there has been much deserved press for a speech by irish drag persona panti bliss. i must say i have listened to it about 10 times or so and i find it to be plugged into the very soul of the conversation about lgbt rights in the 2nd decade of the 21st century of our human culture.
there is very little blame or projection about the responsibility of the oppression still felt among a good portion of our community. for me it really touches upon some basic construct of the modern gay male psyche at least those over 40. it seems a cycle we grow up feeling shame about who we are or how we are we are, then we are grown and we often go crazy and taunt each other and watch each other trying to shake that very shame. and that feels oppressive.
i have blogged often about shame and shame-based trauma. this is the cornerstone of many men’s foundation. as is lovingly laid out in alan downs’ short book “the velvet rage”. the ongoing process of being different, loved ones realizing we are different and slightly turning away we, in turn, feeling that turning away and internalizing it, knowing that our loved ones are treating us differently, which causes some of us to feel unlove-able which we also turn inwards to hide, and then spend a good deal of the rest of our lives playing out in a myriad of phases and dramas trying to erase that unlove-able, working through the anger of distancing, and coming to terms with being different and letting go of feeling unlove-able.
the advent of gay marriage is perhaps the next biggest gain for the lgbtq community. no we shouldn’t create an ideal to model heterosexual relationships and that is not the only aspect of marriage equality. what matters is that we are love-able, and that the world at large accepts and insists that we are love-able even if we are different. and then perhaps this ongoing dance of being different and slightly being rejected by our family and friends can come to an end. we can be accepted as we are and fight different internal battles just like our non-gay contemporaries.
i absolutely love the chutzpah that panti lassoes in her talk in the theater. i have gratitude and respect for a truth coming so quietly and so candidly.
here is panti bliss’ speech that has been set to a rhythm track a la the pet shop boys. i adore this just as much.
since about 1995, my life has consistently included computers. they have become integral with my daily living. since the early 2000’s, i traded the dating sites for information and networking sites and this propensity to live online has taken flight. i am a complete facebook cling-on, i have a profile on linkedin, i have both a twitter account and manage one for TEN. We have a TEN facebook page, and i have 4 blogs including one for TEN (oh and we are looking for additional bloggers for the TEN blog). in all this i have made friends, confidants, and supporters across the globe.
in 2007 a local gay men’s HIV networking organization names SIN (strength in numbers) came under my charge. i called on a friend i had met online to help me throw the 1st big party. his name is mark olmsted and he is a quirky artist and an insightful writer with a blog (how we met) called “The Trash Whisperer”. mark was in some very similar circumstances as me and his friendship offered me support and guidance when i was struggling to find it at home. i actually went to a sober roundup in provincetown to meet mark face-to-face. later he flew to Denver from LA (along with Bryan Sutherland- SIN founder) and Denver’s HIV community had a giggle and kick at Lannie’s.
another gentleman i met online goes by the name “willie”. willie was in his late 20’s when our paths (blogs) crossed. i was writing a blog called “kickin tina” about my early journey of recovery from addiction (specifically crystal meth). willie had been out on a particular new years eve and had been drinking heavily. he crashed his car into a tree and to my recollection – totalled it. he woke up on new year’s day and decided it was time to do something different and so he quit drinking. he has remained sober since. willie has lived in south africa, in taiwan, in missouri, and again in south africa through the years. his blog “enjoy your life cafe” has kept me informed of his whereabouts and his progress over the years. he remains charming and good-hearted to this day.
through a fellow blogger richard kearns (now passed) i was introduced to jim pickett of chicago. jim is an ambassador for the chicago aids foundation and has become the microbicide czar for the planet. jim is a gay man who loves and respects other gay men and has been advocating globally for gay men’s health issues through his work with irma and their blog “lifelube”. richard sent jim a copy of a blog post i wrote in 2008 and jim published it. i have been an ardent and faithful admirer of his since then.
any hiv positive gay man with much online presence cannot miss the sensation that is brian finch from canada. he is a complete and total scream. he has been advocating for the rights of hiv positive folks in canada since at least the 90’s and has become an ambassador to other nations for his views and his savvy. he co-founded an hiv information and networking online magazine (“positive lite”) with several colleagues and in recent years taken up comedy and keeps himself and the people around him amused. (very much so i would bet). bryan has graciously allowed this newsletter to reprint several of his articles over the years. and he always keeps my heart light and my perspective tilted.
also through my kickin tina blog, i came to know a devilish actor/writer named mark s king of atlanta. mark is also in recovery from meth addiction and has an amazing ability to deliver his ideas and experiences to readers in a sort of down-home let-me-tell-you-a-story sort of way. mark penned a book, writes for several sites including thebody.com, hosts his own blog- myfabulousdisease.com, and even does a drag queen in recovery act (quite smart actually) named anita mann. mark has also graced our newsletter with columns through the years of our publication and he has a small but really lovely set of vids on youtube. he remains one of the more entertaining online presences i can name.
finally, through facebook and a program called “strength over speed” i became acquainted with tony radovich . we don’t speak often, but we do share musical selections now and again on facebook. he has been actively involved in a 4 year samhsa grant for peer coaching for gay men (both poz and neg) who are looking to get their meth use under control. this still seems such an admirable venture, and tony is so very spiritual and full of kindness, that i am almost honored to have made his acquaintance.
these are a handful of individuals who have changed my life over the last 10 years. i needed support and i needed a change. i hadn’t met any of them, yet became very connected and shared ideas and support. there are many others- like frontiers la (hiv site), hivster, towleroad, ed negron and the work-in blog, bilerico, white crane, nelson vergel, thebody.com, and lady bunny to name a few. the internet – and online living has been part of a metamorphosis for me. somehow i have grown my life, stretched my heart, and fed my brain. and i did it all without an m4m site or a profile which asked my favorite sexual position. in no way, do i compare my self to my heros. their talent far outweighs what i might have. and these guys don’t comprise my dinner partners, or my movie dates. but they do remind me i might not be that crazy and that i am not alone as i work towards bettering my life. and they help me believe that it is okay to want a “better” world. here’s to 2013 my friends. i hope it’s a better world for us all.