Sunday, February 6, 2011

Not Thinking About Reagan

I want to remember just a few people who I’ve known who have died of AIDS since 1981.  I want to remember them today because today a lot of people are celebrating Reagan’s birthday.  I can’t honor that man.

I can and do honor the following people whom I loved and who are gone:

Myron, 1956–2004.  One of my closest friends ever.  A great musician, a great teacher, a wonderful friend and always a very, very brave man.

José, 1943–1985.  A friend.  A U.S. Air Force NCO who worked in medical research.  His AIDS diagnosis was only about a year before his death in the early days of AIDS.  He suffered badly.  There was little treatment available, even treatment to help with some of his pain.  He wasted away to nothing.  From the time of his diagnosis to the day of his death, Reagan said nothing about HIV or AIDS.  José was a wonderful, bright Hispanic man whose family found out he was gay only about a week before his death.

Martin, 1966–1989.  A beautiful young man who was not yet 23 when he died.  His family didn’t have enough money to bury him, so his friends chipped in to pay for the funeral, one of the saddest funerals I have ever witnessed.

Luke, 1963–1991.  Luke was a great singer and guitar player.  I knew him only for a few months before he died.  He was probably the most handsome man I ever knew, even in his last illness.

The song that is at the top of this posting is Jonathan Wesley Oliver, Jr.  Mr. Oliver died of AIDS in 1987 at the age of 33.  The singer is Tom Brown (1958–1992) who also died of AIDS.  Please listen to it and look at the panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

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