Reliving with HIV

I moved to Toronto in 1979. In that first year I got sober, met the man I still share life with, and lost the job that brought me to Toronto. The second year I was working closely with gay men in recovery. The gay cancer – GRID – was already taking its toll on the community. When it first became AIDS – people were confused with Aydes: a diet candy – which went out of business partly because of the phonetic associate with the disease.

A couple of men in 12-step-recovery got me involved in what eventually became ACT – The AIDS Committee of Toronto. I attended those early board meetings as a group of men, women, gay, queer, lesbian, straight created a structure for dealing with what became a holocaust. I helped create the buddy system. Did home care for men I knew. I cycled out of committee work & became part of a meditation, healing circle. I buried more people that I can count.

That’s not a resume I care to reflect upon but recently I read “Hold tight gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the battlefield of AIDS” by Martin B Duberman. It looks at the history of HIV activism in the USA though the lives of two talented men. One white, one black. You know, I can’t recall many minorities participating in those early days when ACT was being shaped here in Toronto. This book reveals the complexity of class, race & marginalization.

Reading it I relived my own fears, frustrations & powerlessness in those years. I felt grief as each – Michael, then Essex died as a result of the inability & unwillingness of the medical community to deal with the crisis. The book also reveals in detail how the marginalized minorities were often left to their own devices to be included in anyway.

The music of Michael Callen is still available on iTunes, check him out on YouTube. More cabaret style though his days with the Flirtations and great fun. Essex Hemphill’s spokenword can be seen on YouTube as well, but be warned he is a brilliant, fearless & confrontative in ways that are still challenging today. Some made me tear up. Sadly most of his writing is out of print 😦 (I’ve ordered two of the out-of-prints via Abe Books). His poetry is breathtaking & heart stopping. His open-hearted emotional frankness has now become one of my inspirations.

Formative

she asked

are you married single 

neither

widower

nope

you have to be one those

I’ve lived with my partner 

for over twenty years 

we aren’t married.

oh, I that’s common-law

what is her name

his name you mean

oh there’s no place 

on this form for male spouse

he isn’t my spouse

he’s my partner

very well 

I’ll put own common-law 

 

now what religion are you

none

oh you don’t believe in God 

as matter of fact I do believe in God

then what faith do you practice

none

but you can’t believe in God 

and not have faith 

I do have faith

I do believe in God 

but I’m not caught up 

in any religious persuasion

I’ll say atheist then

atheists don’t believe in God 

I reminded her

but I have to have answers for this form

I’ll just put down atheist

no I am not an atheists 

is there a place there for heretic

no

 

then the form is fascist

it doesn’t allow 

for practices 

other than those it defines 

as acceptable 

I didn’t create the form sir 

I’m just filling it in

but you made that judgment call 

didn’t you

that if I wasn’t religious 

I had to be atheist 

agnostic at best

 

we can skip that  part of the form

then why is it there

for statistical purposes sir

but the only people 

who get statistically counted 

are those whom the form allows 

to be included

what about us who don’t fit 

the confines of the form

don’t we get counted

you get counted as nonbelievers

but I just told you I do believe in God

I’m just not Catholic

Buddhist

Jewish or whatever 

possible categories you have 

on that form

isn’t there a box you can check for other

no sir there isn’t

let’s move on please

 

what political party do you support

is this as relevant 

as the religious question 

or just more statistical information

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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Hair

Hair

she was a stranger

who felt no compunction 

in reaching out to touch my hair

I must have been in my mid-twenties

at the time

my hair was freshly washed

shoulder length

‘it’s like baby hair,’ she said

I was a natural blond

even blonder 

after a month of summer sun

‘I would kill to have like yours’

she smiled 

‘thanks’ I replied

not adding

that I hate my hair

I hate it being so smooth

hate being asked

are you a boy or are you girl

being called fruit

by guys because of my hair

not that I was mr masculine

to begin with

 

shortly after that

I dyed my hair for the first time

I wanted a change

I bought a home kit

to make it permanent jet black

the look was striking

my mother said

‘what were you thinking’

I went to work

raised a few eye brows 

but no comments

the black faded after the first wash

so much for permanent

in a week it was ash

in three weeks

back to baby fine blond

 

my hair

was like my sexuality

something I couldn’t disguise

no matter what women

I flirted with

what I tried to call it

what I drank to blot it out

it would always be

I had to live with the envy

some felt about that hair

about something I was powerless over

something I hadn’t constructed

something I learned to live with

 

I remember my first perm

a head of tight blond curls

they bounced in the light

it was my face

but a different me

the stylist conferred with a colourist

both agreed

that my hair was too fine 

to hold colour for long

that it would be a shame

to tamper with it anyway

 

the permanent curls

would flatten within a week

I wasn’t willing 

to go to bed with hairpins in

to look like my mother

so I’d get that perm 

every month or so

I loved my hair for the first week

then a week of doing what I could

to keep the curl in

it was too much work

too much time checking in mirrors

 

I had a friend who was

what he referred to as 

a hair burner

he touched my freshly washed

uncurled hair one day

‘you have baby hair.

I have clients

who would kill to have hair like that.’

I said

‘I hate my hair.

it’s too much work.’

he said

‘do you trust me?’

 

I let him do what he wanted

it took a couple of hours

that first time

to cut it short short short

then incise it with electric razor

patterns into the hair

sometimes a maze

other times circle or triangles 

always different 

 

then he died

murdered by HIV meds

 

I shaved my head for his funeral

no one would ever touch my hair

again

This piece was directly inspired by reading posts, tweets, cultural analysis of race & hair. Black women, in particular, frequently have co-workers, friends of friends & complete strangers of all races, walk up to them to touch their hair, often without asking. It is seen as a lack of boundary respect.

This is something that happened to me more than once. Perhaps as a man it hasn’t had the same response from me. There is a cultural difference between a woman touching a strange man casually – than a man touching a woman’s hair casually. A woman’s touch isn’t threatening whereas a man’s is. Recently someone, without asking, stroked my fresh shaven head and said ‘smooth.’

Anyway this piece isn’t about sexual or racial politics but about my hair. This hair touching did happen often when I was a child, less often as a teen but until I actually started shaving my head it continued. The dialogue is actual, the hating of my hair is an exaggeration. I loved the colour but hated that it was baby fine. It was shiny but shapeless. I was hounded in high school by teachers to get my hair cut when it was getting to length I liked. Brian Jones-ish. 

I did dye my hair jet black & as the piece says, it washed out within a week, I never tried to dye it again. There was no altering it just ways of cutting it. As a big I usually had a brush cut, hight school was mod mop top; I never went for scraggly hippie long though. I was grappling with my sexuality & what masculinity meant. Though caring at all about my hair was then seen as being a more feminine attribute.

 

When I moved to Toronto one of the first things I started was getting my hair permed. I might photos of that somewhere. I would go to House of Lords to get that done. It was there the colourist said my hair would never hold colour. It would also not hold curls, unless I did extra work myself. 

The hair burner was a friend in recovery. Ed – he was also from my hometown, Sydney, Cape Breton; though we never knew each other when we were living there. I often wondered what might have happened had we met way back when. As the piece says he cut my hair super short then ‘etched’ patterns into it with an electric razor. I loved it. Our haircutting sessions were slow, mediative talks for many years, in which we became spiritually connected.

He was an early HIV diagnosis & thus one of the guinea pigs as science figured out dosages. The meds killed him, not HIV. ‘So sorry.’ Before he passed I did try another hair-burner friend in recovery but he didn’t have the patience for the cut that Ed gave me. For Ed’s funeral I shaved my head for the first time. I knew that in some religions mourners would wail, tear their clothes, even scar themselves in a display of grief. This was/is my display.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Christmas Aneramics

 Aneramics

In recovery one can get dumbstruck by an intoxicating lust for another member in recovery. This is known as 13th stepping – turning the hand of AA into the gland of AA 🙂 This has happened to me a few times in my early years. One of those times was Andrew X. X, of course, to grant him some anonymity.

Andrew was the living embodiment of a Tom of Finland character. For those of you unfamiliar with the type Google can help 🙂 Thick set, muscular, nordic features, square jaw, broad forehead always with a sweep of hair, slightly squinty eyes, and well-hung. 

 

For a couple months we hung out a lot. I helped paint his apartment, we talked before & after meetings. Once we went all the way one afternoon. Neither of us was disappointed, & both of us stayed sober too. But, as it always the case, there was more attraction for him on my side than from him. 

He met the man of his dreams & they quickly set up housekeeping. We remained good friends though. They were regulars at our Xmas day feast for a few years. Andrew started a ceramic side-business – Aneramics. One Christmas he gave me a set of angel chimes that now hangs every December in the bathroom. Another year it was set of teddy bear ornaments. One of which I still have.

 

We remained good friends & his partner & I got along nicely. I was on Andrew’s home care team as his HIV progressed. He was eventually transferred to Casey House where he succumbed to the disease. I was heartbroken & still miss him. I put up the chimes every year. The tip of one of the angle’s wings has broken off & though I could fix it I have resisted. Andrew wasn’t a perfect angel either.

Positive Negative

HIV was (& still is) one the most powerful shaming opportunities used to justify & perpetuate homophobia (which to me is an cloak for the even more pernicious power of sex-a-phobia). Recently a pos, but undetectable, friend of mine was told to say away from someone’s children lest he give them AIDS. Information is out there but people refuse to read it. Or if they read they refuse to understand it.

This holds true for gay men as well – I had a guy chat me up online. He’d actually ready my profile, I’d read his, my HIV- status is included. He asked if I’ve ever had sex without someone who was HIV+. I replied – ‘In my life? Or in the last couple of years.’ He replied that if I didn’t know then he wasn’t interested  in taking that risk. I opted not to educate him on pre-cautions but I did ask him if he would supply documented proof of his status. Never heard back.

On a recent Disability After Dark, Andrew Gurza talks with Addison Reed about the continuing stigmatization of people with HIV. He & Addison discuss how people have reacted to their individual ‘conditions.’ It also as if there is a sense that all one needs is willpower – with enough willpower Andrew can get out of his chair. Or people who want to discount that part of their identity – ‘I don’t see you as disabled.’ It’s like telling p.o.c that you see the person & not the colour, so you aren’t a racist.

They talk about being tired & bored of the need to educate people before & even during sex play. Sometime’s it’s easier to say no thanks & get a good night’s sleep instead.

#AIDS Vigil June 1998 https://wordpress.com/post/topoet.ca/5594

Five after seven and he was on the street. The air outside was muggy, heavy clouds darkened. A wind rustled through the trees around him.

He walked as fast as he could to Robert’s b’n’b. It would take as long to get a cab as it would to get there. Each step took too long. Sweat beaded on his scalp. What a sensation. Cool almost chilly. Free of hair he knew his travel time would be cut by nanoseconds.

He rounded a corner. The street dipped and he checked numbers. 1312 1314. He checked the card. 1299. Other side of the street. Had he passed already? Nope. There it was.

The Bras D’Or’s mid-thirties front brought the image of musicals with deco stage sets. Curved stairs lead up the front door. The facade had flourishes of concrete details that ran between the rows of windows. The flat columns ended in rounded arcs with smaller circles set within circles. Ornate yet crisp at the same time.

Flowers! He was going to stop and buy flowers. No time. Seven sixteen.

Over the scanner for electronic keys there was a door buzzer for the concierge. Pressed. A classical riff. Da da dah da.

The swung open and Mike walked up another couple of steps into the foyer. It had been clearly recently renovated. The fixtures and furniture had a thirties feel but looked like they were fresh out the furniture store. There ere large glass and steel wall sconce lights in the double V pattern on both walls of the foyer.

“Bon soir. Comment puis-je t’aider?” the concierge asked.

“Mr. Etang is expecting me.”

“Ah oui. Deux cent six deuxième étage.” The concierge pointed to a entry that lead to the stairs.

The renovation work didn’t extend beyond the lobby. Ugly florescent lighting over head. Walls that needed a dusting as well as a fresh coat of paint. Worn carpet. Unfaded wall patches where pictures had once been. Quick narrow corkscrew steps lead up. barely wide enough for him he wondered how someone got a suitcase up to their room.

On the second landing was a sign that said – “S’il vous plaît pardonner le désordre pendant que nous sommes en cours de rénovation. Mercie.” Mike knew enough French to know it was apologizing for renovations.

 

Mike stopped at the end of the narrow hall. Two of the lights weren’t working. He used the light of his cell phone to double check the room number before he knocked at the door. Three small raps. He could hear music, water running. He knocked again louder.

“Une second. Une second.”

The door opened and thin steam drifted out.

“Ah, you are early? No, no, it is I who am late.” Robert rubbed his head with a towel. Naked. Wet. “Come in. Please. I will not be much longer.”

Should he go in? “I can wait downstairs if you’d rather.”

“Non, non. It will be fine.”

The cock. Mike wanted to look at the cock. See the cock. Touch it. Dry it. Try it. Robert handed him a towel and turned around.

“You might dry my back. No need to be shy. Is there?”

Mike rubbed along his shoulders. Robert smelled of coconut with an earthy undertone. There was a row of scars along either side of Robert’s spines. Just above the small of Robert’s back the two lines merged and continued around to his stomach.

“Tribal markings.” Robert answered his unasked question.

“Were they painful?”

“Yes. The rites of manhood always are. Has it started to rain yet?”

“Any minute now I expect.”

As if on cue there was a crack of lightening followed by the rumble of thunder. A brief silence and rain pounded on the roof. Not a few small drops but an instant torrent. Water came through the window. Robert slid it shut.

“I hope the ceiling doesn’t leak.” Mike said.

Mike’s eyes adjusted the room. A small bedside lamp cast a greenish glow. The room was cluttered with clothes tossed here and there, an open suitcase was on the floor at the foot of the bed. On the dresser were some small figurines and shells under a silver crucifix. Draped over the the cross were strings of beads, more shells, a bone.

“I am not so tidy when I travel.” He quickly draped a large piece of colourful, patterned fabric over the dresser.

“Looks like you live here.”

Robert began to put on white undershorts. They almost glowed in the gloom of the room.

“Don’t get dressed on my account.” Mike joked. Where should his eyes be when they wanted to be on the body in front of him?

“Only if you will undress on my account.”

Mike’s heart raced. His cock hardened.

“You look different somehow.” Robert gently stroked Mike’s head, tracing the edge of his stain.

Mike ducked his head. “I got rid of a little hair. Less between me and my God.”

“Ah good. The less that stands between us and our Maker the better. Shall I help you with this?”

Robert undid Mike’s belt buckle. Mike touched Robert’s arms. Let his hand move along the skin, the muscle of the upper arm

“You like …”

“Yes.”

He felt along Robert’s chest. Tight curled hair. More of the scarification. It was like feeling a road map. Stomach. More hair. The scarring stopped at the pubic hair, more tight curls close to the body, not loose bushy like his. Robert’s hand was inside his shorts feeling his cock. He took Robert’s cock in one hand. Heavy. Thick. Cut. Very thick.

Next to Robert’s his cock was thin, pointed, white. Robert’s cock had girth, the rounded head filled his palm. His filled Robert’s fingers easy with nothing to spill out. Robert’s was beyond his grasp. It grew as he held it, as he rubbed the under skin with his thumb.

 

chapbooks for sale http://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

kiss3

HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

http://www.queerslam.com

November 1-30
2018

https://www.facebook.com/events/1895647050666334/

June – dates t.b.a – Capturing Fire 2018 – Washington D.C.


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy ice cream in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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Never Touch (My Hair)

samprules2

Started a new set of prompts – I love lists of things – this one will prove to be endlessly productive for another couple of years – 227 Rules For Monks. Who knew the simple life could be so complex. These are from the 30 nissaggiyas. This is where the word ‘dye’ in 17 Not to make someone else wash, dye or card the wool for a bhikkhunī took me.

Never Touch (My Hair)

she was a stranger

who felt no compunction

in reaching out to touch my hair

I must have been in my mid-twenties

at the time

my hair was freshly washed

shoulder length

‘it’s like baby hair,’ she said

I was a natural blond

even blonder

after a month of summer sun

‘I would kill to have like yours’

she smiled

‘thanks’ I replied

not adding

that I hate my hair

I hate it being so smooth

hate being asked

are you a boy or are you girl

being called fruit

by guys because of my hair

not that I was mr masculine

to begin with

 

shortly after that

I dyed my hair for the first time

I wanted a change

I bought a home kit

to make it permanent jet black

the look was striking

my mother said

‘what were you thinking’

I went to work

raised a few eye brows

but no comments

the black faded after the first wash

so much for permanent

in a week it was ash

in three weeks

back to baby-fine blond

 

my hair

was like my sexuality

something I couldn’t disguise

no matter what women

I flirted with

what I tried to call it

what I drank to blot it out

it would always be

I had to live with the envy

some felt about that hair

about something I was powerless over

something I hadn’t constructed

something I learned to live with

 

I remember my first perm

a head of tight blond curls

they bounced in the light

it was my face

but a different me

the stylist conferred with a colourist

both agreed

that my hair was too fine

to hold colour for long

that it would be a shame

to tamper with it anyway

 

the permanent curls

would flatten within a week

I wasn’t willing

to go to bed with hairpins in

to look like my mother

so I’d get that perm

every month or so

I loved my hair for the first week

then a week of doing what I could

to keep the curl in

it was too much work

too much time checking in mirrors

 

I had a friend who was

what he referred to as

a hair burner

he touched my freshly washed

uncurled hair one day

‘you have baby hair.

I have clients

who would kill to have hair like that.’

I said

‘I hate my hair.

it’s too much work.’

he said

‘do you trust me?’

I let him do what he wanted

it took a couple of hours

that first time

to cut it short short short

then incise it with electric razor

patterns into the hair

sometimes a maze

other times circle or triangles

always different

 

then he died

murdered by HIV meds

 

I shaved my head for his funeral

no one would ever touch my hair

again

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

Sex-o-phobia

In the past a couple of months I’ve been chatted up by a couple guys whose need for ‘safe’ sex has become, to me, more about internalized sex-o- or even homo-phobia.

SanF climbing the walls

Both needed reassurance that I was negative and that I had no recent sexual contact with anyone who was poz. By recent they mean years ago. When I couldn’t guarantee that I hadn’t they were no longer interested – fear of contracting HIV was their excuse.

I shrugged. It’s not up to me to educate them on safety protocols and risk factors. Making out with or jacking off a poz guy while he sucks you off isn’t a very high risk factor for HIV.

crack wise crack?

Then I realized what they wanted was someone to have sex with without worrying about any safety protocols. They also expected me to take their word on their status while I was being honest about mine. Asking when I last got tested etc. As if I’m going to send a pdf of results. With stats tipping on the increased infection rate I wonder if this is one of the reasons.

lamp lamp unto mine eyes

I understand the need for caution, trust me I am careful. I also realized that these guys were looking for reasons not to have sex – perhaps they wanted to be wanted, to express desire & then not have sex is pretty safe. Ultimately they seemed too stupid for me to want to get naked with them.

 

samples

Ambition

 

day 1

 

there’s a fog on the city

that cat paw

plays with the dusky sun

fog smog

can’t tell the difference

it smudges the high rises

takes away a bit of the bitter ambition

of polished steel and glass

 

day 2

 

one can almost see it breath

this deep thin thick white yellow mist

trees steam

as it settles closer and closer

to the ground

a cloud come for lunch

a crow moves uncertain

a new world to fit

cover the old world

fuzzy damp slick

 

day 5

 

everything has a new tactile identity

even the sidewalk under foot

has a membrane over it

nothing is cut and dry

the fog smog becomes a night

white damp

hands reach out to move foreward

looking for a familiar wall

feet tentatively feeling for stairs up or down

a curb

car lights barely penetrate

traffic lights useless

police whistles

echo

as things grind to a stop

 

day 12

 

skin decaying with the constant damp

fungus boils between toes

behind ears

skin aches for sun for true light

the mist continues impassive

it develops a weight of its own

holds you down

keeps you in your chair

seeps under doors

fills rooms

makes TV dim

hides the computer monitor from you

ink blots

pens tear paper

damp soggy paper

nothing can been read

seen

felt

tasted

lungs congested

with this new atmosphere

fetid  stifling

 

day 33

 

people gaspn collapse

in stairwells

behind the wheels of their car

one by one

entranced

caught in the chill

unaware unprepared

ready for the big one

not for the big wet one

by the time the wind arrives

it will arrive

won’t it

there will be a fresh wind some day

won’t there

 

day 124

 

some of us survived

rose high in tall buildings

crept out on to roofs

where

the mist wasn’t quite so thick

we stood to look down

around us

an island above

a vague city

silent

sad

the ground level under not water

but cloud

not sure

how to save

just pray for a wind

pray for a new sun

to burn away the fog smog

danger caught in our throats

 

day 125

 

cough

each of us cough

no power

nothing to eat

all infested by the damp

deserted by all except ambition

buriedsnowed under

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Last Will and Testament

 

samples

Last Will and Testament

 

Being of sound mind & body

well, considering the pain killers

antibiotics vitamins

various medications injected

ingested inhaled by myself

over the years

the sound of body I have

is the rattle of my lungs

the flap of my mouth

as I spew at those around me

and if they were asked

they certainly wouldn’t

testify to my clarity of mind

so perhaps we can skip

that part of the testament

 

to the smug snug drug manufactures

who feel the astronomical cost

of the medications is justified

by the cost of research

I ask how many of those researchers profited

or did the vast profits

go to share holders

to smarmy executives or

publicists

who made sure the world knew

of the wonder drug

 

to my various doctors I leave

this signed & numbered series

ultrasounds of my rumbling body

x-rays of my chest

mri’s of the brain

cat scans of the frontal lobes

blood tests of dwindling white corpuscles

ultraviolet blow-ups

that turn even the most devastating germs

into a colourful abstract designs

to serve as a suitable screen saver

reminders that you weren’t life savers

that little of what you did

added to the quality of my life

added to my soundness of mind

to the length of this dilapidated existence

 

to my specialists who tsk tsk

when I decided to have one last smoke

one more drink

one little toke

then drove off

in your bmw’s

to sunny gold golf courses

or who were out of town

at conventions

when I had my seizures

who found me so truculent

only sedatives seemed to do the trick

to you I leave

the empty feeling of

having no emotion other than

the small spike of rage

that would filter through

the fog around my brain

a beacon of fury

that could cut the pain

the frustration and spite

without which

I may have just pulled the chemical blanket up

over my chin

and gone silent into that happy light

 

to you charming scientists

I leave

the fact that you are powerless

mortal buffoons

whose big words and

cold little hands

didn’t keep me alive any longer than it took

for you to see me a scant minutes

after hours of shivering

in your waiting rooms

 

I leave you all the happy prize

of my death

at your incapable hands

falldesk

The ‘I’ in this piece is not me. It goes back several years & is filtered through my own experience working in the HIV community & also from hearing how patients in general were treated. It seemed rather than indulge in false hope the medical community was more confident in indulging in false despair.

yardsale

Sadly some of these things go on – patients who ask the wrong questions are apt get sedated into quiet acceptance. Specialists spend more time researching their statistical reports than they do actually seeing their patients.

fontblue

I did hear a talk given by a specialist whose tie fabric was of ‘germs woven into a colourful abstract designs.’ He was very pleased with it in fact. I suppose it was his way of distancing himself from what these germs did – see how pretty they are. I wondered if he’d consider having a sweet kaposi tattooed to show off as proudly.

violins 

I remember performing it for the first time at The Rant at the Cafe May on Roncesvalles. Sue G ran the this funky series out there, one of the open stages first I began to go to before I discovered things closer to home. But I kept going to it till she moved on to other things.

loyalist getting the L out of Loyalist

snow what it means to be sedated

 

Handsome Strangers

What do Rock Hudson and J.D. Salinger have in common beside the obvious, that both of them kept much of their private lives hidden? It’s the fact that I watched biographic documentaries about each of them recently and was both amused, dismayed and depressed by the way fame dealt with them and the way they dealt with fame.

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J.D. physically hid, removed himself from the public eye, and chose not to publish but to write. The documentary did open some aspects of his life to us but nothing, to me, terribly profound. He wanted his privacy and he got it. Talking heads talked about his books. If a copy of my book had been found in the possession of three high-profile murderers I might have some serious thoughts about publishing. I really would have like to know what his were. Perhaps that’ll be in the vast, soon to be published, writing he left behind.

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I’ve read his books and enjoyed them but didn’t find they moved me as much as they did the talking heads. Perhaps coming from a different generation, different geography & dealing with my own identity issues they didn’t speak to me.

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Rock on the other hand hid in plain sight. One of those well-known secrets. The documentary ‘Dark and Handsome Stranger’ was a powerful reminder of the power of the press and the damage of the closet. The emotional pressure of hiding his true self must have been intense – I can’t find the words for it. The saddest thing about Rock’s death was the panic and ignorance around HIV – hen we was brought into the Paris hospital – all new borns & maternity wards were emptied within half-an-hour.

I was amazed at the number of talking heads in this documentary who said they never saw him as gay, never suspected, can’t see it in his performances on screen – but what they are saying is that he wasn’t standard issue bitchy campy queen. The notion of a masculine homosexual was unfathomable to them. Being told Paul Lynde was queer was a yawn, being told Rock was gay shocked the nation. Also making it harder was that he preferred adult men not pretty twinky guys.

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I wondered if he shared his frustrations with some of others in a similar situation: Sal Mineo or Nick Adams. Now there’s a conversation worth finding out about.

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February 21, Friday – featuring – Racket at the Rocket: 7 p.m., Red Rocket Cafe, 1364 Danforth Ave. https://www.facebook.com/events/818441091515505/

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March 1, Saturday – attending – Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

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June 6-8 – attending – Bloody Words

June 23-27 – attending – Manuscript to Book – Loyalist Summer Arts – Belleville https://www.facebook.com/events/589522924455695/

100_2944getting the L out of Loyalist

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada

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Privilege

it is time for the workers of this world to unite – time for change and revolution – time for us to be the ones of privilege to grind those who have ground us, under our not so fine heels – time for that change – because everyone needs someone to grind down – that is the purpose and aim of progress – of life – to find new ways and means of repressing one another –

so workers let us unite – let us boldly throw off the yoke of servitude that has been ours for too long – let us go forth with our bare hands and wrest what is ours from those who haven’t done a lick of work to earn or deserve what is rightfully ours – the opportunity to be the privileged class – the chance to look down our noses at those who sweat and toil till they rise up against us –

there will always be someone to look down upon – for even as we workers have so little there are those who have less – we all have found a way to disenfranchise some one segment of the populace – even if we can’t subject the upper classes to our hunger for power we can look down upon those who have less power than us – we can deny, as we have been denied, the dignity of being mere humans –

since when is being human enough to deserve what we have to work for – since when was there no need for revolt and change – always – and we who are down trodden – tread even harder on those we deem beneath us

so workers of the world it is time to unite – the glorious opportunities will soon be upon us to make those who feel they are our betters suffer for their erroneous thinking – we will correct and redirect their unsound ideologies till it fits in with ours – there are so many more of us and once we have their power – their wealth – their privilege – those who foment revolt beneath us will have no hope –

our revolution will allow us to put down the revolution of others – once we hold the power we can crush without mercy those who would dare to contradict us – we will crush, as others have attempted to crush us – others who have failed to crush us, for we are right might and once that right might is combined with privilege the power we will be unstoppable

no puny uprising will stand a chance – there will be no political bloc strong enough to resist the tide of our cleansing and righteousness – so workers of the world unite with us now or fall beneath our boot heels as we make the world a better and finer place tomorrow – if you don’t join you will fall – you will become one of the puny forces who are less than us – who do not deserve the privileges we don’t have but deserve and which we will with wrest from those who have them and then crush them all –

so join now – throw your might in with ours – the more who join the stronger we will be – we will move as a single fist to smash the oppressors – to oppress those who would deny us the right to smash the oppressors – who would hold us back with their fears and ill conceived ideologies –

join with us and rise up, as we rise up, as we take over even the highest chambers of our world to remake it into the vision – into our glorious and faithful vision of what is best for all

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