Christmas tree decorations

Letter Three, December 1993

Our Second Christmas Letter Goes Out

Wes' Update '93!

Season's greetings! I'm mailing my holiday cards early this year -- on December 1, World AIDS Day -- so that the AIDS Awareness postage stamp on the cover will be canceled on its day of issue, which makes this a collector's item.

"What has Wes done since Update '92?" you might ask. If you'll recall, when we left off I'd just gotten the okay to sell all of my Enron stock and I had major purchases in mind. So, after Update '92 went out, I bought myself a bright red Dodge Stealth Twin Turbo sports car.

After the car, I started the process to buy a house so we could move Tom down from Dallas. (The place I was living in was too small for both Tom and I. Also, my landlord there [Brent Fennel] had died of AIDS so the future of my living quarters was in doubt.)

First, I secured the financing. I wanted to get that out of the way, as I had serious doubts as to whether anyone would loan me the money. ("Hey, Buddy! I'll probably die in the next 10 years. How about loaning me $100,000 for 30 years?") Well, the first company I tried approved my loan. They knew I was on disability. (I didn't offer with what.) Their main concern was verifying my disability income. (Personally, I'd have wanted to verify a life insurance policy, since disability income stops if the person dies.) Then began the house hunt.

In April, I went to Washington D.C. for the 1993 March on Washington for Gay/Lesbian/Bi Civil Rights to do my part to counteract the lies, hysteria and hatred being promulgated by the so-called "religious right" in its push to eliminate civil rights for homosexuals. As a Federal appeals court ruled November 16 about the old rules on gays in the military, "A cardinal principle of equal protection law holds that the Government cannot discriminate against a certain class in order to give effect to the prejudice of others." To which the Right will likely say that homosexuality is a choice, and therefore not a true minority worthy of protection. I think Patricia Ireland, the president of N.O.W., said it best. "We march today because oppression is simply wrong. Whether it's oppression based on immutable characteristics like race or ethnicity, or accidents of birth like class, or matters of lifestyle choices like religion. Discrimination is wrong."

Back at home, it was time to look at houses in earnest. They were a little more money than I expected. And our requirements were pretty rigid: It had to be one-story (i.e.: wheelchair-accessible...), close in (near our doctors), have big trees to watch squirrels play in (I can't tell you how many houses I turned down because there were no squirrel trees), have lots of windows for sunlight, have big rooms... It needed to be happy! But, the reality of the house requirements -- bringing death issues to the forefront -- still got me depressed. And the search was taking so long. Finally, when I was tired of looking and it looked like the place I was living in was about to be foreclosed on, we found our new home.

I spent the summer painting, flea-bombing, and dealing with an A/C that kept dying in 100 heat. Tom was in Dallas still, finishing a major work project. Finally, in late September, we got him on full disability and moved him down here.

I knew that the move was a major leap of faith for Tom. Not only was he changing cities so that we could be together, he was also stopping his career. (Tom would have been medically uninsurable had he changed jobs instead of gone on disability.) But, as the deaths of 13 friends and acquaintances this year reminded us -- as well as friends getting sicker -- why work until you die? [I was particularly saddened by the deaths of my hero-friends Don Johnson and Stuart Johnson (no relation). Don had been with his lover 52 years. Stuart was always an example to me of how to manage having AIDS.]

About three weeks after he moved down, I took Tom to Disneyworld for 7 days. It was a nice change of pace toward our life together on "retirement." After two years of commuting 250 miles, we were now together.

The end of the year has brought a new beginning.

I send my love to you & hope that you are well.

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