Category Archives: Sex


The Moment Of Vision

I often see a vision that becomes quite sensual to me, a beautiful man, standing naked, in the shadows of the room. I watch the light play on his skin in the darkness as only the shape of his figure is outlined by the highlights across his sensuous skin as he moves about in that darkness, lit only by a streetlight, faint, dim, dappled with emotion, spilling through the window. He subtly moves to expose the youthful shape of his abs, not well defined, but in the darkness I have felt their tightness, another shift and I recognize the powerful contour of his arms filled with tension. As he turns toward the window I recognize the flatness of his chest muscles as they ripple from the darkness yet the highlights expose a supple softness of his skin that I want to reach out, touch, caress. It transports me to a timeless place when I was young and suddenly the vitality of my own youth comes flooding back. He is unaware I am watching him so intently as I am inspired by this remarkable moment as if suspended in time. How do I bring this into the studio? How do I reveal my own thoughts, feelings and the emotions that overwhelm me? I am utterly entranced by the sensation of this remarkable beauty and merely desire to bask in it for an eternity, but know this moment is fleeting, and soon he will dress and go home. The essence of that moment lingers on however fleeting it may have been, savoring it, reliving it, playing it over in my head as it dances through my thoughts for days to come.

We Are Not Made of Stone

Why is that so many of us don’t feel that we can live up to our potential or achieve what we often feel in our hearts?  Though I feel appreciative that I have lived a fairly creative life and had the opportunity to follow my desire, I still feel I have lived in the shadows of self-doubt for large portion of it.  I always think so much of it had to do with my sexuality and going against the norm.  But the more I talk to others, the more I begin to see it’s really a universal issue that everyone seems to struggle through.  The older I get the more I regret how much of my youth was fraught with angst and lack of self-esteem.  While I was cocky and defiant, it always felt that something held me back.  I always thought it was a lack of hustle and not being self-motivated, but when I look back, my achievements were vast and I have experienced a life time of wondrous experiences.

As this project begins to wind down, I am looking back at the journey of what I have felt through its course.  I guess trying to find perspective and get to the core of what brought me here in the first place.  But in a sense, everything I have learned was something I already knew it has always been here.  I liken it to Dorothy’s proverbial return to home after visiting the wondrous Land of Oz only to discover, with the click of her heels, she was always where she wanted to be.  As a kid, her journey always had a profound impact on me emotionally.  I would cry so hard every year that my mother would threaten to not let me watch it and I would beg and plead with her until she consented and once again I would be utterly moved to the point of tears.  I now recognize Dorothy’s desperate plight to find herself is universal and see it in everyone else around me.  What a strange world we enter, with sometimes even stranger friends.  In their mythic land they accept their differences, a man of straw who is easily destroyed by fire, a hollow man who can’t move without the help of others, and the embodiment of ferociousness, intimidated by others.   Their real journey is that of self-acceptance and in the end finding their sense of security.  Being a gay man growing up in a strange land like Montana, I have always been keenly aware of the differences of others, feeling myself never really quite understood.  But have been greatly appreciative of “men who can dress in women’s cloths and mouth the words to other people’s songs”, others infected with a deadly virus that still creates fear and anxiety and is still greatly misunderstood, the straight acting and not so straight acting personalities, whatever that meant, and the imperfections in others.  It has always been my desire to be a part of a community of understanding and acceptance and of course appreciation.  Yet it feels like as similar as we all are, we push each other away, with these labels and still ostracize others for their differences.

Yesterday I wrote about a young boy who killed himself because he could not find acceptance and my heart aches deeply as I morn not only the loss of a kid not able to live a miraculous existence, but the ignorance with others that fed his doubt.  I still see the internalized homophobia within our own communities that becomes judgmental, condescending, and harmful.  I think THIS IS perhaps is the real limitation from us feeling what’s in our hearts and recognizing our potential.  Perhaps this is my gift as a photographer because I am willing to look beyond the difference with compassion and empathy and search for that truth within myself and my subjects and the culture that surrounds me.  After all, we are not made of stone.

A Boisterous Clap Of Thunder

I was up until the wee hours of the morning again thinking about an incident that become a catalyst in my life some time back. It was one of those moments where you know your life will be changed and a new vision of yourself becomes clear.

I was working as a stage manager in a small theater in Spokane, Washington. I had signed on for the season that lasted about a year. Bob and Joan Welch owned and operated this little mom and pop kind of theater called Interplayers that always produced astonishing works. I had seen many productions because my friend Michael Weaver worked at it for years and I was always intrigued to see what he was involved in. He introduced me to Joan and somehow we instantly bonded and became infatuated and know we were destined to collaborate on something. The supposed story behind Bob and Joan running this remarkable theater in such a remote place was even more intriguing. They had been a part of the legendary inner circle of Actor’s Theater in New York, but were blacklisted in the McCarthy Era and fled west to begin life anew, yet still follow their passion, theater. Though I was currently a member of Actors Equity Stage Union, the only way I could work with them at the time, which I was very determined to do, was to change my name to work under a non-union contact. But I know I wanted to work with these extraordinary people. And it was so worth the experience, because they brought theater to a level I only ever imaged it to be, delving into the inner depths of character in such an organic means for the actors to live the characters within the story. Every rehearsal I was awestruck and captivated by their approach and process of discovery the life of the play weather it was farce, comedy or drama.

I loved Spokane, a city built on a river, much like Missoula, that had once been host to a World’s Fair, when I was a kid, but had since been developed the site into a very beautiful park. The theater was near the park and I often wandered down there to have my lunch on the banks of the river, it was fall in paradise. I rented a very small apartment, which had once been part of a larger house divided into several units in an old historical district. Well about a month or two into being there I began to notice a strange odor within the space. Progressively, day-by-day, it became stronger and fouler. We all began to search our apartments to figure out the source of this terrible odor, but could not figure out the source. Finally it got so bad we called the landlord in to investigate. They began to work through each apartment systematically and eventually found that a young man who lived on the bottom floor alone had killed himself and had been there for a week. I had meet him several times and knew he was loner. I suspected he was gay, but of course was caught in my own busy schedule, and since he lived on the backside below me didn’t really get to know him. I eventually found out that he actually was gay and had been rejected by his family and had become infected with HIV and was lead to this desperate act, feeling completely isolated and alone not knowing where to turn. My heart sank deeply when I heard the news because I being a close neighbor, and also gay, had not reached out to him. I was so overwhelmed with regret and remorse that it had taken us a week to realize his isolation. I remember being so disoriented, angry, and hurt that I could barely function at the job I loved so dearly. Of course we could not move back into our apartments for several days as they tried to erase the odor that permeated the space. The next several days as I grappled with coming to terms with the event it become crystal clear in my mind that I would have to dedicate my life to helping other gay men who lived in such fear and isolation. And I began my own campaign to make people aware of HIV and break down the barriers surrounding its then seeming terror it had on others. The reality that the loss of humanity, dignity, and pride was suddenly too great to be ignored any longer. I as a gay man could no longer look the opposite direction or hide. A reality hit my world like a boisterous clap of thunder and I know my world would be irrevocable changed forever.

The Fatal Effects of a False Perception

Is there still a perception that sex with another man is a smoldering gun or have we grown beyond that?  Today is world AIDS Days and being a gay man who has lived and loved his entire adult live throughout the epidemic, it has had the greatest impact on my sexual life.  I first came out and began exploring my sexuality before anyone ever heard the words HIV or AIDS.  We thought living in a rural area like Montana we were pretty much immune from it hitting us here and that we were safe.  But looking back over the years and seeing that most of the members of the community I first grew up in, were lost somehow during the course of it’s rampage.  People began to just disappear, into a seemingly shameful, unspoken oblivion, from which they never returned, no information or details available. I remember how sex suddenly become a danger zone that no one was talking about and something everyone just tip-toed around.  Much of the community was still having sex, yet denying there was much danger in it.  Heck, even the government wasn´t acknowledging that it was a national crisis until it got completely out of control.  The Regan Administration never uttered a word for months and months even with the fact that thousands of people were dying in the major metropolitan areas like New York or San Francisco.  It was not until Clinton’s Administration in the 90’s when a young kid named Ryan White who had been infected by a blood transfusion  went to the White House and the then passed the Ryan White Act, that it became a clear message that it was not just a gay virus and awareness and prevention needed to be supported.  I remember it was a very bitter time in our community and we became consumed with remorse and resentment.

Would we have heeded the warnings earlier if we had known?  Would it have changed our behaviors?  It’s still hard to tell, we as a culture had just gained our sexual liberation.  With all the awareness today do people still heed the warnings?  I am still not sure anymore.  It almost feels like the pervasive attitude, especially since the anti-viral drugs have came out to make the virus more manageable, that it doesn’t seem to still be a threat.  It seems the rates of infection are still rising.

I became an advocate early on and spent a great part of my life involved in the political shadow of its wake.  While I was a student at the University, I produced and directed a film for the University that became a campaign across campus.  I became a member of the Governor’s Advisory team, and a member of all the regional, state and community based groups and organizations to promote its awareness and several years ago was given a Governor’s Award in recognition for the work I had given over the years.  In the beginning I became consumed by my efforts and in the end it consumed me and I was bitten by the community accusing me of conflict of interest by having my hand in too many pieces of the pie.  And eventually I was back stabbed and ridiculed by the very community I was trying to support.  For my own sanity, I had to eventually walk away to regain my life, and now use my energy to reach out to those most in need or struggling.  Throughout my life AIDS has been a painful road to wander as a gay man.  There is still a lot of fear, doubt and anxiety that surrounds it.  After all these years it still remains hidden and unmentionable, at least in Montana.  Though the leaders of the past who remember the struggle are fading, who is present to still sound the alarm?  It remains one of the areas that still divides our community and I know the organization who receives the funding to support the community as leaders and who should be the ones looked to and trusted have been the ones through gossip and the release of supposedly confidential information to hurt the community the most, especially those infected.  There is no longer a trust or respect as dignity has been compromised and a devastating shock wave has rippled through our small peaceful community, creating more internalized discrimination and fear than education and or awareness.  People are even more afraid then every to be tested and a fear we all felt in the beginning still exists, maybe even more so, 20 years later.

I am an artist and I still support my community however I can but it is all still a painful reminder that haunts the very core of my existence.

I Couldn’t Sing…

I’ve had many great loves in my life, most of them ending so badly that I learned to put up a protective barrier around myself in which I could contain my emotions.  It doesn’t mean that I gave up on loving it just become more cautious with it.  I am a person who leaps with all of his might and I still believe in the magical power of romance.  I have always believed in loving hard and when it was over recognize the differences and move on.  The first one is always the hardest and as I think back it had the most impact on shaping the person I have become.  First of all to be gay and live in a place like Montana, to love a man meant we battled a host of odds just to dare being together.  We met in Montana in the cold of winter in a porn shop.  It took us to Illinois in the spring and Dallas in the summer.  Ironically Dallas is not noted for its cold winters, but the coldness between us grew to a devastating icy chill that became one of the hardest winters of my life.  Eventually I was abandoned in a strange city, left alone with nothing but a heap of debt and a broken spirit.  I was foolish enough to believe in a dream and while the dream lasted I floated on a sort of heaven.  They always say find them in a porn shop, lose them in a porn shop.  I was too naive to know any difference.  He loved sex with everyone but me, and the pain of not being good enough caused an emotional breakdown that still aches in the back of my heart.  One cold morning I abandon everything and jumped on a Greyhound bound back to my home in Montana.

When I returned I still felt displaced and it took me a year just to recover.  Just when I thought I was over it I feel in love with a fraternity boy who was a student from North Dakota.  This was sensational and this time I utterly fell head over heels.  Neither of us had a place to go so we had to find public places to engage each other so Missoula and it’s surrounding mountains become a dreamy paradise.  When school ended for the semester he returned to North Dakota to work for the summer on a construction job.  We wrote and called each other every day making plans to actually move in together when he returned in the fall for school.  Then three weeks before he was supposed to return, I called one night and his mother told me he had been killed in an accident on the site where he worked, crushed by a bulldozer blade.  My body and mind went numb for months afterwards.  I thought I would never recover that feeling.

My next leap was about getting high and sexual addiction, again being abandoned in the end as he moved on to someone else.

At this point I was seduced by a married man whom I didn’t want to have any thing to do with but had lots of money and was quite persistent.  This gave me a sense of power and made me fearless to go after the things I wanted.  After a year of secrecy I began to look for something more meaningful and then found what should have been the love of my life.

This time I knew it was love and I had finally found happiness.  We both loved theater and spent a great part of our lives making each other laugh.  It was fantastic sex, a total connection, as my heart leapt for about 8 years.  But then something began to grow wrong.  It seemed he was consumed with a raging jealousy and began to sabotage everything things I did that was creative.  My life was just beginning to take off in theater and he being a talented, but failed artist himself began to destroy all the things I worked to create.  Eventually it become so unhealthy that I finally had to get out and it took me three years to end.  I began to realize my life had become a Tennessee Williams story and indeed had experienced so much pain that it was ether time to write a country song or become an artist in which I could express all that feeling.  I couldn’t sing so I turned to photography and in the end found myself and happiness with a man who finally accepted me for what I was and did.  And here it all is in the images of my life.  That pain, that isolation, the fear, and the doubt!  I have always heard that all artists must suffer in order to become great artists.  If this is true, perhaps I am ready to become that artist.