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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Was A Gay Hippy - Then I Started Thinking

When I was young - such a long time ago gentle reader - but when I was, way back in my early 20s, I was a gay hippy, a believer in all sorts of fringe New Age ideas, like shamanism, the Radical Faeries and all that went with it like homeopathy, astrology, shakra-alignment, karmic choice, all sorts of crap.

The Radical Faeries appealed because they are the ultimate in gay hippydom really. They take the idea that gay men have a special spiritual gift, and we are ntaurally more inclinced to being spiritual healers/leaders/ whatever. All based in pretty piss-poor anthropology and re-interpreting other cultures to fit what was basically a cozy American middle-class identity of gay hippy.

But it was attractive in its own way. It provided community of a sort, I met some great guys. I was even a professional tarot card reader for a while. Yes, I've had a rich and varied life.

Part of it was based in that general questioning and rejection of mainstream society that came so naturally to me after figuring out I was gay.

If they were wrong about this major part of me, if being gay was actually ok, then what else had they got wrong? It did lead me to quesiton all sorts of things, and try out all sorts of shit. Maybe Western Medicine was all a big rip-off and con, if we looked to nature and led a pure life we wouldn't get sick! Reality is just a perception that we choose to perceive! Think differently and you can change your reality! You can be anything you want to be! We all chose to be born where we are to learn life-lessons this time round! All that crap.So comforting if you are relatively well-off in a developed country, but it doesn't really offer much to a 2 year-old orphan starving to death because of famine and civil war. "You're suffering now because of your past incarnations." But I know people who still believe that shit.

I sat in circles with other men, chanted, wept, re-birthed, invoked the Goddess, did seances, lived in a gay hippy commune, all that stuff. Some of it was good, some of the emotional work, and one of my dearest friends is from that time in my life. But the rest of it - nah, not so much.

You see, I don't believe in a soul, I don't believe in reincarnation, therefore I don't believe in karma. I don't believe there is anything divine or supernatural to the world. No God, no Devil, no Heaven, no Hell. The stars are out there in the universe being stars - astrology is delusional. No-one has psychic powers, because there is nothing psychic in the universe. The dead are dead, we can't communicate with them, they are gone; spiritualism and seances were invented in the mid 19th century.

I know that homeopathy, astrology and all that other New Age stuff is just a major con-job, but it is comforting because it lets people have the illusion of some level of power over their lives, it adds some sort of mystery to our ordinary lives. It is comforting to think that we can connect with a loved one after they die, but it's just self-deceit. It's comforting to think that after death bad people will be punished, and the good rewarded. We like to imagine a perfect world, and as we can't get it here, we push it out till after death. I know it pisses some of my friends off, but I just don't share those belief systems. I don't believe in any of the Maori spiritual stuff either, I regard it as just as much a con-job as the rest.

You can't be anything you want to be, and you can't do anything you want to do. There are limits that no amount of positive thinking will change. (Pic ganked from lolcubs)

There was never one turning point, in my move away from it all. Living overseas in a radically different culture helped me see just how limited and privileged the entire "Alternative Lifestyle" things is. It picks and chooses as it exploits little bits and pieces of other culture's spiritual beliefs, and shapes them to suit a largely white, middle-class audience.

And then I got sick with AIDS. Really sick. And this was at the time when medicine wasn't able to do much, so there was a lot of interest, and desperation, from a lot of guys looking for anything that would help them.

People I know tried ozone-bagging (look it up) , Chinese medicine, Ayuravedic medicine, colour therapy, all sorts of herbal cures - and they stayed sick and then they died. Some of got hold of the belief that western medicine was bad, and they were killing us with it. And it did give guys who were often desperate a sense of control over what they were doing, I can't deny it. It felt like we were taking an active role in our health, in fighting this virus that western medicine had failed with.

Then the new meds came out in the mid-90s, and suddenly, things changed. I started on the new meds and I stopped being so sick. So did lots and lots of other HIV+ people. Western medicine worked.

It wasn't my chakras, it wasn't thanks to Chinese medicine or positive thinking. It was thanks to rational, science-based medicine. I love western medicine, it saved my life.

Some people think this is a bleak way to view life and universe, but I don't. I think the universe is amazing! I love it! I don't find it a bleak way to view my life, I would call it realistic, and I'd rather look at life calmly and realistically, than wrap it up in all sorts of comforting delusions.


cdmmw said...

I'm with you 100% on the rationality, Michael, and very glad you are still with us and well. Don McM

GayDinosaurTales said...

I don't know that I have ever read your explanation of the universe so simply, clearly stated. I get it-totally. Thanks again for another nicely written piece. Glad that modern medicine could keep you around in the world for all of us to enjoy. I like your blog.

Garth said...

I still am a Gay Hippy and ultimately Michael so are you whether you want to admit it or not. I never saw it as a movement around communes and candle burning but as a movement that said 'you don't have to be like everybody else so get out there and find the real you. Just keep an eye over your shoulder and acknowledge that you share this orb with a millions of others who have the right to the same' That era gave me the strength to be the man I am today so I will never dis it. Everything you say is true and I agree fully and knowing you as I do I think that that era established the remarkable man we have before us. Just don't dis the hippies