Thursday, December 23, 2010

An Anti Personal Ad

WARNING: Vitriolic, mean, and spiteful, written out in a moment of frustration and annoyance after yet another bit of online coitus interruptus thanks to and the people who use them. Actually tried to post this, but CL's new log-in and password policy is so bloody opaque and hard to use, that I didn't get it out there. So, here it is. A bit of creative snark. Mind the gap.

An Anti Personal Ad

Don't bother.

I'm tired of being accomodating towards others when they're not towards me. Guys only want to get together with me when they feel like it, not when I do. So when I don't feel like it, don't bother. Your timing and your schedule are not actually more important than mine.

Don't bother with those responses to Craigslist ads when you're married and want me to be "discreet." Even more so, don't bother when you didn't tell me that up front, but only revealed it later on. And don't expect a repeat visit. I don't play with married men. Even if you ARE the only men out here in the wilds of Wisconsin who bother to reply to personal ads, I'm sick of you.

I may be horny, but I'm not desperate. Certainly not as desperate as you are. Why did you ever get married in the first place, if you still want boyz on the side? Live honestly, or don't expect me to have anything to do with you. You need to grow up, be honest, and live with some shred of personal integrity about your sex lives—or I can't be bothered.

And if you haven't been out of the closet for at least a few years—long enough to have gotten through the "kid in a candy store" phase and the "finding myself" phase—then I don't want to date you. I don't want to be your teacher, your therapist, your guide, your guru, or your one-night stand. When you get past those early stages of coming out, when you've found some balance, when you've settled down a little—call me then, and we'll talk.

While I do indeed enjoy men who are exploring their gayness for the first time, while I do enjoy younger men, oh yes indeed I've had some great sex with younger men, I'm nobody's daddy or sugardaddy, nobody's guru, nobody's therapist. While indeed I've done my share of sexual healing while having sex—both mine, and yours—and had a good time opening up that way, I'm not your healer. I want to be your partner. It has to be mutual, and reciprocal, and it has to go both ways.

See, I have the same problem with most gay subcultures: most of them, with only a couple of rare exceptions, even now remain appearance-based. Even Bear culture is appearance-based, it's just a reversal of the usual buff or smooth gay stereotypes. Most of the worst aspects of gay culture—those ways which we beat each other up—remain shallow and appearance-based. Not liking what you see, and being too fucked up to be tolerant of it because of your own internalized homophobia, is the root of sissyphobia, of ageism, of looksism, of every little discriminatory snipe and snark with which you deride each other, mercilessly and without compassion. In a community supposed to be tolerant of diversity, intolerance is the rule. And it's alll very shallow.

It's ALL drag, whether it's boy drag, or girl drag, or businessman drag, or naked drag, it's ALL drag. That's the most profound truth of gay life: Everything is a performance. You can perform whoever you want to be, and you can change several times a day, and nobody has the right to tell you you're wrong. But neither do you have the right to tell others they are wrong—because if you demand respect for yourself, for just being who you are, then you must offer the same respect in return. Or it's ALL meaningless.

So if you don't like me because I don't look like your ideal fantasy image of what you want, fuck you. Or rather, UNfuck you. Who'd want to fuck you, anyway, if you're that shallow? So if you don't like the things I have to say, or how I say them, unfuck you. If you're so self-centered that you only want to nookie when it's convenient for YOU, and you can't be bothered caring about the feelings of your partner, then you're only in love with yourself, you narcissistic little wanker, so unfuck you.

The definition of love that works pragmatically and practically, all romantic and sentimental bullshit aside, is this: You love your partner if you care more about their feelings and their highest good then you do your own. Real love can even mean letting them go, so they can be free to be themselves. Yes, it hurts to let them go, and when will it ever be YOUR turn to be happy and fulfilled? Yes, that can suck. But that's what love is: The heart that is open to risk, and to being hurt, and to taking chances with your own feelings. take a chance! The closed fist can never hold onto anything anyway.

It may all be role-play, it may all be drag, but the drag that I want to role-play, and have done so for years, is to be the most authentically myself that I know how to be. I won't pretend to be anything other than myself for you, and I won't offer anything other than everything I have to give, honestly and totally and completely with full authenticity. I won't hold anything back, I'll give you everything that I am, and if that freaks you out or intimidates you or makes you run away, that's YOUR problem. Accept me as I am, just as I accept you as you are, and no games, no bullshit, no headgames of mindfucks, and we might make something magical between us. I give as good as I get, just you wait and see.

Lose the dirty talk during sex. It pulls me right out of my body and into my intellect, and shuts me right down sexually, when you're being verbal like that. Grunt, moan, tell me it feels good, tell me to keep going, but that dirty talk shit is major turn-off. I love hearing what pleasure I'm giving you. I love hearing the animal sounds that men make when their ecstasy has taken them past all words. You can roar, and moan, and sigh. But enough with the dirty talk. Enough with the narratives. Enough with the porn dialogue. It's all bad dialogue when it's porn dialogue. If you think what you see and hear in porn is real and not just some fantasy, I pity you.

If you're easy-going about most things in life but passionate about those things you really care about, and passionate in bed, then I want to hear from you. Because I'm an intense, passionate person myself. I've scared people with my intensity, I've intimidated them with my unintentional wacky Zen brilliance, I've freaked them out with my weird sense of humor. I don't care. Take me as I am, or don't expect the same in return. Make it mutual, or piss off.

If all this was too long for you to read, or get through to this far, you have the attention span of a gnat and I don't want to meet you anyway. If you DID make it this far, gimme a call, and we can take it from there.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

AIDS Sutra (Vajrayana)

(sections of the AIDS Quilt, Madison, WI, 1989)

AIDS Sutra

and I remember the one and only time I ever visited The Quilt,
laid out in partial display, less than a quarter of its total weave,
but still enough panels to cover the floor of the Field House in Madison,
     temporarily displacing the basketball team,
     whose players stayed away that weekend;
it was a Sunday. The day before we had marched through downtown streets,
a blustery afternoon’s hike, shouting slogans and singing—
some of us had drums despite the cold, and the living procession
throbbed with noise—and I remember how warmed I felt
by the outpouring of strength and love from all those queers, and from all
the friends and loved ones who marched with us, in sympathy and kinship;
and I remember how I still felt different, alien,
     more queer than queer,
alone even when immersed in the throngs of shouting, different folk;
and I remember the quiet people walking amongst The Quilt’s bright panels,
quietly reading, taking photos, talking in low funereal voices;
and I remember the white-clothed Quilt attendants walking on patrol,
bearing kleenex tissue boxes, swarming in on private griefs
     whenever some wanderer broke down in tears,
white-clad leeches like intrusive psychic vampire vultures feeding off the pain
and leaving our grievings sucked out, shallow, and diminished—
and I just wanted to tell them to go piss off
     and leave us all alone;
     can’t a person just have a good cleansing cry without you horning in?
And I was afraid of all the loose emotion in that space,
so I shuttered down my nascent impenetrable walls, bearing silent witness,
playing the dispassionate ethnographic observer, until,
the purity of one graceful message
struck through my shields and split me open:
the simple remembrance of a man
who had sown his lover’s favorite blue jeans to a panel—
faded denim on pink—and a simple “I miss you”
with a name;
and I broke down and cried,
and took a photograph—the fish that finally caught me—
and wondered if the war would ever end;

and I remember how alone I felt all through the years of public school,
and I hated that bitter loneliness,
     when I felt so different and unknowable,
     more alien than “queer”ness alone could encapsulate:
     I was doubly queer because I was a smart kid, and triply queer
because I had grown up without radio or television, in a foreign land;
and I remember lusting after every barechested
     adolescent boy I ever saw—
     myself still adolescent, shy and scared—
and never got to touch or kiss;
and I remember swimming naked during boys’ gym class
     in the junior high school pool in 7th grade—
all the boys who didn’t have their suits on any given swim day
     swam naked for an hour—
and sometimes I’d deliberately forget my suit at home,
passing nude from locker room to shower to pool
     to shower to locker room again,
and never wanted to get dressed, I felt so comfortable
     in my skin;
and I have come to forever love the water,
     the healing of the waves,
     the river’s flowing kiss,
     the envelope of liquid grace on my naked skin;
but I never got to kiss or touch or lick or suck
     those other naked boys,
even the ones who probably wanted it as much as I did
     but were just as scared of the ultimate rejection
as I was, scared of being so alien, so queer, so unloved,
instinctively knowing we’d be hated and scorned and branded forever;
I thought I was the only boy who’d ever had these feelings;
and I remember being afraid of getting beat up again—
     this time not for being a sissy, a weakling, a four-eyed
     pale-bodied book-reading teacher’s-pet goody-two-shoes,
     but because I was the queer little faggot—
by all the boys who were bigger and tougher than me,
     which was nearly all of them,
if they ever found out what I felt inside;
and I never got to love them all,
never got to lie together close and naked
     and make love;
and so I both hated and loved those gym classes,
     because I was ashamed of my puny little body,
but I loved going shirtless and rubbing shoulders with the other boys,
or going naked in the pool, pretending I couldn’t swim
     so some bigger boy would hold me by the hips
     while I flailed at the dark, warm, chlorine-flavored water;

and I’m still angry, angrier than ever,
     at all the missed opportunities that echo through my life,
     all the times I was too timid,
     all the times I was too shy to seduce or be seduced,
     all the times I seemed to choose the wrong man to love;
and now I’ve found the bottomless volcano of my anger,
     the dragon rampant on a darkling plain,
     the shapes of the warrior inside me rising like the wind;
and I still get pissed at the thoughtless cry of the sheep,
     the autonomic rage against bigotry and banal, brainless hate;
and I am just angry as I ever was, and I don’t suppress it anymore,
but my tactics have changed: now,
     I turn my anger into these hard words,
     I fling it at the world in packets of knife-edged music,
I put myself out in little flames—
I change it into heartfelt art and dance and song;

and I remember my activist days, still believing we could make a difference,
     the meetings, the arguments, the discussions over ice cream,
     the plans to change the world, to educate our enemies,
     the endless endless talk, the speakers’ bureaus before dim prejudice—
and I am just angry as I ever was, and I don’t suppress it anymore,
but my strategy has changed: now,
     I live the life I’ve chosen, I am walking the good red road,
     I live as the visions lead me to live, and otherwise
I live my life just as I wish, and harm no-one:
being true to yourself is the best revenge.

And I remember the worst violation, the final pointless insult:
     just as I was ready at last to go out and experiment with sex,
     just as I felt ready to endure the hate and look for a lover,
     just as I felt strong enough to have a relationship with some other boy,
          or at least have sex,
AIDS appeared on the horizon, looming like the rats of the plague,
frightening us all into retreat or death, exacting a mounting toll
     that grew to rival—then surpass—the deathcount of boys
     destroyed by the Vietnam war, which thank the gods had ended
     before I was old enough to have to choose between the draft or dodging.
AIDS, you terrified me,
AIDS, you gave me a reason to retreat back into my shell in fear,
AIDS, you gave my long-standing fears their final torch—
just as I was ready to come out and act like a man, a queer, a full-bodied fag,
AIDS, you gave me an excuse to be celibate and timid again.
And I remember falling for it, hell,
     I fell for it completely, retreating with my tail between my legs,
     not Lee at Appomattox but the baffled generals in ‘Nam,
falling for the ultimate black hole joke:
     the game is rigged, folks, you don’t know the rules,
     the dice are loaded, you haven’t got enough to stake you in,
     and there’s no way in hell you’ll ever win, or even leave the table alive,
so why even try to play.
That’s what AIDS said to me.

But that’s no more rich or rare than any other curse.
I’ve lived through too many days of dislocation,
too many words of hatred flung my way,
     to miss how nothing’s really changed:
life must kill you in the end.
It’s how we choose to live—
keeping to the rules we’re given, or breaking them if we can search them out,
or making up our own, or playing—not to win
but to keep the game in play—

that’s the only way,
the only way,
the only way
to play this game.

Originally written circa 1994, and revised a couple of times since, this poem is part of the book Sutras: Spiritual Exercises. It's an unpublished long book, more a personal credo than a book of "fine art poems." I long ago decided, after presenting some of the Sutras to a workshop critique group, to mostly negative responses, that it was more important to me that the Sutras are honest, spiritual, and reflective, rather than "perfect" poems. So I make no apologies for the emotion in this poem, or its anger. I write these Sutras as, indeed, spiritual exercises; some are in poetic forms; some are more like prose-poems; and some are not defined in terms of form.

This Sutra on AIDS speaks for itself. At some point you have to look around, and express your grief. Sometimes grief can seem like anger, but really it's grief. Don't try to block it. Just let it rain. As Paul Monette once wrote, "Grief is a sword, or it is nothing."

World AIDS Day

I wanted to write something for World AIDS Day, yet I find that my friend prairiemary has already said almost everything I might want to say. So I'll just encourage folks to go read what she wrote.

And I'll leave my own silent comments via my artwork:

Sacred Heart Labyrinth

Burning Phallus Labyrinth

Shiva Dancing in the Labyrinth
(from Spiral Dance)