Loading...
Doc Duhon was born in 1954 in Reno, Nevada. Two years later, Doc’s Cajun father moved the family to his home state of Louisiana. Doc’s mother struggled with addiction and mental health issues. His dad drank heavily and was gone a lot. Against this backdrop, Doc struggled to make sense of feeling different, especially given his perception that in his family, difference was dangerous.

In high school, Doc experimented with sex and drugs, carefully hiding his same-sex adventures. At 17, he left home for good to attend the University of Nevada Reno, but his drug and alcohol use spiraled out of control, and he dropped out. At 22, Doc got married. Five years later, his daughter Arielle was born. Arielle provided a much-needed focus for Doc, including the awareness that sooner or later, he would have to conquer his addictions. In 1988, at the age of 34, Doc took his last drink.

By this point, Doc had gotten divorced and come out of the closet in the midst of the burgeoning AIDS epidemic. He participated in many AIDS protests including a 1988 die-in at the California state capitol building in Sacramento. He managed to stay negative until 1991, when a broken condom changed his HIV status and the course of his life. 

That same year, Doc met his life partner and now-husband James. From the beginning, Doc and James adopted a polyamorous lifestyle by integrating other stable love relationships into their partnership. In the meantime, Doc’s career took off. He became a leading energy efficiency expert for the utility PG&E, and served as the first chair of the California Commissioning Collaborative, a group dedicated to ensuring that high-efficiency buildings live up to their potential. In 2006, health issues related to Doc’s HIV+ status forced him to retire. 

Today, Doc lives in Palm Springs, California. He enjoys a close relationship with Arielle, now 37. Doc is deeply involved in the leather and polyamory communities. He also mentors a large number of people in 12 Step Recovery programs, some of whom he has worked with for well over 15 years. 

Doc was one of our very first OUTWORDS interviews, in June 2016. Heavily tattooed and pierced, he looks a bit like a pirate. But his gravelly voice is warm and vulnerable. Doc has made a conscious choice to live exactly as he pleases. For him, this has proven to be the only sure path to survival.
Mason Funk: [00:00:00] Do me a favor, just tell me your name and spell it, how else you would like to be identified.
Doc Duhon: My name is Doc Duhon. My first name is spelt D-O-C. My last name is spelt D-U-H-O-N. Correct pronunciation of my last name is actually Duyon, but nobody says that. Since Im in California, its Duhon.
Mason Funk: Duhon, and where are we today, where are we shooting this interview?
Doc Duhon: Palm Springs California.
Mason Funk: [00:00:30] Do me a favor, when I ask you a question, see if you can wrap my question into your answer. If I say where are we today, well say today were
Doc Duhon: Got you.
Mason Funk: Why dont you give me that one again?
Doc Duhon: Were in Palm Springs California.
Mason Funk: I guess lets start at the beginning. Tell me when you were born, where you were born and who else is in your family, your biological family?
Doc Duhon: [00:01:00] I was born on March 17th 1954, in Reno Nevada. To a woman who had immigrated from Denmark as a 17-year old, and a man who was a Cajun descent. They met later in life and my mother already had an eight year old daughter. I had a mom, dad and an 8-year old, or sister who was 8 at the time I was born.
Mason Funk: [00:01:30] Did you end up spending a big chunk of your childhood in Reno or where ?
Doc Duhon: No, when I was a year and a half my parents
Mason Funk: Start clean, I was talking there.
Doc Duhon: Im sorry.
Mason Funk: Go for it.
Doc Duhon: When I was a year and a half my parents moved to my fathers ancestral home, which is Southwestern Louisiana .
Mason Funk: How was that, what was that like? What was your childhood like in those years?
Doc Duhon: [00:02:00] My childhood in those years was strange, in that my parents were not particularly conventional in a lot of ways. As such because of the kind of lives that they lived which were so problematic at times and secretive, in terms of their drinking and alcohol use. I felt like I lived in 2 separate worlds. My fathers family is very traditional Cajun Catholic. It was this nice front on the outside,
Doc Duhon: [00:02:30] I felt a lot of support both from the Catholic Church and from my extended family, my fathers 1 of 9. There was a lot of extended family support, but my home life was pretty dramatically awful.
Mason Funk: What made it so awful?
Doc Duhon: My mother was a closeted alcoholic and drug addict. She was using pills and alcohol. My father was absentee a lot. When my Father...
Doc Duhon: [00:03:00] when I was about 5 years old, my father owned a Deep Sea Diving operation off the coast of Louisiana, and he was seriously injured and spent a couple of years recuperating in the hospital. My mother ended up becoming responsible for us. It was the first time shed ever really done serious childcare. Shed always been a position to either have assistance or have people around who would assist her, or have paid help. It was really hard for her.
Doc Duhon: [00:03:30] It was a huge adjustment, she didnt adjust well. Her drinking and the excess alcohol and other things were crazy.
Mason Funk: Did other siblings come along, were there other kids eventually?
Doc Duhon: I have a young brother whose 2 years younger than I am, and a younger sister whos 6 years younger than I am. Certain elements of my family are close to this day and others are not.
Mason Funk: [00:04:00] You were there until you were 12 in Louisiana, then what happened.
Doc Duhon: We moved west.
Mason Funk: When I was 12
Doc Duhon: When I was 12 we moved west. We left Louisiana, for me it was a monumental adjustment. I had known since I was probably 5 or 6 that I was different than other little boys.
Doc Duhon: [00:04:30] Not knowing what that was but knowing that difference was not something safe to talk about. Just intrinsically knowing that. By the time I was 12, I was very guarded. I grew up in a family where putting on a false front, lying to the neighbors about whats really going on, was not unusual. For me with that modeling,
Doc Duhon: [00:05:00] it was not unusual for me to completely align myself with whatever I needed to do in order to get along, get to survive. My adjustment to the West Coast was difficult because I was just a little kid whod spent a lot of time in Southern Louisiana, and spoke with an accent and kids were not nice , and to boot to think
Doc Duhon: [00:05:30] I was coming into my own. I was probably, retrospectively I think I was probably somewhat effeminate. I think people knew, I think people knew that boy aint right.
Mason Funk: What did that feel like when you say you knew that you were different? This is one of the things I really love exploring with people. As best as you can, what did that feel like?
Mason Funk: [00:06:00] Was it comparing yourself, was it just knowing that you were completely the same thing?
Doc Duhon: I tend to be really a scientist about most things, but there seem to be an innate sense Starting probably about 5 or 6 years old, and I would say 5. That I had different perspective than the other little boys around me. A lot of the little boys around me were cousins and people like that. Some little boys in the neighborhood type of things but mostly cousins and family.
Doc Duhon: [00:06:30] I could remember actively choosing to not do what I wanted to do, which was play and be by myself, and go out with the boys and play soldiers with little soldiers on the ground at the age of 5. I did the things I do which is I have a mechanical engineering bent, and so I built bridges for them to blow up. Didnt really want to be there, but I knew
Doc Duhon: [00:07:00] that if I wasnt there, I would not be accepted. Thats one of my earliest memories.
Mason Funk: You say that boy aint right. You say that you feel like people around you, other kids, especially when you moved west.
Doc Duhon: People around me, my family, everybody. I was my fathers magic child when I was born,
Doc Duhon: [00:07:30] but I also had some serious physical issues with my hips, issues with illness. And my younger brother was born a couple of years later and he fit my fathers model of real man, still does, still did when my father was a live, and I never quite did. I ended up being seriously displaced
Doc Duhon: [00:08:00] at a couple years of age, by this younger brother who was and is strongly all heterosexual male, good guy, a really good guy, but definitely not like me. I think it became obvious to me that I was enough different that I needed to keep that quiet.
Mason Funk: [00:08:30] Tell me about moving west, where did you guys settle and what ?
Doc Duhon: We spent a lot of time on the road. We spent time in Ventura California, in places where my father had lived in the 40s. My father was from Louisiana, went to war, came back to California, loved California, loved the fact that it wasnt Louisiana. He had been married to another Cajun woman, and he brought her west and they settled in Ventura because he had worked out of Oxnard
Doc Duhon: [00:09:00] during the war, he had been out of Oxnard during the war. They settled in Ventura and he lived and eventually Initially they settled in San Pedro California and he worked as an abalone fisherman and that sort of thing. Im sorry I forgot the tenure of your question.
Mason Funk: It was basically where did you guys settle when you moved south?
Doc Duhon: We spent some time re-exploring that area, Southern California
Doc Duhon: [00:09:30] and then my dad decided that the job prospects here werent as good as Nevada and we ended up settling in Reno Nevada, we ended up settling in Reno Nevada. Thats where I spent my teenage years was Reno Nevada.
Mason Funk: You went back to Reno?
Doc Duhon: Back to Reno.
Mason Funk: Got you. Now you are a teenager, you are 15, 16, 17 years old living in Reno, what was it like? Who were you? Who was Doc during these years? Who were you, yourself and who were you ?
Doc Duhon: [00:10:00] I talk about this extensively when Im relaying my story in the context of 12-step recovery. I was whoever you needed me to be. I have a friend who talks about wearing masks. That very often people wear masks. I was an accomplished horseman.
Doc Duhon: [00:10:30] When I was with the cowboys I was the baddest cowboy, or tried to be. When I was with the Thespian Group, I was flauntiest actor on the planet. When I was with the guys and Buck and Bail. The whole thing was What I realized was The answer to your question is I dont really know who he was,
Doc Duhon: [00:11:00] because he was trying so hard to be what everybody else wanted him to be and he wanted to look good.There was a scared intelligent child inside at the age of 12 right after moving to Reno. I went to the Washoe County Library which was a brand new building at the time and quite architecturally new in its form, and it was quite beautiful.
Doc Duhon: [00:11:30] I read a lot, as a child I read an incredible amount, and I lied to the reference librarian and told her I was doing a report on drugs. At the time, in many libraries in the United States, anything that was potentially controversial, was in a locked section. They literary locked those books away,
Doc Duhon: [00:12:00] and the books on drugs I knew were in the locked section, and so were the books on homosexuality.I went into the locked section of the library, and I went back repeatedly over the course of about a week and a half and there were not many books. My memory is that there were 5 or 6, and there were some periodicals in the same section and one of which was the Lancet English medical journal and I read
Doc Duhon: [00:12:30] every word. I found out that I was intrinsically disordered, and that there was no chance for me being happy ever in my life. That homosexuality was a defined mental illness, and that there was basically that I had no options, that I had no options.I also found out that
Doc Duhon: [00:13:00] British sailors between the 1890s and the 1930s used to tattoo the Eye of Horus on one hand and a Swallow on the other as connotation for I Swallow, and so it became a lifelong plan that if I ever lived long enough, I was going to have that tattooed on my hands and I did. I lived long enough to have it tattooed on my hands.
Doc Duhon: [00:13:30] I didnt really know who I was, and my take on another incident happened about the same time. My father who is a Cajun non-expressive, traditional Cajun man very quiet. Rowdy when drunk, and quiet the rest of the time. Came into my bedroom when I was 12 years old.
Doc Duhon: [00:14:00] We hadnt been in Reno that long. He sat on the edge of my bed and it was about 10:00 at night. We lived in a very small place, all 4 of the children shared one bedroom. Boys and girls, and my younger siblings were asleep. My older sister was not there.He looked at the floor and never looked at me and he said, You mother and I would really appreciate it if you are not one of those awful homosexuals.
Doc Duhon: [00:14:30] Got up and left the room. I dived into a closet, hid deeply. Between that and what I had read, I didnt want to be that.
Mason Funk: [00:15:00] Did you ever flashing forward now obviously, later in life did you ever talk to your dad about that conversation?
Doc Duhon: Never. My father had a very difficult time initially when I came out, and he finally came to some element of acceptance. My father and I were never close. He feigned closeness but it was not real,
Doc Duhon: [00:15:30] it was a show for the neighbors. The point at which I realized my father had finally turned a corner was in the 1990s. I walked, and my parents, they never knew that I was ill. They never knew that I was HIV positive or had Aids, they both died without knowing. I didnt trust them enough to tell them to tell you the truth.
Doc Duhon: [00:16:00] The reason I know my father turned a corner at some point in his acceptance of me, was he not only ended up being fast friends with the man I call husband today, but at one point I walked into the living room at my parents home, and my father had a propensity for yelling at the TV. He was screaming at Newt Gingrich who had just made a homophobic statement,
Doc Duhon: [00:16:30] and I went, Okay weve done it, weve made it over the edge.
Mason Funk: Tell me the day where my dad yells at the television over some homophobic statement.
Doc Duhon: Thats the most acceptance I ever got from him. That was enough.
Mason Funk: [00:17:00] You dived into the closet way deep.
Doc Duhon: Way deep.
Mason Funk: When roughly around the time did you start using drugs and alcohol?
Doc Duhon: I started using drugs and alcohol about the age of 15. I dabbled with whatever I could find at any point. Anything that was mood altering worked and I started 12, 13, 14, but I never had access to any significant amount of anything, and never really got to the point where I would say I was loaded.
Doc Duhon: [00:17:30] At the age of 15, I had for the first time in my life unfettered access on one particular night to a half pint of rum, a pint of vodka and a 6-pack of root beer and I put it all in punch bowl and drank it all, than Ive never drunk myself before. I drank myself into my first blackout. That really set the pattern for my drinking and using for the rest of my drinking and using time. I drank alcohol and used drugs for 18 years, 18 years plus.
Doc Duhon: [00:18:00] I swore the day after, that I would never drink again, and within 30 days I was drinking every day.By the end of that year I was drinking and smoking dope, and anything else anybody handed me. I was a drug garbage bail. I would use anything to escape the What I realized for me was when I was intoxicated,
Doc Duhon: [00:18:30] I didnt have to deal with me. All those feelings of inadequacy went away. I spent a lot of time intoxicated. I was quite bright without blowing my own horn. I scored very well in my SAT tests, so I got very good grades.
Doc Duhon: [00:19:00] I graduated from high school at 17, a year early. Went on to college. I won a 4-year tuition and book scholarship from the National Association of Teachers of German. My mother is European, she actually came from Denmark and had grown up speaking German, Danish. My grandparents eventually became an influence in my household. My grandfather and I spoke German and Danish together.
Doc Duhon: [00:19:30] I am very fluent in German and somewhat fluent in Danish. When I took the test in high school for this particular teachers association, I got the highest score in the state of Nevada, and I was given a 4-year tuition and book scholarship to any university I wanted to go to. I picked the University of Nevada because I really didnt have any other alternatives,
Doc Duhon: [00:20:00] and there was another reason for that. That year I will never forget. In the spring of that year, an article came out in Playboy that said that the University of Nevada Reno was the number one party school in the nation. I went, Im there, Im there.
Mason Funk: Now youre really smart, youre doing well in school, this is not an unusual story. Youre managing on all fronts, and youre using but
Mason Funk: [00:20:30] youre hitting all your marks, youre achieving, achieving, achieving. Did you have any sense of Again its hard to remember maybe but how did your life feel to you? How did you see yourself? What did you see as your How did your future appear to you?
Doc Duhon: My future appeared clouded. My future always appeared clouded. Its something I work with to this day to keep it from appearing clouded.
Doc Duhon: [00:21:00] As a child I grew up in a world where my fathers warnings were Cuba missile crisis were 800 miles, we were in Louisiana. We were 800 miles from Cuba, 1,500 miles whatever the distance is there from Cuba, the missiles are going to get us. I grew up in a world that was looking at being bombed into oblivion.
Doc Duhon: [00:21:30] As a young adult, my prospects for the future were constricted, highly constricted, and they were constricted around the fact that I was insistent that I was going to fit the mold. I dont even know if I had what you would call hope. What I had was insistence, internal insistence
Doc Duhon: [00:22:00] Im going to make this work, and it may not last long but however long it last Im going to make it work.I had involvements with guys during my teenage years. Most especially with my friend Andy Carlos who I became quite close. I had involvement with girls during my teenage years. The era, remembering when
Doc Duhon: [00:22:30] I graduated from high school, the era I grew up in was if you cant be with the one you love, love the one youre with. Im sure there were people who saw past my pretense. It was just, this is free love and open sex and thats what were going to do here, and Im a straight guy and everythings going to be fine. The funny thing is during those years, we were talking earlier about how did
Doc Duhon: [00:23:00] I see myself at 12 and 13, and after I figured out that I was intrinsically disordered. I had spent time as a child in Catholic Church and in church in general. I used to go to church to pray to be bisexual, because I had read in the books or in that library about homosexuality and bisexuality.I knew that homosexuality was so engrained in me,
Doc Duhon: [00:23:30] that there was no way I was ever going to be straight, I knew it, I knew it at 12. I prayed that God would make me bisexual so I could hide. I attempted to make it happen. I read self-hypnosis tactics Oh God, you cant even imagine.
Doc Duhon: [00:24:00] Heres this 12, 13, 14 year old boy trying to make himself straight without letting anybody know that hes gay. I used to I would masturbate thinking about good looking men, but not thinking about sexual acts with them, just think about looking at them, because sexual acts with them would be
Doc Duhon: [00:24:30] going the wrong direction, and as I ejaculated, I would think about a woman, to try and train myself. It didnt work, it didnt work, but it sure was a valiant attempt.
Mason Funk: The church part, you just said, briefly you said Catholic and then you said parenthetically other religious settings as well as
Doc Duhon: [00:25:00] My family in the south is traditionally Catholic. I spent time in Catholic Church. My parents sent us to church because thats what they were supposed to do. It was more a matter of familial pressure rather than anything else. They sent us to whatever Church was easy. If there was a neighbor who was going to the Methodists Church, Thats fine, go with them. That was all good.
Doc Duhon: [00:25:30] My childhood was filled with a lot of transition, and the reason it was filled with transition was the fact that my parents never had a problem that was a result of their own behavior.
Doc Duhon: [00:26:00] It was the job was bad. This was the wrong house. The neighbors are not the right neighbors, we need a better car. Theres always a problem and it was always externalized. Looking at your own drinking, looking at your own philandering as my father did. The other thing was never something they ever considered doing. They simply blamed it on external circumstance and moved on.
Doc Duhon: [00:26:30] 18 years old, I had lived in 15 houses, I went to 11 schools. That set the stage for me as an adult as well, trying to figure out how to do things and I actually kept up for shortly the first few years of my adulthood, and now Ive lost the question again.Which meant that by the time I was
Mason Funk: Thats okay.
Doc Duhon: [00:27:00] The first few years of my adulthood I kept up that scenario, I moved a lot and I finally realized that I wanted something different, but I was still constrained within the overall parameters of being acceptable, having people like me, your opinion of me really mattered to me. I was still wearing masks. I was wearing masks in
Doc Duhon: [00:27:30] that I wanted to be the best conceivable dad, and I wanted to be the best conceivable neighbor and I wanted to be the best conceivable worker and yet at the same time, all those years, all those years I was doing drugs. Running drugs at night to support my habit. I was living a whole series of separate lives, and none was integrated.
Mason Funk: [00:28:00] How are you doing, a sip of coke?
Doc Duhon: Im good.
Mason Funk: Is that cigar?
Doc Duhon: Yeah its a cigar, thats actually not coke, thats coffee. I dont really like hot coffee, so I put a little ice in it and drink my coffee cold.
Mason Funk: Thats funny and I often times go to Starbucks. Like on a hot afternoon, Ill say, Id like a Decaf Americano and theyll say hot? Ill say, Yeah, hot. It sounds like it doesnt matter how hot it outside, I still want my coffee hot.
Doc Duhon: [00:28:30] Even through winter, I like my coffee cold.
Mason Funk: Youre good Goro?
Goro Toshima: Yeah, take 2.
Mason Funk: Lets just do a little chronology, its kind of get situated. You graduated from college?
Doc Duhon: I graduated from college eventually.
Mason Funk: Tell me about your college years and you junior college.
Doc Duhon: [00:29:00] My first year of college, I went to school in Got involved with people who were into the same things I was into. Which is basically a lot of heavy drinking and a fair amount of drugs, and became incredibly sexually active. Almost exclusively with women at that point.
Doc Duhon: [00:29:30] Once my high school years was behind me, my interactions were almost exclusively with women. I did incredibly well, in my first year, I did incredibly well my first semester. I did moderately well in my second semester, I did poorly in the beginning of my sophomore year and I flunked out the second semester of my sophomore year and there was a specific reason for that.
Doc Duhon: [00:30:00] During my freshmen year I found Somebody introduced me to Benzedrine, they used to them cross tops bennies, and they were nice and they allowed me to stay up. They allowed me to work hard and they allowed me to get good grades on tests, which was nice.Then they became in themselves and somewhere in that year, somebody introduced me to what they call peanut butter speed now,
Doc Duhon: [00:30:30] at the time they just called it speed and then it became peanut butter speed. Which was a less pure form of what we now call crystal meth. I thought I had gone to heaven. I remember the first time using, I said Im going to use this every day until I die. My life fell apart on an ongoing basis because of my substance use.
Doc Duhon: [00:31:00] Being my parents child The reason my life fell apart had nothing to do with my substance use. The reason my life fell apart was that I was living in a fascist dictatorship that was waging war in Vietnam. I saved up my little duckets and I got on an airplane and I went to Europe, and lived there for a while until I got in trouble with the law, my alcohol and then they sent me home.
Doc Duhon: [00:31:30] They didnt actually sent me home, the French sent me to Italy. From there I ended up coming home. Within a few months I had met, one of my friends from college early when I started college was somebody who I had grown quite close to, and he had another friend who was significantly older, who was an alcoholic
Doc Duhon: [00:32:00] and fit right into my lifestyle and this guy was back and forth. This guy was Canadian and he was in his 40s and we were in our 20s. We were his little posse and we were back and forth between US and Mexico. That started another period in my life when I was back and forth between the US and Mexico. With drugs and alcohol.
Mason Funk: Back and forth as in running? As in just trafficking or just as in ?
Doc Duhon: [00:32:30] No, we didnt traffic drugs or alcohol, just back and forth various agendas. He would have a business issue and bring us... Hed be building a road in Sinaloa for example in Culiacn or somewhere in Mazatln. We go down and help him out and we all party together and drink. Hed get done with that project and hed come back and wed do something and go back to Mexico.
Doc Duhon: [00:33:00] [deleted section]
Doc Duhon: [00:33:30] I was using drugs and alcohol, speed was my friend. I ended up after that period moving back to Northern Nevada. Exclusively rather than kind of running around the West Coast. I moved in with
Doc Duhon: [00:34:00] one of the people that I had started college with who had been a friend from high school. Her name was Darcy, and she was the only one left of the original group who had still not graduated.Everybody else was graduated and doing adult stuff. She was still in school, and I moved in with her, and the reason she was still in school was
Doc Duhon: [00:34:30] that she had an alcohol problem and a marijuana problem. It was a match made in heaven because this was my perfect, they call them beards. Had a beard, I never acknowledged that until significantly into my recovery, but thats what it was. It was a way of covering up the fact that I was a gay man.
Doc Duhon: [00:35:00] We had a absolutely volatile relationship. Based on drugs and alcohol. I did care for her deeply, she cared for me. We both saw ourselves as radical revolutionary types. I think it was just an excuse for us to be able to use.
Doc Duhon: [00:35:30] We lived together for a number of years. I worked jobs, started businesses, the normal things of the early 20s. Was moderately successful during those years, but used and drank the entire time. Lied about it, and again the issue around masks.
Doc Duhon: [00:36:00] At one point I owned a small contracting firm, I had a remodeling contractors license in the state of Nevada, and thats the money I used to put myself through college and I finally I didnt get my degree until 85. It took a long time. This money I used to put myself through college. Bought homes,
Doc Duhon: [00:36:30] stabilized my life relative to what I experienced growing up, and thought I was being very successful. I thought I was being very successful, and you know with some work and some analysis both personal and therapeutic, Ive come to understand that I aligned myself with people who were quite radical in the world. Heavy duty bikers, serious bikers,
Doc Duhon: [00:37:00] and so I had this life where I was dad and suburban husband by day, and I was running crystal methamphetamines on the motorcycle at night, or on my truck. Again it was a series of masks, just in order to keep the image going for others.
Mason Funk: [00:37:30] In terms of chronology, this is roughly say You graduated in 85?
Doc Duhon: I finally got a degree
Mason Funk: Lets set the time-frame, so roughly around How old were you roughly when you say you kind of came back to Reno and settled down and moved in with Darcy ?
Doc Duhon: That would have been
Mason Funk: Start fresh as if I hadnt asked a question like, When I was around so and so
Doc Duhon: [00:38:00] When I was around 22 I came back, just 21, 22, I came back to Reno and started to settle down. Darcy and I moved in together. We eventually married and I proceeded to try to develop a middle class respectable suburban life, with all the accoutrement that goes with that: houses and cars and reasonable job
Doc Duhon: [00:38:30] and at one point a small business and tried to look good on the outside. It didnt work really well but I tried to look good on the outside. I did that for a number of years. 5 years into that marriage, my wife got pregnant and we had a baby girl. It was of a last-ditch effort on both our parts I think
Doc Duhon: [00:39:00] to save what we had attempted to build,which was all based on both our parts. It was based on a lot of misconceptions and lies. My daughter was born.
Doc Duhon: [00:39:30] People used to call her my attachment. From the time she was born, she was at my side and we were very, very close and for the first couple of years of her life, my drug and alcohol use diminished rapidly, in fact I wasnt using drugs at all. I dropped my amount of drinking. Then things started falling apart with my ex-wife even more, because the baby was no longer
Doc Duhon: [00:40:00] a new thing and no longer a distraction. I started using again. Within a couple of years was using a lot.
Doc Duhon: [00:40:30] My older sister came to me when my daughter was 4, 4_ and said,Arielle has gone My daughter, Has gone from being a happy little child while I was still Had my drinking, using more under control, to being somewhat of a scared little rabbit. Are you doing the same kinds of things to her that mom and dad did to us?
Doc Duhon: [00:41:00] It was my first wake-up call. It was in 12-Step programs they call that moment of clarity. Its was one of my first moments of clarity. It didnt take It took a couple of more years for me to get it but it was my first moment of clarity. What my sister meant by that was are you not paying attention to her? Is your life centered around the drink and the drug to the extent that this child that you brought into the world I not getting what she needs, and is abandoned effectively.
Doc Duhon: [00:41:30] The answer to that question was yes and I used to tell the big lie and say no. Retrospectively that was a really hard thing to deal with.
Mason Funk: A couple of questions about that, you lied to your sister but Im interested in just the relationship
Doc Duhon: Probably myself as well.
Mason Funk: Initially at least were you open to hearing this question from her?
Mason Funk: [00:42:00] What was your relationship like such that she could say this to you?
Doc Duhon: My relationship with my older sister is a unique one. Shell be here in a couple of days. My older sister was 8 when I was born. My mother was not really highly competent childcare person. My older sister became my childcare person. My old sister cared for me and my siblings, who came along later. Probably,
Doc Duhon: [00:42:30] if not one of the primary caregivers, maybe the primary caregiver during our childhoods. Thats the role that felt to me when I was 10 when my sister moved out. My relationship with her to this day is probably more of that that a lot of people have with their Mother. When she came to me with that, it was something I needed to listen to.
Doc Duhon: [00:43:00] My older sister and I are incredibly close to this day. You asked the basis of the relationship, there are people in your life who love you enough to tell you the truth, because I sincerely believe that most of the people out there just want to go along to get along, and if it causes any emotional travail, theyll tell you what you want to hear rather than telling you what the truth is.
Doc Duhon: [00:43:30] My older sister was somebody that I had a relationship with where she told me the truth. It got in, I wanted to ignore it, but it got in. It worked its way in, and finally got to me.
Mason Funk: That was your first moment of clarity?
Doc Duhon: That was probably my first moment of clarity. Now that said, I knew
Doc Duhon: [00:44:00] probably from the second week I used speed, that I was an addict and planned on being an addict until the day I died. Absolutely no question, I am going to do this forever. This is what Im going to do. There was never any question but moment of clarity for me means a moment when you make the realization that your impact
Doc Duhon: [00:44:30] as a human and me as a using addict human, addicted human on the world around you, on the people you love. For me that was my first moment of clarity. Up until then I saw myself as a victim of circumstance. I had a rough childhood, and I did. It was all true. Ive been hiding this secret,
Doc Duhon: [00:45:00] all this other stuff, it was easy to tell myself the story that I was not responsible for my own behavior. That was the first time I came in well. That actually was probably the beginning of my journey in recovery. Even though it didnt take for a little while.
Mason Funk: It sounds like a number of amazing things. One, without your sister Ive 3 questions.
Mason Funk: [00:45:30] I want to expand a bit more about your sister, just how in a certain way, you said that without her, you might never Who knows if anybody else would have come along to give you these moments of clarity. Thats one observation, secondly Im curious about what enabled you in that moment to even if you werent aware at the time that it penetrated. Im curious about that and then thirdly I wonder if you had not had a daughter,
Mason Funk: [00:46:00] as a reference point in a sense someone whos life you were possibly compromising if not destroying. If the clarity could have ever come, all those things come to my mind.
Doc Duhon: The issue around all of the 3 of those questions is that theres simply no way to know. I work with a lot of people who are addicts. I see people whove spent 20 years struggling in the state that I spent a couple of years struggling in
Doc Duhon: [00:46:30 25 years and never have final resolution around the fact that they need to make change. I was on the phone with one of my sponsees last night. He is again on the street. Hes been using recently after 25 years of going through this regularly. So, theres no way to know that.
Doc Duhon: [00:47:00] One of the things I havent talked about is even as a child I wanted a child. I always wanted to have a kid and so as an adult in recovery, and in therapy and in dealing with my own issues and my own internalized homophobia, I had to go back and look at if there was a serious sub-conscious context toward intentionally manipulating the circumstance
Doc Duhon: [00:47:30] so that I could end up with a wife and a child, because I wanted a kid, I wanted one bad, and I got one.Thats the preface to now, I got this kid, somebody just told me Im ruining her life. And maybe I need to look at that. I really do believe
Doc Duhon: [00:48:00] that those 2 things were very, very much involved and thats effectively My daughter knows this, Ive talked to her about it openly. I got sober because of her, and the first couple of years of my sobriety, I stayed sober because of her. I was not one of those people who gets religion when they get sober, and theyre all about staying sober. I stayed sober because I had a kid I needed to take care of her and that was the whole reason I did it.
Mason Funk: [00:48:30] Goro I noticed the AC just kicked on. We dealt with this yesterday as well. The AC kicks on and it changes the odor a little bit. How does it sound to you?
Mason Funk: Yesterday we turned it on and off, and so it would get warm when the subject was talking and then we would take a little break and turn the AC on for a couple of minutes, what do you think.
Goro Toshima: [00:49:00] I do think we can turn it off if its going to get hot in here. Were going to get uncomfortable then keep it on.
Mason Funk: Can I hear what it sounds like?
Goro Toshima: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Of course I dont have the comparison, but let me just
Mason Funk: whenever youre recording an interview in a controlled environment, this is what you do with the AC being on and the AC being off.
Mason Funk: [00:49:30] I was shooting some interviews earlier this year where we were in a studio with tons of lights. We would crank the AC and then turn it off and shoot. We would go, Oh, dang and we would stop and turn it on and then you just go through this, but out here in Palm Springs you dont have a lot of choices and I want to be in a lot of hot places this summer.
Doc Duhon: Youre going to be in a lot of
Mason Funk: DC, Virginia. Sorry I didnt realize you were waiting there for me. Can you talk a little bit?
Doc Duhon: [00:50:00] Yeah, is it a problem that the air conditioning is on?
Goro Toshima: Yeah, just hold on.
Doc Duhon: How do you feel about that?
Mason Funk: I cant hear anything in here right now, but I dont have the comparison.
Goro Toshima: Its pretty, like AC goes, its not too bad.
Mason Funk: I think I heard it out of my year that was not covered up with the headphones, not out of the ear that was covered with the headphone
Goro Toshima: How about if we just get room tone right now, because I dont think its too bad.
Mason Funk: [00:50:30] Were going to do this thing called room tone which is just an audio trick that we can use impose, just smooth everything out. Do I call Goro?
Goro Toshima: This is a room tone 30 seconds .
Mason Funk: [00:51:00] To cut the story short let me call Marilyn and see if shes got my message.
Goro Toshima: Take 3
Mason Funk: That was great, I love your stories and that was amazing.
Doc Duhon: Thank you.
Mason Funk: Theres more I know that I want to explore. I think the first question that comes to mind is
Mason Funk: [00:51:30] that was the first moment of clarity, but it took you and the heartbreaking story of your friend. It was 25 years later, but it took you a couple of years in your case. Tell me about those years, but start with something like
Doc Duhon: Were in the early 80s, my daughter is 3_, 4 years old. My sister comes to me and says what she says and
Doc Duhon: [00:52:00] I realize that my drinking and my alcohol use were also to the point where Im approaching my 30th birthday and my life is nothing that I wanted. I have a decent house in the suburbs, I have all the drugs I want, I have what looks like on the outside like the perfect family. I have this wife who is a social work professional,
Doc Duhon: [00:52:30] and a drug user, but a social work professional, and a child and the cars and I had everything that you were supposed to have that I didnt have as a child. I was the most miserable human being youve ever seen. It got to be time I started doing some analytical stuff about what the hell is going on here. Jeanettes comments spurred me to take a look at some things. Of course being a child of my parents,
Doc Duhon: [00:53:00] the first thing I went and did.I went and started going to Adult Children of Alcoholics because the whole reason that I got all these problems in life, has nothing to do with my own behavior or my drug use or my lying, it has to do with the fact that my parents were fucked up. Im grateful for that experience because it actually set the door for me,
Doc Duhon: [00:53:30] it opened the door, set the stage for me to be able to years later, a few years later start looking at 12-Step of Recovery as a methodology for me personally. It doesnt work for everybody but for me it worked well. The door is opening, so 3 _ years in, Im separating 3_ years into my daughters life, 4 years into my daughters life. My wife and I are separating.
Doc Duhon: [00:54:00] Im living in a different house, and I have to look at all areas of my life, Im trying to be honest.All of a sudden theres no way I can be honest, and deal with all these stuff, and lie about the fact that Im a gay man. Being a drug and alcohol user, I did the first thing that drug and alcohol users do, and find a bar. I went and found a gay bar, and walked in
Doc Duhon: [00:54:30] and went okay, this is where I belong. Of course Im still closeted and Im still lying everywhere in my life. And in the course of the following 2 years, between the time my daughter was 4 and the time she was 6. I came to terms with my alcoholism and my drug abuse. Was no longer living with my wife, started dating a guy.
Doc Duhon: [00:55:00] He was also an alcoholic and a drug addict. We had a very tempestuous relationship like all the other relationships in my life.I did what is known in the program as a geographic. At this point, Im modestly out of the closet, some people in my life know, some people do not. Ive told my parents, Ive told my siblings, my ex-wife knows. My daughter is not yet living with me,
Doc Duhon: [00:55:30] and Im dating this guy, and Ive decided to whats called a geographic. I went to work for a firm in Vegas, and to get away, get away from the drugs. The last time I used crystal methamphetamine was on the way to Vegas to take that job. I was working for a bunch of alcoholics and I didnt stop drinking.
Doc Duhon: [00:56:00] That was an important time in my life because I came into my own, around my own sexuality. I actually started to embrace my gayness. I started to think, I started to become political. During this time, Aids was coming on the scene in a big way.Between 84, I guess were talking the period from 84 to 86.
Doc Duhon: [00:56:30] Aids was coming on to the scene in a big way and I was having a lot of unprotected sex with a lot of men, in Vegas and other people, and Ill never forget my first HIV test. I went to a Doctor and he was a gay Doctor. I identified him and the test did come out,
Doc Duhon: [00:57:00] and he took my blood sample and he packaged it with a number that translated to a different name than mine, and he sent it to Arizona to be tested and I was in Nevada, because that way it wasnt traceable back to me if it came back positive. It was 2 weeks of fear.
Doc Duhon: [00:57:30] I remember reading about AIDS before I ever came out, but I was still trying to I just knew there was some Im very much a scientist, I dont believe in a lot of woo-woo. I knew when I read that article in Time Magazine, it must have been in the early 80s,
Doc Duhon: [00:58:00] thats going to be one of my lives, I just knew it, I knew it.
Mason Funk: Tell me more about that, like the story you just told about the test, Arizona, the non-traceability. Give me the context for that story in terms of like these early years in the epidemic when there was so much fear, and a diagnosis
Doc Duhon: [00:58:30] The issue is we were safe, because we were in a little town, this is only the boys in the city who were getting this. I guess Reno, Sacramento it was a not a big deal. Its only those San Francisco boys who had been playing for years. We were safe. People really believed that. We didnt think it could impact us, and then people started to get sick locally.
Doc Duhon: [00:59:00] Somebody disappear from the scene, so and so has cancer. That kind of thing, and it was scary. It was scary, and the test came out and people I knew were getting tested. I got tested. Like I said I had been dating this guy,
Doc Duhon: [00:59:30] and his ex-partner, he was somebody who drank and used a lot, very smart man. He drank and used a lot for a very He was a very smart man from a very prominent California family. Whod been a lot of trouble in his life but he had a family rich enough to buy him out of it.I knew through the grapevine that his ex-partner had committed suicide, and what I didnt know through the grapevine was his ex-partner committed suicide because his ex-partner was terminal,
Doc Duhon: [01:00:00] and nobody ever told me that. David the guy I was dating at the time never told me that he already knew that he was positive. I wandered along in willing blissful ignorance. I wanted to not know, and I didnt know and that started to be scary. Were talking 85 and 86 when things started to get scary. I tested negative, and so
Doc Duhon: [01:00:30] I determined Im going to test every once in a while, I do, I did that for a while. David and I broke up.
Mason Funk: Where were you at this time in regard to your recovery?
Doc Duhon: I was not even yet sober really. I was working on getting sober, were talking about 86 into early 87 and
Doc Duhon: [01:01:00] I stopped using speed, but I didnt stop drinking. I was what you may call a periodic People call them periodic drinkers. I drank alcohol periodically and in between I was just a miserable rotten, angry, dry drunk. In that time my daughter came to live with me and
Mason Funk: [01:01:30] Do me a favor, start by saying Around in 19 something, or rather 80 something preferably.
Doc Duhon: In 85, 86. 87, Im starting to clean up my act. My daughter is spending at least much time at my house as with her mothers, and eventually ends up moving in with me full time. I determine that I need to not use crystal meth anymore,
Doc Duhon: [01:02:00] and so I stop. I had an incident, I ended in the hospital in Vegas with heat stroke, because I had spent an entire day in a pickup, in a U-Haul track with a baggy of crystal meth and a bottle of Jack Daniels and nothing else. I was bleeding, my kidneys were shutting down and things like that.
Doc Duhon: [01:02:30] I didnt die, and the Doctor told me Ill never forget the Doctor said something to the effect of, I cant repeat it verbatim but paraphrasing was, I saved your life for this event, but I cant save your life, you are the only who can do that because he knew exactly what was going on. I lied about it, I didnt say I was using drugs but he knew.
Doc Duhon: [01:03:00] I quit using drugs, I quit using crystal meth and I was able to keep that for the rest of Since then, I havent used crystal meth since then, but I didnt not believe it was possible to go through a day without alcohol. Alcohol was a big part of my gay life. I went to the bars, I spent a huge amount of time at the bars. I spent a huge amount of time its how I met men. Suddenly I had this new life and finally in a world where
Doc Duhon: [01:03:30] Im feeling good about the fact that Im gay. Im feeling okay about the fact that Im gay. Im involved with men. And for the first time in my life, I feel like Im decent looking. Ive always felt like the ugliest thing on the planet. Im getting people paying attention to me, and I could not conceive of going through a day without a drink.I finally got to the point where I knew I needed to stop alcohol as well,
Doc Duhon: [01:04:00] and so I started not drinking, and it would last for 3 weeks and then I would go on a binge, and then it would last for 5 weeks and I would go on a binge. On December 31st By the way the guy I had moved, I left Vegas because the guy I was dating at the time called David, the man who also lied to me about his HIV status, called my employers and outed me
Doc Duhon: [01:04:30] and they fired me for being gay. I did what any good addict and alcoholic would do, and I moved back to Northern California and moved in with him. Within a short period of time after that, his own behavior, and his own past caught up with him and the Placer County sheriff showed up at our door and took him away
Doc Duhon: [01:05:00] because he had a number of DUIs, and was in trouble. He ended up spending 2_ years in prison. He had a masters degree from Cornell.
Mason Funk: Lets pause for a second, just tell me the story as a standalone story as if you were just starting fresh of this guy calling your employer, outing you and you getting fired. Set the scene where you were working
Doc Duhon: [01:05:30] I was working for a small engineering
Mason Funk: Start, you were working
Doc Duhon: I was working for small engineering firm in Vegas. I had come to terms with my crystal meth addiction, and so I was not using crystal but I was drinking excessively. I was working for a firm where everybody drank excessively, and the owner was an alcoholic. It was a pretty good firm, and it was a pretty good job and I was doing fairly well.
Doc Duhon: [01:06:00] I had been there Was making progress in the job, and the guy I had been dating in Northern California, in Northern Nevada was not happy about me being in Vegas. He called my employer and outed me, and it was a highly homophobic firm. When I got back to the office after my work day, they fired me. They fired me saying that they were having a slow-down in work but it was exactly the opposite.
Doc Duhon: [01:06:30] Work was picking up at that point, because I had just sold a bunch of contracts, I was a sales engineer for them.I had just sold a bunch of contracts, so I knew it was a scam. They told me if you want to transfer to one of our other offices, well have a job for you but I knew that was also a scam, it was a bunch of bull. The secretary basically told me what had happened.
Doc Duhon: [01:07:00] She was the whisper to your side, There was a guy who called here today and he talked to the boss and that kind of thing. Then I was history. I moved back to Northern California, I moved in with the guy who got me fired. I was still drinking and using as was he. I was fairly aimless. At that point I was looking for work, and that went on for a long time.
Doc Duhon: [01:07:30] Odd jobs trying to make ends meet, that sort of thing. During that particular period, my daughter was living predominantly with her mother, and I couldnt afford to pay child support, that stuff was very tough.My alcohol use was through the roof, I was no longer using meth, and it went through the roof.
Doc Duhon: [01:08:00] David the guy who I had moved back in with, who had outed me, the guy who lied to me about his HIV Status, had some DUIs. He got 3 DUIs in the single month in 3 different counties. At the time there was no central computer system for the computers for cops to know what was going on, and he already had at that point 7 or 8 lifetime DUIs. He was able to
Doc Duhon: [01:08:30] get out of all of them because of a wealthy family. For these 3, theyre actually came and took The Placer County Sheriff showed up at our door one morning, and took him away and it was I can remember the exact date, it was February 12th 1988. This had been going for a long time, Im still floundering.
Mason Funk: [01:09:00] A question for you about crystal meth. Everything Ive heard is that A, its the hardest thing to kick and B, that you never, that it does damage of the type that you never recover from
Doc Duhon: I happen to agree with that.
Mason Funk: Tell me about how you managed to stop using crystal meth?
Doc Duhon: I dont know how I did it.
Mason Funk: Tell me what youre talking about. I dont know how
Doc Duhon: [01:09:30] I dont know how I was able to quit using crystal meth. I cannot for the life of me tell you what it was that motivated that change. I do know that when I quit using crystal meth, my ten drinks a day went to a bottle of Jack Daniels a day or went to a full quart a day of alcohol. There was a lot of substitution involved, but in terms of how I was able to get over it, statistics for crystal meth are horrible.
Doc Duhon: [01:10:00] 7% of people who are addicted to crystal meth end up recovering. 93% not, and thats a horrible number. I cannot give you any one particular item although my motivating factor for most of my daughters young life was her. Despite my addiction, despite my drug use. Despite my alcohol use. She was the central factor in my life.
Doc Duhon: [01:10:30] The problem is that Im dense enough that it took a lot of little realizations to come to the big realization that I need to change my life. I need to completely change my life, and I eventually did. It was just a step at a time.
Mason Funk: Do you remember some of the conversations that you had with yourself along the way, like almost to the point of like where you were sitting or what you were saying to yourself that were contributing to this gradual progression?
Doc Duhon: [01:11:00] I walked in a church on Tropicana Avenue, a Catholic Church, lapsed Catholic. I walked into a Catholic Church in Tropicana Avenue on 107 degree day, 110 degree day in Las Vegas Nevada. Just got on my knees in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary and said, I got to get rid of this, I cant do it anymore.
Doc Duhon: [01:11:30] Theres a saying, No matter how you structure your belief in a higher power I dont have that kind of belief in a higher power, I havent in years, didnt then, but I was desperate. You need to get to the point where you make a realization of your own powerlessness
Mason Funk: Were on take 4. Some bigger something.
Doc Duhon: [01:12:00] Yeah, some bigger something, I dont care what you call it, it doesnt matter if you have God or if you find strength in fellowship of other human beings, but what became apparent to me and I wont say this for everybody, but I could not do this alone.
Doc Duhon: [01:12:30] It became apparent to me, I could not do this alone and it became apparent to me in stages. I had already made and so I got to the point where I realized I needed to do something and I was desperate enough to do something.
Mason Funk: Whats that like when you have experienced the sense of powerlessness, so you know you cant do this on your own, but you dont know yet who is going to help or whats going to help you? Whats that like, it feels like youre in this gap?
Doc Duhon: [01:13:00] I already had preconceived notions about 12 Step Programs, so I did not want to be participatory in that. I knew some people when I was had been younger men who were in 12 Step Programs and they were from the Midwest and they were part of what was called Old AA and they were all bigots. They hated blacks, they hated gays, they hated Italians, they hated anybody who wasnt them.
Doc Duhon: [01:13:30] I figured everybody in AA was just like them. I figured anybody in any 12 Step Program was just like them. The only difference the only thing that I had seen and I mentioned it earlier is I had seen that there were these people in adult children of alcoholics, who were using a similar methodology for dealing with past issues.I was lost for a while, I was very confused
Doc Duhon: [01:14:00] and within that context, I was also lost because I didnt have anybody I trusted. The people in my world were people who drunk and used . My family had an agenda, as much as they loved me as much as my sister loved me, she had an agenda. There was nobody who simply wanted to help me stay clean, although many people who were sober, and although
Doc Duhon: [01:14:30] many people wanted me sober at that point. I needed to get to the point where I was willing to take a step into the unknown. I think part of what allowed me to take that step into the unknown was the steps I had already taken into the unknown, coming out, acknowledging early on, literally when I rejected the heteronormative formula for me. I rejected all of it.
Doc Duhon: [01:15:00] I didnt just reject, Okay, Im gay, so now Im going to go get a husband. I didnt just . Let me rephrase that. My take on being gay wasnt, okay, Im not straight in a house with a wife, a kid, a dog, and picket fence and a Volvo.
Doc Duhon: [01:15:30] I dont want to be gay in a house with a husband and 2.2 lhasa apsas and a Volvo and a white picket fence. I just dont want to do that, its all gone. I started looking at a lot of things from very intellectual standpoint, and I started looking things from historical standpoint, I say, Historically, relationships doesnt look like we do it today, our movies tell us that it has always been this way,
Doc Duhon: [01:16:00] our books tells that, but if you look historically, you read historical facts, relationships have always looked very different than they have since 1860 and the Victorian Era.We have this big push of things that happen, why do I have to recreate that? I determined early on that I wasnt going to. At the same time I determined, you big old gay, Im a big walking fag and I need to embrace that.
Doc Duhon: [01:16:30] That was a big change, and Ive already done this, Im already at this point, in still drinking and using and eventually just drinking. Then the last component of that was that I realized inside of myself that there are some things that float my boat, that a lot of people like. I am the guy who
Doc Duhon: [01:17:00] 50 shades of grey isnt even the beginners manual, its almost laughing stock and I knew it. Ive known this since I was a kid and realized retrospectively that the fights Id gotten into and the engagements with men in biker bars where I was being rough and physical had to do with elements that were way beyond
Doc Duhon: [01:17:30] me defending somebody in a biker bar. I was getting other needs met in an unhealthy way.When I finally came out, when I finally came into my own early on after I came out of the closet, all of the layers of convention fell away. I can be kinky, I can be poly, I can have open relationship
Doc Duhon: [01:18:00] and I didnt do that well. I wasnt doing it well at the time because I didnt have a set of ground rules for doing it. Then along comes this realization that I am an addict who is not using and now Im a big drunk, what am I going to do? When that finally permeated, when that finally got inside I went, Okay..
Doc Duhon: [01:18:30] I had the story goes and Ive been I had been without a drink for 5 months, David had been taken away by Placer County sheriff, I had been without a drink for 5 months and 18 days and my daughter was an active part of my everyday life.Im in love with my life, Id gotten a new job, Id move to a house with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths
Doc Duhon: [01:19:00] and a garage and I have everything in the world I want. Im working for a company who accepts me for who I am, they are located in the Bay Area and Im living in Sacramento and they send me off to a golf game on behalf of the company in Reno Nevada my old stomping grounds for a company called Western Nevada Supply
Doc Duhon: [01:19:30] and its the last time I drank. Here I am in this shiny new company car with a shiny new job, all proud of myself and my life and I got my shit together. I dont golf, Im not a golfer, but they said, they know it, Al McJanic knew it. They said, Just go and glad hand and tell them and talk to the m about what youre doing and youll be fine.I go off and do that,
Doc Duhon: [01:20:00] and a couple hundred people at least turn up and I sat at the club house during the day sipping my coke. At the evening, there was dinner the Eldorado Casino. When they opened the doors to let all the people in from the hallway into the tables, wine had already been poured at every single table. It had been 5 months and 18 days
Doc Duhon: [01:20:30] since I had a drink, and Im in control of this, I got this under control, I got this new job, I got this new car, life is good. I went in and I had a couple of glasses of wine. I realized I was you know how alcoholics pay attention, alcoholics anonymous pay attention at how much other people are using, so I knew I had finished my first glass of wine before everybody else had a sip.
Doc Duhon: [01:21:00] The kind of the glass of wine and I semi-remember the end of the dinner and then I remember being at the bar, at the hotel later that night and somewhere in the following many hours, I remember being at a place called the Barracks which was a gay bar, West of Reno.
Doc Duhon: [01:21:30] The only reason I know I didnt use crystal meth during this particular run was if I had, I would have had better memories of what happened, it was a total blackout, so I used lots of stuff Im sure but there no crystal involved.
Mason Funk: You woke up?
Doc Duhon: I wake up in this guys bed, I know at this point, his name was
Doc Duhon: [01:22:00] Skip, I actually kept in contact with him for a couple of years after. He was a very large man, probably 300 pounds. I didnt know how I got there, I didnt know where I was, I didnt know if I still had a job, I didnt know where my company car was and most importantly I didnt know where my daughter was. I had left her with my sister-in-law who is one of the most responsible people on either side of our family.
Doc Duhon: [01:22:30] But at that moment of wakening, I could not remember. I howled like an animal. I scared that poor guy next to me like he cant believe this, howled literally like a wounded animal. That was it. I knew that the jig is up
Doc Duhon: [01:23:00] there was no moral in myself. This isnt something I could control; this isnt something I could do anything about.I needed help and I needed help from whoever would give it to me, and I didnt care who they were. At the time and I think there are many more resources now, but at the time, were talking 28 years ago, there werent many and they were in the specific range. I went to my first AA meeting that day, it was a gay AA meeting
Doc Duhon: 01:23:30] It was the only one of the week, in Reno, Nevada at the time and I dont remember a thing that happened there other than the people were laughing and I hadnt really laughed in a long time. I found my company car, my employers never found out that I had gone out
Doc Duhon: [01:24:00] and been reprobate drunken whore.I kept my job, got a hold of my daughter, went to talk to my parents, who at that point were living in Reno, about the fact that Id had this experience where I knew I was an alcoholic. And my parents response to that was, No, no, you know youre not, because people dont want to look at their own stuff, and when they look at yours, they have to look at theirs.
Doc Duhon: [01:24:30] I started going to meetings at that point and that continued. The funny thing is program and my leather life, my poly life are completely integrated in many ways and it is because what I learnt in taking charge of my life and then making personal change in the program context allowed me to embrace my kink, allowed to embrace being gay.
Doc Duhon: [01:25:00] Allowed me to embrace my own misogyny and say, Thats not what I want to get rid of. Allowed me to look at issues the way I had never looked at. For me to this day program is this thing around this huge Some people see it as this big woo woo God thing, for me the program, for me my program, and the way the program works in my life, the way 12 Steps work in my life
Doc Duhon: [01:25:30] is I have a methodology, I have a tool box, I have a kit that allows me to take my limited abilities and expand those and to make personal change as I go. Thats how I believe and thats what I do.My journey since, David was gone, I was new in program, Im raising a kid.
Doc Duhon: [01:26:00] I started dating as really vanilla guy who wanted monogamy and I didnt and that lasted for a while. I dated him and I dated somebody else and George on and off and a few other people. At first, I was tentative about how I was going to live, how I was going to do kink without drugs and alcohol,
Doc Duhon: [01:26:30] because I really hadnt done kink without drugs and alcohol. In October 1990, I ended up after spending the last 5 years, 41/2 years in Sacramento; I ended up in San Francisco. Serious events happened,
Doc Duhon: [01:27:00] I changed firms and the firms that I changed to transferred me to San Francisco and I had no choice, so.Id been active in the AIDS awareness marched in Sacramento and the Die-Ins and all the things that we did, I was very active and involved in Sacramento and then I got to San Francisco. As bad as it was in Sacramento, it was worse in San Francisco.
Doc Duhon: [01:27:30] I had some friends who were dying when I left Sacramento, and when I got San Francisco, it was a war zone. Couldnt walk down the street without seeing half the people on the streets showed K5, lesions, who were skinny as a rail. And I was still negative,
Doc Duhon: [01:28:00] but that wouldnt stay that way for long. I had a broken condom.
Mason Funk: Tell me the story, start the story afresh.
Doc Duhon: I end up after years of being with a man who is positive After years of being positive, or after years of being with a man who is positive and then having that break off in the early 88,
Doc Duhon: [01:28:30] never sero-converting, staying negative despite that. I ended in San Francisco in 1990 and at the point which I got sober, I became the other extreme. Were talking incredible responsibility around my sexual practice, started to getting into kink a little bit as time moved on, but I was still very wary of it. My actual sexual practice was incredibly safe.
Doc Duhon: [01:29:00] I end up in San Francisco, my daughter is living with me, she is away for the weekend to visit her mothers family and I have relatively little sex, because Ive got this kid. Ive walked from Sacramento where people are dying
Doc Duhon: [01:29:30] to San Francisco or walked into a world in San Francisco where people are dropping dead all around me and so Im being very cautious.Its a scary time, people are frightened, its very dark. There was a conference that year, I dont remember where it was, Vancouver or somewhere and they said, I never forgot the announcements, they said, There are no drugs on the horizon, there is nothing coming up. AZT is not they said, AZT is not working, and we dont see anything else.
Doc Duhon: [01:30:00] It was a death sentence and I was not going to have this happen to me. Im going to be safe, its going to be My daughter was away one weekend and there was an event going on at Polk Street and I met this couple at this bar, I think it was Kimos, but I dont know for sure, I dont remember. They are staying at The Holiday Inn and the dad; this is a power dynamic couple, daddy-boy.
Doc Duhon: [01:30:30] The dad told he says, Im HIV positive, my son is not, we always use condoms. I said Fine.I had sex with the boy, I used a condom and the dad had sex with me and he used a condom, and his condom broke.
Doc Duhon: [01:31:00] He was more upset about it than I was. He was completely wrecked. Hed never had it happened he said. So his ejaculate is in my ass and there we go. This started leading me to think about my own mortality, the fact that I have a daughter who really needed me and oh my God,
Doc Duhon: [01:31:30] all those years drinking and using, what little insurance I had at any given point is gone, I better get some life insurance. I went to health center number one in San Francisco and I got the test the western blot, came back negative, about 3 or 31/2 weeks later.Okay, we got this covered. I dodged the bullet, I may okay, and so I applied for life insurance,
Doc Duhon: [01:32:00] I applied for $275,000 life insurance. They send out this guy to take a blood sample and they took the blood sample and they sent it off and they never called me. I called them and asked them whats going on? They said, Your package is coming in the mail. My package came in the mail and my results from the insurance company was I was sero-positive.
Doc Duhon: [01:32:30] I cant even tell you what it was like, it was a death sentence. It was and Ive got a kid and it refocused my life.My first couple of months after I converted, I was having a really tough time on my job. I had gone to work for a different company and a company that is hugely supportive,
Doc Duhon: [01:33:00] who through the 80s lost so many people that they had become hugely supportive of the gay and lesbian employees. Originally straight house was fairly homophobic place to work, but that changed. The first couple of months, Im trying to cope. Im reading everything there is, hoping against hope that something is going to come up, but its bad.
Doc Duhon: [01:33:30] It was that really dark period in the early 90s when there was no good news. There was no good news, its dying and there was no good news.I went to my boss at one point and said, I got to tell you I had to tell somebody, nobody knew. I said, I have to tell you, Im really a productive employee, but the last couple of months I havent been, and he says, Yeah,
Doc Duhon: [01:34:00] I noticed. I said, I need to tell you whats happening, I said, Im HIV positive, and I said, I dont know what to do. A couple of things happened, he put me in The company I worked for had an employee assistance program and they were magicians. They put me directly into therapy, they got me in line with the best medical practitioners they had available.
Doc Duhon: [01:34:30] They were magic, they were magic. It really helped me.
Mason Funk: What was this company called by the way?
Doc Duhon: Pacific Gas and Electric Company. They were magic and they guys name who gave me the referrals a guy named Steve Woodward They took care of me, they really took care of me.
Doc Duhon: [01:35:00] Im not telling anybody, my partner and I are newly together, my current partner and I are newly together. We were still doing the back and forth dating; I dont know how to tell him. I already knew he was positive, but
Mason Funk: Why was it so difficult to tell him if he was positive?
Doc Duhon: [01:35:30] Because I was not going to be stupid and let these get me. Im smarter than this, I can figure this out and it just seem like it was totally so impossible, at the time it was so impossible to believe. I had been so careless for so many years.
Mason Funk: You mean careful?
Doc Duhon: No, I had been so careless for so many years in my relationship with David and all the things I did and the people I did,
Doc Duhon: [01:36:00] the kink situations I was in, Id been so careless. Drugs and alcohol were involved and all of that it was hedonistic and it was unsafe and it wasnt soul filling for me. It was gratuitous and I never converted. Now, Im being responsible, within my context of being poly
Doc Duhon: [01:36:30] and kinky, Im being responsible, Im doing appropriate action, Im going into this sober and here I am positive. This just really sucks. It took a lot of time to come in terms with that.
Mason Funk: Can you tell me more of that, because sounds like from the way you are sounding, it sounds like it really rocked your world.
Doc Duhon: It did.
Mason Funk: Tell me about the process of dont cross over what means to come in terms of that, like talk me through how
Doc Duhon: [01:37:00] It was very painful, I had a very hard time, I was very angry and now Im dying and I got an 11 year old. What the fuck Im I going to do? Because at the time basically, depending upon your Doctor, I had a smarter Doctor than most, but there were Doctors at the time who would basically The minute your diagnosis is sero-positive, they would tell you Go home and get your affairs in order, you got 2 years.
Doc Duhon: [01:37:30] By 91, it was less so. People realized that there were different curves that were happening and some people were living longer. I dont remember the exact timing and all the stuff, but thats when I started I was reading more in 92, 93, 94, slow progressors, rapid progressors, standard progressors, non progressors, all that terminology all came to the fore and Im starting to understand
Doc Duhon: [01:38:00] all these stuff but Im just really angry, its just not fair. Its not fair.I had to put my anger aside, because 11 year olds, who dont know that you are positive, dont know that your anger isnt directed to them. I have a friend named Cliff, who is here now, lives in Palm Springs now and I went to him and I said, Cliff, Im fucked, I dont know what the hell Im going to do.
Doc Duhon: [01:38:30] I cant get life insurance, Im positive, I dont know whats going on and there is no way for me to protect Arielle. Cliff said the thing that has actually made my entire old age possible, he says, You need to save that money or beg borrowers still money and you need to put a down payment on a property and you need to move into it
Doc Duhon: [01:39:00] and you need to buy as much property as you can.I said why? He say, Because they do not ask for blood results, and they dont check you against the national whatever, the national list at the end of mortgage, at the end of it, they will ask if you want mortgage insurance, and you are going to say yes, and its going to be expensive and you are going to pay it anyway. What it will do is it will pay off that mortgage,
Doc Duhon: [01:39:30] that shell own house, theyll own those houses if you die. They dont ask proof, they dont check against anything and they dont ask for a blood test. And thats exactly what I did.
Mason Funk: What was the first property you bought?
Doc Duhon: The place my husband still lives the first property I bought was the place my husband still lives in San Francisco
Doc Duhon: [01:40:00] Its a third story; I bought a 3 story Edwardian building. Its about 1,600 sq ft with a garage, 3 bedrooms, a bath. Its a place in San Francisco that is worth a fortune and Im lucky enough to still own it and I scraped together 20 grand and put a down payment on it and bought that, it was $189,000 at the time which seems like nothing now,
Doc Duhon: [01:40:30] but we bought it, the rest is history. I bought another property in San Francisco and then started buying properties here.Along about 94, I had never had high T cells, and they didnt have a test for viral load, I dont remember when that came out. At first they never tested my viral load, I never had a test for viral load,
Doc Duhon: [01:41:00] they just tested my T Cells, my T cells were not good to begin with and then they went down. What ended up happening was I was getting ready to go and James and I were very close and he was a very good parent to my daughter. He still is a very good parent to my daughter, our daughter. Im trying to figure out and he is also positive, but he has been positive
Doc Duhon: [01:41:30] from that point. Hes already been positive for probably 11 or 12 years then, 1994, so hes more longer, hes been positive since 80, or 81.He is essentially a non progressor and by 94 weve determined that I am a rapid progressor. I start getting ready to die and doing all the planning that that entails.
Doc Duhon: [01:42:00] Nobody my friends know Im positive, my employers know Im positive, but I am not out to my child and Im not out to my siblings, nobody else knew, because the stigma was still way too strong. In the case of Arielle,
Doc Duhon: [01:42:30] I wasnt so much worried about the stigma that might face having a parent who is HIV positive, but I was actually worried about her completely freaking out, because she did not want to be with her mother. She wanted to be with me and James and she didnt we were and are family, she just didnt want to go.
Doc Duhon: [01:43:00] To this day, if something goes off 30 seconds later, I get a call from my 35 year old daughter, Dad are you okay? Its always been that way. We needed to figure something out locally. I got really skinny, I had wasting syndrome pretty bad,
Doc Duhon: [01:43:30] Ill get you some pictures, I had a wasting syndrome pretty bad. I got down to not as bad as some people, I know people who said they got about 105 pounds or less. I got down to about to 155. I was wearing 29 inch waste pants and my jean size, size waist in my pants, and for a guy with my build, its really skinny.
Mason Funk: [01:44:00] You were in a sense you said you were getting ready to die?
Doc Duhon: The thing was when it was at 218, I felt like I was doing okay, and then I was 208 and 198 and it was really funny,
Doc Duhon: [01:44:30] its I felt like I had been waiting to die my whole life. Its got to be nuclear war, its going to be drugs, its going to be something. Dont trust anybody over 30. If you dont trust anybody, how is when you get be 30? I felt like I had been waiting to die my whole life and it felt both anticlimactic and like a soap opera tragedy all at the same time.
Doc Duhon: [01:45:00] I was just waiting for the next shoe to fall. My husband says I have a ugly dark cajun negativity about me anyway, so that could be part of just my base nature of taking things the way they are.
Mason Funk: You were just in a sense; you had finalizing about it?
Doc Duhon: [01:45:30] Yeah, I just figured what was going to happen and then 95 comes along and Im getting really good medical care.
Mason Funk: What did good medical care consist of this time?
Doc Duhon: Well, there was nothing they could do for the virus, but they could do all kinds of things for ancillary issues. I had a Doctor who was generally pretty closed mouthed about a lot of things, because he didnt want me to know bad shit, he just made sure I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.
Doc Duhon: [01:46:00] At one point, Ill never forget, we were really starting just to really freak out about my wasting, about how skinny I was getting and he told me I was going to the gym and I was going to eat this diet and I was going to start taking doing treatment just to get my weight back up. I said, Well, how Im I going to do that and work? He looks at me, he said, The skinny ones go first, the fat ones go next
Doc Duhon: [01:46:30] and the ones with lots of muscle go last, what do you want to be?
Mason Funk: We start going to the gym?
Doc Duhon: Lets go to the gym. Within a couple of years of that, he called me which at the time today, is not unusual for my Doctor to call me, but at the time it was very unusual for the Doctor to call me. He called me up and said,
Doc Duhon: [01:47:00] I want you to come here, I want you to come and have it planned with me. I said Why does it concern me? He says, I got something, I think you will be interested, its very important. I went in and he had gotten me into and I dont remember how they do this, but I know theres, like there is a stage one trials and theres stage 2 trials and theres various stages of trials for medicines and I dont remember exactly how it works.
Doc Duhon: [01:47:30] I was not in the stage one trial, I wasnt in the beginning of the stage 2 trial, but whatever comes after that, I wasnt at the end either, but whatever comes after that, I was in that stage of the trials for the first protease inhibitors. He got me in the ... I went on Crixivan and D4T and 3TC and my response to it was amazing.
Doc Duhon: [01:48:00] Its the first time I had a viral load test was to get into that trial that took a viral load and I dont remember what it was at this point. My T cells sucked at that point and I dont remember what the viral load was, but they did a viral load study. I got in and my response was immediate.
Doc Duhon: [01:48:30] My T cells had never been good and they vary all over the place, in all these years.They were 558 last time, which is among the highest Ive ever had, it normally stay in the 3s , sometimes in the 2s, Im good with that, but my viral load I havent showed I showed a viral load one time since 199 that was probably November, December 95. I have showed a viral load one time and that was when I went on a 14 month
Doc Duhon: [01:49:00] drug holiday, and it never got very high. I have been essentially Ive been walking around with zero viral load for that time. Problem is that I have already done some serious damage to my body. All that came to fruition in the late 90s
Doc Duhon: [01:49:30] when I stated to have issues and my weight
Mason Funk: Just pause for a second
Goro Toshima: Lets restart.
Mason Funk: It just needs to shut down and start up again and its nice to anticipate it that way, we are going to hold the story.
Goro Toshima: Take 6.
Mason Funk: This can just roll indefinitely, Im just the audio is now just rolling
Doc Duhon: [01:50:00] In the late 90s, things are starting to Im starting to show a little wear and tear from the stuff, but I got my life back, Im going to live, Im responsive to the meds, my career is finally going somewhere. Im working in an environment where I have some influence, Im doing good things, Ive started a couple of non-profits,
Doc Duhon: [01:50:30] Ive involved myself in energy efficiency and climate control and climate change and all these other things that are going on and feeling good about life. Im making presentations at the governors office CPUC. Working with other utilities in state,
Doc Duhon: [01:51:00] setting up programs and going to DC and talking to EPA. My life is going along pretty good, but Im this failure drug addict youth who really needs to make up for lost time now. It doesnt matter that Ive got HIV.I worked so hard that I worked myself into, like I said my viral loads never came back, but I hurt myself pretty badly,
Doc Duhon: [01:51:30] my T cells dropped to millimeter jar can hold it better than that. Despite the fact that I didnt have any viral load and I got sick and lost weight again. Then I ended up in a situation where my boss came into my office one day and said, Ive known you for 20 years, youve worked here worked there at that point for many years,
Doc Duhon: [01:52:00] you need to leave. I said, What do you mean you need to leave? Its December 19th, its the end of Fiscal. I got a bunch to do here, I had 30 employees and $65 million budget. I got work that got to be done, my reputation is on line here.
Doc Duhon: [01:52:30] His name is Greydon and he looked right at me and he said, Youve been my friend for a really long time, and he says, Sorry Im here to tell you something. He says, I can order you out of here as danger to the company, or you can leave and go home, take sick leave. I said, What do you mean take sick leave? He says, You look like you are dying and you are not going to die in your desk.
Doc Duhon: [01:53:00] I got very upset; I went home because he meant it. I went to my Doctor and my husband said, Thank God. I went to my Doctor and my Doctor said, Steven said, Oh, by the way, I have an entry (and this is the end of 2005) I have an entry in your medical record
Doc Duhon: [01:53:30] for May of 2001 that says, I recommend that you leave work. Whatd take you 4 1/2 years to hear it? I said, Okay. I left work and I left my big ego job and all that behind
Doc Duhon: [01:54:00] and started a new path.
Mason Funk: Hold that path, its because I dont want to leave that moment yet. Tell me that story again, because I want to make sure I understood correctly. This is 2004, there was a lot going on. You were running yourself into the ground
Doc Duhon: Running myself into the ground
Mason Funk: Your boss comes and tells you need to go home?
Doc Duhon: Yeah.
Mason Funk: [01:54:30] Your Doctor had previously entered like years earlier
Doc Duhon: Years earlier.
Mason Funk: Just tell me that as a standalone story, because I want to make sure weve got it. Your Doctor had basically told you and you had essentially ignored him?
Doc Duhon: Yes, my Doctor told me in May of 2001, and it is in my chart, that he recommended that I leave work, because the way my body was reacting to the virus and even with the meds, and the chronic fatigue that I was having and the other issues I was having physically,
Doc Duhon: [01:55:00] that I was under way too much stress for me to stay healthy on long term and I ignored him.
Mason Funk: You working but essentially tired?
Doc Duhon: Go o n disability is what he wanted me to do and I said, No, I have never more validated in my career and in my life. I was doing things that I felt were really important
Doc Duhon: [01:55:30] and I loved what I did, I loved it. At that point, my daughter was junior, sophomore junior in college, my life is good, everything is going well. The fact that Im starting to look like a fucking ghost Im sorry, starting to look like a ghost again is just not important.
Doc Duhon: [01:56:00] I wasnt real. I ended up in a situation where I worked myself into the ground again.Like I said, my viral load never went up and my T cells never really recovered and I kept having issues around being ill and I kept having issues around you can only bring so many underpants to work with you ,
Doc Duhon: [01:56:30] and it was very uncomfortable and I was lucky to have I had an incredible staff, I had an administrative assistant who took really good care of me, he knew what was going on, he was taking really good care of me and had a secretary who was the same and my staff was very accommodating.Towards the end there, I can remember sitting at my desk and literally
Doc Duhon: [01:57:00] being in tears because I could no longer keep up with the demand and I didnt know what to do. When Greydon came and he did that was almost a relief. I went home and I went back at the beginning of the year and I said, Im going to give 30 days, and I spent those 30 days, I did rather unique work at PG&E and so I spent those 30 days
Doc Duhon: [01:57:30] compiling 40 binders of knowledge that either nobody else would know or thered be very few limited people who would have that stuff, so that after I walked out the door, somebody else could get to it, and keep doing the things were doing which was really good.Building energy efficient schools and establishing criteria for Californias energys policy and so many good things
Doc Duhon: [01:58:00] we were doing and it was really wonderful, wonderful work. I left there and I called my sponsor and I still have a sponsor in program, shes been my sponsor for 27 years. I called her 9 months, more like 7 months into being out of work, after 3 month cross country motorcycle run where I would get up in the morning and ride according to my energy levels,
Doc Duhon: [01:58:30] some days it would be an hour, and some days it would be 20 minutes or some days it would 4 hours.I got back home after doing my easy rider, Im old and I dont know what Im doing with my life anymore. I called her up and I said, Cynthia, and I started whining to her about My life was my job and I made a difference in the world and all this bullshit, and it was true bullshit and bullshit. She said,
Doc Duhon: [01:59:00] Honey, I have something to tell you, and said its not going to be easy to hear. What is it? Then she says, You used to be important, and now you are not, get over it. Within a few days of that, I got a call from one of the companies that I had formerly hired as contractors and they wanted me on a pay gig
Doc Duhon: [01:59:30] to do work for them on the side and it was good money.I called my executive assistant and I said, Kai, what Im I going to do here? Im months gone from the company now, this is a person who is still in my life, and she is in my life today, shes still my life, were both retired now, she is still in my life today.
Doc Duhon: [02:00:00] She said Phil, this guy whose with this company, And you are going to work together on these projects and its going to be Sunday afternoon, and hes going to call you and he is going to say, Oh my God, we have a presentation at the Governor's office tomorrow afternoon, and you are going to work all night, and you are going by this time I had moved to Palm Springs, And you are going to fly from Palm Springs to Sacramento, and she said, In 6 months,
Doc Duhon: [02:00:30] youre going to be working 60 hours a week paid for 20. He says 20 hours a week; youre going to be working 60 hours a week paid for 20. You know you.
Doc Duhon: I went out and got the tattoos on my hands that day, Id always been tattooed, Ive been heavily tattooed since I was a young man all over my body, but I didnt have any tattoos that showed when I worked in the corporate world, and that day I went out and got the tattoos on my hands, and I havent looked back.
Mason Funk: [02:01:00] A couple big follow up questions, before you move forward to the present. I had never realized that a person like you with that very, very successful career would have to let go of it and what strikes me is that was like in summary is another death experience. I guess I just wanted for the people who will be watching this interview at some point
Mason Funk: [02:01:30] to hear more about what its like just to feel like you are almost being First of all youre probably compensating as you said it for a lot of years when you felt like you didnt matter at all. You finally had the golden ring and then someone, the coach, when you are driving down the field and its a two minute warning and you are taking your team doing touchdown, the coach says, take the bench. Just expand on that.
Doc Duhon: [02:02:00] It was difficult, it was painful and the issue was the thing that happened for me is I had to employ those tools again that we were talking about that helped me to do analysis of what was really going on because, I didnt want to believe it. Let me tell you a really quick story, I didnt have my retirement party, that was February
Doc Duhon: [02:02:30] my last day on the job was February 3rd 2006 and so my first day not working was February 6th 2006. I wasnt through all my vacation leave and all the other stuff and they didnt put together retirement event for me until early 2007.
Doc Duhon: [02:03:00] It was probably 13 months after I left and they put together, they rented out Palomino Restaurant in San Francisco, very nice restaurant, view of the bridge and everybody was there, it was wonderful. My former secretary and my assistant had put together the invitation.
Doc Duhon: [02:03:30] They did need few years ago wasnt as easy to put things online, so they literally sent me via email show up here and then, this is what is going on. I didnt see the actual invitation that they printed, because they printed them and handed them out the office. They were printed on nice paper and they had my photograph on the front. A photograph my secretary had taken of me 8 months before I left.When I walked in the door of the Palomino Restaurant and they were sitting
Doc Duhon: [02:04:00] there and I started crying, because I looked like a fucking skeleton. That initial reaction that I had lasted 7, 8, 9 months and then I started adapting to a new way of life, started, I was by then, by December of 2006, I had a house here, in January 2007,
Doc Duhon: [02:04:30] I was living here. I started a new way of life, but there was this heartache inside of me that said, Oh my God, like you said, Im driving down the field, Im about to make the touchdown and I didnt get to make it, somebody else would have to take this. Then I saw that picture of myself,
Doc Duhon: [02:05:00] and I went, You were lying to yourself Doc. You would have dropped dead a yard from the finish line. That was a good thing, that was really good thing and it was a wonderful party, it was a wonderful party. My retirement party was incredibly good. One of the things Im most proud of in my time in PGE and beyond some of the organizations I helped found,
Doc Duhon: [02:05:30] and some of the policies I helped to put in place, is the fact that I hired really good people. I had some really incredible people working for me, who have gone on to some really great things in the world and, head of the organization and a bunch of other things, but the people are doing really good things.One of my people stood up and said, Docs the best boss Ive ever had, and I went Oh my God, Patsy,
Doc Duhon: [02:06:00] the VP you report to is standing right next to you. Please strategically that sucks.
Mason Funk: On your strategic cut.
Doc Duhon: Lets be bright here, but it made me feel good.
Mason Funk: [02:06:30] Another question is you know I regarding those messages you got earlier on about how your life was going to be as a gay man, an identified ill person, you messaged you dad, years later, you begin to live life as a gay man, but we all know that those early messages dont just vanish overnight. Whats been your story about healing, integrating
Mason Funk: [02:07:00] because again you can have sex with as many men as you want, but it doesnt necessarily mean you have given up your homophobia internally?
Doc Duhon: I agree with you entirely and early on I think I had a lot internalized homophobia and a lot of internalized misogyny as well. Ive worked really hard on that over the years. One of the best experiences for me was I was having a really hard time with one of employees at PG&E years ago.
Doc Duhon: [02:07:30] It was so stressful for me that I asked the E.A.P. to send me to a counselor and they sent me this guy who is kinky, straight kinky guy, which is really good thing, because he could hear what I had to say. I was trying to deal with the stress and what came out of it was the fact that my coping mechanisms around certain elements of stress were tied into some very early childhood damage.
Mason Funk: [02:08:00] I really had never been parented, so I have this expectation of myself that Im going to act like a super human when thats not really possible and that I could put on a false front and be whoever I need to be, put that on the package.
Mason Funk: [02:08:30] We get some serious work around it and one of the best things that helped me about that early damage that you were talking about is an exercise he had me do and Ill never forget it, he had me repeat it every morning for 6 months. It is a meditation in which and I still do iton occasion is which I am a scared 5-year-old child standing in a field and I am frightened and need help.
Mason Funk: [02:09:00] I see a man walking across the field and hes coming my way and the man comes to me, scoops me up and tells me Im safe and then Im the man telling the 5 year old Im safe. I am both in the same time, I am my own caretaker today and thats what at least thats what I hope to be.
Mason Funk: [02:09:30] These are issues we work through for our lifetime. Is the damage still there? Its like my thing with kink. I had a therapist whos not a kinky therapist, who doesnt know anything about kink, I had a therapist and she is actually more of a friend than a therapist. Shes Dont you think your kink is just part of working out your childhood issues? Its like, Well, duh and
Mason Funk: [02:10:00] what part of that dont you get? The problem with that? A s long as Im making me happy and making someone else happy, the problem with that? Oh, I guess so.
Mason Funk: Some people have this idea that if you are using something to work out your childhood damage or there is something wrong with that?
Doc Duhon: [02:10:30] Whats the problem here? I got down here and one of my things Ive loved to do in the kink world over the years is pierce.
Mason Funk: Can we take a little pause because I need to go to the restroom and thats actually
Doc Duhon: I dont understand, I dont understand how you can lose that much and still want to use but some people do.
Mason Funk: [02:11:00] Take 7, I think the last major really the last major topic I want to explore is your new definition of family. Tell me about your family, and who you live with, and I guess introduce to me/us slash us to that world.
Doc Duhon: My family and my kink are interwoven, but they are also
Doc Duhon: [02:11:30] post retirement I took up Id always been interesting in piercing and learned to pierce early on. Post retirement I took up piercing and Im a licensed body modification artist in the State of California which is really good. One of the people I was involved with there, became my submissive and part of my household and the piercing and we owned a piecing business together for a few years.
Doc Duhon: [02:12:00] My family today is very conventional for me, but doesnt look very conventional for the rest of the world.The man Ive talked about previously in this interview, James, and I met in 1991 and he and I have been together since. I also live in a
Doc Duhon: [02:12:30] world that is involved with what is called power dynamics. Power dynamics are relationships that have hierarchical order. I have somebody who I have as part of my life who is my dominant and I submit to him in hierarchical order. He is the man who sets the rules in many areas of my life. My dominant has another submissive
Doc Duhon: [02:13:00] who lives with me. I call him my brother, his name is Scott. I have 2 submissives of my own, one who comes at our relationship more as somebody who serves me and the other one who comes at our relationship more as somebody who I mentor like a son.One calls me daddy and the one calls me master.
Doc Duhon: [02:13:30] I had several other guys in my life that are co-colored, which is a form of relationship, establishing relationship in a very visible way. Are co-collared to both my master and myself, both of those are more mentoring relationships than anything else, although they are both very loving relationships and each has its own unique aspects,
Doc Duhon: [02:14:00] whether they are sexual or kink or whatever. My master has 2 life partners; he has been with one for I believe 18 years and the other for 24 as well. I have known my dominant for 20 years and weve been in this particular relationship for over 3. My life is not structured. My family,
Doc Duhon: [02:14:30] my blood family in addition to my leather and kink family are fairly integrated. My blood family knows, the blood family that chooses to still be part of my life not only know of they know the people in my kink family and vice versa. Not a point of my life.
Doc Duhon: [02:15:00] Ive been through too much in my life to not be who I am in the world. Its not worth it for me to hide any portion of myself anymore. I came across something a few years ago and that is Im not responsible for other peoples feelings or inability to understand my life, they are. As long as Im being responsible, being loving, taking care of things as things go,
Doc Duhon: [02:15:30] I dont need to make excuses so that people would not be upset and I dont need to explain away my life. They can either accept or not, if they dont accept, thats fine. Im good with that, Im okay.A lesson I learned a long time ago and I learned it in program in conjunction with my sponsors is there are 2 ways to deal with the situations
Doc Duhon: [02:16:00] in the world where people are reacting badly to who you are and one of the is Fuck you, Ill do what I want, and the other one is Everyone is entitled to their opinion, other peoples opinions of me however are none of my business, go with God.I try to practice the latter.
Doc Duhon: [02:16:30] Thats really a big part of what I meditate about everyday and where I go everyday. People are more than welcomed to think whatever they want to think, to believe whatever they want to believe. There are people all over this planet who have some crazy ideas as far as Im concerned. My goal is to simply be in a situation where I accept what they do, I go to my mentors about what
Doc Duhon: [02:17:00] Im going to do and I act in a responsible and loving manner, people can just think what they want.
Mason Funk: Okay, I think I have a series of set questions I want to ask you to wrap things up, just this is standardized for all interviews. The first is just to have you say your name just as a complete sentence, my name is
Doc Duhon: [02:17:30] My name is Doc Duhon.
Mason Funk: Straight to me.
Doc Duhon: My name is Doc Duhon.
Mason Funk: Then say, I was born in wherever year, just make that complete sentence.
Doc Duhon: I was born in 1954.
Mason Funk: What are your hopes for the future? You can start as a complete sentence.
Doc Duhon: In the future, I hope to continue the explorations that I have been able to start since I left my
Doc Duhon: [02:18:00] corporate job. I want to continue exploring my sexuality, I want to continue exploring my political life and I want to continue building family. I want to continue integrating my family, my blood family, my leather family, my sober family. I want to continue doing that and I want to have fun, you dont get out of here alive. I spent a lot of my life being miserable;
Doc Duhon: [02:18:30] its time now to have some fun and to do it in a clear headed way.
Mason Funk: What advice would you give to younger people, teens, 20s, based on the journey you traveled?
Doc Duhon: Take the risk. The one lesson Ive learnt in life is take the damn risk. Be who you are and do what you want to do
Doc Duhon: [02:19:00] because in the end, if you dont take that risk, there is nobody who is going to give you what you need. You need to take the risk. If you fail, youve learned a lesson, if you dont try; youll never have what is possible for you. Benjamin Franklin said, Most people die at 25 and they dont bury
Doc Duhon: [02:19:30] the bodies till 75. Dont be that guy. Take the risk, go out and try things. Go out and do and be who you are.
Mason Funk: What do you take away from the extraordinary changes that weve seen? Vis-a-vis gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people from the 50s, 60s, to marriage equality to polyamory, the possibility of
Mason Funk: [02:20:00] all the possibilities that exist now for people who are different. Did you have a sense of that; do you have a perspective on that?
Doc Duhon: I do have a sense of that. My perspective is that we have made some real serious strides in terms of acceptance of people as individuals, and acceptance of variation within our species as much more normal that it was in the past. We have a long way to go.
Doc Duhon: [02:20:30] I think that the differences that people have give me a second, we have made big changes in social acceptance and legal acceptance of gay people in the world. Gay and lesbian, transgender people in the world.
Doc Duhon: [02:21:00] Weve changed some hearts and minds, but the fact of the matter is we have an incredibly long way to go in order to make the natural variation and variability within our species more acceptable. I dont think its a lot of progress to tell you the truth, to impose a very limited, a couple has to look like this, people have to act like that
Doc Duhon: [02:21:30] overlay to a gay life.It just means instead of a man and a woman, its 2 men or 2 women. Im glad for the right to live that way should I choose, its important, but what if I dont choose. When we assimilate too highly and the pressure start being internal to the gay community as well, then weve got a problem. Then not only is our natural variability as
Doc Duhon: [02:22:00] individuals and as a species going away, but we are inside of the community being part of the problem, limiting ourselves and limiting others.
Mason Funk: Last thing, what it the importance of a project like OUTWORDS, this is a little shout out to OUTWORDS, its my project. Why did you say yes and why does OUTWORDS seem important to you?
Doc Duhon: [02:22:30] OUTWORDS is important to me because I think its very important to document the period in time, the context. As much as the actions of individuals are important to the long term health of the society and important in their own lives,
Doc Duhon: [02:23:00] a real understanding of why those actions occurred comes only from context and OUTWORDS is documenting that context. There is not going to be anyway for a historian other than look at numbers to really understand and grasp significance of what happens when The personal significance of
Doc Duhon: [02:23:30] what happens when 275 of your friends die. You can think about it, but when you can see it in somebodys face, it makes a huge difference and thats why this project is important, it is Documenting context. It is putting things into perspectives and it will show the perspective of many
Doc Duhon: [02:24:00] people and give an overall view of what happened and why.

Interviewed by: Mason Funk
Camera: Goro Toshima
Date: June 14, 2016
Location: Home of Doc Duhon, Palm Springs, CA