February 18, 2013
I’ve been watching Josh Kruger attempt to forge a new persona as a writer and HIV activist with some bemusement. If the former job title can be claimed by counting the sheer number of words that come from his fingers, then, yes, I suppose he can call himself a writer. Blogging for just a month and then moaning about not making a living at it is simply ridiculous.
It’s time for me to be honest about this supposed flag-waving truth-seeker, since he seems unable to do it himself. He can rant and rave every day about Mark Segal’s supposed ethical transgressions but responsibility for his own behavior is conveniently beyond his grasp.
I first encountered Josh in the gay.com Philly chat room in the mid-to-late aughts. He seemed bright, funny and articulate, especially for someone over 30 years younger than me. He had the weird, annoying habit of using antiquated words like “huzzah” and “popinjay” in conversation which he does to this day. I think it’s the verbal equivalent of an ironic hipster mustache. There was never even a hint of anything sexual between us. We finally met “in real life” one afternoon at Local 44 in West Philly and we remained good friends.
Josh Kruger presents himself to the world as a Penn alumnus which is only technically true. He was evasive about this brief period of his life whenever I asked him about it. What I’ve gleaned is that he attended Penn for a year (less?) and his departure had something to do with his alcohol use. Whether he jumped or was pushed, I can’t say and neither did he. His non-return to the bottom-rung of the Ivy League had something to do with financial aid. I was told these “facts” by Josh during the very short time that he went to AA. Since the 12-Steps encourage real introspection and some responsibility for one’s past, it’s no wonder to me that Josh didn’t last long in the rooms. He’s not, in my experience, capable of either.
Josh has claimed at different times to have contracted HIV from his partner, while in a “committed relationship,” and because of a long-term case of gingivitis. Again, only one of these claims is technically true but only if you count commitment in one direction only. His partner was faithful, Josh most certainly was not.
Josh dated and then lived with a good friend of mine who I’ll call Tom. Tom was HIV positive, Josh was not. They lived in the suburbs and Josh worked as the Development Director of the William Way Center in Philly. He drank. A lot. He would tell Tom he was working late and/or sleeping over in his office. (He fancied himself a modern day Don Draper!) In truth, he was getting obliterated at Woody’s and Uncles, “sleeping” at the baths and having unprotected sex with many partners. He told me later that he would occasionally run into some of them and figure by what they said or how they acted that that he had hooked up with them and he would have no memory of it.
(I’m absolutely not morally judging Josh’s sexual behavior. I’m probably the last person in the world who would do that. I’ve certainly been no angel in my life. Josh’s sexual escapades are important, though, in light of his later claims. They’re not “wrong” in and of themselves.)
One night my partner and I were in West Philly, driving home from dinner when we got a text from Tom. He was frantic about Josh. He had spoken to him earlier from Uncle’s and he was trashed. Now he couldn’t get in touch with him. He begged us to find him and bring him home—his home, not ours—an hour away. Several bartenders at Center City gay bars told us they’d seen him earlier. We heard “Oh Josh from the William Way Center? We cut him off hours ago!” more than once. Finally, we talked the clerk at the baths into telling us that he was upstairs. We told Tom who was shocked. (He had no idea what everyone else already knew.) Anyway we figured it was best for everyone to just leave him there. We didn’t bother going up to talk to him despite Tom’s plea to “Please get him out of there!”
Josh’s boss at the William Way Center warned him about his behavior because he was one of the few public faces of the Center. He wasn’t talking about simple visits to the baths, either, since the Director frequented the Club Body Center himself and, being a Radical Faerie, is very sex positive. It was, at least, Josh’s public drunkenness, if not more, that caused him concern. Imagine being told to tone it down by a Radical Faerie!
Anyway, Josh and Tom eventually split but they continued living together while Josh avoided looking for somewhere else to go. Josh found out he contracted HIV and, after a ridiculously protracted period, Josh moved back to the city. Tom had to finally give him a deadline. Josh hounded his friends with incessant texts and gay.com IMs. You can click here for a typical example.
He took anti-depressants and attended AA for a bit. My Facebook feed was en endless stream of his 12 Step-inspired epiphanies. He started drinking again. (He now considers AA attendance “nonsensical.”) He obsessively called and texted Tom.
Then he did one of the worst things anyone I know has ever done.
Josh texted a group of Tom’s straight friends and co-workers and told them that Tom gave him HIV! Before they read those texts, those people had no idea that Tom was positive. I’m not kidding. This actually happened. You can take a minute to let that sink in.
His logic? Tom’s condom broke ONCE and, even though Tom didn’t ejaculate, he managed to pass his HIV to Josh. Now, try to square this with Josh’s current, quite factual claim that someone on HIV meds whose viral load is undetectable can’t pass HIV to anyone. Tom was and is on HIV meds, he was and is undetectable. Make sense? No, of course it doesn’t.
Josh now “blames” his HIV infection on a year-long bout of gingivitis which, oddly enough, he never mentioned to anyone at the time. Unprotected, barely-conscious sex at the baths couldn’t possibly be the reason. No. In that case, he’d have to take some of the responsibility himself, something he finds impossible.
Josh says he ended up getting “sober” with cognitive behavioral therapy and blames his despicable texting episode on anti-depressants.
Unsurprisingly, most of the gay.com group were avoiding him. He whined about this endlessly. He just couldn’t understand why he wasn’t being invited to parties and bar nights. He’d forgotten his ridiculous demands that we all MUST choose between him and Tom. (When I reminded him, he claimed not to remember that demand. He must have been drunk. No apology, of course. It was the alcohol, not Josh who said it.) The choice was easy for most. I hung on like a fool. My partner and I would get bombarded with texts whenever we socialized with Tom. It was just ridiculous.
He got fired for being drunk at work. It was a “policy disagreement.”
My partner and I moved to Maine. Josh visited us on Labor Day Weekend 2011 along with several other friends of ours. He talked endlessly. My dear, departed friend Keith stayed a good quarter mile behind us when we walked around Peaks Island because he just couldn’t take it anymore. (I’d mention that Josh spent 25% of the last 12 hours of his visit to Portland in our bathroom, preparing for and cleaning up after late-night and early-morning hookups, but that would just be gossip.) His loud chatter during Sunday morning breakfast at Cracker Barrel was humiliating. Yes, we were embarrassed even at Cracker Barrel. We could. not. wait. for him to leave.
The next week Josh posted, without any apparent irony, a story about a woman who was arrested for obsessively texting her ex-husband. Really. I commented sarcastically and was defriended immediately. Of course, he had to say more, so he texted, “It is literally physically painful for me to hear about the past the way I did today. As a result, we can’t be friends anymore. It jeopardizes me to hear that shit. I’m sorry Frank.” I was relieved.
Sometime in the spring, Josh wrote to me and apologized. I accepted but kept my distance. We briefly met with him on a trip back to Philly during the summer. He was quite late and obviously high on crystal meth. He was extremely irritating to be around. Once again, I couldn’t wait for the visit to end.
In August of 2012 Josh seemed to vanish. His constant Facebook updates just stopped. No one I know saw him or heard from him for months. I admit that I put no effort into looking for him, either.
Then, just as suddenly, he reappeared on Facebook, claiming to have been “on assignment.”
We went to Philly over New Year’s weekend and heard from a friend (who heard from a friend) that Josh had become homeless and was incarcerated for dealing meth. I was not surprised but I waited for verification.
He started a blog.
Now, I certainly didn’t expect him to come out on Facebook or in his blog and tell everyone the truth. Not only is honesty not Josh’s “style,” but it really wasn’t anyone’s business. He has since admitted to living in a shelter for a while and to being a crystal meth addict. Lots of people have hard times and drug issues. They get over them and move on or they die. Josh, in my opinion, is using stories of his his recent past to try to erase his real background as a privileged suburban white guy (if that’s not triply redundant), gain some street cred, and start a new career as a professional “person with HIV.”
After just over a month of overwritten, overlong diatribes, he’s depressed that he’s unable to make a living from writing.
He seems to have a serious problem with Mark Segal, publisher of the PGN (Philadelphia Gay News). Sadly, he’s gotten some support from some prominent gay folks who have long-standing issues with Mr. Segal. (One, for instance, ran a rival gay business.) With wildly paranoid logic, he spins an everyday business practice into an evil conspiracy.
His main gripe about Segal, income from sheriff’s sale classified ads, is so trivial that it’s hardly worth mentioning here. You can read Josh’s stultifying blog if you’re really interested in that kind of minutia.
Josh wants to deny Mark Segal a vacation because some HIV positive people in the city have no health care. Josh’s healthcare is apparently anyone’s responsibility but his own. It has nothing to do with his own poor choices.
Mark Segal, for all of his faults, has been an advocate for the Philadelphia gay community since more than a decade before Josh was even conceived. While I haven’t always agreed with his methods or his views, he’s earned his place at the Philly political table.
That’s a table to which Josh Kruger brings absolutely nothing. His born-again, HIV activism is a self-serving sham designed only to court some controversy which might further his theoretical career as a “journalist.” His supposed insights are old news, as well as disrespectful, to those of us who’ve lived with HIV for decades.
As for the style of his writing and the accuracy of his “reporting,” you can decide for yourself. “For the past thirty years, HIV/AIDS has systematically murdered an entire generation of good men and women.” Really? In that case I’m either dead or not “good.” Again, you can decide.
Josh expects scrupulous honesty from everyone except himself. The “facts” of his life change when he sees a personal advantage. He decries “identity politics” in others yet he defines himself almost solely as a person with HIV. Can we trust this kind of opportunist to be the beacon of moral outrage for Philly’s gay folks? I don’t think so.
November 1, 2009
I’m listening to “Michelangelo” from Tango: Zero Hour by Astor Piazzolla.
September 1, 2009
Man on the street
This roofer was working on the house next door this morning. Click on him for larger pics!
I’m listening to “Strike Me Pink” from Debravation by Deborah Harry.
August 16, 2009
Separated at birth?
I first posted this five months ago, in the beginning of September. A friend had pointed out to me that this guy looks a lot like a young Hy Lit and I made graphic to empicturalize it. I didn’t mean to insult or offend him. In fact, it was a compliment. Hy Lit was a really handsome man in and for his time, and well-loved.
About a week later I got a nearly unintelligible email from an unidentified person asking me to remove his picture from the top of my web site. The message went on and on about gay.com’s Terms of Service. Since I didn’t get his picture from gay.com, the picture at the top of my web site is a picture of me, and the Hy posting had moved down a few places by then because that’s how blogs work, it took me some time to figure out that it was actually Hy Jr. who was pissed off. I responded via email that I wasn't criticizing him and that no offense was meant. He wasn’t really satisfied with that so I removed the posting entirely. It’s the only posting I’ve ever taken down from The High Strung Loner.
Four months later, on New Years Eve night at the Bike Stop, I happened to be occupying the urinal next to Hy II. He looked at me and said, “You are a small, ridiculous idiot” and with a dramatic flourish he left the bathroom. I laughed out loud and I have proudly been using that phrase as my bio-line on gay.com chat ever since.
Early this morning in chat, five months after I posted that picture, he started again. Three of us tried in vain to convince him of two things: 1. That the original posting, though ambiguous, was a compliment and 2. That once you post your picture publicly to the internet it’s pretty much fair game. We (well, the other two guys, at least) tried to keep it in good humor but it quickly became obvious that it wasn’t going to work.
Getting furious, I said he should be glad I don’t enumerate his repeated racist remarks in the chat room and really embarrassing displays of public drunkenness at the Bike Stop which I haven’t because, until this morning, unbelievably, I still liked him. Then it happened:
delcoguy_: hiv must be a sad lonely existance
Me: i knew that was coming. what a dick
Woof60: you can go there, but it will have no effect.
delcoguy_: and i understand it goes to the brain but really
Me: you think this is making you look better? it's amazing how low gay men will stoop to to be bitchy and that is the lowest. why don’t you go pick on people with cancer?
Woof60: or make fun of a maimed soldier
Anyway, now I don’t give a shit what he thinks and I’m sorry I removed it in the first place. Using HIV as an insult in an argument is nothing less than a sign of self-hatred and homophobia. Coming from a gay man it’s simply grotesque.
I’m listening to “Twist & Crawl” from What Is Beat? by The English Beat.
July 27, 2009
the most popular boy at the whore houses
From Craig's List Missed Connections:
Bath House Jimmy M. - m4m - Cherry Hill - 27
There is a really hot guy that is poz who forgets to let everyone know he is. Oh and did I mention he is mostly at the bathhouse tweeked out of course, and the guys love it cuz because he is young and attractive (not for long tina will take that soon too) and is a complete pig so will fuck anyone that is willing to give more drugs, old, fat, black white whatever he is the most popular boy at the whore houses. And when I say popular I suppose I am being modest, cuz not only dose he fuck for drugs , after the high is reached, its on, so anyone who is willing gets a go. In fact it is reasonable to say at any 24 hour period for there to be 12-15 men who will get the lovely opprotunity to have sex with Jimmy and test death.
One more thing, his partner in crime boyfriend, Michael (another Petri dish of communicable diseases) participates in this wonderful debatary of Russian roulette. The thing is.... because they don’t tell guys to wrap it up, and in fact discourage it, the victim is mant timmes unaware that he’s playing. But what’s even more awesome, is how they use and manipulate those around them with charm and sex to escape the fact that that these two amazing duo, one being close to 30 and the other over 40 still live with their mom and dad. Thats right folks these amazing men have no responsiblitity at all other than to infect you.
If you see Jimmy (get tested) and or at the very least let him know of a rehab center nearest you. and let his punishment be anyone you know that goes to bathouses a lil too much should be known as a "bathhouse Jimmy"
Oh, come on! Entering a bathhouse without believing that everyone there is already HIV positive and then acting accordingly is almost delusional. To put the responsibility of disclosure completely on the positive person in this setting is unrealistic as well as unreasonable. Wake up! I don‘t know what bone you have to pick with this guy (admit it, we all know there is one!) but postings like these accomplish nothing other than making you look utterly stupid. By the way, the 80’s called; they want their AIDS panic back!
I’m listening to “Stay With Me” from Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space by Spiritualized.
July 25, 2009
After nearly a year, someone’s finally made another third-party chat client to access gay.com chat. Since the demise of ChatClient after gay.com’s disastrous redesign last fall, many people have stopped chatting on gay.com altogether. Their new Ajax chat interface, while a huge improvement over their old Java-powered Volano Chat, is still a browser resource hog and leaves a lot to be desired.
chatlinQ is still in beta and missing many features but, for me at least, it’s working beautifully so far. The beta is open to anyone. Right now, chatlinQ is Mac only and it seems like he’s gonna make an iPhone version too!! I really like the Mac-centric bubble-view in the screen-shot above but I’m sure it’s not for everyone. The tradition list-view is available too but, at this time, the formatting isn’t great. Hammering into Room 1 isn’t incorporated yet, either. I’m patient. I’m just relieved and grateful that someone had the time and the dedication to create this. Many people will be very happy.
I’m listening to “Long Tall Texan” from The Road to Ensenada by Lyle Lovett.
You can barely see her but Martha Stewart’s head is completely recognizable in this picture I snapped while Derek and I were driving through Ogunquit Maine last week. According to another customer at the gas station where we had stopped, she had just bought a sweater at Blacksmith’s Mall. Much as I hate to admit it, it was very exciting!
I’m listening to “Wi' Nae Wee Bairn Ye'll Me Beget” from 69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields.
Technorati Tags: marth stewart
July 19, 2009
Man on the street
I’m listening to “I Can't Give You Anything But Love” from Rufus Does Judy At Carnegie Hall by Rufus Wainwright.
April 25, 2009
Bear Art show
Posted via Pixelpipe.
Hot guy in the news
Romanian Constantin Marius Mituletu in today’s New York Times.
I’m listening to “Miserablism” from Alternative by Pet Shop Boys.
April 24, 2009
Separated at birth?
gayporno000 from the Philadelphia chat room on gay.com and Susan Boyle.
gayporno000’s profile is fascinating:
hi every 1 i am so tired of being cheated on i need a man that will love me forever lol bobby ur not that man i thought u were but u r not gay or bi u r str8 i found that out today y didnt u just say u were str8 instead of hurting me again ima make u feel the pain this time watch so every 1 on here i kno the truth he just told me he was str8 so no body talk to youngbod or youngbob wat ever 1 is his screen name unless u wanna get hurt like i did so plz i need a guy that lives close to me and can kick bobbys ass for me and love me forever i need a man that drivess tooo lol
I’m listening to “It Takes All Kinds” from Bachelor No. 2 by Aimee Mann.
April 22, 2009
The Exquisite Queer
A few months ago I had my picture taken as part of a project by Dave Kube, a student at Temple’s Tyler School of Art. He explained the project as a sort of “Exquisite Corpse” flip book of gay folks. As usual, I was incredibly uncomfortable getting my picture taken but I got through it. As a kind of payment for being part of the project, he gave his subjects a bunch of photos to take home. Mine were great! I don’t think I’ve ever looked so good. (I say this even though the pictures actually look like me!) Anyways, Dave decided to use this as his thesis project and it's on display for a few days at Temple Gallery. That’s my weird head in the upper right in the postcard above. If you want to see more of Dave’s work, the details are below.
April 22-25, 11:00 - 6:00
Reception: April 24, 6:00 - 8:00
Temple Gallery, Tyler School of Art
Norris and 12th St., Philadelphia, PA 19122
In the meantime Dave received the well-deserved First Prize in the 4th Annual Juried Art Show in March at William Way GLBT Community Center, where he showed two stunning photographs from another project. My old friend, the great Jimi Mooney (aka Helen Back) got 2nd prize for his equally beautiful collages. Look for them both in future gallery shows at Willian Way.
I’m listening to “Le Feel Internacionale” from A Wizard, A True Star by Todd Rundgren.
First block on Grindr
I took an entire month, which might be a record, but I finally got some abuse on Grindr. All I did was turn down sex with an 18 year-old. They almost never take that very well. (His messages are on the left, mine on the right.) I wish I had thought to grab his picture before I blocked him.
I’m listening to “Carioca”by Esquivel and His Orchestra from The History of Space Age Pop, Vol.3: The Stereo Action Dimension.
April 16, 2009
Separated at birth?
ZenithX3 from the Philadelphia chat room on gay.com and Bat Boy.
I’m listening to “God (Interlude)” from Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by Outkast.