Friday, September 29, 2006

The Ominous Cloud of AIDS - Part 1 of 3 "The Past"

Growing up gay in South Dakota was not easy. I couldn’t talk to anyone about it and there was the constant fear that I would be beaten up if someone found out. But despite all that, I ended up having one of those “love at first sight” moments in college. I’ll never forget the day I opened a door and almost ran into the most handsome man I had ever seen. I was obsessed with him and over the next 2 years I went out of my way to accidentally “be” where he was without looking too obvious. I was totally in love with him and I decided I wanted him to know. But just around that time news came out about this new “gay disease” called AIDS that was spreading fast. I decided I better wait until that whole mess was over before I declared my love for this guy.

It turned out to be one of the many decisions based around this new sickness that would affect my life well into the future. I never did tell that boy I loved him because AIDS was still a threat when I graduated. He later married a lovely woman and I think they are still married today. I’m sure he must have known I liked him – but he never said anything or tried to hurt me.

Not long after I graduated from college, I moved to S. Florida. I made lots of new friends, many of whom were HIV positive. Back in those days, if you had AIDS it was almost certainly a death sentence. I watched as many of my new friends fell ill and many of them died. It was sad and painful to watch them wither away to skin and bones especially at such a young age. Most were in their early 20s like me. I joined the MCC Church (a mostly gay diocese) and I remember a lot of sick people in church – some with oxygen tanks and tubes attached. Every week there was a list of people we prayed for, some who were sick and some who had already passed. It was all very sad – but mostly it was terrifying.

Soon I met another man that I was instantly attracted to – a very handsome Cuban guy. He told me right away that he had AIDS and I was faced with a decision on weather to date him or not. Do I want to give my heart to someone who might not be here long? Do I want to watch my loved one fall ill and die? And what about my safety – it was a very serious decision. I decided to love the man and try not to think about the sickness. We had a very brief but passionate romance and of course we were extremely careful when it came to sex. We broke up before too long because of personality conflicts – but I still loved him. We lost touch after a while and I found out about 6 months later that he had died. I still think of him often to this day.

I decided it was a very bad time to be dating and I prayed I would find one nice guy I could settle down with and live happily ever after. Eventually I did meet a very nice man and we quickly set up house together. There was safety in a monogamous relationship. But it wasn’t long before I realized that I wasn’t really in love with him. I loved him – I just wasn’t “in love” with him. He said we should just stay together until we found someone else. It seemed like a good idea at the time because again – there was safety there. We became very comfortable in our life and 10 years quickly went by before either of us found someone else. I eventually found someone I was totally in love with and I thought he felt the same for me. It turns out he didn’t love me the same way – and that is another story. But I ended the 10 year relationship for him and by this time it was devastating for my partner. It’s been almost 5 years since we broke up and I still think he hates me. I can’t help but think if I hadn’t been so scared of AIDS, I may have ended the relationship much sooner and it would have been less painful for him.

Suddenly I found myself a single man for the first time in a very long time. And that brings us to the present time where I will continue with Part 2 in this series.

He talks too much.

I am quite surprised to see that I have written nearly 100 articles in this Blog. Oh I'm not really surprised at the number 100, Most of the topics that I have in my head go unwritten due to the fact that another topic of greater importance comes up. The Bush Administration has certainly given many a Blog writer, and comedian, plenty of material. Of course time is always a factor so many things go unsaid. Still, 100 is a big number and worth noting.

To celebrate this milestone, I think I will do a special series on a very personal topic that has dominated most of my life. I thank God every day that so far I have been spared HIV / AIDS. But even though I am not infected by this pandemic virus, my life has certainly been affected by it. I think I will do this in a series of three articles dealing with my past, the present and the future.

Please stay tuned as it may take me a little while to get all three done.

Fix it - and they will come (back)

I've waited several days to write this article because I wanted to see if my opinion changed. It hasn't.

The topic is New Orleans, and the fact that they managed to re-open the Super Dome. I ask myself many times this week which is more important - to bring commerce back to support the city or rebuild the homes destroyed by hurricane Katrina? I suppose it would be easy to say commerce is more important if you can afford a $100.00 ticket to the game and then drive or fly home to your own comfy bed. But ask someone who is still living in temporary housing, their families separated and spread across the USA, some without a home at all, and I bet the answer would be different.

Millions - possibly billions - were spent to repair the Super Dome. No doubt the sold out crowd generated millions of dollars as well - but how much of that went to help restore the community? Did the players donate part of their multi-million dollar salaries to the cause? Imagine what could be accomplished if the thousands of people who attend the game worked just a couple of hours before the game to help rebuild.

In my opinion, the poor people of New Orleans have been let down yet again. I understand the importance of fixing the Super Dome so it could possibly be used as a shelter again. But lets get our priorities straight. First get people back in their homes. Then have a big grand event to celebrate - and invite those people!

Monday, September 11, 2006

United We Stand - Divided We Fall

On this 5th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 I'm reminded of the irony that the terrorists actions united this country - and our President managed to divide it again.

Monday, September 04, 2006

We started a war we can't win.

Anyone who reads my Blog knows that I have been against the war in Iraq from the beginning, but while I do not support the war itself, I do support the troops fighting the war. Further, I believe that since we started this horrific war, we must complete the task. I think it would be extremely dangerous to simply pull our troops out without gaining stability in Iraq first.

But while watching "Real Time with Bill Mahar" the other day I realized what a huge problem this war has become. It has developed into nothing less than a civil war between the Sunni, Shi'ite, and Kurds and therefore America has been put in a very delicate situation. The only way to really "win" this war is to pick a side - but we simply can't do that. So what do we do?

I'm afraid I don't have the answer. I'm also afraid the Bush Administration doesn't have the answer either. I pray, for all the people involved including our own troops, that someone will come up with an answer very soon. And I pray that answer doesn't involve dropping more bombs.

You Think You Are Better Than Me?

Organized sports, along with beauty pageants, wars, and so called "Reality TV" are all examples of what I believe is a very bad human characteristic flaw. Why are people so obsessed with proving themselves or someone they like to be better than everyone else? Sports fans are the most interesting to me. "We Won!" the fans will scream when in fact "we" didn't do anything but pay a lot for a seat in a stadium while "they" actually played the game. And worse yet - many of those folks didn't even get up off their couch! The hatred against the opposing team is most disturbing. You are considered nothing less than a traitor if you support a team your friends don't like. Fights or even riots break out when the "other" team wins. But what does any of it really matter? Have the World Series Champs or their fans (of any year) saved any lives? Did the Super Bowl Champs or fans (of any year) help feed any hungry people? Did the NBA Champs or fans (of any year) cure a disease?

I have to admit I am not a sports fan and I'm often considered an outcast because of it. How is it possible that "The Big Game" is on every weekend? I just don't get it. In my opinion, sports should be for exercise or socializing with your family or friends. But it is very hard to be a gracious loser or a modest winner. Winners always gloat and losers always feel depressed.

I guess that's why I prefer non-competitive sports. Bicycling is my main form of exercise and I also enjoy kayaking, roller blading, gym training and swimming. I can do all of these things on my own without competing with anyone. When I'm done I feel great because I did the work, I got the exercise and I didn't have to prove myself to anyone.