change

permanent ink

Posted on Updated on

I do, it is true, believe that almost all of you are probably homophobes. But I’m a homophobe. It would be incredible if we weren’t. To grow up in a society that is overwhelmingly homophobic and to escape unscathed would be miraculous. So I don’t hate you because you are homophobic. I actually admire you. I admire you because most of you are only a bit homophobic. Which all things considered is pretty good going.... panti bliss
I do, it is true, believe that almost all of you are probably homophobes. But I’m a homophobe. It would be incredible if we weren’t. To grow up in a society that is overwhelmingly homophobic and to escape unscathed would be miraculous. So I don’t hate you because you are homophobic. I actually admire you. I admire you because most of you are only a bit homophobic. Which all things considered is pretty good going…. panti bliss

there has been much deserved press for a speech by irish drag persona panti bliss. i must say i have listened to it about 10 times or so and i find it to be plugged into the very soul of the conversation about lgbt rights in the 2nd decade of the 21st century of our human culture.

there is very little blame or projection about the responsibility of the oppression still felt among a good portion of our community. for me it really touches upon some basic construct of the modern gay male psyche at least those over 40. it seems a cycle we grow up feeling shame about who we are or how we are we are, then we are grown and we often go crazy and taunt each other and watch each other trying to shake that very shame. and that feels oppressive.

i have blogged often about shame and shame-based trauma. this is the cornerstone of many men’s foundation. as is lovingly laid out in alan downs’  short book “the velvet rage”. the ongoing process of being different, loved ones realizing we are different and slightly turning away we, in turn, feeling that turning away and internalizing it, knowing that our loved ones are treating us differently, which causes some of us to feel unlove-able which we also turn inwards to hide, and then spend a good deal of the rest of our lives playing out in a myriad of phases and dramas trying to erase that unlove-able, working through the anger of distancing, and coming to terms with being different and letting go of feeling unlove-able.

the advent of gay marriage is perhaps the next biggest gain for the lgbtq community. no we shouldn’t create an ideal to model heterosexual relationships and that is not the only aspect of marriage equality. what matters is that we are love-able, and that the world at large accepts and insists that we are love-able even if we are different. and then perhaps this ongoing dance of being different and slightly being rejected by our family and friends can come to an end. we can be accepted as we are and fight different internal battles just like our non-gay contemporaries.

i absolutely love the chutzpah that panti lassoes in her talk in the theater. i have gratitude and respect for a truth coming so quietly and so candidly.

And for the last three weeks I have been lectured by heterosexual people about what homophobia is and who should be allowed identify it. Straight people – ministers, senators, lawyers, journalists – have lined up to tell me what homophobia is and what I am allowed to feel oppressed by. People who have never experienced homophobia in their lives, people who have never checked themselves at a pedestrian crossing, have told me that unless I am being thrown in prison or herded onto a cattle train, then it is not homophobia. And that feels oppressive..... panti bliss
And for the last three weeks I have been lectured by heterosexual people about what homophobia is and who should be allowed identify it. Straight people – ministers, senators, lawyers, journalists – have lined up to tell me what homophobia is and what I am allowed to feel oppressed by. People who have never experienced homophobia in their lives, people who have never checked themselves at a pedestrian crossing, have told me that unless I am being thrown in prison or herded onto a cattle train, then it is not homophobia.
And that feels oppressive….. panti bliss

here is  panti bliss’ speech that has been set to a rhythm track a la the pet shop boys. i adore this just as much.

wrecking ball

Posted on Updated on

effreide stegemeier circa 1935
“There was once a lady who was arrogant and proud. Determined to attain enlightenment, she asked all the authorities how to go about it. She was told, “Well, if you climb to the top of this very high mountain, you’ll find a cave there. Sitting inside that cave is a wise old woman. She will tell you.” Having endured great hardships, the lady finally found this cave. Sure enough, sitting there was a gentle spiritual-looking old woman in white clothing, who smiled beatifically. Overcome with awe and respect, the lady prostrated at the feet of this woman and said, “I want to attain enlightenment. Show me how.” This wise woman looked at her and asked sweetly, “Are you sure you want to attain enlightenment?” And the woman said, “Of course I’m sure.” Whereupon the smiling woman turned into a demon, stood up brandishing a great big stick, and started chasing her, saying, “Now! Now! Now!” For the rest of her life, that lady could never get away from the demon who was always saying, Now! Now–that’s the key. Mindfulness trains us to be awake and alive, fully curious, about now.” 

painting by kwangho shin
i believe i stand in the beginning of a fairly drastic change in my world. for the last 5 years i have been pushing my plough in a certain direction in order to nurture harvest. amidst this process, i have seen drought and flood, experienced both exhilaration and exhaustion, and even broken a blade once or twice. 
cumulatively though, my general sense has been comprised of success and gratitude. i have made structural changes in this process- in essence moving the fields i chose to cultivate. and i have been blessed with that choice. 
about 2 months ago, infused with inspiration, i suggested that i modify my schedule and increase my workload-accompanied by an increased compensation, so that i may give up my second job and concentrate growing our services into the black. surprisingly, i received a message which took away my wind. i walked away from that conversation feeling some shame and some frustration. i don’t have the education to move forward within my department and would need to spend 4 years cultivating that prior to any advancement for me. to make matters worse the next morning  i found place upon my desk, a book imparting the philosophy of getting things done by having a “yes” attitude. instantly i was drowning in a diminishing pond and dog-paddling seemed both a life sentence and a metaphor.
this is when my life complicated. my judgment has been clouded by the fog of emotions. i felt tricked and patronized. it was almost as if there had been a small earthquake and my foundation has shifted. i am groomed to utilize my insight and my talents, encourage to participate on equal footing, but then challenged to keep in my place until i accomplish more, but work harder and continue to say “yes” until then. i kinda felt like a hooker- and that’s not an unfamiliar feeling- nor is it pleasant (you know- we can have fun with the lights out when nobody else is around, but pretend like we don’t know each other the remainder of the time).  i have been trying to ascertain damage control since that time. sadly i cannot report that i have had a clear and concise pathway. quite the contrary- i have fretted and fussed in a circuitous fashion, listening too often to the inner child’s tantrum-mantras of the past and come to the point of picking up my toys and moving to another sandbox. this has all been set in motion and i am not clear where it will take me, nor which thoughts are mature and which are primal. most mornings and evenings it is the auditory quality of standing in an aviary.
the hypocrisy of the barriers laid out by institutions and their stewards are mind boggling.  health care organizations tout themselves so often as places to heal yet their actual practices include such exclusivity and denial of individuality that they often create as much trauma as they address (if not more). no wonder the bird-sanctuary-like cacophony in my mind has been dizzying. 
the wheels are in motion and i am preparing for a journey of some sort. i feel responsible (as is my way) to those whom i have brought along on my journey. i have touted the wonders of recovery and encouraged others to try to get their feet wet in it. and now i may need to allow them to bask in the beautiful waters of their recovery without me as the direct mentoring presence. but as i type this post, i realize that some of this is the natural order of change- we have to fly on our own at some point. so it is not a requirement for me to feel ownership of something i don’t really own. it is possible to remain a source of support without being on site.
in the interim, i was talking with a friend who is experiencing a not-so-different episode in her life. it was so damn easy for me to spout off a diatribe about trusting one’s own life and process. truthfully, i know that failure is not failure at all-it’s just the feels like it to our ego at the time. we learn so much more from failure than we learn from success. failing has a much more dramatic impact and leaves a more memorable flavor in our mouths. this week finds me asking myself -what are my fears here? what am i trying to control? why the drama? 
i only hope my head will try silence long enough for me to hear the answers to those questions. 

attack ships on fire

Posted on Updated on

image credit…. ddmag.tumblr.com
I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.
 Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
 I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. 
All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. … 
Time to die…..
credited to Rutger Hauer
i have come through the 1st of what is probably going to be a series of very tumultuous weeks and months. although i have had the support of colleagues for the last month, it has really been my experience that support can be very much like applauding a performance. people applaud often because they get caught up in the moment. when the moment ends however, they pull themselves away from adoration and gingerly begin to pick at the particulars of an idea, or song, or play, or idea. 
i want to support an intervention at the workplace. although it has been quite punitive for so long, my intention is to bring choice, personal responsibility, and recovery waft within our walls. 
my career for this century has been woven around change. assisting people in creating change in their lives, in insisting on change in systems as well as creating new services to address unmet needs. i have found myself to be far more  effective and successful than i had ever imagined. this does not surprise me however because i have never really imagined failing. what i had never imagined was confronting the resistance that i have through all of this. not every single change that i have been involved in has brought controversy, however it has been a very sobering (ha!) journey to walk through some of the cheap shots and low blows that have been thrown in my direction. 

Co-Facilitated HIV+ Recovery Support Group as peer volunteer 
in tandem with an LPC at A.R.T.S. 2005-2006
Implemented a peer support group for LGBT seeking recovery from methamphetamine 2006
Co Chair Denver Office of HIV Resources Planning Council 2006-2010.
Strength In Numbers Colorado Moderator 2007-2009
Managed and implemented Cicatelli & Associates training for Peer Mentoring 
and kickstarted HIV One on One Colorado in 2009 
Operations Managing Partner for Travelink Management 1988-1998
Developed peer-to-peer 16 page quarterly newsletter “On The TEN” 
for Colorado HIV Community 2008-present
Helped establish Peer Advocacy 501C3 organization named TEN – Treatment Education Network in 2009
Recognized as Advocate of the Year 2010 by Advocates For Recovery Colorado
Implemented Meth Treatment and Recovery Program for Englewood Agency 2012
Created and maintained recovery oriented blog “The Climb” for AFR Colorado 2011-2012
Served as Recovery Rally Chair for AFR Rally For Recovery 2011 and 2012. 

i have encountered resistance along the way with so many of these endeavors. each individual effort of mine was met with resistance with origin of different sources, different individuals brought each of them forward, different motivations generated each of the attacks, some were subtle, some overt, some were hidden and some were on public display. i have felt battered now and again, however as you may see, the sum of the pieces seems an accomplishment- and i don’t think my work is done.
there is a part of me that would like cry “victim” here, but clearly that ain’t gonna happen. all of this life that i have  lived since recovery began is truly bonus time. i didn’t expect to be here, nor did i really ever do anything to earn extra time on the clock. but i am here and i can’t come up with a good enough reason to take it for granted, nor waste it. that being said, it’s a priority to make the best of it. so i wanted to write about attack ships for a couple of reasons. i know i am going to feel attacked during this next year (and more) of change. and my sense is that i will be attacked. someone will disagree with me, someone will want to do what i am doing, someone will want to steer us in a different direction. it comes with the territory. and it is incumbent upon me to be realistic about this and find the wisdom to enjoy the dance. speaking of dance, i still love the revolting cocks version of “attack ships on fire” after all these years. it reminds me of bobbing my head, feeling connected to some volatile emotion  and even dancing by myself. and i love the quote from “blade runner” that uses the image of attack ships on fire.
dance, of course, is something i have experience with. maybe not lately, but back in the day i did have a reputation for not just cutting a rug, but also adding poetry to movement.. i loved to dance. i still love music. i assimilate with rhythm and i expand with silence. i have to remember this next year somehow that although i am feeling like a fraidy that i a don’t project that- except to a few. isadora duncan dancced her way through her life. she heard a rhythm that others only wished for. and while she lived- she lived. i hope this is one of the lessons left for me to live.

  

the tide is high

Posted on Updated on

image credit… dmitri theocharis

i had a long day at work catching up on paperwork and trying to regain my emotional balance somehow. i just feel wonky. change has moved into our department like the santa ana winds, and i am stirred deeply by the gales.

i volunteered for the foundation at a fundraiser for the adolescent psychiatric program. a young black woman named madeline spoke about her experiences with mental health issues in her own neighborhood. the simplicity of her stories of her neighbors and friends, gutted by mental health issues, just like hooks thrown by invisible fishing lines had me teary. i remembered my own adolescence usurped by imbalance which set a course of living on the edge which lasted decades more than appropriate. mental illness is very real and very closeted. i need to work more to illuminate this.

today i spoke with my friend. he spent his final day at work and was cagey and passive aggressive as he talked around it. he talked about hooking up with home health care with hospice to follow. it was matter of fact and chilled both of us as it was discussed. months pass very quickly while time can move slowly in the same life. i wonder if that will be the case here.

i couldn’t sleep this morning. longtime companion was running on cable, so i watched it again. the film still moves\ me deeply, but the effects are not as acute at all. i have moved past the pain and fear of that time, but find i continue to deal with loss and the inability to change life and death. luckily, i have become adept at learning not to run.

this seems to be rambling. it is very late and i should sleep.