YOU ARE GLASS

Spoken word piece by Greg Owen ‘performed’ at Let’s Talk About Gay Sex And Drugs on Thursday 12th May 2016

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YOU ARE GLASS

 

When first we met, I saw you but I looked right through

You were just there

Standing still

Strong

But a little wrong

I walked past you many times

Until one day

Something I could not feel – pushed me from behind

I saw you right up close. So close  – I only saw the flaws – the bubbles from the blow

I could only see as much of you

As the frame of my own view

But when I backed right off, then I began to notice

Notice the rest of you

Stepped away until I saw the all of you

We never touched

Did not connect

I dared not rest my hand upon the pane

Did not leave the mark of the moisture from the softness of my finger tips

Which were now softer – warmer – wetter than I had ever known before

Now I’m seeing you, not seeing through

The glass is suddenly brand new

I turned my back then turned it back

Now it was not you that I could see

But me

My reflection

There was a  flash

I could only see the light

My eyes began to burn

It was so bright

But I could not turn

And I would not fight

The light began to dim

Refocus my eyes on him

Now all I could see was us

Not a 2 – but a me in you

No force from behind

Shared pull from the front

I approached again

This time I put my tips upon you – so cold

Instinctively contracted back

The composition again – was new

I see the tiny printed dots – my fingers had left on you

I didn’t like the mess –  didn’t like I’d left a mark

So came to you again – to fix the messy smudge

I watched myself grow larger in your reflection until my mouth aligned with the mess

I blew – the intention – hit you

We  clouded up

Gray, steam and heat

I could not see the mess  or us

The heat cooled, retracted in

I watched it shrink and fade and disappear

It all became quite clear

There was – the mess

There was – that part of you

There was…my reflection

And in it all lay us – a possible perfection

It started to look pretty

So I put my fingers on your surface yet again

Saw them leave their mark

It was becoming art

But our creation got too brave – too fast – a little stark

One more reckless swipe

I caught a chip –

Sting

Bleed

Drip

Drip

Fuck!

Trip

Now trip

Fell through

Straight through you

You smashed – I crashed

Right down to the floor

With pieces of you embedded into my flesh

I panicked- what had I done?

Scrambled on my knees

To try to pull all those sparkling shards of you back into one place

I clawed too hard and my fingers bled –

Now part of me streams over the broken pieces of you

Everything was raw and everything was red

I had to stop

I crawled away and slumped

To where I first saw myself in you

But you were no longer there

You were lying bloody on the floor

There was an us no more

Parts of you embedded in my flesh – part of me streaming over the broken pieces of you

YOU ARE GLASS

*I wrote this piece for David Stuart. Thank you for being brilliant! x

Continue reading “YOU ARE GLASS”

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OMG – Drink problem

 

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Am I actually doing this? I have very little shame. Am I an alcoholic?….I think not…do I have a problem with drink…..YES. Please don’t make it so hard for me to love myself….. It’s quite cuntish. Im out here on my own… You are making it so much harder for me.. please be kind. If you refuse then I will find my fight again…. I WILL COME FOR YOU

There is a difference. But you know what has triggered my latest binge of drink and moping… The most unexpected thing… I freaked out at being loved. Like actually freaked the fuck out. I suffered love before…I am still torn apart by the fact that my ex-fiance refuses to speak to me. HE HATES ME. I can’t understand why. It has killed me for the last 3 years. I hate that he hates me. How can love turn and fester and sting so hard in the aftermath of its hay day?

I’m becoming tired of baring my soul. I’m sure that very soon I will stop. Do you know how it feels to feel constantly attacked for just wanting to encourage a situation where people are not attacked???? For just being allowed to be themselves… I’m not perfect but I was brought up well enough (as the oldest of 6 kids) to learn to accept a lot of difference. I can only see the world as I see my brothers and my sister… THEY ARE ALL PERFECT LITTLE FREAKS! They are all perfect and unique and I will fight tooth and nail for their freedom to exist as the amazing and fabulous little shit heads that they are…….

People you are wearing me down… but you are informing us that we need to fight on….

I hate you for stealing my joy….. I love you for making me question myself… on this I KNOW I AM NOT WRONG

Love Love Love

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I’m in love. I’m in love with many things. The renewed and vibrant community that has suddenly sprung up right before my eyes. And the lovely dalliances with  some of my heroes that I recently learned were actually just PEOPLE too. I will not hide that I am talking about David Stuart and Sheena McCormack and Pat Cash, on Pat what a blinder to have a buddy who inspires you from his truth and raw innocence all tainted with naughtiness… WATCH OUT FOR PAT.

I fell in love very recently. I didn’t mean to, I didn’t want to. He has a boyfriend. They live together and they seem happy. It’s an open situation with them. And I celebrate everyone’s own definition of themselves and their love. I honestly really do. But with this situation I had a problem. If I were in an open relationship (FYI – Don’t think I could be….I have insecurity and worth and anxiety issues. I’m not strong enough for that)

 

If I were in an open relationship I think I would be cool with my boyfriend fucking other people. But what I wouldn’t be cool with is my boyfriend developing an emotional attachment and investment in another person. I would be uncomfortable with that. But that is what has happened. We fell asleep on the sofa – this is about heart not cock.

 

I have fallen in love with Pablo. And Pablo isn’t even his real name. I made a choice to hide him from the craziness that is my life right now.

But I fell and I fell hard and why????? I’ll tell you…

 

My heart was wrapped up and hidden away as damaged goods…to be rolled out in a cheap sale…..But then he came along and made my heart dance. Continue reading “Love Love Love”

PrEP4love: rebuilding a community

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(Image credit and campaign link: Chicago PrEP Working Group  www.prep4love.com )

Something has become increasing and beautifully apparent to me over the last 6 months and especially the last week. We have shifted a gear. For a while we lost a sense of our community, our brotherhood, sisterhood, sibling-hood. Regardless how you define our community, what can’t be argued is that we suffered for a while. We kind of lost ourselves and each other.

The reasons why aren’t important but the impact and implications are. I think we became unkind to each other and to ourselves. We are seeing the real-life manifestations of that right now. We are in a painful and dangerous chemsex culture. Our number of new HIV infections are rising. Year after year.

I think we lost a little bit of hope.

But there is new hope, fresh passion and most importantly LOVE. We’ve started to find our way back now. And I have to tell you a part of the catalyst for this inspiring and encouraging shift is PrEP. My experience is this…

WE DIDN’T HAVE MUCH OF A COMMUNITY. We found one online through social media (a new and incredibly powerful new medium for community to thrive) then we actually managed to take that community and those friendships off-line and into real life. What was hugely important was that Pat Cash and David Stuart offered some of us a safe and loving space in the form of their monthly Let’s Talk About Gay Sex and Drugs.

I will tell you how this has all played out for me… when I was diagnosed as HIV positive I refused to suffer in a world I didn’t like and to do so in silence. Instead I saw that PrEP would have as much benefit for me personally as it would for everyone else negative and positive.

What PrEP does is remove the fear.

And without fear stigma starves. And that’s what is starting to happen. Investing in PrEP and my community totally helped me to accept my HIV positive status knowing that it wasn’t gonna kill any bit of me, who, what or how I am.

Today I bumped into 2 PrEP buddies in Brixton. There were lots of warm hugs, plenty of banter and excited and animated talk about PrEP and HIV and our other mates. I was a little overcome. I suddenly realised that I am surrounded by countless gorgeous gay men, not afraid to reach out to each other, not afraid to offer support, not afraid to ask if you are OK, not afraid to say they are scared or in love or having great sex.

This is the kind of amazing sibling love and community spirit that I was surround by in my teenage years. This is what I sorely missed. And I actually cried today. Because this is the community love, respect and sexiness that has returned.

We are not alone.

We are family and we look after our own. But gay men are also great at integrating these days and they have a fair bit of fight and love to extend that approach to everyone. #PrEP4love #whereisPrEP

This blog has been verified by Rise: R245f8c54c83dcbdd55e17e5812b052e2

Continue reading “PrEP4love: rebuilding a community”

HEP C – and you

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HEP C (also known as HCV ie HEPATITIS C VIRUS)

I asked a cross section of 50 of my Facebook friends the following questions…

  1. How you feel about HEP C?
  2. How you would feel if you caught it?
  3. Do you know anyone who has it?
  4. Would you sleep with someone who told you they have it?
  5. Would you tell your family and friends if you caught it?

I also requested that they didn’t google or research it.

I was interested in honest, unprepared answers and opinions including those that were uniformed or based on stigma. On the whole the general responses were the same. It didn’t seem to matter who I was speaking to.

In broad terms almost all 50 people said that if they met someone they really liked who had HEP C or if their partner contracted it during their relationship then they would find a way to make it work.

They all suggested that they would learn more about HEP C and how it is passed on, what the infection risks were and keep themselves and their partner safe and healthy.

This struck a chord with me.

It made me look at the data a little more carefully. General knowledge of the virus did vary significant from the various different types of people I asked.

Not surprisingly gay men were more clued up about HEP C facts than any other group.

Also HIV positive men seem to also have a good understanding of HEP C facts. From further research I learned that there are a lot of ‘co-infected’ guys out there (guys who are both HIV and HEP C positive) there is no link to suggest that HIV positive people are more susceptible to catching HEP C. There is evidence however to suggest that these figures go hand in hand as HIV positive guys have regular blood tests which test for HEP C as standard.

Apparently there are twice as many people in the UK living with HEP C as are living with HIV.

We just don’t know it yet because they aren’t being tested therefore aren’t being diagnosed and in very basic terms may still be passing on the virus. This poses a very real and serious public health concern.

What interested me most about the apparent willingness to self-educated ones self on the A-Z of HEP C if ‘a partner or someone I really liked’ caught it was that as people and especially gay men we are so capable of doing a bit of research and taking precautions to keep ourselves safe and protected if it is spurred on by a love for someone else but we can’t seem to get clued up and take these precautions for the love of our own selves?

While it is indeed heartwarming that there is that compassion out there, it is slightly concerning that people aren’t being smart or kind with themselves first. And of course there is a difference between negotiating HEP C within a relationship and negotiating it with a random fuck off Grindr. And here is where stigma rears its ugly, bastard head once again. A significant proportion of gay men will drop another guy straight away if the guy either discloses that he is HEP C positive or if the guy had disclosed and it’s worked it’s way through the gay grapevine.

One young guy I spoke to who is co-infected explained to me that his HIV is rarely a problem but telling people he has HEP C has pretty much destroyed his sex life. No one will have sex with him.

And this really hit home for me and most likely all of you reading this. As gay men (rightly or wrongly) so much of our lifestyle and some of our self worth is based on our sexiness and our confidence levels are kept high by being reminded that we are sexy and desirable…you only have to look at the amount of time wasting, ego hungry guys on Grindr that are on there for nothing more than to watch their inbox light up with the “you’re hot” reassurances.

So HEP C it seems can really fuck a guy up…sexually, socially, emotionally and mentally – long before it will medically or physically.

But don’t despair guys, this is not a doom and gloom story. It is however a situation that requires a bit of work…from us all!

Let me break it down for you in simple pieces so we’re all on the same page.

1 – there is existing treatment(s) for HEP C. It’s called Interferon (plus a handful of other drugs that sometimes go along with Interferon). These treatments do work but not in everyone and not in all cases and it comes jam packed with a long list of ACTUAL, not possible but actual and unpleasant the side effects. It isn’t so good for people living with or prone to meant health problems either.

2 – there is a new treatment/cure for HEP C called HARVONI or Sofosbuvir. Pamela Anderson has just announced she has been cured using this treatment. This is where part of the work is required.  is new and not available to everyone through the NHS yet. In fact it is really only available (again through a fight) to the most ill and dying. There is a case to argue that if you are HEP C positive you shouldn’t have to wait until your liver is damaged or littered with tumours before you get access to this drug.

This drug is expensive. It was originally pitched to the NHS at a cost of £50k to treat a single person.

It is almost 100% effective in almost 100% of people with little to no side effects and can cure you in 3-4 months. There are a few drug interaction issues with people on HIV meds but these can be addressed and worked around. I personally have spoken with 2 co-infected guys that are now on HARVONI. So there is a solution.

3 – regardless if you are HEP C positive or HEP C negative…HEP IS YOUR ISSUE! I’ll explain. It seems that most people don’t bother to educate themselves on HEP C, risks of transmission, impact onto health and treatments available until they actually have HEP C (as is the case with HIV too) but look at it like this…if there are all these people out there that have HEP C and don’t know or do know but can’t access the new drug to get cured then your chances of catching HEP C are high and higher than any of us currently know. But by encouraging people to get tested and be responsible and safe or get the new drug HARVONI / Sofosbuvir and get cured then the number of people out there with HEP C who are able to pass it on is reduced and therefore your likelihood of ever catching HEP C is also reduced in accordance.

It’s called ‘Treatment as Prevention’

And it’s the strongest case we have to argue and push for the new drug to be made available to EVERYONE – IMMEDIATELY. Extending that concept…if there is a cure that is available TO EVERYONE and isn’t very taxing on the body. Then the comfort of this knowledge should surely help us to reduce the fear and stigma of HEP C. That is if we choose to, we first of all have to be open, supportive and kind to each other, empowering us all to get tested regularly, to get treated early and to keep each other safe and happy.

Like I said – this is not a doom and gloom story…but it is a situation that requires us all to put a bit of work in!

Look after yourself and look after your mates…’mates-mates’ or ‘play-mates’ show them all some love and consideration equally.

Stay happy . Stay healthy Continue reading “HEP C – and you”

It Finally Drops

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I have spent the last 2 days moping around home drinking wine and beer and crying! And I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why? And what caused this?

So I drank a little more and I dug a little deeper.

It’s quite clear to me now.

Last week after Let’s Talk About Gay Sex And Drugs I actually ended up graduating from talking and re-entering the realm of let’s DO gay sex and drugs and so a 5 day bender on Meph and G and a little T ensued.

This might not seem life changing to most of you – nor so did it seem life changing to me at the time…far from it – I was reverting to old tricks, not learning new ones.

On the surface maybe…emotionally though – I underestimated this little revisit to the land of trash.

I have to say I loved, revelled in and love love loved going back there. I truly missed it. But all was not as it seemed.

It is impossible to go back to what you were.

You may put the same clothes on (or off as the case may be) and you may use the same apps and you may front the same swag. But it’s a fools dream to chase a former version of yourself.

During this 5 day bender this theory was not on the scale – not a consideration but in the days and weeks after it really was a huge thing for me.

I don’t regret it – not at all. I had a blast. I learned also that GBL and my HIV meds are volatile friends – I went under or very fucking squiffy far too many times. Very out of character for my former HIV negative self. But this is where the chasm opened up…

When I found out I was HIV positive I had a huge life flip! None of it was planned and none of it was structured to incorporate head time or adjustment time for me. Instead what happened was – I became positive and I went on a mission, I became this new very highly visible, very vocal, very passionate, very fucking productive (might I add) version of myself. And that was great.

But what I didn’t realise was that I had left little old, frightened, confused and shocked HIV negative me out there on the sidelines in the cold. Wondering silently why no one came to play anymore. I totally dismissed that person and charged on with this new souped up, empowered version of me.

That was a bit cruel to my former self. But it was cool because we were getting shit done and we were winning and we were still feeling HIV negtative because we had now become “the UK’s leading PrEP activist”

And then big balls ‘HIV facebook famous’ me went back to my old stomping ground of hook up apps and chemsex parties and tried to fit back in again.

Hardly surprising that this was impossible. A combination of my own anxiety and other people’s awareness of me left me merrily soaking up the attention online with no actual intention of ever meeting anyone. Until M… See a copy and paste about him from my facebook below …

“Last week I met a guy…from his pics and a few messages I was instantly smitten. But I could see in his pics and sense from his messages that he had just been through something. Something painful and deep. I tend to have a natural intuition for these things. And when most people would identify this situation as one to avoid – I am the opposite…I’m driven to know, to ask, to find out. So I went to meet up with him…via a breakdown in communication due to a language barrier and me mistakenly presuming he’d lost interest. I’d actually given up on him and gone off for a shag with some other guy who inadvertently invited this guy to join us – completely by chance and coincidence. That’s another story but I made my excuses and politely left the ‘shags’ place to go and meet ‘M’ (we’ll call him M for this story). M had stated that due to the awkward situation around us not meeting up then almost meeting up for a 3some that he wasn’t interested in sex with me right now, that I could come over but he knew himself and was adamant that he wouldn’t want sex. For me the sex wasn’t really important, there was something about this guy that was magnetic for me. So I got dressed and arrived at M’s place. It was FROSTY. But I was there for a reason…I wanted to be there. I didn’t know why – I just wanted to. We got talking and the ‘what do you do?’ question came up…I mentioned PrEP and the site…he typed the URL in his ipad, it bounced up, he recognised it and so we got chatting about HIV prevention. Turns out he’s HIV positive too and had a bit of a rough time with his meds. Now, because I hadn’t gone there for sex I had the chance to just lie on his bed and listen to him. That’s pretty rare in that situation. But I lay there and listened and was just blown away by his heart, his passion and his scars. I tried my fucking hardest not to cry and I almost styled it out but I was strangely and very unexpectedly overwhelmed with emotion for and towards this guy. I think I did pretty well but I’m sure at least 1 or 2 tears fell. I don’t know if he noticed but he finished his story and came and rested his head on my chest and just needed to be held. It was kind of one of the most beautiful moments I’ve had in a long time. These moments don’t happen often. What I wasn’t expecting was the 4 hours of totally mind blowing amazing sex that followed…I don’t think I have had sex like that in 4 years – definitely not since I split from my fiance. I don’t know for sure but I’m certain this amazing sex came because I was fucking with an actual person who had stirred my soul who had interacted with me emotionally before he did sexually. I have so much more to say on the encounter but I’ll keep it for part 2! lol BTW – just for the record…. FUCKING AMAZING SEX”

 I guess I feel in love with him a little bit. I can not actually believe I said that but it’s true. My first weekend back home at the hotel PnP and I fall in love with my only HnH shag…except he was more than that but I’m not too concerned with that relationship for the purposes of this piece. The real relationship drama was with ME and MYSELF

By going back to my former ways I reverted back to my former self – almost. If I didn’t revert,  at the very least I revisited and this is where the drama happened.

I went back to playing a cartoon charade of me and that was cool. There were chems, there was banter – I could have been Jessica Rabbit…but the week after this happened those 2 versions of myself had to sit down together at a table in my head or my heart – or both and just square things with each other.

That was painful for both parties.

The new me felt he’d failed the old me especially by fucking up his HIV status. But the old me was thrilled for the new me and didn’t want to hold him back but acknowledged that he was hurt that he got dumped so soon and that he would miss the new me but he wished him well and the old me’s parting sentiment was that he would always be there for me – he gets it and knows we’ve moved on…he wanted to remind me of one thing though – just don’t become an asshole.

So old me and new me are cool with each other now. It was a shitty few weeks and I wasn’t sure if we’d ever all be on the same page again. But we learned our lessons….no doubt there are a few more to learn along the way.

 

There you go….

 

x

Continue reading “It Finally Drops”

A Big Fucking Bang

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A Big Fucking Bang – “Beginnings” at Let’s Talk About Gay Sex And Drugs

“It is widely believed that about 14 billion years ago, the entire universe was inside a bubble that was thousands of times smaller than a pinhead. It was hotter and denser than anything we can imagine.

Then it suddenly exploded.

The universe that we know was born. Time, space and matter all began with The Big Bang. In a fraction of a second, the universe grew from smaller than a single atom to bigger than a galaxy. And it kept on growing at a fantastic rate. It is still expanding today.”

So there’s the ultimate beginning in a few short sentences. Now, wouldn’t it make sense that if that is where we came from that that is how we still exist?

No longer just protons and neutrons that have come together to form atoms but whole actual bodies. Bodies of people.

So if we also know that energy can not be created or destroyed – only changed. Let me put this to you…stick with me….

This is a new beginning for me. And I know a lot of you here tonight are embarking on new beginnings too. But I can only speak for me.

This time last year I was escorting – occasionally. I wasn’t a very good hooker. My clients would be like “Come here” “Do this” “Do that” and I’d be like “I don’t think so” – The guy would be like “But I’m paying you” – “I don’t give a shit”. Like I said…I wasn’t a great hooker.

I was running drugs – so you can call me a drug dealer if you choose. I was also slamming crystal meth and Mephadrone – so you can call me a junkie if you like. So that’s what I was. Fair and square. I’m standing in front of you this evening as what I am now. Let’s pause a moment.

If you even for a split second, winced or cringed at any of the declarations I’ve just made or instinctively judged me – ever so slightly. I just want to say that’s OK. That’s actually what I wanted.

Today I know who I am for the first time in a very long time.

I don’t really know ‘what’ I am. But I don’t think we need to know the ‘what’ if we know the ‘who’.

It’s always other people that ask us to define ourselves or take it upon to themselves to try to define us.

But there are actually very few differences between me today and the me of a year ago. I’m going to tell you what those differences are…

A little bit of support and a little bit of encouragement in the right direction.

So you might now be asking how can just a little bit of anything make such huge differences? So to go back to The Big Bang. Do you know how perfect that situation had to be in order for that ‘bang’ to happen? The density, the temperature, the concentration? If you research it in depth, if any of those factors had have been off by just a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of a percentage then The Big Bang would never have happened. We wouldn’t be here.

So now you’re like that’s great – wooooo science. But I don’t think that’s just science. I think that’s people too.

Someone once told me “There’s no such thing as luck. Luck is meeting every opportunity in life as fully prepared as you can be.”

All of us can be part of someone else’s personal preparation, by offering a little bit of support or encouragement in the right direction – do it.

We sometimes call it being kind. So next time you’re at a chill out or a party or anywhere with a rent boy, a drug dealer or a slamming junkie. Allow yourself that moment of judgement – it’s natural but then chose how you act upon those gut feelings.

You can be a cunt or you can be kind.

If you’re kind – your little bit of impact might very well line that person up for their very own big bang. A series of events that blasts open a whole universe of new beginnings, of opportunities, of learning and hopefully of love. Everyone deserves those things. My little bit of kindness came from this event (Let’s Talk About Gay Sex And Drugs) and in no small part David Stuart and 56 Dean street and you guys. I’m very grateful. Let’s gift it on.