Well Hello There 2

Come in from the Rain: A Lyrical World AIDS Day Story

by Sherri Lewis, FAM Board Member

Well, hello there
Good old friend of mine
You’ve been reaching for yourself
For such a long time
There’s so much to say
No need to explain
Just an open door for you
To come in from the rain

[Songwriters: Carole Bayer Sager & Melissa Manchester]

This song is one of my favorites. It came to mind when thinking about FAM’s December 1, 2022, World AIDS Day STORIES Circle event.

I remember speaking in late November with our Board chair, Irwin Rappaport, who was in New York City at the time. He was scrambling to find a new indoor location for the event due to a forecast of rain and cold weather. The STORIES Circle is becoming our trademark event as we gather friends and family living with or affected by HIV, those who have been reaching for themselves for such a long time, as the song says, and those who have been reaching out to others. Remembering those who died, and celebrating our long history of surviving and thriving.

The AIDS Monument is not built yet, but the grass is green and ready for all of us to gather there when the weather cooperates. Ready for all of us who have so much to say, who are welcomed by an open door after years of closed doors and minds.

We need a public space for reflection, to huddle together and recall decades of dark clouds and storms. To teach young people who only know sunshine about what an unexpected deluge feels like. This year, we literally came in from the rain for an evening of fellowship, stories and heaping plates of food at Soulmate restaurant. An apt name for our gathering place, we good old friends, we who have struggled and continue to struggle, sharing our common histories in solidarity with our soulmates.

The restaurant was noisy with holiday celebrations, but it was still perfect. We who have fought the fight are accustomed to shouting. We make sure we are heard above the chattering. We have so much to say.

One of my friends was honoring his HIV anniversary that night, and was thrilled to have a place to celebrate and be of service. Another friend from my cabaret world who is involved with fundraising for Project Angel Food came for the first time and brought a friend. He was happily surprised by the camaraderie in the room, and the free food!

I met new people at my table where I acted as the facilitator. It is always so interesting to meet new people, hear their stories around HIV, many with long histories. From the theater student back in the day whose mother was an early AIDS activist, and another remembering a gay man who died of AIDS back in those early tragic years. Lots of energy, eating, laughing and tearing up, listening to those who may have never shared their story before or never experienced a sympathetic ear.

There were a lot of events taking place all around West Hollywood on World AIDS Day. I’m happy to say that our AIDS Monument family created a unique, intimate and soulful event like we always do, rain or shine.