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Sexuality: In Sickness and Health

Posted 03-03-2013 at 11:21 AM by wiscsober
Updated 03-04-2013 at 06:30 PM by wiscsober (grammar typos)

What defines homosexuality? What defines heterosexuality?
The answer lies in unconditional love.

I am not writing an argument. My intent is to foster acceptance. This all leads up to the poem at the end, a fictional account of love between two men who are at different points in recovery and illness. But, before hand I must write what I think is true.

I am not comparing homosexuality/heterosexuality to alcoholism/addiction. They are not choices -- so can not be right or wrong. I donít believe that heterosexuality is a correct alignment with nature while homosexuality is an abomination -- vice versa. Addiction is not a choice; we are not flawed or bad people because of illnesses. The subject(s) do not concern gods and goddesses, nor caused by ailing spiritual conditions.

I am a heterosexual not by choice but by nature. It took several gay men to emphatically tell me that I am definitely heterosexual. Actually I was disappointed. My daily life is full of choices, but sexuality is fiber. How great it was, after working through the first nine steps of the twelve, to truly accept my sexuality.

I am an alcoholic not by choice but by nature. It took several recovering alcoholics emphatically tell me I am definitely alcoholic; again, such disappointment was mine. My sober life is full of choices, and recovery is fiber. Acceptance of the alcoholism didnít take as long, but again how great it was to see the promises coming true.

Living sober I freely decide who will be my friends and lovers, my buddies and compatriots, my recovery friends and acquaintances. When I was an active drunk disease dictated whom Iíd associated with. I was not free, but a prisoner of irrational thoughts; how terrible it was making decisions (and not making decisions) which were contributing to my own death.

To the male friends and acquaintances Iíve met in recovery, I am grateful. They taught me to truly live. They led remarkable lives, all because of the choice to live clean and sober, not because of their sexuality.

Sorrowfully many of them spiraled out of control and died. One man murdered his family. One was bludgeoned by his son. Several died from AIDS. Several committed suicide. Many landed in jails and prisons. Some disappeared from the recovery radar altogether.

Would you choose to live a life of despair, loneliness, isolation, sickness, violence, and abuse? Granted, there may be times of euphoria, happiness, giddiness, and social-ability? A lifetime of addiction? A never ending circle of joy and destruction? Would any sane person choose this way of life?

No. We donít choose death sentences.

One time I almost loved a man. One man. A great man who was a high-ranking navy helicopter pilot. Together we attended several AA meetings overseas and stateside. He wanted more from the friendship than I cared to give. I was straight and an enlisted married man. He was gay, a handsome and daring officer -- a much better and kinder man than I. With all the whispers and rumors, innuendos and cold shouldering, work becoming complicated, I quickly put it end to it, though I am grateful for the sober experience.


Poetry is fiction, embellished creative creations, meant to emote feelings, thoughts and imagery; creating new realities from nebulous memories. Poetry is a gift of writing near-perfection badly.

A Tragic Love is fictional poetry, the content far too serious and dangerous to make light of (to aver as true). It is a story of love between two men at different points in sickness and health.

A Tragic Love

Red sky at night; sailors delight,
Red sky in the morning; sailors warning
-- ancient adage

Here was a man with a very high fever
trying to hide my silverware.
He smiled about the Persian Gulf, sea snakes,
Portsmouth sailors, his officer stripes, water polo,
and our one night at the El Manama Hotel.

His toothy grin was fleeting. He asked why I did not write.
I told him there was an unsent letter
thrown in the trash years ago in which
I wrote about my sons, feeding the cat, paying bills,
washing dishes, the broken down car, and my disappointed
about his dishonorable discharge.

Watching him finger the burnt fabric I said
I didnít mind the burn holes on the couch's arm,
but he couldnít use my spoons anymore.
We laughed and blew cigarette smoke.
Maybe if I was drunk I would have kissed him and much more once again.

Instead I kissed his fingers, pressed my palm to his thigh
to stop his trembling legs. I ran cotton swabs along the tracks
dabbing antibiotic cream on sores. Here was a man
with skin turned different colors.
I knew disease was in his brain
and he wasnít
honest about the tests.

I asked:

ďWhy donít you stay here in Wisconsin instead of San Juan?
Here youíll get better care, and there are four seasons instead of one.
We can walk among trillium shoots slipping green through frost,
and fish for white bass and walleye during spring runs.
In summer lean tanned men slick with sweat run marathons,
and we could give them water. In autumn the fallen leaves
are knee deep and golden pumpkins fat. In the heaviness of winter
we can lay under crisp clean taut sheets my lips against your temple.Ē

Here was a sailor saying no to life,
ready to shove off woven tight with fever.

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