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never lost

NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt

the idea for this mixtape and for this zine came late one night, all nestled up with my wikipedia (where “we learn our histories from,” to quote a friend), when i learned that Patrick Cowley, like the divine Sylvester with whom he’d collaborated, had contracted hiv. my first instinct was to ball, which i did, thinking about all the beautiful faggots we’ve lost.  but, goddamnit, they lived their lives!  they did what queers have always done, overcome adversity.  they clawed out a piece of the world for themselves, for others like them, and finally died, like we all get to do one day.  not all of the artists on this cd are fags, but they all had to fight for their music, and they will all continue to live through that music.

when i can’t get to sleep at night, sometimes i imagine all of these people hanging out together.  Arthur and Patrick geeking out on their synthesizers, soldering a knob onto anything they can find; Klaus and Freddie going over the finer points of opera divadom; Sylvester and Jermaine cutting and piecing together power suits that would make vyes saint-laurent shit a glitter bomb.  it’s not all sympatico, they have their fights, like any room so full of personality would do, but it’s that battle what makes them and us stronger.  and for that they will always win and live forever.  they did not settle but were fierce.

the artists on this cd have brought so much beauty into my life and the world and ultimately died a slow death of their own bodies being stripped of their defenses.  when things like that happen and don’t make sense to me, i like to make up a new story about how it should have gone.  in my head, which is to say, in my personal universe (and therefore in a certain version of reality, thereby making it real, if only from a certain angle), there are people who have simply been born into the wrong universe.  that no matter how hard they try, how good their hearts, however much they struggle to get along, they constantly find that nothing comes out right.  it is not due to any fault of our own, but only an accident of birth, that we don’t live in worlds that welcome and appreciate us.  to my friends, family and heroes that try to make this world fit as best they can, i dedicate this zine/cd.

and finally to my aunt joanne (or Jo-Anne or Johanne, i’m not really sure), another mythical giant in my life who was taken by this horrible virus. she never told her blood family that she was sick until the very last week of her life, because of fear, because of intergenerational abuse, because of shame, because her chosen family in san francisco probably gave her all the care she needed, or for some reason i will never know. i hope that in some small way the accompanying zine, the stories it contains and the adoration in which it is saturated will exorcise some of the stigma out there; that queers, addicts, sex workers know they have a strong lineage that has been hurt but not broken; that folks with hiv know they are loved.

Klaus Nomi

Jermaine Stewart

David Wojnarowicz

Arthur Russell

Sylvester

Freddie Mercury

Patrick Cowley

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