Cumming Full Circle; A Positive Blog By James Harris

 

\James Harris/

Hidden within my closet were two things, my Sexual orientation and my interrelationship with Sex; at Twenty-Four I begin to unshackle these Demons. My sexual orientation came out first in a boast of make up alongside a raucously rebellious response to life. Donned “Gay James” from the age of Twelve I was Queen of the Queers and trail-blazed what became an accepting attitude amongst a school of School friends. My Teachers however had a much different attitude towards me, their infallible neglect and lack of support led me into an anxious depression permeated me with panic attacks. I was condoned for my bravery, truth is, I wasn’t brave; after telling close friends it trickled through the grapevine and like Pinocchio, I could tell no lies. The interrelationship I had with Sex continues to claw at me with confusion; purged through an incessant substance binge there are still issues to resolve. I was introduced to early. It wasn’t right. I wasn’t ready. My sexual impetuses became an exploration of my own sexual exploitation. My body was a commodity to me. Like that of a Two Pence Coin; I discarded this commodity recurrently into a hidden change jar.

 

ChemSex enabled my enjoyment of sex and alcohol enabled my ChemSex; the decision to get high was one I never made sober – but I had made the decision to drink. At Twenty-Two I found myself on a whole new circuit surrounded by painted clowns in high wigs; rifling off quips as if at a shooting range. These men were the first men I found who were kind, caring and wanting to understand. The Drag community of London are consistent and persistent care workers we should treasure, battling with their wisdom and no nonsense jibes. One in particular, Rose Garden, an Advocate and Spokesmodel for the charity ‘Cancer is a Drag’; his tough love approach was a crux to my recovery. I’d come into a certain beloved bar of ours on a comedown with his carefully crafted claws cutting into my cheek as he examined the dilation in my pupils, a grip which would loosen with disappointment as I had done what was becoming to be expected of me. I was infamously known as Little Miss Comedown; an unwritten Mr. Men Book that needed to be read and researched. I was yet to understand or know what a comedown was as well as the physical and psychological effects it was having on me.

 

Drink rapidly evolved into bags of Meph, which grew into GHB and awaking in numerous hospitals; as I had been overdosed or overdosed myself then suddenly, injecting Crystal Meth. I went through all the Classes from A to C and had zero education. This concocted cocktail of Narcotics sprung paranoia, anxiety and depression, which evolved my continued and now self-inflicted isolation. Those who held my hand to the dealers’ dwells were suddenly nowhere to be seen. A deceased mother and a distant father a familiar sense of abandonment washed over me; it felt right to be alone, I had known nothing else.

 

A consistent comedown and a pitfall of paranoia was all that I could feel. I attempted suicide. I failed. This saga of suicides didn’t stop. I’d add a millimeter or more to my GHB with a conscious longing that my heart would stop.  Broken and battered; burying myself my only reparation. My body’s betrayal meant I had to survive, physically as well as mentally. So my Psyche created alternative realities inside alternative realities to protect my inner child. The alternative realities are like that of a deafening explosion that can come from nowhere – it can quickly be just me, my fear and mumbled murmurs. Those who love me most I fear the most. Like a tornado I am back there; a place I now call Oz. I am yet to find what is at the end of my Yellow Brick Road or why I am there. With my family, my partner and my community acting as my Ruby Red Slippers; it’s a step I can now one day take.

 

When diagnosed HIV Positive I cross examined whether this was some retribution for the path I had tread or whether it was fate to halt the road further ahead. My ChemSex Crusade didn’t stop, a low viral load, a non-resistant strain and taking up medication straight away rapidly brought my status to Undetectable. I should have put my life on pause and reflected but my priority was the need to say ‘I’m okay’. The weight of HIV, its history, disperses transiently when you are informed you are going to live a longer life than most. My diagnosis came with no physical health problems but there is a mental baggage I carry. Was it my fault? Will someone be able to love me? My HIV and I have traversed different paths and times but I am here now Positive and positive.

 

Thankfully I now find solace in the Dean Street Wellbeing programme’s Let’s Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs, hosted by Patrick Cash at Ku Klub amongst all the acronyms in an underground world of galvanized playwrights, poets, fashion designers, accountants, comedians, baroness’ and prep campaigners, the list goes on. Their work for their community, internationally and nationally, is a never ending story. Attendance is the first Thursday of each month. It has been a crucial crutch to the Four and Half month sober and happy man I am.

 

By standing with my community I intend now to better understand myself and others. Actively and arduously striving for our aspirations locally, nationally and internationally in our cottages and our clubs, our pubs and the price of our PrEP, our hook up apps and our stigma and the terror turfed upon our brothers and sisters. Through community driven solutions; Greg Owen’s I Want PrEP Now campaign is among the best of examples, challenging and creating a gateway to the HIV crisis that has plagued our community for almost thirty years; this, along with some other brilliant initiatives, and the hard work of many, has resulted in a 40% (+) reduction in diagnoses in 2016. Thankyou Greg and all.

 

I’ve had it tough. You’ve had it tough. We’ve had it tough. I am still working through this as well as you are. We’re all battling demons, inside and out. I have my own work to do. We all have. I am here for you as you are for me. I’m here. I’m sober and it’s been a struggle and I hope you’ll be patient with me as I continue to struggle, and when I am not my best self.  I promise to do the same for you.

 

Love James

                                     

@JamesPaulPoet  

                        GMFA Advocate, Drag Act Stand Up, Spoken Word Poet, Playwright with a Passion for Pulling Pints & Concocting Cocktails

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