Thoughts on Travel and Sex and Love: Part One

Discerning Daddy

They fuck lot in Berlin. There’s no denying that. It is a city where partying and getting laid is relatively easy. Six years ago I spent my honeymoon at Berlin’s infamous sex club, Laboratory, fucking and getting fucked and sucking dicks, and watching my husband, Alex do the same. I met one of my closest friends during a threeway while he tagged teamed me with Alex.

You can find almost anything you want in Berlin, and for the most part, no one will judge you for it.
But the City is way more than that. To come to Berlin and only take advantage of the endless dick, ass and 24-hour parties would be a mistake.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for 24-hour fucking, but there’s so much more to explore and experience in this amazing City.

I’ve been traveling from LA to Berlin every five weeks for the past nine months. My boyfriend, Noah, lives here, so in many ways, Berlin has become my second home.

I think there is something radical about travel, about leaving the safety of your known world behind for something new, something foreign. Going to all the different gay and bear parties around the world is awesome, but there is something really exciting and mind-expanding about getting on a plane all by yourself, or with a friend, and ending up somewhere totally new with no planned queer party agenda.

The first time I ever travelled by myself for real was in January 2017. I made the decision after Trump won the election that I didn’t want to be in the States for his inauguration. I booked a ticket to London, a City I had never been to, but one that felt relatively safe and easy to manage alone. I had a friend who lived in London who said I could have his apartment while he was out of town.

There was also a lot of personal turmoil going on in my life and in my relationship. I felt stuck, I felt disconnected from myself and from my life.

I needed something to shake me up, to force a change. Something that would take me out of my life in a way that would give me perspective.

I was 48 years old. I had travelled all over the world, but I had never really done anything like this before: just getting on a plane and going blind to a new City, no real friends there, no big gay parties.

It was January, a cold and dark month in London. But I wasn’t there for the sun. I was there because at that point in my life I was desperate for something that would knock me off the course I was on, something to help me find my way back to the life I had always hoped for: a life that was full of adventure and hope and wonder, a life of potential and possibility.

And I have found that travel is one of the best ways to do that. It upsets everything: your sense of time and space and how you interact in the world. And how you interact to yourself, the way you see yourself suddenly changes when confronted by this new world.

One of the things I learned was that technology was my friend while travelling. I downloaded an app called Citymapper which basically allowed me to get from the airport to my new home, and anywhere I needed to go across the City. If I wanted to get lost, something I kind of enjoy, I could just start walking, but once I was done being lost, I just opened the app and could get anywhere I needed to be.

I also like having the gay apps like Scruff and Growlr. I’ve made some pretty amazing friends on the apps (and sure, they are great for getting your dick sucked too…but sometimes it’s just nice to have access to a ton of gay guys…one of them will be down for a coffee or a beer or to tell you their favorite things going on).

I met Noah on Growlr. He was a German architect living in London. We had been chatting for almost six months before we finally met in London (where he was living at the time).

I had no intention of meeting Noah for anything other than a fuck. He seemed like a nice guy, I liked chatting with him, but at the time I was married and in a polyamorous triad with my husband Alex, and our boyfriend Jon. Falling in love and dating someone new was not on the agenda.
So when Noah asked me to meet him and a friend at the Glory, a queer bar in East London, I wanted to counter with, “Lets meet somewhere dark where I can suck you off!”, but the whole point of this trip was to be a different me, to do things counter to my instincts, so I agreed to meet him and his friend.

When I first saw Noah I remember thinking, There is no way this guy is gonna wanta hang out with me. He was so handsome. The way he smiled when he saw me, the way it felt when we hugged: connected, genuine. I found it hard not to find ways to touch him the whole night, and when his friend left I asked Noah if I could kiss him.

“Of course,” he said. “I want you to.”

He invited me home to “cuddle”. I was pretty sure that cuddle was going to mean fucking, but I was wrong. Noah was very serious about just cuddling.

We spent the whole week together after that. A week that would eventually change my life. I met Noah for lunch, and after work. We would go for long walks and he would show me his favorite places in the City.

Traveling shake us up, it can be lonely and disorienting, and sometimes it’s hard to make ourselves break out and take the risk, to go to that museum or club or book store alone, to risk being lost, to standing awkwardly in a group of people who know each other, to learn to reach out and say hi. It can also force us to look deep, to really come to terms with our fears and our expectations and to rise above them.

I spent a lot of time in cafes alone, reading, or walking endlessly, or exploring the Tate Modern (one of the best things about London is the museums are free which meant I could just end up in one and wander until I was ready to go back out and explore the streets).

And what I realized was that I was okay by myself. That if I could get past that initial fear, that feeling of being alone or lost, then suddenly I found that I liked being on my own, and I liked who I was, and that maybe the world was a lot friendlier and kinder than I had ever thought.

I was lucky I met Noah. He helped to build structure around my time alone in London. Not only did I get to have this amazing adventure in a City I had never been to, and to get to learn more about who I was, but I got to have this amazing affair that would turn into a deep and meaningful relationship.

In Part Two I will explore a little more about my relationship to Noah, and how we made a long distance relationship work, and about how I found myself traveling from Los Angeles to Europe every five weeks, and I will begin to explain an unexpected love affair I now have with being alone in Cities I don’t know, and falling in love with life.

Because that’s what it’s all about. When you think about it. Learning to be okay on your own and learning to love life, to have adventures even when you are scared. To learn to do the things that scare you because you have faith that life will take care of you.

The Beauty in Being a Slut

Discerning Daddy

I’m a slut. A total fucking slut.

I don’t like to think of myself as a top or a bottom. I’m 100% versatile. I seriously love it all. I love to fuck, I love to get fucked, I can get dom or I can sub out, I like intimate sex and nasty sex, I just love queer gay ass sex.
I don’t say this to be provocative or to make your dick hard (though, if it does…that’s awesome)…I say it because in this day and age, being a faggot slut is political. It is radical.

And being an HIV Positive Faggot Slut is like totally fucking punk rock.
I love when bottoms love it so much they can’t get enough and when tops are so into their dude’s ass they will do anything to make that boy moan. I love the guys deep into kink and the dudes who love vanilla sex, I love guys who only whore out for their boyfriends and the ones who wanta take on ten guys at a time.

For the record, for all the trans, lesbians, gender queer and cis-gendered women sluts…this is for you too…owning our sexuality, owning our desires and our bodies is radical. And if anyone tells you it isn’t…fuck them. Seriously fuck them. There is no God, there is no legal or political system or moral code that should ever have the right to deny us our sexuality.

If I want to go out right now and take all the loads, or fuck all the sexy butts why does that say anything about who I am as a human being as long as I treat my partners with dignity and respect?

I wrote an article for Vice Magazine a while back about Slut Shaming. A “muscle bear” in LA, who actually knows me from out in the bar scene left a comment, “You deserve AIDS. Why don’t you go drink bleach and die?” All because I said that I had fucked over 3400 guys (I have a very complicated mathematical equation for this in the story) and that I wasn’t ashamed. I actually had fun.

Because sex is fun. And who doesn’t want to have fun?

And no one deserves AIDS and no one should drink bleach and die because they like to have fun. That’s just stupid.

You know what else I like? I like showing my ass on Instagram. I like when people tell me I’m sexy. It feels good. I don’t think that makes me thirsty. I mean, fuck, I love when a hot dude shows his body off on Instagram, or tumblr. I also like seeing guys’ gym selfies. Why the hell not? If you don’t like it, then don’t like it, just keep scrolling, why talk shit? Some of us like looking at hot guys, and some of us didn’t always think of ourselves as hot. Some of us felt fat, and unwanted, and were ashamed of who we were, so it’s kind of awesome to be able to post pictures and have dudes tells us, “Hey, I think you’re hot.”

So if you want to see my ass, you can find it all over Instagram.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, why don’t we all just shut up and stop judging each other and instead try to support each other? I do it too. All the time. I talk shit and gossip, but honestly it doesn’t make me feel good, and it certainly doesn’t make me a good person.

So go out there and be you. Be a slut, or don’t be a slut, make out, show your ass (I for one would love to see all your asses), and if anyone gives you shade or talks shit, or tries to make you feel bad: that shit has nothing to do with you. It’s all them. Their shame, their self-hate, and their internalized homo-phobia.

There are way more important things right now that matter then who and how we fuck. I actually think fucking each other, treating each other kindly, enjoying each other, being intimate (even in the most no strings attached dark room fucking there can be a shared intimacy), being loving and supportive with each other is the one way we get to say fuck you to anyone who has ever told us we aren’t deserving, or good enough, or worthy.

I don’t want to live a hetero-normative life. I think it’s awesome if you do, but I don’t. I want to be queer as fuck. I like being queer. And I really like queer sex. A lot. For all our messiness I think we are fucking amazing. Our whole community, the whole LGBTQ rainbow.

And seriously fuck anybody who tries to tell us how to live our lives.

We Are All Beautiful.

Discerning Daddy

I grew up in and around New York City in the 80’s and 90’s. Some of my mother’s closest friends were gay men. Most of them have died from AIDS. When, at 45 years old I found out I was HIV positive, regardless of what I knew intellectually, I felt the devastation of all those men my mother had loved who had died. I felt afraid, alone, suddenly cut off from the rest of my community.

Of course the truth was very different. I sero-converted in the age of PrEP and Treatment as Prevention, an age where more and more of my community understood what being positive meant, the age of the Undetectable Status.

But I was now a 45-year-old man. My age and my HIV Status, the way I felt about my body in a culture obsessed with body image: these things fuck with your self-worth. It is easy to feel undesirable, it is easy to begin to feel like life is coming to a close, to start looking back and saying: what the fuck have I even accomplished?

Who the fuck am I?

In May I turned 50.

For most of my life I never liked the way I looked. I was too short, too stocky, too fat, too skinny…always too something that amounted to never being quite enough.

We live in a world that tells us, through advertising and fake news and PR campaigns, that we aren’t pretty enough, happy enough, successful enough: that nothing will ever fix us until we buy or try or wear or eat or fuck this one thing. Our worth and our acceptance is contingent on this product, service, whatever.

Because, they tell us, we are broken.

On Saturday night I went to my favorite underground warehouse party in LA. Severino from Horse Meat Disco was DJing. We arrived at 1:30 in the morning to an old warehouse behind a large parking lot in downtown LA.

Ushered from the street inside, we stood in a large waiting area, kids in colorful outfits and masks, horror movie and glamor make-up, drag queens and muscle bears in leather and jocks, girls and boys, genderless and gender queer, the music could be heard from inside, people were already dancing as we waited to be allowed entry.

On the dance floor the music pounded: Disco mixed toward a darker edge, then flowing back into that ecstatic memory of my childhood when my mother and her friends would dance wildly in the living room to Parliament and Donna Summer, bottles of red wine and joints, laughing and howling at the possibility of a future. They would scream into the night, they would hold each other and cry, my mother would do Tarot Cards and channel alien entities, she would cast spells as she held court over these men, and I would hide, quietly under the table, allowed to watch as long as I stayed in my little hidden fort.

I remember my mother saying to a friend of hers who had lost so much weight he seemed to be disappearing,

“We are all beautiful. Every single one of us. We are like these great shining lights, gorgeous and magical and full of existence.”

Underneath the disco ball as it captured and sent transcended light back to us as we danced, I closed my eyes, feeling the heat of the room, my body drenched in sweat, the floor shaking underneath the weight of us, bodies pushing against me, touching me: fans clapping loudly, people cheering with each new shift of the music: lost for a moment in the infinite possibility of who we all might be.

In that room I took my shirt off, no longer trapped by all the hateful shit that swirled in my head, no longer caring: I was more than my body, more than my HIV status, more than my age or my gender or my sexual preferences: in that room, underneath that disco ball I was part of something that extended way beyond myself, way beyond any of us.

It is easy to feel scared. It is easy to look at someone who appears beautiful, or of a different race or gender, someone with more money, someone with more power, and to think they are not scared. It is easy to be divided from each other, to forget that we are all human, and that we are all scared.

Before leaving the party I wandered into the Dark Room. I watched as a muscle man in a jock strap was bent over a chair, men taking turns on him, a shaved headed boy covered in tattoos knelt sucking the dick of a short, slender, gorgeous person, their shimmering black dress pulled up, golden high heels reflecting what little light was in the room.

In the middle of it all stood a tall vision dressed in white-netted cloth that reached up over their neck, covering their face, obfuscating them. They stood silently watching: as all around us men took turns fucking and sucking, jerking off onto each other, making out and laughing, talking quietly, moving to the music.

As men moaned, as someone said, over and over, “Fuck me harder, please, fuck me harder,” the white dressed obfuscation raised their glass, as if in toast, as if in blessing, and then turned and walked out of the room.

I followed them out, but I lost them. I looked everywhere but they were just gone. Maybe they had changed clothes, now walking naked through the party, or maybe they had left, walking out onto the street, or maybe they had come, just for a few minutes, to celebrate with us, to dance and fuck and laugh with us: blessing us before fading back into whatever strange and beautiful existence they had appeared from.

It’s easy to take all the hate and shame and fear I have and turn it on someone else: to judge them, to categorize their flaws, to hate them: it is easy to forget that, like my mother said, we are all beautiful, and we are all afraid.
I don’t want to be afraid anymore, to judge myself as if I am somehow flawed, not worthy.

I like to think of that white clad creature extending their drink over all those fucking men as some kind of angel come to say, “You are beautiful, and we love you just as you are. You are absolutely fucking perfect just like this.”

Welcome to My Blog: The Discerning Daddy

Discerning Daddy

It’s hard, considering the world we are living in right now, to even consider what to write in a blog. Let alone a blog irreverently titled “Discerning Daddy.”

Lately, I’m scared a lot. Of the direction this country is headed in. Of the anger and hatred that seems to pervade every aspect of our lives and our Nation.

And then I think, what is the one thing about me that is political? Not because of a belief I have or because of a choice I made. But because of who I love and who I am attracted to: because of the way I was born. Being Queer, LGBTQ, being a Woman, being a Person of Color, being Trans, these things radicalize us whether or not we feel radical, they turn our bodies and our lives into something political.

Into weapons used against us.

So fuck that, right? This is where I have power. Where I get to be loud and queer and talk about all the gay fucking, and queer-trans-gender-bending-fuckery-love I want.

This is where I get to say fuck you to anyone who says who I love, how I love, and who I fuck is somehow wrong, or not worthy.

This is where I get to say fuck you to Donald Trump, and to all the men and women in Congress who refuse to stand up for us, to fight back, to demand that we all be treated equal.

I am a 50-year old, HIV Positive, sober gay man. I have fucked, and been fucked, by a lot of amazing guys. I have fallen in love, dated, lived with, and married some amazing men.

And that’s what I want to write about. About being in my 50’s, about being Poz, about being gay and about loving sex, about politics and queerness and all the ways these things manifests in our lives.

And about love.

What I’ve learned, and what I believe, is in the end, it all comes down to love. As corny and cheesy as that sounds (Ima be really honest, I might get really cheesy and corny on you sometimes), it’s the truth. Everything comes down to love.

I should also warn you: you will see my body a lot and maybe my ass, and shirtless pics, because I’m proud of who I am, and of what I’ve achieved, and I think more people in their 50’s, and 70’s and 20’s should feel proud of who they are, regardless of their age or their body type, regardless of all the shit we have been taught to believe.

So I’m gonna talk about being Positive, and about love, and a lot about sex, and I’m gonna talk a lot about me and what I believe, and I’m gonna get all cheesy and corny as fuck.

And maybe I’m going to talk about Magic. Because Jon Nelson believed in magic, and he’s teaching me to believe in it too.

I’d also love to hear from you. You can contact me through this site (see contact), or find me on instagram at leavelljeff or facebook, or email me at jeffleavell@gmail.com. Leave comments. Tell me what you like or don’t like.

And keep coming back. I’m gonna be doing this blog thing weekly (or maybe more…I have A LOT to say). It’s still a big work in progress, but I promise, there will be progress.

Because this is the way I get to choose to be political. To fight back, in my own way, with the tools I have.

So lets go be Queer and fuck and love and dance and make out, and show our asses, and tell anyone who tells us we can’t, that we aren’t deserving or good enough, to fuck off.

Because we get to be whatever we want. And no one gets to tell us we can’t.

Fuck ‘em if they try.

Loss.

Discerning Daddy

Recently, a Facebook friend of mine told me that she missed my Facebook stories.  I told her that I would write something just for her.  That was a few days ago.  But I have felt empty lately, at a loss for words, at a loss for meaning.  Not sure what I should be saying anymore.  Not sure what is important.

And I know that is intrinsically linked to the loss of Jon.

There have been a few moments in my life that have truly changed me.  My mother getting diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, my getting sober, finding out I was HIV Positive, and now Jon’s death.  Each of these events have taken the course of my life, the direction I believed I was meant to be heading in, and radically shifted them, changed something essential that I believed about life.

Each of these events have left me feeling like I am fumbling in the dark, grasping at faith that my life will once again take on shape, will once again feel purposeful.

When I was a child my grandmother, Sadie, gave me an antique money bank.  It was a smiling clown with a red gloved hand.  You put your pennies into the red gloved hand and then pushed a lever and the hand would shove the pennies into the clown’s mouth.

For months I was terrified of this leering, hungry clown.

And then I began to talk to it.

I was a strange child.  I spent a lot of time alone.  I believed in ghosts.  I believed in demons and Magick.  Both my mother and my grandmother believed they were witches. They cast stones and read tarot and threw spells and set intention and explained our lives in deep tapestries of myth and reincarnation.

I remember imagining all the fury and dark anger I had as a child and putting it into the clown’s red gloved hand, watching as he opened his mouth wide to devour it.  He became a place to store all my deepest fears, all my dark and angry thoughts.

As I grew older I found other ways to combat my demons. Heroin became a way for me to quiet the world, a way to take all the chaos and pain and turn into something soft and beautiful.

And for years that worked.  Until it didn’t.

Heroin became that devouring clown, monstrous and hungry: no longer just eating the darkness, but eating all of me.

I thought nothing would ever hurt me again the way I ached walking away from dope.  To this day I can feel that warm blanket wash over me, that safety, that absolution: I can taste the drip in the back of my throat, the urge to walk, slowly, throughout the City, that endless sense of possibility that would never really be realized because there was no reason: there was nothing else I needed in that fairy tale opioid landscape.

But eventually that safe and perfect beauty died, and turned into something monstrous and destructive.

I ended up homeless, I lost my car, my relationship to my family and friends became strained and full of hurt and betrayal. I was lost, fumbling in the dark.

And somewhere inside all that darkness light appeared.  It wasn’t immediate.  It took time and there was pain.  I remember lying in my room, alone, crying, the ache inside felt like it would rip me in pieces.

But it didn’t.  And the person who emerged was stronger, clearer, the shapes around me more defined than ever before.  And from those strange and new shapes I built a life that was my own.  Separate from my family’s money, separate from my past, from all the darkness and hurt, I built a life of hope.

My mother has lived with Stage IV cancer for 8 years. I have been sober for almost 7.  I have been HIV Positive for four.

I believed that finally I understood life, I understood hope and love and what it meant to be alive.

And then Jon died.

A few weeks ago I was sitting in my room reading. Something in the way the light moved, something in the way the air seemed suddenly denser, full of something other, and then I smelled him.  I could feel him right there, his breath, those blue eyes, and you will call me crazy and you will never know what I am talking about until you have felt it too: but he was there with me, his lips up against mine, his hands briefly connecting to mine.

It could have been seconds or it could have been hours. It was endless.

And then it was over and I could breathe in a way I had never been able to breathe before.

And I am left with this sense that I do not know anything about life.  Once again I am changed.

The ache of Jon feels too large to comprehend, too vast to make sense out of, so I don’t try anymore.  I just let It be.  And I when I come upon it I sit there, as still as I can, my body shaking with the pain of missing him, until it is gone, and I remember that moment when out of thin air Jon came to me and kissed me.  To let me know that he was still there.  That he would always be there.

I have learned so much about love.  Through my relationship to Jon and Alex, and to my relationship now with the man I call Noah.

Someone recently asked me if I thought it was “healthy” that Alex and I continued to live together.  He insinuated that maybe I shouldn’t share with Noah my feelings about Jon, that maybe I needed to leave the past behind me.

But that is bullshit.  Alex and Jon are my family.  My love for them will never not be one of the most important things in my life.  Just because the direction of that love has changed does not mean the intensity of it has.

And my love for Noah encompasses all the love I have ever felt before him, it emerges from that love, it is because of that love.

The one thing I am sure of, the one thing I know for certain, is that love is at the core of all this.  All of life.  It is the only thing that matters.

I can be petty and sanctimonious, I can gossip and lie, I can be jealous and spiteful and unkind.  I am human.

But then I think of Jon, who died alone in his car in a parking lot in Montebello.  And how loved he was.  Whether in those final moments he knew it or not.  And while maybe in those final moments that love couldn’t save him, I think it has the opportunity to save those of us he left behind.

Jon loved me so much.  And I loved him.  And that love is something that will live forever.  It will change us.  And I think of Alex and I think of Noah.  And I think of all the men I have ever loved and I try to hold on to that.

Who we are and what we do matters.  Maybe everything we do matters.  I don’t know.  But in that darkness there is a new shape forming: something hopeful: something full of integrity and kindness.  And I want to hold on to that.

So for now I have no idea what words to say, no stories that make sense to me: I am still searching for meaning, for understanding, but I can see it, shimmering out there in the distance: the vastness and the potential, and when I lose sight of it I can close my eyes and remember that kiss with Jon, or the first time Alex and I went to dinner, all those endless walks we took, or Noah, and the quiet moments in bed just holding each other, or the long drives across America, listening to music and exploring the world together, in the way we have all come together in this life to take care of each other.

In all the love.