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January 21st, 2021

Maybe I’m Finally Understanding This

I’m sure most of the population has other, more pleasant hobbies and blissfully tuned out for 4 years, but some of us couldn’t do that. I’m not overstating things and saying I WAS PERSONALLY IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP WITH DONALD TRUMP, but I think anyone who has had *that person* in their lives knows of the constant low level stress of wondering when they are going to wander into the room and just blow everything up with their latest nonsense. -Atrios, writing in his blog today

It’s odd because his tweet is about Trump, but this business about the constant low level stress of wondering when they’re going to wander into the room and blow everything up instantly reminded me of actually living that, and perhaps it’s knocked some sense into me that’s been long overdue. Something like fifty years overdue as a matter of fact. My entire childhood and a good part of my adolescence, and most of mom’s life I suspect, were spent in an abusive relationship with her mother (who I have often referred to here as my Bitter Baptist Grandmother) and I never really looked at it that way until just now.

It’s always been just…yeah that was her…she was like that. Now I’m thinking that lots of people see their abuser that way…not as an abuser specifically, but as just being like that. Someone who is always cranky and bad tempered. Someone who just seems to always be miserable, and wants everyone else to be miserable to. Someone you are always tip-toeing around, trying not to set them off, trying not to attract their attention. Because…that’s just how they are. Not abusers, just difficult people. And you avoid their gaze because you know what you’ll see in those eyes. People who are always making you tense up. People who make you feel small whenever they’re around. 

Yeah. Abusers. I’m sixty-seven years old and she still haunts my bad dreams.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Maybe I’m Finally Understanding This

November 27th, 2020

Coming Soon…

I’m finally getting ready for the next three episodes of A Coming Out Story (plus intermissions…). Here’s a peek at the next episode…

I’m going to be busy at my paying job all weekend long, but this episode, and the next two, are only three strips each so it should go quickly. The intermissions, which are the story of my reading The Truth About Homosexuality by Dr. Pompous J. Fraudquack are single strips interleaved with the rest of my storyline, leading up to the moment I come out to myself. I know…it’s crazy but hopefully easier to follow once it’s all done.

Stay tuned…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Coming Soon…

September 9th, 2020

Wreckage

Yesterday afternoon I took a wee excursion to a point in time

I had to go see it. I’m staying at Boardwalk for my birthday week, and it’s close enough I could go and see it for myself. He’s not living there in that city anymore, but somewhere further down the coast, and that’s okay because I don’t even know if he wants to see me anymore anyway and I don’t want to freak him out by suddenly appearing on his doorstep. Or rather, that unsettling halfway/shelter home he’s been put into. For a period of time he had a life of his own and a little one bedroom here that looks like it was nice back in its day.

Now it’s a derelict shell of concrete block emptiness and economic despair nestled in a corner of wealth, beach vacation dreams, and Trump 2020 billboards. And my heart is broken. But I knew it would be and I did it anyway. On the way back I pulled over and had a good cry. It’s not that life is unfair…the universe doesn’t hate us, it’s just indifferent…the dice don’t care how they fall. Life is coldly fair…coldly, indifferently fair. It’s that there is way too much darkness here, and so very little light.

You deserved better guy. Maybe if we hadn’t drifted apart I could have made sure it didn’t come to this. I just never thought back when I was a teenager, that this could happen to someone like you. I was the ugly weird kid they heaped low expectations onto. This shouldn’t have happened to you. I don’t think I care about anything now anymore. It all just seems so pointless.

I’m glad you’re still hanging in there. I’m glad you’re staying drug free. I wonder if the people who put you there really understand why people take drugs, or drink themselves into stupors like I did last night.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Wreckage

August 28th, 2020

That Road To Damascus Moment When You See Your Gay Neighbor As They Really Are

On banning conversion therapy: Listen with your heart

So, 50 years ago, I began listening to people.

The first 10 or 12 years, no one talked to me even behind closed doors about their attraction to people of the same sex. That changed in the 1980s.

One by one, people came to discuss this forbidden topic. At first, I was more shocked by who was seeking me out than I was what they were saying. It was some of the community’s finest students and most respected adults. They were smart, industrious, good-hearted, responsible, conscientious, law-abiding citizens…

This is something that used to stun a lot of people back in the day…and for all I know maybe it still does some. A lifetime of consuming one lie after another about homosexual people, suddenly runs head-on into the reality of us, and of our lives. And people are stunned.

They were smart, industrious, good-hearted, responsible, conscientious, law-abiding citizens…

There’s a second step to this that not enough people took after this revelation. Or perhaps just didn’t want to confront it. Why were we told these lies about all these people, for all this time..? What kind of person does this to them? What kind of person does that to us?

They told you we were monsters. But we weren’t the monsters…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on That Road To Damascus Moment When You See Your Gay Neighbor As They Really Are

June 12th, 2020

We Must Turn Our Rage Into Action. . .

A Pulse survivor speaks…

I remember the thumping Latin music. The unbridled joy of a space safe for me to bring my whole self. A plastic cup teetering on the edge of a bathroom sink. Gunshots — endless gunshots. A panicked sprint for the exit. I remember waiting on a street corner for news, dialing my best friend Drew’s number countless times. I remember when I finally realized he would never pick up. By sunrise, 49 people, including Drew and his partner Juan, had been killed by a man filled to the brim with hatred and armed with weapons of war… – Pulse survivor: We must turn our rage into action, The Orlando Sentinel

Probably the most heartbreaking thing I read in the aftermath was from a homicide detective investigating the scene. He was new to the job and had always thought homicide scenes would be quiet as the detectives worked it. But this one had the cell phones of the victims constantly ringing, and he knew every ring was from a loved one desperately hoping for an answer that would never come.

Go read the whole thing. He links the shootings then to the police killings of unarmed black Americans now, and the bigotry and hate that fueled them both. We have work to do to honor their memories, and drag this nation inch by inch back to its promise of liberty and justice for all, and make it real.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on We Must Turn Our Rage Into Action. . .


There Is Before, And There Is After

Realizing this morning that all my Facebook Memories from today will front load with a torrent of posts about the Pulse massacre.

Happy Pride Month Bruce!

Anybody wonders why Disney became so gay friendly lately I can tell you because I saw it with my own eyes. I had a vacation planned for July 2016 and it seemed as if all of Orlando was stunned and shaken over what happened. I had my rainbow Mickey pin on (back then it wasn’t the gay rights rainbow but the Peace rainbow, but that was close enough you saw them everywhere during Gay Days) and cast members seeing it would tell me stories about friends, friends of friends, people they knew of that were at Pulse that day. Next year during Gay Days, after the last fireworks show at Magic Kingdom cast members were handing out those rainbow Mickey pins to guests leaving the park. The year after that you suddenly saw a bunch of different pins with the actual gay rights rainbow on them. Last year there was a torrent of Pride merchandise for sale everywhere in Disney World. And where Disney went, other companies followed.

It wasn’t that we’d suddenly become family, we always were family to begin with. We were sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, co-workers, friends, neighbors. The threat on our lives touched everyone. Well…everyone who wasn’t deep in the homophobic gutter. Those people will never be reached. Everyone else was shocked by what happened because if it wasn’t their gay sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, co-workers, friends and neighbors, it could have been.

June 12, 2016. There is before and after. I witnessed it. Nobody is pandering to the militant homosexual agenda. You only hear crap like that from people with empty souls. What happened was it scared people. From the line workers to corporate boardroom Valhalla, it scared them. Because we are part of the family too. I saw the faces.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on There Is Before, And There Is After

May 27th, 2020

Larry Kramer

This came in the news today…

Larry Kramer, Playwright and Outspoken AIDS Activist, Dies at 84

He worked hard to shock the country into dealing with AIDS as a public-health emergency. But his confrontational approach could sometimes overshadow his achievements.

Larry Kramer got a lot of static for his novel, Faggots, first published in 1978, but the line in it about how “The fucking we’re getting’s not worth the fucking we’re getting” is one I treasure for it’s righteous anger. Sexual liberation was good and necessary, but insufficient while politicians and the media continued to vilify us, and the system continued it’s relentless persecution of us. We were consigned to the gutter, the poetry of our lives and loves erased as though everything about us was perversion and pornography. Heterosexuals got prom night, the happily ever after story. We got the public toilets and bathhouses. Heterosexuals got an ideal to strive for in love and in life. We got a relentless torrent of vitriol and hate, so that we should hate ourselves at least as much if not more than they hated us. When Kramer wrote Faggots, too many people were too willing to accept sexual liberation as enough. But the fucking we were getting was not worth the fucking we were getting. 

Our struggle was for wholeness. Activist and media critic Vito Russo once said it was, “…an old stereotype, that homosexuality has to do only with sex while heterosexuality is multifaceted and embraces love and romance.” And it was a common complaint back then, that by simply living our lives openly we were flaunting “it”. If I heard it once I heard it hundreds of times in the media, in letters to the editor, to my face that they didn’t care what we did in the bedroom as long as we didn’t flaunt “it” in public. But it wasn’t what we did in the bedroom that mattered to any of them, because obviously we weren’t actually having sex in public.

“It” was the holding of hands, the public declaration of love and romance, that our essential humanity, and our human needs of companionship and the longing for more than simply sexual intimacy, but body and soul communion…”It” was the public visibility that our desires and needs were little different from anyone else’s…that we did exist and that we were human beings that outraged the bigots. Because of course it did. The hated other cannot be allowed to be human. We had to be monsters, so that sticking their knives in our hearts could not be a crime against humanity.

Our struggle was for wholeness. Larry Kramer was a fierce warrior for that wholeness. He will be missed. ACT-UP, the AIDS activist organization Kramer founded, said today, “We are all orphans now.” But we carry on. We persist. For the honor and the dignity of our lives, and our loves.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Larry Kramer

May 18th, 2020

Some Days The Only Way You Know You’re Alive Is By How Much It Hurts…

The more I read about schizophrenia the more I just want to curl up into a ball, cry my eyes out for a few hours, then go retire to some Ted Kaczynski cabin in the deep woods where I have no connection to the rest of the world and I don’t have to know what has happened to anyone I ever knew or felt anything for…in friendship or love…and I can imagine they all have wonderful lives and they’re having that happily ever after.

Don’t even bother asking me why I don’t believe in an almighty god anymore. But I still believe in love. It’s a real thing. I can tell by how badly it hurts.

So many things this human race needs to find a solution to, a cure for… Schizophrenia. Cancer. Cardiovascular disease. HIV. Loneliness. Death… We still have our work cut out for us…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Some Days The Only Way You Know You’re Alive Is By How Much It Hurts…

May 7th, 2020

It’s In The Wiring

When I was a young man, and out to myself and mostly comfortable with it, I was invited to go on a motorcycle ride with a friend’s girlfriend, to see her father’s place. It would be, so she said, of interest to an artist such as myself. And so it was. She was rightly proud of him, but also a tad reluctant to let people meet him. He was of the sort of random creative genius whose artwork could not be contained. He’d made himself a house inside an old airplane hanger the interior of which seemed like an art museum. A haphazard yet fascinating art museum.

‘C’ invited me on a drive to see him on her BMW motorcycle. It was only the second motorcycle I’d ever taken a ride on, the first one being her boyfriend’s Harley. Her boyfriend and I were pals going back to when we were both teenagers and by that time he’d let me have lots of rides on his hog. I loved it. Plus, the design of the seats on a hog were such that the passenger on the back rode a tad higher than the driver, allowing you a better view.

‘C’s BMW had a seat that left the passenger staring into the back of the driver’s helmet unless you were taller, which I wasn’t. I got on and she started out and I put my hands on her hips because that was the only place I had to keep a grip on. She didn’t seem to mind.

As I said, by then I was out to myself, had been for years, and fairly comfortable with the idea of being sexually attracted to men. I knew at some deep down level that it wasn’t a matter of being afraid of women like the couch psychiatrists said. I wasn’t afraid of them, I was never sexually abused, nobody turned me homosexual. I simply had no interest. Women were not on my radar the way guys were. Some guys. Cute sexy guys (see my recent art posts). I wasn’t repelled, I just had no interest.

And just then all I wanted was to make sure I wouldn’t fall off the back of ‘C’s BMW. So I reached around and held onto her hips. It was the first time I’d really put my hands on and held onto a woman in my own age group. I had plenty of hugs from mom, and maybe though I don’t recall some of my other older female family and the other church women. This was a young women who, had I been a heterosexual male, I should have found myself attracted to, at least to some degree. She was lithe, physically fit, beautiful according to my left brain. My friend was head over heels in love with her.

My hands instantly discovered how soft and…well…squishy her body was. And my instantaneous reflex deep down inside was along the lines of Oh, that’s…odd…

This was a fairly outdoorsy, athletic young woman. And yet her body was…soft. Well defined, shapely even, according to my left brain anyway. You wouldn’t look at her and see anything overweight about her. But her body was…soft. Which I understood to be how it was with women. Logically I supposed this was something that excited heterosexual males about a woman’s body. But that was the first time I’d actually felt it. And it seemed strange. By then I’d had my hands on the hips of her boyfriend, ‘B’ many times while riding with him. For a short time I even had a crush on him. But if he wasn’t a perfect Kinsey 0 he was close to it. 

I remembered something much later after our ride…how ‘B’ had given me a ride on his hog one hot summer day. We had on our helmets, jeans and light summer shirts. His was opened in the front. Suddenly he told me to hang on, because he was going to punch it…something he knew I loved. That Harley might not have been race track material, but it had massive amounts of torque. When you got those flywheels going and banged it up a gear it was stunning. So I reached around and this one time my hands connected with the bare flesh over his stomach, felt the muscle under his skin, and instantly this electric sexual thrill shot right through me.

I never told him.

But there it is. In a nutshell, the difference between a male body and a female’s. It’s not just genitalia. It’s the physical totality of it. One is exciting. The other is…meh. That isn’t something you learn like a bad habit. It is how you’re wired.

When I was a teenager this was something the heterosexual majority didn’t seem to want to know. But we knew. To a more limited degree I knew the moment I came out to myself, while crushing on a male classmate. It was how I was wired. Nothing else made sense to me. And if you’re ever wondering why the secular and religious right have been on a scorched earth culture war against science and education, here’s a data point about that…

Dr. Richard Friedman, Who Debunked Homosexuality Myth, Dies at 79

In an important book, he challenged the widely held Freudian notion that same-sex attraction was curable, finding it instead rooted in biology.

We have been telling them this since Stonewall…those of us not so badly damaged we desperately sought out a cure for something that needed no cure. But science has been telling them this same something about us for decades now, that they’ve never wanted to hear: That human sexuality, let alone reality, doesn’t not care what their religious and moral dogmas say. It is what it is. And what it is, is older than the fish, let alone the mammals, let alone the primates, let alone us. We bear within us every waking moment of our day the living history of hundreds of millions of years of life on earth. And those ancient tides will pull and tug on his whether or not they make sense to the lives we live now. We can be our best, only when we honestly try to understand how those threads move within us. Only then can we learn how to honorably live with them.

His 1988 book, “Male Homosexuality: A Contemporary Psychoanalytic Perspective,” showed that sexual orientation was largely biological and presented a case that helped undermine the belief held by most Freudian analysts at the time that homosexuality was a pathology that could somehow be cured.

When the bird and the bird book disagree, believe the bird. We are not that different from our heterosexual neighbors. We can make our contribution to civilization. But we have to be allowed wholeness. Damaged humans, do damaged things. To themselves. To each other. 

There is nothing wrong with us. There was never anything wrong with us. Science has been telling them that for decades now, and that is one reason why science, reason and education became the number one enemies in their scorched earth culture wars. We were just the convenient scapegoats of men who hate existence, and beauty, and the awe and wonder of love and desire, and everything fine and noble a human can be, that they cannot. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on It’s In The Wiring

April 25th, 2020

Not Cancelled. Posponed.

The Advocate informs me this morning, that the parade that started it all has been canceled due to this year’s plague…

New York City Joins List of Canceled Prides

Pride organizers and the city government came to the decision together, according to a Heritage of Pride press release. Mayor Bill de Blasio has canceled all in-person gatherings in New York City through June due to the pandemic, which has hit his city particularly hard.

It is the first time since the Stonewall Riots that the parade has been cancelled. But this time there was no other way. I’m sure there will be online celebrations. This was always a parade about defiance against the darkness, survival, and love. And we will go on, defying hate, surviving, and loving and taking care of each other, as we did before, while they that say plagues are gods wrath come on us are packing their stadium churches and sharing their viral loads with each other more recklessly than what they accused us of during the AIDS crisis, and drinking bleach.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Not Cancelled. Posponed.

April 18th, 2020

In Which The Abyss Gives Up A Ray Of Sunshine And Hope

Per my previous post…not so afraid now. Concerned yes, but lord have mercy the ray of sunshine I just got was very much appreciated, after so many weeks of worry.

Now I need to send a letter to a friend from long ago. I’ll say more later, maybe, when I get a reply.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on In Which The Abyss Gives Up A Ray Of Sunshine And Hope


When The Abyss Looks Back Into You And Speaks A Name

The people I let into my life, become friends with, hang out with, enjoy the company of, get the very rare crush on, are broadly folks who are smart, have big hearts, are curious and imaginative, and…just don’t quite fit in. These tend to take two very different paths through life. I have walked them both.

Some make their way up the economic ladder. They eventually snuggle into some small nitch where they can use their minds in ways they either enjoy or at any rate are very good at, and in which their odd little quirks, as seen from the herd, either don’t matter or add decoration and color to the workplace. Many of my own group of friends eventually found work in Information Technologies where we’re kept safely away from the public, behind our computer screens where we can can geek out to our heart’s content. But some I know are lawyers, musicians, cartoonists, theater people…

For a while I was earning a bare bones living as an architectural modelmaker. It was as basic a lifestyle as could be, but I was enjoying myself. At various points in my life I’ve tried earning a living as a photographer, an illustrator, a political cartoonist. It wasn’t until I got work as a computer programmer that I could breath economically. That’s typically how it goes. The arts kids I know generally don’t make a lot of money, some of them live hand to mouth. But if you’ve ever tried to make a living as an artist you really have to respect anyone who has managed the trick, regardless of how low income their lives are. Most have their “day jobs”. Work they hate but which allows them time and money to do the work they love.

But there’s another, darker path some of these take: they go down the economic rabbit hole. Then they find themselves living on the edge of society. They never get the break they need, never find the good nitch to occupy. They become drifters economically, then eventually if they can’t find their nitch, transients with no fixed roof over their heads.

Invariably these attract the attention of the police, too many of which seem to thoroughly enjoy harassing them. And one minor offense snowballs into another and another and late in life they’re in and out of jails and/or halfway houses. If not sleeping on the streets. 

That is how the economic system in this country works. Oh, you don’t have a bank account? Oh, you haven’t held a job longer than a few months? Oh you don’t have a mailing address? An automobile? A phone? Good people. Smart, decent, big hearted, beautiful souls who could make their contribution to civilization if they could just catch that one lucky break. But not only are they a bit odd, they’re in pain. The kind of pain doctors can’t cure. They may not even know they’re in pain because they’ve just lived with it for so long. Hemingway knew the risks of having that big heart inside of you:

“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.”

I have seen the system get hold of one of these and grind them down just for the shear pleasure of doing it. Because they can. These are not violent predatory people but they are easy marks for bullies. Because the inner beauty still there within the destitute man in front of them is a rebuke. 

As I said, I’ve walked both these paths, though luckily not to the degree I’ve had repeated run-ins with the law, or been homeless. A classmate gave me a place to live when I had nowhere else to go and I was mowing lawns and doing Manpower jobs to make ends meet. Then I got my lucky break and now I’ve a nice little Baltimore rowhouse and a wonderful job and a very good income. But it could have been lots different. Within I am no different from a bunch of people I know, who are living hand to mouth and just couldn’t catch that break. We’re all just a bit odd. If you can’t make your oddness work for you the culture tosses you into the garbage heap without a second thought. Well, he shouldn’t be so odd, he needs to straighten up and make something of himself. But he was something. And now his contribution is lost to all of us.

Straighten up and fly right. Yes. Quite. It’s a double whammy if you not only happen to be a bit…different…but also gay. Particularly my generation, or older, or a bit younger. Maybe you clawed your way out of the closet. Maybe you accept yourself, as the old song goes, just as you are. But growing up under a torrent of social fear, hate and loathing does it’s work on you all the same. And especially so if your own family has abandoned you. You avoid confrontation, stay hunkered down lest you step on yet another social landmine. Risk aversion is wired into you. You accept being less than you could be, because good enough carries with it less personal and emotional risk, then being all you can be does.

It is the ball and chain you wear every moment of your day, and maybe you don’t even know it’s there anymore it feels so familiar. It degrades your economic life, and for certain it impacts your love life. How can damaged goods see themselves, present themselves, as a worthy lover?

Why am I telling you all this? Maybe in a day or two I’ll explain. Or maybe not. It isn’t about me. Mostly. I am however, very much afraid.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

February 16th, 2020

A Coming Out Story…Intermission 2…(continued)

Continuing with the Intermission, wherein I’ve sought answers about my sexual orientation in the bookstore, and purchased Doctor Pompous J. Fraudquack’s The TRUTH About Homosexuality…and I begin to read…

Intermission – What I Learned About Homosexuality. . . And Myself (Part 2)

I’m going to interleave this little story arc with the one I’m currently presenting, so if it gets a tad confusing blame my poorly developed storytelling skills. But this is where it’s all been building to. The subtitle of the cartoon is after all, The first person you come out to, is yourself. For some gay kids that isn’t easy, and it especially was not back in 1971.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story…Intermission 2…(continued)

February 8th, 2020

Here Comes Valentine’s Day Again

This is for all the Valentine’s Days I missed out on. Because it’s hard to date when you’re growing up in a world that throws a torrent of abuse at people like you. Because all the nice boys I was attracted to were too terrified to be out, let alone proud. Because righteous people needed our hopes and dreams for their stepping stones to heaven. And because “people who look like that want people who look like that.”

My entire purpose in doing A Coming Out Story is it’s a message in a bottle to whom it may concern, that gay kids need a break. Let them have that magical first crush. Let them have their prom nights. Be the one who tells them “you’re alright kid.”

—-
“No, Mama, I wasn’t “recruited.” No seasoned homosexual ever served as my mentor. But you know what? I wish someone had. I wish someone older than me and wiser than the people in Orlando had taken me aside and said, “You’re all right, kid. You can grow up to be a doctor or a teacher just like anyone else. You’re not crazy or sick or evil. You can succeed and be happy and find peace with friends — all kinds of friends — who don’t give a damn who you go to bed with. Most of all, though, you can love and be loved, without hating yourself for it.”

“But no one ever said that to me, Mama. I had to find it out on my own, with the help of the city that has become my home. I know this may be hard for you to believe, but San Francisco is full of men and women, both straight and gay, who don’t consider sexuality in measuring the worth of another human being.

“These aren’t radicals or weirdos, Mama. They are shop clerks and bankers and little old ladies and people who nod and smile to you when you meet them on the bus. Their attitude is neither patronizing nor pitying. And their message is so simple: Yes, you are a person. Yes, I like you. Yes, it’s all right for you to like me, too…”

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Here Comes Valentine’s Day Again

February 5th, 2020

A Coming Out Story – Episode 29. . .

In which our hero discovers zipper anxiety…

A Coming Out Story…Episode 29 “Are You Serious?”

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story – Episode 29. . .

Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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