Less than two decades ago, men who look and love like me were dying in mass, buried under their mourning families' lies about the cause of their deaths. People were afraid to touch us, let alone share our drinks or kiss us. These men were taken from us, from men like me, the generation that followed and had few to no men to hold our hands, mentor us, scold us, teach us about queer brown life. To teach us about love, sex, and loss. But I remain grateful. I am grateful for their legacy, grateful for their footsteps, grateful for their memory. Grateful for the brothers they left behind.
I am grateful for the men of that generation who are still with us. I am grateful for their kindness when I annoyingly try to read the history on their palms. I am grateful for their admonishments when I pretend to know what they went through, what they saw. I am grateful for their stories, especially the ones they do not tell, the ones they hold so close to their heart that they cannot and will not be spoken. I am grateful to have found them. No, I am grateful they found me.
It has been 25 years since the first World AIDS Day and I am grateful. I am grateful for the generation that follows mine. Grateful for their beauty, for their audacity, their tenacity. Grateful for the ways they are making the world bigger, pushing the boundaries of the world my generation created. Grateful to chuckle when they call me elder. Grateful to know that for many, I am an elder. Grateful for their irreverence toward us, grateful to bear witness. Grateful when they make me laugh. Grateful when they roll their eyes at my peers and me. Grateful when I am annoyed by them. I am grateful they are alive.
I am grateful to be in the position I wish more of my older brothers would have been, to look onto a generation that, in their agency, take and leave what they please from what their predecessors imagined and created. I am grateful to see my ideas grow old, become obsolete. I am grateful for their new constructions of love and desire. I am grateful for them.
I was nine years old when the first World AIDS Day was observed and I am grateful. I am grateful for my brothers, my peers. Those who, like me, came of age hungry for stories, for examples, for mentors, for older lovers. Those who, like me, found few or none. I am grateful to be counted among you. I am grateful to witness our graying hair, to witness the loss of hair, the gaining of weight, the aches, the occasional cough that interrupts our laughter. I am grateful to be growing older with you. I am grateful that we are alive to grow older. I am grateful for you.
I am grateful for us.
_________________________________________This post is a stream of consciousness. It has many holes, many faults, I am sure. Point them out, fill them with yours. Let your consciousness flow freely as well.