I’m not a standard guy.
I am a yoga teacher, a meditator, a local government bureaucrat, a writer, a facilitator, an analyst, a leatherman, a philosopher, and a bad poet. I’m a graduate of the school of hard knocks. I’m an AIDS era survivor, a recipient of white male privilege, and a thorn in the side of those asking gay men to accept life as it is.
I grew up with a Mormon family in Nebraska, Wyoming, and Idaho; then moved to San Diego in 1985 hoping to become a professional ballet dancer. AIDS and a drug addiction derailed those plans and landed me in West Hollywood in 1991. I’ve lived there until 2018 before relocating to the South Hollywood neighborhood in Los Angeles.
Hitting the gym and getting sober launched me onto a path of exploration that lead to a 20+ year job I love at West Hollywood City Hall, a chance to expand my sexual identity, and a nagging realization that, against all odds, I am becoming an elder in my community.
I’ve had the honour of being chosen as International Mr Leather 2007, a process that ripped the closet door off one of the last hidden parts of my identity. It allowed me to start a fraternal alumni group of leather men called the LA Band of Brothers.
I followed the lead of Race Bannon (from San Francisco) and started a FaceBook group called Mike’s Bar. It encourages kinky gay men to get offline and meet face to face.
At West Hollywood City Hall, Councilmember D’Amico’s office sponsored my idea to start a gay men’s discussion group. I call it “TRIBE.” February 9, 2011, was our first meeting and it has met monthly ever since. After five years of facilitating the group, I turned it over The Thrive Tribe who now handle the facilitation.
I’ve recently published my first memoir, Drama Club. The book is a labor of love. The process of writing it was essential to making sense of my life on planet earth.
After four a year of marriage to a quality man, we divorced. It is still painful for us both. But, instead of omitting this fact we both agree that presenting what’s really going on (both good and bad) about our experience is more likely to help our peers.
I have a boyfriend. Dennis and I are getting along extremely well.
Till then, you can find me on my blog.
Bright red marks alway bled from my writing assignments. Starting in grammar school on my spelling tests and on through high school, the red ink flowed – more spelling errors, wrong words, and dangling bits of whatever – highlighting and quantifying the reasons I’d never be able to write.
Then at Mesa Community College I was placed in the rudimentary writing class to get me up to speed with my classmates. I was placed with an instructor who told us about getting ideas on paper, about making arguments, about having a point, about clarifying that point, and having my paper say what I meant. He also introduced me to the idea of paying someone else to type, spell check, and word check my papers. “That’s the technical stuff.” He said. “Writing is about ideas.”
Oh my god! Writing is about ideas?
It turns out that I had some pretty interesting things to say and a voice that my teacher found noteworthy. He called it, “provocative.” He liked my irreverent tone and the fact that I usually had a reason for any bit of snarkisim I was dishing out. I dove into the essay examples he assigned and was exposed to real writing for the very first time. Martin Luther King, Jr, Thoreau, and even Marx jumped off the pages. This snarky stuff, when done right, could actually change the world.
Liberating ourselves from the ego’s message of fear – that persistent thought that something is wrong (always wrong) is particularly challenging for gay men. Building a consistent yoga and meditation practice (discipline) has liberated Mike in subtle and profound ways (freedom) that he wishes to share.
That’s freedom through discipline.
During my lifetime, I have experienced heart-centered (love-centered) connection in many ways: through religion & boy scouts, through professional ballet, through the plague of AIDS, through addiction & recovery, through rituals in the fetish community and finally through the practice of yoga & meditation. All have revealed to me an ancient truth; the holy grail of peace and joy are found in connection with one’s higher Self, one’s Atman – the energy that connects us all.
Ballet taught me to appreciate the technical functioning of the body, its challenges, and the power of ritualized movement on my emotions. Dance connected me to peace I had only previously experienced during specialized religious traditions that were no longer available to me after I came out as a gay man. Suffering during the AIDS era taught me the difference between being truly loved and enduring empty pontificating. Recovery taught me the value of letting go. Sexual exploration taught me the joy and devastation of choices made while accessing this incredibly powerful life force.
While taking yoga classes at the gym I stumbled across a modern guru. I experienced this yoga teacher’s authentic modern style that revealed the relevance of the 5,000-year-old tradition called yoga. With today’s music, in today’s language, I received the message that perfection is inside me, had always been there, and all I needed to do to experience it was listen to the ancient wisdom already present within every cell of my body. This feeling inspired me to get my 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) certification so that I can share it with others.
Now I have taught yoga at gay men’s fetish retreats in the mountains of California and in conference rooms in Cleveland, I have taught in private homes, in a private studio called Flux Rebellion and am now looking for a new location since Flux Rebellion closed its doors.
For me, yoga is a moving meditation, a fully embodied form of prayer. It is as intimate as sex, as expansive as the universe, and as rejuvenating as a tear-filled belly laugh with a best friend. Sometimes it is still and silent, while at other times, vigorous – both offer comfort and challenges. It has held me steady through a divorce. It continually inspires me to be my authentic Self.
Sexual energy has been pathologized by modern society. I am convinced that the authentic expression of any human being, especially a gay male human being, must mindfully embrace our intrinsic sexual proclivities. We must ponder our preoccupations that are sexual in nature so that we may know ourselves completely.
That is why, we will, at times, practice naked.
We will fully embrace and articulate the effect our sexuality has on our individual and collective consciousness – while respecting the power it has to devastate our community if not shown the respect all dynamic forces require. We will look directly into it so that we might leverage the awesome power it has to connect us to our Atman.