Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Bubonic Plague, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Clinical Depression...

So that explains everything! Now I know why I never contracted AIDS - or ended up one of Jeffrey Dahmer's victims, even though my first lover (and more than half of the people I knew in the 1980s) all died from "complications due to AIDS." And I came extremely close to going to a certain gay bar (it was called Carol's) - on the same night that Jeffrey Dahmer decided to go there. And picked up one of his tragic victims. And invited him back to his place to pose for a few pics. And the young man left the bar with Dahmer, and was never seen alive again. A very sweet young man I'd actually met briefly - six years before he met Jeffrey Dahmer at that bar.

But even though I got all dressed up in my most flattering jeans and tight black T-shirt on that fateful night (I was hoping for a little sex and romance - that always helped me escape from my depression for a few hours), my depression won the day. And actually might have saved my wretched life. Because I took off my dark "cruising" outfit, and spent the night alone. Just went to bed with a good book instead. And never made it to Carol's. And then, after Dahmer was finally arrested, and all the books about him and his tragic victims soon started coming out - I finally had a reason to be grateful for my debilitating depression. It literally may have saved my life.

I was so young, in love (and foolish) in late November of 1985, that I had unprotected sex with my lover on numerous occasions - even though I knew he was HIV positive. Of course, alcohol played a pretty big role in it all. We both would become pretty frisky after hanging out and drinking cheap beer at gay bars until dawn. And rip each others clothes off - the minute we got back home. It was mostly oral stuff (I really don't want to get more graphic than that). But he did talk me into letting him screw me one time (I never liked anal sex. And it wasn't just because of my fear of AIDS). And I finally gave in. And the condom (which I insisted he use) broke. So I was actually exposed to the AIDS virus big time. And was convinced I was doomed to die young along with my lover. Well, I was only half right. Kevin did die. In 1992. But I'm obviously still here.

Then I saw a Nova program I'd taped several years ago (but did not actually watch until last night - I often do crazy things like that) about Bubonic Plague, and how a few lucky people contracted the disease, and lived to tell the tale. It turned out that they had much stronger immune systems than most. So they survived. And now, all the extremely lucky relatives of the original plague survivors - are surviving our own modern day plague: AIDS. This means that a few people are walking around with super immune systems. And can be exposed to the AIDS virus many times. And their immune systems will just keep on attacking and destroying the virus.

There was a quite tragic and touching example of a fifty-something gay man that literally lost every queer friend and lover he'd ever had. He'd been to hundreds of funerals, and finally decided to stop counting. It all became too painful for him. And he'd actually had unprotected sex with many of the gay men whose funerals he was now weeping at. Yet he continued to test negative for the virus. And he was having himself tested every six months. He did this for years. Just waiting to receive his death sentence. But it never came. He remained quite healthy and HIV negative. And very baffled and depressed. Everyone in the gay world he ever knew and loved was gone now. He was a lone survivor. So a curious researcher finally decided to find out how this could be. And it was discovered that this lucky gay man had inherited a super immune system from one of his relatives long ago - that had contracted and survived the Bubonic Plague. So he could literally become exposed to the AIDS virus hundreds of times, and his immune system would always save him. WOW.

So I guess I really am one lucky (albeit lonely) dude, huh? Sure, I am often too ill to even crawl out of bed. And I still miss (and think about my Kevin) every single day. And I act like a madman half of the time - checking and rechecking the locks, light switches, fridge door, cabinet doors, etc. (Ain't OCD a hoot!) And I'm thought of as a half-cracked recluse poet by many in my little literary town. Plus I really could use a good long bath. ASAP. But I'm still alive. Somehow. When many others - through no fault of their own - are no longer on this earth. So I really should try and be more grateful about life. I mean, I have to at least TRY - right?

Essay © 2013 by Dylan Mitchell

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