Still working - still out of town. BUT! In the meantime tune into Debra. She's been having some issues with Jackie lately.
Classic Youtube fodder:
"She's like don't go to the skate park because they don't want you there. Oh, well if that's true than why am I their mascot?"
and a new one:
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Still working - still out of town. BUT! In the meantime tune into Debra. She's been having some issues with Jackie lately.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I met Nick Rice after a Reading for Filth at the now deceased Rapture Cafe sometime last winter. Nick, who is in his early twenties, introduced himself to me that he had found my blog and liked what he saw. Since then we've become friends, shared dance floors together and seen one another out at rallies and meetings. As I'm out of town for work I offered him a guest post here on KnuckleCrack. Here is what Nick Rice has to say:
I was a queer boy in middle school in the late 90's. Fearful of my classmate's judgment and ridicule, I was a loner only able to open up with a few close friends. I insulated myself from other kids with standoffishness and silence. Without invitations to the movies or to backyard pools, I cloistered myself between the dusty and quiet stacks of the local library. I found my escape, my hideaway. Being fortunate enough to grow up in a town with a massive and well stocked library, I spent years reading my way through the art and architecture shelves. Eventually, just like millions of queer kids before me, body shaking and tingling with adrenaline, I made my first furtive trips to the HQ 75-76.8 section, Homosexuality and Lesbianism. Somehow I was convinced the H stood for Homosexual and that anyone passing by would know exactly why I was there. If someone walked down the aisle, Now That You Know would be right back on the shelf and I'd be intensely scanning HQ755.7-759.92, Parents, Parenthood. Of course, no one ever gave me a second glance, it was all just my expansive paranoia.
I discovered Alfred Kinsey, Edmund White, Paul Monette and yards upon yards of gay fiction. I ate it up. It was my indulgence and my refuge. Soon after, I came upon this book: I Have More Fun With You Than Anybody. It is the memoir of two men in the 1970's, living as a couple together in the bloom of an open, ground-breaking and unapologetic queer social world. Having no contact with any queer people, 13 year old me was shocked and amazed to learn that a decade before my birth, gay men were already out in society, going about their lives like anyone else. I was fascinated (and a little bit scandalized) by the honest discussions of the sexual culture of that era and determined to learn as much as I could about queer society, past and present. With these books as my sole connection to anything queer, I also read as a way to feel connected to other queer people and to internalize positive explanations of all the feelings that were welling within me. I continued this reading in high school, past my coming out at 16 and on through college in rural Maine (where I discovered a whole new college library with an ample HQ section and numerous documentaries like "Word is Out" and "The Times of Harvey Milk" (Sally M. Gearhart!)) .
By college, my insecurity had given way to pride and an overwhelming sense of good fortune at having turned out queer. My daily reading led me to John Rechy, Robert Mapplethorpe, Vito Russo, Larry Kramer, Randy Shilts, Harry Hay, Fred Halstead, Andrew Holleran and George Chauncey. Because I was learning about queer culture through books, as opposed to experiencing it myself (again, I was in rural Maine), I was most often learning about queer social worlds from past decades that no longer existed. I was reaching back into the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's for the queer positive messages I needed in order to overcome all the shame and fear I absorbed as a child. Through this process I gained an enormous measure of respect and admiration for the queer people of earlier generations who had been fighting for my rights ever since I was an infant and even before my parents were born.
After I graduated from college, I unexpectedly landed in New York, the setting for so much of what I'd read about for a decade. Walking through the streets of the Village, slowly down Christopher, and out onto the piers was and continues to be an electric experience for. Passing the teenagers in Hudson River Park, vogueing and reading their competitors, I can't help but think back to the images of the piers as they were in "Gay Sex in the 70's". After reading "Dancer from the Dance" , "And the Band Played on" and "Faggots" I wandered neighborhoods filled with fashionably dressed young, straight people to find the Mineshaft, the Paradise Garage, Keller's, the Ramrod, the International Stud, the Anvil, Flamingo, the 10th Floor, Badlands. I searched online for addresses decades out of date and bought old gay travel guides on eBay. To stand in storied spaces that for so many years previous I could only imagine was both thrilling and bittersweet. I felt awed to be in a place that was the site of so much change and exuberance in the 70's, and then in the 80's comprised an epicenter of grief and activism in the first era of the AIDS crisis. These spaces once contained the vibrating, pulsing, ever-innovative culture of the generations to which I owe what freedom I enjoy. I was searching for a vanished world, and simultaneously felt so much connection and distance as I walked alone through its shell. For me, the Village is suffused with a nostalgia for things I never saw and people I'll never know, but which continue to impact my life today.
The internet has supplemented much of the information that I couldn't find on paper or in the physical landscape of the Village. It serves as a repository for so many memories which are not my own but which help me to understand the world that paved the way for my generation of queer people. However, offline I am pained to find the remnants of this past so few and scattered. In New York I have been privileged to get to know many queer people who belong to those generations I feel so fascinated by and indebted to, but their ranks are sparse. As time progresses there will be less of them to pass on the knowledge of what queer life was like in their youth. How is their cultural memory being preserved? Who is out there with stories to relate that my generation might learn from? What material pieces of that world remain hidden, in boxes and closets, waiting to be dusted off for us to appreciate? I feel so fortunate to be in a city where I can find so much queer history, but I am sure there is so much more out there, untapped. I would be very happy if other people felt the same. Do you have words or images with which to illuminate a queer reality, distant in time?
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I happen to be in Miami for work and I also happened to be in South Beach, right near the intersection of Washington and Lincoln, when I ran into the JoinTheImpact Light Up the Night Candle Light Vigil.
Rage on, Miami.
Friday, December 19, 2008
In reading rex wockner's international news column just now i was
particularly struck by the following item:
"Britain to count gay population"
Britain's Office for National Statistics is going to count the gay
Starting in January, a sexual-orientation question will be included in several of the office's routine surveys, leading to an eventual estimate of the size of the nation's gay community.
Respondents will choose from heterosexual/straight, gay/lesbian, bisexual or "other" -- or can opt not to answer.
Officials say "the results will be useful for gauging levels of discrimination and unequal treatment and addressing those problems."
When are gays in america going to fight to find out how many of us there are. I am tired of not knowing. i am tired of hearing numbers quoted all over the map from practically zero to only a few million, all of them certainly far less than i believe we are.
i think it is, psychologically, now the time to try and do something about this. we need to know as we go forward into our never-ending fights with THEM how many of us there are. we just do.
i have long implored our "major" gay organizations, particularly HRC, to commence a project that would reap these figures. we are never going to get our government to do what england is now doing. therefore we have to do it ourselves. i am always arguing with that gary guy at ucla's william institute that is always putting out his numbers, based, so far as i can tell, by his viewing into his own crystal ball. i want better. i want something that will hold up in court, in the halls of government, etc.
joe solmonese, could you and hrc spearhead something like this? could urvashi or tim sweeney or the gill foundation or all the people with some money still left on this list, could people just get together and brainstorm this. could the williams institute?
correct me if i am wrong, but aren't we better, stronger being able to go forth knowing how many of us there are, no matter how many of us there are? otherwise we continue as the sort of only half-visible population. i know rodger at gill did a survey a few years ago of a couple of thousand gay people who, when asked if they identified as straight, bi, or gay, over fifty percent weaseled out and said bi. this is sickening and we must find a way to find firmer truths.
perhaps a new small organization can be funded just to gather our numbers?
don't you all want to know????
or do you want to continue to live in this darkness visible forever?
Thursday, December 18, 2008
First up with a guest post is Nathanal Siegel - writer, poet, AIDS activist. Currently Nathanial has an installation at the Leslie Lohman Art Gallery entitled "2, 117 Days of Silence." Go ahead and check it out. The exhibit runs through this Saturday.
November 19 - December 20, 2008
2,117 Days of Silence An Installation by Nathaniel Siegel Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation
26 Wooster Street
New York, NY 10013
Phone 1 212 -431-2609
The artist Nathaniel Siegel has created an installation at the Leslie/Lohman Gallery: “2,117 days of silence: a visual presentation.”
To mark the 20th anniversary of ACT-UP New York City, the artist has gathered documentary evidence of the first mention of AIDS in the New York Times (July 3, 1981) “RARE CANCER SEEN IN 41 HOMOSEXUALS” by Lawrence K. Altman; And a transcript of President Ronald Reagan’s first public statement of the word “AIDS” on April 1, 1987 at a Luncheon for Members of the College of Physicians in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Reagan’s inaction inspired the original poster of SILENCE = DEATH in 1986. A copy of that original poster is also on view.
Using calendars of the years 1981 to 1989, the artist visually presents those days of silence. The calendar’s presented are from the artist’s collection and are representative of images that would be available to gay men in the ‘80’s.
ACT-UP New York city notes on their website that in 1987 the year Reagan first said AIDS: 41,027 persons are dead and 71,176 persons diagnosed with AIDS in the U.S.
Today, in New York City, there is no public school education of ways to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases including the proper use of condom’s and their effectiveness in preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS. Today, the current administration’s abstinence programs regarding discussions of sexual activity among teenagers and young adults amounts to the same SILENCE=DEATH scenario for our Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans-gendered and Straight Youth: 27 years after we first learned about AIDS and effective ways to prevent infection with the proper use of condoms.
The Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation is located at 26 Wooster Street between Canal and Grand Streets in SOHO New York. Gallery Hours: (for the balance of the show)
Wed. Dec 17th 12noon to 6pm
Thurs. Dec 18th 12noon to 6pm.
Fri. Dec 19th 12noon to 6pm.
Sat. Dec 20th 12noon to 6pm.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
6-8PM Columbus Circle with a March to Times Square
Go here for the Official Facebook page. Link it, blog it and email it out.
On December 20th, we ask that you join us again for a nation-wide demonstration. The rally at City Hall on November 15, 2008 was just the beginning. In cities across the nation, people will once again be taking to the streets to stand up for Equality. We are not done fighting!!!
MARCH FROM COLUMBUS CIRCLE TO TIMES SQUARE
RALLY IN TIMES SQUARE
Be sure to go to the facebook page because they have suggestions as to what to bring and information on how to become involved and a sign up to volunteer to marshall the event. If you never marshalled an event before and want to I strongly recommend doing so. It's a tremendous amount of fun and puts you right smack in the middle of the action.
I unfortunately will not be able to attend (ugggggh!!) because I'll be out of town for work but I'll be there in spirit - candles, glowsticks, flashlights and all.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Over the weekend I was thinking about some of the events which have transpired over the last couple of months. The elections, Obama, Prop 8, the loss of Prop 8 and the aftermath that followed... and it struck upon me that having lost the right to marry may have actually been, dare I say, a good thing?
Think about it: What happened when California was granted the right for same-sex couples to marry? We celebrated for a day or a few days, but then the celebration died and we shrugged on with our every day. The same thing happened with Connecticut, even in the heart of Prop 8 Protests - we said "yay!" for the day and shrugged on.
Much of the dust has settled from the after prop 8 blame game yet I still feel that we as a community haven't celebrated the fact that we only lost to "Yes on 8" by a 4% margin. The anger that followed is totally appropriate but it should be noted that, in the loss of this small 4%, we've gained a tremendous movement! We've gained protests and anger and rallies and marches and community meetings with people working together, collaborating and fighting! A whole army of gays, both young and old, male and female, restored, alerted, recharged and woken up - all chomping at the bit to become involved.
In the end, this 4% loss may have been our biggest win yet.
Friday, December 12, 2008
The Ali Forney Center, a non profit organization offering housing, food, shelter and work training programs to homeless or kicked out GLBT youth, had their 5th annual holiday fundraiser last night in the Meat Packing district.
The scene was festive and the mood merry but all attendees were there to pay homage and make contributions to The Ali Forney Center which definitely needs more support and funding from people like YOU in the community.
Currently the Ali Forney Center sleeps 48 GLBT youth a night and their drop-in center receives up to 300 youngersters a month. Unfortunately, there is just not enough room for everyone and this is why the center needs more support.
Carl Siciliano, the jaw droppingly handsome Executive Director of The Ali Forney center hopes that with new funding they will be able to open up a center with 12 new beds in Astoria, Queens within 2009.
Siciliano stressed that with economy the way it is, city funding is slow and lacking regarding the center and they truly need the support from men and women in the community to pull through for them. He offered suggestions such as making contributions to the center in friends' names opposed to buying gifts, and using the idea of the holidays or holiday money as a reason to donate to the center.
In his speech, Siciliano made the point that we as a community say "Come out, come out, come out," and often times these youths do just that and unfortunately soon find themselves on the streets. We need the community to understand this and lend a helping hand to these youths and The Ali Forney Center.
To find out how you can help and to donate money click here.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I couldn't help but notice the new massive HIV Stops with Us campaign in the West 3rd subway station.
HIV STOPS WITH US is a multifaceted national social marketing campaign that aims to prevent the spread of HIV while also reducing the stigma associated with the disease. The campaign features real HIV positive people from across the country and a wide spectrum of HIV negative persons in their lives - family members, friends, care providers and partners talking about real issues.I'm not sure if this campaign is any more or less effective than last year's, or if it's effective at all, but I find something encouraging about the signs being so inescapably huge. Discuss?
HIV STOPS WITH US builds on the highly successful HIV STOPS WITH ME campaign, which was nominated for Best Advertising Campaign by GLAAD (Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).
But hey! Before doing anything: take a step back and take a deep breath.
Focus on the images, the message.
Take your time on the last photo in the column. Let it resonate.
What does it say to you?
Please share your thoughts.
I'm learning to be more aggressive with technology but it's a slow process. I'm pretty much like an 80 year old to an iphone. Slowly but surely I'll come along.
I changed my font today - let me know if you have trouble reading it. Also, I need to reach out and find a IT/Graphic Designer/Blog Professional because there are certain things I just don't know how to do.
Comment me up with thoughts n' suggestions. Kthanxbye!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
But I think I'm finally getting close.
Lately I've been totally consumed with the idea of access and global access. The Internet and the speed to which it builds upon itself allows people to communicate and access information with ease at an almost instantaneous speed. The Prop 8 Protests are a perfect example of this: An idea gets created, the bloggers link it out and social networking event pages are created. Suddenly, in a matter of a few hours, the entire nation knows about it and by lunch you're already thinking what snappy-sarcastic slogan you're going to have on your sign at the next rally. I think this is more so the idea of Activism 4.0 rather than the concept that the Marriage Equality fight is the 4th major bullet-point in the canvas of Gay History.
Granted, I still use AOL Mail (I know, ok? Don't hold it against me!) but I think by blogging or reading blogs I've been able to upgrade to Activism 4.0. I think we all are upgrading just by simply being a part or a participant in the construction of the ongoign Internet. Information, education and the sharing of ideas is now on a global scale. It's limitless!
On sale now are these ipod sized digital video cameras which can record up to an hour of footage and have built-in USB/Firewire plugs allowing for immediate upload. This simple tool is a revolution in media relay and global exposure. The cameras sell quite cheaply for around $150 bucks. Now from anywhere in the world (granted you have Internet connection) any citizen with this camera in their pocket can record footage and in a few moments have their video uploaded and accessible by whomever, whenever. It's mind boggling. Think about taking these cameras to local actions or capturing a scenario of injustice - the power now truly lies within the citizen. That's Activism 4.0!
Put it this way: In 1978 Harvey Milk said in his famous speech, "two days after I was elected I got a phone call. The voice was quite young. It was from Altoona, Pennsylvania and the person said 'Thanks."
40 years later, Activism 4.0 and this rapid global access, Milk's "thanks" from Altoona, Pennsylvania can now come from somewhere as far off as Shanghai, China and elsewhere.
Is this hitting the nail on the head or do I have to email Rex Wockner myself?
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
The only thing more gay-cliche than writing a kumbaya, everybody get together now GLBT Blogger Initiative round-up, would be to do so while listening to Ani DiFranco and burning Nag Champa.
What? I can be 32 flavors and then some too - even if I didn't go to Ithaca College or have dreadlocks!
This weekend was a coming together of some truly powerful and wildly colored voices. Each of their blogs, several of which I hadn't known previously, all deserve a thorough poking around and even a little "Hey, you there! Watcha got? Whatcha got?"
There's Buffawhat, who by the end of the weekend I solely referred to as Buffawhaaaaaaat or would say, "Buffawho? Buffawhat!" and sometimes I'd snap. (Ok, most of the time I'd snap.) He's a 22 year old Buffalo living, Night club working, modern design toy collecting homo glitch- head. He's the one, that if the blog convention suddenly turned into an underground treasure hunting predicament, we'd all turn to and say "Slick shoes? Are you crazy?!"
His design is sleek and does that real time blog thing, capturing his life throughout the day. He's also trying to create a Western New York and Toronto Based community blog. Email him if you'd be interested in that. (Bstewart: elbow nudge, elbow nudge.)
Good As You is another New York based blog representing "a new generation of GLBT activism. Now is the time for intelligent, progressive-minded individuals to step up and fight for the common rights of which they might be denied. We're here to rally the troops." Fierce, right?
Good as You is authored by Jeremy Hooper who has written for The Advocate and other national press.
TheNewGay.net (.net!!) is a DC Blog pulsing its way to a city near you. The blog focuses exactly as its title states: The New Gay. This is a blogging community of ideas and events for those seeking to escape from the rainbowed umbrella (ella ella) of mainstream gay culture. They have grown quickly over the past year and are looking to expand the blog to a national level.
We got Zamna Avila, author of the blog: AskTheGayLatino, Cha Cha'ing his gay Latino perspective out of Long Beach, CA and to the North of us we got Michigan blogging Todd Heywood of The Michigan Messenger who recently got up in Mike Huckabee's grill to be all: "What? What? You don't think gay people have suffered?!" Courageous move! Heywood is also focused on HIV/AIDS and sex based communication. (Props!)
Lane Hudson, the 29 year old blogger who posted Mark Foley's "Hey Kid, A/S/L?!" IMs to his website was there absorbing blogger tactics for his blog News for the Left.
Oh! And the recipient of the, "Get the coffin ready because I'm dying!" Award goes to Jimbo of Jimbo.info. Three words: Handsome. Bearded. Rugby. I could include smart and down-right funny but the three words above are going to get him the clicks anyway. He is funny though, having just included Miley Cirus on his 2009 Banned-Items list (for the second year in a row.) Yes, his bearshake brings all the cubs to the yard.
Hugely popular African American blogger, Rod 2.0 was attending as were many members of The Bilerico team including the inspiring, Rev. Irene Monroe, Paige Schilt whose mention of her blog being the combination of queerness, family and feminitity made me melt into a goopy puddle on the floor. Rounding off the Bilerico Team was blog-slinger Alex Blaze, the Tucson-living Serena Freewomyn (werk!,) Bilerico's most popular article: "War on Intellectualism" writer and recently married Waymon Hudson, Bil Browning's partner (and in crime) Jerame Davis, Year long blogger friend and all around brilliant guy, Michael Crawford and several others.
At the Bosses table sat the blogging Mother Ships of Pam's House Blend, Joe.My.God., Wayne Besen, Mike Rogers, Cathy Renna, Andy Wibbels and Teddy Partridge of Fire Dog Lake.
There were many others there. A full cornucopia of blogging, GLBT issues and National Politics. For a complete list of the who's who and what's their whotananny go to The Summit Blogroll. It's still being updated so all names might not be there yet.
Thanks again to all who were there!
...My roommate just got home and told me the apartment smells like hippies.
I'm a contributing writer over at The Bilerico Project and every week the gorgeous Serena Freewomyn does a feature called, "Better Know a Contributor." This week the Russian-Roulette gun of better know a contributor fell upon me and here is what I was asked and what I had to say. It's also on TBP:
This week we're spotlighting one of our more outspoken contributors, Eric Leven. Eric is one of a new generation of gay men using new media to agitate, educate and organize. He is, in the words of Joe Jervis, creator of the massively popular blog Joe.My.God., "one of the brightest stars of young gay activism in NYC." By day Eric works as a story producer for reality and documentary programs. On nights and weekends he blogs, writes and films with the goal of empowering gay men and creating a greater sense of community unity. He is creator of the blog KnuckleCrack.
1. How did you get involved with TBP?
I got involved with TBP when Bil Browning contacted me after a Safe Sex PSA I wrote, produced and directed hit the gay bloggosphere and was considered "controversial." I had already begun writing my blog, KnuckleCrack, which began as a journal during a brief time of unemployment but quickly evolved into my passions toward gay history, gay empowerment, safe sex, HIV/AIDS, equal rights and random anecdotes about being a twenty-something unapologetically gay hairy-man chasing New Yorker. Bil Browning welcomed me aboard. Michael Crawford slapped me a blogger-to-blogger high-five and I've been happy to be here since!
2. What was your coming out experience like?
My coming out experience may or may not have been much like any other upper-middle class suburban teenage Jew from New Jersey's: Tumultuous. Same-sex attraction or being gay was nothing I wanted nor wanted to be a part of. I was 14 and 15 years old realizing I was gay and stressed out to the point of a mouth pock-marked with canker sores, a mind full of unbearable depression and fantasies of suicide. Often times I'd come home from school, slam the door shut and beg my mind or god for a change of mindset through a face streaming with tears. Being gay, or the fate of being gay, was the first thought that left my mind as I drifted off to sleep and the first thought that visited me when I opened my eyes in the morning. The walls of my High School were finite and inescapable and I was already dealing with the Italian kids calling me "faggot" for no other reason than being short. Coming out was not a foreseeable option. It was the same story at home. Even though my parents are proud, creative, supportive free-thinking liberal democrats I was in no way prepared to bare the secret I so desperately clutched inside my thunder storming head. I had no want for them to carry the weight of my troubles. Not at least until I was out of their house and on my own feet.
Of course, though, this all happened during the emerging household use of a dial-up modem and what I think was AOL version 2 or 3.0. My parents both worked and every day after school I had at least an hour or an hour and a half to myself where I'd creep downstairs, flick on the computer and through shaking hands and a dry mouth look at pictures of naked men, masturbate and turn off the computer no sooner than my mind turned on a ravenous sense of guilt. Yet, after awhile, this practice became a routine, and the more I searched, the less guilty I felt. Through the computer screen and the dreadfully slow dial-up Internet I would learn that gay is anything from lithe, smooth and young to older, burly and hairy. I would learn that gay is anything from men who wear dresses to men who wear leather and absolutely everything in between. Somewhere within it all I soon found a sense of identity and what I now know of today as Pride. My confidence rebuilt itself around the idea and the fact that I wasn't alone and there were thousands like me. After the 10 or 15 minute uploads, I would look at pictures of men kissing, holding each other, having sex with one another or just simply cuddling with one another and it boggled my mind that two men, so obvious in their manhood could be so confident in their liking of one another and I thought that I, too, could be just like this. And so the days would follow as would the routine. Teachers, desks, teenagers, gym class, the sound of locker doors slamming, a 3 o'clock bell, a bus ride home and running downstairs to investigate my feelings. Sooner than later the daily torments ended, my mouth stopped being a canker sore mine field and I resigned to myself that I might be gay but that I would wait until I was in college, some place where I could be away from it all and take my time, my own time, to make my own decisions, without the pressure of others, and finally make advancements toward a life which drove a truth through my brain sharper and heavier than any hard metal railroad spike.
By winter break of my Freshman year of college I told my best straight friends as a group that I was gay. Their first reaction, God bless 'em was, "Why did you wait so long? Who did you think we were? We're your friends."
That summer I began telling my family.
And by 27, I've told everyone.
3. You seem to be very passionate about advocating for queer youth. What drives your advocacy?
4. What is your favorite part of living in New York?
Often times New Yorkers kind of forget that they live in New York, yet to live in New York is often the single reason many people move to New York! Everything! Being in the heart of it all! Intellectualism, inspiration around every corner. The endless opportunity for adventure, experiences, the what-happens-when, a feeling of connectivity, a sense of community, double-dutch jump roping concrete summers and hands-stuffed-in-pockets thick jacketed winters with hot coffee and brisk walks to destinations. Lights, towers, elevators, escalators, sidewalks, subways, cabs, parks, bars, clubs, people, people in your way, people in a rush, people without homes, people with millions, cafes, restaurants, delis, bodegas, vegan, vegetarian, veggie-light, burger joints, 5 star steakhouses and pizza at 4:30AM!
Geez, you know, I can type all that and yet even still, just 2 years after being a permanent New York resident I find comfort in "laying low" and not going out sometimes during the weekend. ;)
5. What are your favorite holiday traditions?
Ha! Reminding people that not everyone celebrates Christmas and having holiday break off from work and traveling. Definitely, dancing until the sun comes up on New Years Day.
6. During this holiday season, what are you most thankful for?
I always say the same three things: Hot water, shoes, and a wildly supportive family of parents, siblings and friends.
Monday, December 8, 2008
When big wig Washington DC politico and famous gay republican outer Mike Rogers called me to tell me I had been accepted to the GLBT Blogger Summit in DC I was honored and excited. Even though I applied to the program, checked off boxes, listed my blog, the reasons I choose to blog and described myself in 500 words or less I still didn’t truly understand what I would experience if I got accepted.
As the weekend approached I had learned through email and google searches that The Bilerico Project’s, Bil Browning and Michael Crawford, two men who over the past year I have shared countless emails and correspondence with, were attending and I would finally have the opportunity to meet them face-to-face and shake the very hands they use to post posts and speak their GLBT minds. I also knew that my NYC home boys Father “Farmboyz” Tony and Joe.My.God would be joining me as well. I couldn’t wait. Who else was I going to meet? What would I learn? What an opportunity this was going to be.
In short the GLBT Blogger summit was 50 some odd bloggers from across the nation brought together for a writing, activist and blogging intensive workshop with the intention for us to network with each other and learn how to become better, more self-promoted citizen journalists. There were workshops on everything ranging from “Taking our Place in the Larger Blogosphere” where we learned how to use self promotion and interject ourselves into larger channels of exposure and media, to “Fighting back: Using the web as a power tool in the fight for equality” which I of course salivated over, to a session entitled “So, you want to be a Journalist” and even, “Reviewing Our History, Assessing Our Present and Planning our Future,” an inspiring presentation of gay history over the last 40 years and a projection into where we as GLBT people are headed, all this while, 50 of the most diverse GLBT’ers co-mingled with one another and shared ideas, thoughts and business cards.
Throughout the weekend and during and many of the workshops, mainly those dealing with activism and history I choked back the urge to cry. For me there was something in those rooms, something in those workshops, a static I cannot put my finger on – I don’t know, maybe it was the sense of community or the downright simple feeling of being empowered by teachers, writers, techies and activists but something in that room made me feel as though we were all on our digital surfborads, in this new world of ours, riding the crest of the wave of this new movement. There was something there that made all the writing, ranting, celebrating, urging, screaming, caring, frustration, and excitement seem worth it – like there’s a reason for all of it, a reason to keep writing, a reason to keep shouting and a reason to keep fighting. As someone said in one of the workshops, “All of us in here are a special breed of people, who do what we do because we wake up every morning feeling as though there is something not quite right in this world and we have the ability to change it.”
Thank you Mike Rogers for the invaluable weekend. Thank you Bil Browning and Michael Crawford for cultivating a family and allowing us to write whatever we want from wherever we are and thank you to all who were part of this summit, for being that special breed of people and lastly thank you everyone in the GLBT community for you give me so many reasons, every day to be proud of who I am and the family to which I belong. You don’t have to be part of the GLBT Summit, all of us change this world every day for just being who we are. Never quiet your voice because all of us, in every single way, matter.
Now as I ride my bus from DC back to New York I’m shedding the tears I held back all weekend as I reflect upon the summit, the people I met and as I look onward toward the future.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I've really got to hand it to this week's HX magazine for pumping out such a cute and creative who's who in current New York nightlife. The photos of the nightlifers really capture the essence of who these people are and it's nice to feel a sense of community in the out and about nightlife world.
My favorite picture has to be DJ Josh Sparber's and it's not just because he's a friend of mine and the fact that we went to summer camp together as kids (or that I saw him naked, at 9 years old, in the shower house) but more so because he's just so adorable, so nice, so smart and simply an all around wonderful guy, who without a doubt, knows how to spin a fantastic party. He would never consider himself an "otter" but he definitely has a good sense of humor about it. He's the one in the baseball cap and Nike tank.
The spread is well done. Fun and poppy. I've never invested much in the local gay rags other than what's going on but if they keep up a style like this I can see myself enjoying more issues.
Other friends and loved ones in the spread are Snaxx's Rich King and DJ Gustavo, Paul "Hey 5 dollas!" Short of The Spit parties, Tai Chi Alfonso and Duane Roggendorff of Mr. Black's Addict Parties, and the incredible edible, Mr. HX, Doug Repetti.
The full spread is on the HX Website
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
The whole league was astonished that this rag-tag team who nobody took seriously was able to beat The Logo - DownLogos, The Stonewall Riots, The United Shipping's Massive Delivery and one of the most powerful teams, The Henrietta Hussies and took home the BigAppleDodgeball Season 3 trophy. It was a true almost-Christmas miracle! The sounds and cheers and screams rattled the walls of the Tony Dapilito Rec center.
The Splash Bar- Splasholes won the season however as they have the best ranking and games won over any other team. However, it all comes down to the play-offs and the winning team of that night which they, sadly, were not. They played one hell of a season though.
My team, David Barton's Bad News was just that - bad news. We lost our first two rounds in our playoff game disqualifying us from continuing on. That's alright. I love my team and wouldn't trade them in for anything! It was an awesome season and I'm ready for Spring as Big Apple Dodgeball revs up for season 4!
The Center is holding two meetings tonight regarding equal rights/marriage equality.
Tonight- Wednesday December 3rd:
Marriage Equality NY: 6PM- 8PM Room 410
Join the Impact Meeting: 7:30PM-9PM Room 212.
Unfortunately I won't be able to attend either as I've been long locked into helping host and MC the end of season Dodgeball party at Splash. But hey, at least I can't criticize the lack of attendance. ;)
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
The NYC World AIDS Day Event entitled "Out of the Darkness" included a meet- up at GMHC and a candle light vigil march down to a church in Greenwich Village where speakers, activists and performers were all part of the program.
To say the turn-out of the event was a disappointment would be an understatement. It was downright frustrating, angering and embarrassing. Granted a lot of this comes from the personal investment I put forth into getting the word out on the event and also a gaining of hope that it might yield big numbers. It was, to say the least, less than I expected. Please note that I thought the speakers, activists and others part of the program were stellar, heart-felt and their stories powerful and complete with a sense of raw-felt reality. It was the turn-out that angered me - the program itself was great.
Ok- So I created the Facebook page for the event a little later than I should have. I'll take the fault for that. After receiving a call from a friend involved on Saturday I asked, "Is there a facebook page for this?" They responded that there wasn't and immediately I took to my keyboard to create one. By Monday late-afternoon there were 26 "confirmed guests" who had clicked "attending" on the event page.
It would have been one thing had 5, 10, 15 people showed up. 5 would have been fine. Instead there were zero. I did not notice nor recognize any of those who clicked "attend" at this event, but that's ok, in the end it's a facebook page and sometimes people just click on buttons without any intention or knowledge of what they're doing. I'll let that one slide.
What I can't seem to let slide is the fact that out of the, oh- let's be generous, 70 people who were part of the candlelight vigil I may have been, at the age of 27, one of the youngest, if not the youngest person there. Making the punch to the gut even harder was the fact that out of those 70 people at least a quarter to half worked or were a part of GMHC. I kept looking around and dropping to the back of the march hoping that I'd see someone who was visibly younger than I am to be there. There may have been, but there was nobody there whose face wore the signs of good, energetic youth.
When I arrived at the Church the program had already started and several speakers were at a podium reciting names of victims we lost to AIDS. Names we know, household names, iconic figures of art and history: Keith Haring, Arthur Ashe, Perry Ellis, Willy Smith, Ryan White... But the only people whose ears these names fell upon are the same people who have been attending World AIDS Day events for the past 20 years. The same people, year after year, showing support and remembrance for those who passed. Sure, there may have been people there who were first time attendees but the vast majority were certainly people directly affected by the AIDS crisis.
My only sigh of relief came when I noticed two young little raver-esque boys. Maybe 19, maybe 20, could be 22 show up in their Christopher St. fashioned rainbow gear. One boy, in particular, had baggy pants with a giant rainbow-colored upside down triangle sown into his pant leg. I was happy they were there. Two new faces in a sea of prehistoric fighters.
The Reading of Names was followed by a group of flaggers who proudly got on stage and unraveled their multi-colored, bright flags and began dancing to the song "Together in Electric Dreams" written by Philip Oakley/Human League. "We'll always be together/how ever far it seems...Because the friendship that you gave has taught me to be brave/No matter where I go I'll never find a better prize." It was my first time hearing the song but it sounded much like the early morning music I've heard countless times on the dancefloor. The light, fluffy, feel good music that both celebrates life and tragedy to the same degree. The type of music where you look around the dancefloor and find that all the riff-raff has gone home except for those few who dance because it makes them feel good, who dance because this is what the party is all about, celebration, nostalgia, and the realization that life is so damn short that it's important to savior these few moments where we're reminded of being alive. The type of music that breaks your soul and pumps tears from your heart to your eyes. One of the dancer's flags had iconic Keith Haring illustrations on them.
As a Jew I am constantly reminded of my people's Holocaust of the 1930's and 40's. The words "Never Again!" are tattooed to my brain like the numbers to my ancestor's wrists. The Holocaust ended 63 years ago yet several times a year, every year, "Never Again!" is uttered countless times throughout countless services. But here we are, on just the 20th Anniversary of World AIDS Day and the outcry of our community's Holocaust is little and muffled and being spoken, still, by the very same voices who were affected at the start of day one. Their voices are hoarse and their throats wear proud wrinkles and they are tired and growing old yet nobody has come forward to relieve them of their heart-felt duties.
My hand and heart salutes those who made this event possible. Who come out year after year- decades, despite the dwindling audiences, to pay homage to lost friends and a tragedy that still affects 30million people world wide. As the organizer of the event, Brent Nicholson Earle, an expert runner who, to get the word out on AIDS, decided to literally run the entire perimeter of the continental United States said, "I ran three quarter's of this nation's perimeter before Ronald Reagen uttered the word AIDS on national television." 20 plus years later, who is doing the running and why haven't we been running alongside him?
There were 100 people in that audience. 75% I'm sure are year after year attendees. Where are we in all of this, in New York City, one of the ground-zero hearts of this epidemic? Where is the outcry "Never Again!"? And where is my generation in all of this?
Oh right, we're at our local gay bars, free of police brutality, throwing back beers and whiskeys while we are stripped of our rights and bareback porn plays on the plasma screens behind us.
The other day I was digging through files for the hell of it and interestingly enough came across a folder entitled "College Writing Fall Semester 2002."
I discovered all my short stories and poetry which was either written as assignment or on my own. The one below is dated September 23, 2002 and I must have written it while I was in the "window period" awaiting the accurate test result from my experience in the story posted below. I completely forgot about having written this poem but I'm happy to share it now.
It's a villanelle poem, meaning: The villanelle is poem that is made up of 19 lines. These lines consist of five tercets as also a final quatrain on two rhymes. In the first tercet the first as well as the third lines repeat alternatively as a refrain. This closes the succeeding stanzas and is joined as the final couplet of the quatrain.
My heart in the back of my throat
Inevitable flooding forthcoming from my eyes
In Arizona's oppressive heat, I, desperate for a coat
This needle sticks like truth from my vein, the blood afloat
This is how it is, when regret cries:
My heart in the back of my throat
Waiting for the results, dread, becomes the sea underneath the boat
Ten thousand pounds on my brain, a strength nothing denies
In Arizona's oppressive heat, I desperate for a coat
I'll say when twenty-one I used to gloat
Before the crowbar, separating health and infect, pries
My heart in the back of my throat
My life, feelings, become a castle, isolated by mote
preparing for the reaction of limitless sighs.
In Arizona's oppressive heat, I, desperate for a coat
Change it, forget it, push it back, but it sticks there like a note
The difference between positive and negative it all lies
My heart in the back of my throat
In Arizona's oppressive heat, I, desperate for a coat
Monday, December 1, 2008
I posted this short story of mine entitled "I Will Go with You" sometime this past spring on a day which work was crazy and I just needed something quick.
Today, World AIDS Day, I will re-post the story. No matter how many years pass, this event and the feelings which caused me to write this story, will always be relevant.
It was 30 seconds. Ok, maybe 45 seconds but 45 seconds at the most! That's how long Rob's cock was in my ass without a condom. I really hadn't thought much about it until 3 weeks later when Rob called me and told me he tested positive. Now I was biting my nails, tapping my foot and desperately searching my doctor's face for an answer.
“We were caked in lube and we were making out intensely and he just slipped in. That was it and we stayed like for those few moments before acknowledging we should grab a condom. In fact, after that we never ended up having sex! I'm such an idiot! How could I be so stupid?!”
My doctor put his hand on my knee. “Slow down, Eric, relax! You're going to make yourself sick! You say you were covered in lube?
I nodded yes in a groan and a whimper.
“And from what you say, he had very little precum, if any, and there was no ejaculate whatsoever in your ass?”
“Yeah,” I said swallowing, out of breath. I wiped the tears from my face with the palm of my hand.
“Eric, now listen to me,” my doctor commanded, looking me in the eye, “it's unprofessional for me to say this, but from what you're telling me, if you're telling me honestly, I don't think you have much to worry about. You were covered in lube, that can often be a barrier. You can't get HIV without precum or ejaculate and from what you say there was none. But unfortunately, you're going to have to wait a few more weeks before we can get an accurate test result. Now don't beat yourself up. You practice safe sex, we've talked about this before, you do everything right. Just try and relax.”
Yeah, easier said then done, Doc. I rolled my eyes and exited his office. I walked across campus banging those utterly intractable 45 seconds around my head. I replayed those moments over and over hoping for a different outcome or shred of evidence which might prove he actually never entered me. But I knew the truth. He had done so and there was nothing I could do about it. After all I learned, all I experienced, the friends around me. It was all worth shit. Like Icarus I had flown to close to the sun, I never was the person I thought I was and my head, was never above the water. The outgoingness, the handshakes, the warm meet and greets, circuit parties, all the new friends I made, trusted and believed in, hanging with the big boys, feeling as though I was on top of the world- all lead me to this! “Positive at 21,” I told myself, “what the hell have I gotten myself into?”
Phoenix Arizona, 2001
19 years old.
This is my first ever big gay gathering. It's a house party and men and drinks are everywhere. The pool outside is huge. Everyone is walking around in speedos or boardshorts and there's not a body in here that's at least ten years within my age. The majority of the men are gorgeous well built short haired hulks. “Just be yourself,” I tell myself. “Smile politely and shake people's hands. You got this.” My host greets me, “Thanks for coming up from Tucson to come hang with us, go mingle!” he says patting my ass and running off. He's on drugs. I know immediately.
I stand there, shifting my weight from one leg to another, biting my bottom lip and wishing I could shrink up into myself. Someone comes up behind me. “Hi,” he says. I turn around and am taken aback. My mouth left open. Standing before me is a man, brutally East Coast Italian, short cropped black hair, tan skin, muscles pushing their way through his skin, and sunglasses perfectly complementing his full black-and-silver goatee. “I'm Mark,” he extends his hand. “Eric,” I respond, “nice to meet you.”
He tells me the host of the party sent him over since I might not know anyone. We trade background stories, I knew he must have been from Tri-state area so I confess I'm from New Jersey. He tells me he's from Staten Island, the land of firemen and cops, and I melt further into my immediate crush on him. I tell him I'm in school at University of Arizona, studying film and smoking a lot of pot. “Nice, we'll have to do that later,” he says smirking. We talk further well into the bottom of my second drink when I cannot take it any more. I desperately want to pat his muscled, hairy tummy and I concoct a way to do so. I run my hand down his torso and onto his stomach.
“Geez man, what's your secret to such great abs?”
“HIV,” he responds.
I jerk my hand away in shock and surprise. It isn't that I am afraid to touch him, I know better than that but I don't know how to react. “Oh-I-uh,” I stammer.
“Don't sweat it, kid. It's ok. It's the meds I'm on. I have to take steroids to supplement my body's loss of muscle. That's my secret to great abs.”
I don't know what to say and I don't want to offend him. The guy is obviously healthy. It doesn't seem as though he is outwardly suffering from anything so I just nod and take a sip out of my cup which we both know is empty.
“Didn't mean to scare you, kid. Come on, let's grab another drink.”
Mark walks me around the party introducing me to people. There was about a 100 guys at the party and Mark makes me feel at ease by placing his hand on the small of my back, stroking my hair and referring to me as handsome. I began to feel better and drunker. Mark and I spend more time talking and getting to know one another as we smoke a joint outside on the patio chairs. He introduces me to Tim, his partner who is equally handsome, massive and hairy. Tim is hanging out with a bunch of his friends in the pool. I get up the nerve to ask Mark about how he became HIV positive. If I offend him I'll just apologize and blame it on my young naivety but he isn't. He simply shrugs and tells me. He used to be married, wife, kids the whole deal and would take occasional “business trips” to Miami and rendezvous with men. There was a hustler he'd meet. Mark said he asked the hustler's status and after he said it was negative they began having unsafe sex. That's when Mark tested positive, divorced his wife and met Tim. They've been together since.
“Sometimes, I think it was a good thing, Eric. Not that I should wish you ever become positive but it helped me take control of my life admit to what I liked and I met Tim. As funny as it sounds, I've never been happier.”
I believe him. There's no reason he should lie to me and I grasp intuitively that he looks at his status as a way of being more free from the life he used to lead.
I thank him for telling me. That I am just starting to enter the gay community and clank his glass saying, “Hey, if you're happy. I'm happy.” Tim jumps out of the pool and asks us what's up. “Oh, nothing” Mark told Tim, “I was just telling Eric how I became HIV+.”
“That story again,” Tim said smiling. “Come on Eric, I've got someone I want you to meet.”
Mark and Tim take me over to where a DJ is spinning records. They introduce me. His name is DJ Buck. He's a bigger guy, fat and has deep lines in his dimples, near his cheeks, like heavily scarred wrinkles. He asks me if I like dance music and I tell him I go to a lot of raves.
“Oh so like glow-sticks, pacifiers and visors,” he asks.
“Something like that,” I say smiling.
“Well I don't know anything about that but look what I got here, signed by Donna Summer herself!”
He puts a record in my hands and I study it. Above Donna Summer's signature is a song title big bold and black it is called, “I will go with you (Con te partiro.)”
“Cool,” I shrug, handing it back.
“Cool?!” he questions, “you young guys know nothing! How old are you anyway, twenty-two?”
“Nineteen,” I say smirking. “But twenty-two is fine by me.”
Almost in chorus Mark, Tim and Buck groan in a he's so young tone. Buck flips on the record and people come to the dance floor as if this song is a particular siren calling them. I watch Mark and Tim dance with each other, holding one another, kissing and staring into each other's eyes. Other men gather around me. I begin dancing myself. I start noticing similarities of the men around me. Many of them have the same features as Mark, six pack abs or muscle stomachs, deep creases in their face like Buck, and prominent veins jut from their legs and behind their masculine features and bright eyes lays a grief and great sadness that I cannot describe. A feeling that I would find many years later still steals its way into my soul. This stands as my first of many experiences being surrounded by HIV.
The song is joyous and emotional to the same degree. All of these men dancing are alive but how many friends aren't? 1? 10? Whole address books? I swallow these new feelings and emotions and just continue dancing. I am happy and it's been a bumpy road for me to get here.
As Donna Summer sings the lyrics, “I will go with you, I'll go where you lead me, forever true, forever and ever we'll stay, in love together.” I look over at Mark and Tim and decide to do just that.
In the following months in New York and throughout the rest of the year Mark and Tim would be my daddies. We joke they adopted me that day on the dance floor. They take me everywhere, teach me about life, about being gay, about staying negative, about what to expect and what I'd be exposed to. They never make me feel uncomfortable or awkward or pressured and they protect me from the men who they refer to as having, “bad vibes.” We never have sex and they never ask for it and it is their hands I hold above my head in triumph as a giant rainbow flag of lights is unveiled at my first New York Pride Pier Dance. They are the first to tell me everything. Just like a year later they are the first to tell me, Buck is dead.
I walked through campus sobbing. I was programmed not to have unprotected sex. Not to do this. But I did. And it happened. And yes, Rob had slid in, pushing his way past everything I had absorbed from Mark and Tim, and up into my body. “I'm sorry guys,” I whisper out into the dry Arizona air, “I'm not the wonder boy you think I am.”
Five weeks later, just as my doctor said, I tested negative. And now, five years later I continue to test negative. I've lost both Mark and Tim to crystal meth and haven't seen nor heard from any of the men I met at the Pheonix house party. But despite their own failures, the advice to which they themselves did not live up to, their spirits still speak to me, like ghosts, from an everlasting shaman's fire. That great sadness I saw, lying behind their eyes on that dance floor is something I still see and something I still feel.
I often find myself grieving the deaths of men I never knew and of friends I never had, because this virus, this disease, this struggle of my brothers haunts me beyond repair because negative test after negative test I can't help but feel that those 30 to 45 seconds are still ticking by.
“If I had a dollar for health care I’d rather spend it on a baby or innocent person with some defect or illness not of their own responsibility; not some person with AIDS” says the health-care official on national television and this is in the middle of an hour-long video of people dying on camera because they can’t afford the limited drugs available that might extend their lives and I can’t even remember what this official looked like because I reached in through the tv screen and ripped his face in half and I was diagnosed with AIDS recently and this was after the last few years of losing count of the friends and neighbors who have been dying slow vicious and unnecessary deaths because fags and dykes and junkies are expendable in this country. “If you want to stop AIDS shoot the queers...” says a politician in Texas on the radio and his press secretary later claims that the politician was only joking and didn’t know the microphone was turned on and besides they didn’t think it would hurt his chances for reelection anyways and I wake up every morning in this killing machine called america and I’m carrying this rage like a blood-filled egg and there’s a thin line between the inside and the outside a thin line between thought and action and that line is simply made up of blood and muscle and bone and I’m waking up more and more from daydreams of tipping amazonian blow darts in “infected blood” and spitting them at the exposed necklines of certain politicians or government health-care officials or those thinly disguised walking swastikas that wear religious garments over their murderous intentions or those rabid strangers parading against AIDS clinics in the nightly news suburbs there’s a thin line a very thin line between the inside and the outside and I’ve been looking all my life at the signs surrounding us in the media or on peoples’ lips; the religious types outside st. patrick’s cathedral shouting to the men and women in the gay parade, “You won’t be here next year-you’ll get AIDS and die ha ha...” and the areas of the u.s.a. where it is possible to murder a man and when brought to trial one only has to say that the victim was a queer and that he tried to touch you and the courts will set you free and the difficulties that a bunch of republican senators have in albany with supporting an antiviolence bill that includes “sexual orientation” as a category of crime victims there’s a thin line a very thin line and as each T-cell disappears from my body it’s replaced by ten pounds of pressure ten pounds of rage and I focus that rage into nonviolent resistance but that focus is starting to slip my hands are beginning to move independent of self-restraint and the egg is starting to crack america america america seems to understand and accept murder as a self-defense against those who would murder other people and it’s been murder on a daily basis for nine count then nine long years and we’re expected to pay taxes to support this public and social murder and we’re expected to quietly and politely make house in this windstorm of murder but I say there’s certain politicians that had better increase their security forces and there’s religious leaders and health-care officials that had better get bigger fucking dogs and higher fucking fences and more complex security alarms for their homes and queer-bashers better start doing their work from inside howitzer tanks because the thin line between the inside and the outside is beginning to erode and at the moment I’m a thirty-seven-foot-tall one-thousand-one-hundred-and-seventy-two-pound man inside this six-foot body and all I can feel is the pressure all I can feel is the pressure and the need for release.
David Wojnarowicz DO NOT DOUBT THE DANGEROUSNESS OF THE 12-INCHPOLITICIAN, Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration, pp. 160-162, excerpt from. (The full essay was derived from talks delivered at Illinois State University at Normal, Illinois, and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1990.)
Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration, David Wojnarowicz, copyright 1991 Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc, New York, ISBN 0-679-73227-6.
All rights reserved.