A Publicity Still from the I Love Lucy Show

St. Mary’s Hospital, November 1986

I take the pills and go numb.

I drift across the day room and settle on a couch in front of the
television.

Lucy and Ricky slug it out in the gender wars of the 1950’s.

“I juss wan’ choo to be ma wife, Loosy.” Ricky croons; and so she
is, with all the weaponized femininity she can muster.

My doctor arrives.

He’s an arrogant middle class macho who tells me I define
myself by pain; that I just lost two friends to a virus killing
everyone I know is incidental.

No one in his world is grieving the death of fags.

In his world, fags are cautionary tales on the evening news: this is
what happens to perverts.

“You moof from walla pain to walla pain,” he says, with a vaguely
German accent.

I want to shove my fist through his skull, but I widen my eyes and
agree like a good little Lucy about to put the hit on Ricky for a new
hat.

I’ll be whatever he says I am; I just want to get out of here.

I will suck up to the staff like a five-year old who’s discovered he’s cute.

The staff will like my mind, it’s smart enough to stop trying to make
them care.

I will swallow their pills and get fat on hetero-sexist sanity.

I will sit here, watch ‘I Love Lucy‘, and let them take my blood.

Animated Gif from the I Love Lucy Show in which Ricky tells Lucy that he's the man and she's the woman and she does what he says
found on GIPHY


In 1986, HIV was spreading quickly;  by the end of that year, 11,932 people, most of them gay and bisexual men, had died from AIDS.  

Rob Goldstein (c) 2018 All Rights Reserved

Still shot from ‘I Love Lucy’ is in the public domain
Animated Gif found on GIPHY

22 thoughts on “St. Mary’s Hospital, November 1986

  1. I loved the poignant nature of this.
    Young people these days do not know the grief, the fear, the terror of what AIDS was like. In some ways it’s good, because patients are living longer, healthier lives and some normalcy has come. But, in the same turn, they are less responsible because of it. Recent visit to my gyno included a dialogue I won’t write, but it echoed sentiments here. When it’s not happening to people you love, it’s almost like it’s not happening. We could say that about so many things, and who are we to measure pain?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I watched ‘Pride’ last night. The movie was a bitter sweet experience. ‘Pride’ is about the alliance forged between gay activists in the UK and Welsh Miners who went on strike 1984. The gays in the film are all young people and their leader Mark Ashton is passionate and uncompromising gay liberationist. He convinces other gay activists to support the miners because they share the same struggle against the same oppressive forces. His character reminded me so much of the men I marched with in the 70’s and early 80’s. The film closes with the Miners Union joining the 1985 gay pride march. Mark Ashton was diagnosed with AIDS on January 30, 1987 and died 12 days later of Pneumocystis pneumonia. He was 26.

      That’s the way it was. Some of our most courageous leaders died first. Most people don’t think of ‘activists’ as soldiers, been when you decide to put your life on the line for a cause that’s what you are.

      See ‘Pride’ if you haven’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll definitely save this.

        Also– Yes. “‘activists’ as soldiers, been when you decide to put your life on the line for a cause that’s what you are.”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I lost a favorite cousin around that time. He and I were so close as “tweens”. Everything was “hushed” when he left home. Nobody discussed anything. Eventually I learned he died from aids around Key West…
    I’m sorry for this dreadful memory, Rob. Great big hug.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Teagan. Yep, everything was hushed. This is all part of the history. Successful social movements are made by everyday people. Those of us who came out in the 70’s were destined to be tested by something. In the end, we prevailed, and that’s in the history too. But the fight is not over. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That doctor? He was typical. In 1986, HIV was killing the men who were in the forefront of the Gay Liberation Movement. If you did not live in the Gay Communities of New York and San Francisco, AIDS was not real. By 1986, I was in a constant state of anxiety and was hospitalized a few times. The doctors diagnosed me as bi-polar, of course, I wasn’t bi-polar; I was dissociative and suffering from a fresh grief reaction. I tried to explain how it felt to live in the community targeted by HIV and he said, “Oh!…You feel like you’re losing a community!”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I used to facilitate a Survivors Poetry Group – the survivors being those who had survived the mental health system so I heard a lot of stories about doctors, especially psychiatrists, who should never have been allowed within a mile of a patient. Glad to hear your stitching your memoir. It will be a fascinating read.

        Liked by 1 person

I appreciate your comments, though I can’t always reply immediately

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.