My Greatest Shame: AKA Where the Rubber Meets the Fucking Road / PART 1

I owe the gay community some of my own blood.  In my opinion.  You may agree and call for even more of it.  You may disagree and say I’m nuts.  It doesn’t matter.  I owe a karmic debt and it will be paid.  It starts today.

This one’s gonna be long. It may be a few installments. Cause it’s a lifetime’s worth of shit I’m laying out. It’s late and I have to get up early but I’m not stopping this one till I’m done. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But fuck, I promise to be honest so that we can maybe figure some shit out together because goddess knows I have racked my motherfucking brain out over this one and I cannot BEAR the conclusion I have arrived at thus far.

This is also why I FOR REAL look at both sides of everything. Because I have been on both sides of some extreme and value-shaping forces. I know and have broken bread with the people on both sides and so I ask: how dare I judge anyone??? AND YET I STILL FUCKING DO.  Arggghhh

Now I judge the people whom I used to be like – very harshly. I can feel the venom when I write publicly on Facebook sometimes. I want it to hurt a little. I do. I want them to feel how fucking AWFUL they make other people feel- other people who don’t have the born into it fucking advantages that they have.

And I recognize the anger and the irrationality in that. It’s not them I hate. It’s her- Paula. Jesus Paula. She’s who I fucking hate. I want to obliviate her. Make her cease to exist. I am torturing her right now because she fucking deserves it – she is a formerly somewhat intelligent woman making colossally stupid choices. She is a fucking COWARD. A shameful, SHAMEFUL HYPOCRITE. YOU MADE THAT WAVE OF HATE MOVE JUST A LITTLE HARDER, A LITTLE MORE PAINFULLY. YOU HURT REAL FUCKING PEOPLE YOU STUPID FUCKING CUNT. YOU DESERVE MERCY FROM NO ONE.

I held my daughter tonight as she cried hard after another jab to her tender 12 year old heart and I promised her,

“It will never hurt this much again honey. This is as bad as it’s gonna get, I promise. I promise. It will get better.”

And I felt fairly confident in making a promise of that magnitude because what can possibly hurt more than your own dad not accepting who you are? Rejecting your very essence? Rejecting you because you are attracted to ALL of humanity instead of just one sex? Because he sees your love as sin? I can’t even imagine the level of heart ache she endures. It is incomprehensible to me. My girl. My sweet little girl who cuts her fucking arms because there’s so much inside her. God I hate him right now, I really do. I burn with fucking hatred for him. I wish he would start riding his motorcycle again so that his odds of being killed skyrocket. That is how I feel right this very fucking second.

And I remember that I was that person too.

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Once upon a time, there was a little redheaded girl.

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Fairness may be the most important value of all to me. Maybe I was born that way, maybe I acquired it being hurt by the innate wrongs in the world. I’ve talked about this before but I remember the Battle of the Sexes Tennis Match of Billie Jean King versus Bobby Riggs in 1973. I was five years old when that shit went down but I remember it. It’s all anyone was talking about. And I knew that girls got treated differently than boys already. I could see it. I could feel it.  I experienced it. So I knew it was crucial that this lady beat this big mouthed stupid man. (And she did.)

I saw the unfairness. I wasn’t allowed to do as much as boys. None of us were. Couldn’t play the same sports. Couldn’t take my top off when it got hot out. Even with no boobs yet. Had to wear a dress and sit still. I didn’t get why either. I just knew it wasn’t fucking fair.

My next major memory of fairness and injustice was when Roots came out as a television series. I watched it by myself on my parents’ 13 inch tv. I was about 10 years old and though our neighborhood was ethnically diverse, we had no education as far as diversity and the history of oppressed peoples in Canada.
Roots was horrifying to me. To see people degraded on such a level was shocking. It offended every facet of fairness I had as a human being. It haunted me deeply. I remember crying hard and being so fucking angry that this had happened. So fucking ANGRY. This series changed the way I saw the world. It made me want to right wrongs. And it really made me mad.

I had a teacher in grade 6 who was a colossal dick. I’d been a straight A student till I crossed paths with him. Mr. Botsford had once been very overweight and had lost over 100 pounds so suddenly he became our gym teacher too. He was notorious for talking about how much stronger boys were than girls and his anti-female attitude permeated all of his subjects.

In Canada in the 70’s and 80’s there was this program called The Canada Fitness Award Program for kids aged 7-18. We would participate in different challenges like the flexed arm hang, standing long jump, 50 yard run, the speed situp challenge etc. Botsford was in charge of it and I was a competitive gymnast at this time. It gave me a great deal of pleasure to beat every fucking boy, not only in my class but in my entire SCHOOL in the speed situp challenge. My memory tells me I did 69 situps in one minute though I could be romanticizing it for the cool number. I do know that I did over 60 in one minute though because everyone, except Mr. Botsford, made a big deal out of it. My satisfaction that day may have remained unparalleled for the rest of my life so far. (I’ll tell you another day about the time Mr. B came into one of the strip clubs I was working at.)

It wasn’t until I turned 25 that I went hard core activist though. I was working in London Ontario and befriended a fellow stripper named Bella. I was really struggling with my first marriage at the time and the way you throw yourself into something when you know you only have a week together, I confided in her. She gave me The Book That Changed My Life- “Revolution From Within- A Book of Self Esteem” by Gloria Steinem. The embarrassing thing here is that I didn’t actually know who Gloria Steinem was and it was already 1992. I was 25 years old and I didn’t know who Gloria Fucking Steinem was. This is education failing us folks.

Well, I ended up reading it a dozen times. I bought copies for multiple people. It was my introduction to Intersectional Feminism. Fairness as a life and world goal. After this, I read all the classic feminist texts. Read Roots. Maya Angelou. Alice Walker. History/herstory books. I began going to protests and marches for women, LGBTQ2 folks, sex workers. Writing pieces about women in the sex trade for places that would take them. Published a letter of the day to the Toronto Star. Interviewed for one of Michelle Landsberg’s weekly Toronto Star pieces as the chair of the Exotic Dancers’ Alliance of Ontario. Tried to organize dancers in one of my clubs and got threatened with a baseball bat by the owner. Blacklisted from every club in town.

So you get the idea. This shit was not only important to me, it was a cornerstone of my life, my philosophy, my raison d’etre. It made logical sense that my freedom is bound with yours and yours with his and his with hers. It’s our freedom.

My spirit life was heavily female energy based, deliberately. I felt I needed to balance the thick, smothering, mostly coveting, everywhere male energy with a long, concerted laser blast of the sacred feminine which had been missing my entire life. That was my spiritual focus for many years.

Some of you may remember the story I told about when I hit Nadine and threw my back out? Remember what I had written on the door that morning? “Love your enemy.” That was fucking radical. I liked that. I was just, after a decade or so, opening the door a teeny crack to that male energy- the Christ energy. Not the church, just the Christ energy. I was reading the Gnostic Gospels at the time and they were pretty fucking beautiful. I was having a lot of ‘coincidences’ happen to me (and yes I know about confirmation bias and my shit is just too weird).

For example, the week I met my second husband I had a 2 week gig in Whitby Ontario. The dj there was an open Christian – first one I’d ever met that talked about it with a different sort of attitude. I spoke at length with him over those 2 weeks asking him questions. I remember him saying “I’m a sinner. I totally admit that. Look at me, I’m a dj at a strip club. But I still believe.” While I was impressed with his humility, I told him I didn’t think he was a sinner and he replied that sin is the human condition.

“Well I’m not a sinner. That’s your language and you can keep it.” I said and left the dj booth.

That was also the week I stole a library book on karma. It was ACTUALLY something like ‘Christ and Karma’. So I was investigating the Christ energy more and more.

And 4 weeks before my flight to BC, I was visiting my folks for Christmas in Windsor, my hometown. And I decided to go to the church two doors down from them (not their church) on Christmas Eve. And during the service I cried for an hour and a half. I cried so much that I was wiping snot all over my sleeve because there was no Kleenex. I will have to go back to my tapes to hear what the fuck was going on in my head that night but I thought I felt some kind of spirit I hadn’t before and I was quite overwhelmed by it.

As if that weren’t enough, just before the service ended, a familiar looking man approached me. “Paula! What the hell are you doing here?”
I knew him. I knew his voice and his mannerisms and his face was so familiar.

“It’s Pat! I know, I look different. I lost 100 pounds. Got my wife and family back. Through Jesus. I know it sounds nuts but it’s true.”

Pat was one of 3 or 4 good managers I met in the 16 years I spent in the business. He was fair, kind, but didn’t let people walk all over him. He was fun too. We had partied together many times and had excellent conversations about things of relevance and matter. I genuinely cared about him. He had managed a club in Hamilton. 300 miles away. And here he was, 2 years later. In Windsor. At the church beside my parents’ house. On Christmas Fucking Eve. Telling me about this Christ energy.

There are many many factors that led to my betrayal of everything dear to me. I was beginning to age out of the stripping industry and I was getting anxious about it. I had no money saved up. My knees were painfully sore. I was 34 years old and had no life skills that I understood had value, nothing on my resume for 16 years, little self confidence about navigating ‘the real world’, a broken marriage behind me, a pretty robust drinking habit, no support from my family and only one or two friends outside of the industry, and the love of my life, the man whom I thought I was going to marry and have a life with, dumped me after 3 and a half years which destroyed me emotionally. I was feeling pretty beaten. So I was opening the door just a crack to the Christ energy despite knowing the church’s history, reading about it, not trusting it and having a big old hate on for it. That crack was big enough for my husband to walk through, holding jesus’ hand the whole time.

(Incidentally, the last books I read before moving out to BC and losing my mind to jesus was Anne Rice’s Erotic Sleeping Beauty Trilogy. I could not believe how hot it was. I left them behind in my hotel room before I got on the plane. I often wonder what would have happened if my husband and I had kinked instead of jesused.)

I met my husband Liam at a club in Brantford Ontario one tragically slow Monday night. I was pissed at my agent for booking me at such a shitty and slow club and called her, telling her I needed to make money and to get me the hell out of there. She asked if I would stay just one night and I agreed.

I decided to park my ass at the bar when I saw a dark haired handsome man sitting there watching the baseball playoffs. Being a fan of dark haired, handsome men and baseball, I sat right next to him and we struck up a conversation that lasted 7 hours, punctuated only by a few lap dances.

The conversation was intensely bonding, a lot of talk about spirituality, Wicca and Paganism, Christianity. He had done some actual campaigning for the N.D.P., the lefty party in Canada, as I had and I was utterly fucking impressed that he actually put his money and time where his mouth was. He was taking his mom to a comedy show the next night starring one of my favourite (at the time) sketch comedy artists, Cathy Jones. I was pretty fucking taken. We spent the night together. He told me he loved me. I believed him but did not return the sentiment.

But alarmingly, while we were fucking that night, he stopped, pulled the condom off, said “I hate these things” and put his cock back in me. I was absolutely shocked. Floored at his recklessness.  And honestly, overcome with lust. I was also kind of pissed off and I had a couple of seconds to stop him but I didn’t. I should have considered that the end right there. It’s so telling. And I didn’t. What I saw was the rest of the night and the connection, and how hot I was feeling.

lust heart

He went back to B.C. where he lived, and we wrote and emailed and called and spent many many hours on the phone. I asked a lot of questions about the jesus person. He sounded really lovely. His energy was really lovely. Not at all like Jerry Falwell and the Bakers and that bunch I’d grown up watching steal people’s money. I was intrigued and I was also ever so eager for this sacred male energy. The one I’d been missing all my life. The one that I craved hard in my heart and in my body. For this strength and power that was bound with love and righteousness and fairness. With guts and gusto. Liam was into this guy. This energy. And he was smart. And an artist. And sexy. And a hell of a storyteller. I bought a one way ticket to B.C.

 

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