I cried for the people who died in Orlando.
I cried for the boys I was supposed to grow old with. The boys who made me laugh; the boys who critiqued my makeup, hair, clothes, looks and mannerisms; the boys who had me go into bars, and meet men—for them.
Something about me being a Gay meter. If there was a cute Gay boy looking for love he would check me out first. Don’t try to understand. I still don’t.
I couldn’t cry then. In five years eleven of the best friends I ever had died decades before their time. I saw how sick they became.
Billy was the first to get sick. We didn’t know what was wrong. He went from doctor to doctor and none of them could give an answer. Oh the forms we filled out with Billy. My personal favorite question asked if he ever had sex with an animal. Still that wasn’t the most intrusive question.
We understood. Nobody knew why so many young men were getting sick, so they asked questions, and did the best that they could.
I wasn’t the greatest friend when Billy was dying. God help me, sick people scared me. I was young and spoiled and healthy and still believed in happy endings.
Larry was the last to die. By then I could spend his last day with him; redo his will; stay in bed with him as he couldn’t stop violently coughing up phlegm.
The disease had been given a name when Billy was sick—AIDS—the scariest acronym in the history of aconyms.
Billy was a Republican; it symbolized success and hope to him. Not at the end. No Billy could no longer believe in a political party that ignored him and the many like him.
Rock Hudson’s sickness was announced during Billy’s last month or so. By then Billy was too sick (AIDS dementia) to understand or to care.
Larry was a poor Black boy from Northwest Alabama who came to New York and like Billy, like all the boys in between, became successful and was in love.
I never cried for Billy or Larry or any friend who died in between.
I cried as soon as I looked at Anderson Cooper last week. My boys would have loved Anderson Cooper. He’s like them, but rich with a fairytale princess mother who made the only jeans I ever looked good in.
I cried when Anderson read the list. I cried for the people in Orlando. The boys who never grew to be Anderson’s age, but were so like him—except for the fairytale princess mother.
I cried for 9/11. I lived in Manhattan then as I had for most of the prior 26 years, and in the area most of my life, but I never cried for the buildings or the people. Some tears but no I couldn’t cry.
I could cry last week.
I cried for my mother who fell to her death a month after 9/11. Do you know what it’s like to love somebody so so much yet never really cry for her?
I cried and I cried and I cried during the Tony’s.
I cried for my father also who had died of a stroke ten years before my mother. I loved him too, so so much but tears–I was stingy with my tears.
I cried for the life I once had. The life that was so filled with joy and promise.
My poor boyfriends. If they didn’t understand that I was always going to have Gay friends they were out. It was that simple.
I cried for the New York I knew as a young adult into full bloom adulthood.
The New York that had a flower district brimming with color, beautiful plants, and large flowers you would have to sometimes walk around.
I cried for the card stores that seemed to be on every corner in the early 1980’s but are no more because all the young men who owned them are no more.
I cried because watching The Tony’s I remembered how Billy had been offered chorus roles. He never took them as his father had instilled the value of hard steady work and saving for the future. Billy was a manager for a shipping company. It wasn’t a bad job. He had risen up the ranks quickly.
On Fridays when I worked downtown we would meet for long liquid lunches and/or a drink after work. I would cringe when he had the company car until I remembered it took two hours to get up the West Side Highway from Broadway to West 83rd Street on Fridays.
Those were the first driverless cars. Billy being Billy wouldn’t have seen the humor in that until he did.
I cried because I remembered the day Billy’s father cried to me because his second son was so brilliant, so handsome, so talented. How did he dare put a damper on Billy’s dreams when Billy would only be on earth 33 years?
I cried because Gay men, now and in the future, will never know, first hand, the direct hit my generation took.
I cried because I used to run into many of the people who were on The Tony’s and never said: “you enhance my city and my life.”
I cried for the Lesbians who when I was young played it closer to the vest than Gay men in New York, but still I remember some parties….
I cried for my youth.
I cried for the mess this country is in.
I cried for a time that obviously wasn’t simpler, but there was always hope that the monster could be contained, and then it was.
I cried for a time people were quietly religious or political.
I cried for the America I hope to grow old in.
I cried. And cried. And cried some more.
Then I went to another city to visit friends and broke a tooth. Damn yes I cried though that was over in five minutes. (The tooth has been fixed.)
I cried for the cab driver I had in this other city who told me he’s Kosher and I filled in what he really is. “Oh you’re Halal?”
“Yes. How did you know?”
“Wild guess. The color of your skin. Where you grew up. A few other things.”
“And you’re OK with that?”
“Why shouldn’t I be?”
“I truly do love Kosher deli.”
“You’re a better person than I am. I can’t stand it.” (And I’m Super-Cultural-Jew).
I got to the bus stop, and tried not to cry the whole way home. But I couldn’t stop.
He should have been able to tell me that he’s Muslim. He’s as American as I am. From 135th and Lenox. Prime real estate these days.
I cried for the craziness that’s going on.
I cried because in my heart I believe things will become better.
I cried because I love this country more than many people can understand.
I cried for what we can be. For what we should be. For what we used to be.
I cried because I want younger people to have the same opportunities I had. To feel the joy. To lose the early 20something cynicism and believe.
I cried because I can understand why they are cynical and believe in nothing.
Mostly I cried because once I opened that avalanche of tears they couldn’t stop pouring out.
Damn I miss my friends; and I miss my parents.
I cried, and I cry some more.