This is a photo of me with a friend in the 1980s. We loved coffee shops and smoking and talking. That's him on the right. His name was Paul Avery and we were extremely close -- not lovers but friends. In fact, he was my best friend. He was also my first friend to die of AIDS. I miss him a lot. Down the years, almost everyone I knew died of AIDS. Truly.
At this late date, it's still out there. No matter who you are, you still need to use a condom if you have sex with someone other than a trusted partner. It worries me that there are drugs now that make people think that AIDS is less of a threat. It's not. It's still HIV/AIDS and it can still kill you or at least cause tremendous health problems.
Take care of yourself. Respect yourself and everyone you meet. Don't put yourself in needless danger. Always use a condom.
I wish Paul was still with us. He was not only a great guy but a tremendous writer and I could have used his advice at this point in my life. He worked for the Hearst organization and one of the last pieces he wrote was about a gala AIDS fund-raising event.
Though he was incredibly sick at the time, his words sparkled with life and his own keen perceptions. He was brilliant and the article was grand. I remember reading it and thinking, my word, this man is even more talented than I realized. But his voice was soon silenced -- within days, in fact.
Let's try to make sure no other voices are silenced by AIDS. It's in our hands, you know. We can do this.