Chapter 26 …

Love and sex ... similar but different somehow

One of the things we learned in last week’s chapter is that AIDS didn’t kill the longing for sex, at least not for Jeff. Or is Jeff confusing sex with the need for love and intimacy? Whatever the case may be and in spite of Jeff’s best efforts, the urge for something more only seemed to grow more powerful in the weeks that followed Jimmy’s return.

One of the ways the two tried to deal with this was by attending a couples counseling session at the Whitman Walker Clinic, a group Jeff found it difficult to participate in because he didn’t want Jimmy to know the effect his presence was having on Jeff.

But then one evening Jimmy wasn’t feeling well enough to join Jeff at their group session. Emboldened, Jeff joined into the conversation at last. In the ensuing discussion the subject of condoms came up.

Would they help prevent the transmission of AIDS? (Keep in mind the HIV virus itself had yet to be identified at the time).

By the way, in spite of my best efforts to do so, I was never able to determine exactly when gay men started using condoms for protection in real life back then. A lot of my sources had different recollections as to when people started doing that. If you can shed any light on the issue, let me know.

In any event, when Jeff asked whether anyone had put the question to the U.S. Surgeon General, Ned pointed out that the Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, was considered quite conservative. A mysterious stranger also added that the Surgeon General was being kept out of the loop on AIDS by Ronald Reagan’s political appointees.

I mention this because Koop would later go on to become a major player in the history of AIDS in the United States by endorsing the use of condoms, much to the distress of Reagan’s conservative supporters.

Not sure what to make of the evening’s discussion, Jeff raised the issue with Jimmy when he got back to the townhouse. That prompted a discussion in which Jimmy finally revealed for the first time that he had cheated with Bobbie; something that came as a shock to Jeff. How he cheated came as an even bigger shock.

While the two discussed the use of condoms, neither chose to pursue the matter at the end of the day. The fear of AIDS overwhelmed even the strongest of sexual urges back then, including for Jeff and Jimmy. But what about their need for love and intimacy? One wonders how they will deal with that in what remains of their time together.

As mentioned in this post, we’ll be finishing the story by the middle of January. Tonight’s chapter, which is now up at The Annex, is the first of what I hope will be a strong series of concluding chapters.


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