Sobering Circuit

by Jeff Jerome

NoiZe Magazine

Saturday October 19, 2013

Like many of the gay boys in California, my roots are in the conservative Midwest. I realized I was gay in high school but decided it was not an attribute that was going to make me very popular, so I learned how to suppress those feelings. I tried to fit in by dating women. Like all gay boys in a similar situation, this activity was just one more complication to an already confused emotional state. While my straight peers were busy exploring their newfound sexual identities, I was busy running from mine and burying it ever deeper in my psyche. Rather than partaking in the dating rituals that help form a mature adult, I was creating a being with a decidedly stunted sexuality.

When I finally left home and made my way to the mecca of Los Angeles, a whole new world opened up before me. I never dreamed I would have the chance to have a real part in the excitement of having a full selection of desirable mates. However, I'd already invested so much effort in keeping my sexual feelings under control that I still felt very intimidated in acting on those feelings. There was a whole new world of experience that was just beyond my reach.

I went to my first Circuit party, the White Party in Palm Springs, while still in this inhibited mode. It was a complete revelation. The first night I took my first hit of ecstacy, I was filled with an incredible feeling of love. I felt like I had found heaven. The fantastic music, the mesmerizing lights and the beautiful collection of men were like nothing I had ever experienced. There was a sense of community, and I wanted to be a part of this community more than anything I had ever desired. Finally, I had found a dating ritual of which I could be a part.

I jumped into the Circuit headfirst. I went to as many Circuit parties as I could afford (and to some that I couldn't afford). I had a lot of fun, had a lot of sex and did a lot of drugs. The drugs were a key part of the ritual because they removed all those inhibitions that kept me from being my true sexual self.

A year into this adventure, I tried a new drug - crystal/crank/tina. Suddenly the party moved to a new level. Crystal gave me the opportunity to experience a party weekend like never before. I never missed anything on those party weekends because I never slept. I barely even ate. I had extraordinary confidence in myself - I knew I was looking good, and I had more sex than ever.

Unfortunately, crystal kicked my ass in less than a year. I now needed crystal to go out. Gone were the days of choice where I could take it or leave it. I was sliding downhill and I was sliding fast. The party was losing its fun aspects. Somehow, this rite of passage had turned into a terrible nightmare. I couldn't stop using crystal, and I no longer had fun when I did use it. I had become an addict.

One day, I went to my best friend's apartment. I hadn't heard from him in two days, and I really missed him. I let myself into his apartment and knocked on the closed bedroom door. When there was no answer, I opened that door and discovered my friend hanging in his closet from a telephone cord.

I knew that the forces that had driven my friend to this horrible end were all too present in my own life. A beautiful 21-year-old man with everything to live for had decided he could no longer live the way we lived, and neither could I. This watershed event forced me to find the help I needed to get clean.

My first conception of being sober was that I'd never have any real fun again. I couldn't have been more wrong. It took me a few months to go back to the Circuit, but I did go back. Why shouldn't I? I'm sober, not dead.

It was scary at first. I wasn't sure what my real motivations were for going back to the Circuit. Could I recapture the fun I'd had when attending the parties in an altered state? It does require a will to succeed. I have to psyche myself into a party state of mind rather than depending on artificial substances to do it for me.

Just like the old days, the music and lights weave a tapestry of ecstasy, the Greek gods share a sweaty body slide, and I can close my eyes and let the music take me to another world. A good DJ makes all the difference in the world. There are also some big differences between now and then. Seeing the boys that are trapped in the crystal ritual only reinforces the conviction to never return to that lifestyle. This time I really do look good, and I can contrast that with those that are fueled by a false belief.

When I'm into a party, it's not a problem to stay up all night. I drink a lot of coffee and sometimes use those herbal energy pills, which are mostly caffeine anyhow.

I don't mind partying with boys that are high. They're into the party, and their attitude helps me to get into the mood. The really messy ones are bothersome, but that was just as true when I was high. I do try to travel with at least one other sober friend. We can act as support for one another if we start feeling down or I'm tempted by the thought of just doing one little hit of ecstacy. For me, that's not an option. I know myself and know how quickly that would lead back to the nightmarish place I've left behind.

You may be surprised to learn how many boys I've met on the Circuit that are clean and sober. From the promoters that put the party together, to the go-go boys dancing above you, to the hot guy you're humping on the dance floor, I've met examples of all of them who've been through an experience similar to my own. Yes, Virginia, you can do the Circuit sober. The next time you go to a Circuit party, check out the guy dancing next to you. Chances are that the alert guy with a sparkle in his eye just might be a sober Circuit boy.

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