This website is intended to weave a narrative of the story of my life. This will happen through photographs supplemented with commentary and documentation. As a photographer the images here reveal much about how I see the world, limited more or less to what I personally find beautiful or simply visually interesting. The shutter finger responds to what my eyes focus on, and what I focus on is a complex intellectual and aesthetic response to the subject matter. As a writer I sometimes just tell a story and at other times I offer my analysis of things personal and events happening in the world I am still a part of.
Many people know me from one particular place, time, or activity. Although most of my life was spent as a gay activist whose calling as a young man included founding a number of organizations including two bookstores, two student associations, a newspaper, and an archive, I have had many ‘lives’ including as a bookstore proprietor in two countries, a photographer, a gardener/botanist, an aviculturalist, a student of archeology and the ancient world, a traveler (some 57 countries to date), a student of the western classical music tradition, and the lover and nurturing friend of countless young men.
Now in my old age I am spending much time in Morocco, specifically at Dar Balmira (Falcon House) deep inside the ancient Medina of Fes. The building is a fine example of Moroccan craftsmanship and the public rooms lend themselves well to a gallery or museum. My project over the past six or so years has been to restore the house and turn it into a photography gallery and showcase for my botanical and ornithological interests.
In Toronto I have been practicing the art of philanthropy on a modest scale. Over the past few years I have given thousands of books to libraries and students, as well as being a contributor to the few charitable causes I deem worthy. While I seem to thrive on throwing myself into new projects, simultaneously I believe in divesting myself of all but what I deem essential material possessions. So far this goal has not proven to be an easy one for all sorts of reasons more appropriate to discuss and analyze elsewhere.
Work on this website continues wherever I am since my laptop computer is always full of images. Each album and gallery represents a statement about my life: the people who were/are a part of it, and about my many interests, most of which have benefited from a life of constant travel and exploration of planet Earth.
I do take personal satisfaction in that almost all of the organizational initiatives I undertook in the early 1970s still survive more than 40 years later. Sometimes the names have changed, the emphasis and internal structures also evolving with the times, but the general mandates carry on.
Sadly, the radical impulse to re-imagine and redefine alternate forms of sexuality and relationships different and liberated from those based upon the breeding, all consuming hetero brainwashing dictated by all three Ibrahimic religions was eroded and finally dropped away almost entirely once the AIDS epidemic devastated male homosexuals in the western world. We may call ourselves a secular society but the deeply embedded heterosexual rules for living that once upon a time no doubt seemed the way to go – as well as boost the power and control of the ruling class of despots and clergy – now distill the formula for self destruction by the impact of over breeding our species.
Not only did AIDS kill so many of the brightest among us, it also left behind a world where fear of contagion destroys the promise of spontaneity and freedom in our sexual lives, pushing the gay world deeper into the behavioural patterns of religiously based heterosexual models.
After a few aborted attempts, at age 66 I finally set about creating this website. Hopefully my health and energy will carry me forward many more years, but of course the probabilities of disease and deterioration skyrocket once one is over 65.
My own youth lasted a very long time and I was well into my fifties before the clock of our mortality took a fateful lurch forward.
The first wave of dying friends happened in the late 80s and early 90s, most as victims of AIDS. Those of us who survived are into our sixties and seventies, and the entire generation that once hoped to challenge the heterosexual dictatorship is biologically at the end of our share of time. Now I begin to see the ripples of the next and final wave that will take out all my contemporaries as well as myself.
To end this introduction: what then do I hope to achieve with my website? I do have a sense that my life has been that of someone who managed to keep to his own path and was able to adapt to change as well as change to evolve. This website is an obvious attempt to communicate moments and phases of this journey.
Potentially it may be of interest to a few members of the younger generation of gay males as well as to the occasional social scientist and cultural historian. The best thing that might happen is that I make a few new friends both among my generation and among the much younger generations. As those who know me assert, I am a nurturing sort of person and can’t help but share whatever knowledge and enthusiasm I have for so many subjects. I do believe I have at least a few lessons and a certain amount of wisdom to pass down. At the same time I welcome getting involved in new projects, especially if they benefit the flora and fauna of the natural world. As for gay society I think it’s up to future generations to break new ground in matters of sex and relationships.
I always look forward to feedback and would urge anyone looking at the site to let me know what you think about the project, especially about the photographs or my commentary. As well, I appreciate accurate information such as names and dates related to the gay movement photos taken in Toronto, Boston, Paris, Germany, and Italy.
Jearld F. Moldenhauer