michael talked amusingly at dinner about meeting Tony Blair at Rupert Murdoch’s house.  He talked about Polari, the 17th Century gay slang, I introduced to Jake B.  He described his friendship with Barbra Windsor.

I hope I helped JB understand the culture and history that precedes him.  It’s so important for gay men to own their history, not as prescribed by straight people as they have written us in the pages of their newspapers…but the oral history that may get lost as another generation of gay men grow up.   We have such a rich history, such joy and tragedy…but we are loathed to own it.

There was a superb Somerset Maugham quote used in the movie:

“What do we any of us have but our illusions and what do we ask of others that we be allowed to keep them?”

When I was a young boy Maugham’s childhood home still stood on Canterbury Road in Whitstable.  It was a beautiful Victorian rectory that savage developers later pulled down and replaced with five vile, mock Georgian horrors.  Anyway, before it was demolished, I made friends with the owners and every Sunday after church I would sit in the huge conservatory, feed their chickens and look at the goldfish in their pond.  They gave me a small piece of amethyst that I still own.

When I went to bed last night I found a poisonous spider folded into the linen.  I didn’t kill it.  It’s nice to share your bed with something living even if it’s only a spider or a little dog.

As I look back over the past months I understand that one can’t do what one thinks is right without making someone else unhappy.

In the time that it has taken me to write this blog the mist has magically retreated revealing the ocean.  I am going for a long walk.