I moved to New York, to the East Village, in the winter of 1979. When I met Dave a few years later, maybe 12 years ago [at the time of this writing in 1996], he was a vulture. Actually, I saw him dressed as a vulture in some incomprehensible show at La Mama. I knew the stage manager, and I met Dave after the show at the closing party. First impressions: short, wiry, blue eyes, intelligent. I was in love. But we became friends anyway.
When I moved to New York, I moved into the middle, into the beginning, of an epidemic that would become a pandemic, though I didn't know it. Nobody knew it. First, it was "gay cancer." Then it was GRID - Gay-Related Immunodeficiency Disease. Several hundred deaths later, late summer 1982, it became AIDS. Seventeen years of now-familiar horrors, of struggling to reconcile my denial, panic, rage, guilt, helplessness and despair.
I cry, yet I've not suffered enough.
Who suffers more, the dying or the living?
I grieve, yet I am not angry enough.
I am too weak, too self-absorbed, too numb.
I am cruel enough to avoid an ex-lover on his deathbed,
yet angered by the deliberate avoidance of another.
I choose ignorance before responsibility,
running from the chance of knowing,
It doesn't stop.
It doesn't wait for me to catch up,
to get my life in order,
that I might face loss with strength and conviction.
So far surviving the holocaust of my peers,
I make nothing of my life that would honor their passing.
And it continues ... it goes on, and on ...
After all that has happened,
it is only the beginning,
always just the beginning,
ever new horrors stand in front of me,
invisibly in the future,
that I might stumble across them.
Still I can ask: why?