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Remembering David on World AIDS Day

David Strunk Hummel died of AIDS on July 30, 1987, one more casualty in what should never have become an epidemic in the first place.

I met David in San Francisco in the late 1970s, when we were both campaigning against the Briggs Initiative. He was like a brother to me in many senses of the word: protectorate, champion, critic, entertainer, court clown. I was young and careless, so when I left California in 1979, David and I fell out of touch, and I was unaware of his death until decades later.

I wrote about our friendship in an essay, “David, Just as He Was,” which was published in the Summer 2007 issue of White Crane, a small, elegant literary journal. In this essay I tried to capture our friendship, but I also pushed beyond this to describe the Castro in the 1970s — a sui generis, painfully brief Atlantis that rocked gently between the closeted past and the fearful future.

(When filming began for Milk, friends who knew of my writing excitedly wrote me to tell me how the Castro had been remade to resemble this era — I wish I could have seen that.)

If I could have just one visit with any of the world’s departed, I would ask for one more afternoon at the Cafe Flore with David, sipping coffee as we argued about life. That won’t happen, but what I could do tonight is donate to the institute that publishes White Crane, a journal that has played a crucial role in recording the lost worlds, and like most literary journals survives largely on love and determination.

Posted on this day, other years:

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2 Comments

  1. connie wrote:

    I knew David in the ’60’s when we both were still in school. I spent a summer with relatives in Pennsylvania and David was one of a group of guys who hung out at my cousins home. What a fun summer I remember and David was the star of that summer! Everyone loved David. What a warm, caring, funny, generous human being. I am deeply saddened at this late date to learn of his passing. Clearly his passing was a tragedy. The world lost a very special human being. David touched my life in the ’60’s and I never forgot him.

    Friday, November 23, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Permalink
  2. Connie, I just caught this reply. I’ll email you, but what a thrill to hear from someone who knew David (and I can tell from your post that you really did).

    Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

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