CHICAGO: REFELCTIONS ON LIFE, DEATH, SEX, AND LOVE

Discerning Daddy

When I was 15 I fell madly in love with a boy named Eric. His father lived in the Dakota, Eric’s bedroom windows looking out over Central Park West, and Strawberry Fields. I would spend weekends at Eric’s place. We would lie in bed jerking off, kissing and fucking. During the day, when Eric would lock himself in his bedroom and paint, I would go across the street to the park, and cruise the Rambles.

I would spend hours wandering those trails, trying to see how many guys I could get to touch me, to let me fuck them, how many different guys I could make cum by sucking them off.

And then I would return to Eric. We would get high on opium laced joints and he would tell me about what he had created: Eric believed his work was inspired by beings who lived in other dimensions. Eric believed that there were worlds within worlds, and if we closed our eyes we could see past the thin veil of our existence: we could see into the endless expanse.

Eric would wake me up late at night. He would be crying. He would tell me that he had to get out. He had to get away. I knew he was falling under the spell of whatever madness ate at him. And maybe a part of me understood it: understood the burning in his brain, the voices.

We would go for long walks, down Central Park West to 59th, meeting Broadway, through Times Square, and into the Village. He would sit in Thompkins Square Park, listening to the drums play, listening to the drunks and the conspiracy theorists yelling at the sky, and I would wander down 7th street to the stoop where the dope dealers stood.

A bag of dope for each of us. Enough to quiet our screaming heads. And we would sit on benches, waiting for the sun to come up, telling each other wild dreams of who we would be, of love and adventure. I was going to be a poet, a writer, Eric was going to be an artist, he was going to be a cult leader: and one day, when we were older, we would find each other again, and we would spend the rest of our lives in love somewhere in the desert, or in Paris, or Tunisia, or maybe in an apartment in Chelsea.

When Eric moved to Sedona to live with his mother I thought my whole world would fall apart. I had never known pain like that in my life. Eric is the first man I ever really loved.

And the loss of him ripped through me, tore at me, like losing a part of myself.

I didn’t know then what I know now: that even though it felt like dying, it wouldn’t kill me. I didn’t know then that I am strong, and that love, even the loss of love, will just make me stronger.

My mother, Beverly, used to talk about the fires that burned in her head. How they would burn bright and then dark. How life was an endless battle between those fires. Beautiful and destructive and consuming.

“We are like that, you and me. We burn bright. And that burning can make life feel endlessly magical, but if you aren’t careful those fires will consume you and everyone you have loved.”

She’s right of course. Those fires have consumed me over and over. Like heroin. Like the screaming thoughts in my head.

The first time I kissed Eric was in Madison New Jersey, where my father was living, where his mother lived before moving to Sedona. We were on the golf course, it was three in the morning, and Eric was sure that the night sky was full of alien crafts, that the shadows were hiding whispering men, we were tripping on mushrooms and I think I kissed him because I wanted to shut him up as much as I actually wanted to kiss him.

He held me. He was so warm. I was high enough to feel us becoming one. I was high enough to believe we could stay like that forever, breathing in the night.

Layne likes to ask me when I knew I was in love with him, and I never want to tell him, because what if I fell in love with him first? Because I resist him, I don’t want him to think I love him as much as I do: I’m afraid of falling in love with Layne: I’m afraid of losing him. I’m so afraid of losing some battle that is a self-made construct: I am so afraid of giving in, and yet here is a secret: when I give in I win. Every time. When I give in I no longer even care about winning: I’m just happy.

But lately I’ve been thinking about it a lot too. When did I fall in love with Layne? Was it the night he showed up alone at Ostbahnhoff, a warehouse party in Downtown LA, where I was with my boyfriend, Noah, who was visiting from Berlin with friends of ours? Layne stood there, on the dance floor, watching me, something about his eyes, the way he looked at me: I wanted to walk up to him, to kiss him: I wanted the whole world to stop so it could be just the two of us. He smiled: maybe I fell in love with him the first time I ever saw him smile because Layne has one of the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen: because even though he wouldn’t agree with me, I know it is true: Layne’s smile that night was so full of hope and dreams and life , or maybe it was the first time I realized he was just as scared as I was, or the night, driving home from another warehouse party and we pulled over on the side of the road and he fell asleep, because I wouldn’t let him sleep over yet, because I was still refusing to give in, and his head was on my shoulder and I listened to him breath: listened to him live.

When did I fall in love with you, Layne?

Was it the time you asked me to come to the Eagle and watch you dance, and I did. I got dressed and drove to the Eagle and you danced for me. And I knew: this was important. It was important that I did that.

My mother would tell me we had been in love forever. Before we even met: that our love was just waiting for us to find it.

I come from the kind of women who believe in magic and love and destiny: the kind of women who have spent their lives refusing to be anything other than who they are.

Maybe I have loved you forever, Layne. Sometimes that is exactly how it feels.

Layne and I fuck. A lot. And we fight. And we burn as bright as we can: and we do everything we can not to be consumed, even when all I want is to be consumed.

When I got sober the thing I was most afraid of was losing what made me special, of becoming like everyone else: a man who goes to work, who grows old, who loses his dreams. What I didn’t realize was that the drugs were the things that were holding me back, the things that were robbing me of my real fire, of my true dreams.

Sobriety is a challenge for me. The voices in my head, the anger, the jealousy, the obsessive thoughts. I struggle with quieting my head so I can hear who I really am: that little voice underneath it all.

This is amplified in my relationship. I am slowly realizing that when I am mad at Layne, or jealous, or scared, it rarely has anything to do with him, or us, but with all the stories I have built from that very first kiss with Eric, through all the men I have loved, through all the loss and all the dreams that didn’t come true and all the fear: sometimes I have to step away from Layne and realize: this isn’t about us . It’s about me.

Because, like anyone who has made it 51 years, I am damaged, and that’s ok. It’s actually kind of beautiful. If I let it be. We are all these amazing, damaged survivors: we are the ones who get to tell the stories.

Layne grew up in Nebraska. He moved to Chicago when he was 27 to be an actor and an artist: to be the man he really always was. So going for a three day trip to Chicago was going home for Layne.

The most amazing thing about going home with someone, going back to where they were creating the dreams that would define them, is you get to meet all the people who loved them. You get to see them outside of the context of the life you have together: you get to see Them.

Maybe you fall in love with someone many times: maybe it isn’t one time. Maybe I fell in love with Layne listening to stories his friends told me of the actor, of the young man, of the crazy man: of my man. Or maybe it was the night we stood in the middle of a sex party at Jackhammer and Layne wouldn’t let me go, whispering in my ear, “Mine,” or when he walked me around Sidetrack in Boys Town excited to show me his world.

Or maybe it was when he showed me all the places he had fucked, or sucked dick, the dark rooms and the guys he had met there. Or walking all the way from Downtown to Edgewater where we were staying because he wanted me to see everything: the theatres he had performed in and the apartments he had lived in: he wanted me to love Chicago as much as he did: he wanted me to catch the dream.

This is what it means to get to get to know someone: to learn them: to see them. There were those moments in Chicago where I realized: This is Layne. This is a Layne I’ve never met before. This is a whole new Layne for me to fall in love with.

And we got to fuck some really hot dudes together, and I got jealous, and we fought, but mostly we walked and we talked and we grew: and we fed the fires so they could feed us.

My mother had a friend, David. David was gay. He would spend summer weekends on fire Island, he bartended at a gay bar in New Hope. David would spend weeks with us, sleeping in our guest room, telling my brother and I wildly inappropriate stories about all his adventures. Stories I would jerk off to, hungry for life.

David was the first man I ever knew who died of AIDS. I remember being at his funeral, all the men crying: it was the early years, the years we were still able to cry: before all the funerals my mother would make me go to: “Because we owe it to them. We owe it to all of them.” After the funeral we went to Washington Square Park and someone played a pop song I can’t remember on a big black radio and we all danced and I remember the way the sun burned against the buildings, the way the clouds rolled over the City, and the way a summer rain fell, and we still danced.

And I remember my mother saying, when I asked her why we were dancing: “Because what else are you going to do? It’s either dance or die, baby boy. So we’re gonna dance.”

When I found out I was HIV positive I was terrified to tell my mother. Because she had lost everyone, all those men who had helped raise me, because there came a time when we no longer danced, when we no longer cried: a time when we just knew: eventually they would all be dead.

I remember calling her. I couldn’t stop crying. I kept saying, “I’m so sorry, mom, I’m so sorry.”

And she said to me, “Baby. I love you more than anything in the whole world. This is just a thing. Just one more thing. It will not take you down.”

And of course she was right. I sero-converted in the age of undetectable viral loads and PreP and TASP, in the age where this would not kill me. But I felt guilty. I felt ashamed. Like I had let her down.

“You will make this something important,” she said to me. “You will use this to change your life.”

Maybe I fell in love with Layne when his dick was buried deep inside this little muscle dude we met in Chicago, when he reached out for me, his eyes connecting with mine: and I saw him there, I saw him loving me as he fucked that guy, or maybe it was when the three of us were kissing and I felt Layne’s hand taking mine in his, his fingers interlocking with mine…

…because this is what life is, isn’t it? All the dreams and all the love and all the loss and all the living…the burning as bright as we can without being consumed…

We fight and we fuck and we dream and we burn bright…and we love…and I wonder if Eric is the leader of his own cult in the desert, or if he is in Paris, or Tunisia, in some studio making brilliant art, or maybe he is a banker, or a homeless man, or maybe he’s dead, and I wonder who David would have been if he hadn’t have died of AIDS, or all those men who we could have loved, but instead, we turned our backs on, who as a nation we allowed to die alone from a disease that for me, in 2019 is totally manageable, and I can make their deaths matter: I can make David, who was so beautiful and funny and vibrant: I can make him matter…by loving Layne, by following my dreams all the way to the end, even the ones that never manifest: just by living and not giving in…

And maybe the first time I fell in love with you Layne was when…

Art work by Layne Manzer.

How a Three-Way Taught Me To Feel Safe in My Relationship

Discerning Daddy

I struggle a lot with trust. I’m also territorial. I don’t like sharing what’s mine.

Like all of us, I can feel insecure, not good enough: afraid that I will lose something valuable.

I can create stories in my head where I will be betrayed and abandoned.

The thing about these fears is that they are contrary to what is real. I am not alone. I’m surrounded by people who love me. I have friends. I have an amazing boyfriend. And to be honest, I have bunch of ex-boyfriends who are still some of my best friends.

Layne and I have had a bunch of really successful three-ways, and some group sex experiences, but it wasn’t until recently that I learned something valuable:

I go into a lot of these scenarios treating the other guy(s) as a potential threat, and my boyfriend as something that belongs to me. And really, neither of those things are true.

Layne and I both agree: we want to be able to fuck other guys. We want to be able to explore and have adventures. But for now, we choose to do that together. It’s our form of monogamy. I’ve talked about this a lot so I won’t go deep, but one of the things I like about our arrangement is we get to experience something new, while also experiencing each other as something new.

Recently we decided to meet up with Trent. Both Layne and I have fucked Trent in the past. He’s someone we are both comfortable with.

And yet I found myself getting insecure, worried that maybe I wouldn’t be good enough, all the things my head can do to tell me that I won’t be enough. I began to view Trent as the threat and Layne as the possession that would be stolen from me.

While Layne and I were waiting for Trent to show up he looked at me and asked,

“Will it bother you if I kiss him? He and I…we have a history. It can get kind of passionate.”

For a second something like fury burst through me, but I saw it for what it was: fear. And then I thought: What’s the point of having some other dude over if we can’t kiss them, or be passionate: what’s the point of any of this if we have to censor who we are?

The truth is, if I thought about it: the idea of Layne making out with some other guy was hot as fuck. The thought of Layne holding me, touching me, while I made out with another guy makes my dick hard right now writing this.

The only thing holding me back from really enjoying these experiences, from fully realizing my sexuality and my partners sexuality, is myself.

My fear.

Trent was coming over to be with us. Not Jeff. Not Layne. But Us. There is something beautiful about that. And then I thought: it’s our job to make Trent feel special, to make him feel desired: we were inviting him into our world, and he deserved the best welcome we could give.

Watching Layne make out with Trent was breathtaking in how hot it was. The two of us kissing Trent, exploring him, taking turns fucking him, making him the center of our world, was one of the hottest experiences I’ve had in a long time.

And if I ever doubted how safe I was with Layne, how secure I am, he taught me, in those moments, how loved I am. He would check in with me, touch me, kiss me, make sure I knew that we were together in this. That this was our adventure.

We can be filthy pigs. I loved licking Layne’s cum out of Trent, filling Trent with two of my own loads, making out with Trent while Layne fucked him, and watching the two of them make out while I fucked Trent, but more than that there was a shared intimacy between the three of us, something that connected us, for those brief moments we were all together.

And I found myself falling deeper in love with my man. Trusting him. Desiring him. There is nothing hotter than watching my dude with another guy, being able to connect with him in a whole knew way.

After Trent left Layne and I went on a date, the two of us, to dinner. Then we came home and curled up on the couch and watched scary movies. Then we fucked and fell asleep holding each other.

I’ll still get jealous. It’s part of who I am. But I think I learned that even in those moments all I have to do is remember the truth: I am loved. And I am safe.

I encourage you to go out and explore. To challenge yourself: to find a way past your fear. And to take care of each other. And to be kind. It was the kindness that helped me the most: to remember that Trent was a good man, not my enemy, and that Layne was my partner, not my possession. To be kind and loving to them both in those moments, no matter how filthy or piggy we got: because we can be all of it: filthy, dirty, nasty, loving, kind pigs.

I’d love to hear your stories. And adventures. And the ways you challenge yourself!

Thanks so much for reading. Without you none of this matters.

Intoxicated: How Not to Lose Yourself In That Good Dick

Discerning Daddy

Layne and I fuck. A lot. We also experiment a lot with sex, with our roles, with who we are, we use fantasy and play and exploration as doorways into who we are.

And we just really like to fuck each other.

Sex is important to me. Sex with my partner is really important to me. I’m not the kind of man who is able to accept the idea that maybe one day we won’t fuck anymore, that we will be life partners who have outside sex partners.

Because sex is about intimacy. And sharing. It’s about closeness. Even when it’s nasty and piss and cum filled, even when he is spitting in my mouth and pissing on my face, there is still the connection, the love. And that is essential to me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying sex is the most important part of a relationship, but it is up there. Along with trust, and love, and friendship, and loyalty, and kindness, and respect.

I think sometimes it’s too easy to say, well, we don’t fuck anymore but we are still partners. It’s too easy to open things up and fuck other guys, and then there’s no more incentive to do the work it takes to still feel sexy toward your partner. Because sometimes it takes work. And creativity. (I want to be really clear…this is just my take on what I want out of my relationship. I think if you find love and partnership and someone you want to share your life with…then fuck anyone else’s opinions. There’s a million ways of doing this. This is just my way.)

Layne and I aren’t open. I say we are monogamous. Layne tells me that is ridiculous. We can fuck anyone we want as long as we do it together. That’s our rule right now. Maybe Layne is right and that isn’t strict monogamy, but I think for me it’s the closest to monogamy I can imagine getting.

It allows us the freedom to explore our sexuality, to have adventures, but to also share in them together. Other guys become a way of enhancing our sexuality as a couple.

I love watching my man fucking another dude. I love watching him make out with another guy. I love sharing a bottom with him, or getting fucked by him and another top. I love watching him suck dick. And then I love going home and cuddling up in bed and just being us: Layne and Jeff.

I use those moments to jerk off to. I think I’m lucky that jerking off to my man is still one of the hottest things I can think of.

Recently Layne blindfolded me and restrained my hands behind my back with his belt and he fucked me stupid, till I couldn’t think any longer, he fucked me into oblivion and he kept on going. At one point he used the belt to spank me. Forcing me into submission.

It was incredibly hot. But it also scared me. Not because of anything Layne did, but because I felt new desires opening in me. New hungers. And it scared me because it meant I was going to have to trust Layne. To really open up to him.

It isn’t easy for me to be vulnerable. To allow people to see my weaknesses and my insecurities. I have built giant walls to protect me.

As a kid I used to tell elaborate lies to hide myself in. I would create vast and epic stories about myself. As an adult I still have this capacity. I’m a writer. A story teller.

It’s hard for me to be honest. It’s hard for me to let you see who I really am. Because what if who I really am is boring, or unloveable, or ugly? What if who I really am is worthless?

Which is funny, because I spend so much of my time writing about my personal life for all of you. But even that is obfuscation. Character building. Using the truth as a way of shielding who I am.

But relationships, if I want them to work, are the one place I can’t hide who I am. I have to find a way to be honest. To trust. I have to find a way to let him in. To allow him to love the ugliest parts of me, not just the good parts.

A few nights ago, Layne had me on my back, my legs up, he was deep inside me, moving really slow, kissing me, his face pressed up against mine. My eyes were closed. I was shut away, losing myself in the sensation of him. When I opened my eyes I saw him, eyes open, watching me.

He smiled at me and said, “Hey.”

And for that one moment everything fell away. For that one moment I felt seen. I tried to keep my eyes open, I tried to not disappear, to be present with him.

Relationships are hard as fuck. For me, a sober alcoholic drug addict who is probably codependent as hell, the hardest part is finding my own space. Allowing myself time to breathe and to be aware. To be my own man. To not turn my dude into a drug. To not get lost in the intoxication of our sex. To not drown in someone else.

Even when all I want to do is drown. To get fucked so far out of my head I never come back. To get lost in him, to save him, to forget myself.

I am a man who has always been hungry for a certain kind of self-annihilation.

So I walk this balance every day, between allowing for truth, and vulnerability, and making space for myself but also allowing for him, for being my own man, and for being the man who loves to worship Layne’s fat dick (I mean seriously, I scored when it comes to this dude’s dick. Just saying.).

And here’s the thing I really want, the thing I am working toward with all my heart: I don’t have to lie to get anyone to love me, I don’t need anyone to tell me my I have worth, I do not need to pretend I am someone else just to prove I am not ugly. I, all of us, not matter how fucked up we might be, are beautiful.

It’s just really hard to remember that. When all we want is to be loved perfectly, and to be safe, to be made whole.

Layne can’t do that for me. No matter how much I want him to. And I can’t do it for him. And the longer we try, the more we try to be everything for each other, the more we will just hurt each other.

So I am trying to support him, and to love him, even when he is flawed and human. And I am trying to remember that even when I lie, or do something ugly, I am still worthy, I am still beautiful.

It’s funny. I didn’t think this piece was going to turn into a new age go love yourself post. I was planning to write about this amazing adventure we had in Palm Springs where we fucked a bunch of guys and had a really romantic date, and swam in a pool and became best friends. I mean, I still plan to write that piece. But I guess I needed to say all this first.

THE IMPORTANCE OF QUEER VISIBILITY: WHY I WRITE ABOUT SEX, BEING HIV POSITIVE, KINK, RELATIONSHIPS AND BEING QUEER AS FUCK

Discerning Daddy

I met Ivan in Berlin a year ago. We had been chatting on Scruff for a few days and finally decided to meet at Populus Cafe on the canal in Kreuzberg.

At the time Ivan was in Berlin studying Political Science for a year, before returning home to Russia.

Ivan was 22 years old. He had come out when he got to Berlin. But he was still careful on social media, didn’t show his face on the apps, never sent out any sex pics with his face in them.

Because he was afraid.

Being gay in Berlin was a lot different than being gay in Russia.

“It would destroy my mother.” He said to me. We were sitting at one of the tables outside. People rode bikes, they walked hand in hand, drinking beers and flat whites, laughing. The City was alive with summer. “My brothers would kill me.”

“When do you go back?”

“Three Weeks. I’ve been looking for a job here, but it isn’t easy. My Visa ends. I’m not an EU Citizen.”

We walked along the canal and made out on one of the many bridges. He held me tight. He ran his hand down my back and grabbed onto my ass.

“I wonder if I’ll ever be able to do this again.”

“Make out with a guy?”

“Like this. Out in the open. Not caring what anyone thinks. Not being afraid.”

We spent the rest of the day at his apartment in Mitte. We fucked and made food and watched bad horror movies and fucked some more.

A week later I returned to Los Angeles. Another city where you can make out and hold hands and love whoever you want.

In May, right around the time of my birthday, Ivan messaged me on Instagram.

“I am in Amsterdam visiting a friend for a few days. I tested HIV Positive. I am afraid. I don’t know what will happen if I go back. I am afraid to go to the doctors. I am afraid to tell my family. I keep reading your stories about being HIV Positive and they give me hope. You make me feel less alone.”

A few weeks ago I was with my boyfriend, Layne, in Hollywood. We were picking up movie tickets on Hollywood and Highland. Swarms of tourists. Families from all over the country taking pictures with Spider Man and Darth Vader and Michael Jackson.

We were holding hands. A father gave us a look of disapproval and he said something to his little boy. The boy laughed. For a moment I thought about pulling my hand away, avoiding any conflict or embarrassment.

Instead I held on tighter. I got on my tippy toes (Layne is six feet to my five five so I have to reach high for kisses!) and kissed him.

Because this is my city. My world. And no one gets to tell me I can’t hold my boyfriend’s hand on the street.

And who the fuck knows? Maybe that little boy will grow up into a big ole queer teenager and he will remember the two guys making out right there, in the middle of the street, not giving a fuck what his dad or anyone else thought.

And that’s the point. That’s why. Every time we hold hands in public. Every time we kiss those we love (or just like or want to fuck) on the street. Every time we say I love you or show intimacy and affection, we are making a statement to the world: That we are here. And you are not alone.

I got an email a while back regarding a story of mine:

“I read your blog piece, “Getting Pissed on Taught me the Secret to Being Free”. You and your partner should be ashamed. I am a gay man. I do not live in liberal California. I believe in Jesus and in restraint and monogamy. It is gay men like you, sexual deviants and predators, who are teaching the straight-normal world that we are all amoral perverts. We will make America Great Again, and there will be no place for men like you.”

He’s absolutely right. I am a sexual deviant and a pervert, and I do not give a fuck what straight, normal, gay, or anyone else thinks about that. This is my life. My sexuality. My relationship. And I live according to my values.

To be kind and loving. To be honest (or as honest as I can be). To be open. To try to grow. To be tolerant. To have compassion for myself and those around me.

And to be visible so those who can’t be will know they aren’t alone.

I write about getting pissed on and group sex and getting fucked in public. I write about falling in love. I write about my struggles with jealousy and fear and intimacy, about getting sober and being HIV Positive. I try to explore all of who I am openly and honestly because I can. Because I will not be jailed, I will not be beaten, my family will not turn their backs on me.

I think those of us living in places like LA and New York, San Francisco and Chicago, have an obligation to be visible. Whether you’re two dads or two moms raising a family, trans or gender fluid, a slut or asexual, open or monogamous, we need to be seen: all of us. The whole spectrum.

Because there are people out there like my friend Ivan who are afraid that they will die if they express their truth.

So for them, I’m gonna keep screaming it as loud and as graphically as I can.

And I’m not gonna back down for anyone.

If you’d like to read more of my writing check out the stories on my blog or my book, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon.

Your support means everything to me. We are in this together.

ON JEALOUSY AND FUCKING AND BEING TRUE TO WHO I AM: EVEN WHEN I DON’T ALWAYS LOVE WHO I AM

Discerning Daddy

Sometimes I am jealous as fuck. And I don’t even always have my shit together about it.

There is this expectation that we are supposed to be super chill about our partners fucking other dudes, making out with them at the bars, flirting with them on the dating apps. There’s this constant, hidden message: If you aren’t open and cool with it than there is something inherently wrong with you. And if you have any inclination toward monogamy you must be incredibly unenlightened.

So I’m just going to say it: I’m an incredibly unenlightened fucking cave man who can’t stand the idea of my man with another man. Except, when suddenly, I think it’s the hottest thing in the world.

Because sex, and love, and relationships are complicated as fuck, and I don’t believe there is any one way, and to be honest, I think maybe the closest thing I can get to is being fluid with my sexuality and the openness in my relationship.

Sometimes I love to watch my dude fuck another man. Sometimes my favorite thing to do is go to an afterhours or a sex club and watch my man suck a bunch of dicks. I love when he fucks me when a bunch of guys stand around and watch, jerking off. One of my favorite fantasies is me and another bottom totally spoiling him.

And I get to do all those things with him.

But there are other times when I lie in bed driving myself insane with the exact same scenarios. Imagining him falling in love, leaving me, or being bored with me and only being able to get off with another guy.

Because not only am I jealous as fuck, I can be insecure, and afraid: that I’m not enough, or good enough, or that I will be left alone, and that ultimately I will die alone.

Sometimes I want to be the only man he wants to fuck. And it hurts to know that I will never be the only man he wants to fuck.

But if I were honest, he is not the only man I want to fuck either.

My jealousy and insecurities aren’t even based in rational thought. They are these deep down wells of emotion that come from nowhere, screaming at me and causing me to do and say stupid, mean, petty things.

I want to be one of those guys who doesn’t care what my man is doing when I’m not around. Totally fine sitting in the living room watching Rachel Maddow while some trick comes over so my boyfriend can fuck him on our bed.

But I’m not that guy. I don’t even know how to be that guy. And really, maybe that guy isn’t even that guy. At least not the way I’m imagining him.

So I have to find a way to be myself.

And I have to be honest about my desires, and what I want. Because let’s get real. I want us both to fuck other guys. I want to share them with my man and I want them all to myself. I want to get nasty piggy and do dirty slutty shit. Sometimes I want to do a lot of nasty piggy dirty slutty shit.

The hardest thing for me to accept is that I am powerless over what my partner does. Just as he is powerless over what I do.

I have been manipulative, I have tried to control him, I’ve started fights because I caught him looking at an ex, or any number of things I’m super ashamed of. Things that I don’t think are true to my nature, but they are. They are just as much a part of me as the good and kind and generous and loving things are. I just have to figure out how to accept them without nurturing them.

And then I have to be honest. And tell him I’m scared. To be vulnerable. And to try to grow. To try to be the man I want to be. To be deserving of the man he is.

Because that’s the point, right? To find a way, even if that way is messy and scary and sometimes makes me look bad, to be real and vulnerable, to rise above my pride and my shame to become the Jeff I know I can be.

Right now I’m working on a middle ground. I’m not ready for 100% open and I don’t think monogamy is the right path for me either. So we are monogamy-ish. We can do whatever we want together. We can fuck, go to sex parties, put on shows, have threeways and fourways and group sex. We can do whatever we want.

Together.

And what I’m learning is to say, hey, I don’t want to do that right now. I’m not feeling comfortable. I’m sorry.

Because that’s also about being vulnerable. Admitting that sometimes I don’t feel safe. And not making that about him. Because it’s never really about him.

And trusting that he will have my back. Because he always does.

It’s not easy for me to say no. To say I’m not comfortable, especially when it comes to sex. I think I should always be ready, always hard, always horny, always down to fuck and get fucked.

But I’m not.

Sometimes I’m emo. Sometimes I just want him, his dick inside me, his kisses. Sometimes I’m just not in that head space.

And that’s ok.

Here’s the deal, here’s the reason I’m sharing this not so sexy side of myself: Because it is ok. And the more we accept that side of us, the more we stop feeling ashamed and get honest, the more we will be true to who we are. The easier it’ll be to be vulnerable when the jealousy arises, instead of angry. The easier it will be to approach him and myself with love, and compassion, and not insecurity and fear.

I am ok. And if I’m ok, considering the things I’ve done, I’m pretty fucking sure you are ok too.

Feel free to reach out to me if you have things related to this you want to share. It makes me feel less alone if we are all in this together. Or if you just want to ask me questions. Or to tell me that you get it. Or that you think I’m crazy as fuck (you’d be right, I am.).

Also, it’d be a big deal if you’d check out my book, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon. Your support makes it possible for me to keep writing. Without you there is no point. We are in this together!

Getting Pissed on Taught Me The Secret to Being Free

Discerning Daddy

“What are you doing?” Layne Texts me.

It’s Monday. 6:30pm.

“I’m being lazy. What about you?”

“May I make a suggestion?”

“Sure.”

“If I were you I’d take off all my clothes and sit in the shower with the water off.”

I feel my dick get hard.

“I’ll go do that now.” I text back.

“Good boy. Wait for me.”

I strip naked and get on my knees in the shower. I hear Paco start to bark, then the front door opens.

I close my eyes and breathe in deep.

The bathroom door opens and I am overwhelmed by how handsome he is. He is dressed in a blue button-down oxford, dark pants. He has just come from work.

He smiles when he sees me. The way he smiles makes me feel proud.

I watch as he unzips his pants and pulls his cock out. I brush my face against it, my cock hard in anticipation, and then he is pissing.

I lean my head back, letting it run over my face, into my mouth: I drink it and let it run over my head and down my back.

He must have been saving it for me. He likes to spoil me.

When he is done I take his cock in my mouth: it is hard too. I kiss it, stroking it. Then I stand.

Layne kisses me, tasting his piss on my mouth.

“Shower. I’ll be waiting in the bedroom.”

He leaves me to wash off.

In the bedroom he fucks me like he owns me. He holds me down, teasing my hole then pounding it, kissing the back of my neck, biting at my ear lobes, he holds me tight as he grinds into me, saying my name, reminding me that I am his, to use, to do what he wants with.

When he cums he rams it in deep, pinning me to my bed, his weight heavy on me.

When I jerk off his fingers are deep in my hole, and he talks me through, working me to that place where he is in total control.

When I cum it shoots far, and then he is kissing me, wrapping his arms around me, and I am laughing.

I always laugh when he makes me cum.

Some people might call me a sexual deviant. Or a slut. Or kinky, or into fetishes, or a bottom or a sub, or a top, a bear, a daddy, queer, gay, masculine, feminine, but I’m done with these labels. With the ways we divide and separate each other. The ways we try to make ourselves feel special or elevated, above someone else. I am done with the idea that being kinky, or deviant, or open or poly, or monogamous, or vanilla, or into leather, or any word we use to somehow establish an elitist idea of how someone should behave or be are the things that define who I am.

I like when Layne pisses on me. Not because I am into piss play but because I am into Layne. I am into exploring the boundaries of sex and dominance, the limits of who I am and who he is.

But I also like to cuddle and watch Schitt’s Creek.

I also really love “vanilla” boyfriend sex. The kind of sex where we are both just chasing our nut. Sometimes that is my favorite kind of sex.

What makes something a kink or a fetish? One person piggy and another not? Why can’t we just like what we like without labeling it? Without using it to divide ourselves?

I’m not saying I don’t think communities aren’t valuable. I think finding like-minded people who share your preferences is essential to no longer feeling like a deviant, an outcast, alone. I think celebrating our sexual identities, our desires, celebrating who and how we love, is the way we become visible: the way to acceptance from ourselves and others.

By being visible we normalize what can sometimes seem foreign or threatening.

I like trying on different labels, different fetishes, exploring the ways in which my sexuality expands and grows, but I do not want to be defined or limited by these desires.

Just because I loved that moment when Layne was pissing in my mouth and all over my face doesn’t mean I don’t also love when he holds me tight and whispers that he loves me, looks into my eyes, the moments when we are vulnerable, when I am jealous and scared and he reminds me of who I am.

The minute I allowed myself to stop thinking of myself as a label I was able to discover a vast landscape of possibilities.

I think this is what it means to be sex-positive. To be aware of the ways in which we limit ourselves and each other. To stop viewing our sexuality as something transactional.

There is a whole world of experiences out there just waiting. I want to be free to explore them, to be open to them, I want to feel secure enough and happy enough to trust that I can move outside the boundaries I have created for myself and try something new.

So I’m gonna keep writing about them. Keep trying to make sense of who I am and who I am becoming. And maybe it’s arrogant to think this, but I can’t help but believe that by doing this, by being as open and honest as I can be, maybe I am helping to light a path, to let others know they are safe too, that we get to be as big and as vast as we want to be.

To be pissed on and fucked, to dominate and submit, to follow all our desires and fetishes without shame or stigma.

But to also be more than those desires and fetishes.

I’d love to hear your stories. To hear some of your adventures.

If you’d like to read more of my writing check out the stories on my blog or my book, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon.

Your support means everything to me. We are in this together.

Submission: Exploring What Ownership and Control Means In My Sexuality

Discerning Daddy

I remember the first time I ever got fucked. I mean that deep down, in your soul, owned kinda fucked. I was a sophomore in High School. Khaled was 22. He was dating my friend Carrie. She used to say she wanted to watch Khaled fucking me.

One night, Carrie was traveling with her parents in Thailand for a month, Khaled showed up at a party I was at in East Hampton. A friend’s parents were in Europe for the summer and we decided to throw endless parties at their apartment on the upper west side, with weekends spent in the Hamptons.

We got stoned on the beach and I remember Khaled took his dick out. It was thick and uncut, and without saying a word to me, he put his hand on the back of my neck and pushed me down.

He was so hard, there was no room left for me, just for that relentless, impossibly hard cock.

“I’m gonna fuck you,” he whispered, his breath warm against my ear. “I’m gonna fuck you and make that pussy mine.”

He took me upstairs, into one of the guest rooms. A screen door opened to a balcony and the ocean.

He kissed me hard, his fingers slipping down the back of my bathing suit, playing around the edges of my hole.

“So sweet,” he said. “My sweet little slut.”

When Khaled fucked me there was no question about who’s needs were being met and about what my roll was. Khaled fucked me like I was his: property, he forced me into submission, and made me beg to be owned by him, marked by him: he taught me what it meant to give myself over to a man: to be of a single-minded purpose: he taught me how to exist in the giving of pleasure.

I’ve learned a lot about desire since I was a high school sophomore being used by Khaled. I’ve learned a lot about love and sex and who I am as a man and as a sexual being.

I’ve never thought of myself as a bottom. Or as a top. I’ve always just loved sex. I love to suck dick and to eat ass, I go kind of crazy when I’m getting my ass eaten, I love to own and to be owned, I love to fuck and get fucked and to make out and to fall in love and to be passed around and to explore all the ways that dominance and submission and control and passion and tenderness and intimacy and desire play out in my life.

Lately I’ve been posting lots of butt pics on Instagram. I’ve been exploring what it means to be an HIV Positive, 51-year-old, sober gay man. What it means to grow older, but to still celebrate my sexuality, and to allow it to grow and change. Because, if I’m learning anything, that is the point: to grow and change, to be ever evolving.

Recently, in response to one of my butt pics, someone wrote, “Oh, I’m so disappointed. I thought you were a top. What a waste of a real man. Why don’t men act like men?” While hanging out with a group of friends, someone said, “I mean, the whole point of the bottom is to just lay there and take it. Let the top do all the work. Bottoms need to just shut up and be still.”

I’ve recently started dating a man named Layne. With Layne I get to explore aspects of being a bottom I haven’t allowed myself. The idea of ownership and submission, exploring aggression, and intimacy, allowing for something primal to enter into the tenderness, to be held down and fucked relentlessly, then to feel his kisses on the back of my neck, the way he wraps his arms around me and whispers in my ear: to know I am his but to also know that he is mine; that ownership is a relationship, it works both ways. Layne isn’t telling me to just lay there and be still, he isn’t telling me to shut up, he isn’t denigrating my masculinity even as he holds me down and uses me, even as he turns me into a possession he can share with another top or keep all to himself, instead Layne is opening doors, he is creating safe spaces for me to explore who I am, while also exploring who he is.

We do this together. We do this as a team. We do this in a way that celebrates the other instead of putting them down.

A couple nights ago, his cock deep inside me, the full weight of his body on me, grounding me, holding me down, his arms wrapped tight around me, his hips grinding deeper and deeper into me, to the point where I no longer knew where the pleasure and the pain began or ended, where I no longer was aware of anything but that feeling of him inside me: where all I was was his: my body possessed, my mind wiped clean. Fucked. And then he kissed the back of my neck, pulling out, licking down my back to my ass, tasting me, playing with me, working me into a frenzy, he whispered my name, he created a connection before slamming back into me, working me back into that place where there is nothing left but his cock inside me.

I don’t believe that who I fuck, or how I fuck, whether I am a top or a bottom, whether I am submitting or owning, says anything about who I am as a man. My masculinity is inherent, it is not determined by anyone else. It is not reliant upon any outside forces.

And that as bottoms our desires are not secondary to our tops, in some ways our desires are primary; a good top knows how to get deep inside his bottom’s head, to fuck him so deep he reaches into the darkest corners of his bottom’s needs and desires and ignites them, sets them free. That’s real ownership. That’s real connection.

I love to get fucked. I love to submit and to be owned, and to give myself over to a top who knows how to pull me deeper into my own desires, who is just as focused on satisfying me as I am focused on satisfying him.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to fuck too. That I don’t love to be the top, to explore those sides of who I am. I don’t want to be limited: I don’t want to be labelled.

But right now I am learning to explore sides of who I am as a man I didn’t know existed. I am excited for this journey. I am excited to share in it with Layne. I am excited to share in it with the other men we fuck. I am excited to explore the ways intimacy and love and partnership play into my desire to be possessed and owned. I am excited to explore my Self, as well as explore him and his desires and needs.

This, to me, is what it is all about. Sex and love and relationship.

As I’ve said before, none of it is easy. I also navigate jealousy, and fear, and insecurity, I navigate questions of being enough, of balancing who I am and who he is, of who we are.

But what I am really learning is allowing myself to be true to who I am.

So this is what I’m doing. I’m beginning a new journey of self-exploration. This is what it looks like to be a 51-year-old HIV Positive Sober Gay Man. This is what it looks like to be Jeff Leavell.

I’d love to hear some of your stories. I’d love to hear the ways you explore and celebrate who you are as a sexual being.

And let’s all remember: No one gets to tell us that we are less than, or not enough, or that we are somehow undeserving because of our desires and our needs.

Go be you. The biggest, queerest fucking you you can be. Being true to who we are is the most radical thing we can fucking do.

Hey, and go Check out my book, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon! Your support allows me to keep writing!

What We Mean When We Talk About Being Open

Discerning Daddy

I’m really fucking permissive. I think everyone should do what they want, should explore sex and relationships and love how they want. I don’t like the idea of enslaving your partner(s) in prisons built on restrictive rules. I think we should challenge ourselves and grow: to be open to each other’s needs as well as our own.

“It’s like if I don’t let him fuck whoever he wants, whenever he wants, then I’m the one being unreasonable.” Tim and I are at Lemonade on Larchmont. It’s sunny out: a break in the rain. “I don’t want to go out to a bar or a club with my boyfriend and worry if I’m going to find him in the bathroom sucking dick, or getting fucked on the dance floor, or just making out with random guys. He can do whatever he wants when I’m not there. I don’t give a fuck. But when I tell him that I’m the jealous one, I’m insecure, I’m hung up and not sex-positive.”

But being permissive doesn’t mean it has to be a fucking free-for-all. It’s ok to tell your partner(s) that you don’t want them fucking tricks in your bed, or that when you guys go out that’s your time, or don’t be on Scruff when you’re on a date with each other, or whatever other boundaries are going to help you manage what can sometimes be a really scary thing: sharing your man (or woman or lover or people) with someone else.

Jealousy is natural. Jealousy can be sexy: it can mean: You are mine. You are valuable to me and I don’t want to lose you. And that can be hot. Unchecked jealousy can be overwhelming and scary, but a little bit of jealousy can make my dick hard. It makes me feel wanted.

This idea that we all just need to get over ourselves and our bodies and our sexuality and be 100% open all the time is, in my opinion, ridiculous. Unless that’s what you and your partner(s) all want: which is also totally fucking cool.

“It sounds like he’s not listening to you,” I tell Tim. “But what if he does hear you and then decides he can’t give you what you need?”

“I don’t know. Maybe I’d try harder to be cooler.”

I remember driving up Vermont Canyon into Griffith Park. I was horny. I wanted to get my dick sucked. I wanted to fuck. I was in a predatory state of mind. I drove up the hill, LA sprawling and endless, the sky that forever blue. I parked and walked into a canyon where I knew guys cruise.

This was ten years ago. I walked down trails that cut through the canyon, making eye contact with guys I found hot. I fucked a super hot Latin guy in his 20’s who had the kind of broad shoulders, muscled chest, and belly that drove me crazy. He also had one of those big asses that made it hard not to cum instantly. Holding back as long as I could I tried to make sure he wouldn’t forget me for a few days. After, standing up, he reached around and played with his hole, tasting me on his fingers. And then he said, “Wow, man, thanks!”. The way he said “Thanks!!” made my dick so hard I pushed him to his knees and let him suck me off.

That kid deserved two loads.

Driving back up the hill I saw my boyfriend, Jared, walking into some bushes with a tall handsome man in a suit.

I almost puked. I wanted to park my car and drag that fucking suited dude into the middle of the road and beat him senseless.

I was blind with fury.

I didn’t get out of my car. I didn’t beat that suited dude senseless. I went home. I walked my dog Maggie. I jerked off a few times. And then Jared came over: we had planned to meet for dinner.

And for 45 seconds I was so mad I wanted to yell and scream and burn the whole world down.

Instead I said, “Hey baby. I was thinking of making a chicken pot pie, but now I want Sushi. Want to go get Sushi with me?”

We went to a place on Franklin I liked a lot. After dinner we walked through the Hollywood hills, the lights of the City sprawled out before us: the City burned full of endless possibilities and beauty, and Jared took my hand.

“I love you so much,” he said.

I never told him I saw him that day. Not because I was keeping secrets, and not because I thought he’d be upset or because I was building a case against him.

I didn’t say anything because it wasn’t important. He hadn’t broken our rules. Neither had I. And while for those few minutes the pain of seeing him with another man had been so overwhelming, cutting deep into all my fears and insecurities: they were mine to manage.

And let’s get real: I had stuck my dick in at least four guys that afternoon. Nothing I had felt was built on rational thought: it was pure emotion. I’m territorial. A fucking caveman. That’s something I am constantly working on: and I don’t judge myself for it. It’s who I am. But I am capable of growing beyond who I am, not because I feel I have to for them, but because I know: I want this. I am not built for monogamy. Even if I am a jealous, possessive, fucking caveman.

Here is the thing: being open isn’t always easy. Seeing the person (s) you love, being with someone else can be super fucking hot, but it can also kill your hardon. Sometimes I want to know what my partners have done, I want to hear about their adventures, and sometimes the idea of them touching someone else makes me fly into a state of blind rage.

It’s contextual. And the rules we set, the boundaries, are there to protect us.

So that’s what I tell Tim.

“It isn’t about you being cool or not cool. It’s about creating an environment where both of your needs are being met. Not just his.”

Because that’s the whole fucking point, isn’t it? That all of our needs are met. That we get to be allowed to grow and be the people we are. Even if it means sometimes growing apart.

And the rules: the rules and the boundaries are our friends. They create safe places where we get to explore and play and learn and grow. And sometimes we will decide to change the rules, be more open or less open, sometimes we will find this isn’t who we are, or what we want.

Being open can be scary as fuck. It is something that needs to be talked about. A lot. The boundaries need to be clear. And all parties need to be committed to a mutual respect.

But before any of that can work, before we should even begin this journey, we need to find the courage to be honest about who we are. About what we need. Sometimes I love being open. Sometimes I need to close it down. Sometimes I want to go fuck the world with my partner(s) and sometimes all I want is them. Sometimes I’m jealous and sometimes I’m scared.

I’m a human being. And human beings are super complicated. We are built on emotion and logic. Not always in equal measure.. We are full of pain and fear and loss and desire: we are all endless lights full of unlimited possibility: and it’s ok. All of it. Every fucking thing: we are all just doing the best we can. Even when we fuck it all up.

And trust me: I’ve really fucked it all up. On an epic scale.

Here’s what matters the most to me: That my partner(s) and I treat each other with love and kindness and respect. And that we communicate and listen and that we be willing to really see the other. If we do these things, then we are usually going to be ok.

And when we aren’t ok then we do our best to stand together, holding on as tight as we can because even as it all falls apart we can provide support.

So go fuck, be open or closed, have threeways and fourways, cruise and explore and talk endlessly all night long and live your life as big and as full as you can: no matter what that means. And hold each other. Because for real, life can be fucked up: it can throw us so far off course we have no idea how to find our way back. But that‘s why we have each other.

To be beacons in the storm.

Hey! Check out my book, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon! Your support means the world to me.

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.

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!