“Men are pigs and fags are liars.”
The first time I tried crystal meth, this not-so-gentle truth was shared with me.
My new best friend had been out most of his life and despite his obvious contempt for the gay world, he proudly wore the nickname “Mr. Gay 411.” He’d earned it.
He threw all the best gay parties, knew, knew of or had otherwise slept with everyone who met his reasonably selective criteria of beauty and drug use on the many online “dating” websites (note: Gay men don’t “date” for the most part.) His most valuable possession, earning him the handle, was his state-of-the-art rolodex listing detailed statistics of most gay men who did drugs, had an online profile and had somehow, at least so far, escaped the physical and hygienic destruction that meth eventually bestows on long term users.
Alphabetically. By screen name. Cross-referenced.
He was my new best friend not simply because he’d introduced me to meth, which I found an effective and cheap—albeit illegal—substitute for a prescription medication I could no longer afford. I liked him a lot. He was also a father, had been married and his endearing southern accent told me more deep truths and secrets about living the gay highlife than I would ever hear again from one source.
He was also the first of what I have come to find as a relatively commonplace attitude in the new subculture that had fully embraced my own coming out. Many openly admit that they don’t know their HIV status and don’t care to know. Perplexed by his indifference to that question which I asked often of him, my now growing habit and frequency of visits to his nicely appointed, suburban home in a middle-class neighborhood soon clouded my mind to the nagging dissatisfaction of his answer. In a nutshell, there were more important things to worry about, like buying drugs and welcoming guests at all hours to party. And by “party” I mean have sex.
For Christmas one year, I joked that I had bought him a numbered ticket dispenser like those used by Baskin & Robbins customers waiting their turn to be served their treats. I vowed to metaphorically install it at his front door to help manage the flow of guests to whom he had rolodexed invitations and meticulously scheduled in blocks of time like job interviews at a corporate HR department.
Men are pigs.
That one was easy to accept.
Men who remain unenlightened to a higher calling are generally selfish pigs, approximating or exceeding most sexual-needy stereotypes we have come to laugh at in prime time comedies. When gay and drugs are added, that fact is augmented tenfold becoming an alluring trifecta.
The point of my story is not to state or rehash stereotypes or even to find humor in them to help sedate the sad truth of the male libido. But really, even as a man, I have come to believe it’s not at all funny.
Fags are liars.
It may as well have been a book title, a primer for the Coming Out 101 course at one time I vowed to teach the innocent marks at the bars who were unwittingly referred to as “fresh meat.” Arriving nightly, freshly coiffed and undeniably petrified, they often mistook the festive, accepting environments as something other than the slaughterhouses they actually were.
But I am one of the fortunate few.
With all odds against it, I emerged from my once eager, deep venture into the gay drug subculture nearly unscathed. I walked away with no diseases, all my teeth and a reasonably good complexion for a now 52 year old man who’d spent the past several years there, the latter portion of it high every day.
In the years since, I have made an elective decision to be celibate.
Studies of meth use point to a marked decline in libido after stopping use. They suggest that after continued and prolonged firing of those neural pleasure sites that meth produces, they are just flat burnt out. It can take months for libido to return to normal function.
But I have long since passed that marker and replaced that forced physiological celibacy with an intentional one. The few male friends who know this have found my news shocking, beyond belief. Most men view libido as a drive beyond their scope to corral, tame and control. As a single man, for this season of my life, I choose to view it as a nuisance, a distraction of mind, not body, that impairs the attainment of things I have since come to classify as eminently more important. My present circumstances being 52, grey and overweight don’t make me the prized catch I once was, either if that even plays a role.
Dallas Willard has described spiritual disciplines in two realms: a)disciplines of engagement and b)denial. Engaging disciplines are those active efforts of doing things that promote well-being and in doing so, a spiritual centering of sorts. Denial disciplines are the practice of those decisions which thru the process of deprivation, create a vacuum for these same virtues.
So here’s the part where I act all virtuous, a chaste, holier-than-thou whore-turned-monk.
While I would like to say I was religiously motivated in my decision, I was not. For me and my journey, celibacy was just the next step. It was a no-brainer with deep spiritual underpinnings.
After having climbed out of the gutters and my head having cleared, for the very first time in my life, I had acquired a clear sense of all I had lost in the process. When I speak to others, I use this description:
Imagine, if you will, your entire self immersed, surrounded by a very dark cloud in which everyone and everything is random, out of order, degraded and depraved. A force from behind slowly pulls you out backwards by your stained and broken spirit, kicking and screaming until that moment you break the barrier between the cloud and the clarity.
At first, your view is the barrier immediately before you and from which you were extracted. You get your very first close-up glimpse of the horrible swirling maelstrom you had been calling home. Continuing backwards, your view gains some periphery and you see the full outline of that dark cloud. Further, you lose vision of the internal maelstrom and now see that dark cloud in relation to everything else, other beautiful clouds, light, illumination. This is the point of epiphanous attack, where you can now clearly see how black, indeed, is that cloud which once contained you and the starkest of contrasts between it and the rest of life.
If that description was too flowery for you, think of a pearl in an ever-swirling toilet bowl of excrement.
Either way, I was somehow very thankfully but sadly one of the chosen ones.
Hope, once firmly grasped, will quickly yank you from where you are and fly you into its own erotica. And when something so profound as this happens, satisfaction of the physical necessarily loses its appeal, like a quick stop for gas en route to a weekend at Disneyland.
Chris Rice, my acknowledged favorite musical artist and lyricist, describes in a song that, for the life of me, I can’t seem to find as of yet, so many random and meaningless sexual encounters as momentary pleasures, the crescendo of each is an inevitable sharp, momentarily painful blow of a spike by a hammer, chipping away a tiny, seemingly insignificant piece of the soul.
Since I have been out of the drug scene entirely and the gay scene mostly (seems you only belong if you’re sexual and uber vocal about equal rights these days,) I realize that I may have begun a new genre entirely.
In the film, Chasing Amy, I was moved by the mid-movie monologue of the female lead who, upon explaining her view of coupling, posed a profound question. A practicing lesbian who in the story had connected with Ben Affleck, her straight friend, so deeply, that as the relationship progressed she became compelled to ask herself the question:
Why in the search for a life partner must I immediately halve my available options purely based on gender? While my complementary mystical other half could very well be (and to her gay subculture, should be) another lesbian, I would be shortchanging myself of a full half of the possible options and in turn placing limits on whom I was available to love.
So if love is, indeed, friendship caught fire, then at the dismay and disbelief of my own gay friends, I have chosen also, to leave my gender options wide open in my pursuit of a life mate. And until that time I hope to remain sexually celibate.
You see, my spirit has learned some things.
When I first explored myself in the gay milieu, I was morally appalled that every piece of literature, every event, every sort of entertainment and conversation wreaked of at minimum, sexual innuendo. It was as if the only thing the gay community had to sell its converts was sex. It was a shallow, self serving concept into which I confess I bought for a time, partly because of the disenfranchisement of my former subculture. Bereft of accepting friends, the attention I was promised by the gay community as a new convert was a hook I eagerly bit out of my own insecurity.
So, I’m happy.
Poor as a dog is hairy, but happy.
I think I may be the first to populate this new and unnamed genre. And I have to admit, it’s pretty damn exciting to be blazing a new trail that I imagine only very few will ever fully understand. Myself included.
Men are pigs,
Fags are liars.
I was both,
But now am neither.
Don’t you love a good poem?