Essays plus more for the mind and spirit

Asexuals: Not My Struggle…..Not My Community

In this long essay, I speak to why the asexual “movement” is pointless and absurd, if not downright offensive.

In my book Thoughts of a Tribal Elder: One Queerman’s Journey from the Ashes Risen, I have an entire chapter devoted to my politics and spirituality around asexuals and how asexuals are most definitely not Queer and do not belong to our community.  There is a great push by the asexual “movement” (! ) to attach its name to the alphabet soup acronym. The chapter in my book, entitled “Alphabet Soup: LGBTQ/QAIA….. what’s that again?” goes into the reasons I don’t believe that asexuals are part of our struggle, and I will probably never change my opinion on that (“probably” leaves the door open for possibility). In this essay, I want to look at the issue through a different set of glasses, looking at asexuality from a different angle.  For me, if there is going to be an “A” at all, it must refer to Allies, and Allies only, and I even question that.  I don’t recall any Allies group in the Black Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s nor “Allies” in the Women’s Movement in the 1970’s.  Certainly there were a great many men who had a great political consciousness around sexism and women in general, but they never called themselves “Allies”.  Certainly, in the Civil Rights movement in the 60’s there were powerful allies everywhere, white folks who stood for justice at all costs, but we never had the arrogance to call ourselves Allies, thus trying to make ourselves appear grander in the Civil Rights movement.  Allies has a tremendous ego-taste to it. I remember how puffed up so many white folks were who paid lip service to racism, segregation, the church bombings in the South, the three young men who were murdered trying to register voters in the South, etc. (“I am not a racist. Some of my best friends are Black.”)  On the other hand, many white folks stood toe-to-toe with their African American brothers and sisters in Selma, Alabama, getting beaten by the police, attacked by vicious dogs, drowned with fire hoses, beaten bloody, and even slaughtered in the South.  If anyone had a right to use the word “allies”, those people did, but, and perhaps I am being cynical here (which is a great possibility) I doubt that “Allies” in the LGBTQ community would lay down their lives for us if it came to that.  I ask that same question of bisexuals as well.  If it ever came down to putting us in interment camps (which is what William F. Buckley wanted to do to people who are HIV+ and he wanted to tattoo people with AIDS), should the fascists and the religious fundamentalists turn murderous, would asexuals stand with us and go to the camps because they, too, are “Queer”?  I doubt it.  I pose the same questions for bisexuals.  Would they lay down their lives and careers for us should there be another holocaust post the AIDS War?  I doubt that as well.  Each would say they are straight to save their own asses, because they can.  I don’t have that luxury, nor do any Queer people have that luxury.  If you do have that luxury, then you are not authentically Queer.  We are a disposable people in the eyes of much of the world, but asexuals are NOT a part of that disposable population.  Fred Phelps and his twisted family from Westboro Baptist Church don’t carry signs that say “God hates asexuals” nor do they picket the funerals of asexuals, nor are asexuals blamed for the collapse of the environment or going to war.  Aces (that is how asexuals refer to themselves) were not blamed for the devastation of Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.  Aces can marry legally and have access to the full letter of the law.  Aces walking down a street in the heart of the West Village in NYC will not be murdered because they are asexual.  Only if they are perceived as LGBTQ, will they become a target for such violence and hatred.

I am a veteran of the Stonewall Rebellion and a fierce activist for the liberation, both political and spiritual, of my LGBTQ people.  I have joyously given so much time and energy for our cause and fought hard not just at Stonewall but also in the streets and Mafia-owned bars in the ensuing years with the Gay Liberation Front in Chicago and Boston/Cambridge, in my career as an international concert harpsichordist which was in the utterly homophobic world of classical music, and as an interfaith spiritual director with its subtle forms of homophobia.  I am now 67 years old and have honed my gifts given to me at birth as a Gay boychild, moving from being Gay to being thoroughly Queer as I walked in my myth and learned more and more about who I am (Queer) not just what I do (Gay).  That shift happened almost thirty years ago when I was diagnosed with HIV and seventeen years ago when I was diagnosed with AIDS.  Asexuals are simply not part of my Queer struggle.  Asexuals, simply for being asexual, are not bashed by the citizenry or the police, are not fired from their jobs, are not disowned by their families, are not vilified by radical right-wing Evangelical Christians, are not thrown out of their homes as teenagers, are not denied ordination by churches, do not have hate speech directed at them for being asexual, were not bullied in school for being asexual. It just doesn’t happen.  Asexuals do not have our spirituality, our mythology, our rituals, our music, our psychology, our history, our politics, our aesthetics, our genocide, our ANYTHING.  They are clearly not part of a historical Queer Myth.  They do not have a myth at all.  And the biggest thing that they don’t have is a Queer collective unconscious.  They can NEVER be a part of that, just as a Christian can NEVER be a part of the Jewish collective unconscious.  Asexuals don’t have a history of abuse and oppression over the ages, as do LGBTQ people.  I’m sure they have their struggles, and I am not here to compare our unique struggles, but I will say that their struggles are radically different from ours and that they don’t belong in ours.  Let us have our voice and stop trying to become what they are not, which is Queer.  Queer people have been vilified for ages because of the way we have sex, the way we make love.  Asexuals, who have not experienced that vilification over the ages, are not about experiencing such sexual violence, because they don’t have sex at all.  It is not about the way they engage sexually, because they simply don’t have sex.

It intrigues the hell out of me that aces masturbate and that there are heterosexual aces, homosexual aces, and bisexual aces.  That is one of the most outrageous instances of cognitive dissonance I have ever encountered.  A man cannot masturbate without arousal and erection, and that arousal is from sexual stimulation/charge either by one’s own hand or between two or more people, either in real time and space or in fantasy. Aces say that they masturbate to relieve stress and other such reasons, but stress doesn’t produce a hard cock.  If anything stress precludes iWhen masturbating, the orgasm gives tremendous pleasure, i.e. sexual/spiritual pleasure.  What other kind of pleasure can it give?  If an asexual person knows an answer to that, I would really like to know what it is.

I believe that all people are born sexual, either heterosexual or homosexual, and perhaps even bisexual, but no one is born without sexuality.  It is part of the human make-up at its very core.  It is coded into our DNA.  Sexuality rules our lives and it is probably the strongest force we humans live with on a daily basis.  Our sexuality is at the core of all of our relationships, whether friend, colleague, spouse, business partner, professional, etc.  Having sexuality at the core does not mean having sex at the core of all relationships.  The two cannot be conflated.  For instance, when I meet someone new I have an involuntary sexual response.  I may not act on it, because for whatever reason it is inappropriate, but there is always some kind of sexual charge with nearly everyone we meet, no matter how unconscious that charge may be.  It may be a charge of attraction and it may be a charge of utter repulsion, but they are both sexual charges that must be dealt with when forming any relationship.  I am very aware of my sexual energy around certain of my friends, but sex is not in the picture.  To say that one is born without that natural force, that one’s hormones simply don’t work and that because of that they are oppressed, is patently absurd.

When asexuals can show me that they have a consistent culture within cultures, are a nation within nations, don’t ask me to include you in my community.  It simply offends me and my entire life-experience as a Queerman.  Asexuality is purely about sex and not wanting any.  The difference between asexuality and celibacy is that celibacy is a chosen way to express one’s sexuality; it is a spiritual vocation and a very rare one indeed, but a legitimate expression to be sure, while asexuality is completely disconnected from any sexual expression of any kind.  Celibates know and recognize that they have sexual feelings, but choose to sublimate them for spiritual reasons, to re-direct their sexual energy into creativity, work, prayer, and hospitality.  Asexuals say that they have no sexual feelings of any kind, and yet they admit that there are heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual asexuals, many of who, as I said earlier, masturbate.  Queerness, on the other hand, is about culture and history and spirituality.  It is about a deep collective unconscious and living in our archetypes.  It is about a complete gestalt that has so much more to do with how we live our lives than about just sex and whether we want to have it or not.  Asexuality is about sex and only about sex.  Where is the culture? Where is the history? Where are the heroes and sheroes? Where are the role models from ancient times? Where is the mythology?  Where are the rituals?

More importantly still is the question: where is the spirituality and what does it look like? Indeed, individual asexuals may have their own inimitable spiritualties, but there is not a collective spirituality that touches the collective consciousness of a people as there is with Queer people.  Granted, there are a great many spiritualties among LGBTQ people, but underlying those there is the spirituality that is indigenous to our people, that is authentic and ancient.  It is a spirituality of the Earth, of the Mother, of the Divine Feminine.  It is also the spirituality of the Divine Androgyne.  It is the attempt to bring into consciousness that which is greater than us, and because of our unique archetypal structures as LGBTQ people, that is, having both male and female archetypes playing around inside our psyches/spirits we are available to live those archetypes.  Asexual men simply cannot touch the particular and unique fundamental spirituality that is of the Feminine, because by definition that spirituality is necessarily a sexual one.  Especially for Queermen, touching our feminine archetypes is vital for a fulfilling spiritual life (and, therefore, a fulfilling sexual life), and we can do that because those archetypes are alive and breathing inside our psyches and spirits.  Asexuals, by definition, do not have those archetypes available to them, so they must, as a group, stay stuck in sexism and heterosexism and perhaps an unconscious gender conformity without the informing quality that sex give us.  I truly believe that until a man, Queer or not, gets fucked, for instance, he will remain in the darkness of sexism, heterosexism, internalized homophobia, and the Dark Masculine.  They must learn surrender and loss of a certain control, in order to give up their male privilege.  As I said in my book, Gaymen are not necessarily Queer.  There are countless Queer straight men as well such as my brother, my dear friend Jay, my Director of Photography for my film Boris, and a few others who people my life. They have very Queer sensibilities, and the way they relate to women is so filled with justice and equality that they can rightfully be called Queer.  Because they are not bound by the chains of competition, one-upsmanship, ladder climbing, mergers, and any kind of power brokering, and treat all men and women with dignity and respect at all times, are not afraid of intimate male touch, these men are utterly Queer, but by society’s definition, they are perfectly straight.  The only thing they don’t do is have sex with men. Even they however, cannot enter into our Queer collective unconscious, and of all people, if they can’t, then certainly aces cannot either.  Many Gaymen, however, are not Queer because they have not hooked into their Queer archetypes.  Unless a Gayman gets fucked, though, he will remain caught in the Dark Masculine.  Or, perhaps, it is that asexuals have such a powerful sex shame, particularly Gay shame for homosexual asexuals (internalized homophobia) that they shun the touch and intimacy of same gender sex and, for heterosexual aces, the touch of different gender sex.

It is in the process of letting go of normal control in the sex act, of surrendering our male privilege by being penetrated rather than always being the penetrator that we come to Queermale spirituality particularly.  I cannot speak for Lesbians, because I am not one, clearly. I can only speak about the spirituality of Queermen and there clearly is a fundamental spirituality for Queermen, not so, perhaps, for Gaymen, but certainly for Queermen. Again, I bring into this post the difference between Gaymen and Queermen, and I do not believe that Gaymen necessarily can achieve the type of spirituality that Queermen experience.  Not better or worse, just different. The answer to the asexual/sexual dilemma is quite simple.  None of that spirituality exists among asexuals. It cannot, because spirituality is a fundamental sexual path when engaged in fully.

To my mind, Queerness is an ethnicity with everything that goes along with such a truth. Again, asexuality is just about sex and whether or not one engages in it.  Clearly, asexuality is a truth for those who don’t want to have sex.  It is simply not my struggle nor the struggle of LGBTQ people.  It is absolutely not my truth. If aces need a movement, they should certainly have one, but they are not part of my movement.  They never were and they never will be, not in my Queer world. It makes me feel co-opted and violated, and negates everything we (I) have fought for since before Stonewall when I came out in 1965 when relatively few LGBT people were out, and when Frank Kameny was the face of the Mattachine Society.  We couldn’t be out or we would be targets for arrest.

Not so very long ago (fifty years or so) it was illegal in so many states to be Gay, not just to engage in Gay sex, but actually identifying as Gay was illegal.  I can’t recall a single time when it was illegal for aces to live their lives without fear of arrest and doing jail time.  I don’t believe any asexuals have been arrested and jailed for being asexual.  Quite frankly, their whole argument is spurious and absurd.  They want to be part of something bigger than themselves.  That’s cool.  I can understand that.  We all need community of like-minded people with parts of our stories being similar to one another’s. We all need that kind of social support. There is not a single part of my story that bears any resemblance to that of an asexual regarding one’s sexual place in society and an ace coming out is nowhere near the magnitude of an LGBTQ person coming out, so I don’t buy that we share that experience in common although the aces believe we do.  When we come out, we are placing ourselves in possible physical jeopardy.  No one is going to beat up an asexual, but it gets more and more dangerous to be an out Queer. The most obvious difference in coming out is how it was prior to the repeal of DADT.  There was never a time when coming out as an asexual was going to bar the ace from defending his/her country in the armed services. Until only recently that LGBTQ people could serve openly.  I would suspect that not a single asexual was ever dishonorably discharged from the army because of his/her sexual proclivities (or lack of them).

Please, aces, leave my people and me alone and form your own movement.  Don’t ride on our backs and our struggles.  It is offensive and demeaning, and I, for one, cannot abide it.  Even more importantly, don’t co-opt our hard-won victories.  You were never a part of our struggle.  You had your own struggles to deal with as individuals when you didn’t know there were other asexuals in the world, but you are no longer individuals.  Now you have others with whom to struggle for your liberation from whatever oppression you may experience, but that’s your community not mine. But, you never had our struggles unless you were perceived as LGBTQ and not asexual.

When I think about asexuals being a part of my community, I am sorely offended by the arrogance of that political stance, and I shake with indignation. I feel violated and co-opted by a group of people who don’t have a clue regarding our history, our culture, and/or our collective lives. They live in a world of no-sex, a world of no-intimacy, no-touch, and no-erotic-charge. This is extremely difficult for me to relate to, because I know the place of sexuality in my life and the lives of my people.

They are extremely dismissive of the lives of LGBTQ people.  What has Stonewall got to do with them after all?  I didn’t get my head cracked open at Stonewall in order to make life better for people who don’t want to have sex.  I fought for exactly the opposite outcome, that is, the ability to gather socially without fear of police harassment or simple arrest and booking (about which the aces know nothing) and also to have sex without any shame or guilt, again about which the aces know nothing because they choose not to have sex at all.  Stonewall was about taking great joy in our fabulous identities in open and celebratory ways.  Stonewall was about taking back our lives as full human beings.  Stonewall, if it was about nothing else, was about sexual revolution.  I have to truly wonder why asexuals would want to associate themselves with a movement that evolved from our sexual repression.

I know that I am going to get a lot of flack for writing this post, but that doesn’t bother me. I’m used to it.  It will not be the first time, nor will it be the last.  I have been given the gift of sight, to be able to see the truth in things and I have been given the curse of having to name those truths and face the wrath of those to whom the truth is directed.  The role of a prophet is a lonely one.  We are called to speak truth even when the truth doesn’t want to be spoken for fear of offending people.  I have been offending the self-righteous for decades.  What I have written is so politically incorrect, that I will probably get nasty, vitriolic comments on this post, perhaps even nasty emails.  That’s cool.  I have received many vitriolic comments in the past for my thoughts, but I refuse to be politically correct and thus betray my heritage as a Queerman. I wish aces would leave us alone, please, and make their own movement if they feel that they need one.  Quite frankly, I don’t understand it at all.  Just please stay out of ours

Not Past Fifty (Challenging the Death Crone)

On May 23, 2013 I turned 67. “You won’t live past fifty”, they said.  That was seventeen years ago.  Celebrating birthdays had never been terribly important to me in my adult life, but since 1996 when I died while lying in a coma, but came back from death into a new life, I celebrate every birthday with great gratitude.  I suppose in a twisted way, I am only 17 years old, but I have learned so much in my 67 years that I know I am much more than 17. I do not fear growing old.  I don’t like it, but I don’t fear it.  I don’t like it mainly because HIV ages the body far beyond its chronological years and aging produces its own infirmities.  HIV only exacerbates it all. My doctors tell me that I have the internal body of an 80- year-old man. However, I don’t believe that I am going to die from old age (except maybe from internal old age), but, rather, from an AIDS-related infection. I believe this in my heart and spirit.

Since last summer, this has been a very difficult year for me with far too many infections and hospitalizations including a stay in the ICU, far too many surgeries, far too much anxiety, far too much Parkinsonism and all the many ill effects it produces in me. Because of it, I get no REM sleep; I have severe hand tremors; the muscles in my legs, my quads and calves, fasciculate from neurological impairment; my knees are becoming rigid and the pain when getting in and out of a car or a chair is excruciating.  I have lost most of my short-term memory. I have chronic mild kidney disease, and I am in pain throughout my body 24 hours a day. I take a tremendous amount of pain medication.  Sometimes the peripheral neuropathy in my feet is so bad I cannot walk.  The consequent Charcot Foot contributes to the walking difficulty. Needing to wear a 7 lb. CROW Walker when outside walking is exhausting.  My energy level is so low and my legs are so weak that I cannot walk more than three blocks without needing to stop and catch my breath. I must use a cane or I have little balance. I started physical therapy this past week in order to strengthen my legs, even though the knee rigidity is going to make the process rather difficult and painful.  The therapist, who seems to be good and has a MPT, says that there are things I can do to strengthen my legs even with the rigidity and pain in my knees.  It is not just the Parkinsonism that creates the knee pain; I also have arthritis in my right knee (just age-related), which is certainly the more painful of the two. Jerry, my beloved, does all the hand writing for me because I cannot write anymore with any legibility at all.

Now, one would think that all these physical/mental challenges would really get me down, but I have to say that only occasionally do I get depressed about what is happening.  I am not above crying occasionally over the state of my body, over my limitations when I have so much transformational work yet to do with my life. All in all, my life is blessed beyond the beyond.  I am in an extraordinary loving, compassionate, caring, empathic, sexual relationship with Jerry (the sexual part is great even after prostate surgery–YAY!).  I am writing like a madman, working on my film and meeting with potential funders, going to 12-step recovery meetings, and even out for coffee or lunch with my dear friends, most of whom are sober and in recovery with me.  I am surrounded by love and support.  My relationships with my physicians are equally loving, supportive, and the doctors are quite brilliant actually.  Even my dentist takes really good care of me.  She knows how important my dental health is due to HIV.  Thanks to my recovery from drug and sex addiction, there is an inner serenity and peace in my life, such as I have never known before.  The world looks really good to me today in all its Spring greenery and blossoming trees, singing birds and people walking their dogs on warm, balmy, sunny days here in Chicago. The gentle breeze off Lake Michigan is refreshing and life-giving. The air smells clean (although I know it isn’t). Jerry and I lay naked in each other’s arms in the cool of the air conditioned bedroom, my head on his shoulder, his hand gently stroking my head, his stunning 73 year old natural body close to mine, and I can feel the life and love in him.  That life gives me life. That love gives me strength.

Jerry and I are both in recovery and have a very similar spiritual vocabulary and understanding because of that.  It draws us very close to each other, heart-to-heart and spirit-to-spirit, embodiment-to-embodiment. We know what a healthy relationship looks like, purely because of our mutual recovery work and we strive for it. I feel his devotion throughout the day, and I have to say that the sex is impassioned and so spiritually and sexually connected that sometimes I cannot tell where his body leaves off and mine begins, the meshing of body and spirit being so powerful.  Sometimes, when we are naked, I want to pull his entire body into mine so that there is no distinction between the two, so that we become one body in spiritual/sexual ecstasy. When that happens, I cannot hug him close enough.  I cannot hold him tight enough, my love for him being so enormous. Through our sex, I can achieve Samadhi, although a very different color of Samadhi than I get from music (see my previous posting “Musical Samadhi…..”).  Both bring me to the divine, but each in a very different way. The former is a shared experience.  That latter is necessarily isolated and alone.  It is a solitary experience no matter whether I am listening to music through my earbuds or we are together at a Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert.  I cannot feel Jerry’s experience of the music no matter how much I may want to, but I can certainly feel his sexual/spiritual bliss and ecstasy, because the experience is so intimately shared as one. The Tantra runs riot.  The Kundalini serpent slowly spirals herself from the root chakra at the perineum up through the rest of the chakras in the body until it blows out of the top of the head, the transpersonal chakra, in fireworks of a thousand stars.  The orgasm, shared in utter bliss, is the explosion and we are physically drained, but spiritually enlivened and even more embodied, filled with an exhausted spiritual life and utterly peaceful energy in which we both rest. Those who say there is no sex after HIV/AIDS are sadly mistaken. One of the primary reasons this is so is that Jerry is also HIV+.  There is no fear of infection (there has never been a single incidence of super infection with a different strain of the virus), so also no condom (see Daniel S. Berger, “Sexual Encounters with Undetectable HIV-positive Men: a controversy about HIV transmission”, Positively Aware, November/December 2008).  There is only the freedom to openly enter into s spiritual space where two become one.

So, you see, all the physical and mental challenges I have really don’t mean anything at all.  They are a nuisance, painful, debilitating, and even depressing because of all of that, but they are just challenges which Jerry and I deal with as we get on with our relationship, with life, with our path. I work hard at acceptance of what is, of  “what I cannot change” (from the 12-Step Serenity prayer).  According to all the great spiritual paths, acceptance is a key element to happiness and enlightenment. Jerry helps me with that daunting process. He is very good at acceptance in his life.  I still have to work to achieve it. I learned just the opposite from a depressed and paranoid mother, who could accept nothing at all. I am so blessed to have had such an extraordinary life (see my book Thoughts of a Tribal Elder: One Queerman’s Journey from the Ashes Risen). I am just beginning to enter the final stages of my life now, and I would not change a single thing that has happened to me in all my 67 years. All the abuse, all the pain, all the emotional turmoil and spiritual sickness (and consequent health), all the addictions, all the HIV complications, all the recovery, all of it made me and continues to make me the Queerman that I am, and for that I thank my Higher Power with eternal gratitude.  Indeed, I am blessed beyond the beyond.

Musical Samadhi: a Spiritual Journey That Just Won’t Quit

I have tension in my body from the pain of HIV-related issues and Parkinsonism, and I hold my body in a rather rigid stance because of it, so in order to soothe myself tonight and relieve my body tension, I am listening to the Carl Nielsen Symphony No. 3 (Sinfonia espansiva).  This is a most extraordinary piece of music and lives up to its given name, utterly “expansive”,  vast in scope, beautiful with every single note throughout the orchestra being vital for the extraordinary beauty of the whole.  It is music of Scandinavia and extremely evocative of fjords, mountains, crystalline lakes, seacoasts, never-ending fields of wildflowers, and the Kalevala (the Finnish national epic poem).  This is true of  Jean Sibelius as well.  Sibelius who, like Nielsen, was Finnish and a contemporary of Nielsen.  They were both part of a compositional style known as Nationalism.  Actually, the Nielsen is rather like a Rick Steves travelogue of Finland, only it is purely sonic.  The visuals are all left to the listener’s imagination.

Nielsen  loves the brass instruments, especially the French Horns and uses them extensively in their darkest and middle registers to sweep a melodic line or emphasize a harmonic progression.  He also loves the Cellos and Double Basses which often carry the primary lyrical lines. Even with such dark coloration there is a joy and jubilance, an extraordinary grandeur and a powerful light that shines throughout the work.  Much of that light comes from the use of bright, brilliant, clarion trumpets. The Nielsen 3  has become my latest passion and I listen to it at least once a day, sometimes as much as three times a day. When I love a piece of music, I love it into the ground. The newness and passion will lose its intensity perhaps, but the ecstatic state I achieve when I listen to it will always remain. There is a certain Mystery to Nielsen’s music, something that will always be unknowable.  I can hear this especially in the Symphony No. 5, which Jerry and I recently heard performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall. I had never heard that work prior to that performance and it grabbed my imagination immediately.  It has far more Mystery than the Third, which is a much more easily accessible work. However, there is something about Nielsen’s music that wraps itself around my soul like a fist.

Sometimes when I listen to music with my earbuds in my ears, I can go into a state of samadhi.  I can have a thoroughly Zen experience as well. the only thing that exists in my world is the music.  Everything else becomes an intrusion and is irrelevant to my life at the moment. This is happening right now with the Nielsen 3. I move into an ecstatic spiritual experience.  I get it with a lot of Mahler as well, especially the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 8th, and 10th Symphonies, the 10th being the Deryck Cooke completion of this incomplete work. Mahler died before he could finish it. He completed the Andante, the first movement, but only left sketches of the rest.  Cooke took those sketches and wrote more Mahler. However, it is impossible  for me to tell where Mahler leaves off and Cooke begins, the transition is so seamless.  I have to say that the 8th symphony is over the top with its huge chorus, enormous pipe organ, a slew of vocal soloists, and oversized orchestra.  The first movement is the great Latin hymn Veni Creator Spiritus (Come Holy Spirit) and the second movement is a section of Goethe’s “Faust”. It is called the”Symphony of a Thousand” and the Gustavo Dudomel performance in Los Angeles a number of months ago used exactly 1000 performers.  Mahler never called for that, but Dudomel experimented with a literal interpretation of the title and came up with a stunning performance in Los Angeles according to the critics who heard it. He not only used the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Chorus with some members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, a children’s chorus, and vocal soloists, he also used the full Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela which makes its home in Caracas.  It is one of the finest orchestras I have ever experienced. Critics praised the performance which must have been a real blockbuster.

The Nielsen is over and I am now listening to Phillip Glass’ opera “Satyagraha”  (accent on the second syllable ‘ya’ in Sanskrit), which means “insistence on truth” (‘satya’=truth, ‘agraha’=insistence), or “soul force”, or “truth force”.  It is the story of Mahatma Gandhi’s early liberating work with Indians expatriated to South Africa and his development of non-violent resistance  as a political force.  Satyagraha is a powerful philosophy constructed by Gandhi. It is the same philosophy that Dr. King preached during the Civil Rights Movement for African Americans in the 1960’s. He must have known about Gandhi’s amazing work  I saw the opera at the Brooklyn Academy of Music when it debuted in 1980 and it was indeed a stunning, deeply moving, and  powerfully spiritual experience. I was fortunate to be living in New York City at the time which gave me the delicious opportunity to experience this amazing piece of theater with Glass’ absolutely compelling, thoroughly exquisite music. The second act had a massive Dharma Wheel which must have been thirty feet in diameter as part of the stage set, constantly turning, never stopping until the second act curtain fell reminding us that the Wheel of Life is ever turning and that life is always in a state of creation and change, but it always goes on.  The last eight minutes are almost unbearably beautiful with Gandhi singing a simple, ascending Phrygian mode over and over and over again for the full eight minutes and twenty-three seconds with Glass’ distinctive, repetitive, minimalist orchestral music underneath as the opera draws to a close in utter peace and emotional completion so that at the end the listener is thoroughly drained of energy and at perfect peace and serenity, and the way the opera fades on the top note of the Phrygian mode denies the possibility of immediate applause.  The audience cannot help but experience samadhi and its consequent silence by the end of the opera and so cannot possibly disturb the stillness of the formerly vibrating air (music is just sound waves caused by vibrating air on the ear drum) that melts away into nothingness. Probably ten seconds passed before the first tentative applause erupted. After that the audience broke into ecstatic applause and shouts of “Bravo”, everyone standing in acknowledgement of having experienced a truly great work of art. We don’t want to disturb the stillness and quiet that Glass produces at the end.  The tenor who sang Gandhi had the perfect, sweet voice for the role. The libretto by Constance DeJonge and Phillip Glass is in Sanskrit which is not even a spoken language, but rather a written language and yet the singers sing in it.  The work is a pristine, utterly clean, and a purely minimalist three-hour spiritual event of the first order.  It is a tour de force of music and Glass’ genius shines.  “Satyagraha” is one of the greatest operas written in the 20th century.  The other one that I truly love is Benjamin Britten’s “Peter Grimes”.  It is the other greatest opera from that period, at least to my mind and musical/theatrical aesthetic. I relate to Peter-the-dreamer of what can be very powerfully. He is ostracized by the towns citizens because they don’t understand his world of dreams and visions, until at the end he takes his boat out to sea and sinks it with him in it. The small-minded, narrow, bigoted citizens literally hounds him to death  Some would say that “Wozzeck” by Alban Berg is the greatest opera of the 20th century, but I don’t believe that at all.  I find it very difficult to listen to.

Finishing “Satyagraha”, dI just watched a concert on YouTube of Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, a children’s choir, an adult choir, and 2 vocal soloists (a mezzo soprano and a soprano) both with gorgeous, colorful, liquescent voices performing the Mahler Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection) and wept uncontrollably at the Finale.  It is the only response of which I am capable. The performance was at the Royal Albert Hall in London with an audience of 6000 people whose thunderous bravos and applause sounded like it could rock the foundations of the Hall. This music is Music of the Spheres and calls up tremendous Love and gratitude.  It is filled with the spirit of Mahler which  is the Spirit of the Universe embodied and was incredibly powerful.  The music in the Finale is a spiritual dynamo.  It is one of THE most stunning pieces in the entire history of Classical music, and I have never heard a performance at which I did not weep at the end during the last ten minutes of the work.  The text for the singers is about resurrection, that is that in death there is new life. Tonight I feel cleansed both spiritually and emotionally, and much bigger than I was before I saw/heard it.  Such spiritual power makes me want to make love with my beloved Jerry and express to him this blessed space in which I am living at the moment. Dudamel is a genius.  There must have been 400 people involved in the performance (two sets of tympani with five drums each, two different gongs, two bass drums, orchestra chimes, orchestra bells, a snare drum, cymbals, four harps, sixteen double basses, six flutes, a whole mess of brass, probably twenty cellos and more violins and violas than were countable). and an enormous wind section of oboes, English Horns, four bassoons, and four clarinets.  It was grand, indeed, and deeply profound.  Now I must get the recording.  I have two other recordings of the Mahler 2nd, but the Dudamel performance beats the others hands down.  He has a vision and understanding of the work that simply evades most other conductors.  His interpretation is so personal, so perfect and radically different than any other interpretation I have heard, and I have heard many, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra which I love. I cannot argue with Dudamel’s realization on any level.  It is the epitome of beauty.

I don’t know what I would do without great music in my life, especially music of the Baroque (well…I am a harpsichordist, after all).  I think that life would not be worth living for me if I had not been raised on great music. When I was just a toddler in the 1950’s, when our home had one of the first televisions on the block, my parents would sit me in front of the very small screen, black and white TV every week to watch and listen to Arturo Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra live (there was only live broadcasting back then).  Great music has been in my life from the very beginning and it is probably the greatest  gift for which I am grateful to my parents for hang given me when so young.  I have made music my vocation for sixty-two of my sixty-seven years of life, and I couldn’t be more blessed.  I began my study of the piano at age five, and then moved to my dream instrument–the harpsichord–in 1965. Now, I have retired from performing and teaching as a harpsichordist with an international career, but I am an inveterate listener and concert goer, which satisfies me just fine.  I have a new vocation, now that I have retired from the professional musical world, and that is being a published author and filmmaker.  I can use the creative gifts that I have been given in new venues and new ways and so far I have been very successful and fulfilled.  I really believe that being Queer has made me the musician, teacher, writer, and filmmaker that I am.  I am so grateful, filled with gratitude tonight for all that I have been given. At this moment in time there is no HIV in my body, nor Parkinsonism, nor cognitive challenges, nor any physical challenges.  I am living in pure spirit and I am very, very happy.

Anatomy of an Illness, Part 1

Because I am living with a progressive disease that is going to get worse and worse as time goes by, I have decided that my first post entitled “Anatomy of an Illness” is to be the first in a series of postings documenting my journey with AIDS with all its implications—physical, emotional, spiritual– for someone who has been living with HIV for thirty years and with full-blown AIDS for seventeen. The journal will consist of everything that is happening in my life around the disease–the excruciating pain, the boundless joy, and utter triumph that I feel so often, sometimes separately and sometimes simultaneously. I am doing this for at least two reasons (I’m sure that more will surface down the road).  The first is that I am called to debunk the idea that AIDS is over because of the current medications available to control the amount of virus in the system and to keep the T-cells as high as possible, assuming that by doing those two things there will be no illness, just the intellectual fact that one is HIV+ and must take daily medications to keep the opportunistic infections at bay.  Right now my viral load is undetectable and my T-calls are nicely high.  That doesn’t mean, however, that I am well.  Rather, I would call myself someone who is among the “walking ill”. The second reason is that I am called to illuminate the medical profession about aging and HIV/AIDS about which very little is known.  Perhaps my blog, my journey, will provide some small amount of help with filling this terrible vacuum.

I have not felt at all well for the last three weeks.  I am running a low-grade fever of 99.5-100.2,  My normal temperature is 97.1, so going up to 99.5 – 100.2 is , for me, running a fever.  I am sweating all over my body with a permanent sheen of light sweat covering every inch of me.  Along with the sweating I also have chills. I am also itching like crazy all over my body but the worst part is on the top of my hands and around the tops of my ears on my head.  I just feel lousy and I don’t know what is going on with my body so I am a little freaked out.  I always get a little freaked out when I begin to get sick, because I don’t know what it is going to lead to.  The last time I felt sick it ended up to be severs sepsis that required a stay in the ICU.  I don’t want that to happen again.  I just wish something would break, either get sicker and need to be hospitalized or get completely well  lat home and not have the low-grade fever, headache, weakness in my legs, severe body pain, and itchiness that is part of what’s bothering me.  I am so depressed and I don’t know if it is because I feel sick and cannot sleep during the night, or if I cannot sleep during the night  because I am depressed.  I don’t know which is the catalyst for which.

Living with AIDS is a terrible thing.  The consensus is that  AIDS is over, that the epidemic is a thing of the past, but I and my friends who live with the disease know better.  We get very sick from odd infections that always seem to need hospitalization.  This never happened before I was diagnosed from my first opportunistic infection in 1995-96 when I had Herpes Simplex Virus Encephalopathy and went into a ten-day coma and died, but from which I came back to life.  I slipped into the coma on Christmas Eve, 1995 and woke up ten days later in January 1996.  I came back from death because I had much transformational work to do with the Queer community. My book and my film are important parts of that work. I completely missed Christmas and New Year’s Eve that year (my chosen family and I celebrated Christmas after I woke up from death and was back to a regular room in Unit 371 at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, the incredible AIDS Unit during the 80’s and 90’s which became my second address for seven years.  For those years I fought for my life against deadly infections, including Kaposi’s Sarcoma for which I received radiation treatments and chemotherapy for three years.  That all ended in  2002, but since then I have been hospitalized probably twelve times with various pneumonias, bouts of severe bronchitis, and COPD as well as general, critical bacterial infections.  These come and go, but there is the ever-present Parkinsonism that fells me on a daily basis.  My neurologist says I have it because of the trauma to my brain from the Encephalopathy.  So, I take medication and use marijuana medicinally to stop the tremors, the rigidity in my joints, and to improve my cognition, but I still have a hard time using eating utensils and writing.  My hand writing is illegible, so I type everything I have to write and when that is impossible I use Dragon for Mac, a voice recognition software,  to speak what I have to write.

The pain in my feet from the peripheral neuropathy is excruciating today. The surfaces of my lower legs and feet are completely numb to the touch and simultaneously feeling that I have 1000 wasps stinging my feet all at the same time. It is like having searing hot coals sewn into my feet and people don’t understand why I have such a hard time walking. I don’t yet need to use a walker, but I cannot walk without my cane and CROW Walker for my Charcot Foot (Google this if you like–it is a most amazing device) and it allows me to walk.  Without it I cannot go out. I’m so tired of hearing that  AIDS is over now that the miraculous medications are available.  That’s just a lie. It’s a way for people to feel safe in the midst of this scourge which still hangs over the face of the earth. Plus, the side effects (the effects, really) of the HIV meds are truly terrible. The medications are highly toxic.  They are a form of chemotherapy, except they are taken orally rather than being infused intravenously.  I’m in recovery from drug addiction and have been clean from drugs for the last 8 1/2 years since February  5, 2005, but now that medical marijuana is going to be legal  in Illinois I don’t have to worry about getting busted.   Todd, my loving and brilliant physician,  can prescribe it for me. I don’t believe that using medical marijuana in any way affects my recovery program nor does it change my clean date.  I will use marijuana purely as a pain reliever of physical body pain and to loosen my joints, not emotional pain or spiritual pain and certainly not recreationally, just the pain from the neuropathy and the Parkinsonism.

My neurologist says that my loss of short-term memory, me acting out my dreams, the nightmares that are filled with darkness and terror when I can manage to sleep at night, carrying on coversations with phantom people just as I am falling asleep, as well as the loss of balance, confusion, the inability to hold a fork to balance my food and bring it to my mouth (hence I use a spoon for most things I eat),  my depression, the rigidity and pain in my joints especially in my knees which is an insidious source of pain, my difficulty balancing on my feet, the weakness in my legs, the incessant fatigue and consequent incessant sleeping, and the terrible body pain are all consequences of the Parkinsonism.  Perhaps using marijuana will alleviate some of the symptoms.  It is powerful medicine. My brother is a licensed marijuana grower in New Mexico and he says that he has seen miraculous recovery from various illnesses in his patients including some skin cancers when applied as a cannabis oil.

I’m taking a break now.  I’m tired and need to take a nap.

After a l break in writing this, I am back.  The break took longer than expected. I have to say that my wish above to either get sicker and need to be hospitalized in order to heal or get better at home came true, except it was the former wish that came true.  I was going to take a nap, but instead ended up in the emergency room of  the hospital I use. I was just discharged  today having been admitted for an extremely elevated white count in my blood indicating an infection somewhere in my body (yet another one!!) and that has been what has been freaking me out this past three weeks.  I saw Todd, my PCP (Primary Care Physician) in the hospital today and he discharged me because my white count issue has been resolved with IV Levoquin and he was afraid of super infection just from being in the hospital.  I have to now take it orally for the next seven days. I was discharged this evening.  I am so glad to be home with my dear Jerry and our children (our cats Murfee and Gizmo). Except for the intense fatigue, I feel so much better.  The body pain from the infection (not counting the pain from the Parkinsonism and the peripheral neuropathy)  is much alleviated and I can think clearly again.

This has been an extremely difficult year regarding my health:  two pneumonias, two bouts of sepsis the first of which required a stay in the ICU for four days because I was so close to death and the second coming within twenty-four hours of being discharged from the first infection which was completely cured, removal of a ureteral stone whih required two surgeries, excision of a squamous cell carcinoma on my scalp, a TURP (prostate surgery), and now this generalized infection.  The TURP was not completely successful, however.  I still have bladder pain when I urinate.  I am seeing my urologist on Monday and I will see what he has to say.  I hope I don’t have to go through another TURP.  The consequences of the first TURP are not as devastating as I had anticipated.  I can still have an orgasm (what a relief!), although it is dry.  The sensations are there and the sex is great with Jerry, but there is no ejaculation.  My entire body goes into intense orgasmic convulsions and my mind goes somewhere else completely.  The depth of the spiritual experience with Jerry is complete but there is no ejaculation. Even without that, I experience “le petit mort” powerfully. Interesting, very.

Even with all these things that I have to deal with on a daily basis, my life is wonderful, creative, and productive.  I am blessed to be alive so that I can carry on my work of writing and filmmaking and, of course, to keep experiencing and living in my relationship with Jerry.  I hope I have at least another twenty years of life and that Jerry does as well.  We have much life to live fully and much loving to do. I am so grateful for my life. I live with my mortality every day, so each day is precious to me and Jerry is the center.  Jerry is my rock.  I am more than content with life.  I have an incredible serenity and peace even with all the physical/psychological challenges I face on a daily basis.  This is from my 12-Step recovery work.  I am blessed, indeed.

Paul Collanton III interviews me on GayAmbitionBlog.com

Here is the URL for my interview with Paul Collanton III.  Paul is a remarkable interviewer and is accomplishing a most important historical vision for the Queer community.  I love him.

I invite everyone to listen to this thirty-minute interview about my book, Queer Politics, Queer Spirituality, Queer Community,


Breaking The Cycle of Abuse

Abuse comes in many forms.  As a child, I grew up with it in all its forms–sexual, physical, psychological, and spiritual.  That about covers every aspect of a kid’s life, especially an adolescent, and even more especially an adolescent Queerboy.  Abuse was what I thought was normal for families.  Between the abuse at home and abuse in school (being punched and called “faggot” and pummeled with five to six volleyballs against the gym wall by all the other boys in gym class).  The cycle of abuse was played out at home in capital letters, although our neighbors and my parents friends and their children honestly thought that the Goodmans were the exemplars for how a family should function.  Outside, everyone thought that we were the perfect, prototypical family. Little did they know, really. I give a very detailed account of the abuse in my book  Thoughts of a Tribal Elder: One Queerman’s Journey from the Ashes Risen (Amazon, B & N, Xlibris).  The telling is raw and graphic  It should definitely be rated NC-17. I have been told by so many people that my writing is too intense, too dense, too honest, too courageous, way too long, and too Queer!!!  Well..that may be for most people but it is not for me or those who love my work.  The detractors mean nothing.  There really are a few very funny spots in the book, actually, that are not heavy duty at all, but as my dear friend Boris says “joke ’em of they can’t take a fuck”.  I concur.

The difficulty about childhood abuse is that no matter how much we think we have healed from it and gotten away from it, at various points in our lives, the pictures come back and they form the basis of relationship because of a particular dynamic  between me and my spouse.. The trick is to recognize it for what it is (an old memory, that’s all)), and get rid of it from your life at its very first appearance in your psyche.  This happened with my former partner of thirteen years whom I will call Jack (that is not his real name).  The relationship was so abusive psychologically and emotionally (as well as sexually), at this point in my life, after eight years in recovery work, I still, even in my new most magnificent relatively new relationship with Jerry, the relationship of my life, those fears come back again and again.  I really thought I had dealt with them, but it is only in the last six months that the pain of that long-term relationship of thirteen years has hit me like cannonballs.  I cry a lot lately as I feel the pain of Jack’s demeaning words, the power-over rather than power-with relationship (he had the power), the abandonment when I was sick with AIDS-related infections, and the refusal to come to my hospital room after the first two infections (he was very affectionate up until my third infection).  That was what started the demise of the relationship.  He just left me in the hospital bed to sicken unto death.  I do remember that when I came out of my coma, which was from my first opportunistic infection, my friends said that he was at the ICU every day and overnight for three nights then home for one to shower and change, then back to the hospital ICU for another stint of sitting with me who was completely comatose.  I imagine that he did do that, but I wonder if it was out of some twisted control issue of his.

Anyway, over the years, especially during the last five, I let him walk all over me, treat me like his bitch (not sexually though–he is a sex addict and knew that withholding sex can be just as abusive as forcing sex).  He withheld sex with a vengeance, making me feel thoroughly unattractive, quite repulsive. In fact, between having AIDS which makes the Gaymale person with AIDS hate himself and this abuse of the relationship, drugs seemed the best way to cope. I remember him walking in the kitchen door at 5:30 AM so many times after having been “at the office working” (the office was twenty minutes away from the house),  when I knew all along he was parked at the Lake Front in Chicago in the park near Montrose Harbor, picking up strangers in his car.  I know he was fucking with many men. perhaps with more than one man per night..  He just refused to fuck with me.  He would tell me that he was embarrassed to go out to dinner with me because I am such a slob.  He would tall me how much toothpaste to use, how cool-cold the tap water has to be when I rinse my mouth when brushing my teeth, and yell at me that my water was too warm (he tested it first).,  He would not let me take naps in the afternoon no matter how sick I felt (He would come in the bedroom during my necessary and much needed naps, and yell quite loudly, “WAKE UP! WAKE UP! THERE’S WORK TO DO!  NO SLEEPING DURING THE DAY!!”.

Of course, I abused Jack some in manipulative ways, for that I am heartily sorry.  I really don’t feel like a victim here in any way at all anymore.  I did my part  to ruin the relationship. I am also somewhat to blame because I let it go on for as long as it did,  I believed back then that any relationship, even a really bad one, was better than no relationship at all.  With that kind of abuse, the psychotherapeutic transference is ripe for the picking. I swear I associated Jack with my mother, my father, and my brother as things progressed.

When I look back on those times, I get very sad about how Jack and I treated each other.  I think the very worst hurt I caused him was me using crystal, and not just using it, but “slamming” (injecting) it.  To Jack, that was the most horrible of sins, and I thought, when he found out that I was back in my addiction, that he was going to beat the crap out of me.  I had never before in all my 50-some years of life (I’m 67 now and have beaten Death four times) seen such nuclear, balistic anger.  In fact, the reason I am craving crystal as badly as I am lately (especially tonight and I  hate it!), is that all the pain of that relationship has come back to haunt me, and it is sloshing over into my relationships with Jerry.  I am filled with fear that now that I am sick again and in constant excruciating pain  (my health is not as good as it was when we met), that Jerry is going to abandon me to my illness because he will get completely burned out and resentful, just as Jack did.

Jack made all the decisions around money, and it was his name on the deed.  As a professional in the medical world, he made much more than I did as an adjunct professor at a local University. He let me know that financial distinction regularly demanding that I get a job, because teaching was not a real job and it was not paying me enough.  After all, it was not 9:00-5:00 in an office.  I lived on that job and my disability check each month. Indeed, he had all the power, and he knew how to wield it.  So,to sum up this incredibly codependent, sick and twisted relationship and all the pain of the impending separation and the feelings of being completely abandoned and repulsive when I was so sick coming at me more than I could stand, I went back to where I knew I could find peace from it all.  I went back to drugs,  Crystal Meth. Tina.  She would numb me out in the past and made me feel beautiful in the past.  She could easily do that again.  I am not going to use.  This I know, but the pain from the desire to use is excruciating.  Jerry is out of the apartment, and I have been trying to call my CMA brothers and could reach no one (they are all at the meeting tonight that I cannot go to because of my fatigue and pain level).  What I know is that even after eight years clean and sober, I could go back out there and use in a heartbeat.  Being an addict in recovery requires constant vigilance, fellowship, and meetings.  Without them I am lost. Today, I hate being an addict, but I know that the pain will pass as everything does in the end.

The Great Liar

Now, don’t you think it is very interesting that Gaymen call crystal meth “Tina”, a woman’s name, when the drug is pure evil, the great liar, the  consummate deceiver (these are also common names that are used for Satan)?  And sexually, she has two very powerful  female archetypes: the seductress and the Queen.  Male archetypes (Priapus, Warrior Lover, Zeus, the Master, the Slave, the daddy, and the bad boy) spring up as well in feelings of dominance with my sex partner, a certain aggression  that comes from the drug and makes the sex so powerfully intense. Why is “Tina” so different from all other drugs (I know because I have used nearly every drug known)?  She offers us the forbidden fruit.  She is the temptress, and her promises are purely lies.  She is the Serpent, the Dark Feminine. She is Medea who killed her children by burning them alive because she thought that Jason, her husband, had been unfaithful.  She is Ereshkigal, the dark Goddess who lives in the Underworld and peels the flesh from our bodies after seducing us down to her Realm, sister of Innana, Goddess of Light.   Tina also seduces us into her dark Realm and peels the flesh off our bodies by tells us that we are stunningly beautiful, completely socially comfortable, not at all internally homophobic, bursting with self-esteem, making us think we are invincible  and are, all of us, Greek gods with the bodies of Adonis.  In fact, that’s how we saw each other.  Every man I looked at was a potential fuck with an exquisite body (no matter that the bodies were plain and normal and beautiful unto themselves) and the chances that such was the case were more possible than not. The worst thing crystal does is make us believe with every fiber of our being that when we are having sex high on crystal, we are having sex with God, because the sex is so incredibly intense and utterly coonnected to body and spirit (although only in false and deceiving ways), and it can go on for days and nights without end.  Tina also makes us throw away the condom, which thereby spreads HIV and other STI’s.  Because we really believe that we are having sex with the Divine Presence, there cannot be any kind of barrier, such as latex, between the two men.  It must be flesh to flesh in order to achieve the false samadhi Tina offers us. She really is a lying bitch, and I was sucked into her web of death upon my first line.  One line, and I knew I had come home.  One line and I was hooked like a tuna.  Immediately after the one line, I did something I never thought I would do in my whole career as a drug addict.  I was injected with liquid crystal (put some crustal in a syringe and add a small amount of water, shake it up and the poison is complete) and went into what I thought was Heaven on Earth and that I was a powerful, beautiful angel in the Heavenly Realm, when it was, quite frankly and yet unknown to me, the Ninth Circle of Hell from Dante’s Inferno.  I was to be stuck there, easing my pain and fucking my brains out in order to ease it,  spending a good deal of  three months high on Miss Tina.  I feel like I have to say, “Miss Tina, honey” like an African American Drag Queen, something Cyon Flare would say about Tina, although Cyon is not an addict.  I was to be stuck there, easing my pain and fucking my brains out in order to ease it, for the next three months.  Some people use crystal for years and complain that they used so much that they “accidentally” got addicted. That’s the first lie an addict tells herself/himself.  “I am not John, who is a real addict. He can’t stop.  I can stop anytime I wish. I haven’t used so much, al least not as much as (put in any name of my brothers in CMA)”.  In just three months, I lost everything.  I lost my career, I lost my partner of thirteen years (although that was no big loss, just celebratory and long overdue, because it was on the rocks anyway), I lost my home, I lost my furniture, and most of all I lost my beloved cats Scupper, Acme, and K.D. (I now have my sweet Murfee and mischievous Gizmo–they are mine and Jerry’s)

Now it’s been eight years and exactly three months since I got clean and sober and I am in the most exquisite, powerfully spiritual, utterly respectful of who each of  us is and not who we want the other to be (which is what Jack did all the time) kind of relationship.  Sex is difficult after crystal meth addiction, because we associate sex and crystal so monolithically, but new neuro-pathways get formed and we become real and in the Program, we learn what good, healthy sex really is as we work the Steps.  We become so honest, open minded, and willing to make a new life for ourselves, to look at ourselves with clear and wisdom-filled eyes, searching for our shadows because they are our very important dark sides of  psyche) both of us (Jerry is an addict as well, just a different fellowship) look to the tools of the program to make our relationship soberly loving, not being codependent, not being power mongers, not being intolerant, not being judgmental, and positively finding, because of our spiritual connection which runs as deep as the San Andreas Fault, that sexually we are a great match, because the sex comes out of a deeply held spiritual bond, a love that is real, that comes from deep in the cave of the heart where our Higher Powers dwell.  We are utterly authentic with each other, expecting that each of us will honor exactly who each of us is, and we can live our “golden years” together (I am 67 yo., and Jerry is 73 yo.)

I can honestly say that the cycle of abuse  which I wrote about in a previous post has been broken.  I know abuse no longer, because I am clean and sober and will no longer tolerate an abusive relationship, which I did for all my previous relationships.  All the 9th Step Promises have come true, because I am powerfully working my program of recovery.  Now I can get on with learning even more about my spouse fully and richly and as I expect, as the Big Book says, “more will be revealed” as we walk our sober paths together in this gorgeous, magnificent City-by-the-Lake with its new Spring blossoming trees, greenly growing buds on the ends of branches, lawns a rich Irish green, a blue cloudless sky, and what feels now, after winter, like the nascent warm, balmy breezes off the Lake that with its enormous, miles-long park along the Lake Front, make this city such a happy, sober, friendly and deeply loving place to live.  I am content and my life which has come to its still point with a peace and serenity as I have never known prior to my recovery work.  Blessings abound..

My Book Cover

My Book Cover



My brother Len and his wife Susan near their home in New Mexico (Santa Fe)

Dawn in New Mexico

Dawn in New Mexico

The Bosque del Apache as hundreds of cranes.are waking up to sing.

Filled with the Spirit

Tonight I went to a Crystal Meth Anonymous meeting (CMA) to give a lead at that “beginners” meeting and spoke about the gifts of the  Program, healthy mutual relationships (the difference between power-over versus power-with relationships), sober sex, the intrinsic connection between body and spirit, and humility,  Not once did I talk about AIDS and my health.  I had planned on doing that, but such was not to be. My Higher Power had something else in mind completely. It was to be a time of celebration and fun, rather than the darkness and pain we often hear about in 12-Step meetings.  The whole room was filled with the Spirit flying around the room enveloping everyone there.  There was so much laughter while I was giving the lead.  There was so much joy.  The room was filled with an energy and a kind of light that is rare at CMA meetings. Everyone’s eyes, including mine, were dancing with life.  Usually, the folks there talk about pain, confusion, being bereft of healthy sexual relationships, and an inability to have healthy sex at all.  Tonight was completely different, and the reaction to the lead was that they were ecstatic that I could bring such joy and celebration of the body and Spirit as well as celebration of sex into the room.  What I know powerfully is that what I said was not my agenda, not my words coming from my ego, but rather words given to me to say.  I just got out of the way and let the Spirit speak through me as a vessel, a conduit for the good news of recovery.

It was wonderful to see so many women at the meeting as well.  I miss the energy of women.  CMA in Chicago has been only for Queermen over these many years, with the exception of one woman who has been coming regularly for approximately two years now.  Tonight, there were probably six or seven women present and one straight man who is the boyfriend of one of the women.  They are both Meth addicts and both are lovely people. The demographic seems to be changing.  I’m afraid I offended the woman, because I talked about how Gaymen have given the name Tina to crystal meth, and that there was significance to the fact that crystal is so named by Gaymen.  I called crystal a “lying bitch”, a killer, and she got sorely offended that I would say such a thing.  I preceded it with the observation that Gaymen, not straight men, call crystal Tina and see the drug as female when it is a destroyer of lives.  I think there is more than a hint of misogyny in that naming. Certainly sexism is present in the name.  I wonder (I will have to ask the woman I offended) if women meth addicts have a similar name for crystal, except that it might be a man’s name. Is crystal for women a “lying prick”?  Crystal is such a deceiver and manipulator, such an illusionist, such a sweet talker.  When high on crystal, we think we are very beautiful, very sexy, that all the other Gaymen around want to have sex with us, that our bodies can do things we would never do sober, trying out sexual situations that are on the edge certainly. Crystal also relieves the Gaymale user of all internalized homophobia and self-consciousness.  Self-esteem rises exponentially.

The absolute worst lie is that when we are having sex high on crystal we think we are having sex with God (or whatever one might call the   Divine).  We think we have achieved samadhi, when all we are experiencing is the drug, certainly not Divine in-beaking.  There is nothing sacred about crystal  meth. The other thing crystal does sexually for men is keep us from ejaculating, or even having a full (or sometimes even partial) erection, but it doesn’t matter really, because the touch of another man’s hands or that of his whole body is so electrifying that such things as ejaculating and having an erection really don’t matter. Sensuality is the name of the crystal game, that is, sensuality that becomes hyper-charged sexuality.  Sex parties with a room full of strange men is a common mode of engaging the first chakra, although I don’t believe that really happens, because the drug doesn’t allow for such things as chakras.  It only allows for raw eroticism with no chakra involvement at all.  In fact, if crystal does anything, it kills the Spirit.

Crystal meth might not kill us physically (although I know a number of men who have died from overdoses), but there is no doubt in my mind that it kills us spiritually. It is disembodied sex, although it doesn’t feel like that at the time.  So many of my sober friends in CMA say that they often didn’t even remember with whom they had sex the night before, while the act was, for them, a seemingly holy act.  Certainly, sex high on crystal is great fun, but that kind of fun can kill us in our deepest, most sacred places (for a more in depth examination of this subject, see my book Thoughts of a Tribal Elder: One Queerman’s Journey from the Ashes Risen, chapter 11, the essay entitled “Spirituality, Crystal Meth Addiction, and Union with God/dess”)

I thank my Higher Power (God/dess) for directing me to rehab and then to the rooms of CMA.  Without that, I could be dead and I have far too much to live for than to die from such an evil drug as crystal methamphetamine.  When I got to the rehab unit and I told the counsellor how much crystal I had done two days before I went into the psych unit on a suicide watch, which is where I was just before getting transferred down to the Valeo Unit rehab program , she said that by all rights I should have died from heart failure and left on a floor of that seedy motel room in which I met someone for some “fun” some “playtime”.  When I think of that, and think of now being clean from crystal meth for more than eight years, I know that I am being taken care of by my God/dess, and for that I sing songs of praise and offer up heartfelt prayers of gratitude. Life is good.


The Exchange of Rings in Los Angeles

The Exchange of Rings in Los Angeles

Another one of my best friends

Another one of my best friends

Gizmo having a staring contest with me.

One of my best friends

One of my best friends

Murfee relaxing under the warmth of the lamp

A Concert Filled With the Joy of Life

Jerry and I just got in the door from hearing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Yuja Wang playing the Prokofiev third Piano Concerto. In all honesty, I have not been so excited to hear such exquisite piano playing in a long long time.  She is a musical treasure.  She plays like a little demon on fire with passion and heart. We were in the fifth row on the left which sometimes made for not very good piano sound which sometimes got lost in the orchestra from where we were sitting, but the visuals were amazing, and we could see her whole body  and hands (her back is very muscly and her calves are tattooed!!).  She looked like a super model in a bright red, skin tight, thigh length strapless dress that gave her all the freedom she needed to perform that epic piece.  It is my most favorite of the Prokofiev concerti and I have never heard anyone play it like she did tonight, and I have heard some really fine performances of it over my many decades of life.  I love the recording by Martha Argerich, but she doesn’t hold a candle to Wang.  Wang not only has technique to burn, she is a musician of the highest caliber and can produce the most astounding colors from the piano. She created phrases that had the most exquisite shapes.

Yuja Wang is a very strong woman for a short, 26 year old, slim Chinese girl.  Her playing is at once powerful, sweet and ethereal.  The second movement was like gossamer with the most intimate, floating pianissimos I have EVER heard and her fingers flew with ease and abandon in the first and third movements.  I was laughing silently so much during the first movement because it was filled with the joy of her life and her music and my heart swelled in the second movement. It really is heartbreakingly beautiful music.  The third movement was like an army of pianists in just one tiny woman. Her fortes were so substantial and rich, never any banging of any kind, just extraordinary rich, colorful piano playing.   The audience broke out into bravos at the end of the first movement it was such a tour de force, and the standing ovation when she finished the concerto was thunderous.  The whole performance was breathtaking.  It is unfortunate that she has not recorded this.  I can’t find it in her corpus of recordings, so I hope she records it soon.  I think I fell in love with her.

The first piece was a throw away time filler that was just noisy to me (“Amphitheater” by Brett Dean, 1941).  The Nielsen Fifth Symphony was gorgeous, although not my favorite of his symphonies (I prefer the “Sinfonia Espansava” and “The Inextinguishable”).  The CSO played as well as I have ever heard them, though. Poor Mary Sauer (the CSO’s keyboardist) had three repeated notes, played four times on the celeste one right after the other with some little space between the repetitions in the first movement and she had to sit there until it was her time to play in the first movement and then she just sat for the rest of the symphony.  She looked not very happy.  The CSO sounded just splendid tonight.  The conductor was a bit strange, but he certainly understood the Prokofiev and the Nielsen. Whether or not he understood the first piece I don’t really know because I didn’t get the work at all.  I don’t think it was a very good piece of music, very 20th century experimental written in 2000.  It was not very nice.

I am filled with the joy of music tonight, filled with a world which I still inhabit, perhaps not as a vocation anymore, but as a lover still.  Next season the CSO is performing the Benjamin Britten “War Requiem” which I am determined to hear.  I think it is perhaps the greatest piece of choral music of the 20th century.  It is powerful and heart rending with the poetry of the English Gay poet from World War I, Wilfred Owen intermixed with the Latin Requiem Mass Ordinary.  It requires enormous forces with a huge orchestra, adult chorus, children’s chorus, and two soloists, a tenor and a soprano.  Britten wrote the tenor part for his lifetime spouse Peter Pears. as he did his operas. The were an amazing couple, composer and singer collaborating.  I can imagine Britten composing late into the night and coming up with something for Pears, waking him up and asking him to sing what he had just written.  He wrote “Peter Grimes”, “Billy Bud”, “The Turn of the Screw”, etc. all for his great love Peter.  I have to think that Britten’s Gay orientation had a tremendous impact on his compositional style. To choose Wilfred Owen’s poetry, and the fact that Owen was Gay seems incredibly significant.  On the other hand, I could be way off base.  It’s pure conjecture.

Music was my life’s vocation from the time I was five years old, beginning my concertizing at age thirteen.  My parents wanted this for me.  I didn’t.  They were consummate narcissists and used both my brother and myself as mirrors for their own narcissism. The concert career they envisioned for me was purely for their own ego satisfaction.  When I got to Oberlin, however, and found my first harpsichord, I found my vocation as a concert harpsichordist and carried that career on for thirty-seven years.  I left the world of music performance and teaching in 2009 to become a published author and filmmaker, but my love of music is one of the things that keeps me alive, living with AIDS as I do.  Last night’s concert filled me with life and the joy of being alive, able to hear exquisite music and feel it churning inside me.  My life is good and I am content.

The AIDS War and “the homosexual question”



(only now it is the death of Queer Spirit)

It’s over right? We don’t want to remember what happened, really.  It’s too painful and ugly, and anyway we have these miraculous medications now that keep us really healthy and our lives are normal now, right?  We need to forget what happened.  It’s in the past.  It’s done, finished. Forget it. Forget it??  Not while I have a breath left in me. I will never forget it. We must never forget.  We must never forget, because, just as with the Shoa, if we forget, it can happen again.  If we stop talking about it, it can, if the conditions are right for it in the political arena,  happen again!!!   Perhaps it will take a different form, but the Evangelical Christians, the NRA, the Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys, Paul Ryans and Mitt Romneys, the Carl Roves, Sarah Palins, and Michelle Bachmans of Amerika and all those who follow their lead, would still like to see us wiped out, or, if they make things bad enough, perhaps force us to flee to Canada or Amsterdam or Sweden. We cannot afford to live in a pink cloud.

President Obama has, thankfully, four more years to stave off the evil. He passionately speaks of the full inclusion of his Gay and Lesbian brothers and sisters in the so-called equality available to us in Amerika.  He completely supports equal marriage and will work to see to it that such a thing comes to life. I actually believe him when he he speaks those words.  When the President spoke in his 2nd term inaugural address, tying together Selma, Seneca Falls, and the Stonewall Rebellion in the same breath, my heart skipped a beat. We were finally brought into the light as a people with an important history when it comes to historical watersheds for civil rights in this country, three events where the people were “guided by the star of equality”. He committed himself to a push toward that total equality, recognizing how important our Queer history is in this country when it comes to recognizing total equality.  That can and very well might place him in a very antagonistic position against a very loud part of anti-Gay Amerikan society and politics. There are those who can and perhaps will come after him in 2016 who will more than possibly resort to their evil agenda.  Now, there is the Republican House of Representatives who will keep the fires stoked, and make no mistake, fires there will be, should “they” become more powerful than “they” already are.  There is clearly a “them” and an “us”.  We must speak our lives and our dreams, our humanity and our love, not just our history (although that is indeed vital) and find again that community of compassion that existed during the AIDS genocide, so that we become exemplars of the good and can teach what we know to the larger majority.

I have been HIV+ since the early 1980’s and diagnosed with AIDS in 1995.  Indeed, we fought a War—the AIDS War.  This was a holocaust of enormous proportions. It was our holocaust.  We lost perhaps nearly 100,000 beautiful young Gaymen in their prime, give or take 10,000 or so. We ostensibly lost them to AIDS complications but, in truth, they were lost to an insidious, alarming presence of institutionalized homophobia, and it is that that can happen again.  I call those Death Years our holocaust because I see Gaymen as a dazzlingly beautiful tribe and the tribe was being slaughtered. In my mind, we are a full ethnicity and have been from the beginning of time, before God/dess named the stars.  We are a tribe of great beauty and capable of a love, compassion, and care for each other especially when faced with an entire generation of our tribe being wiped out by Reagan’s and Bush-the-father’s hatred for us as a nation within their nation, that when faced with such an albeit futile attempt to wipe us out, we rallied with a unity of purpose and a connectedness that was beautiful to behold.   Gaymen terrified both of them so much that they saw an opportunity to deal with “the homosexual question” by never mentioning AIDS for the first 6 years of their administration.  I thoroughly believe that they wanted to wipe out as many Gaymen as possible, which, to my mind, is genocide, an ethnic cleansing by silence.  There was nothing in the media; no funds were given for research into medications for the disease; no service agencies were formed by the government, and it was not until Rock Hudson got sick and was clearly dying and images of his frail body supported by Elizabeth Taylor were visible in the media, that Reagan had no choice but to bring the AIDS War into public view and common parlance, and to engage in some kind of rational discourse.  There was certainly discourse after  the first six years, but it was hardly rational.

Because Reagan and Rock Hudson were acting colleagues, the “Gipper” had no choice but to acknowledge that there was something out there killing Gaymen by the tens of thousands. There was also, finally, an acknowledgement that Rock Hudson was Gay, which was not a surprise to most Gaymen, but was certainly revelatory to all the fawning women who found him to be such a beautiful on-screen lover and idol.  When Reagan died, I was astounded at the excessive amount of mourning in this country and around the world for “the great communicator” who certainly did not communicate anything that would save the lives of Gaymen in Amerika as we died on park benches and in the streets when landlords evicted us from our apartments, when emergency rooms turned us away at the beginning, when we lost our jobs, were disowned by our families, and our partners left us.  During all this horror, Reagan said not a word. I found the mourning of his death and state funeral disgusting.  For my community and me it was a hypocritical travesty.

I say that we must never forget our holocaust not because I think that there will be another AIDS onslaught, but because the rabid homophobia that fueled all that death is still present and the acting out of that homophobia can certainly happen again.  It will just take a different form should the opportunity present itself to the radical right.  It is not the virus of which I am afraid, it is the mentality of blind fear and hatred being acted out that makes me tremble.   If institutionalized homophobia does, in fact, become part of a possible theocracy in 2016 the LGBT community must seriously look to its survival.

I lived through that time. As a chaplain and spiritual director with an M.Div. from Chicago Theological Seminary, as part of the AIDS Pastoral Care Network in Chicago, I presided at funerals at gravesides during the day and memorial services in churches every night of the week for twelve years, literally 365 days a year until I had my first opportunistic and AIDS-defining infection in 1995-96 starting on Christmas Eve of ’95 when I slipped into a ten-day coma from Herpes Simplex Encephalopathy and from which I woke in January, ‘96.  Seven to ten men a day died in one AIDS unit alone (Unit 371 at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, the Unit where I spent five of the next ten years of my life flighting with HIV).  There were three dedicated AIDS units in Chicago hospitals until the new medications that appeared in 1996 began to curtail all the illness.  The protease inhibitors seemed to be the magic bullet we were looking for. However, before they appeared I held my beautiful brothers in my arms as they took their last breaths, acting as a midwife, birthing them into their own deaths, hopefully giving some of the Gaymen I came to know intimately a sense of spiritual peace that allowed them to die in the midst of that peace.  It was not always possible, though.  The disease, when in it’s full-blown state, made for painful, excruciating deaths, but I know from their final words to me and from the gratitude in their eyes that some were at peace with themselves and their God as they understood God. I, too, was one of those Queermen who died, but came back from the clutches of the Death Crone because I had important transformational work to do.

The work consisted/consists of five parts:

1) to teach and perform in a way that created community among strangers, connection to the “other” (that being the people with whom the audience members sat) and by teaching my students not just music, but about their own vulnerabilities and their lives.  By 1985 (after thirteen years of egoic performing) until my retirement from performing, every concert was about connection and community, never about me.  I was an artist of little ego. I was just a vessel, a conduit for that particular grace that happens in a crowd of strangers who are transformed from stranger to (at least) acquaintance through the utter beauty of the harpsichord music and the way the programs were structured, always leaving the audience with a sense of peace and completion and even a metanoia that transformed them at the very core.  I retired from performing and teaching music in 2010 (I began performing at age 11 in 1957).

2) I was to finish writing my first  book, which I had been composing for nine years from 2002 to 2011.  The book, Thoughts of a Tribal Elder: One Queerman’s Journey from the Ashes Risen (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Xlibris) is partly about the AIDS War and how it transformed a group of complete strangers even with hostility between factions surrounded by incessant, agonizing death, into a community of unity, of love, compassion, care and kindness, altruism, ego-loss, and concern for all Queermen with AIDS. We also felt those things for our brothers who were not sick but fought in the army of compassion together with the extraordinary Gay medical practices that took care of us, bonded through the common enemy.

The age old rift between Lesbians and Gaymen closed, the wall that separated us one from the other for more than four decades was torn down and, for the first time since the Stonewall Rebellion (June, 1969, NYC) and the ensuing few years, Lesbians and Gaymen (and straight women) came together to fight a common enemy and formed a cohesive battalion for healing while those of us who were sick fought with them in the trenches to save our own lives, and there were heroes and there were martyrs just like in any war.  Many of us, myself included, suffer from PTSD because of having had to fight in that War, having had to live for so many years in the midst of darkness, terror, incessant illness and consequent death–death all around us, every day, 365 days a year, never knowing if we were going to be the next one struck down by the Death Crone.

Personally, I lost over 200 friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and lovers, the worst loss being that of my chosen family of seven Queermen, all of them brilliant, blindingly beautiful, creative and filled with love for each other, deeply spiritual, utterly playful, highly sexual, incredibly intelligent men whom I loved dearly. They were my family and we were inseparable, spending all of our time together,  living in a Queer Utopia wherein, because we so loved each other, that our  lovemaking was spread among us and jealousies were non-existent. Back then there was no time to make the arbitrary distinction between friends and lovers.  My family was both.  They all died and I died but I alone came back, being left behind by them so that I could and would keep our story alive, which I did with my musical career and am doing with my book, 3) my film, 4) my speaking engagements, and 5) this blog which hopefully will become my second book as I fill the blog with essays.

My current book, Thoughts of a Tribal Elder….speaks to all of these things but a goodly amount is about the magnificent Queer/ally community of love, light and life which rose up in the midst of all that fear, darkness and death. That story is perhaps even more poignant than the stories of death and terror, because it told us that we can be a compassionate, altruistic, volunteering, loving, insightful, justice-filled, caring people who, in the midst of an unjust War against us can come together and create peace for both the living and the dying.  This is part of the story of my documentary, the story of the making of a community of love in Chicago where there was none prior to the Death Years.  It is a story that could only have happened the way it did for us living in the conservative social mores of the Midwest.

Oddly enough, some of our greatest Queer art, Queer theater, Queer dance, Queer music, and Queer literature came out of the conflagration.  Keith Haring, Paul Monette (read his book Last Watch of the Night, a stunning book of essays which he wrote while sick right up until the time of his death in 1995, also his book On Borrowed Time about his time taking care of his partner Rog), Andy Warhole, Scott Ross who fought right up to the time of his death (1989) to record the complete works of Domenico Scarlatti for harpsichord (500 Sonatas), the final CDs recorded while he was sick and completed right before his death, Tony Kushner’s epic “Angels in America”, Larry Kramer’s play “The Normal Heart”, and musical compositions that grew like wildflowers in a field.  The holocaust produced some of our greatest art.  All of that is vitally important to remember, not just the death, but the new life for which all that awful death was a catalyst.

The AIDS War produced its own spirituality, including some spiritual charlatans who took blatant advantage of our fear and need for answers and relief from spiritual pain, and some truly holy people who guided us through our illness and care process, guarding our Queer Spirits and keeping them safe and well while the body burned to ashes.

. The problem is that Queer Spirit is dying because now that HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence and the body is living, Gaymen want what every straight person wants, and we are determined to be just like them in order to see that it happens, in order to stop the homophobic rage and blatant hatred by the Christian Evangelical right who, like Reagan and Bush, would like to see us dead or in interment camps.  Make no mistake, the interment camps that were used for Japanese Americans during WWII are still standing and are ready for use.  Had the Republicans won the 2012 election, there is no telling what would have happened to the Tribe.  Personally, my passport is up to date, and my partner and I somewhat jokingly talked about the possibility of fleeing the country had Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan won the election.  I am not an alarmist, just a realist.  As this country becomes more and more a police state and a dictatorship with its constant and pervasive surveillance and the erosion of our Constitution, it is looking very close to other famous fascist regimes, and dealing with “the homosexual question” could have been a real possibility if those homosexual-hating men had taken the White House.

Our only hope is to become a community of love, compassion, life, and light again so that such a scenario would be impossible, so that Amerika would rise up in our defense, seeing how we can change the world for the better, smashing the Dark Masculine of bigotry, war, poverty, famine, rape, genocide, environmental destruction, incurable illness, semi-automatic weapons in the hands of the citizenry, mass murder such as in Aurora, Columbine, and Newtown, CT, the worst mass murder in the history of this country.

The insanity of the delusional NRA holds sway when it says that everyone should own a gun because the more guns out there the less threatening is the possibility of such massacres and of all out civil war which ironically is exactly what they want, and are, in fact (and they truly believe their delusion) adamant in their insanity.  It is more than coincidental that the NRA consists mostly of straight, white, privileged males.  They are the Amerikan Taliban.  It is up to us, LGBTQ people, to provide the example of what can be, but if we assimilate into the larger society and lose our cultural identity, our role as redeemers of the world, our identity and our destiny will be destroyed and the darkness will remain.  Rise with us!  Bring in the light! Bring in the Divine Feminine so that we can take our rightful place in history as helping to change the entire world for the better, so that the energy and spirit of the Divine Feminine can reign supreme, changing the Dark Masculine into the Divine Masculine that reigns as God/dess.  This is our purpose in the world; this is our destiny.  Only we, Queer people of the world, can move the larger majority to make that change and it is our duty to do so, but first we must do this for ourselves so that we can show the world how it is done and that, in fact it can be done.  We need to treat each other with all the compassion, respect, and heartfelt love that we had during the genocide.

We are the ones who are the initiates in the ritual process according to the work of Victor Turner.  We need to leave the structure of the larger society going into anti-structture, into liminal space (the place of transformation and growth into adulthood) finding that extraordinary community of love and compassion again so that we can take that boon back into the structure of the larger society  We have such holy work to do, we LGBTQ people of the world.  We have been given a charge that is from God/dess to bring the world into the Light.  We must do this.  We are bound by our Queer Spirits to do so.  If we cannot make community among ourselves, how can we ever be exemplars of community for the larger majority of the world, or, at leasts, the larger majority of the United States?

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Antony Cuts the World: The Harmony of Transgender Politics

Interesting, I think. In my essay “Mystery Upon Mystery” published as part of my book Thoughts of a Tribal Elder: One Queerman’s Journey from the Ashes Risen (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Xlibris), it was pure conjecture that Antony of the musical group Antony and the Johnsons is Queer. Never having seen the ensemble nor a picture of Antony, I had no idea what Antony looks like. I discerned his Queerness from his music, of course. It was not difficult but also not definite, because he never comes out and says it in so many words (at least on his first three albums), but his lyrics are so Queer that there was little doubt in my mind, or in any listener’s mind. After all, when I hear a male sing “when I grow up I’ll be a beautiful woman, when I grow up I’ll be a beautiful girl” and “when I grow up I’ll feel the womb within me”, I thought I could safely say that Antony is Queer. On the other hand, I did have some afterthoughts, some trepidation, that if I am wrong I could be sued, publishing such a thing in my first book of essays. But, now I have been vindicated. His Queerness was so obvious to me, but there was more than just the Queerness, and what that “more” was eluded me, that is, until I heard the album “Cut the World”.

This latest album, which is a recording of a live concert, is clear. Antony is beautifully Transgender.  He talks about being Transgender in his delicious spiritual/political monologue “Future Feminism” speaking with great humor but also with an equally great quiet wisdom about the need to feminize the systems of governance or, he says, surely the world is doomed.

Antony, like me, wants to see the whole world feminized. He says that if that doesn’t happen, civilization, as we know it, will end. Antony says that he is a witch, born a witch as a consequence of being Transgender. He says that if we don’t feminize the world there is no chance for the world at all. It is not only the physical presence of women that he longs for in order to make the world right. I believe that he wants, just like I want, a feminine consciousness which can, indeed, come from Queermen and Transgender people, not just biological women. I say Queermen fully conscious of not saying Gaymen, because Gaymen who are not Queerman simply don’t have that feminine consciousness which would touch every aspect of their lives.  They are still caught in all that is darkly masculine, albeit Gay masculine, but dark just the same—individualism, materialism, consumerism, competition, me-firstism, a lack of empathy, power brokering, the inability to really feel one’s own feelings without wanting to medicate them with drugs and alcohol, bigotry of all sorts, terminal greed, and a lack of compassion to name a few of those darkly and often deadly masculine traits.

The outcome of the presence of the Dark Masculine shadow is just what we have in the world now: war, government corruption, famine, mass rape and murder throughout the world, death penalties for LGBTQ people in many parts of the world, relationships that are dark, exclusive power-over relationships rather than inclusive power-with relationships that fill the world now when empathy, compassion, feminine/Queer Spirit, and an intense but rational passion  doesn’t exist in the Dark Masculine.

For me, “Gay” is an adjective and “Queer” is a noun. “Gay” is with whom I have sex and who I love. “Queer” is a totality, a complete gestalt from which I work every moment of my life, and sex with another man or falling in love with another man is a very important part and very important naming of my Spirit which is the fundamental part of me that is real. Only Spirit is real. All the rest is illusion. Antony knows this as part of the Mystery. Antony, through his songs, tells us most emphatically that he understands well his transgender spirit and on this album, it is not just the lyrics that tell us that, but the orchestrations in all their complexity, the way he sets up each piece instrumentally and then carries that ethos out to the end of the song, making the music almost more important than the lyrics, although on his earlier recordings the music fits the lyrics beautifully. On “Cut the World” the lyrics fit the music. The music is first and the music must express all of his transgender consciousness even without any lyrics. One is necessary for the other to have a complete song, but Antony’s music can stand alone by itself and make perfect sense. I certainly get his spirituality and politics through his music.

Antony is Transgender with a high feminine consciousness, which makes him very Queer and not very Gay. I, like Antony, am not a man who happens to be Queer. I think that such a thing is impossible. Rather, I am a Queerman,  that is, one thing, one entity. I was first a Gayman, then a Queerman as I grew in my gender identity and self-definition and I found my community of like-spirited Queermen. Antony speaks and gives us his music as a Queerman, specifically as Transgender. As part of his Transgender spirituality, he also speaks with  a quiet passion and authority of his interest in the feminization of the deities: Jesus as a girl, Buddha as a mother, God as a “Her”, and Allah as a woman. He wants all patriarchal institutions to become matriarchal and says that his hope and, I believe the world’s hope, lies in all the religious institutions and those of civil and corporate life becoming matriarchal.

This is nothing new. My book is filled with such spirituality and politics, as are the myriad books written by radical Lesbians. Certainly others have written of such a world, but those who write about it are Queermen who have a consciousness of such things and also women both Lesbian and not who write about it. Now we find a Transgender musician/philosopher/theologian who speaks about it publicly, elegantly, and with great passion. The most compelling thing about this, though, is that his music speaks about it. His songs, an extraordinary weaving of text and musical notation, speak volumes about it. The lyrics, which I wrote about in “Mystery Upon Mystery”, are filled with fundamental Queer truth, but the lyrics without Antony’s music have little impact on me. I need the music because Antony’s lyrics are often somewhat obtuse and they don’t work as lovely poetry. The music is essential, and Antony’s music on his album “Cut the World” makes everything clear and pristine.

As I said in Thoughts of a Tribal Elder… it is not only Gaymen who can be Queer if we work at it. There are straight men that are utterly Queer as well. My dearest friends Jay and Boris, and my brother Len whom I have taught well by always having been and continue to be unabashedly authentic in my Queerness, have all nurtured their feminine consciousness and are all straight, heterosexual men who have an individual and collective feminine ethos in which they live their lives and for this they are magnificently beautiful men, thoroughly Queermen with the caveat that they don’t have sex with men. Because they don’t have sex with men, however, they are also unable to tap into the Myth of the Queerman and its collective unconscious, a core identity to which they are not privy. They are Queer in their sensibilities, however, and sometimes that’s enough. Antony is not a Gayman. Antony is thoroughly Queer. Antony is Transgender. That doesn’t mean that he is automatically Queer, however. There are Transgender folk who are thoroughly caught in the Dark Masculine and even the Dark Feminine, which can often be far worse in its sinister cruelty. In his Transgender identity, however, Antony is quintessentially Queer. That’s just a fact. His feminine ethos and his feminine spirituality come through in his music as powerfully as a steam engine run riot.

Gender politics is vital if we want to continue growth toward a better world and that’s the calling, the purpose of Queer people isn’t it? We are the prophets of the world, the initiates who will redeem the world bringing it into the Divine Feminine because we can. I am the first one to admit that such a thing is incredibly far away from the mind of the average Gayman or Lesbian. But, in fact, it is our destiny. Antony knows this Mystery intimately. His gender politics are so clear on this album. “I Fell in Love With a Dead Boy” where he asks again and again “are you a boy or a girl” because the dead boy is so beautiful. He asks this with his gorgeous upper register and the music soars to a place of intense love for this dead boy. Here again there is the feeling of faerie with the use of electronics sparkling its faerie lights as he asks the question over and over again. This is perhaps one of the most poignant songs on the album along with “You Are My Sister” and the powerful “Rapture”. It is also one of the songs where we can hear the exquisite range of Antony’s voice, as we can in “You Are my Sister” where he soars on the word “come”. I don’t believe that he is singing in falsetto. It is his full voice with a rich, colorful, exquisite high range. If I am mistaken and he is in his falsetto, I have to say that after coaching so many singers during my career, Antony’s falsetto is so well placed in the mask that it is flawlessly sung and belies the possible falsetto completely. “You Are my Sister” appears on his first album which is entitled just “Antony and the Johnsons”, but because of changes in his melodic line there is a pathos in this rendition that is lacking in his first recording of this quite beautiful paean to, I am told, Boy George whom Antony calls his sister and with whom Antony obviously has a deeply loving, spiritual relationship that may, in fact, also be sexual. There is tenderness to this version that simply doesn’t exist in the earlier chamber music version. The use of orchestral bells lends an almost ethereal faerie ambience to this second recording. My only caveat to this exquisite work is that it feels truncated and fades out too quickly. I need another verse to completely finish the song.

This seems to be true for a number of the songs on “Cut the World”. We hear it in “Epilepsy is Dancing” which ends much too quickly as if the song has not played itself out. We also hear it at the end of “Kiss My Name”. In this last work, which is so different from the first version with its incessant but lacy textures, I feel as if I have been in a car accident and the inertia throws me off the passenger seat through the windshield at the very end. These thoughts only occurred upon the first and second hearing of the album. With further listening, I found great method to Antony’s madness in his programming. The rhythmic foundation which I find particularly exciting is that Antony moves from the traditional squareness of quadruple time into the gentle swing of triple time which, in contemporary music, be it alternative (which is what I consider Antony’s music to be), pop, rock, heavy metal, hip hop, house, even jazz is more than a little bit rare. To be somewhat pedestrian, I would say that there is a waltz-like quality to this song, which I find utterly captivating.

There is also what feels like triple meter in “Kiss My Name”, achieved through the use of triplets within each of the four quarter notes within 4/4 time. Here, though, there is a great musical mystery that Antony exploits quite beautifully, that mystery being that there is an especially fat feel of a march to the second version, but a march of wonder, of an enormous phalanx of Roman centurions moving with a masculine purpose to the next battle, the next conflict. There is an ominous quality to the beginning of “Kiss My Name”. The pounding of the drum both base and snare have an exciting masculinity of Light that underlies the femininity of the strings working in their feminine triplets embedded in the quadruple tempo with their round, circular phrases that are far more feminine than the square quadruple pounding, thumping of the phalanx. Marches are necessarily quadruple/duple in nature. We only have two feet, after all, and it is this juxtaposition of quadruple and seemingly triple meter that creates the mystery of this song. This music is so bodily and quite wonderful, but quite frankly, as much as I love the second version with its orchestral splendor and the wonder and utter soul-filled completion of Antony’s second version which seamlessly makes this mysterious juxtaposition possible, over his first, I find the penultimate and ultimate trumpet and drum notes disquieting and even slightly unnerving, again only upon first and second hearing. It all changed for me upon the third listening. The drum and brass build from a piano to a fortissimo with almost unbearable power and complete beauty of masculine and feminine that makes me want rip my skin off my body filled with a completion of the mystery of the deep masculine and the deep feminine. When we get to the end of the album with “Twilight”, it becomes clear why “Kiss My Name” ends as it does.

In retrospect, musically, Antony has moved from a kind of chamber music texture on his previous albums to something much larger, something on a much grander scale. Those earlier albums (“The Crying Light”, “I am a Bird Now”, and “Antony and the Johnsons”) are for voice and small orchestra albeit an extraordinarily colorful ensemble with quite beautiful music. Those albums are like the chamber music version of Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring. His latest album, “Cut the World” takes him into the world of sonic splendor, of thickly rich, full orchestral music, and the music is stunning without question. The orchestration is powerfully rich and filled with color. There is so much more possibility with the second version on this album. I have to say that the person who arranged the orchestrations and the producer (s) have achieved such a marvel of sound, making Antony’s music almost epic in places. There are moments when the use of the winds, full compliment of strings, brass, and percussion is worthy of great admiration. The strings and brass thunder with enormous crescendos from delicate, gossamer pianissimo to a rich fortissimo of fat, colorful, sonic wonder. Even on the earlier albums the percussion is rather extraordinary especially the riff in “Kiss my Name” which gets an insanely intense transformation from the earlier album to the latter. Antony has a truly gifted drummer whom he uses to create great music. “Kiss my Name” on “Cut the World” is filled with a thumping joy as the drummer takes off into his world of rhythm that is angular with intense syncopations against the square 4/4 time.

Antony’s ensemble on the earlier albums is so tight, but it is still a chamber ensemble on a purposefully small scale with the discreet use of instruments.. On those albums, Antony’s voice is clearly the predominant instrument, along with the piano with the exception of that version of “Kiss My Name” where the violins soar on scale after scale, almost like a glissando on a piano, after the drum riff when Antony’s voice comes back into the texture. On “Cut the World” both the acoustic and electric piano are simply part of the orchestration. It reminds me of the way Stravinsky used the piano in his “Symphony of Psalms”.  Like the Stravinsky, it is not soloistic, except in a relatively few moments in relatively few songs (“Twilight”).  Otherwise it is an orchestral instrument blending beautifully with the larger orchestra.

Antony saves “Twilight” for the end of this live concert recording by doing exactly what I initially thought I wanted upon first and second listening from the other songs, that is, a slow fade out that gradually slows down and ends in a whisper. There is great method to his programming, however.  Now, upon third listening and all subsequent hearings it is clear to me why he ends the songs the way he does. Except for “You Are My Sister”, he captures his audience with such abrupt endings to the songs that if he ended the concert with any of those, the audience would be left with a tension that could be almost unbearable, an onslaught on the nerves that would leave our teeth clenched and muscles tight, but by ending with the whispering peace of “Twilight”, with the triadic arpeggios on the penultimate chord in the upper middle register of the keyboard, he leaves his audience with a sense of completion and serenity, a sense of peace and universal harmony, that place that Antony speaks of looking for in his music in his monologue “Future Feminism” where he says he is waiting for a summons from God. He never makes clear what that summons is exactly, but if it is to be in this place of universal harmony, he must hear it in “Twilight”. In his monologue he says that he is searching for that summons through his music. He leaves his audience with that summons, with that universal harmony as the entire concert fades away in peace and serenity.

Before I was a published author and filmmaker, I was an international concert harpsichordist, teacher, and recording artist. What I know is that as performers we can manipulate our audiences in whatever way we want to when we plan our programs carefully with a specific goal in mind. When I performed, I always wanted to take my audiences on a journey of self-discovery, awakening those places inside themselves that allowed them to relate to each other as neighbor without fear, not as “the other”, not as the stranger sitting next to them, but as a community of fellow lovers of the harpsichord as an instrument and the literature which was written specifically for it which becomes an incredible bond between them, because my program architecture had a certain intentionality behind it. Often, my audience members would walk out of the concert hall with their arms around the shoulder of one who was a perfect stranger upon entering the hall, but who has become a neighbor upon leaving it. I have had audience members come to me in the Greenroom with tears in their eyes, saying that they didn’t know they had such feelings. I always tried to leave my audience with a powerful sense of peace and resolution after meanderings through tension and relaxation, the consonance and dissonance of the Baroque.

Antony does this perfectly in his album “Cut the World”. Except for only a few instances, each song ends in tension, abruptly and not even always resolved to the tonic chord of the song (the triad on the first note of the scale of the key the song is in). Resolving on the tonic is what every other musician does, but not Antony. He ends on chords and harmonic structures that are far removed from this tonic resolution, that are far from even a consonant harmony. He more often than not ends with dissonances, thus increasing the tension of the program. All of that tension with which he programs his concert is washed away with his final song “Twilight” which fades out and slows down gradually until there is a hush over the audience, who rightfully doesn’t break out into applause and cheers immediately after the song is ended. The air is too still and no one wants to break the stillness.  Rather, there are two seconds or so of silence when time and space seem suspended in a spiritual Samadhi that allows full connection with the Divine before Antony says so very gently and lovingly “thank you….good night” and then applause and shouts begin, but the shouting does not come right away. First the applause comes because they break the stillness less than the cheering. That After a few seconds of applause, the shouting begins but even in the shouting there is certain centeredness, a certain joining in the ecstatic spiritual state which Antony created with “Twilight”. This happens because Antony doesn’t want the air to be vibrating anymore with the physics of sound.  Rather, he wants it to undulate gently into silence so that the air stops vibrating naturally.

Sound is merely air moving on the eardrum. Music is the ordering of those sounds in an aural language we can understand, of the moving air that is vibrating all around us all the time. When a song is not resolved, the vibrations continue long after the song is finished, but in “Twilight”, the vibrations go from their previous jagged endings of mostly the other songs to a gentle undulating until, after slowing down the ending of “Twilight”, and thinning out the texture with simple arpeggios on the tonic chord at the piano there are no more vibrations at all. There air is still and Antony has achieved his summons from God.

Antony approaches his programming the way a classical recital ought to be programmed. The journey inside ourselves listening to Antony’s music is a complete journey of self-awareness, a journey into compassion, nurturing, empathy, kindness, altruism, grief, non-violence, peace, and joy…. all the things the Divine Feminine brings to the world. Antony’s music is part and parcel of the destiny of the LGBTQ community, particularly the community of Queermen, Lesbians, and Transgender people. We can change the world with our wisdom in the intentional building of Queer community, so that we can teach the larger majority what community really means and how to achieve that much needed bonding. Antony shows us that he has that very wisdom that is so much needed in the world at this time in history. He does it all through his magnificent music.

The first albums were wonderful and a great discovery for me five years ago, lyrics enticing enough to capture me forever. The album “Cut the World”, however, is more than enticing. It is compelling, impassioned, self-disclosing, and honest almost to a fault. It is epic music, and can bring about a brief metanoia on the part of the audience. This is majick, indeed, faerie majick, which is the natural religion of Antony’s Transgender identity. It is the majick of Antony’s witchcraft. In Antony, the Queer community has a great treasure, one to be taken into our hearts and Queer spirits, one who can teach us to, indeed, cut the world of the Dark Masculine into the Divine Feminine. Antony’s music is thoroughly Transgender music and we need to pay attention to this prophet of Light, our own visionary of what can be in the world, what true community looks like in the world. By the end of Antony’s concert, community has been formed and a small part of the world is changed for the better forever.

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The Necessity of Feminine Empowerment

The world is covered in the Dark Masculine: war; treating women as the spoils of war; poverty, deceit, and greed; rape of the Earth, rape of women, and for ultimate masculine control and power, the rape of men; corporate control; civil, governmental, and corporate corruption; drones and collateral damage; the new police state; the NRA; the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the American Family Council; opposition to marriage equality; racism; classism; ageism; heterosexism; homophobia; misogyny; reparative therapy; Madison Avenue advertising; oppression; torture; Capitalism; and governmental deceit. These name a number of aspects of the Dark Masculine that enshroud the Earth. It is absolutely necessary that we find the Divine Feminine (but not the Dark Feminine) sometimes called the mystic feminine, and that all forms of governance—corporate, civil, and ecclesial—become feminized. Imagine a woman Pope or women Roman Catholic priests saying Mass, or a woman President of the United States (which is definitely a possibility in 2016 and one I look forward to with great anticipation).

It is vital that we usher in the Yin (feminine principal) or feminine empowerment, but we must distinguish between the Light Feminine and the Dark Feminine. To overturn the Dark Masculine (Yang) that enshrouds the Earth and that touches everything in our lives with its extraordinary amount of dark human male power into the Light Feminine will certainly turn all our conditioned minds (both male and female) on their ears. However, the Dark Feminine is as destructive as the Dark Masculine, so we must be very careful about what kind of Feminine we are talking about. Too much Yin is, indeed, dangerous because too much of either Yin or Yang is dangerous. Yang is not just dark by any means.  Yang is also Light.  However, right now, on this Earth, we are inundated with the dark side of Yang. Indeed, the Tao Te Ching is correct in its insistence on balance, as are the teachings of Jesus on this subject. The world needs to be about balance, both Yin and Yang in perfect balance.

Right now, and for the past many eras, we have been caught in “a man’s world”, a world of power-mongering, a world of power-over relationships rather than power-with relationships, oppressive relationships rather than liberating, mutual relationships. The only way to do this is to find balance. In fact, Jesus is very clear about the need for balance. The 22nd Saying in the Gospel of Thomas (one of the Gnostic Gospels and, understandingly, not in the canon) couldn’t be clearer.

When you make the two into one,

when you make the inner like the outer

and the outer like the inner,

and the upper like the lower,

when you make male and female into a single one,

so that the male will not be male

and the female will not be female…..

then you shall enter the kingdom.

(The Secret Teachings of Jesus: Four Gnostic Gospels, tr. Marvin W. Meyer, Vintage Books, New York, 1986)

     This is a very Eastern spiritual teaching and could easily be right out of The Tao Te Ching. It is quintessential Taoism and equally quintessential Queer Theology. When all is in balance, all will be well. That great book of ancient truth and wisdom, which was really meant to be a book on the making of governance and fighting a war, never says that we must shun the “mystic feminine” as so many conservative theologians and politicians insist upon out of fear. In fact, it says just the opposite.  Jesus says the same thing.  We must be in balance regarding gender archetypes.

Right now we are stuck only in a toxic Yang and must absolutely balance it with a healthy Yin. Yin can, indeed, be as toxic as Yang if it is allowed to run riot. Empowering the feminine, however, is absolutely necessary or the world is doomed, but, according to the conservative politicians, theologians, and pundits, it is a very slippery slope when we talk about not feminizing the world because it would upset everything that we know. To my understanding, that is exactly as it should be; it is exactly what needs to happen. Indeed, we must upset everything we know! Until we upset everything we know, and not make every attempt to bring in the Divine Feminine (or Light Feminine) we can be assured that civilization as we know it will be extinguished. We cannot live in the Dark Yang forever: on constant war, constant unemployment, constant vote tampering, the constant acquiring of more and more unimaginable wealth for the 1% which is coupled with equally dark constant poverty generated by that constant accumulation of wealth at the expense of the 99%, constant “isms”, constant male dominated society; we simply cannot continue to live in this constant Dark Masculine and not smash ourselves and our culture into smithereens.

     Again, I cannot emphasize enough the absolute necessity of feminizing the world. We must powerfully encourage all males to find within themselves their feminine archetypes, as well as all females who are already inundated with dark male archetypes as they try to live in the seductive but utterly corrupt corporate world, to find their own Divine Feminine archetypes again. Some women have done this splendidly, such as Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin, Hillary Clinton, Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde, and Benezir Bhutto, Mother Theresa, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Indira Ghandi (assassinated by Sikhs October, 1984) just to name a few of the countless thousands of women who have been empowered by the power of their Light feminine archetypes. Sarah Palin, on the other hand, is a woman who thrives on the Dark Masculine.  She is empowered by only that. Even her natural feminine archetypes are dark. She is filled with warlike hatred and the darkest of bigotries, the narrowest of minds and a rabid lust for power. Ms. Palin has not even slightly touched her Divine Feminine. She is Medea. The former women named earlier, however, are doing or have done incredible work in the world, because they are trying or tried to bring balance and equality into the Light. However, we cannot find that balance until we overthrow the Dark Masculine, or Dark Yang, with a powerful, explosive Yin that is robed in Light. The women mentioned above, except for Sarah Palin, have done their work as women qua women, not women who have bought into the Dark Masculine in order to achieve their power either in the corporate world, the family unit, or the ecclesial world, but who have, indeed, done their work in their feminine archetypes—their feminine compassion, love, nurturance, compromise, consensus, loving-kindness, altruism, peace, non-violence, and a world wide feminine strength beyond anything we have seen for the last 6000 years.   All these things and more make up the Divine Feminine or the Light side of the mystic feminine.

     The mystic feminine is not in itself anything of which to be frightened. It is the dark side of that mystic feminine of which we must be afraid. Only the Dark Mystic Feminine is dangerous, although we can learn a great deal from her.  When we look into our Shadows, à la Carl Jung, we can learn tremendous amounts about who we are and what we would like to change in ourselves for our own spiritual/political growth and, therefore, our relational growth. We can see how the Dark Feminine is dark at this time in history, exactly because it has bought into the Dark Masculine, e.g. women CEO’s who have clawed their way to the top in the same manner in which their male counterparts have done, that being through Dark Masculine traits such as standing on the shoulders of the men and women below her in the corporation in order to keep her own head above water while letting the people below her drown. Women are just as capable of that as men, but women are capable of so much more and the feminine archetypes are so much more readily available to them than they are to heterosexual men because of the simple fact of their woman-ness.

     There are amazing women CEOs, CFOs, and Presidents of corporations who rose to their positions purely on their Divine Feminine, not utilizing any of the Dark Masculine of the average heterosexual male. That is not to say that all heterosexual men are in the Dark Masculine. No, indeed! Personally, I know some  heterosexual men to whom I am very close who live in the balanced world of male and female energies and archetypes such that I cannot make a sweeping generalization regarding heterosexual males. They are not all caught in the Dark Masculine, but I do believe that they had to work extremely hard on themselves and their consciousness in order to find those feminine energies. After a great deal of inner journeying they have become heterosexually Queer. However, Queermen by their very inborn natures are much more open to their own feminine archetypes, although not always acknowledged, than are heterosexual men who have been socialized to shun those archetypes as “sissy-ness” or “girly-ness”.  Gaymen who are whole and self-actualized in their Queerness embrace what is pejoratively known as exactly those things called “sissy-ness” and “girly-ness” but not in ways that are a caricature of women.

     LGBTQ people pose a tremendous threat to the Dark Masculine world of heterosexism for exactly this reason. We are much more in tune with Jesus’ words regarding making the male and female one, so that the male is not male and the female is not female, but instead we need to have a well-balanced female and male (Yin and Yang) collection of archetypes inside each of us, and that is far easier for LGBTQ people generally than it is for the majority of heterosexual people whose archetypes are far more rigid and less free flowing than their Queer counterparts. There was a time when we were called “the third sex” and by some Native American tribes the “two-spirit people”, because they contained in themselves both male and female archetypes and energies that could be either Light or Dark.

     In order to quite literally save the world, our work, the work of humanity, must be to find that balance of Yin and Yang, not shun the Yin because it is dangerous to the status quo. On the contrary, without the Yin all is lost and the world will be destroyed.  Indeed, such an opening up will certainly upset the status quo, because the world has been under patriarchal domination for 6000 years. It is most definitely time for a balance to in-break to the male power structures and Dark Male sickness.

     The Mayan calendar said that Dec., 2012 will bring about a new world, not that the world will come to an end, but perhaps that a certain dark consciousness will come to an end.  Perhaps now that we have passed that calendrical demarcation and see that the world, in fact, has not come to an end at this time, we can surmise that perhaps the Mayans, who worked in eras of 2000 years, decided that in Dec., 2012 a new era which they could not envision was going to begin so they stopped the calendar. I would hope that means a new consciousness of the Divine Feminine, after at least 6000 years of patriarchal domination, will come to fruition, and the Dark Masculine will cease to control the world.  Wars will cease, peace will reign, twisted Capitalism, racism and heterosexism, classism and ageism, homophobia and misogyny will disappear and the Universal Divine Feminine, a Yin principal that is founded in non-violent conversation will rule the minds of the world, and as Julian of Norwich (a 14th century English mystic anchoress who thoroughly understood the Divine Feminine and wrote of Jesus as Mother) wrote in her great book Showings that “all will be well, and all will be well, and every manner of thing be well”, and so it can be if we are ever vigilant regarding how we use our archetypes and balance our Yin and Yang.

The Beginning

This is not the first blog I have written.  This is the second one.  The first one consisted of a series of eleven essays which became the foundation for my book of twenty essays plus a Prelude, a Postlude, and a Foreword by a guest author entitled Thoughts of a Tribal Elder: One Queerman’s Journey from the Ashes Risen.
     I have always been a writer, starting in High School writing short essays for an AP World Literature class taught by Dr. Michael A. Accetta who introduced me to my first reading of Shakespeare’s King Lear.  What a revelation that was!  That, along with The Tempest became my two favorite Shakespearean plays.  He also introduced me to my High School hero. I was not like the other boys in High School. I have known that I am Gay since before age five.  This was not something that I had to discover later in life. It has been with me from the beginning, from birth.
     As a Gayboy I didn’t like Superman and his relationship with Lois, which I could not relate to at all, or Batman or the Green Hornet, and I certainly didn’t like the boys on the football team in High School.  I didn’t find them at all attractive in their spirits, and they certainly were not role models for me. My hero came from reading The Iliad by Homer in Dr. Accetta’s class, and my hero’s name was and still is Achilles. Now, however, he is one of many.  I knew intuitively, even back then, that Achilles and Patroclus were lovers–Warrior Lovers, who came from a great tradition and who fought with The Sacred Band of Thebes, 150 Warrior Lover couples who made up the greatest army in the history of Greece.  They were the elite force of the Theban army.  It was this army that defeated Troy.
     The Sacred Band consisted of 300 Men Who Loved Men who fought at their lovers’ sides against an army of 5000 Trojans and the 5000 were defeated by the 300 Men who Loved Men.  Until they were finally slaughtered by the Macedonian army under Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, himself a Warrior Lover with his life-long companion and lover Hephaestion, they were unbeatable.  They were defeated completely, however, at the Battle of Chaeronea in 388 BCE.  The entire Theban army fled the battle except for the Sacred Band who stood their ground against the enormous forces of the Macedonian army.  The Macedonians carried long spears, which were unknown to the Thebans who were skilled at close battle, and the Sacred Band was consequently slaughtered by those spears.  Upon walking among the dead lovers, Philip wept for all the love that his army had slain.  These were my heroes, not some clown flying through the sky with a red cape, or battling evil forces in a black cape shaped like a bat wing and a mask for the head and face which had ears on it like a bat.  The only thing I liked about Superman was his body as it showed under his lycra or spandex flying suit.  Other than that I was not interested in him.
     My sexual fantasies in my adolescence were all placed around Achilles and the Sacred Band as well various characters from literature, such as Giovanni the magnificently beautiful and mysterious bartender from James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room or the prisoner in Jean Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers or the sailer in Genet’s Querelle, or even the sexual psychopath in William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, and such fabulous fantasies they were, too. That love affair with Achilles and my literary lovers and the consequent masturbatory self-love sessions, which played in my head and my hand, were what got me through the terror and the bullying in High School.  I am forever grateful to Dr. Accetta for giving me one of the only things that kept me sane during those years.  I like to believe that I am descended from Achilles, that I am a contemporary Spiritual Warrior Lover whose first spiritual teacher was Achilles. I played out that role in June 1969 in New York City at the Stonewall Rebellion where I fought the police with my brothers and sisters, and that watershed event for our movement was an equally powerful watershed moment in my life.  It was changed forever at Stonewall, both spiritually and politically.  Both became incredibly fecund areas of exploration for me, and that exploration has lasted through my whole life, especially now living with full-blown AIDS for the past 18 years.

      The other thing that got me through High School was my music, my piano playing and my twice-weekly lessons with Mr. Joseph Esposio who trained me for a concert career (which I never really wanted–it was my Mother who wanted it because it made her look good).  Every emotion that I was not permitted to express (anger, sadness, frustration, self-hatred, even outright rage) I expressed at the piano and I have to say that I played like no other adolescent that I knew, even the super technically proficient ones.  I played so expressively, with such raw emotion pouring through me that came about in my playing set me apart from all my peers.  One adjudicator at a competition I played in wrote in his notes to Mr. Esposito, “no boy this age should ever know such pain and anguish.  He plays like a mature adult who has seen much of life and experienced things no child should ever experience.”  Little did he know about the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of my childhood.  My piano kept me alive.

I have carried that expressivity into my life as a concert harpsichordist and teacher, playing my soul out and ripping my heart open for all to experience, exposing the joy, sadness, and the feelings of being grotesque from the abuse, generally the pain but also all the joy and jubilation in my life as I have learned to feel the grace that is present in each waking moment, in order to give permission to my audiences to do the same, to live in their feelings, to live in their Spirits.  My performing has always been about Spirit, about creating community among my audience members or among my students, providing a safe space in which to feel without shame or embarrassment.  A large part of  good teaching is to create an environment in the teaching studio where the student feels safe from recrimination and feels safe enough, knowing that there will be no judgment, that the students can learn to do with music exactly what is supposed to be done, that is, to express the fullness of that student both emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.  Thus, the student is prepared to express his/her wholeness and truth of life in performance so that the audience can experience their own wholeness and truth and to be in a deeply spiritual and serene place in heart and mind.

Spirit is the only thing that is real. All else is illusion. The music is real only when the performer can express Spirit.  Without Spirit, all performances are boring and a waste of time. That’s the subject of another blog entry, however.

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