Here’s a Throwback Thursday / Flashback Friday to the time I graced the cover of a The Fight Magazine exactly 5 years ago this month.
Yep, I was on the cover of issue #01. In that first issue, I wrote about being sober back when I had a whole four years of continuous sobriety.
Now here we are, The Fight Mag is at a five-year milestone, and I recently celebrated 9 years sober, which makes one look back in complete wonderment. Seriously, where does the time go? How did we get here so damn fast?
I know better than to ever say never, but the odds were stacked against me and no one believed I would stay sober in the beginning. At least that’s what I was told by those who knew me in early recovery. I ran around with two guys who were my trudging buddies back when I was on newcomer status–Brad and Orlando (aka La Flaka), who were both about a year ahead of me in sober numbers. I was definitely the weakest link where spiritual principles were concerned, and I was most likely to end up eating a dirty shit cake before I ever reached year one.
La Flaka was the first to relapse, which really ruined any ideas I may’ve had about being able to drink without getting high. The bitch didn’t have a drinking problem, so he took a drink and ended up getting high. The PNP ended when he got busted with a DUI while he was driving to, or from his dealer’s house, which sort of sealed the deal that drinking was not an option for me if I wanted to lay off of the meth, even though drinking was not necessarily a big problem for me either.
Then Brad relapsed and that’s when the shit became real for me, because Brad was the sensible one with his pretty big blue eyes. I always thought of him as an example of sobriety who worked a solid sober program, but alas, the bitch had a weakness for them Latino boys who got him into nothing but trouble. Relations with a Latino boy went south and I found myself fishing him out of a bathhouse after a bumpy three-night run. Those Latino boys took him out again and again during these past nine years, but I hear he is back on the sober wagon and I’m rooting for him and hoping he sticks around this time.
Both of them “dropped the baton,” which was our cute way of referring to a relapse.
I know time is not a tool to stay sober; I’ve seen people with a ton of time take that first bump or drink, but you best believe I held on to my baton for dear life. My sober days turned into sober years. I never forgot something that La Flaka said to me one night when we were sharing/comparing our war/drug stories. He said he could not believe that out of the three of us, I’m the one who stayed sober continuously. He couldn’t believe I refused to let go of the damn baton. He said he wanted to snatch it from me. I didn’t think it was fair. His assessment was that I was the meanest and most arrogant (his exact words were, “Eres mendiga!”).
What La Flaka failed to understand was that ego and resentment and a desperate desire to make a point is what kept me sober those first couple of years. My ego was so bad, that I was afraid if I went out, my pride would never let me back in. I didn’t want my ego to take me out and keep me out. My reasons for staying sober have evolved and are way different today. Writing about being sober all these years has helped, but I definitely did NOT do it the easier, softer way. It took what it took. For whatever reasons, I stayed.
And speaking of busted egos: I remember I absolutely hated my photo on the cover of The Fight when it first came out. I don’t know…there was something about the darkness and the shadows over my face and the fact that I look like I got into a nasty chola claw fight–all bruised up with a cut lip, and then writing about being sober, which didn’t sit well with me back then. A fierce-looking boxer facing head-on, all badass in the context “The Fight Magazine – a Queer Revolution,” is hot as all hell, but a beaten bitch talking about recovery—not so much. I wanted the shit to look bright and happy and pretty because I was selling happy, joy and freedom from drugs and alcohol. Or so were my expectations when the mag hit the streets. I had no kind of gratitude. I spun over it for months and could not get past my picture to look at the big picture: They put me on their first cover. And they let me share my sober story. How many LGBT magazine take that sort of risk–especially on their debut issue? I didn’t see that then, but it’s all crystal clear to me now.
The odds were stacked against The Fight magazine as well, when it first hit the streets five years ago. It was not looking so hot for the future of print media back then. The Advocate had gone digital and Frontiers Media LLC (I’m talkin’ about the real Frontiers magazine– not to be confused with the current mess of the New Frontiers Media Holding LLC) was struggling, and on the verge of a bankruptcy (New Frontiers Media Holding distanced themselves from Frontiers Media LLC when it came to paying their writers –myself included — who helped keep the magazine afloat while the bankruptcy settled, but they have no qualms about dipping into the vaults to take credit for what Frontiers Media did 20 years ago on a throwback Thursday–but let’s not go there … different blog for a different day). Yet The Fight Magazine has held its own and managed to flourish these past five years. They managed to not only give real people in the community a voice that stretches past the city of West Hollywood, but the magazine has been able to maintain its luster. It continues to be thick and bright and beautiful and stand on its own as a monthly queer publication. And they maintained their loyalty to the recovering gay community. They don’t have to, but other gay sober men have graced the cover of this publication and shared their stories of recovery since I first did it five years ago.
They told me to give it a few years and I’ll feel differently about that picture on the cover. And shit, shit, SHIT, they were right. I look back at that picture of me five years younger and I can’t believe it’s me. It’s perfect. What was I thinking?
Esthetics aside, I’m elated and grateful and proud to be a part of The Fight Magazine as they enter their 5th year of publishing. It’s been a learning experience. It’s been fun. It’s taken me out of my comfort zone and it has challenged me to write in a way I didn’t think I was capable this past many years.