Sunday, October 18, 2009
People who’ve met me in the past fifteen or twenty may be surprised to learn there was a time that I used to like going out dancing with my friends. It would surprise them less to know that I only tolerated the dancing part—it was the going out with my friends that I liked.
My life has had many unlikely-to-happen things, and this was one of them: I met a group of guys through Dignity/Chicago, the local chapter of the group for Roman Catholic gay and lesbian people—even though I wasn’t Catholic. I was in my early to mid twenties, and they were all older than me—some more than twice my age.
I’m surprised they had anything to do with me at all: I was just a kid in their eyes. But from my mid-teens onward I’d felt older than I really was, so it didn’t occur to me that we weren’t equals. Some of them were a bit standoffish, which confused me at the time, but others were intensely kind and patient with me as I sought my way in the world.
One of them was Patrick, an ex-brother (there were several men in Dignity who had been brothers or priests). We were never anything more than friends, but he was kind to me at a time when much of the world seemed not to be.
Patrick loved the dance music of Patrick Cowley and "Megatron Man" (the music in the video above) in particular. Every time we were out and the DJ put that on, we had to go to the dancefloor. “Menergy” would do, but it wasn’t Patrick’s favourite.
In 1982, Patrick Cowley died from what they were still calling GRID. He was the first person to die from AIDS that many of us had ever heard of. To get a sense of what it was like among the people I knew back then, watch the beginning of the film Longtime Companion—our conversations were very similar.
By the mid-1980s I was settling in with long-term boyfriends and gay political activism, and I saw less and less of that group of friends until I eventually completely lost touch with them. I have no idea what became of any of the guys in my group.
But whenever I hear music or a remix by Patrick Cowley, I think of those days back before—well, back before almost anything, really. And, I think of the Patrick who was my friend, and how much he loved “Megatron Man”, and how, for awhile, we liked to dance.