I hadn’t intended to start my blogging career with an obituary, but sometimes life just hands us the unexpected, and I need to write about Steven Brown before I write about Bettie Page or dildos in Tennessee or any of the other things on my list to deconstruct, chew on, go over, share, kick around, or unpack with you.
Not that Steven’s death was exactly unexpected. He’d had HIV since the early days of the epidemic, probably, that halcyon San Francisco time when practically no one could see the clouds massing. He was at least a 20-year survivor and perhaps closer to 25. In short, he was a person who literallywasn’t supposed to exist; back when HIV was seen as nothing more or less than a death sentence, he stubbornly did not die, nor did he even really get sick. He was one of the world’s longest-term survivors. So it was possible to know him, and for a long time, and receive two clear observations: He was truly living with HIV, and HIV was not, for everyone, the sudden death sentence so many people used to believe it was. Until fairly recently it did not seem to scathe him, although perhaps I don’t know and didn’t glimpse the inside story. Steven was just one of the people that others drew inspiration from, inspiration for survival. Then a short while ago word got around that he had begun to fail.
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