West Side Story.” When listing the cast of an old movie – say, Judy Garland as Dorothy, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow – we add, “And Jo Van Fleet as the alcoholic mother.” Van Fleet won an Oscar for playing a monstrous mother in East of Eden.When Kevin got a job teaching music in a town near Chicago, I visited him often, and when I finally moved to Chicago, we had many great times exploring the city.
Because of him and the other gay men (and LGBTQ+ people in general) I met, I started speaking out against homophobia wherever I encountered it – in the workplace, in social settings, whatever – and became an activist for LGBTQ+ rights.One of the gay men I got to know through Kevin was another Kevin, who lived near me in Chicago and was always ready with an offer to go out to dinner or the bars, or to make me dinner.
Kevin II, I’ll call him, was a legendary party-giver; one of his neighbors dubbed him the Perle Mesta of their condo building. (Google that reference if you don’t get it.) He also did me many kindnesses, like bringing me home from the hospital on a nasty winter day when I had a leg in a cast and needed help to get to my second-floor walkup apartment.Sadly, Kevin II, like many gay men of his generation, was an AIDS casualty.