Looking Back

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Indiana Shores, Lake Michigan (1981): Rick Angulo (rear left), Brian Riley (rear center), and Rick Lomanto (front right) all died from AIDS late in the ’80s. Jeff (front left) has been celibate for 32 years, a less visible victim of the disease.

Two recent developments refocused my attention on all the friends I lost to AIDS in the 80s and 90s.

Recently, Peter Gorobetz, a teammate from my Gotham Volleyball League days in NYC in the early 90s, came to a BAMMER meet-up in Ft. Lauderdale, where he and his partner now reside. While reminiscing about the good old days, Peter and I discussed Dan O’Connor (Pic #8 here), my cabin mate on the RSVP Caribbean cruise I took in 1991, who was also the volleyball league Commissioner that year.

Bo Ronilo, the sweet southern bartender I dated in San Diego during the summer of 1979, later succumbed to the disease.

Peter reminded me that Dan had died of AIDS in 1992, a fact I had somehow forgotten. I decided then to put together a tribute to him to appear on @theaidsmemorial page on Instagram and am now gathering stories from friends who knew him well for that purpose.

I recently discovered an old cassette tape of phone messages among my collection of disco tapes from the 80s. A friend, David Oliver, offered to digitize my collection for me. When I listened to the preserved phone messages in the file David shared with me, I was surprised to realize they’d been recorded in 1980.

Jackie Yordan, a sweet Puerto Rican transplant in NYC and member of the “A list” crowd, befriended me my first summer on Fire Island (1980).

Among the many messages I discovered, were some from my late best friend, Chris Smith (pic #5 here), who passed away suddenly from AIDS in 1986. Imagine hearing the voice of a deceased best friend from 40 years in the past that was accidentally saved. It was both a blow to my solar plexus and a lift to my heart!.

That accidental discovery and the discussion about Dan O’Connor made me want to publicly celebrate one more time the lives of those lost to AIDS who were a meaningful presence in my life.

These photos celebrate some of those in my circle of friends whose lives were tragically cut short by AIDS and reminds me of how much they’re missed!

Fire Island Pines (1981): the summer I hung out with models and dated one, Bill Masi (left). Bill survived until 1995.
Fire Island Pines (1983): with Best Friend #1, Chris Smith. Chris passed away in 1986 less than a week after his last day at work, never having allowed himself to be diagnosed.
The Blonds of Southampton (1986): Tom Thate (left), Alan Mundt (middle), and Todd Shearer (right). Two housemates and a neighbor. Alan died of AIDS around 1990.
W oodland Hills, CA (1988): Best Friend #2, Paul Cavaluzzi. Having never been able to maintain a stable relationship with a man, after Paul was diagnosed, he married a woman friend and lived his remaining few years with her. He passed away around 1990.
RSVP Caribbean cruise (1991): Dan “Kitty” O’Connor was my cabin mate on the ship that week, but also the Commissioner of NYC’s gay Gotham Volleyball League. He died only a year after this trip.
Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro (1992): Rick Wilson (left) was a successful fitness instructor in LA who joined us on this Brazilian gay excursion. He died 2-3 years later.