A Normal Heart

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Brave New World
by Corey Saucier

A Normal Heart
The retelling of a retelling of a really sad (love) story

Photo by Yuska Lutfi Tuanakotta
Photo by Yuska Lutfi Tuanakotta

Full disclosure: I date a lot. Three years ago I was feet over face in love with a rough-hearted bisexual man who wasn’t out to his parents. It didn’t end well. Let’s face it, unless they are painted in bright colors across a silver screen, love stories rarely do. So after me and my rough-hearted bisexual boy broke up, as a way to ease the pain and write away the heartache, I escaped to a city built for brokenhearted artists. I took a trip to New York City. While there I saw The Normal Heart on Broadway. It was important, provocative, and deliciously good. Jim Parsons (who I adored from the Big Bang Theory) was feminine and fabulous; and his performance as a queer man grappling amongst a circle of strangers and friends who are dying (and finding love) in the midst of a new unknown gay crisis, blew my mind. The entire cast was amazing, and I cried like a baby! I had heard about the original play written (by the brilliant and controversial Larry Kramer) as a political and emotional response to AIDS in the early eighties, but I was too young and too pretty to have really given it any weight so many years ago. But after the show Mr. Kramer was handing out fliers to the well dressed Broadway audience—giving out statistical information on transmission, treatment, and how to stay safe. Thirty years later, and this little old man was still fighting the good fight—still trying to save his brothers. It was beautiful and poignant and a little sad; because we were still dying regardless…

But time stops for no man, and life goes on…

During the show I caught the eye of sexy silver fox. We flirted and walked, and flirted and walked, and flirted and walked (because people walk in Manhattan) until eventually beneath a full moon this stunning, light-haired New York television reporter (who shall remain nameless) asked me to dinner. Like I said, I date a lot. He took me to some expensive rooftop restaurant and we had appetizers and red wine until after midnight; and then he walked me to the subway and I went home alone. No kiss. No hand holding. No half-hearted promise that we would see each other again. It was as if all of the sexual magic that gay men are so good at wielding was bled from our conversation. We were so affected by The Normal Heart that we couldn’t get past the HIV thing. Over dinner we talked about viral loads, and CD4 counts, and medications and death. We would flirt, and smile and giggle—his sparkling blue eyes glittering with sexual chemistry—and then suddenly his face would scrunch up and he would ask me: “How long I had been Positive,” “How I had caught it,” and “When was the last time I dated someone who was Negative.” And it was like someone threw a bucket of ice cold water on us. Who would have thought that HIV and AIDS would be so unsexy? But shouldn’t we have figured out how to make it sexy by now? It’s been thirty years and we are still asking the same questions and still nervous to hear the same answers. I’m so tired of HIV being an unsexy thing…

But time stops for no man, and life goes on…

Skip to three years later. And I’m dating again, because there is always another someone to love you. The Normal Heart is on television. And my current adorable boyfriend is silently crying because the HBO special is relevant and powerful and devastatingly difficult to watch. And I am snarling and grumbling under my breath during the dramatic monologues because, I’ve seen it before, and Jim Parsons isn’t as good as he was on Broadway, and Mark Ruffalo is way too attractive for the lead role, and I’m so OVER HIV being an unsexy thing! And my wide-eyed current love interest asks me why I’m upset… And I think of what we’ve gone through over the last four months trying to figure out our relationship from either side of this diagnosis, and I think about the rooftop restaurant three years ago in New York with the famous reporter, and I think about Larry Kramer handing out fliers in the cold, and I think about thousands upon thousands of beautiful dead men, and I just want to scream! But instead I turn my face from his and say.

“I’m just tired…” And I am.

But time stops for no man, and life goes on.

Corey Saucier is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles. He is a Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction and Non-Fiction and is currently penning his first novel. His musings and wanderings on Love, Life, and Non-sense can be found at www.justwords.tumblr.com.