Something happened back then. Countless thousands died horrible deaths. Countless thousands lost their families of origin to fear and their chosen families of Gaymen to AIDS. Countless thousands came out both as having AIDS and being Queer, shocking relatives and loved ones through simultaneous disclosure. Countless thousands were slaughtered in the genocide against Gaymen by the institutionalized homophobia of the Reagan-Bush administration in the White House back then. Countless thousands died in our Holocaust. I was one of those countless thousands who died. I was one of the relative few who came back from death and who live to tell of those Death Years, those Years Of The Great Plague. I remember the endless memorial services I facilitated and the funerals I conducted. I remember my beloved chosen family of seven Gaymen all of whom died and left me behind to tell the story so that we would not forget the Terror. I am a Tribal Elder, telling our oral history which must be told and passed down to younger generations of Queers.
I began my practice in Spiritual Direction with the forty or so Geymen who came to me for love and support during their spiritual journeys and consequent spiritual crises through illness and death. I remember holding many of those beautiful youngmen in my arms as they took their last usually excruciatingly painful, final breaths. But also usually, those breaths were taken in peace and spiritual comfort because of my work. I remember that those men were initially terrified in their confrontation with the Death Crone, believing that they were, indeed, going to Hell and Eternal Damnation as they were told in their childhoods by their priests, rabbis, and pastors. They had, for the most part, put away those childish things, but when facing their mortality, those childish things became adult horrors and mortal terror. The demons of internalized homophobia raise their ugly heads when given the least opportunity.
So it is that a community of Brothers has formed again, perhaps again in a state of grace. This is the community of the unclean, the community of those infected who will only have sex with others who are infected, and, as one who is himself infected, I have to say here that I do feel a powerful kinship with my HIV-infected Brothers. As politically incorrect as it is for me to say, I even engage in what is called "unsafe" sex, condom-less sex, with those of my Brothers who are already infected. According to Dr. Daniel S. Berger, one of the pioneers in HIV/AIDS treatment protocols, in his article "Sexual Encounters with Undetectable HIV-Positive Men: a controversy about HIV transmission", in the November/December,2008 issue of "Positively Aware", contrary to common viral mythology, there is little more I can do to someone who is already infected, as least as far as super infection may or may not occur.