September 12, 2008

Happy to Be Living with AIDS

In 1985, I was ready to die of AIDS at the age of 23. That was the only reality I knew and the only reality the world knew for someone in my condition: you've got this mysterious virus and you're going to die in 12-18 months, wasting away pound by pound until you look like the skeleton of a fading human spirit in a death camp. And the whole world understands why: because you're a homo.

That was a reality shared by myself and the entire world for more than a decade, for most of my twenties and thirties, with slight variations until the late 1990s, when the first class of new meds started proving what we now know today: yes, you can live with AIDS. You can dream beyond a guaranteed future of fading away in a death bed, turned away by society.

In 2008, I celebrated my 46th birthday. Twenty-three years after getting a “death by AIDS” sentence, I smile when I remember what a man once said at an HIV Information meeting in West Hollywood back in 1988: “You're not guaranteed to die of AIDS.”

What a sweet dream, then and now.