Saturday, January 26, 2008

I Know What Love Is....

"I know what love is". The words spoken by Forest Gump, affirming that while he may have been slow, he understood the depth of his feelings for his girl Jenny. Recently I was re-watching this movie as I often find myself doing with films of this quality. I found my self struck by this single truth of Forest's and it reverberated within me for the following week. I began to ponder my own path to love over the years and found myself thinking, how do any of us find it?

My earliest memories are those observing my parents relationship and while not always perfect, theirs was one that clearly demonstrated what love and affection was. Especially my mother typically over exemplified love while my father took a quieter assuming approach to expressing himself. The ironic effect has sometimes made it difficult for me to approach relationships with complete equilibrium. Still the values they both provided was one that would allow me to recognize love when I felt it. I"m reminded by an an Alanis Morissette song, "Princess Familiar" The lines "papa love your princess so that she will find loving princes familiar, papa cry for your princess so that she will find gentle princes familiar" The essence of this song summed up my lessons of love during my childhood.

Middle and High school years had me teetered tragically on the the verge of being a loner, to this day I feel the loner streak in me. I was horribly introverted and often preferred the company of books over people. When Boredom and loneliness converged I would experience bursts of extroversion, I would become the typical class clown and often dreamt that one day I would be someone of note, or as Avril Lavine sings "I'd rather be anything but ordinary.. please" My fun guy personality caught the attention of a girl in my class and we dated for a few years until graduation came and it was over as school romances often do. Ironically years later I spoke with her only to discover she taught queer studies at a college in upstate New York.... Birds of a feather has never been so accurately described.

College came and I was forced into more complex socialization opportunities, looking back I thank god that I lived away from home and on campus, thus forcing some of my social issues to a head. I was also starting to experience the fluidity of my sexual being. I liked girls well enough for intimate encounters, but I also looked at men and wondered about their possibilities yet going forward with those thoughts. While the path to heterosexual was set by my parents example, the path to the homosexual did not exist, there were no open models, no books and a pretty big stigma attached to it... Gay was something I didn't even want to try. After school I lived with a Woman for over five years, I loved her to be sure but there was now something more tugging at me, perhaps that "Constant Craving" K.D. Lang sings about. When my relationship ended with her I knew it was time to find out what this attraction was all about.

Once I made the conscience decision the transition into the life was pretty easy for me, there wasn't any angst in taking this new path. I never once felt odd or wrong, it just was what it was and today I would qualify myself as gay and live pretty openly. Though I have consciously opted to just not speak of it at places like work. Its not for lack of pride in who I am, its more that I prefer not to have gay in front of my title. I am not a gay manager, but a manager who is also by the way gay too. If asked, and I have been asked, I have always been honest with my answer. Occasionally women have expressed interest and I While I continue to feel the fluidity of my sexuality and find many women attractive, I have chosen to continue along this path as I feel it would be difficult to find a woman who would accept me as gay... and for me honesty in an intimate relationship is of paramount importance.

Still I do know what love is and I have had several significant loving relationships that have brought much to my life, I have touched on some of them in detail through out this blog. For me love has rarely come quickly. On the whole my relationships have begun as friendships. Now I have jokingly said on occasion that "I have never dated ugly", the truth is that a guys personality and character have created more love for me than his looks. To me true friendships are filled with a fraternal love that can sometimes evolve into true love. Because my relationships started as the friendship of two people who had something in common, they were fuller and more significant and I remain close friends with many of them today.

For twenty years in the life I have met many characters, both good and some not so good. I have been attracted to a variety of guys, some masculine, some feminine, some crazy silly, and some too serious, but each very much their own person. I'm attracted tho men who have something going on for themselves, they have a talent or passion that they are evoking in full effect on the verge of cocky in a sexy way. They are the kind that don't just talk about their dreams they make them happen. Along with being friends first its equally important that they have something going on in their life, something that speaks to their life personally. The biggest misconception going is that being in a relationship requires complete surrender to each other in a way that compromises each as an individual.

Life comes with long periods of time where the opportunity to become staid and bored can easily happen, I have found that having other things in your life allows you to bring something fresh to any relationship. With all this said I cant tell you that I have always been able to maintain a lasting relationship. In fact 4 years is the longest I have been able to achieve so far. I don't feel sad about this at all. I have come to terms that its not quantity but quality of the relationship that is important. Each relationship teaches me something. The culmination of which brings me closer to the man I think I am suppose to be and makes me better for the man I am suppose to be with.

I also know finding love means letting go, allowing yourself to be happy or hurt, how ever it goes where ever it leads, even if it ends poorly. I have never given up on the concept of finding love (thanks to Mom who always said there is someone for everyone out there). I have seen some of my friends sacrifice long periods of happiness because they have been hurt, some to the point of feeling damaged because of a break up. Some have been stuck on the fantasy of prince charming, and the "perfect man" and frustrated when that man never quite shows up. Some found love, perfect love and then sabotage it because they don't feel worthy of a lasting relationship, or that they need to control how it ends up. I have never for these reasons gone down this path myself. Perfect love has never been an illusion for me, I find perfection in someone's imperfections and ultimately truth is love can only be found when one loves them self.

One measure of love can come when you lose someone, when they die. When Perry passed away the measure of my pain was to my surprise long term and I went a long time before I allowed myself to be in a long term relationship, it took me a few years to even realize I had taken myself off line. It was his display of unconditional love for me that made even thinking about another all but impossible. For a long time I thought that I had found that ONE and that finding love again was probably not possible, The hurt of loss can be an daunting thing to feel. Still time heals all wounds and with my generally optimistic view on love I found my way back to a place where I could go forward again. I have learned that while you may only have a short time, not to try would be a disservice to living life to the fullest.

I have love in my life today, and there is nothing better than knowing you have someone in your life. Yet for some life can be elusive I still see things I still do not understand, like why does love make the most confident man turn to jello, why does saying "I love you" make people bolt out of your life? Why is it when you meet someone and you think its clicking and suddenly after one or two dates they are a no show in your life. Why not just say, "Hey your a great guy but I need something else" It seems often we do things that try to taint our view on relationships. Then there are the guys who I like to call hunters, they wine and dine sometimes for weeks telling you that they are ready for that relationship and after they get you under the sheets its off to the next kill. I had a friend once who begged the gods for the right man to come along... and then while he was on a date he would accepted every call that came across his phone... oblivious to the impact it was having on the great man that was right there in front of him. These things I find beyond my comprehension, I've tried to live under the maxim that you live life in the way that attracts the life you want to live. You can't say you want someone in your life when you allow so many others the same status.

On top of all these examples, finding love today seems to be made even harder for many because meeting people has been reduced to online searches where a persons stats, like age, waist size, dick size are given an elevated importance over personality, or experience. The opportunity to prejudge someone has never been higher as we share more and more of ourselves in bullet point form with others, we are rated numerically and the ease in giving shade to someone who has received a higher score or has more visitors to their profile increases tension and feelings of rejection. At one time you would go to a club or party to meet new people, cruising, meeting in person was the social way to find a nice guy, by the time one gets to the club now one can be predisposed to dislike someone and there is more likely to be a fight or confrontation of egos thanks to technology.

To be clear I am far from a prude, I'm a man, I understand the sexual urge, maybe even more acutely as I grow older. I have acted on those urges as well and I have the benefit of having met guys the old fashioned way as well as online. I know that Gay men have unfairly been assessed as promiscuous, that they have a look on this particular moral failing.... clearly I don't buy the notion and need only to watch day time TV, sex in the city or Desperate Housewives as proof of its heterosexual origins. I have had my share of those transitory moments the while momentarily satisfying many have left me empty and with out purpose and this is a truth I came to early on "in the life." For me finding love has come more than a few times over the past twenty years, and I don't regret my life one bit. Its about taking in experiences to the fullest and I have truly have enjoyed the journey.

Like Forest learned love can be a blessing and a curse, from the depth of loneliness to the euphoria of love and every moment in between. Love is precious and not to be taken lightly or dismissed.

Yeah, I know what love is.

Images for this post are very special to me as they represent some of my most significant early relationships and while they are in chronological order as images and my experience they are loosely placed through out the post and do not tie into specific tracts of the post. There have been others who were just as special, some perhaps even more but it is the earlier relationships that inspired this post the most.

Note: All images and text (not specified) is copyrighted by Christopher Cushman. This site does not specify or denote the sexual orientation of any model and as such please post your comments accordingly.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Something to Say, Something to Remember Today - MLK Day 2008

OK there are plenty of political bloggers out there in this election season so I will not be jumping in to that frey unless I feel particularly impassioned to really say something. Voting is like god and church for me... Very personal. I will not tell you how to feel or think about any of those subjects. That said I was moved to day to see a politician speak so frankly about something that really relates to me and those I love. I feel compelled to put it up for your reflection. In a speech today at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King once served as pastor, Sen. Barack Obama openly spoke about bigotry, homophobia, anti-Semitism and xenophobia. His remarks seem rare and honest to me.

"For most of this country's history, we in the African-American community have been at the receiving end of man's inhumanity to man. And all of us understand intimately the insidious role that race still sometimes plays - on the job, in the schools, in our health care system, and in our criminal justice system.

And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King's vision of a beloved community.

We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.

Every day, our politics fuels and exploits this kind of division across all races and regions; across gender and party. It is played out on television. It is sensationalized by the media. And last week, it even crept into the campaign for President, with charges and counter-charges that served to obscure the issues instead of illuminating the critical choices we face as a nation."

To read the whole text click here

Image of Barack Obama by Getty Images (wish they gave credit to the dude who took the pic!)
Note: All images and text (not specified) is copyrighted by Christopher Cushman. This site does not specify or denote the sexual orientation of any model and as such please post your comments accordingly.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Soulful Messiah

Following on from last Aprils amazing opportunity to shoot Ballet Creoles final technical practice, was this year holiday presentation of "Glorious Soulful Messiah" I am blessed with the opportunity to be able to capture some of best dance in all of Toronto. I have to apologize the lateness of this post... This was shot mid December and the day after I was under the weather for several weeks! So this is one of the highlights of my holidays this year.

Conceived six years ago by Patrick Parson, the founding artistic director of Toronto’s Ballet Creole, this presentation is a soul-infused Christmas ballet set to Handel’s Messiah as performed by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Patti Austin, The Boys Choir of Harlem and Al Jarreau on the Grammy-winning album Handel’s Messiah: A Soul-ful Celebration, produced by Quincy Jones in 1992. This year’s presentation also includes an encore performance of “Glory,” a work by Ballet Creole associate choreographer Gabby Kamino, danced by Parson with two other performers. “What we try to do with this ballet is keep trying to bring the dancers to new levels,” he says.

Note: All images and text (not specified) is copyrighted by Christopher Cushman. This site does not specify or denote the sexual orientation of any model and as such please post your comments accordingly.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Temi! Eku anniversary!

Olowo ori mi, eku anniversary, meo le ro bobo ti mole fe ju e lo ninu aye me.......o ti fi nko to dun si nu aye mi, to ri iyen ni mo wa ni fere gann......

Note: All images and text (not specified) is copyrighted by Christopher Cushman. This site does not specify or denote the sexual orientation of any model and as such please post your comments accordingly.

Friday, January 04, 2008

10 Years In Canada!

It's 2:00 PM January 4th 1998 and I am crossing the boarder with my roommate Sam at the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit to Windsor. It is the biggest leap of faith I have ever taken in my life. I am leaving EVERYTHING that is familiar to me to move to a new city, and new country. Ahead of us is our moving truck.. a semi loaded to the roof with everything we have ever owned.

When we get to the the other side we are required to go inside at the boarder to officially declare our status with the fine folks of Canada. Our paper work, two sets of documents meticulously prepared by the company who hired us... Anderson Consulting. The trip is a result of eight pull ya through a ringer interviews which resulted in our invasionary force of two. The boarder guard carefully reviews our applications and promptly declares them to be invalid as he begins to fill out a slip for our return to the USA.

Sam faintly sits down on a bench with both hands in his head... and I start to get Detroit on the guy! "What do you mean invalid, these were prepared by the immigration lawyers at Anderson!" To which he replied "I don't care if they were prepared by Bill Clinton him self! They are not correct!" "But everything we own just passed this boarder in a semi truck, we are going to Toronto!" Now raising your voice to a boarder guard is not recommended.... EVER. But I was not going to be deterred and with steely eyes I said "Get your supervisor!"

Minuets later the guard returns with a supervisor and the 10 inch thick NAFTA Binder.... The supervisor flipping through hundreds of pages of free trade documentation, "Actually these papers are in order she says to the other guard, We need to let them in." "Sorry for the confusion she said, and welcome to Canada!" I force a smile and glare at the guard who stamps our visas as if he is trying to drive them through the top of the counter. "Here you go" he says with no apology for the error... I restrain myself from saying "Ya Momma!" and pull Sam off the bench "We are in!, Lets go!"

We leap into Sam's BMW and four hours later we were in our new home in Toronto... our entry all but forgotten there was a sense of exploration in the air, we were fish out of water big time and quickly we determined that Canada was going to be very different from the USA. Like everything there has been the good and the bad but after five visas I finally became landed in Canada. I have made the decision to stay and the experience has transformed my life. So it is January 4th 2008 and I sit here and reflect on everything that has happened in the past ten years. Canada is more than a country, its a refined idea of how life and humanity should be, and I am smitten by the very idea it represents. So heres to the next 10 years!

Note: All images and text (not specified) is copyrighted by Christopher Cushman. This site does not specify or denote the sexual orientation of any model and as such please post your comments accordingly.