I want to believe, above all else, that I’m invincible. 1982: 618 dead But that would require distorting the reality of our times. 1983: 2,118 dead As I go through and begin cataloging dead bodies, I start wondering why I’m still alive. 1984: 5,596 dead What are some of the names of these men? I don’t really know, except that Foucault died this year, but he’s not American. 1985: 12,529 dead These unnamed men, aberrations like me, but not quite, because I’m still alive. My body isn’t killing itself.
1986: 24,559 dead In one year, double dead, oily worship transitioned into spectral fingertips. No hard ons, just funerals, the fingertips hitting skin like a cold breeze. 1987: 40,849 dead At this point, I pause. Obligatory moment of silence, but then Grindr pops up on my phone. Whose naked photos will I see tonight? 1988: 61,816 dead I keep on looking at the number of dead because I say I’m interested in the preservation of history. 1989: 89, 343 dead But I really think I do it because it reminds me how much life I have in me. In the year I was born, almost 28,000 people had to die so I could be given life. 1990: 120,453 dead This is, however, a false equivalency. My immature body didn’t know sex, couldn’t even crawl, much less conceive of queer history. 1991: 156,143 dead Yet flat numbers don’t equal flat affect, so the unnamed bodies come out as tears, a few even managing to drip onto my Mac trackpad.
1992: One hundred ninety four thousand four seventy six As I birth these past bodies into the present moment, they occupy more space.
1993: 234,225 dead 1994: 270,870 dead 1995: 319,849 dead Then they multiply and multiply to the point where I begin to be frenzied in my thoughts and start to think what the real purpose of all of this counting is, like at what point does it lose its meaning, what point do I flatten lives for statistical purposes, at what point does my intention to impress others of my connection to this history fail to achieve what it set out to do in the beginning: to remember the betrayal of our government, the fear in those big big eyes, in concave faces of waste and despair, but also the fire, that fuck your intolerance activism
1996 I stop counting, finally, and start examining a greyer area between invincibility and death. 2014 This is an on-going crisis, after all, and I’m part of it.