This weekend is PRIDE here in Boston and as a member of the amazing Boston Gay Men’s Chorus I have been honored with a solo in the beautiful RENT medley based on the musical by John Larson. We hit quite a few songs in the medley including La Vie Boheme, Will I Lose My Dignity?, and Seasons of Love. As you can see in the picture for this post I am the rebel/anarchist of the quartet and scream the line “REVOLUTION! Justice screaming for solution! Forcing changes, risk and danger! Making noise and making pleas!” This reminded me of the amazing ACT UP activisits who started a revolution of thought and action to stop the AIDS epidemic and the horrifying stigma it was being oppressed with. Every night I sing that line I imagine myself as a young, homeless, activist on the streets of New York sticking it to the “man”.
The second song, “Will I Lose My Dignity?” makes me cry almost every time. I know I am not even tasting the stigma that positive individuals face but the look on people’s face when you tell them that you are part of the HIV Vaccine Trial is enough to make one sick. I know my partner would not leave me if I was found to be HIV positive but when the words “Will I wake tomorrow from this nightmare?” brings the image of my friends, family, and lover walking out the door as they hear I have AIDS. The scene in which this song occurs in the RENT musical is a Life Support” meeting where HIV positive individuals or individuals with AIDS are meeting to share their experiences and support each other during what must be one of the greatest challenges an individual can face. My friends told me that my face was in absolute anguish on opening night as the words left my lips and I can only hope to do the song that much honor again tonight.
The finale of this medley is Seasons of Love which has a special place in my heart as the first song from RENT I ever heard. In its honor my facebook friends saw me post this update today:
I wanted to let you know that I love you dearly and that my RENT solo is for you tonight. I may be singing of a revolution but you were the one who gave me a foundation in knowing to do what was right. (They all look surprised when the “little kid” belts with a big voice but I know it’s from the years of you teaching me how to project my voice.) May the 525,600 minutes of this next year bring us closer.
The 525,600 minutes of a year should be spent doing good and one of my steps will be to connect with my mother. She knows I am part of the vaccine trial and I hope to explain why I participate with her in a deep conversation some time soon. I hope you’ll all be able to hear about that experience very soon.
“There’s only us, there’s only this, give in to love or life is yours to miss”.
Fighting a virus with his body as a test tube,