Rest in Peace, Marc. I Shall Miss You Forever, my Friend

Posted in Uncategorized on April 27, 2019 by scottsteaux63

It’s been a week since I had the news, so it has taken me some time to bring my emotions into check.

My dear friend Marc Baltuch, whom I had known since we met in New Jersey some thirty-odd years ago, after moving from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia (in which he and his husband of twenty-some years split up) and eventually to San Diego, where he completely dropped off the grid.

I did everything I could to try to find him. Neither of us owned a car, so it isn’t as if I could drive out there to find him. I did not even have his address for a while;

Three years passed. I had little information except that he had picked up a crystal methamphetamine habit and worse, he was dealing the stuff.

Now Marc had been on opioid painkillers for some years for neuropathy; they were prescribed by his doctor and he took them with a fanatic’s passion for precision. He never took more than was prescribed. How he ended up on meth I don’t know.

I saw what I assume was the last picture of him; he was in a wheelchair and I could see that he was dying. He had had cancer in his youth and I was told it had come back.

His ex sent me a Facebook message that he had died last Monday. “Shocked” wouldn’t even begin to describe how I felt. He was my friend for years. I loved him so much.

You’re safe in God’s arms now, Marc. Be free and be happy.

True Colors…

Posted in Uncategorized on November 20, 2018 by scottsteaux63

A Few Figs From Thistles

Ten years ago, in a telephone conversation, my brother’s wife, a woman whom I loved like my own sister, confided in me that he was drinking very heavily and that he had taken to hiding his bottles and she feared he was out of control.  She then swore me to secrecy, making it impossible for me to say anything to him or do anything to help.

Time passed, and I confess I probably should have tried harder to think of something, but as it happens I was going through a severe health crisis of my own; my long-dormant HIV had become full-blown AIDS and I was, as the doctors would have it, “presenting” with symptoms all over the place.  I had to stop working and apply for SSD, an appalling process that I will save for another post.

Fast forward three years to 2003.  My health was reasonably under control…

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I’m Losing Tons of Friends Fighting Racism. And I’m Totally OK with that.

Posted in Uncategorized on September 25, 2016 by scottsteaux63

I could not have said this better myself.


Dual-Identity, Double Consciousness

As an Afro-American man in this nation called the United States, it is a known fact that at the professional level one must possess a dual-identity.  I don’t know too much about everyone else, but for me in these trying times maintaining such a thing is driving me to the brink of insanity.  Professional black man by day, abolitionist writer/speaker by night, there is a severe conflict within myself.  All of the micro-aggressions suffered at work.  All of the near-blatant racist ideas uttered by my colleagues.  How am I supposed to soak up, the notion for example, that a guy that I had Christmas dinner with would plow through a set of protesters with his 2010 Mustang?

riley-eyeThis is how racism works: you can have friends, people who hold you dear even, have outright racist ideologies towards your skin tone.  You can have girlfriends, boyfriends and…

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Some Thoughts on Marriage — With or Without the License

Posted in Uncategorized on November 5, 2015 by scottsteaux63

As a gay teenager growing up, I came of age believing that marriage was an institution that was forever closed to me.  However, I am now fifty-two, and as things have turned out, I have been no stranger to marriage, even though it was not always recognized by the State.

I met my first husband in January 1984.  His name was Dennis Cafiero.  I was three months shy of my twenty-first birthday; he was twenty-six and we met in a popular cruising spot and went back to his apartment and headed directly to bed.

I enjoyed the experience, and I liked him, but I didn’t think too much of the encounter until I ran into him again about two weeks later and the same sequence of events happened.  This time we both knew something was happening, though we said little.  

By the time we’d been seeing each other a month, we’d fallen in love.  But it wasn’t all hearts and flowers:  he and I were very different personalities and instead of complementing each other, we tended to clash.  I had a nasty temper and a very short fuse, and I soon discovered that he became verbally abusive when he was provoked.  Our fights were frequent and often loud, and I am ashamed to say that on occasion they became physical.  But there must have been love there:  we spent several years in an on-and-off relationship before we finally moved in together.

Our total time together lasted fifteen years almost to the day.  Then in January 1999, though I did not realize it, Dennis had been seeing someone behind my back, and he decided to provoke fights with me with the purpose of pushing me to the point where I would get violent.  He succeeded; he said some horrible things about my family, who had never been anything but good to him, and I lost it.  I threw everything within reach at him and I slapped him a couple of times across the face.  He took his coat and left.

Not knowing what to do, I think I went up the block and got an oil change done on my car.  He was still gone when I got home, and I was stressed out and exhausted, so I climbed into bed and fell asleep.

The next thing I knew a police officer was waking me up; Dennis had managed to get a restraining order against me and he threw me out into the street after fifteen years; when I went to court a week later the TRO was made permanent so I was forever banned from the place that had been my home for eight years.

I was forced to stay with friends and family while I amassed enough money for first and last on a new apartment; it was awkward and embarrassing and I could tell I was overstaying my welcome but it took me two months to save enough money.  Moving day was a relief until my belongings arrived from my former home.  Dennis had simply thrown everything I owned into garbage bags, everything, from clothing to some of my grandmother’s china to a collection of Peanuts™ figurines that he knew meant a lot to me.  

I discovered much later that I could probably have charged him with willful destruction of property but at the time it didn’t occur to me and I was so relieved that the ordeal was over that I made the best of things.

Then six months to the day after he threw me out, he called me AT WORK, hysterically crying, because the twink he had moved into my bed (he was eighteen and Dennis was forty-one and he was literally in my bed the same night I left) had dumped him and here was my ex pouring into my ear his tale of anguish and his “I love him so much…”

It’s a good thing we were on the phone and not face to face because I might have killed him.  I contented myself with telling him he had one hell of a nerve calling ME to cry on MY shoulder about some PIECE OF ASS he threw me out for after FIFTEEN YEARS and I slammed down the phone.  I was shaking.  He called back.  I told him I could not keep talking to him wile I was at work and I hung up the phone.  He called back AGAIN.  Out of options, and despite the restraining order I knew was still in effect, I gave him my home number because my boss had already had a word with me about personal calls and I couldn’t blame her.

For the next few weeks he called me regularly.  He used me as a shoulder to cry on and a sort of Ann Landers to use for relationship advice.  Then he finally got around to what I suspect was his motive for contacting me all along:  we owned a time share together in Key West and he wanted me to sign it over to him.  I told him if he wanted that he had to pay me for half and he refused.  I told him to go jump in the ocean and drown.  I was done.  

But he wasn’t.  He called the cops and said I had called him (which I had but I was only returning a call on my answering machine when I got home from work), which was a violation of the restraining order, and the next thing I knew I was in the county jail.  I had to post $500.00 bail and ended up with a year’s probation and a $200.00 fine.  

By the time I went to court, I had been struck with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia and after eighteen days of absence had lost my job; by the end of that year I would be one step away from the street.  The year 2000 was not exactly the best year of my life.

I finally found a Ryan White Clinic near where I lived (I have been HIV+ since 1989) and got back on the medications that I badly needed and my health improved to the point where I could function in a limited way in my world.  I even dated a guy from one of the HIV support groups but that did not turn out well because he fell in love with me and I did not return the feelings and he really got angry and tried to spread rumors about me.

I decided I should know better and that relationships were over for me.  Getting laid occasionally was fine when I could manage it, but I pretty much gave up on love.

Then I became friends with a fellow patient at the Clinic who, like me, is a musician.  Bill was organist at a church in a neighboring town and he asked me to come and play the piano with him.  He and his husband Devon soon became very close friends to me.  And then he started talking about a friend he had known for many years who he thought I would like, and would I like to meet him?  

I figured, what the hell, at the very least I can make another friend.  As things turned out, Bill’s handbell choir, of which I was a member, was ringing at a festival at Ryder University in Lawrenceville NJ and one of the ringers was going on vacation so Bill called his friend John and asked him to fill in.

And so I met my second husband at a handbell festival.  I had never believed in love at first sight, but I shook John’s hand and took one look into his baby blue eyes, and I thought I was going to melt.

During the first rehearsal, it became clear that the director had no sense of timing, and he was blaming it on the bell choirs.  When the first break was called, John and I went outside and he exploded, saying exactly what was in my head:  “Could this director PICK A TEMPO??”  We spent every free moment together after that and Bill tells me that all I talked about on the drive home was John.

It took me about three weeks to work up the nerve to ask him out (he couldn’t reach me because I had no phone and had to go to the Library to use the computer), but when I did he immediately called Bill, excited that I had asked him for a date.  

Long story short, we went from “Nice to meet you” to “How about a date?” to “I love you” “to “Will you marry me?” (I said it but he was getting ready to) in just over one month.

That was thirteen years ago.  We were married at a Unitarian Church in Summit NJ on 21 December 2002.  It was not legal but that made no difference.  Though when it became legal here in New York (we moved in 2005), we were at City Hall four days after the law went into effect and were the first male couple to be married in Oneonta on 28 June 2011.  And our entire church family came to City Hall to celebrate the moment with us.

Now our marriage is recognized in all fifty states despite the best efforts of the bigots on the so-called Christian Right (which is neither).  And in all the years we have been married, we have never had what you could really call a fight.   Occasionally we will snarl at each other for a couple of minutes, followed by silence and then  a resumption of normal conversation.  An apology usually follows but sometimes there’s no need for one.

I thought I had given up on love, but I never even knew what love was until I was almost forty and John came into my life.  So while our marriage has only been legal for four years (and nationwide just a few months), as far as John and I are concerned we will celebrate our thirteenth anniversary on 21 December.

I think about the ex from time to time, and John doesn’t even mind if I talk about him (usually because it is about the contrast between my first and second marriages).  And despite what he did to me, I hope he has at least found peace.  In the years when I knew him he was the sort of person who, if someone disagreed with him, that person was not only wrong, but the enemy.  He was angry over nothing a lot of the time.  I hope for his sake that his life has changed.  Though somehow I doubt it because he would have to face certain things about himself that he was never able to face when we were together.

But that’s water under the bridge.  Sometimes second marriages turn out to be the chance to get it right.

Equality Redux

Posted in Uncategorized on August 11, 2015 by scottsteaux63

Recently I posted about a Black woman on Facebook who, when I posted something she did not like, went ballistic on me and called me every dirty, filthy, anti-Gay name she could think of and a couple I think she made up as she went along. I took it for a while, then I went to private message and called her a nasty name referencing her race (no, it was not the N word, but it was nasty and clearly not the coolest of moves, but she had crossed a line I never cross and I just wanted to see how she would react if she got the same treatment).

Naturally, she went nuts.  The words “bigot” and “racist” finally got tossed around and it was obvious that in her mind I was the villain of the piece.

Now my question, should she see this, is as follows:  So let me see if I have this right:  it is not bigotry when a straight person attacks a Gay person based on his sexuality (and I might remind you, Lady, that you went there first), but when a White person references a Black person’s race in an insulting manner, that IS bigotry?  I was under the impression that they would both fall under the same category.

Let me be clear on something:  the thing I said to you was something that under normal circumstances I would never say.  But I confess I was curious (in addition to being irritated):  I wanted to see if bigotry was a two way street for you.  Obviously in your mind it is not.  You can spew whatever vile and vicious hateful words you want, against any group that you feel like degrading for whatever reason you may have, but insulting you in that same manner is off limits?

I have news for you.  If we are ever to achieve equality in this world, ALL hate speech has to stop.  Not just the kind that pisses you off.

After she had had enough of me she blocked me and frankly I thought I was well rid of her.

Be careful what you wish for.  I found the Lady on YouTube and someone else made a comment on one of her videos that she was crazy and called her a bigot into the bargain.  So I gave an abridged version of what had happened, and I heard from her again; this time she accused me of “defamation” (sorry, sweetheart, but it is only defamation if it isn’t true) and made a veiled threat of legal action which I dismissed because I have nothing she could sue me for and besides it would cost her a fortune.  Over a few words on Facebook?  I doubt it.

Well a couple days ago I got a message from her, this time on YouTube, once again going after my sexuality and calling me vile names.  This time I merely reported her remarks and then deleted the entire thread.  You wanna stew in your hatred, honey, you go ahead, but you just leave me out of it.  I didn’t start it, but I am finishing it.

Oh and incidentally in that YouTube video you said you were an atheist.  If that’s true, why did you tell me that I was not married in the sight of God and that God hated me?  Also I found a few videos of you singing Gospel in churches.  Do THEY know you’re an atheist?  Might cramp your style, I should think.  

Don’t worry, I won’t tell them.  In fact I want nothing more than to be done with you.  So if you have to rant on me, go ahead.  You can be as mean and as hurtful as you want, but I have news for you:  I have heard it all before.  I am fifty-two years old and I got immune to your shit at least twenty-five years ago.  So bring it.  I REALLY don’t care.

Sandra Booker: Singer, Songwriter, Homophobic Bigot.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 2, 2015 by scottsteaux63

It has been a little over a month since the monumental SCOTUS decision extending marriage equality across the land.  I didn’t post about it at the time because, well, to be honest, I was frankly a bit shell shocked that we had finally won.

I am fifty-two years old.  When I was a kid coming of age in the Seventies and realizing that I was attracted to men, the idea that I would ever be married was sort of switched off.  Rather like a light.  And I have been living in the semi-darkness of second class citizenship ever since.  It has not stopped me from loving a few men and marrying two of them.

The first marriage was I suppose a de facto marriage because it took place long before legalization was even on the horizon.  It came to an end after fifteen years.  That’s longer than a good many of my high school friends’ first marriages.  It was a rocky relationship, and the ending was ugly in the extreme, but I’ve seen marriages that were far worse last even longer.

By the time I met the man who is now my legal husband, Canada had had civil marriage equality for some years, so we got married in a Unitarian church in 2002 before it was even legal.  And of course, when New York legalized it in 2011, we were at City Hall a couple of days after the law went into effect.

Anyway, now we are legally married, and that status will travel with us anywhere in the United States.  I am still a little overwhelmed that I have lived to see this day.

Then something happened to me today on Facebook that shocked me and made me wonder about equality.

Someone had posted a story from a satire website that claimed a group was seeking to put President Obama’s face on Mount Rushmore.  Now, perhaps I misread the comments, but this one woman by the name of Sandra Booker seemed to be taking the story seriously so I posted a link to an article stating that the source was a satire website.

Booker went ballistic on me and started calling me every filthy name she could dream up.  She started with QUEEN, moved on to COCKSUCKER, called me FAGGOT at least three times and BITCH more times than I could count.  I don’t take these things lightly so I was trying to give it back to her without sinking to her level, but I finally snapped.  Booker happens to be Black, so I decided to see how she would react if I used a racial slur on her.  Not wanting to put it on the thread where everyone could see it, I sent it in a private message (No, it was NOT the N word, but it was an uncomplimentary comment that referenced her race).

Admittedly, not the nicest thing I have ever done, but she was so free with the nasty anti-gay remarks that she aroused my curiosity:  what would this woman do with an attack on her based on race?

She.  Went.  NUTS.

Suddenly I was a “bigot” and she took a screen shot of what I had sent her and posted it to the thread.  She then went on the attack in private message and told me to get married “somewhere where God does not hate you.”  I replied that I was married, and she informed me that I was NOT married in the eyes of God and that it was against nature and a whole shitload of other crap that isn’t even worth repeating.  Then she blocked me.  Which to be frank was a relief.

I Googled her and I discovered that she is a singer who apparently is known for a tribute show to Sarah Vaughan.  I listened to one of her performances on YouTube and I did not think much of it.  But apparently this woman feels that being a minor name in the entertainment industry (an industry in which I worked years ago) gives her license to abuse anyone she feels like abusing.

I suppose I am rambling.  But if you happen to see this, Sandra Booker, let me inform you that I shall make sure anyone who mentions your name to me hears the horrible things you said to me.

All this talk about equality and then this happens…I think I have a headache.  Where the hell did I put the aspirin?


Semantic Wars and Excedrin Headaches

Posted in LGBT Issues and Stuff on April 16, 2014 by scottsteaux63

Yesterday I shared the following meme on Facebook:


Short and to the point, right?  There is an undeniable irony in a nation in which two people of the same sex who love each other wanting to get married is somehow a threat to “our entire way of life,” while out-of-control and unregulated purchase, ownership, and use of guns in all shapes and sizes is seen as a fundamental American right.  And it’s usually the same people shrieking about both topics:  they look to the Bible to bolster the first argument and the Second Amendment to bolster the second.  The fact that the Bible has virtually nothing to say about LGBT persons as we know them today does not stop them, and neither does the fact that the Second Amendment does not say that everyone who wants guns should be allowed to have as many of whatever kind they choose.

So imagine my surprise when a Facebook friend, a fellow Gay man, decided to nitpick over the use of the words “assault rifle.”  And I made the mistake of mentioning Sandy Hook, which he took as an opportunity to “school me:”  apparently the weapon used there was a 9mm.  

I know little about such things:  I can fire a shotgun, a rifle, and a pistol, but I wouldn’t know the difference between a Winchester and a Glock if my life depended on it.  But what I DO know is that “assault rifle(s)” as such really were not the point and I could not believe this guy was making an issue of something that completely missed the point of what the entire sentence was trying to convey.

Being that we were Facebook friends and that I had never exchanged so much as a minor disagreement with this man in the years I have known him, I was frankly shocked at the way he dug his heels in; not only did he refuse to give any ground, the longer the conversation went on the more he began to sound like someone who would have given George Zimmerman a medal for murdering Trayvon Martin and in the end I unfriended and blocked him.  I didn’t know what else to do; I attempted to back out of it and he would not let me, and as I am not accustomed to giving people what they want just to get them off my back, I told HIM to get lost.

I am not happy about how this turned out.  I wish we could have at least agreed to disagree.  But he was clearly getting really hot under the collar really fast and nothing I was saying was cooling him off.  I wish it could have ended differently.

I am not sure what lesson there is in what happened.  I do know that I would never have expected such a hard line from a Gay man on the issue of guns, but that wasn’t even what happened here.  He objected to the words “assault rifle” which I did not compose and about which I could do nothing.  And even if the Sandy Hook shooter didn’t use an “assault rifle” his victims were just as dead.  I certainly didn’t expect this guy to turn into an “Obama is coming to take your guns” Libertarian before my eyes but the more I see of such behavior the more I think maybe taking away some people’s guns isn’t such a bad idea.

I don’t mind blocking people who annoy me if they are not friends of mine; the Block feature is a good way to get rid of anyone who gives me headaches.  But I hate unfriending people.  There’s a sense of disillusion and also I wonder if I might have handled it better even though I soft-pedaled it as best I could and he was the one who became aggressive.

I guess the lesson is “Be Careful What You Post; It Can Bite You In The Ass.”

Fortunately for me Excedrin relieves pain there too.