Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Shane L

It was the best of times - things were hanging together - I had a nice place to live and shared with a friend and could invite people over, to drop in. I'll pulled together a group of friends from separate contacts and had a "gang" to hang out with... Shane was part of that gang - we'd met through a gay student group meeting. He was studying art and photography and I loved his passion and creativity and he was a good friend.
Then it all went wrong. And I still really don't know what triggered it. Shane felt as though I'd let him down. He had a drinking problem. He came around to our house drunk and angry and... and he shouted at me, he hit me, he hit me again, and again, and he really scared me. He stopped. I think he needed to piss. I walked out and left my house with him alone in it and walked and walked through side streets tears flowing until I got to the house of a friend he didn't know where I knew I'd get a strong hug, a place to stay the night and no questions I didn't want to or couldn't answer.
The next day he'd left a rambling message on my phone - he apologised, he said he was an alcoholic - he said he'd left our house and ended up on a motorway with a piece of wood brandishing it at cars. He said its what his parents got. He said 'forgive me'.
And then I cut him out of my life. I went away for the weekend with my housemate and came back for an opening of photographs Shane had done - including some of me - and told him I didn't want to speak with him again. While he managed to stay friends with out other friends - and in some ways that hurt although I didn't want them to turn against him - we stayed apart. It helped I guess that I left town a few months later.
We met again years later briefly - but never talked about what had happened - and I didn't see the point. Now I know he's living on this side of the world but in a country I haven't visited, though one day I will.
Shane was a good friend and one who made a huge impression on my life - my ability to trust, to commit, to let someone else in my life - and it took years to get over that sense of betrayal and random violence. And I forgive him, I forgave only a few days afterwards - but I couldn't forget. I couldn't feel safe. Thats what took more time. And I think he'll always be lost to me - we can't go back and make it right again.

Monday, September 18, 2006


It was my birthday - or more correctly the night of my birthday celebration. I'd gathered a group of friends and we'd descended on a Turkish restautant and then headed off to Popstars to continue the celebrations. It was a real fun evening and towards the end of it I hooked up with Jose and got dancing. Jose was the first (I think) of a string of Spanish flings and one-nighters. He was a fashion design student at St Martin's and full of fun. My friend Chris called him the boy with the belts - because on the night we met he was wearing a number of them (such was the fashion that season!). He was a sweetie and one of my abiding memories is of walking hand in hand from the Village in Soho through to Leicester Sq station (and of feeling self-conscious, vulnerable and incredibly flattered by this). Nothing really came of this mutual infatuation - and while I don't think the age gap between us was a big deal it was hard to see how the lifestyle difference (student going out late on weeknights on a regular basis and missing morning classes vs. reliable working boy) would have worked out. Despite this I remember Jose (and wonder what happened to him) because he did make me feel so good about myself (at a time when maybe I needed that affirmation). I hope he's doing well!

Friday, September 15, 2006


I met Steve at 'Marvellous', a Sunday indy-club night in Brixton. He was dancing with a friend of his when I first saw him, and my first impressions were of his shoes. He was wearing brogues with jeans and I remember thinking that this was aesthetically wrong, and that his dancing was not too my taste. On reflection I must have fancied him to have been so clear in my initial assessment. And to be sure, not long afterwards we were talking at the bar and Steve was charming, sexy, slim and good-looking, and as he was also attracted to me we ended up going back to his flat in Chelsea.
There were all kinds of clues that this was to be doomed but he was a very charming, very sexy, and on his good days fantastic to be with kind of guy. Steve had bipolar disorder and instead of taken his prescriptions he self-medicated with a mixture of alcohol, marijuana and crack cocaine. It was the latter that was the real issue for him. And for us. I had my first (and only) experience of visiting a crack-house with him - I had a choice and he was apologetic and guilty about it. Of course we had good times together and he was a tender, affectionate, and very loving man. But there were also times that were less good and his life was becoming more and more chaotic, as he became in debt to dealers and was spending lots of time with new girl-friends who were also on crack and selling themselves to pay for their addiction. It bacame too much for me, especially as my Dad was/is an alcoholic so I knew how little I could do to change or halp change the situation Steve was in, and it was painful to see the harm he was doing and to feel so powerless to do anything about it. So I bolted and one night talked through why I could be his friend but I couldn't be his boyfriend any more. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It was made harder a week later when we were out and Steve claimed not to remember that this had happened - I don't know whether that was because he didn't remember or that he was in denial about it. I felt that I was letting him down, even though I knw this wasn't rational or real, and also that I was losing someone I really cared about.
I tried keeping in touch but he wasn't in often and didn't reply to messages. A couple of months later I was mugged and injured quite badly. I tried to get in touch with him but he never rang back. I felt let down and that I needed to concentrate on looking after myself. I kind of gave up on him.
Sometime later I heard from a mutual acquaintance that he'd been in prison and had just got out. Not long after that I got a call to say that he'd died of lymphatic cancer. I went to the funeral and met some of his friends who I hadn't met when we were going out. It was nice to meet people who had also seen the best of him and cared about him. His life hadn't got any better after I left him, and in fact had gone from bad to worse. I sometimes still wish that I could have done more. His death filled me with pain and there is still a raw spot in my heart for him.

Shane T.

I've been thinking of Shane in the last few days. It's because I'm planning to visit New Zealand again and this brings back memories and fears.
I met Shane in Wellington at a Lesbians and Gays in Education conference. Shane was an academic and teacher who was researching anti-gay bullying in schools. He was a friend of a friend of mine, and I'd been told that I'd 'like' this person so there was a bit of match-making going on. After the conference Tom asked me what I thought of Shane and my rather cruel response was that he was too boring for me... Shane and I never got together in that way but we did get to know each other slowly as friends and got into the habit of meeting up once a week, seeing a movie, eating out, talking a lot and doing what friends do - chatting, gossiping, sharing our lives, being supportive through good and bad times. Shane became a close friend and one of the people I knew I'd miss when I left New Zealand to come to London. It was at his place I stayed my last few days in Wellington after packing up my flat, and he took me out to the airport and helped me through the final panic when I discovered my bags were too heavy and I couldn't take them with me on the flight and he organised sending one by freight.
When you're literally half a world away its not always easy to keep in touch with people and like a lot of friends Shane and I kept in touch with emails on and off, but I didn't think too much of it that I hadn't heard from him for a while, some people are better at keeping in touch than others. When I first went back to New Zealand he was on my list to see. There was no response from his home phone number so I rang him at work. I still feel sorry for the receptionist who had to tell me he didn't work there any more and had passed away a few months before. So there I was in an empty borrowed flat all excited at contacting and seeing people and one of the first phone calls I make I find that I'm too late.
A few days later I talked with a flatmate of a friend of mine who'd known Shane. Shane had died of an HIV related condition and I guess although we were close we had a very much one-to-one relationship and no-one had thought to tell me, or thought of me. I was sad of course. I was also sad that in all the time I'd known Shane I'd never known he had HIV. He was stressed a lot, with an academic job that was demanding, under restructure and not very supportive, as well as having family responsibilities particularly with his Dad. But he'd never mentioned the HIV and I felt sad that he hadn't as it felt like that maybe he didn't trust me enough to share something like that with him. I don't know. I never will. I felt I'd not only lost someone who was precious to me but also that there was this huge gap in our relationship that I'd never known about at the time. I felt that in some way maybe I'd let him down. I don't know. I never will.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Content to be added

stories of lost loves, love lost and boys