Terrence McNally Pens Column on AIDS and the Modern Gay Movement
Earlier today, Terrence McNally penned a heartfelt column for the Huffington Post, intertwining the AIDS crisis, his story of losing a partner to it, and the gay movement as it moves into modernity with the themes of his recent Broadway production of Mothers and Sons.
In his column, McNally details the emotional and legal difficulties of seeking justice after losing a partner, friend, or loved one to AIDS.
'"I didn't kill Andre, I didn't give him AIDS."', McNally begins. "For any gay man who lived through the catastrophe that decimated so many of us -- and for the parents of those young men who died -- that was a question not many of us asked of each other or, very often, ourselves."
"I lost a partner to AIDS. Sure, I wanted to know who had infected him. When? Where? Why? How? That is a question I will always ask myself. But it won't bring him back, just as it didn't then. Then it was a question that was too painful to ask on both sides -- Gary's and mine.
Remember, we were partners then -- boyfriends, lovers, significant others. Katharine's is a mother's rage. In my own life, Gary Bonasorte and I were only roommates as far as our legal rights were concerned. Maybe if Gary and I had been married, the rage I felt as a husband about what was happening to him and how it was being allowed to happen by too many uncaring or simply uninformed people, maybe my legal voice would have been heard over the angry voices of another minority group demanding its rights at another street rally, blocking more traffic, disturbing the chaotic routine of New York City to another fracture point."
Gay men and women had to make themselves seen and heard during the crisis. We'd gotten very good at being neither. Spouses have rights; boyfriends have none. I was hoping the hospital would let me visit Gary. Every time I got past the nurses' station seemed like a victory. We tried to make his passing as little a bother for everyone else in the hospital as possible. We were good, dutiful visitors -- except when there were too many of us in his room and the mood could become joyful, almost raucous. Zero to 60 in 10 seconds flat. AIDS soon put an end to that. The mood got somber again and then he was gone. The funeral homes took our money but there was little compassion in the transaction.
Teeth were gritted, handshakes were perfunctory. Even in death, we were second-class citizens, an annoyance almost. Sure we had a few rights but couldn't we please, just fade away, back to where we'd been, and take our very own disease with us?
I want young people to know about all this. I am lucky to have the tools to tell them what happened. Bobby Steggert, the youngest member of the cast, says it is a privilege to share the stories of Cal and Katharine."
For McNally's entire touching piece, click here.
MOTHERS AND SONS is currently playing at Broadway's John Golden Theater.