So here we are hurtling through space on a rock that spinning around an explosion that’s twirling like the fringe on a super faggoty tassel dress on the edge of some galactic 1920’s flapper as we venture ever on in some directionless infinite space with out much of a point but with a whole lot of feelings, and its our anniversary.
Its Nick and my anniversary, of the day we met, which is also the day we started dating, which seems like yesterday and about 17 years ago, (Because time is super relative, and Nick and I being both New Yorkers talk a lot and fast and being both over fascinated with how humans as humans function have spent hours in some weird state of seemingly endless meta-reflection on our individual ‘me-ness’ and out collective ‘us-ness’ , WHICH I LOVE, but does make it feel at times like I’ve known him for ever) but was in fact just 730 days ago.
We met at Burning Man and time stood still. (to set the scene, I was pole dancing on a platform as a mermaid in a blue sequined gown and a ferocious pink wig covered in an endless parade of flowers woven into my hair and big old leather boots. Also perhaps its time to be honest, I was trying to pole dance. I’m not very good at it at the best of times, but the pole was hardly vertical, and my dress was really long. I mean I’m sure I looked FIERCE, but its also possible I looked like a carp struggling to breath out in the open air, THRASHING. He was dressed like some sort of Ninja auto mechanic, there are no pictures.)
But really, time, it actually slowed down. It was slow time, beautiful time, time you can think in, time that functions on a scale different to the human, a time more cellular. I’m sure we have all had the experience. Normally I see life like this big crazy orgy of death and desire and Handle esq dramatic classical music, and its all mood lighting (And lightning) and raw emotions, and giants eating the flesh of mere mortals, and utter chaos and blood. Fields of endless humanity striped of all pretension till its revels in it animalistic, natural, orgiastic, fecund, brilliance. It’s primal and sweaty and layered in complexity.
And because I’m a faggot its also filled with lots and lots of glitter and ponies and you know Hieronymus Bosch Garden of Earthly Delights realness and Raqib Shaw inspired faggotry and soaring diva arias and pink lipstick. And there are exquisite waterfalls of diamonds and fields with grass so green you recognize them as fluid fields of emeralds. All furniture is antique, all cups are goblets all goblets are ornate, and there is no difference between this space and any other.
Everything is piled against each other till reality becomes so deep in the endless layered complexity, which is friendship and love and dreams, and war and suffering, and longing that it all becomes a flat two dimension painted experience that is simultaneously Zeus being eaten by Saturn and the arrival of Venus.
And I’m sure I’m not alone in this vision, I know Nick for instance has seen reality this way before, and perhaps that’s why I love him.
But in that moment, everything stopped. Amidst the chaos of reality, there was a breath of silence. True silence. Not the silence which is the absence of noise, that silence is basic, that silence is a shadow of true silence. It’s the silence in which the fates live, Clotho, Atropos, Lachesis, that was your domain. Everything was real in that moment, no chaos, no glitter, just the raw substance of life.
I don’t remember looking at him as he asked me if I wanted to leave that dance platform, and my well worked poll and those Bootie jams and go with him on an adventure. I remember seeing through him. To the space far distant which existed in an alternative future of my own. It was there, in that moment that I took my own fated threads into my own hands and wove but one stitch on the tapestry of my life.
This mashup is like soooo overly sentimental and I LOVE IT.
I very much wanted to say no. No was safe, and no was familiar, and no was no to all the things I did not feel I could yet say yes to. No was no to my faggotry, to self-work to love. No was living a pre-scripted life where I had already resigned myself to being a fat old gay man, in ruby sun glasses and Hawaiian shirts drink Cosmos, but the side of motel pools in Lodi, California. Which lets be honest sounds great. I have gray hair, and look like Glenn Close playing Baby Jane. I say loudly and often that I once was SOMEBODY. I spill most things I drink on myself, which is lucky as I’m always about to erupt into flames as the cigarettes I’m always trying to smoke, have a habit of falling onto the expanse of my stomach and smoldering away, unnoticed. Everything I own has burn marks and pits stains. All of this of course is redeemed when they make an E Hollywood true story about me and then a biopic and I spent the last several decades of my life transformed into some sophisticated slob.
The space beyond him was an epic sea of lights, and color, and other adventures, of art and wisdom I do not yet know, or may never. It was a choice towards a certain kind of life to say yes. I had so much more then two options then, I had a world of possibilities.
It was slowed time, stopped time, real time. It was glorious. I lived a thousand lives in that moment, I have seen a hundred me’s. Can one fall in love in a moment, in a look, in a word? No. did I? Yes. It was not a moment, it was a lifetime a spiritual breath. I had all the time to consider, and all we had done was kiss once, and Blah blah blah, I know mushy. But I loved him then, and I love him now.
Which is not to say that is been super easy. Relationships are hard. And I’m challenged by ours daily. Not like Hercules 12 labors challenged, but living with some one, and co-creating a life together can be totally exhausting. I’m also often overly dramatic and Nick can be absurd and we often both fail at being the best versions of ourselves. but that’s not a deal breaker, that’s the reality of life.
Since all people BE CRAZY, (obviously including myself) its rather miraculous to find any one at all to share ones life with. And it’s hard. Gay world is hard when it comes to love. And I guess I feel like sharing in case some of my journey which was hard and done largely in silence, can inspire you and save you some time. I mean there are a million great self-helpish books out there on this topic, like the VELVET RAGE, but i think sharing personal journeys can also help. Also this day is an occasion to socially celebrate our love, and our love has been supported so much by various communities and friends, that its hardly a celebration for two, but a deep thank you to everyone who has helped us grow together, so the least I feel I can do is be honest about how hard love is to find even within the self, let alone with another. So here is the spark notes version of mine.
Anyway I’m sure the world of straight love is hard too. I’m not saying we, as the ‘gays’ have it the hardest, I’m just saying there are some unique problems and process we work through as gay men, that are HARD to talk about. Not least because we self medicate with clubbing and anonymous sex and are so tired of years of repression and self hate, that some times we just like to explode into our own gayness and not have to be involved in more self reflection.
All we want is some good old fun and validation and lots of exceptionally hot fucking. I love all of these things and have indulged in them heavily, I’m not passing judgment on anyone, I’m just talking about my own experience, and in that I used sex and clubbing to avoid self reflection for a long time. But I think this process of self exploration which was kicked started in my psyche in a big way as I worked through feelings of same-sex desire, and then I abandoned for several years of hedonism, and am now picking up again in an intentional way is a gift connected to my gayness. I’m so glad I taught myself the tools of self-reflection and deeply interrogate my relationship to desire as I learned in silence and often suffering that I was gay. It was MESSY AS FUCK, and scary but GODDESS when I am down on my self or tired I just remember how proud I am of myself for coming out and discovery my own faggotry and its like ‘GURL you got this.’ and all those years of hedonism taught me how HAMAZING gay gay gay gay gay sex and dancing, and ki-ki-ing can be and that was totally necessary and I still LOVE IT.
So for me, to really love Nick, to even be ready to meet some one like Nick and fall in love, took a huge amount of work. The first thing I had to learn was to love myself. ESPECIALLY my gay self. this involved processing large amounts of socially induced internalized homophobia in order to be able to truly embrace my gay love and not reject people who expressed desire for me. Which seems basic but I had a really hard time with it. I had a hard time letting people love me as I always felt slightly flawed for being gay. So I sought solace in fantastic female companions whose love I could accept as it was never sexual. AND i’m so glad I did that, I have had so many fantastic female identified teachers in my life, and thank you for your support and guidance, from my mother to my dearest friends, you taught me how to love all aspects of me. You all saved me! thank you! and you all taught me something our Lady Ru says “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else.”
Or at least I did/am learning to love my gayness. Which has been its own lengthy journey and I had to learn how to do that, before I could even begin thinking about loving another. Then I had to learn in my own way what it even means to love, for I both lacked good gay-love social role models, and I feel I lost so many potential teachers to the AIDS epidemic that their was a break in the transmission of knowledge and culture. Furthermore because of the Epidemic the act of love comes with a huge amount of social and personal baggage not to mention fears and phobias. There is a lot more to unpack here and I don’t want to make it sound simplistic but that conversation is for another time.
(And I don’t mean that I had not ever been exposed to love, but we spend so long seeing social depictions of love that are heteronormative that I fear that many of us feel distanced from love as we recognize that love, the most pervasively marketed and expressed form of love as something we find antithetical to our natures and desire. It takes a while to process this. Or again it did for me. And when sex which is an expression of love has become associated with death, love and desire hardly seem promising, them seem like the gateway to annihilation.)
I’d like to say I have done all this. And I’m totally sorted, but obviously that’s a massive lie. And it can make loving some one else hard, because I’m fragile, and broken and afraid, and incredibly strong, and self willed and in the words of Beyonce ‘I’m a grown woman I’ll do what ever I want.” Which I do. Often. But that in itself is messy. Life is messy. LIKE REALLY MESSY. And love is not some Hollywood romance, real love is self-annihilating and explosive, and it churns up your being and makes you look at all of yourself, hunting for that spot in you that is unlovable. Real love is not the reason you delete scruff or grindr. Real love is something that encourages you to explore everything, even sex with others, even intimacy with others, even love with others. Real love is not about promises to limit your experience, real love is about encouraging each other to grow. AND IT’S SO HARD. And I’m often really bad at it. But I try.
The day before I met Nick at Burning Man I sat with a shaman for 3 hours in the baking sun, and we talked through all of this. and I cried. OH did I cry, I cried with the ferocity of a man heaving up from the depths of his soul the poison of a life time. something fleshy and made of stone, covered in bile and oozing. It was rancid and real, and made up from the fibers of my fear. Just naming it that first time, just explore my fear, and my wounded shadow, made me so ready to even accept the thought of love. and of course there is tones of that bile still deep inside me, but I am lucky, unbelievably lucky. I have found this mystical amazing faggot companion who loves all the broken bits, (ok not all of them, but he makes a good show of taking the sharp edges along with the love) and helps me explore myself as I hope I help him. My journey towards loving Nick started with that Shaman that day when I accepted love in a visceral way. I believe that it was his guidance that allowed me to see the thought of love, the promise of love, in that moment out of time on that dance platform. (I FUCKING LOVE BURNING MAN SO MUCH ITS SUCH A GREAT PLACE TO GO TO LEARN ABOUT THE SOUL.)
But as I was saying when I started this here we are, floating in space, on a rock, in love. And its an adventure. It’s such an adventure. What are we marking with this anniversary, a year more of love, or the passing of the earth around the sun to the approximate place where we met before, (even thought that’s hardly true as everything is ever in motion and one can never return to space previously occupied.) Anniversaries are such human fleshy things, such absurd sentimental things, and I’m not totally sure why I am bending to this social pressure to make this day extra special and loving, (Like hello capitalism trying to squeeze money from my pockets in a tribute of love.) but im rather happy to do so, as I love to love you Nick and I love telling the world about it, no matter where in the heavens the earth hangs. Thank you for dancing with me. and for making these super cute eyes at me a lot when you’re feeling super lovely, they MELT MY HEART. And for loving me when I burst into tears as we watch Legend Of Korra. (Which happens slightly too often, but Children’s TV. can be SOOOO DRAMATIC) And for letting me always be the little spoon, Like all the time.
So I took 4 disposable cameras worth of film over the last 12 months, I got them on our anniversary last year and I’ve taken random photos, of places we have been and moments we have had together, and here are a few of my favorites.
So happy anniversary Mr. Trouble. I love you, thank you. I’m really glad to share our love, which we do with the world every day walking around holding hands, and hugging for longer then is necessary when we say good bye, (I’m a hugging addict) and occasionally wearing matching-ish faggoty outfits by mistake. I love you.