Writing The Tower

One surprising element of telling the story of the tower above Loutro was the wide acceptance from a diverse group of readers. We all have moments in our lives when we are touched by something that is beyond explanation. Some call it faith. I believe these experiences are even beyond the conventional definition of faith, because they are very real to the person having the experience. They are personal journeys that change our lives forever. Our minds are opened to the essence of everything that cannot be explained through the limitations of language. The experience penetrates every cell of our being where it remains, gently reminding us that we are always part of something bigger than ourselves. It teaches us that choices in life are merely there to tempt us from our own personal path that has already been chosen. We are left with the question of whether we will be conscious enough or brave enough to live the life that truly belongs to us. It is not a question that needs to be answered. It just needs to always be asked.

Those twelve days in April 1992 were truly an epiphany for me. After Chris left I developed a close intimate relationship with an Austrian man, Stefan, whom I now consider my best friend. That particular relationship changed the way I operate in the context of heterosexual identified relationships. For the first time in my life I felt I was a legitimate part of that kind of family structure. I went on to do more work with men with episodes of violence during the summers of 1992 and 1994. It changed my limited perspective of what it means to be a man. For the first time I became “one of the guys” instead of an outsider. The experience in the tower also provided me the perspective needed to heal my relationship with my father, so I could take care of him in the last month of his life. This was a vital part of my transition. I had come to the sad reality that my father and I had always created an artificial distance between us because of the myth of homosexuality. I am eternally grateful that I had the opportunity to destroy that myth before it was too late for me!

Before my father died, he told me he loved the soldiers he fought with in the Second World War more than he loved my mother, but in a way she would never understand. In my experiences in Loutro, I was able to draw a very clear connection between the German men’s violent episodes and the Second World War. My father provided the other half of the equation. He experienced an intimacy and unconditional love that was built upon the fact that his “buddies” and he were responsible for each other’s lives. My father was very deliberate in his attempt to create the same intimacy between father and son. My experience of his last breath was just as intense as if it had been on the battlefield. We were both soldiers in the war to liberate men from the illusion that intimacy is not masculine!

The experience in the tower also changed my concept of spirituality.    

Rewriting The Tower Above Loutro and sharing it with a wide range of friends has been a very interesting process. My intention was to tell a story of something that actually happened to me, but to tell it in a way without injecting my personal judgment. In doing that I am allowed to understand the different ways in which others interpret the story in the context of their own lives. This allows me to see the incident in even bigger, clearer terms. I can understand now, how the interpretation of life can be a very subjective experience most of the time. I can see that many of the differing interpretations of what I experienced could have created a different personal path. If I had seen it in a way that some have interpreted it I would most likely be a Catholic or Orthodox priest by now. But my personal experience was more secular in nature.

One difficult thing for me over the years has been to protect myself from the influence of those who judge the legitimacy of spiritual experiences. I have never cared for attempts to psychoanalyze such events. The fact is , these kinds of things happen to people all the time! I feel attempts to prove they are real versus imagined are very unfair.  What I am grateful for is the fact that my own life experiences led me to accept such things without feeling the need to destroy them. The bottom line for myself in my secular way of interpretation is that this experience was something that brought both joy and peace into my life. It was a natural, perhaps divine, experience that makes me understand how our minds do have a capacity to reveal the great mysteries of life. The personal choice we each have is to accept it or reject it! In my own personal point of view I believe that it has everything to do with spirituality and absolutely nothing to do with religion. That, I admit,  is my own personal prejudice.

In my own process of absorbing the experience, I have struggled with one question. I have wondered what it is exactly that happens when people see images of particular religious icons. I now believe the question is irrelevant. I can see that my fear was more about what other people’s reactions would be within their own obsessions with religious belief. My experience was generic in a sense. It could have just as well been Buddha. I think it was appropriate that it was Christ in a village that is steeped in Orthodox Greek tradition. The important thing for me is how it opened up my life to new understandings of the human experience. The identity of the messenger is irrelevant. I did not become a Christian nor did I become a devout advocate of the traditional concept of what many call God. I opened a door where the universe becomes more transparent and the human mind expands to a level where one can see infinite possibilities that render judgment useless.

I believe in reality! I believe in the reality of dreams, the reality of meditation, the reality of revelations, and the reality of the waking experience of the temporal existence. I believe in making choices from a vantage point where all of these realities are within my view! 

Learning to Love

The conventional definition of homophobia would be the irrational fear of homosexuality. I believe a more accurate definition would be the irrational fear of human emotions and intimacy!

There is nothing more frustrating than seeing the truth before everyone else is ready to see it. It takes a lot of patience to live an entire lifetime waiting for a destructive paradigm to change. It is even more frustrating when that accepted paradigm is specifically designed to destroy the very essence of your true spirit. It is not that I believe my spirit is that of a gay man. I believe my spirit is masculine. I am attracted to masculinity. The vessel I have chosen for this incarnation in the temporal world just happens to be that of the male species. In conventional terms I would be defined as a gay man.

I was raised in a household where women outnumbered men seven to three. In order to support the major paradigm I was required to accept without question the obvious bias in favor of feminine emotional expression. I was asked to accept the absurd notion that human emotions have gender. I was expected to live as a man with artificial boundaries imposed on my need to experience human intimacy.

It was always clear to me that the very concept of homosexuality was created to stifle the experience of males bonding in an intimate way. I witnessed the kind of bonding I craved as it was freely expressed among the women who surrounded me. The driving force that keeps “real men” from expressing real emotions is the irrational fear of being called “Queer!” The most dangerous concept to the major paradigm is not the acceptance of homosexuality. The most dangerous concept is to believe homosexuality does not exist. Only then would all men be allowed to express themselves without boundaries. The true definition of human sexuality is one that is not based on gender. All human beings have the capacity to love one another. Sharing love with others is the supreme act of being both human and spiritual. Love is always good!

Among the debates about the short story and the movie Brokeback Mountain was the discussion about whether it could really be called a “Gay Cowboy Movie or Story.” I believe it is neither a cowboy story nor a gay story. I believe it is the first movie in my lifetime that tells the real story of what it means to be a man in America. I believe it is controversial because it tells the truth instead of the illusion required to keep the major paradigm alive. I know every man who squirms in his seat, every man who refuses to watch the movie, every man who thinks he is “not gay” is merely avoiding the truth about masculinity and human sexuality. The truth is: real men love men. Men who avoid this reality are incapable of unconditionally loving themselves or anyone else, male or female!

The Ghetto, The Label, The Lies

One day I packed myself into a small box, labeled it HOMOSEXUAL, then sent it off to San Francisco. It was my belief that San Francisco was the only place in the world where I could truly be myself. Unfortunately, I remained inside the box for the next ten years. I was never able to understand how to be myself because I was too busy being a homosexual. Everything I did, everything I believed was therefore done in the shadow of heterosexuality. I was living my entire life as a reaction to an incredibly homophobic American culture. I had convinced myself that being homosexual was at the core of my spirit and being. I was totally unaware that wearing that label and playing the role expected of me was at the core of my self-oppression. Separating myself from the rest of the world because of who I loved was as ridiculous as separating people who love strawberries from people who do not love strawberries. My compliant participation in the separation constituted agreement that I was different and therefore not as good as what was accepted as “normal.”

Growing up in America, I was never able to see how dangerous this separation was. It wasn’t until I lived a considerable amount of time outside America that I realized homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality are all illusions. The most dangerous aspect of heterosexuality is that it nearly always assumes itself to be the only true expression of love. One of the dangers of homosexuality that I realized through my own process of liberation, is that it fosters heterophobia. All human beings have the capacity to love all other human beings, at every level of expression. A gay man who denies his ability to be sexually attracted to females is no different than the homophobic man who denies his ability to love another man. We waste time and energy debating the degrees of attraction, putting people in boxes with labels that restrict their ability to experience life fully.

Real men love men! It is a fact that incites violence in many places and among many people who fear all truth that forces them to change. Real men love men. It just may be the most dangerous fact to those who believe it is OK to send innocent boys into the fields to shoot other innocent boys.