Friendship

Best friends for twenty years.

Clayton and I met one July night twenty years ago in 1997. I had stopped into Hamburger Mary’s for a cocktail (more like six or seven…probably more) and he was barbacking for Matt. A cute (hot) little  bear cub he was. We hit it off right away. We hit it off so well that when I woke up the in his bed the next morning I immediately asked “Where’s your phone” to which he replied “Why?”, “I need to call my husband” I replied, “Husband? You have a husband?” he said.

That was one hell of a hangover and I had more than some ‘splainin’ to do when I got home. Fidelity wasn’t my strong point and definitely wasn’t when I was gettin’ my drink on back in those wild younger days. The Better Half and I made it through, and so did Clayton and I.

Somehow, even though we were both quite young, Clayton and I were able to channel that sexual attraction, shit who am I fooling?… full on infatuation, into a friendship. Not only a friendship, but a best friend friendship. He and The Better Half became close friends as well.

I’ve stuck by him through his relationships, boyfriends, loss of his dad, bad roommates, good roommates, home-buying, work issues, personal issues, laughter, tears, moving, travel, car accidents, baseball games, many cocktails and many achievements. He’s stuck by me through depression, drunkenness, getting sober, death of friends, pets and family, laughter, tears, job changes, travels, bad behavior, good behavior, other marital infidelities, shopping, bar hopping, and he even rescued me from a possible DUI arrest.

Twenty years. Damn. I love him and I know he loves me.

Today’s Beard of the Day photo was taken in Puerto Vallarta some 16 or 17 maybe even 18 years ago. We need to take a photo in that position again to mark our enduring friendship, this time maybe with shirts on…then again maybe not.

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An opening day win and one amazing remake

Wow! What a game. Back and forth scores, multiple home runs and even an opposing team (SF Giants) grand slam and our Beloved Padres eeked out a 7-6 win over San Fransisco’s Giants. It was a down to the wire fun to watch nail biter! In other words a well matched good game. Baseball, at its best!

Opening day National Anthem

Fearsome and his opening day posse at Petco Park

After our return home we settle into bed to find out that Pentanonix just posted one fucking incredible remake of one of Rock Music’s best classics.

Wow, just wow! …oh yeah if you even slightly enjoyed Queen, this will be so worth your time.

A new heart

Roger has been a beacon for us, Fearsome & myself, in our blogging adventure. Seems that he and I grew up in neighboring counties and each supported our rival high school football teams. Roger remembers seeing me out on the field directing our school’s band as it’s drum major.

Roger is love. His blog is inspiring. He shares love and support to internet strangers with his sense of humor, kind words, sense of beauty and loving thoughts/quotes. He loves his dog and his Steelers. Roger has a big heart. Roger shares his heart unconditionally and without expectation.

Roger needs a new heart.

The heart of feeling is simply an essence that makes us loving humans. The heart of muscle keeps us alive. Roger’s heart of feeling is alive and well, stronger than ever. Roger’s heart of muscle is failing.

Roger is now on a list for a new heart of muscle. He is on the transplant list in Georgia. Roger needs our help.

Financially, organ transplants are expensive.

Click HERE and you will be whisked away to a post Roger’s sister wrote on his blog 3rdnlong. There you can send love and there you can also support Roger through a donation to Georgia Transplant.org. Every little donation will be matched for double the support. Every little donation is actually a big donation of love helping a man of heart towards his new heart.

I thank you and Fearsome thanks you.

ps. If you are so inclined, please share and circulate this post and/or news on your blog as well. We are bloggers. We share and we support. We support each other in our blogging family.

New friends

Blogging allows us to interact not only with the blogger of the blog we are reading but with others in the comments. For many years I just read and commented on occasion. I met others in those comments and if they blogged I found their blogs. Relationships developed via this here internet thingy.

Eventually I met a blogger in person. He turned out to be a jolly good fellow who was well over four feet. We have met up again multiple times since and even talk on the phone on occasion. Our relationship has grown and I now consider him a good friend on which I can depend and never worry.

I got quite chummy with another commenter on his blog, and she eventually started her own. I met up with her once when I was in her fair city and had a second meeting planned when my father passed unexpectedly and I had to cancel. She was there for me on the phone in my moment of need as I was alone in her fair city. She is a beautiful woman whom I’ve grown to adore and she is just over four feet. She is a friend on whom I can depend and never worry.

When traveling in Washington DC I had the treat of a meet up at this Blogger’s workplace and received a private tour of a few of the exhibits followed by coffee and laughter. He doesn’t seem to blog these days, but I can assure you he is very much over four feet and proved himself to be a tour guide on which you can depend and never worry.

Another blogger I’ve followed for years has become a friend via phone and E mail over the years. I hope to meet him in person one day. I’ve heard he may be  over four feet and I know through experience and a mutual friend he is someone on which I can depend and never worry.

Recently in the last forementioned bloggers comments I clicked over onto this blog from a comment which I resonated. I read a few posts and rather enjoyed myself there. I left a comment and then found comments on my blog. Our humor seemed similar. This certain blogger lives in my fair city. I reached out and suggested coffee. The invitation was graciously accepted and yesterday we met up for the first time . Talk, laugh and share we did. I made a new friend who is well over four feet and I’m betting will prove dependable on which to never worry.

Mesuggah Shack San Diego CA

Mesuggah Shack San Diego CA

A new friend was made yesterday at Messugah Shack in San Diego where everyone is welcome. Fearsome & I look forward to future meet ups with this new friend, bloggers we have met and many bloggers we have yet to meet. It’s a beautiful world and sometimes we just have to get out in it to fully appreciate that fact.

Get out there!

Andy

Yesterday I found a new (to me) blog called Raising my Rainbow. I found it while wading through the train wreck of negative political crap that I can’t seem to stop looking at these days over on The Huffington Post. There was a post that caught Fearsome’s attention…could that be a post about a positive, touching and inspirational story? Fearsome reminded me, as he sometimes has to, that we need to be focusing on the good not the bad. He convinced me to click on the story.

The post led me to the actual blog from whence it came. A beautiful blog written by a loving mother about raising her son, life with her family and moving through a world that sometimes places upon us stereotypes and expectations. A blog so touching to me that I immediately added it to the Fearsome Buds blogroll for easy access.

Anywhoo, you can catch up with that story by either reading the re-blogging of the story that led us there yesterday or by clicking on the link labeled “blog” above or simply click the new Raising my Rainbow link over in Fearsome Buds.

Who is Andy? Well he’s not the boy from the blog. Andy is someone that was once very dear to me whom I lost tragically many many years ago. The new blog I found flooded me with emotion, emotions surrounding memories of Andy.

While in high school Andy showed up in one of my classes one day back about 1981. There was no missing Andy. From his outrageous clothes, flamboyant voice, dramatically gestured movements to his coal black dyed hair and eyeliner there was no way to miss him. We instantly became close friends. While he turned heads as we walked by no one even questioned as to why I walked with him. It was very early in the 1980s, I was only in high school but I was out and proud. Gay as a goose and everyone knew it.

You see after a very tumultuous junior high experience where I had been ridiculed for being different, in high school I had embraced my differences and found that once I owned my gayness it took the power out of the name calling and suddenly I was ok. In fact in some circles I was the cool token. Andy had already embraced this before he landed at our high school. Even though he raised more eyebrows than I did and was way more flamboyant than I, he was ok. Unfortunate was what landed Andy at our high school.

Andy’s grandparents and uncle shared a duplex about two blocks from my home. Andy’s uncle on one side and his grandparents on the other. Andy’s uncle had taken him in at the request of Andy’s parents. You see they were strict Greek Othodox and Andy wasn’t accepted by his parents. His uncle, who was not gay, was his only hope as his parents no longer wanted him in their home nor around his one year younger brother. Andy was a black sheep and in their eyes not good for the perfect jock model son younger brother.

While Andy could handle high school and the occasional insult or cruel remark, he was deeply wounded by the rejection of his parents. I had my challenges as I was gay. Andy wasn’t only gay but also gender non-conforming. Back in the early 1980s in small town Virginia we had never heard of gender non-conforming. Andy was considered a freak. I loved him for who he was and so did several others that we hung with. He was hilarious and always having a good time. He did pretty well getting along at school. His parents tormented him.

Andy and I grew close. I got to see the other side of Andy that the casual high school friends didn’t. I got to know the wounded, battered, damaged vulnerable Andy. Andy just wanted to be loved by the people that he called mom and dad. Mom and dad ridiculed him just for simply being who he was. They called him a sinner and a disgrace. Thank god for Andy’s uncle Marty. If it wasn’t for Marty I’m afraid Andy would have been another teen suicide.

Occaisionally Andy would act out. I mean who wouldn’t? We were young and alcohol and drugs were just starting to enter our lives. Andy loved the escape. Overall though he didn’t take it too far. We had fun.

It was about six months into the school year and or newfound friendship, Andy didn’t show up to school. Not unusual as his attendance was mediocre at best. I mean he lived with his uncle and he could get depressed. Then I got the news. Andy was dead.

Andy’s brother had come to spend the night with the grandparents. Andy and his brother were close when mom and dad weren’t in the way. They were only a year apart for god sakes. They had taken one of the cars, a convertible Pontiac Gran Ville, out for the evening. Two brothers on the town. Andy’s brother was driving and apparently lost control of the car on a windy rural road… a road that actually was one of my favorites. The car had flipped and both boys were killed instantly.

1976 Pontiac Grand Ville

1976 Pontiac Gran Ville

I had only known Andy for about six months but we had become the best of friends. My friend Cathy drove me to the funeral home. There was a huge crowd of people. As we approached the door I could see through the open double doors that there were two caskets, one on each end of a long room. One end was full of people, flowers and distraught family. On the other end of the room sat Andy’s casket. Andy had just a few flowers by his casket. It was open I could see he was dressed in a conservative suit. He would have never ever worn anything remotely like that suit. There wasn’t anyone by Andy’s casket. Cathy immediately commented to me about this horrible sight. Then the arm grabbed me.

“You are not welcome here” a stern voice said to us as we were stopped in our tracks. I was shocked, Cathy wasn’t having it. She immediately asked “Why?” “You, your kind, you are not welcome here” was the reply as the family member stared right at me. We turned and left, both in tears. Andy was a friend of Cathy’s too.

I’ll never forget the loneliness that Andy described to me in those hours of his despair. I’ll never forget the loneliness I witnessed seeing his lifeless ignored body alone in a casket at the opposite end of a room where his perfect jock model child brother lay in a casket surrounded by flowers, family and tears at the other. I’ll never forget being refused entry into the funeral of a friend.

I know that the family cited religion as to why Andy was rejected. I believe it was ignorance and fear as to why Andy was rejected.

Andy was a blessing in my life. His circumstances are obviously a scar in the fabric that makes up my life. Andy taught me to have an open mind. Andy re-enforced my self expression. Andy showed me the healing power of laughter. Andy demonstrated making the best one can out of a situation, even when it hurts. Andy helped me to gain courage. Andy shared vulnerability. Andy made me appreciate my family, my life and my circumstances.

Blessed be the parents that accept their children with open hearts, open minds and unconditional love. Blessed be the parents that embrace their child’s differences and encourage their children to be just who they are. Blessed be the parents that share their experiences thus opening minds and enriching the lives of others. Blessed be the parents who change minds and grow understanding.

Andy never got to see Ru Paul’s drag race. Hell, Andy never got to see a drag show. If Andy had …he would have been up on that stage and starring in the next show. This Halloween whether C.J. knows it or not, Andy is right beside him cheering him on.

 

Small world, big planet

Or is it a big world, small planet?

I do love travel and have been many places. I have many more to see. Of recent my travels are all domestic to areas I frequent. That’s ok, more exotic places will come later.

Last November I wrote about my observations as people boarded the plane walking past my seat. That post turned into two. I still find it quite interesting the interactions, travels and movement of our species. I also find intriguing the exchange of information, possesions and currency.

I’m sorry to inform those who want to close borders, stay small, prevent movement and exchange. I’m sorry to give you the news that you fear. This is humanity. We are one. We move, share, give, enrich, enlighten and experience each other as one world. We have for centuries, we do today and we will continue. Humanity.

Today I sit by a pool in Ft. Lauderdale with mates from Atlanta, Detriot, Calgary, Seattle, Vancouver, Germany and Mexico. Laughter permeates the air. Strangers and friends. Familiar and foreign.

Today my tickets sold, Major Legue Baseball All Star Game tickets.

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Being a Padres Season ticket holder allowed me to obtain these. My seat mate Greg and I planned to actually attend but life happens. He has parental responsibilities, I have shoulder surgery. We listed them on Stub-Hub and while I sat by the pool the tickets sold. They sold to someone in Quebec. Yes while relaxing with new international friends by a pool in South Florida my All Star tickets in San Diego sold via the Internet to a buyer in Canada.

Build bridges, not walls.

…..oh don’t let me forget….Happy Canada Day!

Celebrating Pride Month

Pride is upon us. We are a little behind here as San Diego Pride celebrations aren’t ever until late July, thus it always takes me a while to pick up the ball.

Each year Kelly kicks off June with his iconic photo:

Kelly's Flag

Kelly’s Flag

He challenges us to re-post his photo with a link back to his original. A challenge that brings us together in pride is a challenge worth participating in.

Happy Pride Y’all!

 

Fearsome bakes

Classic Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I’m filling in for my dear friend Polly tomorrow. We have a regular Monday evening meeting we attend together every week. She is the current cookie supplier for this coffee clatch. Polly is in The Big Apple for the holiday so I’m stepping in. Polly is also a retired pastry chef so I have big shoes to fill.

I figure I’m safe with a tested classic favorite. Simple, easy and damn good. Here is how you do it: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and use the following ingredients…

  1. 2 1/4 cups flour
  2. 1 tsp. Baking soda
  3. 1 tsp. Salt
  4. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter softened
  5. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  6. 3/4 cup brown sugar
  7. 1 1/4 tsp. Vanilla
  8. 2 large eggs
  9. 2 cups Semi Sweet chocolate chips
  10. -optional- 1 cup chopped nuts

In separate bowl mix four, baking soda & salt then set aside. In the main mixing bowl beat butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until mixed well then beat in eggs to the mixture. Then beat in the flour mixture to complete the cookie batter. Hand stir in the chocolate chips and nuts if nuts are desired.

Drop the batter using a heaping teaspoon onto non-greased cookie sheets then bake 9-10 minutes at the 375 degrees F or until just golden brown then let cool for a couple minutes on the cookie sheet before removing with a spatula to a cooling rack or towel. This should yield you about 4dozen cookies.

 

Cookie Dough!

Cookie Dough!

This 1947 oven has seen its share of cookies.

This 1947 oven has seen its share of cookies.

Perfection! Smells so good in here!

Perfection!
Smells so good in here!

 

Lessons from the Pacific Crest Trail

A little while back I mentioned that the brother of a friend was blogging his travels on foot from Mexico to Canada via the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail that the film Wild made famous.

His name is Matt and his blog is linked over in our Fearsome Buds Blogroll. Just click Traveling Matt and you will land on his page. His story is fascinating. The pictures are great and the prose well written. If you have a hankering for reading about a personal journey and adventure, I suggest starting at the beginning. I think you will find it an enjoyable read. At this point he is only about 1/3 of his way through the trek so far.

Yesterday I had a moment to get caught up on reading his tales of the trail and stumbled upon this passage:

“As for lessons from the trail, the requirement to carry your possessions such distances does indeed make you rethink what is really necessary. Your possessions are a burden on the trail, and so their benefit must absolutely outweigh that burden. This is true in normal life as well, but the burden is less noticeable in the short-term and it’s easier to be convinced that the benefits of your possessions outweigh the burdens; on the trail it becomes a simple analysis of weight versus utility, and few items pass the hurdle.”

You can find the full post from which that passage came HERE.

Fearsome’s little blog thingy we have here is about growth. It’s the contemplation of life. It’s about meaning. We like to share our inspirations. Traveling Matt is a blog of inspiration.

 

About that empty seat beside me

I wrote the last (written) post observing those boarding the plane. I noted the seat beside me was still empty. Just as I was proof reading my observations had stopped and my focus had turned to posting before the boarding door closed. My seat mate arrived and I didn’t pay him much attention. I got up, let him into his seat and settled back into mine as I hit the post button. We acknowledged each other briefly and the flight got under way.

He got into his MacBook and I into the movie on my iPad. Bad movie, I don’t know why I continued to watch it. I guess I hoped some message was going to come through to save it. I had the red pepper quiche breakfast entree, my seat mate turned down the breakfast offering.

After getting back into the bad movie I changed my position for comfort of viewing. I was angled just so I could see his MacBook. This wasn’t on purpose, but for comfort. Bad movies make for easy distraction I guess because I started to get distracted by how fast he was going from homepage to article to home page to picture, you get the idea. It was like this guy had ADHD. Then I noticed he had up a page with Joe Niego on it. Odd, I go to real estate conferences where Joe speaks. Back to my movie.

Nature calls and the restroom was open. While washing the hands, and the mind wandering, I realized Joe Niego lives in Chicago. I was flying to Chi-town. Then the thought that maybe this guy beside me was in real estate as well. Maybe even in the same coaching program as myself. So before I left the tight confines of the lavatory, I decided that maybe I should introduce myself to my seat mate. You know, network for business.

As I take the five steps from the airplane head back to my seat I give Mr. Seatmate a good look in the face. Oh shit! This guy isn’t going to Chicago to see Joe Niego, he is Joe Niego.

I sit down and then think to myself how do I approach this one. As my mind starts to go full speed I’m thinking “here half the flights over, you’ve been seeing this guy at conferences for 10 years, you have to introduce yourself, it’s rude to have ignored him for the last hour and a half, what will he think?” I turned on the bad movie again. You know the kind, a young twenty somethings love drama.

What am I going to say? Do I just wait until we are landing? I don’t want to bother him. Dammit head shut up. Then it happened. Joe stopped his computer work to plug it into the seat power. I lean over and use his own words, the script he has taught me for years, to ask for a referral from him. He looks me in the eye with a big smile and said “I thought you looked familiar. You’re the guy who wears the San Diego baseball jersey to the events.”

We had a great conversation. He asked me questions that may help him to get to know his audience a bit better. He asked me questions that made me think. He inspired me. He even got his wife a leaf blower for her birthday. I complimented him on being a romantic.

Joe Niego and Fearsome Beard

Joe Niego and Fearsome Beard

Turning down a friend

We met on the first day of first grade. The friendship was instant. When the morning started we were seated beside each other, by day’s end the teacher had moved us to opposite sides of the room. We just couldn’t stop talking.

Our friendship continued through high school graduation and through the trials and tribulations of dating in our 20s. She was kind of like the sister I never had and me the sibling she didn’t have. We saw each other off into our relationships that we each have until this day. We have remained friends through the years and stay in touch several times each year.

The glitch is this, my life has been financially successful and hers not so much. Unfortunately managing money was never her strong suit. Years ago when there was an issue and I sent out a thousand bucks as a loan. The loan was never repaid. Then there was a little loan of a couple hundred here and a hundred there, you get the picture. There was never any attempt to repay. I knew she really didn’t have it to repay me with anyway.

Then about 6 years ago with a disabled husband and two kids in school, she called me as the house was being foreclosed on. I faced a dilemma. I had started to resent the outstanding loans and now I was being asked for five thousand to save the house before they were homeless. Since she has no siblings and her parents were gone (both died in debt), I decided I could not loan her the money as I would never see it repaid but I could gift her the money expecting nothing in return. I gifted the money and the house was saved.

She has managed to get the kids through school as one is in college and the other is a high school senior. She has managed to get the husband through a near death illness a couple years back and kept up with the house payments.

She kept up the house payments until now. I got the call last Friday. She’s back in foreclosure. She asked for a loan. I didn’t give her an answer even though my gut said no. She asked me to think about it. I said I would. I just called her and told her no, no I cannot help.

I have the money. I have the means not because I make a good living. I have the means because I am responsible with my money. In order for me to continue to be friends with her I cannot become resentful. I would most definitely become resentful that I am saving a house that I saved before.

I have done what I can do. I have helped in the past. I’m still here for her as a friend. I still love her because I made the choice to protect my end of the friendship. I maintain my end of the friendship by not putting resentment over further financial assistance in the way.

Twenty Five Years Ago

I thank Joe Jervis over at Joe.My.God for making me aware of this anniversary.

Joe’s post is HERE.

I first wrote about this tune HERE.

I have many emotions tied to this tune. I consider it part of a  defining moment in my life. It evokes both joy and sadness when I hear it. I loved and lost so many in it’s era. It’s lyrics tear at my core while reminding me of the joy, love and laughter that we all shared. The Pet Shop Boys gave me and many others like myself a gift with Being Boring. I thank them for it.

I dedicate this post to Greg. Although you are now missing, I will never forget the love, joy and tears we shared as we danced to this tune as the wind enveloped our bodies as it blew in off the ocean that beautiful evening at Tea By The Sea, Atlantic Shores, Key West. We were never Being Boring, we were never being bored.

Getting back into a groove

I like this tune.

I am sitting at my computer starting off my work week. Given the physical and emotional drains of the last week, I decided that I needed an upbeat earworm to get me moving.

Before my trips I always stock up on a few 99 cent movie rentals over on iTunes to help pass the time while flying. This tune closed the movie that I watched while flying to my parents house after the news from mom that dad had passed. I was numb, but decided best to watch a frivilous movie on the flight rather than letting my mind ruminate on what had just happened or what I was walking into. That certain movie was this:

I actually highly recommend this movie. It’s a fun story about human connection as well as being yourself. It is well photographed and leaves you with a warm fuzzy. I needed it that lonely night. Who knows, maybe I’ll start watching My Little Pony and become my own Fearsome Brony.

Life, it’s all about the magic of friendship!

Spo Visit

Urspo, of Spo-Reflections, is in San Diego for a medical convention. Fearsome, The Better Half and I picked him up and wisked him away to dinner last night. It was a pleasure!

He and The Better Half are in very similar fields of medical practice. Thus the conversation varied from blogging, health, lifestyle, medicine, ideas, gossip, podcasts, movies and books to the effects of benzodiazepines on post menopausal women. It was a lively evening. Well, a lively evening of three fiftyish men with much in common.

I am happy to report to all of Urspo’s readers that he is sticking to his promised healthy eating habits. His choices of edibles were right on target with his proposed changes in habits. Well all except for the gelato, but Fearsome has a way of leading the sheep to slaughter. Urspo did order only one scoop, Fearsome had two. After dinner we had a nice stroll along University Avenue enjoying the sights and sounds of Hillcrest in hopes a walk would help work a little gelato off. Warning for those who may take a little stroll after dinner with Urspo, try to avoid walking across bridges with low railings, over freeways, as he will channel Mrs. Danvers somewhere about the middle of the bridge.

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No worries, while first startled by the chilling yet coercing suggestion of Mrs. Danvers to jump, Fearsome quickly warded off the effort of Urspo’s twisted sense of humor…

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This is a banner week for Fearsome as he will dine not only with one, but two of his blogging mentors. While he hosted Urspo here in his San Diego hometown last night, Tuesday he flys to Philly to attend a Real Estate conference where he is honored to dine with none other than the most fabulous Anne Marie Wednesday evening.

He’s back, and he’s Sassy!

Sassybear is back! He was missed and I am happy to announce that his blog hiatus is over. He was one of my mentors here in blog land. I had commented along with him over at Spo-Reflections for a long time and then became a regular reader of his blog, Idle Eyes And A Dormy. He was so very encouraging when I decided to throw in my beard and start blogging. (BTW, Fearsome HATES it when I call him “my beard” so please don’t share this “slip” with him.) When Sassybear decided to take a break I was disappointed, but understood. Sometimes we all need a change or a break to maintain our sanity.

Welcome Back!

 

 

Not forgotten

It was early summer probably about 1985. I remember sitting on the couch of my then boyfriend listening to Bronski Beat.

We discussed how we could relate to the story the lyrics told. We moved to the rhythm and the beat of the music. We shared a few beers and a home made dinner as we discussed what we both had done at work that day. John was a good cook. At the time I was a respiratory therapist at a local community hospital, he was the new director of the newly opened AIDS community center.

When we had AIDS patients in the hospital it was I that was assigned their care. I was single, gay, had no kids and had probably been exposed. Thus it was always my job to take care of them, as they were always gay men just like myself. John’s job had him entrenched in the community. He was tasked with care, education, support and most of all organizing disorganization and fear. Fear infiltrated our culture. People feared us that we might be sick. We feared each other. We feared our own selves and what was to become if us. We did our best. We somehow found strength.

I cared for my patients, he for his clients. All were sick and dying. More were getting sick daily. Our friends, sex partners, lovers and those we didn’t know other than seeing them. It quickly became identifiable. A look you could tell, once they were sick. Others weren’t yet sick but knew of people they had been with who were.

At the time AIDS was a horrible death sentence. No one knew how it was transmitted. The treatments were next to non existent and those they had were only experimental. Still somehow we marched on. We were fearful yet managed. We were the dirty ones, the diseased feared by everyone including sometimes each other. Yet we stayed strong for each other, we were all we had as a community.

We danced. We danced to music and danced the dance of life. Loving each other as this was the life we were given, it was our time as the twenty somethings. We were the future. I don’t know what happened to John. It was a short boyfriend-ship. We each moved on. Many of my friends died, past lovers died and “encounters” died as well.

At the time we lived and survived. We still dreamed. We marched on. The ability to take a relationship to the level of government recognition let alone marriage wasn’t even part of those dreams. I remember just dreaming of a day when I wouldn’t be afraid of becoming sick, a day when my friends weren’t dying and that I would somehow escape to have a long happy life myself.

One of the dreams I shared with my lover Tim was to move to San Diego one day. Neither of us had ever been to California, but San Diego sounded like a nice place. That dream went to the place dreams go to, somewhere far away. Neither of us made any moves in that direction. Tim and I went our own way after a couple years and Mark came into my life.

By this time we had tests. Anonymous test because if it was recorded it was on your medical record and you were marked. I tested negative for the HIV virus. I was elated. I know I had been exposed multiple multiple times, because men I had been with all the way back to age 18 were either sick or dead. I was elelated that I had escaped, thus far. So Mark decided to get tested as well.

To get these anonymous tests you had to go to back entrances to county health facilities. It was less than glamorous. Usually standing in an alley behind a building with other men like yourself. Heads looking at the ground, little if no talking as fear permeated like a rancid fog in the air.

Mark’s test didn’t go as well as mine. He was positive. We stayed together for a couple years. Unfortunately Mark was not a well man on many levels and our relationship ended not because of his HIV but because of other reasons. Mark is no longer with us. I remain negative to this day. But I remember the horror of what HIV/AIDS is in graphic detail.

Why do I post such a memory today? The day that our federal government validated our relationships as equal. I post this memory in honor of all of the men that I knew, loved, cared for and laughed with. These were the men that marched before and with me. The men that paved the way for what we enjoy today. One step at a time. They worked, opened businesses, loved, shared, lived, gave, volunteered, taught, lead, cried, feared, parented, fought, built, created, cared, mentored and marched. I owe what I enjoy to all that came before me as well as those who march with me today.

They may have never dreamed this day would come, but in ways that they do not know, they helped get us here. They aren’t here today to call, hug or share it with in physical form. They are in spirit. They are in my heart. They are in your heart. All live through us. Let us not forget them, but rejoice with them.

….lets dance, love & celebrate Love. Love won today. Freedom won today. Our constitution won today. We won today. Those who walked before us won today!

(Posted in memory of Jerry Smoot. Thanks Jerry for teaching me to dream. Dreams really do come true.)