chapter  4
8 Pages

Development of AIDS Awareness: A Personal History

Later that sum m er, I attended two medical rounds on “Kaposi’s Sarcoma in Gay M en” that were presented where I work, the Medical C enter at the University o f California, San Francisco. I was one o f a very few women, and perhaps the only nurse, in the audience. As I sat and tried to listen to the clinical discussion, my thoughts were occupied with a deep concern for the m en experiencing this condition. In particular, I thought about how difficult it would be to be gay and term inally ill. I am a lesbian, and I know what it is like to be closeted. I rem em bered the em otional turm oil I experienced during two hospitalizations, especially the one in the small hospital w here I w orked in F lorida d u rin g the mid-sixties. At that tim e I was literally te rrified tha t som eone would guess I was “queer.” I d id n ’t want my lover to be a round when I went to the operating room because I felt it would look unusual; I was so preoccupied with that concern that I d id n ’t stop and realize that many people have a friend visit before they leave for the operating room . I was careful about how we addressed each other, even when talking on the phone, and holding hands was reserved for times when the door was closed and bed curtain draw n. I was deep in my secret closet and felt I could only trust or confide in others whom I knew were in the same situation.