Howdy everybody! What big adventures did Wes & Tom have this year? Well, funny you should ask…
The Big Kahuna was the Internet Web site we'd announced to showcase the discrimination we faced Summer '95 from the aunt who tried to prevent Tom from coming to Wes' family reunion. We published The Letter Wars in February - to worldwide acclaim. The site's had well over 4,500 visitors, received several awards, and is being featured in a national publication in January. College professors and AIDS educators have incorporated The Letters into their courses. Cool stuff. We've also received tons of e-mail from people around the globe, (the U.S., Canada, England, Germany, Brazil, Italy, Singapore and Australia) much of it from gay people who've suffered through similar antigay incidents. But the funniest e-mail we've received was from a straight woman:
Hi guys! Arbitrarily ran across your page. I know it's totally disgusting, but I am giggling beyond the point of tears! And I thought I had it rough with my hubby's southern family ties!!!
At least count yourselves lucky that your family is LITERATE! I would love a few letters calling me a northern slut or Yankee douchebag instead of those late-at-night phone calls with the pigs squealing at me.
Great set-up on the page. I know all this crap's gotta rub a hurt into you both that doesn't go away, but with the kind of outlook you guys have, there is hope that the "Aunt Priscilla's" & like of this world will either go the way of the dinosaurs or get terminal writer's cramp and shut the hell up.
Keep up the cheer! It sure as hell makes the world a less depressing place for the rest of us who THOUGHT we had it rough.
Love & laughs to you both,
In other adventures, Wes had sinus surgery (yup, again) in late January. At the end of February, we went to Hawaii where it turned out to be cool and windy. (In a truly ironic twist, Wes got pneumonia there.) And Tom took up quilting. (His mother is an avid quilter.) Tom's hospital software consulting also picked up.
But as the spring progressed, our health pretty much sucked. Wes' T-cells dropped to 190, so he changed his medications radically. Among other things, he added a protease inhibitor called Crixivan, one of the new class of anti-HIV "wonder drugs." (His T-cells are doing better, and his viral load has dropped to undetectable levels.) Similarly, Tom turned out to have esophageal candidiasis. It is an AIDS-defining condition, but eminently treatable.
The summer was more fun. Tom was on the Houston news for his intrepid participation in the Salk HIV Vaccine study. We traded the Mark VIII on a beautiful Town Car. And -- in our weirdest news -- Wes was served with notice that he is a co-defendant in his very first lawsuit! "Was it something malicious and egregious that Wes did?" you may wonder. You decide: The lawsuit alleges that two years ago, Wes loaned a five foot stepladder to a neighbor. The neighbors in turn lent it to a contractor, who was installing gutters on their one-story house. The contractor gave it to an employee to use. That employee is the Plaintiff. He alleges that the ladder was defective, causing him to fall approximately 12", and the fall caused a foot injury. He is suing the ladder manufacturer, Builder's Square, the neighbors, and Wes for $147,005.69. We've taken the proper legal steps to protect our heretofore unbesmirched Ladder Reputation. (This whole thing has been a great source of amusement.)
We haven't ventured out much this fall, though Wes did take a trip to San Diego to visit his college roommate, John. And, on November 24th, we celebrated our 5th anniversary. We're pretty content & happy.
We hope you are warm & happy! Love,
On January 29, 1997 -- the month after this Christmas letter went out -- USA Today did a writeup of "Wes & Tom's Cool Site!" largely due to the Letter Wars. That USA Today writeup is what follows.