Devron Wondercheck, in memory of a lost friend

Twenty-one years ago, in 1992, my close friend Devron Wondercheck wrote me this letter on Gay Pride Day. He was 26 years old, and I was 28. We saw each other just about every day. He was sick with AIDS, though he hung on until the following autumn. I wanted to remember him today, along with all my friends who did not survive the epidemic — even though it is not over, really. And I want to remember something of that lost time, seemingly so long ago yet never far from my heart. Here’s what Devron wrote in longhand to me, self-pity and spelling errors and all, on Gay Pride Day 1992…

Twenty-one years ago, in 1992, my close friend Devron Wondercheck wrote me this letter on Gay Pride Day. He was 26 years old, and I was 28. We saw each other just about every day. He was sick with AIDS, though he hung on until the following autumn. I wanted to remember him today, along with all my friends who did not survive the epidemic — even though it is not over, really. And I want to remember something of that lost time, seemingly so long ago yet never far from my heart. Here’s what Devron wrote in longhand to me, self-pity and spelling errors and all, on Gay Pride Day 1992…

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Dear Patrick,

You have asked me to write for a few weeks now, and today I need to express. It’s Gay Pride. I’m not there. Because something inside is causing me to almost pass out when I stand. My body is full of pain and weakness. I want to be there, to feel the unity and strength of so many people like me. I’m overwhelmed with this urge to cry. But I can’t cross that last line and allow the feelings to escape. I hate this. This slow, painfull, dying. The loss of everything. I have no sense of pride or self-worth anymore. My thoughts are of what am I going to eat tomorrow & how will I pay for it. I can’t allow myself the joy of planning ahead. I can’t become excited for an upcoming event. Instead I pray and hope that I can make it throught w/out getting too sick.

Devron Wondercheck, photo taken in 1991, San Francisco

People need hope or responsibility. I have neither. Why get out of bed in the A.M. when all I have to look forward to is making something to eat & popping a bunch of pills. There is no light at the end of the tunnel for me, I can only expect things to get worse. I could relate to that movie [The Living End] in many ways. Yet it was based on sex, and sexual energy. I desire to let go & live dangerously. And to kill. My anger is so strong now. I often think of cutting people to shreds. Or blowing the heads off of people. I can’t relate to the sex and dying aspect as I’ve lost so much of my sexual being. I desire to be with someone, but more for companionship than anything else. We’ve talked of this, and I know you don’t understand. But my entire life has been so incredibly lonely. I have never felt safe enough to open myself to people. When I do, and then get hurt (as we all do) I overreact and close up even more. Now it takes all of my energy and strength to maintain my life, I just have nothing left for anything else. I dream so often of someone just holding me and I always wake up crying with the deepest feeling of nothing, and pain, and desire. Your friendship means so much to me. I hardly ever express how I feel. Sometimes when you touch me in a simple gesture of friendship, and love, I almost crumble. I’m so afraid to acknowledge it and return the love. I’m so confused, I just want to be comfortable and safe, and I want to live. But that fighting spirit is getting weaker & weaker. I don’t want to think I can give up or sacrifice much more, I’m so far from who I am and who I want to be.

So on this day of gay pride, in a community focussed on sex, beauty, money, and prestige, I stay home alone. Yet this is my community. The only one I know. So where is my home? Who are my family? The thought of death does seem so nice to finally be free, to know all and need nothing. It seems so ridiculous: here today, gone tomorrow. You cry a little, rearrange things a little, and carry on. I’m spent for this day. I almost wrote that I was sorry for being so down. But I’m not, this is my life, and this is how I feel today.

As always
Devron