A Poignant Memory of kd lang and Roy Orbison
Years ago, probably about 1987 or earlier, I was watching one of the music award programs at home with my partner. The phone rang just before kd lang and Roy Orbison took the stage to perform “Cryin’”. It was my friend Donald from Washington, DC. In the background, I could hear that his partner, Jorge, was watching the same program in Washington as my partner in my home.
Donald had called to talk about his fears and my fears and how Jorge was sick with AIDS and how he, too, had been infected. Since Donald knew that I was infected, we talked often and shared deep dark secrets and fears of the era with each other. This was, afterall, the time when people were ruthless in their discrimination against those living with HIV/AIDS. All through the conversation, we could hear kd lang and Roy Orbison singing their hearts out in a strange kind of stereo—one television in each home and the sound of the television in the other home passing through the phone lines. I wished, for a moment, that I could be there, in front of the television, watching instead.
The funniest thing happened next, though. kd and Roy finished up their song and when they did, both my partner and Jorge broke out into loud applause and shouts of “YES!!! YES!!!.” I could tell that they were both giving a standing ovation. It was loud and uproarious and fantastic and funny. An image was running through my mind as I heard their exuberance, an image later clarified by my lesbian friend Steph who describes some gay men as those who would clap with their fingers bent back. I could just imagine these two grown men, faced with all the weight of the world distracted for just a few minutes by pure art and beauty, applauding with their fingers bent back, forgetting for a moment that they or their loved-one might soon die of AIDS.
Since then, both Donald and Jorge have passed on. Now I long for those phone calls in the deep of night, when we could talk till we cried or laughed away our fears. My partner and I long ago broke up from the toll of living with HIV and other issues. Roy is gone too, but that song will forever stay in my mind as long as the circuits are running and my memories are accessible.
Categories: HIV AIDS HIV/AIDS music kd+lang Roy+Orbison Cryin' memories