I first became aware of HIV/AIDS early on in the epidemic. I saw, Rock Hudson, who was a well-known movie star, leading man, handsome guy being taken off a private jet after treatment in Paris for AIDS. It was late night, very dark and he was totally covered in a blanket. The scene was just shrouded in blackness and death. He was then vilified and hated by those who thought he was the epitome of manhood. I was horrified and saddened by how he was treated and his death shortly after. I began finding out about the virus and doing volunteer work.
I joined a chat room for those who were infected and met many good people, one a charming, crazy, sweet, kind gay man named James who became my best friend. I watched him die a horrible death from AIDS, skinny, wasting away, curled in a fetal position, my heart broke. At that time, 2001, I began working for The Living Room and met so many who were infected. This was before the advent of medications and unfortunately people died quickly. There was Miss S who was a sweet middle aged lady, who was homeless, but who I had the privilege of finding an apartment for shortly before she died. Miss E, who fought so hard but in the end her body and spirit were taken over by HIV/AIDS. Larry, a huge giant of a man, who life had not been kind too, who I sat with when the Doctor told him he was terminal and had only a short time left.
These people stay with me and I think of them often. I also think about the persons who are newly diagnosed and worry will they take care of themselves? Will we continue to see younger and younger folks being diagnosed. Will more people die of this horrible disease/ Those folks are the reason myself and staff at The Living Room continue to do what we do.
The Fresno AIDS helps us keep the doors open so we can continue on with the fight…
Post by Toni Harrison of The Living Room Fresno