The AIDS Conference is over. The delegates have gone home. The 8,000 little cloth banners in the park, to remember those who die each day, have been taken down. It's like the conference never happened. But hopefully it will help.
Although that help will always come too late for my friend Michel.
Unlike many gay men I haven't been personally devastated by the impact of AIDS. I only have two friends living with HIV. And one who died. But that was enough.
Michel was a beautiful guy half French half Mohawk, who came from Drummondville, Quebec. He looked after the wild animals in a rich man's private zoo. He was pretty wild too. But all he wanted to do was find some guy move out to the countryside and live happily ever after. And for a while he almost did.
For three years he was happier than he had ever been. Then one day, without any warning or even leaving a note, his lover drove into a field and killed himself. Then as he lay there paralyzed with shock and grief, he had to look on helplessly as his lover's family .....who had shunned them... carried away all his possessions including the car.
A few months later Michel almost died of pneumonia and was diagnosed with HIV. He should have lived. New drugs were already saving countless lives. But he went into a downward spiral and died quickly of AIDS, cocaine, and a broken heart.
I visited him regularly in his hospital bed. Until he told me he had also contracted tuberculosis. For some unforgivable reason that scared the shit out of me. I managed to find some excuse to miss my next appointment.
When I went back he was in a coma and he never woke up. One of the nurses told me later, right until he fell asleep for the last time he kept asking "where is Simon?"
That's what AIDS means to me.The millions who have died, the millions who are living with the disease, and dying of it because politicians don't care enough. The millions who loved them, and love them now. And of course.... always Michel.
That's why I was so proud Canada hosted the AIDS Conference. And did it so well. That's why I was so disgusted by the way our government behaved.
How the fuck did we ever let these heartless bastards speak in our name, and shame us in the eyes of the world?
I'm sure Michel would be happy to know how much progress has been made. Even if it came too late for him. So I am happy and hopeful too.
But I'll never forgive what the ReformCons did, to insult his memory, and the memory of all the others who died. And all those living with HIV....and those who are trying to do something to help.
I could forgive these filthy Cons for almost anything. Once. But I can never forgive them for that.
How could I?
When I can't even forgive myself...