As mentioned yesterday, gay men are like all men, but the AIDS epidemic with its certainty of death for those stricken brought out the worst and the best in the gay community. Yesterday, I told of unseemly behavior. Today I want to talk about heroism and generosity.
As a buddy, I was assigned to a group that met once a month to talk and give each other moral support. I was the only straight man of the eight in the group. The group leader was a man of charisma who urged us to vent to each other, hang in there, and keep on giving. He was one of the few of us who contracted AIDS from his patient—he accidentally stuck himself with a needle after giving his patient an injection—and died several years later. He was the model for Mort in No-Accounts.
Mort is a buddy, now caring for his sixth patient, and a leader of buddies to whom Martin, the straight buddy, turns for help and reassurance. Mort lost his lover to AIDS and then devoted his life to helping those with the disease. He helps Martin get through his frustration at the shenanigans of his patient and bolsters him to face the oncoming death. Here’s a fragment of their conversation:
Martin wanted to weep. “They should get Peter another buddy. I can’t stand to be with him. I can’t stand to see him getting sicker, day after day . . .”
“Would Peter care if they assigned somebody else?”
“I don’t know. He depends on me. He asked me to be with him when he dies.”
“He must love you.”
End of quote. Mort in his wisdom knows that Peter needs Martin. In the end, he persuades Martin to go on caring for Peter.
I chose Mort’s name carefully. “Mort” means death.