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February 11th, 2014

Ah…Valentine’s Day… Let The Reminiscences Begin!

(Reposted from last year…because when it comes to love, all that is old is new again…and again…and again…and again…)

Valentine’s Day Broken Heart Countdown!

This year, I propose having a pre-game celebration.   Jim Burroway posted this today on Box Turtle Bulletin and it added some weight to my Valentine’s Day thoughts lately…

New York Times Magazine Publishes “What It Means To Be A Homosexual”: 1971. The Harper’s October 1970 cover screed by Joseph Epstein — the one where he called gay people “an affront to our rationality” and were “condemned to a state of permanent niggerdom among men” — generated an outpouring of anger in the gay community, which resulted in a protest inside the offices of Harper’s (see Oct 27). Gay activists demanded another article to give the gay community equal exposure, but the Harper’s refused the request. Its editors also refused to apologize. The outrageous insults in the piece become something of a second, lesser Stonewall in the way it brought out even more gays and lesbians who decided it was time to become more involved publicly.

Among them was Merle Miller, a former editor at Harper’s who was also a novelist and biographer…

You should go read the whole thing…Jim’s “Today In History” posts are worth reading every day.   But this one helped remind me of the times I grew up and passed through adolescence in.   That time when we are discovering first the first time, what desire and love are all about.   It should be the most magical, wonderful passage in our lives, but for some of us, condemned to a state of permanent niggerdom it was made into a nightmare.   More so for others than for me, thankfully, or I might not even be here now to type all this.   But the atmosphere of hatred and contempt I grew up within did its job on me too.   In 1971, the year before I graduated from high school, the year I experienced my first crush, Joseph Epstein wrote, “If I had the power to do so, I would wish homosexuality off the face of the earth.” He couldn’t of course, but there was always the next best thing. You could make sure whenever it was in your power to do so, that a gay person never had that chance to know what it was to love, and be loved wholeheartedly in return.

Without a doubt Epstein did just that whenever he got the chance.   His howl against the homosexual in that Harper’s article almost certainly became a dagger in the the hopes and dreams of young gay men and women back then, reassuring parents, teachers, clergy that it was no sin to put a knife in the hearts of teenagers in love, that if they were condemned to live their one life in loneliness and heartache that was merely the Curse Of Homosexuality, not their own bar stool arrogance and cheapshit prejudices that did it to them.   Bobby and Johnny are getting just a little too friendly aren’t they…let’s pack them off to the psychiatrist quickly now…or to some nice church camp somewhere far away, where they can pray their unspeakable sin away…

Ah…Valentine’s Day…when all the lonely hearts ponder writing new songs about the one that did them wrong.   I have a different thing in mind.   How about stories of that which might have been, but for the cheapshit prejudices of the world we were thrown into.   I have a few stories of my own to tell.   Pull up a chair.   Sit a spell.   Love is in the air.   Let me pour you a drink.   There is a box of Valentine’s Day candy over there on the table, pieces of the moon rattling hollowly inside…angry, angry candy…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Ah…Valentine’s Day… Let The Reminiscences Begin!

January 19th, 2014

If Only Valentine’s Day Was About This Too…

This wonderful Allstate ad came across my Facebook stream just now…


Be nice if in the midst of all the celebrations of how wonderful it is to be in love, there was also some recognition of how wonderful it would be if everyone else had a chance at it too.   And maybe…who knows…a little re-dedication to making that world where all the butterflies come from love and not fear a reality.

Just saying…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on If Only Valentine’s Day Was About This Too…

November 26th, 2013

If I Could Just Find The Part That Keeps Hurting…

Self portrait in 1982. Thirty-One years later and I still can’t find the piece that keeps making my life hurt so much. There’s something in there that isn’t supposed to be.  Or maybe someone.  Or maybe someone that isn’t in there, that’s supposed to be. I’ve stopped wondering why my art photography is the way it is. I’ll probably take the question of why it had to be like that to my grave.  Hopefully not too much longer from now. I just want this joke to stop laughing at me.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on If I Could Just Find The Part That Keeps Hurting…

November 5th, 2013

Unamused, In The Happiest Place On Earth…

Aww… Tartar Sauce (aka Grumpy Cat) takes a Disney vacation…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Unamused, In The Happiest Place On Earth…

September 25th, 2013

The Closet Will Not Avail You!

Gandalf The Pink confronts a closeted homosexual and warns him sternly, You shall not pass!

I’m looking at you Mr. I’m a piece of work…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Closet Will Not Avail You!

August 18th, 2013

Message In A Bottle…

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?

Do you think you can tell?
Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
Did you exchange a walk on part in the war
for a leading role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

-Roger Waters, David Gilmour

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Message In A Bottle…

February 8th, 2013

Valentine’s Day Broken Heart Countdown…The Boy I Met In Church

Closest I ever came to having an actual boyfriend was the one I met in church. And that’s the way you would imagine it would happen in the best of all possible worlds isn’t it after all. You meet the boy or girl next door, say at church or some other social common ground. Your heart skips a beat and so does his (or hers) and the next thing you know the two of you are dating. The problem for us was twofold: we were gay and we were Baptists.

So, and perhaps unsurprisingly, right from the start of it emotional closeness was difficult for both of us. It’s a common complaint you hear at the tail end of romantic misfires among gay couples. He had trust issues. He was emotionally distant. Perhaps we simply were not right for each other after all. Or perhaps it was something he confided to me one night, as we lay together, in a very quiet, emotionless voice.

We began our tentative affair almost as soon as he got out of the military, having honorably served a tour of duty far, far away from the parent units. His mother and mine were church friends. Every Sunday we gathered at the same church until in my teens I decided church was not for me and mom, while she never stopped trying to nudge me back, never demanded I go whether I wanted to or not. That’s actually a very Baptist approach…there’s a reason Baptists don’t baptize infants and small children.  You have to come to God wholeheartedly, just as you are.

For a while I actually worked for his father, but it didn’t last. As a boss he had a very bad temper, and could not keep his harsh brand of fundamentalist religiosity, so different from my own mom’s, out of the workplace. Religious tracts were scattered liberally all over his employee lunch room, and he and a favorite employee would discuss the finer points of the Bible all throughout the day, interspersed with bitter complaints about how his customers were always trying to cheat him. I wondered what home life was like with him. Then during the holidays he leveled a particularly angry outburst at his employees for choosing to spend time the weekend before Christmas with our families instead of in his shop. He’d not told us to come in to work that weekend, only in his usual passive aggressive way said that he would like it very much if we did. The next Monday morning he was shouting at everyone who walked in the door, €œI WANT YOU TO KNOW THIS SHOP COMES FIRST!!!€ and after storming out to get breakfast all of us (except for the favorite) walked…no, ran…out on him.

Sometime shortly after that incident, the boss’s son came back from his tour of duty and made a beeline to my little apartment in a friend’s basement, and next thing I knew we were in the sack together. Apparently he’d figured me out before I’d even figured myself out. My heart seemed like to burst with joy. I was so very lonely then, broke, no job prospects, no car, living in a friend’s basement, and here comes this guy I’d known since we were both kids, decent, well mannered, with a sharp mind you almost didn’t see behind a very big heart. Everything you would expect in the Baptist boy next door, but without the stereotypical hyper religiosity. He had two eyes that just seemed to smile at everything they saw, and a smile that melted my heart every time I saw it.

He had spent years away from the family nest, and now he was back. Bravely I thought, he came out to them. He said later that his father hadn’t exploded, mom and dad said they still loved him, and it would be okay. I had a chilly feeling then, that I knew just what it was. Within a week his visits dropped sharply off. One day he told me offhandedly that he was probably more of a bisexual than gay, and I saw it coming. Two weeks later, after no visits at all, we happened to cross paths at a local grocery store and he told me he was getting married to a lady at the church his folks had introduced him to. I think I just nodded my head and wished him well.

Time passes…the universe expands… Seven years later I get a phone call from him…now he’s living far from the family nest, and recently divorced. Can we see each other again sometime? Well of course. And so we began another brief little hopeless fling. Sometimes you really see how the more things change, the more they stay the same. Emotional closeness, if not physical intimacy, was still excruciatingly hard for him. Are we boyfriends, I would ask. He would never answer, just change the subject. He lived far from my own home, and I was in love, so I began to make arrangements to move closer to him. At the time I was making a living as a contract software developer, and I studied the job market near where he was living. When I told him about that he seemed to panic. Once more out visits dropped sharply off. Then came a day he told me, via AOL Instant Messenger, that he was seeing somebody else.

Perhaps we were just not right for each other after all. The hard lesson to learn about love is you can find someone who is just right for you, who seems to complete you in all the places you never even knew were empty, until you met that one person, saw them smile into your eyes. And yet even so you may not be right for them. They may have a completely opposite feeling about you. Ask me how I know this. Perhaps we were not right for each other. Or perhaps it was something he told me one night as we lay together, in a very quiet, emotionless voice. About the day he came out to his parents. About how the next morning before dawn his father had gone into the household office, fired up the computer, and created a brochure filled with verses condemning homosexuality and what God does to nations that tolerate that which is an abomination in His eyes. About how his father printed up dozens and dozens of copies of the brochure and as the sun rose, walked around their neighborhood and put one in every door of every house, for blocks around. Then he told his son what he had done.

What gay people know is this: strangers can beat you, can take your life away from you, but only family can chew your heart up, and spit it back out. And what I know is this: when you take the ability to wholeheartedly love and accept love from another away from someone, you stick the knife into that person’s heart and also into the heart of the one who might have been loved by them.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Valentine’s Day Broken Heart Countdown…The Boy I Met In Church

December 5th, 2012

Fifty-Nine And Within Sight Of It…

“I think you’re allowed to be in love three times in your life.”
-Kurt Vonnegut.

Just what I needed to hear.   Seems about right though.   I had my three chances.   Thank you for playing…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Fifty-Nine And Within Sight Of It…

November 27th, 2012


I have saved every love note  @AnneWheaton has ever given me, because she’s my favorite.

It’s a wonderful thing, love. At least, I figure it must be…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Love

November 24th, 2012

Sometimes The Shock Will Be Genuine…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Sometimes The Shock Will Be Genuine…

November 22nd, 2012


This came across my Facebook stream just now…

Which is probably why some gay men of my generation stick to casual sex…why the advice I constantly, reliably get from gay friends of my generation and older, about my chronic loneliness is to just go out and get laid.   It’s the cure that’s worked for them for so much of their own lives.   But for some of us that would only make it worse.

You can work your way past shame and self loathing.   Getting yourself to a place where you can trust another person…intimately…after so many years right when you’re so very young, being emotionally battered and bruised by your own family…your own parents…friends…that’s a lot harder.   Nearly impossible for some.   For some gay folk of my generation, it will always be a time before Stonewall…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Naked

October 21st, 2012

People Who Look Like That Want People Who Look Like That…

I my twitter stream via Juan Cole…

@GoogleFacts: It’s possible to die because of a broken heart. It’s called “Stress Cardiomyopathy””

No shit Sherlock.   And it does not help that the solitary life is seemingly incomprehensible to those who have coupled.   Even if that coupling was ultimately unsuccessful it was something at least.

I have felt the stress of aloneness taking years off my life for quite some time now.   This winter is going to be…difficult.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on People Who Look Like That Want People Who Look Like That…

October 16th, 2012


I made a promise to myself, the day I turned 30 (ages ago it was), that I would not turn 60 and still be single and alone.   I am going to keep that promise.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Promise

October 11th, 2012

Plan ‘B’

I have a plan. I’m going to buy a box. Whenever I see something I want to give you, instead of sending it to you I’ll put it in the box. Inside the box will be an envelope with instructions for my brother to send it to you when I die. That way you can have all the things I wanted to give to you and you won’t have to worry that I’ll send you anything more.



PS: It was great seeing you and chatting for a while this week! If there are do-overs like you said, then maybe we can have more time together then.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Plan ‘B’

October 3rd, 2012

So There Was A Reason Why That Story Had A Dark Undertone…

One afternoon a few years ago, while I was strolling around Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, I wandered by this at one of the gift shops…

…and I had to have it.  Sometimes these little random items of consumer art manage to tweak something deep down inside of you, despite themselves.

So romantic isn’t it?  And I am very much the romantic.  But look at it.  What do you see?  A beautiful young girl in love with her handsome prince charming, all dashing and heroic.  But all art, even pop culture commercial art, involves two creative acts.  There is the artist’s turn, wherein the piece is made.  The artist brings to it whatever is within themselves.  Then there is the viewer’s turn.  And the viewer brings to the piece whatever is within themselves.  And I am a gay man just one step away from 60, within arm’s reach of social security retirement age, whose love life has been pretty much one failed attempt after another.  Here’s what I see: she’s in love with a statue and she thinks the person she sees in it is real and it isn’t.

No, I haven’t actually watched Disney’s The Little Mermaid yet.  So if that’s all part of the Disney happy ending then okay…fine.  But I am a fan of Walt Disney all the same if not so much of one that I’ve had to watch everything that ever came out of his studios.  I like his happily ever after mindset, that There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow Shining At The End Of Every Day way of looking at life.  That is how I want life to Be.  That is why I keep going back to Disney World these days…for that happy sense of life’s wonderful possibilities.  So never having watched it I can almost picture the story Disney made of that Hans Christian Andersen tale.  And they all lived happily ever after.  In one form or another that was the story Walt Disney always told and I am convinced he honestly believed it and that was why that song always came out of him.  But for the rest of us it isn’t so easy.

So when just the other day I ran across the story behind the story of The Little Mermaid, I saw why there was something about it I could see, even in that Disney figurine, that tweaked a very dark and lonely place inside of me

The Little Mermaid was written as a love letter by Hans Christian Andersen to Edvard Collin.  Andersen, upon hearing of Collin’s engagement to a young woman, proclaimed his love to him.  He told him “I long for you as though you were a beautiful Calabrian girl.”  Edvard Collin turned Andersen down, disgusted.

Andersen then wrote The Little Mermaid to symbolize his inability to have Collin just as a mermaid cannot be with a human.  He sent it to Collin in 1836 and it goes down in history as one of the most profound love letters ever written.

The story originally ended thusly…

The prince and princess marry, and the Little Mermaid’s heart breaks. She thinks of all that she has given up and of all the pain she has suffered. She despairs, thinking of the death that awaits her, but before dawn, her sisters bring her a knife that the Sea Witch has given them in exchange for their long hair. If the Little Mermaid slays the prince with the knife and lets his blood drip on her feet, she will become a mermaid again, all her suffering will end and she will live out her full life.

However the Little Mermaid cannot bring herself to kill the sleeping prince lying with his bride and as dawn breaks she throws herself into the sea. Her body dissolves into foam…

Later, Andersen gave it a happier ending.  The little mermaid is turned into an air spirit and told she will gain an eternal soul after doing good deeds for 300 years.  But it seems tacked on and contrived.  You need a Walt Disney to turn that story around and Walt found his other half early enough on that he could believe in it.  Andersen it seems, never did.  A lot of us don’t.

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

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