Sunday, December 2, 2012

World AIDS Day 2 December 2012

World AIDS Day December 1, 2012 Post for Facebook.

I wish I could make it go away. I wish that I could turn my back. I wish I could forget. But I can't. HIV and AIDS is not a part of my world. HIV and AIDS is a part of our world. When people begin to view HIV and AIDS as a problem that we all have instead of a problem "they" have, then perhaps a difference will be made. 

There isn't a week that goes by that I don't think of my friends that are no longer here. When I take photographs, Douglas Kolling is there with me helping me to arrange a better shot. He gave me my first camera, a Pentax SLR with a zoom and a standard lens. When I look at the art and beauty of female impersonators and drag, make-up, sequined clothing, I think of Douglas telling me what he could do with three wigs and make up. Douglas designed and made his own clothes and costumes. 

I remember Doris Fish. I hear Doris Fish at the Castro Street Fair in San Francisco. I hear her standing above the crowd on stage. Doris is dressed in a chartreuse polyester pantsuit, blond bouffant and dazzling white teeth (she bleached her teeth before it was popular). Doris is entertaining the crowd with her wit and charm and speaking in that all too familiar Aussie accent, raising funds for AIDS charities in San Francisco.

To this day, I feel that Douglas follows me around and visits me on occasion. Douglas did not like drag, at all. He loved it! I was always so jealous that he could wear heels and not need a painkiller. I tried to wear heels once. Once. Once for eight hours on Gay Pride Day. They were four inch heels, black patent leather. After four hours, I was limping. When I arrived home my toes were bruised and blue. For hours afterwards my feet were semi permanently fixed in high heel position. I don't know how he did it but he did it fabulously. Douglas liked to dress in red sequins. After he passed on. No matter how many times I moved or where I moved to, I would always find a red sequin. I found one in the shower once. It wasn't mine. I certainly don't own anything with red sequins much less shower dressed in red sequins. I still find them from time to time. And chartreuse is my favorite color.

When I listen to music, and I do that everyday, whether it's on the radio or in my head, and yes it is always playing in my head, I think if Steve Mehall. I hear him break down the song into segments and take it apart. I hear him call me when he runs across a club version that he knows I will like. I hear the excitement in his voice when he describes to me a certain concert of the Grateful Dead. I remember the Blonde Ambition Tour Get Together at his flat on Haight St. and again, the excitement in his voice as he is being the perfect host and making sure everyone is taken care of. Steve had the most amazing music collection, vinyl and CD's I've ever seen outside of a record store. Steve could take a word and put together a collection of songs of any genre based on that one word and pull it out of his collection. This was before the internet or computers were what they are now. He just did it from his head.

I was there. In the room when the relatives of two of my friends came to the house. At different times, I roommates with both of them. I have carried this memory with me to this day. When a person dies, what they leave behind. Their belongings are a sort of memorial of who they were. We, the friends that are there, know them. We breathed the same air that they did. We ate from the same table, cooked and ate the same food. Shared experiences and conversations with one another. What I witnessed when members of the family arrived was to me, traumatic. I watched as they picked and pawed through the belongings. Tossed aside things that to me were important and would have been important to my friend that had passed on. They never asked us once, how their son or brother or cousin was. Not once did they inquire as to their personality or that they wished they had known that side of them. One of my friends family were religious. I'll leave it at that. What I felt they did was censor what they would carry with them and toss the rest in the trash or to the wayside. I could very well be wrong about them. Perhaps they did inquire but just not of me. The reason I'm revealing this is that I feel we should accept who these people were, regardless of whether we agree with who they were. If we censor who people are, then are we not lying to ourselves? And disgraceful to all that they were? A half truth is not the truth at all. I know my friends and I know that any one of them, alive or no longer with us, would rather be all that they are, than to live the lie that others would rather they be.

I have friends who still deal with AIDS and HIV not on a daily basis, they deal with it on an hourly basis. They set their clocks by it so that they don't miss a single dose.

It doesn't matter that people may not agree with who they are. It doesn't matter that you don't know who they are. It matters to me and it matters to those of us who knew them. And it's a shame that you will never know them. It's a shame that you will not experience their great talents and their wonderful, energetic zeal for life as it was cut short by a horrible disease. It's horrible because that's what it is. I've seen it up close and personal. And it hasn't gone away.

I miss them. They made me laugh. They helped me dream. And they helped some of those dreams come true. They helped me believe in myself and by their example they helped me believe in others. If you believe that we are the sum of those around us. Then you should care that they are gone. I believe there is only one word that matters the most above all others. It would go along way with helping this world be a better place and it would go along way with helping AIDS and HIV go away. That word is...CARE.

I miss you.


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