After graduating from college, I moved to Atlanta, Georgia for my first real job and I began volunteering for AIDS Atlanta.
This is a picture of myself, with seven of the best friends I ever had, taken in September of 1990. We were trained in an outreach project that gave talks about HIV/AIDS and safe sex.
We spoke at churches — if they would have us. We spoke to schools, civic organizations, local groups — any group that would let us in the door. We came up with a whole routine that had both humor and a very serious aspect to it.
I share this very scared picture of mine, my friends, my “Band of Brothers.” We were having a cook-out that night and waiting on all of our other friends to arrive when someone snapped this pic. It’s old, it’s not in great shape — but it means the world to me.
We were listening to Roxy Music that night, and the songs “Avalon” and “More Than This” can still take me back to every detail of that evening.
I have “ghosted” my friends’ images so that those who are too young to remember the early days of AIDS epidemic can maybe understand, just a bit, what it’s like to be the last one left.
In this picture are two high school teachers, one attorney, one in law school, one hairdresser, one college student and one carpenter. They each have their own, unique story. By 1997, all had succumbed to AIDS, including my best friend, Phil, and I was the last one left. The only one alive.
I left Georgia after this, taking a position in south Florida. I found that you can change your surroundings, but you still carry the hurt, the loss, and the grief wherever you go.