Saturday, February 05, 2005

Sanctity and Male Desire

One of my professors has published a book called "Sanctity and Male Desire." It is a Gay Reading of Saints. Last night when i went to bed, i read as I usually do. Last nights reading was on St. Joseph. The man who was husband to Mary, the mother of Jesus and father to the son of Jesus. In the writing Donald talks about the "Father" figure. He talked of his own father and that got me to thinking about my own. And I thought it would be important in my story to tell you about mine. There is a reason I am telling this story, if you read to the end you'll figure it out.

Knowing that I was a mistake and should not have been born, from my fathers mouth to my ears had a serious effect on my life for many years. My father had no family, he was an only child. My father came from a home that was riddled with alcoholism, abuse, and poverty. The fact that he had no siblings made him HIS father's main target. I was my father's main target as well. The cycle is perpetuated generationally.

My mother had 6 brothers and sisters, and came from a foreign country (Canada). When my father imported my mother to the U.S. he gave her an ultimatum. She could have the marriage and get citizenship, but she had to denounce her family and stay loyal to him. Now this agreement had conditions, because SHE was pregnant when THEY got married. This secret showed up 25 years later. When upon one wedding anniversary my brother and I bought them a gift that was "dated" and we were told that we were off by 3 years. My mother said that they were married in 1967, which proved the fact that she was already pregnant. That was a big secret. At 33 I found out that she was STILL a Canadian Citizen until 1974. Which Means that both my brother and myself could choose to claim our Canadian birthright. Which I did. That's what got me across the border.

My father always hated the fact that I lived. My grandmothers had 3 years of me before my brother was born in 1970. My father was a violent alcoholic, like his father. I was the center of his torment. I remember several times in my childhood when my father attacked me in the homes of those women. Chasing me with baseball bats and whatever he could find.

I remember hiding beneath his mothers bed while SHE stood in the doorway between HE and I and told him that HE would not touch me as long as I was under their roofs. Both my father's mother and my Mother's mother had said those words to him in both houses. I think he knew that if he HAD croseed that line, he would have gone to jail.

So he bided his time until he got me home. My father was a bastard. I hated him as much as he hated me. BUT, I used him to make sure that i got everything I wanted as a child. He paid me out of his house. My friend's homes became safe zones that I would spend time at, instead of going home, and sleeping in my own bed. I can only imagine what they all thought of my parents.

My father took great pride in humiliating my mothers mother and alienating the Canadian family from our lives. Maybe he knew that if his children learned the truth that they could choose to come to Canada and leave the U.S. My father fought in Viet Nam and came home with secrets and shell shock syndrome. His (Internalized Homophobia) ran rampant through his life.

When I was born he named me after "THAT" man. I think when he realized early on that i was different, that only fueled the fires of his hate. When I turned 30 I legally divorced my family and changed the name he gave me to protect my life and death from them. You see my relationship with my father was very "tit for tat." I knew how to push his buttons and I did that every chance I got. He would come into my room and scream and yell and slam me up against the walls and beat me up. My mother was powerless to stop him. the ritual was nightly and he never stopped at one, he always came back for more. If he beat me, then he would stay away from my brother and my mother.

He beat my mother and my brother as well. When my brother got into high school my father had attacked my mother one night. He picked up a piano stool and threw it at her. My brother grabbed my father by the throat and jacked him up a wall and told him that if he touched us again that he would kill him. My brother studied Karate and achieved his black belt. My father used to pit my brother against me. He was a snitch, and he used to beat on me when my father was not around.

When I was in grade school, one Christmas, my father bought us boxing gloves and forced us to fight each other in the front yard in front of the neighbors. I was never a fighter, physically. I was a verbal and mental fighter.

I never had a proper male "role model" in my life. All the men in my life were either wrapped up in their alcoholism or not present at all. The Canadian men in my mothers family were kept at arms reach from us at all times, even though we were the house they would visit for vacations in the winter. All of my care and life skills came from women. My grandmothers, my mothers sister and the children we had the opportunity to grow up with.

Which brings me to "Sanctity and Male Desire," and St. Joseph. In his book, Donald writes

"For some gay men, the image of the father can also imply homophobic rejection and intolerance, the intimate stranger in our lives who can snap us with a word of hate. How many of us growing up have had to live with the word "sissy" thrown at us from the angry, spiteful mouths of our fathers? some boys are forced to break with the paternal figure from an early age, precisely because they reflect back to the father an unsettling and perilous image of himself, that of the latent or deeply closeted homosexual. Much homophobia, as is well known, stems from insecurity and the internalized fear of what the other tells us about ourselves. For gay boys or men who are abused or otherwise rejected by their father because of their sexual choices or identities, the challenge of paternal intimacy can become a prison, a never-ending source of angst and personal fear. This desire for closeness and parental approval becomes transformed, of necessity, into hate, though it is very much a saving one. It is the hate that tempers the steely resolve, the precursor of ultimate forgiveness."

I love this quote about Joseph: " This is the image that the church has traditionally put forward as the perfect model of what it means to be a father. It is the thwarted though powerfully ideal image of the strong, silent, and humble type of father: strong to the point of sexual weakness; silent to the point of painful anonymity; humble to the point of an enduring oblivion."

Loosing my fathers mother in Junior High school to stroke was devastating. She never recovered anything of her former self. When my father took me out of school for those MONTHS to go to Connecticut to see if I would be the one who would jog her memory and bring her back across the abyss, when that failed my father only got angrier at me and her. He did not handle her infirmity very well at all. He abused her. When he would come home after seeing her, he would take the frustration out on me. I was damned. A year later my father's father had a stroke (a year to the day) of my grandmothers. Now he was in real trouble. Those years became nightmare scenarios on my needing to grow up really fast. We broght them to Florida and tried to care for them at home. I learned how to change adult diapers, toilet them and administer meds. Was that my job?

My Mother's mother played an integral role to my early development as well. My father hated her because she taught me french and I was loved and cared for. At home when my grandmother would visit for months at a time, she would intervene in fights between me and my father. I remember this very well. She was eventually alienated from our lives when I got into High School. Memere was getting old, and my parents were no longer footing the airline tickets. She was getting old. In 1993 she had a stroke and was put in an assisted living home where she eventually died.

My father hated the french. If you were not American, and white and part of US, then you were not part of us at all. BUT, my parents had to work, and babysitting was free as long as it had lasted. So there was a silent compromise. Albeit, begrudgingly.

When Memere died I was forbidden to attend the funeral, because my parents did not want the rest of the family to see me or find out that I had Aids. That resentment took YEARS to exorcise from my head and heart. I still have yet to go back to Connecticut and visit her grave.
But ya know, now that I am in Canada, i see her on a regular basis. My parents were assholes.

For 21 years my father beat the words "YOU were a mistake and should never have been born" into me verbally and physically. He was good at wielding a belt or something wooden. He will burn in hell. That I am sure of. All the forgiveness in the world will not save him from my hellbound prayers. You see, years of therapy, getting sober and such have tempered my hate and anger for that man. I hated him for years. Then I moved from hate to indifference. I don't care one way or another what happens to him or where he will spent his death inheritance. But forgiveness, in theory I can do that, forgive him. Personally, I am not there yet. When he dies, I will wear a red dress to his funeral and as he said, I will piss on his grave.

It is difficult sometimes to realize just what I have lived through, and learned about my life and my family. Powerless to do anything about. Learning to live and let live. And moving myself where I will go to succeed. So Jared, when i found out that little truth and I came to Montreal on a vacation in 2002, I interviewed doctors at the General. Found a place to live, got to see the city over 2 weeks. I realized that coming to Canada would offer me more to live, than the U.S. had ever given me. The U.S. did not want AIDS patients on their insurance rolls. I was on disability and on that plan one could not work. But disability, After rent, did not buy food or anything else. I was living on special assistance, meals on wheels, cause i could not afford to grocery shop and pay bills and rent. The way we (PWA's made money) was our secret. But by that time, the well HAD dried up. So that assitance had ended. My nightclub career was over.

Canada was the country that had open doors to my past, and keys to my future. The desire to leave the U.S. was only made stronger by the HATE my parents showed me, and their inability to be "family" to me when i got sick.

When I was diagnosed I called a family meeting, and asked everyone to listen, as I explained this to them. You see my mother worked in Home Health care for almost 20 years at that point. She worked with Aids patients bringing meds to their homes. And i remember as a child, the way my mother used to talk about the "faggots" her derogatory words stuck in my brain "years before" my own diagnosis. So I knew she knew the drill. They took all the eating utensils away from me. They made me use plastic plates, forks and knives. i could not drive a car, nor use the phone. I was locked in the house at dusk. And they kept a bottle of bleach by the side of the toilets in all the bathrooms of the house. They did not respond positively.

When I got sick and was in the hospital, they never came to visit me. They never called or cared about where I was or how I was. When I turned 30 I slapped them both in the face by legally changing my name to protect my interests had I died at that time. I was really sick then.

On January 1st 2002, new years day, my phone rang at my apartment on Miami Beach. It was my mother, she told me that they had been in Miami for a week, (that was news to me) and that they were headed back to Sarasota and wanted to come visit. I said allright. 30 minutes later I found out they were staying at the Intercontinental downtown (more news to me) . My father parked out front of my building, in a "no parking zone" and gave my mother 20 minutes to see me. I offered to pay for parking at the garage just across the street and take US to lunch so we could visit. My father said NO. My mother and i visited for 20 minutes. We walked around the block so we could talk alone. My father said time was up, they loaded into the car and drove off.
That was the last time I saw my mother and my father.

My father is a prick, a bastard and I hope he rots is hell.

Growing up I stayed in Miami, hoping against hope that my father would drop dead. I stayed in Miami because if he did drop dead, I would get my mother back. and I would at least get to spend some time with her before I died. i was the single son. I was ready and willing to uproot my life, move to Sarasota to care for my mother after HE was dead. I waited until 2002. I was 34 years old. I came to Montreal for a visit. I did not intend on staying, but the voice in my head was so strong I could not ignore it. I called back to Miami and told my landlord, who was also my employer, that i was staying on another week past Easter. I had appointments made after the Easter Holiday. After the second week, I had enough information to make an educated decision.

My family would never be healed, I had no reason to stay in Miami any longer. The hope that my father was going to die left me. The desire to KEEP MY LIFE ON HOLD for someone else was now finished. It was time for me to live LIFE for ME. I was the Master and Commander of my ship. And the lies my parents told me were the water I sailed on to leave the country.

I was STILL alive. So time was of the essence. I came home for 1 week, packed up everything I had and sold what i did not need. I sent all the boxes North, got on a plane and flew my ass out of the U.S. never looking back and having NO regrets.

The father figure that entertains me, teaches me and loves me come from the man who has helped shape the person I am today. That would be Donald Boisvert. He writes:

" In my own life, I accomplish this most obviously through my teaching and my writing. If a single young gay man, taking one of my classes or reading something that I've written, can feel good and confident about his sexual choices and his identity, then i have been a father to them."

Yes You have ...

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