The Challenges And Joys of a Three-Way Relationship

Discerning Daddy

I wrote this story over 3 and a half years ago for Vice. It was the first piece I ever wrote for Vice and it started me down this strange and gorgeous journey.

Along the way a lot has happened. February 9th will mark the one year anniversary since Jon Nelson went missing. February 19th is the one year anniversary from when we found out Jon had died.

And while there is so much sadness and loss, there is also all this love and hope and beauty. Because Jon was all of those things for Alex and I.

So I wanted to share this story. To celebrate Jon. To celebrate the three of us. And even though things have changed, and Jon is no longer here, and Alex and I are no longer together in the same way, we are still family, brothers and best friends, which is proof of the love that I write about in this piece.

I love everything this story stands for. And I will forever be grateful for the life Jon gave me.

For the life he gave Us.

I hope it still holds up.

THE CHALLENGES AND JOYS OF A THREE-WAY RELATIONSHIP

Recently, while I was at lunch with a friend, she asked me about intimacy. She did it in such a way that it was clear she wasn’t really asking me, she was telling me what she thought about intimacy. More specifically, what she thought about the intimacy involved in my relationship with my husband, Alex, and our boyfriend, Jon.

“I just don’t understand,” she said, picking at her salad as if meaning might be buried under her kale. “If you give 40 percent to Jon, then you only have 60 percent left for Alex, your husband, and I guess… Marriage is hard. Relationships are hard. Can a relationship survive on just 60 percent?”

The implications were clear: Somehow my intimacy with Alex was being diminished because of our relationship to Jon. According to my friend’s theory, love was finite: There was only so much, and if you tapped into it for another then you were ultimately taking some away. I was robbing Alex of my love to give to Jon.

“I know that Daniel is my soulmate,” she said, speaking of her husband. “He is my true love. I know that I was meant for him.”

I believe in soulmates, I wanted to tell her. And I believe in love. I just don’t believe that love is limited to one person, or that we are meant to live only one life dedicated 100 percent to someone else.

I thought about her kids. How when her son was born she told me he was everything, the love of her life. And when she was pregnant a second time, she worried she would never love another child as much as she did her firstborn. But then her daughter was born and she fell in love. Completely. She loved them both infinitely and separately and the love of one didn’t jeopardize or diminish the love of the other.

When you are in a triad you get used to these questions, though. People always want to know if we really love Jon. If there was some problem between Alex and me. Is it about the sex? What is it that made this happen? Why? I am often shocked by the intensely personal questions people ask, mostly about our sex lives, the kind of questions they would be appalled at if someone were to ask them.

“Doesn’t it bother Jon?” my friend continued. “Knowing that you and Alex are married? That in the end, he has no legal rights? That the two of you are so legitimate?”

And Jon isn’t legitimate is the not-so-subtle subtext. How could he be?

When I met Alex I knew I had met my soulmate. We met on Scruff, a gay hookup app—his username was Spy in the Cab, a Bauhaus reference, that was a throwback to my youth. He was supposed to be a trick. Just a fuck. He was working on a movie and suggested we go to dinner. I was disappointed; I didn’t want to go to dinner, I wanted to get straight to the fucking, but I conceded.

I remember the moment Alex walked into my house. Stunned is the only word I can think of. He was so handsome it was breathtaking.

He couldn’t look me in the eye. Later he told me it was because he was sure I hadn’t seen him right, that at any moment I was going to realize how ugly he was. Which is idiotic because Alex is gorgeous. He is huge and muscular and Dominican, with the most beautiful, innocent, wondrous eyes I have ever seen on a man.

We went for Thai food in Hollywood. He told me about going to film school in Vancouver, and we talked about the movie he was working on, Sharknado. He did special effects makeup. He loved horror movies. I was recently sober after a four-year relapse. I was broke and jobless and living off my father’s financial kindness. After dinner we went back home and did all the things we talked about on Scruff.

Alex is my lover and my travel buddy and my best friend. He is my partner in adventure. I obsessed over him and longed for him and fell madly in love with him. He likes to tell people I gave him the keys to my house after two weeks. I’m pretty sure I made him wait seven, but either way, we moved fast. After six months he was moving out of his mom’s place in Huntington Beach and in with me. Two years later I proposed to him in Laguna.

Alex and I were not open. We had no interest in being “poly.” We had what we called a kind of “monogamy-ish” arrangement. Whatever we did together was allowed. If there was a guy we both wanted, fine. We had three-ways and four-ways with other couples. We picked up guys and went out flirting together. I loved watching Alex fuck another guy. He was so sexy and strong, such a stud. It just made me want him more. These adventures enhanced our sexuality and our relationship.

None of this is to say I didn’t get jealous. I can be an extremely jealous and possessive person. I can be dark and moody, stormy and unpredictable. There were times when what I wanted (and sometimes still do) was that fantasy of one love, that idea that he wants me and no one else, that I can satisfy all of him—but that came up against the hard reality of my own needs and wants. I wanted him to want only me, but I also wanted the freedom to go out and do whatever I wanted.

Jon was supposed to be just another three-way. A fuck and nothing more. We met him on Scruff. He was living with his ex in Orange County; it was complicated. We chatted for a few days before we all decided to meet. It was going to be brief. He was driving back from his mom’s house in Bakersfield, and I was working the door at the Faultline, a gay leather bar. He was going to stop by on his way home.

It was a Sunday beer bust, busy and chaotic. We were going to meet at the bar for a quick kiss and to check each other out. Jon pulled up in his silver Volkswagen Beetle. I still remember watching him walk over to me, his hunched old man gait, kind of awkward and shockingly handsome. He smiled his crooked smile. His nose was off center from being broken, his eyes serious and vulnerable, his hands at his sides, fists clenched. He was so beautiful and lost in that moment, so perfectly himself without pretense.

Alex and I took him into the green room where the strippers go to get into costume. We all took turns kissing. It was strange and magical. I knew that something different was happening. I knew that this was not going to be just a hook-up. It was in my heartbeat, in my nervousness. Hook-up Jeff would have thrown Jon down on the couch and said sexy, dirty things to him because hook-up Jeff can be aggressive. But this felt different, slower, easier, more meaningful and natural. It didn’t need to be forced or turned into a porn. This moment had a life all its own.

So we agreed to meet another night. We made a plan to watch David Bowie’s Cracked Actor and eat pizza and then fuck around. Then we invited him back again. And suddenly we were texting him every day: “Good morning” and “How are you?” and “We miss you” and “Goodnight.” Sexy chats and romantic chats and banal chats.

Alex and I would go on long walks and have endless discussions about what this meant. We were supposed to be getting married in six months. We both knew where things were headed: The question was, did we want to be moving in that direction? We had always been disdainful of triads, thinking the idea silly and overly complicated. I bought books, like The Ethical Slut and Opening Up, but none of the people in those books felt like me. Like us. I didn’t want to join poly groups. I wasn’t looking for a lifestyle.

I was jealous. Jealous of Alex. Jealous of Jon. I wanted them to love me, but I didn’t know how I felt about them loving each other.

What became clear to me is that there is no map here. No guide to how this is done. We weren’t new-ageists or vegans looking for some new tantric style of love. Alex and I weren’t looking to open up. We weren’t struggling in our relationship or our sex life. Things were good. We fucked a lot. We had fun. We were happy with how things were.

So then why? Why were we heading down this road? We had a choice. We could stop. We were getting married; we had our hands full. The TV show Alex was working on got picked up for a second season. We were busy. And the answer was simple: Jon. And it was fun. It felt right. The road seemed clear and open and easy.

It was strange watching Alex fall in love with someone else. Seeing the process, sharing in it, being a part of their experience while having my own. In the beginning, when Jon started sleeping over, I couldn’t sleep. The bed was too crowded. The room too hot: It was January, and we had the AC on high. Three big guys in one queen-size bed. We were drenched in sweat.

And I was jealous. Jealous of Alex. Jealous of Jon. I wanted them to love me, but I didn’t know how I felt about them loving each other. And all the books and web sites said that while jealousy was normal it was dangerous: ugly, bad, wrong. I watched myself becoming someone I didn’t understand. Someone who would lie awake at night counting affections: Where did Alex put his hands? How was Jon curled up against him? I’d count the minutes he curled up against me. Could I divine, in their sleep, their love for each other? Their love for me?

There were nights of high drama. Nights when I would storm out of the room, knocking things over, purposely trying to wake them, because I was mad. They had spent too much time wrapped around each other, leaving me out, on the far edges of the crowded bed, alone. Once, while on vacation in Vancouver, I pretended to fall out of the bed and then stormed around the room yelling, “This isn’t working! Nothing is working!”

A lot of these fights involved Alex and I going into a room and whispering furiously to each other, leaving Jon to sit alone on the couch. Or we would text each other madly through out dinner, believing naively that Jon didn’t know what was going on. During this period Jon felt left out of the decisions and the fights. We had a rule about texting: Alex and I could have our own texts, but all texts with Jon went through a group three-way chat. Alex and I were trying to maintain our relationship while building one with Jon. In the beginning we liked the idea that Jon thought of us as a Unit, one entity, but the truth is, that isn’t sustainable. In the end, each side of the triangle has to be equal or it falls apart. Without equality there is no actual relationship.

But what did that mean? Did it mean dissolving what Alex and I had built? Did it mean losing what I loved so much? Again I went back to the books, googling “throuple” and “triad” and “poly relationships.” But there was no clear rule. Many couples maintained their autonomy, regulating their third to a kind of second-class station. Some tried for unity.

We came to realize that each relationship has to stand on its own, and that the idea of equality isn’t always going to work out in a perfectly balanced way. Jon can never have the three years Alex and I had. We can’t change that, and I wouldn’t want to. We were still getting married. We were going to be who we were. And it would go like that for all of us. Sometimes they would bond without me, sometimes Jon and I would bond without Alex. Each relationship: Alex and Jon, Alex and Jeff, Jeff and Jon, Jeff and Jon and Alex, had to survive independently.

Now we keep a three-way chat, but we all get to have our own private chats as well. Jon is included. If we fight or get jealous we tell him, we work it out as a team. Or at least we try.

Our first official three-way fight occurred in Spokane, Washington, when Jon and I had gone to visit Alex while he was working on season two of his show. I don’t even know how it began, but somewhere along the way Alex was threatening to divorce me, break up with Jon, and kick us out. I have a lot of experience fighting with Alex. He and I are similar. We are passionate and volatile. Jon is different; he isn’t used to that kind of fighting. So without saying anything he booked us a room at a hotel, sure that this was over. The fight lasted close to six hours and cost us $200. It felt endless. Once two of us were OK, the third was mad. It kept going. On and on. We took turns forming alliances, ganging up on the other, switching back and forth, until finally it just kind of broke, like any fight, just a little more complicated. Some of it was related to the fact that Jon and I were alone for six months while Alex was away working. Some of it was related to the fact that we were all tired and Jon and I missed Alex. And some of it was just learning how to communicate with each other, learning how to relate.

Because this is all new.

I have had to learn a lot about myself. I’ve learned that I am afraid of being abandoned, of being left. I had dark fantasies of the two of them running off together and leaving me alone. I am 17 years older than Alex and 15 years older than Jon. I played games in my head, horrible, movies about when I was 60 and they weren’t even the age I am now, an old man with nothing left to offer his two young lovers.

And that is the thing: I am afraid, I am insecure and anxious, terrified of being left, of being alone, of growing old, having no one, nothing. These feelings occur in a normal dyad relationship and they become magnified in a triad. And what you are left with is yourself. I have learned to trust myself, to be secure in who I am and in what I have to offer. I have learned to be secure in the fact that they love me, even as they love each other. I have learned that just because they might want to fuck someone else doesn’t mean they don’t want to fuck me. This learning curve is sharp, and it has often been painful, but through it I have some how come out stronger, happier, maybe even braver.

I can’t legitimize Jon or his experience of this. All I can do is try to be honest and try to be supportive. We talk about his feelings and concerns about being in a relationship with two married guys. There are no legal protections for him. And I can’t imagine they will be coming any time soon. He doesn’t get to be on Alex’s union insurance. My father doesn’t offer to buy his ticket home for Thanksgiving. There is no simple solution to these things, so we come together, we split the extra ticket three ways, we agree to help Jon with his insurance and to all take care of each other the best we can. But still, is it enough? Does it appease that feeling of being left out? Sometimes. And I’m sure sometimes not. There is a price for the choices we have made.

Jon is like a perfect mixture of the two of us. He shares things with each of us. Sometimes he and Alex will be going off on some tangent about something they saw on Tumblr that has nothing to do with me. Sometimes Jon and I will be talking about some book we loved that has nothing to do with Alex. That’s the thing we each have to accept: Sometimes you aren’t a part of it. Sometimes you have to learn to love them for loving each other. To enjoy their enjoyment, even when it doesn’t involve you.

We decided to introduce Jon, officially, to our families and friends at our wedding. This might have been a flawed decision, but it seemed like the only time everyone would be at one place at the same time. My 13-year-old nephew, Eli, probably handled it better than anyone. He didn’t seem to really care. He just called it an “alternative relationship” that made his Uncle Jeff happy.

I have put my family through a lot. I was a heroin addict for 13 years. There isn’t much I could do to surprise them. My father mostly wanted to know if I was happy. If I was happy he was happy. He’s 78. I think a certain zen comes over you by that point in life.

Not everyone gets it. I don’t get it half the time. Most people think it is a phase, but if you look at the divorce rates, it would seem most relationships are phases.

Alex and I got married in our small craftsman-style house in Hollywood. Our friends, mostly people from LA and New York City, welcomed Jon. Triads seem to be a thing that is happening now. I still remember someone saying to Jon, “So how do you know Alex and Jeff?” and Jon replying in his bookish, quiet way, “Oh, I’m their boyfriend.”

There were moments when I would find him hiding with the cats and dog in our bedroom, overwhelmed by everyone and everything. He had suffered family rehearsal dinners and brunches and endless explanations of who he was. Everyone knows who Alex and I are. We’re the married guys. But who is that Jon?

Two weeks later he moved in.

People always ask about the sex. They imagine constant nights of three-ways and orgies, and to some extent they are right.

People always ask about the sex. They imagine constant nights of three-ways and orgies, and to some extent they are right. Every night in my house is a three-way. Our rule of monogamy-ish still exists: What we all want we can all have, together. Sometimes there are four-ways and five-ways, we talk about finding another triad, but the truth is that there is a normalcy to it as well.

I am in a relationship with two guys, each having his own insecurities and needs and goals. Each of us is a complete universe unto ourselves. Three-way sex is hot. Three-way fights suck. Sometimes they annoy me. Sometimes they charm me. Sometimes I want to run away and hide, be alone. We are lucky because we have a three-bedroom house and a back house that we can escape to if we need it. It’s nice knowing there’s a place I can go to that is all mine. It’s important. It’s hard not to get lost with all these people around. It is important to me that we are each given the opportunity to maintain our selves, to have our own lives and our own experiences inside all of this. That isn’t always easy. It is something we work at very hard.

Recently we were in Seattle meeting Alex, who was on a break. I had booked a room for us with a king-size bed. The woman at the desk said that the hotel had a strict no guest policy, only couples allowed in the room. When I tried to explain to her that we are a couple(-ish) and that Alex was not our guest, she just looked at me like I was crazy. “You aren’t allowed guests, sir,” she kept insisting. No explanation was going to change her mind. Eventually I had to upgrade to a room with two queen-size beds that we ended up pushing together into one bed.

Beds are a really big deal for us. A queen doesn’t really do it. A California king can be a stretch sometimes. We’ve discussed getting three king mattresses and turning our bedroom into one giant bed.

When we were flying to Vancouver we all fell asleep with our heads and hands all over each other. I woke up to find people staring, not sure what was going on. A woman in the aisle next to us shook her head at me, like I had slapped her. The stewardess had the exact opposite reaction: She kept saying how adorable we were. Both reactions made me feel like a strange museum piece or an exotic animal at the zoo.

When trying to find a place to go for Valentine’s Day, we ran into all the pre-fixe menus for couples. Nowhere was willing, even when I said I didn’t care about the cost, to do a pre-fixe throuple menu. We ended up ordering pizza and watching My Bloody Valentine.

Nothing ever comes in threes. Everything is set up for two people. Finding three seats on the plane, renting an Airbnb room, shopping, navigating other people’s perceptions, all these things are challenges. But then, in the end, any relationship—whether with yourself, another, two others, or 20 others—is complicated and full of challenges. The question is: Is it worth it?

Sometimes I will be sitting at my desk, writing or reading, and I will look over at the two of them on the couch, giggling at stupid cat .GIFs, or holding hands quietly, and I will think, I am lucky. I am loved and safe. And together we will face the world, the three of us.

What I wish I had said to my friend over lunch is that life isn’t easy, and things have a way of going terribly wrong, but love, love is huge and it is a gift and I don’t think it’s about percentages. I think love is something expansive, something that grows if you let it.

Because that is the one thing I know for certain: Our ability to love is not limited. It is not small. It is vast and huge and ever-expanding, and if we allow ourselves we might even find ourselves growing and expanding with it because we are huge and vast and capable of anything. I believe that now. I see it. When I am lying there at night, drenched in sweat, bodies wrapped around me, surrounded by them, listening to them breathe as they sleep, I know that there is a magic in this life, a gift, and it is buried deep inside the love I have.

Thank you for taking the time to read this piece. It’s been a long and amazing three and a half years since this first appeared in the world and I’m grateful to all of you who have stuck with me, with all of us, through it.

Take a moment and check out my book, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon. Your support keeps all of this going.

I Don’t Care if This Pisses You Off: Being a White Cis-Man in the age of #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, Make America Great Again and All the ways The world Oppresses Some While Supporting Others

Discerning Daddy

“I’m all for women standing up and fighting back when they’ve actually been raped or assaulted, but what’s going on in the #metoo thing, and with black lives matter, and all the PC Fascists out there isn’t about standing up and fighting. It’s gone too far. You know how many times I’ve been fucked where half way through I’m like…I don’t want this anymore. I want to go home and eat pizza, but I’m stuck, this asshole is back there going at it, so I suck it up. I don’t accuse him of rape later because I had to live with my choices. The other thing, I’m a gay man, I know what it means to be oppressed. Stop acting like just cus you’re black or brown or trans or whatever, you own oppression. Plenty of white guys have struggled with oppression. What did we do? We fought back. We changed things.”

This from a cis-gendered white man in his 20’s.

And in one way, I understand what he is saying. As a gay man in his 50’s I’ve watched people I love die from AIDS. I lived under a government who refused to do anything while the disease was wiping us out. I’m HIV Positive. For most of my life I couldn’t marry the man I loved. For much of my life I didn’t feel safe kissing the man I loved in public. This guy is right, Queer People have spent, and continue to spend, our lives under regimes built on homophobia and oppression.

BUT, I’m also a cis-gendered, white man. And it’s easy to say “I’m an ally. I know I’m Privileged. I use my privilege as an ally.”

I think using my privilege to help others who don’t share in that privilege is essential, I think it’s important. I think being aware of my privilege is also essential and important.

But the insidious thing about privilege is how it seeps into every aspect of your life, into the very air you breath: it isn’t something that is happening around me, it’s part of who I am: it’s part of how I think.

To be honest, no matter how aware of or insightful or thoughtful I am about my privilege, about race and diversity and gender: I’m still shocked at the way racism and prejudice, misogyny and transphobia and homophobia still exist. Because for me, for most of my life: I’m just a white man moving through a world that was built to support and provide for me.

In my life I rarely experience any of those things.

True privilege is not even having to think about it.

When I was a kid I was raped in a bathroom in a mall near where my mother lived. It’s hard for me to use the word rape. I wasn’t forced. I wasn’t held down. I was 12 years old. He was in his 40’s. My dick got hard. I remember it started at the urinals, though that might not be true. I remember we ended up in a stall: though that also might not be accurate. I think he held me down at one point, I think it hurt, but even that is hard for me to grasp. Because I don’t remember it well. I don’t know why I don’t remember it well. I remember the after affects very well: I remember everything that happened the moment I stepped out of that bathroom clearly and exactly:

I walked up to my mother and told her what happened. And my mother turned into an angel of violence and fury, storming into that men’s room. I’ve never seen anything more terrifying in my life than that look of rage on my mother’s face.

I remember the police arresting him. I remember being on the stand in a court room, crying, trying to answer the questions that the DA and the Defense Attorney were asking me.

But what actually happened in that bathroom, I have no idea. That’s the truth.

Here’s a weird thing: In my head, I sometimes think I enjoyed it. But that also might not be true.

Because reality doesn’t always add up in our heads. Reality is colored by emotion and fear and desire, it is colored by survival.

I’m not telling you this because I want sympathy, or because I’m trying to join a movement that honestly isn’t about me: I’m telling you this to say that I do get how hard it is to find the truth, inside ourselves, to say: I know this was rape but I can’t exactly explain it to you. I can’t exactly tell you why. In my case it was rape because I was 12 and he was a good 20-30 years older than me. Because regardless of the ways my brain tries to redefine the truth: nothing can change that basic fact. And nothing can change this: that regardless of what my brain says, regardless of how I try to recolor what happened: I am ashamed to write this. I feel gross and deeply embarrassed: not for something I did, but for something that was done to me.

So here’s the thing: Yes, cis-gendered, white men get raped too. And it fucks with us, and it seeps into our lives and our sexuality and it is absolutely horrible, but it still isn’t the same. Because the whole world is set up for me.

Because on some level, it all comes down to power: and in this world: white, cis male, wealthy, these things are what power is all about.

I had a really hard time when white cis gay men were joining in the #metoo movement, sharing their stories of rape and abuse. Not because I think they should be silent, not because I don’t think they also have a right to their voice and to their experience, but because these movements aren’t about us. And that is really fucking important to remember.

The whole world is about us. Everything is for us. No one really tries to deny us a voice or a right to our experiences.

But if you are a cis-woman, or a person of color, or trans, that is not true.

The world is designed to hold you down, to oppress you.

And while yes, at times these movements appear messy, and it feels like there are a lot of unnecessary casualties, and sometimes the rhetoric feels extreme, and for many of us we are struggling to find our voice in it all, which, as a cis white man feels incredibly new and awkward, these movements are also incredibly important: because they are about empowering people who have been sidelined, about giving a voice to people who have been denied their voice.

And I’ve decided the best thing I can do is sit back and shut the fuck up. My voice is clearly being heard. I live in a world that is designed to provide for me. Power and Privilege are my birthright: because of race and gender and nothing else.

My queerness does not negate my privilege. My struggles, my childhood, even my rape, do not negate my privilege.

I’m sick and tired of listening to cis gay white men bash women. I’m tired of listening to them complain about the #metoo movement. I’m tired of listening to guys equate what is basically a demand that all of us think about words, and about the meaning behind our words and how we define each other and ourselves with words to PC Fascism.

I just wanted to get this off my chest. I’m sure someone will be mad at me. And that’s ok. We are all struggling to make sense out of what is happening in the world. We are all in this together.

In my Utopic fantasies I do hope for a world where we stop defining each other based on the circumstances of our birth and instead on who we are as human beings. I hope for a world where instead of judging each other we focus on compassion, and on being kind to each other. I don’t think I’m naïve to believe that when we gossip or criticize someone, when we unleash fury or prejudices behind closed doors that we are participating in something ugly.

But here is something important to remember: Queer People of all races, People of Color, Trans and gender-queer, women, we are all under attack right now. And if we allow ourselves to become divided, to fight amongst ourselves, to discriminate against each other, then they win.

I’d really like to hear your thoughts. And if I fucked it all up, or said something stupid, please remember: I am trying. And I do believe we are all in this together.

And the only way we will ever change any of this is as one.

If we let them divide us, if we divide ourselves, then we are fucked.

You can find more of my writing in my book, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon.

Dying From Hate

Discerning Daddy

Here is why Kevin Hart’s homophobic jokes, Trump and the Republican Party’s fascist homophobia, the appropriation of Logan Pauls’ Gay for a Month and Nico Tortorella’s claims to Queerness (oddly supported by mainstream gay magazines), matter:

1. Giovani Melton, 14 years old, shot by his father, Wendell Melton, because he could not accept that his son was gay.
2. Anthony Avalos, 10 years old, murdered by his mother’s boyfriend Kareem Leiva, days after the boy stated he “liked boys”.
3. Kyler Prescott, 14 years old trans teen, killed himself while on suicide watch at a San Diego Hospital, after being teased and bullied by staff who insisted on calling him a girl.
4. Jamel Myles, a nine-year-old boy killed himself after being severely bullied when he came out as gay.
5. Hope Eric Peter Verbeek, was struggling to find their place as a trans teen when they killed themselves. In their suicide note Hope wrote, “I would like to be remembered as a transgender pansexual teenage girl named Hope. Being transgender is my gender identity. My sexual orientation, or sexual identity, is being pansexual, meaning that I do not care about what the person is; I care about who they are. Sexual orientation is who you go to bed with and gender identity is who you go to bed as.”

2018 was the deadliest year on record for the LGBTQ community, and those numbers are not decreasing.

Here’s the thing: it all fucking matters. How we talk about ourselves as a community matters. And how we allow others to talk about us matters. It has direct consequences. We are being murdered and raped, we are being bullied until the only option we have left is to take our own lives.

We should be supporting each other. We should be encouraging each other. We should be doing anything we can to help our community succeed.

I’m not going to write a pretty summary, or leave you with a positive spin. Because this really fucking matters. How we vote, how we act, how we talk and how we treat each other carries weight, it is our Power.

We will thrive by it or die by it. It is up to us, as a community.

50. HIV Positive. Queer as Fuck. And Proud.

Discerning Daddy

Recently, I got a comment from someone on Instagram. “Why do you always feel the need to show your ass or be shirtless? How is anyone supposed to take you seriously? You are just another pathetic, queen desperate for attention. You write about anonymous sex and being a slut, and then you wonder why you are all alone and sad and depressed. There is a reason why men like you are all alone.”

That is an extreme version of a fairly common criticism I get: “Why are you showing your ass all the time” “Why do you write about sex all the time”, etc.

Trust, me these are questions I ask myself. A lot. I have had friends tell me I “don’t need to show your butt in every post”. I even had a friend tell me I needed to be more “serious”. These are the kinds of thoughts and insecurities that run through my head all the time.

As gay men, we are told our whole lives that there is something inherently wrong with us. As a sexually active, HIV Positive gay man in my 50’s, that sense of inherent wrongness can become poisonous.

Recently, on my Instagram account, leavelljeff, I posted a video of me showing my ass (I post a lot of videos of me showing my ass). I wrote, over the video, “50 Years Old. HIV Pos. Proud.”

A guy I had been chatting with on Instagram (chatting = showing our dicks and butts to each other) wrote to me: “No!” in a comment on my story. I responded: “No?” “This is not possible. I am so devastated. Please, tell me it’s not true.”

I told this guy that it was, actually, very true, and really, way less devastating than he was making it. Not that I am minimalizing my HIV status, but…ok, maybe I am minimalizing it.

When I first found out I was HIV positive the second person I told, after my husband, was my father. What he said to me probably saved my life. He said,

“Ok. I’m sure that’s scary. So be scared. But in the morning wake up and find a doctor and then go to that doctor and get on meds so you can be healthy and go about your life. This will only define you if you let it define you.”

What I wanted to say to that Instagram guy was that, I’m ok. HIV has only defined me as much as I’ve let it define me. I’m in control of that. I might not be in control of much else, but I am in control of that.

So instead of devasting me I allowed it to empower me. Make me stronger. Finding out I was HIV positive, in many ways like deciding to be sober, made me a better man.

“I cannot talk to you anymore. I am sorry. I cannot be with a man with this terrible sickness.”

This dude lives over 7,000 miles away. And I already have a man. We were never going to fuck. I was infuriated. I wanted to yell at him, decimate him. Suddenly, without warning: what he thought of me and my “terrible disease” became what I believed to be true.

And then I remembered what my mother once said to me: “Fuck them. Fuck anyone who tries to tell you that you are wrong or not enough. Fuck them and go live your life even bigger, even better, fuck them and then go be the best Jeff possible.”

So this is what I do. I live my life. Because in the end that’s what it is, right? Mine. No one else’s. And I try my hardest to support everyone around me as they do their best to live their lives.

I say this all the time, and I plan to keep saying it: I am a 50-year-old HIV Positive Gay man who loves to fuck and travel and chat with hot guys and show my ass off and take millions of selfies. I like who I am. I worked fucking hard to like who I am.

And I want every queer person out there who is HIV positive, who doesn’t fit into that perfect queer-gay body mold, every single person over the age of 50, all of us to know: we have nothing to be ashamed of.

Think about it: we are fucking miracles. Do you know how many of our peers died from this disease? There was a time when our own government wouldn’t acknowledge AIDS.

Maybe what I should have said to that Instagram guy is, “Hey Dude, it’s 20-fucking-19. The only person infected with a terrible disease is you. Get educated and stop being a dick.”

Instead what I said was, “Hey, I get how scary HIV can seem. But I’m ok. I’m happy. My life is exactly what I want it to be. If you ever want to talk, or have any questions about HIV, feel free to message me. All the best.”

So when any of us are out there talking shit about another queer person, or judging them for how they live their lives, or their bodies or their age or HIV status, their masculinity or femininity or race: we should remember: We are all fucking miracles. We grew up in a world that believes we are inherently wrong. Diseased. A world that often believes being gay or transgender or gender-fluid is a choice, and not an essential part of our DNA.

We are fucking miracles and we are special. And we should treat each other like miracles.

Because trust me, the rest of the world won’t.

So I’ll keep showing my ass. And talking about sex. And fucking. And loving. And living this life as large and as loud and as proud as I can.

Because if I don’t who will? This is mine and I’m gonna be as true to myself as possible.

So if you wanta take some butt pics or shirtless selfies but feel insecure, hey, send them to me. I love getting ass pics and dick pics and selfies!!!!! I’ll make sure you feel extra sexy!

And go be your queerest, best, self. And live your life as big and as loud and as proud as you can.

And hey, go check out my book, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon. Support Queer Artists!

In Defense of Cruising, Public Sex and Sexual Freedom: Fuck Your Morality!

Discerning Daddy

When I was a young man in New York City, it was easy to get laid. There were parks and bathrooms, back rooms, more bathhouses and sex clubs than you knew what to do with—all the ways gay men had to get off before the internet.

I can clearly picture one day in particular in my late teens, cruising the Rambles in Central Park. It was late spring, nearly warm enough to be summer. A breeze came in off the lake, the sun was just beginning to set. I spent hours wandering those trails, getting my dick sucked in the bushes, fucking a sexy construction worker, getting fucked by a businessman in a dark suit. It was one of those magical days when everything felt free: like an adventure.

When I moved to LA in 1999, I remember discovering all the little cruise spots around town. The trails of Griffith Park were filled with men fucking and sucking. I used to love walking in those dusty LA hills, the sun burning bright, sucking dick and getting fucked, making out, connecting with strangers I might never see again. There were hidden stairways and garages along Hyperion Ave in Silver Lake where orgies would converge after the neighborhood gay bar, Le Barcito, closed for the night.

Needless to say, I think sex is good for you. I’m done with slut shaming and sexual morality, especially in the gay community. We have a long history of sexual freedom and exploration and I refuse to be told that we have to sacrifice our sexuality and our “sluttiness” for our social acceptance.

I miss cruising. I miss the random adventures, the potential friends, the openness around sex and desire. There’s a spark and connection that happens when you meet someone in person like that: both of you there to fuck. No pretense, no shame: I think there is something beautiful in that.

And I think we should fight to bring that back. We live in a country that is based on personal freedom, and yet we continue to demonize sexuality and expression. Why, in a City like LA, don’t we have dark rooms? Why, if a bar is for 21 and over, can’t we fuck where we want, be who we want? Why do we allow our government to police our morality and to define the limits of our sexual expression?

The rise of gay dating apps like Grindr and Scruff has undeniably led to some of cruising’s decline, I’m also not someone who thinks they’re harbingers of the gay apocalypse. I met my husband and a few boyfriends through them. I’ve made some amazing friends while traveling on the apps. And I’ve gotten laid all over the world thanks to Scruff! Cruising on my phone is still cruising.

But I won’t lie, the intensity, excitement, pursuit, and camaraderie of cruising in real life is something that’s hard to capture on a phone.

One of the few places left where cruising isn’t dead is the gay bar; it’s encouraged, almost expected. Working gay bars in LA has given me a front-row seat to watch all of the ways guys come together to cruise. There’s something beautiful in watching two guys enter a bar alone, spend the night circling each other and making eyes from afar, only to end up kissing, touching, talking, and eventually leaving together. It’s so immediate and exciting—a kind of humanity that you won’t get cruising online, where chatting with guys can feel isolating by comparison.

I want to say again: I love the gay apps. They have changed my life for the better. They have opened the door to a larger gay community in ways cruising never could have. But I think we need a balance: I think there is an art to going to a bar alone, with the intent of meeting someone: to talking and flirting, that can get lost if we spend all our time on our phones. Also, it builds our self-esteem, and we end up spending time talking to guys we might not want to fuck, but who could turn out to be friends, where on the apps we are likely to just swipe by, never taking the time to get to know those dudes who are outside our sexual tastes.

Cruising is part and parcel of gay and queer DNA. Walt Whitman cruised. In his poetic imagination, all of early America was a democratic cruising ground. From the Fire Island Pines to Provincetown’s beaches and elsewhere around the world, cruising has always been an integral part of how gay people have come together to form bastions of acceptance in a bigoted world. And while public cruising and the places where it happens will likely never truly, fully die, the decline is disconcerting. It means we’re losing something essential to our community.

One night while working the door at a bar, I was approached by a gorgeous guy in his 20s. He asked if he could play with my beard. I’m not a big fan of strangers running their hands through my beard and touching my face, but he was hot; I was willing to let him do a lot more than just play with my beard. We talked for a few minutes and ended up making out. He slipped my hand down his pants and let me play with his ass. He asked me if I was into any kinks. I told him I was what I like to call “LA vanilla”—a little piss, maybe, but mostly just fucking, nothing too intense. Kissing and cuddling, however, are essential. My only true fetish is for nice guys; I get really, really turned on by a nice guy.

But I told him I was open to exploring. Like I said: He was hot.

He proceeded to take out his phone and show me a video of him on all fours, naked, with his arm reaching around to slowly slip a very green, very round apple inside his butt. With great care, he then pushed it slowly back out into the palm of his hand. Then he did it again. And again. And he then turned around and proceeded to eat the apple with a wide grin.

He put his phone away and stood before me, proud. I wasn’t sure what to say.

“Did that turn you on?” he asked.

“You definitely have a great ass,” I responded, trying to be open.

“I like to get fisted, too,” he continued.

“Like I said, you have a beautiful ass.”

I’m not into fisting, or into putting food up someone’s ass, but I do love butts. We made out a bit longer and made plans to meet up at a later date.
If we hadn’t met in person—if he had just sent me that video online, for example—I probably would have blocked him. But because we met at the bar, I got to see him for something more than his fetishes, as a human being. Someone who I liked kissing and talking to. Someone who I’d like to spend some time with, even if I didn’t want to fist him.

A few years ago, one slow Wednesday night, while working the door at another LA gay bar, my husband, Alex, came to visit me. We noticed a super hot guy at the bar we had never seen before. The three of us flirted and got to talking, and then Alex and I took turns making out with him. He kept grabbing both our dicks. I checked in with the bartender, and the three of us headed into a back room. We made out and fucked around, and then Alex and I took turns fucking him.

Afterward, naked and spent, we sat on the couch and talked. It was easy, comfortable.

Later that night, after Alex had left, and I was closing up the bar, the guy we had fucked found me and told me he had nowhere to go. He had lost his job, and earlier that day, he had finally been evicted from his apartment. His car was packed full of his belongings. He was alone and afraid, and in an instant, he went from an amazingly sexy guy to something far more intimate. I let him sleep in our guest studio for a few nights, until he was able to find a safe place.
If he had asked me this on an app like Grindr, I, again, probably would have blocked him. He would have been a stranger, someone I had no real connection to.

But I had been inside him, kissed him, and held him. We had connected, if only for those few moments, and that lent him a kind of humanity no two-dimensional avatar could.

Gay bars—alongside the few other places where cruising is alive today, like porn arcades or bathhouses—offer safe places to connect with one another in that intimate way, and we should fight their decline. After all, there is a beauty to sex. Whether between friends or lovers or strangers, there is magic in those moments as you lose yourself in another. And I believe that those moments can enlighten us and even elevate us to a higher plane. If something that beautiful is endangered, isn’t it worth protecting?

Maybe it’s time we stop letting morality and sexual repression define who we are. Maybe it’s time to be radical. To kiss openly in public. To flirt, to demand that our queer spaces allow for our sexuality. To say fuck you to oppression and the denial of who we are. Maybe it’s time to be gay as fuck and refuse to allow anyone to tell us how we should behave!

Hey, so check out my novel, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon. Your support allows me to keep writing!

Thank you so much to Marc Martin for this incredible photo. Check out his work. This guy is a fucking legend!

Everything You Need to Know About Poly-Open Relationships (Part Two)

Discerning Daddy

Before my husband, Alex, and I met our boyfriend Jon, I met three men living in a triad. I was intrigued by the idea, but I couldn’t help but think the whole thing was a little ridiculous.

I remember saying to Alex, “I would never want to be in a relationship like that.”

The truth is, the idea scared me. I imagined Alex and the other guy falling more in love then they were with me. I imagined them leaving me and running off together. I imagined myself alone.

When we met Jon and decided to try making something work with the three of us I created all these rules: rules that I now know, were intended to protect me from being left, to shelter me from my fears.

We weren’t allowed to fuck unless we were all there. We only communicated in a three-way chat. The list of rules went on and on, but in the end you can’t protect yourself from other people leaving you. You can’t control how they are going to feel.

Eventually, the rules began to slip away, and I learned to trust Jon and Alex, to trust myself and the three of us, but it wasn’t always easy.

I always say that three-way fucking is really great, but three-way fighting really sucks. And there was plenty of both, thank God there was more fucking then fighting, but adding a new partner (s) won’t magically make everything perfect and beautiful.

There is suddenly this whole new person that you and your partner have to learn and navigate, with all their feelings and beliefs and fears.

But it can also be really beautiful.

In part one I talked about what poly relationships are, how do you know if it is right for you, about jealousy and disclosure, and about the importance of communication. In Part Two I want to talk about some of the things that will help you maintain a healthy, happy, and sexy poly relationship.

1. We’ve met a guy, and we want to make him part of our relationship. How do we bring in a third (or 5th or 6th)?

I can’t stress the importance of clear and honest communication. Before you even begin this journey you have to be clear and honest with yourself, and then with your partner. If you guys are clear about what you want and what you are capable of, it’ll be that much easier to express those expectations and needs to your new partner (s).

When Alex and I decided to move Jon into our home we made a clear choice: Jon was going to be one third of this relationship. He was an equal member. This wasn’t easy. Alex and I had two years of history before Jon. We had a way of communicating with each other. It took time for all of us to navigate this but we did it successfully because we were willing to talk to each other. A lot.

Regardless of how you choose to bring in your new partner (s), or if you are bringing in a “pup” or a “sub” or “dom” or just someone to date while maintaining your “primary” status, knowing this upfront and being able to express those expectations and limits to your new partner (s) is crucial.

One suggestion I have is be open to change and try to let go of control. You will be amazed at the possibilities that can happen if you aren’t trying to control everything and everyone.

2. How do I be a good 3rd (or 4th or 7th) to an already established partnership?

I have been the third for a few (Maybe more than a few) couples, and the key is being attentive to both partners. There are things we will like or be attracted to in each person, and it is important to focus on these things, and to be open to all people in the relationship. If I am more interested in one than the other, or only interested in one, I tend to back out. It never goes well. It’s about making sure we all have fun and we are all included. I try to bring as little drama as possible.

Jon was truly successful at this. There was never any doubt in Alex or me that he loved us equally. He might have loved us differently, but he loved us both, and wanted us both. That made us both feel safe and secure and desired.

One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was going into a three-way with a couple who both wanted to fuck me, but I was only interested in one of them. I was so into one of the guys, but the other one was not my type at all and I would never have hooked up with him if I hadn’t of been into his boyfriend. I figured, what could go wrong, two dicks, one really hot guy: pretty much a score, right?

I was wrong. The whole time the boyfriend I wasn’t into was fucking me or kissing me I wanted to scream. I wanted to push him off and run out. It wasn’t his fault. He is a totally cool, handsome guy, and really sweet to me, I just wasn’t into him.

Half way through I made up some dramatic excuse and said I had to leave. I literally did this while both their dicks were in me.

Whenever I see these guys out they ignore me. I probably deserve that.

But here’s the thing: you’re going to fuck up. You’re going to make a mess. That’s part of being human. But as long as we are willing to be honest about our needs, and open to our partners’ needs, and try our best to clean up our messes, then we will be okay.

And also, cut your partners some slack. They are doing the best they can too. That doesn’t mean you stay with a dude who is a complete dick, it just means that even as you’re leaving him or them, or her, you remember: they are doing the best they can with what they have. And none of it is about me.

3. How do I balance my needs, the needs of my partners (sexual and romantic) and maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Jon and Alex and I spent a lot of time in relationship counseling. Our Therapist, Beverly Hills based Jorja Davis, would talk about what she called “emotional resources”.

The idea behind emotional resources is pretty simple: how much time and space do I have to give to my relationship (s) and still maintain a healthy balance for myself and my partners? At what point do I run out of resources?

There is always a balance in a relationship between making sure your needs are being met and the needs of your partner and the relationship. If your needs aren’t being met, not just by them but by you, if you don’t have the space to grow and explore and live your own life separate from them, then, in my experience, you won’t feel happy or fulfilled, and in the end, neither will your partner (s).

While I was with Alex and Jon I took on a boyfriend all of my own, Conner. I fell in love him and would go spend the night with him once or twice a month. I also had other fuck buddies. There came a point where I realized I wasn’t giving Jon and Alex what they needed, I wasn’t as present as I wanted to be or as they needed me to be so I had to scale back. There comes a point when we run out of emotional resources and our relationship to our partner (s) and ourselves can be affected. It’s about balancing our needs with the needs of those we are in relationship (s) with.

4. How do I know that my non-monogamous relationship is no longer working?

This is something you, ultimately, will have to answer on your own. There is no easy answer to this. But I think if you are clear about your needs and your expectations, and about what is going on with you, then you will be able to open a healthy and productive dialogue with your partner (s).

Relationships change. They evolve. After years of being in a poly-triad with Jon and Alex I decided I needed something different. It wasn’t an easy decision, but the three of us found a way to make this new evolution work. Alex and Jon decided they wanted to stay together.

Really, all that happened was I moved into my own bedroom, and they stayed in our bedroom. Alex and Jon remained my best friends, my brothers, my family.

I truly believe as long as you are honest about your needs, and open to hearing your partner (s) needs, and willing to explore new ways of being together then in the end, everything will be okay.

At least that has been my experience.

There might also come times when you realize you just might want to close things up for a while and focus on your primary partner (s). Alex and Jon and I did this a few times. It helped us to get clear again about what our needs were.

5. I’ve always believed in Soul Mates, or that one true love. Is it really possible to love more than one person?

Without a doubt it is possible to love more than one person, and loving someone new does not mean that you will love your partner (s) any less. In my experience the more I loved the more love I felt for everyone.

Love is expansive, the more open to it we are the more there is.

If you think about it, this is true in every aspect of our lives. Just because I love my mom doesn’t mean I don’t love my dad, or my brother. If you have kids, does loving your second kid mean you love your first kid less? No. Love is not some finite thing that we run out of.

That’s a really beautiful thing to learn and experience. It changed how I saw life and how I treat the people around me.

And here’s the thing: loving people, and being loved, feels really good. Way better than hating them. So go out there and love as many people as you can. And let them love you. I promise, it will make your life feel really fucking amazing.

Like I said earlier, this is your adventure, and you should enjoy it and experience it to the fullest. Whether that means you are monogamous or monogamy-ish or open or poly, in the end all that matters is that you and your partner (s) are living your lives as big and as loud as you want.

Have fun with it. The cool thing about being queer is we don’t have to limit ourselves to hetero-normative values or restrictions. We get to explore and play and build our own families and relationships the way we want.

How fucking amazing is that?

Also, I’d love it if you checked out my book, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon. Any support you can give would help a lot!

Everything You Need to Know About Poly-Open Relationships (Part One)

Discerning Daddy

For about four years I lived in a Poly-Open-Triad with my then husband, Alex, and our boyfriend Jon. And while our relationship grew and changed into something else, these two men continued to be my family, my brothers and my best friends.

That sense of family, and of a continuing and evolving love, is one of the biggest pros I have for polyamorous relationships.

But none of it came naturally to us. I didn’t know many people who were doing what we were doing, and many of the ones I met didn’t seem to share my fears or jealousies, fears and jealousies I’ve come to think of as being totally normal.

Watching my husband, Alex, fall in love with Jon while I too was falling in love with Jon was a beautiful and excruciating experience. We had no language for what we were doing, no way of knowing how to express what we were feeling, so we often made mistakes, we fought, we got jealous, but we always found a way to talk to each other, and to walk each other through our fears and insecurities, and once through them we always found ourselves at the same place: this amazing love.

I think I was always afraid that I wouldn’t be able to love Jon as much as I loved Alex, and if I did, did that mean I didn’t love Alex as much as I thought? What I learned was that love was infinite, it was not limited to just one person. I learned that I was capable of loving Alex with all my heart and soul, and that I was also capable of loving Jon with the same intensity.

We are always told that we can hate as many people as we want, we can hate whole nations, whole groups of people, but we can only love one person. That’s bullshit. The more I opened myself up to love, the more love I had.

But I also don’t think that non-monogamy is the more “enlightened” path. I think that however we choose to express our love, whether it’s monogamy, monogamy-ish, open or poly, it is all valid.
We have the freedom to be and love who we want, in whatever way we want.

I also think relationship styles can change from relationship to relationship, depending on who we are with and where we are at in our lives. I also like to think we can be fluid in our relationships, opening them and closing them as we need. It’s just about communicating.

Everything comes down to talking.

Here are five of the most common questions I get asked on my website about Poly-monogamous-open relationships, with five more to continue in Part 2.

1. What are Monogamy, Monogamy-ish, Open and Poly relationships?

In many ways these words are open-ended, kind of meaning whatever you want them to mean, but I will provide you with my basic understanding of each one.

Monogamous usually means that we are only with each other, sexually and romantically. In my definition of monogamous this also means that we aren’t having three-ways.

Alex and I started out monogamous. We spent a year focusing on each other and getting to know each other. I tend to like to start all my relationships this way because it allows me to build up a sense of intimacy as well as security and safety with my partner.

A lot of people don’t need that and will start out non-monogamous. Some people will just spend a few months, or maybe their whole relationships monogamous. Like I said, in the end, it’s all up to you and your partner (s) to find what works best for you.

Monogamy-ish expands on monogamy to include three-ways, or group play, or outings and adventures to spas or sex clubs or sex parties, but usually together. I know some couples who would say monogamy-ish includes some independent play as well, but for my purposes that would fall more into an open relationship.

When Alex and I decided to be Monogamy-ish what we were really saying is we wanted to explore three-ways and group play, but it was always something we did as a couple. A shared adventure.

Open relationships tend to deal with sex and not love. I’ve always defined my open relationships as we can go out and fuck other people together or independently as long as we follow whatever rules we’ve set up.

As I’ve gotten older I find that I tend to like regular fuck-buds over anonymous sex so that is something I’ve had to express to my partners.

I need a little bit of intimacy for my dick to get hard, but if the rules state that we don’t date or fall in love with other people, and if we do we stop meeting them, then I do everything I can to safe guard my primary relationship from my breaking the rules. And I am honest about that with all my partners.

It doesn’t always work, that’s the risk of bringing more people into your relationship, but if you are honest, and willing to grow and evolve with your relationship, I have found your relationship can survive (and usually joyfully) almost anything.

I think being clear about what we expect and what we need is the most important thing in any relationship, but it becomes even more important as we begin to explore opening things up.

Poly opens the door to allow love and dating and extra-relationships and multiple partners into your primary relationship. When Alex and I decided to ask Jon on a date, and not just over to our place to fuck, we had made the decision, after literally hours of talking about it, to invite Jon into our relationship.

This decision changed, I believe for the good, everything for us. It opened us up to more love, more sex, and more support: to an amazing family.

2. How do I know if it’s time to start talking to my partner about opening our relationship up?

There’s no one answer for this. The time to have that conversation is whenever you are feeling like you want to explore new things with your partner. Remember: you are doing this together. It’s both of your adventure and can be full of joy and fun and love…and potentially lots of amazing and new kinds of sex. The most important thing here is that you talk honestly with each other about your needs.

3. How do you deal with jealousy?

Jealousy is no joke. I can be a seriously jealous guy. I remember reading in one of the books on polyamory something about how jealousy was a sign of someone who wasn’t enlightened and therefore probably not cut out for a poly-relationship.

I thought I was fucked.

But here’s the thing, jealousy is normal. Sometimes we get crazy. Sometimes we say stupid things and do stupid things and just act like total dicks. If you can accept that, in regards to yourself and to your partner (s) then you’ve mostly dealt with jealousy.

Feeling jealous does not mean you are a bad or unenlightened human being. It’s just means you’re human, and you have something you are afraid of losing. And that’s the most important thing: I have found that when I am jealous it’s because I’m feeling threatened: afraid that something valuable to me might be taken from me.

So I express that. I talk to my partner (s) about what I am feeling. I try to get really honest with them and with myself and usually this helps. A lot. Just talking with the men I love has helped me to calm the fuck down.

But sometimes it doesn’t. And I act like a dick. And I have to apologize later. And that usually sucks for everyone.

4. How do we tell our friends and family that we’ve decided to open our relationship up, or to bring in a 3rd or 4th or a 10th?

Disclosure is totally up to you but not necessary. When Alex and I decided to start fucking other guys and having group play, we didn’t feel the need to run out and tell our moms. I talked about it with my close friends, people I knew would be supportive but I didn’t see the need to go running around announcing our decision to the public.

It’s really important to be selective. Not everyone will support the choices you’ve made. I find, at least initially, it’s best to go where the support and love is.

That being said, when we decided to bring Jon into our lives, our relationship and our home, we decided it was important to tell our friends and families. Jon was a full part of our relationship and it was important to us that he felt that way.

We decided to introduce Jon to everyone at our wedding. I think maybe we could have been less dramatic, but it did have a kind of flare we enjoyed, and we are lucky, our friends and family are all pretty liberal and open.

Like I said, choose carefully, and look for the love. And the more comfortable you are with your situation the more comfortable other people will be.

And if they aren’t, well, fuck them. It’s your life. You deserve all the love and happiness.

5. What are the most important skills to practice in a non-monogamous relationship?

Communication. Honesty. Listening. Clarity. These four words will be your best chance at having a successful, loving and sexy adventure through non-monogamy. The fifth skill, and sometimes the hardest, is really respecting your partner (s) and their needs. Really hearing them and approaching them with love. Remember who they are: that you are in this together.

Like I said earlier, there is no one way to do any of this, and whatever you choose, you get to change your mind, and you get to explore and try out anything and everything you and your partner (s) want. Have fun with it. And if you choose non-monogamy be playful with each other. I loved watching Alex and Jon as they were fucking another guy. I loved watching the two of them make out while I gave them blowjobs. It made them incredibly sexy to me. And it made me love them even more.

And really, that’s the whole point, right?

Also, check out my book, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon! Your support makes all of this possible!

Bears, Roids, Body Shaming, and Sexual Freedom

Discerning Daddy

“Bears never want to fuck me, which sucks, cus I’m totally into bigger, older guys.” Stefan tells me. We are having a coffee at Happy Baristas in Friedrichshain, the neighborhood I live in in Berlin.

Stefan is gorgeous. He is 22, tall, with dark curly hair and the greenest eyes I’ve ever seen. He is Serbian and Spanish. He moved to Berlin to be an artist and a DJ.

“It was hard at first. I’d go to bear parties in Barcelona and Madrid, London, and the guys I liked just wouldn’t like me. They wouldn’t even talk to me. Because I didn’t have the right look I wasn’t worth even being friends with. I get it. We can all be like that. I’m sure there are a lot of guys I’m not into that I blow off as well, but I’ve really started trying to pay attention to it. I recently fucked this dude who was 20. I’ve never fucked anyone even near my age. I usually go for guys 45 and up. But this guy, he was cool and we were into the same music and instead of getting all hung up on his body or the type of guy he was…he is a lot like me but he’s Dutch so blonder…I tried to get turned on by who he was. I still think I’d like to date guys who are older than me, but I’m really trying to be open. To not get so locked into any rules on this.”

I’m not a fan of the ways in which we, as a community, use terms like Bear, Otter, Wolf, Top, Bottom, Daddy, Boy, Masc or Femme etc. to limit each other and ourselves. Defining ourselves based on physical characteristics limits who we are, and the world we experience, as well as segregating our community into these tiny shallow subsets that deny us a sense of unity and queer identity.

This was recently made clear when a queer party in LA tried to shame and deny entry to “Basic Gay White Men” who attended their party. When it was pointed out that the idea of a queer party trying to create a door policy based on gender, race and sexual identity was the wrong direction we wanted to be headed in, the response was, “If you take offense maybe you should look deeper at who you are and at your own values.” As if taking offense at defining other queer people as “basic” or on their race or sexual identity, or gender, was not worthy of offense?

I am well aware that I am about as basic, gay, and white as you can get. But does that mean I am no longer welcome at my favorite party in LA? A party I believe has been one of the most diverse I’ve ever experienced?

I think fighting for and maintaining diversity is essential. But I don’t think you can fight for diversity on one hand while using the other to discriminate. Diversity is messy. It is challenging. But I believe that diverse environments also promote evolution, and creativity, it is this challenging messiness that we need if we are going to grow beyond the fascist rhetoric that has overtaken our governments.

We have so much shame around our bodies. We are too old or too young, too fat or too skinny, not muscled enough, or too roided out, we aren’t sexy enough or masculine enough or feminine enough: these debilitating voices run through our heads all the time.

I’ve struggled with this a lot in my life. I was a fat kid. I remember in junior high school I started running. I gave up sugar (I used to steal money from my dad and go to the local grocery store and buy a bunch of candy, then I’d sit in my room and eat candy and jerk off watching those dance shows that were so popular in the early 80’s.) I dedicated myself to losing weight. I went to the gym. But there came a point in my life when it didn’t matter how hard I worked out, or how much I dieted: I never got the body I wanted.

So I started using steroids.

I want to be clear. I’m not here to make an anti-steroid comment. I love steroids. I love what they do to my mood, my body, my dick, my sex drive, and my confidence. But I can also see the perils: I see guys at the gym who are ten times bigger than me, ten times more muscled, ten times harrier, ten times stronger and I think: I want to be them. Fuck what it does to my kidneys and liver and heart: I want to look like that.

I’ve been pretty good about talking myself off that ledge. I’m very cautious in my steroid use. I rely mostly on testosterone and I try to be moderate even with that (well, not too moderate).

When it came to using steroids I made a decision: I was 45, and I knew that it was going to be harder and harder to get the body I wanted naturally.

At 50 I think I finally feel comfortable with my body, with how I look, and in turn I feel comfortable in my community. I don’t know if that is healthy or not, but what I do know is I finally feel like I like who I am: not just my body, but me. All of me.

The point is: we all struggle with these things: with our identity, with our masculinity and our bodies, with our genders and our sexualities: we all struggle learning to just accept ourselves for who we are: and we struggle with finding that balance in making ourselves into the people we want to be.

But here’s the thing: say I had stayed that fat kid, or I had ended up becoming a ten times bigger roid dude, or maybe I decided to play with my gender: none of these things make me a good or a bad person: they just make me a fat kid or a roid dude or gender queer. We are not worthy because of our bodies or our life choices: we are worthy because of who we are as human beings and how we treat one another.

When I was younger I was wrapped up in being a top. Because I thought that how I fucked somehow said something about who I was as a man. That being a top made me more of a man. Now, I don’t give a fuck. I loved to get fucked. I love to get fucked by dudes who are bigger than me and smaller than me, younger than me and older than me, more masculine than me and more feminine than me: it’s no longer about any of that for me: it’s about connection, it’s about what Stefan said to me: it’s about being open to something new, something outside the tiny confines I’ve set up for myself: about being willing to grow beyond my limitations.

It’s also about realizing that who I fuck with and how we fuck does not say anything about who we are as people.

“Whenever anybody meets my girlfriend, Tonya, the first thing they ask me is if she still has a dick.” Adam says to me, we are sitting drinking coffee in Kreuzberg, Berlin, at a small café along the canal, the open Turkish market is lively with people. “As if that somehow explains everything. That that one thing can put it all into perspective. Which is bullshit. It’s hard for people to understand that even with a dick she’s a woman, and that just because she fucks me with her dick, I’m still her man. We are so far beyond binary. Why do we have to live by those archaic rules? Why can’t we explore ourselves and all of our options? Why can’t we be who we are on the inside, and live that to the fullest, without having to always explain and justify to everyone?”

It’s gotten cold out. The sky is dark grey. Tonya is shopping for fruits and meat at the market while Adam and I sit drinking espressos, talking.

“Yeah, my girlfriend has a dick. And I love when she holds me down and fucks me deep. And if you are all bent out of shape about that shit than you are not ready for the way the world is going. Because it’s a new world and we don’t have time for your limiting bullshit.”

All I’m trying to say is: life is incredible. It is open and vast and full of potential: full of possibility. Why limit ourselves? Why limit each other? Why define who we are on the inside by how we look or act on the outside?

I think the only way we will ever really come to learn who we are or to break free of the limitations that we have allowed to be created for ourselves is to go out and try something new. Not always. Just sometimes. Make out with someone you might not normally make out with. Get fucked once in while: or fuck. Or go to a queer party instead of a bear party.

And stop trying to define us by our race, or our gender, or our sexual preferences. We are so much more than that. We are fucking limitless if we let ourselves be.

I dare you. Go be fucking different for a day. And tell me all about it. I’d love to hear your stories.

Also, check out my book, Accidental Warlocks, at amazon.com.

On Sex Addiction, The Joys of Being a Slut, and Being True to Who You are

Discerning Daddy

My friend Christian is 22 years old. He moved to LA to be a music producer. He is dating 3 different men, Robert who is 55, an Accountant, who lives in Silverlake, Max, 61, an artist who lives in a loft in Downtown LA, and Pete, a 57 year old Pilot full of muscles and wild adventures, who lives in Santa Monica.

Christian has other lovers. Some regulars, some guys he just fucks. He is honest with everyone about his sexual exploits. His three boyfriends all know about each other.

“I never considered it a problem,” Christian says to me. We are eating tacos at a truck he likes to take me to in Koreatown. “I like to fuck. They like to get fucked. It always seemed like a good deal to me. And my dudes…I don’t know. I just never felt like I wanted that one guy for the rest of my life. Robert, Max and Pete, they are fucking awesome guys and I love them. Each of them. Totally. I don’t know why that’s so hard for some guys to understand. Why they always have to turn something beautiful into something ugly.”

Recently Christian got called a sex addict. Because he has three boyfriends. Because he has lovers on the side. Because he likes to fuck.

“I’m 22, man. Maybe in ten years I’ll want something different. Maybe in ten years I’ll be like, damn, I want one dude, I want to get married and have a kid and buy a house. I mean, honestly, I doubt it, but maybe. I’m open to it. But this is who I am right now. I’m honest about who I am.” He laughs. “The only time it ever got out of control, if you wanta call it that, is this one weekend when I saw all my dudes, and fucked them all, and fucked like four other guys. But man, I was stupid horny that weekend, and stressed out, and maybe I was using my nut to chill out. I try not to do that, not because I think it’s bad, but because I don’t want to spend all my time chasing a nut. I’ve got a lot of shit I want to do with my life. I don’t want to lose my focus. But fuck it, I had fun that weekend.” He laughs again, he has an easy laugh, excited. “I think I nutted like ten times that Saturday!”

Christian tells me he didn’t like being called a sex addict. It made him feel like something was wrong when before he hadn’t felt like something was wrong.

I have written a lot about my sexual adventures (I estimate the amount of guys I’ve fucked at 3600 and counting!). I’ve written a lot about being poly and my beliefs on sexual freedom. I don’t think anyone should have to live their lives according to someone else’s beliefs or personal choices.

This idea that there is one way to love and fuck, one way to exist in the world, is total bullshit.

When I was a kid my mother threw a party with the theme “come dressed as your favorite astrological sign to fuck”. My mother came representing all 12. I remember listening as she described each sign, and why they were the best fuck of her life. Everyone laughed, but one of her friends said,

“Beverly never was one to commit to a man. One day she will pay the price for that.”

My mother just smiled. Later, when I asked her what her friend meant, my mother said,

“She meant to shame me for being who I am. She meant to control me. She meant to embarrass me. But she can’t do any of those things unless I let her. When people try to do that to you it means they are jealous, or they aren’t happy with who they are, they are feeling trapped, and instead of making changes to their own lives, they lash out at those around them who are happy. Who are being true to themselves.”

“I try to be responsible.” Christian says. “ I’m on PrEP, I get tested regularly. I talk to my partners, even the no stringed ones. You know, I like a little conversation, I like to look ‘em in the eyes when I’m fucking them. I try to be a good guy. But then this dude tells me I’m a sex addict. That there’s something wrong and it got me thinking, what if he’s right? What if something is wrong with me?”

We are in his apartment in Hollywood. He is playing a new song he mixed that day. Above his desk is a print of a photo he took: a homeless woman searching through a garbage can, at her feet is a baby pitbul. The woman looks up right as Christian is taking the picture: her face haunted, beautiful. Sad and yet defiant.

“Her name is Mary,” he tells me. “Everyone calls her Crazy Mary, but that bitch isn’t crazy. She has mad stories. Some nights, when I can’t sleep, I like to sit out there smoking joints with her and listening to her talk. She was once married, had some kids, was like a total Valley House-Wife. She fucked up, man. Smoked meth, got all wrapped up in that dark life, and now she’s here, on the streets, eating shit out of garbage cans.” He goes quiet, looking up at that photo, his music playing, “It’s that easy. Like one minute life is golden and the next it’s all dark and out of focus. I keep that picture there so I don’t forget. How fast it can all go away. Like one bad choice and you’re lost. Forever.”

Christian’s mother is from Mexico. Jalisco. He doesn’t know who his father is.

“My mother was always this free spirit, you know? I’m a lot like her. She’s had lots of lovers. There was this one guy, he was a movie producer, he loaned her the money to buy the house I grew up in. My mom cleaned houses every day so she could pay that man back. She didn’t want to owe any man anything. She always said, “If I’m with a man it’s because I’m choosing to be there. Not because I have to be. It’s a choice.”

“Do you think you’re a sex addict?” I asked him.

“Do you think I’m a sex addict?” He laughed. “Cus that’s the problem right? Dude, it fucked me up hearing that shit. Like had me questioning everything. One minute I’m fine with who I am, the next I’m like, damn, what the fuck is wrong with me? All cus some dude couldn’t handle me being me. Like, I gave him all this weight. Like what he thought mattered more than what I thought. It isn’t what he said. It’s what I allowed my head to do with what he said. The fucked up part: he wasn’t saying it to help me or because he was concerned for me. He said it to hurt me. And I let him.”

I have fucked a lot of guys in my life. I am a big believer in polyamory and open relationships, as well as monogamy and whatever other style of relationship you find to fit who you are. I am a big believer in being true to who you are, and fuck anyone who tries to tell you that there is something wrong with who you are. If you are honest, if you come at your partners with integrity and respect, if you show them kindness and love, then I do not believe it is anyone’s business who and how you fuck.

My husband and I, when planning out our honeymoon, decided we wanted the sexiest honeymoon adventure ever. We decided to go to Berlin, Paris, Barcelona and Madrid. We wanted to fuck our way through those three weeks. I wrote a story for Vice about how Alex and I spent our honeymoon at Lab, the infamous sex club in the basement of Berlin’s Berghain. We had an incredible threeway with a man we met, who later became an important friend to me. We went to sex clubs and met hot guys, but we also spent time together, exploring, going on all the adventures and being as open to whatever life brought us.

I remember a friend telling me, “Wow, that sounds so sad. You spent you’re honeymoon in a sex club? Didn’t you guys want to be alone? Didn’t you guys want to celebrate your marriage just the two of you?”

I was shocked by this, which is maybe naïve. But I was. In my head we had celebrated our marriage just the two of us, we spent it in a way that celebrated who we were, the way we wanted. We had fun. We met some amazing guys. We got laid a lot and had some pretty fucking intense adventures. I am still friends with most of the guys we met during that trip.

“Do you think you’re a sex addict?” Christian asks me. We are eating Tacos again.

If you’re in LA you should seriously check out the taco truck on Ardmore and 8th. Those tacos are fucking amazing!

“No.” I say it confidently, but I’m not sure. I’m never sure. It’s hard not to let what other people think affect me. I am sober 7 years and a few months off of drugs and alcohol. I am an addict. But like Christian, I try to be responsible, I try to be aware. And I try to be balanced, even on those crazy days when you end up fucking four different guys. I try to make sure my life is always moving in a direction I want it to. “I just like to fuck.”

Christian laughs. “Hell yeah. Me too. I like to fuck a fuckin’ lot!”

Please check out my novel, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon.

Gorgeous Descent

Discerning Daddy

It is hard to describe the feeling of Magic. Like love, it feels like something concrete, something physical. It has the ability to ache and to create joy, to move along your body, ripping at your soul and nourishing you: Magic is akin to love, to desire: it is the stories we tell ourselves about our lives, about who we are and who we were, who we will be.

It is the creation of an existence, of a world, of a self, built from a darkness that is waiting to devour us.

Love, though, is the intricate and aching beauty buried deep inside everything we will ever lose.

A few years ago I met a boy named Joe. Joe was 25 years younger than me, 22 years old.

There is something I should tell you, something I can’t explain, but that feels somehow part of the fabric of magic and love, part of the fabric of the creation who of I am: ever since I was 18 I’ve been having the same dream. I have it every week. And every morning, I wake up from this dream with a sense of hope and love, and the pain of loss, of having lost something so beautiful and magnificent that for a few moments I lay in bed, stunned, not sure how I will make it through the day.

I always get up. I always make it through the day. But like some strange and golden treasure buried deep, I carry the longing for something that feels impossibly gone.

The dream goes like this:

I am riding a big wheel through a vast and endless field. The sky is dark, but a silver moon aflame in a burning white light hangs full and cold in the night sky. Ahead of me is a barn. Next to the barn is a lake surrounded by a forest of giant trees.

In the lake a giant mermaid jumps from the water and into the sky, hovering there before returning to the blackness of the water: her reflection etched into the moon, imprinted inside me.

I stop my big wheel next to the barn and I walk inside. There is a staircase.

This moment is always reflective, as if I can see into my own dream, into my self, into what is coming. I have a choice: to turn and walk away, or to continue up the stairs and to the beauty and pain that awaits me.

I never choose to walk away. But I always hold it for a moment, savoring the option, savoring the idea that if I did turn away I would never know him, never see him, never lose him.

At the top of the stairs is a large room. One of the walls is missing, looking out at the lake and the forest and the moon.

A boy, maybe 18 or 19, stands in the middle of the room. I can never remember exactly what he looks like, just that overwhelming feeling of love, of need, of longing: I just know he is the most beautiful human being I have ever seen in my life and that I love him with all that I am.

He has written the words, “He falls gently through the trees,” in black.

He turns to me. “I miss you so much,” he says, and it feels like the words are tearing into me, decimating and full of a searing heat. “I miss you so much and I love you.”

And he turns, every time, he always turns in the exact same way: he always turns away from me, and he walks to the missing wall, walking on air, into the night, above the lake, until he gets to the trees, where he hovers for a moment, before falling, before fading, before being gone.

I have no way of telling you what this dream means. The absoluteness of it. The totality. Just that in those few moments I am so in awe, so enthralled, so swallowed by life and love: that in those few moments I am given a glimpse of something ineffably full of wonder.

Joe worked as a barista at a coffee shop in Echo Park. But he was an artist. He didn’t want to be Banksy, he wanted to be Basquiat, he wanted to be Herring, he wanted to be something else: something new and old: something violent.

“I want to create that one thing that no one can turn away from, that one thing that will be so beautiful and so terrifying, so personal and intimate that you will never forget it.” He laughed. “There is no such thing, of course. The idea is the thing that is beautiful, once I make it it will be nothing. That’s the thing, right? You create the most beautiful piece of art in the world, pulled from some faraway place to show the world exactly who you are, and –”

“It never does.” I say.

“Yeah,” he said. His eyes were a golden haze, his hair dark and curly, his hands long, thin, nails perfectly cut to an almost painful precision, his body lean and tall: he was stunning.
“I’m always trying to find the words to say exactly what I mean,” I tell him. We are laying in my bed in the Silverlake Hills, LA burning bright outside my windows, he is sweating, his head on my chest, I can feel his heart beating against mine. “I am always trying to describe what it is I am feeling: who I am. I feel like all I’m ever doing is screaming: This is me! Me!”

“I want…” he hesitated, and then he laughed. He smelled of carnitas and weed and…himself. He smelled impossibly like Joe. “That’s it. I want. End of sentence.”

We kissed and he fucked me, him inside me, connected to him as he held me down and fucked himself deeper into me, grounding me. He always had this amazing way of grounding me.

I love that feeling of being pinned under someone, their weight heavy on my back, their cock deep inside me, the feeling, even if it’s just for a second: of being more than who I am: more than who we are.

He would kiss the back of my neck, his arms wrapping around me, his body shuddering, and whisper, “Baby, I’m going to cum. Fuck, baby, I’m going to cum!”

I would catch Joe looking at me, his eyes open as we kissed, or the few times we went to the gym together, or as I was standing: lost in my own world, I would turn and see him and he would smile: everything I’ve ever wanted was in that smile.

A few weeks before Jon died he came into my room. I was trying to write. He lay in my bed. We weren’t boyfriends anymore. So much of our lives had been destroyed by heroin and meth: the ravages of addiction. I lay down next to him, and I wrapped my arms around him.

“Baby,” he said.

I almost said to him, I’m not your baby anymore. Not because it was true. But because I was mad at him. Jon had been in a heroin relapse for months by then, he had stolen from me, lied to me, and I was angry.

But on that day, that one day, I didn’t push him away.

“Baby, did you know I love you?”

When Jon’s mother told me they had found his body, in the back of his car in a parking lot in Montebello, that Jon was dead: that Jon was now forever gone: I thought my whole world would fall apart. I thought the pain of that moment would be too hard to ever stand up from, to ever return from: I believed that my whole life would be forever defined by the incredible aching pain of that one second.

“Baby, did you know I love you?”

I don’t remember what I said to him. I’m not even sure I said anything. I think I just held him, wishing I could keep him safe, keep us safe: wishing I could protect him from what would eventually come.

The next time he came into my room and lay down in my bed I was mad at him. I told him to leave. I told him I didn’t want him in my room anymore. He looked at me. If I could erase that look, those words, from my life I would: if I could change the very moment I forgot who he was, who we were, I would.

“I understand,” he said, and he walked out.

What was I doing in that moment? What was so important? I was probably on Facebook, or watching Netflix: lost inside the insidious banalities of life.
I don’t have an ending for this. I don’t have some beautiful way to wrap it all up in hope and how amazing life is. I don’t know any of the answers.
I do know Jon loved me. And that I continue to love him. That I will love him forever. And I don’t know where Joe went, but I like to think he is working on that impossible painting: that forever beauty, even if it means he will fail. It would be an honorable failure.

Sometimes I think all we can do is fail in the most human and beautiful way possible. It is the tapestry of our failures that will elevate us: Magicians conjuring the impossible.

You can find my novel, Accidental Warlocks, at Amazon.com. I’d love if you checked it out. And thanks for being here. My witness.