As I sat , waiting in my aids clinic the other day I thought of an old saying " Age Is The Great Equalizer " . In this, the 21st century I think that it is not Age but "Aids" that is the great equalizer. As I gaze at the rainbow of color and gender of my fellow combatants , I see familiar faces . Some familiar from the old bar hoppin" days, others true brothers and sisters of the trenches, because I see me in their faces. Its the look, you know "THE LOOK" , the one I see some mornings in the mirror , it only comes along when I am on the verge of being ill. Hallow eyes ,yellow pasty skin ,they can't or want make eye contact , because if they don't see you, then none of this is real. When they do it is a pleading " I am gonna be OK, this is just a check up , Right? " in their yellowed eyes. Please Let it be just another appointment, check under the hood and kick the tires, check the oil and lube it up if you will. See if your t-cells and viral load are in good working order, if not, lets tune up that drug cocktail. I think all of us infected have been there.In that place we are all equal, all in need of human contact and hope. Being a country boy , I have to travel about an hour to my Doctor , an infectious disease specialist and my friend or so I like to think. He has kept me going for well over 13 years now and was also my lovers doctor. As a result of my hanging around on this side of ground I have noticed some things. The first is that most of my contemporaries are just fuckin' gone. My age is a factor in that (45) , when I made my first tipsy forays into man on man sex , condoms when considered kinky. Hell, the worst ,you got was a case of the clap and then it was off to city for a cure all. As Aids became more prevalent , we just thought " Hey it can't happen to me , I only fuck the people I know " and " I live in a small rural town, its not here". We forgot that fags love to travel and love to mark new territories. So people began to die , some did so just because they were ashamed , fear kept them form doctors and from even getting their meds filled ( word gets out in a small town ) . I was lucky ,the small pharmacy near me has been very nice and I have never heard word one. Most people in my small town, know that I am positive and gay. Now to the second thing, people ( gay men to be precise ) got tired of all the funerals and hospitals. They gave up their bed side manner and just simply turned a blind eye to all the death ,stopped going to all the funeral shindigs- out of site out of mind ! As a result gay men in the rural south are getting infected at alarming rates ! It still ,at times seems like " this is the south, so lets go out to the veranda and wait it out ". As a result of the small town life and the slim pickins of HIV POZ men in my own age group, even simple companionship is hard to find . I have learned to value every hug, every touch, from fiends and lovers both , but I must admit , I too am tired of cruising clinic waiting rooms for husband material.
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