Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas to All

Here's hoping that you and your loved ones will have the Merriest Christmas and a Happy New Year. I am spending the holidays in the NYC area and may not blog frequently for the next 10 days. I will do an occasional post as the opportunity arises. There is so much to do here, and I intend to take full advantage including spending a little time with No4real4real this week. I have already spent 2 nights with Maxim in the DC area and look forward to stopping in there on New Year's day on my way home. Looks as though I won't get to see THE COLOR PURPLE on Broadway as I had hoped (sold out until January), so I am going to try for RENT.

Shem hotep!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Fire Week/Weekend in DC - A Forty Year Old Secret Is Resurrected (Part II)

On Saturday, I met Kelley for coffee at Starbucks. We have fraternal connections as well as roots in the same part of our home state. Turns out we know some folks in common that I had just as soon not had to remember. During our casual conversation and lattes, he mentioned the name of the church that he had grown up in. Well, even the church name holds memories for me that I had tried to bury long ago. As a kid growing up, I was real active in my church and attended church conventions in nearby towns. As you younger generations have read, there were no motels/hotels for black folks to stay in during the 60's. Instead, members of the church would host conference participants. When I was 12, I attended a Sunday school convention and was assigned to stay with a church family composed of 3 brothers and a sister (all of whom were in their late 40's to early 60's in age). None had ever married and they lived in the home built by their parents at the beginning of the 20th century. When Kelley told me the name of his church, a forty year old memory that I have continually kept quiet about found its way into words. Last month, only Maxim had ever heard me mention something had happened to me as a child, and I was very general leaving out a lot. I told Kelley that some members of his church had molested me, and he was able to name them right away. Shock.

Since, sex and especially homosexuality had NEVER been discussed in my home or community within earshot of us kids, I was as dumb as a concrete block. Boy, did I get educated, confused and shamed real fast. Bottom line is I was molested those 2 nights by two of the three brothers. I managed to avoid penetration, but everything else was done including oral sex, fondling, french kissing (you get the picture). My tears had no effect on them. In looking back, the oldest brother who didn't touch me was in his 60's and had probably had enough youngsters. The other two had twin beds in the same room, and I was required to go back and forth from one bed to another. I never was given a bed to sleep in alone. They kept close to me at church and made sure to buy me things at the stores after the church meetings ended each day.

The sister had a young girl who they had "taken in" sleeping with her. Looking back, I still see Brenda's sad, downcast eyes as she climbed the stairs each night to go sleep in that room. They had also "raised" a boy from the community who left home and cut off all contact with them. I could understand why he would do that. Later, I would understand their concern was not so much for his welfare as it was for whether he would tell the world what they had probably done to him as well.

I learned from Kelley that all of the brothers are dead now. The sister is well into her nineties. I am in a way, grateful to Kelley for being there and bringing this to the surface. Each time I have thought about it, I have been depressed and pushed the memories away. It has been a private hell. Perhaps now the healing begins.

In part III, I will blog about my visit to a DC church that welcomes and affirms single gender loving folks. Shem hotep.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Another Family Member

In July, I wrote about MySon2 who died of AIDS in July 2003. You never seem to recover from these losses, and hardly a day goes by that I don't miss him. His journey from knowing that he was HIV+ to dying of AIDS was 3 short years. I know people are living longer now HIV/AIDS through the use of some very powerful drugs. I also have met through blogging friends who use alternative medicines, treatments and meditation to control the effects of the disease.

Last weekend, a family member whom I am closest to was admitted to the hospital for extreme exhaustion. The early diagnosis was kidney failure and anemia. Of course, more blood work was required to find out the causes of these two events in his body. The answer is back, and he is HIV+.

He is strong and in otherwise good health, so the prognosis is encouraging. He reads my blog, so when he is released from the hospital and gets around to catching up, I want you to know - I LOVE YOU, CUZ and I got your back.

Shem hotep.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A Fire Week/Weekend in DC

I had meetings that took me to the District for several days last week and kept me there through the weekend. Well, just as I had good times in ATL and NYC, DC was not to be left out of the running. The first night was meet up night with Maxim (we hung out in ATL and DC, too). We used dinner at Café Salsa in Old Town Alexandria as our place to catch up on everything that may have happened to/with our friends since the NYC trip. Of course, we didn’t miss the opportunity to observe some of the hot Latino waiters in the restaurant. In fact, the vision of the wait staff combined with the Puerto Rican piononas (beef picadillo wrapped in sweet plaintains) and several glasses of sangria that rivaled my experience in Spain put this eatery on my list of “definitely go again.” That’s my own special rating system for restaurants – those on the “go again” list are 3 stars or better. Since the night temps were bit frigid, we called it a night early, especially knowing that would not be the case on Thursday night.

Now Thursday night reminded me of my undergraduate days when the weekend began on Thursday and ended on Tuesday (every week). Wednesdays were the day off from partying. Tandy joined Maxim and me for Ben’s Chili Bowl on U St. in NW before we headed to Busboy And Poets to catch my friend, Tim’m West’s Front Porch 1st anniversary celebration. If you caught my blog last week, you know that a fire destroyed Tim’m’s usual space at Café Mawonaj. Being the resourceful person that he is (we Duke men know how to handle business – lol), he turned to Bus Boys and Poets and secured the stage for his show. We arrived during open mic and heard the spoken word on loss of friends to AIDS. This was especially significant since it was also World AIDS Day. Tim’m came from his heart with his spoken words from past published works and from his blog. Complementing the show and complimenting the life work of Tim’m was a performance by Monica McIntyre accompanied by her sister Marcia. Monica is an accomplished cellist while Marcia commands the audience attention with her mastery of the classical violin. Together, these two women cover the full range of emotion as told through their music. The most touching moments of the evening came with Monica’s unexpected dramatization of a young women learning from her doctor that the health issues she is experiencing is a result of her having contracted the AIDS virus. You felt the devastation, hurt and betrayal in her characterization of the black female victim whose supposedly monogamous relationship turns out not to have been so monogamous. Monica indicated this was the first time she decided to perform this soliloquy. I encourage her to continue to perform and refine this piece because the message is so vital. If you get an opportunity to catch her in Philly or some other venue, I recommend her to you.
From Bus Boys and Poets, we headed downtown to the Bachelor’s Mill on 8th St. in SE. In addition to having a reasonable cover charge - $5 – the boys in there, were as hot as any I saw in NYC or Atlanta Pride 2005. The music was raging, the energy level high, and for the first time, I was in a club where I could dance, enjoy every minute of it, and not wish the track would end so I could leave the floor. Not only that, I met two guys right off from my home state. It’s a shame that we must leave the Bible Belt in order to have the true freedom to fully develop as loving human beings. Anyway, Rocky and Will did just that and the self-assuredness they have developed was evident. Dance floor downstairs, bar and lounge upstairs, outside secluded area upstairs, and heavy drinks (no watered down stuff here) makes for a highly rated evening in DC (and that's just on Thursday). We left around 2 am when the club closed. Tandy is well known and liked in the DC circuit although he had been away from the scene for a minute while pursuing a love interest. So leaving was made difficult by the number of guys who wanted to holla and renew old acquaintances. In addition, Maxim has more than a few friends some of whom are eager to renew and pursue a relationship with him (he really is a phyne 23 yo who knows it - don't let that go to your head when you read this).

Next entry about "A Fire/Weekend in DC" will talk about a 40 year old secret came out on Saturday.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Domestic Abuse and Violence in Gay Relationships (Part IV)

This final entry concludes the interview with Libra03. Remember, if you're a victim, seek help. If you're an abuser, seek help.

Fratman1906: Let's shift gears. Have you ever been a victim of abuse or violence?
Libra03: I dont know if i would say I was a victim, but me and my first fought once
Fratman1906: How and why did that happen?
Libra03: Jealousy my behalf.....funny thing is that we wasn’t even together at the time...just living together
Fratman1906: What led to the fight?
Libra03: Well, we didn’t have the healthiest relationship. It was my first gay relationship so I knew nothing aside from all that what led to the fight was that he was sneaky to me, and I never trusted him.
Fratman1906: And when you got into the fight, did you leave each other after that?
Libra03: I became like almost obsessive with jealousy, but yes we broke up.
Fratman1906: What did you learn from that episode?
Libra03: We have incidents prior to this one though, usually with me hitting him. It was unhealthy and there really was no point. Funny thing is that I viewed it as a fight between to males at the time. Now I see it differently.
Fratman1906: It was still violence within a domestic/romantic relationship.
Libra03: yes...and it was because I didn’t know how to direct my anger and frustration with him.
Fratman1906: There doesn't necessarily have to be one stronger and one weaker person in domestic violence situations. Both may be equally yoked, but physical or mental abuse is still problematic. Is this the person whom you pushed through a window?
Libra03: Yes, during our last fight that happened. It was my actions that started it but he hit me first. The thing is at the time I looked at it as we are both males and it was self defense. I think most people look at it that way and that is why they remain in those situations
Fratman1906: You said this was your first gay relationship. How long had you entertained the idea of hooking up with another male? Were you out? How long?
Libra03: I wasn’t out....I always knew i was interested in guys....I met him when i was 21, and this happened over the span of 2-3 years.
Fratman1906: Did this have any effect on your subsequent relationships, especially involving long term partners?
Libra03: If anything it helped me for the better. I can remember Friend and me getting into an argument one night, and it could have escalated to a fight.
Fratman1906: Did your previous experience help you to pull back?
Libra03: did. I was not interested in fighting him, but he told me later that he felt as if he wanted to fight me.
Fratman1906: Why do you think he felt that way?
Libra03: He was really angry and intoxicated. Something happened prior to that he didn’t like. He doesn’t like to feel controlled and I think that is the way he felt with me sometimes. Not that i tried to control him, but it came off that way
Fratman1906: Do you think Friend is comfortable with his sexual orientation or still coming to grips?
Libra03: I think he is way more comfortable since he was with me. I think he will agree that I made him more comfortable with himself
Fratman1906: Having witnessed Jason & JM along with your own experience, what advice would you give SGL couples and is there anything else you want to add?
Libra03: That no matter if its a male/male or female/female or male/female relationship that violence between partners is still domestic violence. Its no different just because you are the same sex and ceteris paribus; it is still domestic violence. In this type pf situation the healthiest thing for you to do is remove yourself from it because I think that the level violence is worst in gay relationships than hetero relationships. I don’t have the reason why but I would surely like to find out why.

Shem hotep!

Friday, December 02, 2005

World AIDS Day - December 1, 2005

Forever in my heart. I miss you guys:

Thomas J.
Richard C.
Robert F.

The world can never be the same because you left us much too soon.
With great sadness,
Your friend forever.