New drugs and quicker testing have reduced some of the worst
symptoms of HIV, but the gay contingent of My Generation is
still dying in droves.
I check out a bar called ‘The Transfer’ and watch a bored
stoner fan dance to old disco and move on to a bar called
The ‘Badlands’ is almost empty.
I order a beer and take a seat by the pool table to watch a
group of boys play.
They play badly and grin when they see me watching: the
handsome butch daddy with a mustache, a queen who can
play a mean game of pool.
I smile and raise my beer as an elderly drunk stumbles out
of the toilet and staggers toward the pool table.
He waves to the boys and plops himself in the seat next
“Drinkin a beer eh? Wannanother beer?” His breath stinks
of tobacco and stale beer.
I politely decline and the guy blows up; he wags his finger at
me and snaps loudly:
“Take a good look at me, Miss Thing! This is you in ten years!”
I find it noteworthy that he assumes I will still be alive.
(c) Rob Goldstein 1992-2018
I take the pills and go numb.
I drift across the day room and settle on a couch in front of the
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
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
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
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.
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
Something in the way he moves, his grace, the
way he struts his stuff.
This I know, I want him, I want him in the worst
way; but my love for the Woman keeps me from
taking my man.
The Woman is here for me, as Mary was here for
I shall descend upon her tonight in a glittering
display of astral affection and leave her with
an ancient mystery;
I am the holy trinity in search of a womb.
Image and Poem Rob Goldstein 1984-2018