Its been a while since we last saw each other but Ive never forgotten about you and I hope you remember me. Over the past year Ive reflected on the day we first met as we both got off the train at 137th street in Harlem. Our eyes met and it was electric for me from the start.
I was only 19 and fresh out of Alabama and had never dated outside of my race before, nor had I ever experienced all of the things that I was exposed to during my time with you. I remember vividly telling my friends how fine you were and how I couldnt believe you were interested in me. Do you remember the first night we hung out at your apartment in the Bronx? You showed me all of the pictures from the Balls you had walked and brought to life people I only knew from watching Paris is Burning, people like Dorian Corey, Octavia St. Laurent, and Pepper Labeija among others. I can still hear Mary J. Blige singing Let No Man Put Asunder in the background. I was infatuated and wrapped up in you.
I remember walking with you in the village and being jealous of all of the attention you received from every man, girl, and transvestite! Or when your camera got more attention than me, and I wont ever forget how I felt when you told me you were HIV positive.
It had never hit home for me until that moment. Sitting on your bed receiving the news from you stirred up intense emotions for me. Immediately I didnt want to believe you because you didn’t look sick and you were fine as hell! The words just rolled off your tongue like it was nothing, Im HIV positive, you said. This was my first time really being affected by the virus but it certainly would not be my last.
I remember going back to my apartment and breaking down in tears in front of my roommates because I didnt understand why this had to happen to you, but you were a survivor then and you still are today.
Your life is one of courage and strength, and as the children would say, LEGENDARY ! I pray our paths will cross again one day, because I want to hug you again and thank you for teaching me how to live life in the face of whatever obstacles may come my way.
Photo Credit:Luna Luis Ortiz