I completed a novel

Yesterday I completed writing a novel and I don’t feel elation as much as fatigue. For years I refused to write a novel because I didn’t think I could plot my way out of a paper bag, but a novel was the only way I could tell the story of the most important time in my life. Later this week I will spend four days with my editor Don Weise at my home is Sebastopol and I hope to come out of our time together with a novel that can be published. This is my note at the beginning that sets the tone for the novel.
The early 70’s in San Francisco are written off as a gay orgy but in that short period of time I became a gay man. Eric Rofes, an activist friend told me to record that time because I was one of the few remaining fully functioning men living with HIV. Eric died in 2006. In those years men taught me to accept myself and to enjoy a life far richer than I ever imagined a life could be. I indulged in all the sex I’d repressed since childhood and some I thought impossible. I experimented with everything from opium to crack cocaine but it was LSD that opened my mind and marijuana that let me be stupid.
San Francisco was the perfect convergence of our desire to have our own unique community, a city that welcomed outcastes and cheap housing because the middle class had abandoned the city. I and thousands of others used that to craft a sex positive community the world had never seen and when traditional organizations and churches shunned it we made our own with a synagogue and church, a bank and countless bath houses and restaurants. Without knowing it we built the strength the community would need to survive the AIDS epidemic and despite the loss of thousands of our finest men we conceived the models for HIV-AIDS treatment and care.
I’ve tried to capture the spirit of those years and my characters are amalgams drawn from my incredible family of beautiful human beings, but words can never replace their love and common sense. If someone like Gus Van Sant decides to make the movie millions will see extraordinary men do extraordinary things by just being themselves.


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