There is a War On Queer Bodies: So Go Fuck, Show off Those Sexy Bodies: and Be as Loud And As Queer As Possible

Discerning Daddy

About a month ago Tom Bianchi found himself locked out of his Instagram account. Bianchi is a well known HIV activist and photographic historian of gay culture, most notably for his photos taken in Fire Island in the 80’s. A photo of his had been reposted on Instagram. The photo, “Untitled 457” shows a naked man sitting on a bed, his back to us, looking out a window.

Instagram decided that this photo, with a man’s butt barely revealed, had broken its Community Guidelines.

After a huge amount of pressure and backlash, Instagram re-instated Bianchi’s account.

And while, in my opinion, it never should have been taken down in the first place, it’s great that it is now back up. Tom Bianchi is a Queer hero. He has chronicled LGBTQ history for over 20 years.

But what happens when you aren’t Tom Bianchi, with a huge fan base willing to come out and fight for you? What about young queer and trans artists out there struggling for recognition, chronicling the world around them, whether through photos or videos or writing, who don’t meet the standards of Instagram or Facebook, or Tumblr? Who stands up for them?

I stayed out of this public debate. I decided that I wanted to stand back and wait, to see where things headed: if there would be any real change in how Social Media and the Mainstream Media handled our sexuality and our bodies.

That change never came.

Instead it feels like we keep moving slowly in a direction that is more repressive: restrictions put on our physicality, on our sexuality, on our gender: and how we are allowed or not allowed to express these things.

In 2019 many young artists’ careers live and die because of social media. It is a way for someone relatively unknown to build a following, to create a network of fans, to gain exposure.

It is a way to create visibility for a community often forced into the shadows.

And that is important.

As queer people, our bodies and our sexuality have been used against us for decades. Our gender has become political. Who we love and how we love, who we fuck, is political.

Facebook recently added to their guidelines a ban on all images and writings (including your private chats) that were soliciting sex or graphic in nature. This means that technically you aren’t even allowed to have sexy chat in your private messenger on Facebook between consenting adults.

Tumblr purged all accounts and images with nudity and overly sexual content, often times including shirtless gay men.

For a long time my ex-husband, Alex and I, used Tumblr, as a way to flirt. We created a joint account and we would add pictures of guys we found hot. We would take pics of ourselves: I won’t lie, my ass and dick, pics of me getting fucked, were all over Tumblr. You can have your opinions about this and your feelings and thoughts, but the truth is, we were just having fun. We were flirting, we were venturing out into a larger arena and expressing and exploring our sexuality.

And from the comments, and the amount of followers we had, people seemed to be enjoying our new exhibitionism.

We live in a world where sexuality, especially Queer and Trans Sexuality, are demonized. A world where our bodies are politicized and scrutinized: where a female nipple, the hint of balls, too much exposed ass, is considered “porn” even when the context is art, or just naturalism.

A world where how we fuck and who we fuck: how we love, is judged amoral.

One of the excuses being used by Social Media platforms is that we live in a global community and while they don’t believe in censorship, they also want to be sensitive to other cultures and groups who don’t share the same values. So…we don’t believe in censorship but we are going to censor you because we don’t want to upset a group of people who find your sexuality and your body to be morally wrong. Got it Instagram. Thanks.

I’ve thought a lot about how to respond to all this. I’ve tried to understand that companies like Instagram and Facebook have a right to define the content that is seen on their platforms, but to be honest, fuck them. Enough is enough.

Let’s call it like is: censorship. As queer people we have lived our whole lives being censored. We have been shamed and made to feel unworthy. We have been shoved to the side so as not to upset groups who find our way of life to be amoral.

I’m not arguing for allowing “porn” or graphic sexual images on Facebook on Instagram. But what I am saying is that showing some ass, or women showing their breasts, or shirtless guys, or queer people kissing should not be something we should be afraid of showing for fear of being locked out of our accounts.

It’s hard for me to make sense of this: it goes against everything I believe. It goes against everything I think is logical.

Human beings are sexual creatures. Fucking is fun. It is hot to look at pictures of other people fucking, showing off.

But there’s another component here that isn’t just about sex: our bodies are vast, uncharted, and beautiful territories: they are gorgeous and full of artistic and creative potential. Why can’t we show this off?
Why are we so afraid of allowing people the opportunity to explore their otherness, their gender, their sexuality, their beauty, their humanness?

I think it’s great that we all came out to fight for Tom Bianchi. But we need keep fighting. We need to keep the pressure on.

I show ass all the time on my Instagram account. I talk about being HIV Positive. I try to be as sex positive, and proud of who I am as a 50-year-old-HIV-Positive-Queer-Man as I can be. And I refuse to hide or to back down. I refuse to be made invisible.

I’ve been “shadow banned” (a process where with no warning or notice Instagram removes your ability to be seen on hashtags), I’ve been reported and I’ve been blocked on all my social media accounts. I’ve received threatening and incredibly unkind messages from users who troll the internet looking for people to attack. I’ve been called a slut, told I deserve to die from AIDS, that I am a worthless fag. But I don’t back down.

Because we can’t let them silence us. We are beautiful. Our bodies and our sexuality, our gender, our fluidity.

It is easy to believe that we had a major win last month. Instagram caved. Bianchi is back up. And that is a win. A huge fucking win. But we need to make sure we are still out there, celebrating who we are, and being as loud and as queer as possible.

We are only silenced if we let them silence us. We are only invisible if we let them take away our visibility.

I’m gonna show ass and talk about being Queer and Positive and be who I am, as loud and as visible as possible.

And fuck anyone who tries to tell us we aren’t worthy, who tries to censor us or push us to the side.

So go be as queer and beautiful as you want. Show those bodies. Make out on the streets. And stand up for those of us who might live in places where they are living under oppression.
Because that’s what these platforms don’t get: by allowing people like Bianchi, or someone like me, or any of the other LGBTQ people out there who refuse to back down, to be vocal and visible we are giving a voice to those still living in a world where their voice is being suppressed.

That should be what our community guidelines stand for. Not more censorship.

Check out more of my writing on my blog!

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

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.

Trump, Kavanaugh, Fascism, and Why Voting is the Most Important Thing Queer People Can Do

Discerning Daddy

When I read that Brett Kavanaugh had in fact been confirmed to the United States Supreme Court I felt a sudden sense of existential fear. I was surprised how genuinely terrified and sad I was. I was sad because it felt like my home, my country, was no longer recognizable to me.
I have faith in what it means to be an American, regardless of the shit people say about us: it’s not like their governments are actually any better, or they are in any way more liberal: just travel and you will eventually come across the same hateful xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny and racism. It permeates much of our world. It always has. It’s nothing new.
But now it is in our faces. We can’t hide from it. And that makes each and every one of us culpable.
I was in Munich, Germany, the day Kavanaugh was confirmed. Noah and I had decided to spend the weekend at his child-hood friend’s place, exploring a City we had never been to before. I felt incredibly far away from home as I read the words. Cut off from hope.
I considered not going back. I considered what it would mean to live my life fully as an ex-pat.
I had strange nightmares. I would wake up furious at my fellow Americans who seemed to be willingly marching like sheep into oblivion, sacrificing the ideals we are supposed to stand for…for what? A form of totalitarianism? Guns? Abortion? I was furious at my fellow Californians who are so secure in their liberal bubble that they probably won’t even vote.
And I realized: there’s no running away from this. There is nowhere to hide. The only thing I can do is speak up. To write about it. Not just about Kavanaugh or Politics but about everything being queer is. About sex and love and about hope. About being HIV Positive. To never back down from who I am. That’s where I can fight back.
Because I’m really scared.
And while writing about it and marching and talking about it is important, voting is where our real power is. Even in liberal states like California, and liberal Cities like LA, where it can feel like our vote doesn’t matter, it does matter. Because it is a voice: a way of saying to the Supreme Court, to Congress: We are the people, and this is our will. This is what we want. Even if it won’t directly impact the elections, voting is a way of being heard.
And we should be screaming as loudly as we can with every tool we have.
Organizations like the NRA have more power than the average person because we give them more power. We continually give up our voice and our power.
Maybe culpable is the wrong word. It implies a kind of partnership. Maybe the truth is, that those of us who don’t vote, those of us who don’t speak out, those of us who spend our lives in the bubble ignoring what is going on are actually fully responsible for the mess we are in.
The longer we stay silent the easier it will be for them to take away whatever remaining power we have left.
I believe that voting should be a requirement under law. I believe that our government should be run by a straight democracy: one person one vote, without all the middle stages that negate our votes. But I also believe in open borders and stronger international governing bodies.
It would be easy for me to run. To just move. Leave the USA behind and live somewhere else. I have freedom to do that.
But I still have faith. I have hope that in November those of us who can vote will. And even if we don’t “win” we will at least have used our voice: we will have made our will known.
We are a country of 325.7 million people. We are a vast continent with many different cultures and societies. We are one of the most racially diverse nations in the world. We will not all agree. That is part of living in a civil democracy. We don’t have to agree.
But we all deserve the right to be heard. Republicans and the Trump Administration want to take that right away from us. They want to silence us. Make it harder for us to Vote. Why? Because that is the one power we actually have over them: they work for us. They are beholden to us. They are in power because of us. And they can lose their power if we choose to take it from them.
So vote. Call your representatives. It’s just a few minutes. Get out there and make your voice heard.
Because if we don’t, then whatever comes is our responsibility. No one else’s. 100%.
Sorry I didn’t talk about butt fucking and dick sucking in this piece. If you want to read about my wild and sex adventures check out my book, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon!

Why Talking About Racism Matters

Discerning Daddy

We live in a world that wants to divide us. We have a government that tells us who we love and fuck, our faith, our race, our masculinity or femininity, our gender, are all wrong. They tell us everything about us is wrong.

Recently, I was out with some friends, and this guy Robert was trying to explain why not being “attracted to black guys” didn’t make him a racist.

“You can’t make yourself be attracted to something you aren’t attracted to. That’s not how it works.” He insisted.

I’m not a doctor or a scientist or a psychologist so I have no idea if what Robert is saying is factually true, but in my experience our tastes and preferences can change and grow through being open and by exposure. And I’m pretty sure that includes sexual attraction.

Maybe Robert isn’t a racist. But maybe his parents were. Or the society that raised him was. And those factors influenced what he finds attractive.

“What if you met that perfect guy,” I asked Robert. “He has everything you’ve ever wanted in a guy. This guy is the guy you could love for ever. Only one thing: he’s black?”

“Then we’d make great friends,” Robert laughed. “I just can’t see myself with a black guy. And to be honest, as terrible as this sounds, I don’t think I could bring a black boyfriend home to meet my family.”

“Why can’t we have one night to ourselves? A night for masculine men without all these twinks and drag queens and fem-boys walking around here with their purses and perfume ruining the vibe for guys like us. Whatever happened to men acting and smelling like men?” I heard another guy saying recently. It was at a leather bar in New York City.

His friends all began complaining about the “assault on masculinity” in the gay community.

Another recent story I heard is about a trans guy being denied entry to a popular monthly party in LA that celebrates masculinity and “Daddies” because their ID still said “Female”.

We’ve all heard stories like these, or joined in these kinds of conversations, and we all have opinions: opinions that are valid. I think having these conversations is essential. The more we talk about race and gender, the more we discuss our faith and our ideas about masculinity and femininity, the more open we are with each other than the more tolerant we will become.

But first, we have to start getting honest about the fact that there is a discrepancy in how we are treated in our community. That I, as a white cis-man am treated very differently than those who don’t share my privilege. And maybe that means that I have an obligation to allow those who have spent years being discriminated against, beaten down, and denied the same opportunities that I take for granted, a voice that is a little louder than mine. That maybe I need to start listening to their experience instead of denying it or fighting against it, or justifying my own.

Maybe it’s time for those of us who have benefited from racism and intolerance to be allies to who have not shared our privilege, instead of trying to maintain some kind of hold on the status-quo.

A friend of mine was recently trying to explain why he felt racism isn’t such a big issue anymore.

“I just don’t see it. I think if we work hard we all have the same opportunities. I don’t see racism the way it used to be. I think it’s more about class. Specially in the gay community. I mean, all of us are minorities, right? Okay, sure, Trump is a racist, and that’s embarrassing, but Obama was also president. We’ve made some really amazing progress.”

My friend, like me, is a white cis-male. Of course he doesn’t see racism, or transphobia, or intolerance toward Muslims or Latinos, because it isn’t happening to him.

But it is happening all around us. And we are all participating in it. Sometimes by just being silent, or by making jokes that minimalize it, or by lamenting the “old days” which, in all honesty, were only glorious for some of us.

As queer people we’ve never had to play by hetero-normative rules. We’ve gotten to define who we are and what we believe, often in reaction to intolerance, and in many ways this has made us stronger, more tolerant, and more willing to change and grow.

We, as a community, are confronting an incredibly hostile and fascist regime, not just in the States, but around the world. A right-wing movement has been growing, and the only true way for us to fight back is to become unified, to stand together, and to stand tallest for those of us on the fringes of our community, for those of us who do not have the numbers or the privilege to be heard.

None of this means we can’t party the way we want to or fuck the way we want to, or even define the limits of our attraction, but it’s the way we talk about these things, the way we express them. If we begin to categorize each other based on race or our body type or our gender, then we begin to lose sight of who we really are.

And I think the Queer Community, in all its shapes and sizes and genders and manifestations is amazing. We survived the AIDS crisis, we have survived discrimination and violence and intolerance, and instead of allowing those things to destroy us they have just made us stronger.

So maybe it’s time we started to challenge ourselves. To look closely at the words we use, at how we express ourselves, at our privilege, and at the things we take for granted. At how race and gender and sexual preference should no longer be tools used to limit ourselves or each other but instead empowering aspects of who each of us are, things to be celebrated and explored.

I think it’s time the Queer Community, my Community, started using our differences: our diversity, as our strengths, and not our weakness.

Because that is how we will overcome those who wish to hold us down and tell us who we are and how we love is somehow less than, not deserving, or wrong.

Our survival will depend on our unity, and in celebrating all the diverse ways we shine: our survival will depend on all of us standing as one against anyone who will try to deny Us.

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.