I Lost 27 Friends To AIDS. Anyone In Same Boat?

Discussion in 'Relationships, Discrimination, and Jealousy' started by Capitolhillguy, Feb 1, 2009.

  1. Capitolhillguy

    Capitolhillguy Active Member

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    I lost 27 friends to Aids back during the Plague, many of them irreplaceable. I've only met 2 other people who have lost so many. It really affects and effects you and changes your viewpoint on life. I often wish I had someone to talk with about this who went through the same thing, but most everybody else died or the ones who survived weren't out yet and didn't know many gay people. Virtually my whole circle of friends back then were gay men. Now I only have one gay friend I do anything with anymore. I do belong to a gay club, but I don't do anything with any of the people there apart from the club. I was only able to put up photos of the deceased in my apt. last year. I just couldn't deal with it for a long time and kept the memories buried. Anyone had a similar fate?
     
  2. ZOS23xy

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    Yes. I lost some friends and folks I knew and loved.

    The first one was a man I knew who came down with AIDS, and was hospitalized with Kaposis sarcoma.

    He cried to my wife and me, that he had turned ugly and he knew he was going to die.

    I told him to turn over and I massaged his back. He wept again, because no one wanted to touch him. Most of his friends deserted him.

    He died month later. Alone.
     
  3. Industrialsize

    Staff Member Moderator Gold Member

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    I lost close to 75..............very sad
     
  4. ZOS23xy

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    I went to a wake for one of the others I knew. His parents were then, very square and kind of middle class glow, but were very supportive of their son, his memories and wished his lover and life partner well.

    There are things which keep me believing in people. I refer to this collection of thoughts, memories of people talking of their love and couples expressing some gratefulness of the man they knew who died at the age of 30.

    Parents should not have to preside over a wake for their children.
     
  5. midlifebear

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    Capitolhillguy: I presume you're not far from the original Starbucks?

    Boy have you opened a deep wound. Except for three other men in my circle of friends from the 1970's and early 1980's all of my generation died. I'm not trying to make this a pissing contest, but the number of deceased is a much more than 27. However, I lived in the middle of San Francisco from 1967 through 1978-80. And I worked primarily as a bartender during those years, so my circle of friends was rather large. They (I know, who are "they"?) claim a person can only know about 100 people very well. I swear I knew a lot more than 100 people who I could call my best friends.

    There was one very bleak day in 1985 when I found my old Rolodex. I never removed anyone's name/address/phone number when they died. I just marked a large X in red ink across the card to indicate the person wasn't around anymore. The card entries are 90% marked in red. I've kept that Rolodex just so I won't forget anyone I knew.

    I've been working on a gay history of the strange connection between San Francisco's and Salt Lake City's gay communities during the 60's and 70's and without that old Rolodex I wouldn't be able to do it.

    For example, Bob, an incredibly handsome and salacious black-haired hunk with whom I was very friendly left his well-paying job in SLC working at the U. of U. and took over as editor of the Advocate back when it was just a cheap tabloid made of newsprint kept alive with advertising dollars from the tubs and local San Francisco bars. He turned that somewhat silly rag into a seriously political, slick magazine that tended towards the pornographic, but it was the first time the Advocate ever began to make a real profit. His proclivity for heavy leather S&M sex is probably the reason he was an early victim of HIV. There are many other serious movers and shakers of the early gay rights movement who were cut down within less than several months in the 1980's, shocking everyone. I remember realizing that something was seriously wrong when I heard for the fifth or sixth time that someone close to me had suddenly died of pneumonia. "Pneumonia? But John didn't even fucking smoke? How'd he get pneumonia?"

    Suddenly the baths were all closed and just being gay was considered a death sentence. It's not for nothing that I hate all things Republican as Reagan turned a blind eye to a serious epidemic and did absolutely nothing when so much could have been done to save lives. Since the 1980's I've learned the only time a so-called conservative shows any humanity is when they can make a dime off of other's misfortunes. For a while I attended at least 2 or 3 funerals a week until I couldn't deal with it anymore. I remember several physicians who served as advisors on a health software project where I served as the general editor gleefully regaling about how much money they were raking in because they had invested tons of money in the medical latex glove industry. The FDA had just made wearing latex gloves and breathing masks madatory for all dentists, dental hygenists, and all medical workers -- one new pair of latex gloves for every new patient. Yeah, THEIR hearts were in the right place -- making money, not caring for the sick. Then one day one or those physicians lost a son to AIDS and the tone in the company suddenly changed.

    And what was lost from my generation cannot and will not ever be replaced. The late 60's and throughout the 1970's was a heady time for incredibly brilliant, creative gay men who left a giant cultural gap in the early 1980's when they died. Every time I return to working on my gay history of the west manuscript I find myself succumbing to gloom and sadness.

    Something that I never stop thinking about is how I have eluded becoming HIV positive. I'm well-educated on the subject and The Squeeze and I practice the safest sex possible, but still . . . . I can't imagine anyone who was a bigger whore (in the good sense of the word) than I was during the 70's and even through the 80's, even though I was usually in a relationship at the same time. Was it just good timing? Or am I one of those rare and peculiar people who seem immune to HIV? No doubt I'm peculiar, but I'm certain that I'm not immune.

    If anything, don't bury your memories of your friends and the period of your life when they were all alive. There's nothing conservatives like more (and in this sense I consider conservatives those evangelical types who insist we're all going to Hell as well as the political fascist types who think ex President Bush was a god) than to erase as much of history as possible so they can rewrite it to suit themselves. Don't let that happen. If nothing else, start a blog and keep printed copies as well as copies of the text recorded to CD's so you have a back up if, and when, you ever decide to hand off your history and the histories of your friends to other gay men and women who are working hard to preserve our past.
     
  6. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Have you considered genetic testing to see if you have the CCR5 mutation? Researchers may be interested in your genetic makeup if you truly were that promiscuous and didn't get HIV.
     
  7. Capitolhillguy

    Capitolhillguy Active Member

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    Oh,my gosh, thanks guys for your heartfelt responses to my post! I did a speech to my GLBT Toastmasters group on the subject and it was both very cathartic for me as well as very moving for them. It does me good to air this wound in public. I know that in NYC and SF people who know that many who died is common, but for some reason, in Seattle, literally a whole community of sexually promiscuous men is gone and few left to remember them.
    I am only alive because I got rectal warts in late 80's and ended up having to get laser surgery to wipe them out. It worked, but anal sex was no longer a comfortable option for me. It made me very sad at the time, but ended up saving my life in the end ( pun).
    I feel much less of a freak to hear from you guys as most people look at me and think I am talking science fiction when I talk about losing that many friends. I have a couple of good friends now, but only one is gay and most of my best friendships are buried in the ground and resigned to history. People don't want to hear this as it makes them uncomfortable. Thanks for hearing me and posting your responses.
     
  8. D_Chaumbrelayne_Copprehead

    D_Chaumbrelayne_Copprehead Account Disabled

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    Wow.

    Incredible, heartbreaking stories. I'm speechless, guy, except to say I'm sorry you had to suffer those sad, sad losses, but I'm glad you're here to tell the tales.
     
  9. dude252007

    dude252007 New Member

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    Funny how we are suppose to honor those who died of AIDS. I hate it and it could have been stopped by Regan. However, the behavior of gays at that time did not help matters. STDs are not new and were not new then. No one was mistaken into thinking someone could have all the unprotected sex they want and have nothing happen. Duh! Even back then we knew STDs were possible. The entire generation from 60-80s are a lost generation and filled this country with shit with its free love, you only live once, my body my choice attitude.
     
  10. arthur

    arthur New Member

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    Very easy to say in retrospect. I may be correct in thinking that had you lost 27 friends like Capitolhillguy, you might be slightly less judgemental and a little bit more understanding.

    Still surprised to hear this sort of 'play with fire' view in 2009 with all the educational information on AIDS awareness??!

    I might have misread it, however I think your tone is shocking?!?!
     
    #10 arthur, Feb 2, 2009
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2009
  11. Ms. Lana

    Ms. Lana New Member

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    Thank you midlifebear, for your heartfelt opinions on this subject. Reagan is somehow being turned into a saint as of late and your reminder that he did so little to fight HIV/AIDS brings back memories of fear and sadness of that time to me as well.
     
  12. midlifebear

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    Thanks Lana, et al:

    One thing people fail to realize about the early beginnings of the AIDS epidemic is that it was the gay community, not the FDC or the CDC or any other arm of local or federal government that got the word out fast that we were all in danger and needed to change our behavior and fast. Even the Reagan Administration folks had to admit we -- as in the gay community -- did much more to slow down the spread of AIDS than the government ever did. Check up on the history of the Gay Mens Health Crisis Center in Manhattan as just one example. Similar stand up and shout out loud campaigns took place in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco (where the gay community was just as eager to shut down the baths as the city health officials), Los Angeles, Denver, Pittsburgh, Miami, Austin, and New Orleans. These were all grass roots operations that did not depend upon handouts from the government for seed money because it was WAY obvious the Reagan Administration did not give a fucking damn. In fact, the general consensus among straight people at the time was "Good, the faggots deserve a gay disease that will wipe them all out." And while our communities were more than decimated (that is, more than 1 in every 10 members died) Reagan took naps.

    As I've mentioned in other posts about gay bashing and people preaching hatred against gays, turning the other cheek never worked. In the 1970's we took it upon ourselves to patrol our neighborhoods to prevent and catch criminals intent upon hate crimes. The police were of little or no value (albeit, San Francisco's police were probably the most sympathetic because they were not entirely controlled by mob money unlike New York).

    And yes, I'm more than shocked at the prevalence in the United States of the rise in HIV despite all of the work the gay community at large has done to get the word out. There are LPSG-ers here who have the good fortune to be alive, despite being HIV+, because of major breakthroughs in antiviral drug cocktails. But they are pretty much stuck with taking their medication the rest of their lives. Ask them how they feel about the situation. They are not trying to be poster boys for promiscuity.

    Unfortunately, with the right public relations tactics just about anythinb can be made to sound "normal." Just thumbing through gay magazines (including The Advocate) you find these romantic vacation-like photos of men prancing along the beach as if nothing is wrong, except they just happen to supposedly be HIV+. No big whoop. Just take this $500 a day dose of Pfizer's new miracle drug and you'll be fine. Like I stated before, the only time I've ever seen a conservative be compassionate is when there's a dime to be made off of another's misfortune.

    The idea that it's a person's own fault for contracting a disease, especially AIDS, is one of the most arrogant and ignorant postures one can assume. And it belies an enormous capacity for stupidity. If a serious sex education program were implemented in public and private schools addressing the need to use condoms and practice safe sex, I guarantee you that the rising numbers of HIV cases would begin to drop once again. But no. In 'Mericuh sex ed is "sacred" and only the Pope or the family or the pastor can discuss these issues and spread as much misinformation as possible.

    Hmmmm . . . maybe I should get off the fence and develop a real opinion on this whole AIDS thing. Ya think?
     
    #12 midlifebear, Feb 2, 2009
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2009
  13. voyeuristic

    voyeuristic New Member

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    This thread is really heartbreaking. It's also sobering for me, because I prefer bisexual guys and I know they come with a much greater HIV risk statistically than straight guys. It can be hard finding a balance between being safe and still enjoying my sex life - I've made the decision to forgo barriers during oral sex, for instance, but use them as a rule during penetration - I think most people are in the same boat as me in this respect.

    The idea that anyone would judge someone for getting HIV is just sad. As mere mortals, we've all made mistakes in this life - many of the married straight guys who wish to sit here and pass judgement have probably gotten behind the wheel slightly tipsy before, or otherwise done something that put the lives of themselves or others at risk. Regardless, positive folks need all the compassion and support that they can get - not blame.
     
  14. midlifebear

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    Voyeuristic is smart. We will keep him. :smile:
     
  15. sexplease

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    7 angels for me.
     
  16. Branleur49008

    Branleur49008 New Member

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    When this sort of conversation comes up, I'm never sure how to respond. I came out in 1982 when I was 17 and I am continually amazed and thankful that I've known only about 4 people who have succumbed to AIDS. Of those 4, three were more or less acquaintances, and one was a close family friend. In the intervening years, I have had a handful of friends who are HIV-positive but thanks to drug therapy and medical care, all of them are living full, productive lives.

    I'm not sure if it's because my longterm friendships with other gay people were formed around the time I was coming out and with guys around my own age. In 1982 they still knew little about the virus and the disease, but they had discovered how it was spread. So, for all practical purposes I've never known anything BUT safe and safer sex practices, and the same was true for my friends. There have been a few times in the earlier years that I threw caution to the wind and was wreckless when it came to sex, but I can safely say for about 99% of my time as a gay man, I've engaged in safer sex.

    I know there are lots of people with similar stories, many of them from large urban centers. I can't imagine losing that many people close to me. And for people like the shit-for-brain poster a few posts above who implies it was really somehow the gay community's own fault, I would draw his attention to the fact that back when the virus was gaining its stronghold, EVERYONE was having unprotected sex..heterosexual and gay. We simply drew the short straw when it came to which orientation and community it was going to spread amongst. And in some places AIDS kills more hetersexuals than gay men. So, you instead of wagging his finger, I have a great idea as to what he can do with it...
     
  17. voyeuristic

    voyeuristic New Member

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    midlifebear, I'm female.
     
  18. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    I can think of one very close friend who died, three or four others whom I knew quite well, my sister's closest friend, and then perhaps 20 people whom I knew slightly.
    I also was a member of the board of an AIDS organization, so knew dozens of people who were dying, at one rate or another, of that dread disease.
    I had been promiscuous at just the wrong time, before anyone knew about safe sex, and I worried for a while of being infected without knowing it. But I wasn't.
    So many of the infected were the most attractive people ... the most outgoing, the most well-turned physically, the most engaging.
    My mind doesn't go there very often, but I've become a bit depressed just in the two minutes it's taken to write this post.
     
  19. MovingForward

    MovingForward Member

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    Let us not forget that this problem still happens today. I lost my partner to aids, and it is/was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. I can not even imagine losing a parent,sister or loved one. You think about it every single day.
     
  20. D_Tintagel_Demondong

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    I mostly come here to goof off, have some fun or rant.

    Maybe I'm getting soft, but when I read this sort of thing lately, my body slumps and I feel very dejected. I feel anger and sadness. I haven't lost a real-life friend to HIV (althought I have several positive friends online), so I am sure that I can't feel the same sadness that you do, Indy.

    The anger I feel is because a government chose to ignore an issue and not protect it's own people. This defeats the purpose of a representative government. This sort of thing is going on in many African countries. Ironically, those who choose to ignore the crisis in an effort to let homosexuals die are actually letting far more straight women die.

    Hatred doesn't reason.

    At least 238 people have been mentioned in this short thread so far. Tragic
     
    #20 D_Tintagel_Demondong, Feb 2, 2009
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2009
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