Monday, December 1, 2008

In remembrance

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A guy I knew in my early years as an activist was named Ron McClinton. He lived in Portland and was moderately well-respected in the queer community. I lived in Central Maine and was a vast disappointment to the queer community. Then, as now, Dawn does not play well with others nor does she readily take direction from people who think they ought to provide it.

Ron and I only met once or twice, but he is one of my heroes. He is dead now, from AIDS.

Ron defended me when the "old guard" of the movement wanted my head on a pike for having the audacity to put on a week of queer programs at my college while they were busy sucking up to legislators who didn't like them to pass a bill the governor had already said he'd veto. I got my mug on TV that week, with four other demonstrators, facing down a crowd of 200 and a media presence the like had never been seen in town since Chester Greenwood invented earmuffs (true story - look it up). Well, it seems that some thought my activism was a bit extreme (we hugged on the lawn of the library. It snowed. We kept our clothes on.) and that it was my fault that the bill was going to fail.

I don't remember the specifics, but Ron said a few pointedly nasty things and stormed out of the meeting. He called me later that week and we talked for several hours. A month later he founded the Matlovitch Society to celebrate and educate ourselves about gay culture and history. It drew attention, publicity, and donations away from the first group. That bunch in the old guard? Tossed him off their committee. As he was dying. Nice touch, dontcha think? Yeah.

So anyway, Ron is the one I remember today. There are many, many others. Too many to count, and if I start, I'll just get very, very angry and start yelling about Ronald Reagan again. This is a day to remember and to stir ourselves to action for those still living with the disease. I am not sure what action I can do today, save to remember Ron, to share stories with some mutual friends we had, and hold him close in my heart.

Blessed be.


Karen Zipdrive said...

My gay husband died of AIDS in 1989.
I think of him every day. We met in junior high.
I blame the Republicans for all AIDS deaths in America.
They did nothing because it didn't matter that gays were dying.

dolphyngyrl said...

I remember when we first starting hearing about AIDS when I was a kid. Heck, younger than my kids are now. It's a shame that we're still dealing with and living with this disease in our age of modern medicine. It's shameful that so many of the people that are best in a position to help won't because they consider the way it is transmitted as distasteful or immoral.

How dare anyone pass judgement on the death of another.

Robin said...

I remember my mother working with AIDS patients in a NYC hospital back before this awful disease even had a name, when they were still trying to figure out what on earth was making these people so sick. It is disgraceful that so many years later people are still needlessly suffering and dying so that the drug companies can make bigger profits.

Thank you for sharing your memories of Ron with us.

Queenie said...

My heart is with you as you mourn your friend. Even from just the little bit you shared, he sounded very special. Strength, my friend.

Bull said...

Thank you for sharing that story. Friends of that caliber only come once in a long while, and we are fortunate when we get them. My deepest condolences on your loss.