As the 90's began, more and more of those men lost their battle with HIV/AIDS.
I still remember so many of them like it was just this past weekend that we danced, went to a meeting, had dinner or went to a drag show.
One of those who lost his battle was my dear friend Felix. He died on July 6, 1992. It's difficult to believe that he has been gone for 20 years.
Felix was one of the most loving, caring, fun and kind men I have ever met. When he passed away, the world changed. My world definitely changed. Gone was a the man who taught me so much, mainly about love and friendship. He taught me how to love everyone. And if you have ever gotten a hug from me, the hug that holds hard and lasts a bit longer than your average hug, well I got that from Felix. A lot of who I am today came from or was inspired by Felix.
There have been very few days in the last 20 years that I haven't thought of him. I carry a drawing of him at AIDS walks. I often think about how he would react to a person or situation. And I am always totally grateful for having known him.
In 1992, Felix was one of over 40,000 people in the US, the majority gay men, who died from complications caused by AIDS. It would be a couple of years yet until the drug cocktails came around and saved the lives of hundreds of thousands. Nevertheless, over 17,000 people in the US died from complications due to AIDS in 2010.
I remember Tidewater AIDS Crisis Taskforce in Norfolk, VA and the many times I was there to help, to drop off a wheelchair, to get a prescription, to see a friend perhaps for the last time. I remember seeing the list of those who had died in the last week or month, and the many hours spent in hospitals. (TACT is now Eastern Virginia AIDS Network http://evanva.org/ )
And, back to this anniversary, I remember Felix. My dear, loving friend whom I still miss so much 20 years later. I know many of you have experienced loss. And I know the loss is always felt. How fortunate was I to know Felix!
Thank you for reading my blog post. This one was one of my toughest as my eyes fill with tears. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to share thoughts that you don't want to put in the comments section.
This post originally appeared on Dan Hanley's website The Gay Vegans. Republished with permission.