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1981

By G. L. Lomax

Danny was not his real name. I cannot disclose his name, or the substance of my work with him those many years ago, in 1981. But I was his psychotherapist, and he came to me sick, very sick, and that was real. All too real, since he came to me suffering from AIDS.

     No one called it AIDS then, and no one knew much about his illness, except that it was killing gay men in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. I had a practice in San Francisco, the city where I met Danny and where I saw him every week for several years—through his diagnosis, his treatments, and his hospitalizations. To the end.

     I cannot disclose the particulars of Danny’s therapy because confidentiality extends past the grave. And I will not begin to describe the years when the epidemic grew into a scourge of humanity, taking thousands and eventually millions of lives. Stories already told by some or yet to be told by others. What I will attempt is to convey my memories and impressions of the year when AIDS emerged, seemingly from nowhere. Such things rarely emerge from nowhere, of course, but sneak up on us, taking us off guard, exploiting our ignorance and our denial.

     So while I cannot write in detail about Danny, I can write about 1981, about what I felt and what I feared that year. I can also write about my mother, for she was sick then, too—with a sickness different from Danny’s, no more or less vicious, no more or less tragic. Looking back, I vividly remember my mother and Danny and their brave battles with implacable illnesses. I remember their stories, which often come together in my mind as a blended image. Two stories, intertwined like vines— the jasmine and the honeysuckle—curling across a trellis in a distant, lost garden.

     

About the Author

G. L. Lomax still lives and works in the Bay Area, where he makes a home with his photographer/artist husband. In addition to his professional practice, G. L. has been busy in recent times writing fiction and nonfiction. He is currently completing a series of linked short stories about South America during and after the dark decades of dictatorship. He dedicates this story to his mother and “Danny,” and to all his clients, colleagues, and friends who are no longer among us but remain dear in memory and sorely missed. Every time he hears a Sylvester song on the radio, G. L. recalls those nights at the Music Hall—in 1981.

 

 

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