Band practice

For National Pride Month, a checklist of the queer musicians you should be fanboying over

Stephin-Merritt

The multi-talented Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields is just one queer band you need to be following.

When someone asks you who your favorite gay band is, what do you usually answer? Culture Club? Indigo Girls? Queen (led by gay Freddie Mercury)? Fanny? Judas Priest (led by gay leather-clad Rob Halford)? R.E.M. (led by gay Michael Stipe)? The B-52’s? Smokey? Husker Du? Pet Shop Boys? The Murmurs? The Runaways? Erasure? These names only scratch the surface of musical groups featuring all (or mostly all) out members. The following are a few more current LGBTQ bands well worth your time and attention.

image-6D6B0584

Alynda Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff.

Led by the brilliant Stephin Merritt — himself a cross between Stephen Sondheim and David Sedaris — The Magnetic Fields have been making music as a band (in various formations) since the early 1990s. Merritt has talent to burn: He has released solo recordings and has composed film and theater scores and fronts other bands as well — among them, Future Bible Heroes, The Gothic Archies and The Sixths. The triple-disc set 69 Love Songs, released in 1999, was one of The Magnetic Fields’ most ambitious and well-received projects.  Merritt describes the equally impressive new five-disc set 50 Song Memoir (Nonesuch) as his “autobiography in 50 songs,” one for each year of his life. Disc 1 covers ’66 through ‘75, Disc 2 ‘76 through ‘85, and so on through 2015. As delightfully gay as ever, songs such as “Judy Garland” (Disc 1), “Why I Am Not a Teenager” (Disc 2), “Me and Fred and Dave and Ted” (Disc 3), “Lovers’ Lies” (Disc 4) and “You Can Never Go Back To New York” (Disc 5), are just a few of the welcome additions to The Magnetic Fields’ massive songbook.

At first, when you hear the amazing song “Living in the City,” the second track on The Navigator (ATO) by Hurray for the Riff Raff, you might think you were listening to a new Michelle Shocked album (minus the religious fanaticism and homophobia). But you’d be wrong. Like The Magnetic Fields, Hurray For the Riff Raff is the creation of one person — in this case, Alynda Segarra — working with several guest artists, including Yva Las Vegas. A folk/punk concept album masterpiece, it’s Woody Guthrie meets David Bowie, as pop as it is political. Thrilling and theatrical (“Pa’lante” sounds like an homage to Hedwig’s “Midnight Radio”), international and inspirational (“Rican Beach” and “Finale”) and undeniably powerful (“Hungry Ghost” and “Life to Save),” The Navigator will leave you cheering.

Returning with its first album since 2013’s Tales of Us, Goldfrapp, featuring queer lead vocalist Alison Goldfrapp, delivers the shiny Silver Tree (Mute). The 10 tracks effortlessly incorporate the band’s musical styles and directions. Goldfrapp’s dance-club heartbeat pulses throughout “Anymore.” “Everything Is Never Enough,” “Become The One” and, to a lesser degree, “Systemagic.” The synth experimentation for which Goldfrapp is known can be felt on “Moon in Your Mouth,” “Ocean” and “Tigerman.” The band’s warm chill-out side is represented by “Beast That Never Was” and “Faux Suede Drifter.”

Muna-CL-Flood

The queer trio MUNA, warrant your attention as well.

About U (RCA) by queer female trio MUNA is a blast from the ‘80s past. From the vocoder on “Winterbreak” to the irresistibly persuasive dance energy of “Crying on the Bathroom Floor,” “End of Desire,” “Around U,” “I Know a Place” and “Loudspeaker.” Songs such as “So Special” and “Promise” sound like 21st-century updates of underrated queer Canadian band The Parachute Club (of “Rise Up” fame).

Born in L.A.’s “queer punk underground,” French Vanilla is a feminist punk band that makes the best use of a saxophone and bassline since Romeo Void (of “Never Say Never” fame). The band’s self-titled Danger Collective Records debut channels the ‘80s through a modern lens and amplifier. French Vanilla pays homage to everyone’s favorite telekinetic in “Carrie” and “Anti-Aging Global Warming” (with its accept your days are numbered mantra) are a couple of examples of the variety of subject matter.

Hiraeth, the new six-song EP by queer “indie Americana” duo The Harmaleighs (creative and personal partners Haley Grant and Kaylee Jesperson) is as soothing as a milk bath. The harmonies are gorgeous (“Diamond Ring” and the difficult “Birds of a Feather”) and the pair is not afraid to crank it up a bit when necessary (the subtle country-rock of “Mouthful of Cigarettes”).             

— Gregg Shapiro

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

Cast, away!

The most recent B’way season’s hits & misses … of cast recordings

Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole double-down on divaness with ‘War Paint’.

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Executive Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

While you wouldn’t necessarily call original cast recordings of Broadway musicals “queer music,” let’s face it: That’s the target audience. And we’re living in a mini-Golden Age of soundtracks to big stage musicals. It wasn’t always that way. Maybe Hamilton brought them back or The Book of Mormon, but you can get most musicals on CD, MP3 or streaming nowadays.

Of course, that doesn’t have anything to do with excellence. While composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul continue to rack up awards not just for their Tony-winning stage hit Dear Evan Hansen as well as their movie musical La La Land, what about the rest of the crop of current B’way shows? Here’s our rundown for theater queens everywhere.

The-Great-Comet-of-1812

‘The Great Comet’ recording gives listeners a more complete appreciation for the lyrics than live audience members get.

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 (Reprise). The other big new musical of the 2016–17 B’way season, this spirited adaptation of a portion of War and Peace is a dazzling piece of stagecraft when seen live, with actors dancing in the aisles (literally). But that also means the acoustics in a live theater can be challenging, and lyrics get lost. That’s the perk of having this disc to deliver hi-fi stereo sounds to your ears in the privacy of your car or through your headset at the gym. For many, a big part of the sonic appeal of this show is recording star Josh Groban — making his Broadway debut — offering his rich baritone to composer Dave Malloy’s rousing score, but Denée Benton as Natasha and Brittain Ashford as Sonya deliver some exquisite moments on memorable ballads. Don’t worry too much about following the storyline — just enjoy the ride.

War Paint (Ghostlight). The team responsible for the cult hit musical Grey Gardens — lyricist Michael Korie, composer Scott Frankel and book writer (and Dallas native) Doug Wright (plus director Michael Grief and co-star Christine Ebersole) — reunited for this feminist anthem, about two women who help make the 20th century what it was: pioneering cosmetic queens Helena Rubenstein (Patti LuPone), who had the chemistry background but a brusque, Eastern European hardness that made her less appealing to the ladies of the Upper East Side; and Elizabeth Arden (Ebersole), a packaging genius whose nouveau-riche-ness kept her away from the salons of the women she transformed. Onstage, LuPone’s powerhouse alto could overwhelm Ebersole’s more lyric mezzo, but the mix on the cast recording gives each equal appeal. The men in their lives don’t have songs that are as catchy, but Wright somehow manages to supply these two women — who never met in real life — with the structure to deliver three duets, which sound just as cheer-worthy on a disc as they do at the Nederlander Theater. This is diva central of the Broadway season.

A Bronx Tale: The New Musical (Ghostlight). Whither the obsession with turning every old movie into a current Broadway musical? Chazz Palminteri’s big break was his one-man autobiographical show about life in the 1960s on Belmont Avenue. But the flash of a musical led him to adapt it into a sprawling show, with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater … and what an unmitigated disaster it has become, at least as a show score. It doesn’t miss a single cliché on its romp through the mean streets of Noo Yawk — clichés only exacerbated by Slater’s lazy, inane lyrics (I counted nine times he used “kid” as the last word of a lyric) with painfully underdeveloped characters, frightful imagery and cringe-inducing rhymes. Menken’s score is better, but even he cribs from himself (detect motifs that echo The Little Mermaid and Little Shop of Horrors). This is a lesser work — Jersey Boys lite — that probably didn’t deserve a cast recording.

Hello, Dolly! (Sony Masterworks). Of course, singing along to Carol Channing’s 1964 recording of the original Jerry Herman bombast was probably the moment most men of a certain age realized they were gay. But as much as we love Carol (and, for that matter, Pearl Bailey, who also did the role and recorded an album), when yer talkin’ gay icons, yer talkin’ Bette. Midler proved her can-you-hear-me-in-the-balcony? delivery in the stagy TV version of Gypsy, but she’s more character-driven here, as are Davie Hyde Pierce and Gavin Creel, among others. It’s the definitive old-school Broadway show and as close as you’ll get to an acceptable substitute to seeing La Midler live.

Falsettos-Album-Cover

The revival of ‘Falsettos’ highlights William Finn’s clever lyrics.

Falsettos (Ghostlight). The original Broadway production of this show already won composer William Finn the Tony in 1992, when it first ran, but the limited-run revival this past winter birthed an all-new cast recording, which features some of the biggest stars of this century: Christian Borle, Andrew Rannells and Stephanie J. Block. They form part of a love triangle — really more of a dodecahedron — of gay men, ex-wives, lesbians next door and straight kids in this rondelet of coping with life and love in the world of HIV. The new two-disc set (the musical is really two one-act musicals, both sung-through) luxuriates in Finn’s witty wordplay (his tunes are more traditional) with standout acting-vocals that develop character and explore humor in the face of confusion and sadness. If you’re not familiar with the show, this is the time to get acquainted… or reacquainted.                    

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tweens these days

From diverse families to trans teens, it’s hit-or-miss time in children’s lit

The-Lotterys-Plus-One

The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue, illustrated by Caroline Hadilaksono (Arthur A. Levine Books 2017) $17.99; 320 pp.

Nine-year-old Sumac Lottery knew that her family was unique. It was no big deal, though; that’s what happens when a man from the Yukon and a man from India fall in love, and a Mohawk woman and a Jamaican woman fall in love, too. It’s what happens when there are seven kids, most of them from other “bios.”

It wasn’t always that way. When MaxiMum was giving birth to Sic 16 years ago, PapaDum and PopCorn were rubbing MaxiMum’s back when CardaMom found a winning lottery ticket that someone lost. They got lots of money, which allowed them to change their surnames and buy a big house for the big family that the four parents always wanted.

That all happened long before Sumac was born. And it might’ve stayed that way, too — 11 Lotterys (plus pets) in one big, rowdy, happy family — but then PopCorn got a call from the Yukon. His father had accidentally almost burned his house down, and he could no longer live by himself so the parents decided that Iain (PopCorn’s pop) should be moved into Camelottery. And because Sumac had a main-floor bedroom, she was asked to give it up and move her things to the Artic (also known as the attic).

That was something she really didn’t want to do. She really didn’t want Grumps to come live at Camelottery at all because he was mean and nasty and racist and he hated everything and everyone. To be truthful, Sumac didn’t like him very much either, so she started to think up a plan.

The Lotterys Plus One is too: too messy, too cutesy, too padded with not-pertinent-to-the-story scenes, and — with a plethora of names (see above) — too confusing. It’s as if the acclaimed author Emma Donoghue tried too much to put an Age of Aquarius spin on what could have been a simple story of diversity and inclusion.

That’s quite the departure from Donoghue’s adult novels, which are tight, vivid and brimming with stunning plausibility; instead, this story is just plain weird, starting with character names that are new-agey and forced-clever. These same characters give funny-not-funny names to rooms (“Derriere” is — wait for it! — the backside of the house), and much of the dialogue consists of inside-jokes and preschooler misunderstandings (“Spare Oom.” Say it aloud). It’s as if Pippi Longstocking moved into a House of Wordplay, only not as charming and nowhere near as much fun.

At its very basic, this story — a large, diverse family welcomes an elderly relative — is solid, even good. It’s the peripherals that are hard to get past, and 8-to-12-year-olds may not have much patience for it. For sure, adults can spot The Lotterys Plus One, and move on.

Pants-ProjectThe Pants Project by Cat Clarke (Sourcebooks 2017) $17; 272 pp.

The first day of middle school stinks to begin with, but it was worse for Liv. It wasn’t just the newness that bothered her. It wasn’t that Bankridge Middle School was bigger. The thing she dreaded was that the school had a dress code, which meant wearing a skirt.

Liv hadn’t worn a skirt in years. This was going to be horrible.

Admittedly, the first day didn’t kill her, though she learned fast that Bankridge had its share of Mean Girls. The boy she had to sit next to in home room, Jacob, was cool (she’d rather’ve sat with her best friend, Maisie). And P.E. class wasn’t bad, as long as Liv changed before everybody else got to the locker room.

Changing clothes in a crowd of loud girls made Liv uncomfortable. That’s because she knew she was transgender — a boy in a girl’s body. Being trans was the secret she wished she could tell somebody, but she was afraid. Her moms would probably understand but Liv wanted to wait, for many good reasons. She’d tell when the time was right; until then, she’d endure sixth grade.

Except life took a turn for the worse. Maisie started hanging with the Mean Girls, and she didn’t want to be Liv’s best friend anymore. Everybody started teasing Liv about having two moms. A family member got sick. And ugh! those skirts.

It wasn’t fair that Liv lost her best friend; or that Mean Girls bugged her, though she tried to ignore them; or that she couldn’t reveal the Secret. And it definitely wasn’t fair that boys didn’t have to wear skirts. Un. Fair. So Liv cooked up an audacious plan.

Without a doubt, The Pants Project is a good book, for kids or adults. It’s also a great reminder that adolescence is hard, kids are mean, support is key — and it’s all wrapped up in a wise, self-aware preteen you’ll enjoy meeting.

Indeed, Clarke gives readers a good peek inside the life of a kid who has things figured out… almost. Liv has a good understanding of her situation and is willing to carefully dip her toes into the coming-out pool, but that’s not the best part. No, the appeal of this book is that every middle-schooler alive will recognize the perfectly-written supporting cast of characters here — Mean Girls, nerds, jocks, nice teachers, jerks — making it easy to sympathize with our hero and her situations.

Meant for readers ages 10-to-14, it could be fast and fun for an older kid; if your child needs a reminder to be herself, she’ll especially love it. She’ll start The Pants Project, in fact, and it’ll quickly grow on her.

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

Best Bets • 06-23-17

Friday  06.23 – Sunday  07.25

SWS1819

Danielle Georgiou’s ‘Donkey Beach’ promises to kick ass

The Danielle Georgiou Dance Group isn’t just a “dance group” at all. What they do is more meta-theater, combining music, spoken word and, of course, movement in creative and artistic ways — usually addressing issues like sex, identity and just having fun. And that’s what you’ll do at Donkey Beach, DGDG’s newest show, set on magical sands with quirky characters and an enchanted donkey. This limited run will be performed as part of the Dallas Arts District’s Elevator Series.

DEETS: Hamon Hall at the Winspear Opera House,
2403 Flora St. $25.
ATTPAC.org.

 

Thursday 06.29

Melissa-Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge performs live at the Majestic

She’s a Grammy winner, an Oscar winner, a hard-rocking guitar shero, but as much as anything, Melissa Etheridge is an icon for the gay community. Ever since coming out (at Bill Clinton’s first inauguration, no less), she’s been a leader not just from the concert stage, but the political stage … and boy does she deliver live. She arrives for a one-night-only show at the Majestic this week. (And check out DallasVoice.com’s InstanTea blog for our recent interview with her.)

DEETS: Majestic Theatre,
1925 Elm St. 8 p.m.
ATTPAC.org.

Friday  06.24 Sunday  07.23

Donkey-Beach

Stage West hooks you up with ‘Sex with Strangers’

A man and woman with similar but wildly divergent careers — she’s an unsuccessful but serious literary novelist, he’s a fashion, widely-read relationship blogger — find themselves holed up in the same B&B alone. And the idea of a hookup intrigues them… but will this work out? Stage West continues its racy season with the aptly-titled Sex with Strangers. The company’s artistic director, Dana Schultes, joins Jake Buchanan in this modern romantic comedy.

DEETS: Stage West,
821 W.Vickery Blvd.,
Fort Worth.
StageWest.org

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

Scene • 06-23-17

 

 

 

Making the SCENE the week of June 23–29:

Alexandre’s: Blondtourage on Friday. Bad Habits on Saturday. Wayne Smith on Sunday. Walter Lee on Tuesday. Bianka on Wednesday. Chris Chism on Thursday.

BJ’s NXS!: New Years in June with $1,000 in cash prizes, free champagne at midnight, two balloon drops — at midnight and 1 a.m. on Tuesday.

Club ChangesImperial Court presents Pre-Independence
Day Show
benefiting Reign XXXVIII Charities at 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Club Reflection: The Imperial Court presents an evening of TV theme songs benefiting HELP PrEP Clinic at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Trinity River Bears meeting at 2:30 p.m. and cookout at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Dallas Eagle: Sir LT’s Bearlesque Brigade show and silent auction from 6-10 p.m. on Friday. United Court of the Lone Star Empire presents Diva Devo fundraiser for the Sharon St. Cyr Fund from 6-10 p.m. on Saturday. Texas Gay Rodeo Association presents Miss Firecracker from 6-10 p.m. on Sunday.

JR.’s Bar & Grill: Cassie’s Freak Show at 11 p.m. on Monday.

Kaliente: Voice of Pride on Tuesday.

Mable Peabody’s: Celebrating Pride all weekend with Queeraoke on Friday, Omni Freak Dance on Saturday and free hotdogs and chips at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Marty’s Live: Aja from RuPaul’s Drag Race with special appearances by Nicole Ohara Munro, Bleach, Raquel Blake, Leyla Edwards and Mulan. Meet and greet at 10 p.m. and show at 11 p.m. on Sunday.

Pekers: Linda Petty and the Main Event at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Round-Up Saloon: Boys, Boots and Boxer Briefs at 10 p.m. on Monday. Mr. and Miss Round-Up 2017 at 10 p.m. on Thursday.

Sue Ellen’s: Ponder the Albatross on Saturday. Bella and Darla at 3:30 p.m. followed by Bad Habits on Sunday. Miss Golden Globe State and State at Large Preliminary — A Night of Black Magic at 6 p.m. on Sunday.

The Rose Room: Mr. and Miss Texas Wessland 2017 at 10 p.m. on Thursday. $15 admission. $40 VIP.

Scene Photographers: Kat Haygood and Chad Mantooth

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

Crossword Puzzle • 06-23-17

Click to download this week’s PUZZLE
Click to download this week’s SOLUTION

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

Ex-NFL pro O’Callaghan comes out as gay

Ryan O’Callaghan when he played for New England, left, and today

Ryan O’Callaghan, a former lineman for the world champion New England Patriots and later the Kansas City Chiefs, has come out as a gay man, and says he believes that the NFL is ready for openly gay active players.

O’Callaghan told OutSports.com that he had wrestled with his sexuality throughout his NFL career and that he used football “as kind of my cover for my life.” He also said that he had planned on committing suicide when his pro career ended, because he couldn’t imagine a life as a gay man without football as his “beard.”

He had written a note and had a cabin full of guns waiting on him. But, he said, the Chiefs trainer, David Price, realized something was wrong and encouraged O’Callaghan to speak to the team’s counselor, Susan Wilson. Wilson told O’Callaghan that before he killed himself, maybe he should find out if he “needed” to kill himself. So O’Callaghan came out to his family and friends, and their acceptance changed his life.

Read O’Callaghan’s complete interview with OutSports.com here, and watch the SB Nation video of him telling his story below.

O’Callaghan story breaks at the same time that word comes the NFL is considering taking all Texas locations out of consideration for hosting the next draft or future Super Bowls because state lawmakers are set to consider a “bathroom bill” that would prohibit transgender people from using the appropriate public restroom facilities.

Kind of blows all kinds of holes in Dan Patrick’s claim that a bathroom bill would’t hurt the state, don’t it?

—  Tammye Nash

Mexico City’s LGBT Art Festival

—  Dallasvoice

Pride March in DC

—  Dallasvoice

The lives of the leftovers

Some long-term HIV survivors have thrived; others have not

AIDS-Survivors

 

Gary Bellomy 2017I just finished watching the series finale of The Leftovers. I was drawn to this television show for a couple of different reasons. First, as with most every gay man watching, Justin Theroux had my attention with his now legendary jogging scene in his sweatpants (We are so predictable. I can probably lump a majority of the straight, female viewing audience into that equation, too). But beyond that riveting performance, he and the entire cast delivered stellar performances throughout the three-year run of the show.

For those of you not familiar with The Leftovers, it was a very dark portrayal what happens in the lives of those people left remaining after a large portion of their loved ones disappear suddenly, in the style of the biblical Rapture. Those remaining are the “leftovers.”

The actual disappearance is the show’s only similarity to the traditional fire and brimstone fairytale. (Spoiler alert: Armageddon never arrives to end the daily suffering of these characters. Instead, they are left to develop some very quirky coping skills to deal with the reality of their loss.)

This scenario, of course, hooked me, because I am a member of the generation of gay men, lesbians, straight allies and family members who endured the loss of so many lives in the 1980s and 1990s. In ways we would rather not admit we are the “leftovers” of the AIDS era.

We survived the devastation and crushing loss AIDS dealt this community. Yes, we have moved on in our lives. Effective drugs for treatment and prevention of new infection has slowed the ravages of HIV. We have learned to live with the gaps left in us where those that perished once dwelt.

But at what cost are we standing here today? Believe me when I say that cost is huge. Parts of us will ever remain broken. And in the quiet, in the still moments, each of us faces this fact.

As for me, I am one of those HIV-positive “leftovers” tagged “long term survivors.” I received my positive test results in 1984. But for reasons unknown, I have managed to live with this virus, experiencing little of its damaging effects for at least 32 years, when so many others did not.

I could say it’s thanks to my healthy diet and exercise, but others with the same type of lifestyle died long ago. Maybe the single most significant factor is I did not rush to begin any of the early drug regimens when they became available. I was skeptical.

I saw too many friends panic when they discovered their status, grasping for any treatment that might save them. Once as healthy as I was, they withered under those treatments.

I have read several articles in recent years about the plight of others like me. And what I’ve read paints a grim picture. They show a group of people lingering outside of society’s norm — unhappy, unhealthy and out of step with the rest of the world.

This is unfortunate. In many instances, these people still cling to their identity as a person living with AIDS rather than seeing themselves as a person with HIV, a manageable chronic condition. Most of them went on disability years ago, abandoning viable careers because they believed their death was imminent. I said at that time that it was a bad idea, and I stand by that assessment today.

Some are facing determination of disability policies when they reach legal retirement age. Many of the men being chronicled would like to return to employment, but their skills are outdated. They’re bored. Often, they live in government-assisted housing that is dangerous and depressing. Others live in housing provided by AIDS assistance organizations where they are reminded daily of the morbidity rate of the HIV-infected. Not the most positive environment in which to dwell.

Collectively, they feel, accurately enough, that the lives they were dealt have been siphoned away in this strange limbo they accepted.

Make no mistake; I am not trying to crow about my superior abilities compared to other “long-term survivors.” I know full well how fortunate I have been with my own health.

As I said, I passed on early HIV medications. But over time I became complacent in monitoring my health. Asymptomatic for so long, I began to feel I was immune. I was foolish. I began drug treatment because a KS (Kaposi sarcoma) lesion developed on the lens of my eye. The drugs at that time were effective in dissolving that growth, and it has never returned. I know I would be dead without these drugs; so would every other person in my situation. The drugs have given many of us the opportunity to survive.

I can’t judge those who have had to live with very real HIV-related illnesses for decades. But it’s not clear that this is what happened with those I read about. Wasting their own lives while chaining themselves to a dead-end disability lifeboat is not their main concern; convincing themselves they are ill and have already lost the battle with HIV is what is lethal.

Many that bought into that toxic mindset perished quickly because of it. Other’s will continue for a spell longer, watching all of life’s meaning fade.

That is what I believe is the true nightmare of this kind of existence. You are setting yourself up to die.

I don’t think this picture of “long-termers” is accurate for a great many of us. It certainly, does not represent my life. Some of us have moved on with the other members of that generation of survivors. We certainly have had unique hurdles to master: decades of high insurance premiums to provide the costly drugs we require, dealing with prejudice concerning HIV in our workplaces and, at times, in our own community.

All of it became manageable somehow because we chose to press on along with the rest of humanity.

Plenty of us have had rich and rewarding lives. We held onto jobs. We stayed active. We risked involvement with new friends and new mates. We allowed others to bring happiness into our lives, and we slowly learned again to reciprocate.

We live in this world. We take what this life offers us today. And it is enough.

We don’t expect what was taken to be returned. We don’t allow the sorrow of the past to take hold of our souls. We make our way. We will continue to contribute. We have chosen to die with our boots on when that day comes. No one is sure how HIV will influence our more senior years. I remain hopeful.

HIV-negative gay men, lesbians and the straight people that supported us then and do so today did not retreat. Many would have liked to, I’m sure. It’s seems unfair that we were given an escape clause that would release us from the burdens life holds, because we owe it to them and to those who did not survive to continually find ways to live productive lives.

If this community can find ways to rehabilitate these men and return them to the light of present day, I will be there to reach out to them as well. We can never give up. HIV did not win the battle; we did.

 

Gary Bellomy is a longtime Dallas activist working on issues of LGBT equality, HIV/AIDS services and family violence prevention. He is a war resister and a Trump resister.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 16, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice