July 2, 2011

July 2, 2011
I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Saturday and I hope you had a safe and great week. It is another busy weekend for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

From 1978 until 1991, San Francisco was the home I always wished for growing up. Being from a small Southern town, I did not know any other gay people. In Pensacola, it was not exactly safe for people to be out of the closet. So as a teenager, I had no role models.

During that time period, there were no youth organizations for LGBT youth. There were no out sports stars, movie or television stars. So because of my religious upbringing, I believe what I was taught at Catholic schools and church which was I was an abomination. For most of my childhood, I hid my sexual orientation until I was outed because of a pic taken at San Francisco Gay Pride with my boyfriend at the time.

Now I know this is not my usual blog about HIV and AIDS. But in a way it is since San Francisco was one of the first cities so hard hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I watch an entire generation of gay men die from HIV before we had life saving anti-HIV medications including two of my partners.

Visiting San Francisco is always hard for me. There are many ghosts and sad memories associated with living there when I did. I always go to the National AIDS Grove (where the picture for the blog today was taken with Dab the AIDS Bear). At the middle of the grove is a place called the circle of friends. Here are engraved the names of the first San Franciscans to die from AIDS including my first partner. I can never visit the grove without breaking down in tears to the point of sobbing while thinking about all those who died too young. Those who never had a chance because we did not have life saving anti-HIV medications.

Just like me, too many people had to watch their loved ones die through a window while they were in quarantine. Even after people with HIV and AIDS were not quarantined too many had to hold the person they loved as they lost their battle with AIDS. Even more sad, it all those you died from AIDS who had no one to be there for them.

So for all of you who ask how and why I continue to be an activist for people with HIV and AIDS. For all you who ask why after three decades I continue to do HIV/AIDS awareness, education and prevention. For all you who ask why I spend more than half the year going from city to city helping raise much needed donations so each city can take care of their people with HIV and AIDS.

Now you know why.

I hope you have a great and safe July 4th weekend. Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab