The Heroin Addict’s Wife

I’m sorry I didn’t text you back. A walk sounded nice, and if I’m being honest the weather was absolutely perfect for it. Right after sunset. Right between the day’s heat and the night’s chill. I couldn’t really find the energy for it, somehow. At the time I was driving past a thick, imperious column of smoke on the 105 – a textile factory caught ablaze in Lynwood.

I spent the morning glued to Facebook – so many women coming forward with testimonials about assault, abuse, rampant misogyny in show business, and also a friend posted about National Coming Out Day in a poignant, cogent way. He used to capitulate to homophobic banter in an effort to hurry it along, to move past it with blushing self-consciousness, to bury it. The eye contact he would make with women afterward. Conspiratorial acknowledgement of a darker, unsaid truth between them. Mutual ill feelings creeping up spines – forcing laughter together at homophobic jokes or hyper-masculine energy that, unchallenged, goes way too far. A shameful, empty feeling as one contributes to one’s own subtle oppression. Awfulness.

I’ve been incommunicado and that’s nearly unforgivable. I was billing hours at Renata’s house. She, a budding, bubbling teenage girl, just coming into her own special, savage power. A bright light, affable, funny, outgoing. A charmer.

I would have answered your FaceTime request, but there was apocalyptic traffic today. Google maps showed a red line all the way past the downtown area, and I was suddenly overtaken with a taxing, almost leaden exhaustion. Nearly falling asleep at the wheel, I pulled off near Rosecrans into a 7/11 parking lot, parking in a sliver of shade beneath a billboard advertizing the Hustler Casino. Liz Flynt encouraging people to “Play Harder.”

I got the Snapchat ping – you sent me a short video, but I didn’t get a chance to look at it before it went away.

The 7/11, the angry plume of smoke rising like a bomb blast, blotting out the distant horizon. Barely able to keep my eyes open, I eased the seat back. For a while I thought sleep would overtake me. Strange, absurd visions – fantasies played out before my darkened eyelids. I couldn’t let go of sweet Renata, of the sour smell she lives in. The rankness. Inky, dark, tar-like paths cut through her apartment’s wall-to-wall carpeting. Years of oily, dirty feet tracking filth – grinding it down. Let’s be honest, if you steam cleaned that carpet you’d regret it for a week – the smell would send folks running for the hills.

I got your follow-up text. I’ll read and respond, I promise.

Renata in my mind, bringing consciousness back. Padlocks on the doors, the colony of ants, unchecked, unfettered in the bathroom, the mini fridges in each of their rooms  guarding the spoils of their monthly CalFresh benefits. Her father, moaning and shouting in the next room, (Is he drunk; it’s the middle of the afternoon?!) unintelligible even to Renata herself. She doesn’t mind. She’s glowing.

She loves when I visit, she says; I remind her of The Great Gatsby.

I saw your shout out on Twitter and I blushed at the compliment, thank you. I owe you a few likes and maybe even a re-tweet –  it’s just at that particular moment I was reclining in the 7/11 parking lot and trying to nap during an early rush hour, and it all came over me at once. The reality of Renata’s situation. Her low probability of succeeding her way out. The generational poverty morass she was born into – a life lived next to the steaming churn of a factory down by the harbor. The lowness. The squalor.

Hot, salt tears splashed suddenly, my body wracked with spasms. A gasp. A stone sewn into my heart, my gut shook to pieces. The slow tick of the Toyota engine in the heat of the cracked asphalt parking lot.

Your WeChat message came through, darling, but I was baking in the desert sun, prosessing, purging. There was a time I prided myself on having “integrity of communication.” I responded to every email. Answered every single text. I’m sorry, but I’m just not that person anymore. That isn’t me.

This afternoon, as Renata and I were trying to cobble together an outfit to wear to her job interview, there was a rapping at the window. A wizened, crone-like woman, seemingly carved out of driftwood, tapped away at the thin, sliding windowpane. Oh, Renata said, smiling with a shrug, that’s the heroin addict’s wife. She pays my dad 100 bucks a month to park her van in the back yard. She lives back there with her husband. Renata slid the window open. The heroin addict’s wife wanted to charge her iPad.

I rejected all your calls and powered my phone down. I sobbed and squeezed out all of today’s terror into a compact Japanese car in a 7/11 parking lot.

Forgive me, I  whispered into my black, sleeping iPhone.

Forgive me, I haven’t been myself lately.

-3

More Colby Keller

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adam gardiner

Me: Talk about overcoming shame about your body?

Him: Eventually you realize [porn] is not having sex with someone you want to have sex with. It’s a job. It took me a while to get past those anxieties. Now it’s like, maybe I’m concerned with how my body is positioned for the camera.

Me: (to the photographer) Adam, speak to this. A model must be both aware and unaware of their body at the same time. True or False?

The Photographer: Yeah, but it’s about their generosity too. Of spirit and the quality of person that they are. It’s not about looks. When you’re good at it it’s because something generous about yourself translates. There’s something shared that you experience in the person. Caught in a moment. That’s the engaging part of a photograph.

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Him: I think you really have to let go, and that’s a difficult thing to do.

Me: You shoot high fashion right?

The Photographer: I shoot – I don’t call it high fashion, but I do shoot highly commercial work. The thing that I became really good at was always photographing somebody in a way that they were flattered by, and kind of built them up and made them feel better. Somebody said that I try to look at people the way they would look in the eyes of someone in love with [the subject]. I’ve been very lucky.

Me: There was a moment in the shoot where you made us switch aprons. What was that about?

Him: Just to reassert myself as the alpha male.

(laughter)

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Me: That’s the thing about being gay that I love. There can be four gays in a room and we know that each of us will have our moment to be alpha. With straight guys that would end up as a fight. It wouldn’t – there’s always one guy in a group of straight guys who’s a dick but ‘that’s his thing.’ Straight guys have that issue because they can’t [have sex with] each other. I wish they could! Wouldn’t they be perfect?

(laughter)

Him: Some of them do.

Me: How did you come to pornography?

Him: I just graduated college and curious and had trouble finding a job. I submitted pictures one night thinking they would tell me no, and they said yes. I felt like I had to do it, because it had happened.

Me: Just to let everyone know, he’s getting a hug from his boyfriend right now.

Him: You know, like when you’re afraid of heights and you climb a mountain. I had to do it.  I had to push myself to that point.

Me: Why did you like to do it? Because you like to push buttons. You like to fuck with your mom and dad.

Him: No! It’s not about that. I like to fuck with my self, and challenge myself.

Me: Would you agree Karl Marx?

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His Boyfriend: Oh of course. He hates nostalgia, and sitting on his laurels intellectually. He’s always looking for something new. He’s so focused on challenging himself artistically and intellectually. That’s why I fell in love with him. He’s so good at working against it. Entropy is always the enemy.

Me: Entropy is always the enemy and it always wins eventually. So we have to fight it.

His Boyfriend: While we’re here we have to fight it, but he’s a great person to ride behind, because he’s constantly pushing against it.

Me: I fucking love that.

To be continued…

More Colby Keller here.

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-1

The Ficus is Dead – Part Three

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Me: Yeah. And the definition of a nice Thanksgiving is one where I don’t show up and ruin things. So yeah, I didn’t speak to you after that, because you proved to me that you don’t care about me anymore. I decided right then that I wasn’t going to reach out to you again, until you reached out first. Ha. I guess you called my bluff! Cause a year has gone by and you didn’t even know I was hurting over it. But it doesn’t matter anymore because the ficus is dead. It’s dead and it’s not ever, ever coming back and you don’t get to know about that!

(pause)

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Me: You run away from everything.

Him: You. Left. Me.

Me: You left me a long time before that for your drunk ass writer friends.

Him: You wanted me to be a writer!

Me: NOW YOU ARE ONE. Are you happy?

Him: Yes, Michael. I am. I’m very happy, actually.  I love my house, and I love my car and I love my boyfriend. And you’re passive aggressive, but I love you too. I just can’t be around you all the time anymore, or maybe even at all. AND I DON’T OWE IT TO YOU TO EXPLAIN WHY.

Me: That’s fine! But I don’t owe it to you to tell you when the ficus dies.

Him: That was a metaphor for us!

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Me: It still IS. Our relationship, and I mean our friendship – died. It died in the past year as you turned your back on me and slowly cut me out of our circle of friends. Have you ever seen August Osage County?

Him: No. Why?

Me: Tracy Letts writes a line for one of the characters, about how people are always complaining that America is dying, but the truth of the matter is that America died a long time ago, while Americans were focused on other things. Curling irons. New Cars. Televisions. I’m paraphrasing.

Him: So?

Me: So that’s us. We’re the ficus. It’s dead, and you didn’t even know it was dying. And because of that you don’t get to deserve to know.

Him: Do you see how passive aggressive you are?

Me: You don’t know the half of it. Talk about passive aggressive – you’re imaginary!

Him: What?

Me: I’m making you up. I’m not really saying this to you. This is just what I wish I could say to you. You’re a fantasy Carson.

Him: GOD YOU’RE SO…

Me: Passive aggressive? Maybe you’re right, but at least I’m real, and you’re not, so haha. Anyway, you got all our friends in the breakup so you can console yourself with that.

Him: Hm. Well. In that case…

Me: Yes?

Him: Since I’m a fantasy Carson, I can’t get a hangover. Should we have another beer. Talk this out some more?

Me: I go in circles with this, but I always wind up forgiving you.

Him: Aw you’re sweet. Do you forgive yourself?

Me: I’m starting to. It’s hard. That’s the hardest thing.

Him: Oh, shit, sweetie – I just realized.

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Me: What?

Him: Jason’s coming back with cigarettes.

Me: No he isn’t. This is my fantasy and he doesn’t exist.

Him: Oh no! I love him though. Plus I really wanted a cigarette.

Me: You mean like the cigarette you have in your hand right now?

Him: Oh wow. You can do that?

Me: It’s my fantasy.

Him: That’s neat. But why not just make a version of me that doesn’t crave cigarettes?

Me: Because I like your flaws sometimes.

Him: Why?

(long pause)

Me: Because I love you. What are you drinking?

Him: Stella.

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Me: I’ll go to the bar and get two Stellas then.

Him: I’ll be here when you get back.

Me: No, you won’t.

Him: What? Why?

Me: Because it’s my fantasy. And because the ficus is dead.

-1

Advice

eryc perez de tagle

I’ve been sitting here for the past 20 minutes thinking of what to say without it seeming like I’m sending a letter to the editor of a self-help magazine. I’m reaching out to you because I feel like, although we’ve never met each other, you can empathize better than anyone else can about these emotionally draining complications I’ve encountered in regards to coming to terms with my sexuality.  I’m gay, I can confidently say that. I know that. Yet, I still find that I can’t (or won’t) act as the person I’m meant to be. It’s like I’m living life as a double agent. I’ve got a group of friends who know about my sexuality. And then I’ve got this other group, my family, who still think that I’m completely interested in what they want; and that everything I’m doing falls completely in line with their expectations. And this dichotomous social life that I’ve set up is starting to blend. And as a consequence, I’ve found that hiding is much more convenient for me than putting myself out there.


The solution seems easy, doesn’t it? Just be truthful with my parents. Everyone has coming out horror stories, and a large majority of them end in happy endings. But, how can I tell my mother that I’m gay, when she constantly asks me if my best friend’s (who’s also gay) mother ever regrets raising a gay son. I can’t be truthful to the parents who wanted me to stop hanging out with my friend in 9th grade because people might assume I’m gay by association. Pretty ridiculous, right? And it sucks, it really does. So the problems I face are not internal, rather they’re external problems that I’ve internalized — taken to heart — and it’s killing me. My pursuit for happiness is not a fantasy that I want, but rather I fantasize about a happiness that my parents wouldn’t mind me having. I’ve done a lot of growing up and I’ve realized that being attracted to men is not wrong. I’m trying so hard to keep this homosexual label from manifesting into a rain cloud that hangs over my head, never ceasing to rain. Instead of trying to be something, I simply want to just be.

The way that I keep myself hidden has affected a lot of my past relationships. My relationship with my parents is pretty rocky, but I bet you could’ve guessed that. My friends often remark about how much they don’t know about me and I laugh it off. “Oh come on, you know more about me than anyone else does.” That’s only true because they know the small amount I’m willing to tell them. Now that I think about it, I don’t think anyone knows what my favorite color is, or where I want to be when I retire. Haha, trivial things, yeah. I feel so selfish, too. I can’t explain why.  But the way I hide my emotions makes me feel like I’m waiting for people around me to notice what’s wrong and pour every ounce of effort they can afford into helping me. I feel like an opossum, playing dead just to grab people’s attention. Bleh.

It’s not easy being two people at once. I feel like I’m on the verge of an identity crisis and I’m slowly approaching the point that being miserable is better, as long as everyone else is happy.

Before you ask, yes. I’ve had a boyfriend. That lasted a month because I was afraid my parents would somehow find out via Facebook. Silly, I know.

Welp, here we are. At the end. And I can’t help but laugh because it seems I’ve turned you into my therapist. But I guess I need an unbiased 3rd party that I can vent to. I don’t want you to feel like I’m expecting some grandiose answer, some response that will cause something to click inside my head and suddenly I’ll be enlightened and everything will be better. That’s a shit ton of responsibility to place on a stranger. I guess all I’m hoping for is some insight. Now that I think about it, I’d have to say the reason I’m coming to you is that your blog helped in that process of self-acceptance. So thank you for that. Now, just to make it so everyone else accepts me for who I am.

Cory F.

ps: I like to pretend I’m artsy, so I attached a photo that represents how I’ve been living my life for the past two years.

Cory,
Don’t you want to be whole? A whole person? Don’t you deserve a normal life with a family that (for better or worse) knows who you are? Of course you do. Also, I think you know this by now, it’s not a matter of if you tell your family – it’s a matter of when. You can’t keep it up forever. What are you going to do, marry a girl and pretend to have a heterosexual life? That’s absurd.
Here’s the most disturbing thing  – you seem willing to let your own happiness be destroyed for the sake of not bothering other people. You said it yourself – you had a boyfriend and broke up with him because you wanted to maintain your ‘closeted’ identity. That’s really sad, Cory. Plus you had to hurt someone’s feelings and break up with them in order to maintain your precious little ‘secret.’
Stop doing this to yourself. You’re never going to be a whole person until you can be your real self, and ask for acceptance from your family. They may or may not give it to you immediately, but when you come out to them, their homophobia becomes their problem, not yours. Does that make any sense? Part of the power of coming out is that you give away the shame. You take the self loathing, and fear that you were raised to harbor against yourself, and you give it back. Then you can start the long journey toward feeling happy and whole.
I’m not trying to make this sound easy – it took a number of years for my own family to accept me for who I am. I came out in high school, which made high school and college pretty tense between me and my parents. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I felt that my parents had come to fully accept me for who I am. But that’s my point, Cory – you have to get the ball rolling on this. It’s going to take some time for the fallout to settle and for your family to adjust to this – you should tell them sooner than later.
I know it’s scary, and you should prepare yourself for some pretty awful treatment from your family – that’s true. But I wonder if you can imagine – it’s like a heavy weight is lifted off your chest when you do it. Even when the reaction is negative. Because once you own up to yourself, you become a whole person. A person with integrity. I know you want that. You wouldn’t have written if you didn’t.
You owe it to yourself, Cory. For once, put your own happiness first. This secret is eating away at you,  causing even more shame and self loathing. It’s a heavy load to carry. Put it down, buddy.
You can do it.
We love you.

Don’t Write About Me

photos by eryc perez de tagle

Him: Hey. I know you.

Me: Hey. Do you?

Him: Yeah I think so.

Me: From where?

Him: You’re the guy online.

Me: Oh shit. Yeah. I guess I am. Hi.

Him: Hi.

Me: What’s your name?

Him: Kelley. 

Me: Oh wow. I really like that name for a guy.

Him: Thanks. You’re…?

Me: Michael. It’s nice to meet you.

Him: You too. (pause) Oh my God. Do you have pie?

Me: What?

Him: Did you bring pie?

Me: To a Brooklyn gay bar?  No.  I didn’t.

Him: Well. You’re supposed to be the one who has all the pie, aren’t you, mister?

Me: I suppose I am.

Him: Well see?  You should have brought some.

Me: I’m hoarding it.

Him: You are?

Me: Yeah. I’m hoarding all the pie and nobody can have any except people I like.

Him: Aw!  That’s not fair.

Me: Also I tried bringing pie here before but it made my coat pockets sticky.

Him: Really?

Me: No. But you’re cute.

Him: Really?  So are you.

Me: Thanks. So are you hungry? Wanna get some cheap Mexican food?

Him: Right now?

Me: Yeah, or later. It’s always there, on Grand and Graham.

Him: You know what?  I better say no.  No offense.

Me: I’m… What? I’m not offended.

Him: Yeah but I better say no.

Me: Why?

Him: I’m just more of a prude than you are.

Me: So?

Him: So I’d better not accept a date invitation from you.

Me: ‘Cause you’re a prude?

Him: Yeah. I’m a super prude. I’d never have a website where I do what you do.  Post revealing photographs like that.

Me: They’re not that revealing, are they?

Him: Don’t you think they’re slightly dirty?

Me: Not really. I feel like I’ve seen worse in fashion magazines.

Him: Maybe. But there’s this context. It’s jarring.

Me: That’s on purpose.

Him: Well, mission accomplished.

Me: So, okay. So, don’t start a website where you post photos and stories like I do. What’s that got to do with having some cheap Mexican food with me?

Him: I just think I probably wouldn’t be the best person for you, is all…

Me: Well that’s why people go on dates. To find out if that’s true or not. And to have fun along the way.

Him: Thanks for asking. I’m going to decline.

Me: Okay. I respect that.

Him: Partially, too, I don’t want to get written about.

Me: Oh, I’m probably going to do that.

Him: No!  Why??

Me: Because it’s a slow news week, cutie.

Him: Stop.

Me: I don’t know why. ‘Cause that’s what I do. I probably would write about you either way, but now that you’ve implied I’m too slutty to qualify for a date, I’m definitely going to.

Him: Oh jeez.  That’s not what I meant.

Me: I know. But I have to capitalize on what’s going on in front of me – as a writer.

Him: I’m not an extrovert. I don’t want to be part of your thing. I like it, but I don’t want to be part of it. Why isn’t that okay?

Me: That’s fine. But I might write about it.

Him: Why?

Me: Because I write about conversations I have.

Him: I know, but just don’t write about me.

Me: You’re trying to censor my writing, and you just met me, Kelley.

Him: That’s not true.

Me: What else would you call limiting what I can write about? I’m kidding. I don’t think you’re really trying to censor me. Except for the censorship part.

Him: Okay, fine. Please don’t write about me?

Me: Sure. On one condition.

Him: What?

Me: Come have cheap Mexican food with me. Sit with me and chat for half an hour and I promise I won’t write about you, ever. You don’t have to ever talk to me again.

Him: No. I already said no.

Me: Okay. There it is then.

Him: But, don’t write about me.

Me: Eh. We’ll see…

Letters

photos by allison michael orenstein

Hi there,

I was bumming around on the internet and found a link to your entirely amazing blog. My plan of heading to the library and working collapsed completely as I got more and more dragged into your site. It’s now half past 5 in the evening in the UK and the only time I have left my bed is to get a pint of sugar and caffeine just so I could read yet still more of your blog.

I am not normally the sort to get vocal at what happens to gay people, despite being a politically active gay man. I have other causes that I spend most of my waking hours working on, and tend to leave the LGBT fight to others. But this week has been different. The Pope ragged all over us, Canada just tried to effectively divorce thousands of gay couples and a young boy in London has been made homeless because Facebook outed him to his parents. I was at a low ebb frankly. And then I found your blog.

The pies, dates and NY city life are hilarious and wonderful enough, but when you talk about shame and alienation, you talk directly to my own thoughts and feelings. We need more and more people like you at the head of our communities around the world, inspiring young gays to challenge the worlds around them, and yet remember their humanity. When you talked about respect needing to be the opening of dialogue and the formation of a better society, you spoke absolute truth. To find absolute truth anywhere is rare enough, but for it to be surrounded by wit, hot boys and some tasty looking pies is amazing. Though perhaps, it’s more inherent in day-to-day life than anywhere else.

Anyway. Please keep spreading the good word. I can only hope that you, your band and your blog are seen by more and more people. You are much needed. 
With love from across the Atlantic,
Jez
(You wanker – I am British after all…)
Dear Jez,
Normally I don’t publish letters of praise, but to be honest I was having a rotten day and this particular correspondence really turned things around for me in a major way.  Thanks for the words of kindness and affection.  I’m sure I don’t deserve the praise you’ve heaped upon me – but I’ll take it anyway, if just for today, because I need a lift.
So – thanks for that.  You really made a difference.
I’m glad you agree with me – that mutual respect is crucial to an open line of communication with each other – whether we’re dealing with members of our own community, or reaching out to another one.  I’m glad, too, that you realize the importance of living without shame.  So much negativity and internalized homophobia seems to haunt our motley, diverse community – and so much of that is pointless.
If we could learn to stop feeling ashamed of ourselves, maybe we could stop pointing fingers at one another and start a more optimistic dialogue.  One based on love and brotherhood.  Acceptance.
It’s ironic.  So many Gays are quick to find fault with each other for the most minor things.  I wonder if these are the same Gays that rush to celebrate when the government begrudgingly admits that we are indeed human, and can now serve in the military?  I wonder if these Gays can see the truth behind battles like marriage equality?  Do they see that when the government ‘grants’ our right to marry, they’re actually tacitly admitting that they’ve been oppressing us for hundreds of years, and that they’ve been wrong to do so?
I guess my point is, maybe some of that internalized Gay anger is misplaced?
Wow.  I’m off on a tangent, now.
I’m glad you found my blog stimulating, and I’m glad that you agree with me – that we could all do to live with a little more respect and a little less shame in our lives.  That probably applies to straight people too, come to think of it.  Jez, thanks for writing in – you really made my day.
Jerk.

Letters

(baking photos by Jack Slomovits)

Dear Michael,

 

After discovering your blog in Vice magazine, I just wanted to add my big, enthusiastic appreciation to the piles of accolades.  It’s become one of my favourite internet places for things that make me chuckle, pull the heartstrings, and are neat to look at.  I love how you’re funny and sincere while simultaneously being sarcastic, erudite and politically and socially conscious; for a person to be really funny really means that they’re an optimist to the core in life.  In particular, I wanted to thank you for your candour in talking about obfuscated racial hierarchies and diversity in the gay world. I didn’t think that Asian animus and stereotypes within the community would bother me as much as they do sometimes, and it really means a lot that someone like you calls it out in a frank, yet un-confrontational way.  It really gets me thinking about what solidarity and communion mean in the “po-mo” era, and what Larry Kramer said when he accepted the Tony this year: “Let them know we are a special people, an exceptional people, and that our day will come.”

 

Anyway, I’m coming down from the woods, lakes and ganja haze of Canada to New York (city of my boyhood dreams) on the weekend, and as always before I come I’ve made a wish list, with the following at the top:

 

(1)    See the McQueen Savage Beauty exhibit at the Met

(2)    Win rush-lottery tickets to see The Book of Mormon

(3)    Randomly make eye contact with you while meandering around Brooklyn (staying with a friend), strike up a conversation, laugh so hard we feel like we’re gonna barf, and learn how to make a pastry that contains chocolate.

 

But that’s one of the great things about New York; you inevitably can’t get to everything on your wish list; that’s why you keep coming back!

Keep up all the delicious work, we’re ravenous for more in Canada!

 

Love,

Garwa

 

PS – Have you heard of the Canadian band The Hidden Cameras?  If not, I think you’d dig them, they fuse lots of string instruments, religious iconography and homosexual sensibility to pleasing, pleasing effect.

 

 
Garwa,

Thanks for writing in.  Um,  you’re wearing a Japanese Joy Division shirt = instant boner.  Or maybe it’s your general adorableness giving me the instaboner.  In any case, I’ll have to take a break for a moment and listen to my (newly made) Hidden Cameras Pandora Station.

(pause)

Okay, I’m back. Thanks for all the praise.  I don’t deserve most of it, but I’ll take it.  You’re really eloquent and sharp.  I hope to meet you when you visit.

It pains me to hear that you’re a victim of Asian stereotyping, especially if that hurt is being inflicted by your fellow Gays.  But I’m glad you feel as if you have a right to that pain/anger/sadness and can communicate it.

We’re working on it.  Some of us are working on it.  Thanks for joining us.

Thanks for the Larry Kramer quote – that’s exactly how I feel.  I wish the Gays knew how exceptional they were.  I wish they could see past their own low level of bitterness to see what great potential is inside all of them.

Coming on the weekend?  My band is playing a show at The Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater on Saturday at midnight.  I dare you to come, and grab a drink with us afterward.

Do it, Joy Division.  Didn’t I just dare you??

There won’t be time to show you how to make Mexican Hot Chocolate Pie, but as you say, that’s what returning is for.

You said some kind things which made me feel very good, and seriously – don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thanks, Brother.

Michael

Hi Michael

My name is Drew Blackman and I am a gay man living in Boston.  I stumbled upon you blog a few months ago and have been reading it every day.

I want to start off by saying that i think your blog is very well done.  From inane sillyness, to delicious looking pies, to disastrous dates, it all works together very well.  Being an aspiring home baker/cook, I’ve found mixing your social commentary and poignant humor amongst photos and stories of the simple act of baking with good friends refreshing and relatable. 

I have to admit that i was particularity inspired to write to you after reading your most recent MonDate post.  Though i started reading your blog because of the pies(and, lets face it, the cute boys you bake with), it didn’t take long to realize you have a very strong and though out sense of queer liberation.  Most of my adult life, i have focused on identifying and confronting both white privilege and male privilege in both me and the people around me. I feel like I have reached a point where i am comfortable recognizing and challenging myself and others around taking up “space” and the blissful ignorance that privalege brings(ala Peggy McIntoch’s “White Privilege:Unpacking the Invisable Knapsack”).


Having said that, I generally feel at a loss when I step out of the “person with privilege” role and am confronted with heterosexism and homophobia.  Now i realize that statement sounds a little backwards, but as you point out much of the oppression that queer people and particularly gay men face on a daily basis, comes from other gay men.  I appricieate the way you have highlighted the fact that by gays being catty, sarcastic, or dismissive which each other, they are perpetuating the idea that queer folks don’t deserve to be treated with respect.   How can we expect or receive respect if we can’t even get it from each other. 

Anyway, I just wanted to say that I appreciate what you have done with your blog.  I feel that i have gleamed a better framework for confronting heterosixism both from within the gay community and from the outside.  Thanks again, and keep up the good work.

Drew

Drew,

Thanks for writing in.  I’m genuinely touched.

Wow.  Again – much more praise than I probably deserve.  I’m grateful.  For you to say that I’ve given you a framework to deal with heterosexism is huge for me.  You’re so well spoken and ordered in your thoughts.  I’m a fan of you too.  So take that, mister.

I do think it’s important for Gays to realize they have a right to their anger/sadness/bitterness about heterosexism.  Most of the time when I ask another Gay about their oppression they express exhaustion.  They tend to have very little use for the conversation, because they’re fatigued by the battle.

I think it’s time for us to start displaying our anger, when heterosexism occurs. It may be time to frighten them, with our repressed rage.

I suspect that the catty bitterness we’ve both witnessed between Gays is nothing more than them projecting anger at one another that should be directed at an opressive, bigoted outside world.

If not that, then certainly we must calmly point out when we’re being targeted by blatant or subtle forms of homophobia.  It’s my impression that social change comes one person at a time.  Each of us must be that one person who is willing to change the world by firmly asserting our own right to dignity and respect.

 

It’s easy to ignore homophobia, but that takes a cumulative emotional toll after a while.  Speaking up for yourself is scary, but extremely powerful.  I’m glad you’ve decided to start.

My advice is to start by focusing on eliminating any and all shame you experience for being Gay.  It’s the most powerful tool they have against us.  It is inundated into us by our teachers, families, churches, friends, and even ourselves.  Don’t let straight people make you feel shame.  Ever.

I wish you all the best, Brother.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you visit New York.

Yours,

Michael