There were two elements I required of a man in a casual sexual encounter : The first was that he get hard for me, that he show me his erection, display it openly for me and thus confess not only his desire but his homosexuality, that he admit to us both what he was, an outlaw. And the second was that he cum, I could not fully accept him until he had cum for me, had shown me that I so turned him on that he would shoot for me.
And so my partners always came, almost always before I did, because I didn't want to show a man the extent of my desire for him until he had proven what he felt for me. I would wait, there was no satisfaction for me, as there was for some others, in simply cumming on a man, I had to have his cum on me first, had to feel the white, hot, sticky liquid on my abs and cock and thighs, and then, staring into his eyes, his one hand on my balls and the other on my chest, his jizz rubbed into my flesh, I would jerk myself off onto him.
In all my long sexual history there were only two men I remember not being able to cum with. One was Jerome, a big, handsome, easygoing guy, who surprised me by waiting on the hot boardwalk outside our house in Cherry Grove for several hours until I came home, exhausted from the gym. I was unprepared for and overwhelmed by his desire for me, and after extensive loveplay found that I was simply too tired out to cum. And there was that other guy, I never knew his name, the blond guy from the city gym with the truly beautiful build, whom I'd often lusted after, and who surprised me by taking me into the Fire Island woods and jerking off on me. He had a big dick and big balls too, and a blond pubic bush. I couldn't cum, I wasn't even fully hard, I was too awed by his beauty and I told him so. "That's okay," he said. Then he whispered, "You have a beautiful body."
And then he disappeared.
They all disappeared.
My darling Bill, I love you
more and more with each
passing day, each passing
glance, each passing thought.
I love you at this moment more
than I ever have before, and my
love for you now is nothing to
what it will be tonight, tomorrow,
the day after, the weeks and
years to come. I love you more
than I can ever tell you. You are
my love, my life. Always be mine.
Μine was a lonely childhood. Growing up in a family in constant conflict, terrified that my homosexuality would be discovered, I invented for myself a friend, a hero, a mythic being who would understand and love me as I loved him ; together, I imagined, we would run away to some unknown land where, like the children of Sparta, we would sleep on mats of river reeds and thistle and in wrestling discover our mutual sexual desire.
This wrestling would start simply but would quickly progress, what began as a tussle would become a grapple and then a strenuous embrace, as we rolled in the dry warm dirt our school-day clothes would fray and tear and then magically vanish while the boyish mounds in our white briefs would swiftly become phalluses, hard cocks that would rip free of the constraining fabric the way we had suddenly torn free of the hated imprisoning straight world. I had the sense, it was barely a thought, more closely a feeling, that the desire we would feel for each other would be expressed in the call of heart for heart and cock for cock, I thought that when cock called out for cock it would be a cry impossible to resist and that our cocks would seek each other out in the darkness between our groins with a fervor so great that its force would slam our bodies together with a brutal, magnetic might like lodestone to iron, and having found each other I imagined these two cocks would push and rub and grind furiously one against the other as though determined never to be separated again, the friction of their meeting generating a heat so fierce that it would feel as though they were going to melt into one, and it was I was certain in the hardness of his cock and its attraction for my own that I would know this boy. And this rubbing of our cocks while in battling, sweaty, furious, mutual embrace would continue until that all-consuming world-obliterating ecstatic moment when our struggle was subsumed in an ocean of thick, white cum, and we emerged, exalted and transformed, into a magical luminous land where we would live as true comrades forever, our flag an heraldic device, a glowing red heart surmounted by two hard, winged cocks that, crossed like swords, would be the perfect emblem of our eternal love.
Of course I was very young. I had not thought much about the character of this boy, I had little thought of in what, beyond his physical desire, this boy would consist. My sense of him was inchoate, he was at first a creature of patches, a TV cowboy here, a movie soldier there, the plastic sailor boy who held my toothbrush and even the simple line drawing of a young man in an underwear ad in Life magazine.
Not my school chums, no, they were too proper, too middle class and cowed, they could never get hard for me and if I did for them I knew they would turn away or turn me in ; but there had been other kids, I remembered, bold, blond, hillbilly children who had once lived down the street but had moved far away, and perhaps among these brave others, I thought, these doughty fair-haired boys, I might someday find my mate.
And then, towards the end of the sixth grade, this still mysterious boy acquired a more definite form in my mind as the result of a brief romance my mother, a Jewish widow, had with a German-American policeman, who lent to my imaginings not simply his flesh but his moral force as well.
I was almost twelve by then ; my father, who'd shown almost no interest in me, had been dead for three years, and I was starved for male attention. My mother's beau, whose name was Ernie, lavished it upon me.
He was classically handsome, tall and blond and quite young, only about twenty-five when he and my mother "met cute" because he insisted on giving her a traffic ticket and she insisted on fighting it in court. He was a motorcycle cop, full of swagger and bravado, yet, unlike my father, good with kids, personally really very kind, I think, and very good with me. He was quite beautiful, standing tall in his uniform and black boots, his rich golden hair slicked back, gleaming in the sun ; I saw him bend down to give my mother the sort of kiss I had only seen before in the movies : long, lingering, and impassioned, the first suggestion I'd ever had that real love and real sex might exist between real people. In the mornings I would come downstairs and find his coat hanging in the hall closet, his gun in its holster, and I would be pleased (and a little scandalized). I adored him : he played the harmonica and took me to meetings of the Police Athletic League, where I spoke, my words informed by the Reader's Digest, on why we would beat communism. (The cops loved me.) To me he was a knight, a true ritter, Ernie the Good, Ernie the Viking Prince.
And it was not simply his physical beauty or his ease with children that called forth my love. For Ernie had a probity and directness, a young cop's faith in the ultimate triumph of good over evil, that contrasted forcefully with the manners and morals of the cynical politicians, petty gangsters, and small-time schemers who'd hung around my middle-aged worn-out father, who'd skulked about him like hyenas at the edge of a kill when he was alive and come nosing around after my mother not long after he was dead.
Ernie was nothing like them. He was young, virile, handsome, at ease and at home with himself, morally radiant and fearless as he straddled his motorcycle, his great phallic chariot, and rode off to do battle with the world's malefactors.
All through the spring of 1960 I nagged my mother : I wanted her to marry him, wanted him to be ours forever. But she would not. There were problems: he was Catholic and embroiled in a divorce and a struggle for custody of his son, a five-year-old who was already being raised in the Roman order. This little boy was deeply distrustful of my mother, who feared, in turn, that because of the Church, that vast, shadowy, anti-Semitic institution, he would always hate her. And suppose Ernie wanted more children worried my mother, who was forty-one and had a job and didn't want ever again to be dependent on a man. And so on, and so on. In the meanwhile Ernie took her to family gatherings ; he was the youngest of some vast number of children, ten or fifteen, and among them my mother danced, ate baked beans, and drank beer. His eldest brother came to call : an upholsterer, massive, Bavarian, perhaps in his fifties, he was completely bald ; he looked like Erich von Stroheim.
Suddenly, in the midst of all his other Sturm und Drang Ernie suffered a terrible accident. Reckless and brave, he chased a speeder through a stop sign and was hit by a car driven by a police captain's wife. His leg and hip shattered, (and perhaps, also, his faith in the ultimate triumph of good), Ernie spent a long summer in a Catholic hospital ; there, my mother was convinced, the nuns brainwashed him, filled him with dark forebodings about marrying a Jewess. And so they separated. He ended up with a desk job in the police department, and I never saw him again.
More alone than ever, I was left to my dreams, and I began fantasizing about my mother meeting someone else like Ernie, a Christian who might have a child my own age, a boy who would partake both of Ernie's physical beauty and of his heroism as well.
(For Ernie's own son had been too young to be a companion for me, and he was hostile and withdrawn besides, a child of divorce, a child of misfortune.)
But, I thought, if my mother married someone else like Ernie, he might come equipped with an older child who for me would be a proper half-brother, a Christian half-brother, the sort of child that a hero like Ernie would produce, but my age, with whom I would become friends and then lovers. And so those themes began to emerge and take form in my fantasy life, the brother-lover, the Christian brother-lover, the heroic Christian brother-lover, the mythic heroic Christian brother-lover. This phantasm became the most potent and fully imagined of my sexual ideals. I knew what this boy would look like, knew what his skin, fair but tough, would feel like, knew his face, his cock, his chest, imagined our bodies slamming together no longer in BVDs but now both wearing jockstraps that had been cut up so our balls were dangling out banging against each other, could feel his breath on my face, his lips on my own, my bed our world, a fortress from which we would emerge to slay our foes . . .
Of course I told no one about these feelings.
Nor did I try to find other boys like myself, for I feared that were my secret known, my friends would turn upon me and kick me to death.
Instead I entered a period of intense religiosity and despair. I read all of the New Testament and then started in on the Old ; I would sit at the dining room table, the Bible opened before me, and nervously twist my hair into strange little locks. It was the classic gesture of the Jew trapped in a world he hadn't made.
Then, when I was seventeen, and having won a scholarship to a college in another state, I left home, still celibate and alone, and found a psychoanalytic psychiatrist who promised to make me straight. For I was desperately confused about and afraid of my homosexuality. All through my childhood I'd been told that homos were effeminate fools, mincing ninnies who were incapable of love or devotion. Yet I was masculine, and, having witnessed the unhappy wreck of my parents' marriage, which had been bereft of passion long before my father died, I believed that only in an exclusive love could one find true happiness. If I couldn't have that with a man, I reasoned, perhaps I could still have it with a woman.
Because, I'd decided, two men could never be lovers, that was a silly fantasy which if I were to have any chance of happiness at all I would have to give up.
For seven years I toiled mightily in the vineyards of psychoanalysis. I learned to hate my mother, to date women, and to do my best never to think about men. It didn't work. The suppression of my erotic longings toward men was not compensated for by an increase in desire for women ; rather, I was left with no feelings at all, I became more and more dead inside and began to fear that my spiritless body would itself become nothing more than a desiccated shell.
In the meantime the world around me changed. Ministers marched, cities burned, leaders were assassinated. A war raged which I and my friends refused to fight. I was called to be a soldier, but I told the noncoms at the physical that I was a queer. I had long hair and granny glasses. "You would be," they sneered, and I was set free.
I went home and got stoned listening to Here Comes the Sun.
Then one day I came across a few paragraphs about Gay Liberation in a New Left broadsheet. There was a photo with the article, and in it I could see guys who looked not like Liberace but like me, hippie boys with long hair and wire-rimmed glasses standing confidently arm-in-arm, smiling into the camera. Somehow that one grainy picture broke through all the years of straight conditioning and set me free, it enabled me to do what the rest of my generation had begun doing years before, I was finally able to question authority -- hetero authority -- for that one photograph gave me a place where I could be, and that place was called Gay Liberation.
And that's what I'd needed, a place, a place for me, a place where I could start the search, so many years delayed, for my brother-lover-hero.
So I left the psychiatrist, whom I'd come to think of as an evil wizard, sitting, like some ancient shape-shifter, in his lair-like office where, like the dragon warned of by St. Jerome, ein Wurm, he waited to eat souls, I left him and moved to another city and began sleeping with men, looking for that perfect partner whose sexual ardor above all I knew would announce my hero.
And so I came out into the world of gay men. But I couldn't find the man I was looking for. Because the world of gay men was not, alas, a world of heroes. Yes, there were some Gay Liberationists, men and women who were not afraid to face and denounce the hated hets, and I quickly joined their numbers, but the vast majority of gay men were not among them. Rather they were ordinary, timid and frightened most of them, seeking only to get by, to survive, not to challenge the wrongs of the world but to dodge them, as the fox dodges the hound.
These men didn't live in the world of myth, but I knew that was where I belonged.
Nevertheless, for ten years I struggled to live among my fellow "gays." Yet they bewildered me. They seemed to enter into relationships the way my father had into business deals. They talked of potential partners owning co-ops and having a good job, or better, a career. Sex was rated, was weighed. They spoke not of ecstasy but of being compatible. I didn't understand. How could this energy that more than any other in life linked us to the vast cosmic forces of creation and dissolution be reduced to a question of placement, of top or bottom?
I tried to think the way they thought, I tried to make their values my own. But I could not.
For example, drag. We were supposed to adore it. I could not and did not. I thought it was stupid and demeaning, a buying into all the self-hate that the Het Dictatorship promoted among us, as was the self-loathing language of she, her, Miss Thing, and Miss Mary.
What could effeminacy have to do with Men and Heroes ?
And then there was the bizarre sexual uniformity that most tried to force upon me.
For I came out in 1972, and by 1975 anal was fast becoming the echt homosexual act.
Which meant that within three years of my coming out and beginning my search, most gay males simply would not and could not understand what it meant to rub cocks. Instead, bovine creatures that they soon proved themselves to be, they "wanted" to do what their culture told them to do, which was to fuck, that is penetrate or be penetrated. That was not an act I'd ever thought about or fantasized about, to me it was alien, to me it spoke always of a man and a woman, not a man and a man.
Nor was it an act that lended itself to Fighting, to the male-male contest, the strenuous struggle that I believed was so central to what sex between men was meant to be.
But anal was now what I was expected and de facto required to do.
Just as I'd toiled in the wrathful vineyards of the Neo-Freudians for seven years, it now appeared I'd have to labor, indefinitely, in the Augean stables of an increasingly authoritarian gay male mind mired in the muck of anal penetration.
And without a cleansing river in sight.
That I refused to do.
That I would have come this far on my journey, come out so publicly and in so doing rejected everything society believed, acknowledged publicly my intense desire for other men, and yet be expected to surrender on this most crucial point, the way that desire would be consummated, completed, carried out, and culminated, was to me absurd, ridiculous, and senseless. My life was to be of a piece, or not at all.
What is strange to me in retrospect is that somehow through all the years of cold neo-Freudian pseudo-science I had unconsciously held onto the image that I had created for myself in childhood, the fantasy figure of the noble mythic-Christian warrior-Greek boy-Viking hero and never let it go, and that when I came out my longing for that hero returned, bloomed again in my imagination as though the seven lean years had never been, and no matter how many times I had to face the fact that the men I met in bars were just men after all, some of them certainly nice men, but just men, men with jobs and families and ordinary human failings, I didn't lose sight of my goal. I might like those ordinary men briefly, I might even think I was in love with one for a time, but after awhile I knew that he wasn't for me and that I had to keep looking for my hero.
And that we had to meet in rubbing cocks, or we could not meet at all.
For cockrub, the contest of phallus against phallus, lay at my erotic center.
And I knew that for my Hero, that would be true too.
No way would a Hero fuck another Hero -- in the ass.
No way would that happen.
For Two Men, Two Heroes, the only possible sexual expression would be the Agon, the Contest, of Phallus-Against-Phallus, the Struggle of, for, and about -- Manhood.
Now, many years later, thinking about it, I wonder if it was I who created that mythic heroic figure, or if he wasn't rather an intrusion into my lonely and desperate world of an archetype from the collective unconscious, an intrusion of a sort of guide come there to help me discover my own story, my own myth, and through that myth perhaps, the story and myth of my time.
My fantasy figures, after all, were all mythic : the heroic Greek warrior, brave and true, the Viking prince, wild and free, the Christian knight, fearless in his gleaming armor astride his noble steed, errant, on a sacred search for a holy vessel.
Laurens Van der Post, in his biography of CG Jung, says that after Jung split from Freud, Jung "was on his own way again -- the way he had always wanted to go to discover his own story, his own myth, and through a myth of his own, the relevant myth of his time."
Freud's vision, which was essentially his reductive vision of the unconscious was, ultimately, restrictive, wasn't that what I had found after seven years of psychiatry, it was narrow and stultifying, it had choked me and left me unable to breathe.
My own vision, on the contrary, was, to me at least, vast and broad and free, truly liberating, for, in connecting me to myth, it freed me of the limitations and restrictions of my own petty biography and joined me instead with that vast numinous world of all that had ever been or potentially might be.
And though, living in my own time as I had to, I thought that my hero in his otherness would be a Christian, it was the pagan Greeks, I knew, who had most thoroughly explored that world of Gods and Heroes and had best described the two archetypes I sought -- Apollo for his clarity and reasoned calm and Ares for his manhood and strength. Fools be they who thought these two had never existed or never would again. Fools they had to be.
For else my life could not be.
Irrelevant whether it was my consciousness or the archetypes themselves that started the process -- irrelevant. Once it had begun, my life required that it be followed through.But since, as I showed in the introduction, the archetypes in question are not mere objects of the mind, but are also autonomous factors, i.e., living subjects, the differentiation of consciousness can be understood as the effect of the intervention of transcendentally conditioned dynamisms. In this case it would be the archetypes that accomplish the primary transformation. But since, in our experience, there are no psychic conditions which could be observed through introspection outside the human being, the behaviour of the archetypes cannot be investigated at all without the interaction of the observing consciousness. Therefore the question as to whether the process is initiated by consciousness or by the archetype can never be answered; unless, in contradiction to experience, one either robbed the archetype of its autonomy or degraded consciousness to a mere machine. We find ourselves in best agreement with psychological experience if we concede to the archetype a definite measure of independence, and to consciousness a degree of creative freedom proportionate to its scope. There then arises the reciprocal action between two relatively autonomous factors which compels us, when describing and explaining the processes, to present sometimes the one and sometimes the other factor as the acting subject, even when God becomes man.
~ CG Jung: Collected Works, p. 649
Jung : we must "concede to the archetype a definite measure of independence, and to consciousness a degree of creative freedom . . . There then arises the reciprocal action between two relatively autonomous factors which compels us, when describing and explaining the processes, to present sometimes the one and sometimes the other factor as the acting subject, even when God becomes man."
Or, I would add, when Man becomes God.
And so I continued searching. By God I was particular. I would not accept any less than my hero. I couldn't.
Love's arrow flew from its bow and found
its mark when I met you. Cupid's cock
stood erect when yours did with mine and we
tumbled together into passion from the
precipice of longing. Your eyes, your voice,
your warm, hard body and most especially
your mind and soul all conspired to make
me love in a way that I had not thought entirely
possible. To come from where
I did to find you where we are is a major miracle
for which I will always be deeply, deeply, deeply
I love you --
And then one day he was simply there. His name was Brett Averill. I knew from the moment I saw him that I wanted him. Like me he was an activist, a warrior, fighting the good fight, battling the vicious homophobes who had tried so hard to destroy our lives. (A friend said to me later that I had found the most politically correct lover around, but to me he wasn't politically correct, he was pure.) He was a journalist, an editor, a master of words, and he was young and so very handsome. Like a medieval knight he had long dirty blonde hair and a full moustache, a square jaw with a dimpled chin and pale, piercing blue eyes, his eyes were so blue that it hurts me to remember them and very often I cannot ; to me his beauty was something out of books, a combination of physical handsomeness and moral authority so profound that the words of our most venerated poets came to mind, and like Milton of Adam I could say of him "For contemplation he and valour formed / . . . / His fair large front and eye sublime declared / Absolute rule ; and hyacinthine locks / Round from his parted forelock manly hung / Clustering, / . . . / but not beneath his shoulders broad." Brett's body was naturally muscular and strong, radiant with a light golden fur, yet with his long angelic hair and natural build he was not remotely a clone ; rather he was the epitome of all the handsome hippie youths and virile Viet vets I had lusted after as a teenager, and like the best of them he had that felicitous blend of masculinity and luminous beauty first captured by Carpaccio and Caravaggio at the beginning of the modern age. In short, he was comely, beautiful in every way and sense, and incredibly sexy, he radiated sex.
And so Brett was very handsome. And he was in the midst of a truly brilliant career as a gay journalist, a warrior doing battle with all our homophobic foes. But it was when we first slept together, months after we'd first met, that I knew for certain that he was my hero, the mythic-heroic-Christian-brother-lover that I'd been looking for all my life, for the sexual fit between us was perfect. Brett and I were cock-rubbers, and though we'd both delved into other forms of "gay" sex, it was in rubbing cocks that we found our greatest sexual ardor.
That night, Brett and I wanted each other and were right for each other. We meshed -- totally -- right away. That first night -- sex -- our bodies pressed tightly together, our cocks pushed hard into each other, balls rubbing, chests scraping, hearts merged, our arms encircling each the other -- for me that was sex, that was how I knew it would be from my earliest childhood. Sex was -- sex was this, cock-rubbing with another boy, a blonde-haired, Christian boy, strong and smart, a peer, an equal, a hero, tough and beautiful and roughly noble, a brother, a bruder other, someone I could play with and stay with forever, for each other and with each other always, contra mundum, mundum, mundum world whose hatred and power was always present, a battlefield, the ruined Festung Europa where two soldiers, from opposing camps now hiding in a wilderness left by retreating, fallen armies, in a void which no one controlled, alone, desperate, in fear but ultimately unafraid with each other met and made love, impassioned, sweaty, athletic wrestling love nothing like what the others -- the straights -- did -- not like anyone else's but our own, mythic and real and true.
That was sex with Brett. That's how it was.
And all flowed from that first night of sex, for afterwards we were never apart.
And although I cannot say that the intensity of our sexual ardor ever decreased, during our first year and a half together it was so strong that neither of us ever saw the other's dick soft, unless it was in detumescence. Already rock hard, we would come together for long sessions of kissing and tonguing, running our hands through each other's chest hair, squeezing nipples, cocks and balls, testing all our muscles against each other, but especially our balls, we both understood that our male essence resided in our balls and that there was no more sacred part of our bodies, pulling on balls, sometimes using ball stretchers or other toys to increase the pleasure, sometimes using strips of leather to tie our balls together to heighten the stakes, and then roughly scraping chests, reveling in the coarse gritty friction of the hair, and beginning the long, slow to quick, increasingly intense rubbing of cock against cock, using spit, baby oil, Abolene, Foreplay, or nothing for lubricant, wrestling through the room, sometimes standing up, more often prone, alternating top and bottom. I might ask Brett to, or he might on his own, flip me over onto my back, and, sitting astride me, my hand stroking and pulling his pubic bush, position his balls against mine, then bang them together while grasping our two dicks in his hand, letting his spit fall onto them while jerking us off. Or I would push him onto his back, landing atop him, squeezing his torso and butt tightly, crushing our cocks together while I humped him wildly. There was nothing for me like sex with Brett, no one and nothing else pushed away the shit, took me outside of myself and into the Universe like sex with Brett, beautiful sexed Brett.
I'll always love him.
And how could I not ?
For with Brett, suddenly, all my childhood fantasies, sexual and mythic and moral and domestic, came true. Here was this blond, God-like, Heroic Being who loved to wrestle and rub cocks and who, around me, never lost his hard-on.
Indeed, the ideal of heroes who meet, wrestle, and become lovers, was common throughout the history of male-male sex. It's the way Gilgamesh encounters Enkidu, and Greek homosexual eros was built around the institution of wrestling schools, where men, older boys, and youths would congregate, nude, to exercise, socialize, and look at and physically experience potential lovers. In any society that encouraged same-sex relations as an adjunct to the development of martial ardor, the muscular contest, the agon, was crucial. That I reinvented this form for myself, alone, completely cut off from the history and models of martial homosexuality, is remarkable, and supports, in my view, both Jungian ideas about archetypes and the myth of the eternal return.
Moreover, Brett too had had many wrestling fantasies throughout adolescence and his young adulthood, as when he wrote : Bill and I become two youths in a high school gymnasium, tussling on a wrestling mat, wearing shorts, then jockstraps, then nothing, exertion and excitement making us sweaty, grabbing each other's cocks and pulling on pubic hair for momentary traction.
Although neither Brett nor I were violent people in a criminal sense, we trained together in karate and were fearless in physically confronting anti-gay bigots, and so carried with us a masculine identity as warriors, fighters of the good fight, that was an essential part of our bond. When, in the epic Gilgamesh, Enkidu fights a monstrous bull, he calls to Gilgamesh to come to his aid, saying, "Two people, companions, they can prevail together." That was something Brett and I believed implicitly.
Enkidu fought the Bull
and the foul tail of the Bull brushed over his face
and Enkidu wrestled and Enkidu cried out
to Gilgamesh: "The life of man is short,
let us contend with the Bull of Heaven, and win,"
and Gilgamesh fought, and fighting the Bull they cried:
"Two people, companions, they can prevail together,"
and Enkidu seized the Bull by the reeking tail
and Gilgamesh thrust his sword with the skill of a butcher
between the shoulders and horns, and they killed the Bull.
And so it was that the masculine contest informed our love-making, and at its heart was cock-rubbing. Further, although Brett had fucked with previous partners, he never importuned me about fucking : he understood, as did I, that the essence of our sexual relationship was not about that. Beyond the appeal to myth and archetype, I cannot tell you why that was ; but it was, and our lovemaking was the source of our most intense joy, and of our tremendous strength.
And when, at the end of Brett's life, we were no longer able to make love in that way, the memory of it, I believe, helped see us through.
From our first night of sex on, Brett and I were together for 12 years, 8 months, and 20 days.
Until AIDS took his life.
Our bond was forged immediately and never weakened.
What, beyond sex, cemented that bond between us so quickly in the fall of 1982? There are so many things that it's hard to name them all. First of all, and put simply, Brett and I had the greatest mutual admiration and respect for each other imaginable. I, I must admit, had been taught to believe and had come to accept that I was more intelligent than most people ; this belief has been a major impediment in my life and I do not boast of it ; but, in Brett, I felt, I had found someone whose intelligence matched my own, and, in many areas, outstripped me. Actually, our intellects complemented each other. Brett was the son of an engineer ; he was exceptionally pragmatic, and he had a practical way of approaching the world that I, having grown up vaterloss, often lacked. I, on the other hand, had, both through formal and self-education, acquired a very firm grounding in the arts and humanities ; much of that was terra incognita to Brett, and I was able to guide him through it. Both of us were politically extremely committed ; but I felt that Brett's political intelligence was more astute than my own, while I was able to provide him with an historical sense and perspective that he somewhat lacked, and was happy to learn about.
We also shared a belief in, and a great joy in, domesticity, and, I think, agreed that it was within the domestic sphere that the best possibility for true happiness lay. I had little faith in, and found less comfort through, work or friends than did Brett ; but for both of us the idea of building a cozy home life to which we could retreat was paramount. Brett had more of a desire to be out in the world than did I, and he had a great hunger for new experiences while I preferred the familiar. These differences were the source of some conflict, but we always found a compromise, and further, as Brett said in a piece he wrote for the gay paper he edited, we didn't let anything come between us, and ruthlessly cut out anyone or anything that might have the potential of so doing.
Finally, there's the matter of strength. I'm a very strong person, and often find it easy to bully others. But that was not something I wanted in a lover, rather I needed someone who was as strong as myself, and whose strength and determination I could respect, and, to which, when necessary, I might acquiesce. Brett was that person. He was incredibly strong and determined, yet fair, gentle, and loving. How I admired those qualities in him, and how greatly therefore I loved him ! I often said that he was like a God to me, and that was true ; but beyond even that he had a nobility about him, truly a mythic quality, that I have never encountered in anyone else. I simply never saw him do anything low or base, or, for that matter, even think it. I realize that there are those, perhaps most, who will read these words and think that I'm exaggerating, but I'm not ; for the one thing that I have valued more than any other in my life is telling the truth, and this is the truth about Brett. His strength and honesty, his intellectual clarity, his caring about others, and his ability to give of himself, were extraordinary ; he had combined in him those qualities, usually called noble, that one only encountered in books, but that one might expect to see in someone who had just arisen from a seat at the Round Table or debarked from the good ship Argos.
And that bears repeating : Brett possessed an integrity so great that it gave him an air of nobility ; indeed, I can say that he was noble, that he had a moral authority and a sense of command that suggested someone who had recently arisen from a seat at the Round Table, or just left the company of the Argonauts.
This noblesse was not something one expected to meet in ordinary life, and I have never seen it in anyone else, ever again. I cannot say, I cannot even begin to comprehend, why that was, but it was so. I had been prepared, or at least so I thought, before meeting Brett, to make compromises in order to have a lover, I had assumed that that would be necessary. But with Brett it wasn't ; instead here was this man who was the personification of goodness and light, and he loved me and wanted me. That was the most remarkable experience, and it was the reason that my devotion and loyalty to him never wavered. Even now, writing about it, I'm amazed that it happened.
But it did.
Ultimately, the bond between us was spiritual. It could not be any other way with a being like Brett, nothing else would have been possible. All those qualities of strength and beauty that he brought to the relationship and that I sought to assimilate to myself in our passion went beyond the flesh, they went to something else in the universe, something that I cannot begin to comprehend, in the face of it I feel that my brain and intellect are tiny, utterly useless up against a mystery beyond any rational knowing. As he got sicker in the last years of our togetherness he became, without any outward show of religion, more and more spiritual, his loving qualities became ever more pronounced, as his body grew increasingly grotesque some light within shone more and more brightly. "I love you so much!" he would exclaim, with such joy and piercing simplicity that I knew he spoke of a love that went far beyond the physical. I was tied to this earth, I could not always follow where he was going, my flesh recoiled sometimes from his touch, I feared his oozing sores and bloody wounds. That is human frailty. I could not escape it, but I knew that he was above it. If there is anywhere, anything, beyond this life, then surely Brett attained it ; or no one ever has.
Brett was indeed the embodiment of my mythic-heroic-Christian-brother-lover ; but he was better than that, because he was real. At some point myth, which expresses the childhood of the race, must give way to what? Truth? Perhaps. Whatever it is, Brett went way, way, way, beyond myth, to something else, that I, earthbound, have yet to know.
January 19, 1999 -- April 23, 2001
Three issues :
- What are you certain of ?
I began writing "Certainties," which I thought of and still do as both a companion and sequel to Hyacinthine Love, in 1999 -- after the publication of Hyacinthine Love in White Crane Journal.
Hyacinthine Love, I should say, was actually written in 1997 -- making it twenty years old in 2017 ; but no one would publish it until my friend, the late activist and author Arthur Evans, intervened with Toby Johnson, the then-editor of White Crane.
After Hyacinthine Love was, finally, published, I saw this author's query in The Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review Winter 1999 :Essays sought from people touched by HIV/AIDS for a book to be published in late 1999, in answer to the question "What are you certain of?"
And thus I began work on Certainties -- by asking myself --
What are you certain of ?
This was my answer :
- The Love we had between us.
Brett's love for me, mine for him.
And the Depth of that Love, which was unexpected.
There was an extraordinary sexual and emotional security we experienced with each other. I had absolute trust in him and in his desire for me and mine for him. I never ever had occasion to question that he loved me, and never considered leaving him for another person. He was just too extraordinary. I liked sleeping around, but I really liked sleeping with Brett.
Brett radiantly transformed my life. He entered into me like the sun, illuminating and transforming my being. He changed every aspect of my life, lighting it, warming it, giving it heat and color, the heat of erotic energy, the color of love . . .
- My deep admiration for Brett.
His mythical status in my life : Apollo and Ares.
The way he went beyond myth as his life drew to an end.
- The dark side : no floor to human suffering ; AIDS 101 : things can always get worse.
And always will.
The Universe is an unforgiving place.
If you make a mistake, the inexorable laws of biology, chemistry, and physics dictate and demand that you suffer. Seemingly without end.
So that at the moment you think that someone has suffered as much as he can -- you learn that he can suffer more.
- The certainties are stark : Love -- and pain.
- Ernie's role in establishing my Ideal of Manliness and Manhood.
I was extremely fortunate to have had Ernie in my life.
He was a Man of Action -- and he showed me not just how muscular but how moral a Man of Action could be.
He brought together in his own flesh the Union of Manliness with Morality, and that concept of Manhood has never left me.
I'm extremely grateful to Ernie, and to the Gods who gave me, in him, a glimpse of Heroic Manhood.
A glimpse which I've never, not for one moment, forgotten.
Did Brett and I meet in a contest? Is there always a contest until the moment of sexual acceptance? Or was all that just in my head?
No -- there's always a Contest.
Agon : a battle, action, struggle, contest for a prize at the games
Certainly I thought that by having Brett desire me, by having the proof of that in his hard-on and his orgasm, I had proven something, won something. Which I had.
Was there a struggle ?
There's always a struggle.
Agonia : a contest, struggle for victory ; gymnastic exercise, wrestling
Brett had to be won, as all good things have to be won. When Gilgamesh and Enkidu wrestle it's a metaphor for the struggle through which we obtain love. And don't let it be forgot that the Gods fashion Enkidu as an antidote to Gilgamesh's sexual promiscuity.
Sex is available. Love has to be won. The attainment of Brett was for me the culmination of a lifetime's quest.
Brett always wanted me, he'd been attracted to me from the moment we met. (Brett, in a 1993 note: You've conquered me, but I have to confess I didn't put up much of a fight.) Yes, I thought and knew I had prevailed, and I had, over straight society and gay promiscuity. Over him, though? Well, I wouldn't have wanted, ever, to have hurt him. But I did want to Conquer him and obtain as my prize his Love. No question of that.
And I did.
So that I had what I wanted -- I wanted him to love me. And his wanting me was a victory. Persuading the love object that you're worth loving -- is a victory.
And I had that Victory.
Most men I wanted simply to desire me for the moment ; but Brett I wanted to love me forever -- and he did.
That was a Victory -- a brave deed, done and won in battle.
Agonismata : a contest, in pl. deeds done in battle, brave deeds
AIDS robbed me of Brett.
But before it did that, and ever after, down to this day, I've lived with the knowledge that, despite all the odds against me, I Conquered :
I Won the One Man I Wanted.
I couldn't keep Brett alive in this world ;
But he lives and will live in my heart -- Forever.
February 7, 2017
Related articles :
Hyacinthine Love -- the prequel and companion article to Certainties
Brett's NY Times obit.
Brett's SF Chron obit.
Brett Averill : A Remembrance in Pictures
Frot: The Next Sexual Revolution
Bill Weintraub is the creator and webmaster of The Man2Man Alliance, an Alliance of Men who practice Phallus-Against-Phallus Sex ; and of Ares Is Lord, a Holy Communion of Men who worship Manliness and Fighting Manhood in the Divine Person of Lord Ares, God of Fight, God of Manhood, God of Fighting Manhood.
The Man2Man Alliance
Manhood : A Lexicon
Ares Is Lord
© All material on this page and this site Copyright 1997 - 2018 by Bill Weintraub. All rights reserved.
Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members...The base doctrine of the majority of voices usurps the place of the doctrine of the soul.
© All material herein Copyright 1997 - 2018 by Bill Weintraub. All rights reserved.