When I Identified

Since all of us sitting around this table are likely pretty Queer I assume the “identity” the topic refers to is our LBGTIQ true self-realization. If I address that assumption head on I guess I certainly started the process of self-identifying as gay back in the mid-1960’s with that process only really reaching fruition if you will and comfort with my queer identity in the mid-1970’s.

I have though spent an inordinate amount of time throughout my life identifying as something new and different every few years it seems and these new facets of my being often are a bit out of the mainstream. Not sure why I can’t just leave well enough alone.

I imagine time has blurred my gay coming out process and dulled much of the pain that may have been associated with it but looking back their have been several other identities some of which continue today that seem harder than, and with even less societal approval, than being queer. To name a few being a male nurse back in the 70’s before more males realized nursing pays pretty well. A person HIV infected which is still something that is shared with some trepidation at times or not at all. For example like being asked in a full steam room at the “Y” how my health is by an old physician colleague. It is just not steam room etiquette to say, “Oh, pretty well except for the damn HIV meds”.

And of course there was my witch-phase from about 1977-1988. How does one comfortably share Wiccan beliefs with your father, who responded to my coming out letter with the sincere hope that I was connected to the gay Catholic group Dignity. When in actuality I had totally thrown Catholicism overboard and was hanging out with a bunch of radical fairies many of who had adopted Wiccan and pagan rituals as their main form of spiritual expression. Saying sorry dad I am way more into Starhawk than the Virgin Mary never happened.

Though for several decades now I have internally at least identified as a Buddhist I still today in response to curious inquiries about what sort of spiritual practice I may have I often defer and deflect. Often mumbling that I try to meditate a lot and that of course would be a lot more than I actually do. Perhaps this is some subliminal aversion on my part to identifying with any religion even a currently cool one like Buddhism.  I am of course a firm Buddhist Atheist or at least an agnostic professing to really not knowing a whole lot. It is certainly fairly respectable these days to identify as Buddhist but the atheist part can be problematic. Depending on the crowd you are with it often elicits the same response one would get if you walked into a cocktail party and tossed a turd in the punch bowl.

Though I have pretty much incorporated various of these identities into my life being largely at peace with queerness, HIV infection, nursing, witchcraft, paganism, Buddhism, atheism and socialism I do find myself struggling with one current and relatively new one. An identity that I have found very difficult to share with others even those close to me.

That would be being a diabetic. I recently got the news that my HbA1c had soared to 13.9 from 7.6 last November. An abscessed tooth that took a couple weeks to finally resolve in March and my current and only HIV cocktail option, that plays continual havoc with my metabolism, certainly were drivers here in boosting the HbA1c. Oh and of course my love and quite frankly addiction to ice cream and cheese did not help one bit along with the resulting extra 20 pounds of belly fat I cart around.

A HbA1c of 13.9 translates to a daily, at least for the three months preceding the test, average glucose of 352.  The upper limit of normal non-fasting for glucose is 140 with the more desirable number being less than 100 but greater than 60. My health care providers were of course ready to throw the kitchen sink of diabetic meds at me including insulin.  Luckily I was able to talk my physician into going along with my plan of a whole foods/plant-based diet for a few months and we’ll re-check labs. I am avoiding the identity of “vegan” preferring plant-based eating instead. We must remember that Oreo’s are vegan but in no way suggested for the diabetic or any one else for that matter.

I am monitoring my glucose twice a day and after four weeks of very minimal animal product, and very little processed carbs or sugars I now frequently have glucose readings in the mid-100’s.  I have fallen off the cheese wagon only very rarely. I’ll keep this group posted since I seem to be able to weasel my own drama into nearly any topic we come up with here.