Who Have You Lost to AIDS?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by jason_els, Jul 17, 2008.

  1. jason_els

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

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    I have AIDS guilt.

    Instead of going to Boston University as I should have, I chose Hiram College, an awful place that claims to be a suburb of nowhere and still celebrates its connections to Lindsey Vachel, a forgotten poet, and James Garfield, a forgotten president. That decision, to attend Hiram, likely saved my life as I was far away from HIV as it was just becoming to be a national concern. Add to that low self-esteem and general self-loathing that many not entirely straight men attribute to themselves, and I was a sexual nobody. In college I had sex once with one guy. That was it. By the time I left college, or more precisely was kicked out, HIV was known to be caused by unprotected sex (among other things). Following school I left for a tiny ski town in Colorado and stayed there for three years. No sex during that time and, worse, I hated skiing.

    I had been so closeted, so adverse to sex, so detached from the gay world, that I didn't know anyone who died of AIDS. There's an elderly gay couple down the road, there's my father's brother. None of them have died of AIDS.

    One man I met for one day, via my sister, died of AIDS. He's the only person I know of whom I've met personally who has died of AIDS.

    Maybe it's stupid or silly. Perhaps it isn't. I suspect it's the latter. I know so many gay men who have lost friends to AIDS. Some of them have lost all their friends, all their lovers, nearly their entire past, to AIDS.

    I have not.

    In some ways, I feel fortunate. In others I feel like I've missed something that I should have experienced; something which connects me to a community in which I still feel like a complete stranger. It sounds horrible to regret not losing someone I know to a disease, yet it also means I have a difficult time connecting to so many who have lost so many more. It seems every gay man my age is a survivor. Either their immune system was more robust or they simply lucked out, if you can count surviving everyone you loved as, "lucking out."

    I lucked out because I'm a pussy. I didn't have sex, loathing myself and my inclinations too much to surrender to them. Much of me feels true guilt for not having raunchy mansex when I should have; when I was young and endlessly horny and good-looking. When I wanted to be what I didn't have the guts to be when other young men did.

    Please, tell me what it's like. I want to empathize, with all respect, as much as possible.
     
  2. Industrialsize

    Staff Member Moderator Gold Member

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    I lost an entire generation of friends in the 80's...probably 30-40 guys......
     
  3. jason_els

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

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    Jesus
     
  4. ManlyBanisters

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    I was just talking about this the other day. Ireland was a bit of a backwater and not exactly sexually liberated when AIDS was really 'kicking off' so I know exactly how you feel, Jason. I feel lucky to have led a relative promiscuous youth and not come into contact with the virus - none of my immediate friends in Ireland, gay or straight, did either - as far as I know. This is not true of several school friends and acquaintences who went to college in the US and UK.

    The only person I knew at all well who was HIV+ was a sister of a friend - I lost touch with that friend and I have no idea whether she ever developed AIDS, or whether she's alive or dead. They were a good family, I hope she's doing OK.

    I feel both lucky and marginally guilty. My friends and I did practise unsafe sex in our youth, our backwater existence saved us. We were fortunate and I hope I'm not the only one who knows that.
     
  5. jason_els

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

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    I know the Ireland you speak of very well. I saw just the tail end of it before the EU showered it with more money than God.

    I'm not Irish in the slightest, but I love the country nonetheless. I completely understand your position.

    Maire: This is a photograph of my grandfather's house back in his time.

    Me: What is that?

    Maire: That's a tree gone through the roof.

    Me: Do you mean a tree was growing through the house itself??

    Maire: Yes. The tree grew threw the roof itself and held it up.

    Me: But it's a tree!!

    Maire: That's not so much. Eleven people lived in that house.

    Me: It's a one room croft! How could eleven people even fit in that??

    Maire: They were all very friendly with each other.

    Me: Why are there no windows except in that one wall? There was no cross-ventilation!

    Maire: Because the British taxed the windows that faced the street. It was cheaper to wall them up.

    Me: Dear God!

    Maire: God cares less about windows than souls it seems.
     
  6. ManlyBanisters

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    Well - I know what you mean - but we were more into sitting round playing Lemmings on our brand spanking new 386s :biggrin1: , smoking blow and sneaking off for a quick fuck while our parents were at mass. Not so much the 11 people in one crofter's cottage times - though it was next to nigh on impossible to buy condoms til I was about 17 or 18. I remember on one political Q&A type program a politician suggesting that men :rolleyes: over the legal age of consent be allowed to buy condoms - when asked how it would be 'policed' he said "Well maybe it could be like the fishing, you know - something you apply for a card for - like a Rod License" :lmao: A rod license for buying condoms - how cool would that have been!! :biggrin1:
     
  7. jason_els

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

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    Yes!! Charney told me about that when we went to an alleged American-style diner (with awful burgers) and they had a condom machine in the men's room. I was shocked. Maire even told me about the court case where a girl left Ireland to go to the UK for an abortion and it was a crime to do so. It's unbelievable to me.

    I've always liked the Irish view of Catholicism. It always seems to include a wink and a nod.

    I remember when Charney told me of the parish meeting the town had when it was discovered the priest was sleeping with his housekeeper. The first man who stood up declared that he thanked heaven it was a woman of consenting age and after various rumbles of verification through the crowd, the matter was settled. The town would not petition the bishop. The same priest serves, living with his housekeeper in open display of... conjugality, to this day.
     
    #7 jason_els, Jul 17, 2008
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2008
  8. ljax

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    How do you think it is that you didn't contract the virus? Do you think it had to do with sexual practices? ie did you not "receive" anal?
     
  9. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    I have lost probably a dozen or so people I knew.
    Two of them were very close friends.
    And for a time I was on the board of an AIDS organization and met all kinds of people who had lost 30 or 40 friends to the disease, and several of those people died.
    It made me extremely sex shy for a long time, after a period of promiscuity that somehow, by luck or by grace, left me virus free.
    And by the time that effect had faded, I had discovered my Inner Hermit.
    Jason, I think it's natural to lament that one hadn't sown oats in the oat-sowing years.
    But as for the actual loss of not having lost friends to AIDS ... in that, by itself, you're lucky.
     
  10. ManlyBanisters

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    I agree C - but hence the guilt...

    I'd still rather be lucky and feel guilty than the alternative... (I'm guessing Jason feels the same).
     
  11. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    Well, survivor's guilt, maybe ... but I didn't get that that was what Jason was talking about.
    But like you, and I'm sure Jason, "I'd still rather be lucky and feel guilty than the alternative."
     
  12. Industrialsize

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    Pure unadulterated good luck..........especially in the period where we didn't quite know what HIV was......we used to call it,"gay cancer" or GRID(Gay Related Intestinal Disease).....Now I have the knowledge to remain negative.....I can't even begin to express the feeling of loss i have for my friends........It's like we were in a war and i was lucky enough not to be shot
     
  13. jason_els

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

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    Yet it makes me feel so disconnected. As if I'm not quite an insider. I am always an outsider and to be this old with no connections to that era makes me a parvenu. I don't want to be a ghoul opening old wounds, I just want to understand something I only know by news and art.

    I am very sorry for the loss of your friends. I have lost so few intimate people, all of them family and so very old when they've passed that death was not unexpected. Thank you for sharing with me.
     
  14. killerb

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    I only know one person who has AIDS...she is still alive & doing fairly well...

    What I have noticed over the years is that the families of those who may have had AIDS sometimes don't admit that their loved one had the disease and say that they died of "pneumonia" or "cancer"...
     
  15. jason_els

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

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    I feel guilty because I feel I was a coward. When everyone else went over the top, I stayed behind and remained. I didn't have the balls to admit who I was.
     
  16. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    Actually, Indie, GRID, if memory serves, meant Gay Related Immuno Deficiency.

    You're welcome, Jace.

    I get that, Jace.
     
  17. Hellboy0

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    Hmmm...have lost too many to count.

    I have seemed to have dodged that bullet, but not because of a saintly, non-promiscuous existence when I was younger. I chalk it up to blind luck.

    I don't feel guilty and suggest you shouldn't either, Jason. Life is what it is...and how we've lived it in the past is just that: IN THE PAST. What you do today...not THAT is something entirely different.

    We are a much more educated group of humans these days, and can make safer choices about our sexual encounters and habits. Yes, the safest sex is none, but that doesn't sit well in my head. Might for you, and that is fine. I suggest, though, that the playful alternative to celibacy can be safe and fun and healthy, and it is sorta how we're wired. To choose NOT to have sex is a choice, but not necessarily one without it's own positive and negative consequences.

    Live life as if you're happy for the gift and mourn those who have moved on. That is how I get through each minute and each day.
     
  18. B_theOtherJJ

    B_theOtherJJ New Member

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    I lost my lover of 22 yrs. It will be 8 yrs next Friday and I can remember it like it was yesterday.

    Also, it was a total surprise to me when they told me cause of death. I never saw him ill. In July 2000, he fell sick, collapsed, rushed to the hospital, and he was dead in one week, after going blind, becoming paralyzed and incontinent, losing speech, and becoming delusional.

    They originally diagnosed Fungal meningitis, but I was told he died of Full Blown AIDS after he had passed... Its just something you never get over.
     
  19. naughty

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    Being in the arts, I have seen names of many of my former classmates,friends, and colleagues listed on the AIDS Quilt. It is a breathtaking loss to this country and the world community. I do so hope that a real cure can be found sometime in the near future. AIDS affects us all.
     
  20. jason_els

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

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    I grieve with you too. I can't imagine losing so many. You have my sympathies. I daresay your view is healthy, if very Aussie. If Americans dwell on the past very little, Aussies dwell on it twice as little.

    I'm trying very hard to be thankful, for what I'm not sure of. There is so much I take for granted. Having sex is not one of them because the opportunities (self-made or otherwise) are too few and my confidence so slim. I'm trying hard to get motivated though it seems to escape me like sand through my fingers. It's very difficult even when people for whom I have enormous respect stand behind me.
     
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