Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sex, Love, and Fear

I fell in love the other day. Well, not love so much as lust. And maybe not even lust so much as fantasy. And I have done it a few times over the last  few weeks.

First was the cover model. He was a very handsome man gracing the cover of a local gay magazine. I had to read the article. Yes, I read it, I didn't just look at his shirtless pictures. It was indeed a news magazine, after all. It turns out we had something in common other than our gender. He was a writer and had become somewhat of an activist. I looked him up on Facebook, he accepted my friend request, and I began fantasizing about how/when our paths might cross. Being a model, one might assume he's a bit superficial. Yet, his photos on Facebook belie that. His smile seems genuine, he may know he's gorgeous but he doesn't seem to act it in his pictures (and in my mind, at least). Big problem, he doesn't even live on this continent. Oh, well.

I was perusing Facebook the other day, looking at other friends' posts, when the avatar of a man who had commented on a post caught my eye (and other parts of my anatomy). He was gorgeous-sexy. A tall muscle  bear of a man with piercing blue eyes, a disarming smile and, according to the parts of his Facebook page he makes public, is somewhat of an artist. He lives just this side of the Mississippi, so he's on this continent at least. He has yet to respond to my friend request but that doesn't stop me from dreaming of what it would be like to be wrapped in his big, strong arms, leaning against his firm, furry chest. I can dream, can't I?

I took the subway to an event the other night, saw an attractive man sitting a few rows away but facing me, and I immediately began to wonder what it would be like to be his boyfriend. He was engrossed in his work, or book, so he never looked up. So, our eyes never met across a crowded subway car. He exited at the stop just before mine, disappearing into the wilds of Hollywood and I continued on to my destination.

All these fantasies tell me I am human, I am male and I may be emotionally ready to date. Or, I'm just lonely and needing some male attention of the physical kind. After all, some days it feels like Richard Nixon was president the last time I...., well, you know.

As far as being emotionally ready to date, that also frightens me as I have recently been very hurt and do not want to go through that hell again. I know. No pain, no gain. I must be gaining a great deal. But, of what? Ah, personal growth.

Am I mentally ready to date? NO. I keep reverting to my financial situation,which I'm not going to belabor here yet again. And, he may not care and want to just spend time with me. But, will I care that I am not contributing somewhat equally? YES. And therein lies the hurdle I must cross. I must first take care of what I need to in order to survive. In my mind dating will have to wait. But the Universe may have other plans.

But, before I continue on my path I must also address the physical aspect of dating. I've brought it up before, (see my post "Baggage" from November, 2011) and maybe this is the time for me to get to know who I am sexually. Am I more of a submissive than a dominant? What kinky pleasures excite me? Can I get into role playing/fantasy? What do I really like? Can I really learn to relax and just let someone please me? Can I learn to read his signals and discover what he likes? Can I do this without calling myself a two-bit whore for playing around like I did when I was younger? Can I do this without falling in love with the first man I bring home and want to go pick out china patterns the next morning after breakfast?

Can I get out of my head and just be who I am?

I think I just have to.

However difficult and scary that may be.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday, 6/24/12

Six Sentences from an idea brewing in my head somewhere.

He awoke looking into the face of an angel.  A very handsome angel. He remembered nothing before waking up.  He stirred, trying to sit up. 

“Easy,” said the angel.  “You’ve had an accident.” 

Friday, June 22, 2012


A fellow writer & blogger, friend and all around great guy recently queried in his blog whether he had lost his pride at being gay because he hadn't realized it was gay pride weekend in his town. He shared some intimate parts of his life; he gets up, goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, watches TV with his partner of twelve years, goes to bed, gets up, goes to work.....the only difference between his life and that of his heterosexual neighbors, he points out, is his relationship with another man. Being gay is simply one facet of his multifaceted life. And he is proud of all his facets, not just his gay ones, and he is proud of who he is all year, not just that one weekend. A commenter made the same point regarding Black History Month; she's not proud of being Black only in February, she's proud of who she is all the time.
 (For his actual blog post, click on this link:)

As I look at my multifaceted life, I am proud of my facets, including my gay ones, whatever they are.  I am a teacher, a writer, an amateur photographer, I get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch DVDs with my dog of ten years, go to bed, get up.....yet, nowhere in my life does any of that say 'gay'. Maybe the fact I am divorced from another man does. But, that is only one little facet, and it's becoming more of a fact than a facet as time goes by.

When I went to my first Pride Celebrations beginning around 1984, there were many organizations sponsoring booths for the community's needs: social clubs; counseling, legal and health services; and LGBT-owned and friendly businesses. (And the requisite sex/porn booths- Hug a Porn Star for a $1.00, a Kiss for $5!). And the media focused on the drag queens, the underwear-clad go-go boys and the leather crowd. The later '80s and '90s saw many of the same type of  booths but with a rise in those related to HIV/AIDS client-related services. The last couple of festivals I did attend seemed to be about the same, but I did notice a few more business-related booths not necessarily specific to the LGBT community, seemingly out just to make a buck off us.  The media still seemed to focus on the drag queens, the underwear-clad go-go boys and the leather crowd. And I look at Pride Celebrations and wonder is this what are we proud of?

(I confess to dressing in drag only three times, I have never danced in public in my underwear, and I do have some leather- other than just boots, shoes and belts.)

When I go to Pride Celebrations, I carry with me a history of my people. It is a very sad and tragic history but filled with moments here and there that began to turn our history around. There is the story of Alan Turing, the brilliant mathematician credited for breaking Nazi war codes and bringing WWII to an earlier end. He is also credited with mathematical formulas that later gave rise to the computer itself. Prosecuted for homosexual activity, he was offered the choice of prison or chemical castration. He chose the latter, and it is believed the chemicals drove him insane to the point he ultimately took his life in 1954. While saddened the world lost out on what more he may have contributed, I am proud we have come a long way since then.

Protesters a few days after the Raid on The Black Cat, 1967
I also carry with me the courage of my brothers and sisters who have stood up to oppression and intimidation, and I celebrate the Stonewall riots of June 27-29, 1969 as well as the lesser known Black Cat Tavern riots of 1967 in the Silverlake District of Los Angeles. It was from The Black Cat Tavern riots and subsequent civil demonstration that the Advocate magazine first began publishing. The Black Cat riots and subsequent raid in August 1968 on another gay bar, The Patch, in Wilmington, California were the inspiration for the Rev. Troy Perry to found the Metropolitan Community Church in 1968, the first organized church (to my knowledge) to actively reach out to the LGBT community. The Black Cat building still stands, is no longer a gay bar but still bears the Black Cat logo and has been designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. The Stonewall Riots of 1969 were commemorated the year following with parades in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, and in turn those parades gave rise to the parades of today. I'm proud of where we are now.

The Black Cat Tavern, known as Le Bar in this photo. The Cat is on the sign in the far right.

I'm proud of the contributions of many LGBT individuals over history; Michelangelo, George Washington Carver, Josephine Baker, Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bayard Rustin, and Harvey Milk among many, many others. I'm proud of our past. For without  the past, there is no present; and without the present there can be no future.

Yes, I am proud of the Pride Celebrations.

I am proud that we can gather to gaily celebrate together with the drag queens, the underwear-clad go-go boys, and the leather crowd, if only once a year.

But, I am proud of myself, my whole self, all year.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Greater Good

A few weekends ago was West Hollywood Gay Pride. As I am emerging from my cocoon-like isolation from the gay community, I did indeed feel like attending and celebrating and maybe discovering more of my old gay self. I had attended Long Beach Gay Pride in May with a friend, met some more friends of his and we all had a great time. After Long Beach Pride, we made plans for West Hollywood Pride and I assumed we would have the same good time.

It is said the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. It seems this year's parade drew a larger number of spectators than I had remembered from past years. Once the parade ended we headed for the festival grounds at West Hollywood Park. Everyone else appeared to have had the same idea as the parade spectators followed the parade into the festival area, flooding the entrance gates. Upon seeing the entrance lines snaking back down Santa Monica Boulevard, the rest of the group now seemed less interested in waiting in the entrance lines. (I later found out it took a co-worker less than ten minutes to go through the line.) It was then suggested we head over to one of the group member's favorite bars, the one with the Neon Penis.

I must interject that this is a group of great guys and I did want to remain with the group to further enjoy their company, so I fought my disappointment, anger and frustration at the possibility of not attending the festival, and not buying the items I was looking for. I was not that fond of the Neon Penis the last time, though I did have a good time with the company, and did hope to again this time albeit with a change or three in the make up of this particular group. I must also say I am a believer in public transport and use it when possible to save wear and tear on my car and to save money from the outrageous fuel prices I can hardly afford and to also leave a lighter carbon footprint. Since West Hollywood is notorious for limited non-resident parking, and price gouging on food, beverages and, especially, parking for Pride Weekend, I suggested we take public transportation from the light-rail station nearest my house. I did the necessary research, calculated the route and necessary stops, and alerted the troops to the details. As I was also the one who suggested taking public transport in the first place, I felt responsible for getting the guys home safely. Plus, as we met at my house and one of the other guys drove us all, I had no car at the station, and not wanting to be the wet blanket on this group, and feeling I had no other real choice in the matter, I acquiesced and we returned to the Neon Penis, costing me my pre-paid ticket which I could ill afford to give up.

While I did indeed enjoy the company of the five other men in the group, I was not enjoying myself as much in the bar. Shortly after our arrival, one of the men asked me if there was anyone I found interesting. I scanned the masses and reported back, "No." Sure, there were handsome men there, but none that I felt drawn to. None I felt I wanted to talk to. None I felt I wanted to get to know. I concentrated my focus on the group and getting to know them better. I spent the majority of the afternoon talking with the guys, learning more about them. I also will fess up to occasionally scanning the crowd for a handsome face and/or nice body to look at. I saw a few from time to time, but no one I really wanted to get to know. And maybe I was in this mood because even though I was with great guys I wanted to spend more time with, I was in a place where I just didn't want to be.

As it came time to head home, after all I had to work the next day and had my kids to feed, we walked to the subway and caught the train home. Recognizing my disappointment at not attending the festival, the guys thanked me for being such a good sport, and going along with them. One of the guys even met someone, and thanked me for agreeing to go because if we hadn't gone to the Neon Penis he wouldn't have met this guy he really liked. While I felt validated by the group, and appreciated their recognizing my feelings, it was very difficult, but I bit my tongue to keep from saying that I could have met someone special at the festival. But, the truth is even if I had met, or seen someone I found interesting, I would not have acted on it for a number of reasons, many of which I have already gone over in past posts.

Things happen for a reason at the time they are supposed to happen. Maybe the reason I didn't get to go to the festival will be revealed later. Maybe I was to learn the lesson that sometimes it's better to go along with the group for the greater good in order to further lay the foundation for friendships than to be a real bitch (a side of me I don't like to show). Maybe it was to look at how I react to sudden changes of plans (I hate them!).

Maybe I just have to stop overthinking and just go with the flow, relax, let it be, etc.

But, don't I need to know what aggravates me, or understand why I react the way I do in certain situations to know myself better?

Let me think about that.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday 6/17/12

Here are six sentences from my upcoming novel, When Love Calls Your Name, due out in October!

I walked in with trepidation; still not sure if I really believed his claim of also not being ready to sleep with me either.  A man this hot could get anyone he wanted, and whenever he wanted to.  He was hot tonight.  He was wearing a dark turquoise colored guayabera with black 501s and huaraches with a silver chain around his neck. The dark turquoise and silver suited his Latino features well.  Again, he was wearing Aramis.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I recently heard a saying, "Every night has its day, but even the night has the moon and stars to light the way."

Life does have its difficulties. But even in the darkness of those difficulties, there are little signposts of light to help us along our way through the darkness. We are never in total darkness, though it may seem that way, and sometimes we have to search for the light.

While the Universe is testing me in ways that have me questioning whether I will ever see light again, it is also affirming me along the way; sometimes subtly, sometimes with a two-by-four across the face! This last month at work has been hell. It's the end of the year and my students are acting out in almost every way possible. Even some of my best students are testing the limits. Part of this is the age, part is related to home behavior that they feel extends to my classroom. My Union and the District are negotiating, not whether, but how many furlough days we will have next school year. Also, at the end of each school year in my district in the month before the current school year ends, we negotiate our next year's assignment with our principal according to our seniority. I had to decide whether to teach the same or a different grade level next school year. There were pros and cons to staying in the same grade as well as changing. Since I am the most senior teacher at my school, I go first. If I decide to change, I can then trigger a domino effect and displace teachers from their beloved grade levels and as no one likes change, their changes would be because of me. And in the end, I decided I would make my decision based on what would be best for me at this time in my life. On top of all this, because of politics, the state and district budget mess, and other anti-teacher sentiment, I am even questioning whether I want to remain in teaching, though I am not eligible for retirement. Yet.

I am also being tested in personal financial matters. Beginning in July 2011, my mortgage will increase a little bit and my paycheck may decrease by triple the amount of the increase in my mortgage! And my budget is already stretched to the penny! I am very concerned.

Memories of past relationships, mostly friendships gone away, have been creeping into my thoughts. I have also been reflecting on my past dating habits, maybe preparing myself for a future scenario when I feel comfortable enough again to wade into the dating pool. And these memories have left me slightly unsettled, questioning myself again.

Through all of this darkness, the Universe has sent me some little stars to light my path.

My principal issued us a "preference form" where we were to indicate our grade preferences for the next school year. Without hesitation, I filled it out and submitted it. I wanted to change grades. I knew she would want to talk to me about it. During a moment conferencing over a troubled student, she did. She expressed her concerns, and I voiced mine. She listened as an administrator and as a confidant. She understood why this had been such a difficult year for me, both professionally and personally. I left the meeting telling her I would consider her request that I stay in my current grade and I would let her know by the end of the week. It was an agonizing week.

I took her request as an affirmation; I am a good teacher in my current grade level and she recognizes that in me.

As for the finances, there is nothing I can do, except trust that it will work out in the end. I have eliminated every expense I cannot afford. I'm not in a place to sell my house; I've tried to modify my loan to no avail. I've advertised for a roommate but no one seems interested. My novel is coming out in October, and while I am not expecting to be the next J. K. Rowling and become wealthier than the Queen of England, I am hoping to make enough to help out the budget. But, it is all in the hands of the Universe right now.

And yet, I have this impression of me in a different house in one of my favorite parts of Los Angeles. I don't know where this impression, maybe it's even a vision, came from. Why do I believe its a sign things will work out? The living room is painted a color I don't usually like in living rooms, a pastel yellow, so I haven't put my mark on the house as yet. And yet, the house feels like it's mine.

I take this impression as affirmation that all will work out in the end. I just don't know when the end will be.

As for dating, I received a very nice compliment from a cute younger man that I have amazing eyes and am a great friend.

I took this as an affirmation that I am attractive to men, a good person and can be a great friend. And as I believe friendship is the best way to begin a relationship, I also took this as an affirmation that I am on the right path for me.

But, the most touching and surprising affirmation of all came from someone I never expected. It came from a woman I highly admire and respect. This woman has a great amount of class. She can be down to earth, and very refined. She can be brutally honest without being hurtful. She sees your strengths hidden under your faults even when you may not. She was my principal for a short four years before retiring. She met my ex when he substituted at my school a few times.

Once, at a Winter Holiday party that she attended after her retirement, she asked about him and I told her we had gotten married. She was ecstatic for us! She then told me she had worked the phones to encourage people to vote AGAINST Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriage and write discrimination into the California Constitution. I was very surprised, not necessarily by her position but by her decision to work on the campaign against it. I never got to tell her we were divorced, and I wanted to avoid that awkward situation when we met again, as I knew we would, and she would ask about him.

We did meet again very recently, actually, at a fellow teacher's retirement. I did tell her I was divorced before she could ask and she replied she had heard through the grapevine. She inquired if I had a new partner. I replied no, I didn't feel the time was right. She told me to hang in there, "because, Jeff, you are quite a catch!"

While I was used to her complimenting me on a lesson gone well, hearing something this personal and overall affirming at this point in my life from someone I highly admire means more to me than I can say. And I took it as an affirmation that when the time is right, I will be the right catch for the right man who will also be the right catch for me.

    Saturday, June 9, 2012

    A Simple Gesture

    As a teacher, I try very hard to be aware of how I may influence my students in what, how or even why I say what I say to them, whether directly in the lesson, in trying to correct their behavior or just in even how I interact with them.

    As ordinary citizens, we are often unaware of the influence we have on others.

    I recently attended a retirement luncheon for a friend and colleague, "Mary". During her remarks, she came to tell the story of how she ultimately made the decision to accept a position at my school. It seems the principal at that time obtained her phone number, a personal reference and began to call my colleague asking to interview her for a position. "Mary" was undecided, kept giving polite excuses and was not really looking to change schools at that time. After four unsuccessful attempts at dissuading the principal, "Mary" decided to actually meet her, officially decline the offer and maybe that would stop the phone calls. So, she agreed to an interview. Following the interview, she was taken on a tour of the campus where she met some of the other staff members. When she met one staff member in particular, "Edie", she greeted "Mary" warmly, placing her hand on "Mary's" arm in a warm, welcoming way. It was that simple gesture of a personal touch of warmth and kindness that influenced "Mary" into accepting the position. "Mary" is retiring from teaching after twenty-eight years, seventeen at my school. I wish her well on her new journey.

    After my ex left, I was floundering and struggling for some footing to get to know myself again. I went to a meditation group for about six months. Over the course of the class, a few of us became regulars while others attended once or twice. One of the other regulars was another single gay man, "Robert," who came off bitter, defensive, cantankerous and controlling. He had a very hard edge to him. During the sessions, I would share the pain of my divorce, the joy of meeting "Michael," the questions and confusion of where that relationship may be going and the signals he may have been sending me. Over the course of  the sessions, "Robert" loosened up, lost most of his edge, his bitterness melted (somewhat) and he later shared that while the meditation had a lot to do with his opening up, it was my sharing my willingness to be vulnerable with "Michael" so soon after being hurt after my divorce, and my "don't play games with me" attitude that also had a big influence on him. I had no idea he was listening that attentively to me.

    As a writer, I am beginning to realize the influence I may have.

    I am overwhelmed by the places this blog is being read. It humbles me to know that someone on every continent but one has read my words. Some of my friends have told me how these words have helped them in their own journeys. And I can only hope that this simple gesture of me sharing my journey out of the pain of my divorce and into the joy of rediscovering myself is somehow helping someone else out there somewhere; someone I may never know.

    Six Sentence Saturday, 6/8/12

    Here are six sentences from a short story I've been working on and off and on and off....

    I will always be grateful to his eight year old niece; after all, she sort of introduced us.

    I had gone to the Galleria early one Saturday morning in late April, looking for a mother’s day gift. After looking all over the mall, and finding nothing special enough for my mother, I was just about to give up and head back toward the exit closest to my car when I heard a small commotion. I turned in the direction of the disturbance and saw two mall security guards, one male and one female, talking with a young girl wearing a t-shirt, shorts and sandals. Her long blond hair hung straight down her back to just past her shoulders and her blue eyes were red and puffy from crying, but she was not making any sounds, and all the while seemed to be brushing something off her round, tear-stained face.

    "What's your name?" asked the female guard, kneeling next to the little girl, and holding the girl's left hand in her own.

    Sunday, June 3, 2012

    Six Sentence Sunday 6/2/12

    Six sentences from something very different from me.......

    I like my market as they take care of all my needs. There is a Starbucks and a Chinese take out inside the store, which means I can get my latte, do my shopping, and pick up Chinese food for dinner all in one location.

    I also like my market because they will ask for donations at the register for breast cancer, Jerry’s Kids, the Children’s Miracle Network, worthy causes all. But I love my market because they also ask for donations for prostate cancer research; one of the few markets I have seen who do this. And as a 48 year old man, I have regular check-ups as prostate cancer does run in the men in my family. 

    I also love my market because they hire the hunkiest box boys.