HIV Tsunami by Tim Barrus, 2012
At-risk does not mean we will remain invisible. We were here. http://le-too.tumblr.com
Real Stories would like to thank the Cinematheque & Show Me Your Life peer mentors, students and guides for sharing your work to alert the world of sexualized violence directed at boys in today's HIVAIDS pandemic. Despite your personal trauma and surviving in abusive adult environments you used your Kodak Playsport cameras and poetry to create a significant body of witness art that will survive for when some distant generation turns to ask: what were they doing, what were they thinking, how could they allow this to happen on their watch. Real Stories Salutes the ingenious & humanitarian body of ART & Storytelling you created with Tim Barrus and that led boys to safety. We wish you well on your new journeys and as you experiment with creating your BordelloBoys site. WARNING: Hyenas watch carefully for signs of weakness at the edges of a group, keep pulling those kids inside for greater protection. You know where we are firstname.lastname@example.org; Tristan's Moon, 36 Laight Street, NY 10013.
A note to the medical world: Here's the deal. The kid shows up. He submits to the medical checkup checklist. Do not put your finger in his hole or the deal is off. You GIVE him the ARV's before he leaves.
My husband wears only black by Carolyn Srygley-Moore (USA)
(for Tim & his friends)
My husband wears black, only an occasional splash of blue or red
if I choose the T // griffins, amongst crosses
over which the moon also rises. Stalin still lives
in the color black, whorling over the dunes, Stalin still lives.
The fingers are transformed by each thing they touch
as the mind is transformed by visual impact,
the iris fluttering like the camera shutter.
There are things you made I could not look upon.
No boys were harmed in the making of this video. Should be the legend.
This poem, skateboarding into the fire.
Trundles of fire. My husband wears only black.
He is a sweet man. He believes in the God some disparage.
Yet the moon rises orange over flesh
once broken open like a corn cob doll
by a woman's hands. Stalin extant in all things
human, divine. The choir sings
of things Graeco-Roman, the choir sings.
We protect ourselves from the visual impact, from what singes
our hair so we are women weeping for the dead,
our hair shorn, then burned at the foot of the bed
where the small dog dreams, his foot twitching
& the white owl clamors outside the window: who, who
is watching, who.
Tim Barrus/ the past with its faint dry sounds does not exist/ what you remember of it is another drowning in another sky/ your eyes are only closed to the ancestral salute to all their empty rooms/ you, wading out into it/ darkens the hills with an aroused infinity that cannot grow old/ that you could float beside me mindful of the wind through another ruins/ what they won’t tell you in school is/ that ruins and all that scratching at the windows and apocalypse are a dime a dozen/
The no money for you gig was the clamp on my left tit. An arrangement has been made. For Services Rendered, each Cinematheque Films Student will receive financial assistance to continue his education. It’s a deal with the devil, ice in their mouths and it will taste metallic blue. A huge portion of falling is always measured by metal, rust, a luncheonette. Call it whatever the fuck you want. The only way it was going to happen is I say: And I get nothing. This is not about me. It's about them. My gig had always been keep it in the playroom. Do NOT put it on the streets or in anyone’s life, especially mine. I’m in the same light you stand in. Just hang me from the ceiling. Men walk in suits above the graves. Fuck this town is expensive. I was never a cutter. But I've worked with cutters. If I ever had to settle for living in Los Angeles, I would be a cutter, too.
Tim/ I have been very busy with traveling, and I travel with my dogs. So that can slow things down some. There are many times when I wish the whole world could slow down.
It waits for no one.
I was at the party the BordelloBoys threw. It was a lot of fun. I can remember thinking just a few days ago, I wish they could slow down.
I keep kicking my ass with the thought that: this is how they will survive.
I just saw clips from the video they are constructing just like they used to construct videos when they were Cinematheque. But there’s a difference. This stuff is hard.
This is sex work. This is hard-core, very, very rough sex work. BIG girl stuff. They are in the Big Leagues, now.
There are, as usual, several layers. One layer is the party they threw. I think they are trying to say that underneath the exterior, there’s a lot going on you do not see because it is normally hidden.
The music they have picked — Blood on the Dance Floor — is a dispassionate irony they have never had before.
Not one of them has had a childhood. It shows.
They are going to be really pissed off when they read this because what they are used to from me is rah, rah, sis, boom, bah.
The beginning of their video has a graphic (not a disclaimer) that says: This is What We Have to Deal With in Our New Lives.
Okay, I hear you. I am listening.
No, your lives are different now. You are doing sex work. It gets very complicated. I know. That is why they call it WORK.
The party is over.
Most of the work that you are going to do will be to find some way OUT — be it psychological, spiritual, physically, or chemically — of the tension that goes on between the top and the bottom.
The stuff you are showing in the clips I saw: whipping, beating, rape, shit eating, gang bang sex, bondage, torture, is all a part of the life you have chosen. You will deal with those issues every day because they are now going to be in your face.
I used to have this HEAVY spiritual trip. I could talk to you about the sexuality of the human animal as a life force in the cosmic universe. I am Carlos Castenada’s cousin only I know more than he did.
Motherfuckers, I am Don Juan. Can you get it.
You SAY I have no more authority over your lives. Everyone has their bullshit to carry around. Oh, poor us; we were forced by life into sadomasochism.
I could talk for hours about magic mushrooms, peyote (my favorites), pharmaceuticals until the cows come home.
The reality is that I needed this shit to get through the day.
I was famous for this trip.
You guys haven’t touched the tip of the iceberg.
The last time I did peyote was in Mexico. We crawled down the face of a mountain at night on our hands and knees and barked like coyotes and we pissed on everything because we were coyotes.
Then the whole pack fucked me because I let them. It was my gift to them.
Their gift to me was a brand new F150 Ford pickup truck. This from a village of men who are very proud of their trucks.
You think you know Sadomasochism. You do not know from shit.
I can show you sadomasochism and your little dog, too. But you would not survive the journey.
Oh, poor us. They want to put clothes pins on our little boy nipples.
You bet they do.
And they are paying you thousands of dollars to do it. Because, now, get this through your thick skulls, it TAKES thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars just to fucking feed you.
I am still hiding behind the Tim Barrus drug addict nonsense.
Because I don’t want them to know about my real trip. My Nagual.
So let them think what they want. Just don’t get too close to the real me.
Why. Because you cannot handle it. That’s why.
There was only one soul who could handle it because he had a fire of his own and he’s dead and his soul was very, very old. Far older than mine will ever be.
Do I feel SORRY for you. Yes, I pity you.
The WOMEN deal with this shit every day. Ask them.
You say you don’t want pity and you don’t want anyone’s money. Fine. Those are the choices an adult makes. Get over it.
Your question to me today was can you still have access to Cinematheque’s library of stuff. Mainly images.
Sure, why not.
Let me add one caveat. You could GIVE back, too, you know. Giving back. Yes, even you who must march out there and earn money and face a world of shit-eating meanness.
I got a request today from a female prostitute in India who wants to join Cinematheque.
I was going to say no because I don’t get off on iconic romanticism. But maybe she has something to teach me, too.
About eating shit.
Go read my first book. The two brothers are standing there with their mother. They are about to lose her and everything they know to fire. What does she say to them. What does she tell them they must learn to do.
Endure. She said endure.
Your video is so Freudian, I could puke.
Did you think someone taking a shit and eating it was going to shock me.
Please. As artists, you have a lot to learn.
I pity you. I spit on you. I piss all over you.
Welcome to the world. Grow up.
The men you are about to get to know are going to yank your chains so hard you will either die, or you will emerge from the fire.
To find what.
Other fires, bitch.
What do you think life IS.
Fire to fire.
When you are ready to meet me on a mountain in Mexico with your little video cameras; when you are ready to go down that mountain on your hands and knees, peyote-boys, to touch the moon, when you are ready to become the dog, I will let you fuck me.
Or. And it’s a big fucking or.
You could face the world as the artists you are. With your ART.
We get up every morning like anyone else and we put our panty hose on one leg at a time.
And then we go to work. We do our WORK.
Whether it sells. Whether it withers on the wall. Whether some fool on the Internet who thinks he knows us hates us. It doesn’t matter. We do the work.
When you are ready to face failure, the world, when you are ready to endure it.
Let me know.
WHERE IT TAKES YOU
Tim/ I have decided to post this video we recently made at Cinematheque. There are lots of art students who participate, and everyone wants to put it out there that this is where Show Me Your Life started. This is where it comes from. Real Stories Gallery and Tristan's Moon has made that possible. Students who have Cinematheque Mentors work through Show Me Your Life to acquire art and video skills. In doing so, they are also examining the dynamics of their lives and how art becomes a sharing, too. A bearing witness. At-risk does not mean we will remain invisible. We were here. http://le-too.tumblr.com
it's a weird sensation that people hate you/ beyond the reach of arrows and of fire/
We are all outsiders. Dancing to tunes only we can hear. Making the mistake in thinking, we are alone. We are alone. But everyone has these moments where we have to jump like a madman. Or we will go insane and be one. We see ourselves as separate. We are separate. But lightning strikes us one at a time, and lights our fuses for the fireworks.
I've written under a plethora of names. I've been a Lesbian, a veterinarian, an Australian cowboy, a Navajo, a truck driver, an Apache, a Russian, an airplane pilot (I took lessons, I can fly), a gravedigger, the list goes on. It paid the rent. Something had to. My life is still a whirlwind. I do not LIKE remembering. I LIKE being in the here and now. Period.
I have worked as an advocate in children's issues for over forty years. My work is controversial. I live out of ONE bag. I work HARD in opposition to children being forced into sex work. I use pseudonyms to protect identities and localities. I CHALLENGE communities to vigorously fight human trafficking. I believe that children all around the world live lives of extraordinary desperation, and I produce guerrilla art about it. You never know where you might see my work next. I have a thousand names. I pull no punches. I call it the way I see it. My work and my art, whether it's mashed-up, dramatized on a stage, filmed, pulled from a Cinematheque video, or painted on a canvas, speaks to this and this and this. My life reflects an activism you can never know. You do not know me. You can't know me. So stop judging me. I am here to explore the unarticulated wilderness inside all our lives.
Today I am working with Real Stories Gallery in HIV/AIDS advocacy. I am the Director of Cinematheque Films, and the Creative Director of Show Me Your Life, an International VideoArt program where children all over the planet are given video cameras so they might show us their lives.
The Plunge by tim & rachel (Show Me Your Life)
Rachel Chapple, PhD (Founder, Real Stories Gallery)
Tim Founded Cinematheque Films; an international 24/7 residential safe-shelter and visual arts program for sexually abused and battered boys with HIV/AIDS. He has worked tirelessly for years raising awareness and advocating, protecting and alleviating the trauma experienced by children (under 18 year olds).
Tim uses his gift as a writer, poet, photographer and video artist to speak about the unspeakable in a frequently hostile environment. His diverse life experiences, frequently in the shadows of main street, have shaped his knowledge and understanding of the worst cruelties experienced by young people. His work, widely published and found throughout the internet, is often produced under Noms de Guerre to protect identities, histories and geographies.
On November 13, 2010 Tim's account was abruptly closed down by Facebook. His significant body of visual poetry was lost and not returned by Facebook despite many letters to Facebook administrators by contemporary artists and poets who respect his work with acutely at-risk children and adolescents.
Tim Barrus (Founder, Cinematheque Films; Director, Show Me Your Life)
When Facebook delete you. BANG. That's it.
I did have some criticisms of Facebook, but those were sent as private messages. I was critical of how they handle privacy. They make it very complex to obtain any privacy because they want your information available to advertisers. And anyone who thinks they don’t read the private messages has to have their head examined.
According to Rachel Chapple at Real Stories Gallery (I am no longer allowed to access Facebook; all the video links to RSG have disappeared). Raymond Fils (one of the older boys at Cinematheque) posted an objection on Facebook (Saturday, November 13, 2010 at 10:43 am). Raymond tells me they deleted him, too, a few hours after he posted this:
Raymond Fils (Cinematheque Resident Supervisor, 2010)
The worst part of Tim Barrus being kicked off Facebook is the literally hundreds (actually, it’s thousands, and being the person who managed this for a few weeks I know this better than anyone) of adolescents who through that grapevine felt safe enough to explore HIV/AIDS issues with Tim. The two biggest issues were suicide and telling your parents you have HIV. All of this is wiped out with a delete button at Facebook. There is no coming back to Facebook, and actually, it would not be safe for the many kids who live in Asia to do so.
There is the issue of losing many of the videos, but we do not even care anymore. The kids we care about. So many of them were from Asia where HIV is a burning issue. We have no doubt that someone complained and with the kind of work Tim has done this is usually a parent who cannot handle the reality of facing their child’s condition. If you ignore it, it will go away is a really bad idea, but it is one we found prevalent all over Asia.
Although most of us are from Europe, the idea of The Studio being a safe place for adolescent boys with HIV/AIDS to live, make their art, and receive medical care would have been quite radical in Asia. There are many places such as monasteries that take adolescents in. But they are not always safe from traffickers and there is no medical attention. The fact that Tim could get antiretrovirals to us was more radical than you can ever know.
The loss of Tim’s voice as a poet is something that can be replaced because we will simply regroup. But the loss of those four thousand kids who were listening, most of them from Asia, cannot be replaced. Even as Tim was being shut down, there were friend requests coming in. They poured in every day. Even getting HIV information these kids would trust is easier said than done. But Tim had access to a grapevine way outside the system. You cannot blame these kids because the system in many oppressive countries will kill you. I sat there and fielded these messages for several weeks. I read those suicide notes and pleas for help. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be lives lost in this.
Tim rarely dealt with the issue of HOW TO TELL YOUR PARENTS YOU HAVE HIV on Facebook because he was painfully aware of how touchy a subject it is with the idea of parenting in Asia. People do not want their family toes stepped on, it is about power, and the reality is that they are sometimes willing to sacrifice a child’s life for the sake of secrecy. The other reality is that there really is no safe way to tell your parents. In many places, you risk your life doing so, and kids know it. They just do not trust the confidentiality of any support system that exists outside of what Tim called street creds. And in some places, just the knowledge that a minor has HIV requires Tim to report it to parents and authorities. The fact that Tim blatantly ignored these draconian laws was never lost on kids. Tim was hounded constantly to do for girls what he had done for boys. There is only so much one person can do. Tim flaunted the law in many places not the least of which was Russia. Shutting him down at Facebook would have been easy for many people in places of authority. All they would have to do is complain. Tim stood up to organized crime. Most people cannot believe it. But most people on Facebook have never lived a life on the street.
It was amazing to read the poetry of these kids as their agony and suicide notes poured in. Many people cannot believe the reality of any of this. But they were never Tim’s focus. The kids were always his focus. When he said he wrote for the boys, he did not mean just us. We were astounded at the response of kids from Asia who are reaching out for help. The issues are life and death. Tim always said it was just a matter of time before Facebook would shut it down and they did just that. Facebook does not care. The boys at the Studio consider Facebook toxic in the extreme. The will be the last you hear from me. I have to get off this roach motel to save my own sense of self-worth. That is just my personal thing. Eventually, this kind of thing will come back to haunt Facebook. Tim has always called it institutional indifference. I am not comfortable even sending this. We do not want Facebook to have our emails or location. They cannot be trusted. It is not safe. We want off of this thing asap.
Our numbers include boys with HIV/AIDS who now live outside family and authority. Being safe means more than sex. Sex is not the issue. The issue has always been staying alive. I will tag some people on Facebook, mainly a few poets. Why I am not allowed to communicate with many people is a mystery but my messages just disappear. The boys already know all of this. Tim’s public email is http://email@example.com, and it is not a secret that anything that goes there is forwarded many times around the world to secure email accounts in different countries. We are now going encrypted because of this. Anything you send him gets encrypted immediately. There is nothing a sender even has to do. We have done it before when the haters were out of control. We will do it again. Being safe means our survival. We will be fine and Tim will find a way to get his art and message that you can go outside of the system to survive with HIV/AIDS because the system in many places just means death. Many people in this day and age cannot believe that boys like us are hated but we are. Tim wanted his life to be a testament to that. He will always be one of us and on our side. I do not have all of Tim’s friends names. There are only a few people I am allowed to tag. I have no doubt I will be next to be kicked off. But I am leaving on my own right now. Tim regrets being kicked off Facebook. It is public knowledge. There are other pages on Facebook that we always just ignored with Tim’s name on them that we have no idea who even set them up. I cannot reach all the thousands of people I would really like this to go to. I can reach less than a dozen of you.
I feel strongly that Tim’s life has meant something. It was an adventure knowing all of you. Be safe!
Reverend Mary Scriver, BS, MA, MDiv.
We know historical people only through writing and film. This is the way I also know Tim Barrus. I have never shaken his hand or eaten a sandwich he made. But I have corresponded with him daily since April, 2007, and collected an archive that fills twenty-five 2 inch 3-ring binders. I have searched the web carefully and know a great deal about his accusers and maligners and their motives. One is a reviewer who fancied himself an expert on oppressed people and demanded intimate particulars, one was a minor porn writer who fancied himself a peer, and one was a pop Native American writer who had once had the same editor as Tim. If every blog about Tim written by a person who had not read any of the Nasdijj books were removed, very few would remain. Wikipedia would also have to remove itself, since the editor of the Native American writer section was not even American, much less Native.
One of the uses of stigma is to prevent any objective investigation or analysis. It justifies hysterical attacks that include anything from grade school bullying to lynch mobs. The cry of "hoax" became an excuse for a lot of yellow journalism and mock indignation over the use of pseudonyms, a convention among genre writers and those protecting other people. No one dared investigate the persecutors.
In this way Tim's pre-AIDS participation in the Great Experiment that was San Francisco in the Sixties and Seventies has been twisted into something fancied by people who know nothing about it but media hype. They demand the surrender of privacy even as they condemn the subject matter.
Now Tim sees that it is time to push hard for a cure for AIDS. The routes to success are marked -- only money is necessary to get there. Now stigmatizing Tim continues to be for personal turf protection. Their competition for money and prestige depends upon discrediting others.
It is time to stop being shocked, SHOCKED, by Tim Barrus and to join in the work at hand: curing AIDS. It is almost too late to prevent failed nations and certainly too late to prevent the destruction of families.
The effect of stigma is often to lump a lot of phenomena into a big category that no one dares to inquire into it or admit they even think about it. Using the model of contagious disease, people react with fear and avoidance so they won't "catch" whatever it is. (It used to be cancer.) To defend themselves from their fears, they convince themselves that people who have diseases or are poor or are nonconformists are inherently EVIL, which justifies the idea that they are being rightfully punished. They deserve it.
The isolation of being excluded like this, combined with the deprivation of basic shelter, food and medical care, will eliminate many people quickly. But luckily for human beings, there are always a few individuals -- sometimes religious leaders, sometimes artists, sometimes mothers -- who will resist and deplore this kind of thinking. They see the essential potential goodness and "soul" of every human being and seek to defend it. I've always been impressed by the stories of American frontier wars in which Indians had left many wounded enemy warriors on the field outside their camp. Late at night, covered by darkness, there were often compassionate women, sometimes quite old, who would creep out to give water to the dying men.
AIDS does not just afflict one class of people. All human beings except the lucky 1% born with genetic immunity can be debilitated and then killed by this viral code in the blood. If there is no access to the present state-of-the-art meds, people will die for sure. Prosperous corporations and countries have discovered the elegant blackmail of not funding meds for uncooperative nations. Those who die are not gay men from the Seventies. Those people have learned how to protect themselves. Rather they are wives and children struggling to stay alive on pittance incomes. Yes, they often but not always have dark skins. And they may be IV drug users.
Why do legislators fear them so? Why does the media turn away from them? Why do churches not speak for them? Because of the stigma.
Fotos of Whores by Trix Series, 2012
One step from the body history is made by Carolyn Srygley-Moore (USA)
A step from my body history begins:
the electric fan sounds like a warplane.
I am tired of hearing sounds
that are not valid. It is only an electric fan
not the neighbor with the short cropped yellow hair walking her white dog.
She disparages to say hello.
Our house is overgrown with thistle. With wings, not conceptual
but real. Who are you, man
walking the train trestle like Wilde bearing a parasol
for balance? The incapacity to love
is what breaks the heart what shatters the very moon.
Cored like an apple the hen beaks
the very necessity of light by which history is made
& seen & often misunderstood.