My Interminable Tell-All Part Five

\"fellowshipofminds.files.wordpress.comAJ: So I read last night’s post. Very moving. It’s hard to lose someone like that.

GB: It is. I was shocked really.

He sounded important to you.

He was. Formative, as they say.

And I read all the pieces you sent me, the, uh, links to those other stories…the ones on the other blog.

The secret blog. And what did you think?

They’re very different from the writing in your Prague blog. More polished but just as honest and, well, the one about the young boy in church that you prayed with, I thought that was quite beautiful, as well as the one about your cousin. The one about the blow job in the park? I didn’t know where that was going at first, but it had all the little surprises and laughs I’m used to in your writing. It was more like your Prague writing.

Oh, thanks. That last one was kind of a lost Prague story and, uh, it was…actually the first story in a long time I could say I actually wrote as opposed to just blogged.

What’s the difference?

Editing. Rewriting. Time, basically. It wasn’t extemporaneous.

OK, that shows certainly. With your stories, as I said, there are little surprises. I don’t always know how to take them, whether or not I should laugh or be turned on or be disgusted. [laughs]

[laughs] I’m very happy that you felt all that. Certainly, um, I look on most of what I write as humorous but I wouldn’t say the tone is always funny in a straightforward kind of way.

Do you want to publish it? I mean, somewhere else?

Sure, I’d like to, but I’ve looked around online and don’t see any writing like that and I don’t know how to approach book editors. I’m not patient with that process. I think it’s good and it’s not that I can’t handle rejection, it’s just I’m really not interested in their rejections, which I know would come.

…OK, I think I understand that.

I let an editor friend of mine here in Buenos Aires read it — he’s straight, by the way and he said, \”It’s brilliant! Why aren’t you world-famous by now?\” And I respect his opinion and talent…so…um, at least I hope he wasn’t being sarcastic.

[laughs] Who would do that though?

Um, gay men? Obviously.

[laughs]

I mean, I’d love to read good writing about sex or with sex by gay men but I just haven’t seen any, free and online anyway. I can’t afford to buy books. I’ve certainly read great writing from the past, particularly the High Risk series from the 80s and 90s and some of the anthologies. I love Jack the Modernist and there’s this wonderful short story in, uh, a collection of short stories. It’s set in India. It’s really beautiful but I always forget the author’s name, though… [EDIT: The book is The Medicine Burns by Adam Klein.] And Sam Delany is the master. I’d be happy to be disavowed of the impression that there isn’t anything new that’s good, however.

And what about the stories from your past, about your cousin and the young Mexican boy at church?

I’ve just started writing those pieces as uh, part of a longer autobiographical project I’m calling uh, Confessions of an Ephebophile. [laughs] Again, another book that will probably sell better in Germany. [laughs]

Or France.

Or France, yes. I don’t think there’s been a lot of serious writing on the subject, particularly not in first-person, really, um, ever, and a lot of that has to do with the insane hysteria about it again, in particular, in America…what?

Nothing. Go on, I’m sure I’m going to mostly agree with you, and after you finish I’ll just tell you my own experiences on the other side of that.

Really? OK. Well, cool. I, uh, what I was saying is that…it’s easier for a war criminal like Dick Cheney, someone who authorized torture, to walk around doing talk shows and playing the hero than for someone to admit he finds adolescent boys beautiful. I mean our culture, and here I mean American culture, has these unhinged reactions to simple attraction and conflates pedophilia with ephebophilia. But it’s nuts to, 1) not know what a child is, 2) not admit that adolescents have agency and autonomy — they can say yes and no and they can pursue older partners and 3) not admit that adolescents can be sexy. We can actually admit the latter every once in a while, for instance when Taylor Lautner turned himself from a skinny twink into a muscle hunk in between the Twilight movies and MILFs were lining up screaming at premieres for him. There were actually some stupid moralistic pundits saying things like, If he weren’t a movie star, these women would be labeled pedophiles. Ugh. Well, no, because a 16-year-old is not a child. If the English language still has clear meanings and if people can recognize biological maturation. If you can make children, you’re not a child. I don’t know what could be more clear. But more importantly, one would have to believe that at some level, sex is fundamentally damaging, something you do to another person, and if you’re too young, you’re inevitably damaged, and I have trouble buying that, as you can imagine. I mean, it’s not an extreme sport or something.

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Why do you think the culture gets so, as you say, hysterical about adolescents having sex with adults.

Well, it’s really about pathologizing adults having sex with adolescents. The adolescent is always the victim, regardless of consent. That’s why they have to create fake words like statutory rape, which is semantic nonsense.

The adults are sick.

Exactly. If I’m sick for thinking Lautner is hot, well, don’t call the doctor. But, well, like many neuroses about sex in society a lot of it has to do with fucking Christianity, just like the pathologizing of homosexuality, or rather making homosexuality invisible, since there were gay clergy throughout the church’s history…this is all, this is basically about the godsdamn church.

You don’t have much patience with gay Christians, if I remember right.

No, but the ones I really have no patience with are fucking gay Catholics. I mean, how self-hating are you, and how willing are you to put up with such monumental hypocrisy and the cover-up of real abuse of real children… the insane and murderous resistance to contraception and on and on. To be a gay Catholic you’d simply have to pretend all those things aren’t there, all so you could have those ridiculous rituals and the pomp and circumstance. I don’t get it. I can’t imagine… I basically have a visceral contempt for that. If I left my church for ethical reasons, you know, because of basic moral issues I had with Christianity itself, then you can leave yours for something that is, to me, far more serious.

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You’re very passionate about this.

Probably too much. But, I…there was a panel of Catholics…I watched a YouTube video of this panel of Catholics versus a panel of atheists, like Hitchens and Stephen Fry. And the Catholics — there was an African bishop, I think — and they were so pathetic. The topic of the debate was, is the Christian church a force for good? And they really couldn’t come up with anything. The atheists slaughtered them.

And you don’t believe that the Christian church is a force for good.

The Catholic church, like all organized religion, is primarily a system of control, and like all large-scale systems of control, like Stalinism or Communism, it can provide its members with a sense of purpose and belonging and so be seen as benevolent, beyond whatever else, whatever other awful things it’s doing. It may even provide a moral framework for humans to abide by, and I guess that’s a good thing. But there wasn’t a lot of crime under Communism, either, or now in North Korea, or in Singapore, I guess, although we’ll never know for sure. Totalitarian regimes are pretty good at keeping people, the populace, from doing bad things, or for punishing them when they do, so if that’s going to be your ruler for judging whether a system is [airquotes] good or not, then you might as well throw liberty out the window from the get-go.

But as far as, on balance, has the Church done more good than bad, I’m going to say, even just in terms of the psychic damage done to gay people and women — we don’t even have to bring in the Inquisition or collaborating with the Nazis [laughs] — no, I don’t think the Church, any church, is a force for good. So yeah, fuck Papa Francis. I don’t care that he’s Argentine or that he seems like a nice guy or he’s less crazy that some of the other monsters that have worn dresses and funny hats and claim to have a direct line to god — which is ALWAYS ALWAYS a bad thing, by the way. Fuck ’em all. The sooner human beings live without organized, theistic religion, the better. I’m sad I won’t be around to see the total utter destruction of organized religions. As I believe I mentioned, my whole family is religious, very religious, and I really haven’t seen their charitable side. \”By their works you shall know them.\” Well, yeah, so fuck them, too.

That’s right, you went to Bible college.

I did.

I have to say, GB, I have a hard time wrapping my head around that.

[laughs] Most people do. But at least it says I’m not just talking out of my ass about something I know nothing about.

What was Bible school like and where did you go?

It was in Jackson, Mississippi…

Oh my.

Yeah, the heart of the Bible belt and really really full of racists. But it was fun actually, like I imagine all college life can be everywhere. You’re with new people and learning new things and…actually, it was my intellectual awakening really. The teachers who were there were trying to inject a more scholarly attitude into a church curriculum that was quite fundamentalist and anti-intellectual. So a lot of them got fired for it. I’m sure I would have moved away from the Church eventually, but the teachers there helped open my eyes to thinking in general, as opposed to just believing whatever some fat sweaty dude in a suit tells you from the pulpit.

I can’t believe that you were ever just another person in the pew believing whatever the preacher said.

No, I wasn’t but it certainly helps when you know you’re not alone, not the only person with a brain.

Did you know you were gay when you were in church, in Bible college?

Well, it’s funny. I wasn’t stupid. I knew that seeing shirtless muscular guys gave me erections. And yes, OLDER shirtless muscular guys. And no matter what I did, how much I prayed or fasted, those erections would not go away, [laughs] so I just decided, like Paul, that this was my thorn, my thorn in the side.

I’m familiar with the phrase…

And the Eurythmics song!

Right! [laughs]

Well, Paul was very vague about what it meant exactly, but he wrote about something, some flaw in his nature, that he could not overcome, it would never go away but in order to stay righteous, he would have to live with it and suppress it. Even, even, uh, at a young age, that said, gay, to me. And when I got older I saw that it said, gay, to a lot of people, even Biblical scholars.

So you think Paul was gay?

I don’t know. How can we know? But anyway, that’s how I dealt with the erections. [laughs] I never actually figured I’d get married, because I was really really uninterested in women as erotic objects — men and boys were far too powerful — I just thought I’d be single and remain in the church and maybe become a preacher. But I was more interested in teaching.

I see.

But we got away from the boy-love thing…[laughs] I was interested in what you were going to say.

Oh, oh…well, I was just going to tell you that, when I was very young, I think I must have been 11 or 12 or so… I was…an older man approached me in a park, actually, and we had, uh, encounter. He seduced me, is what it is.

Really? Wow. And how did you feel about it?

It was very exciting! First of all, there was confusion, but mostly there was excitement and uh, gratitude, in a strange way. I, of course, was already fantasizing about boys…

Had you ejaculated yet? Because I remember when I first ejaculated and I was very surprised by it. [laughs]

You know, I don’t remember if I had or not.

OK.

I didn’t ejaculate in this encounter, I’m sure of that, but I did have an erection and so did he, but he put it back in his pants because someone came by. I’m sure I would have been surprised if he had.

[laughs] I think kids growing up now, the same age, would be shocked to know that neither of us knew what cum was.

Right. But that was something that my parents never talked to me about.

No porn.

Right, no porn, either.

My parents didn’t tell me shit either. See, that’s just nuts, not knowing what you’re body is and what’s going to happen to it. People think we’re living in such a sophisticated age or whatever just because corporations use sex to sell products, but there were many periods throughout human history in which humans knew far more about their bodies at an earlier age and were more or less cool with it. I mean kids knew what sex was because mom and dad were having it a few feet over. Jesus. I think sexual hysteria is a modern invention as is sex addiction, which I don’t believe is real. It’s just another diagnostic tool used to control and contain.

The church again.

The church again, exactly, but also professional practices like psychology and self-help and the whole best-selling book industry. So you have no bad feelings about this man or about this encounter?

No, none at all. If anything, I was disappointed it didn’t go on longer or happen again!

[laughs] Well, you’re not the only gay man to tell me a story like that.

I’m sure I’m not.

But I have to say, in general, I feel the way Kinsey did when he studied human sexuality and encountered pedophiles.

What did Kinsey say?

His admonishment to them was: Stick to adults. He understood, because he was such a non-judgmental person and also a scientist, that they couldn’t control their attractions or orientation, but they could, hopefully, control their actions. So I think sticking to adults is good advice.

On the other hand, it’s obvious to me that benign sexual encounters between adults and children are going to continue to happen, and I don’t think we should freak out too much about them, since we’re not going to hear about them anyway. If a kid feels the way you did about such an encounter, he’s not going to tell anyone anyway and he’s not going to exhibit negative symptoms so: don’t ask don’t tell.

That’s how I feel about it, too. I would hate to think that nice man would go to jail for providing me with so many masturbatory fantasies!

[laughs] I think the important thing is consent. And certainly consent can be difficult to ascertain in the case of a child, particularly when the adult is in a position of power or authority, like a priest or a teacher. Impossible in the case of the priest who is supposed to be God’s representative on earth. Kids don’t stand a chance to say no to that. I just don’t see how a child can be seen to give consent in those situations.

The Greeks might have disagreed.

They might have, but even ancient cultures that had well-established homosexual practices and institutions, including adult/adolescent sexual contact like with the Greeks and Romans, they had a prohibition against sex with children, as long as you define children as, unable to reproduce and therefore sexually immature, which seems sane to me. I think the ancients would have laughed at our ideas of \”emotional maturity.\”

And what do you say about that?

How else do you become emotionally mature, whatever that really means, unless you have experiences? I mean, christ. This is really about controlling sexuality, and that usually means women and queers, when it comes to the law.

I absolutely agree. That’s always the case.

But adolescents in those times, youth, seem to have had more autonomy, sexual and otherwise, than our adolescents have even today. I mean, the Platonic model of lover and beloved, pursuer and pursued, implies that the youth can say no, that he — and we are talking about boys since women and girls weren’t full citizens — that he in fact probably would say no, and had the right to say no, and there was of course a prohibition against using force and rape, etc. What seems to be completely absent when you start studying ancient representations of adult/adolescent sexuality in art and literature and even law is the sort of sexual hysteria so common in our modern laws and social mores. In many ways, we are much less free and sophisticated and more violent when it comes to sex than our ancient ancestors. I think Christianity basically invented sexual shame because it’s just not there in the ancient world.

This sounds like something you’ve studied or thought a lot about.

It is, it is. It’s probably because it aligns two of my obsessions: sexual freedom and social justice.

Have you had any other experiences with, uh, adolescents… other than the one you already mentioned? I was going to say, underage, but that varies from state to state.

And from country to country, sometimes extremely, which just indicates that no one knows what the fuck they’re talking about. They can’t agree. Not surprisingly Europeans are more sane about this. I think in the Czech Republic the age of consent was 15. But no prostitution until 18, which also seems sane.

OK, well, you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.

No, no, I don’t mind. It doesn’t matter at this point. Even if I were to say I’ve never had sex with someone below the age of consent no one would believe me after everything I’ve already said. My opinions ipso facto make me a pedophile, obviously. [laughs]

But, um, I had one other relationship with a young man below the age of consent and that happened just before I was supposed to leave for Prague the first time, which kind of sucked, because I would have liked to have seen, um, what…he was too immature for any kind of serious relationship, but it was fun while it lasted. He begged me not to go to Prague but, no, I was not going to change my plans no matter how cute he was.

How old was he?

16, just one year below the age of consent in Illinois. He picked me up outside the liquor store…

[laughs]

Yeah, I was walking to buy my typical six-pack of Tecate — I was living in a heavily Latino neighborhood — and I saw him cruising me from across the street and when I came out of the liquor store, he was waiting for me. He said, I’ll never forget it, \”Are you going to drink that beer alone?\” [laughs]

[laughs]

I know right? I was like, I love this kid already. But I didn’t know he was so young. Sometimes it’s hard to tell with young Mexican dudes how old they are. Um, he was short and wearing a tank top with heavily muscled shoulders and upper arms. I found out later that he worked construction and he was just very cute and sexy. So what could I do? I brought him back to my apartment and we made out and uh…we didn’t have sex that first time.

Why not?

I don’t remember exactly. I was a bit taken aback when he told me his age but I think more than anything it was clear he was a virgin because, despite how bold he was out on the street, back at my place he was not so bold. So I know some people like the whole virgin thing, I prefer someone experienced. I don’t like to be a sexual teacher really.

No?

No, not really. Anyway, he was a good kisser though and we drank beer and made out on the couch and he was so fucking excited, I thought he was going to have a heart attack. [laughs]

That’s cute.

It was. Anyway, I did eventually end up popping his cherry. Literally. And we ended up spending a lot of time together. Turned out he had a thing for older white guys with tattoos and shaved heads. So, OH MY GOD, I was objectified!

[laughs]

Yeah, so, that was the only underage dude I did in the States. The only other one.

And in Prague?

Well, as far as I know, I didn’t. But many many of the boys who tricked for money did not have ID, for one reason or another. Got it stolen or whatever, or simply didn’t want to show it. But the truth is, for my own pleasure, I never asked. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t. Looking back, I suspect now that at least two of the boys I had were underage. Maybe. They were street kids, not Pinocchio boys. I had this one young gypsy boy and he probably was underage, but that’s something that only occurred to me later. At the time I was so completely infatuated that it probably wouldn’t have made any difference if he had been. 

This was Mark?

No, no. Mark was 19 when I met him. Um, I’m talking about this kid named Sasha. He was a seriously fucked-up kid really. He huffed glue and was living on the streets. I was homeless at the time, too. This was my second phase of homelessness. [laughs] We met at the station and he was super flirty and one of the sweetest and most good-natured kids I met in Prague. I think he was pretty new to hustling and so it was fun, um, to see him finding out he could respond to men sexually. He told me he found it funny. He was very charming.

Sounds it.

If I’d been able to I would have moved him in with me. Later his dad came looking for him from another town in the Czech Republic and I met him. That was a surreal experience.

See these are the experiences that kept me reading your blog.

[laughs] Sure, sure. 

But hearing all this…you’re intelligent, you’re articulate, you’re passionate, your stories are interesting. I think we would lose something if you decided to take your life.

You know what? I think so, too. But what’s to be done? Um, being intelligent, articulate and passionate is no guarantee that you can make a living and if you can’t make a living, all your other attributes really are worth shit.

I don’t think that’s true.

In Prague, to a certain extent, I was living under a patronage system. Yes, I pimped and made money doing that, and was a sexual tour guide, of sorts, but really how I survived was strangers who read my blog sending me a lot of money and one guy in particular, taking me under his wing in a kind of patronage. It was like Sartre and Genet, in a way. [laughs] Now, in the age of Kickstarter…I mean someone like me could never be crowd-funded, by any sort of crowd, because I kind of reject them all, and I guess people sense that.

The only halfway marketable idea I’ve had recently is to write a book about global street art. A first-person account, with lots of photos, of street art everywhere, not just the art but the artists and how it’s integrated into local communities and artistic practices. I mean, I’ve already been doing that for a while with Juanele and with my new blog, but I don’t have a fucking clue as to how to market it or get funded. I don’t know any publishers. I don’t speak their language. I don’t even have a camera anymore since I sold it to pay for this helium tank sitting in a corner of my room waiting for me to use it to kill myself. So, you know, I’d love to do that. But I’m incapable of hustling or figuring out how to get it done.

That sounds like a great idea, GB. I haven’t read those things you mentioned but I’m sure if they’re as good as your other writing, then I’d be interested in reading them. I’m sure other people would be, too.

I don’t know, man. I never get any feedback about anything I do, not even the stuff that isn’t about sex. [laughs] And I’m just kind of sick of that. I mean, how much more of a push over the edge do I need?

Oh, no…I…

I remember when we, uh, when I, when I was in ACT UP, we were doing a demonstration…I think we were at some meeting of the [airquotes] important faggots in the gay and AIDS organizations community… you know, the ones with money. And we started yelling at them and one of our more prominent ACT UP dudes, a guy named Danny Sotomayor, got up in front and did his thing and some older gay guy near me yelled, Why aren’t you dead yet?

[audible gasp]

I know, right. I came really close to bashing that mother fucker. But anyway, right now, that’s how I feel. Like there’s just a chorus of people around me wondering why I’m not already dead.

[edited for length]

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