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A friend of mine linked this story from Slate.com on Facebook earlier today: "The AIDS Memorial Quilt Moves Online".

The story itself provides a link to the AIDS Memorial Quilt itself.  If you've never seen it, you should.  I saw part of it in person when it came around to the University of California-Riverside about ten years ago.

Seeing it in person is very moving.  Every panel represents someone's loss--a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter, a father, a mother, a friend--and it's so immense, both physically and emotionally.

I had a friend--we'll call him John--in high school who was HIV positive.  He was straight--one of the few people to have contracted HIV in a blood transfusion, as he was a hemophiliac.

He was in our Dungeons & Dragons group--how dorky is that, right?  But he was one of the strongest personalities in our group, with some of the most memorable characters.  I still remember his main character's name, "Charlotte Evening"--it has an elegant ring to it.

He was an aspiring writer, involved in our high school's writer's club and on the editorial staff of the literary magazine.

I remember running into John as I was walking home.  He had just bought the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik CD, and he shared a bit of it with me on his headphones.  I remember the smile on his face.  Every time I hear "Under the Bridge" on the radio, I think of him.

He passed away about five years ago.  I can hardly get my mind around that.  I'm gay, and I grew up in the shadow of AIDS/HIV--I turned 18 in 1990.  I didn't think I'd live to see 40.

I never thought I'd be 40 and John would be gone.  I breaks my heart.

Every panel of the quilt is a story like mine.  Every single one.  Every panel represents someone's terrible loss.

I've you've never seen it, go.  See it.

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