I’d rather be hung than ‘hanged’

This week it came out that at some event Trump made an off-hand joke that Pence wanted to hang all the gays. Now some probably will and may argue that it’s just a joke (a shitty one) and that it was intended not to be taken seriously, but the essence of what makes comedy good is that one can always find a nugget of truth. That’s what makes it comical. But no matter how you look at it it’s not funny. At all. 

The main reason it’s also not funny is because Pence believes that conversion therapy works. He’s a proponent for it. His picture even graced the wall of the pretend conversion camp that Jack’s son Elliot sent his son on this weeks episode of Will & Grace. 

When I was younger and confused about my identity, I quite literally made statements that all the gays should be killed. (Or get their own island. And the problem would “solve” itself. I was such a douche.) From my stilted Christian perspective, I thought that they were vile beasts destroying the world and felt that the only way to cleanse this planet was with their elimination. Some may say that this is just hyperbole or that I’m making it up but I unfortunately am not. I was filled with so much rage and hate because I believed that if I hated it enough at others it would go away in myself. 

Today my mother asked me if I knew that I was gay in Christian school. To which I told her yes, but I never would admit it. Instead every night I would pray, in tears, that god would make me normal and take away these thoughts and feelings, but it never happened. The fucked up christian part of my brain pipes up some times and says, “that’s because you didn’t want it enough” or that “I just didn’t believe enough.” At the time I did. I pretended as much as I could to be straight but it’s not me. I want to be friends with women and never see their naughty bits. 

Soon after that, my mother also began to make a statement about how we choose our sexual identity and I stopped her right there and told her that it was that wording or idea that is completely wrong. Why would anyone deliberately choose to be ostracized from their friends and family just for some gay sex? It’s ridiculous. I should have followed up her comment with a question asking when she made her choice to go after men and not women. 

When I told my husband this he said, “ it’s funny because this kind of thinking comes from religion which is the only thing that can be changed.” 

I sometimes wonder what if I had told my parents that I had wanted to go to a conversion camp, would they have sent me. It pains me to say it but I’m sure they would have. They didn’t know any better. Religion makes and keeps people stupid. And being gay eveidently goes against everything in the faith, however they’ve changed their minds about premarital sex, tattoos, liquor and smoking. 

If someone believes that faith can somehow curb your sexual desires all I can think is that person is hiding themselves in a lie. Which makes me convinced that Pence is gay. It’s because of that idea that it’s a choice that in my life I have encountered a great many married men looking for man on man action. They have their fun (because it can’t be denied) and then they beat themselves up and say “never again.” And I know because I was there once too. 

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Damming the Depression

Like many Americans I suffer from depression. I was diagnosed when I turned 18 however I think it had been an issue for some time prior to that. As an adult I realized my true personality, which is that of an overachiever looking for recognition of my intelligence. I was also this way prior to puberty but during my teenage years I couldn’t have cared less about anything and everything. It could have also been because I was grapling with my sexual identity from the perspective of a devout Christian but who knows. 

Either way I was prescribed anti-depressants from that day on. 

My relationship with these pills has waxed and waned frequently over the years. I go from thinking “I can never not be on my meds” to “maybe this is what is keeping me from writing?” It is this cycle that I live my life through. It would appear that I am coming to the moment of “I can never not be on these pills” again. But have I taken them? No, because “they keep me from writing.” Which is funny because so does depression. 

I made an appointment with a therapist for Monday. And I am genuinely looking forward to it. I’m curious if I’ll like her and if she’ll call me by my actual name. (I had a therapist that went in for the “come to Jesus” message of the session and botched it by telling me I should ask myself “what does Jason want.”) 

I want to like her and I hope it helps. The thing about therapists is you have to find the right one that works well with your personality and shares somewhat basic ideals. I have seen a few in my day and it took some time before I came to one that could keep up and seemed to like me. He is also the one who has since ignored my subsequent calls. Yet, as I outlined in my earlier post, it could be because I kept bouncing my checks. 

Prior to this, and on a different insurance, I started seeing this addiction therapist and she had a very dry almost cold personality but there was something about her that intrigued me. Maybe it was because I could tell from the lines on her face that she herself had battled addiction and knew what she was talking about. Unfortunately I had to let her go because we switched insurance and I happen to get the day of my appointment mixed up in my head. (Happens often).

As the days go on I become frequently sadder. My Facebook feed being the biggest instigator of these emotions. It should be noted that I have since deleted it from my phone. 

My husband this morning remarked that his Facebook feed was nothing but recipes now and I retorted, rather jaded, that mine was nothing but trump. The man is destroying everything in my eyes and I can’t help but feel soooooo insignificant. There is nothing I can do without buckets of money or power. Of which I have none. My husband, in an attempt to make me feel better, said we are all insignificant. He’s sweet for trying. 

The thing that has really been upsetting is this dick had decided to side with the religious Reich and build his new platform under family values. I laugh sometimes because the hypocrisy of him taking a stand for them is hilarious and them accepting it is a downright riot. Yet here we are. Two cruel and callous forces combining their lights to take on the evils of the homosexual agenda.

These thoughts inevitably lead me to the realization that some of my friends and family voted for this monster and because of him they could potentially (and most fucking likely) take away my rights as a gay man. They may have no done it intentionally but they have done so. When they elect someone that has an agenda that wants to destroy my community. I know that they find me repulsive, they say so in all of the literature and words, and it is from that knowledge sprouts two paths of thought, I either return their hatred or do what Christ says and turn the other cheek. I may be agnostic but I was raised in the faith and my mother (who exemplifies what it means to be a Christian) taught me well. 

So another day I drift closer to a dark depression. I try not to be so maudlin, for instance I am currently out in the sunshine, taking a break from bike riding. It is that exercise and the return of will and grace that has brought me the most joy. It’s pathetic and it’s true. 

Seeking Help

It has become quite clear to me that I need to seek out a counselor. My emotions need some release and validation from a disinterested third party. Yet, when I go to search I am stopped. A thousand questions run through my mind: who I should pick, will they like me, will I like them? And the most important, will they be okay with me being gay?

I live in a very conservative community. Dangerously so. All the doctors I have sought are all marriage and family. I just want a fucking therapist to go and vent to and find out what makes me tick. But I don’t know if they will harbor some sort of resentment toward me because I’m gay.

This fear of mine is exacerbated by a former counselor of mine. He was really good and I liked him. His name was Dr. Strange, however he wasn’t a PhD. I just added the title because it was adorable. Anyway, when I was seeing him the husband and I were on a break, yet we were still living together and sharing a single bank account. He would make purchases that would then make my checks bounce. I tell you this because I want to believe that when I went to reach out to Jake Strange years later for help and when he ignored my calls it was because he didn’t want to deal with the unpredictability of being paid for his services. The jaded side of my personality believes it was because he was religious and wanted nothing to do with a faggot. (I hate the word but I added it for emphasis.)

Since then I have been uneasy when it comes to finding a therapist. Even now… I am mortified. I tried reaching out to one yesterday but haven’t heard back at all. A simple “we’re not taking new clients” would suffice. At least then I could move on to the next on my list. In my mind I’m in some weird counselor database saying I bounce checks and am gay.

I tried the next on my list regardless of an answer and when I was faced with his voicemail I froze. I couldn’t do it. I was terrified. My voice caught in my chest and I instead just hung up. He presented himself as a marriage and family counselor. I was going for me, not my marriage. Did I search for the wrong thing?

So I attempted another number and I responded the same way. I couldn’t leave a message. Now I am wondering if I am just scared to actually get help. Maybe this is me making excuses NOT to get better, you know what I mean?

In a final attempt I reached out to my former Psychologist for a recommendation (per my husbands advice.) Now I wait again.

AOL Days IM Nights

Technology is dated the moment it comes out. By the time it’s been mass produced, packaged and shipped it’s been outdated by newer and better technology. It’s just kind of how the digital age works. Things appear from nowhere and disappear just as fast. For those that enjoyed the item while it was there, it will hold a special place in their heart that can never be outdone, no matter how well the thing that replaced it performs. For me the item from the digital age that deeply affected my life was AIM. 

Now, I never actually used just AOL instant messenger. I had the full aol shebang all because of the movie “You’ve Got Mail.” Like a lot of preteens I was chasing that silver screen fantasy of finding someone special. Funny now that I think of it, that it did in fact do just that. Just not right away. 

Being a fat, pale, shut-in with no friends the internet opened up a whole new world for me. I got to meet people from all over the world and talk with them. The conversations were vacuous and silly but it was a way to connect when I felt so alone. 

AIM gave me that opportunity. 

I still have one friend from that time, Heather. She was my “shopgirl” before I realized I really just wanted a “shopboy.” Well, I knew I wanted boys I just hadn’t accepted it because of my religious background. AIM let me “have a girlfriend” without having to actually touch or kiss another girl. It was all about words and creating an illusion. Honestly I did love her. She was sweet and I enjoyed talking to her. She lived in Allentown, Pennsylvania.  

When my husband and I went back to New York last years, I had wanted to meet with her (since she has moved) but it wasn’t possible. One day I hope to see her face to face and give her a friendly hug.

My real “shopboy” (btw this is a reference from “You’ve Got Mail” you must get to understand) came in the form of a dude named chuck77393. That was my husband’s old AIM name. And the first thing he ever said to me was “yeah, Diego and I are still together.” I of course being the troublesome 17 year old I was continued on the conversation like I knew who he was and what he was talking about. I added his sign name to my “buddy list” and proceed to message him until he and Diego called it quits. That was 14 years ago.  Crazy. 

Though AIM also offered some not so good or nice things. It helped facilitate the meeting for my first sexual encounter. 

I was 14 years old when I messaged Trucker93313. I’m not positive, but almost certain this man was in his forties. He and I arranged through IM that I would meet him at the end of my street and he would take me back to his place, which turned out to be the sleeper of his semitruck parked in a Rite-Aid parking lot. Gross. 

I justified it at the time because I wanted to know whether or not I was really gay. I had been looking at pornographic websites and feeling so much shame. (Never once did I check out women by the way.) I needed and answer and this strange man agreed to meet with me. I lied and said I was 16, like that is somehow better than 14 when the dude is sitting near a half a century, but whatever. The logic of a pubescent brain. 

I walked away from that event feeling disgusted and certain I was DEFINITELY not gay. As it turned out I am most certainly a homosexual it was just this dude that was disgusting. 

When I think about it, this man could have murdered me. I knew nothing about him at all and if he had my parents would have had no idea what happened to me when they woke in the morning to find that I was gone. 

With the announcement of AOL ending AIM after 20 years, it has made me reflect on all the hours I spent at the computer, conversing with strangers. It really and truly changed my life and had a profound affect on it. It helped me realize and understand my sexual identity and it got me the man I would spend with for the rest of my life.  I will forever be in its debt. 

Jaded Surfeit Ramblings

So I finally missed a Friday. I wish I could say that it was because I was doing something so exciting and time consuming that it slipped my mind, however I was in fact watching the new episode of Will & Grace three times in a row (bringing the grand total to four.) The thought that I had to write even crossed my mind at nine o’clock but I shrugged it off. The desire just wasn’t there for me. Well, only partially missing, but it was the one that won the scrimmage in my brain. When I try and figure out what happened all I can think is that I am just super depressed. The world has spun out of control and I never know what is going to happen. The worst part of it all, is the depression has jaded me more than ever before.

I jokingly called my blog “Journal of a Jaded Josh,” mainly for the alliteration but primarily as a joke. I have some ho-hum views about perfectly mundane things. But it can’t be stressed enough that it was a joke. However, it isn’t anymore. I find myself increasingly driven to this dark perspective about life and living. My longing for the past when President Obama was in office has reached new heights. At that time I never read the news. Politics bored me. I just wasn’t interested in anything big because in the back of my mind I knew that everything would be taken care of. We would move forward with good leadership and a cool head. That sense of security has long since faded. Now I’m terrified NOT to read every piece of news and know every facet of every situation. My fear is that I’ll miss something crucial and find myself in a camp.

My loved ones think I am jumping to extreme conclusions when I say my husband and I are going to be rounded up and put into camps because we’re gay. They don’t see how that could possibly happen, but who would have ever thought it would have happened to the Jews. This administration doesn’t rely on it’s word. At all. They say one thing and literally turn around and do the complete opposite. It’s a mad house. And just recently it was announced that they want to make it legal to fire someone for being gay. I mean… I don’t think that would happen in my normal nine to five, but who knows. You learn who your true friends are when the rules no longer apply.

I get frustrated beyond belief with republicans. I truly dislike them. Yes they’re good people. They want to live a happy life just like me. And they may not agree with the vilification of gay people, but it is the fact that they elect people of power who do. That is where I draw umbrage. They look at this person and don’t think, “Well, I like what they have to say but not the gay stuff. But I’ll go ahead and vote for them anyway.” The excuse I hear ad nauseam is “Well I had no other choice.” That is bull shit. There are always other choices. There are hundreds of choices. You just happened to look at the R and ignore everything else. It’s despicable. I have zero patience for it. Hillary would not be a bumbling buffoon who can’t keep her trap shut, who at the end of the day is worried about only one person.

I still hate politics. Especially more so. I hate the lies and deceit and the money that truly runs things. Every one of them is scum and nothing can fix it, it seems. The people who have the heart to do the people’s will end up corrupted by money or pressure from their peers. Even now, given a seemingly insane individual, they rather stick to party than politics. The health care bill alone is just a way to fuck the people and help only a select few. Power and wealth corrupts. And one would think at a certain point those without the two would see the corrupted for what they are and revolt, but these sons of bitches (that’s right, not kneeling protestors), have somehow magically manipulated the masses into fighting against their own self-interest to protect their claim to wealth and power. I genuinely applaud them for their skill. That alone is astounding.

It is in this rage and futility that I finally see what drives a person to extremism or the desire to lash out. When you feel like there is nothing left to lose you are willing to watch the world burn around you.

While I saw Obama as the second coming of Christ (not literally of course because many claimed he was the anti-christ) others saw him stripping away… something. They built up this fictitious world in their mind that said he was destroying all that they held dear and in that they began to loath the system and turned on it, deciding to give it to an outsider that bragged about assaulting women and vilified minorities. And in that knowledge, I begin to wonder myself, have I built up my own fantasy? Yet when I see that people in Puerto Rico are dying and he’s bitching about peaceful protest in the NFL I realize I am justified.

So, all of this has made me jaded. I have no want for violence (however honestly it does cross my mind from time to time) because I am a pacifist… or a pussy. Whatever way you want to look at it I am want to avoid confrontation. It’s not me. Instead… I rather wallow in my misery and avoid things that give me life. And it is clear that writing gives me life. I say that it was that lack of desire that kept me from writing, but here I finish probably one of my longest posts to date.

The one good thing about this admin is it is exposing one’s true self. And when there are so few things to look forward to, that in itself is something to treasure.

The jinx waiting period has passed

I genuinely forgot that I needed to write. And I am very glad that some random part of my brain reminded me that it needed to be done because so far I have missed a Friday. And my new mantra as of late is “finish what you start.” But to be fair I never did give an end date to this. Or maybe I did… a year? Who knows. The primary purpose of this was to keep myself writing to hone my craft into something sellable. 

Today is officially a week since I sent an email inquiring within for a possible columnist position. There was a controversial firing over at the local newspaper and I thought I’d strike while the iron was scalding hot to get myself a role in the vacated seat. Although I have not heard a peep back. It’s disheartening. Hell, at this point, I would take a “we will look further into your inquiry. Thank you,” and then hear nothing back over absolute silence. 

I told myself not to get my hopes up. Going into the email process I knew the chances of hearing back were slim to nil. And more likely not at all. But as one does I started to fantasize about getting the position and putting my life right onto the page. I would have an audience of typically conservative Christian readers potentially sending me hate mail, that I told myself I wouldn’t read. And the most important part of it all, I would get paid to write. 

At this juncture I am such an easy score that I’d write something for $10 just to say that I am a paid writer.  Then I could turn that one job into stepping stone to bigger and better things. It’s all part of an overarching plan. I just need that first step. 

I won’t take it personally, the no response. I am sure that he probably gets a million emails a day and I was just one lone voice in the cocaphony. Or maybe I was marked as spam and it filtered me out, never to be seen. Either way it doesn’t mean anything negative toward myself or my ability. 

The thing that I did get from this event, that was entirely unexpected, were the words my husband imparted to me. He said, “It is something that you just tried.” Every once in awhile he says something unexpected that fills me with pride and worth.

So, I will take the lack of rely to be a sign for this. I will fight the urge not to bombard him with further letters. 

NYC Midnight – Flash Fiction Challenge #1

I am a sucker for competition, especially in regards to trying to prove my intellect or skill. When it comes to writing contests, there is no other drug I would choose. I love the stress and panic that comes with the possibility of winning. The awards given would prove, once and for all, that I was worth-while and had talent. However, only until recently have I even received any kind of recognition.

As I’ve mentioned before, I won third place for my column “Gay Agenda” in the Renegade Rip.  That award gave me so much self-worth I didn’t know what to do with it or myself.

When the chance to compete in the “NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge” arose I had to enter. Sure it cost me $50, but it guaranteed two of my stories would be read and critiqued by the judges; and it entered me into a chance at winning a cash prize.

The idea behind the contest is that the entrant is put into a group of around 30 people, and in that group each person has to write a 1,000 word story in a specific genre, that takes place at a designated location and must include a single item. Whether the item is crucial to the plot is up to the writer. For the first challenge, I was given the genre of Sci-Fi. My location was “a man-made island” and the item to be included somewhere in the story was “a skeleton.”  I have included it below so that people could read it. Followed immediately after is the feedback I received, and I have to say I agree with everything noted, with the exception of one.

Without further ado, here is my first entry into the flash fiction competition, brought to you by NYC Midnight Madness. I placed 13th out of 15 spots, in a group of 31 contestants.

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SCHIFF’S ISLAND

Darris Shiff stood on the shore of his newly formed island with his arms crossed over his chest. His eyes bounced from one aluminum robo-mech to the next as they bustled about the land mass spreading like a bubble across the surface of the ocean. 

“What do you think?” he said, gesturing with both arms to the scene. 

The young woman with chestnut skin glanced around at the construction with a blank expression. 

“I imagine the Terrestrial Brethren will be pleased.”  

“Good. All it took were a few quadrillion global credits, and here I stand on the precipice of a new age, away from the stench of poverty and war.”  

The young woman licked her lips, turned, and walked to the small table that had been set up for the meeting. A large blue and green hologram spun counterclockwise at the center, with a series of dots typing out flags of data. The sound of the robo-mechs and the waves lapping at the shore dulled the sound of the robotic voice reading each tag. 

“Your assistant informed me that the expected completion date is two weeks from now. That will not sit well with the Brethren. ” 

Schiff sighed, “No, it won’t, but you can’t rush progress. So, it will have to do. Most of the heat and salty ocean air has had a hand in the destruction of the majority of my mechs.” 

“And yet you persist.” 

Schiff turned to her with a broad grin. 

“One does what they must to survive.” 

The woman circled the table and examined the hologram. The grid of illuminated digital lines formed the peak of a single mountain rising like a beak from the tropical foliage and numerous buildings, turrets, and barriers surrounding its base. 

“I could survive here,” she said.  

Darris walked to the table and pressed a single button on the panel at its side. The hologram flickered away.  

“When can we expect them? I am ready for the Dalian Eclipse.” 

The woman smirked. “Are you so certain of that?” 

“Who are you to-” started Schiff, but the loud hum of an approaching ship cut through his response.  

The two looked up toward the sound to see a hover yacht emerged from the dense fog that circled the island. A long, red flag trailed from the rear to signal their station and identity. 

“Finally,” Schiff said. 

The woman narrowed her green eyes at the back of Darris’ head. 

The leisure cruiser pulled close to the island and dropped anchor only a few meters from where the two stood. A shimmering electron gangplank birthed forth from its side and rested at the edge of the shore, as a group of five men in billowing gold garments stepped to the edge of the craft. 

Schiff rushed forward and took his spot at the end of the walkway, as he tugged, tucked, and pressed his clothes to impress. 

“It is a pleasure to meet with you, gentlemen,” Schiff said, with half a bow. “Welcome to my island.” 

The man at the head of the group, with a gaunt face and a hooked nose, pursed his lips together and nodded. 

“Indeed, Mr. Schiff.”  

The men stepped around their host and walked onto the shore. 

“As you can see, everything is coming along nicely. I have developed the technology to build new lands, away from the coppers, for those willing to pay the price.” 

The five men moved about and appraised the scene before them like a flock of birds. 

“Pay?” one of the five said. “Hopefully, that does not include us. Considering what we’re offering you.” 

“Of course not, gentlemen.” 

The men chittered their approval. 

Schiff stepped next to the table and ignited the hologram.  

“As you can see the look of the finished product. We have all the amenities to protect us from pirates and the poor.” 

The Brethren circled the display and gestured to each of the features with their commentary. 

“You’ve done well. A man with your talents deserves what the Brethren offer.” 

Schiff moved to speak, but his voice escaped him. Instead, his jaw opened and closed like the limbs of one of his malfunctioning robo-mechs. 

“Provided you guarantee our own private property in this ocean world, you can join the brotherhood and live forever, like us.” 

Schiff nodded. 

The man with the hooked nose grinned and pulled from a pocket a clear plastic box that contained a single squirming creature that resembled a grub. 

Darris’ hands shook as he lifted them to grab his prize. For so long he had heard the rumors of what it took to be a Brethren, but he had never believed it until the leader placed it in his open palm. 

“Thank you.” 

The growl of an engine drew the attention of everyone gathered on the beach to the ship that exploded from the fog flying a tattered acid-green flag, adorned with the skeleton of a shark. 

“Pirates!” One of the men shrieked, sending the brethren into a panic. 

The young woman seized her moment. With moves as quick as lightning, she pulled a pistol from her boot and shot a single bolt at the gangplank where it short-circuited the walkway, trapping the men on the island. 

“You’re not going anywhere.”  

“We will give you money!” one of them shrieked. 

The young woman sneered. 

“I don’t want your filthy credits.”  

The young woman fired a charged bolt into each of the Brethren’s heads and stopped when she came to Darris. 

Schiff dropped to his knees, with the box still clutched in his hands. 

“Why are you doing this?”  

“One must do what it takes to survive,” the woman said. “And the world without your kind is better off.” 

Schiff glanced from his captor to the dead men on the ground, to the Kubuli in his hands. 

“Thank you for building us a beautiful new world.” 

With one final bullet, the Brethren were no more. 

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JUDGES’ FEEDBACK:

{1751} I truly appreciated the revenge that the young woman takes on the people who would obviously have only used the newly invented land to serve themselves (because that’s what they do best).  {1739}  Schiff’s struggle to join a secret society is intriguing. The tech that he has developed to prove himself, makes him a sympathetic character.  {1743}  This is quite a taut and penetrating flash science fiction.  The slam bang ending is a working hologram itself, italicized with a “Kabuli.”  That pirate ship bursting through fog, flying its shark flag is a real keeper.  Fine piece of writing, this.  WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK – {1751}  It seems astounding to me that the men who have such power and wealth would have no bodyguards and only one ship on and off the island; you might improve the story if the young woman had disabled even more obstacles, such as bodyguards or more ships, as it might make her victory seem less miraculous and more plausible. However, this is only a suggestion.  {1739}  The story really begins once the Brethren arrive. Consider truncating the opening sequence. Nothing is written that makes the Brethren or Schiff bad people. They all seem to be pretty hard working folks. Schiff mentions that steps are taken to protect against pirates, yet his facility is immediately overrun. This is a big conflict.  {1743}  An em dash is rendered as: –.