I'm really fortunate in that I came on to the gay scene a bit too late to lose my friends to HIV. By the time I was out, the worst of that constant cull of beautiful men passed me by. So the AIDS crisis is only real to me through stories.
However, it was truly brought home to me about two years ago, during a late night conversation. The night was spent talking life stories, and I heard the extraordinary tale of the girl who was adopted by Queens, and then had to watch whilst AIDS took all of her friends. Her life had been full of beads, glitter, royal balls, the pomp and circumstance of the American drag scene. And then her best friend moved from being positive, to having full blown AIDS, and she gave up her life to care for him. She wiped his shit up, she coped with his hallucinations, she managed his dementia and his drugs.
I can't tell you the most hearbreaking half of it.
That story was the start - there was falling in love, sometime during the crying. The first moment of a long, lush intimacy which was meant to last for the rest of our lives. And we were planning that time - the house, a family, shoring ourselves against the loss that both of us seem to constantly expect. The unlikeliness of finding the one was surprising, and felt too special to be real.
Well, it turns out it was.
My girlfriend has told me our relationship is over. We limped through christmas, not talking. The day after boxing day, as soon as we wouldn't be ruining christmas, it all happened. I still can't behave as if it is true, I still talk about it as if it were a live thing, and not history. As if I hadn't been read the verdict.
'I still love you... I'm just not in love with you any more'.
That is the only thing that has changed in my life - the formal rescinding of a promise. We still share our living space, our sleeping arrangements are the same, the bills are still in both our names, but all promises are off. I have to be supportive and kind whilst she changes her life to exclude me. I have to answer the phone to the new people she's fucking now. She has to watch me turn silent and grim and angry and withdrawn.
I know it's going to be bad, because I haven't started hurting yet.