I was eleven then. My closest brother was Duane. This is Duane’s story .He was born only a matter of several months after I was. We had the same father. By the time Duane was actually born, our father was doing a life sentence in state prison for murder.
Duane was born gay, I don’t care what any crackpot will tell you, there was never a decision for him to make about his sexuality. While the rest of us played baseball and rode horses, and learned to hunt and fish, Duane would secretly steal my youngest sister’s Barbie dolls, Keep them in an unknown location and privately live in a world only he knew. Well, we knew, but we loved him and knew he was different and he was one of us.
When Duane was twelve years old, I was actually incarcerated for one of the first times in my life and missed him terribly. I was given the privilege of a phone call home at a point maybe halfway through the fourteen months I spent in the boy’s camp. During that conversation he said he had something very important to tell me. I was very intrigued.
I got on the phone with him and he says to me, “I’m queer, Lloyd, I’m a homosexual.” I told him that we had all know that his whole life. I had, in fact, beaten up several kids over our short years for calling him “Faggot” or “queer bait” and I still remember the pain in his face when that would happen. Although he and I were very different growing up, I truly loved him.
As many young men do, we chased our own brand of hell, after both our parents were gone and all us kids ended up in different temporary homes, foster care, or well-meaning relatives and other short –lived remedies. I was not to see Duane again for about four years. By that time he was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He had found a group of young gay men to associate his life with. He seemed ridiculously happy considering, (at least from my view) he was still a very lost little boy. I went to save him
Duane needed a lot of things from me I guess, but not to save him. I found him genuinely content in his peer group. He had a fake birth certificate and was doing extraordinary at a local cosmetology school.
He had also, fallen in love.
Marvin was native to New Mexico; He was a waiter in one of those fancy, high dollar Santa Fe places. He was recently split from his wife and children. That’s Right folks, after eight years of matrimonial bliss; He actually brought Duane home to his family and spelled the whole thing out to them. I wasn’t quite around then, but the more I heard the story from everyone who was within earshot or eyeball range, the more I knew I would have paid quite a sum to have witnessed that little dose of reality. Marvin packed what little he had, kissed his children and grandparents, said goodbye to the woman he’d married and walked out of his life holding tight to my brother’s arms. I’m quite sure that this typical Chicano Family has never had that kind of idea about there boy and stood watching them go with mouths agape.
The relationship had some pitfalls, as you can imagine, and I’d hear about them from my safe settings in California or Washington. I had often made bad jokes and innuendoes directed at this alternative lifestyle. I meant it in good fun, I really did. Duane however thought and continued to think for sometime that I hated him for his homosexuality. Nothing could have been further from the truth. I admired his accomplishments, He became such a sought after hairdresser and beauty advisor to the well-to-do women in New Mexico that he had become quite comfortable over a very short time. Not only was he good, he was well-mannered, handsome, non-threatening, he had the whole package.
I got the call in 1992 that he and Marvin had contacted aides. It affected me so deeply that I pooled together literally every penny I could muster so that I may go to Santa Fe, and to nurse him, to wash his ass, to shower him, to do anything in my power to make his life more livable. As you can see, I, as well as many others was quite ignorant of Aides and its terrible track.
I found them both in fair health. I found them both completely devoted to each other and staying alive. They had a beautiful Adobe home on the right side of town. They were very popular and loved by everyone they knew. They were doing Magic Johnson Before he was. Jim Nabors was a friend of theirs and he too was quite sick with the same virus. It was a scary time for those of us, uneducated in the dilemma.
Remember, Duane had been born in 1962. I arrived on my mission of mercy in 1992. Duane and Marvin had been in a continuous loving relationship since Duane was 16 years old. So from 1978 to 1992, so far, they had loved through thick and thin.
The following summer their best friend Steve died and that was when I really saw it hit Duane’s eyes. A sadness there that I hadn’t seen since grade school.
Bottom Line, as they got weaker, I was finally able to help. I did become an ass wiper, as well as the bather and the keeper of the medication and so-forth.
Duane died in 1998 in his bed at home, with his cats and his makeup just perfect. I still mourn for him because I still love and respect him.