Friday, March 11, 2011
A certain unshakable dread filled my mind this morning as I woke. Four years ago to this day I found a lump on my right inner thigh, which would later be diagnosed as Lymphoma. Fear, panic, dread filled the next several days as I underwent surgery to remove it, saw all kinds of doctors and testing, and eventually began Chemotherapy. We had caught it at the early stages before I had spread to any major organs and spent the rest of the spring and summer getting zapped with chemicals every three weeks. Every time I just began to feel good again I was knocked back down. I had a very busy life at that time, and was determined from the beginning, that I was not going to allow the cancer to stop any of it. I still worked all my crazy jobs of photography, gardening, UPS, and lighting for theatrical productions. My doctor and friends always laughed that I worked the cancer around my schedule instead of allowing it to control me. I planned the therapy for a Thursday, so I would have the weekend to recover and it would have minimal impact on my regular schedule. Oh but it did impact me, I lost my energy and I had to take lots of little naps throughout the days. At times the nausea and sickness from the drugs would become overwhelming that I just felt like I couldn’t move, but I surprisingly got through it with little interruption, just a little slower than usual. I now know cancer is more common than I thought at the time. I now know everyone is somehow impacted by it. I know many people who have overcome it currently leading healthy lives. But my biggest fear was remembering what it had done to my friend Gilbert several years before who did not survive. In many ways going through it with Gilbert had already prepared me for facing my own process. At the end of what seemed like an interminable summer, I finished the process, thinner, emaciated, and bald. Throughout the process, I struggled to maintain normalcy, but it still managed to stripped me of my physical sense of self identity and devastated me finically. Eventually it did come to an end. As my body and strength recovered and my hair grew back, something mentally inside of me jumped into hyper drive. I had faced mortality, and began to think about what I really needed to achieve with the remainder of my life. There was doubt and uncertainty as to how much time I would actually have. Was I now more susceptible to other cancers? How long would the treatment last? Had this just prolonged my life for a few years or was it to it’s full maturation? I felt shrouded in uncertainty. Suddenly I became an overachiever and began to go after things I had only dreamed about. This is when I really began to explore the remarkable beauty of naked men in my imagery. Up until now I had only dabbled in it, but I knew this was one of the things I must do within my life time. Tell the story of my own sexual history though my imagery. You see growing up we had no role models for homo existence. It was hidden or subversive. I wanted to somehow create a new model in which gay men could see themselves with dignity, pride and respect, where they could be in touch with their sensual/sexual selves without having to be debased or demoralized, to see beauty in the male form of art that we can emotionally connect to and be inspired by our feelings and emotions. Somehow as a gay culture we have always ended up on the bottom of the social heap. I know that is changing and ever evolving, Most of my life has been about finding the humanity of myself as a gay man, and it has been a struggle most of the way. In the past four years I have built my dream studio, got to the core of what is meaningful to me, began submitting my images publicly, and finally embarked on this project to share my experience.
VIEW FULL IMAGE: TRAVIS #519