I was sitting here watching the Phillies get their heads handed to them in their home opener and, out of the blue, a flood of memories cascaded into my consciousness about a guy I met and knew from Canada who, despite a lot of physical difficulties, advocated bisexuality big time. I mean, he was – or is – flaunting his duality in the face of Canadian morals, not quite with impunity but with a great deal of fearlessness.
I met Charlie on a now-defunct MSN bi-guy group and his voice within the group was strong and powerful, as was his message to bi men to not only lose their fear of being bi but to revel in it and, indeed, there were quite a few men who were able to benefit from his “radical” messages. After a while – and I suppose it was because he found some of the stuff I had to say about it good – we would exchange emails and chat via IM about a great many things… but the thing that impressed the hell out of me about Charlie was how he didn’t let his poor health stop him from rejoicing in his sexuality.
He had MS and a slew of other health problems; his heart always seemed to be on its last legs because he’d suffer “mild” heart attacks, attacks that could be prevented via Canada’s health care system free of charge… but the waiting lists for him were incredibly long and there were a few times I feared my new friend had died and gone on to glory. But he was resilient as hell, his zest for life making him incredibly durable and at the center of it all was his sexuality.
One of the things I’ve always said about being bi isn’t about having the sex – it’s being able to reach other to other guys like you and having the freedom to talk about what it all means and other heady stuff like that. It’s not that he didn’t have his lovers – and the man was into some pretty kinky sex – but he once told me that he’d never communicated like this with an American who was openly bisexual – he found me to be a bit odd in that sense given that Afro-Americans are known to be horrifically homophobic.
We’d often try to figure out how we could visit with each other, which was quite problematic for us; his health curtailed his ability to travel and my job pretty much ran my life… but it didn’t stop us from talking about how great it would be to meet each other in the flesh and he didn’t make any bones about wanting to jump my bones and in some pretty graphic and explicit terms.
I was fascinated to beat the band because he was confined to a wheelchair… but you’d never know it by the way he’d have sex; his wife was bi as well and he’d often regale me with stories of how they’d conspire to seduce new friends and lovers (with a great deal of success, I might add) and, as I mentioned, if you looked up the definition of the word “kinky,” you’d probably see a picture of Charlie and his wife – and both of them with lecherous grins.
He wasn’t exactly submissive… but he was because, as he put it, not being able to move about freely limited a lot of things he could do; he’d tell me about this one lover of his who would, in my opinion, just take advantage of his lack of mobility in ways I found appalling. I’d mention this to him and he’d just laugh and point out that I only felt that way because he was handicapped as well as pointing out that just because he was handicapped, it didn’t mean he was dead or didn’t get as horny – or hornier – than a guy who had full use of his body.
Such a brave, outlandish man! You couldn’t help but admire his courage and conviction, a seemingly lone voice for Canadian bisexuals but one that spoke loudly every chance he got even though the people in his community did their best to silence him; apparently, Canadians can be just as prudish as Americans can be about such things.
He learned that both the Mayo and Cleveland clinics had ground-breaking treatments that could not only repair his heart (and it stay fixed) but literally get him back on his feet and out of his wheelchair; he spent a lot of time lobbying the powers that be to allow him to come stateside and be treated… but there were some issues going on that complicated things even though money wasn’t an object as far as Charlie was concerned. When his health allowed it, he’d often travel to the US to talk to the experts here and, during one such trip, he decided to pay me a visit before returning home to Canada.
I met him in his hotel room and I have to admit that seeing him in his custom-made wheelchair threw me for a loop because when you talk to him, you just forget about his chair… even when he talked about it. He was just as warm and vibrant in person as he was on the phone, chatting, and/or writing; he had an aura about him that you just had to experience and one that belied the things that made him infirm.
God, we must have sat and talked for hours, mostly about how his latest medical trips went and how much the Canadian health system really sucked and his new plans to emigrate to the US so he could have access to the things that would make him whole again.
And, yeah, we did get naked; it was never one of those “if” things either; we both felt the sexual tension between us but were both being unusually polite toward each other about it. It was such a sexual experience and one that not only had meaning but “erased” a stereotype in my mind; handicapped doesn’t mean dead or sexless; it just meant he couldn’t move around as I could… but that had nothing to do with his passion or his desire.
We stayed in touch after his visit but one day, I got a call from his wife – his heart had shut down again and this time, he might not pull through. He did survive and when I last spoke with him, he was just out of the hospital and a mere shadow of the person I’d met one month prior to his latest episode.
I don’t know what became of him after that. The email account I had for him is still active – but that doesn’t mean anything other than it’s still being paid for. Until now, I hadn’t thought about Charlie for a while and I’m not sure what made me think of him now – but I’m glad I did because alive or not, he was – or is – a memorable individual who truly embraced his sexuality in the face of what would be impossible odds for most other people.