The late Eric Rofes in Reviving the Tribe: Regenerating Gay Men’s Sexuality and Culture in the Ongoing Epidemic (1996, pp. 155–157, mildly edited):

We may be witnessing the creation of a new urban gay-male life cycle.

Hank Homo (primarily white, but not always; primarily middle class, though not always) spends his childhood in the Midwest (or the South, or New England, or Colorado) with a dawning sense of being “different” which blooms in adolescence into full-blown alienation. He fools around with guys in high school, sneaks out of his college dorm on Saturday night to visit the nearest gay bar, and, shortly after graduation, comes out of the closet at age 21. Hank spends the next few years exorcising demons of self-hatred and addiction, immersing himself in queer culture of the nearest small city, and trying on different kinds of gay identities. At 25, seeking to fulfill a seemingly unquenchable thirst for gay life and a heightened queer identity, he packs his bags and gets on a Trailways bus (or a plane, or in his used ’78 Chevy Nova) and heads for San Francisco (or New York, or Los Angeles, or Chicago). He finds a roommate situation in the Castro (or the East Village or West Hollywood or New Town), a gig as a barback at a neighbourhood bar, and a gym filled with hundreds of other mid-20s homo-migrants.

He knows what’s safe and what’s not safe and wears a red ribbon on his leather-jacket lapel. Hank throws himself into “the life” with gusto, good humour, and the best intentions. He discovers the dance clubs and the sex clubs, is jerked off in the showers at his gym (or the park at night, or the tearoom in the department store), and picks up men on subways, streetcorners, and at the corner market. He’s feeling good, he’s feeling hot – finally attractive and at home in his body. At 28 years old, he’s living the kind of life he’s always dreamed of: Out and proud as a gay man, immersed in a gay-positive environment, sharing in a communal culture of pleasure and freedom and affirmation.

One night (or day, or afternoon) he goes home with a man he’s dated a few times (or a man he met on the street, or his ex-lover, or his ex-lover’s new lover), and gets caught up in a moment of passion (or too much to drink, or wanting it so bad) and he engages in sex he knows he’s not supposed to engage in and never has before (or only has had a few times, or has had quite a bit lately). He frets about it for days (or weeks, or years) and before he knows it, he’s at the HIV test site, scared shitless, waiting to get the results.

At 30 he hears the news he’s feared for years (or expected to hear for years): He finds out he’s infected with HIV. From age 30 to 33, he’s in denial and tells himself HIV is “chronic and manageable” (or the test was wrong, or that there’ll be a cure soon). From 33 to 36, he’s mildly symptomatic, and learns to meditate and eat right (or begins taking AZT, or becomes religious, or joins ACT UP). At 37 he’s diagnosed with KS (must have been those poppers or the speed, or all the semen swallowed, or bad genes) and gets on several experimental treatments (or withdraws into severe depression, or writes a column for the local gay paper, or moves back to the Midwest, the South, or New England). He recovers his health for a while, joins a healing circle (or a 12-step program, or a phone-sex line, or a new compact-disc club) and tells the world he’s “gonna beat it!” His energy begins slipping away, he loses weight (or eyesight, or bowel control, or mental functioning), becomes increasingly debilitated and homebound.

Two months before his 40th birthday, Hank Homo succumbs to HIV disease, another soul caught up in a truncated life cycle increasingly prevalent in gay-male worlds.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2014.10.18 12:44. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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