Today, my 73rd birthday and I'm filled with pride that I'm still here.
I've been HIV+ for almost 42 years.
I've been shot at in my neighborhood.
I've experienced dangerous riots - the White Night Riots - both at City Hall and in the Castro.
And I'm still here.
Every life has its defining moments, and fortunately for me the good* outweigh the bad, but on this particular day, this particular time in history, I have to reflect on one dark moment, one very dark night, when my world was unbelievably shaken with violence.
"You've never really lived until you've seen fifty riot-helmeted police armed with plexiglass shields come at you and waiting for them to throw teargas," I tell people about that night. But the most vivid memory is hearing on a bar's P.A. system: "Gentlemen, we are locking the doors for your protection."
I had just run from seeing cop cars on fire at City Hall to the Castro to warn people of retaliation. After the announcement, we heard glass crashing and later found out that police had crashed through the all-glass corner bar, poured scalding water on the bartender and clubbed him sending him into a coma for seven months.
People stare at me in disbelief at the story.
And the fact that I'm still here to tell it.
Yes, I'm still here.**
- Meeting the love of my life, my husband Chris
- Having my life story (in 1983) published (The Sunny Side of Castro Street)
- Receiving the Jefferson Award for Community Service
** OK, at 73, I'm not exactly a spring chicken, but being one day and one year younger than our current President, and in light of having problems stemming from double scoliosis, I think I'm in better shape.