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  • My first love and friend Peter was dying of AIDS, and I was at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Conference in Dallas. And somehow the universe had seen to it that the one person that I would want to be with at the moment of Peter’s death was standing right in front of me at the same conference, in the same hotel. And when I heard Mitch’s laugh behind me I turned around and we saw each other, and we didn’t even have to say a word. We just smiled at each other. We embraced through these tears and we knew.

    And Peter died that night.

    We’d spent the morning curled up in his hotel room bed wrapped around each other just in our grief, just telling stories about him and laughing. And below us we could hear Fred Phelps and his family in the front drive of the hotel, and their screamings and their yellings were coming through the window all muffled. And they’d shown up like clockwork to this protest at the conference. And I just looked at Mitch and I was like… “Let’s go down there,” I said. “Peter would be down there.”

    And up to that point everything had been just muffled and quiet and distant. And we were standing in front of the hotel doors and they swished open, and there was this wave of screaming that rushed towards me. And I was disoriented. And I knew Mitch and I were holding hands, and yelling was coming from every direction. And I looked to my left, and Fred was up on a ledge and he was shaking this sign, yelling at the crowd. He had this line of young men and boys behind him, and this line of women with girls in front of them on the other side of the drive just surrounding us and screaming at us.

    I looked at the crowd yelling back and suddenly I’d lost Mitch’s hand. And I turned to find him and I looked down, and right In front of me, there was this little girl... just screaming at me. Her face red and swollen and tear stained hot, just like mine had been that entire day. Her shoulders were being held by what looked like these mother’s hands standing behind her. And I couldn’t hear a single word coming from her mouth. I could feel every bit of emotion coming towards me that she was sending. And I was crying again and I was looking for Mitch. And suddenly he was there, and I grabbed his hand, and I said, “Embrace Me!” And we were holding each other, and then, one by one, people in the crowd just started embracing and holding each other, surrounded by all the screaming. And then suddenly Mitch and I were kissing. And then we were laughing. And then we were all singing. And all I could hear was love.

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