Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bad Birthday

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the discovery of Aids.
For many of us, Aids has had a profound effect on our lives, on our friends, on our community.
For some, Aids is what Forrest Gump's girlfriend died of.
When I was doing summer theatre in my teens, we had a volunteer in the organization I'll call Bruce. Bruce was the first 'obvious' homosexual I had to deal with. Being from a fairly small Midwestern town, gay wasn't something we saw every day.
At one point one season I made a snide remark about Bruce's sexuality in an offhand way, trying to be funny, not thinking he was in the room. He was. I haven't felt so low, so despicable since. I didn't have the balls to fess up and apologize, to turn around and face him, even. It went unmentioned, and Bruce had the good grace to let it slide after that. It never left my mind, though.
About a year later I heard that Bruce died of Aids. In the intervening time I learned that a longtime friend who I'd always suspected was indeed gay, that a good friend from high school was gay, that many I was meeting through involvement in a performing arts activity were gay.
My three best friends on this planet today are gay.
Whatever your 'beliefs' are about homosexuality, the bottom line is that no one asked to be gay, and no one deserves Aids. And the fact that we sit here, 25 years later, still searching for a cure while our administration debates marriage amendments and flag burning is a fitting juxtaposition.
To Bruce, I know it's too late and too little, but I live with the regret of my remarks every day.
To friends that I've lost due to Aids, I remember and won't forget.
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