COVID Update: Saturday, June 5

Former Councilmember John Duran has been doing daily COVID updates on his Facebook page since March 2020. Many members of the community have found them helpful. They are republished here with his permission.

LA County Cases1,246,821(up from 1,246,619)
LA County Deaths24,421(up from 24,416)
LA Positivity Rate.4%(unchanged at .4%)
LA Hospitalizations216(up from 218)

234 new COVID cases in LA County announced yesterday along with 14 additional deaths. Positivity rate still low at .004 and hospitalizations stable at 253.

THE FORTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF AIDS

Every now and then I waver in these daily updates to pay tribute to a special holiday or anniversary date. Today is one of those dates.

On June 5th, 1981, forty years ago today, five young gay men here in Los Angeles were confirmed as the first known AIDS patients. My dear friend Dr. Michael Gottlieb was the physician who made the linkage between these 5 patients, their symptoms and the fact that we had an infectious disease in our midst. Following these first 5 patients, there would be millions more.

Almost 33 million people have died from AIDS worldwide. Over 700,000 people have died from AIDS here in the USA. In those numbers somewhere are the 104 friends and lovers that I lost from 1985-1995.

I know there are tributes to the famous who died from AIDS in Hollywood like Rock Hudson, Freddie Mercury, Halston, Liberace, Anthony Perkins, Perry Ellis, Amanda Blake, Peter Allen, Brad Davis and Robert Reed.

But here are some of the lesser known people who graced my life with their being that we lost along the way. You would have loved them. Some of you knew them and loved them like I did. How can I not remember them on a day like today:

*Niles Merton – former Executive Director of the Orange County LGBT Center who went on to become the Publisher of the ADVOCATE. And Werner Kuhn who ran the Center after Niles.

*Bob Craig – owner and publisher of FRONTIERS Newsmagazine

*Michael Callen – poet and singer who sang “Love Don’t Need a Reason”

*Connie Norman – ACT UP AIDS Diva and LIFE AIDS Lobby Board Member. Powerful Trans woman.

*Dennis Cabaret – gay Republican and former Co-Chair of ECCO.

*Dr. Don Hagan and Dr. Drew Barras – Louisiana boys and ECCO Board members who fought valiantly until their last breaths.

*Deborah Eli – black woman with soulful presence. Actress in docu drama Lives on the Line.

*Wayne Karr and Mark Kostoupolous – original members of ACT UP Los Angeles.

*Dave Johnson – first AIDS coordinator for City of Los Angeles.

*Thomas Hendricks and Bruce Robertson – my 2 law partners

*Jon Paul Stiller – my beloved West Hollywood roommate.

*Hauke Klingibiel – Disneyland employee and my housemate in Orange County. German exchange student. Nelson Campbell – also a Disneyland employee who was Winnie the Pooh. And Doug Ellis – ride operator in Tomorrowland.

*Paul Monette – author of Borrowed Time and fellow parishioner at St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church in Hollywood.

*Bob Hattoy – Environmentalist and Democratic Party activist who spoke as a person with AIDS at 1992 Democratic Convention.

Tudy and Jody Garcia – my two cousins and beloved sons of my Aunt Betty.

That’s enough names for now. There are almost one hundred more. Each from a major part of my life and family. The Fallen. I wept for each of them.

If you were there with me – then you know. It was relentless. It was heart breaking. It was surreal. We gathered and grieved. We tended at hospital bedsides. We quilted their names on fabrics. We wrote music, poetry and plays for them. We wore red ribbons to symbolize our loss. We lobbied. We got arrested. We screamed in the streets. We walked city streets and rode bicycles from San Francisco to Los Angeles. We created organizations. We raised money. We amassed political power. We greeted fear and took it with us. We asked “why God?”. We yelled at God. We negated God. Some of us found God again. We bled the color purple.

There is no going back. How often have I wished to have them all back? To have them here aging with me. To have them here laughing with me. To have them here dancing with me. But that won’t happen.

Instead – the memories of their love strengthen me. Embolden me. Carry me. I learned to be courageous. I learned to carry fear with me. I learned to surrender to what would be. While fighting all the way through the battles. I learned what mattered. And I was given a reason “to be”

Today, we will break ground at West Hollywood Park on the AIDS Monument.   This was an idea created by Craig Dougherty, Jason Daley Kennedy and me at a table at Cafe D’Etoile about a decade ago.   $5 million later and after years of political work – shovels are going into the ground to begin to build it on San Vicente just south of the corner of Santa Monica Blvd where ACT UP shut down the boulevards.   

A community of people forged in fire. A community of people who didn’t have the luxury of dissension when it was time for labor. A community of people who created the modern LGBT movement. I have often said “there would be no wedding bells and wedding cakes had it not been for the sacrifice of 1000’s to the peril of AIDS”.

I always say also – that gay men are forever indebted to the lesbian women who rushed to our aid even though they were not infected. Forever in debt to our lesbian sisters.

And to our straight allies who marched with us. Rode with us. Walked with us. Cried with us. And nudged us out of the dark shadows of back alley ways into the Light. Where we then flourished and took our place in the softness of humanity’s eyes.

We paid a terrible price in blood. In tears. In sweat. But we have come out as LGBTQ STEEL.

I won’t forget. Not my first time at the “pandemic show”. Trained in the blaze of wildfires and fury.

ACT UP! FIGHT BACK! FIGHT AIDS!

And now FIGHT COVID! Happy weekend all. Sunny and 79 degrees in LA Today……

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Enlightenment
Enlightenment
5 months ago

How can the original idea of seemingly selfless public service, providing vital information about the pandemic, be insidiously transformed into a self serving personal platform?

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