queer nation

One man's urban experience with everything queer. Topics will include: family, religion, open-partnered relationships, HIV/AIDS, transgendered friends, gay adoption, gay marriage, leather culture, bathouses, racism, drug addiction, parties, ageism, lesbians, bi-curiosity, and the media's reflection of all.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Promise Broken, A Promise Made

I was mostly silent on the drive back to Don’s place in San Francisco. I wasn’t giving him the silent treatment, I was just mad at him, and I didn’t have much else to say. We had gone to meet some old friends of his in Marin County, just a little less than an hour outside of the city. Don’s best friend Bill, and his wife Louise had named Don as the godfather of their child, so it was important for me to meet them on this trip. We had great conversation for most of the dinner together, and they were easy to get along with. Later in the meal, Don had started talking to them about plans to get married, and having kids. Although we had talked about it as a couple, it wasn’t something I was ready to talk about with his friends, and pretty much felt like I was being put on the spot. He’d revealed things about us to other friends before, future plans and stuff, and I had chastised him for putting ‘the cart before the horse’, so to speak. It didn’t do any good to reveal what we were looking at in the future, since we weren’t at that committed stage in our relationship yet.

To say the least, I was a little pissed as we drove back to the city on the highway. I knew I had to forgive him, his heart was in the right place, but I was still a little angry that he’d broken his promise to keep his big mouth shut. He looked over at me, and tried to hold my hand in the truck.

- “I’m sorry.”

- “Yeah, but you’ve said that before.” I withdrew my hand from him.

I didn’t know how to make him understand… I thought how many times Jody had let me down and I didn’t want a repeat in my next relationship.

-“You don’t understand…”, Don pleaded. “Bill and I have been friends since high school. When he and Louise got pregnant, I was the first person Bill told.”


- I sighed and returned his pleading gaze. “Listen, I understand that you and Bill have been friends for a long time, but you made a promise to me that you weren’t going to do that again, and you broke it. What’s more important than the promise you made to the person that you’re in love with?”

Don didn’t have an answer. We sat in silence for the next five minutes. The Golden Gate was coming up, and I wasn’t going to argue about it, when we got back to Don’s home.

- “As far as I’m concerned this is resolved. I’m not going to stay mad at you. Let’s just not bring it up anymore.”

I was still hurt, but I didn’t want him to know that. It’s been a part of my upbringing, as the youngest in my family, to always try to make peace. I looked out in front of us at the winding highway, and could see the sparkling lights of the city. The Golden Gate was closer now, and lit from below. It’s structure peaking over the Marin Headlands, looked awe-inspiring. I tried to relax and just listen to the radio, as we approached the bridge. Don suddenly made a sharp turn and pulled over into the lane marked ‘Sausilito Exit’.

- “Where are we going now?”, I asked in exasperation. I felt like I was at the end of my tether meeting all of Don’s family and friends.

- “You’ll see.”, he replied.

We drove up the narrow rode to a place we had visited before on the Marin Headlands. To explain what the area looks like, the Marin Headlands is a windswept park area of mostly large mountains that bank the bay area. They face the city and create a perfect view of the Golden Gate from above. When you’re on top, you’re so close you can distinguish the rivets in the structure, as the bridge is built almost into the cliff’s side. There’s an old artillery base that Don had taken me to once before, but we had never been here at night. Don stopped the pick-up truck high on the headlands, at the entrance of the base.

- “C’mon….let’s go.”, he said to me with a mischievous look in his eye.

- “It’s cold.”


- “Well, take a jacket. Let’s go.”

Don got out of the truck, and waited for me on the passenger side, while I put on his jacket and got out of the cab. Was it Mark Twain that said, ‘the coldest winter I ever felt was the summer in San Francisco’? I knew exactly what he meant, as a blast of cold air rushed over the headlands, and blew through me on this late July evening. The windbreaker jacket I was wearing now provided very little comfort. Don held out his hand, and I took it as he led us on the path to the artillery’s lookout. It was very dark, and I had to concentrate on looking at the uneven gravel path to make sure where I was walking. Every once in awhile I would look up at the top of the Golden Gate, which still towered above where Don and I were walking. My heart was beating loudly in my head. I didn’t know why Don made us stop here. I had a strange feeling, but I was going through it with him, regardless of the outcome.

We made it to the lookout, and I lost my breath. The city glowed with a magnificence that I had never seen before. The gate stood over us as this grand portal, it’s red metal towers looking close enough to touch. Waves crashed on the beaches below, and could be seen with the lights shining from the gate and from the city. There were very few clouds that night so the stars did their share of twinkling. With a bit of fog rolling over and under the bridge, it was luminous and gave it’s own glow reflecting the light from the city. The wind blew strongly, and Don kept me close to him, keeping me warm. If there was ever a view of heaven that I could imagine… this was pretty darn close.

Don turned me towards him and looked me in the eyes, after we had taken in the view for a few moments.

- “I’m sorry.”

I smiled at him, and then he kissed me.

- “Well, that’s the best apology I’ve ever had.” I hugged him and held his body close to mine.

Trying to stop my body from shivering, tears were now starting to stream down my face from the wind.

- I whispered in his ear. “Thank you.”

I pulled back a bit to look at him. Wiped the tears off of my face, and laughed.

- “You knew I couldn’t stay mad at you anyway,” I said jokingly. “If you asked me to marry you tomorrow, I would.”

He looked back at me and smiled. He slowly lowered himself on one knee, and my heart stopped.

- “What are you doing?”

I was frantic that someone might see, and tried to pull him up from joking around. He held himself with his weight, looked up at me and smiled.

- “Please, c’mon stop…”

He didn’t and continued smiling at me, holding my hand with his left hand while he outstretched his right and gestured towards the view.

He had promised me one time that when he asked me to marry him, I would remember it, and that I’d be surprised. I hadn’t seen this one coming at all, and tears were flowing down my face. He looked straight into me, deep in my eyes from below. His voice was peaceful and calm.

- “Will you marry me?”

I was trembling, and was pretty sure that it wasn’t being caused by the cold at this point. I strained to look at him, with the tears welling up constantly.

- “Okay.” I managed to utter through my crying, but my knees gave out and hit the hard artillery pavement, as I collapsed into his arms.

I couldn’t stop crying. I kept thinking I was going to be alone for a long time. That J.R. was destined to have a life of many sexual partners, but no one that wanted to grow old with him. It was overwhelming to be holding ‘no one’ in my arms and crying on his shoulder.

- “You know, I’m still waiting for an answer.” Don pulled me back a bit and smiled at me wiping the tears off of my face.

I thought I had answered him, but understood when he was looking at me, what answer he needed.

- “Yes, yes I will marry you.”

He held me there for a few minutes and kissed me deeply as we both knelt under the red towers of the golden gate. I still cried for a while, my heart beating madly now. I felt like I had been reborn, and even the stars were brighter to me then. I knew Don was feeling the same way, as he was fighting to keep back the tears himself. We held each other kneeling until my crying had subsided. We stood up again, and took one last look at the city, before walking back to the truck. We had been born again, and the portal to a new heaven was within our reach.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Post 9-11 Romance (Love Conquers Fear)


Spring in New York. As I’m walking to Penn Station to meet Don, I’m trying to soak it up as much as possible. It’s the busy hustle of rush hour. The tidbits of conversation, and yelling on the street, I hear within my earshot. The enormity of the buildings around me, cause an immense feeling of excitement just before seeing my man. I’m sweating a bit as I’m walking. It’s an unusually warm day in the city, for this time of year. The warmth brings out the smell of New York. It’s a very pungent mix, of people, waste, smog, and the odd delicatessen or pizzeria. Ahhhhh…. New York. My phone rings.

- “Hello, sexy!”

- “Hey, so I’m at the station, and I got the street wrong.”

- “Oh.”

- “Yeah, it’s not ninth it’s eight that I’m exiting at.”

- “Okay, well I’m at 33rd and eighth right now. Do you see the exit?”

- “Um…. I’m not sure if it’s the right one….. There’s a lot of people around.”

I was glad I came to meet him. Knowing Don was raised on a ranch in the country, and isn’t much of a city person, made me a bit nervous about him coming to New York to meet me. It was a business trip, attending a Gay Travel Expo to network for my show, and to cover the press conference. Normally, I wouldn’t really want anyone on a business trip with me…. But I needed Don to be there. I needed him to steady me on my first one with this new company... Also, I missed him.

- “Well, just walk outside and see what you can find.”

- “Okay, I’m outside now.” I saw him right away through the crowd, and my face beamed.

- “Who is that hot man in the blue shirt?”

- “Ha-Ha, where are you?”

- “Right in front of you, babe.” I walked slowly through the crowd, keeping the phone to my ear until he saw me.

- “Hey Stud.”

We embraced and kissed for a bit. I never even thought about all the people around. I was just happy to hold him again. I was already thinking that this time together would be too short.

I told him the hotel wasn’t very far, so it was probably easier for us to walk, than to grab a cab. As we walked hand in hand down 8th towards West 24th, I noticed how people regarded us. They would look at our faces with no reaction, and then they would look down. We got a mixture of astonishment, avoidance, and sometimes disdain. Which wasn’t that surprising for me. Even though through media, gays have become the new token, and a recognized economic group…. People still have a ways to go, before the sight of two seemly straight looking guys holding hands, is no big deal. Even in Manhattan. We didn’t really care anyway, and just kept walking to the hotel.

I had already checked in a few hours earlier, and handed Don his key when we got to our room. I hesitated, taking a little breath. He looked at me and asked,

- “Well, aren’t you going to open it?”

- “Oh…. Yeah.”

Trying not to look too bewildered, I opened the door and held it open for Don to enter. It took a little planning on my part. To find the rose petals, take them with me on my flight. Find a ‘Bed, Bath, & Beyond’ nearby for candles, and a card at a ‘Walgreens’. The card was now placed on the bed with Don’s nickname printed on it. I wondered if I went overboard with the candles and rose petals. They were on the king-size bed, on the floor, and in and surrounding the bathtub, as we entered. It’s the perfectionist in me. I’m always second-guessing myself. Don’s face was aghast, and he kept breathing in and laughing. Score one for J.R.! After walking around the room a bit, he came up to me and kissed me deeply.

- “Ya know…. There is a card there for you,” I said as I gestured towards the bed, where the card was resting against the pillows.

A soft glow lit the card, with the word “Blue” written on it. He opened the card to read it.

To Don,

I request your presence in Central Park on Friday, April 22nd.
Meeting at the south entrance at 1pm.
Let’s take a walk, and smell the roses.

J.R.

On Friday at 1pm, after winding down from a lunch meeting with my boss around 57th and 6th, we made our way towards the park. And just as luck would have it, it started to rain. Don turned towards me then, as I shouted angrily in my mind at the sky for ruining my romantic excursion.

- “So Brown, you want to call it off today?” My brow furrowed…. trying to contemplate our lack of options.

- “No. I promised you a walk, and we’re going for a walk.” That’s what I sound like, when I’m determined.

We stopped at a nearby tourist shop and picked up a doorman’s umbrella. With cover completed, we started our walk up 7th, towards the park.

No matter how many times I’ve been to New York, the sheer size of Central Park has always amazed me. We walked for about an hour and a half, and we had only covered a small fraction of it. Time and distance is well measured by one’s bladder, and soon we were in search of a public washroom. I missed taking in a great deal of things, like the statues of historic figures along the main walkway, and the elm trees that stood three to four stories shadowing our path; but tried in my search for a toilet. Then I saw it….

- “Hey, isn’t that…?” I pointed towards a figure, and Don followed the direction of my finger with his eyes.

- “Well, I’ll be damned.”

In the movie Angels in America, there’s a part where Pryor tells a story of an angel. In that scene he sits with the other main characters, around a fountain in Central Park, and begins with….”This is my favorite part of the park.” To many of you who saw the movie, you might understand the significance of it for me. For the rest of you, I’ll try to explain. The story, although most of it escapes me now, is about love. Unconditional love. It’s the love this angel gives that heals the wounded and broken bones of those that believed they were forsaken. It wasn’t so much the story in the movie that I remembered (Just in case I got it wrong). It was this sense of hope that came across the television screen. I only watched Angels after I was diagnosed as HIV positive. How Pryor became this object of affection and companionship by his friends in that scene, and the hope it evoked, struck a chord in me.

I quickly used the urinal at the public washroom nearby, and Don and I walked towards the angel. She was higher than I imagined, and surrounded by a fountain that poured water from her feet. The movie was shot in the winter, and missed this sacred element. We stood there for a while and took a couple of pictures with Don’s camera phone, and then walked around her to look at the lake behind. Don held me close to him under the umbrella, as I listened to his heart beat.

- He whispered in my ear, “I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect walk.”


As I kissed him deeply, I could imagine it more perfect. I thought, ‘I mean if it didn’t fuckin’ rain’. I stopped myself then, and soon realized he was right. Kissing in the rain, under a doorman’s umbrella with the person that you love. Well, it’s more perfect than words can describe.

***

Josh met us Saturday night late from a delayed flight. It was my first time meeting him, and I understood why Don was so obviously attracted. Light skin and mixed, he looked Spanish, but had a chiseled jaw, full lips and wavy short hair. When he walked into the restaurant to join us, it was apparent that he had a very lean and defined muscular body under the vintage red t-shirt and jeans that he was wearing. We talked for a bit and caught up on everything. He was finally able to put a face to a name, meeting me, and vice-versa.
I had been invited out to a party at someone’s apartment around the block from the restaurant, so we finished eating, and made our way over there. The host of the party was a guy I met online, and was interested in me sexually. Don wasn’t the only one with an agenda of sorts. Our trio stayed at the party for a couple of hours. The host, Andrew, and I began to get more in depth in conversation, while I left Don and Josh to talking by themselves. Andrew had already bought me a ticket for the after-hours at Crobar, and asked me to give him a call after we finished dancing at Roxy. With Don not very knowledgeable about club life, and Josh really tired from just flying in, I explained to Andrew that we wouldn’t be long. I made plans to go back to Andrew’s place, when Josh and Don got tired and wanted to leave.

As far as clubs go, Roxy isn’t bad…. It’s a very large open space, with an almost space-age modern design. We entered from the left side of the room, in front of a sea of gyrating and half naked men. The stage was in the center on the horizon of the sea of men, and long bars flanked walls on both sides. Our trio walked through the crowd trying to get a good vantage point for the show that was about to begin. We settled on moving towards the right of stage, where there weren’t as many people around. Someone’s voice began to boom out of the amps.

- “Please help me welcome to the Roxy….. KELLY OSBOURNE.”

I guess Kelly was taking some lessons from Xtina and Kylie, because she didn’t look her usual dumpy self. She actually looked quite hot, with a corset and her boobs pushed up to her chin. The crowd was going nuts for her, because all of a sudden cell-phones were like buoys in the sea, taking pictures of the rock legend heiress. We watched the show for a bit, and danced to a couple of her songs before she ended her show, and let the buoys sink back into the sea. We asked Josh if he wanted to join us dancing, and he declined wanting to sit on a sofa and watch the crowd.

Don and I danced together…. and since Don was feeling a little out of his element, we were really just swaying our bodies together and making out. Don could tell that I really wanted to get into dancing, so he told me to go out on the floor by myself. I did, taking in the spectacle of the club scene. The inner-web of cliques, as well as the constant hunters, all looking for the next hottest guy. After a couple of hours, Don had finally had his fill of the whole scene, and decided that since he had no idea were Josh or I were, that he would make his way back to the hotel without us. He called our cell phones just before he was about to walk out the front door, and was able to reach us. When we met, I could see that Don and Josh were both tired, and a little bored. Actually we all were, and I couldn’t blame them. The DJ wasn’t spinning anything to keep me dancing. We called it a night at the Roxy, and got outside just as it began to rain heavily.
I spotted someone leaving a cab and ran over to it. I held the door for the passenger leaving and was about to enter, when another guy came up to the cab from the door across trying to claim it.
- I shot him a dirty look, “Sorry buddy, I got this.” He backed away, and we all piled in. No one…. and I mean, NO ONE, tries to steal a cab from me!

It was apparent in the cab ride that Don wanted Josh to come back to our hotel room. Josh being really tired, and not wanting to trek uptown to his apartment, agreed to crash in our room until morning. I told the guys I was going back to Andrew’s place before going to Crobar, and that I’d meet them at the hotel later on after. They dropped me off at Andrew’s at about 4:45 a.m.

When I walked into Andrew’s the party was just ending. I found Andrew in his bedroom lying down. I fell on top of him.

- “Hey hot stuff, whatcha doing?”

- “Mmmm, just resting a bit.”I began kissing him then, which on my scale of 1 to 10 would rate as an 8. Apparently Andrew felt the same about my oral abilities. “Wow, AND you’re a good kisser too!”

I smiled at Andrew, thanked him for the compliment and kept going. Andrew is about 6’3”, and handsome as all get out. Dark hair, clear blue eyes, and very lean. We share a love for sports, which is unusual for gay guys living in the city. The last partiers came in to say goodbye to us…. and we made plans to meet some of them at Crobar later. Andrew and I continued to make out, until everyone was gone, and then got naked.

If you’re wondering how I can do it. I mean, how Don and I can be in love and still sleep with other guys, I’ll make it simple for you to understand. Neither… one of us… gets… jealous. We just don’t have that character trait. We tend to look at sex as what it is, an activity, something to pass the time. We have our own intimacy that we share sexually, and in our thoughts. To us, having sex is like playing a volleyball game. Almost like… ‘How was your match today, honey?’ ‘Oh, fine dear, he had a great set of big balls.’ ‘Oh, that’s nice.’ Andrew and I finished playing and got dressed to go out.

Crobar is what you would be able to imagine it is. As the premiere after-hours of the moment, it’s everything you could come to expect in New York. An entrance that starts with graffiti and cool artwork, leading to a lounge area out of a MTV video, and a tunnel, lit from all sides and underneath. The tunnel leads to an expansive room with ceilings 4-5 stories high, and a crowd mixed with beautiful men and women. Seriously, my neck was hurting from turning around and looking at everyone. Victor Calderone was well into his set at 6 a.m. and the dance floor was jammin’. I met some more of Andrew’s friends on the dance floor and my feet became submissive to the rhythm. I only managed to stay for a couple of hours. My flight was at 2:00 p.m., and I wanted to get some sort of sleep before making a trip to the airport. I said goodbye to Andrew and his friends (reluctantly), and made my way out of the club, drenched in sweat from dancing.

When I returned to the room, Don and Josh were fast asleep. I stripped out of my clothes, without waking them, and slipped under the covers of the king-size bed in between them both. It was dark, but once my eyes adjusted, I could see that Josh was fully clothed underneath. I guess Don didn’t get lucky with him. I snuggled close to Don, and rested my eyes, but my mind was still racing with the images of the club, and the beautiful men that I witnessed.



***


We packed our bags as fast as we could, had breakfast at a nearby deli, and said our goodbyes Sunday morning. Don and I held hands, as we always do, walking out of the hotel lobby, as the bellhop flagged a cab. Josh witnessed it, and voiced his observation.

- “Boy, you guys are brave holding hands like that.”, he said in his Floridian drawl.

We both looked at him puzzled. In the whole time we were in Manhattan, we never stopped holding hands. Why should we? In Chelsea people are accustomed to it, but in other areas of Manhattan they weren’t, Josh stated and then informed us to be careful. Don and I looked at him, and both of us told him, we’d take our chances.

There were only a few instances where I can remember someone giving a dirty look, or a homophobic remark as we walked the full extent of New York’s island. Yet, it always made me feel stronger, to hold my lover’s hand, and ignore their negativity. Only once did it get to me. As we walked from the park down 7th Avenue, down to 42nd towards Times Square. A black guy passed us on the street, shot a dirty look at me, and said ‘Batty Boi’. For some reason my Jamaican back came up, and I shot him a dirty look back, and asked him to repeat himself. I wanted to turn, and beat the living crap out of him.

- Don clamped my hand, pulling me to continue walking, and gently whispered in my ear, “Let it go”.

And I did… because he told me to, and kept walking. It took me a couple of blocks to let go of the anger that I had felt about to erupt a couple of minutes ago…. but eventually it dissipated.

Around 45th, it was gone. I didn’t let fear control the way I show my love for my man, and I didn’t act on my anger. Instead I held Don’s hand, and felt happy in the moment I was continuing to have with him. In all of the moments, despite the onlookers of society trying to control us with fear and loathing. As homos we’ve had enough of that growing up and dealing with our sexuality, before we came out. Slurs and bigoted remarks are like the wind, and they can’t hurt you unless you let them. Best thing to do is to let them pass by you, like we did on the street. At 44th I felt better. Then I saw it and pointed it out to Don. A red sculpture was on the corner. Facing away from us you could still read it’s big letters.

L O
V E


- “Hey baby,” I said pointing it out, “There’s love in New York City!” Don didn’t look at me, but he broke into a smile as he followed my fingertip.

- “There sure is babe, there sure is.”













Sunday, March 26, 2006

Catalyst For Change

I think I had mentioned that change was happening, in the last episode. My catalyst was my long hard look at myself, before returning to Toronto. One sunny day in Vancouver made me miss my family, my friends, and decide that I needed to really work on my career. It's always when you look in the mirror, and you see something you don't like about how your life is going, that makes you want to make changes. Sometimes the change you make is moving back home, rebuilding your life after a bitter divorce, taking a trip to travel for a year, or deciding to get married and have kids. Once you accept that things will change, everything does. And chances are, for the better.

So... Time to come clean. I've let someone into my life, and so now get to share him with you. His name is Don, he lives in SanFrancisco, and he's been my boyfriend for about four months. (Now J.R., that wasn't so bad was it?) Some of you may smirk, laugh, chuckle and wonder how long this one's gonna last. To tell you the truth, I don't know. However, I DO KNOW I don't want to follow my path in life without him beside me. How do I describe him... Hmmm... Don is probably the most laid back individual that I've ever met. Definitely not a party-boy. Aside from coming out with me to a bar, when he came to visit a few weeks ago, he rarely goes out to anything gay. To be perfectly honest, if you met him, you wouldn't really think he was gay anyway. He's 6'1", about 185lbs, athletic build, with brown hair and a little grey at the sides and in his beard. Don's of German background and was raised in wine country (Sonoma) on a ranch, outside of the Bay area. He has the clearest blue eyes you've ever seen, and a voice that could melt butter. Oh yeah, and he's 52 (not a typo) and owns a nutrition store in the Castro. So, there it is.... that's J.R.'s type. It was hard to accept him, at first. This guy that I just happened to meet online and began emailing.

It would be a couple of days of us emailing before we spoke, but when we started to talk, we never stopped. And I gotta tell ya... I hate talking on the phone for a long time. Short conversations are best, to get to the point quickly. It's why the mass email works so well for me. One-shot communication. So, after talking to Don daily for a month and a half, a trip to visit him in San Francisco and work on getting a contract, it hit me. The change. I looked in the mirror, saw my future, and didn't want it without him. Acceptance is the last stage before change really happens. When it hit me, the change that is... is significant. It has it's own story.

Don booked a night for us in a hotel, while I was in SF. Neither one of us wanted to do something cheesy on Valentine's, but the interest to share a romantic experience was there. We had a room at the Archbishop's Mansion in downtown San Francisco, across the street from the "Painted Ladies" (Think 'Full House' for those that aren't familiar with architecture). Don knows that I love baths. Can't get enough of them. So, our room was well equipped. It was the Archbishop's study and it comprised of two rooms. The bedroom was oval in shape, and formally the study, with dark wood features and a chandelier above a vintage white lace bed. The bathroom housed a huge Jacuzzi bathtub, with gold fixtures, and gold leaf crown moldings, with a leather sofa facing the bathtub. Gorgeous to say the least! We were tired when we got into the bath. Don had taken me for a full day of exploring the Marine Headlands above the Golden Gate Bridge. After we joined a wine and cheese at the hotel, when we checked in that evening, and then dinner with friends at a seafood restaurant nearby. We sat in the tub, looking at each other and smiling. Enjoying the cap to a long day. He sat up on the edge, feeling the many glasses of wine we had that evening.

-"Are you alright?", I asked.

-"Yeah, just need to sit out for a bit," Don motioned for me to relax and sit back. So I did.

I sank back into the bath, submerged myself in the heat and let my dreads get wet. I kept my eyes on him though, sitting across from me on the edge of the tub, feet dangling playfully with mine underwater. It only took a couple of minutes for him to sway. Almost in slow motion, I saw his eyes close.... blue eyes.... and his body fall forward. My heart dropped, and I rushed forward creating a tsunami in the bathroom. I caught him just before he fell in. Don snapped awake when I grabbed him. He got himself out of the tub, and tried to hide his embarrassment from me. Don lied down on the pink-carpeted floor and told me he just needed to sit out. Too much alcohol and heat, is not a good combination.

-"Are you sure you're okay?"

-" I'm fine. Just need to lie here. Enjoy your bath."

He was embarrassed. I could tell. I tried to sit back, but I couldn't. The feeling had hit me. Hard. I couldn't think of anything else. I peeked over the side of the tub, watching his long naked body, relaxed and wet, while he tried to steady himself from the dizziness. His chest moved slowly up and down, and his face looked away from me. I got out, sat beside him, with my back against the tub, and took his hand. I accepted it then. This man was going to be a major part of my life, whether I liked it or not. Part of me wanted him to know it was okay, and part of me couldn't help myself. I leaned over him, and began kissing his body gently. Licking droplets of warm bath water off his body, sucking water from his navel, I moved my mouth all over his chest, his nipples. I let my tongue lead up to meet his eyes, face to face.

-"Hey," I said as his eyes opened to meet mine.

-"Mmmm. That feels nice."

I smiled. Continued by kissing him, and made love to him on the floor. That was it. I accepted him after that. I accepted him into my heart. It had been so long, since anyone was there. Almost forgot what it was like. Now, I remember. I've been told recently that I look and sound different. Didn't need to be told that. Already knew it. I've accepted change.

What do YOU do when the change starts to happen? Enjoy it as much aspossible. That's my advice, if you've been unsure whether being laid off from your job was a good thing, how an ex could have broken your heart, or if you're ready to commit yourself to a new relationship. When it's good, ask yourself if it fits into what you've wanted to do with your life; and when it's bad, ask yourself if this something is going to stop you from what you want to do for the rest of your life. If the answer to the first is yes.... go with it. If the answer to the latter is no.... move on, it's just an obstacle. Accept change. Your life will be richer once you do.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Genesis of Happiness

It wasn't much. My birthday, that is. Came and went, and I hardly noticed it. It was nice for a change. Not planning anything, and doing even less. If you'd like to know what I did, I did what most of us have come to expect on our birthdays.... Went to work, came home, had the same routine, and went to bed. A part from a few birthday well wishes, very much a non-event. Surely so, too! It was pleasant, not too much, and what I wanted. Maybe it's a comfort in knowing that the greatest gift you can get, isn't anything anyone can buy, or do for you, but what you do for yourself. Does happiness only come when you realize that you are the only person that can give it to you? And I don't mean when you're shopping, and you happen on a righteous pair of kicks on sale. When we moan of opportunities lost, relationships failed, loved ones lost, how do we regain contentment in our hearts? Most would say, through the support of loved ones. Those that inspire us to believe, hope, and have faith; but that would be foolish. It's not them, it's US who chooses to believe, hope, and have faith. Forgive me if this sounds biblical, I hope I didn't pick that up from my father. Still... My sermon's sound, right? Happiness comes from within. No one produces it, writes it in a book, or can send it to you as an mp3.file. It's yours to give, and giving it to yourself, is the first step. It was that thought, the thought of making myself happy, that I think started to bring change into my life.

The holidays were hectic. They always are, and this one was no exception. With the scheduling of parties to attend, pretty much every weekend, I wasn't sure how I was going to schedule meeting my parents. But I wanted to do it. For my own happiness. Some of you are already aware of the strained relationship I have with my parents.... For those that don't, you'll understand soon. I decided the best thing for us to do was to meet on neutral territory, like we did the last time. I called my mom and said that I wanted to see them both before Christmas. For me, this was ‘getting it out of the way’. No need to spoil the holidays. After some back and forth communication on my part, they finally agreed to meet me at the train station in Whitby. We could go for a coffee, at a shop from there. I didn't think about telling my siblings about it. I told some old friends of mine that live in Whitby, because I was really there to see them. When I arrived at the station, it was still rush hour. Loads of people waiting, and looking for their rides to pick them up. It was a severly cold December night.... and I decided to stay in the station and look through the window. I thought, there's very few black people in this town, my parents are SURE to see me. It took about a half an hour waiting for them, for my parents to actually find me. I'm forgetting how old they are. - "Junior is that you?" I whirled around, and saw two very tiny people looking up at me. I was surprised at how old they looked. My father with white hair, and my mom was mostly gray, both of them tiny. They must have been surprised at how long my hair was, because we all stopped.... for a few seconds, to recognize each other.

- "Hey mom, hey dad. I thought you forgot about me."

- "Where were you, we looked for you for a long time." (Dad)

- "I was right here." I replied, looking around at the other white people, and wondering what was so hard to find.

My dad shrugged his shoulders and motioned towards the door. They asked where I was going, at which I expressed how I was going to visit old friends from university in town. They were reserved with how much they wanted to say to me, and I could feel the judgement in their eyes, but it didn't matter. They're control over me, was long gone, and I muddled through conversation.

-"So how have you guys been? What's going on?"

-"Oh you know, not much. What's going on with you? What are you doing for work?"

Seems like the age-old Jamaican question. Or maybe it’s the age-old Toronto one. I answered their question, and was replied with the usual 'Hmruph'. That uncanny explosion of breath though the nostrils, that can only be interpreted as polite mockery or disapproval. I rolled my eyes, and muddled on.

-"How's your health?" Fine, my dad replied. He asked me how mine was, and I replied the same. At that point I asked them if they wanted to go to a coffee shop nearby. They were a little cautious at this point. I explained that I wasn't due to see my friends for another hour, at which time I'd call them to pick me up from the station. They asked why I didn't have a car.

-At which I calmly replied, "...because I live in downtown, and I just arrived from Vancouver. Why would I?"

-"Hmruph" (Mom)

.....It seemed, and maybe this is just my interpretation, that it wasn't spending time with me that made them cautious. It was perhaps being in a confined space with me. They really tried to avoid driving with me. We all gave up after a minute of arguing where to go. Mom showed me a card. "Do you remember when you wrote this?" It was an anniversary card I got them when I was 18 for their 25th wedding anniversary. I looked at my old penmanship, alien to me now, and read what I wrote.

'I hope I have all the love that you two have in 25 years'

I shrugged at it.

-"Do you still believe we're the parents we were when you wrote this?" It was a sharp question. Although, most questions my mother asks of me are ignorant, and silly, sometimes she comes out with some real zingers.

-"Yes" I don't think she believed my answer, but she was satisfied just the same.

She gave me a shopping bag with some cookies, a polo shirt that looked cheaper than acrylic and twice as big, and some other bath products mixed in. I thanked her, trying to show my confusion for the care package. Was I still in university? Well, at least still in my mother's mind. They didn't stay much longer, and I hugged them awkwardly goodbye. In all it took 10 minutes to spend time with my parents. Some would think that was awful. I thought it was great! Better than I expected. The reason for me telling you everything with my parents, is this. My mom asked me a question after she gave me my Birthday/Christmas gift.

-"Are you happy?"

At which I stopped for a moment, and caught my breath. At the time I had just moved into my own room, was making re-connections with old friends, and was working steadily at the call center, while juggling a few guys for dates. And although not completely happy at my station in life, thought of it as temporary.

-"Yes, I'm happy."

-"Hmruph....What do you have to be happy about?" She said, almost under her breath. Not as a question, but as her own audible thought. I let it go. I am happy. The question is.... What is there not to be happy about?

My health is fine, and I love the people around me. I'm not looking for a companion at this time, but I'm not lonely anyway, 'cause I'm fresh meat in the city again! I truly felt it when I said, ‘I'm happy’, because I am. It came from within. That point when you surrender to the fact that life will never work out how you plan it, and it's better to take stock in what you have, than what you don't have. For those who need guidance, think how you felt when you saw images of the Tsunami in Asia. Thankful. That's all you need to begin the feeling of happiness. From there it just spread. I thought about things I wanted in life, and I knew the only way they would happen is if I made them happen. But it's strange how you have to be content with what you have, before things start to take shape. Talks with producers in the U.S. were starting to formulate. I had mentioned how it would be good for me to meet people. I expressed how frustrated I was becoming with the speed of my dissent into the U.S. The only way people 'get me' in the image industry, is when they meet me. I told them it would be imperative for me to meet people, if I was going to get anything going with QTV or Logo in the states. And I didn't want to have to resort to nude photos to get noticed, or supplement my low income. They agreed. They paid for a trip down to San Francisco for us to finally meet, and to record some more demos for possible shows they could shop around. I was elated! More than elated. Happy! I'm flying down for the first week of February, and we're working on my schedule presently, as to what I'm doing down there. Hopefully, a radio show, or television show for me to host and/or produce, won't be far away. Here's hoping.

Other than that, Christmas was a blast! I enjoyed my family immensely! My brother-in-law cooks a mean turkey, and my nephew was challenging me to Playstation. My other nephew should me nick-named ‘Stewie’, because he looks like a cartoon character bent on taking over the world. My gorgeous niece, who can only be described as a true angel, and my sisters and brother.... Who I must agree with when they state, ‘It's been too long.’ New Years was nice, quiet and solemn. Went up to Collingwood with a friend and got drunk in a Jacuzzi under the stars. I was in bed before 12:30 AM. Very nice. Just got a freelance gig shooting photography for Outlooks magazine regularly. So, Kim and Karen, David's camera is being put to very good use. Worked at the call center a lot. Got Red Cross as a client, so I was doing tons of hours answering calls, and taking donations. Was something to experience, the outpouring of empathy and generosity like I had never witnessed in Canada before. Another proud Canadian moment. I have lots to be happy about. It's the beginning of the year, and despite over spending during the holidays, freezing temperatures, lack of sunshine, friends being dumped or laid off from jobs, and Storytelling being no more (yeah, the bar closed down), I'm completely happy. How could my mother ask such a question?

Time Stands Still

It's taken me some time to write about it.... Part of being a writer is waiting not only for the right time to write things down (when a series of events have passed that are worth writing about), but to as well be able to make sense of everything and how it makes an impact on your life; the story of your life. Today is one of my very few days off, and so… I write.

Coming back to Toronto wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Many of my relationships, friends, and family seemed to be frozen in time. Even though for some people it had been years since I had last seen them, nothing in our relationship had changed. J.R. was still a wild character, a little subdued and more mature than before, but still the same. Friends were still supportive, regardless of the rush and drama of their own lives... My own conclusion is that I've been smart in choosing my friends. I know which ones will last a long time, and therefore put that effort into staying connected to them. My hometown didn't change much either. A few more billboards, a few more buildings.... cosmetic changes really, but the speed and pace and vibe of the city remained. It's taken me a little bit of time to get adjusted to life again in the urban jungle. Friends have been asking the million-dollar question, "What's it like to be back?" All I can say is, "It's like putting on an old shoe." Very comfortable.

Once I got back, old habits of trying to do everything all at once resurfaced. Storytelling, Kappa Sigma, work, friends, family, and trying to become a superstar were constantly on my mind. I think in the first month being here, I figured I could do it all. I had done it before, so why not? With more and more things coming back to me, I slowly realized I couldn't. I mean that's what had nearly driven me insane before I left. Biting off more than I could chew. Not giving myself enough time to enjoy things quietly. Now, I'm working part-time at a call center doing customer service, while I do some extra work and plan my attack on the U.S. Decided to postpone Storytelling until January. I think giving myself more time to relax is better for me. When I'm tired I turn into a cranky bitch, so I'm sure you'd agree. With trying to organize events for the undergrads of Kappa Sigma and meeting with the alumni to be a part of the executive, I really already have my hands full anyway.

Two months into being back, and I'm also enjoying being single. I had already exhausted the men to be seen in the bars and clubs.... so I let a friend set me up with a profile online. My reluctance before would seem based on never believing you could meet anyone really amazing, in a two-dimensional environment. I thought, if I’m going to meet the man of my dreams, I would meet in person first. However, I've realized that times have changed and so have I. Everyone seems to prefer meeting people online now. It seems this is all our society has time for. Something to remark about in the history we're now experiencing. Nevertheless, on the first day my profile was up, I got 20 emails. And have had a steady stream of 7-8 emails, on average, a day. I've hooked up with a few casually, and emailed others as well. Not many to write you guys about. I'm sure you've pretty much gotten sick of hearing about my cue of men by now anyways. Just know this. I'm having fun, and looking at this online thing as purely an entertainment resource. It's really just another resource for meeting people, that's it.... and I'm cool with that.

I've had a little bit of evil fun being back. Entered the Mr. Leatherman Zelda's Contest, got second place, which became first place when the winner backed out. Unfortunately, it was too close to the MLT competition, so I couldn't enter that one. Had fun at the party regardless.... Saw a lot of people that I hadn't seen in a long time. Including one Jody Ryan. What was that like? Not very eventful. I guess I had already put Jody behind me while I was in Vancouver. I was aware that he was in town this past weekend, but I wasn't looking for him. I had written a letter to him before in Vancouver, my own goodbye letter.... never sent it to him. I cleared the air on everything that bothered me about him, about us, and about what he did to me. When I finished it, I felt better. Like I had let every emotion that I had shoved down to the pit of my stomach, come up with the jab of my finger to my throat. Or finger to keyboard. There was nothing left to feel when I saw Jody again. I threw it all up, and flushed it away.

I didn't notice him at all. I was surprised when Jody came up to me at the party. He wanted to kiss me hello, so I let him. I didn't feel uncomfortable, but I didn't want to talk to him for very long. I didn't see any reason to talk to someone who I wasn't going to be friends with. There were plenty of other friends I wanted to catch up with. Jody apologized for not being able to reply to my last email. I shrugged it off. He mentioned how he had heard that I was back in Toronto, and asked me why I had returned. All I could say, which was my standard answer to everyone by this time, was because of family. I continued, my parents had finally come around. They had disowned me as their son for 6 years, because of my homosexuality. Now, there was no reason to be so far away from my family. I think he wanted to continue conversation, but I cut him off and told him that I had to go say hello to the DJ because he's a friend of mine. I also said I really wanted to get on the dance floor, and not stay on the sidelines.... something to that effect. Really, I just wanted to get away. Not because I felt uncomfortable, part of me just felt sorry for him. He didn't look good. Not healthy, not young, not good. I couldn't believe that I had been in love with him. My one thought was, he's not even the kind of guy I'd hang around with anymore. Maybe in the back of my mind I thought the less I talk to him, the less people will associate us as people that were in a relationship together. Either way, I didn't see him much more that evening. And when I did, I felt nothing. It's strange to feel nothing for someone who meant the world to you, only a few years ago; but life's lessons will have a strange affect on anyone.

I'm turning 31 this next weekend, and I haven't planned a thing. I guess I don't really want to do anything. Is this maturity... or am I just tired of planning too many things? Don't know. I think if I could plan anything at this point, it would be a quiet dinner, and a long bath. Let time stand still while relaxing in a small pool of tepid water, reflecting on my life thus far and the next steps to take. Giving myself time is the only gift I want. Just let it stand still for a little bit. Until the next morning when I walk to the pace of the jungle drum again. The vibe of the city, the rhythm of the streetcar tracks, the music of a million voices all working in unison. Ain't no other city like Toronto, man. Not a bad shoe afterall. Still, I do like to shop around.... don't know when I'll get a hankering to try on some brand new kicks, but for now I'm good.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


No matter how much life kicks ya in the head, sometime you just gotta smile ;-) Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The First Entry

I've been writing short stories for some time.... and although sometimes I am adverse to technology, I'm realizing the online trend has some benefits. Mostly I'm using this forum to share with others, and to spark conversations on everything queer (gay, bi, lesbian, trans, questioning).

I was born in Toronto, and am the youngest child of four, to Jamaican immigrant parents. I came out over 10 years ago, much to the dismay of my father, who is a Pentecostal minister. Needless to say, I don't have a very close relationship with my parents. On the bright side, I don't really care. The world is full of some wonderful people, and lucky for me, I have more than my share around. They are the family I have chosen, rather than the one I was born into, and I love them dearly.

I am also engaged to a wonderful man. Beyond the passion that we share for each other, is an understanding, and respect for each other's individuality. He makes me feel daily like the luckiest man in the world, and I'm very much looking forward to sharing my life with him. We live in different cities presently, but shortly, will begin living together in San Francisco.

To give you a back history on myself... I work in media, and have worked in media ever since I was a teenager. I wrote my own column on youth issues for a local paper when I was in highschool, Assistant Directed live programs for MuchMusic, Directed and Produced programs and Commercials for Toronto Star, and hosted television programs for Pridevision TV. I write and photograph as a hobby, and physique model part-time. Always having an interest in media, in whatever form it may come in, I presently work as Director/Editor Agent and Line Producer for a music video production house. I've always been an over-achiever, and many have tried to catergorize me, but have never succeeded. I strive to grow continuously, and I believe this blog may help. I hope you enjoy it!