Loving Men-Aliases

Who among us have never longed to be someone else.

I’m often asked, “Are all the men you write about real or fantasy?”

They are all real. Each and everyone.

It’s their names which are fantasy.

rodrigoman2They’re all aliases. Each and every one including Otter, Pup, D., Luciano, Jean-Baptiste, Sao Paulo, Isaiah, Corey, Calhoun, Mark, Michael IV, Micheal VII, Jeffrey, and yes, Rodrigo.

I write about how they’ve moved me, how they’ve touched me; I’ve writtenrodrigo2 about what they’ve said and how they shared it with me; I’ve described flanks, and torso’s, and buttocks, and faces, and waffling and pancaking (Rodrigo and I waffle).

I’ve learned that keeping my life secret was difficult for me, since I couplewrite a blog on the internet. But keeping the identity of lovers sacrosanct was something I hadn’t bothered to worry about. Who wouldn’t want to read about themselves on the internet?

All of them didn’t.

They understood and continue to understand that as a writer I will write about what inspires me, and what inspires me are them, the lovers in my life. But what they didn’t wish to share was themselves.

You see, how I see them and how the world would see them are different.

I write about them in ways that I see them; through my eyes; not through theirs. I point out things and feelings and places that they might never see.

An alias is more than a name.

An alias can be about an entire experience.

Loving Men-Mail

Why don’t we just forgive everything.

I have been running from the destruction my 32 year relationship. Running so hard that I’m out of breath.

We didn’t break-up, we divorced. And as anyone that’s been divorced knows, it’s not a pleasant experience. Attorneys strip your entire marriage of anything valuable. Like looters they check every closet, every room, every ornament, every gift, every personal treasure, searching for anything that could hold value. They search for this bounty relentlessly, telling their clients that there’ll be more booty that you’ll get. Getting divorced is like being autopsied while still alive.

While my life was being dissected, I was also losing my mind.

I tried to murder my ex-spouse in an emergency room in Chicago. I allegedly verbally threatened a doctor at an office or in the ER or a hospital room. I stopped paying my bills, but spent money like I was J.P. Getty. I fell into arrears.

Part of my settlement was a large parcel of five months of mail. There was one Christmas card from a hospital; months of past due notices; two letters from debt collector’s, one from an attorney; old magazines; Government notices; and a letter from a physician’s group alleging that I verbally assaulted a doctor.

Facing your past under such a beam of light is blinding. Not only did I lose everything I thought I had, now I had to face everything else I ran from. My life’s been pillaged by this divorce: I lost him, home, and character.

All this will fade to memory as I keep my eyes on the present.

It’s all behind me: in the trash.

 

Loving Men-Validation

Every creature seeks approval from its own kind.

And gay men are no different.

Actually, gay men are probably worse. Gay men seek validation across a wide swath of “kinds”. Men, women, brothers, sisters, dogs, cats, etc.

There are so many different platforms on which gay men can seek validation.

I’m currently experimenting with Grindr, Scruff, and Daddy Hunt.

Many friends keep asking the same question: If you’ve already discovered Jean-Baptiste and Luciano, why do you keep trolling the internet?

The answer is easy: Validation.

Scouring the internet for men is akin to window shopping. I’m browsing. I’m sitting on a pier and lazily casting my bobber into the water to see if anything bites. And if bobbersomething does take the bait, I’m not going to yank the line and hope that I’ll hook the guy. I’m not interested in a catch. I’m really interested in the nibble, the interest, the wink, the nod, the text, the call, the voice, the hello; the validation that I exist somewhere else than in this hotel room. That I’m recognized.

That I’m not one man in a one-man boat, adrift in an endless sea.

Jean-Baptiste reminds me that I’ll never be lonely because I have him; Luciano reminds me that I’ll always be his future.

Then why are two men like Jean-Baptiste and Luciano, not enough?

In love, in friendship, they are. Really, they are.

But I’m looking for flesh and bone. For physical validation. Not of my beauty, not of my charm or wit or humor. But of me. As a man, in flesh and bone.

 

Loving Men-Upsets (Artem Stories)

I’m in love.

I’ve fallen so madly in love with Artem that it’s almost embarrassing. I feel like a giggly teenage school girl having a crush on some LaCrosse dreamboat. It’s impossible for me to think of what my life was like without him. Until this morning.

Life without him is something now confronting me. You see, we’ve upset one another and now the bell has rung and we’ve retreated to our respective corners. Panting, I sit on Artem In Bedmy three-legged stool and stare across the ring of our bedroom to his sobbing frame sitting on the edge of the bed. He says between tears, “you’re the shoulder I’m supposed to cry on!”

Oh, Christ, my devilish corner man says, listen to him crying over there.

But my heart is going out to Artem and as I hear the bell sound starting the next round I notice that whatever impetus caused me to cause Artem’s pain no longer exists. I don’tgaymancrying want to cause his upset. I am his shoulder to cry on. I walk to the side of the bed and sit down next to him and see his jeans stained with drops of tears and runny nose. My hand reaches out to his face and he flinches as though burned by a match. My finger wipe away his tears and I turn his face to mine and I see his reddened eyes which resemble those of my childhood pet rabbit.

I’m sorry, Artem, I whisper, I’m sorry; please stop crying.

gaymancrying2“Why did you say goodbye? You used that word; Of all the words to use, you had to use goodbye. Were you leaving?” he asked, still crying.

A part of me was leaving but that part of me’s come back. Come on, Artem, it was a misunderstanding, that’s all. Please? Please stop crying, I said as I kissed his damp cheek, and finally kissing his salty and moist mouth.

“Do you promise to never say goodbye? Ever again? Because I can’t stand to say goodbye. Not to you. And not ever. I just won’t be anyone if I can’t be someone with you,” he said gaymencrying3while laying back and pulling me atop him.

Looking down at him, the trimmed beard, that pouty lower lip, the tear stained eyes I said, never again, I’ll never ever say it again.

We’ve never been apart since we met. Not even on that almost goodbye day. To quote Mark 10:9 in the King James Bible, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Shame and Regret: The Sting of Social Stigma

First posted in August 2012 Shame And Regret: The Sting of Social Stigma has more of a wallop five years later than four years earlier. We as a race must get something out of persecuting the disenfranchised and marginalized friends, family’s, lovers, idols, and heroes. Maybe we ought to look inside ourselves and find that kernel of fear. Then erase it. And then get back to being compassionate brothers and sisters.

 

boygerman

Why are we ashamed by what we do?  We do what we choose to do because we stand to gain something.  Yes, some people are forced, say at gun point, to compromise; some are coerced through drugs and alcohol; and yes, some actions are purely altruistic (ashamed of philanthropy?).  It’s my opinion that consciously withholding or denying or lying about our actions is caused by fear.  Not a generic fear, but a two-tier fear.  The first tier-fear: judgement by others is beyond your control; but the second tier-fear: consequence sits squarely in your lap, and which, by the way, you’d already equated as a potential cost of your unprecedented action.  We all know this simple truth: We have absolutely no control over the actions of others.  That said, we can remove the first tier-fear: judgement by others; we now find ourselves staring down the steely barrel of culpability: we encountered a situation, measured consequence against benefit, and toed the line or stepped across it.  So shame and regret were considered well before we pandered to our hunger, thirst, or warm body (emphasis on warm).

The best possible precursor to a mental illness diagnosis was, until 1973 its own mental illness: homosexuality.  Coming out as a gay man taught me the valuable lesson that there will be people who can’t distinguish between my sexual orientation (which places me in a specific group) and who I am (in general terms) as a fellow human being.  Having learned that lesson years ago I was well prepared to face similar discrimination based upon my mental orientation, i.e. mental illness, e.g. bipolar disorder.  And yet, what is there to be ashamed and regretful about?  Don’t carry the burden of Shame or wear the shackles of Regret; never apologize to anyone irritated by what you have, especially if what you have is a medically recognized disease.

Recently I conducted a thoroughly non-scientific giddy-up poll which asked: What diseases do you think you’d be ashamed to admit having?

Answers?  Anal warts, vaginal herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea. . .what?  Anal warts? Venereal diseases? According to our non-scientific poll of middle-aged men and women, they said that carrying a sexually transmitted disease is the only other human affliction besides mental illness that they would be ashamed of having and which also carries with it a damning social stigma.  STD’s are the result of risky and unsafe sexual activities engaged in by choice. Does mental illness really belong in their company? Really?

Shame and Regret are burdens that those who choose to remain ignorant and judgmental should shoulder.

Not me.  Not you.  And certainly not the neighbor, best friend, Richard Dreyfuss rdreyfuss2
parishioner, bowling buddy, Ryan Phillippe, phillippeprom date, recipient of the first kiss, Girl Scout, Teddy Roosevelt (yes, really), Girl Scout Leader, Sinéad O’Conner, full back,  Metta World Peace ,
mettapeace offensive line coach, movie star, Burgess Meredith, Opera Star, Ronald Braunstein, famous orchestra conductor, infamous commuter train conductor or any one of the other 25% of our world’s population. How about the other 75% of the world’s population loosen the reins of their prejudice.

“Defend The Rich: Attack The Poor!” That’s America?

middleclassadvantage
ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS: (noun), 1) A government program guaranteeing certain benefits to a segment of the population; 2) The right to benefits offered by a government.

QUESTION:  Why does the Republican leadership denounce raising taxes on the wealthy unless the Democratic leadership reduces its spending on ENTITLEMENT programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid?

In this post I will argue that Republican bias against the middle-class and their enrollment in Entitlement Programs is peanuts when compared to the wealthy’s routine use of their own Entitlement Programs.  Let’s get started:

Can you name the congressman or senator that represents the millions of disenfranchised Americans whose voice is never heard in Washington?

When will the top 1% step from behind Republican stonewalling and admit their greed is immoral and burdens the other 99% who can ill afford additional taxation?

Is Social Security Disability Income really an entitlement when over 70% of initial applications are denied; the application and subsequent supporting medical records takes an applicant months to collect; the process is so convoluted that it’s sired a cottage industry of attorneys that charge 30% or more of the applicants back-pay (back-pay is the aggregate monthly benefit beginning on the date of disability to the present day, minus the 6 month waiting period; e.g. number of months of disability benefits = 24, multiplied by the monthly benefit of $1,500 = $36,000 tax-free); so an attorney representing a client who’s approved for benefits would earn $12,000.  What kind of entitlement takes two years to process and costs the disabled 1/3 of their rightful benefit?  Why not streamline the application process and return the 30% to the SSA as a one-time contribution “To Bolster Solvency.”

ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS FOR THE WEALTHY (AND APPROVED BY THE IRS)

The wealthiest Americans most likely have a financial firm like Atlanta Trust that manages a total of $17.6 billion for 2,200 families to develop a customized “capital-preservation” strategy.  In other words Atlanta Trust’s responsibility is to grow wealth or limit lost wealth by appropriating investments to historically safer instruments.  Wealthy American‘s treat their money like a business and receive categorized spending reports to keep their eye on what’s coming in and what’s going out.  Further, many wealthy American’s hire accounting firms or tax attorneys to prepare their income taxes by ferreting out every possible deduction (from more than 200 Federally approved deductions) and to advise of off-shore wealth and its tax liabilities (if any).  A team of financial professionals, tax attorneys, and their own consistent oversight reinforces the adage: The Rich Get Richer and The Poor Get Poorer.

Let’s look at Mitt Romney‘s tax situation in 2011 (as a readily available tax return and as an example of Entitlements reserved for the wealthiest American’s).

1) NET WORTH: $300 million +/-;
2) Money invested in American companies who’ve established their headquarters off-shore to avoid standard taxation;
3) Wealthy enough to hire firms to manage his assets and to uncover as many deductions as possible, which will in turn reduce his gross income tax liability to an adjusted gross income tax liability.  Remember, income tax is based on your annual income and not your net worth.

Mr. Romney didn’t disclose his gross income for 2011.  However, this is what he did disclose:

  1. His 2011 tax return was 379 pages long (a ream of paper is 500 pages);cash
  2. $13,696,951.00 (His adjusted gross income (taxable income minus allowable deductions)
  3. $1,950,000.00 (tax liability)
  4. 13.9% (final tax bracket)

If we look at the graph below, we’ll see that a person in the 13.9% tax bracket earns approximately $25,000 annually.  How on earth can someone whose gross income likely exceeded $20 million annually wind up in the same tax bracket as someone earning $25,000? (Put away your calculators, I’ve already done the math: $25,000 is 0.18252% of Romney’s adjusted gross income).

Tax Year:  2012
Filing Status:   Single
If your taxable income is between… your tax bracket is:
 $0  and  $8,750  10%
$8,700  and  $35,350  15%
 $35,350  and  $85,650  25%
 $85,650  and  $178,650  28%
 $178,650  and  $388,350  33%
 $388,350  and  ABOVE  35%

Yet, they’re in the same tax bracket?  Wondering how Mr. Romney achieves it?

  1. Great Tax Attorney’s;
  2. Preferential taxation (15% tax rate) return on investments in company’s headquartered off-shore as capital gains rather than income (35% tax rate);
  3. Crazy loophole called carried interest allowing financial managers like those working at Bain Capital (equity, hedge funds, venture capitalists) to declare their fees as capital gains (15%) rather than income (35%);
  4. Savvy and sickening at the same time.

So, back to my initial question:  Why does the Republican leadership denounce raising taxes on the wealthy unless the Democratic leadership reduces its spending on ENTITLEMENT programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid?

fiscalcliff

It would appear that this vitriolic soap-box-posturing about middle-class abuse of Entitlement Programs (which every employee contributes by way of a federal mandate requiring employers to withhold a specific percentage from every paycheck) which allegedly will be insolvent within a decade, should also include the Wealthy American’s Entitlement Programs which are routinely used in order to reduce their adjusted gross income and subsequently lower their tax liability by millions, if not billions of dollars every year.  The Federal Government loses an enormous amount of money which might be used to rescue Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid from collapse.  But that would require closing loopholes, limiting deductions, taxing ALL income at their current tax bracket (35%); in other words forcing the wealthiest 1% to pay an income tax based on income, rather than a greatly reduced income tax based on adjusting their income by as many as 200 deductions and loop holes.  Or, simply be an American and pay your fair share.

Our current situation It’s disgraceful, embarrassing for all American’s on the world stage, and further separates the bourgeoise from the proletariat (which, historically speaking, has never been a sustainable advantage for the ruling party).  The direction we’re headed, best illustrated by the stalemate in Washington, historically ends when a few have most of the wealth and the most have the fewest.  It’s not a divide, it’s a gorge, or maybe a cliff which stubbornness or back-room politics causes a financial implosion which could have been avoided if the good of the American people was paramount, not some school yard tough-guy bullying and double-dares.

I’m embarrassed to admit I’m an American.