Believe me when I say I applaud Ryan White's effort, courage and I mourn his loss. He stood firmly by his convictions and never yielded. He brought world attention to the youth afflicted with AIDS and we all praise his strength and determination.
Believe me also when I say how angry I am as a gay man with HIV infection and director of an AIDS agency committed to services for people like Ryan and his family. Angry that people have always come out in great support for those affected by HIV who weren't gay. The stars, the children, the parents and the famous blood recipients, but never the gay man.
Never the gay man whose friends have rallied and created systems of health care that challenged and changed the bureaucratic machine of American medicine. Gay men that created hundreds of organizations worldwide, built on the death and suffering of those who shall never be praised in mainstream America.
I am angry that in the eyes of America they never counted. They were never seen as men with families of brothers, sisters, moms and dads.
To me they were all Ryan White. They taught each of us left behind to love a little more, give a little more and expect a little more. That is all the gay community asks; respect and validation that we were here.
I believe the biggest fear we all live with is to die forgotten. In the gay community we will never forget, never. And while the world mourns the Ryan Whites (and I am part of that world), a thousand others will die never knowing what complete acceptance really means, and I am part of that.