Canada 150 … We Are Not United

International Aborigines Festival in Malaysia

I’ve lived in Canada now 15 years. And I work in a community that suffers greatly.

First world folks who come from the First World, seem not to care about those who do not come from First World communities. Canada is a nation of many.

Many people, from many walks of life.

Before the white man came to Canada, Indigenous populations owned the land that was taken from them. Reserves were set up, and as land went to Canada, Indigenous populations were sequestered on reserves.

Many of those reserves today, are Third World Communities.

  • Many homes are condemned, because of lack of utilities and basic working ability.
  • Many Communities cannot be reached by road, either by plane, boat, ferry, or ice Roads. They are not connected to infrastructure and they should be.
  • Many homes have no running water.
  • Many homes have no heat.
  • Reserves scattered all over Canada, are far-flung, and are not connected to First World facilities or infrastructure.

The farther North you travel, the more remote the community, as far as the Arctic in the North, to the Up Coast in the West, to the farthest islands in the far North of B.C.

I have advocated for my people. I’ve written the government over the years. I work with the less fortunate in our community here. I have indigenous friends, who got sober with me and now they work within their communities, in ways that the white community does not.

Our sober communities are diverse, and our Primary Purpose tells us that we must serve every single human who walks through our doors equally. Thankfully, we do this well. We try to make a difference in our own communities.

This is not always a shared commitment across Canada.

There are too many poor Indigenous people across our land. They cannot get by alone. They cannot afford creature comforts that we take for granted. If you went to buy groceries in an Indigenous grocery store, you would pay hand over fist, huge amounts for simple food, that we pay a pittance for ourselves. They do not have access to humane health care and have to travel to larger cities to access care.

  • There is not social equality.
  • There is not economic equality.
  • There is not social equality.
  • There is not housing equality.
  • Our Indigenous populations go without all those comforts, White, Anglo, and Francophone communities expect and take for granted and feel entitled to because of their heritage and birthright as Canadians.
  • Yet, we consign our Indigenous Peoples to lives of Less Than.
  • That is ABOMINABLE !!!

Change must come to Canada across the land.

Truth and Reconciliation has begun, but has fallen short of itself. The Inquiry into Indigenous Missing and Murdered Women has fallen short of expectations. We have not served our Indigenous populations accordingly.

The Residential School program that killed the dreams of millions of children, taken from their homes, into religious communities for assimilation. Entire communities were destroyed. Languages were eradicated. Children were abused beyond what was conceived by those who thought they were doing Canada a favor by turning indigenous children into white religious Canadians.

Respect and Dignity were ignored. Our Indigenous populations demand respect, and we owe them that and so much more.

I don’t think the world knows just how much our Indigenous people suffer. They live within the borders of a country that is First Rate – First World. Yet, Our Indigenous people’s are not respected or dignified the same way we dignify each other as Canadians.

We do not even bother to stand up for those who were here long before any of us were here. Our nation spent millions upon millions of dollars to have a party of all parties to celebrate Canada’s 150th Nation wide, and here in Montreal, our 375th.

In the background, in green spaces, and in small communities and surely in all the homeless shelters, our Indigenous people reside.

Alone, Forgotten, Ignored.

We cannot justify a party for our country, when millions of our own people live Third World existences in a First World country.

That inequality is glaring and openly evident.

That Tee Pee on Parliament Hill needs to be there. Canadians need to open their eyes, their hearts and their lives to the people we ignore and disrespect on a daily national basis. We cannot claim pride for country, when members of our communities have nothing to speak of but the land we ceded them on their reserves.

The Many Indigenous people’s of Canada deserve so much more than the lip service we pay them today. We speak of how good we are trying to make towards reconciliation, and missing and murdered Indigenous women, but simply, we have failed our people who need justice, truth and peace of mind.

The heavens will rain on tomorrows party we are told.

The Great Spirit weeps for those who go without.

It is a shame that today, we do nothing more than what we think is right and just.

It is NOT Right and Just.

We owe our Indigenous Populations Respect, Dignity and Equality.

I know what my people need in my community.

It falls upon YOU to know what is needed in your communities.

We cannot claim Unity, and not be Unified for ALL Equally.

It is a shame. And it is shameful indeed.

How fully we receive – yet so many do not.

How entitled and expectant and taken for granted we live in this Country we call HOME.

In our First World lives, we ignore and commit indignities to those who came before us. We cannot continue this progression without loosing our souls and our dignity, while ignoring those who need more than we give them.

Not everyone will party with you. Because we have failed our most vulnerable.

It is the children who suffer. We have failed them time and time again.

We owe their parents dignity and hope. A job we have failed at time and time again.

Remember them as you celebrate Canada.

Friday: God.Creation.Puzzle Pieces

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This post is brought to you by The Book of Mormon, No, the Real Book of Mormon.
Jacob: Chapter 5.
The Vineyard.

I have spoken in the past about God, the universe, and where I believe we exist in the grand scheme of things. That a little portion of the universe is in us, and the universe is the heavens. And if both exist together as a whole, yet in two places at once, we are eternally connected to all that is, which brings us into unity with the universe.

And God.

The Universe (read:God) knows all, and sees all, and facilitates all. Before we even think a thought, or have a feeling, or speak a word, the universe, connected to us intimately from within, already knows what is in our hearts.

The Universe Always Conspires to Help Us.

Even if we don’t want that help, or know it is there for us, but I know today, that over time, the universe reveals to us, the wonders of life, creation and inspiration.

I had an enlightening conversation with my Elder friend Spencer last night. While in Montreal, on his mission, that ended last fall, Spencer realized a progression of coincidences began to happen, in rapid succession, over long periods of time.

But we know, there are no coincidences, only God. For those who believe in God.

We met on a Metro platform, and over the weeks, as we sat together and talked about God, Faith and Life, that coincidental progression began again.

We did not know one another, but as the days and weeks progressed, our conversations turned into serious topics. And as God is, made manifest to us.

Spencer was LIT with God. This young man, knew his book, knew his faith, and knew his God. He was a miraculous presence in my life. And subsequently, we are friends to this day.

It was serendipitous.

On our last meeting together, I handed Spencer my 14 year chip to take home with him. He carries it with him to this day. I gave him a mission to take home with him.

It was the best piece of advice he had been given while on his mission.

I asked him to purchase a journal, and begin documenting all the lessons he learned while he was here. He had journal-ed while he was here and he had certain dates of importance and certain stories recorded.

Events only, not what he learned, or how he felt, or how each situation made him feel.

It was only when he went home, with my direction to write, did he begin to learn the wisdom of his mission.

We have spoken here, at length, about being ON THE BEAM, when it comes to God and Spirituality. Spencer and I, are, On The Beam, together.

Returning home, he wrapped himself up in the transition of going home, beginning his university career, and over that first month, we had not reconnected yet.

He Fell Off The Beam, so to speak.

We had ventured up a mountain, saw and met God, and when we parted, we both came down from that mountain. Spencer into darkness, myself into unknowing.

We now know, that we have to carry that mountain within us, every day, to the best of our ability, some days are better than others. There is wisdom in that.

Spencer said that while he was off the beam and disconnected while we had not begun to talk again regularly, it was a very dark and disorienting time for him, one that he does not want to repeat.

Our subsequent re connection was the best antidote for the darkness that fell upon him.

We know this now, because hindsight is our best teacher.

Last night, Spencer mentioned God, and thus it went:

God did not just throw everything together in one fell swoop, and BANG, the Universe was created. No. God carefully selected and collected all the constituent parts together, very slowly and methodically. Every perfect piece that is everything, is gathered together, over long periods of time.

And then creation happens. God knows what he is doing, in the cosmic realm.

So it went with Spencer’s Mission, followed by our friendship.

In hindsight now, Spencer speaks of God, thus…

Over that two-year period, looking back now, through journals, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and effects, God sprinkled our paths with bread crumbs, puzzle pieces, so to speak.

Sometimes, we need distance between the past and the now, to see the wisdom of God, in the grand scheme of things.

These coincidences, or as the Big Book calls it, God Consciousness, are littered throughout Spencer’s Mission and my life. The past few months of his mission included meeting me and beginning our friendship.

There were many spiritual lessons to be learned by both of us, from one another. And as these coincidences began to unfold, it fueled our spiritual journey together.

Spencer knows now, the wisdom in his experiences, because he added experience, feelings and outcomes to those journal entries.

The DOT on the map, with one event, became a web of everything, that is still in motion to this day.

Over time, God reveals puzzle pieces to us, one at a time. And Not all at once.

Little by slowly, God reveals his plans and ministrations to us. It might not seem that way to many, who do not necessarily see things in Spiritual or Godly terms.

But we do. Because we have eyes to see and ears to hear and hands to work.

There is a tapestry that has unfolded for both Spencer and myself.

Every decision we make. Every person we meet. Every person we minister to, is on our path for a certain reason. We either have something to learn from them, and/or they have something to learn from us.

There are no coincidences, as to why Spencer was standing on that platform that afternoon, and we met, greeted and now we are here almost a year later.

God’s handy work, at revealing “Little Things” one at a time, takes time to reach the point where a partial picture, most of the picture, or the whole picture is revealed.

Both Spencer and myself know, today, the picture of his mission. In our discussions, we have greater understanding of those two years, now that we are removed from them.

And God had dropped puzzle pieces, one at a time for both of us.

Spencer was on his mission, and I was in my life.

It was on that Metro platform that God introduced us, for a specific reason.

Spencer to speak of God, and my needing some serious spiritual help at the time, because my life was in turmoil and had fallen apart. And Spencer was the spiritual glue that put everything back together, along with a few key people in my life.

The Vineyard …

In the book of Jacob, the master of the vineyard and his servants are caring for olive trees. Some had fallen fallow, some are doing better than others. And some are dying.

As the story unfolds, the trees that need help are rooted, dug out, watered, and cared for. In some of the trees, the dead branches are pruned, and in some trees, they graft wild branches into them to fortify and save the trees.

Over time, the wild branches take over the good tree, the roots are overcome, and the wild trees bear bad fruit. Unusable an unprofitable.

Over time, trees are moved from one location in the vineyard to others. Some to good soil, and some to not so good soil. The subsequent outcome is that some trees prosper and others do not.

And in the end the vineyard falls into disrepair and all the trees end up in fire.

The vineyard is lost.

What do we have ? Good trees, Bad Trees, Good Fruit and Bad Fruit and Wild Fruit.

Not all the fruit harvested is worth anything.

So it goes with people. People, like trees, and all living things, need nourishment, love and care. A vineyard can be small, or it can be huge.

In our lives, there are good trees and bad trees. Some trees take root and grow by the work of our hands and hearts, and some do not root, do not grow, and turn wild unto themselves.

Sometimes we have to prune our vineyards.

We are finite humans, with only so much capability of maintaining a vineyard.

Humans, cannot be all things to all people all at the same time.

Hindsight speaks once again…

Both Spencer and I were working in our respective vineyards, when we met.

I have shared with you, in the past, some of those encounters, after the fact, looking back on his mission. I also have hindsight into my own vineyard.

The pruning of my vineyard was beginning before we had met. As the trees that were wild, and the trees that we not growing accordingly, we pruned right out from under me, much to my dismay.

I had been in the middle of an emotional upheaval when Spencer came into my life, and the serious pruning had been done. Looking back, God, in His infinite wisdom, knew what He was doing. It is only now that we learn the how and the why…

Jacob Chapter 5.

In my work, I cannot be all things to all people, and I have only a certain amount of spiritual, mental and emotional energy to devote to my peers.

Some of my trees rotted out from under me. Some of my trees needed to be cut down and burned. And just a certain few of my trees still exist, are growing in good soil and are prospering.

My vineyard is much smaller today.

Those people who were not growing and sapping me of my good will and love, have been pruned away. Those people who remain in my vineyard are good trees who have grown up around me and they bear good fruit.

The Basis of Recovery is to have a spiritual experience, and for each of us, in our own ways, to expand our spiritual lives.

The basis of Mission is to meet people in the field. To bring them the Book, and walk them into a community of faith. The vineyard is full of different trees that respond each in their own ways, to our working in them.

Some trees took root, grew and prospered. Many did not.

Spencer came and planted me a tree. It has grown, prospered and bares good fruit.

Our relationship is the fruit that was bore, so many months ago.

Not everybody IN our lives, are meant to BE in our lives forever.

Some are meant to be there for just a season, others, may be around longer. It just depends on God’s plan.

The people meant to be in our lives, stay for one reason, because we invest in one another, to the degree that we thrive on each other’s presence.

The bane of recovery, not everyone who walks into our lives, will stay.

Some will take root, for a bit, hang on for dear life, and many will fall away, go fallow and end up in the fire.

Then there are those who will take root, grow, prosper and bear fruit. The odds are stacked against the many, but a handful succeed.

Knowing who to invest in, and why is the key.

Knowing when to prune our vineyards is key, also.

I thought that pruning my vineyard on my own was a bad decision, until I learned that I did not need permission to prune my vineyard.

In the end, God did the pruning for me.

Now I Know…

Spencer read me excerpts from Jacob chapter 5, last night. I read the chapter myself today, and the lesson about the vineyard was instructive and divinely appropriate for me right now.

I know that if I pray, and don’t get a direct prompt, then I have to go listen to my friends talk, and usually, an answer comes, if I have ears to hear it and eyes to see it.

Living On The Beam takes a lot of work, patience and commitment.

One either decides to invest in a Spiritual or Godly life, or you don’t.

Those who do invest, seem to take root and live much better lives.

Last night, I spoke to a friend about gratitude, after the meeting.

Our visitor was from out of the city, she was sober a while, and had a fresh new message we had never heard. The story about loosing everything, coming into recovery, and then getting most or all of it back, are few and far between.

Our woman last night had lost it all. And now 11 years later, she is eternally grateful for the rooms, and of us, who took care of her.

And a thought came to mind last night as we were walking home …

People who come from the First world have huge problems with gratitude. They don’t know the rest of the world from Adam.

People who come from the Third world, have much less a problem with gratitude than their peers. Because they know what going without means and feels like personally.

And so it went in my vineyard.

My First world trees fell fallow and ended up in the fire. My Third world trees all prospered and are doing better than the others.

Not sure where that thought came from, but it made clear sense to me as I shared the words with my friend.

Wednesday: The Dollar Store is selling STUPID

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Have you ever shopped at a Dollar Store ? They are located all over Montreal. There is one around the corner from home, another in the mall up the street, and what ever neighborhood you are in, it is a forgone conclusion, that YES, there will be a Dollar Store in your neighborhood.

Now, If you are familiar with a Dollar Store, most everything in the store costs a Dollar. Except those items with Two Dollar Stickers on them.

But let’s go with the Dollar, its cheaper.

I have an observation to make …

They are selling STUPID at the Dollar Store. And if we are honest, STUPID rules the day, and it’s all over the web. It makes the News, It makes You Tube, and it makes the National News at night.

I don’t know about you but, Stupid is all over the place. Especially if you live in the United States, and you are stuck watching the Greek Tragedy, that is the U.S. Government and its STUPID leader … (Read: He who should not be named).

The RICH want to get richer, off the backs, health and well being of those who are NOT RICH. We’ll give tax breaks to the rich and jam a Healthcare Bill through that takes millions of people OFF healthcare, just for shits and giggles.

STUPID !

I watched a You Tube video today about a young couple, expecting a baby. They have a channel they wanted to PIMP OUT and get more views. The boyfriend grabbed an encyclopedia and she grabbed the most powerful semi automatic hand gun that is on the market. A .50-calibre Desert Eagle handgun

He believed that the encyclopedia would STOP that Semi Automatic Bullet from tearing apart the book he was holding.

From One Foot away, she fired said gun, the bullet went into motion, traveled through the book, and killed him. She is facing charges of second degree manslaughter.

STOOPID !!

If you have a Twitter Account, Face Book, Snap Chat, or any other Social Media Account, it is probably true that at least one person, or maybe more, has Stupid as their Default mode of communication.

This past weekend. I went on a HUGE un-follow spree. I culled my Face Book, and destroyed my Twitter page. Because let’s face it …

Social Media = STOOPID !!!

It just astounds me the level of Stupid that is playing out today. I think people have just lost their frigging minds.

I’ve always been told that I should engage my brain before I open my mouth. And as a writer, we are supposed to TASTE our words before we spit them out.

And finally, if you don’t have something NICE to say, Come sit by me …

10 points for the reference …

Better not to say anything at all, if you have nothing nice to say.

The U.S. President watches Fox News. And he Tweets at 5 o’clock in the morning.

You’d of thought with Melania and Baron residing within the walls of the White House, that the President would mellow and calm down. I at least offered that observation on the day they moved into said house.

Stupid still exists.

I am an 80’s kid. I had a car. I had a dial phone in my bedroom. We had a dial phone in the kitchen. And a cordless phone in the family room.

If we wanted to talk, we’d get on the phone. For me, if I wanted to talk, I visited my friends houses and did things outside.

WITHOUT the addiction of a Smart Phone.

Even if they did exist back then, I’m sure we would have stuck with the old faithful getting together at a pizza resto or other food establishment, because of the resident PIN BALL or PAC MAN or ASTEROIDS game.

There is a PAC MAN game in the Forum, right up the street. You can play for a quarter.

Stupid is as Stupid does.

Right now, there is too much stupid in the world.

And we need to call it out and take stupid out of the conversation, before more stupid does any more damage to the already stupid shit that had transpired recently.

PRIDE: We’ve Been Forgotten

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This is my life. This is my Pride. This is who I am.

Attending Pride last Summer in our nation’s Capitol, Ottawa, when all was said and done, I wondered why I even bothered to go in the first place.

I mean, Really !!! Black Lives Matter, Militant Black Lesbians, Feminist Preachers, sharing how white men have invaded their lives and made them worse, Trucks carrying Port-o-Potties, because Trans people cannot use their correct bathrooms … Every other marcher handing out condoms to the waiting crowds standing in the rain as they walked by.

NOT ONE MENTION of AIDS. NOT ONE MEMORIAL FLOAT. NOT ONE WORD.

It was like, we did not even register on the map. I did not register on the map either.

I stood there, dumbfounded at the stupidity and shallowness of the presentation rolling by me in the rain.

THIS, AIDS, IS my PRIDE.

A part of me that lives on today, when men like David Kirby and Peta went to their deaths, having no drugs, or even the possibility of survival.

These men are dead.

Hundreds of thousands of men, (and some children) are dead, because of how we were relegated to the edge of society. Ignored by governments, turned away by families and churches, turned away by friends, lovers and family.

If you want to know what I think of PRIDE, this is where we start. Before there were militant black lesbians, or Trans men and women, or bathroom issues to contend with, there was US. You are here, because WE were here, before you.

This is where PRIDE began. To get the world to notice US, dying all around you, because the world did not act in time, with what we really needed. And sent so many people to their deaths because of ignorance, stupidity, arrogance and hatred.

I will not march in a Pride parade or even attend again, because, WE have been Forgotten. Times have changed, yes, I concede. It is written that

“Those who forget the past are destined to repeat it.”

July – The Month that I revere with solemnity and honor. The month that I learned I was going to die, like all of my friends.

I survived.

And as long as I live, the memory of my brothers will never go unforgotten.

**** **** ****

The Story Behind the Photo that Changed the World’s Perception and AIDS

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David Kirby, near death, lies in bed with his family by his side in Ohio, 1990.

In November 1990, a gaunt, dying man appeared in the pages of LIFE magazine.

That man, David Kirby, had already made a name for himself as an HIV/AIDS activist in the 1980s, and was in the final stages of the disease in March 1990, when journalism student Therese Frare began photographing Kirby’s own battle with the virus.

The following month, Frare captured Kirby on his deathbed surrounded by his family. He died soon after it was taken, and his family’s grief came through the haunting black-and-white still frame.

The photo took on a life of its own after being published, and the story surrounding it is as moving as the image itself.

face-aids-david-healthy

David Kirby’s mother holds a picture of him from about ten years before his death, when he was a healthy young man.

David Kirby was born in 1957 and raised in a small town in Ohio. As a gay teenager in the 1970s, he found life in the Midwest difficult.

After finding out about his orientation, Kirby’s family reacted the way most did then: negatively. With his personal relationships strained and no obvious way forward for him, Kirby set off for the West Coast and settled into life in the (still partly underground) gay scene in Los Angeles. He fit in well there and soon became a gay activist.

In the 1970s and ’80s, homosexual behavior was still illegal in most states. Normal adult relationships for gays carried the risk of arrest and prosecution as sex offenders.

In California, in 1978, the so-called Briggs Initiative, for example, had sought to ban openly gay residents from working near children in a public school. Activists had been crucial in the initiative’s narrow defeat, and Kirby began attending rallies and protests to widen gay rights in the state and nationwide.

As activists tend to do, Kirby built up a network of contacts who would later help him raise awareness of the disease that was stalking his community.

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The 1970s were a time of increasing social and political consciousness for the gay community.

Unfortunately for David Kirby, and for millions of others, the Los Angeles gay scene was an epicenter of the burgeoning HIV/AIDS epidemic. The first scientific description of what we now call AIDS was published as a series of case studies of Los Angeles residents who were treated at the UCLA Medical Center.

Kirby got to town just as the infection was taking off, but before anybody knew what was going on.

It was typical of gay men in “the scene” to have multiple partners in quick succession, and protection was almost never used. Combined with its long incubation period and slow, enigmatic onset, the disease was well-positioned to spread from person to person with impunity.

Nobody knows when Kirby was infected, but by the early 1980s, clusters of unusual cancers and respiratory illnesses were cropping up among gay men in every major city in America.

Kirby was diagnosed with AIDS in 1987, at the age of 29. Without effective treatments, or even a clear idea of how the virus was killing its victims, the diagnosis was a death sentence. It was known by then that the infected had from a few months to a couple of years after the onset of symptoms to live.

Kirby decided to spend the time he had left in AIDS activism. He also reached out to his family and asked to come home.

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David Kirby’s mother, Kay, administers medication through her son’s shunt.

AIDS activism was desperately needed at the time.

Around the time that David Kirby was diagnosed, an elementary school student named Ryan White was expelled from his classes and barred from school property after a blood transfusion left him HIV-positive. The general lack of knowledge about AIDS had induced something close to panic in the public, and parents were afraid Ryan might have spread the disease to his fellow students.

There was also a prevailing idea that AIDS was a “bad-person” disease, given that its principal victims by that point had been gay men, drug users, and prostitutes.

Perhaps as a result of this stigma, research funding had been shamefully deficient in the early stages of the epidemic, and activists of the time worked to both dispel the myths and fears around HIV and to encourage more funding for research, as well as to fight absurd “public health” measures such as expelling children from school and, in at least one case (presented in all seriousness in a New York Times editorial by William F. Buckley), tattooing a warning onto the buttocks of known AIDS patients.

At the first hospital where Kirby stayed, one of the nurses wouldn’t even let him hold a menu for fear of contagion. Instead, she called out meal selections from the doorway.

In this atmosphere of fear and borderline superstition, Kirby and other AIDS activists talked, lectured, wrote, and appeared on television to reach as many people as they could to demystify the illness and encourage empathy for the people suffering from it.

By 1989, Kirby’s condition had worsened to the point that his family could no longer care for him at home. He checked into the Pater Noster AIDS Hospice in Columbus, Ohio.

One of the caregivers there was an HIV-positive transsexual man who went by the name Peta. The two became close friends, with Peta often visiting Kirby even on off days.

Kirby’s condition worsened through the winter and spring of 1990. That April, Peta started bringing a friend, a graduate journalism student Therese Frare, to visit. With the permission of Kirby and his family, Frare began documenting Kirby’s ordeal with her camera.

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Peta leans over David Kirby, who wears a diaper in this photo.

From the beginning, David Kirby gave his enthusiastic consent to the photos. As an activist, he correctly believed that an accurate photographic record of his death would humanize the burgeoning AIDS crisis and help people who’d never seen the disease to empathize with patients. His only condition was that Frare not personally profit from the photos.

Over the month or so that she visited the hospice, Frare shot several rolls of film, covering David’s rapid decline, his family’s grief, and the tender care he got from Peta.

On the evening of the photo that would soon become iconic, Frare and Peta were visiting other patients when word reached them that Kirby’s condition was heading downhill fast. His family had gathered to keep watch over him, and the end was expected within hours if not minutes.

Peta rushed into the room, briefly greeted the family, and began speaking to Kirby and holding his hand. According to her own later account, Frare respectfully stayed outside of the room until she was called in, then she took up a discreet spot in the corner and didn’t speak. She snapped a few photos, staying out of everybody’s way, until Kirby stopped breathing.

The last photo captured Kirby staring off into space as his father groans in anguish and his mother and sister cling to each other nearby.

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Frare submitted the photos to LIFE, which ran the story in its November 1990 issue. It also won second place in that year’s World Press Photo competition for General News.

The image spread from national fame to international recognition in every country where AIDS had already taken a toll. In its 20th anniversary retrospective on the photo, TIME estimated that more than 1 billion people have seen David Kirby’s last photo.

The exposure was not all positive, however. Right away, Catholic groups, in a rare foray into functional aesthetics, complained about the composition of the photograph. The way Kirby’s father cradles his head, they argued, is blasphemously close to a very common motif in European Christian art called the Pieta, in which the grieving Virgin Mary cradles her dead son Jesus after his descent from the cross.

Other criticism came from gay and HIV/AIDS activist circles when a colorized version of the picture was used in Benetton’s 1992 “United Colors of Benetton” campaign. As it happened, the family had given the company permission to use the photo as a way of spreading the image to more people than would otherwise have seen it.

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Peta lies in bed in the Pater Noster Hospice, where he had spent countless hours as a volunteer caregiver.

After David Kirby’s death, many of the people involved with the photo stayed in touch. Frare eventually moved to Seattle and found work as a freelance journalist. Peta, the half-Sioux, half-white, transgendered caretaker who had brought Frare into the hospice, continued working with dying AIDS patients until his own condition worsened in 1991.

Frare took several photos of Peta during his decline, and when he could no longer look after himself, the Kirby family took care of Peta — out of gratitude and love for how he had cared for their son. Peta died of AIDS-related illness in 1992.

Friday: Faith, Action and Dr. Bob

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The weather has gotten dreary, wet, humid and miserable. Thanks to tropical storm Cindy. She stormed the gulf coast, and now she is making it rain here, and it is supposed to rain for the next three days.

Which meant numbers were down. But we had a good showing.

Faith … What is Faith. Not sure ? Take the action.

We talked about Faith and Action tonight. If you don’t have the former, then you need the latter. And how do we do the latter ? We go to a meeting.

As many meetings, as it takes, for you to hear someone who has a message or you identify with the words, and you take that EXTRA step and go talk to said person to see

  • What it is that they have
  • How did the learn what they said and/or did
  • And how do you replicate that piece of advice
  • You take a SUGGESTION and you RUN with it
  • As far as it will get you

So many of our young people struggle with Faith, and God and Suggestions.

Many people want the easier softer way, and only the die-hard newbies will listen when you tell that WHAT it is that YOU DID, and WHAT happened because you did that thing.

If you are new to the rooms. Sit down, open your heart, and listen.

Listening is an ACTION step. It will come to pass, that if you sit in your chair long enough, you are going to sink in and then you will hear just what it is you need to hear.

You might have to hit a number of meetings, over a LONG period of time. In Montreal, there are plenty of choices of where to go, around the clock, every day.

I know, I did not know what to do, and I needed people to show me what to do. And I connected to all the right people when I needed them. And over the years, certain special sober folks appeared, because I went looking for them, where ever sober people gathered.

Meetings, Step Series, Round Ups. Going out-of-town.

It may happen for you tomorrow, and maybe it won’t. That is the adventure, RIGHT ?

If you want to get sober … If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, THEN you are READY to take certain STEPS…

It’s written in the book.

If you don’t have faith, let us show you faith. Sit with us and listen to our stories. At some point, even you will identify with at least one human being sitting in that same room as you.

The last Paragraph of tonight’s read mentions the first meeting between Bill W. and Doctor Bob, on that fateful night, I wrote about a few days ago.

Dr. Bob got sober, because Bill told him HIS story. And for the first time in his life, he met another human being, who knew what Dr. Bob was going through. Bill was speaking his language. On June 10th 1935, Dr. Bob recorded his first full day of sobriety…

And what did that take ? One alcoholic talking to another.

Honestly.

If you don’t have something, then take your needs to a meeting, and lay them down on the table and speak your words.

ALWAYS take your needs to a room. ALWAYS. Because you would be surprised how often you will find exactly what you NEED on a need to know/have basis.

If you glean everything a room has to offer, EVERY single human being who walks into a room has something you might need. All you have to do is ask. That is why we stress the 20 minutes before and after.

Every single person in the room has something to offer, even if they don’t know it themselves.

The forward action of faith, is showing up, every day or every night.

You might not know what that looks like, but if you just try, one day at a time, your actions will become faith.

I promise you that.

I spoke to three people on the way out tonight. Hopefully they will return the next week for another dose of Friday Night Sobriety.

It’s the Best night of the week.

Thursday: Drink Your Way Across Europe

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It was a beautiful day today. I did some shopping early on, and hosted one of my guys for another week of Big Book reading, (Read: Booking). I opened and set up the meeting, since many of our folks are away for a few weeks, so we are low on workers for the next month, it is all hands on deck.

We are sitting at the beginning of two weeks of National Holidays, First, here in Quebec, the St. Jean Baptiste Holiday, (For you Separatists out there) not that I have many Francophone readers, or that I am that political to tell you what I think about “Separatist Politics.”

Next weekend is Canada’s 150th Birthday Celebrations countrywide. Canada Day on July 1st, will be the BIGGEST celebration Canada has ever seen. Montreal celebrates 375 years of existence.

Needless to say, Our Provincial and City Governments have gone to great lengths to beautify the city. Millions upon Millions of dollars have been spent to bring Montreal up to speed for our tourists and to get the people on the ground excited to be living in such a wonderful city that IS Montreal.

Who am I to complain …

We who live here want to know WHY they spent so much money on shit we really did not need, while millions go without. We need so many things for our people, that we are not getting, even though the government seems to have deep pockets to spend on rock stumps on the mountain, and electrifying the Jacques Cartier Bridge for the world to see on NEWS CAMS all around the city pointed at the bridge at night.

People need healthcare. So many people need clean water, and homes that are not mold ridden and Indigenous people who live off island REALLY need lives, better lives at that. We need food on our tables, child care, medical assistance, homes, clean water, like I said, there are too many Canadians going without, while the government spend a shit ton of money on beautiful …

WHY ???

Anyways, back to this evening.

Our speaker, a young lady friend of one of our men got up and spoke. We clicked right away. I know her, because I know her boyfriend. They are sober together.

She worked in Travel for a few years. I did myself as well. While I was still drinking too.

We got to compare notes on all the sick ways we used to travel.

READ: Drink Your Way Across Europe.

Nothing was more fun, than on a Friday afternoon, getting on a plane, (in my office we ALWAYS flew First Class) because we could. Free Passes were always a nice perk.

San Francisco, New York, Chicago, London, Paris, or Rio …

The fun started before the plane even took off in those days.

She asked me if I remember any of my trips. I do actually.

I did some serious drinking in my young life. You’d imagine that I was pretty pickled before I hit the ripe age of twenty, seeing how much liquor I could put away.

I am amazed to some degree that I survived those years.

I know, for sure, that I was Stone Cold Sober, when I went to see the Vatican. Because I climbed all those stairs up inside the Cuppola to the roof of St. Peter’s to see St. Peter’s Square from that high up and the Vatican Gardens below.

I drank SO MUCH in Munich that I put a public tour bus out of commission because I was so sick inside that bus on the way back to the city, that I ended up on the pavement, and the bus went in for a deep cleaning and never went back into service.

UGH …

Not A Pretty Drunk at all. Not the most famous memory, but a memory nonetheless.

A good night was had by all.