I’ll Be Seeing You – In Memory of Kit –

At Harvey Milk Plaza

My best friend Kit was a bit of a twit before he got sick, but
he was brilliant and passionate about gay liberation.
Our friendship was based on mutual geekiness.

Kit tinkered with a Mac or a Tandy while I wrote poetry and
listened to Pattie Smith through my headphones.

It was the third year of the AIDS epidemic.

We sat over coffee at the Cafe Flore on a bright
Mediterranean day in San Francisco.

Kit opened his backpack and pulled out a small computer.

It looked like a large calculator.

Kit said that HIV had not infected all gay men.

He suspected that HIV was sexually transmitted, but at that
time no one was certain.

We both knew many men who had died and even more who were sick.

Kit wanted to know what they had in common.

He questioned a small sampling of men and now he questioned me.

I.V. Drugs?

I hate needles.

Acid?

I hate acid.

Poppers ?

They smell like dirty feet.

Alcohol?

I don’t drink.

Weed?

Yes, please.

Then Kit asked me about sex.

Most of it’s icky, I replied.

Kit turned the computer around and showed me a bell curve.

It peaked in the late 1980s and declined in the 1990’s.

Kit said that what looked like new infections were actually
old ones that had advanced to end stage AIDS.

He explained that the virus had already infected most of the men in our age group who were going to die and that as they died the cases in our age group would drop.

Kit said that I would live and he would die.

Two years later Kit was diagnosed with AIDS and two years after that he died.

Kit took his own life when AIDS took his eyesight.

He had survived three bouts of Pneumocystis.

His skin was covered with Kaposi’s lesions and the lesions invaded his internal organs.

The last time I saw Kit I took his hand and told him that I was
going to miss him.

He replied that he loved me so much he’d haunt me.

We laughed together one last time and said goodbye.

Kit had introduced me to Billie Holiday.

He said that she sang from her soul.

This song is for Kit:

Billie Holiday


https://robertmgoldstein.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/04-ill-be-seeing-you.mp3

Billie Holiday – I’ll Be Seeing You
Community Audio

 

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Bar Hopping On The Castro, June 10, 1993

The Castro has a fastidious beauty: flawless and surreal; I see
nothing of the joyful anarchy of gay liberation, or the horror of
young men covered in lesions.

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’.

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
to me.

“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.

In 1992, AIDS was he number one cause of death in the United States for
men aged 25-44.

(c) Rob Goldstein 1992-2018

 

Yet, I am still alive

A friend and collaborator took this picture as I got
into character to rehearse a theatrical piece.

My friend snapped this shot as I danced and spoke
my lines.

In fact, I was switching into character, though no one
in my circle of friends knew what that was.

It was a dark time in America, but one goes on with life.

This is a journal entry from the day of that shot:

July 16, 1987

It is July and I am still alive.

The AIDS epidemic is in its sixth year and those six years have passed slowly and cruelly. I had hoped that AIDS would fade like a fad, but it is still around and killing, and the fact that a reactionary movement has gained momentum by openly discussing it as a form of divine retribution sickens me to my core.

Thank God for Joni Mitchell.

I’ve lived so long without a future that the thought of having one terrifies me.

Yet, I am still alive.

And I intend to stay alive.

(c) Rob Goldstein 1987-2017

A Flight of Ideas: Secret Obscenities

My life ended and sent me into crisis.

An arm around my shoulder, a doctor gives counsel:

He says, if I take my pills, I will forget my grief, I will be happy.

He says, the Lord is in my heart, if I search it, I’ll find him, he’ll
save me.

He says, if I climb the right steps, I’ll be normal, if I talk about it:
this grief I can’t mention.

My lies are those of one who doesn’t trust, and so I fear
that unless the lying stops, I will —

Become the prank who attends his own funeral, mingling
with the mourners, and whispering secret obscenities.

(c)text Rob Goldstein 1984, image Rob Goldstein 2017