So, being gay famous and all, I have had the occasion upon occasion to meet folks that are actually famous. One of my best friends is Bebe Zahara Benet, I am acquainted with Cheyenne Jackson, though better with his partner (fellow Minnesotan) Monte -- you meet the craziest people at our dog park including Michael Urie, as well as Wilson Heredia (the other Angel from Rent), but there is one person I have come across who is legitimately famous and who is not only really real and sweet but lives his life, his politics, and gives to his community in a way that goes way beyond cutting a check or posing for a PETA ad.
I first met Wilson Cruz when he was still living in Los Angeles but was in NYC visiting. He was working out at my gym when I met him. Wilson's best friend is one of the most important and most valued people in my life, and so I broke my rule about approaching celebs, and I introduced myself as Russell's friend. We had a brief conversation, he was truly sweet, and then I went on to my work out, and he went on to his.
About a year passed between that moment and when I next saw him, which was this last fall when I stumbled on him and Russell out at Industry for Russell's 40th birthday party. First of all, it was sweet that Wilson remembered who I was after such a brief meeting, but we hung out that night, chatted, and it was cool. At one point in the evening, though, someone loosely affiliated with the crowd of folks out celebrating Russell's birthday was getting flirty with me, we were dancing, and then he asked me if I was HIV positive.
I said yes.
And his response was, "That's a boner killer. Sorry."
Now, I am used to dealing with folks' shit around HIV. It comes with the territory, but generally, when someone asks you that question in a moment like that ... they legitimately want to know because either they are also positive or they want to hook up with you but need to know the lay of the land before doing so ... and then have at it.
His response was like getting kicked directly in the chest with metal cleats. Wilson was standing near by us, and he saw the look on my face and asked me what happened. I told him.
Before I go on let me teach you the term, "Puerto Rican War." As a Puerto Rican, I engage in this type of warfare often. A Puerto Rican War is when you fuck with a friend of a Puerto Rican and the Puerto Rican gets angrier and wilds out more than the aggrieved party.
Wilson's eyes started to glow in the dark, and he grabbed Russel and pointed to said Evil Queen, and stated, "Oh this girl is tripping and has gotten on my last damn nerve. She has got to go. GOT TO GO."
In that moment, the pain/anger/shame/hurt that was building up went away. I was so very grateful.
I saw Wilson recently. Last week actually. I wanted to thank him for being a friend and an ally in that moment to someone he really didn't know. Our breakfast in Baltimore was not really the place to appreciate him, and so I am appreciating him now ... openly and publicly to you my readers. Support this man's work ... wherever and whenever he is doing it. Because he lives it. And he gives it back con ganas.
Read Brandon's blog, Queer, Poz and Colored: The Essentials.