January 1999

Nick; age 19, sophomore college student in Worcester, Mass.

Happy New Year everyone! To start off this month (the first of 1999-wow! -I guess it's kind of scary when I realize that I was born in the 1970's... hehe) I was going to bring up the whole New Year's resolution topic, but you know, I gave up on those a long time ago, and frankly, I don't live my life by planning out the year's events ahead of time.

Let's see, there's simply a myriad topics that I could cover this month. Well, I guess I can start off by talking about something that's been on my mind lately -- and I'm sure it's crossed the minds of almost everyone -- AIDS.

As I am writing this, various organizations on my campus have presented, in this past week, several programs and lectures and such, all designed to lift us all a little higher from the pit of ignorance and basically to assign a face (or many faces) to the disease. And, I would like to thank anyone who took part in similar efforts in other locations, wherever those may be, to provide anyone who wanted to listen with a little information thereof. Among the programs presented here were a display of something called the "NAMES Project"- it's a series of quilts, all constructed in memory of victims of AIDS by those who knew the person -- I had never heard of it or seen it, and it was very powerful.

Another program that I found quite meaningful was a lecture presented on living with AIDS by Sean Sasser, who we were fortunate enough to have come visit our little school -- many of you have probably had the privilege of listening to him speak. Well, I considered it a privilege at least. I had never seen him on any of his television shows (I really dislike television -- I think I treat it as sort of a last resort in terms of filling up my time) and basically had no idea who he was. In any case, his talk taught me a few things I didn't know about AIDS, but more than that, he taught, hopefully, to most of the seemingly ignorant audience members that AIDS isn't just a disease associated with gay men. Most of us would in the gay community might give a little chuckle in thinking about how dated that stereotype seems, but it soon struck me then how many people in my personal life, my parents included, continue to nurture that particular stereotype.

I can just see it now, as soon as I come out to them (which, unless I continue my cowardly ways, should be sometime soon, else I just might go insane) they're going to think they've lost me to the disease already. I mean, every stereotype is based on some truths, but not enough people look at the whole picture. Which is why I wanted to thank Sean but didn't get a chance, so there, I guess I just did.

Not only did Mr. Sasser speak frankly about AIDS, and living with it, he spoke frankly about being gay, and fostering an environment where people are free to feel that they can be themselves, to a group of predominantly heterosexual young people-something that was courageous in itself; I know how hard it is to get people to change their minds with regard to a subject like homosexuality. This part of the lecture really showed me the importance of role models. Just through listening to this one person speak made me feel more comfortable and confident in my lifestyle than ever before, and frankly, even if I never tell any other straight person about being gay, I am more content inside. I still have some more acceptance issues to deal with, but I feel that things are better. It's funny, I've always been a tad uncomfortable vocalizing the word "gay" even to my friends, but lately that's been much easier, and laugh if you will, but I consider it a big step. Well folks, thanks for reading once again.


As usual, you can direct any feedback to me via e-mail, at neatnick79@hotmail.com. Frankly, I love responding to everyone's mail because first, it makes me happy to get so much mail, and second, the time it takes to respond allows me to procrastinate even more in terms of my coursework-so please, don't allow me to subject myself to doing my homework any more than a night before it's due!

©1998-1999 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.