When Madonna’s Ray of Light came out, I immediately identified with “Sky Fit’s Heaven” particularly “traveling down my own road Watching the signs as I go.”
If there has been one thing, it has been my ability to make my life a constant adventure. I often feel like I am on the passenger side while traveling down the journey of life. It has often have left me doing things where I wonder, “How the hell did I get here?”
I went from being 17 years old, living at home while sneaking with fake ID to the only real gay club in Winnipeg to a year later living a life in Vancouver taken right out of the pages of Armistead Maurine’s Tales of the City.
I had all the ingredients: drag queens, lots of sex, lots and lots of MDA, a guy who dressed up as a girl scout keeping his beard going out in his Candy Camper character, doing quaaludes, staying at the baths for three days. It was the tail end of the post-seventies pre-AIDS gay party culture.
One year later, I’m living in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. By the time I’m 19, I’ve been around. I discover Nina Hagen while travelling to Marseille one early morning bus ride to catch a train to Italy. The driver is playing “African Reggae” and I ask him who that is.
Returned back to Winnipeg, a once dysfunctionally shy kid is now the public face of HIV a year after my diagnosis in the days of Ebola-level hysteria and stigma. Simply being public is news, and my father finds out through an interview I had done. (We weren’t and aren’t close).
It seems counter-intuitive for a shy guy, but if something secretly peaked my desire, but made me really nervous to do it, I’d just jump right in. Risk taking and adventure is built into my DNA.I thought this was just a stage , but it turned out not to be. It foreshadowed the rest of my life.
“Ray of Light” is my life soundtrack when I discover I’m an exhibitionist - again, something that is counter intuitive for a shy guy. I’d pose naked for a website that became very popular and next thing I was getting used to people seeing me in a much different light. I learned through the internet there is someone for everybody. You just have to put yourself out there.
I’m watching the signs go by as I’m on my knees fluffing for a Titan Media porn shoot in San Francisco, or drinking white wine while gazing upon the rolling hills of Tuscany while on a German-run porn set (Cazzo). After being a public leper, it’s pretty much a non-event to have people seeing me in porn.
But then my 40s happened, the decade of self-imposed repression. I’m in recovery for all the meth, GHB, E, alcohol, K, and pot. When my boyfriend and I were doing a litre of GHB a month, it was time for an intervention. The boundary-pushing with a dash of co-dependency this time lead me too far down that road. I had forgottet to watch for the signs, and so it becomes time to fix some of the damage.
That’s not to say I completely shut down. I retained my sense of adventure in different ways. Fuck, I converted to Judaism, not an easy task. Try walking into a synagogue all alone not knowing a soul and being completely outside of your comfort zone.
Jumping into stand up comedy is not for the faint of heart either.
"Meth and sex is a difficult issue for many gay men. They are intertwined. Sex creates the desire for meth, meth creates the desire for sex (a 36-hour desire). Meth is a disinhibitor. The sexual desires that linger below now can surface. This is when guys get piggy with their sex. I like piggy sex - however you want to define that."
I did shut down in other ways. I’m isolating a lot. TV is a good friend. Sexually I’ve almost completely shut down. Instead of working a post-meth sexuality I simply avoided the work.
Several years ago I was walking through a leather bar in Vienna. All the ingredients of a great sleazy time were there to be had. Lots of guys with the right attitude and a great backroom. A friend took me through.
Instead of being the bell of the ball as I used to be, I only felt anxiety. This scene brought me back to my meth state of mind. Meth is a disinhbitor, which is why a lot of guys get supper piggy with their sex, me included. That part of ourselves has always been there, but we used meth to let out.
At the age of 51, while listening to that song, “Sky Fits Heaven” remix, for a little nostalgia, I realized that I no longer am on any road - nor am I watching any signs at all. For the second time my life, I have my Peggy Lee moment - “Is That All That There Is?”
Preceding this epiphany, the previous two and half years had been the most challenging of this decade. I’m not sure where I get the will to carry on. Tenacity is programmed into me, perhaps a skill learned throughout the 80s. Slowly, like playing a chess game, incrementally I made changes that finally began to pay off. My long process of finding the right combination of medications while highly drug resistant finally had been found. The other pharmaceuticals that had turned me into Frances Farmer, (basically lobotomized) are now changed.
Finally it clicked last winter. The meds were sorted out. Winter depression began. I started Wellbutrin, but more importantly I went back to the gym. It saved my life in many ways.
Today I’m told that I am a different person from a year ago. People tell me my skin used to look grey, mentally I seemed kind of out off it and not present. Physically I had gained weight.
The gym gave me a place to go during the dreary grey days of winter. I rediscovered my love of working out and cardio. The place is well lit and becomes my oasis of light for two hours a day. My endurance is becoming greater. I’m losing that stomach fat. Now I can see my abs in a way I haven’t ever. I’m alert mentally.
The domino effect began. Exercise makes me feel mentally and physically better. When I feel better that way, I feel more confident about my body and when all of those ingredients are put together I feel more confident. That confidence spills over into other areas.
The most important aspect of hitting up the gym was taking action and regaining a sense of control over a long and tiring process.
All of this leads me back to sex. I had first joined Scruff - like Grindr - pre-gym. I met one guy and then I didn’t go back onto it until a couple of months ago.
After five years of suppressing my sexuality I’m taking it back. Once I began taking action on this front I realized how important it is and how much I missed the human touch, how I missed being sexual and how fundamental it is to our overall physical and mental health.
Meth and sex is a difficult issue for many gay men. They are intertwined. Sex creates the desire for meth, meth creates the desire for sex (a 36 hour desire). Meth is a disinhibitor. The sexual desires that linger below now can surface. This is when guys get piggy with their sex. I like piggy sex - however you want to define that. It’s taken me this long to untangle the two.
I’ve now begun to regain my sense of adventure, risk taking (in healthy ways) and pushing boundaries. It turns out at 51 guys are into me. - hot and fun guys. I’m the “daddy” now and I’ve learned to embrace it and be the best one I can..
I no longer need meth to go to the places I want to go sexually. It is freeing. There is no shame.
Unexpectedly I was tested by a guy I’ll call Mr. Meth.
He is young and cute. I arrived and he asked if I partied. He clearly missed that part of my “no pnp” profile. I replied, “No but if you want to go ahead.” What else could I say? He’d still do it but be really obvious and stupid about it and I’d know.
Fortunately he didn’t do a lot. I arrived at 7:20 pm and we finished at midnight. I not only was as piggy or more than he was, I kept up. I did that all sober, and I wear that badge proudly.
The sexual landscape has changed greatly. We now know that Undetectable equals Uninfectious. HIV negative men are now taking PReP.
What is also sort of new is the sexual morality police consisting of gay men who want to shame other gay men who have the freedom to make the choices that work for them. Our sexuality is for us to own and not bow down done to those who wag fingers.
If I want to have sex with three guys in one week, all condomless, this is my prerogative. If this threatens you, then I suggest this is for you to figure out, not me.
This post is the pre-amble to writing more about post-meth sexuality at my age. I’m not the only one.
I’m out there creating new experiences and stories. There’s a reason why I run a monthly storytelling event. PositiveLite.com is the prefect place to share my escapades unapologetically.
I’m always writing about what’s going on in my life at the moment, and this is it.
In the meantime I’ve learned that my Chihuahua Henry is in love with my new jockstrap. I’m constantly retrieving it from his bed. I guess I shouldn’t complain, my previous black lab cross used to eat condoms.
I leave you here while I go out and make some stories to tell.