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Domestic Violence

From the Crystal and Violence series.

"I haven't slept for two days and I think I would like to go home!" I thought to myself. I know my husband is waiting for me but I am so afraid. I'm afraid that we will get into another fight. What do ya do when you're afraid? Do you trust that fear and stay away? Or, face your fear and possibly put yourself in a situation that really could be avoided? Now that sounds like someone who has been up for two days! Honestly, it's gotten to the point where I don't know what to do. Our arguments have been getting more and more violent lately. And worst of all, this is a pattern that I am just starting to realize.

I'd never say anything like this to him. He tells me, "I don't want you to live with me anymore!" in one breath, but then gets mad if I don't come home. I can't decide what to do about his anger. Well, I don't decide because I'm so confused, so I think. Why don't I figure this out? Is it the speed? Is it that he's right and I am a terrible boyfriend? Or, are we just ignoring the fact that after five years we aren't in love anymore? Does he think of this stuff too? Does he think about what it sounds like to hear, "I am not in love with you. When I'm done with these DV classes you're going to be thrown to the curb - something I should have done a long time ago!"?

I am beginning to believe that he really doesn't want me there, although, he's going to be very upset and crying because he hasn't known where I was. And I will comfort him. I will tell him, "I'm sorry I didn't call." But two days ago he said that he didn't want me there. Then, he wants to know where I've been and this is where I have issues. I don't want to lie, but I know that he will be violent if I tell him the truth.

All I can do, at the moment, is spin my wheels and keep my brain preoccupied with: a) as many drugs as I can get my hands on, b) those damn chat lines, c) my penis, d) Oh my god! And that boy over there...

Scenes of the drama race violently around my brain as I make my way back home. The anxiety is breeding tension as I get closer. This tension is scaring me; I can't understand why. Not understanding is making me mad, at myself. "Why am I so stupid?" He is going to kick my ass, and I am waltzing right back for some more. I tell myself, "No, not this time. He was crying, begging me to come back home!"

I hesitate at the door... but enter anyway. It's happened before. Why do I lie to myself? Fifty dollars a week for almost a year and the State ordered domestic violence classes did absolutely no good. Three different treatment programs for me, also very expensive. Still we try.


From the Crystal and Violence series.

Jealousy and crystal - this is the worst combination of human emotions and mind-altering chemicals possible. Friday night was starting out good, as it had for the past five years, as we got ready to view some porn flicks. Since my partner is bisexual, he usually chooses the flicks we watch. I go along with his choices because on the way up I get off by watching him get hard and cum. After four to five more quarters spread over Saturday and early Sunday, I would have to think about work on Monday.

This was standard procedure, except one particular Sunday afternoon. Some girls came over and they liked to do crystal. But I declined while the rest of them did up some more. My partner was dressed in spandex, sitting on the couch with one of the girls, when he began to get a hard on. I felt rages begin to build and, instead of leaving the room, I sat and watched the two of them watch it grow. I did not restrain myself much longer; my threshold had been reached. The first thing I went for was his dick. I didn't make it, but I beat and threw him around as much as I could while the screaming girls fled the apartment. The downstairs neighbor called the police. As they arrived, we agreed to tell them I didn't hit him.

There were so many incidences, different situations, but all resulting the same way. In two years we had 26 police visits, 5 ODs - I was one of them (there was sometimes heroin also). My partner nearly died from AIDS complications and after eight months of rehab, we are still close friends.

I am so sorry, sweetheart.

Rape Echoes

From the Crystal and Violence series.

I met this guy in a chat room and he said he could hook me up with some good shit if I came over to his house and fucked him. So I did. After two or three quarters, the sex got rougher and rougher. He was topping me and sometimes he fucked me so hard I could feel the pain even with all that speed. Finally I couldn't take it anymore and swung around to hit him. He grabbed my hand, threw me against a chair, and tied my hands up with his belt. I knew I had to escape somehow, but I was too high to put any thoughts together. I can't really remember what happened next, but I do remember two or three other guys showing up and everyone getting high and getting into some real hard core bondage. They all fucked me while I was tied up.

And the word rape echoed through my head.

And I knew - after it was all over - there wouldn't be anything I could do about it.

One Brick

From the Crystal and Violence series.

Last year, after a four day run, I hit my next door neighbor in the head with a brick because I thought she was coming after me with a gun. She wasn't hurt too bad, but I got charged with assault. I had never been arrested before and spent time in jail. I told the judge I was high and had a problem with crystal, so I got my sentence reduced by agreeing to go to treatment.

I couldn't believe what I did. I'm a pretty quiet and shy person, but I don't know what happened. It's like I just snapped. I was just a fucking lunatic-- and all because of speed. I never, ever thought I could be like one of those psycho freaks who shoot up their trailer parks or beat up their kids. It really scared me that my crystal use had taken me to that point. But the sad thing is - it didn't stop me from using. I lasted two months after treatment and jail, then went right back to using - even on probation. I guess that's pretty fucked up.

After the Orgasm: Intimacy and the Emotional Side of Sex

What are we really looking for in all the blow jobs, orgies, and chat rooms?

Do we care about the men we fuck, about ourselves?

What is sex really about for you?

We asked readers to share how they feel about crystal, sex and their search for connection with other men.

Here are their stories:

Sex is the only thing that is important to me. It's like eating only sugar. It may fill me up, but I starve anyway. I crave attachment, connection. But I fear it. At 3 am when the loneliness becomes unbearable, a quarter and a cock are only a website or phone call away. We're all just lost souls in a stream of endless nights. All alone in an orgy of writhing, naked, sweaty bodies.

This is the only time when it's OK to be a pig about getting what you want. In other words, needing and being needed. It's the only time when it's OK that men want parts of each other-fists, breasts, feces, cocks--rather than wholes. That's the basic truth. Crystal just lets you need and need and need, and that's OK. We all got so repressed after AIDS and now we're hungry. Crystal lets me pig out without feeling bad about it. It's also a chemistry thing. Just seeing another guy on speed makes me surge. And the click is so intense that it's easy to forget "condom this" or "boyfriend that." The nastier you are about your sexual perversions, the more you're accepted. Crystal equalizes us all to our lowest common hungers.

I don't really know what "fear of intimacy" means. They say we speed queens have a problem with intimacy. Well, if we didn't feel so shunned by our own so-called gay "community," maybe we wouldn't have to go looking for acceptance in a baggie. I feel more embraced by some guy sucking me off in the park than I do standing along some Pride Parade route. Do I know this guy's name? Do I care? Well, he doesn't either. Some people think that crystal users are just mean, soulless, spiteful ass-fuckers, but I don't see how that's different from most gay men. We fuck each other for days on end. They just go home at 2 am.

I yearn for someone to really care about me for me. My first hit of speed made me feel like everyone cared about me. I not only cared about myself, but I felt like a God. Eventually, I didn't feel at all. Caring turned to numbness. Numbness turned to loathing. Now I hate myself. And I hate the fact that, if you beg me to shit on your face or fuck your ass till it's raw, it seems like a perfectly natural thing to do. None of us really cares about any of us, especially after the drugs run out.

Do I get high and have sex as a way to feel closer to men? Of course not. No one really thinks that's going to happen. It's just about sending our dicks to another planet and back, that's all. It's just about sex. I've got my sister, my cat, my best friend Nate if I want to feel close to someone. I care deeply about them and they really love me. I'd be stupid to think I could get that from some late night fuck at the baths. I guess some guys might think crystal creates a special little social group for them, but they're in for a nasty wake up. You've got to look somewhere else if you want to find someone or something meaningful.

Did you know that I'm from Minnesota and that my mom teaches English? Did you know that I like Thai food, hate chocolate, and have a cat named Murphy who can dance on his hind paws? No. You were probably too busy sucking my cock to ask. Do we feel connected? Just because we share the same dealer doesn't mean we feel connected.

Spontaneity is Just a Word by Shawn D.

This is an intro to a 20 year old piece. It was the first time I began to look at myself and my relationship with the gay community and drugs honestly. I believe we drink or do drugs in order to isolate or enhance feelings or emotions, and with speed in particular, our sexuality. But our bodies, emotions and sexuality are not single entities. And with drugs there is no such thing as an isolated effect in the body. I used speed to be what I thought was sexually viable in the gay community - quick, easy, accessible and ever-ready. However, what began as great fun, 20 years later left me feeling like the invisible man. I found that when I did connect with people on speed sexually, the only way to sustain it was with more speed. I'm not doing speed now, and I've never had much use for or been able to dance the twelve-step. I don't know what tomorrow will bring. I do know that at this point I am proud of me, and who I am, having survived 20 years of tweaking. Being insecure, timid, sexually unavailable and extremely vulnerable is real. So no matter what you think or feel when you see me and for those of you who think you knew or know me, I'm sure that I am now anything but the invisible man.

What follows first appeared in the Bay Area Reporter as a letter to the editor in 1977 - was that then, or is this now?


Maybe it was never that way. Just a victim of my visions. But I was here in this place. It seems not long ago, and it's true the times have changed. That was in the beginning. Before discos and dust joints, and one ridiculous store after another. There was a time of honesty and innocence on the street. There was spontaneity. In spite of our rejections from the mid-west, we were young and strong, and the wounds still healed themselves.

Sitting in the same place, a little older, forced into apathy, tunnel vision, magic comes now in bags measured in grams, hermetically sealed. I myself never wanted to see it all, to be so removed. Spontaneity is just a word. But I do and our lives revolved around Toad Hall and the Castro Cafe.

I miss our immature and not very butch spontaneity. I miss our pretending, if nothing else, that we were actually making love. The promises of phone calls, our fumbling in the dark, not sure who was going to wind up on top, when we made love without poppers and got off. San Francisco, the city of freedom, and us here, trapped in our several-city-block ghetto, our positions and desires in our back pockets, our feelings lay dormant or even dead. Speed, Quaaludes and booze masking our inability as human beings, and our humanness dying for the sake of being butch.

I hurt as I see the new refugees arrive in the city, families and friends left behind - the only visible common aspirations here are sex and money. We demand that they conform and not question our cynicism, our sexual war games, our violent homophobic acts of sex, men with men.

I will get over this bit of nostalgia, and head back up the street, being sure to play the game correctly. Same place, a few years older... Maybe it's better this way. No needs beyond our blatant sexuality. But I remember spontaneity, I remember when we were young and strong. When we were "getting high on us" in San Francisco, when we enjoyed getting high, and our conversations went beyond "What are you into?" A little older now, and it's true that times have changed and I have changed. Maybe I don't feel so much anymore. Spontaneity, after all, is just a word. But I remember those days of no speed, those times of magic, when I had freedom, even on Castro Street. And I made love without poppers and got off.

Flightless Bird

My Wings are not vestigial-
although I am a flightless Bird
They are in perfect working order
You'll have to take me at my word
My wings beat strong and true.
I beat them every night and day
it is all that I can do
for on the earth I wish to stay.
I flap them in reverse-sort of, kind of
And this is the way
I keep my feet firmly on the ground.
You see-I am a flightless bird
A being of such incredible light
that just to walk or stand or sit around
requires my every force of might.
Perhaps when I'm weak or old or grey...
or merely tired of the fray
I may seek to rest or respite...
Surely I will float away
Whether it be day or night.
You see... I am a flightless Bird.
It really doesn't matter
if you don't take me at my word
my Ego will not shatter
Under heaven is where I belong,
with the trees and people and song
and in that song I sing-
"I have not a broken Wing!"

Alex K.
March 5th, 1995

First Person by Shawn D.

My life is small these days. I don't power shop, do lunch or dance until dawn. I haven't had a hangover or been to "happy hour" in at least five years. But you don't know this or care. After all, it's 2:30 in the morning and all you want is some dick and mine looks pretty damn good - especially if that's all you're looking at. I shot up a bunch of speed a couple of hours ago, tweeked in the mirror for awhile, tried on all my clothes, then opted for shorts - even though it's freezing outside. The speed is good and I'm ready to "party." I hit the street.

I am grateful for the speed coursing through my blood. The relief, however temporary, is total. I transcend the aches and pains, the chronic fatigue and the endless depression. I step out of time. At least for the next six hours none of this will cross my mind. The speed has tripped all circuits. Something has snapped.

This park is packed. I stick to the shadows making sure you can see my crotch. Momentarily, I am overwhelmed with despair. I feel sick. I go to the restroom and do a little more speed. Chemically altered, I am only in the moment and obsessed with sex. I step out and join this surreal primal dance we do in pantomime. Lives in the balance...

As the sun comes up, I sit alone on Broadway chain smoking and drinking coffee. My head feels like a war zone. I'm not ready to go home yet. As the speed wears off, I am aware of the world - people doing their lives, the smell of the air - I feel like a voyeur, not living, not dead, not knowing when or if I will do this again.

I had sex with at least ten different guys. I fucked four of them, had my cock in all of their mouths. Two of them wanted my piss in their mouth, their face. One guy begged, "Let me eat your ass." I felt like a bomb had just gone off in my head. I want to cry. I want to tell him I love him. I want to get away. I want more speed.

I asked him to repeat himself and he said, "Please, let me eat your ass." He was on his knees. I looked at him and told him to open his mouth. The explosions in my head were deafening. I slammed my cock in his mouth, grabbed him by the hair and pinned him against the tree. I watched his face. I wanted to choke him. I pulled back for a moment and asked him if I hurt him. He said, "Yes." Do you want more? Again, "Yes." I pushed him back banging his head roughly against the tree. I pulled his face up by the hair, tried to get him to look at me, my face, my eyes. He looked at my cock. I made sure he couldn't move. I slapped him a couple of times. I know it hurt. He did not resist. I watched his face. As I pushed harder, I felt him shudder. I could see his eyes getting bigger. I pushed harder and stuck my fingers in his nose. I wondered what he felt. He couldn't breath. I wanted to scare him. I wanted his life to flash before his eyes. I wanted him to remember me. Something went snap. I left him on his knees gasping for air - without a word.

I hate coming down, dread going home and having to deal with all of these deeply disturbing images of last night, of us, of you and me. I ask myself, "How in the fuck could I do these things knowing I have AIDS?" and I answer myself, "How could you do these things knowing about AIDS?" I did not come, piss or let anyone rim me, but not one guy asked me to wear a condom. What in the fuck is wrong with us? Who and where are the responsible parties? Do you blame me? Do I blame you, or maybe the speed? So how do you feel? Am I a monster? Did I expose you to AIDS? For what and who do we care? Are you pissed? And with who? At what point are we all responsible?

I am pissed at all of us for our anonymous, exploitative, dehumanizing sex. I am angry that the only warmth I get from most gay men has been nothing but a grope and a blowjob in the night. I am pissed that we ask each other about our cock sizes with more recall than we do our names. I am pissed that most of us take better care of our dildos than we do each other. And I would do anything, give anything to change our lives, to make you care enough about yourself that you would not get on your knees and risk your life just to suck my cock.

After fifteen years of AIDS, I do value life - yours and mine - and care deeply. And I will until the next time I do speed. Then you're on your own.

Amped and Loving It by D.S.

Shooting drugs in the basement... as I pulled out the needle I heard a chorus of voices, all familiar voices from my life... people I knew and loved, all of them scolding me for what I was doing... shooting drugs...

The joy I derived from doing this inoculated me from anything they could say about the sacred act... it gave romance to the dirty inner-city alleyways I scurried through and the city scum that had become my family. It is my opinion that, after all, if you've never shot up before, you could not possibly understand the unequaled joy of shooting up, the sorrow of coming down, or the fact that some of us will shoot up again and again whether we choose to or not. No, if you've not shot up before, you could not possibly understand. And as I pull out the needle, the Beauty lays fondling shiny silver toys with jagged edges in autistic repetition over his naked body. Locked in one or two simple movements with a new plan for sex play every 2 or 3 seconds. For the next move to progress in action... nothing proceeds past the one or two simple movements.

The silver is so shiny, so magical, pressed against the Beauty's skin in the mirror. He tells himself there is no beauty so pure. He lies fondling the silver toys with jagged edges in autistic repetition. Posed explicitly in front of the mirror. Locked into one or two simple movements with a new plan for sex play every two or three seconds for the next move to progress in action. Nothing proceeds past the one or two simple movements. Sex play -- bzzt -- sex play... bzzt... sex play... bzzt... bzzzzzt... bzzzt...


Frankly I believe I'm Happier having discovered this forbidden taboo. Even with the destructive effects on my life and possible end to it.

The time I could not remember my own name, the times I lay still and quiet in bed all night not able to enjoy the BUZZ for fear my roommates would find me out. The times I yearned to cry out in ecstasy but could not because I was afraid the neighbors would call the cops. All these times make me wish there was a place called TWEAKERS RANCH. A place where super tweaks could go and feel free to be the freaks they are with reckless, careless abandon...

Emotions in the Shadow of Drugs by C.S.

Getting high is like a big catch-22. It softens the hard edges only to make more.

It seems like drugs do help with emotions. They calm you down, take away pain, create a sense of happiness. But emotions will always catch up with you.

I had a fucked up childhood. By the time I was 13, drugs helped me forget events and numb the pain. At first, getting high didn't necessarily make me feel good or happy all the time. No, it was just great to feel nothing.

When I turned 18, I used the needle for the first time. That's when my life became secret. The first night I went to work after my first hit I had this tiny little red mark. I thought for sure everyone would see it so I kept my arm bent all night. I soon realized how separate you become from other people when you start shooting. Even from the people you used to do drugs with. The needle separates you.

Crystal and cocaine lasted about 7 years. They were intense enough to make all my other stress OK. They were there like a comforting friend. I dealt with problems by getting high. But then reality got pretty fucked up. Holding a job was not happening. Bills were not getting paid, and getting high always came first.

So I turned 25, left the country and stayed clean for 7 years. But my life turned upside down in another way. Being clean sucked big time. Everything about who I was changed. I never had so many feelings in my life. Every horrible childhood memory and stuffed feeling came back. This is when I realized I didn't know how to feel anything but numb, angry or depressed. I did a lot of soul searching, worked on who I was, tried emotions without drugs. This was definitely the hardest thing I ever did.

I healed a lot, but never felt happy. I faked being happy for a year. And then I moved to Seattle and found my real happy drug, heroin. I started to feel good again after all those years of heartache. And off I went, with crystal and cocaine close behind again.

But by now, I had learned a lot from life. This time I tried being a "responsible" user. I kept jobs, paid for my high, and didn't blow off as much life to get high. That's not to say drugs were just recreational. No way! Because in no time, I was high every day, still using to feel better or make shit go away. I wasn't dealing with all that life was dishing out, but I was still learning and there was progress.

Drugs didn't make me completely leave reality behind. For me it was part-time enough for both to exist. But in the end, emotions come whether you want to feel them or not. It's not a choice to "start feeling now." It just happens.

So here I am today in my late-thirties with 6 months clean. Now I'm learning to live without drugs, not just taking the drugs away. There is a difference. Over my drug career, I've tried controlling my emotions in so many ways. Using, using more, not using, using with limits. But I see now that I can't get away from feeling. It's gonna happen no matter what I do. It's hard and feels weird sometimes, but I know I have to keep trying.

Carl's Story

I used to use condoms, but then I stopped. Didn't seem like anyone else cared, so why should I? You know how twacked guys get. They don't care who they fuck or how. I tweaked and partied for years without a condom in sight. But you can only do that for so long until the inevitable hits. HIV caught up with me last year.

But even if I told guys I was HIV+, a lot of them still didn't care about using a condom. That just blows my mind! But I guess I felt the same way last year, so it's not that hard to imagine. Crystal makes it easy not to care. Half the guys I fucked never asked my name let alone if I had HIV. And what's worse -- I still fucked them without a condom.

But now this whole "not-caring" thing doesn't feel right to me anymore. You're just a dick to most guys. And I'm no better for barebacking even though I have HIV. Maybe I'm starting to care about myself a little more. Or feeling guilty. I should probably try harder to use condoms, even if other guys don't want to. I should probably tell more guys that I have HIV. But that seems pretty hard when no one else is doing it. Can I be the only one who feels like this? What if everyone else feels the same, but we're all too afraid or too high to act on it? What would happen if we did?