World AIDS Day 2015

Tomorrow is World AIDS Day, held on the 1st of December each year. It is “an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day, held for the first time in 1988.”

I remember back in the mid-1980s when my father first started talking to me about AIDS.

His friends, he said, were coming down with the “the gay cancer,” as it was called in the early years of the epidemic. It was assumed then that only gay men could contract the disease. Dad told me how few would help or even touch those who were suffering.

1987 DadHe volunteered to be an “AIDS Buddy,” I think with the Shanti Project in San Francisco.

“There is no hope,” he told me. “All I can do is hold their hands.”

This photo of him was taken then. He had a glow about him during that awful time, which always seemed incongruent to me.

I think he must have felt honored to be making a difference in the lives of his ailing brothers, many of whose families had rejected them. I’d like to think that Dad was an angel for them in their final hours.

Fortunately for my family, my father was one of the lucky ones. He never contracted AIDS. I know of many adult children today whose fathers at the time were not as fortunate. 

Knowing how blessed I’ve been to have had a gay father who lived to be 90, I will especially honor these sons and daughters tomorrow.

Today there are nearly 37 million men, women, and children living with AIDS.

Read more in Laura Hall’s My Dad’s Closet: A daughter’s memoir, coming eventually to a bookstore near you. Laura and her husband live in San Francisco.

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