Not knowing my openly gay uncle is one of the saddest things about my life. To not have the mentor he would have been to me, to not have someone who also wrote and was also political active, well it basically sucks.
I have his name tattooed across my left arm, as he has always been an inspiration to me. He died peacefully, from what I understand, instead of shaking like most people do when they died, he went quietly into the night. He was faithful in his Catholic background, despite the fact that the church did not accept my openly homosexual Uncle. It took my father more than a few tries to find someone to perform last rights for my Uncle Joe.
But frankly, it would have been nice to have him in my life. It would have been nice to have someone who was gay there to talk to when I was preparing to have sex for the first time, or nice to have my Uncle Joe there when I was heartbroken after my first boyfriend dumped me. It also would have been nice to have my Uncle there when that relationship turned violent.
Sure, I know he is always with me in everything I do, in spirit, but some words of wisdom would have been nice. Something.
He wasn’t there, because a terrible disease took his life. AIDS.
Like many gay men in the late eighties and early nineties, AIDS took his life. And there isn’t a day that goes by that I do not have some sort of resentment towards this disease.
But one thing that is infuriating me more is the fact that today, HIV and AIDS still exists. There is no medical cure for it, and new infections continue to exist today. According to the Center for Disease Control, in fact, new infections are happening more in urban cities and in bisexual men, than in any other population.
We might not have a cure for this disease, but with treatment we can prolong a life for decades. And we end this disease.
It’s pretty simple, by practicing safe sex, and getting tested, and getting treated as soon as HIV is found in the blood, we can create a generation free of HIV and AIDS, which would in turn end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Profound isn’t it? And those who tell me that condoms do not always work, let me tell you a story. I dated someone who was positive, for a few months and we had sex. And we were safe. And I am still negative. Over a year later, three tests later, still negative. Because of a condom. So, it’s pretty simple, you want to rid the world of AIDS, let’s stop worrying about finding a cure and worry more about ending the epidemic in ways we already know how.
Because all of us owe it to the future generations. No one should be denied their gay uncle.