I did drugs with three gay men and shared needles with three men that are dead.
For some reason, I’m here.
I think I’m the storyteller. I took me over 15 years of sobriety to get over my survivor’s guilt for being alive … because I did everything that they did. Justify that to a 23 year old.
“If I did everything you did, who picked me?”
My friends and I were the first three women who got tested for HIV in the men’s clinic in 1986. They didn’t want to test us. My best friend came back as “positive.” She was the first lesbian identified woman with HIV in Washington State. We co-founded several AIDS programs for women. That’s how we found out about the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) not wanting to fund us, because lesbians aren’t considered high risk. When they went to test us, we said, “What part of shooting drugs and sleeping with gay men doesn’t make us high risk?”
I lost 58 friends in four years. The impact of your whole community dying around you ... it’s kind of like the Vietnam War thing. You’re out in the trenches. Back then, you got AIDS, you died. You didn’t get medication. In the early years, if I had coffee with you today, you’d probably be in the obituary by Friday.