Dave and I developed a friendship whose continuity endured despite long absences. We'd not see each other or speak for months, or years. Then he'd call me with a new phone number, or we'd bump into each other at a bar, and pick up where we left off. And that's what I was looking forward to when, after another long absence, I called him this past December, to see if he'd received my invitation to a holiday party. He said it was good that I called. "I've been telling myself, I really should call Chris ..." Three months ago, I hadn't known he'd been sick. I didn't know he was dying.

One of the ways I've responded to AIDS is to read: about viruses, the natural history of disease, historical plagues and epidemics, their human impact ... During the Black Death of the 14th century, Christians accused Jews of poisoning wells and rivers. Some Jews "confessed" under torture, or were baptized. The others were tortured, killed and burned in fields and open pits, in their synagogues and homes, or in buildings constructed for this special purpose.

While AIDS has its own scapegoats, with so-called leaders of all religions denouncing them, little has changed in 650 years. There is no god who has delivered AIDS to "punish" me, my friends, my lovers, my family of choice, my community. Sex is not a sin, my love is not a disorder. There are no "innocent victims."

April 1992

how many voices have you silenced?
whose truth do you fear?

what sends you running for shelter in your god's shadow,
clinging to the hem of his rotten shrouds,
praying to him for the bad words to stop?

your ignorance is vile
dangerous
violent

you would see me struck down
silence my voice, my truth
to preserve your fragile ballast of lies

preaching vainly of greater good
you bring greater harm

there isn't room enough in hell for both of us

you go first