Sunday, May 31, 2009

Whose birthday? Oh, mine...

All the energy just falls out

This new way of waking up and I’m not sure if it’s a good thing, the first time it happens I know it’s too early but it’s like the switch just goes on and now I hear the white noise generator and feel the wind in my apartment instead of whatever else was going on in my head I know it’s too early but should I look at the clock anyway, okay when I see the light I’ll just think this is the dream this light is the dream now I can go back into the darkness and oh, 11:23, right, too early, time to take the homeopathic remedy again don’t get angry at myself I was just checking don’t get angry it’s okay.

When I wake up again it’s like the sound on my dream switches off no it’s the sound and image like one of those old TV sets with the dial instead of a button except I can’t bring the picture back by turning the dial in the other direction. One minute a friend is going around the room to explain how she met each of us, it’s her birthday party she’s making cookies someone made the cookie dough a while back she figures she might as well put it in the oven. Now we’re in her room, first she shows us the changes she made like a shade on the inside of the closet door is something she’s wanted for a while and then she’s going around the room to tell us when she met each of us, and I’m the final one and as the sound and picture fade she’s telling us about her slippers that’s when I notice she’s a cartoon bear no a dog but she can stand on her legs and I’m trying to bring the picture back so I can find out how we met.

I wonder if this new way of waking has something to do with the thyroid hormone I started taking except wouldn’t it have happened on the first day, I don’t think it happened on the first day. The first day I started to get this throbbing headache in my temples on the bus and then I got wired, I was lying on the table at feldenkrais and I kept flinching I just wanted to get up and walk away, then I was doing that thing with my mouth where my tongue keeps going around my teeth like I’ve taken a bit of speed and later when I got in bed I was totally wired at first way more wired than usual like I was actually gritting my teeth and these are old patterns old old patterns that the hormone was bringing back, not a good thing.

So then the next day I took a quarter of one pill, since the first day I was taking the lowest dose and the pill won’t break into anything smaller than a quarter in any reliable way, and the quarter didn’t give me the headache but it did make me wired and I guess it wasn’t a terrible thing but I think it’s supposed to make me feel calm, wired means that it’s too much for my system and then the more annoying thing was that I started to feel the tips of my fingers and toes in this weird irritated way I don’t think it was my circulation which would be a good thing because my hands were colder than usual it was more like I could feel my skin underneath my nails like an itch or something I remember this happened a while back, a strange fibromyalgia symptom, and I hated it.

So the third day I decided not to take the pill, but then I’m talking to the homeopath and she says oh, that sounds like homeopathy where sometimes the symptoms get worse right away, and then I wonder if I should’ve taken the pill even though the nurse said I should stop if I got the same symptoms. And then suddenly I just feel so exhausted, I mean at the beginning of the conversation with the homeopath I was saying I guess I feel okay, I feel okay today but then 20 minutes later it’s like all the energy just falls out like these new ideas that might help but they don’t.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A public conversation

How did I get to this place where I listen too much, listen to the point where it shuts me down? With Ralowe I guess it’s from the time when our relationship was the one we both prioritized more than any other in many ways, or at least the one we both spent the most time on. When we were working toward a certain model of trust that all came crashing down for me almost 3 years ago when Ralowe decided to question my integrity for deciding to visit my father before he died, while I was literally in my father’s office getting ready to visit him after 11 years of not speaking to him -- and, at the same time, Ralowe insisted on talking about that fateful Wall Street Journal article yes I was at my father’s deathbed and Ralowe needed to talk about the Wall Street Journal, needed to make me think that he trusted their version of our interview as much as mine, and then that’s what ended my direct involvement in Gay Shame, this project that was so central to me from the very beginning, or at least it ended my direct involvement until now, other than advice from time to time. Anyway, it’s this history -- I mean my history with Ralowe before our falling out, our history of trying to take care of one another so that we didn’t feel too alienated, both inside and outside Gay Shame -- it’s this history that makes me want to listen too much.

Ralowe is talking about marriage and what is there to do to bring the whole thing down, there must be something that could just end the whole thing, some connection we could make and suddenly it would all make sense and I’m saying we’ve already made all those connections, and no one cares, and then somehow Ralowe is talking about straight anarchists and their inability to make connections and how to make them make connections and I guess this relates to marriage because they don’t make connections about marriage and Ralowe saw a movie about the public relations industry and how it came from psychoanalysis or was it psychoanalysis that came from the public relations industry but Mattilda, we have to figure out how to make that connection and this is where I can’t speak anymore I get so tired that I can’t say anything, and finally I say I’m too tired to talk right now, and Ralowe says I’m sorry, did I tire you out, and I say no, because I can’t say anything, and then we say goodbye.

Sure, sometimes I just get so tired I can’t function, but usually in a conversation it means that suddenly I feel like there’s a wall between me and the other person and it’ll never be breached, or if it is breached then it always comes back and the distance drains me. Ralowe calls two more times, the first time I’m stretching and the second time I answer because I think maybe Ralowe understands what happened, but actually he’s calling because he figured it all out, the thing we can do to bring the whole thing down, and that’s if we go after the public relations firm that developed the marriage campaign for Gavin Newsom, and then I’m listening again.

But I’ve also thought about what I want to say, and so then I say that’s a good idea, if it’s possible to figure out the exact specifics, but let’s switch directions for a few moments and talk about us, I mean me and you. And I say you know, I was reading this book by Ben Shepherd earlier about the politics of pleasure in direct action activism, I mean I was reading the manuscript and Ben Shepherd interviews me and I sound so hopeful about direct action, I mean even when I’m critical I’m hopeful and I don’t feel that way at all anymore. And the beginning of losing that feeling of hope was when we had our falling out, and I realized that the relationships I thought I was building in Gay Shame didn’t exist in the way that I’d imagined, especially in terms of trust, and then it didn’t mean anything for me anymore. And reading that interview I thought oh, I have to figure out how to get to that place where direct action means so much, I mean I sound so inspiring and I want to be inspired again. And the best thing would be to find another direct action project that’s going on that would suddenly give me that burst of inspiration, but there isn’t one, at least not one that I know of, and then the most logical thing seems like going back to Gay Shame, since there’s the action you’re working on now, but I don’t want to go back unless something’s different, I mean unless something is different for me. And maybe something is different, or would be different, I’m just not sure.

Ralowe says I’m not trying to pressure you to come back to Gay Shame. I say I know. And I say: I like you, and I think you’re smart, and you have great ideas, and I respect the history of our relationship, and I want to be able to listen to your ideas but you go all over the place and it doesn’t exactly make sense and when we were in a relationship it made more sense to listen, but now I just end up feeling drained, like I’m there for you but it’s totally one-sided, and I don’t even know what I’m asking necessarily -- I don’t know what it would mean for it not to be one-sided, for our relationship to fuel more mutual, but I know that it gets to the point where I’m overwhelmed and I can’t speak and then I just think why did I do that?

And Ralowe says: do you think I’m using you? And I do that thing where I say no, I don’t think you’re using me, I mean I wouldn’t use that language, but maybe it does feel that way. Ralowe says I don’t want to take advantage of you, I know I get to that place where I’m only thinking about the thing, this important work that needs to happen right away and whatever else is going on feels secondary, and maybe that’s authoritarian.

And Ralowe says: I appreciate you. And I don’t know what to say to that, except thank you, and then I say what do you mean? I mean what do you appreciate? And Ralowe says I appreciate being able to call you and talk about these things, there aren’t that many people who can understand.

And I don’t know exactly what this conversation is, but it feels like a doorway. Because there are three parts of the block I have with trying to figure out what direct action means for me now -- one of those parts is the collapse of my relationship with Ralowe, my relationship with Gay Shame, and finding the things that used to give me hope feel more like hopelessness. Another part is all of my physical limitations -- with pain and exhaustion, and I’ve even stopped doing readings for a while because they end up draining me, and how can I do direct action without feeling drained? And the third part is that I don’t know if radical queer direct action means what it used to mean for me, I mean sometimes I look around at the possibilities that exist now and they just seem contradictory, simplistic, self-important and shallow, and that might mean that I’ve changed and I have to think of other dreams. But then reading that piece by Ben Shepherd really made me think oh, this is one of the things that’s missing in my life, and there are a lot of things that are missing but since I’m at this point where I’m trying to figure out how to reframe everything in a way that actually holds me I mean in a way where I can dream, one of the things I also want to think about is direct action, and my place within it, and this vision of what a radical queer identity means, and what it means for me if most of the people that embrace it don’t inspire me on any level at all.

Meanwhile, Ralowe wonders if we could figure out a more sophisticated way of talking about emotional engagement and activism, the emotional component of activism and the emotional component of relationships within activism. Our relationship started within activism; Ralowe came to the first Gay Shame action in San Francisco way back in 2001 and that’s where we met. And back to our relationship, Ralowe says: I know I have this tendency to ramble out the quest for the holy grail and whatever’s going on and I don’t want this to be a masculinist project, I mean I want to be aware of what else is going on and not just run people over with some sort of authoritarian tendency.

Suddenly I have this idea that maybe we could have a public conversation about our relationship, from the beginning until now, with all of the places of connection and tension and holding and hurting and bonding and breaking, all of it as a public conversation about these issues, I wonder if this would feel like a way to further both our personal and activist engagements and whether this would be interesting or instructive or inspiring for other people. Whether for me that public vulnerability would help me feel safer or less burdened not as weighted down more open.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Yes!


It’s funny when someone asks you something in a dream...

and you’re kind of surprised they’ve been wondering that for so long and when you wake up you realize oh, I guess I’ve been wondering if they’ve been wondering that. But now you can’t remember the question.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Willing to look outside

He’s worried I won’t be able to get upstairs because it’s so late and there’s a prom going on so there’s extra security in the lobby, but I say don’t worry -- as long as I know your room number and your name, everything should be fine. I don’t tell him I learned all the tricks from turning tricks, and honey you just walk by the security like they’re somewhere between invisible and your best friend. Which almost always works, and it does tonight, even though I’m not turning a trick this is just a hook-up, starting with a lowest common denominator ad, which is always the kind that works. I mean gets people to respond.

He’s on the 41st floor, so of course the first thing to do is look at the view -- the windows are so clean I’m worried I’ll fall off, he’s preppy in the way that means he doesn’t try to be anything else and somehow I knew I’d find him hot, he’s a little nervous and I’m not. I mean I’m a little nervous about his cologne, but I get on top of him and we start making out and then I take off my shirt and sweater and he says you’re really hot, I have to take my glasses off, and I take them off for him. He’s grabbing my dick way too hard but it’s okay because I still have my clothes on and I ask him what kind of gum he’s chewing. Spearmint. And we kiss some more, and then there’s the grinding and the sucking and more making out and way more sucking and grinding and eventually I’m doing that thing between a giggle and a grunt that means I’m just in the place between his body and mine and nowhere else until we both get a bit over-tired from the exertion but we keep going, pause to say that’s hot, that’s really hot.

69 always seems like it would be perfect but it’s almost always awkward with the different angles between body and mouth and cock into mouth, making space for different heights and body shapes and then there’s the angle of cock and how that works with mouth and it doesn’t quite work. It’s kind of smelly, too -- let’s alternate. He doesn’t want me to come in his mouth, which means it’s all over his chest which is a disappointment not the chest but the coming because the rest was so high but the coming just a come-down but sometimes it works that way and then his come all over my chest up to face he can’t believe there’s so much of it he’s been jerking off two times a day for the last few days he’s been stressed out. I say that was super-hot -- he says really? I say yeah, don’t you think so? He says I thought it was hot.

All his friends are straight he lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia and drinks a lot they go out drinking they’ve gone out drinking since college and he knows it’s stupid but it’s what he does. Now they’re all starting to couple off, and even starting with the babies thing and he knows he should find some gay friends. I wonder if an assimilated gay person would ever say something like that, you know because kids are supposed to be the model for them too and maybe the fact that all of this guy’s friends are straight still gives him this outsider status that wouldn’t be the case if he went out with gay friends every weekend.

He says San Francisco is like a cross between New York, Boston, and DC, and I wonder about the DC part. Boston I can understand because of the water and the size, but it’s so conservative. He says what do you mean? I say socially conservative, but what about DC? He says he’s a closet conservative, a libertarian and everyone he knows is really libertarian but they don’t know it. I say how do they identify? He says they’re registered Democrats -- or Republicans -- but they’re socially libertarian.

He doesn’t know why he still drinks so much, next week he’s going to a finals match in Baltimore for some kind of drinking game it’s called something cop -- no, not cop, cup -- where you sit at a table with six people and you drink tiny glasses of beer as fast as you can and then you rotate tables and by the end of the night you’ve had a couple hundred glasses and he knows it’s stupid, the kind of thing he did in college but he has the same friends they all met in college in Pennsylvania, way out Pennsylvania Amish country -- I say there’s a word for that, right -- what do they call that? Pennsyltucky. But he says he’s worried about Baltimore, because when you cross the Mason-Dixon line you could get caught for pissing in the street and then you’re never seen again.

He can’t read books because he’s too ADD, I say what about a book that’s already ADD and he says he’s never found a book he can read, which makes them feel stupid because all his friends still read and he’s still pulling all-nighters for work like he’s in college and when he’s out he feels like he’s getting so much done but then the next day he’s wrecked. He's an event planner, here for a medical something-something conference. He’s worried about his hair thinning, he says I need to find a boyfriend before I lose all my hair and I say your hair looks cute, but it’s funny sometimes I think the same thing when I’m worried about my hair but I would just never say it out loud. I don’t think we have much in common except loneliness, but I kind of like listening to him anyway -- when I’m dressed he says I really like that outfit, all of it -- I like all the things you put together, I don’t really know how to dress. He says that a few times -- I really like that outfit. And I like the way he says it, says it from a place within unquestioning masculinity but willing to look outside.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Disengagement

Now I’m thinking of a new relationship that’s crumbled, and I wonder why. This is my relationship with Evan, and where do I start? I guess where I left a message asking him if he was disengaging from our friendship, because he used to call me right back but now it takes forever, even though I’d said several times that he could call anytime and leave a message -- it doesn’t stress me out if it takes us forever to reach one another in person, I just like hearing what’s going on. And then he left a message saying he sent a letter to my mailbox place, and sure enough there it was.

The letter basically said that yes, he has been disengaging, and that it’s happened because he’s become overwhelmed by my requests for help with household tasks at various times, and that “these small gestures greatly impact my ability to show up and be your friend.” The weirder part of the letter, though, said “I need our relationship to change. I would be so happy to attend your readings and to visit with you in social spaces we share.” We don’t share any social spaces, and I’m not doing any readings at least until the fall because I’m too exhausted and Evan knows both of these things. So I felt like he was saying that he wanted to end our relationship, a friendship that’s felt soft and comforting in a lot of ways, and more or less without tension, because he was feeling overwhelmed by helping me with relatively small tasks, tasks that are day-to-day activities for most people but that often become disastrous pain overload messes for me.

It’s certainly true that I’ve asked Evan to help me with these things more than I’ve asked most people, because he’s seemed interested in helping, and that’s one of the things I’ve appreciated about our relationship but of course it can change. So I called him up and said thanks for your letter, and of course I don’t want you to feel like hanging out with me is a “work-like experience,” which was the way he’d described it in the letter, so maybe we can just go through all the things that feel overwhelming and we don’t have to do any of them. So then we talked, and we went through all the various activities, and we crossed off anything that he thought was stressful -- we talked through a few items, and Evan mentioned the things he wouldn’t mind doing and it felt like we were both emotionally engaged and I even said that the end of the letter made me sad because it felt like he wanted to end our relationship and he said that yes, he had regretted that last sentence afterwards.

And we talked about taking the bus, which is one thing that he mentioned a long time ago that he never wanted to do because it stresses him out, and I acknowledged that I hadn’t really listened to that request because it’s so hard for me to imagine getting places without taking the bus, but now I certainly understand that it’s important to avoid -- the only thing to realize is that I can’t really walk anywhere with my bag, and so if we’re walking then I do need help with my bag and he said he’d thought about that, and that was something he was comfortable with -- and that he was fine with taking the bus from time to time, since often it makes the most sense and taking cabs everywhere would be a bit strange and since he rides his bike maybe we could meet at our destination more often.

We went over a few items for clarity, and I mentioned that usually when I request help with something I leave him a message ahead of time, and that the reason I do that is so that he can say no, but maybe he hasn’t realized that. And so he said that sometimes he might like to help with something, but he’ll offer and I asked if it would be okay to request help in an emergency, and he said yes, of course that would be fine. And we decided that we would talk about transportation ahead of time, so that it didn’t become something stressful when we were hanging out. And I said that these conversations don’t really stress me out, so in the future it wouldn’t bother me at all if you wanted to bring these kinds of things up -- even though it would be much better for me in person, I can do it on the phone too, but I guess a letter feels kind of distant. And he said it was hard for him to bring these kinds of things up, that sometimes it’s intimidating talking to me because I ask a lot of questions, and so a letter felt easier.

And then at the end of the conversation I asked if there was anything else that was making him feel disengaged, and he said no, there’s nothing else, and he sounded lighthearted about it like he felt an emotional lift and I felt glad too, but also strange like I was facilitating the conversation and that part is okay because it’s something that I’m good at, but what was the strange part? Oh -- like I was the one doing the work to get him to speak to me, which also feels familiar.

And then we didn’t talk for a week and a half or so but it didn’t feel strange, I mean neither of us called for whatever reason, and then I called to make plans to hang out, and he didn’t call back for a few days so I called again, and then another few days went by and I started to feel like something was strange, so I called back again but he didn’t call and I decided to wait. And then eventually he called and left a message that said, more or less: “I’m sorry, but I’m unable to be in contact with you right now. I think about you all the time, and I’m filled with love.”

The first part sounded like the language of an automated message -- no information really. I mean, why is he unable to be in contact right now? Because he’s overwhelmed with other things? Because he wasn’t able to say what he was really feeling, and he wants to wait until that’s possible? Of course my head can circle around an endless array of possibilities-- and it does, honey, it does. But really -- couldn’t Evan give me more information? Do I really care whether he thinks about me all the time, and what does it mean that he’s filled with love during this thinking process?

Then there’s the 12-step side of things, I’m trying to avoid the 12-step side but here it is hitting me over the head again. Formulaic recovery language -- certainly in the letter, but especially with this message. He’s in Al-Anon -- he grew up with alcoholic parents, then lived with his father and more or less took care of himself and kind of his father too, and I could be wrong but my understanding of Al-Anon is that it’s about breaking the pattern of trying to take care of people when they’re not taking care of you, and so then I wonder if that’s how he feels about me? And I wonder why he can’t tell me. And I wonder if that’s what the program says -- not to worry about me, I don’t matter.

I’m starting to hate these programs, even while I’m trying not to. I know a lot of people in Al-Anon, for example, and sure, from time to time I hear formulaic new-agey generalizations that sound like they come right out of the Al-Anon book, but we all make generalizations, right? Some of these people are the most grounded people I know, so I’ve tried to listen to the smart parts and ignore the rest and not make my own generalizations.

It’s strange, because Evan has been one of the most supportive people about Derek, who cut off our 16-year relationship because I told him that he was the most important person in my life, and that I felt totally confident about our intimacy and trust and the longevity of our relationship, but I never felt secure, because of the five year period when he was a disastrous alcoholic and lied about everything -- and then he cut me off, just like that, and without even telling me really. Of course, Derek is in AA and I’ve asked Evan if that behavior feels like program behavior -- it triggers Derek that I tell him whatever, and so he can just throw me in the trash, as long as he stays sober. And Evan has said yes, that is a possible interpretation, but not the appropriate response. And, more importantly, Evan has supported me in my feelings that here was a relationship based on a system of values and norms centering around accountability, negotiation, and mutuality, and now it kind of feels like Evan is throwing me away too. I mean I don’t know --maybe I’m being melodramatic -- maybe Evan is just saying he wants some time away to think through his thoughts, but if that’s true I wish he would tell me. Do I want to be friends with someone who refuses to tell me what’s going on? I left him a message saying that I would love more clarity; I didn’t necessarily expect him to reply, and he hasn’t yet.

Of course, my relationship with Evan is entirely different than the one I had with Derek. This is a recent relationship, although I guess it’s lasted at least three years, so maybe it’s not as recent as I was thinking. It’s always been intimate, but also casual. That’s part of the reason I asked him if he was disengaging -- it felt like he was backing away, and I wanted to know if we were going to get closer. We never talked about what our friendship meant, and maybe we should have. But it felt sweet and supportive -- sure, maybe there were times when I pushed him to help me with some task when I could tell he was tired, because sometimes I start to feel a bit desperate about the things I can’t do. Sure, there were times when I felt like he was asking an endless array of questions and I wasn’t even sure he was listening to the answers. There were times when there was such a gap between the ways we experience the world that it was almost hard to translate -- sometimes I felt like a challenge, but not really a problem. And sure, I didn’t totally listen when he said he didn’t want to take the bus. But I also gave a lot -- intellectually, emotionally, in terms of time and energy and openness. In certain situations -- like giving advice about relationships -- I definitely sensed that my feedback meant a great deal. I felt like we were both taking risks in certain ways -- risks with physical intimacy, listening, supporting each one another on the other’s terms and that felt loving. I guess I assumed we were operating under some model based around accountability and trust and negotiation, but now I’m not so sure.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Failures of imagination

What is the difference between an adrenaline rush, and energy? I’m not sure that I’ve ever learned. I mean, when I’m sinking back into bed even though I’ve slept a lot I should feel rested I slept a lot but I feel like I can’t get up. And then I get up, slowly because I’m trying to avoid that adrenaline rush, right? Maybe that’s what depletes me, I mean living on adrenaline rushes for so long. And then I turn on music, and I’m scrubbing the pot and suddenly I actually feel good. Is that an adrenaline rush, or energy? Will I ever know?

Today I’m feeling introspective, which is much better than the usual overwhelm overload, so I guess I slept better. Today I can ask myself questions, right, questions -- questions can be helpful. What is the point of creating a chosen family if it always falls apart? What is the point of creating friendships if there’s no commitment to process when issues come up? What’s the difference between feeling like I’m in my body, and out of my body? Is San Francisco weighing me down the weight of so much hope leading to hopelessness and can it lead back to hope or will it always be weighed down by those failures, the failures of imagination surrounded by walls, or is it walls surrounded by imagination, and which is better?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Yes, please!


Martin Duberman, on covert homophobia

That's part of the trouble with "sophisticated liberals": their rhetoric avoids the grosser forms of bigotry, assuming a form subtle enough to allow them to disguise from themselves the nature of their feelings.

from Waiting to Land: A (Mostly) Political Memoir

Friday, May 22, 2009

Nothing but my head

I don’t understand this new thing that’s happening with my sleep, I wake up from a dream that feels comfortable into something that feels like openness, then I close my eyes again or maybe I haven’t opened my eyes yet but I lie back to think about whether it’s time to get up and then right then I sink into this cavern cracked broken catatonic darkness like nothing could possibly open my head I could get up but I wouldn’t be awake will I ever be awake? It’s almost like an incest flashback like waking up and I’m nothing but a hole except this hole that’s me. But there’s no flashback.

Today I can picture something kind of like a tunnel or the inside of a tree made of corroded metal with some kind of light on the outside, almost like the image of my grandmother’s built-in laundry basket that started those first flashbacks, like the laundry basket was floating but today it’s like I’m inside it, inside something else so I’m saying just come out, I can deal with it -- whatever it is, I can deal with it, but I can’t deal with this: my head shut off and too much on at the same time like those times when drugs went the wrong way and pulled me into everything I didn’t want, like I’m nothing but my head and I’m headless. When I get out of bed, it feels like yet another sinus catastrophe, but why?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The sandbox

A shower is not a drug -- that’s what I remind myself, getting into the hot water zone for a second time. I wish there wasn’t the chlorine factor, I would change the filter but I can’t tell if it works. There’s a fine line between the point where my body relaxes and the point where my shoulders tense up, the point where my head clears and the point where it closes. It’s hard not to stay in past those points, especially when it takes so long to get warm since there’s so little hot water pressure. I guess I’ve fallen into another exhaustion period -- I guess everything is a cycle, but the problem is that my cycle just goes from completely exhausted and unable to function to not quite as exhausted and kind of able to function. Where’s the point of supreme rest and calm and vibrant energy, other than a quick high at 1 a.m. before a certain crash?

Here at the computer, I’m already crashing -- my forehead crinkling into bruises except bruises don’t crinkle maybe my forehead is pulsating is the voice activation software headset too tight? The screen too bright? My breathing too shallow? My posture putting me into an uncomfortable angle? Is there a comfortable angle? Today I thought: one day I will escape the mold, it’s always there underneath the surface in this apartment. But will I escape the mold, the smoke, the pollution -- all at once? That’s hard to imagine. Maybe I should focus on escaping the pain, now why does my jaw hurt? I guess I should get up from this chair -- I keep thinking I should go on more walks, or earlier walks, but then I’m so tired it doesn’t really seem possible. I move from the kitchen counter to the kitchen table to the desk chair to the bathroom to the stretching mat to the desk chair to the stove to the kitchen sink to the stretching mat to the kitchen table to the bathroom to the desk chair to the kitchen table. Where else is there to go?

Last night I made it to the top of the hill again and it felt so great because lately I’ve only been able to walk a few blocks uphill and then I always walk too far anyway I mean I guess the problem isn’t walking too far the problem is getting back. The air felt fresher than it’s been -- no more stale humidity just that clear fresh cold wind. Last night I did get exhausted, but not more exhausted than when I’ve walked less so that felt kind of comforting. I like walking in the grass, even though it was wet from the sprinkler and you can only walk about 10 steps before you’re back to cement it still felt good for my legs, my feet stopped hurting so I walked in the sandbox too or maybe it’s not a sandbox since it’s a lot of sand and there’s a whole swing set and jungle gym and rings to use that seem awfully high for kids but maybe those are for older kids. I wish I could use those bars it seems like it would be fun to exercise on them. The air up at the top of the hill was so fresh I even tried going down the slide in the playground it made such a loud noise.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Where the violence starts: gay support for US militarism


Suddenly there are all these stories in the news about violence in Iraq against gay people -- by all accounts, this violence dramatically escalated -- guess when? Oh, I know -- after the US occupation!

That’s what disgusts me so much about a sign like this, displayed by and for the gays in the Great White Gayborhood (in this case, San Francisco’s legendary Castro district) without any context at all -- as if somehow violence against gay people in Iraq can be separated from the endless US brutalization of an entire country in order to pave the way for more oil industry profiteering. Worse than that, this sign, and the protests around this issue, actually legitimize the US occupation by pointing to anti-gay hysteria in Iraq as proof of the savagery of an entire country, when instead they should be pointing to US militarism as the impetus.

It’s well documented that when people are deprived of the basic abilities to live, love, eat, sleep, fuck, dream or create family, meaning or culture without the daily threat of a US firing squad entering their homes or US-funded militias terrorizing their neighborhoods, guess what? People lash out at whoever is the most vulnerable -- women, young people, old people, people with disabilities, sexual deviants, homos, immigrants, etc.

Even something as simple as a statement starting with, “end the US occupation” would do so much to shift the blame to its rightful center. Instead, these kinds of messages end up implying that the same kind of homophobia -- furthered by religious fundamentalists, centering in families of origin, carried out by the armed instruments of the state -- doesn’t exist here.

Iraq: stop killing gays?!

What about -- US: STOP KILLING EVERYONE!!! That would be a better start.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

From one place to another

So I’m lying in bed all wired but I know it’s too early so I try to calm myself back into drifting but no I’m still wired so I look at the clock: 1:05, which really means 12:45 or so, which is early, but not that early -- maybe I should get up. Then I close my eyes and realize no, I can’t get up, but I’m not going to try to force myself to fall back asleep because that’s when I end up with a sinus headache, so I’ll just lie here and relax, hugging the pillow it does feel comfortable. Except then I’m in this place between sleep and not-sleep a horrible heaviness in my head like if I open my eyes everything will still be dark or if it’s light it will puncture me, just lying there in that space for a while, one side and then the other and then I look at the clock and it says 3:10 and now I’m annoyed at myself, crossing that boundary into the place that feels too late and I can’t decide whether I feel any better.

Yes, it’s one of those days when all I want to do is read, but I have to do it very carefully -- a few pages at a time so that I can outwit the pain but it never works because I keep thinking just one more, and then that’s the one that makes everything hurt, but maybe just one more I can’t even disappear into that excitement of a world not my own that helps me to understand my own because I keep having to stop. I’m trying to figure out what makes my body hurts so much from reading -- is it just turning the pages, taking notes, or sitting in a particular way, or do I stop breathing? I always stop breathing --sometimes I think that’s how I get from one place to another.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

At least there are some good movies coming out...

What's the solution?

I keep getting the most exciting review copies, yes yes to review copies except then I want to read them all at once but reading is one of the things that gives me the most pain right now, even though when I'm exhausted all I want to do is read yes read but then there's more pain how about just a few pages right just a few pages but oh no more pain oh no!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sometimes the bus can save me, and what about his eyes?

I sit down on one of the seats in the back, and there’s this guy in one of the backwards-facing seats with green hair and he’s looking at me I’m looking at him he’s kind of glamorous he says: you look hella good today. I say: you look great too, I was just thinking that about you! And then he turns away quickly, I’m guessing it’s so I don’t think he’s a fag or whatever, I mean hella good, right? But then I’m thinking wait, maybe I’m doing that thing where I think that any guy who flirts with me must be straight, maybe he’s just really young and nervous or maybe he’s like me and it’s harder to cruise people he’s actually hot for so I keep looking at him to see if he’ll look back but mostly he looks out the window so I take covert notes about what he’s wearing.

Green highlights in the hair, no not really highlights they’re spots and the rest of his hair is dark brown, almost black. Skinny green tie, pink plug in one of his ears and a tiny bone tattooed on the other. Green shoes, blue pants no jeans dyed cobalt and the black sport coat with big green bugs on it and I’m trying to figure out whether they’re stenciled, waiting for him to look at me again so I can ask, there’s one on the collar of his shirt too, is the shirt green or gray -- pale green. Fluorescent green nails peeling, maybe he’s peeling them, is that what he’s doing with his hands? The shoes are painted green, some of the bugs are on patches sewn into the sport coat but the cloth matches almost too well, makes me think it’s part of the original jacket. He’s tall and skinny, with broad shoulders, and when he talks on the phone I listen for clues but nothing that goes super-straight or super-queer, just I’m going to Haight Street, wanna meet up?

We’re both getting off at the same stop, when he turns around I see black-and-white patches sewn all over the back of the jacket so maybe that means it’s all handmade or maybe he sewed them on top of the bugs. I look over at him while he’s waiting at the bus stop, to wave goodbye, but he’s still looking away.

Much later, at the vintage store I find this plaid coat that I can’t decide on because maybe it’s slightly too large but it’s a good deal and it doesn’t constrict my body so that seems like reason enough to get it -- the guy at the register looks me right in the eyes and says how has your day been, and when I answer I realize I sound super-excited: pretty good, how about you? Nothing much exchanged, but he’s still looking me right in the eyes, so much in the eyes that it makes me nervous because I’m sure he’s straight, he’s just looking at my hair, but then I think I’m really doing that thing where I think someone who’s cruising me is straight, I mean he didn’t say hella anything, right? What makes me think he’s straight? Is it his voice, the intonation, the way he uses his chin to inhabit masculinity, or just that I wasn’t thinking about him until he looked me in the eyes like that, bulky plaid and mod hair could go either way.

I linger, looking at the club flyers like people still look at club flyers I mean I do -- then on my way out I turn back and yes he is looking at me but I don’t know what to do really -- I’m too hypoglycemic to think of anything except to look back again, I mean the other guy who’s the manager looks kind of straight but he’s definitely a fag, what does that mean about this guy? Who the hell knows -- at Goodwill they have this rack of gorgeous ‘80s coats, I mean where did all these coats come from? It’s easier to decide with coats, or maybe not easier to decide but easier.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Are you there God? It's me, Margaret

“I must, I must, I must increase my bust.” It almost feels like I first heard that from the boys who taunted me, shaking chest and pelvis in some kind of exaggerated femininity that I could never even aspire to. They were telling me I was worse than those girls repeating Judy Blume’s words over and over, because all I could do was want. I remember sitting in the hall with the girls like usual, and the biggest bully leaned over to insult us all and then afterwards we leaned together for our usual solidarity but all the girls agreed that wasn’t he hot?

Soon I learned to hide in the bathroom at recess, inhale the smell of urine but at least I didn’t have to hurt my face so much smiling and pretending I was okay. Like when Gabe asked if he could borrow my sweatshirt because he wanted to look trendy -- he was an outcast too but a different kind, I wanted to be his friend so it took me a moment too long to realize the insult: I handed him the Genera sweatshirt, he put it on with his pegged jeans and creepers, a look I would soon enough graduate to when I realized trendy didn’t work for me, but the bad kids hardly accepted me more than the good: in art class, when the trendies would play Madonna and the mods the Violent Femmes, I would sit in the middle, maybe better than Elizabeth eating glue in the corner or Jerry putting it on his face but much harder to maintain.

I was never allowed to read Judy Blume -- I read all the Agatha Christie’s and when there was no more mystery I moved on to the classics: War and Peace and then Crime and Punishment punctuated my sixth grade, but maybe that was before everyone read Judy Blume. Before the Violent Femmes, or after? Anyway my sixth grade teacher got worried that I was missing out on childhood, to her that meant my mother reading to me, something at my grade level and I didn’t want to do anything at my grade level but then it ended up being kind of comforting the sound of my mother’s voice at the dining room table and stories of lightning in the landscape not just striking me, which didn’t last long.

I remember when my sister read it, Are You There God, or maybe she was practicing the moves: all the girls did it, even if you didn’t believe. Like praying to God at night, into the pillow, before or during or after I would grind into the mattress into that dark place where I became captive to that man who was about to drop me in vats of boiling shit certain death I would become part of the factory don’t peer outside the covers around my head too many monsters in the closet under the bed in the hall or if I looked around me the walls would turn into eyes like an Egyptian sarcophagus huge eyes staring into me they could suck me in like if I reached out my hand it would be gone I wished I was dead I prayed to God to help me. Help me not to feel.

Eventually I read Judy Blume when no one was looking, it reminded me of both the life I was never allowed to leave and the life I would never be allowed to lead: I went back to the classics.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Back down to the world

Oh, no -- I’m actually starting to like sucking cock through a hole! Even though I keep thinking not that glory hole again, okay -- it hurts my neck. But then I’m there at the Nob Hill Theatre and there’s that dick through the hole and it’s as close to intimacy or connection as I’m gonna get, so hello glory hole! I mean I prefer the hands on my neck or wherever, but even that’s too much for some of these people. The most hilarious time is when I hear a woman talking to some guy and I look through the hole to see them both in the booth, she’s hiding in the corner and I can’t decide if I’m turned on by his dick kind of limp through the round frame I mean I didn’t get a chance to see him that’s why I don’t usually like the glory hole -- I mean besides my neck. So I just kind of watch, he pulls it back but I still can’t see him and I’m trying to find her to figure out more and then there his dick is again, fully hard and shaved all the way, do straight people do that now too?

Here I go -- all the way to the gulp-down, yes yes yes and then the walk uphill to my favorite new view and everything’s okay, but what makes the next time even better? Or okay, not the next time, but the next time something actually happens, I look up through the hole and I see his jacket, some kind of hip hop thing with a graphic pattern, I’m not really attracted to his hands too bony but what kind of hands am I attracted to?

And there’s the dick -- okay, why not? What’s kind of fun is that you have total control except for that stupid wall, and also of course he could just walk away, which eventually he does, but then here he is coming into my booth. Oh, he’s one of those guys I’ve seen here a bunch of times but I’ve never been attracted to him -- a middle-aged Asian guy who might be a tweaker or he might just be stressed that’s why I’ve never been drawn to him the way he walks around so fast and sometimes grabs, probably explains why he went right into the booth and quickly stuck his dick through before I had a chance to see much more but I was enjoying it enough so now I’m on my knees for the physical sensation that I am attracted to, especially those hands on the back of my head yes those hands put them back but he pulls away to come, there’s a lot of it so white and mine’s yellow, someone asked me once recently if I had hepatitis -- no, it’s always yellow!

I laugh when I stand up, because I almost touch the ceiling, metal like the grates on the street but not as well made. When you’re on your knees you forget how small the space is, he’s already out, rushing away and the place is closing but I’m in the bathroom doing feldenkrais movements for my neck and upstairs the guy is singing to whatever this is something from the disco years and I sing too then up the steepest part of the hill, past the building that has stone sea lions on the stairwell, past the back side of the Mark Hopkins Hotel and then I’m up at the top doing a little jump in the air in the fog for the only car in sight and doing a little twirl, why am I in such a good mood this time? Maybe it’s the new homeopathic remedy, I mean the new dose of the same remedy -- you just add water and then it’s stronger, often that’s not enough but maybe this time?

Reading the announcement that says they want to tear down the tower of the Fairmont, one of the most famous hotels in San Francisco -- but only the ‘60s part -- tearing it down so they can build condos, of course. Here the announcement is laminated -- I’ve never seen that before, usually they just tack it up and then eventually you can’t read it, but this is the top of Nob Hill, so lamination hello! Hello lamination. Hello.

And then into the park with the fountain so I can walk in the grass which makes my feet hurt less something other than cement and this time I decide to try the swing in the sandbox, kind of fun except it’s a bit too low I guess I’m kind of big for a five-year-old. There’s that building someone said was in Vertigo-- it is a nice building, with those balconies I’m sure you can see everything. And everything. Oh and the air yes the air and is the church cathedral whatever it is lit up differently this time or is it just me? I love these moments, all by myself at 3 a.m. except it’s 3 a.m., better head back down to the world before I get too tired.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Only white flowers at this church


A tunnel

Morning as a cave, no not morning it’s bright out a bright cave? It’s the way the light hits my eyes, forehead as cave. I hate the way this happens: everything gets worse, my sleep, and then I realize oh, that was better, last week was better except last week I was thinking: why don’t I feel better? Try to remember: that was better. That’s what better feels like.

So tired I don’t want to engage at all, I don’t even want to call the doctor who now has her own practice, because then I have to talk to someone on the phone, and say hi, I’d like to make an appointment. Once I’m on the phone it’s fine, but talking to someone like that at the time of the day when I have to talk to them feels like way too much. I like to make my appointments around 1 a.m., 1 a.m. when everything doesn’t feel so stressful maybe my forehead won’t hurt so much at 1 a.m.

Outside it’s like a tunnel, a tunnel through the light not into it I like the feeling of the sun on my face but it’s too bright. A tunnel because of the way sound keeps hitting the edges not quite into my ears my face what’s going on?

I keep waking up in the middle of the night thinking about all these things I want to write about growing up, high school especially but also before and for so long all of that seemed too awful and mundane I didn’t even want to think about it. Now it feels far enough away, and I especially want to write about privilege and the liberal imagination and the way it impacts kids under its sway, how it impacted me the way it felt like I would never get out from what I was supposed to be and I did. At least enough to see it, and maybe now I’m ready to talk more about the specifics of the everyday and its sway no I don’t want to make it abstract, I want to go into the center of it all and see what I can pull out.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: an update

The update is that I’m almost finished with the manuscript!!!!

Here’s a preview from the beginning of the introduction:

We’ve grown to appreciate the way our eyes give everything away, our hips sway, our voices flow up and down and then up again: hold me. We’ve embraced our hunger for bushes and beaches, back alleys and bathrooms and anywhere else we can find those bodies we once shunned: our own. We’ve come to terms with our deviance, our defiance, our love for fucking and flowers. We’ve pushed inward and outward at once; we’ve learned to hold one another even if it’s only that moment, that taste, that tongue to tongue or the imprint of sweaty fingertips.

And still, we are losing hope. We wonder how our desires have led to an endless quest for Absolut vodka, Diesel jeans, rainbow Hummers, pec implants, Pottery Barn, and the perfect abs and asshole. As back rooms get shut down to make way for wedding vows, and gay sexual culture morphs into “straight-acting dudes hangin’ out,” we wonder if we can still envision possibilities for a flaming faggotry that challenges the assimilationist norms of a corporate-cozy lifestyle.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

My review of The Book of Frank by CAConrad, on Bookslut

Reading The Book of Frank is like that first time when you realize the brutality and intimacy of childhood, the way it ends and never ends and if you’re stuck then your imagination is the closest you’ll get to a rescue party.

Something else

Yesterday I went to this event at Kirk Read’s house about the effect of the internet and communication technologies on people’s lives and it was fun to get together with people who I mostly knew, but don’t see that much, and sit in a circle and talk about something meaningful and stressful and full of contradictions and intimate too. Afterwards I actually felt energetic and clear, which is so so rare after socializing so it must’ve been a good thing, right?

But then today I can barely function -- I actually slept okay, and I sat on the fire escape and then I even went outside and sat on the back stairs of the Mitchell Brothers Theater, my second home for sunbathing -- it’s always warm there, though, so even though it was 6 pm the perfect time never to get burnt, I kept thinking: oh no, I’m getting burnt. And then I left before I got too tired, but also not before I got too tired, because I was already too tired I was actually surprised that I made it to that back stairwell painted green and complete with a new sign that says no trespassing. I kept practicing my line for the cops: I’m not trespassing, I’m just trying to get some sun. They drove by at one point and looked at me, but then kept driving.

Sometimes I can’t figure out what helps me to function, and what destroys me. Tonight’s that club with a back room that I always want to go to, but I know I can’t go because of the smoke and the smoke machine, and I want to go anyway, but also I’m glad that I’m not going, because I know what the aftermath would be. But it would be nice to socialize with people, or more specifically fags that turn me on, or might turn me on anyway -- turn me on in my head, and that’s a start, right?

Earlier I was thinking maybe tonight would be a good time for Buena Vista, but that was before I realized I wouldn’t have any energy all day -- none, really -- and the problem with Buena Vista is that even if I get to the top I’m not usually attracted to anyone there anyway. It’s too familiar -- the same types, the same types I’m not attracted to. Maybe for a moment, but then. I mean I’ve already done so many of those moments -- I just want to have sex with someone where there’s that immediate charge, even if it doesn’t mean anything then at least there’s that charge, right? Someone who I’m craving, not just because they’re kind of attractive.

All I want to do is read, but I’ve already reached the point where my arms are hurting, so now I have to do something else. I just can’t figure out what that is.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Good question


Tenderness?

My favorite thing about manhunt is that I don’t get distracted -- hardly anyone ever writes to me there, or responds to anything I say, so I can just log on and ignore it. Perfect! I mean as perfect as these cruise sites get.

Sometimes I’ll browse the profiles, but not for more than two pages or so or I get too depressed from all the “straight acting dude seeks same” or “masc only,” so it’s not even that distracting and it doesn’t hurt my body too much. The other day I caught a profile that just said “Tenderness?,” so I sent a message with the heading “Wait -- do people still do that?” And he said “I know is it dead I’ve got none from the gays.” I said maybe we need to start tenderness.net, and I even looked it up to see who owned it but really, the URL is still available!

So then we exchanged pictures by email since manhunt limits the way you view photos and the number of messages you can send if you’re not a paying member, and he was really into me and even gave me his phone number -- such a rarity online, right? I’ve practically stopped giving my phone number out, since no one ever calls. But then we ended up talking on the phone and it was fun enough -- we talked about plants and masculinity charades and looking for connection -- he talked about drag and how he used to perform a lot but now he doesn’t like going to bars at all because they’re so boring. He grew up in the Bay Area, but was somehow confused about my name -- how did you get that name? We talked for a while and made a plan to get together and he was nervous that it wouldn’t happen, maybe we should just wait and see but I told him don’t worry, I’m not a flake -- I’m a disaster, but I’m not a flake -- and if you decide you don’t want to come over after all, just give me a call ahead of time -- no problem.

I wasn’t sure whether we would feel a connection or whether I wanted to sleep with him, but I was kind of excited about meeting some random person just to chat and see what might happen. Kind of like real life, right? But guess what happened? He didn’t show, not even a call. So much for tenderness.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Dear Ms. McGreevey (Jimmy, that is) --

I didn’t pay that much attention to you when you gave your “I’m a gay American” speech -- I just thought oh no, another closeted politician coming out and wrapping himself in the flag and soon he’ll be the next gay hero. And sure enough…

But then I saw you in that movie, and you’re talking about sex in abandoned synagogues -- I swear that’s what you said -- “synagogues” plural, right? I mean, abandoned churches are a dime a dozen, but abandoned synagogues -- honey, that’s dedication!

Don’t worry -- I looked it up and found out it was one particular synagogue in Washington, DC when you were in law school -- three times a week, too! But you graduated in 1981 -- even though I grew up in DC and by 1981 I was certainly already ostracized for being a faggot, I was only eight then. Six years later I would’ve been cruising any public bathroom I could find, or at least the ones where I could socialize with closeted ladies like yourself, or not quite like yourself I mean most of them were more Larry Craig types than sassy specimens oozing the kind of sultry sexiness you still give. I can only imagine you in 1981, crawling through the grounds of that abandoned synagogue -- but now you’re studying to be an Episcopal priest, you are as nutty as it gets! At least make them let you try on a few yarmulkes…

Do you see where I’m heading? I know you talk about how filled with shame you were, and I know from experience that sex with shame is hardly sex at all. All those times in high school when I headed to the bathrooms at Woodward & Lothrop, Mazza Gallery, Georgetown Park, the Bethesda Public Library -- did you ever visit any of those? Those first few years it wasn’t fun -- I would leave my body while some elderly gentleman worked his lips down there -- my goal was that eventually I wouldn’t feel anything, and then I could leave everything behind. Just like you, right?

But I didn’t leave it all behind -- it took a while, but eventually I learned to inhabit my body, from those first toilets to the stairwells of shopping malls and down down down to the bottom level of parking lots and eventually moving on to alleys and back rooms and beaches and all those places now disappearing thanks to gentrification and assimilation but wait I’m getting distracted. Distracted from you.

Now you get all emotional and tell us, “this is how God made me” -- so creative! I know you say that meeting people in bars when you’re smashed and you can hardly walk is much more, um, respectable, but honey how about this: you tell me the nearest abandoned synagogue, and let’s make it work. I know you’re ready.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Staring up at the sky

It might be time for me to leave. San Francisco. I’m getting my apartment ready, ready so that it gets to that point where if I walked in and it wasn’t my apartment, I would feel so calm and manic. Do you know what I mean? I want everything to be in place, everything to fly.

Don’t worry -- I’m not leaving yet. I might not even leave, I’m just saying that it might be time. At the moment my plan is to stay for two years, and finish my next book that I haven’t started yet, I mean I have several hundred pages of writing, but I haven’t started it as a book. It’ll take a while. It’s the book that starts when I visited my father before he died, continues with trying to regain a sense of hope in my own sexuality, the end of friendships and dreams and communal possibilities, the overwhelm of the everyday, and maybe even childhood. I might even call it The End of San Francisco.

Do you see what I’m saying? It might be the end. I’m not sure that I can dream here, in the way that I want to dream, although I’m not sure that I can dream anywhere else. I mean I’m not sure that I’ll get anything more than those moments of staring up at the sky or down at the buildings mostly down at the buildings and up too when everything makes sense. But I need more.

So my idea -- and it’s just an idea at the moment -- is that maybe in about two years I’ll sublet my apartment and go on a long trip and visit people in different cities across the US and Canada, hopefully get to Europe too so I can visit Andee and cities I don’t know at all really, just in case, and then I’ll come back and decide what I’m doing. I’d love to spend a few months in Montréal at some point, too. It’s hard for me to decide whether I feel worse and worse because of my health or because everything keeps failing me, or both, and what it would mean to feel better I mean I want to feel way way better before I leave, if I leave, or even if I go on this trip I want to start the trip feeling great because how else will I do it but sometimes I think I stay here because I might feel worse somewhere else -- I mean everything might be worse because of the weather or my living conditions or the culture or the people -- but mostly what I like about San Francisco at this point is structural, about the landscape or the routes through the city that I know, or the ways in which familiarity can sometimes hold me and an occasional random interaction and that’s not enough. For a while I thought I was here to stay, I guess what has changed is that now I’m not sure.

Still I wonder about this wondering: if I barely have enough energy to engage here, where my life is more or less stable, how will I engage somewhere else? I mean engage in the most basic ways of day-to-day living, or the impossibilities of social interactions without any stability, do I really want to figure those things out again, in another new city? I don’t know yet, but I’m thinking about it.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Outrage: closeted gay politicians, Elizabeth Birch, and queer challenges to the status quo

Earlier tonight I went to a preview screening of the movie Outrage, “a searing exposé of the secret lives of closeted gay politicians.” More than an exposé of those secret lives, the movie serves to focus on hypocrisy of closeted politicians who dedicate themselves to perfecting their right-wing voting records. There are definitely many striking moments in the movie, starting with the recording of Larry Craig at the very beginning, declaring to the cops, “I don’t seek activity in bathrooms,” and then a later press conference called by Craig where you can hear someone yelling “come on Larry be gay,” followed by someone who went home with Craig from a DC strip club a while back quoting Craig as handing him a $20 bill and saying, “just remember I can buy and sell your ass 1000 times.”

Of course, Larry Craig has already been thrown off his, um… throne, and the same could be said of many of the other politicians “exposed” in the movie, from former New York City Mayor Ed Koch to key officials in the Reagan administration. In other words, no new names are necessarily named, with the possible exception of current Florida Governor Charlie Crist, whose gay exploits have been covered in alternative media sources but never something with this much potential audience.

What struck me more than the analysis of the hypocrisy of elected officials, closeted or otherwise, was the neverending parade of gay establishment figures, from right to center but never further left than gay radio host Michelangelo Signorile, a dubious figure at best (although responsible for much of the media attention around outing closeted gay celebrities in the early ‘90s, he was also one of the people to spearhead vitriolic attacks on public sex venues in New York in the mid-‘90s). Other than BlogActive’s Michael Rogers (current specialist in outing closeted politicians), we’re treated to an endless array of gay elite figureheads including former director of HRC Elizabeth Birch, gay conservative standardbearer Andrew Sullivan, at least two prominent Log Cabin Republicans, Washington Blade editor Kevin Naff, as well as a few resuscitated figures like Larry Kramer, still proclaiming that gay people “have no rights” in spite of the considerable rights he’s always had, and a more engaged Rodger McFarlane, former head of the Gill Foundation.

While many of these gay establishment individuals are quite capable of talking about Republican homophobia, their analysis doesn’t go much further. Elizabeth Birch excoriates Mary Cheney for her role in (successfully) target-marketing the famously right-wing Coors to gay and lesbian consumers, but there’s no one on screen to shred Elizabeth Birch for her glamorous role in shepherding the gaysbian agenda as far to the right as possible. Instead, we get another shot of Birch telling us that members of Congress have literally cried in her arms because they feel like they can’t come out -- how sweet of her to hold them (and their secrets)!

During the Q&A, director Kirby Dick talked about how he was exposing the culture war that right-wing Republicans are fomenting. I said: “you do a good job of exposing that culture war, but I believe there’s another culture war going on inside gay and queer cultures, between a narrow agenda of marriage and military inclusion, and a broader abolitionist agenda of sexual liberation and universal access to basic needs like housing and healthcare, and in the movie it seems that pretty much every gay person falls more or less to the right or center of this divide, and I wonder if your focus on these establishment figures also indicates a stance in this culture war.”

Dick responded that no, this didn’t indicate his position, but rather it was a strategic choice not to go too far to the left so as not to be dismissed. In this sense, Dick has already been successful -- he was featured in a 12 minute CNN story, and will soon be on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, both media opportunities that he would probably not have been granted if the movie centered less around outed former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey telling us about his revelation that “this is who God made me,” or former president of the Log Cabin Republicans Patrick Guerriero revealing that “the closet suffocates the integrity of decent people.” Of course, we know that Elizabeth Birch and Patrick Guerriero (or Jim McGreevey) are not interested in creating space for a diversity of queer challenges to the status quo, but it feels hypocritical to avoid voicing broader critiques in a movie supposedly centered around accountability.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Old dust

Dancing with millet, soft in a plastic bag until it spills onto the floor and then it’s just something else to stumble over. The massage hairbrush: when everything inside your head is on the wrong side, whatever side that is, but you can pull it up and out and then your voice changes all corners it gets bigger in the delivery but deeper in the cracks. Everyone, everywhere, everyone everywhere is watching, watching and waiting. For the way your head rolls and rolls: someone, please stick a foot out before!

Except that it’s airborne, stairs worn -- it’s not as interesting to look in the mirror as it is to look outside like it’s a mirror: stop scaring me. There’s a way to step without rolling, that’s the way. Eventually this hurts more. This is me, this is me in the coffee grinder. I don’t use it for coffee, I use it for peanuts -- allergies everyone loves, and you flip: you flip for coffee, you flip for peanuts. It’s new. You’re news. You’re an investigative reporter on the wrong side, the side everyone wants. It’s a make it, break it story. You’re not going to tell. The difference between old dust and new dust, why is old dust so much dustier?

Friday, May 01, 2009

Pill form

The good news about the dentist is this anesthetic I mean not the feeling in my mouth but the feeling in my head, listening to Nina Simone and the posters of waterfalls tacked to the drop ceiling, yes I’ll just close my eyes. Looking up again and I’ve never noticed that psychedelic drawing before, that psychedelic drawing on the blue walls with white clouds but what happens if those tacks fall down, they must fall down but I guess there’s a drill in my mouth. So yes there’s all this tension in my body will my shoulders ever go down but still that softness in my head maybe drugs are the answer do they make this anesthetic in pill form?

And then later, much later it seems when the anesthetic wears off, it’s like there’s all this extra space in my mouth. Hell-ohhhhhhhh. Hell-ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Sure it’s still hell, but the feldenkrais CD saves me and I’m talking softer but calmly, my body is saved from certain doom, at least for a few moments until I talk on the phone for too long -- danger danger danger -- and then everything aches again.