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Hidden Costs

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Clockwise from back row left: Rick, Brian, me, Rick, and Jeff along Indiana’s Lake Michigan coast (summer 1981).

1981-2017: If I had to select one photo from my archives which personifies the devastation wrought upon my generation by the AIDS epidemic, it would have to be this one: a group of handsome and fit gay men in their late 20’s, smiling while posing on a beach (July / August 1981, as the discovery of AIDS was being announced). Iconic, yet, also a parable for innocence about to be destroyed.

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Eighties Envy

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May 1983: From the moment the discovery of a “gay cancer” (GRID, or “gay-related immune deficiency”, later renamed AIDS) was announced in July 1981 right up through the mid-1990s (when protease inhibitors were developed, making the disease largely manageable), living as an active gay man in metropolitan NYC (and anywhere not removed from the possibility of sexual interaction with other men) was fraught with fear.

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Summer in the Pines 1981

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My housemates in Fire Island Pines the summer of 1981 (With the exception of John Shade, I’ve lost contact with them all.).

1981 – In this photo, I’m with my housemates and my weekend date from Boston (John Shade, with our arms around each other) on the beach in Fire Island Pines (August 1981). It was the first time I had taken a share for the summer. It was an innocent time. But, the discovery of a “gay cancer” had just been announced the month before in a front page article in the NY Times.

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Remembering Luis

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Luis Eduardo Quiros (1948-1986) was invited to a weekend at the Tuna Walk house of Jacques Haran, the Chairman of my employer Revillon Furs, in Fire Island Pines where I was on my virgin visit, over July 4th 1980. We fell in immediate lust, a more exotic man I’d never met. Not just an acclaimed artist, he owned a men’s clothing store on 3rd Ave near Gramercy Park called Lugini. Within 3 months I’d quit my job managing Revillon Furs at Saks in Houston and moved to NYC to be with him. I learned my way around the city running from place to place for art supplies. Burnt ochre anyone?

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Terry

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This is Terry, pictured on the left, my first boyfriend. He managed Albert’s Menswear in my hometown in Southern Illinois, where I got a job the summer after my mom died, after my first year in college.

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