{ how has your life been touched by AIDS? }

after my father un-repressed his sexuality, my parents divorced when i was seven. along with a second apartment to call home, i gained many loved ones.

my father's group of friends became my older brothers, my uncles, my little girl crushes, and my heroes: mark, bobby, eric, fred, stan, tom, lester, joe...

dad no longer has the same friends. most of them he lost touch with, but eric and tom were constant presences. they were as different as day and night, except that they both had limitless capacities for love, affection, and humor. only when they died did they stop being a part of our lives. they have both been gone for years now.

tom and i were penpals: his letters came from san francisco, mine from new york. he kept an active interest in my life - he once sent me one of his own hardcover books on the nez perce when he learned of my interest in native american history.

i remember eric in the bathroom late at night one halloween. dad was already asleep as eric prepared his cheerleader costume for the parade and other late night village festivities. i helped spray gold glitter into his dark hair. he looked amazing, and we shared the quiet dark apartment together as we made final adjustments to his wig and makeup with unspoken excitement.

now and then i read one of the postcards tom sent and i think of writing a final letter back. now and then we still find gold glitter on our floor.

tidbit {tidbit@diaryland.com1 Dec 2000



i can't recall a day when i didn't wear the bracelet. a small band of silver, encircling my right wrist for 5 years now, reminding me how fleeting life is and how careful we all have to be to love.

i hate holidays of any sort. thanksgiving. we should give thanks every day. new years. every day is a new beginning. 4th of july. we should always be patriotic. world aids day. we should always remember.

and thanks to this small band of silver, i do.

amanda {amanda@udoff.net1 Dec 2000

I don't always wear gloves anymore.

I work in a hospital, where the hushed whisper "HIV" as you receive a patient should not be necessary. I see the reactions of my peers, and I wonder what it must be like. How must it feel to spend weeks in a place of comfort and never feel a human touch without a latex barrier?

When the situation warrants it, you bet I grab a pair of gloves. Sometimes the situation warrants something else.

V {vlwalsh@arches.uga.edu1 Dec 2000



I was out on a smoke break with a guy rumored to have aids, when a coworker came up and asked if she could bum a cigarette..she directed the question to me..I told her I didnt have anymore..I had just put out my last one..Mike, the guy rumored to have aids, offered the one he was smoking to her..it was his last cigarette also..She rudely said "no thanks, I dont share cigarettes with people that have sores on their mouth" Which is good a rule of thumb, but when I saw the look on his face..I immediately took the cigarette from him, and said..I'll take a drag..I dont think how I acted was very smart..but it was loving..and he needed that at that time.

How you die isnt as important..as how you live

Fishie  1 Dec 2000

Peter was my godfather. He was also my father's best friend, and he got along quite nicely with my mother, so when I was younger, he spent a lot of time with my parents and I. At that age, I didn't have a complete understanding of what being "gay" meant. I am told I used to ask, "Well, who is he gay with?" because I didn't realize you could be gay and not have a partner. He died from AIDS when I was a small child. I am now nineteen, and remember nothing about him. The only thing I have left from his connection to my life is a small red stuffed heart. It has two outstretched arms, and on its body it says, "Je t'aime fort comme ša," which is French for "I love you this much." Every time I hold it and think about him, I cry. Everyone who knew him had only good things to say about him, and I wish I could have gotten to know him, too.

Shoshona {euphony033@netscape.net1 Dec 2000



one of my experiences is that when ARC & AIDS first started being aknowledged / tracked in the late '70s / early '80s, one most damaging myths to spread, & that has persisted the longest, is - no, NOT the "gay plague" - that womyn, especially lesbians, could not become infected with HIV, could not develop ARC, could not die from AIDS. today, 20 years later, an entire continent of womyn, Africans, are the largest & fastest growing populations daily infected & reinfected with HIV, daily living with & dying from AIDS. generation after generation after generation of womyn.

here, our own "advanced" health care system, especially for lesbians & even among queer / womyn friendly practitioners, has made few improvements in any womyn's health issues or treatment - silicon implants don't affect our immune systems either, it's all in our wombs (hysteria.)

so my hope is that we, womyn, all empower ourselves & our sisters & mothers & daughters during another year with AIDS (& all the other STDs, TB, hepatitis, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, lupus, etc.) by actively participating in, supporting & promoting the kinkiest & most life affirming ~ ~ SAFE PLAY & SAFE SEX ~ ~ EVER.

silence [STILL] = death / LIVE to TELL

living sacred sexuality & leather pride, she  1 Dec 2000

I've had friends with AIDS. Some straight, some gay. The friend who was straight had a girlfriend. I had a conversation with her one day where she told me how they were going to have kids someday. In disbelief I said "How? You know that AIDS is - " I stopped. She looked genuinely surprised at what I was going to say, as if it were news to her. Innocently or ignorantly she responded "Because they'll have a cure someday"; said with the tone of "Well of course they will."

I don't know if she believed that because she wanted to, had to, was naive, or ignorant. It didn't matter, it was the best thing for her to believe, I knew it, so I didn't say anything else about it.

I had another friend who risked AIDS all the time. I told him him so. Privately I figured he would get AIDs eventually and die from it. Later that year he was shot in the face, dead.

In the years since his death I often thought he made the right choice living his life as he did. He really did enjoy himself, he was happy. And just like the moth from archibald and mehitabel, which is really better? Quality or Quantity.

I guess it's a choice each of us makes; weighing the risks, choosing our own risks. Like the song goes "I'm the one that has to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life -- the way I want to."

happy2seeyou {happy2seeyou@hotmail.com1 Dec 2000



Wish I could look as happy and carefree as those people in the retroviral drug ads look on the subway I take to and from work every day. That "positive" spirit the pharmcueticals are promoting is so chilling.

Not that I'm not grateful for the power of the drugs to keep some of my friends around, but I really hope that we can all remember that we are being fed a line when these huge drug companies promote their products. In many parts of the world, say Africa why don't we, they are holding hostage the pills that are needed by millions of people. . .don't get me started.

Really heartened by how many are sharing stories.

Carol {carols@creativetime.org1 Dec 2000

tonight a friend who is positive took us out to dinner... I gave him the rest of my drink... he gave it back after taking a sip... I drank it... not out of principle or pride but because love and respect is more important than fear and disease.

i miss alan, and mark, and dear sweet dennis, and today I remember them all.

michael  1 Dec 2000



In a way, I guess I'm lucky.....hiv/aids has not yet touched my life. I'm sure in time it will, with sadness and pain and nervous tears. But I often think, as I live my life in relative happiness, that if I was diagnosed with a terminal illness.....I would only be given the knowledge that everybody should have from the start.....we will all die. sooner than we think. I want to live within that knowledge. to know our own temporaryness, to understand how small we are, and *still* to live with intensity and love and energy and caring.....even with the fragility of our existance......*that* is really living. I hope i can live in this way.

jay  2 Dec 2000

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{ 8 JUN 2005: Posting has been discontinued. }