I posted this on Mama Sandy’s Family in Leather and I felt it important enough to re post it on my website here.
It took me some time to be able to write this post since I am going through an extremely difficult time. I am losing my LAST long time close friend with HIV disease to AIDS and the very Meds that were supposed to keep him alive have given him cancer. He is 109 lbs at 5’11” tall. He cant eat drink or swallow anything. Hes on Albuterol for the shortness of breath and morphine for the pain.
After he dies there are no more friends left with long term HIV. I will have outlived ALL of them.
I am writing this post for Rick Weber, Mamas Cyclist who asked about the early days of AIDS. I am FROM NYC and was there with Larry Kramer in Act Up, I knew Keith Haring, Tom Stoddard, Diego Lopez, Vito Russo and others I cant think of right now. I was part of the ORIGINAL GMHC 800 men study and the follow up 500 men study back in the 80’s. Google it..its there.
Before AIDS WAS AIDS and before it was even GRID, it was called “The Saint Disease” because it appeared that anyone who went to the Saint got the disease and no one knew what the hell it was. The Saint was a HUGE disco on the lower East side on East 6th St not far from the ST Marks Bath House. It was decadence at its pinnacle. You could check ALL your clothes down stairs in the basement and dance in a jockstrap or less and have all the sex you wanted with whoever you wanted and the drugs of EVERY kind flowed like water..
My friends brother had slept with Patient Zero from Canada as did everyone in that particular house on the ocean on Fire Island in the Pines. EVERYONE in that house at THAT time is dead. Don’t ask me for the address. I prefer not to disclose that.
It was a dizzying time Rick. Men you didn’t see for several weeks just up and died. When you went out to the Pines there was house after house after freakin house that was listed as an estate sale and you know what happened. Back then the listing was on the front of the house saying “ESTATE SALE”..Guys were afraid to stay in the houses because no one knew how the virus was spread and thought it was in the mattresses, sheets or even in the air.
I remember being told, just go with fat ugly guys. They’re safe because not many want to screw with them. All the hot ones are going to die.
You ended up dating big obese men that you figured were safe. They died too.
Hospitals were a nightmare. Nurses left food on trays, OUTSIDE ON THE FLOOR and refused to go in the rooms. Some doctors REFUSED to treat patients and funeral homes turned away dead men left right and center.
Being who I am Rick, and you KNOW me, I would say, (and excuse my language everyone) FUCK THIS and I would grab the tray without the protective clothing and go in the room and feed my friends.
I cant tell you how many times I would hug guys who were frail and that would bring tears to their eyes because NO ONE would touch them, not even their own parents, lovers..ANYONE. I was a regular at ST Vincents Hospital in Greenwich Village to see friends who were sick..sometimes going to multiple hospitals to make the rounds to several friends at the same time. I was happy when they were all in the same place so I didn’t have to run around all over NYC. From Dec 7 to the 25 one year,
I lost THREE friends.
I lost several good boys who even though I wasn’t afraid they would never let me be intimate with them for fear of infecting me. I stayed because I loved them and it didn’t matter. All of them died in the early 90s. When you would pick up the phone to call friends you knew what had happened when the phone was disconnected. When the pain was so bad you drew straws with other friends to see which one would pull the plug when the doctors and family left the room and your buddy was in a coma FULL of KS lesions all over his swollen body.
This is where I come from Rick..and I can tell you that watching my LAST friend now is NOT ANY different than watching the first one 25 years ago.
Difference is you live longer..but now the issue becomes the medicines
that are supposed to keep you healthy, keep it chronic but sometimes doesn’t. MY friend was HIV poz for only THREE years. He got cancer and died at 42 yrs old.
The issue is guys getting infected by choice..
The issue is guys forgetting there are OTHER non curable diseases like
Hepatitus C which tax the immune system when there’s co infection with HIV and as much as other STD’s are curable like gonorrhea and syphilis they STILL tax the immune system.
Well Rick..there’s part of my story in a nutshell..I recall you requesting some info on the early days in NYC and there you have it.
To ALL of you going to IML.. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make informed and HEALTHFUL choices. HIV is FAR from over and is NOT curable…the meds suppress it, but over the long haul, AT A PRICE!!
Mammas Buddhist boy..