Saturday, December 07, 2002

I can hang with the idea of creating a work of art here as long as my voice isn't censored or completely ignored and if some who've been invited to participate don't mind hearing stuff that's not necessarily funny or happy, or is related to J.C. sometimes in only a tangential way. My purpose for participating on this thing is to have my voice heard because, back then, I didn't have a stage nor an audience paying me to sing my songs or rant my rants. Seems like, back then, I paid big money to people who didn’t even know me, and then only to come away having not been seen or heard, and with a broken heart. And that’s the embarrassing truth. (I know - world’s smallest violin, etc.) Still, I made my choices.

A memory that’s been on my brain the past few days is of dancing like a demon at Nightmare’s shows to “Paint it Black” with my friend Brian Denning, a.k.a. Beaner. He was a Milligan student, and gay, and had a terrible time coming to terms with that. He was sometimes suicidal since he was madly in love with another friend of ours, Randy Small, who was dating (and is now married to) Sarah Cummins. He and I were birds of a feather, I guess, since we were always melancholy and feeling morose about something. At Nightmare’s shows, I felt more free to feel feelings and express them than I ever did in church or at home, and that bothered me at the time. I was searching for a new set of spiritual tools, so dancing to “Paint it Black” was serious therapy. I was attending a Christian college near Chicago at the time (save for my one semester at Milligan) and had a friend in Chicago who also was gay, Stephen. He was manic as hell, and during those Nightmare’s days, he killed himself because he couldn’t stand the stigma. Before he did it, he would come to my room at three a.m. going on about how he had come face to face with evil watching the film “Fatal Attraction”, or how he’d seen God face to face. He said he was going to get some Jesuit priests in the city to pray for him so he wouldn’t be gay anymore. I was always trying to comfort him. Disturbing shit. A couple of weeks after that (and I’d mentioned to a professor that I was worried about him), he knelt in a position of prayer in front of an oncoming Chicago commuter train. I was able to recover an earring of his on the railroad tracks and a necklace. Just seemed like life was always a harsh wake up call to me then that the faith in Christ I’d found so comforting while growing up was a source of terrible pain for many people. And so it became a source of pain for me too. Sometime after that (must’ve been in the summer), I remember a battle of the bands that the Nightmare’s participated in --I think it was at Viking Hall, and, afterward, there was a party at Elizabeth Cloyd’s parent’s house---huge house. We all sat around a bonfire, and I remember Drew having this stellar memory of old songs, one-hit wonders. At some point, someone, for laughs, started singing the corny Christian campfire tune, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going,”----and I remember thinking how could I hate and also love a stupid song like that, and if ever it had any meaning for me, it was at that moment, sitting with people who seemed to understand some part of me that I was still trying to find.
And on a positive note, the friend, Brian, is doing fine now, is very happy living with his boyfriend, Paul, in Fort Worth, Texas, of all places


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