No-Accounts, my novel telling the story of a straight man caring for a gay man dying of AIDS, is told in two points of view. One is Martin, the straight, divorced, middle-aged care-giver, called a “buddy” to distinguish him from medical staff. The other is his AIDS patient, Peter, thirty-one, a handsome former dancer.
I wrote the story from both a straight and gay point of view because I wanted to contrast the worldviews.
Martin’s viewpoint was my own. I ascribed to him the blunders I made as I learned my way around the gay world taking care of men dying of AIDS. I describe him explaining to other volunteers, as I did over and over, that he’s not gay. He is, after all, the only straight buddy in the group, just as I was.
Peter’s outlook on life was much more difficult, but during the five years I cared for men dying of AIDS, I had spent so many hours talking to gay men about everything from the price of toothpaste to what might come after death that I felt that I knew how they felt.
Gay men who have read No-Accounts tell me I got it right. They are impressed that a straight man could ever grasp their perspective. I’m grateful for the insights they gave me with trust and generosity.