Monday, May 7, 2018

SD1-989, or Why I Cried During the Slowdive Concert

Slowdive Concert, Granada Theater, Dallas, April 2018
I see several concerts every year, and I recently saw Slowdive for the second time live. Near the end of the concert they played a song, and I realized that I had started to spontaneously weep. The song reminded me of what I was listening to during the early 1990s when I was living in Austin. It might've been one of the actual songs I listened to back then.

Even living in Austin, a city that often boasts itself as being a refuge of progressive politics in an otherwise conservative state, friends were attacked, mugged, and beaten leaving gay bars. My boyfriend and I were refused housing because landlords wouldn't rent to two men sharing a one bedroom apartment. I was out to very few people because I didn't trust anyone. When your existence is under attack by very powerful people, you learn not to trust.

There was a time in the early 90s when it seemed like the whole world was holding its breath waiting for a death sentence. There was a time during those years when it seemed like everyone knew someone who was leaving this world in the most excruciating way. While politicians snickered about our deviant lifestyles. While preachers condemned us to hellfire and damnation on earth. It was exhausting to be so under attack. I'm not sure when it was that I learned how to breathe again.

I thought of all the people I knew (and knew of) who were diagnosed with HIV and who were dying of AIDS. Kitty's husband. Lum's best friend. Chuck. When David Wojnarowicz died, I clipped the announcement out of the newspaper and put it in one of his books that I owned. It was a private grief that I wouldn't share with anyone, including myself. It was basic survival instinct not to acknowledge how broken this heart was. The consequence is that sometimes I spontaneously cry. My pantheon of queer saints included Ron Athey, Robert Mapplethorpe, Derek Jarman, Brad Davis, Freddie Mercury, and Pedro Zamora. Of those, only Ron remains. This is the gospel according to dead saints. And Slowdive, the Credo of our liturgy miserabilis.