--> Fascism Within - LIFE OR METH - Life OR Meth Intro
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"You have a lot of young gay men coming into the city; they were the nerds in high school, the wallflower, the ugly kid. They feel the city is the place to be sexy, to be a star, and they get a false burst of confidence with a drug like this."
~ John Cameron Mitchell [Director]

March 2003. John is 21, and arrives in New York anticipating that a climate of tolerance and acceptance awaits. He is typical of gay men the world over who have long flocked to the metropolitan cities to be less visible and to congregate with others like themselves. However, we arrive and establish our own gyms, clubs, shops and cafes – ghettos – and bring with us all of the emotional scarring, guilt and shame that we attached to our homosexuality in our formative years

John's first experience of New York's commercial gay scene, therefore, far from being inviting, is mostly unfriendly, indifferent and intimidating because almost everyone, it seems, is projecting their internalised homophobia and insecurities at everyone else. Gay-identified men who grow up in loving, accepting environments often find it difficult identifying and mixing with complex, baggage-heavy men, tending either to avoid socialising where gay men converge or lead fulfilled lives away from the psychological assault course posed by the scene.

"Gay men are the masters of taking masculinity to the extreme in an effort to avoid the feminine. It's a risky strategy. You can jack up 'roids, grow a beard, get bench pump tits, tattoo your triceps and sport a crew cut, but it's a parody of butchness that's borderline camp. Basically, it's Tom of Finland drag. The truth is that real men don't go to that much trouble… It's always better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you're not… Ultimately, what you learn is that we're not here to be loved by everyone. That's not your job. Your job is to love everyone else, regardless of stereotypes. That, my friends, takes a real man"
~ Stewart Who [QX Magazine]

In such environments, fear reveals itself in over-inflated egos and attitude; the degree to which individuals reinforce their delusions about what they think they are. Some people are so lost in their fantasy world of denial and illusion that they have difficulty discerning even the most basic truths, or to accept the glaringly obvious even when it's staring them square in the face.

"The power of both illusion and delusion should never be underestimated. The compulsion to believe in something we need and want to be true, rather than see reality for what it is, can at times be astounding."
~ Gary Younge [The Guardian]

Despite its immense ugliness to grounded, balanced people who have their egos in check, attitude is merely a person's automatic defence mechanism to the inner pain, guilt and turmoil that arises from the loss of a connection to the heart centre and separation from love.

"If one drops denial, one will see that falsehood, manipulation and distortion of truth cater prevalently to man's lowest propensities and pervade all society."
~ David R. Hawkins [The Eye of the I]

When you are controlled by your ego and out of touch with your feelings, your potential to abuse power and inflict unimaginable suffering on others is limitless.

Ego reveals itself in many ugly ways, be it arrogance, righteousness, vanity, cynicism, loudness, hedonism, ostentatiousness, posturing, etc. Those who mask their identities beneath ego do so because they are lost in their own fear and ignorance, hearing only what they want to hear while filtering out the truth about who they really are and their illusion-filled reality. The more frightened a person is the more righteous they become and the more others appear at fault. They feel justified in their anger because their judgments are firmly anchored in their misjudged perceptions and experiences of reality.

A person's true qualities don't count for much in environments fraught with fragile egos and steeped in negative energy; in which people are incapable of discerning truth from falsehood, dual for external power and compete for attention, and where a person's worth is measured by external, superficial attributes such as physical appearance, material wealth and social status. It is this fear-based mentality and pressure to conform to a stereotypical physical and social ideal that drives many gay men, particularly across North America, to obsess on their looks and bodies in order to be noticed and validated. And it is into such a tense, judgmental environment that John experiences the company of other gay men for the first time.

"I seldom whinge about being black on the sometimes
Nazi-like gay scene, and at the same time I can't find a trace of remorse in telling the white gay establishment to practise what they preach, namely inclusiveness."
~ Clayton Brown [Positive Nation]

Instead of the openness he was anticipating, John feels even more lost and isolated, and an overwhelming pressure to embrace a whole new set of parameters in order to gain acceptance.

Before long, he has acquired a gym card, steroids, trendy fashion attire, buzz-cut and a strategically-positioned tattoo, yet he is more lost, anxious, afraid and adrift than ever. Yes, he finally fits in, but what he has become – a judgemental, predatory, competitor of the flesh – is not who he really is. John has surrendered his power through fear of not fitting in and being judged not good enough by others when all he ever needed to accept and receive acceptance from was himself. In the last vestige of a connection to his heart centre is an inner knowing that he has betrayed his soul and birth rite; to love and be loved. Having dispensed entirely with his identity and individuality, John has packaged and programed himself to look and behave just like thousands of other fear-driven, gay-identified men across North America.

"Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd." 
~ Bertrand Russell

At the club, an older guy swoops on the vulnerable young man, offering him a hit of something that will make him "feel amazing". Like many before him John naively accepts, his thought processes numbed by the discordant banging of "crystal music". The combination of an insecure ego and crystal meth is akin to igniting an oil tanker. "Tina" has arrived to administer the final, lethal blow, seducing John with an illusion of the self-
assurred power and self-intimacy he has craved for so long. Ultimately, however, it severs the last trace of a connection to his heart centre, hurtling his ego into overdrive. Meth's intoxicating grip soon immerses John in a cultural trend that has poisoned the minds of a lost generation of gay men, cutting them off from their inner power and creative source as they identify solely with the destructive force of their fear-fuelled egos.

In a few short years, meth has desensitised and homogenised legions of gay men into battalions of cold, unfeeling, blank-eyed, emotionally and physically hardened automatons.

This is where we leave John. That night the older guy took him home, inserted a bump of crystal into John's rectum and proceeded to penetrate him without protection. John had always scrupulously practised safe sex, but from that night on precautions no longer seemed to figure…