Dec. 1, 2008

World AIDS day

Support World AIDS DayToday is World AIDS Day... I'm lucky not to have any acquaintances or loved ones suffering from this disease, but back around 1990 a good friend of mine died from AIDS-related illness.

Don Garner and I were Geology students together at university. We were part of a group of older theoretically "mature" students that had a bit more life experience that the rest of our class and weren't quite so meek and earnest. I was in my early twenties, Don was probably in his early thirties. We mocked our professors quietly, shared pitchers of beers after class and admired the physical attributes of the passing parade of students. His homosexuality was just part of the mix, although a couple of times he took us on a "tour" of Toronto's gay district.

When I was looking for a new place to stay at the end of second year, he suggested I share the inexpensive house he was renting and we did that for three years. A few years later Don was diagnosed with HIV and he died about a year afterwards. Today his disease would probably have been controllable, perhaps one day it will be curable. Don had tried to live "straight", he left behind an ex-wife and teenage son.

Don sometimes earned money writing poetry, selling it on street corners as self-published books and to magazines such as The Body Politic. A Google search for Huron Path Press shows that in a way he still lives on. In high school he was once the mystery guest on a popular TV show called Front Page Challenge, after he led a classroom protest against the playing of God Save the Queen. Don had changed his name before I knew him, as I recall it was something Ukrainian, so I guess he's still a bit of a mystery guest...

Don had a sharp mind, no patience for bullshit and a fierce independent streak.

Listening to: The Remedy (I Won't Worry) by Jason Mraz from Waiting for My Rocket to Come.

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