QuestionMark? #74

Dear Mark, I split up 2 years ago with my boyfriend. I am living with fears since then.
When i split up with him, he told me he was HIV positive, about six months ago i called him and he apologized for what he has done. He told me it was all lies and he wanted to hurt me as I hurt him by splitting up with him.

In the meanwhile i had another boyfriend, i am not anymore with him, he told me he was fine (HIV negative), but someone told me that his male friend was HIV positive.   I know they are not having sex, but i can’t stop worrying that he may be HIV positive as well.

I didn’t show any symptoms at all since then, i am just having an allergic reactions to spring like hayfever.

I am just feeling worry, and a bit scared to get tested.
What do you think?



Hey There My Friend,

It is later the same day and I’m just getting to your email.  People say some hurtful things when they are breaking up.  I’m sorry you had such an experience.  While I didn’t understand the part about you having another boyfriend who had another male friend who was HIV positive but not gay, what I think you were saying is that you feared they may have had sex.  That implied that your fear was that you may have subsequently gotten it from your last boyfriend.

What it really sounds like is you are having some issues around your fear about contracting the HIV virus.  Let me start by saying that your fears are logical and normal.  Many gay men experience what has been come to be known as “AIDS phobia” or the fear of catching AIDS.  It has been so pervasive in our culture, it makes sense that many gay men either grow to have an irrational fear of catching it or begin to practice unsafe behavior because they think it’s only a matter of time before they catch it anyway.  Both of these assumptions are false, of course.

Your best bet is to get educated about the virus.  Find out how you can catch it.  Find out what you can and can not do sexually.  This part is very important.   I would suggest you get in and get yourself tested.  Even if you haven’t had any risky behavior, it is good for sexually active gay men to get tested at least every two years.  Because on the slim chance that you have been infected, you have the option of seeking treatment.  And there are many treatments available to people living with this virus.  It’s still scary but it’s not the death sentence it was a decade ago.  Much progress has been made and people can lead long and enjoyable lives even if they are HIV positive.

Most importantly, talk with any prospective sexual partners about HIV and practicing safer sex.  It is really the best way to get everything out in the open so you can avoid another similar situation.  Best of luck to you.

If you have any questions, please don’t  hesitate to ask.  Be well.  Mark


Dear Mark, I moved here a year ago, and now I have relationship with a great guy,
but since my parents haven’t accepted the fact that I’m gay, I’m seeing
him without their permission. That’s not the problem… You see, I just
turned 17 and he’s 22, and I’m afraid that if they find out about him,
they could sue him or something, because he is older than me… So here
are my questions…

1)      Can they take any legal procedures against him??

2)      If they can, when will I be old enough so that they can’t do
anything against him??? Until I’m 18 or 21???

I would really appreciate if you could answer these questions for me.

Thanks and congratulations for your first anniversary.

 Hey Andres,

A couple of things. Yes, you have reason to be concerned. Parents in the state of Florida can take legal action against someone who is having sex with a minor. I consulted with an attorney who stated it can be a sticky legal situation. It isn’t a given your parents will be able to fully prosecute him even if they really want to. They have to prove something called “emancipation”. Basically, this means they have to prove you are completely dependent upon them for survival. If you can prove otherwise, they have less of a case. Of course, this is very subjective and your chances depend upon the kind of judge you get etc. When you are 18 you are free and clear from any parental input. If I can help further, please let me know.

Take Care, Mark


QuestionMark? #75

Dear Mark,

I’m currently involved in this love triangle. I just ended a nine and a half year relationship. I miss him a great deal but I never loved him. Two years ago, we decided to open up our relationship for outside sex and we met another couple. We hooked up with them for a one time sex thing and just hit it off. We began hanging out more and more and continued having great sex between the four of us. But, truthfully, I began to truly connect emotionally to one of the other men. I’ll call him “Will”. Neither one of us talked about it but I know we were both aware of what was going on.   I’m sure I’m in love with “Will”. What makes matters worse is I know his partner doesn’t love him and it’s making me crazy. They have been together five years and, from the way that I see it, they began a relationship of convenience. They were never in love with each other. They don’t even have sex anymore. But “Will” doesn’t want to leave him. I don’t know what to do next. I know I could be the perfect mate for “Will”.


Signed, Torn


Dear Torn,


For some reason, that old Olivia Newton-John song pops into my head…”Torn between two lovers…feeling like a fool”.   I don’t know if it’s that you signed with the name “Torn” or that it seems as if you are making some unwise decisions in your love life. I have many questions after reading your letter.


First off, what happened to your ex-lover of nine years? How did he feel about the breakup? Were you honest with him regarding your feelings for Will? For that matter, is Will clear about your feelings for him? How about Will’s partner? Does he know how you feel about his boyfriend? There seems to be a lot of unspoken innuendo going on here and it doesn’t look good from my perspective. This is not a judgment call. What I see is the possibility of a lot of people getting very hurt because there has been no honest conversation about what is actually happening in this triad/quartet.


Honestly it seems like you are setting yourself up for some heartache. If Will really understands your feelings for him and still doesn’t want to leave his lover he is sending you a clear message. You may not feel they have love between them but that is a subjective opinion. Love takes many diverse forms and everyone experiences love in different ways. What works between them is up for them to decide. Even though you may feel you completely understand their dynamic because you are so close to them, you only see part of the picture because you are not walking in their shoes.


Your dilemma centers around the fact that if you say anything about your feelings to them as a couple you run the risk of them breaking their connection with you. And, as hard as this may be to hear, that is exactly what should happen in this particular case. In my years as a therapist I have encountered a number of threesome couples. I believe they can and do work in many situations. However, a mutual, respectful, honest agreement has to be made by the three people involved. Everyone has to understand and accept the realities of such a connection or it is destined for failure. Your inability to be honest about your feelings and talk with these two men about them makes this a problematic situation. My suggestion would be to swallow hard and talk to them as a couple about your feelings. See what they have to say. You may be surprised at their reaction. However, if Will chooses his lover over you, you must be prepared to walk away and find your happiness somewhere else.


Dear Mark

My partner and I met at a ball game We cruised each other for several

innings. Eventually I had to go to the bathroom and who would end up next to

me in the next stall but the guy I had been ogling earlier. We spent

the rest of the game in the stall and the next 16 years together. We

still love each other and have managed to not kill each other over

the years. Unfortunately we are both tops….over the years my

partner’s libido has tapered off whereas mine has pretty much

remained that of a raging 18-year-old. We don’t have sex anymore. I

spend a lot of time in the gym and I have a nice body but it doesn’t

make a difference. I’ve been having this affair…with my right hand.

So much so, I think its a compulsion. I don’t want to leave my lover, but I

need more. What’s a guy to do? Help!



Hey Rob, Your story is the stuff of porn fantasies. Ball games, locker rooms, top guys. It sounds like you were off to a great start with your partner. It seems to me where you ran into problems is when you began to have issues about your sex life. In specific how to negotiate each of your individual needs.


The myth of romantic love can keep couples together for a long time, sometimes years. However, sooner or later, a power struggle emerges that forces you to deal with some of the underlying issues. In your case, one of the underlying issues centers around the issues of sex and sexual intimacy. This is quite normal and very solvable.


My suggestion would be to have a heart to heart discussion with your partner. If you have been together for sixteen years, there is obviously intent on both of your parts to stay in this relationship. Talk to him about your concerns.   Hear what he has to say from his perspective. While understandable, the “we’re both tops” conundrum falls flat under closer examination. There are many alternatives to anal intercourse that could constitute a happy and healthy sex life. If intercourse really is the issue for you (and/or your partner), talk about ways to incorporate it. Maybe one or both of you could consider the possibility of being a bottom once in a while.   For guys so wrapped up in the control aspect of sex, letting go and being a passive participant can be a transforming as well as hugely enjoyable, experience.


The one thing that won’t work, however, is you continuing to hide your feelings from him. Because that affair you are having with your hand will eventually turn into an affair with another man. It always does. And then you will have emotionally betrayed your lover. This kind of damage can be harder to undo.

QuestionMark? #76

my name is Bill.  I’m not sure if you got my first
email about a week ago.  I think I messed up the
address.  I was wondering if you would be interested
in starting a support group for gay male parents.  I
wrote you a long time ago and asked for assisstance in
telling my boys about my partner and I.  Well now they
know and everything is great!  They accept him and
love him almost as much as I do.  Anyway, we had
attended the Compass Alternative Families group and
for the most part, it’s all lesbians.  I don’t have a
problem with that and they love when I come to the
meetings.  I have a lot of parenting experience.  But
I feel that gay male parents have different issues
than lesbians.  I also think that’s it’s more socially
acceptable for lesbians to be mothers than gays to be
fathers.  So I was thinking about trying to get an all
male parenting group together.  I know you are a
father and counselor and was wondering if you would
like to facilitate a group like that or not?  I’m not
trying to exclude lesbians I just think we deal with
some issues that they don’t see.  I’d also like to
meet other gay dads who are going through the same
things that my partner and I are going through.
Well thanks for reading this and let me know.
Bill Rizzo

Hey Bill, Of course I remember you.  And I did get the email from last week but my computer has been down and just getting back on track.  Sorry I did not respond earlier.

I understand your thoughts about a gay male support group.  Our issues are often different from lesbians.  There is a group that Tom and I have been talking to.  It is a healthy mix of gay men and women, actually more men than women, who meet for social outings with their kids and use the time to talk and get to know each other. It is run out of fort lauderdale.   I think it is a great idea.  The groups address is  The man who runs the site is Michael.  His address is  You can contact him directly and ask questions about the group.  Tell him I sent you.

I think your idea about a gay male parents support group is wonderful.  However, between my practice, writing deadlines, and the children there is little left over time.  I would be interested in talking with you about it however.  In the meantime, this group seems like it may be a great outlet for you.  They seem to plan many activities.  Tom and I are determined to make their next gathering.  It would be great to meet up and meet your kids.

Keep in touch and we can discuss this more.  Thanks for getting in touch.
Take Care, Mark

QuestionMark? #77

Dear Mark,

I have been seeing this guy for about six months now. He’s a great guy and about ten years my senior. The only problem is that he is just getting out of a long term relationship. It was a hard breakup but they are trying to be friends. I have met the ex boyfriend a couple of times and it has been awkward for all of us. They had an open relationship for the last couple of years of their relationship. This is not something I wanted and, after many talks, we decided that we would be monogamous. I’m not sure if he really wanted to have a monogamous relationship or if he is just placating me. All of his other relationships have been open. He said that is what works best for him and that he has always operated on the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. I’m not sure if it’s an age thing or what. It makes me feel very insecure about what to expect because part of the problem between them in the past is that they were cheating on each other, breaking agreements, and not telling each other the truth, especially when it came to sex. He tells me he wants to be honest with me and has no intention on lying to me but I just can’t be sure and it is beginning to take its toll on us. I think he’s getting frustrated with my insecurity about this. What should I do?


Signed, Insecure


Dear Insecure,

First of all, honesty is not “an age thing”. I understand why you might feel this way but the reality of it is that he has a history of not telling the truth to his intimate partners. “Don’t ask don’t tell” rarely works in relationships because it leaves room for skirting the truth and not being honest about feelings. You cannot have true honesty if you are not sharing all that is happening for you. This includes outside sex. I tell my clients this all the time. It’s easier in the moment not to tell because you think it may hurt the other person’s feelings but, in the long run, you gain so much more by disclosing. You and your partner can be connected on so many more levels.


That being said, it seems like your new beau is really trying to do things differently with you. In therapy, there is a saying called “leap of faith”. Some part of you has to believe that he is trying something different from his past behaviors. So you run the risk of being wrong and getting hurt? Of course. But that is the essence of love. In order to feel the amazing splendor of warmth and safety that comes with connected companionship, you have to be willing to risk being hurt. There is a great line in a song, “love is for fools, wise enough to take a chance”.


The best stop gap mechanism is to continue talking with him about your feelings. Reassure him you understand the work he is doing to be present in this relationship. Continue to be supportive of the changes in his life he is trying to make. And find a way to continue bringing to the table the concerns you have. Find a way to talk about them where he can be supportive of you rather than aggravated that you don’t totally believe him yet. Because it’s not about believing him or not. It is about your fear of getting hurt. And, trust me, he has those same fears as well.


Dear Mark,

I wanted to write to someone that I thought might have some good advice. None of my friends seem to be able to talk with me about this. But I think it’s because they are doing the same thing and want me to join. It’s about doing steroids. I have been working out for a couple of years and my body has gotten better but it’s not as big or defined as I want it to be. A couple of my buddies who work out with me have done a cycle of steroids and they have had some amazing results. They have become my going out friends as well and we’ve been talking about how much they like the changes. More guys are paying them attention and they’re getting more dates. I want this too.


I know I’m a cute guy but have what you call a “swimmers build”. I want to be bigger and have more muscles. But I’m afraid that if I get started I won’t be able to stop. One of my friends has already started a second cycle of steroids even though he said he was only going to do one to “get a jump on things”. I think he looks great now and, if he gets bigger, he will be too big. The White Party is coming up and we’re all planning on going. I want to be ready by then. What do you think I should do?


Signed, Bigger the Better


Dear Bigger the Better,


It seems as if you may have already made up your mind about using these drugs. In our culture so obsessed with youth and beauty, it seems only natural for gay men to focus so intently on their looks. Philosophically I believe you are not giving yourself enough credit when you only focus on one part of your physical being. By placing all of our worth in our looks we diminish the totality of who we are. There is so much more to you than your biceps. But you’ve probably heard this argument before. You’ve also probably heard the “steroids are illegal drugs” line before as well.


My wish for you would be that you would begin to revel in your “swimmers build” good looks. Many guys love guys who are lean and tight like a swimmer. You are a definitive “type” and you could really make that work for you. But, like many gay men before you, you have to try it to understand it. So here is what to expect. You will see some increased weight and muscle gain during the cycle. When you stop you will inevitably lose some of that gain but probably not all of it if you continue to work out hard. See how you feel on it. Many guys experience aggressive mood swings and some anger. There are also physical issues like skin rashes. Also pay attention to how others react to these physical changes. And how you feel about these new reactions.


Hopefully, you will understand that although a pretty package doesn’t hurt, someone who loves you will be more concerned with what is on your inside rather than what is on your outside. However, you won’t be able to appreciate the depth of this until you experience the shallowness of someone who is just into you because of your looks. Good luck out there and keep in touch. I want to know how it goes for you.



QuestionMark #78

Dear Mark,
I am top Puerto Rican gay, 42 with bright brown eyes and very
handsome. I have a problem. People just come looking to me for sex.
I do not like going with different men. I would like a relationship
with one. But that never happens. My friends tell me to stop
complaining because when I go to the bars, everyone wants me. I am interested for the moment but I am finding myself depressed and lonely. I
think I am losing my sensitivity and belief that love truly exists. I
think my ex wife convinced me of that. I am friends with all of my ex
boyfriends, but nothing lasts. I am not a bad guy. I am out of the
closet. I liked your advice to the man who had a similar problem and
you told him to go out more and be confident. I’ve done that. Men
still only want to have sex with me. What do I do if I want more than
that? One night stands are not my thing.
Rey, Carolina, PR.

Your question touched me.  Many guys may be rolling their eyes thinking “I wish I had his problem”, but in fact it is a problem for you.  We, as a culture, have this uncanny tendency to define people by their physical attributes.  Great tits, bubble butt, big dick seem to be substitutions for the actual human being.  Or, sometimes, the person’s identity is usurped by what they like to do or be…butch/fem, top/bottom.

There is no mistake that the third word in your letter to me was the description of yourself as a “TOP” guy.  If you want others to see you for more than that, you must first learn to put more than that out there.  Or, at least, begin with some other qualities you consider more important.  I used to get frustrated with the “pretty boy” category people seemed to want to place me in.  However, I realized that a part of me bought into that description of myself.  In fact, a part of me relied on it.  I said I wanted to be seen as more than “just pretty” but found I was uncomfortable putting some of my other qualities out there for public consumption.  Qualities like  intelligence is a good example.  I said I wanted people to see me as smart but when a situation arose where I was called upon to think I found myself stumbling.  I found I had to allow for the possibility that people could see me as a smart person.  The same could be true for you.  People can and will see you as more than just a hot guy.

My advice would be to settle into your other qualities like your sensibility, your intelligence, or maybe your sense of humor.  All of these qualities can be equally as charming and seductive and sexy as the way you look.  It’s great to be sexually desirable but remember it is only part of the bigger picture.  Being a hot man can be so many things and physicality is fleeting.  Even the best sex only lasts for a couple of hours.  Some guys are so stuck in the sexual component that they never get to experience all the rest of the qualities that make up a man.  It’s your job to let them get a chance to see  the rest of you.

Dear Mark,

I’m writing because I’m embarrassed to talk with my friends about what is going on for me.  I’ve got a good life with a good job and nice friends.  I’ve always been in a relationship.  My last relationship lasted four years.  I’m 33 and the last five months have been the first time in my adult life I have been single.  I’ve been doing all the right things like going on dates, getting on the internet, going out with my friends, going to the gym.  I even took a trip home for the first time in a couple of years to see my family.  But I end up thinking the same thing at the end of the day….I’m alone.

Signed, Looking for Love

Dear Looking for Love,

Your dilemma is a not uncommon one.  Gay and straight alike, people are enveloped in this life long quest for love.  This is a universal human phenomena.  Don’t beat yourself up.  But also try to put it into some context for your life.

Every difficult change in our lives is an opportunity for growth.  It’s a chance to learn something about yourself that you did not know before.  Take this time to revel in your “single-ness”.  Do not be over concerned with the fact that you are not with a boyfriend.  Along the same lines, do not focus too much on “the search” either.  Spending time with friends is good and going to the gym couldn’t hurt.  I love the fact you are attempting to reconnect with your family.  I would suggest you also try picking up a book, a subject you love, and begin reading.  Go to the beach in the morning for long walks.  Paint a room in your house a new color.  Volunteer at your favorite organization.  Get a hobby.  Adopt a pet from the rescue league.  Go sky diving.

My point is you should use this time to rediscover yourself and, more to the point, enjoy yourself.  It’s okay to look for love, just try not to be consumed with it.  From what you shared about your history, the next relationship will come again.  And with that relationship will be your next chance to attempt to make a lasting connection with someone.  Just imagine how much better that connection could be if you came to the table as a more well rounded, better read, more experienced, richer person.

QuestionMark? #79

Dear Mark

I wanted to respond to a letter you wrote a few months ago. You said this was a manageable disease and I disagree with you. Since you work with people afflicted with HIV/AIDS, I wanted to write in to remind you that NOT everyone has this as a “manageable disease”….I for one am on a multi-drug regimen (about 30-35 pills a day as well as minimum 2 shots per/day) as I have significant “cross-resistance” to med classes or what you might call “multi-resistant” virus….sometimes when I am with a friend it is difficult for me to see these people who take 3-5 pills per day….besides my “cocktail” I have to still prophylax against opportunistic infections as well so that adds to the regimen)….one of the problems is that so many people, especially adolescents (some of the most vulberable people in our society) FEEL INVULNERABLE so they take risks….so just as an “aside” I do not myself like to paint a pic of this disease to people as being “more manageable” because that is really up to their interpretation.


To me DM (Diabetes Mellitus, another horrifying pathology) IS manageable & I think when we as healthcare professionals depict this as “manageable” many think of more manageable diseases such as DM & begin again to take risks….I am just sharing here “health-care professional to health-care professional” to offer you a different perspective you may not have thought of… “Life will go on, & that life is what YOU make of it….remember, it is NOT
what life gives to you, but it is truly how you handle it which really matters!” my personal philosophy.


With much respect & thanks (& love) for you for helping all afflicted with this horrifying antigen…. Michael


Hi Michael, You make a valuable and intelligent point. I want to thank you for taking the time to write in. I agree with you that some people do not take this disease as seriously as it should be taken. Before I began private practice I worked for many years in HIV prevention. Back then, in 1990, HIV was indeed a terminal illness. With the advent of the new generations of drugs starting with Protease Inhibitors back in 1995, the tide began to shift for HIV positive people. I remember everyone in the field having the very same concern back at that time. At first everyone was thankful to have something new to offer clients in the way of medicine. Then we began to wonder how we were going to explain this to people that these are not magic bullets and they should still practice safe sex.


As you know, many people did not get the message and, over the years, infection rates rose again. Our fears about public interpretation of this disease came true on a number of levels. HIV can be a deadly killer but it is not a “given” anymore and this is the point I was trying to make. With early detection, proper medical care, proper health care we have the power to possibly change the outcome. While it can be a drag, the virus, for the most part, is manageable. People have been living, quite healthy, for quite some time with the HIV virus in their body. Will it kill them someday? Maybe. Will it be in five or ten years? Probably not. People are living longer and the quality of their lives is getting better and better.   There are new drugs on the forefront that promise to improve upon what we already have now. With a little luck, many HIV positive people will die of old age instead of HIV. Is that a fantasy? Some people may disagree with me but I truly don’t think so. I believe this with all my heart. I hope you will continue to work at keeping yourself healthy and continue to educate others. I respect you for that. I also wish that you will take some hope for yourself. Even with all the drugs, you are living and it is a meaningful life at that. All my best.


Dear Mark,

I’ve been dealing with a lot of changes in my life staying at home while going to college… its been hard on me not to tell my parents that I’m a lesbian I’ve come out to my friends but not to them… my mom I think she suspects that I am but she really doesnt touch the subject that much… my dad in the other hand he is very negative and very close minded everything I do the way I dress everything that’s me is a problem for him and I just need to tell both of my parents that I’m gay because it really is driving me off the walls here… I just want to know when is the perfect time to tell parents that ‘Hey mom and dad… guess what I’m gay” I tried to tell them, a couple times but my dad he always saying if one of my children tells me that they are gay I will kick them of the house…

I just need some guidance through a very difficult situation…


a very faithful reader



Thank you for writing in. Let me just start by saying that so many people have been where you are before at one point in their lives. Coming out and parental difficulties seem to be a universal problem for gay people. So you are not alone. In fact, you are surrounded.


The first thing I want to know is if you are living at home at the moment. That changes things. I wish it were not the case but some gay men and women have been thrown out of their parents homes after sharing the news. If you are living at home, be sure to find a back up plan in case sharing the news with them doesn’t go the way you want it to. If you really feel being thrown out is a possibility, my suggestion would be to wait until you have more stable options. This is frustrating but very well may be the best choice for you. The first thing is always your safety. If it means waiting a while to share your heart with your parents, then so be it.


Until that time, my suggestion would be to educate yourself the best way you know how. Get to your local gay and lesbian community center. The GLCC of Fort Lauderdale has a coming out group that meets weekly where you can meet others who are at the same point in their lives. You can discuss your concerns with them and a skilled facilitator. Do not shrug this one off. There is strength in numbers. When/if you come out, you will need their support and understanding.


Also, find some books on the subject. The GLCC library should have some good options or even your local big chain book store will have a few good books. My favorites are “The Family Heart” by Robb Forman Dew about a mom coming to terms with her son’s sexuality. Also, “Straight Parents Gay Children” written from a father’s perspective about his lesbian daughter. An old favorite is “Loving Someone Gay”. But there are literally tons of books out there. Read as many as you can. Find a couple that you think may be good for your parents. Buy them and save them and give them to them when the time is right.


Another valuable resource is PFLAGG (Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians). It’s a support group for parents with gay children. Find out when and where they meet and give this to your parents as an option. They may resist at first but may go when they are ready. Through all of this, remember to give them time. It took you a long time to come to terms with yourself. Give them the same courtesy. Handle their fear and lack of understanding with kid gloves. Show them that you are the same person on the inside and they will come around, on some level, sooner or later. Another great resource is Pridelines Youth Services.  They have a support group every Monday at their Safe Space near Downtown Miami at 180 NE 19th Street from 6:30PM to 8:30PM.  Also, they have a women’s night on Tuesday (same time, same place).  If you would like more information, please feel free to e-mail Pridelines directly at or by calling 305-571-9601. Keep in touch and let me know how it goes or if you have any questions.


All the Best, Mark Rutherford LCSW

QuestionMark? #80

I have been trying to get a legal status in this country since 1990 and
the only thing I have so far is an adjusting status meaning work permit
and social security. I’m 43 y/o married w/ one child 15 y/o and because
him I went to the doctor for a physical. The tests showed I am HIV+ and
now my world is going up and down. I have no idea what to do because I
do not know is this new may  affect my “status” or the fact of getting
any. That is way I’m writing to you knowing you know a lot of people
maybe someone can have and answer to my question.
any help or advice from you will be really helpful and appreciate.




Hey Hector, My name is Mark Rutherford and I’m a Psychotherapist in town. Have you talked to a lawyer yet? If not, let me know and I will direct you towards one. Upon initial checking, I found that HIV can affect your residency status BUT it is not a lost cause. It just means you have to take some precautions. The Legal Aid Society is in Palm Beach but handles matters throughout south florida. Call them and ask for David Begley 561-655-9660.     Are you seeing a doctor? If not, get to one as quickly as you can. Time is an alley for you in this fight against HIV. Use it to your advantage.


In the meantime, take a deep breath and try to remember the good things in your life. Talk with your son. Is he aware of your status? Lean on your partner, or your wife, or whoever is in your life at the moment. Although you may feel alone please remember you are not. There are people all around who care what happens to you.


Contact me with any questions. Mark Rutherford


Dear Sir, if religion is a threat to you, go right ahead and continue to make a mockery of the state of man.  But human beings were born heterosexual, man for woman, and woman for man.  There is no species in nature that is naturally homosexual.  Mankind, in his/her complex emotional state, makes conscious decisions, unlike animals who only obey a genetic code of conduct.  Confusion about one’s gender can result in homosexuality, but there is no homosexual gene, no third option that allows for one gender to turn on itself to satisfy base desires out of complete lack of self control and loathe for oneself and the other gender too.  Homosexuality is a person’s decision to defile themselves.  No matter how much one tries to justify it, it is simply unnatural.  It is incorrect and extremely emotionally harmful.  I will not contact you again.  But I hope that you are a little open-minded to consider that maybe it is not a good thing for people to copulate with their own gender.

Signed, Willy


Hey Willy, Marky G forwarded me your email. It made me sad to read your words. There are so many things I could say to you. But I guess the most important thing is this….we are indeed the sum of our choices in life. If you wish for a safe uneventful existence then you made the right choices. In many ways, it may not be the wrong choice for you at all. But a part of me fears there is so much more of you beneath the surface that no one has ever really had the chance to see before.


Have you ever thought of talking with your wife about some of your concerns/thoughts? Would she be totally mortified? Maybe she has known all along and would be willing to work on a relationship that benefits you both. It seems to me you have much love between you. Put it to good use. In being honest with her, you open the door to a much richer existence…whether or not you choose to be with men. There are so many nuances a new decision could bring that it is hard, at this point, to even conceptualize them.


I’m not saying go out and tell her. But I would recommend a therapist to help you sort through all your questions so at least you have a firmer grip on what the real issues are and you are not paralyzed by your fear. Use therapy as your “safe place” to work through these issues. I would suggest a gay or lesbian therapist but it doesn’t have to be. My only reason for saying this is they can give you a more well rounded view of the totality of gay life….not just the stereotypes. If you have any questions, please contact me. Take Care, Mark


Dear Mark,

May I suggest a segment on trying to mature as a community? My therapist’s office was packed to the rafters with gay men with “issues”.  Perhaps if the community read the newspaper more and became more involved with things that matter, rather than ‘whether my ass looks droopy in these pants’ everyone would be healthier. The New York Times reported two weeks ago that after all the political lobbying and pressure to legalize same-sex unions, a measley 500 couples had signed up to register in Canada. Where is everyone else? They are at the tea dance wondering if there pants are tight enough.

I may not be living “Romeo & Juliet” but after six months of therapy and hour after hour with an out-gay lawyer friend, who is taking mega doses of Prozac after the breakup with boyfriend No. 17, I have pretty much decided to sit this life quietly out. Thoreau says, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” I would rather spending it raising two healthy children in quiet desperation than crying into my vodka cranberry at The Martini Club Tuesday night mixer, sucking my stomach in.



Disenchanted and gay


Dear Disenchanted and gay,

I was thinking you might want to try something along the lines of a support group. The Gay Male Empowerment Project does periodic talks and get togethers for gay men wanting more out of life. It seems as if it may just up your alley. Give it a try. Contact Richard Mayora at or look in the Express for more info.

Also, have you thougth about the Metropolitan Community Church in Lauderdale. It is filled with men who are more than just bar scene guys. The people that attend are looking to connect with someone on a more spiritual level. The Gay Mens Chorus might be another good option for you.


These are just thoughts of course. But your story touched me and I would wish that you at least get a chance to experience the wonderful components of gay life before giving it up for good. The beauty of being gay is that you can be anything and anyone you want to be. If you want to get married, now, in some places, you have that option. If you want to be a circuit boy there are plenty of opportunities. If you want to live in middle America in one of the square states, you can do it without fearing for your life for the most part. If you want to be in politics, just look at your gay brothers and sisters before you. Locally, Jim Stork and Dean Trantalis are wonderful role modes. There are gay ministers, gay rabbis, gay policemen and firefighters, gay mothers and gay fathers. There is so much more. There is a world of more out there for you if you just give it a chance. If loving another man is truly what is in your heart, the greatest tragedy in your life would be that you didn’t listen to that message.


All My Best, Mark Rutherford

QuestionMark? #81

Dear Mark,


I decided to take your advice and talk to John… We talked on Saturday afternoon and I got my answer. I left, after talking with him, in tears and full of sadness for having lost something that I think had so much potential. A true love… a true lover. After coming clean, pouring my heart out and making myself incredibly vulnerable, he told me that he was not available to me. I got my answer, now I just have to move on, I suppose. It seems like we all have our own trials and tribulations in life, and as I watch all my friends face their obstacles and fears, I see myself struggling right along with everyone. I’m feeling a bit like Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex in the City” right now…. Writing this e-mail, pondering my life and asking rhetorical questions… like, “How does one move on?” or better yet… “How do you know when you have moved on?” I’m sad, I know… mainly because I feel as though I was really in love with him and that we shared something very special…. and I fucked it up. I had held out … hoping, but I heard him on Saturday and I guess it’s my turn to mourn now. Seeing him on Sat. was good. His apartment looked like a tornado hit it… and sweet Tasha, his dog, filled the air with her usual stench. John looked very sexy to me even though he also looked a bit strung out. I suspected and this suspicion was confirmed moments later with his confession of recent history of substance abuse… Percocet, lots of Cocaine, Pot and Alcohol.   Deb, my therapist, says he was doing me a favor in telling me that he wasn’t available. After two days of sulking and therapy with Deb, I decided to get busy.


Since Saturday, I have been on two dates, and two more to go this week… all with different people. Monday, Jason took me out for my B’day and gave me a gift cert. for a massage. He is so sweet and we really click, somehow. He spent the night last night and we cuddled (and had sex)… we talked a lot over dinner and I told him some of what Deb had told me earlier during therapy. Basically, that perhaps I over analyze things and that maybe I should just try to enjoy the time I am spending getting to know him (and others, but I didn’t tell Jason that…) instead of feeling like I have to make a quick decision. Of course he went on to ask more… and I ended up telling him that I had some fear of the fact that we might be in different stages in our lives – I was tactful, of course, but it’s funny, because once I told him these things, I sort of let it go… I felt like I could just enjoy my time with him, and we did. We laughed and came back to my place and rolled around, cuddled and fell asleep. I like him, and I think the only decisions I’m ready to make about him right now is that I want to see him again.


The second date was tonight with a guy named Bryan. I also met him on Manhunt, we have been chatting for about a year… and have never met. I suggested that we have a no-pressure-to-have-sex dinner to just hang out and get to know one another a little bit. We did. I enjoyed his company, but didn’t really feel any sparks… even sexually (and this despite the fact that I have seen a picture of his big, beautiful, Armenian/Irish cock on Manhunt). Bryan is a decorative painter and gets commissioned to do murals and faux finish painting for a lot of high end homes… He is an interesting, creative type… 37, but hasn’t quite got his life together yet. Maybe I was a little turned off by his lack of “life” motivation. (side bar: he told me that he used to live on Mass Ave, but that he had had an after party years ago and someone at the party set the couch on fire with a cigarette, his place went up in flames and it created a watershed in his life… a lot of things changed for him… he doesn’t know that I know this, but the person who was smoking on the couch at the after hours party back in ’96 who caught the couch on fire and left was Taz – do you remember??) … Anyway – we ended the evening agreeing to get together again, but we were both tired and basically said our good-byes outside of the restaurant in the South End. I think I would give him one more try, but I don’t have a lot of faith in anything coming of it (accept maybe I’ll get to play with his big cock).


Tomorrow I have plans to have lunch with this guy (another well endowed man from Manhunt – getting the theme yet?), who is from San Francisco, went to Berkeley but lives in Cambridge. He is a beautiful Latino man – woof! But again, I am setting the stage to get to know him vs. just have hot sex. I did that on Sunday afternoon with this really hot guy that lives in my neighborhood (it’s was our second time together… and he is really just all about sex – his name is Ken). Sorry, I digress… anyway, this guy tomorrow’s name is Gil and he works in the Biotech industry. It will just be lunch… then I have a full afternoon working and the Community Servings Committee meeting tomorrow night from 6-8pm. I put a little sex only date on my calendar with another very hot guy for after 8pm – you know, just in case I need a little release from all these non sexual get-to-know you get-togethers – ha.


Then on Thursday evening, I am seeing Mark. It will be our first time together since I told him that I had feelings for him. If Isabel (the hurricane – who is due to arrive in some fashion that day) doesn’t get in the way, then I am going to grill for him at my house. I am looking forward to seeing him and being a little vulnerable with him….


Friday I have a GLAD dinner fund raiser thing that I agreed to go to… and Saturday, I rest (maybe a movie with Jason). Sunday, I have another sex date set up with this hot guy from Manhunt that I have been chatting with for a while (he is a sex-only guy)… after my open houses, of course.


So.. it’s a well planned and very full week. I’m exhausted just reading what I have planned. Probably too much, but I am not wasting any time feeling melancholy about John – I’m moving on…



QuestionMark? #83

That is an AWESOME op-ed on the state not only of the Catholic church, but of all churches.  I know that for me, my heart broke, and almost my spirit of faith, in the midst of the “coming out” process and how the church really looks at gays in its midst.  I know that it takes more commitment/courage now to go into ANY Presbyterian Church, because I know that in the eyes of most there, I am “not worthy” nor welcomed.  Especially when I have made the rare venture back to First Presbyterian to attend a funeral, I can not get out of there quickly enough after the service is over.  I never thought I would feel that way about the church, as it was always the one place in life where I felt secure.


That sense of security has now changed….perhaps been refocused into finding God’s spirit and presence inside and not requiring validation from “The Church” or other human entity.  Rather, now I can look in the mirror and rather than asking God, “Why did you do this to me (making me gay)?” I can say, “Thank you God for making me the way you did.  Now just help me out a bit, okay?!”


There are so many of my friends here who hurt so much inside, but have no where to turn as their own churches have turned from them, and in the process of that turn, made those folks feel all churches are against them.


It is interesting to me that so many faith-full gays/lesbians I know…just want the church to welcome them.  For some, they have attended a variety of MCC churches and not found that to be the place for them because, as several have put it, “It is just TOO gay.”  They just want to be accepted as who they are and not relagated to a “gay ghetto.”


Well, enough of my preaching.


I had an interesting conversation last night with David Berry.  Met with him and talked to him about the fact that I was speaking at the World AIDS Day event on December 1….and would be talking about my HIV-status.  He is FLOORED that I would do that publicly and asked, “How do you think the people at First Presbyterian will react?”  To which I responded, “Fuck ’em.”  Oops, guess that got me one more flame.


I told him I had spoken publicly about it at the MCC, and his response was, “Yeah, but that is also a completely other world than what most of us live in.”  Perhaps not…but perhaps it is the choice of worlds which we prefer to protect us.  I told him, “David, whether you or others at the church want to admit it, there are HIV folks there.  For me, if just one person hears me speak and gets tested, or realizes that anyone can become infected, then it is worth the anguish of speaking openly in a non-all-gay setting about it.”


He wants to be there to hear me.


Wish you and Tom could be there, but know that is a work-day for you.


Thanks for sharing that op-ed with me….and sorry for preaching at you…but the article hit my heart.




QuestionMark? #84

Dear Mark,

I have been an out and proud gay woman for almost 15 years. Count them….15. I told my parents that I was gay as a teenager almost as soon as I knew myself. A few years after that my mom and dad divorced but have always stayed friendly. My dad remarried to a decent, if domineering, woman. My mom never did. I’ve always urged her to date or to at least get out of the house but to no avail. Last week, we were having dinner to celebrate her 55th birthday and she drops this bombshell on me. My mom is gay. She has been in a relationship with the same woman for over five years and she is in love with her. I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say. She told me she never told me before because she could never find the right time and she was worried how I might react. I’m a lesbian for God’s sake. I’m her only daughter and I always thought we had a close relationship. Who better to tell!? Now I’m left wondering what to think. Were we really as close as I thought we were? Does she think I’m too immature to handle the news? Has she always been a lesbian? I mean, what is going on here?


Signed, Daughter Drama


Dear Daughter Drama,

You need to take a deep breath and think about this situation for a minute. Think good and hard. Remember back to the time you came out to your parents and how hard it might have been for you. Remember the time and energy that went into planning how and when to tell them. Remember their reaction, good or bad, and how you felt about it. Now think about how hard it must have been for your mother to come to you with this news. Keep these respectful feelings on the forefront as you begin to deal with this news.


Having a gay parent, although not terribly uncommon, can be quite a shock. As children, we tend to marginalize our parents into images that we remember of them. However, just like us, our parents change and evolve as individuals over time. When our parents were our age, coming out as a gay person was not as viable of an option as it is today. Today there is widespread support to “be who you are” and “true to yourself”. Back then, the message was to conform as much as you possible could to the norm. Being gay back then was renegade status. Now, thankfully or not, it’s just part of the landscape of our humanity.


I know your question centers around wondering why she didn’t tell you sooner as you are a gay woman as well. My advice is to begin a dialogue with her. Find out as much as you can. This is your chance to find out another side of your mother. It is a side that, from my perspective, seems rich and complex. What a wonderful opportunity for you to get to know your mother on a whole different level. My wish for you would be that you will get beyond your shock and settle into this new knowledge with an open mind and heart.


Dear Mark,


I have a coworker I know is gay. I just know it. He has all the signs of a gay man. He dresses well. He’s good looking, sweet, not into sports but works out religiously at the gym. I don’t know if I should say something to him like “Hey, I’m gay too so it’s cool” or if that would be too forward. He seems a little depressed some of the time and my guess is that it might be that he’s struggling with his sexuality. I could be a great friend to him if he would only let me in.



Jim in Tamarac


Dear Jim,


Hold on there little buddy. It seems like maybe you might want to take a step or two back and assess the situation a bit more before you make any moves. If this guy really is gay and is having a hard time with it, a little subtlety may be in order. Casually befriend him and, over time, find out more about him. Maybe you could “out” yourself in some low key fashion and see how he responds. Whatever you do, don’t back him into a corner and force him to tell you or tell other co-workers that you think he is gay. Nothing will make him run from you quicker than if he thinks he can’t trust you.


Also, consider your motives on this one. Do you just want to know or do you want more from this guy? You didn’t say so, but it seems as if you may have a crush on him. Is this true? If so, my advice is to be even more cautious. My advice would be to try and put the crush on the back burner and see what kind of friendship develops. You never know, he could be one of those “Metrosexuals”. Straight guys who dress gay and have gay sensibilities and like the company of gay men but like to sleep with women. So look at the whole situation first before you make any move.