Dirtyboyz Interview

I was recently interviewed by the porn and fetish magazine, Dirtyboyz, which is attached to the well-known “Boyz” publication group, about the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation on homosexuality in England and Wales. 

David Bridle, the MD at Boyz, said about the issue “I’m really proud of the new issue of Dirtyboyz – out today – which marks the 50 year anniversary of the passing of the Sexual Offences Act with a ‘1967 Decriminalisation Special: When gay sex was a crime’. The edition includes an interview with gay therapist David Parker, an homage to Joe Orton by Daniel Warner and a cover feature interview with the great British gay porn photographer Mike Arlen by Adam Clifford – and Mike photographed Adam for our 1960s style black and white cover. Dirtyboyz is for gay adults only and can be picked up now in London at gay shops, saunas and over-18 bars and clubs – and across the UK.”

See the full interview from Dirtyboyz Issue 48 August 2017 below or check out their website www.dirtyboyz.xxx/Dirtyboyz/48/index.html:

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Queer City : Who Do You Think You Are?

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Queer History is the flavour of the month right now, with the UK celebrating 50 years since the partial-decriminalisation of Homosexuality via the Sexual Offences Act 1967. Partial because decriminalisation ended at age 21, any man or teenager under that age were not deemed consenting adults, so eligible for the long arm of the law. The legal age of consent was reduced to 18 in 1994 and to 16 in 2001. 

Coming out is a tough enough process in itself, for the majority, especially to oneself, let alone family, friends and co-workers. Fuelled with trepidation, projection and fear of rejection, we often have no method to follow, no manual or mentor. Thankfully the internet and You Tube ‘Coming Out’ vids at least offers examples, ideas and results to savour.

Ancestry websites and a certain TV programme support the opportunity to discover your own family history as a genetic thread to WHO YOU ARE, complete with family secrets, mis-told information about past relatives, family illnesses, physical, emotional and mental conditions but no birth, marriage or death certificate is going mention Queer, Homosexual or Gay.

You are probably the first in your family to be OUT. Honour it.

51R8FSHZAPL._SX305_BO1,204,203,200_My own experience of releasing genetic  shame around a differing sexuality came about reading a book in the early nineties, right in the middle of the AIDS epidemic.

I got sent two books, one still in print, one not. The first was Spirit and the Flesh : Sexual Diversity in American Indian Culture ( in print ) and Rictor Norton’s Mother Clap’s Molly House : the Gay Subculture in England 1700-1830, detailed court records of meeting places, crimes of same-sex activity and the hangman’s noose for a rumble fumble in alley-ways, cruising grounds and latrines. 

It taught me that giving myself THE GIFT OF QUEER HISTORY told me who I was, could be, and how I could drop the shame that Oscar Wilde called “the love that dare not speak its name” at his trial for gross indecency. Not Wilde’s prose, as many think, but a line from ‘Bosie’, Wilde’s lover, Lord Alfred Douglas’s fair-handed poem “Two Loves” in 1894.

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A few months ago Peter Ackroyd published Queer City : Gay London from the Romans to the present day, and it’s a real historical TREAT. Who knew that sodomy was so popular?

Do check out the Reviews online and discover the genetic link between you and Roman Soldiers, Middle Age Monks, the Vice of the Normans, Georgian Coffee House Mollies, Dandies, Queens at Court, Renters, Cottagers, 20th Century Clubbers and PRIDE as it is today.

This is your MAP, your family, your spirit lineage and shame-based facility to crush, to rise up from, and give yourself THE GIFT OF HISTORY to nurture, OWN and honour a path well trodden.

Kings Head Theatre Queer Season 2017

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Coming Clean, Kevin Elyot’s first professionally produced play, looks at the breakdown of a gay couple’s relationship and examines complex questions of fidelity and love.

It was first performed pre AIDS at the Bush Theatre, London, on 3 November 1982.

Now it is being revived for its 35th Anniversary into The King’s Head Theatre 2017 Queer Season; a curated 9 week programme of LGBTQI Theatre opening in July.

King’s Head Theatre’s Artistic Director Adam Spreadbury-Maher directs this first London revival of Kevin Elyot’s play that questions fidelity and the limits of love written before his hit play ‘My Night With Reg’, a noted classic of  queer theatre.

bullandgateThe play is set in a flat in Kentish Town, north London, in 1982. Struggling writer Tony and his partner of five years, Greg, seem to have the perfect relationship. Committed and in love, they are both open to one-night stands as long as they don’t impinge on the relationship. But Tony is starting to yearn for something deeper, something more like monogamy. When he finds out that Greg has been having a full-blown affair with their cleaner, Robert, their differing attitudes towards love and commitment become clear.

In 1970 I moved to Dartmouth Park Hill near Tufnell Park tube close to Kentish Town, so was asked where the characters would have cottaged, drank, cruised and found sexual partners as part of character development.

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Set in pre-AIDS 1982, I was asked by the Director to speak to the cast about Gay Life in the 60’s and 70’s so they could develop character parts and ask questions about their respective character backgrounds, so I started out sharing what information about queers were available during criminalisation and what it was like when I came out in 1967 and the background to it. It was a bit of a hoot really talking for almost 90 mins with them scribbling notes and developing production ideas. They were only 3 days into rehearsal, and no one was around in 1982 so it was an eager audience.

We discussed Cottaging, Dirk Bogarde films ACCIDENT & VICTIM, Polari, Politics, The Colhearne, Earls Court Gay Scene in the 60’s, Zipper, HIM Magazine, Crisco, COLT Porn Mags, Poppers, pills, Hampstead Heath, Jack Straw’s Castle, BANGS and Marlboro Red Lights tucked into Capped T shirt sleeves. It was like memory lane. 

Check out all the plays in the season here and get OFF your phone for a while.

http://www.kingsheadtheatre.com

 

Spit it Out!

Learning to Express Yourself is a Key to Success.

Many people can’t ask for what they want because they don’t know how to express it. I was one of them. Now look at the word ‘express-ing’, it means fast, speedy and direct. As a kid I had a stammer from god knows when till a teenager and dreaded queues in shops and ticket offices. By the time I was asked what I wanted nothing came out but splutter, shame, public humiliation and deep embarrassment, everything except fast, speedy and direct.

davidparker_keepcalm_sept13On top of this I had a nervous squint. I contracted meningitis on the spine when I was 6 months old and over the next 12 years was a frequent visitor to brain damage tests with a final conclusion that I will ‘grow out of it’. Well I did when I discovered alcohol & drugs. This masterful brew gave me confidence, a clear speedy voice, though often sharp and bitchy. In future therapy sessions, I was told it was an act of survival, an old pattern, thinking I could not be heard. Oh and I was ‘a red’, a ginger, an outsider and gay, way before fetish sites put red as a hot topic of sexual attraction. All in all, a teenage nightmare. No wonder I embraced getting ‘out of it’.

We had no knowledge about addictions, codependency or ‘finding yourself’ in self help books in the 70’s, it was all about sexual liberation, learning to express yourself through your body, so I soon got the hang of that. Less talking, less stammering, less nervousness, more action.

This inadvertently led to many years of sexual addiction until a virus took hold of my priorities, being forced to learn how to express myself ‘to serve myself first’, not heed to the demands of others. This aspect of codependency is rife in the gay community and often leads to unsafe sex as people-pleasing leading the way to a man’s zipper, but the desire to be connected, to belong, to seek approval as an act of expression, can leave you short-changed when it comes to emotional satisfaction. Clearing up the mess of others as fixer, or being entangled in a relationship with someone who cannot express themselves via depression, past abuses, alcohol dependency does not bode well in the healthy relationship stakes.

fear-is-in-your-head1Assisting or understanding a partner with these issues, while detaching, in order not to get sucked in, is extremely difficult, but essential in order to manage your own sanity. Learning to say NO more often and ridding yourself of the belief that ‘when you get YOUR needs met, others lose’ is the key to emotional recovery. This may appear selfish in print, and to some unloving, but in reality the biggest aspect of relationship breakdown is ‘ not getting needs met’, because often those needs have failed to be expressed because of ‘harming’ the other person. Not wanting to rock the boat by telling the truth faster creates suppressed anger, game playing, dishonesty and fear. The opposite to love.

When I started a recovery process from active addiction over 30 years ago, I shockingly discovered I was shy. Quite the opposite from the persona I had created. Then I had to learn to communicate verbally & sexually without chemical support, and the stammer came back along with the nervous squint and it felt like I was back at square one, which I was. Back to being the emotional wreck of a teenager with the luggage of 17 years of using.

With self help groups and counselling I managed to explore the reasons, and the lessons of coping with and managing demons like ‘Not being good enough”, “feeling damaged” “not a real man” etc and turn these negative lies into positive statements of truth. In 1984 I began spending every night, for the next 3 years, going to sleep with Louise Hay affirmative tapes on a loop in order to find the real me buried beneath the shames. Then with yogic rebirthing breath work started to express my subconscious emotional fields, until I healed my body and released chronic active hep B from my body in 1996 without medication. That’s a whole story in itself.

davidparker_expressyourself_sept13Eventually the stammer and squint left me, confidence was acquired and I learn’t to ‘tell the truth faster’. For the past 10 years I have travelled the globe every 2 months leading seminars on personal development, holding a room of 30 -50 people for 3 days without a manual or script, just focussing on ‘the NOW’, and allowing things to occur organically. So perseverance paid off. The only way I could express myself in my using days was by being workaholic, by constantly thinking I needed to be in control, while my life was totally out of control. Today I am still clean, sober and Hep B free, long may it continue, a day at a time.

safe_image.phpThis was my monthly piece in HIM-MAGAZINE : http://www.him-magazine.com/2013/09/01/spit-it-out/

Him-Magazine JULY ‘HEROES’ Issue : We Can Be Heroes, Just For One Day

davidbowie_lifestyle_jul13London, England, is lucky enough this summer to be privy to a major retrospective of Bowie: David Bowie is… the biggest sell-out show in the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum’s history! It sold out online for the whole four month run, with Five-Star reviews from the media critics. Tickets were only available in limited slots if you visited the museum on the day, so I was lucky to view my own personal history walking around, remembering coming out, broken relationships, pills and clubbing to Bowie’s tracks. His major anthem always was, and still is for me… Heroes… “We can be Heroes, Just for one day.”

The beginning of the exhibition features a collage of influences surrounding teenage David Jones (later Bowie), including the impact of Yuri Gagarin’s first human journey into Outer Space and the Russian Sputnik floating above the ether. Gagarin must have been a hero to a 14 year-old David as much as anyone else, especially as he wrote “Space Oddity” at age 22 in 1969, creating the fictional “Major Tom” spaceman character that became his signature, his vision and legacy. During the same year, Neil Armstrong was the first human to walk on the moon, while fierce gays and trannies at the Stonewall Inn bar refused to be walked all over by police raid brutality, sowing seeds of the Gay Liberation Movement. Heroes, all of them. Checking out the music, costumes and memorabilia dragged me back to a gay life pre-AIDS, when open hard sexuality was the drug of choice. Clones, tartan shirts, bathhouses and above all — hirsute chunks of men – became as ubiquitous as the Marlboro man.

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When it came to therapy work in the 80’s, everything was new; addictions, treatment centers, codependency and empowerment became buzzwords, but you only entered these portals of personal development if you had AIDS or were mentally unbalanced. Looking inward was deemed unnecessary in the UK; that was for Americans and their “shrinks” and “Celebrity Rehab” hadn’t started and we had no idea that the worst was yet to come. Before burn-out, I spent two years on an HIV project working with people holding CD4 counts under 50, mostly under 20, who were just preparing to die.

When you think of the media version of a hero it’s easy to recall a man diving into a pond to rescue a drowning puppy, yet the real heroes of those years were those affected by HIV/AIDS who taught the value of everything, including hope, gratitude, true friendship and dignity. A true gift for those left behind in the darkest of times.

supermanbatman_lifestyle_jul13For many gay men, the most heroic stance is to come out. Therapists refer to the “inner child” as a recovery tool, and the discovery of toxic shame connected to a differing sexuality, family of origin and the impact on adult inter-personal relationships, but I always encourage people to find their own ‘inner hero’ because it’s very easy to pass over, ignore or overlook the courage it took to come out. Heroes Gagarin and Armstrong were trained to float around outer space, yet few teenagers are trained to come out, so it is truly heroic when they do.

The “inner hero” decides inside, awaiting an opportunity to reveal itself, all those occasions when you thought you would’t make it, but you did. When you made changes and took risks, you ultimately won out. Coming to terms with your self and a differing sexuality is as brave as Superman flying across the skies, and not all gay men get off the ground. This is where therapy can assist you to teach the bird to fly.

Bravery is also required when leaving an abusive relationship; when the odds are against you. It takes courage to rescue yourself, instead of waiting for someone to come and rescue you; to be scooped up in Superman’s arms and held safe. Many men wait to be chosen, rather than choosing themselves, awaiting rescue “by a great dark man” as Quentin Crisp put it; either online or in real spaces. This tale of a damsel in distress is an epidemic in the lives of gay men. One plays the victim, the other the fixer.

The victim who has less feels held and safe but inadequate, and fixer gets off on the  control they have due to the codependent nature of the relationship. Eventually, a stalemate is reached and couples counselling is suggested and taken up. It’s at this stage with a counselor as the intervener, that truth begins to unravel, failings honored, observed and owned. Not many couples are brave enough to take this adult route to save themselves. It may look like the therapist is acting as rescuer, but a good one will not be trained to fix clients, but allow clients to fix themselves. When this occurs the “inner hero” unleashes, boundaries begin to be respected and esteem is raised, even if the outcome is not to one partners agenda, but honesty and acceptance is far more heroic than rescuing a puppy.

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You can read my monthly article here in original form here : http://www.him-magazine.com/2013/07/01/we-can-be-heroes-just-for-one-day/

Rejecting Rehab

amy-winehouse-pic-rex-features-596537980-1I’m sure you will agree that we all need a rest at some point from chems, trashing it and messy mishaps. The pages of laundromat magazines are full of celebrity rehab casualties caught out by the tabloids for doing coke and pushed into rehab for PR purposes. Liz Taylor was one of the first celebrities to visit The Betty Ford Center in 1982 when it opened, and spent most of her lifetime going in and out, a classic case of helping everyone else but sadly couldn’t help herself.

Gay men are much more likely to have used marijuana, pills, cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine, crystal meth, GHB, mephedrone, as examples, than men in the general population. We all know this. Not everyone gets into trouble with party drugs and a healthy debate abounds right now on harm reduction, but the addict, be it sex, dope, booze or gambling, needs to go for themselves, not to keep the peace or keep out of jail.

lindsay-lohan-drunk-22When Amy Winehouse sang ‘I don’t wanna go to Rehab’ we thought it was amusing until she was found dead on an alcohol overdose. Lindsay Lohan has recently been forced into Rehab by yet another judge. A CEO of a prominent treatment centre made an interesting point in an interview last month “The celebrities that so many people ask about, the ones who go to rehab without getting better, often have ‘treatment resistant’ addiction . . . Celebrities who have been classified as such have come to believe that they are in every way SPECIAL, and as such, the rules of life and recovery do not apply to them”.

I have equally witnessed gay men who think they are ‘special and different’, who think because of looks perhaps, they are untouched by addiction. They work out, party hard and hold down a job. So does LiLo and look at the state she’s in. Flicking through cheap laundromat mags, recounting celebrity mishaps, using them as benchmarks for your own behaviour can make one feel superior, but you know what they say “superior on the outside, inferior on the inside”.

Being defensive about secret behaviours leads to a path of denial, and when a friend, partner or sex buddy suggests looking at your escape routes it’s easy to become Amy or LiLo and act out ‘treatment resistant’. Not that rehab is the only answer for gay men with heavy drug or alcohol use, who are ‘walking through treacle getting nowhere fast’, not even to the point of addiction. Hovering between social use, heavy use and ‘must have’ use, is a very uncomfortable place to be. I’ve been there, and equally refused to listen.

I opted for total abstinence in the end, and have remained so ever since, as the evidence landed me in courts and institutions, but checking out your own relationship with all forms of drug use, and recognising how these habits affect all your other relationships is a task worth taking. You may need to give yourself a good talking too, but in the end it’s ‘action’ that holds the highest value.

The current Californian food diet to ravage the globe is the 5.2 diet, where you ‘fast’ for 2 days a week. It may be worth instigating this model into ‘habit fasting days’ if you think using drugs, alcohol, food or anger is becoming a habit or causing relationship problems. Your partner may be nagging you into submission (it rarely works-so stop it) if most of the time you prefer unconsciousness, playing the role of LiLo’s judge will only offer kick back. Forcing someone into counselling, therapy, support groups or rehab to save a relationship, a job or themselves is counter productive for until that person lets go of ‘special & different’, you are wasting breath. Change only works long term when they want it, as LiLo’s judge may discover.

Happy Gay Pride!Having said all that, PRIDE and vacation time is a chance to party more than usual, so don’t take the coming weekends as a benchmark. Trashed and messy is part of ‘letting go’, feeling part of collective bonding and community.

It’s more to do with ‘when & how’ the rest of the year and how you feel when you ‘fast’, whether your habits dominate your schedule and the kind of guys you hang out and collude with. They are the ones likely to enable you into thinking everything is OK. Taking a monthly check on lost phones, chaos living, money spent, manipulations lashed out, depression, moods or stinking thinking will serve you well. For without checking a bank statement you will never know how much money you have. Checking up on your lifestyle, before it costs you more than money, creates higher esteem, satisfaction and above all PRIDE.

This blog first appeared on June 25 2013 as my weekly post on guyspy.com https://www.guyspy.com/rejecting-rehab/

‘Empowerment’ June 2013 Edition of HIM-Magazine

A prolific London DJ, the infamous, multi-talented Stewart Who? once said of me in QX Magazine” If he was assassinated on Old Compton Street they couldn’t get a Police Station big enough to hold the usual suspects, because for well over a decade he has held the secrets of DJs, Club Promoters, Bar Owners, Escorts, Musicians, Lawyers & City Boys as well as counseling those affected by HIV/AIDS since 1984.

He was there at the beginning of AIDS “

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When I read it in print, in stark hard copy, the thing that stuck out was the fact that “He was there at the beginning of AIDS “. It was such a fact that I ignored the impact of it. Yes I was, and sadly HIV/AIDS is still with us, but I’m still here. Prior to the arrival of GRID ( Gay Related Immune Deficiency – the given virus name before HIV in 1984 ) I was diagnosed in 1981 with incurable chronic active hepatitis B virus and cirrhosis of the liver, and was told surprisingly, that alcohol was not the cause, but early death was inevitable as no cure was available.  

At the same time a mysterious virus was hitting New York, San Francisco & Miami and as the Royal Free Hospital in London was a major teaching & research hospital, doctors came from those American cities to test people on the trial, because early USA cases were also chronic Hep B too. They sampled from us hair, blood, saliva & semen to take back to the US, but none of us seemed to have GRID. Within a year or so the Doctors at the Royal Free Liver Unit became HIV/AIDS pioneers opening up units in all London hospitals. In 1982 I was one of 10 guinea pigs on the first human Interferon drug trial in a famous London teaching hospital, which failed to find the cure to halt chronic active Hep B virus. Everyone died on the trial – except me.

766932-binge-drinking1But the real adventure began on October 26 1982 when I awoke from my last drug & alcohol binge weekend, washed up, rinsed, debt ridden and done in. Thus began my true journey.

The 80′s were tough. I was able along the way to own my sex addiction, and deal with the financial wreckage of the past by declaring voluntary bankruptcy in 1984, with no credit for 5 years, the consequences of addictive behaviour. As HIV/AIDS came along, I started counselling addicts, alcoholics and those dying of AIDS, and by 1990 I had lost over 50 friends, past lovers and clients to the virus, while I was in and out of hospital myself with liver failure.

How I survived I have no idea, but the promise of death is a motivator to beat it. In 1991, after a 3 year training I became an LRT (Loving Relationship Training) Relationship Coach & Rebirther and in 2010 was made an Honorary Member of The Australian Academy of Rebirthing & Breathwork, accredited to the Australian Government, for my work and service over 2 decades as a Breathworker, Addiction Specialist, Life Coach & Trainer. I have also led residentials, seminars and workshops in the UK, Australia, South America, Canada, Sweden, Italy, Austria, Estonia, Spain, Morocco and Goa in India. 

So yes, things did get better, and I am still alcohol, drug and nicotine free since 1982, plus I recovered from Hep B without using medications, and sero-converted my Hep B status using Yogic Breathwork. It took 11 years of constant attention, affirmations, therapies, friendships and hope. In the end I wanted to release Hep so bad, that the universe delivered and I never gave up. So be the lesson.

MediaAssetsComing to terms with an addiction is not easy, but for gay men the task can be harder. Walking away from a hedonistic social life in order to recover is challenging, and the addictions bring secondary issues, like debt, denial and emotional deceptions. Having used for 17 years and being clean & sober for over 30 years, it’s been a journey that reflects gay and personal liberations from struggle, debt and dysfunction. Off course I didn’t have the challenges that young gay men have today, in health or choices.

In 1967 when I came out, London had less than half a dozen gay bars & meeting places, now we have over 500 plus internet hook-ups, so it was very different scene. I came out 6 months before homosexuality was decriminalised, and offered electric shock aversion therapy, but declined it, and went on prescribed medication instead, then my drinking and drugging increased till I crashed into a space of awareness.

The first 15 years of my recovery were, I now see, the backbone to the next 15 years. Times of crisis, confusion or ill health are there to act out the art of growing up, building trust, reducing expectation & demands on self and others, and relinquishing all forms of codependent patterning.

The only attachment that matters to me now is queer spirit and the joy of not knowing what the world will bring. It’s ironic that I spent 17 years getting out of control, thinking I was in control, only to discover that being in control of your life is the biggest drug con of all. The most spiritual thought I hold is ‘I know nothing’. I have no idea why I recovered from an incurable disease, or why I needed to watch people dying of AIDS to be taught more about living, but If I can recover from this level of experience, then anyone can. It just takes diligence, practice and experienced support.

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This blog of mine first appeared in the online JUNE 2013 Edition of HIM-MAGAZINE “For the Man Who Invests In Himself!”

http://www.him-magazine.com/2013/06/01/a-journey-to-empowerment/