Posts Tagged ‘gay life


keeping time by the moon

[Author’s note: It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted. This one’s for T.]

Keeping Time by the Moon


He would not let me undress him. We would sit on the front steps of my 18th Street store-front loft in Pilsen shot-gunning a joint, our lips so close that a passerby might mistake it for a kiss—a smokin’ one at that—and we would watch the passing traffic all the while talking talking talking. We would sit close enough to each other that our legs and arms would be touching and I would turn and look into his eyes—were they brown or blue?  They were beautiful. And I’d stroke his cheek with the back of my hand, he was beautiful.

He would not let me undress him. The fable of our falling together has yet to surface, all I recall is that for a few weeks in the heat of a Chicago summer I was his dog. We did not make the scene, he did not meet my friends, although I told anyone who would listen how this beautiful boy and I were this close to fucking, but for the fact that he would not let me undress him. He lived with his sister in an ugly contemporary building on Dearborn just north of Division, perhaps the 1400 block, it looked like a layer cake, the concrete frosting being squeezed out between each layer of glass; you had to walk down a wide set of stairs to gain entrance to the lobby (like a subterranean car park) and up the elevator to their apartment.

He would not let me undress him. Their life seemed transitional, temporary, with two mattresses on the floor and clothing spilling out of suitcases and boxes with the detritus of life stacked in a corner. Did I take this as a warning? Of course not, I was smitten, bit, enthralled to his charms, he was, after all, beautiful. His beauty was such that women, men, and small animals (domestic and wild) would stop to watch him pass by, every one of them would have laid down their life for him without the slightest hesitation; he was that beautiful. Had you seen him you would have understood my dilemma.

He would not let me undress him. The time we were together was short, perhaps just a few weeks. My gut tells me we kissed, but I cannot confirm that as fact. He did not ask for money, although I gladly paid our way (food, drink, cover charges, cabs, bus- and train-fare) and I kept him stocked with the drugs of the day, but I did not feel like I was being used (well, perhaps a bit, but not enough for it to matter.) I could not have been but a couple of years older than he, so there was not the desperation of age motivating my desire to be with him.

He would not let me undress him. And just as my memory of our meeting is shrouded in the depths of those final months of my denouement, our parting is equally undefined. I believe that one day I went to his apartment and rang the bell and there was no answer. I may have sat on the steps leading down into that concrete bunker contemplating my infatuation (that libido thinking) and cursing myself for falling so hard for one so beautiful. Had anyone seen me sitting there that day, they would have known, just from the slump of my shoulders and the curve of my back, that I had been in love and had lost. He, nor his sister, ever surfaced again, not even in a dream, although I could, at this very moment, tell you exactly how beautiful he was.


He loved me. We did not date. We were not boyfriends. We did not exchange phone numbers. When we did see each other it would happen like this: I would be out with friends and he would be standing next to me like a wraith appearing out of the smoke of the bar. Everything about him was pleasing: intelligent, witty, pretty (in a man sort of way), deferential to my friends and my relationship with them.

He loved me. I did not love him; I do not know why I did not, love him. He did not pressure me to return his love. Quite the opposite, he rarely made mention of his devotion. I never said anything more than, “Shall we spend some time/sometime together?” He was always available to do so. If he had a job, I did not know what it was.

He loved me. You could see it in the way he stood next to me. Days after seeing us together, someone/a friend would comment, “He loves you. You can tell by the way he looks at you.” We would spend several days holed up in my loft, only occasionally going out for food/cigarettes/beer. Afterwards, we would sit on the bed facing each other, legs and arms intertwined and talk about it all (hopes, dreams, aspirations) as if we both loved each other. But I did not love him.

He loved me. At a point in time/in the future/months, perhaps a year or two after we first met, he stopped standing next to me unexpectedly. I don’t know when that happened, but I do remember thinking that he did not love me any longer. Alone/out at night, I would think of him/perhaps in the hope that the thought would conjure him up out of the smoke of the club. It did not. I may have loved him, but too late to make anything out of it other than what it was. He loved me.


His name was David and every few months between 1975 and 1979 we had hate sex. I would tell you that we had nothing in common, but I would be lying; it was that we were so similar that caused the friction. Neither of us could determine if he was too smart for me or if I was too smart for him. Likewise as innocent as the wheat in a spring field. We’d ignore each other for days that lasted the time between full moons and then fall together, shutting the door to the outside world, just the light from the window illuminating our writhing bodies. It was mysterious and arcane, fiction and truth, a fire in the forest.

There was a hollow at the base of his spine just before the rise of his ass that was as tender as moonlight, but his face was marked by adolescent acne, his hair kinky and light brown—he pulling at it all the while we’d be pressed up against each other (at work, at the bars, on the train, or walking down the street), “I hate you Robert,” he’d cry out as we quickly shed our clothes, “Let me kiss you,” I’d plead and he’d run into the hours of my life, tackle my day, and we would fall, fall, fall, disappearing in quilts and pillows, down toward the grunting of hate sex.

There came a time when the moon was new and we’d not seen each other for weeks, we’d circle each other, nod, and tip a beer bottle in hostile greeting, cruise some other men, make out in front of each other, the hours slipping away counted by the number of misfires, beard rash, ass grabs, and pisses in the john, our hate fueled by desire. We couldn’t have a conversation without arguing, hurting each other because we were fighting ourselves, we knew the weak spots and sought them out for the wickedest of barbs, St. Sebastian before he was the American Idol, a Coppertone Christ. We’d pierce each other’s heart, lip-locked and bodies socketed like nesting wrenches. God, it was marvelous.

I wonder if, when I realized I hadn’t seen him in some time, if at that same time he realized he hadn’t seen me either. That our moons rose and fell at different times, a tip of the world, its axis shifting, shuddering, memory fading until tonight when I went out on the last dog walk before bed and there was our moon and I cried out, “I hate you David, let’s fuck.”


You left without saying goodbye. The door whispered shut; you were down the stairs and on the sidewalk before, before, before (what?) the frost had a chance to melt in the early morning. No, no, not that.

You left without saying goodbye. The door whispered shut, the click of the key a tsk; you were down the stairs and on the sidewalk pulling the collar of your jacket up around your neck not so much against the frost of the early morning, but more of a defense against the ghost of the night, what you had left behind. (What had you left behind?)

You left without saying goodbye. Did you stop to look at me laying there, my lips slightly parted in that deep sleep when your soul rides in and out with every shallow breath (blown out, but caught in the intake of the next breath, you never lose it, your soul, it’s a joy ride,) Did you? No, no, probably not. You’re not that kind of sentimental fool, that’s why.

You left without saying goodbye. It could have been that I dreamt of your leaving, silently, still. The door whispered its goodbye to you as you pulled it closed behind you, the key clicked its tsk (that little snap, a breaking — in, out, gone) and you felt its coolness against your fingers/palming it into your front pocket, touching the coins, feeling the ridges of a quarter with your fingernail.

You left without saying goodbye. I did not know you had gone, even when I woke to find your side of the bed empty, one eye still shut against the dawn seeping in under the blinds and slipping down across the windowsill, spilling onto the floor in stripes, your pillow a memory of your head, face toward me, your breath sour/sweet. But that lasted until I didn’t hear you in the bathroom/kitchen/hallway, the door whispering its goodbye as you pulled it closed behind you, the key clicking its disapproval with a tsk.




chelsea station magazine (published)

a chapter, “sic gloria transit [jason]”, from my memoir, “evelyn & son, ltd.” has been published in today’s chelsea station magazine. click through to read. as a bonus, the art illustrating the piece was created by yours truly in 1980 — contemporary to the story.

"allegory of fortune" by dosso dossi--image courtesy the getty center

“allegory of fortune” by dosso dossi–image courtesy the getty center


my manifesto

my manifesto

fog 1

let’s pretend that i’m the manifesto type. a zealot. someone convinced that they are right, guided by god, if you choose, or at the least guided by a morality, a rigid doctrine, a pope you could say or it could be karl marx and lenin, the unabomber, a disgruntled ex-cop with a gun, fidel or che, jefferson, franklin & adams, et. al. i may be reaching here, but you’ll understand how i might have arrived at this list in a few more paragraphs, grant me your patience.

fog 2

if not them, then someone with a grudge (grudge isn’t really the right word and it may take someone less happy than i to deliver it, to conjure the right word for what i’m feeling); perhaps it’s an unresolved social issue—and that may be closer to the truth of the matter, the truth of my declaration. social issues being the hot buttons of the current political landscape (sen. portman and his ilk, for instance; the broader good just out-of-reach of their comprehension or political expediency.) let’s say it’s that, shall we? an unresolved social issue.

fog 3

I shall not rail against the wrongs I know have been directed at me and my life choices by specific people. such as my cousin and his mother (oops! too late); what would be the point of such condemnation, how would it resolve anything, they being so far removed from my life that they no longer exist. (it does still rankle and i find it hard to forgive them for sequestering—such a current word—my uncle from me. it isn’t that so much as the fact that they are doing this because i am gay and the unfounded fear that i am after “their” money, money they may or may not inherit if and when my uncle dies.) okay, i did inveigh against them, but i promise you that is only a minor diversion from my larger complaint and the purpose of my manifesto.

I want to kiss my lover in public and hold his hand, not just in a metropolis where our act would be lost in the swirl of humanity, but in the town square of small town America. I don’t want my kissing him or holding his hand to be an act of war. a declaration of independence, a mein kampf. I want it to go unnoticed, to be unremarkable, to fold itself into the fabric of our lives, all of our lives, in such a manner that you would not see the warp or weft, a finely woven piece of silk.

I don’t want my wedding announcement to be news or held up as a sign of the progressive politics of this newspaper or that community. Instead, I want the farmer in South Dakota to show his wife of 40 years our wedding picture and say, “don’t they look happy?”

I want to look into the eyes of a stranger and not see suspicion or revulsion because I gesture a lot, use complex language, elongate my vowels, drop a curler or two, or call my best friend “Mary” even though he looks like a lumberjack.

I want to be able to assume my world is right instead of fighting for my rights. I want to be as steadfast in my knowledge that the world works in my favor as the last white, heterosexual male in the farthest corner of the state of Maine thinks it works for him.

I am not color blind in my desire to be free of the shackles of hate. please note that my gay agenda would hold true whether I lived in Nigeria, Sri Lanka, China, Chechnya, Saudi Arabia, or Bolivia.

fog 4

And so concludes my gay agenda. I am not a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off, I own no guns, I am not manic-depressive, or suffer from schizophrenia. I do not hear voices directing me to act out against my fellow man. I am just a man who wants to kiss his lover in public without a thought.

fog 5

*should we ever decide to marry and have the right to do so wherever we may be living at the time.





let’s talk about the p***s and the film “weekend”

whatever happened to the p***s?

mixed media drawing after a photography of john pruitt by jim french for colt studios

mixed media drawing after a photograph of john pruitt by jim french for colt studios

from classical greek times through the renaissance the small, thin, delicately foreskinned penis reigned supreme in the visual arts (when it was depicted at all or hadn’t been covered up with hastily configured fig leaves and draping.) the big, the exceptional, or for that matter, the ordinary penis was considered vulgar. go figure.

“weekend”, however,  was more of a phallus–BTW, did you know that the word “phallus” refers to a large erect penis and not just an ordinary flaccid penis? i didn’t until today, but now that i do i plan on using it more often, like a spice you grow fond of and find uses for even though it’s not suited for fowl or cauliflower.

“weekend” is about two young gay men who meet on a friday evening and by sunday morning have, well, i won’t spoil it for you, but regardless of the outcome of their meeting, the film director, andrew haigh, has devised a bergman-like film (those close-ups of the actors talking to each other face to face in bed after sex reminded me of liv ullman and joseph erlandson in bergman’s “scenes from a marriage”) that explores the relationship of gay men operating in a straight world.

it was one of the first gay-themed movies that i’ve seen recently that felt true. true about character, relationships, gay life, the anxieties of gay men caused by navigating their emotional lives in a world that does not acknowledge their feelings as valid and worthy of public display.

it got me to thinking about gay marriage — a topic that i think about a lot, partly because the hopeless romantic in me thinks it’s an awesome commitment and partly because i abhor the thought of the loss of our gay culture as we slowly sink into that bubbling pool of assimilation.

what i don’t think will be drug behind the acceptance of gay marriage is the acceptance of gays and lesbians expressing their love in public. i expect it will be quite a while before that becomes mainstream–if it ever does. this was a topic in the film and it really made me realize how uptight i am about public displays of affection between my partner and myself, even after 30 years together. although i will confess that at this age i care less about what other people think about our holding hands or kissing each other, a peck on the cheek, and with age a certain amount of freedom from convention is not unexpected in the he’s-a-crazy-old-coot kind-of-way. you know.

anyway, all of this blather about p***ses and the movie is an endorsement of the film…rent it, watch it, and discuss it. you can thank me later.


the price of assimilation (and giving the olive trees a haircut)

in gardening news: the olive trees have had their yearly pruning.

in gay news: if you haven’t read alex ross’s recent history of the gay-rights movement, “love on the march” you should. (because, as your parent, i said so.) what has struck me the most about what he had to say (sort of like the proverbial 2 x 4 to the head–my new way of using a trite metaphor is by adding “like the proverbial…”) is the loss of gay cultural identity as a result of the sudden, quick assimilation of gays into the mainstream. “we’re just like you!” (only not.)

ross is quick to point out that gay men who came of age in the 1950s-1970s are probably the ones who notice the cultural shift the most. “what happened to our lives?” “i don’t remember wanting to be married or having anything remotely like the life of my heterosexual friends,” as they shake their heads at this sudden (equal rights movements are traditionally a slow-moving train) and unlikely turn-of-events.

over the years i have lamented the passing of so much knowledge, passing as in death, how AIDS decimated an entire culture. you don’t come across a 20 year-old opera queen that often anymore, now do you? (well, i’m sure there’s still one out there, in some remote corner of montana or kansas.) today’s young gay man doesn’t know who or what a ‘gypsy’ is any longer (a chorus boy or girl) let alone who gypsy rose lee is. they’ve grown up in the digital age, playing video games without the same cultural leaders i had as a young gay man, and even then my peers were moving away from the pansies and the nancys and the limp-wristed (light in one’s loafers comes to mind) stereotype that gay men of the fifties were depicted as and used as a defense mechanism (effectively or not.)

in the 1970s we weren’t being pigeon-holed by traditional ‘gay’ jobs any longer: waiter, florist, decorator, hair-burner; our lives were taking on new meaning with that battle won at stonewall, even the drag queens were more butch and ready to do battle at a moment’s notice. there was power in speaking out and not being afraid of retribution if you said, “i’m gay, queer, a faggot.” what do they say it now? oh yes, “i owned it.”

but we sneered at the conventions of the heterosexuals: marriage, children, and yes there were subsets of misogynists; the balls and chains of straight life seemed unnecessary and were certainly ill-fitting. it was nirvana and it was ours. now though, it seems we’ve lost that battle to be like ourselves in order that we may have the same rights our straight brothers and sisters enjoy. like i said, “look! i’m just like you,” only not. it seems to me that losing your cultural identity may be too steep a price to pay for assimilation. and yet, i demand that i have the same freedom to live as i please as you enjoy in this land. i would like it on my own terms though. is that too much to ask?


our lives are valid subjects for great art — a rebuttal



two plants have a conversation* wherein they discuss the relative gayness of a minor reality t.v. celebrity and the fact that there are dogs in india who do not have ‘treats’

“he is so-o-o gay,” claimed the verbena.

“there was never a moment where you would have been able to discern that,” riposted the nameless juniper-like plant to the verbena’s right.

“oh, puh-lease! he was one dropped curler from having helium legs and you’ll never convince me otherwise,” noted the verbena, crossing its arms across its chest and turning its back to the nameless juniper-like plant to its right.

*mea culpa. for this post i have borrowed a ‘device’ from this blog’s author: matthewgallaway. i encourage my readers to sign up for his posts; you won’t be sorry that you did.

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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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