I cried last night… I was watching HBO’s “Normal Heart.” On re-watch, I realized how many details I missed the first time.
I sat out on the lawn on numerous occasions.
It reminded me of the days at Wellesley Hospital. It was a terrible time. Young men were dying, and AIDS was at its peak. We lost a generation. There are few men older than I. A whole generation was lost.
As I walked through the AIDS ward of Wellesley Hospital (Yes, there was such a thing as an AIDS ward), I saw sick and dying young men: some eighteen, others twenty through twenty-five. It was sad to see. Many patients had no visitors, some were angry with their lot, while others tried to remain hopeful and carried on with their lives as best they could.
The nurses and doctors were great. They wore gowns, masks, and rubber gloves whenever they treated a sick patient. The fear of contracting AIDS was great. Many people refused to hold, hug or kiss these men; although, they were PSA telling people they could not contact AIDS through casual contact or through kissing.
While I was visiting the ward, and while other were visiting with my brother, I walked down the ward. I went into some of the rooms and chat with some of those who felt like talking, and offering a sip of pop, or water, or whatever they needed. I held their hands if they asked me too.
Near the end, my last visit, I was emptying my brother’s urinal jar into the bathroom toilet. My brother freaked when I did not put on rubber gloves on first. I turned and looked into my brother’s eyes and I told him, “You get that enough,” and I assured him I had no open cuts. He smiled at me. Perhaps it was because I was informed on AIDS; perhaps it was because I treated him as a person.
I stopped going to Wellesley after that. I had my own issues to deal with. I was a closeted gay. I stayed in because of what I had witnessed. I sometimes wonder if I should have continued visiting the hospital. I think that if I had I would have come out in Toronto much sooner than I did. I would have chosen a different life from today, but one cannot go back. Our lives are a product of our choices.
I am proud of how I handled myself during that time.
I have a few regrets, but overall my life is good. I came out much later than I initially wanted too. I went in when my family first asked me back in 1993. I sometimes wish I didn’t. It took me 10 more years before I came out to others. I have always known I was attracted to boys. It wasn’t until I was 14 that I knew what it was called. I also knew that I had to hide it as best I could; luckily, my disability dissuaded a lot of hard questions.
The choices we make in life determines our pathways. This is my life, and it is the result the sum of my choices.
—Robert Confiant 22 April 2018