The True Stories of a Former Gay Drunk in New York
Writer Mark Brennan Rosenberg may have given up drinking and drugging, but he doesn't necessarily want to put those fast times completely behind him. The 20-something author recently penned a novel, Blackouts and Breakdowns, based on his experiences sloppily screwing his way through New York. Instead of wagging his finger at other young party animals, Rosenberg finds humor in that fast-paced period of life that many urban gays and lesbians are familiar with. On the eve of a 40-city book tour — a Time Out New York critic's pick — Rosenberg talked to us about his book, clearing your head, and finding love in Gotham.
The Advocate: Is New York really the hardest place to meet a boyfriend/partner/husband?
Rosenberg: Yes and no. I have so many friends who have been in relationships for years and who are even now getting married thanks to the passing of the gay marriage act in New York. There are over 8,000,000 people living in this city, making it a place where anonymity runs rampant. Having said that, I cannot tell you how many times I have gone on a date with someone who has simply disappeared into thin air. I discuss this in great detail in my second book which comes out in April. Because people are so power and work driven in this city, that also factors into the situation. When you are trying to make it in the big city, people think that things such as relationships, may they be friendships or otherwise, have to sometimes take a back seat to the bigger picture but they don't if you put forth the little effort it takes to move forward with someone.
Why did you want to talk about your hard-living life in the book?
When I began writing Blackouts and Breakdowns I was actually still drinking. I had gotten myself into so many sticky situations that my friends found hilarious that one day I began putting a collection of essays together about my shenanigans while I was drinking. The story about how I fell asleep in a hook-up's apartment while I was hammered and he moved out while I was passed out on his bathroom floor kept my friends laughing for months. However, when I stopped drinking, I was more driven to finish this book and wrap it up in a nice little package. As I continued writing, I discovered a sad but very true fact about the LGBT community: 25%t of us are alcoholic and a shockingly low percent of those alcoholics actually seek help in getting sober. The first few months of my sobriety were absolute chaos; I was working in a bar, I was dating a lunatic, and all of my friends were drunks so there were very few outlets for me to find solace. I was 25-years-old when I stopped drinking which is almost unheard of in our community. There were so few people like me doing what I was doing so I figured writing about it in a funny way that wasn't preachy would not only be unique but also help people, in a way that I was not helped. When people write to me and tell me: "Blackouts and Breakdowns helped me get sober," I remember the reason I did all of this in the first place and that's worth more than a million dollars as far as I am concerned.
Did you lose any friends when you got sober?
This is something I discuss in Blackouts at length and the simple answer is: no. I was hanging out with people who loved to party and when I decided to get sober, I had very few people standing behind me. I will never forget the first day I went to AA and a "friend" of mine told me that he didn't think I would last a week. That was 1,181 days ago as of today and I am still not drinking. The people who didn't get on board with my sobriety because they were losing a drinking buddy were never friends of mine to begin with as far as I am concerned.
Do you think we'll ever get to a place when being gay and partying aren't inexorably linked?
Our culture revolves so much around going out that it's hard to say. So many of us are single and the best place to meet other people is in a social atmosphere and most of those places serve alcohol. Another thing that factors into the LGBT community's abuse of drugs and alcohol is that our lifestyle is still not socially acceptable in many places throughout the country and many turn to drinking and doing drugs to dull the pain. Drugs and alcohol lower our inhibitions and enable us to let loose but too many of us abuse that. I think it all comes down to being comfortable with yourself, which is obviously easier said than done, but If you can do that, you can be social and live a happier life than a fall down drunk.