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Friday, November 25, 2011

The Bible and Anne Coulter: It Takes a Whore to Know One

Thanksgiving morning, I was in church, in a particularly good mood – enjoying the unusually warm weather and in the mood to soak up the energy created when people gather. Sitting with the choir, I made small talk with the bass player until service began. The sun was pouring in through the windows above the altar and all seemed right with the world. Mass began. I was in good voice. As the readings began I buried my face in my hymnal; going over the psalm that was to be sung – it had a very pretty melody and part of me wished I would one day get a chance to sing it when I cantor.

Then we got to that part just before the gospel is read, when everyone touches their index finger to their eyes, lips and chest. I must have been absent that day in catechism, because I never learned to do it, and though I get the gist of the gesture (bless my eyes, my lips, my heart?) I never developed the habit to mimic those around me. Why, I wondered.

It occurred to me that I don’t bother with that particular gesture because it bestows some magical power upon the text that is about to be read. I don’t bother with that ritualistic movement for the same reason I bury my face in my hymnal – checking out copyright dates, composers, and trying to sight read the music – each time a reading from the bible is presented. It’s because I don’t hold that book in all that high esteem. I get the basic lessons it imparts, have for years. Each time the reader or the priest launches into a reading, I discern the meaning behind that particular reading, acknowledge how it relates to my own life, and then turn my attention to my hymnal.

How can I be so callous? So presumptuous? So sacrilegious? Is it because I’m gay? Not really. Because I am a hedonistic sinner? Ummm… naw. My disregard for the highly regarded book stems, not from my lack of moral compass, but from my understanding of the history, origin, purpose, and creation of that particular text.

The bible is not the word of God. It is the word of man – and in this particular case, the word of many, many men (and maybe a few women, but I doubt it, given the overall sexist nature of the many of the passages). The basic lessons to be imparted are quite valuable, much like those found in Aesop’s Fables. However, the bible, unlike Aesop’s Fables, has been subject to a lot of tinkering and padding. The men that helped shape this text over the years have managed to infuse these tales and lessons with their own not-so-hidden agendas and biases, which has resulted in the vilification and exclusion of certain segments of the population. And so it becomes rather confusing. All are welcome? Did God make me? Does God love me as I am? In spite of what and whom I turned out to be? Am I, indeed a child of God?

Well, no. Not according to the bible. Or at least some folks interpretation of the bible. Fortunately, the church I attend has a priest that seems to steer away from the more exclusive parts of the bible. For a Catholic church? It’s pretty damn welcoming. There’s a hymn we sing quite often entitled “All Are Welcome” and this congregation really embraces and lives that message.

And that’s as it should be.

Yes, I’ve heard that whole ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ creed. I don’t find it very comforting. In fact, I think it’s something people came up with just so they could feel superior to someone else. It’s a bogus theology. Especially when it comes to gay people. You either accept us as God made us, or you’re really not all that in tune with the basic lessons the bible has to impart. Either you accept us as children of God, just as you have presumed yourself to be, or you’re a bloody hypocrite. In which case, I feel sorry for you – those who live life as a hypocrite – for yours is a burden of woe. I don’t know how you can live a life of such conflicting truths – either you are a Christian, or you are not – but I accept you as you are because as a sexually active gay man, I too, live a life of conflicting truths. I think hate, like wanton sex, must feel really good, otherwise, why would anyone pour their energy into creating and sustaining it? I believe that those people who live their lives condemning other children of God must really get off on that emotion. Apparently, just as I believe God made me gay and that it is not a choice, so God made them hateful hypocrites put on earth to distort his good works and lessons. (It’s okay, Michele and Marcus Bachmann. I don’t like you or what you do, but I do understand.)

And to take that last assumption one step further, I would like to theorize that what Michele and Marcus, and the Dr. Laura’s, Limbaugh’s, O’Reilly’s, and Coulter’s (aside – did you know that if you Google “blonde hateful republican pundit”, Ann Coulter’s name is at the top of the list?) of this world are really about has NOTHING to do with the word of God, or moral stewardship. They are just media whores, hungry for power, fame and – above all else – money. For that is their true God – MONEY. They may fool themselves, along with a lot of gullible others, but money really is the only thing (other than fame and power) they truly care about.

That – their money, how they achieve it, their need for it - doesn’t make them evil. It merely makes them human. In fact, it makes them the kind of people that the lessons of the bible does such a good job warning us about. And as such, we need to understand them. That said, I wish I was a good enough Christian to forgive them, too. To just let them be. But I am a flawed human, too. And I can’t. Like the Dixie Chicks – I’m Not Ready to Make Nice.

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I'm not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I'm still waiting

And I am waiting. Waiting for the day they own up to being the money-hungry media whores they are. For therein lies the difference between us. I own my shortcomings – I am a sexually compulsive, hedonistic, grudge-harboring, flawed human being. However, as much as I dislike the hate-filled, divisive rhetoric that spews out of their mouths, I still understand that they are children of God and products of God. But for me to forgive them? They first need to cop to their brand of whoredom the way I own mine.

Yes, it takes a whore to know one.

I’m looking at you, Ann Coulter.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Seven Whole Days - And I'm Feeling Fine!

It’s been seven days. No sex. And I feel great.

In fact, this whole thing has been a lot easier than I thought. I assumed I would be climbing the walls, itching to jump on anything and anyone I found remotely attractive. Instead, it’s been like a great vacation where you don’t have anything planned and have no commitments you need to attend to.

What I don’t miss:
The anxiety inherent in the logistics associated with setting up and getting to a hook-up.

I’m not on my laptop, so any technical glitches – i.e. connectivity, sites not loading properly, uploading photos, etc. – poof, gone. I don’t have to Mapquest anything or expand my knowledge of parts of the cities I have not been to before. The actual frustration of driving to a designated site and parking? Not my problem anymore. Racing against the clock to get there at the time you said you would? Not me. Not this week, anyway.

Sweating the STD thing.If you’re not getting fucked or having a dick rammed in your mouth – what’s to worry about? Well, yeah, my recent past could catch up to me, but something tells me I skirted this issue. It has been nice not spending the whole week wondering if that dude with the scuzzy apartment and dim lighting left me with a parting gift when he showed me to the door.

Burning all that gas.I’m not sitting in a park parking lot idling my engine. I’m not driving all the way to Coon Rapids to scratch that itch. My car is in the garage when I’m not working, and that is saving me some bucks.

Wasting my time on-line.Not that I’m doing anything special with my newfound freedom, but it’s nice not being tied to a phone app or glued to my laptop. The days pass by much faster, but that’s okay, because they seem a bit sweeter, too.

Wasting my emotional energy on-line.I try not to sweat the little stuff. People on-line are fairly bogus, obtuse, and tend to be rather sketchy no matter what their chemical state may be. But rejection is almost always a self-esteem killer. It’s been nice not to have to read between the lines when some dude who was way into me suddenly stops responding to my emails.

Being ever-vigilant regarding my body hair maintenance regime.Did I mention that I finally got a back clipper and shaved my back? Yes. Once. I will probably do it again, but now it will be when I want to do it, and not because I have to do it. Same with shaving the boys and buzzing my chest hair. I like doing that, I like how it looks, but all the anxiety I felt about having to do it every other day? Gone.

Douching.My hole is so happy to be on vacation. That was such a chore. I can’t tell you the amount of frustration that has vanished. No more ducking into public restrooms to double check the fuck-ability of my poop shoot. No more wondering if I douched enough or too much. No more wondering if I’m going to show up on time only to discover that I’m not good to go. Next time I shove water up my love canal will be for some special occasion. Or maybe because I fell in love with a recently purchased zucchini (Veggie Love!).

Disappointment.Turns out - no sex really is better than bad sex. I love that I haven’t had to perform for someone out of obligation. No mercy fucks. Nor have I had that sinking feeling when I open the mystery date door only to discover that ‘football player’s build’ translates, not into Aarron Rogers, but into Refrigerator Perry.

Lack of sleep and feeling worn out.Sex is a lot of work. It takes its toll on the body. So I’ve discovered that the exhaustion I frequently felt come Friday has less to do with my work week than all the fucking around I tried to accomplish during the week. Also, I am sleeping better, because I am not all jazzed up from being on the internet desperately-seeking-human. That on-line cruising frequently leads to unmet expectations and needs which cumulate into frustration which then causes me a restless night. I like my zzzzz’s

Yes, I realize this is a little too early in the game to start proclaiming victory, but hey, seven days in, I am feeling a lot less frustrated than I thought I would be. It kind of goes to my whole ‘I am not a sex addict’ stance. The dude on that ‘Bad Sex’ show on LOGO was going bonkers after two days.

I do worry that I’ve reached this state, not out of a real desire to limit the number of sexual encounters I engage in, but due to my age. You know, like some version of male men-on-pause? I would want to rally against the fading of my mojo by over-compensating. Which may be what I have, in fact, been doing. But I don’t think so. I’m still horny – as evidenced by the three very sexual dreams I had this morning before waking and the incredible stiffy I had pressed into my mattress for most of the night. So it’s unlikely that waning libido is the cause of my current relaxed state.

In conclusion, I’m happier for doing this. So, I do believe I will continue to abstain from getting on-line or cruising for sex in parks. If I have sex, I want it to be special, not just the daily special.
Seven days! Here’s to seven more!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dancing Naked With the Trolls: A Change in Course

And now for something completely different?

Well, not completely different. More like a change in course, or at least a correction in direction. Yeah, I know… we’ve been here before, blah, blah, blah… but bear with me.

I handed myself over to the idea of being a complete slut this year, and it has been fun – for a while. That is, until it got so mind-numbingly boring that I feel I have no choice but to change. That or fall asleep during one of my less-than-inspirational encounters. Granted, they have not all been bad – in fact, some of them have been incredibly original experiences and first–times for me (perhaps I’ll be sharing a few of them in the near future). But the bulk? Oh, my! And, yes, you could say 50% of the responsibility was mine, but, that said, I believe I did bring my A game every time. Unfortunately, there are a lot of liars out there. There are a lot of misleading pictures out there. There are a lot of erroneous stats out there. Also – and this is common sense – returning to the same well repeatedly will only yield more of the same water.

Bottom line? I look at the clock, I look at the calendar, I estimate the amount of time I have left on this planet, and find myself wondering – is this all there is? The answer would be no, of course not. Thank God, I still live a life where most of my time is my own to decide what I do and where my energies go. In considering my behavior since, oh, about 1998 – I would say I have been squandering a good deal of it. Twelve/thirteen years is a long time to pursue something with no end in sight. So, I think it’s time to make a change.

It could have to do with an episode of ‘Sex and The City’ I saw recently that’s inspired this. Samantha Jones (slut supreme) is taking yoga and has the hots for her instructor. Turns out that the instructor is celibate, has been for three years, and practices a form of tantric sex. He claims that not having sex is even hotter than having sex. That thought caught my attention. It reminded me of something I’d experienced in my youth.

I recalled the time when I was a senior in high school and I made a deal with God that if he got me to the finals at the State Speech contest that year, I would refrain from masturbating for the duration of the time it took me to get there (about three months). I was good to my word. I didn’t shoot my load for three months – which, given the perpetual hard-on I walked around with at the time, was an amazing feat. God kept his end of the deal, too. He got me all the way to the final round at the State Contest.

Storytelling was my niche and that year the theme was the Brothers Grimm. At the local, district, and regional levels, I had come in first each time, thus securing a place at the State contest. I’d managed to do this the previous year, only to be eliminated before the final round at State. This time, I wanted it to be different. As a senior, this was to be my last grab at the ring.

In the first two rounds I lucked out and snagged what I considered my best story – something that had me, at one point, reenacting a party thrown by a group of trolls. I did my best Saturday Night Fever poses, singing a snippet of ‘Staying Alive’ in a highly-pitched dwarf voice – it never failed to bring down the house. That day was no different – the bit killed. I felt pretty confident waiting for the announcement of those who had made the cut for the final round, but, having been disappointed in the past, I tried not to get my hopes up too high. The results were posted; I made the final round.

I went to draw for my final story. I pulled one story that I had done before, but didn’t feel very confident about, the other I knew quite well, though it lacked zing. I went with the latter, hoping that my skills and style would make up for a less than fascinating read. The moment – and I do mean, the moment I finished my story I made a beeline for a restroom I had scouted out during a break. It was on the lower level of the school, tucked under a staircase. Wearing my finest, three-piece suit, I stood in front of the restroom trough and worked my dick with my fist until I shot my load. Now, I had been teasing my dick for the entire three months – edging without losing my load, so I was definitely primed to go. However, once the shot that should have been heard around the world went off - I was quite disappointed. I had imagined my ejaculate flying with such incredible force as to cause major damage to the wall in front of me. This was not the case. As anyone who ejaculates knows, saving up one’s load does not guarantee an incredible orgasm. Turns out my cum had congealed in my balls, so it came out in a series of fatty, pearlescent globs. Jizz, yes, but certainly not the super-soaker of my dreams. It also didn’t feel as wonderful as I had anticipated. I thought it would be reminiscent of the first time I ever shot my load – when I felt the world momentarily melt away and was pretty certain I was dying. But the linoleum beneath my feet did not open up and swallow me that day. In fact, as orgasms go, it just felt… average. Granted, at that age, I could have just gone for round two immediately, but I did not want to get caught jerking off at the trough and the award ceremony announcing the winners was about to begin.

So, long story short – standing on stage at the end of the awards for my category were me and this other dude – a soft, bookish, John Denver-sort whose very essence seemed to scream intellectual. His style was the polar opposite of mine; quiet, sweet, gentle, and rather lulling, while mine was bombastic, physical, and used voice caricatures for all character dialogue. It was his name that was called for the number one spot, I came in second. I immediately blamed my premature trough ejaculation for my loss. Oh, if only I had waited! On the long bus ride home, my coaches, who were rather absent with praise, handed the score tallies for all the contestants in my category. Round one – I came in first place. Round two – again, first place. I’d won both the first two rounds, while the eventual winner had placed dead last in one of the rounds and fifth in the other. I should have sailed home with first place easily – but in the final round – two of the three judges HATED me, one giving me last place, the other one place above it. The third judge placed me in the middle of the pack. If it had not been for my two first place rankings in the preliminary rounds, I wouldn’t have placed second. And then I did the math. Turns out I lost by one point. The story of my life.

Oh, if only I had waited. (Naw – they just liked the other dude better. That’s the way it goes.) So, yeah, the story doesn’t end as well. Yes, technically God kept his promise, and due to this experience I’ve learned that if you’re going to make a deal with God, then make it to win!

I had also learned that denial of sexual release was kind of exciting. Something I think it might be time to revisit. So… I’ve decided to enter into a deal with myself – no, not that I won’t be jerking off, but I will refrain from having sex with other people. So no more warehouse visits. No more on-line cruising. No more sitting in my car in the parking lot cruising. No more Craigslist ads either. I need to reinvent myself sexually. Sexually speaking, internet hook-ups have become the culinary equivalent of hamburger helper. I need to try harder. No, I don’t want a relationship. LTR is not for me either. Rather, I need to be sexual in a less obvious way. I also need to spend my time doing good works – or at least something other than trolling on bbrts every chance I get. If my identity as a sexual person is my brand, then I’ve been diluting my brand in the market for way too long now.

But don’t worry. I will still have stories to share here – past exploits that were definitely blog-worth that I never committed to paper. Or not. We’ll see. I’ll also be keeping you posted on how my desire to take a vacation from internet sex progresses.

I did recently come to the conclusion that I am not a sex addict.

I watched this program called ‘Bad Sex’ on LOGO. The first person they profiled was a gay dude struggling with his obsession for hooking up. I didn’t see myself in him. I have a lot of other things going on in my life. He did not. He seemed very selfish, myopic, and narcissistic. And, yes, you could accuse me of being rather narcissistic due to my insistence on writing about myself on this blog, but selfish and myopic I am not. I do a lot of volunteer work, and I put the needs of others ahead of my own quite frequently. Yes, I may resent the hell out of having to do so, but I do the right thing – and not just when it’s convenient.

Given that, this change isn’t some desire to curtail my perceived sexual addiction. It’s just a challenge. A new way of looking at something. A way to get out of the sexual rut I have been mucking about in recently. Change is a good thing. No, it’s not always easy, but I think life without a little struggle is… well, boring. So, no more warehouse parties for this one.

I guess you could say that my days dancing naked with the trolls are over.

One day at a time… and this time? No deal with God. I’m on my own with this one.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Returning to the Past What Belongs to the Past

Last week I finally did something I have wanted to do for a long time.

You see, I had these cassette tapes that really did not belong to me. They contained demos of various songs I’d written, as well as rehearsals and performances with this punky / pop / rock group I used to sing with in my formative years. We were all best friends, had been since high school. We’d been playing together in various line-ups, under various names – having taken our love of music to what we thought was its logical conclusion, by forming a band.

At the time, we were all in our second year of college and living together in a house right across the street from the campus. Despite this proximity, I still managed to skip as many classes as I had enrolled in, frequently showing up only for mid-terms and the final. I was heavy into the theatre department and involved with a woman who saw something in me I did not see myself. The atmosphere in the theatre department did not exactly encourage one to embrace one’s homosexuality, and I was struggling big time. Still recovering from my first romance – with a beautiful Italian actor from the Guthrie I met when he visited our school on tour – I was pretty much an emotional mess. The actor walked into the backstage shop one winter afternoon and it was love at first sight. For the next six months I traveled around, meeting up with him whenever his touring schedule and my rehearsal schedule allowed. It ended badly, with me telling him I did not want to be gay. My cowardice broke both our hearts.

That was part of the reason of why I was a psychological mess. I even made a half-assed attempt at killing myself by taking a handful of sleeping pills. The other reason I was such a mess? I was also emotionally in love with my best friend. We’ll call him Robby. Robby was a farm boy with a great deal of intelligence and a thirst for anything rock and roll had to offer. No, we didn’t drink or smoke or party all night, but we did listen to the music of those that did. We also had a keen appreciation for the DIY attitude of the punk scene and got swept up in the idea of creating our own band.

In many ways, Robby rescued me from… well, I’m not sure. But he befriended me in 8th grade. At the time I had a few friends – three guys that it would turn out were the other gay guys in my class. Ironic, huh? Anyway, that clique – well, I guess we were the girly boys. Robby’s clique was the brains. I was not that great of a student, but I was somewhat clever. Not sure what he saw in me, but Robby adopted me. I remember very clearly the day it happened, for my former best friend – we’ll call him Martin, looked at me and shook his head “no” – as in, he would not be joining Robby’s group, even though I definitely gestured that he should.

Martin and I had been best friends since the 4th grade. I think we were rather emotionally enmeshed. We depended a great deal on each other and were probably in love with each other, in a non-sexual way. I was kind of upset that he wouldn’t sit with the rest of Robby’s crew, but I was also determined not to miss an opportunity to break away from the girly boys and get absorbed by a larger, much more highly-esteemed clique.

Martin and I drifted apart and Robby and I became best buds – much to the chagrin of his two former best friends. I think it was because I made him laugh and because I had a tendency of being borderline inappropriate and a bit loud. He turned me on to Bowie, the Stones, the Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop, and Lou Reed. We listened to anything we could get our hands on. One of our favorite activities was purchasing cut-out albums in bulk through the mail and dividing up whatever came in the box – some of which eventually found their way beneath the hub caps of our cars; an experiment in vinyl appreciation.

By our second year in college, I had become one of the walking wounded, while Robby remained blissfully upbeat and grounded. Moving into that house and sharing it with our other bandmates? A bad idea – one I regretted almost immediately. I had such a need for privacy and was hiding so much of whom I was… that, coupled with my struggle to reconcile my sexuality and my emotional ties to Robby, the situation became unbearable for me and I announced, rather abruptly, that I was moving out. My name wasn’t on the lease, Robby’s was. He never forgave me for ruining that situation. It was the end of our friendship. I packed my things quickly and in doing so, snagged a bunch of tapes – some original comedy sketches we created (we were obsessed with Monty Python), some song demos, some rehearsal recordings – that really did not belong to me.

As the years went by, these tapes came to haunt me. They represented Robby’s youth and I had robbed him of them. So, last week, I did an internet search – a little creeping on Facebook, Linked-in, and the like, and figured out where he worked. I knew he was in the cities. We’d run into each other once in the late 80’s in a video store. I was all glib and friendly, and he refused to talk to me (who could blame him). Years later I learned that he had been in a band and the lead singer had fallen ill and died. Robby gave the eulogy at his funeral. I think I read that in City Pages… anyway, for many years, I was aware that he was still living/working in the area. Also, based on his educational background, knew what kind of work he likely was engaged in. So I tracked him down, and sent the tapes to him anonymously with a short note thanking him for his friendship, explaining how much it had meant to me, and how sorry I was that things had ended badly. I signed it with only my first initial. For the return address I had used the name of one of the characters I used to play in our comedy sketches. I made it clear who it was from, but there is no way he could ever find me – not that he would want to.

I did want him to know one thing… that he had saved my life. His friendship and acceptance meant the world to me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he had kept me from drifting into despair for the longest time. Our love of music gave me focus, eventually leading to theater. That focus prevented me from feeling hopeless. It also got me out of the house and away from an abusive home life. Had Robby not chosen me? I don’t know what I would have become. Maybe just another gay-suicide statistic. I know he ran a lot of interference for me – he had sway with a lot of different cliques and therefore, they were less likely to pick on me. But aside from that, it was his clear, bright, shiny outlook that made me believe that life was supposed to be fun. We laughed a great deal and spent our high school years alcohol and drug-free. We got good grades and excelled at a number of things. His presence in my life made me a better person. I just didn’t appreciate it at the time enough and had lost sight of that completely by our junior year in college.

But that’s life. Our paths divided. I made some bad choices and hurt a number of people; something I would continue to do for a number of years, until the day came along when someone hurt me so deeply that I would see the destructive nature of my behavior and make some drastic changes.

Sending those tapes to Robby? It was like putting something to rest. Returning something to order. Gaining real closure. I can let that part of my life go now. And I forgive myself, too… at the time, I simply did not have a good understanding of how the world worked. I, like a lot of people, still spend way too much time mulling over all the paths not taken, the crappy outcomes, the missed opportunities. However, I don’t believe that regret is a total waste of time – it helps us not repeat the same mistakes ad nausea – provided we're willing to own those mistakes. It helps us recognize the wrongs we have done, admit that we’re terribly flawed and human, humble ourselves, and even give us ideas on how to make amends. I also know that when making amends one must tread carefully – as in, do no harm.

I don’t harbor any fantasies about repairing the many relationships that I have destroyed during my lifetime and resuming those friendships. I’m not the same person I was – I am better; more aware, more comfortable in my skin, more enlightened, less stubborn and selfish. And that person doesn’t fit well with those in my past – because they became better people, too. So, I won’t be showing up to my high school reunion – ever - or going back to some theatre to relive my glory days. I don’t belong with or to those people and places anymore. In this particular instance, I was able to achieve a type of closure – a closure not always possible.

Someone once said the past should remain the past. And I agree. But in order to keep the present free of distractions, sometimes we have clean-up those nagging leftovers from the past when the opportunity presents itself.