Yesterday was World Aid’s Day. I’ve been unbelievably busy, as evidenced by the lack of posts here and a growing number of digital images on my camera that haven’t even made it to the download phase. Despite all of this, I wanted to take a moment to encourage anyone who can, to donate to The Aids Foundation of Chicago.
AIDS has claimed so many talented lives, whose contributions to this world have been cut short due to this disease. I wanted to remember a few of these wonderful people, who enriched my life just by knowing them and having them as friends. All of these friends that I am sharing some history with were openly gay so there is no news here. The purpose of this post is to honor them and to recognize the loss to society of just three people, much less the countless losses to date.
Glenn Jordan was my first close friend to die of AIDS. I still remember the evening he called me from his home in San Francisco, which he shared with his partner Randy. It was surrealistic. This man who was always so full of joy and always so much fun to be with, was calling to say, “Good-bye.” I hadn’t been out to the West Coast in awhile, but I still have loving memories of my friend who was there for me when I was going through a period in my life where I just needed to get away for a bit.
The first time I went out to stay with Glenn, he had just moved to San Francisco and was living in the Mission District, and we got around on a motorcycle, something I would never do now especially in such a hilly city, but back then it was fun. I really enjoyed the evenings, when we’d climb up to the roof and view the city lights or sit on the Fire Escape with a glass of wine and talk. I remember he wanted a guy he met who also did photography to shoot some photos of both of us, and this man, Randy, became his last partner. I remember being happy for Glenn, when he told me they were finally together, as he had always liked him and many years later, they became a couple.
Glenn was originally from Florida. Just before he moved in with his partner Michael, who he was with in Chicago before he moved to the West Coast, his younger sister “BeeJay” came in for a visit. I was to meet them at his place, and being Chicago and winter, I ran over to Lord and Taylor to pick up some gloves and a scarf for his little sis, who also, as a Floridian, certainly had no need for such accessories back home. It’s funny how little things like that cement your relationships with friends.
Don Dayhoff, an ex member of the San Francisco Ballet Corps, whose first dream was cut short after an injury, I met while visiting Glenn. Because he was moving to Chicago, Glenn made sure I would meet him. Don and I immediately hit it off. Don and I had the same, quirky appreciation for pop culture, films, art, great food and a shared distaste for pretentious people. He was only in Chicago for a few years, but during that time we laughed a lot together, saw some incredible films, lost a lot of sleep because we’d meet for early breakfasts on the weekend to share our dating stories, and just had fun together.
My friend Don was paradoxically a very, very private person which if you didn’t know him and just met him socially, you would have found it hard to believe. Don decided that his stint as an Administrative Assistant wasn’t how he wanted to pass his working hours, and so he began to study ASL (American Sign Language). I watched with fascination as my friend blossomed, saw the potential for both helping others and helping launch a career, in short, he found his niche where he could do what he loved, help people and be solvent. Don moved from Chicago, to Washington, to study ASL on a more serious note, so he could become fluent. After not hearing from him for awhile, I called my friend Gregg, who was also a mutual friend of both of these men. His voice quieted and he said, ” Don’s gone. AIDS.” Only a few of his friends from San Francisco were informed by Don’s family, whom I did not know. Don chose to not tell any of the friends that I knew, and as far as we were told, he passed away in the hospital alone, maintaining that fierce privacy he guarded at times.
Gregg A Frampton, Esq. My friend Gregg and I had some of the greatest intellectual and professional/career related discussions out of this wonderful trio of friends I met. Gregg was originally from Chicago and left here due to personal reasons. As a practicing attorney in Chicago, this meant that he would either need to take the Bar Exam again for California, or he could work for the US Government, and he chose the latter.
Gregg was very erudite, and also living in California, appreciated California wine, and fine dining, so it was always fun to visit with him. One year I was out West attending a seminar for work. I opted to stay the weekend, and on one of those days Gregg took me out to the vineyards where we promptly got looped from the wine tasting samples. There were quite a few very full glasses they offered, all of which we drank and enjoyed quite a bit, until we tried to become mobile again. When Gregg and his partner came to Chicago, it was my turn to repay him for the many fabulous restaurants we dined at, and we enjoyed quite a meal at Nick’s Fishmarket, which at that time had a location in downtown Chicago.
So there you have it, three good human beings who left a legacy of helping people, enjoying life, bringing joy and happiness to others, and sharing their talents to make this world a better place. Like many AIDS related deaths, you will always be missed, not just by me but the many other lives that you made better by your existence here.