Plus Ca Change Plus C'est la Même Chose: The More Things Change The More They Stay the Same

Here's Ryan White, a young boy who contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion, with Elton John. Ryan was a hemophiliac, but a lot of people treated him badly and didn't want him living in their town. His home was vandalised and defaced and Ryan's family was just trying to help him. Ryan's plight was picked up by the media and right after, he became a symbol of those who, for one reason or another, needed donated blood and all donated blood needed to be tested so that what happened to Ryan and his family wouldn't occur again. He is seen here with Elton John, who heard about Ryan's plight and wanted to meet him. They became fast friends.


I decided to put Ryan's story first, because it has had a tremendously upbeat aspect and I love how he and Elton John became buddies. Elton has said about Ryan: I decided to put Ryan's story first, because it has had a tremendously upbeat aspect and I love how he and Elton John became buddies.  Elton has said that Ryan's life and his death helped him with his drug addictions. If Ryan could face the awful reality that his life was being cut short and was handling it with such courage and determination, then Elton could face his demons head on. 
Now the story begins:

This is a fictional first-hand account by a complex young man who is currently going through hell. His name is Dennis Costello and this post just learns that he has HIV. The effects of the disease haven't began as yet, so he has the strength and presence of mind to write his heartbreaking struggles against a monster who keeps getting larger and stronger.  It is leaving a trail of tragedy and insurmountable pain. Here is Dennis' story:
As I sit in an over populated bus and wondered if I would ever be respected and approachable if I just chucked this fame thing and embraced a life of solitude. Just me and my dog. I wonder if it was possible to be a crazy dog lover and collect as many different species. Why does my mind fill itself up with self-pity wallowing? I swore never to be a whiner. God knows if  I could allow myself to be a whining man living in a log cabin, replete with a dozen canines of varying breeds, I'd win first prize for "the weirdest musician since Tiny Tim." 

Recently, I saw a photo of the man before the kooky appearance and bizarre behaviour started. I recall watching him back in the days of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Then he met Judy Buddinger and the two wed on Johnny Carson, had a child, Tulip Tim and then faded away, far from the entertainment business. Unfortunately, Tim died, but no-one seemed to notice or give a damn. Show Biz is like that: Just when you get used to the applause and the adulation, the rug gets pulled rapidly out from under your feet and just like that, you're replaced by someone younger, hotter and with talent to burn. It's a desperately fickle way to go through life and many former stars end up awash in drug addictions, self-destructive behaviour and too often, end up killing themselves.  It's been like that since the Ziegfeld Follies started the ball rolling at the turn of the last century and has only gotten more and more complicated.

I've known Neil and Chris for years and it has always amazed me how they've  handled things in such a way that affords both of them the ability to stay afloat and with a positive outlook in the chaotic, character-assassinating entertainment business. Which is why I am shocked to learn that things are often not what they seem to be from the outside. My name is Bobby Sumner. I had a brother, Phil Sumner, who committed suicide by running into a speeding truck on the interstate highway. He died instantly, which was a blessing, really.  Phil had been a patient in the psychiatric hospital when the tragedy happened. One of the nurses, Helen McNamara had been desperately traumatised by this and subsequently burned out. She was, bar none, one of the brightest, most capable nurses of that graduating class. She was outgoing, had many friends and had a well-earned reputation of knowing the patients at the psychiatric hospital better than the rest of the staff and engaged in their treatment, befriending them and going out of her way to give them the attention they lacked. If you were a mental patient in the 1970's, you were often abandoned by their families, were made fun of, the butt of jokes and the anti-psychotic medication pretty much rendered you a zombie.

You're likely wondering where I'm going with this. Well. I'll tell you. We all wear masks to hide the truly painful secrets that would challenge our reputations and end up doing more harm than good. Nobody gets out of this life without pain. I don't care who you are: The Queen, filthy rich people, anyone in show business, be it actors, singers,  musicians, politicians, anyone in the public eye and everyone else (meaning most of us.) I'm using Tiny Tim as an entertainer, because he overtly personified this harsh reality. When he died, hardly anyone cared. His so-called "fans" had deserted him, for the crime of not being relevant anymore. Fame can be fleeting for many, but even moreso when said people leave a quirky alter ego without enough time to reveal just who he or she really was. Such was the fate of Herbert Buckingham Khaury, aka Tiny Tim. Who was Herbert? The world really doesn't appear to care and when he died at the age of sixty three, there were only a few mourners at his funeral. RIP Herbert. You gave me a special gift of joy and laughter.

I never would have known that Tiny Tim looked like this before the crazy metamorphosis slowly but surely took hold.
He's still cute here.  But there's that signature hair and plaid shirt.
Still rocking the plaid--now it's a jacket instead. Note the first appearance of  that uke and begining of that quirky, silly and hilarious act he unleashed himself on the world. I loved the falsetto in his voice.
When I heard that Tiny Tim had died, I was saddened. He was so much more than a one-in-a-million act and his warbling falsetto singing" Tiptoe Through the Tulips" I just adored him.

                Had You Lived In A Kinder World                                                                              

You have to know this isn't true
Even though the future looks bleak.

I wish that you could recognise                               
That what you did took guts
You tore right through the many lies
But withstood  painful cuts.

One day, the world will understand
Of this I am quite certain
A life built on nothing but crumbling sand

Needs to pull down the dirty curtains.


I sit and wonder just where we went wrong
I thought things would be so much better today
Should we keep trying? Are we really that strong?
We gave up our freedom--in prison we stay.

So what did we do by jumping a fence?
Besides getting shameful egg facials for free
Right now, behind bars, it doesn't make sense
How full of ourselves we turned out to be.

We all went to court to determine our fate
The judge and the jury stared sternly at us 

When the time came

   Jump ahead to 1984

This was the ominous time in our history when the AIDS crisis exploded into a terrified media frenzy and the world would never be the same again. The general public's first introduction to this fatal horror show occurred in 1985, when it was disclosed that actor Rock Hudson had acquired immune deficiency syndrome, better known as AIDS. Hudson's body shrunk drastically and within months of the disclosure, he died from the effects of the scary illness.

This killer disease started when the patient is first diagnosed with the Human  Immunodeficiency Virus,  (HIV) that causes AIDS. Once somebody is infected with HIV, it is just a matter of time before they are cut down by AIDS. I would imagine that everyone knows at least one person (a friend or family member) who has succumbed to this terrifying and up until now unheard of virus to beat all viruses. But this was just the beginning of an epidemic that sought out those with a target on their backs: The gay community. Suddenly there was this golden opportunity for homophobic Right-Wing Nuts to have what they deemed to be a perfect climate for hatred and violence to erupt toward gay people without impunity nor guilt. "Finally! "A Gay Plague" has finally arrived!  And we are on the cutting edge of what will surely rid society of any homosexual deviants and we don't have to justify our hatred anymore!" 

What a bunch of bullshit.


I'm going to preface this sobering story with a poem

                    Life & Death In the Bloodstream

Sadness, the painful enemy of joy
Depression will take over amy remnants
Of happiness that may have lingered
Do I make you angry? Am I hating you enough?

Shame is a wool sweater, soaked in alcohol
If you wrap it around you--a man swathed in rags
Will rip it off, twist the sweater tightly
And put it to his lips, extracting any booze

That may linger in the strands. He feels no shame
But you most certainly do.  You thrive on melodrama
You want attention. It couldn't be more obvious.
Someone who would have to be blind, deaf and dumb.

To waste fleeting time pandering to your noisy desperation.
It's as if reality has fled the scene.  One-way ticket to nowhere.
And now I see you've donned a patchwork quilt. Won't your
Granny be cross when she sees all the blood on her hard work.

This can be lethal if young gay kids come out to family members and are kicked out of the house.

                  Leaving life behind            
As one drop in the ocean causes a ripple effect that persists and threatens to go on like that forever.

Stigmatised, forced into isolation.
Ridiculed mercilessly until we are forced
To come to terms with being less than human. 
Veritable freaks. Compared to sociopathic criminals

And devoid of even a tiny portion of self-worth.
Families have abandoned offspring when diagnosed
With devastating illness like Schizophrenia
Bipolar Affective Disorder and debilitating depression.

It's as if these individuals are afflicted with something contagious.
Or will stab you in the back, literally.  Unenlightened idiots will 
laugh, point their fingers and feel justified to beat the daylights
Out of you. Nobody listens. They just keep re-enforcing the prejudice
That has permeated from generation to generation

Pervasive ignorance and a lack of education
Have kept this fire alive forever. Will it be snuffed out?
Ever? The world will likely end before compassion begins.
Physical maladies aren't shunned. Cancer evokes sympathy.

Am I claiming that we'd all prefer malignancies? Of course not.
I've heard that once, not that long ago in human history
Cancer sufferers were shunned. Patients were forced indoors.
Fortunately, those dark ages are behind us. Now it's our turn.

Help!! Get me out of this terrible place!!
Like a frightening tornado evokes fear, so do the mentally ill
Painting representing the unhinged mind of a psychotic sufferer.
This painting is of a person screaming is seen by many to represent the fear and torment of one who is locked in his or her own personal hell.


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