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Local Artist Spotlight: "Love in a Time of AIDS" by Lawrence G. Lever

Contributing Author: Lawrence G. Lever

Published on September 29, 2016


 

On August 2, 2016, my life time partner, Timothy M. Quinn, and I celebrated our thirty-first anniversary. This somewhat unremarkable event took place at a very nice eatery called The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Alas, the evening was interrupted by a call from Tim’s director summoning him back to Brooklyn for an all-night shooting on the set of a movie in which Tim is an actor. For those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the film industry, this is par for the course.

Not everything is bright lights, red carpets and glamour. Acting is hard work, and if one cares about a partner’s career, hopes and dreams, one makes adjustments. An anticipated night of passion gives way to reality. Life, sometimes, can be very hard, indeed.

And so are relationships. Finding the right partner may be difficult, but keeping the right man or women takes work. Patience, understanding, and the ability to face the difficult times together test every relationship. And so it was with us. I met Tim in a New York City watering hole at the height of the AIDS crisis. He was standing across from me against a wall running parallel to the length of the bar. We took one look at each other (and I was a lot thinner and exponentially more handsome than I am now!!) and that was it. Now that may sound corny and down-right syrupy, and the fact that he was literally “the boy next store” (I lived in Rye Brook, New York and he lived in Harrison) may make some of you puke, but to quote a great German playwright, my thoughts ran as follows: “But if there is a man who is right for me in this world, he will stand before me one day, he will look at me and I at him, and there will be no doubts and no questions, and I will be happy and as obedient as a child.”

 

         At that time, Tim ran a delivery service, delivering medical supplies and food to AIDS patients. He was very protective of me and would not allow me to come up with him to deliver the supplies to his dying clients. Apparently, he believed that the sights he saw were too graphic and intensive for me to witness. Little did we both know that by finding each other, we probably saved each other from an untimely and horrible demise. People were dropping like flies all around us, yet somehow we survived. And living through that nightmare made us appreciate life all the more. Yes, we had to bury our fathers and my mother (my Dad died of Alzheimer’s Disease, Tim’s father died of Emphysema, and both deaths were horrible), and Tim had to hold his aged dog while the veterinarian put him to sleep (which caused Tim such pain that I thought he would burst from crying), but there have been good times too. Walking on The Pines beach by moonlight holding hands, ordering without discussing it in advance the identical items in countless restaurants, agonizing over the current state of American politics, sitting through many nights at The Metropolitan Opera in a state of sublime ecstasy as we are bathed in the glorious sounds coming from the stage and the orchestra pit, and rooting for the Yankees or the Cornell football team (which can sometimes be a losing proposition!). In fact we both are a curious mixture of tastes. Our first conversation as we walked around a New York City block was a serious discussion about the merits and demerits of the then current New York Yankee team. Yes, it has been a wild ride, but one I would not have missed for the world.

 

         What is my advice to younger members of the Triangle Community Center community with respects to matters concerning the affairs of the heart? Well, I should say that unless you are extremely lucky, by which I was most undeservedly so blessed, don’t constantly go out to bars or stay home and roam the on-line internet apps looking for Mr. Right. Explore yourselves and find out what you really like – what makes you tick above your genital area – and throw yourselves into those activities. Because if you met someone while doing something you are truly passionate about, you will immediately have a common interest and you will be able to offer that potentially special someone something which truly interests him or her and something that you both can share. Tim and I may have met in a bar, but our first conversation was about sports, something in those days which was a rare topic of conversation among gay boys. But he was a former football player and I was on the swim team, so we had something to talk about besides sex. (Don’t worry, we got around to that soon enough!!)

 

         You can’t learn about another person until you learn about yourself, and that can take years. But don’t be impatient. I was a pretty nerdy academic and very immature before I turned fairly slutty and probably nearly got myself killed, and then calmed down just in time before Mr. Right showed up. And another thing, let your partner be him or herself. You can’t share everything with them. Appreciate the differences. I just got through reading James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake while I was convalescing from shoulder surgery. It was an impossible read. And no, it’s not something I can share with Tim. He would be bored silly. On the other hand, he loves antiques, and they put me to sleep.

 

         Learn what’s important in your relationship. Hold on to that, and let the other stuff slide. And beware of jealousy. The only way to keep someone’s interest is to be interesting yourself. Nobody likes a nag, a drunk, a druggie or a bore. Constantly work to improve yourself. Give of yourself to others. Volunteer often, and above all, be a kind person. Remember how hurtful it is to be snubbed in a bar. Don’t be unnecessary cruel. Remember, you’re better than that. It is far more rewarding in the long run to be known as a “good person” than a hot one night stand. Your looks will fad over time, be assured of that. But a good reputation lasts beyond the grave. Remember the kindness of others that you meet at the Triangle Community Center. Those warm feelings and friendships will carry you through the hard times. And who knows, you may be as lucky as I have been, even if your anniversary dinner is interrupted by a tyrannical director!! There will indeed be other moonlit nights to dream about.


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