Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I'm going to cheat today. Because it's important, because it matters. The last post was about what we didn't know about in the homes we entered. What we didn't know about, more than anything, was secrets and those secrets were sexual in nature. We didn't know because we were barely sexual. Because we were children. Maybe we had inklings but it was that and nothing more.
For everyone in Wenonah being sexual was to be a freak. Odd. You married and had children and they came from sex but how that happened was never spoken of. If you had sex and it had nothing to do with making a child it was even more unspoken. Of course there were affairs. Of course there were men and women that had sex. Teenagers, young adults, men and women with great longing, men and men and women and women. But you never spoke of any of this because to speak of this made you a freak. Like Mr. Webb.
Why should this bother me. I'm a grown man who has been a sexual being his whole life. I think sex is normal and natural and important. I've never shrunk from expressing my sexuality. My desires. My needs. That is a lie. Of course I have. I couldn't speak of anything outside of sex which wants a child. Not hetero or homo or any other sex. To think of desiring another for sexual reasons was unspeakable and to think that you might be a person who lives for those reasons. Well. You're a freak.
I live with a gorgeous, generous, person named Johanna. She is not a woman. She is anatomically a man. She is a woman. She is a man. She is everything you could want in a lifemate but according to the world in which I grew up she is a freak. And that makes me a freak by association.
When I came home to Wenonah, sick with AIDS, none of my childhood friends came to vist me. My family and a few neighbors, my friend Crystal and my landlord Rachel and my neighbor Mrs Seville were some of the few who said even hello. I was first angry, then saddened. They didn't come because I was different. First, I might die. Second, I was clearly gay, Third, I was nearby. We can all take pity on those in suffering at a distance but to do so with those nearby requires courage and strength most of don't possess. I walk by people everyday who are in deep pain. So, with my childhood friends.
Johanna came to me some months into my recovery and brought me two bunny rabbits. She relished the joys of a spring in Wenonah. It was not where she belonged but she felt it's great beauty.
In a week or two it will be World AIDS Day. People with far less resources and family than I are dying and suffering everyday throughout the globe because of shame and secrets. The simple fact of the matter is that the virus of AIDS doesn't give a fuck about you or your desires or needs or virtuousity. It's a virus. By virtue of your inaction or stupidity or lack of knowledge it finds a host and lives and thrives and the host dies. Or doesn't.
All of us can do each and everyone of our fellow human beings a great service by remembering this. We can spend a moment on World AIDS Day remembering someone or perhaps more people we've lost and we can commit to never allowing secrets, shame, and being other to destroy a life. We can reach out to people that aren't like us and realize that all of us are exactly the same. Naked. In the eyes of the Lord. In need of prayer and succor.
So please, this Thanksgiving, take a moment to reach out to the people nearest you and least like you and give them some small kindness. And then reach into your pockets and give to those who die from hunger and AIDS and cancer because people don't give.
We can all of us give, everyday, in every way.
God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving!


carey said...

Thanks for the reminder, Jack. Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

Claudia Hayes Hagar said...

this is beautiful.