Category Archives: Adam Lambert

Adam’s Mask

An Open Letter on Perspective, to My Fellow Glamberts:

There’s a lot of discussion back and forth about Adam Lambert’s photo shoot for the fashion magazine Fault, where his face has been dramatically airbrushed in the custom of publications dedicated to fashion. Some fans love it, some are just happy to see new pictures; others like most aspects of the photos, except for the airbrushing.

In these airbrushed photos, his forehead lines and freckles disappear. It even enhanced his eyes to an almost Marvel Comics mutant level of glowing blue-green hue. Another thing that was covered up may be more important to Adam than to his fans, namely a slight blemish of acne that comes and goes in various untouched pics (or that show up even under makeup in HD photos).

By using the word “slight”, I don’t mean to diminish Adam’s stated perception of the skin issues that he says has deviled much of his family. I say “slight” to avoid being hunted with pitchforks by that corner of fandom that insists Adam is flawlessly perfect, and how dare anybody say otherwise? Well, fact is, Adam says otherwise; and he’s brought it up more than once.

The night he came on Twitter and talked to us about things we don’t like about ourselves? He said it again: he doesn’t like his acne problem. He was trying to share a group catharsis with us, and many of the replies he got had the power to break hearts. Some of them humbled me, made me cry. I told him about my issues with scars and facial damage, and the atmosphere he had created of open acceptance helped me and others to have the courage to bare our insecurities, to not hide them. It was catharsis. For some, it was the first time an insecurity was admitted to anybody, much less in a public forum. Adam has a gift that gets us to be open and unguarded with him, and he asked us to try to be more open with our loved ones and friends. I wept. I felt closer to him and to everybody else who bared their fears. It reminded me that I’m not the only one who suffers with the ingrained belief that I am ugly, no matter what anybody says.

Some of us expressed feeling silly that their insecurity “wasn’t important” in the midst of “greater traumas” but Adam didn’t say his problem was lesser than anybody else’s. If it makes you hate yourself, or how you look, it’s a big issue, even if it’s acne instead of facial scars. Self-hate (which I struggle with a lot) causes real harm and real problems. Nobody has the right to belittle another person’s pain or fear.

Obviously, Adam doesn’t hate himself, he’s a happy guy. Yet in interviews, in meet and greet videos, and tweets, Adam deflects the “you’re perfect” talk and says he isn’t perfect. He has said some of the HD pics out there make him wince because he sees the acne problem first, even if those who love him don’t focus on it or even notice it at all. All that said, Adam probably loves the Fault photos because of the airbrushing. He gets a break from having to see the issue with his appearance that makes him feel insecure.

Another problem about a person’s perceived blemish, fear, or insecurity: well-meaning people like to reassure and say, “Oh nonsense, Adam, you’re gorgeous, you’re perfect.” As nice as this seems, it can feel not so nice to the other person at times. It feels like one’s insecure feelings are being brushed off as unimportant, and one is left feeling unheard, dismissed, disregarded. Adam has learned to say thanks to more of these “you’re gorgeous” comments, but I noticed he rarely lets a “you’re perfect” go by unremarked. One reason I imagine is that he’d like people to remember that he’s human like the rest of us. What if another reason is that this seemingly nice comment makes him feel a wince coming on? “Perfect” conflicts with one’s self-image when a major insecurity in appearance is present.

Sometimes it is nice to hear a compliment, or be told you’re okay, don’t worry, it’s not as bad as you think; that is the difficult dichotomy of this topic, but it’s no less true than what I said before. I love the song “Perfect” by Pink, it has helped some people turn their backs on thoughts of suicide. Here’s the difference: when a person is in the grip of feeling low because of their self-image, and has the courage to express their feelings, fears, or their self-perception, an instant “no, you’re perfect, you’re beautiful” response can actually hurt, because the person doesn’t feel heard, or taken seriously.

A better response might be, “I know you feel that way, I respect your feelings; I just want to let you know that I don’t see you that way. To me, you are beautiful; but I respect your feelings and I thank you for entrusting me with them.” Saying, “You feel that way now, but you won’t always” isn’t fun to hear most of the time, either. If you can’t fix that person’s problem, especially if nobody can, then predicting they won’t always feel that way sounds as disregarding/unheard as the “no you’re perfect” does.

As an abuse and incest survivor who also suffers with rapid cycle bipolar and has one blind eye and some serious facial scarring from abusive violent attacks, I feel happier without a mirror around and I have a serious phobia of photos of myself. I toy with the idea of allowing an artist to draw how I really look to have something to show friends and loved ones online, but most of the time I panic and believe all the old lies from my abusers, awash in self-hate and the belief that I am ugly. There has certainly been no shortage of cruel people in my life from birth to now who gleefully call me ugly, freak, Frankenstein, or monster. The silent ones just look at me in fear, or even cross the street to avoid me. All of this reinforces all the times I was told I was too ugly to be loved, or that I should kill myself to put me out of their misery. School lunch tables I passed, where my peers would say, “Do you mind? We’re trying to eat” and the laughter as I slunk away – these things burrow under the skin and worm into the soul.

Adam was called fat, so he strives to be slender. He said he was teased about the freckles, too, and has often said he doesn’t like them. He was probably teased mercilessly about acne, or he wouldn’t be so hyper-aware of it. He has said he likes makeup because it covers his flaws (to a resounding echo of “you have no flaws”).

All of these things tell me I probably can guess that he likes the airbrushed Fault photos quite a bit. Yet Adam isn’t in the habit of hiding. I bet he sees the airbrushed and/or photoshopped pics of glossy fashion magazines as a costume, like if he chose to wear a mask at Halloween. It’s a break from yourself, a chance to toy with ways to actually enjoy looking in a mirror. Like makeup, it can boost your self-esteem.

For those who really don’t like these airbrushed photos, they are allowed to not like them (or they should be allowed). Especially if they prefer to see Adam as is, because to them, he is beautiful that way. That’s great, too. I just think when we have the chance to talk to him directly, online or off, that telling him he’s gorgeous will get a happier response than telling him he’s flawless and perfect. Yet if he’s sharing how he feels about his insecurities, pause a minute and hear him? Let him know his feelings matter too, even if you really do think he’s perfect. He’ll most likely thank you for it.

Personally, I love the Fault photos. I think he looks amazing in them. It doesn’t mean he isn’t amazing in more natural photos, however; I haven’t met many pics of Adam I didn’t like. To me, his joy leaps off of these images. I see no tell-tale shadow in his eyes of worry; and that makes me happy just for his private joy.

In the end, the mask only obscures perception; when it is set aside, the real person is still there underneath.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 4/25/2012
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

Dark and Light, a Dichotomy of Fear

A survivor of child sex abuse viewpoint on the video “Better Than I Know Myself” by Adam Lambert

WARNING, this essay contains abuse triggers for some survivors.

I know I won’t become my father. Getting away from him at nineteen, learning to live another way, allowed me to jump the tracks of the training and conditioning he tried to use to turn me into him. Yet the fears and horrors from my past often rise up to color my present surroundings, and at times I cannot control what the resulting stress does to my emotional state, or my sense of personal safety. This is compounded by what I refer to as my grab bag of phobias, rapid cycle bipolar, risk of panic attacks due to stress, and PTSD.

This is not in any way an attempt to “explain” the otherwise beautiful and genius work of art that is this music video by Adam Lambert. Others (many of whom I admire) are doing a far better analysis of it than I could. However, they reassured me that my views are also valid and could perhaps be helpful to other survivors of abuse. Adam is one of my stepping stones. One of the people I look up to, admire, or see as an example of what is possible. Having come to know him better as a fan, as well as any of us can, I can say I now adore him as well. I am proud of him for reaching inside himself to seek out the light and the dark places within him, and for having the courage to show us even a small portion of what he finds there. As a survivor trying to share what I can to help others, I understand that courage, and the kind of fear it must surmount. I didn’t always “know him”, though. Before I did, I was afraid of him, and equally afraid to express my fear.

When I first encountered Adam, it was the music video “For Your Entertainment”, from his first CD of the same name. While I have come to appreciate now the sexy freedom of sexuality he was trying to convey, at first it frightened me – HE frightened me. My loved ones assured me he was acting, it was a stage persona for a video, he’s a sweetheart of a man, etc. All I saw was a beautiful and powerful predator, stalking the people he wished to press his sexuality on; in other words, I saw only my father.

In the new video for the ballad “Better Than I Know Myself”, first single of his sophomore CD Trespassing, Adam revisits this fierce incarnation of himself more directly, without the trappings of blatant and glorious sexuality to ease the sharper edges. The video itself is split into the dichotomy of what fans have dubbed “Dark” Adam and “Light” Adam. Each part of this duality lives in his own “room” inside the heart, soul, mind, and body of the singer. Light Adam is warm and sweet, adorable, beautiful, and safe. He is kind, tolerant, and focused on fun, peace, and serenity. This is the way my loved ones have always insisted he is in real life, especially those who have met him. So if Adam himself perceives both halves to be within him, how am I to interpret Dark Adam? Again, I’ll leave the speculation and analysis of what Adam may be trying to convey to us to others. All I can say is how it affects me, as a survivor of abuse. I don’t blame Adam for scaring me, and I still adore, admire, and look up to him. Yet with everybody asking each other, “What did you think of the video?” I wanted to say not what I think, but how it made me feel. I believe this exploration at least was one of the intentions Adam had for the video.

To put it simply, Dark Adam scares me and makes me feel like I’m not safe if that person can get at me. If the “For Your Entertainment” video Adam was perceived as my father in his predatory lust incarnation, this Dark Adam became, for me, my father when he was about to beat or injure me. My father was a beautiful man; he was tall, dark haired, pale skinned, and blue-eyed like me. He was spooky smart, and could charm the birds out of the trees, or convince a more malleable soul of any lie he chose to spout. His voice alone could hypnotize. My father was also an alcoholic and drug addict, probably afflicted with co-morbid mental disorders, but he never was tested or treated. Whether or not he was also abused as a child, I might never know. What I do know is that he spent his life destroying mine and my mother’s.

He used to pace like Dark Adam, throw and break things, scream at nothing. He was a narcissist and sadist, and taught me that I was born for his use, and for sex. He was convinced over time that he was a god, and I was raised to believe it, even made to worship him, call him “God” or “my Lord”. Any slight deviation from difficult, complex, and changeable rules was punished. This punishment ranged from a punch or a whipping with a rope, a beating, or he would cut me with blades. Once, he took my hair, kept long to use as a handle to control me, and set it on fire. My mother put the fire out as my father laughed. Later I was punished for having put burns in the carpet. Rape was rarely punishment. That was just my duty.

When I see Dark Adam pace and break things, laugh or grimace like a mad man, threaten violence, or start fires, or crush something special that belongs to somebody else, I feel frightened and sick. I don’t want to see my Adam, the real Adam, the kind and fun person in interviews and on TV, behave like that. However, I have watched the video more than once, and I won’t avoid it, just as I don’t avoid the predatory sexual “FYE” video.

Adam is my stepping stone, and even when his creative artistry frightens me, I know that is not his intent; it is merely my past intruding on the present and trying to make me weak. I trust Adam, as much as my damaged psyche can endeavor to trust, the same way I trust my new and chosen family. If I am to trust, I have to remind myself that Adam is not my father, he is nothing like him; just as I myself am not my father, or anything like him. So how to turn the fear I can’t seem to help feeling while watching these two videos into a positive and helpful, even therapeutic experience?

I choose to see them as a lesson. I use these videos as a safe way to work on my growing understanding that the past can’t hurt me anymore, unless I allow it to. Dark Adam is a portrayal in a video by a singer who used to act in plays, he is not a real person. Whatever facet of Dark Adam the singer sees in himself, however he interprets it for himself, it will be different than how I have perceived it through the lens of my abuse. Either way, a character in a video cannot come through the computer screen and hurt me. The fire he sets, the things he throws, cannot injure me. The PAST… cannot injure me.

Dark Adam stirs up fears and dark feelings, just as Light Adam reminds me of my loving new family, stirring up good and safe feelings. Although, for a survivor of abuse, even Light Adam poses some fears; that my loved ones may not “really” love me, because the past whispers to me that I am dirty, broken, ugly, maimed, used, disgusting…. I fear sometimes that they will stop loving me if I make a mistake, or if my mental illness makes me do, feel, or think things that they don’t understand. I fear that my physical, mental, and emotional problems are “too much work”, and I will be abandoned, beaten, denied love.

This dichotomy of Adams becomes my dichotomy of fears, but the lessons are still there. Good and safe people love, they don’t delight to injure others, they don’t deny love to punish; and the bad people from the past? They can’t hurt us anymore. The ghosts that are born out of our abuse are not poltergeists, nor are they Mr. Hyde to the Dr. Jekyll of our loved ones who care for us now. They have no teeth. They have no fire. They are nothing but smoke. It is our choice to choke and smother, or to allow the smoke of past abuse to dissipate, and the air to become clean.

Thank you Adam Lambert, for helping me to face my dichotomy of fears, and for giving me this lesson to work on making them stop someday. You remain my stepping stone, and I am starting to heal myself, a little bit more every day.

For all survivors of any kind of rape or abuse; we can face, and beat, our fears. We can heal, we can live. Find a way, a path, and stepping stones along that path. Make the decision to walk that path, to climb with the aid of your stepping stones; even if you just take one step at first, a tiny step. You can heal. You can live. Someday, when you’re stronger and ready, you can speak out; tell your story, so that you can help other survivors. This helps us heal too. You are loved. You are not alone.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 2/8/2012

Healing Voice

An Open Letter to Adam Lambert
By W.R.R.

Synth notes, a voice, a heartbeat beneath the drums. From the first notes, I took a deep breath, and it was the last breath I managed for awhile. Better Than I Know Myself came into my life, bloomed in my mind, at a bad moment. I wanted to share this with you, to let you know what your music, your voice, and this beautiful new song has meant to me. I wanted to let you know how it helped me.

When I went to therapy on December 16th, there was a new face in the waiting room: a woman. She winced and acted like she was nervous of me when she saw me come in, her behavior giving off the impression that she was afraid of and disgusted by me. The instant I saw her reaction, I knew she was a rape survivor, she had to be. The way she looked at me, she may as well have been wearing a sign.

I was there with my friend, whom I consider my adopted dad. He’s the one who talked me into going to therapy, and my main condition before I agreed was that he would remain with me when I go, even sitting with me in the sessions. He also had to find a female therapist who was willing to agree to my unusual requirements. So there we were, two guys, in a full waiting room populated mostly by women.

Fate hates me; the only open chairs were way too close to the woman who seemed quite upset to see me there. I decided to take the high road and respect her discomfort – I leaned against the wall near the door. Every nervous glance she shot at me began to make me feel sick and stressed out; it made me afraid, too, and almost dizzy. I wanted to bolt out the door, and nearly did. Irrationally, I also wanted to scream at her: “I didn’t hurt you!” This happens to male survivors of rape and child sexual abuse a lot, and each time is once too many. I’m so sad and sorry that she was hurt, but in her eyes, I was a monster just for being male.

The session wasn’t easy, if any of them ever are. We were dealing with my fears of people in general and my ongoing struggles from growing up as a child and teen who was sexually and physically abused by my parents, and my father’s “friends”. I was still terribly upset by that woman’s reaction to me, and could hardly think straight. After the session, I had to spend some time in the men’s room being sick. This is what stress does to me, if I manage to avoid a panic attack. As it turned out, I didn’t avoid it for long.

As we left the office, that woman was leaving too, but she hung back in the hallway to avoid me. I heard her whisper to her lady friend, “Do you think the court makes him get treatment?”

She had assumed I was an offender, a rapist, who had to go to court-appointed therapy. She made this assumption on the simple fact that I’m male and I have facial scars. The dread, hate, and accusation in her eyes terrified me and broke my heart. I was a victim like her, but she didn’t even think that was a possibility, because in her eyes I was an ugly disfigured man, and therefore a criminal.

Her words unraveled me. I am not a monster, I am a survivor. Do not assume I see a therapist to cure me of evil. I am wounded, too. These thoughts chased each other in my head like frightened birds, ramping up my stress.

In the car, stress hitting the red line because I’m terrified to be in cars, it happened; I had a stray suicidal thought. It was so clear, it was practically a vision: I could open the door, fall into traffic, and hope the cars behind would kill me. Right away, I rejected it, but it spiked into a panic attack. In my mind, to drive out the thought, I tried to force it out of my head. I didn’t know I was hitting my head on the door. The door lock cut my forehead and I scared my friend to death. He kept telling me the names of all the people who love me to bring me around. As I began to calm down, he said I should tweet (I’m often on Twitter in unavoidable car rides to ignore my surroundings). Expressing my awful experience and a few thoughts about it on Twitter helped, and I began to calm down more. The kind and supportive responses I received almost immediately also helped a great deal.

At home, I went straight to bed, got a band-aid on my forehead and tried to return to normal. I’ve been in the habit of listening to a collection of interviews of yours, especially the Donor’s Choose series, to calm me when I need to sleep and I’m afraid of nightmares. I promise you I’m not some crazed stalker person, if I ever was in the same room with you, I’d run and hide. It’s just that your voice is soothing. You sound relaxed and friendly in those interviews, and it’s comforting to hear. That day I was too upset though and wasn’t calming down. My family was afraid I’d have another panic attack. My sister had your new song, Better Than I Know Myself, and she sent it to my boyfriend to play it for me. I was expecting the interviews. The music started, and I knew it wasn’t anything I’d heard before. Then I realized what it was just before you began to sing.

The song is beautiful. I know you’ve been told that a lot already by more important people than me. What others don’t tell you enough is how healing your music and your voice is for those in pain. I speak to other fans often who agree with me, that you’ve helped us feel better, even on the worst of days. Your music has given some of us hope, too – just when we were running out of hope.

My boyfriend told me the lyrics meant a lot to him, like you understood how he feels, and he said it was like it was written for us, from him to me. I listened to it on repeat for hours until I could finally fall asleep. I listen to it often, on good days and bad days; and I often wonder if anybody has told you what you mean to them, told you that your voice heals wounds of the heart, the spirit, and the soul. You help us dance, but on bad days, on hard days, you help us breathe, even when you take our breath away. Thank you for sharing your gift. I’m going to listen and breathe, until I’m strong enough again… to dance.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 1/6/2012
For Adam Lambert, my stepping stone; and for all those who have felt the healing spirit in his unrivaled voice. We are still here, and we are listening.

Concerning Suicide: Don’t Suffer In Silence

The first time I wanted to die was at the age of five when the parental sexual abuse that began a year prior took an even uglier turn. My father had chosen to rent my body to other pedophiles to make a lot of money. This happened in our home. At that time, having been kept from social interaction and most TV all my short life, I had no idea how to die. Later, I tried to kill myself several times. Mostly, my mother found me in time, or one of my two friends stopped me. If my father stopped me, it was with a beating. How dare I attempt to rob him of his property? Throughout my life I’ve considered suicide to be an option, a way to escape a horrid life of abuse by a man whose hobby was trying out ways to torture his son.

The most recent time I almost committed suicide was just a week or so after New Year’s Eve, this year. I’m a rapid cycle bipolar, suffering from agoraphobia along with a grab bag of other phobias. I suffer from PTSD, panic attacks, and anxiety. I have tremor in my hands and other physical handicaps that are hard to live with at times, plus the weight of my childhood horrors compounding the rest. Traumatic events can bring all that down over my head. After New Year’s Eve, I was out in town by myself, something I do sometimes as a way to prove to myself I can manage alone. I live in Texas and I always carry a concealed weapon. That night I got jumped by three men who accused me of raping their sister. I’d never seen them before and certainly never raped anybody, but they kept saying it was a guy who looked like me and that was good enough for them. They said they wanted to go home and tell her they’d gotten “the guy”, so she could stop being afraid. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, a guy with tattoos and piercings, dark hair – taking another man’s punishment. I couldn’t get to my gun in the ambush and they beat me very badly. When I finally reached my gun, I shot into the air to make them run and I escaped. I had a mental and emotional breakdown before I finally made it home. Sitting in my kitchen, I screamed at my boyfriend to leave me alone. He left the room. When he turned on some music, Adam Lambert’s “Broken Open”, I had my gun in my mouth. My mental illness had voices screaming in my head about how my family, my children, friends, would all be better off without me. My memories of abuse whispered that I wouldn’t have to think about how I’d been hurt anymore. Then I listened to the words I was hearing with my ears. That song said it was okay to feel broken, but it didn’t have to end me. I could feel that way and learn out of it how to be stronger. I could be safe when I was weak, until I had the chance to grow strong again. I put the gun away, went to sleep, and didn’t tell my boyfriend or anybody else about the incident, or the men who attacked me, for some time.

In spite of all the horror in my life, something in me wanted to live. At fifteen I made a promise to myself. I would try to survive, because children grow up and I hoped when I was an adult, I could escape home and life would get better. The promise I clung to was this: if I reached the age of thirty, if life hadn’t gotten better by then, I would end it. Sometimes when trauma brings it all back like a train wreck, like after New Year’s, I get weak. Yet my life is better now. I have a loving family & children who are my joy, my salvation. I’m in therapy, have been for years, and it helps. In October last year, I turned thirty. It was strange to realize that. This October, I turned thirty-one. My mental, emotional, and physical handicaps still plague my life, my abuse still haunts my nightmares and my waking mind, but I’m still here, I’m still alive.

So now I learn to cope with trauma so it won’t put me in that headspace that makes me consider suicide. Statistics and studies show that men who have been sexually abused as children are often ten times more likely to have suicidal thoughts. Sometimes, more often than I care to admit, I do have those thoughts; but I’m learning how to stop them. I find a loved one to talk to, I get help from my therapist, I work to avoid trauma, and sometimes I just breathe and wait for the thoughts to pass.

I intend to beat the odds; because the life I want is right in front of me now, and I want to watch my children grow up. Whatever the circumstances kids being bullied today may face, these things can and do change. School ends. Bullies move away. You survive, grow up, and your life changes for the better. Tell somebody, let them help you. If the first person you tell won’t help or doesn’t believe you, find another person to tell. Don’t suffer in silence. Silence kills.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 12/4/2011

Inspired by my friend Steve Gray’s blog, here: Do You Ever Feel Suicidal?

In Regard to Malcolm Welsford, from a supporter of Adam Lambert

In response to this excellent (and brave) post by Juneau and Xena on the Salon over at On the Meaning of Adam Lambert: Adam Lambert and the quality of mercy

I will post this response in the Salon as well, but I wanted to post it here and on Twitter too, cuz I think I’m not the only one who feels this way.

In regard to the unsanctioned CDs of Adam Lambert’s old demo work produced by Malcolm Welsford:

I can’t support these demo CDs, but I don’t bash, demonize (or unfollow) those who choose to do so. I like Monte a lot, love his solo CDs, and respect his freedom to speak his mind on this matter. Frankly, I also worry that speakin’ his mind as he has may have alienated a lot of Adam’s fans from Monte’s ranks of personal musical support. Yet I still cannot support what Malcolm Welsford, the true culprit, has produced. However, my decision is based on ethics, not just cuz Adam said he didn’t approve of ’em.

This producer, Malcolm Welsford, is sleazy. In yer post on the Salon, Juneau, (read link above) ya mentioned that if Adam hadn’t gotten famous, he’d be happy these CDs were comin’ out. I say, if he hadn’t gotten famous, this man wouldn’t bother to put these CDs out. Adam’s fame (exploitin’ it) is the reason he’s puttin’ ’em out. The exploitation is the reason for the timin’. He has to release ’em before the real deal comes out. Take One, his first spoilin’ of Adam’s thunder, taught him he can make bank if he times it right, and this time the fanbase has grown exponentially, so he stands to make even more money off of Adam in an underhanded manner. He’ll do this by foolin’ the casual fans, the new fans, who won’t know that this is old and unfinished music. The real damage some of his veteran fans are concerned with is that those new fans may think this old demo music really is Adam’s sophomore CD, his Magnum Opus.

For the record, I have a lot of Adam’s older music, and I love it all. The objection isn’t bout the music itself. The objection is a matter of cheatin’ fans and harmin’ Adam’s growin’ reputation as the greatest male singer alive today.

I do worry this could hurt his career some, but I also believe Adam will rise above this mess. His talent is his, housed in his own body. This sleazy producer only has a small slice of his talent in older music. He hasn’t got any claim on the source of that talent. Long after he’s played his grubby little games and run out of older slices of Adam to exploit, Adam will still be puttin’ out new CDs. Also, the caliber of the official music will blow this unfinished demo business into oblivion. I have faith in that.

As for me, I can disagree with my friends and still love ’em, still call ’em my friends. I hope I’m not the only one. For now, it’d be nice if our fandom didn’t tear itself into bits over this one despicable sleazeball. His time is runnin’ out, but Adam’s star has just begun to rise.


© W.R.R. 10/16/2011

Siren Song

My heart trips
from note to note
as I follow
where you lead
floodgates open
washed away
yet given all I need
No fear, buoyed up
held in light and joy
one breath begets another
feel the cadence, tripping heart
as older fears
and darker dreams
like stitches, torn apart
My muse, you bear a siren’s voice
that pulls me to the rocks
yet leads to shallows
gentle springs
from cruel and mocking seas
sounding in shadows, lead me on
to sweet and healing things
Lure me now away from grief
into scented lotus dreams
your lullaby the drug
that makes heart slow
in safe and shadowed reeds
never to wake til siren song
bids my spirit go.


© W.R.R. 4/28/2011
For Adam Lambert, “Aftermath”

We Are Not Alone

Soft laughter
cacophony of lives
gathered in anger
in love, in play
Into this a question falls
the words as gentle
as the wondering
behind them
the word
humbly asked
but you know
you are asking
for a secret glimpse
into a million wounds
Like the pin prick
releases a bead
of precious blood
answers like offerings
welled up
and the din fell quiet
as we became one
and spoke our pain
So soft, gentle
you joined us
no general kept apart
you shared your pain
and in moments
filled with trust and tears
we were one
shared fears and hurts
and the greatest gift:
to know that we are not alone


© W.R.R. 9/27/2011
For Adam Lambert

“@adamlambert: I wanna know something about you all. Strange question, but I find it healing to get things out in the open: What’s YOUR biggest insecurity?”

“@adamlambert: Wow we all have so many of the same hang ups. Sorta makes u feel better right? Helps a lot to just be upfront and honest the people u love.”

To Be A Better Man

I know I’m not going to meet Adam Lambert. Between being bipolar and agoraphobic, plus suffering from PTSD and panic attacks, the deck is stacked against me; I simply can’t tolerate being in a crowd, either for a concert or standing in a clutch of people at a barricade. The amount of well-meaning folks who like to cajole me with “oh, someday, maybe” just don’t understand the debilitating nature of these maladies. The thing is, it’s ok; I don’t have to meet or touch him to have him touch me. It’s the nature of his charisma, his aura, essence, whatever you want to call it, that allows his voice and compassion, his passion for life, to touch and change mine.

I do love hearing about others meeting him, though. It’s a vicarious joy, and the excitement of another person can and does transfer some of that Adam mystique to me, every time.

Fact is, this amazing man, my stepping stone to a healthier stretch of the path before me, doesn’t need to ever touch my hand… because his voice and shining example touch my heart.

When I’m in depression, I have a playlist of Adam’s interviews that I listen to on repeat as I sleep. His voice, as mesmerizing in speech as in song, gives me something positive to focus on, and holds the nightmares at bay. This is a gift I intend to repay by striving to get better, to do better, to become the sort of person who is capable of helping others. With a gift like that, it just doesn’t matter that I can’t meet him in person. In my heart, I already have.


© W.R.R. 9/20/2011

For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

In The Silences

Your voice soothes
the wild blood
that would invite such ruin
and leads me to
a calmer place
a peace of sinew and mind
In these moments
lucid, wondering I
look into the world
and see as you see
clear, without the lens
of my past cruelty
that weighs my heart
like a stone
in a scale of injustice
Coursing through
the plane of the mind
empty of thought
free of care
or contrivance of pain
there are no ghosts
no whispers of the damned
to plague my spirit
or feed on my soul
for only your voice is here
speaking, laughing
a sound torn free
from the birthplace of joy
and in the silences
I hear you say my names
and you know them all
This, your gift
though unaware
of the giving
allows sweet rest
at last
and when I wake
if I am still
I may carry your peace
a small precious while

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 9/6/2011
For Adam Lambert

Messages in a Bottle

On Wednesday, August 31st, I listened to Xena and Juneau’s radio show with guest Thea Washington (blog post here: Adam Lambert – “The Man Behind the Music” Radio Series ) and was inspired to ask a rather esoteric question, which I posted as a comment on their Salon. Rephrasing it here for further pondering….


I’m captivated by the idea of creativity being like a force of nature in all of us, connecting us in a way. Our individual talents manifest it in different ways of course, but they are connected by it all the same. Adam sings. I write poetry and essays. Someone else cooks, another person paints, draws, or takes beautiful photos. It’s all a creative drive we share to express ourselves.

Sometimes when I write a poem or essay, someone I’ve never met tells me how it touched them, how it was like I read their heart, mind, or soul to write their thoughts, their pain, and feelings. It’s both humbling and very healing to me to hear that, too. Music, songs, of people like Adam Lambert, Cassidy Haley, Immogen Heap, and so many others touch me the same way. Cassidy’s songs “Burn” and “Fly” are like he reached in, pulled my heart out, read it, shoved it back, and wrote those lyrics. Yet they aren’t my story, my pain – they are his. Weird, right?

Juneau, Xena and I talked when I was on their show before about how Adam’s song “Broken Open” affected me; it literally saved my life. I’m bipolar as some of you know, and sometimes I get audio hallucinations (hearing voices). When I heard that song in that moment, it didn’t register as “Oh, I’m hearing a song.” He was just suddenly speaking to me, telling me the message of the lyrics in the form of a song. Some folks are going to think I’m crazy, and yeah, I probably am, what with a legitimate mental illness and all; but that was my experience at the time. Adam’s words, his voice, his message – made me decide to keep fighting and not give up. He said it was safe to be so broken and it didn’t mean I had to die because I was broken; I was safe to “break into him”.

Now obviously, I know I’m not cosmically plugged into another person’s brain, aura, whatever you call it. I know Adam wasn’t talking literally to me; it was a song played on my boyfriend’s computer. Adam doesn’t know I exist, most likely, and had no clue I needed that message in that moment; but the message itself was still delivered.

I think maybe these songs, poems, photos, paintings, etc. are like “messages in a bottle”. They are created at another time, “stored” in whatever way (on a blog, a CD, in a portfolio) and then discovered or stumbled across later in an odd moment of need. This happens at miles of distance, between people who don’t know the receiver of the message even exists, but their message still reaches that person, it still helps them.

So my question, which may be partially rhetorical, but still open for discussion, is this: What is this phenomenon that creates this “spiritual creative connection”? I find it a fascinating concept, but I admit I’m kind of stumped.

Opinions? Observations? Theories?

Thanks for listening to my Tolstoy explanation of a question, too. Maybe I should of warned you to pack a lunch before you started reading this?


© W.R.R. 9/3/2011

For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

When We Had To Hide

An Open Letter to Adam Lambert
By W.R.R.

If I could do such a simple thing as sit somewhere and have a beer with you, and if we were going to talk about school days and hiding, this is what I’d want to say to you:

I never thought to hide my sexuality in school; I never even consciously thought about it in concrete terms. I came from an abusive home that didn’t prepare me at all for how the rest of the world saw things, and I was too busy hiding  the abuse and trying  to survive to think about much else. I didn’t even know I was technically sexually active until watching  contraband television made me realize that’s what sex was. All I knew was that some stuff hurt and some stuff didn’t; none of it had names or any context to hang understanding on. Later on, between thirteen and fourteen, I started to figure out a lot because I had finally made my first friend in junior high and he told me some stuff, and introduced me to more, both legal and not. Discovering that this thing, this act, could give pleasure, and that I could seek it out instead of waiting to be told to do it – that was a whole new world that opened up. I acquired quite a few addictions in my teen years, most of which I’m pleased to say I’ve since quit. At the time, though, with my home life the way it was, I didn’t much care if I shouldn’t be doing that stuff.

What you said on your Behind the Music, about being scared and hiding, being confused and trying to pretend, I lived that too; but I didn’t have the sense to hide the fact that I liked to kiss boys as well as girls, and it added a whole new dimension to the bullying in school. The closest thing to a gay/straight alliance we had in my high school was me finding out which of the bullies was secretly gay. One in particular, a football jock no less, I met at a wild basement party. Running into him at school, I thought we’d do stuff together, and we did – if nobody saw. If his buddies were around, he’d lend a fist on the regularly scheduled beat down. I guess it seems insane to some, my real friend wanted to get him back for hurting me; but I was getting the same treatment at home so it wasn’t that strange to switch between being his hook up and his punching bag. He hated himself so much because he was gay and just deciding to be gay, accepting it, seemed out of the question for him. He couldn’t resist what he wanted, but when faced with it around others, all he wanted to do was destroy it.

Halfway through high school I got a second friend, my current boyfriend, and he was hiding too. I can’t imagine how our lives might of changed if there had been anybody saying it was okay to be a gay or bisexual kid, or even if society had had some examples like you mentioned on the show: television, movies, or all the way up to a legitimate gay/straight alliance after school. Given a safe place to discuss being bisexual, maybe I could of had the guts to tell somebody I was being abused, too.

Anyhow, not trying to upset you with my past, just wanted to share a perspective that many don’t have; unfortunately, some others know exactly what I went through because they did too. Those of us who are survivors aren’t necessarily the tougher or braver ones, though it’s certainly a given that any survivor of abuse is tough and brave – mostly we’re the ones that got some sort of help along the way, whether at the time or later, from some source. I believe those who were either killed or took their own lives were also tough and brave; they just never got that help before it all started to feel too bleak on the way to feeling pointless. Fact is, as a child or teen, you don’t often think about life beyond school, beyond abuse or bullying; it takes a while for that restricted viewpoint to fade. Hand in hand with that, are too many folks who don’t take the time to see, to ask, to get involved.

So while we’re hoisting imaginary beer, why am I telling you all of this? Because you’re my stepping stone, helping me by your example alone to be what I want to be, to be something I once thought I could never be: a whole and happy bisexual man, free to be himself without apologies. I am so grateful that you had a good home, with a loving family, and later found similar artistic friends to add to that family. I grew up, started to learn that there’s a whole big chunk of the world that isn’t like my birth family, and I was able to make my own family. They help me every day to face the challenges that remain.

There are so many kids and teens out there though, who are just like we were, either hiding abuse or hiding who they really are, both out of fear. I wish I could do more to help them. I’m bipolar, and I suffer from agoraphobia and a grab-bag of other phobias that make it so hard for me to relate to others at all. What I do have is my experience, perspective, and a desire to share it in the hope of reaching somebody. If my poetry, my essays, or even my goofy tweets help somebody like me, then I’m more than willing to toss them out there, like bread crumbs to follow out of the dark.

Just wanted to tell you along the way that you’re loved and appreciated for what you do, and you don’t need to carry the flag of any cause to do it. You’re out there, being yourself, showing the rest of us what’s possible with hard work and conviction; and that’s all you need to be. We both know there’s a lot of crazy haters in the world; I just like to remind you that there are sane and decent folks, too. You already know that, of course, but sometimes the hateful voices seem to be awful loud. I hope the folks that love and appreciate you will raise their voices louder and more often. In the meantime, I love seeing you so happy in both career and love, and I am patiently looking forward to new music, too. Sorry for the epic length here, this was going to be shorter; but I can’t ever get through when you do twitter parties. I wanted to be sure you had a chance to know what you mean to me and to others – to a whole lot of us out here, in fact. As for that imaginary beer, it’s on me. See you next round.


© W.R.R. 7/21/2011, edited on 8/10/2011

For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.


I feel your voice
like fingers on my face
each word traces a scar
The wounds are memory
but their ghosts torment
as I tremble, tongue of clay
and wish for rain
to hide in
Your words, your voice
your power
tear down my walls
again and again
and as I remember
moth-kiss touch
on twisted scars
of shame and terror
the weeping of the damned
is muted
to become only me
In the silence that is left
I feel your spirit
given freely
begin to teach mine
how to be free


© W.R.R. 7/29/2011
For Adam Lambert, “Outlaws of Love”

Stepping Stones – An Open Letter to Anyone in Pain

There are times when I wish I could trade identities, my entire life, with any random passerby on the street. The feeling comes when the past intrudes on the present, making a mockery of any kindness or wisdom offered by others. The past… breathes… in those moments. If you’re lucky, it’s only moments; not hours, days, months… a lifetime. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. I know there are others who have it worse, who are so lost in the ugliness they can see no light, no joy. Some are so damaged they don’t know themselves, can’t express, or even grasp, their own pain, even their own names. Yet at times, I don’t know why I am not among them, unsure of how I escaped. If I knew, I would try to tell them, to whisper in their ears in the hope of helping them out of such a black hell.

Wisdom warns of course, admonishes. Those passersby I wish to trade with? A gamble with your sanity, health, and soul stacked like the lowest chips, the ones not worth winning solely because you were willing to sell them so cheap. The wisdom is this: That man waiting for the bus? He may have cancer, with a month left to live. That woman, checking her grocery list? Perhaps she hates her children. That child trying to grasp the hem of her coat, dried tears on cheeks no hand has ever wiped away? If you were ever that child in your own life, you know that’s a fate you don’t want; it might be worse than your own.

The true horror of wishing is, if it were possible, the person I chose would have my life, my past, my pain. The mirror reminds me what I would be wishing on them, and if I think about it too much, it makes me feel sick. That gamble goes both ways: what if that man, that woman, that child are happy, unmarked by the depths of adversity and terror that made you want to wish your life on another? How could you consider it, and remain worthy of any kindness, any love, at all?

In the light, I am grateful I cannot wish this trade of lives. In the dark, if you can see at all, it’s hard to care how escape from it might harm another.

What is the answer to the wish, then, how do we who writhe and cry in the pit of the past unravel this Gordian Knot and find a measure of peace? Of solace? The answer is clear to those with a few steps along the path. We must try to live, to turn our backs on the pain, not listen when the past whispers that we are ugly, we are unworthy of love, of light, of peace.

If somebody afraid to begin their own walk down the path of survival asks, “How?” I can only say that the way is different for all of us, but for me, I work at becoming the man I wish I was, and if that sometimes means pretending I am that man when I’m not quite there yet, then that’s what I do. Find somebody you admire, somebody you trust, and discover why they make you feel that way. I call them stepping stones on the path. When you can’t move, they can offer a hand, help you up; and step by step, it gets better.

Who are your stepping stones? Are they your family? Or your new family, the one you make for yourself if your birth family created the darkness? Are they people you never met, or met only once and that person was kind? I’ve had many stepping stones over the years as I’ve struggled along my path out of the darkness. At this moment in my life, it is a man I’ve never met. Sometimes this man makes me afraid because of my past, but he doesn’t know that, and he is innocent of my pain, my fear. He doesn’t know I exist, of course, but that doesn’t matter. In my mind, I see him reaching down from the next step up, offering his hand. With a smile, a bell toll of laughter, a beauty that pierces my soul, and a voice that makes my heart bleed even as it begins to dance, to cry, to heal – this man’s name is Adam Lambert. For others, it might not be, it can be anybody. Understand, the person you choose isn’t required to do anything except be who they are; they don’t owe you anything at all. It’s just their example, the qualities they possess that your trying to create in yourself. Choose wisely.

For those not yet on the path, those so lost in the dark they only want to stop; stop trying, stop breathing, because it’s the only way you can see to stop your pain? Please take my hand. I’ll try to guide you in moments when I’m strong, and someday you will become strong enough to turn around and perhaps offer your hand to me when I’m weak, or to somebody else who needs your help, who admires how you helped yourself survive.

This is how you start. Take my hand; be careful, there’s a step here, just a small one. Let’s walk together for a while. Even in the dark, we can feel each other’s touch, hear a friendly voice, listen to another soul breathing, trying, one who understands how you feel.

Before I go, let me ask this question: Has anybody ever said to you, “I love you”, “you’re beautiful”, “you’re worthy of love”? If not, let me say it now. You are beautiful. You are worthy of love, and somebody loves you.

© W.R.R. 6/8/2011

For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

For Those Without a Voice

An Open Letter to Adam Lambert
By W.R.R.

A million voices are offered up to you anytime you speak and I know you won’t see my words whispered back to you amidst the flood. It makes me timid, makes me think my words aren’t worth notice, and then the thought creeps in, “I’m not worth it.” This is a learned response, taught by an abusive father. What I want to say to you, some of it’s ugly, but it’s my ugliness, my perception. So let me say at the outset that there is no blame here, nothing you need to do; it’s more for me. Sometimes the words, the emotions, have got to come out or they’ll tear your spirit. I know you know what I mean. You once told your vocal coach you needed to sing your pain for her, so will you let me?

Metaphor mocks me. I can’t sing, some days I can barely speak due to serious injury at four years old, at the hand of a man society tells me was a monster. I can’t think that way; as a child he was all I knew, so I’ll just say, please forgive me that I can’t use music to soften this, or speech to make it less stark.

My family loves you, but at first you frightened me for several reasons. There are similarities you see, between my father and my muse. You don’t really look like him, it’s a black hair, blue eyes, cheekbones thing – height, power of presence, confidence, spiked humor. The first time I was shown a video of you prowling around a stage like a predator, I felt an irrational dread. A choking, sinking fear filled my mouth, throat… my mind. My friend asked later why I didn’t just ask someone to turn it off, but she can’t understand – no one can if they haven’t been there, endured abuse like that. You’re not allowed to look away unless you’re told. It was like a trance that made the past rise up and take me over, part of me waiting for you to bark an order, to demand that I submit and accept whatever you wanted from me. You never spoke, of course, and the strange feeling faded, left me trembling in its wake.

Bravado, pure lying foolishness, helped me hide my pain and fear. I told my family of friends that I didn’t care for you. “Nice voice, sure, but not attracted,” and other lies. The man I’ve struggled to become out of the shell-shocked ruins of the child I was can’t afford to admit the truth about some things. Fear waits there if you do, and harm follows fear.

Your voice tormented me. It was too like that other voice, lilted and beautiful, assured and magnificent. Your face shamed me, ethereal beauty like his, unmarked, perfect; your body like a living statue. Did you know men that look like that were carved in stone in the ancient world and set on real pedestals to give their people something they could dare to look at and live?

I’m a man of ragged spirit, scars, missing pieces and tatters of flesh left to heal at last when the game of my childhood was over. Monocular vision is barely enough to take in your beauty, enduring the twist in my gut at the sight of the light glowing in your perfect eyes, as blue as his.

This is not to cry out horrors like a wounded Greek chorus, or to imply any resentment for the good fortune you have in both family and life. I just want to help you understand how it feels now, to look at you, and feel like I’m not worthy to tell you how I feel.

What changed? Hearing your voice sing of it being okay to shatter, that you would be a safe place to break open and be afraid, that no harm would come. I was about to give up after violence done to me brought my past back up to choke me like bile of the mind, scars on the soul. Your voice stopped me, soothed, made me feel safe in the midst of feeling broken. Your voice told me I could break, and mend, and it didn’t have to be the end of me. I know I have a long road ahead of learning how to heal from my past; it’ll probably take my whole lifetime. Yet I have an amazing example now, showing me how to keep fighting, as well as how to be vulnerable when I need to, without risking everything.

I guess I could have boiled all this down to one word: thanks. You hear that so much, though, you must. Not to diminish the word, but I wanted to melt the blockage of fear that chokes me whenever I think of speaking to you; I wanted to try to explain. It’s all moot, though, in the end; the fear is so strong – and I know I’m not the only one whose tongue turns to clay sometimes. So I’ll just tell you this – you saved a lot of us. Either by the beauty of your voice, your spirit, or both – you saved us by giving us hope, a positive example, and a foreign but vital taste of joy.

Odd thing is, I have no idea how to end this except by using that one word. Maybe now it has a little more weight? No less heartfelt, with or without that. Thanks, Adam; even though I pale at the thought of ever facing you, I can admire you from a distance and try to support what you’re doing as best I can. Why? Because what you’re doing reaches people, gives them hope and joy, just by being the man you are today… and the man you’re going to become tomorrow.


© W.R.R. 5/4/2011

For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.