Tag Archives: Gay

Gay History: The Vatican’s Secret Life…

We all know that gay men & women exist in all areas of the religious life, and in all denominations and faiths. It’s one of those blatantly hypocritical “Don’t ask, don’t tell” situations, so easily instigated by churches, institutions and governments to dispel the “myth” that any gay people could possibly work or minister there! My encounters at boarding school, with the St. John of God brothers, with Catholic clergy in general suggests to me that the high statistical prevalence of gays, quoted in this article, is correct. My thoughts are that, due to societal rejection of gay people, especially up to 1990s, many men and women entered the religious life – both clerical and monastic – as a way to avoid persecution. Of course, it doesn’t quite work that way. Having a religious “calling” is not going to stop your natural sexual urges…but nice try! This article by Michael Joseph Gross, and published in “Vanity Fair” on November 15, 2013 shows the difficult balance between sexuality and the religious life, and how it is viewed within the walls of Vatican City, and amongst the Catholic hierarchy.

Despite headlines about a powerful “gay lobby” within the Vatican, and a new Pope promising reform, the Catholic Church’s gay cardinals, monks, and other clergy inhabit a hidden netherworld. In Rome, the author learns how they navigate the dangerous paradox of their lives.

Naked but for the towel around his waist, a man of a certain age sat by himself, bent slightly forward as if praying, in a corner of the sauna at a gym in central Rome. I had not met this man before, but as I entered the sauna, I thought I recognized him from photographs. He looked like a priest with whom I’d corresponded after mutual friends put us in touch, a man I had wanted to consult about gay clerics in the Vatican Curia. My friends told me that this priest was gay, politically savvy, and well connected to the gay Church hierarchy in Rome.

But this couldn’t be that priest. He had told me that he’d be away and couldn’t meet. Yet as I looked at the man more closely, I saw that it was definitely him. When we were alone, I spoke his name, telling him mine. “I thought you were out of the country,” I said. “How lucky for me: you’re here!” Startled, the priest talked fast. Yes, his plans had changed, he said, but he was leaving again the next day and would return only after I was gone.

During the previous few days, I had heard a lot about this man. I had heard that he is a gossip, a social operator whose calendar is a blur of drinks and dinners with cardinals and archbishops, principessas and personal trainers. Supposedly, he loves to dish male colleagues with campy female nicknames. But I would never have the experience firsthand. The priest was embarrassed: to have been chanced upon at this place; to have had his small evasions revealed. The encounter was awkward. No, he did not wish to discuss the subject I was interested in. No, he did not think the subject worthwhile. These things he made clear. We left the sauna and, after further conversation, civil but stilted, went our separate ways.

I could understand his discomfort. But in Rome these days the topic of gay priests in the upper reaches of the Holy See is hard to avoid. In February of this year, not long before the College of Cardinals gathered in the Sistine Chapel for the conclave to choose the 266th Pope, the largest Italian daily newspaper, La Repubblica, reported that a “gay lobby”—a more or less unified cabal of homosexual power brokers—might be operating inside the Vatican. According to the newspaper, the possible existence of this gay lobby was among the many secrets described in a two-volume, 300-page report bound in red and presented to Pope Benedict XVI by three cardinals he had appointed to investigate the affair known as “VatiLeaks.” That scandal, which raised fresh suspicions of endemic corruption within the Curia, had broken the previous year after Paolo Gabriele, the papal butler, made off with some of Benedict’s private papers and leaked them to the press.

The internal VatiLeaks report, according to La Repubblica, indicated that gay clerics in the Vatican were being blackmailed. The report was also said to document the alleged gay lobby’s social structure and customs. Yet details concerning gay priests’ gatherings added up to old news: the tales had been told in articles previously published by La Repubblica itself. Sensationally, the newspaper suggested that Benedict’s concern about the alleged gay lobby was one reason he had suddenly resigned the papacy.

Months later, another leak of confidential information brought the subject of a gay lobby back into the news. Someone took notes during what was meant to be a private meeting between Latin-American Church leaders and the new Pope, the former cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, now known as Francis. In June, those notes were published on a progressive Catholic Web site. Francis was quoted as saying, “The ‘gay lobby’ is mentioned, and it is true, it is there … We need to see what we can do.”

A Closet with No Door

Gay lobby? It depends on what you mean. The term could refer to a shadowy group like the Illuminati, whose members quietly exercise supreme power. This is the sort of idea that lights up the tinfoil hats of conspiracy theorists, and it doesn’t capture the slow, feudal, inefficient workings of the Vatican. “Gay lobby” is really shorthand for something else. At the Vatican, a significant number of gay prelates and other gay clerics are in positions of great authority. They may not act as a collective but are aware of one another’s existence. And they inhabit a secretive netherworld, because homosexuality is officially condemned. Though the number of gay priests in general, and specifically among the Curia in Rome, is unknown, the proportion is much higher than in the general population. Between 20 and 60 percent of all Catholic priests are gay, according to one estimate cited by Donald B. Cozzens in his well-regarded The Changing Face of the Priesthood. For gay clerics at the Vatican, one fundamental condition of their power, and of their priesthood, is silence, at least in public, about who they really are.

Clerics inhabit this silence in a variety of ways. A few keep their sexuality entirely private and adhere to the vow of celibacy. Many others quietly let themselves be known as gay to a limited degree, to some colleagues, or to some laypeople, or both; sometimes they remain celibate and sometimes they do not. A third way, perhaps the least common but certainly the most visible, involves living a double life. Occasionally such clerics are unmasked, usually by stories in the Italian press. In 2010, for the better part of a month, one straight journalist pretended to be the boyfriend of a gay man who acted as a “honeypot” and entrapped actual gay priests in various sexual situations. (The cardinal vicar of Rome was given the task of investigating. The priests’ fates are unknown.)

There are at least a few gay cardinals, including one whose long-term partner is a well-known minister in a Protestant denomination. There is the notorious monsignor nicknamed “Jessica,” who likes to visit a pontifical university and pass out his business card to 25-year-old novices. (Among the monsignor’s pickup lines: “Do you want to see the bed of John XXIII?”) There’s the supposedly straight man who has a secret life as a gay prostitute in Rome and posts photographs online of the innermost corridors of the Vatican. Whether he received this privileged access from some friend or family member, or from a client, is impossible to say; to see a known rent boy in black leather on a private Vatican balcony does raise an eyebrow.

The Vatican holds secrets so tightly that it can make Fort Meade look like a sloppy drunk. Yet dozens of interviews with current and former gay priests, gay monks, veteran Vatican journalists, Italian aristocrats, and gay men at Roman gyms, bars, nightclubs, sex clubs, and restaurants suggest that, riveting as the more graphic stories are, they convey a limited part of the reality of gay clerical life in Rome. To be gay in the Vatican is no guarantee of success, mark of belonging, or shortcut to erotic intrigue. Most basically it is a sentence of isolation. Gays in the Vatican are creatures of a cutthroat bureaucracy whose dogmatic worldview denies or denigrates their own existence. They live in a closet that has no door. Among recent Popes, Benedict made the most concerted effort to sharpen Church doctrine on homosexuality, which he once called “a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.” He tried to cull gays from clerical ranks, most notably in 2005, when men with known “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” were prohibited from being ordained, even if they were celibate.

Denunciation and exposure have made gay priests figures of fascination—though less as people than as symbols—especially to the secular far left and the religious far right. Both sides find these clerics to be politically useful. The left uses them to level charges of hypocrisy. The right sees them as a stain in need of removal. They all got a shock late last July when Francis made his first direct public statement about gay clerics since becoming Pope.

During an impromptu press conference aboard the papal jet, en route from Rio de Janeiro to Rome after his first overseas trip, Francis was asked about the so-called gay lobby. His response, delivered with casual humor and punctuated by shrugs and smiles, was as follows: “So much has been written about the gay lobby. I still haven’t run into anyone in the Vatican who has shown me an identity card with ‘gay’ on it.” He pantomimed holding up such a card in his left hand and then went on: “When you find yourself with a person like that, you have to distinguish between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of somebody forming a lobby. . . . If a person is gay and is searching for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge him?”

He spoke these words with a palpable warmth, unlike the embattled, wary tone that other Popes have adopted. This may well have been the first time in history that a Pope has publicly uttered the term “gay”—the word that most men who feel romantic love for other men use to describe themselves—instead of the pathologizing 19th-century medical term “homosexual.” Then, in a lengthy interview with a Jesuit journal, the Pope went further, stating that the Church’s ministry should not be “obsessed” with a few divisive moral issues such as abortion and gay marriage. “When God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?” the Pope asked rhetorically. “We must always consider the person.”

Every Man for Himself

Tales of gays in the Vatican have been told for more than a thousand years. Pope John XII, who reigned from 955 to 964, was accused of having sex with men and boys and turning the papal palace “into a whorehouse.” While trying to persuade a cobbler’s apprentice to have sex with him, Pope Boniface VIII, who reigned from 1294 to 1303, was said to have assured the boy that two men having sex was “no more a sin than rubbing your hands together.” After Paul II, who reigned from 1464 to 1471, died of a heart attack—while in flagrante delicto with a page, according to one rumor—he was succeeded by Sixtus IV, who kept a nephew as his lover (and made the nephew a cardinal at age 17). Some such stories are better substantiated than others. Even while their reliability is questionable, they demonstrate that playing the gay card (even if you yourself are gay) is an ancient Curial tactic. “There are closeted gay priests who are vipers,” observes the theologian Mark D. Jordan, the author of The Silence of Sodom: Homosexuality in Modern Catholicism. “They are really poisonous people, and they work out their own inner demonology by getting into positions in power and exercising it” against other gay men, women, and anyone whom they perceive to be a threat. “Alongside that are suffering priests who seem sincere all the way down, who are trying to be faithful to God, and also to take care of people and change the institution. They are the ones who are always forgotten, and read out of the story from both sides.”

The Catholic priesthood’s contemporary gay cultural memory begins in the middle of the last century. When Paul VI assumed the throne, in 1963, by one account he took his papal name not from any predecessor but from a former lover, a film actor. That at least was the contention of the provocative gay French writer Roger Peyrefitte, whose 1976 allegations about Paul VI caused such a stir that Paul took to the balcony of St. Peter’s to denounce the “horrible and slanderous” accusations. Paul looked a laughingstock, and the Curia learned a lesson: better to ignore such charges than to amplify them by denial.

Meanwhile, some gay clerics were outgrowing the “particular friendships” that had long been part of monastic life and joining the sexual revolution. By the 1970s, the center of gay life in Rome was a cruising area called Monte Caprino, on the Capitoline Hill. At a small party of gay monks and their friends in Rome last summer, conversation turned to recollections of that place. “It was like its own little city,” one monk remembered, “with hundreds of people—everyone from seminarians to bishops—and then there were, conveniently, bushes off to the side.” The fellow feeling at Monte Caprino was compromised by the air of secrecy around the place. The area was a target for muggers and thieves, who figured rightly that clerics would make ideal victims because they had much to lose by the public act of pressing charges. One gay former seminarian recalled a night when three men beat him up and stole his wallet while numerous men in the crowded park stood by. Left bloodied by the thieves, the seminarian hollered at the bystanders, “There’s three of them and 300 of us!”

He told me this story, with its echoes of the parable of the Good Samaritan—in which a traveler is robbed, beaten, and left by the side of the road, and pious men do nothing to help him—to illustrate the every-man-for-himself dynamic of Rome’s gay clerical culture. Gay clerics often fail to help one another, he says, for the same reason that no one tried to help him the night that he was robbed: solidarity entails the risk of being outed.

“La Maledetta”

Self-centeredness can breed a sense of entitlement. “A certain part of the clergy feels that no one will care what they do if they are discreet,” says Marco Politi, a prominent Italian journalist and longtime Vatican correspondent, and the author of several books about the papacy and the Church. In 2000, Politi published a book-length interview with an anonymous gay priest, entitled La Confessione, republished in 2006 as Io, Prete Gay (I, Gay Priest). “Rumors are O.K., but not scandal,” Politi observes.

There has been plenty of scandal, though. In 2007, Monsignor Tommaso Stenico met a young man in an online chat room and invited him to his Vatican office, where their conversation—in which Stenico denied that gay sex was a sin, touched the man’s leg, and said, “You’re so hot”—was secretly videotaped and then broadcast on Italian television. (Stenico tried to persuade Italian newspapers that he’d just been playing along in order “to study how priests are ensnared” into gay sex as part of “a diabolical plan by groups of Satanists.” He was suspended from his Vatican position.) In 2006 a priest in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State injured police officers and smashed into police cars during a high-speed chase through a district in Rome known for transsexuals and prostitutes. (The priest was acquitted on all charges after claiming that he fled because he feared he was being kidnapped.) In a 2010 investigation of contract fixing for construction projects, Italian police wiretaps happened to catch a papal usher and Gentleman of His Holiness, Angelo Balducci, allegedly hiring male prostitutes, some of whom may have been seminarians, through a Nigerian member of a Vatican choir. (The choir member was dismissed; Balducci was convicted on corruption charges.)

Pope Benedict was rumored to have ordered that prelates who were living double lives be retired or removed from Rome. Marco Politi speculates that perhaps as many as 30 were eased out. The most senior prelate to lose his job was Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. A staunch opponent of gay marriage who had publicly called homosexuality a “moral degradation,” O’Brien was brought down in February by three priests and one ex-priest who accused him of “inappropriate contact” and predatory behavior when he was their bishop. The episodes recounted by the four men involved such consistent patterns over more than 30 years that some of O’Brien’s colleagues surely must have had their suspicions. When I asked one archbishop if he had known that O’Brien was gay, however, the archbishop said he had not. When I asked the archbishop who among the other cardinals were O’Brien’s closest friends, he coldly answered, “I don’t think he had any.” Every man for himself, indeed.

Even Benedict has been dogged by rumors that he is gay. Though no solid evidence has ever emerged, it is treated as common knowledge by many in Rome, who cite stereotypes galore, including his fussy fashion sense (his ruby-red slippers, his “Valentino red” capes); his crusade to nail down why “homosexual actions” are “intrinsically disordered” (many closeted gay men, from Roy Cohn to Cardinal O’Brien, have made the most extraordinary efforts to condemn homosexuality); and his bromance with Archbishop Georg Gänswein, his longtime personal secretary. (Nicknamed Bel Giorgio, or “Gorgeous George,” the rugged Gänswein skis, plays tennis, and pilots airplanes. He inspired Donatella Versace’s winter 2007 “clergyman collection.”) Perhaps the most vicious of Benedict’s nicknames is “La Maledetta.” The word means “cursed” in Italian, but the pun derives from the fact that the term means the exact opposite of Benedict’s own name in Italian, Benedetto, which means “blessed”—with a gender change achieved in the process.

Neither Benedict nor Gänswein has publicly responded to any of this. The chatter’s main consequence has been not to hurt them personally (though surely it must, at least a little) but to help lock down genuine conversation about the everyday lives of gay priests, whether celibate or not. It is more or less impossible for gay clerics to articulate their affections in any way that does not amount to what an Anglo-Saxon mind might see as hypocrisy. Yet such a dualistic existence is very much a part of Church tradition. “This is almost an aspect of the Catholic religion itself,” Colm Tóibín has written in an essay on gays and Catholicism, “this business of knowing and not knowing something all at the same time, keeping an illusion separate from the truth.” It is also typical of Italian sexuality in general, and Italian homosexuality in particular. This is the country that tolerated the sexual escapades and serial frauds of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi with scarcely a hint of protest from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. This is the country where countless married women ignore their husbands’ dalliances with men.

La Bella Figura

The culture of deception operates according to signals and conventions by which gay clerics navigate their lives. Camp is perhaps the most powerful and pervasive of these codes, though it can be difficult to define. Ironic, effeminate self-mockery—allowing priests to exercise some limited rebellion against their own isolation and invisibility—is one form of clerical camp. For fear of laughing out loud, priests sometimes try to avoid making eye contact with one another in church when hymns with titles like “Hail, Holy Queen” are sung. After Bergoglio became Pope Francis, YouTube clips of a sequence from Fellini’s Roma went viral among gay priests in Rome. It shows a plain-looking cardinal watching a runway show of over-the-top clerical attire—which ends when the departed Pope steals the show by appearing in the glorious garb of a Sun God.

One gay former priest, who still lives in Rome, describes clerical camp as “a natural way of expressing [gay identity] while celibate.” Socially, he says, it is “a key that unlocks a further element of trust.” There’s nothing earth-shattering about this—it’s what every institution does—but “the Church has a lot more experience and practice at protecting itself. As far as that goes,” he says, with a nod to Cole Porter, “they’re the tops.”

When this former priest began his education in Rome, a professor told him, “There shouldn’t be a subculture. We are all male here, so it’s inappropriate to say ‘her’ or to refer to other men with feminine pronouns.” The former priest says that “none of this instruction was about our behavior. It was about how we should appear.” He believes that such instruction illustrates a little-noted change in official thinking about Catholic identity, and what should be at its center. “The symbols of the Church should be the sacraments,” such as the Eucharist, he argues, but over time the people who administer the sacraments have come to displace them in prominence. In other words, “the priests become the symbols” that are deemed most important. Which in turn puts a premium on outward appearance and enforces conformity to a certain official ideal. The Church, therefore, is increasingly preoccupied with making sure its leaders are groomed from among “boys who look holy: playing dress-up at the American College and going down to Piazza Navona at nine P.M. to say their Breviaries.” Sacraments and liturgy, the former priest says, are “the kernel of what makes the Church important. This is what makes us powerful. Not the protection of medieval institutions.”

Yet in the Church, as in Italian society, it’s often the case that right appearance—la bella figura—is all. In every detail, parties celebrating appointment to the Vatican and other high Church offices can be lavish—“like a posh girl’s wedding”—with many clerics in attendance being “gay men wearing everything handmade, perfect, queer as it comes,” observes one prominent figure in the Roman art world. But la bella figura matters just as much at ordinary moments. Especially for clerics who break the vow of celibacy, it is crucial to keep up appearances in the normal course of life.

Gay saunas are good places to meet other gay priests and monks. The best times to find clerics at the saunas are late afternoon or evening on Thursdays (when pontifical universities have no classes) or Sundays (after Mass). Some gay celibate clerics use the saunas not for sex but to experience a sense of fellowship with others like themselves. One calls his sauna visits “something to confirm myself as I am.” (Rome has few gay bars, and John Moss, the American owner of the largest and oldest one, the Hangar, says that the rise of Internet cruising, combined with the Vatican’s crackdown on gay priests, has decimated his gay clerical clientele. “There used to be so many seminarians—such beautiful men—who came to the bar, and we would even get hired to take parties to them in some of the religious houses. Now there’s nobody.”)

Once you make a connection, it’s possible to use your monastery cell for sexual assignations, as long as you don’t make much noise. “You can sneak people in, no problem,” one gay monk says, “but try to avoid consistent patterns of movement.” In other words, don’t invite a guy over on the same day of the week, or at the same time of day, very often. That said, “no one has sex” with other residents of his own monastery, a former monk told me, “because it is like a Big Brother house. Everyone knows everything.”

The more senior the cleric, the more likely he may be to play loose with the rules. One leading Vatican reporter (who says that, among journalists on the beat, the two most common topics for gossip about Church officials are “who’s gay and who’s on the take”) describes the logic of such behavior. “Everything is permitted because you are a prince of the court,” he says. “If you are truly loyal and entrusted with the highest level of responsibility, there has to be an extra liberty attached in order to be able to pull it off.”

Vows of celibacy don’t say anything about eye candy. Some Curia officials are said to handpick extremely handsome men for menial jobs in order to make Vatican City more scenic. A layman I know whose job requires frequent trips to the Vatican used to enjoy flirting with a muscular go-go boy who danced on the bar at a gay nightclub in Rome. One day at the Vatican, this layman was amazed to see the dancer out of context, dressed in the uniform of a security guard. When he made to greet the man, the guard signaled him to stay back, raising a finger to his lips in a quiet “Shhhhh … ”

Where silence can’t strictly be kept, word games can compartmentalize the truth. In the Vatican office of a monsignor who I’d been told might have some firsthand knowledge concerning recent gay scandals in the Church, I asked, point-blank, “Are you gay?,” and he serenely answered, “No.” I replied, “I wonder, if a priest is homosexual—but does not participate in mainstream secular gay culture—could he say that he is not ‘gay’ and still think he’s telling the truth?” “What an interesting question,” the monsignor said, immediately standing up and gesturing me to the door. “I’m afraid I don’t have any more time to talk.” He insisted on personally walking me out of the building, and as we passed along a grand hallway I remarked upon its beauty. “I don’t see it,” he replied archly. “To me, other hallways are ‘beautiful.’ ” Was this an innocent remark, or a coded answer to my question? Sometimes talking to gay priests feels like reading stories by Borges.

For those who want it, organized networks can provide some grounding. A few small groups of gay Catholics in Rome operate publicly, but because anyone can come to their meetings, it can be risky for priests, especially Vatican officials, to be part of them. One private group of about 50 gay priests and laymen meets once a year, for a kind of retreat. A Vatican priest I met with—he actually invited me to stop by his office near St. Peter’s because he said he wanted “to show that this is no secret,” though it’s secret enough that he can’t be named—is involved with this group, as part of an unofficial ministry in addition to his official duties. He says that his superiors, including at least one very prominent Vatican official, have long known he is gay, and have even promoted him since learning that fact.

Yet gays in the Vatican, like spies in intelligence services, inhabit boxes within boxes. The priest who helps with the group of 50 raised his eyebrows when I repeated to him something an archbishop had told me. “I know a priest who ministers to people in the Curia in that situation,” the archbishop said, though “he is not assigned officially.”

“That is not me,” the priest said, amazed. “I wonder who it could be.”

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

As you would expect, the priest I met in the sauna looks rather different with vestments on. When I walked into church a few days later, for Sunday-morning Mass, he was the celebrant—even though, when we met, he had said he was about to leave town. Maybe his plans had changed again.

He was preaching a homily on the Gospel reading, the parable of the Good Samaritan. The priest told the congregation that this story was a challenge. A challenge to accept “risk in favor of compassion.” A challenge to “look more deeply at ‘Who is my neighbor?’ ” A challenge to be generous, unlike “the religious, spiritual person who did nothing to help.” Listening to these words, I could not help but wonder: where, in that parable, does this priest see himself?

From the day after the conclave ended—when Francis went back to his hotel and personally checked out, paid his bill, and picked up his suitcase—the new Pope has surprised people with his actions. During Holy Week, he went to a juvenile prison and washed the feet of inmates, including two girls and two Muslims. One morning, he reportedly made a sandwich for the Swiss Guard who had stood sentinel outside his room all night. He invited 200 homeless people for dinner in the Vatican gardens.

Francis has also said some things that, from a Pope’s mouth, seem extraordinary simply because they are so down to earth—like his choice to end one homily with the untraditional exhortation “Have a good lunch!” Yet the first time this Pope’s words, rather than his actions, made significant headlines was in connection with his comments about the “gay lobby.”

As noted, the phrase first gained currency before Francis came on the scene, but it returned to public discussion just as he got serious about what may be a hallmark of his papacy: a cleanup of Vatican corruption. The scope of his concern about abuse of power seems total. He is reforming everything from the Vatican bank’s bookkeeping to the contents of the papal wardrobe.

For a long time, gay priests have made for convenient scapegoats and handy pawns in Church power games. All of them, whether actively or passively, have helped create these roles for themselves, and they can hardly imagine a different reality—unless they were to emerge from the closet and get thrown out of the priesthood. One monk told me, “A lot of us will not condemn. But not speak out. We’re in a system that controls us. The longer you’re in it, the more it controls, the more you assume the clerical position.” They keep hope small, or snuff it entirely. They believe that nothing and no one could make the Church safe for them. Might this change? “Not in my lifetime,” they all say.

Yet, before he became Francis, Jorge Bergoglio was a Jesuit. As *National Catholic Reporter’*s John Allen, the dean of the American Vatican-watchers, told me, “There’s a kind of Catholic version of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ that the Jesuits would be particularly noted for. There are guys in the Jesuit world that everybody knows are gay, but they don’t go around making a big deal out of it.” While Pope Benedict’s Vatican attempted to make sure gays knew they were unwelcome in the priesthood, the Jesuits developed a reputation for tolerating and even protecting their gay brethren.

In the collegial Jesuit spirit, Francis appointed eight cardinals to serve as his core advisers on significant issues, and in the coming years, this group may have as much influence on the situation of gays in the priesthood as Francis himself. When I asked an archbishop how he thinks the cardinals’ conversation about their gay brothers will go, he answered with reference not to the Holy Spirit but to the god of Fortune. “Right now the surest thing I can say is that there’s change in the air,” he said. “If you could say what will happen, you could say who’d win the lottery.”

The next time I heard mention of a lottery was a few days later, at dinner with a gay monk who told me that he had recently fallen in love for the first time, with a man. “Am I a clerical hypocrite? I guess in one way I am,” he said, in the middle of a long and emotional narrative, before bringing the conversation to bedrock reality. “But I’m over 60. I have nothing financially. I can’t leave.” And then he said, “If I won the Powerball lotto, I would leave.”

Note: An alteration was made in the passage about Marco Politi’s La Confessione, republished as Io, Prete Gay, in order to give a more accurate description of the book.

Reference

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We’re Queer and We’ve Been Here

This article has been reproduced from tricycle.org, and was written by Dr. Jay Michaelson, and published July 02, 2018. To me, this article encapsulates why myself, and many others, have deserted conventional beliefs – and in my case, both Catholicism & Atheism – to follow the path of The Buddha. Atheism gave me a stance, a soap box to denounce what is…and has been for centuries…the hypocrisy of conventional & fundamentalist religion. With its emphasis on bible bashing, “family values” – which is not inclusionist – xenophobia, misogyny, racism, homophobia, general prejudice & discrimination, stigma, and love of power, influence and money, has…well…totally gone against every precept and doctrine that was meant to make it great! Today, especially in light of the recent expose of sexual abuse, which has covered EVERY religion, and their associated charities and institutions, people are deserting churches, mosques and temples in hordes. As a gay man, conventional religion left me bereft of choice and hope decades ago. But like many, I still have this strange yearning for some form of spirituality, or belief or…if you like…enlightenment. Something that has a base in history, something unadulterated, something that isn’t based on ethereal deities, son’s of God, messengers of God, heavily adulterated books, myths and fantasies, something that doesn’t leave me feeling empty and dirty!For me, Buddhism has provided that spark. Not bogged down in doctrines, theologies, enforced beliefs, and lists of do’s and don’ts, it gives you choice. You enter into things voluntarily. If you transgress, you are answerable only to yourself. How deeply you travel down the road to enlightenment is up to you. Nothing is forced upon you! It provides a path that is rich and based in ancient culture. It is a path worthy of investigation.

Om mani padme hum 📿

Rediscovering Buddhism’s LGBT history of gay monks, homoerotic samurai, and gender-nonconforming practitioners and gods

It’s no secret that many LGBTQ people have found refuge in the dharma, and it’s easy to see why.  It helps us work with the wounds of homophobia, recognizing internalized self-hatred for the delusion and dukkha [suffering] that it is. Yet when queer people interact with the dharma, there is often something missing: visibility. It’s nice that Buddhism doesn’t say many bad things about us, but does it say anything good? Where are we among the Dogens and Milarepas and Buddhaghosas?

This is not, of course, a question limited to Buddhism. Everywhere, queers have been erased from history. Often we find ourselves only when we are being persecuted; we have to read in between the lines of our interlocutors, trying to reconstruct a lost past.  

But there is much to be gained from the effort. Finding ourselves in history, for better or for worse, reminds us that we have one. We can see the different ways in which gender and sexuality were understood across time and cultures, and we are reminded that sexual and gender diversity has always been a part of human nature.

The history of queer Buddhism does not always paint a rosy picture. We find a mixed tapestry that includes stories of acceptance and persecution as well as examples that are problematic or offensive to modern Western sensibilities. While books can be (and have been) written about this subject, here I will limit myself to four examples that demonstrate the breadth of queer experience throughout Buddhism.

1. MILD OFFENSES

First, and I think least interestingly, there are various levels of injunctions against male-male sexual behavior. What’s interesting here, apart from the mere visibility—yes, the monks were doing it with each other—is the minor nature of the offense. In the Theravadan monastic code, for example, sexual (mis)conduct between monks or novices was no more egregious than any other sexual misconduct, and did not warrant additional sanctions. The offense is similarly minor in Vajrayana monastic communities, leading both to consensual “thigh sex” (frottage) among monks, and, tragically, to many documented instances of sexual abuse.

Conflicting statements by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama have reflected this ambivalence. In 1994, he said that as long as there were no religious vows at issue, consensual same-sex intimacy “is OK.”  But in an interview published two years later, he said that only when “couples use organs intended for sexual intercourse” could sex be considered “proper.” After meeting with gay and lesbian activists in 1997, he noted that the same rules applied to straight and gay people alike, and that they were not part of the direct teachings of the Buddha and thus might evolve over time. In 2014, he reiterated the view that for Buddhists, homosexual acts are a subset of sexual misconduct, but that this was a matter of religious teaching and did not apply to people of another or no religion. Other rinpoches have disagreed and fully affirmed gay and lesbian lives.  There is no clear position. 

2. GENDER-NONCONFORMING ANCESTORS

Second, there are several instances of what today might be called gender-nonconforming people in Buddhist texts, now newly accessible thanks to historian Jose Cabezon’s recently published 600-plus page tome, Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism. Many Theravada and Mahayana texts, for example, refer to the pandaka, a term which, Cabezon shows, has a wide variety of meanings, encompassing “effeminate” male homosexuals, intersex persons, and others who exhibited non-normative anatomical, gender, or sexuality traits. (The term pandaka is often translated “eunuch,” but insofar as a eunuch is someone who chooses to be castrated, this is an inaccurate translation. Because of the breadth of the term, Cabezon himself renders it “queer person.”)

By and large, the pandaka is not depicted positively. As Cabezon describes in great detail, the Theravadan monastic code prohibits the ordaining of a pandaka—“the doctrine and discipline does not grow in them,” it says. And a Mahayana sutra called A Teaching on the Three Vows says bodhisattvas should not befriend them. But to me, just the visibility of the pandaka is encouraging. Here we are! And if we have been stigmatized, well, as Cabezon notes, that is hardly comparable to how queer people have been treated in other religious traditions.

3. SEXUAL SAMURAI

Third, there is a fair amount of male-male homoeroticism in Buddhist textual history. The Jataka tales [parables from the Buddha’s past lives] include numerous homoerotic stories featuring the future Buddha and the future Ananda; in addition to the tales themselves apparently being told without a sense of scandalousness, these stories suggest an interesting appreciation of the homoerotics or at least homosociality of the teacher-disciple relationship. Like Batman and Robin, Achilles and Patroclus, and Frodo and Sam, the Buddha and Ananda are, emotionally speaking, more than just friends.

Japanese Buddhism probably had the most fully developed form of same-sex eroticism—nanshoku—that endured for hundreds of years, beginning in the 1100s and fading out only in the 19th century, under the influence of Christianity.  These relationships—sometimes called bi-do (the beautiful way) or wakashudo (the way of the youth)—were pederastic in nature, often between an adolescent boy (probably aged 12–14) and a young man (aged around 15–20), and thus not role models for contemporary LGBT people, but a queer love nonetheless.

As with Greek pederasty, these relationships combined a sexual relationship with a mentoring relationship. And as in the Greek model, there were clear rules and roles that needed to be followed; nanshoku was not hedonism but a homosexuality that was socially constructed.

The legendary founder of the institution of nanshoku was the 12th-century monk Kukai, also called Kobo Daishi (“the great teacher who spread the dharma”), who was also credited with founding of the Shingon school of Japanese esoteric Buddhism, which incorporates tantric practice. Although there is not much historical evidence for this, it’s interesting that the institution of nanshoku became linked with tantra, which has its own polymorphous eroticism in the service of awakening.

This culture has left us the greatest collection of homoerotic Buddhist texts of which I am aware. Nanshoku Okagami (the Great Mirror of Male Love), published in 1687 and available in a fine translation by Paul Gordon Schalow, is a collection of love stories, some requited and others not, between samurai warriors and Buddhist monks, actors, and townspeople. Now available in multiple translations, the book is an almost unbelievable artifact of Edo-period hedonism, warrior love conventions that closely resemble the Mediterranean ones, and Romeo-and-Juliet-like stories of forbidden love, impossible love, and star-crossed lovers. If you can get past our cultures’ very different ethics regarding intergenerational sex, it’s an amazing queering of history.

4. GENDER FLUIDITY

Finally, the fluidity and play of gender within some Buddhist texts is often inspiring but also frequently problematic. Numerous Buddhist enlightenment stories feature women suddenly transforming into men, for example. On the one hand, that’s kind of awesome from a queer and trans point of view. On the other hand, it’s often a way of explaining how deserving women can become fully enlightened—by becoming men.  

That highlighting the role of a prominent female bodhisattva like Kuan Yin or a female deity like Tara has enabled many Western dharma centers to manifest their commitments to gender egalitarianism—awesome. That Kuan Yin is but one manifestation of the male bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara—less awesome. And yet, that a male bodhisattva occasionally manifests as a female figure—maybe more awesome.

So too the feminization of the principle of wisdom, prajnaparamita, and the Vajrayogini, who is female, erotic, and enlightened. These figures may be gender-essentialistic, gender-binaried, and heteronormative, but especially for Westerners, they productively queer the assumptions of what is masculine and feminine.

These examples of queerness in Buddhist text and history are just a sampling; there are many more. When queers look at these echoes in the past, we’re doing several things: We are finding ourselves in history and theology. We are claiming and acknowledging our existence, albeit in different forms from those we know today. And we are, hopefully, keeping our senses of irony and historicity intact. This isn’t gay-hunting or a naïve apologetics that siphons off the bad and leaves in only the good. We are, instead, searching for a usable past, not with a faux nostalgia or appropriative orientalism, but with a sophisticated relationship to what has gone before and what is present now.

Correction (7/5): An earlier version of this article translated Kobo Daishi as “the great master from Kobo.” A more accurate translation is “the great teacher who spread the dharma.” The article also identified Kukai as the founder of the Shingon school, which is disputed. 

Reference:

Gay History: “An Interview with a Gay, Russian Neo-Nazi”

“An interview with a gay, Russian neo-nazi” Reproduced from “Vice”. Article by Nick Chester, 6 June, 2013.

*My own note and observation on this issue;

There is always a lot of conjecture surrounding the age-old question of whether people – pastors, priests, politicians, sportspeople, cult leaders and followers – who hold extreme right wing views on topics like gays are, in actual fact…repressed gays! I am not even going to attempt to answer that question, but let’s just say that there would seem to be many instances of it over the decades. The adage of “me thinks they doth protest too much” would seem to apply to many recent “coming out” stories. So perhaps instances of neo-nazi coming out stories shouldn’t come as a shock…though they do! Religious leaders bashing the anti-gay agenda are often just blustering to the converted, and words, though hurtful, are just words. However, when that anti-gay agenda is followed through by extreme acts of violence – leading to anything from serious injuries to death for gays at the receiving end of such hate – one really has to take a step back and question…just how much can you hate yourself, and the group that you actually belong to – as distinct from the opposing group you actually did join! At what point did you see joining a neo-nazi movement, to cover your gay inclinations, and then perpetuating violence against other gay people, seem like a good life choice? And how much violence did you enact against you gay brothers and sisters before you had that light-bulb moment – these violent actions haven’t stopped me being gay! It is very interesting how they manage to twist the ideology of neo-nazism… and perhaps a denial of the historical base behind nazism itself…to qualify their pre-coming out thinking. This idea of gays being uber-masculine is very unnerving in its concept, as surely there would have to be a lead-on to things such as domestic violence within gay relationships, and one has to ask that controversial question – why can only gays into BDSM be part of the neo-nazi movement…a disturbing question, yes, but the question is there. This is a brief, but engrossing, interview.

A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed someone from the Malaysian neo-Nazi scene. The whole concept of Malay neo-Nazis was confusing, because a pretty dominant part of the Nazi shtick was hating anyone who wasn’t white, and people from Malaysia normally aren’t white. However, it turned out that the notoriously strict Nazi ideology wasn’t too much of an issue in this case, and that the Malay Nazis could carry on sieg-heiling and wearing swastikas despite the fact they aren’t Aryan because they really hate immigrants, or something.  

Another group of neo-Nazis not bothering to adhere to Hitler’s guidelines on who to hate are those involved in the Russian gay neo-Nazi skinhead movement. As you might recall from being within spitting distance of any history textbook ever, the Führer and his Third Reich buddies weren’t too keen on either Russians or homosexuals – an estimated 100,000 of the latter were arrested between 1933 and 1945, with 5,000 to 15,000 eventually being sent to perish in concentration camps.

Much like the Malays, minor historical details like rampant persecution and horrific genocide have apparently been forgotten by the Russians. The first such group I came across were the Gay Union of Patriots of Russia, whose members spout bizarre theories about how only gay men can be true Russian patriots. I also learned that there was a group called Gay Aryan National-Socialists and another called GASH (Gay Aryan Skinheads). That last one had the best ring to it, so I tracked down a member, Balu, on VK.com—a Facebook equivalent that’s big in Russia—and had a chat about the gay Russian Nazi scene.

VICE: Hi Balu. Can you say a bit about the ideology behind G.A.S.H?
Balu: Our ideology consists of clearing the planet of “dirty” nationalities. We fight for purity of blood, for white skin color and for strong and beautiful people. We don’t accept white guys or white girls who hook up with black men. It is disgusting to observe such interracial unions. Why share your life with such rejects when there are healthy white guys

Because there are also healthy people from lots of different races. You know, most people don’t equate Nazism with homosexuality. Why do you think this is?
I think it’s based on a stereotype and, initially, heterosexuals prevailed in the nationalist movement. Also, public opinion calls nationalists rough barbarians, murderers, and so on, so observers from outside probably think that the nationalist has to be a strong, fearless street fighter, and gays represent gentleness, kindness, and harmlessness. In the public imagination, it doesn’t make sense that men who prefer the beautiful and glamorous side of life can fight for their rights and ideas.

How long has GASH existed for?
Our movement has existed for more than 20 years in Russia. It’s relatively young, but quite well developed. We’re lagging behind other places in Europe and the States a bit, but we possess strong will power and fighting spirit for the sake of the white cause.

So there are similar movements in America and other European countries then?
Yes, of course there are. They suggested to us an idea that we had pined for for so long. They helped us to be defined and direct our activity to the necessary course.

Is GASH the only gay racist skinhead group in Russia that you have come across?
At present, it is the most widespread movement among gay Nazis. The fact is that the majority of gay skinheads don’t attach themselves to GASH but have the same purposes and method of asserting influence. They simply don’t focus people’s attention on them. We don’t like excessive attention to our subculture at all either. However we want it so that everyone knows who we are and what we fight for.

Are you linked to any other gay groups?
We cooperate with the normal gay community a little bit, yeah. Sometimes we despise them, though, because each of our actions yields a result, and the actions of normal gay communities in Russia only exacerbate the situation with regards to society, homophobes, and gays.

So you consider the existence of GASH to be a positive thing for Russia? And for gay rights in Russia?
We don’t consider ourselves as heroes or particularly positive characters. We have severe methods, but they really work. We fight for everyone, not just for ourselves. We’re trying to clear this world of unnecessary people who aren’t worthy of this earth.

Wow, OK. What’s your opinion of homophobic Nazi skinheads?
Not all heterosexual nationalists are homophobes; they are often latent homosexuals, actually. We fight nationalist homophobes in the same way that we fight against any other homophobes. They’re nothing special to us.

You get into fights with homophobic Nazi groups?
Yes, we fight against homophobes irrespective of the color of their skin or their nationality. We don’t understand why our brothers oppose us. After all, we have nothing against heterosexuals and we have no plan to make the entire planet gay.

How many members does GASH have?
It’s very hard to say the exact quantity. About one in 50 gays are nationalists or have tendencies towards this movement. In the group I’m in, there are about 1,500 to 1,700 other permanent members in Moscow or nearby areas. Then there are other communities of gay nationalists scattered all over Moscow—there’s a GASH group in each area.

Does GASH have any lesbian members?
Sometimes lesbians reach out to us, but we explain to them that they don’t have a place in our ranks.

What about transgender Nazi skinheads? Do they exist?
Transsexuals aren’t present among us and I don’t see that it’s possible for them to be.

Why’s that then?
We believe that we’re at war and that there’s no place for women and men who consider themselves to be women. The fact that it’s specifically a man’s fight is an integral part of our ideology.

You seem to place a strong emphasis on manliness. What’s your view of less masculine gay people? Are they still accepted by your group?
This is a controversial question. I can’t give a definite answer, as all members are assessed as individuals. The person has to have certain qualities and believe in our idea. He has to understand that it might be necessary to give his life for an idea and for the community as a whole.

OK, so what qualities are they on a sexuality level?
Our sexual life generally consists of BDSM, especially sadomasochism. Our brothers aren’t engaged in tenderness on silk sheets—we commit truly manly acts.

Is BSDM closely linked to GASH’s ideology then?
Oh yes, they are as closely connected as smoke and fire. Almost all nationalists have a piercing, traditional leather skinhead jackboots, and blue jeans, which became a sexual fetish for us long ago, as well as shaven heads. By our nature, sexual intercourse is rough. This is similar to primitive passion. Some of us have slaves, but they often aren’t nationalists. We treat sex as something sacred. This is similar to how believers treat God. Sex is a transmission of passion, emotions, pleasure and—last but not least—sperm into the body of a brother. We give part of each other. This is a very important part of our sexual life. From outside, it can seem as if we treat sex too thoughtlessly, but this isn’t the case; each act of sexual intercourse between brothers bears a deeper meaning. It is a secret ceremony between the devoted.

How do you respond to people who say that homosexuality and Nazism aren’t exactly bedfellows?
Our sexual orientation isn’t a barrier to being nationalists. The spirit of nationalism can be present in any of us irrespective of this. In Russia, the rights of gays are hugely restricted, and we can’t sit back quietly when a person is killed just because he’s gay. Many people from the Caucasus [a region at the border of Europe and Asia] furiously oppose gays. Someone has to reject the pressure that they exert by real brute force.

OK. Finally, how do you respond to people who say that Hitler wasn’t particularly fond of gay people?
At that time, very tough measures were in place, but they really worked and were bountiful. I don’t think Hitler even personally wanted to gas gays, but the ideology demanded it.

For those interested in a run-down on Russian LGBT history, follow this link: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_history_in_Russia

References

Gay History: How To Spot A Possible Homo!

I hope this helps…

 

1962 Newspaper Article

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3605777/A-change-of-shape.html

A change of shape

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst reviews Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century by Graham Robb

12:01AM GMT 03 Nov 2003

How do you pick out a gay man in a crowd? According to Dr La Forest Potter’s Strange Loves, published in 1933, “the average homosexual” differs from “ordinary men” in 10 easily identifiable ways: he has “large, easily aroused nipples”, “a mincing walk”, “sloped and rounded shoulders”, “thick, luxuriant hair”, “a hairless chest”, “soft, delicate skin” free of manly spots, a lack of “dogmatic energy”, a “peculiar swinging motion of the hips” due to anatomical defects in the spine and pelvis, “a considerable deposit of fat in the region of hips, breasts and thighs”, and – the clinching clue – “feminine buttocks”.

Clearly the author of Strange Loves was a little peculiar himself (how could he know that homosexual nipples were “easily aroused”?), but he is hardly an isolated figure in the troubled history of 20th-century attitudes towards homosexuality. From Raphael Kirchner’s 1908 German handbook, How to Recognise Homosexuals, to the two-page guide on “How to Spot a Possible Homo” published in the Sunday Mirror in 1963 (“shifty glances”, “dropped eyes”, “a fondness for the theatre”), it has long been popular wisdom that “one of them” is easily distinguishable from “one of us”. Whether seen as a choice or a compulsion, in everything from lifestyle to hairstyle, the assumption has been that homosexuality is a secret that simply cannot be kept. It is as if the world had been told that the root of “homosexual”, “homos”, is Greek for “same”, meaning that there are men who fall in love with other men, and had misunderstood it to mean that homosexuals are all the same.

Recently, much of the blame for this sorry state of affairs has been laid at the door of the Victorians. According to the most popular line of argument, although there had always been same-sex activity between men, only during the 19th century did the exclusively homosexual person emerge as a distinct social type. Both as a word and a concept, “homosexuality” was a Victorian invention. From the doctors who attempted to diagnose homosexuality (Ambroise Tardieu claimed in 1857 that the telltale signs in men included a corkscrew-shaped penis and a large bottom: “I have seen one pederast whose buttocks were joined and formed a single, perfect sphere”) to the politicians who attempted to legislate against it, the 19th century gave birth not only to “the homosexual” but to the repressive social forces that continued to echo through the 20th century.

This, at least, is the version of events, much influenced by Michel Foucault’s writings on sexuality, which is dutifully wheeled out by most histories of gay life. But then, Foucault was never one to let the facts get in the way of a good theory and, as Graham Robb’s revisionist account proves, the truth was rather more complicated and a lot more interesting.

Almost every page of this book reverberates with the sound of stereotypes being flattened. For example, the assumption that the Victorians were repressive in their attitudes towards illicit sexual behaviour hardly squares with what was accepted and even celebrated. Consider the case of “Fanny” Park, a drag queen arrested for using the ladies’ room at the Strand Theatre, whose acquittal on sodomy charges in 1870 – secured by his solicitor, the wonderfully named Mr Straight – was loudly cheered; or the tight-trousered rent boys (“mollies”) who were an established tourist attraction in both London and New York; or the odd couples, such as the “married” artists Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon, whose unconventional households attracted some notoriety and a great deal of indifference.

Indeed, for a love that supposedly dared not speak its name, homosexuality was a surprisingly noisy part of Victorian life, less a subculture than a parallel culture that ran alongside and occasionally ran into the heterosexual mainstream. Even Jane Austen, who was hardly in the vanguard of permissiveness, allowed herself a sly joke about gay sex, when Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park discusses her knowledge of admirals: “Of Rears, and Vices, I saw enough. Now, do not be suspecting me of a pun, I entreat.”

Not that the 19th century was an oasis of tolerance and good sense. Most gay men and women remained strangers to the society that had the power to ostracise them or lock them up. Many also remained strangers to one another. It could be hard to recognise a like-minded soul, and Robb has some moving examples of the tactics needed to sound someone out about their sexuality, simultaneously leading on and backing off, without risking rejection or assault.

Even if this hurdle was overcome, there was no guarantee that two gay people, like any other two people, would have anything to talk about. Oscar Wilde cannot have been alone in finding it hard to reconcile his ideals of a pure Grecian love with the pimply youths he took to bed, like the two Cockney lads Frank Harris recalled seeing him with at the Café Royal, talking about the Olympic Games. “‘Did you sy they was niked?’ ‘Of course,’ Oscar replied, ‘nude, clothed only in sunshine and beauty.'”

Perhaps inevitably, such public displays in the period are rare; the history of Victorian gay life is less one of explicit confessions than it is of flirtatious hints and glimpses. Fleshing out these details into a rich and satisfying narrative, Robb is an ideal guide to the period – unfailingly intelligent, compassionate and discreetly witty.

His earlier biographies of Hugo and Rimbaud showed that he has a sharp eye for the way that real lives tend to resist the neat shapes we impose on them, and Strangers is crammed with statistics and anecdotes that succeed brilliantly in changing what we thought we knew about homosexuality, both then and now. In seeking to explain some of the messy and unpredictable workings of love, Robb has produced a rare thing: not just a book with ideas, but a book with heart.

And this wonderful send-up;

http://www.landoverbaptist.net/showthread.php?t=53674

How to spot a homosexual: A step by step guide – 11-07-2010, 04:56 PM

Homosexuals are amongst us. Every day, they discreetly pollute the Good Lord’s Earth with their filthy ways. Luckily, me and Dimitri, at the Domnino League Against Sodomites, have compiled a list of data that will assist you in telling whether your closest friends are secretly queers.

Eating and Drinking:
Whether at the bathhouse, drinking beverages (in appropriate amounts, as prescribed in Timothy 5:23) in the company of fellow Christians, or simply eating lunch on the truck roads of northern Siberia, eating and drinking habits of those within your group of friends will reveal whether or not they are Closetfags™.
Foods consumed by men:

Anything with more than half a pound of meat.
Anything fried or deep fried.

Anything pie-like of the appropriate size.

Anything hunted/skinned yourself and cooked by your wife and/or daughter(s).

Foods consumed by homosexuals:
Anything that comes in small, faggy portions (Sushi, “Cocktail Snacks”)
Anything with a foreign name (Especially if in French)

Anything that is shared with other men (Tapas)

Drinks consumed by men:
Wine (Only if you are depressed. Wine must have a pronouncable name to avoid being mixed with “Faggy wine” [See below] ) Proverbs 31:6-7
Spirits (See Wine)

Beer (See Wine)

Water

Anything produced by the Coca-Cola Company, except drinks which reference fruit. These are considered “fruity”, e.g. homosexual beverages.

e.g. Coca-Cola Cherry.

Drinks consumed by homosexuals:

Cocktails (Notice the name!) – Not a proper drink. Any drink that is a mixture of two or more normally separate drinks is considered a cocktail.
Faggy Wine – Wine made outside of own country, probably in France. The name is distinctly not-English sounding and the label will most likely have pictures of men holding hands.

Conversation:
Homosexuals can often be caught out by listening to their conversation.
Conversation Word Limit
Men talk to exchange information. If any man exceeds the standard limit of 20 words per minute (Unless he is recounting a glorious story of conquest, preaching or praying), he is surely a homosexual.
If you fear you are nearly exceeding this limit in daily conversation, try the following tricks:
* Cut down on words like “Sure.”, “Okay.”, “Nah.” and replace them with indistinct grunts, or glares in the general direction of the person with whom the conversation is occuring.
* Ignore questions, then reproach them for asking you the same thing twice.

Topics of conversation suitable for men;

Comparing engine/tyre/gas tank sizes
Car/truck/van mechanical problems

Comparing your current events (Awful times) to similar events occuring 1/5/10/20 years ago (Good, Holy Christian times)

Your wife/daughter’s inability to cook/clean/etc.

Most recent [manly sport of your choice] game.

Women (In appropriate Christian fashion)

The Bible.

Topics of conversation considered homosexual:
The Weather (In a positive manner):
e.g. “The stars are so beautiful today.”

‘Famous people’ you haven’t heard of.

Clothes

Anything that uses the word “Gorgeous” or synonyms.

Indepth descriptions of sexual activities with other men.

Anything that is prefaced with “You’ll never guess what I saw in Vogue today!”

Other Signs
* In public toilets, a man uses a urinal next to your own.
* He often walks like a cowboy, but you have never seen him ride a horse.

* When you take a shower, he looks through your bathroom window.

Please add to our list if you find anything that is miss. Dimitri & I work very hard and will update once we discover more about this plague. If you suspect you have homosexuals in your neighbourhood, please seek professional aid and do not go outside alone.
Praise Christ.
Tim Alderman 2015

Life in Kellett Way, Kings Cross, 1985.

A 1985 fluff piece by Adam Carr for “Outrage” magazine. Adam was visiting Sydney to report on Mardi Gras, and was a friend of my boyfriend at that time, Damian Guy. We were living in Kellett Way in The Cross at the time, behind a strip club. He came to visit us for dinner, and the next thing we knew…we were an article! Again, a lot of editorial license is used, and it is quite a funny piece. For the record, there was NO pink in the flat – it is one of my hate colours – and NO mantelpiece of tiny ornaments lol. For the sake of identification, Damian became “Shane” and I became “Tony”. We had no idea he was writing it, and the look on my face when reading it in Outrage, and the dawning on who it was about, must have been priceless.
  

   
Tim Alderman (C)2015

 

Living with HIV – 1987 Style.

This is an interview on “life” with HIV that I did back in 1987 with “The Bulletin”. When I read it now, I cringe, as it seems so naive. The reporter, whose name I can’t remember now, knew absolutely nothing about HIV…or the gay lifestyle! As you can tell, his grasp of it was no better after talking to us, and editorial license is in full bloom, with distortions, misrepresentations, and fact twisting the order-of-the-day. However, the thinking of the time is evident if you read between the lines. At two years after official testing was introduced, none of us really expected to survive. It was party, party, party! At this time, I had already lost several friends. It was very scary times. Just part of my lived history now.
   
   
Tim Alderman (C) 2015

Bodies

This poem contains strong gay sexual content.
Please DO NOT READ IF SEXUAL CONTENT OFFENDS

If you are not offended the password is 4590.

Your thrusting flesh inside me
I sigh
The pleasure only for me
Your mouth all over my body
I moan
Sweat pores down over shiny skin
Hair drips on face
Testosterone aroma pervades the air
You sigh
I pummel into your body
I suck the love from you
You moan
Together in unison we cum
An ecstatic explosion of sex and pleasure
Lust
Desire
Power
Male to male
As one.

Tim Alderman
Copyright ©2001

2015/01/img_2803.jpg

Disappointments

As I watched the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade wend its way up Oxford St, I paused for a second of reflection as I saw the group for PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) marching up the street under the PFLAG banner. I admit to a tinge of envy as I pondered how proud both the parents and the children must feel at being able to express them selves so easily, and be so comfortable with each other’s sexuality.

This is not a privilege I have ever known with my own parents. Growing up as I did through the fifties and sixties, my parent’s generation was not given to liberal attitudes, and the prospect of having a gay son in the family would have meant automatic exclusion from the family unit, a prospect not many of us would have favoured. During the 70s, I had amongst my friends several gay men. Though not being out myself at this time, I enjoyed their company, finding them a constant source of amusement with their camp witticisms, and enjoying many social occasions at their homes. On the one occasion when one of them came visiting at home with a group of friends, my father told me, in no uncertain terms, that he was not to cross our doorstep again. This was only one of many rifts between my father and myself over the years. Thankfully, I was old enough to stick up both for myself and my friend, though making sure I did not ‘out’ myself.

My mother had left home when I was eleven years old, and shortly after my brother was killed. My mother accepted guilt for this happening right up to the present. She used the classic “well, maybe if I’d never have left…”, which is pretty inconsequential at this stage of the game. My mother was also part of the homophobe generation, though she seemed to have had little compunction about buying me dolls as I grew up, on the proviso that I never told my father.

My father killed himself in 1978, and I moved to Campbelltown with my stepfamily for a short period of time whilst the legalities of his death were sorted out. I accidently ‘outed’ myself to my flatmates when, on packing a bag for me to take down to my father’s funeral, they encountered some gay porn hidden in the drawers at home. So the cat was out of the bag in respect to that subject – at least with them. They weren’t particularly shocked, but told me I should tell my mother, who I had reconnected with only a short time earlier. The reconciliation with my mother had been shaky at best, and with her having remarried a man who reminded me very much of my father, I wasn’t really prepared to tackle the issue of being gay.

The opportunity came in 1980 when I went to live in Melbourne for a couple of years. I kept contact with my mother, and my old flat mates. While living there, I came out with a bang, and made short work of catching up on the life I had been denying myself, for all of my mature life.. There is nothing quite like the freedom you get from being far away from everyone you know. The flat mates kept telling me to be honest with mum. I kept putting it off. When mum found out I was gay, it wasn’t me who told her. My flat mates accidentally outed me.

When I moved back to Sydney, I never really set up an intimate relationship with my mother. I think all the years apart had played a role in distancing me from her. Anyway, she had established a life of her own with Ray, and produced a daughter. If we weren’t distant enough already, eighteen years between my half-sister and myself certainly didn’t help shorten the gap. I never really felt comfortable at their home in Toongabbie, and over the years my visits got less and less, until they were finally reduced to nothing more than phone calls. I did attempt a single reconciliation, and had my doubts about its success fulfilled . Over a very nice lunch in the city, a situation where I thought the two of us could discuss the issue of gay like mature adults, I gave up after having to sit through the old “it’s my fault you are like this…” line. I realised then that we were beyond reconciliation. But the saddest aspect of it for me wasn’t her inability to accept me as a gay person, but the fact that she would never really know me, the person I was, or the person I was to become. I wasn’t even really sad, just angry that she just would not accept things as they were.

In 1996, I became very ill, and ended up in Prince Henry Hospital, with a prognosis of about two weeks to live. However, new drug regimes and a lot of Capricorn stubbornness and determination turned the tables in my favour. I was released from hospital, and a whole new era of my life began.

My mother knew nothing of any of this. She knew nothing about my brush with death, nor the numerous operations I had over the next couple of years to try to save the sight in my eyes. She knew nothing of the thousands of injections I had been given, the litres of blood taken, or the 150 odd tablets I took every week to stay alive. Nor did I want her to know. Her reaction to me was that it did not exist. She lived in a vacuum- packed little suburban world, and things such as ‘gay’ could never break through the seal of that vacuum. Perhaps the saddest part of this was that she never got to be involved in my new life. She knew little of my community work, nor of my battle to return to work, of the success I was making of my writing, and my continuing attempts to reeducate myself so I could move in new directions. I felt particularly disappointed when I was given my UTS offer, and knew I could not share it with her.

The crunch came at the end of 1997. She had been having a number of tests, and had been diagnosed with bladder cancer. I thought it was terrible, but was still recovering from my own battles with ill health. She was admitted to hospital to have her bladder removed, and it came as quite a shock to me to find out she was there, as my step father never notified me. I rang him at Toongabbie to enquire about her health. He shocked me by demanded that I go out to Westmead and visit her. It was Christmas Eve, and I refused. I slammed the phone down. I knew he would go to the hospital and create a scene, whether I went to visit or not. As far as he was concerned, I should have been the loving, doting son. I wasn’t, and couldn’t be. I rang mum in the hospital, wished her a ‘Merry Christmas’, and that was the last time we ever spoke. She has never rung me, I have never rung her. I feel sad that it had to come to this, but I don’t have any regrets.

I envy those people walking up the street because they know how to love and accept what is. It may have been a battle, they may still not understand what it is all about, but they support their children in the most dynamic way, by walking up that street and declaring their support in public.

It was perhaps an odd anachronism that my partners’ family was more accepting of our relationship than my parents could even have considered. I have been accepted into their household, and I’m treated every bit as part of the family, though we are no longer together.

But I still wish that my parents had just taken the time to try to understand, not to be necessarily all over me about it, but at least accepting of me as being their child no matter what my sexuality. They have never allowed me the privilege of feeling like I ‘belonged’ to them in any sense of the word.

I know only too well that when my mother dies (if she hasn’t already), there will be no one to call me and let me know. To me, that is perhaps the greatest sadness of all.

Tim Alderman
(C) 2010

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Arvo @ The Oxford – A Brief Gay Yarn

I am not a misogynist! This piece is set in a particular period in the late 80s/early 90s when anti-discrimination laws were being set in place that brought about irreconcilable changes to the gay scene as we knew it! The attitude to women invading what had – to then – been male spaces was real, angry and palpable. I hope my female readers don’t take it to heart.

It was always dim in The O – as The Oxford was affectionately known – irrespective of the time of day, though at times like this, it could be an advantage. The twilight lighting helped to cover up dark bags under the eyes, and always made people look a little bit younger than they actually were. The DJ was in cocktail-hour-mode, and James looked up to see who was playing as he passed the DJ box. Patti Labelle’s ‘Oh People’ was playing, and James winced slightly. This track always reminded him of funerals these days. He moved to a table near the Oxford Street window, where Stewart was already ensconced.
‘God, I still feel like shit!’ Stewart muttered as he got up and headed to the bar. James smiled at his mate as the schooners were placed down,
“Cheers!” Said James, and they clinked glasses, then taking a sip of the beer..
Stewart looked like shit, though he got away with it by being casually dressed in a pair of jeans and a white tee shirt. He had made an attempt to tidy his hair, but it really wasn’t working. A cow-lick stuck up at the back. He looked harried, and had that puffy look you tended to get after a night of drinking.

James, was still fuming from his mornings episode with his ex-partner-now-flatmate Tommy, and quietly hoped that Tommy’s body puffed up twice as much as everyone else. It would serve him bloody right! Did he think fucking money grew on trees!Stewart straddled a bar stool, and settled himself in by stacking his cigarettes and lighter in a pile next to the ashtray. Looking off into space, he waved his burning cigarette over the table, missed the ashtray, and blew the ash that had landed on the table into James lap.
James scowled, threw Stewart “a look” and lit his own cigarette. ‘Well, to be quite honest, you look like fuckin’ shit. I hope you at least managed to get yourself a fuck. Would be the only appeasement for all the suffering you seem to be going through this morning…again,” James smirked. He would have loved a dollar for overtime this happened!
‘Well, lets just say I wasn’t alone this morning when you rang.’ Stewart turned his eyes upward andrepositioned himself on the stool, turning to gaze towards the bar a couple of feet away from him. ‘If we had sex, I certainly can’t remember it. I don’t even remember taking him home! Wouldn’t have a clue what his name was. I just called him Darl all morning. I don’t think he remembered mine either. He called me mate, if he had to talk to me at all, and there wasn’t too much yak going on, I can tell you. Thankfully, I didn’t have to chew my arm off this morning to get away from him.’ A smile took the puffiness out of his face for an instant. ‘I’m going to be conceited enough to assume that I was great sex. I still show a bit of fuckin’ taste, even when I’m pissed.’ Stewart looked pleased with himself, and James smiled at him across the tiny metal disc that supposedly passed for a table in the bar.
‘Seeing him again, are we?’ James quizzed.
‘Shit no, Jimmy. No serious relationships for this girl. I mean, I’ve got you as an example of how to make all the bad mistakes with men, don’t I?’
‘Thanks for reminding me of that. Want a drink, or is that a stupid question?’

James smiled again, loving the way Stewart squirmed when he had to try to recollect nights out – any nights out – when he had lost the plot somewhere in the interim.
“Yeah, I’ll have a hair of the dog that bit me. Get me a Gordon’s and tonic, will you mate.’
‘Is that mate as in friend, or mate as in ex-fuck,’ James couldn’t help himself.
‘You should be so lucky,’ Stewart retorted, poking out his tongue at his friend. James pushed himself off the stool and wandered over to the bar, blowing out a plume of smoke as he went.
‘G’day Jerry, give me two Gordon’s and tonics will you. Bit sad in here at the moment, isn’t it?’ he said to the barman, who was topping up the glasses from the post mix. Jerry had been the bar manager here for a couple of years now, and had helped get James his job here as a DJ.
‘It’s a bit sad in here at the best of times!’ Jerry sniped back, then let out one of the donkey brays he called a laugh. ‘That’ll be $4.50. I won’t charge you for the lack of atmosphere”.

James smiled and turned to cruise the bar perimeter. Picking up the drinks he turned back to the table. It was always a bit sad in here early in the afternoon. Either people with hangovers from the night before, people coming down off their drugs, or desperados who never got a pick-up last night, and thought the hangover brigade may be easy pickings. God, queens were so desperate sometimes! It was situations like this that made James glad he had a couple of fuck buddies he could rely on if things got really desperate. He took a stiff drag on his smoke, coughed, and decided to ignore the disparaging ‘Fuckin’ smokers’ comment from the elderly guy standing next to him. Fucking old bores. Should be locked away in nursing homes. The thought of them chasing each other around nursing home gardens, trying desperately to pick each other up even though they couldn’t remember their own names, let alone get a hard-on, made him smile.

He looked back over his shoulder at Stella.
There was a time when Stewart almost ended up amongst the fuck buddy-brigade. The day he met Tommy was the day he thought he had finally lined Stewart up for a fuck. He had spent all afternoon working on him. Had him primed on alcohol and all! Jesus, how could he have swapped Stewart for fucking Tommy? Talk about making stupid mistakes. Stewart had been, and still was, quite a looker – well, at least he usually was if he wasn’t recovering from a night on the tiles – and he had this chatty way about him that James found appealing. A combination of brains, beauty and humour! That could do it for James every time. Well, whatever the attraction for Stewart had been, it had certainly been working that night, even if the lustre had worn off pretty quickly. Anyway, he and Stewart had ended up the best of mates, so something good had come out of what potentially had not been so great – meeting Tommy! James couldn’t count the number of times he had taken guys home, given them a good fucking, then been ignored by them in the bar the next day, like he didn’t even exist. Shallow pricks! Tommy had spoken to him the next day, which almost made him husband material, for starters
!
He finally picked up the drinks, and moved back to the table at the window nearest the main street. He and Stella (Stewart was called Stella more often than by his real name) would often sit here for hours. They just gossiped away, and watched the passing parade, laughing at the dero’s passing by and trying to get money off people, the really badly dressed queens who thought they were so cool, and the hunky guys running around the street in singlet and shorts, the bulges of their cocks making an obvious show to all and sundry. It was a good way to pass an easy afternoon, no hassles, and a lot of laughs.
‘Well, what are you going to do about friggin’ Tommy? This is becoming a bit of a fucking habit with him, isn’t it?’ Stewart said, taking a sip out of his drink, clicking his teeth against the rim of the glass in an annoying way. ‘It’s not as if he could still be lovesick for you or anything. God, Who would get lovesick over you! You know what I reckon? I think he just likes to give you the shits. He knows he can get a rise out of you, so he does these fucked up things and doesn’t count the bloody cost.’ There was a brief pause for another sip. ‘Does he still reckon he’s in love with Mark? I got so sick of hearing him go on about it, I just avoid him when I see him now.’ Stella stared at James, as if to make sure he was still listening. James tended to tune out when Tommy’s name came up in conversation. ‘If Trevor ever gets wind of it, there will be hell to pay. I don’t think they’re fucking, though Tommy likes to make out they are – but I don’t think Mark is stupid enough to fuck up his relationship. Shit, he and Trevor have been together for years! Almost enough to make a girl jealous! But only almost! I reckon Tommy just has a very fertile imagination, which is going to get him into big fucking trouble if he’s not careful.’ Stella picked up his drink again, and started to slowly spin the glass between his fingers, swirling the ice, which clinked as it churned around.
‘Yeah, exactly my thoughts Stella. I’m sure Trevor must have heard all the gossip by now. Shit, it’s all Tommy talks about when he’s sober. I don’t know what to fucking do about him. He’s not even a good flatmate! He never does any cooking, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him lift a duster. He reckons he doesn’t want to break any of my stuff! So what’s he bloody do instead? He has a night on the bloody piss and does a rampage right through the apartment. All my Ching dynasty china is gone now, after last nights little episode. He’s too fucking expensive to keep, and too fucking expensive to get rid of, if you know what I mean! I guess in some ways, he’s almost too perfect. He pays his rent and bills on time, so he’s good like that. I don’t know! I guess the question is, can I be bothered with all the hassle involved in getting someone reliable to replace him, if I tell him to piss off.’ James stared back out the window, noticing the streaks that the window washer had left when cleaning them. Because of the dark, tinted glass they stuck out like a dog’s balls.
‘Ummm! A bit of a problem, isn’t it.’ Stella said, also looking out the window. ‘If John wasn’t still staying with me, you could tell Tommy to take over the apartment, and move in with me. We could do the sisters-together thing! We’ve always got along okay, and I already know you’re a fuckin’ pain in the arse, so I know what to bloody well expect.’
‘Thanks, I think! But I guess I’ll try to work things through with Tommy before I jump into the fire. He really needs to see a very patient counsellor, but I can’t bleeding well force him to do that.’ James lit another cigarette, and there was a few minutes silence while they both puffed away. James rhythmically kicked the table support with his foot, causing the table to vibrate slowly. ‘I mean, this whole thing with Mark is just psychotic! Tommy follows the poor prick everywhere. He waits until he hears or sees him leaving the building, then he’s out the front door like a fucking shot. Then he just has to come home and give me endless tirades about where Mark has been, who he’s been talking too, every single bloody word of conversation that goes on between the two of them. As if I fucking care!’ Another plume of smoke drifted out of his mouth. ‘Shit, I have enough hassles keeping my own life together, let alone worrying about anyone else.’

They both picked up their drinks and coasters as a bar useful wiped down the table and emptied the ashtray. They both cruised the shirtless, young hunk leaning over their table. They both checked out his tight arse as he moved to the next table. Stewart looked up and James felt him staring. He looked up quickly, in time to catch Stewart’s intense stare.

‘You’re looking really stressed, girlfriend. Is everything okay at work? You mentioned something last week about getting the shits with it.’ Stewart looked genuinely concerned.
James nodded his head. He managed a store on the strip, and DJ,d in his spare time. ‘The job’s really starting to shit me now. You know that fucking shop is my pride and joy.’ A look of exasperation crossed his face. ‘I’ve worked so bloody hard to get it where it is, and what happens? They send in new guys. That new area manager is a real cunt. We hated each other from first sight, and it’s just gotten worse from that point.’ James said, gazing out the window to the passing parade

James and the area manager had clashed from day one. James was used to really good rapport with his superiors, and the last area manager had been well aware that a store in Darlinghurst benefitted from having a gay manager, and had always been very supportive. But this new guy…big-time trouble! He didn’t like queens, and had made that really obvious. When he found out that James was a HIV+ boy, he really turned the heat up. Even took James aside for a ‘quiet coffee’ and told him that perhaps he should consider leaving the job – only for the sake of his health, of course! Prick! He had been on James’ back ever since, picking on every little thing, and generally making life as difficult, and as uncomfortable, as possible. James was fucking over it!

‘I’ll see how it goes. I might quit if things don’t improve, which doesn’t seem likely at this time. I wish I had a bloody witness for some of the things the pious prick has said to me. I’d sue the fucking bastards for every cent I could get.’ James drummed his fingers on the table top, then loudly slapped his palm down, causing Stewart to jump. ‘You want to know what really worries me, girlfriend? All the stress! It’s starting to knock my health around. Anyway, thanks for the thought, but that’s enough about my problems. How’s the bar job at Barracks going?’
‘Pretty bloody good, actually. I think they’re about to give me a few more shifts. Hell, the fucking extra money certainly wouldn’t go astray.’ Stella rubbed his hands together. ‘By the way, before I forget to tell you – as if I’d dare – it’s John’s birthday next weekend. I’m throwing a bit of a shindig for him at home. I have a little surprise lined up, so don’t make any plans. Get there late afternoonish, if you can. I could do with an extra set of hands.’ Stella pouted his lips and threw James a kiss across the table, ‘You know what my parties are like. It will probably still be going on Sunday night.’

Stella had a reputation for really over-the-top parties, and relished the reputation. ‘I’m setting up the porn room again. It worked really well at the last party, as I’m sure you’d remember. Slut! Never know, you might meet the next great love of your life – again!’ He threw James another smirk.
James didn’t take the bait. ‘Right! I’m sure my mother would love to meet a boyfriend I met in a porn room at a party. I can just see me trying to explain that situation to her. Shit! She’s a fucking romantic. She’d never understand this.’ A young twink wandered past the window. Obviously on his way home from the gym, he stopping to admire himself in the glass, little knowing that he was being observed from the other side of the glass. He distracted James for a second. ‘She has enough problems with the gay thing as it is. I think she actually gets off on the breast-beating and guilt trip. You know, mea culpa, mea culpa!’ James struck his chest three times. ‘Sometimes I wish my curiosity, to know what happened to her after she pissed off and left my brother and myself with my old man, had just stayed as curiosity.’ James looked serious for a moment, then turned back to the window. The twink had gone.

James and his mother had a very tenuous relationship. She had walked out on his old man when James was 11, and Kevin, his brother, was 6. They had got home from school one day, and she just wasn’t there. There had been no explanation forthcoming from their father, though he did issue an edict that, as far as everyone was concerned, she was dead. Fucking families, James thought. She had remarried in the early 70’s, and James had a half sister from that marriage. He tended not to have much to do with his step-family. Ray, his step-father, was a homophobe, and with an eighteen-year gap between him and his half-sister, they didn’t really share anything in common, other than the same mother. She had never been able to handle him being gay. And thought it was all her fault that James was “that way”, that if she hadn’t left home, it may have been different. He let her live with this delusion. James had never been game to tell her he was HIV+. She carried enough guilt already. He didn’t want to be responsible for adding to it. So he kept it a quiet lie. Fortunately, his mother lived with such a huge amount of denial that there was little chance that she would ever talk about HIV anyway.

‘I’ll be at the party with bells on.’ James replied. ‘Want me to bring Tommy, ha! ha! He can fill everyone in on the saga with Mark. I’m sure everyone’s hanging out for the next installment.’
‘You bring him, and I’ll castrate you, boyo, sister or not! Want another drink?’ Stewart got up from the stool, then leaned down on the table, putting his head in his hands. ‘Might take a couple of hairs to get back to normal, I reckon. Back in a sec.’ He headed toward the bar. James, unconsciously, noticed that he still had a great butt. He shook his head, and looked back out the window. A druggie girl with a baby in her arms was attempting to elicit money off a passer-by, all to no affect. The baby wasn’t pulling its weight today! James briefly wondered what sort of life the baby would have. Her boyfriend – who looked like he needed a good feed, and sported a stained singlet, rat’s tail, and cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth – stood nearby with a battered stroller. James could hear a muffled string of abuse from the girlfriend as those passing by picked up speed and ignored both her and baby. She thrust the baby into the boyfriends arms. James noted that she was probably about 25, but looked 70. She stormed off down the street still hurling abuse. The boyfriend hurriedly stuffed the baby into the stroller and headed off after her. James shook his head. Stewart returned, plonking the drink onto the coaster in front of him
‘Thanks for the gin, Stella.’ He peered intently over Stewart’s shoulder. ‘That’s a bit of a cutie sitting over there. I might come back later tonight and see if he’s still around.’ James flicked his thumb toward a young guy sitting near the front doors of the bar, looking somewhat furtively around the bar. Too cute to be a desperado. Wonder what his story is? James mulled to himself.

‘Fuck me! You got a fuck from Paul (a fuck buddy) last night, and already you’re chasing the next bit of arse. What if Paul turns up tonight, eh? I’ll betcha I know what’d happen, and the cutie would be on the fucking losing end of the deal, wouldn’t he, sweetheart!’
‘Nah, Paul won’t be out tonight. He’s throwing a dinner party with that girl he flats with – Vicki, or Nicki or something. He has very unhealthy relationships with the female sex, have you noticed! He’s got more female friends than he has male!’Something strange about that!’ James screwed up his face as he looked at Stewart. ‘That’s another reason why I have had second thought about actually getting seriously involved with him. I don’t know that I want my social life dominated by women. They’re okay in small doses, but that’s as much as I can handle.’ The screwed up face took on a more sinister aspect. ‘Look at how they have managed to fuck up all the local nightclubs. They bring in their straight wanker boyfriends, and the next thing you know, it’s straight city!! Those fucking young queens who spend half their lives dragging fag-hags around are going to have a lot to answer for, one of these days.’ James was spitting venom by this stage. ‘They’re fucking it up for everyone. Why can’t us guys have spaces for ourselves? The bloody lezzo’s are allowed to have them. Those new bleeding anti-discrimination laws are fucked,’ James snarled.
Stewart sat quietly, lost in a world of his own. James, feeling pleasantly calmed by his little outburst plus a couple of gins, started some serious cruising with the guy he had noticed earlier. He wasn’t exactly handsome, but there was a something about him that drew James attention. Maybe it was his eyes, or the non-gay way he was dressed. Almost as if he didn’t realise he was in a gay bar. James shivered! Déjà vu, he thought to himself. This was the sort of naïve thing Tommy did when he wanted to attract attention, and which he had used to hook James on the night they met. That was exactly the sort of look that had sucked him in that night, and James certainly didn’t want that episode repeated. Yet, despite the similarity in appeal, this guy looked more together than Tommy had.

‘How’s Don going?’ Stella broke into James reverie. ‘Is he out of hospital yet?’
‘Yeah, he got out two days ago. He’s not telling the whole story, you know! He’s fucking sicker than he lets on. I’m not silly. I know when someone’s trying to pull the wool over my eyes.’ James looked at Stella across the table, a concerned frown on his face.
‘Mmm. I thought he’d tell you what the problem is. You two have been mates for yonks.’ Stella tapped his fingers on the table, then stuck a finger in his mouth and started to chew on a fingernail. ‘He’s lost so much weight, and he’s takin’ a lot of time off work. Do you think he’s got the dreaded lergy?’ Stella asked, a slight grimace crossing his face.
‘Well, that’s what I originally thought, but I can’t work out why he’d be quiet about it. It’s not as if it’s such a rare thing these days, and he knows so many others with this fucking virus,’ James said, chewing on a piece of ice that had not melted in the glass. ‘I don’t think he’d keep it to himself if he had it.’ He appeared to think about it for a few seconds. ‘Naw! It’s something else. He’ll tell me in his own good time,’ James replied, unable to hide his concern. He was really worried about his mate, but didn’t want others to know how serious he thought Don’s illness was.
‘Well, I hope he fuckin’ does. There’s enough guys dropping off the perch as it is!’ Stella threw his own concerned look across the table.

Another couple of minutes passed in silence, both lost in their own thoughts. James looked back across the bar, and caught the cutie looking across at him, then quickly looking away.
‘Catch as catch can,’ James smiled at Stella across the table, pointing his chin in the general direction that he was looking in. Stella turned his head and looked back over his shoulder.
‘Umm! Lining things up for tonight already, are we?’ Stewart exclaimed as he thumped his glass down on the table. ‘I can see where your priorities lie at the moment, trash bag!’
‘Yeah. That guy is acting a bit like how Tommy was acting on the night we met. A bit spooky, actually.’
‘Fuck, don’t want a repeat of that, do we? We never did get to fuck. That night screwed that up, didn’t it?’ James threw a quizzical look across the table. ‘Don’t look at me like that! I knew you were trying to get me into the sack that night.’ Stella returned his look. ‘I shouldn’t tell you this, but I would have been in it, if Tommy hadn’t fuckin’ well shown up!’ Stella had one of those looks on his face that made it possible to believe that he wasn’t being serious, but then again he might be! James hated those looks! You never knew where you fucking well stood. ‘Well, look on the bright side of it – I would probably never have respected you again – as if I ever did – so it’s probably just as well it never happened. I think you make a better fucking sister.’
‘You’ve known that for four bloody years, and never said a word to me! How fucking rude are you! Sisters are never supposed to know that you wanted to lay them. Some things are supposed to be sacred, you know!’
‘Oh, I guess I’m only slightly miffed about that situation. You’ve been one of the best friends I’ve ever had in this city. Look at how I trash myself, and slut around, and you never ever criticise me for it, though I sometimes wish you fucking would! Might pull me into line a bit,’ Stella laughed.
‘Wouldn’t do me much damn good anyway. You’re just a lost cause. Anyway, I don’t know if I’d like you to be pulled into line. I love you the way you are.’

James blew him a kiss across the table. ‘Take the good with the bad, I reckon. Finish your bloody drink and your fag so I can go home for some dinner. With any luck, Tommy will still be in bed. I’ll meet you here about ten o’clock.’ James stood up to go, rocking the table as he learnt on it.
‘Okay gorgeous. Hold your horses for a sec.’ Stella drained the remains of the gin in one gulp. ‘Don’t you think it’s a bit chancy leaving me with the potential trade?’
‘That’s exactly why I don’t intend to leave until you do. AND I’ll ring you when I get home, just to make sure you haven’t snuck back.’ They both headed towards the door. Stella put his hand on James shoulder, and pushed him out the door.
‘That’s the problem with sisters. They know you too fucking well!’ he quipped, planting a kiss on James’s cheek before heading up the street.

Tim Alderman
(C) 2014

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