Friday, January 5, 1996

New Year's Resolutions

(Published in Lavender Lifestyles Magazine, Issue #16, January 5, 1996)

Happy New Year! By now we’ve done our celebrating, so let’s get down to the business of resolutions.

It seems like every year, a few days before Christmas, I always have at least one friend who is hospitalized with pneumocystis. This year was no different and no easier. Six months ago he was robust; it was jarring to see how frail he had become. I thought to myself, “Why does he have to go through this? He shouldn’t have to. Nobody should have to.” Life and the universe didn’t seem terribly fair at that point.

As I left the hospital, for some reason I remembered a poster I saw last September in San Francisco that asked an intriguing and sobering question: “What have you done lately to stop AIDS?”

What an empowering way of looking at it. Asking the question this way leaves no room for making it someone else’s responsibility. There are brilliant people in laboratories everywhere who are looking for a cure and a vaccine, and I hope they find something soon. But in the meantime, there’s a nasty little epidemic running loose out there. We know there are steps that each of us can take to stop the virus from spreading. Doing our part to stop AIDS is our responsibility both to ourselves and to others.

So I would like to encourage you to make a New Year’s resolution or two. Regardless of your HIV status, resolve to practice safe sex every time. If you have questions about what’s safe and what’s not, make a resolution to get the answers. Every sexual encounter that’s safe represents a little victory over the virus—it means that, for this one time, it didn’t get a chance to spread. It may not be a cure or a vaccine, but it’s still extremely significant.

If you’re positive, resolve to take care of yourself so you can stay as healthy as possible. Whatever that means for you, resolve to do it. And resolve not to lose hope for the future. I am meeting more and more people who have been infected for long periods of time and who are leading healthy, productive, fulfilling lives. Every one of these people represent another reason not to lose hope.

If you’re negative, resolve to do what you need to do to stay that way. One aspect of staying negative is physical: knowing what’s safe and what’s not, and choosing to be safe every time. Then there’s the mental aspect of not losing hope, not giving in to mind games. Sometimes it’s hard not to wonder why so many of my friends have the virus and I don’t. There are times I could easily slip into feeling guilty about being negative, and there are times I could easily give in to fatalism: “So many other people have it, it’s only a matter of time before I get it, so why should I bother being safe?” But none of us can afford to think such dangerous thoughts. If you’ve made it this far through the epidemic and you’re still negative, now is definitely not the time to throw in

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to write this column as a way of honoring my friend’s struggle and as a way of helping others avoid that struggle. Incidentally, since that visit the drugs appear to be working and he’s getting stronger. I hope he makes it out of the hospital. I hope he gets to go home again. I hope he gets to go to Mexico this winter—and next winter, and the winter after that.


For the record: Two columns ago I told you that Dale Willman was traveling to Denver to compete in the first-ever Mr. Rocky Mountain Olympus contest. It gives me great pleasure to announce that Dale was awarded the prize for First Runner-up. Attaboy, Dale! (By the way, current Great Lakes Drummerboy troy traveled to Denver with Dale and obviously did a good job assisting him.)


Mark these dates on your brand-new 1996 calendar.

January 14: Whips & Wheels, 5-9 p.m., Gay 90’s Dance Annex, admission by donation. A fundraiser featuring Ms. Minnesota Leather, Mr. Minnesota Leather, Leatherman of Minnesota and Ms. Twin Cities Leather. See event posters for more details.

January 21: The Atons present the Snow Bowl!

February XX & XX: The Black Guard present Black Frost 17, “Spurred On In ’96.” Get your registration forms in soon!

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