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The Gay Blade

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Does My Dick Look Big in This?

You know you can buy underwear now that will make your whole package, cock and balls,  look bigger? And undies that will also "shape" your arse to give it that porn-star bubble-butt look.

I always wonder what happens if you meet some guy and then go home and have to take them off and the truth is revealed. Hell, even before then, what if you're hugging and kissing and groping and he puts his hand down your pants? I know if I met a man wearing them that way I'd feel a mix of amusement and puzzlement.And sorry if he'd be that insecure.  Not exactly sexy.

And while most of us would agree that a big cock or a nicely-rounded butt is fun, they're pretty irrelevant to the general quality of life. 

But we gay men are bombarded with pressure about how we should look. The quest for the perfect six-pack, perfect pecs, big-guns, cum-gutters, goes on. And on and on and on.

And I do understand it - these guys can look very fucking hot. For me the physical side of being gay is about loving and desiring the masculine, so yeah, of course I get it. The expectation seems to be that every gay man must either look this way or desire men who do, or that's the impression I get when I look at the ads in gay media and on gay fuck-sites (puhleez - they're not "dating" sites). And that can be an impossible goal for some.

I know guys who have done all the hard hours in the gym, have beautifully defined bodies, but still can't find a partner to love, and some say they find it hard to even get laid - guys without the same level of physical beauty feel too scared to approach them. But how perfect do you have to be?

I admit, I'm a bad homo in this regard. I have joined gyms at different times, but I just get so fucking bored in them. At 50, I have a gut, hey - I like good food and booze too much - I don't have a body that any advertiser would use to sell unless it's a before and after fitness-programme. And I guess we'd only get the before shots done.

For me part of it was school. PE for me was a time of utter humiliation and shame - the PE master was a bastard who seemed to delight in tormenting me and the other boys like me. So I have never really felt that comfortable with my body and with sport in general I guess. And I was able to coast through my 20s without too much to worry about.

I do know other gay men who had the same sort of experiences at school but have found going to gyms as adults really empowering - and I admire them for that - it just doesn't seem to work that way for me.

Getting the perfect body becomes this thing that we worship and turn into a fetish. It does have an upside of course, it's good for your health, a lot of guys like the way they think it helps free them from the older "femme" stereotypes of gay men. There's no doubt it gives a lot of guys a real and valuable boost to their self-image. 

I guess the thing is, the paradox of it, is that so many gay men already have real problems with self-esteem, issues with how we look and who and what we are, so if we find we can't conform to this stereotype that is so relentlessly shoved down our throats, once again we end up with gay men feeling other gay men.

It's often hard enough dealing with the straight world, so feeling like you don't belong in the gay world too because of your looks is a double-whammy really. And it does seem pretty superficial too, basing your attraction purely on the physical. Superficial, but not of course limited to homo-world. Yeah I do know that. 

Who's in and who's out? Who has the body, the cock, and who doesn't? It's great to look hot, to be ripped, to spend hours in the gym each day if that makes you happy - but it's only one way of being gay. It'd be nice to think that after all the bullying and social exclusion gay guys typically go through we have learnt not to treat our own that way.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


After getting diagnosed with HIV in 1988, I spent most of the 1990s getting ready to die. I was so weak I couldn't get out of bed, down to just over 50 kgs at one point, miserable, angry and sick so often, bouncing between hospital and Herne Bay House, until the new drugs came along and I started to get better. But a lot of my time and energy was built around being HIV+, around medicine and illness, and the idea of death. 

Even with the new meds though, and the gradual improvement to my health, I always had this sense in the back of my mind that it would all fall apart, that the meds would stop working and I'd go back to that time where my death seemed so close and obvious.

And even now I still find it hard to trust the future, to imagine I have one. But logically I know that I do, and realistically the meds will keep working for me if I keep taking them correctly.

I've been thinking about all this lately as I try and re-shape my life and search for a career - again.

Physically I am in pretty good health - a bit porky maybe, not as fit as I'd like, but that's not unusual for most guys in their 50s. Like nearly all of us long-term HIV people, I get tired, really tired, so fast and so easily. It's not surprising I guess - after all I am on intensive daily chemo-therapy to control the virus - living with medication like this means you pay a price, but it's still better than the alternative.

Emotionally though I think the toll has been great. HIV has shaped my life in ways I wouldn't have chosen - I've adjusted and worked to make the most of it where I can, but that's not been easy. 

I have suffered depression at different times, again, something very common in HIV+ people, I've been suicidal at times in the past, again, not that unusual for those of living with the virus, and have found so often that guys see the virus before they see me, it feels hard to form a relationship or find a lover.

I also feel like it wiped out my 30s and early 40s.  That's a big chunk of my life to have lost to the virus.When the new drugs first came through I was taking 47 pills a day, my entire life and what I could do, where I could be, was built around my medication. At least 15 years of my life was totally dictated and dominated by HIV, sickness, pills and the thought of death. That's a lot to live with.

And HIV is different. On the one had you could say it's now "just a manageable chronic illness, like diabetes" - that's the line we hear all the time. And technically it's true.

On the other hand, I can't think of a medical condition that carries the same level of stigma and fear. Even today. Even from people you'd think would know better, like health professionals, or gay men. And I do understand -  that to some extent - HIV brings death and sex together, and that's a really explosive combination. HIV frightens people in a totally illogical way.

Generally speaking, most people know next to nothing about HIV or living with it, and run old stereotypes and images through their minds when they think of it. It's hard for those of us with it, which is why so many poz people keep their HIV status to themselves. People just don't understand, and it's not our job to educate everyone we meet about it. 

It just feels like a paradox, that I've been lucky enough to come through this terrible plague, that I nearly died, and here I am, 50,  unsure what to do with my life or where to direct it.

I'm not complaining, I'm glad I'm alive, trust me. And I know so many wonderful guys who died, who were just not as lucky as I was, so whenever I start feeling too sorry for myself about all this I remember that at least I'm still here.

But no matter how much better things are for my body, it's still tough, it still takes work. It's taught me a lot, and I think the overall experience of it has made me both kinder and harder. Kinder as in more compassionate and empathetic, but also tougher, harder, as in "Don't waste my time with bullshit!" 

It's taught me to be more assertive I guess. I speak as I find, and if that offends some I don't really care. I don't feel some Christ-like need to shower everyone with love - some people are shit and I'm happy to call them on it.

Sometimes I daydream about what my life would have been like without it - whether I'd have returned to NZ or not, what else I would have done. But that's not reality, and being as intimately acquainted with death as I have been has made me very clear on the need to stay in tough with the real.

Everything changes, I know, nothing is certain but death and taxes, yadda yadda yadda. But living with HIV is different. It does go on having an effect long after the worst aspects of the physical side are gone. 

But we keep going.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Growing Old Disgracefully

Turning 50 seems to have changed my online audience in a way I hadn't imagined.

Suddenly I find 20 year-olds sending me lust-filled messages online - I guess I can now officially be put in the "Daddy" category. And I also get guys in their 60s getting in touch - I suppose I seem close enough in age that they feel more comfortable approaching me than they do a 30 year-old.

It's been interesting, and some fun as well, and even though their skin is lovely at that age, 20 is just too young for me, it feels creepy somehow. 25 and up I can cope with. And I've had some wonderful hot times with men in their 60s too.

Gay men and age though - we don't deal with it that well I reckon.

We talk about "the gay community" a lot, but one thing about successful communities is they have links over generations, the older members pass down their experiences and knowledge to the younger ones, and we don't seem very good at that, we're not good at giving time, space and respect to older gay men, and that really weakens us as a community I reckon. 

I remember when I was first out and about in my late teens, and guys in their 20s seemed so mature and onto it. Shit - some of them had even been to Sydney! You have no idea how exotic that seemed to me when I was 17. I think I've always been attracted to guys around their mid-30s, and that's continued over my life. At first I was attracted to guys older than me, now I'm attracted to guys younger than me, but they're still the same age - it's me that's changed.

There are times when flicking through an online profile I see that "No old guys!" line, or "No-one over 45" and it hurts a bit. Being rejected, being eliminated from consideration really, just because of age seems nasty to me. But the online world is a harsh one.

There's such pressure out there in society in general to stay young and fabulous, and it's hugely amplified in homoland. You don't see many ads for bars and clubs, still our main social spaces,  featuring older men. I was chatting to a visiting American the other night at the Urge Leather Night, he had a good body, white hair and a white beard,  and I asked him if he always travelled with his leathers.

"Oh yes" he said "Otherwise I'm invisible, I'm 62, I'm too old for most, but in leather I still get attention and to talk to guys and break through the age barrier."

I hadn't thought of it that way, but I saw his point. Age, authority and leather all have some interesting crossovers.

Even though so many older gay men did so much to get us where we are, the mainstream gay world doesn't value them, purely because of their age and looks. They are discarded, ignored, seen as embarrassing if they go out to a bar or a club. And that's a shame, because one day, unless you get hit by a bus, it's highly likely you'll be old, wrinkly and with more hair coming out of your ears than on your head. But we're not that great at putting ourselves in others' shoes.

Maybe it's the population issue again - NZ is so small to start with, and so many guys have moved overseas - the gay population is tiny really, so perhaps we're less diverse in our outlooks.

Another friend who is younger than me, in his early 40s, a bear,  just came back from SF and said how he was amazed to get so much attention there from younger guys, something he doesn't get so here. The whole "Bear" thing is much bigger and more popular overseas, and it does seem to offer more opportunities for a wide variety of types - let's face it - as wonderful as this country is in many ways, it's quite provincial and uptight too, even in the gay world.

It's not just about fucking either, it's about love too. It's not unusual to hear people making snide, nasty remarks about couples who have a big age gap, as though there is some expectation that if you're 25 there is something wrong with you if your lover is 55, it's the same sort of double-standard we see in the straight world. An older man can have a young girlfriend and people are able to believe they really love each other, but if it's an older woman with a younger man, people often show their nasty side.

I don't understand why there is that need to judge someone or their choice of a partner because of age. Love is love, and you can never tell when it's going to strike but some guys react as though a big age difference is something obscene. I know couples where there is between 20 and 30 years age difference, and they seem just the same as other couples I know - they laugh, they bitch, they fight, they have fun, they pay the bills, they just get on with life and they love each other. I don't see the issue.

One thing I do know - I'm not getting any younger - and I'm glad I've found a few new fans as I mature.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Who Do You Tell?

Gay men fuck differently.

We do.

No matter how many prissy or self-hating homos there are who don't like to talk about it, as a total group, gay men have much more sex, and many more sexual partners, than straight people. It's a fairly clear and simple fact, and it has no moral value whatsoever. If you like to fuck with strangers 10 times in a week, that's cool, and if you have only ever had sex with your partner in the last 10 years, that's equally cool.

But overall, even gay men in loving long-term relationships have more sex than straight guys. Whether you're 20 or 50, this is the case. And we typically don't place the same value on sex as straights do. It's just a bit of fun with someone who's sexy and up for it.

That's a pretty hard fact to get across to straights though.

And I think it's even harder for straight women to get than straight guys. For a woman, sex has the possibility of creating a new life as well as the joys of the physical side of making love.

I've been thinking about this since the ruling that came out this week, that by not disclosing his HIV status to his female partner, a straight HIV+ guy had removed her informed consent, and had effectively violated her sexually - even though she did not acquire HIV from the sex.

And now the Dominion-Post in Wellington has come out with an editorial saying those of who have HIV simply have to disclose each and every time.

An an HIV+ gay man, I think I understand where they're coming from, but I totally disagree.

For one thing, it takes two to tango, and if you want to fuck around in the floating world of gay male sex, you need to take responsibility for your own well-being and health. So it's up to each and everyone of us to set the boundaries, and to insist on safe-sex if you want to stay HIV negative.

A lot of gay sex happens in fuck-clubs or through online hookups - conversation is often not a key part to these encounters. If you're getting all hot and horny with a guy in a fuck-club, there's often not that much chat. The same goes with online hookups. And if you both make sure you're using rubbers and having safe sex, in fact you don't need to discuss it all - using rubbers and lube correctly works.

In fact most HIV+ guys are highly aware and careful to make sure they do nothing to infect their sexual partners. You are far more likely to get HIV from a guy who doesn't know he is carrying it than from someone who is positive and taking their medication. With so many HIV+ guys around who don't know they have it, how can you reasonably rely on disclosure to keep anyone HIV Negative?

So disclosure doesn't actually protect anyone, it has no practical health benefit - it just stigmatises HIV+ people even more. And we don't need that.

If it really bugs you that much, you could simply ask - I can't see the point of lying, I'm not ashamed of being HIV+, it's just a virus in my blood. But a lot of guys have suffered terrible discrimination, and that is not ok - I totally understand why they don't want to disclose - and there is no need to.

Will you tell me if you have Hep C? Syphilis? What if I go to bed with you because I think you're a millionaire, and you turn out to be on the dole - have you taken my informed consent away by lying to me?

It's still not clear what the legal implications of this ruling will be. At the moment, the law has said as long as an HIV+ person takes all reasonable precautions, we do not have to disclose. It's only having unsafe sex, putting a sexual partner at risk of catching the virus, that is seen as criminal. This new ruling might change that - let's see.

But the mainstream reaction, as seen in that editorial, will be based in how straights think about sex and fucking, not how our culture practices it, and that could be very bad for us indeed.

And remember - every guy who is HIV positive today was once HIV negative - and with very few exceptions that is because they chose not to have safe sex. If you want to stay HIV negative, you know what to do - and it doesn't involve blaming those of us who have the virus.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bears Go Wild!

We gay men have always had to make our own communities. In the past we did it as a way to protect ourselves from a world that hated and persecuted us. Now we do it based out of our strength.

So we've just had the third BearNZ Week, and it was a lot of fun. A big vote of thanks to the guys at Urge for running such a great event again. They make it look so effortless, but it takes a lot of work to get this week running so well.

There were guys from the UK, the USA, Australia, and of course lots of locals and out-of-towners.

I didn't go to everything, but I really enjoyed the events I made it to, and met some cool guys along the way.

I went to Bear Drag, but didn't run - I made that mistake last year, when I stupidly said to Alan from Urge, "I will if you will" and quicksmart he said "You're on!" Embarassing photos followed, I learnt my lesson, and was happy as a supporter this year.

Mr Urge Bear was packed as usual, great fun, and kudos to all the guys who entered, and a big congratulations to David Morris from Wellington for winning the title.
(Pic above lifted from the wonderful LOLCubz)

The Tri-Nations Dance was great, somewhere between 300 -400 guys I guess, all hot, sweaty and mostly shirtless, and a wide age range of men.

I really value having men-only events; it is just good to be able to relax and be ourselves. There are rumours that this year the security guards weren't quite as intrusive or alert as last year, and certain dark corners saw acts of wanton debauchery, but if you put hundreds of hot sweaty near-naked men together, well what do you expect?

And on Sunday, they held the closing bbq at a private home - at least 40 guys showing up and chilling out in Grant and Brian's garden, relaxing and winding down after the week. No tickets, no wristbands, just an honesty box by the bar, delicious food brought with raffle proceeds, guys of all shapes and sizes chatting and just hanging out.

And for me it showed the good side about the bear world. It is relaxed, friendly, welcoming, and non-judgemental. You don't have to be beefy and hairy to take part. You don't need to spend 7 days a week in the gym, or grow a beard, or do anything special really. It is a very inclusive and supportive group of men to be with, and I am really glad of that.

The debates about "community" and just what it is raise their heads every now and then here, and there isn't an easy answer to it, but Bear Week shows that this community is strong. But we wouldn't be without all the work that the guys from Urge and others put in. You do need events, you do need things that give people a reason to come together, and they provide that, but they do it so well because they are so tied into the wider gay world here.

And changing tack just a little, this is my fear around the proposed idea for an Auckland Pride Festival with a parade again. Unless it has deep roots into all the various queer communities here, it won't work. It will just be a beige, bland piece of Auckland City marketing - "Look, we tick the "diversity' box!"

I have an idea of just how much planning and work went into getting Bear Week up and running, everyone involved had full-time jobs elsewhere and working their arses off, often for free, so to get a full two-week festival going is going to be an immense challenge. It won't happen without hundreds of volunteers, and I really wonder if they can find them. Given the huge problems and bankrupticies and acts of embezzlement and bastardry we've seen associated with previous big gay events, like Hero here, and Mardi Gras in Sydney to name just two.

But Bear Week worked beautifully - it is  raltively short, targetted, relaxed and fun.

Thanks so much guys, and I'm looking forward to next year.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Who Killed the Unicorn?

Ah, the Big Gay Out has been and gone once more...

It's the last gay remnant of HERO in our lives, and a it was a lot of fun as usual, even if the weather wasn't that kind to us. The BGO is supposed to be the day for the whole Queer community, trans, dykes, gays, drag, bi - the whole kit and caboodle.

And it's a symbol of how the gay world has changed - our biggest event is a picnic now, not a dance-party. It's full of queer couples with their kids, men and women who have no interest in the scene but enjoy a day where they can hang out with thousands of queers and feel good. People bring their straight mates and family along, but it's first and foremost our day, so they have to behave. And it's so great to have a day when we are the ones in the majority.

Symbols matter, and the BGO symbolises us as a community, as Gay Auckland.

So for the official opening, listening to NZAF Executive Director Robinson open the event and blather on about diversity I and quite a few others had to wonder just why a straight Christian man is getting up there to welcome us to our event? What does this symbolise? Nothing personal mate, but no, this is not your moment in the sun. The last time we had a straight Christian man blather on about diversity at the BGO it was the execrable  John Banks in his desperate attempt to be mayor again. Again, symbolically, a shame Robinson chose the same buzzwords as Banks. No matter how nice and supportive (and I believe Robinson is both) he was the wrong symbol to front the day.

This is the Big GAY Out - sure, NZAF have funded it since HERO went bust, but in the past the Chair of the NZAF has been the one to open it, and that's how it should be. Choose someone from our community if the Chair can't be bothered, although public appearances have always been part of the role.

Of course we had politicians galore descend on us. Labour with Leader and deputy-Leader, the Greens, and the PM and Auckland Central National MP Nikki Kaye. Last year Key thought we should be happy the Nats hadn't taken anything away from us. This year he's promising us a new gay parade. Really? He said that last year too.

And there were crowds of people fawning over Key.

Just a reminder - the National Party has never once stood up for our interests as queers. They opposed Homosexual Law Reform in '86, they opposed giving us equal rights un the Bill of Rights in '93, they opposed us having our relatoinships legally recognised in the Civil Unions Act in 2005. They really don't like us - except at election time. If the closeted National MPs had the guts to come out I'd have a bit of respect for them, but it speaks volumes about the party that they don't.

And what has happened to Gay Pride anyway? The pic above is from the incredibly talented and out-there SF artist, Kenji de Sade.

Gay Pride used to be a political movement, but now it seems more an exercise in branding and product-placement. And if it gets in the way of product-placement, even that disappears.

Just look at Sydney - their party and parade began as a political protest for gay rights in 1978 and then went on to become  the fun of the "Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras", but now they've taken out the words "Gay and Lesbian" - what does that symbolise? A wider market? More money from advertisers? It is certainly a much safer brand - why you wouldn't know there were any queers involved in it anywhere with a name like that...

At times various people go on about how shallow and sterile our community has become. Well no wonder, as our institutions are gradually being de-gayed. Visibility matters. We need to be seen, we need to have a presence, and we need to have some sense of our own history, of our whakapapa.

Without that, without knowing where we came from, without knowing what our symbols mean and why they're important, we'll fade away into inconsequentiality. And I'm not happy with that.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Four Things

A few odds and ends that have been running around my head, so here goes. And who will I piss off this time?

Firstly - Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as Wilde once said, so perhaps I should have been flattered when my fellow blogger Craig Young pointed out that both my and his blogs were  being used under false names and with minimal changes on an overseas gay community site - I won't name it.

I have always been really happy for people to use my blogs, link to them, whatever, so long as I am given full credit, and that continues to be my position. I see them as public.

Next -  I pushed a few buttons with my last blog on gay racism. I stand by all I wrote, but let me be clear - I'm not saying we can't have preferences about the type of men we are attracted to - of course we do. I'm just making the point that by saying "No Indians" or "No Blacks" you are using racist language, you are acting in a racist manner even if you aren't aware of it - and I have zero tolerance for racism - so let me raise your consciousness. Racism is evil, stupid and factually makes no sense - there is only one race, the human race, and we all belong to it. Inside the human race are thousands of different ethnicities with all sorts of characteristics - but  biologically there's only one race.

The point I was trying to make is you can describe what you find physically attractive in a guy without using nasty, belittling and exclusionary language. Given all the attention we've been giving to the effects of anti-gay bullying and the power of language used against us lately I am surprised this seems problematic for some gay men.

This next one is tricky: Gay Conservatives, and my feeling of slight contempt for them.

This was kicked off by some things I've heard some guys saying lately, then looking at the self-hatred expressed by "homophobic homo" Mike Puru. And others. I know so many men who spent so much of their lives so deep in the closet they could have been having adventures in Narnia, and when they finally find the courage to come out, they can't shake off their old ways. But of course, they would never have had the freedom to come out without those of us who kicked up a stink, who rocked the boat and made some noise.

They never had the balls to actually come out and fight for our rights, to stand up and be counted. When they finally do make it out, and often leave the wife and kids they've been hiding behind, they take advantage of the social changes activists help make for them, but they also cringe, and ask to stop being so noisy, to be "normal", as, like Puru, they don't want to be seen as gay.

Well fuck that. Dude, you love men and you like cock, you're a poof - get over it.

The tricky part of this comes because as activists we wanted to make the world better for all of us, including those guys trapped in the closet. And we did, with no thanks to them.  So when they finally do come out and ask us to be "normal", yeah, I feel some anger, some resentment, and some contempt.

We can all make excuses not to come out:  "Mummy would be upset", "I might lose my job" ,"My wife guesses but I love her"  - they're all excuses, and really what you're saying is you're scared to admit you're gay, and, very often, you actually don't want to be gay, you think there's something wrong with it, that it makes you less of a man, that other lawyers and accountants in Remuera won't take you as seriously, that maybe the League Club won't be as welcoming. And maybe that's all true - but do you want to go on living a lie with people who think that way? Really?

And then they end up furtively doing the bogs. I understand that, but it's an excuse, not a reason.

If Mummy will be upset, then sit her down and explain to her why she doesn't need to be. In NZ today you can't lose your job for being gay - that's one of the things we fought for. And isn't it just a bit sad that you say you love your wife or girlfriend but are running around doing the bogs behind her back?

And to be clear, I'm not saying everyone has to come out at the age of 16 - it's a personal decision, sometimes it is impossible, I acknowledge that, sometimes youth is at very real risk of violence from family members, or being thrown out, but that is less of an issue when you're a 40-something manager from Grey Lynn - it was gay activists with all our noise and anger who made the world a bit easier for you, so now when I see your desire to hang out with the same people who used to put the boot into us, like the crowds of men fawning over John Key at the Big Gay Out, and hear your desire for us to be "nice" and "normal" - I have to hold my nose a little. Remember Key's words at the BGO last year? Something like "At least we haven't taken anything away from you" - and the gay Nats seemed thrilled by this condescension from him.

I know it's a paradox - and one I'm still working through. We wanted to make the world a better place, and we've achieved an awful lot of our goals. We've created conditions that help 50 year-old National Party members feel free to come out and that's good; freedom to be who you are is a good thing - but they forget just how we got to this place. And it wasn't with their help. So can you STFU with the judgements about the ones who did the work?

And finally...

This book "Lovers" came out in 1979, and I bought it then, from the old "OUT!" Bookshop that used to be in High Street.

It took me ages to figure out it was a gay bookshop. They used to have a sandwich board on the footpath, with that month's cover model, usually some  rugged guy, shirt off, little shorts on, leaning against a mighty pine, or reclining on a mountain top, and if I recall the magazine had the tag "OUT! The Alternative Lifestyle" - for ages I thought it was a magazine about tramping that just happened to have really sexy half-naked men on the cover.  Then I twigged...

But I digress.

I was 18 in 1979, and trying to figure out stuff as a young gay man. For me this book was the first positive representation of gay male love I'd seen. It was the real story of two gay men, using photos to tell the story of their 3 year relationship after they'd split up. It showed me that it really is possible for two men to love each other, not just have sex. I think I read it in one sitting, I was so desperate for information, for ideas, for patterns, for way to explain myself as a gay man and ways to be. It gave me a strong, positive image of gay guys loving and living, and trust me, this was not a common message in that era. 1979 was a different world.

So it was with real joy I found it in a second-hand bookshop in Wellington a few years back. It is still worth reading, it brings up issues of love, jealousy, acceptance, family - all that core stuff we still have to deal with.

Of course, it was written pre-HIV, so there is a real sense of sadness, of poignancy, as I imagine they must have both been lost to the plague, but I can't be sure. The author, Michael Denneny, is still alive and a force today in NY publishing, having been involved in some of the big gay publishing projects, helping develop our culture - that's pretty cool.

As so often, it all comes back to love. And this book helped me understand aspects of it, helped me feel good about my need to love and be loved by other men. Warm fuzzies all round.

And it's the Big Gay Out again this Sunday - always a great day - if you're in Auckland get out and enjoy it.