The Queer Psychoanalysis Society

One from the Other

In Art, film, Gender Studies, LGBT, Literature, Performativity, Politics, Queer Theory on August 25, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Picture 3(A still from David Wojnarowicz’s film, A Fire in My Belly)

by Kevin McLellan

Preface

Before the acronyms HIV and AIDS were established, there were these acronyms: the 4H disease (Haitians, homosexuals, hemophiliacs, and heroine users) and GRID (gay-related immune deficiency). Did this precursory nomenclature further contribute to the stigma for the gay community in the early 1980s? For those within the gay community not only diagnosed with what would be named HIV/AIDS? Were there other forces that divided the negative gay community, if you will, from the positive gay community? Was fear one of those forces?One from the other by no means directly addresses these substantial questions, but rather in its compression attempts to touch upon the underbelly of a post-breakup phone conversation between HIV+ Kris and HIV- Anthony in 1998, on the heels of breakthrough medicinal therapy. Yet the psychological and sociosexual impacts for those living with an HIV/AIDS diagnosis prior to 1996 had already been set into motion.

The title of this play, One from the other, correlates to something Kris says to Anthony, “It’s killing you. The alcohol and your relationship with your mother. I can’t determine one from the other.” The intention of this dialogue, and consequently the title, is by no means to demonize mothers/motherhood, but rather to use (this particular) mother as metaphor for HIV/AIDS and how the virus has control over the body like the mother has control over her son.

Kris mimics Anthony’s mother, “Why do you speak to me that way? You know that I’m not going to live for very much longer.” This language in conjunction with Kris’ claim, “You speak with her nearly every day and fall for her guilt” is not only an attempt to set the stage for Anthony and his compromised relationships (with his mother, an ex,  and alcohol), but alternatively to fashion germane language for those living with HIV/AIDS in 1998 if they were to address the virus itself.

So, ultimately, this play is attempting to support the creation of a metaphorical conceit (a mother lode, if you will) in order to address directly or indirectly various kinds of division: within the gay and straight communities, between a positive and a negative gay man, and between sons and mothers.

One from the Other

Picture 5A still from David Wojnarowicz’s film, A Fire in My Belly

 

Cast of Characters:

KRIS, a thirty-something gay man who is HIV+ and recently separated from Anthony.

ANTHONY, an alcoholic forty-something gay man still in love with Kris.

The play takes place in their respective apartments, opens with a phone conversation in progress, one evening in the year 1998.

*****

Kris:

…so you have a headache?

.

Anthony:

As a matter of fact, I do.

.

Kris:

That’s what you get when you

drink. And we will agree on

the following: if you drink

don’t call me and if you call

me don’t drink.

.

Anthony:

I’m drinking now and…

.

Kris:

[Interrupts.] And who called

whom?

.

Anthony:

…and I am hurt you know. You

don’t know how much.

.

Kris:

We shouldn’t talk if you’re

drunk. You get too emotional.

.

Anthony:

I’m still thinking about…

.

Kris:

[Interrupts.] What? About

what?

.

Anthony:

…you’re good at everything.

You’re good at everything,

and I’m just me.

.

Kris:

How old are you, Anthony? 18?

.

Anthony:

When it comes to love I am.

.

Kris:

But you chose drinking and

drinking ruined us.

.

Anthony:

Why do you always do this,

Kris?

.

Kris:

Do what?

.

Anthony:

Intentionally hurt me.

.

Kris:

This isn’t true and you know

it. Let’s talk when you’re

sober.

.

Anthony:

But we met when I wasn’t

sober, and you’re the only

HIV positive guy that I’ve…

.

Kris:

[Interrupts.] Stop!

.

Anthony:

…You see, I still love you

and I don’t mind the HIV. I

do mind your…

.

Kris:

[Interrupts.] If you don’t

mind the HIV then why mention

it?

.

Anthony:

…You’re the one who said you

wouldn’t go out with a guy

who wasn’t positive.

.

Kris:

Because I wouldn’t want to

infect anyone.

.

Anthony:

I was devastated…

.

Kris:

[Interrupts.] Devastated?

Don’t you get it? Devastated

is having the virus.

Devastated would be if I

inadvertently infected you.

Don’t you fucking get it?

.

Anthony:

No, not HIV. You know I tried

my best.

.

Kris:

Are you saying that I didn’t?

.

Anthony:

Kind of.

.

[Kris stares as if into nothingness and there’s a pause in

the conversation]

.

Anthony:

You’re hot.

.

Kris:

Anthony, please focus.

.

Anthony:

You have no idea. I had sex

with you before I knew…

.

Kris:

[Interrupts.] What you don’t

know is what you’re saying

now.

.

Anthony:

…You know I drink because…

.

Kris:

[Interrupts.] There you go

justifying it again.

.

Anthony:

…because I’m damaged. I don’t

want to drink. I hate it.

.

Kris:

If you know that you’re

damaged then why won’t you

change?

.

Anthony:

I am changing.

.

Kris:

Stop drinking. Stop feeling

sorry for yourself.

.

Anthony:

I wish that I had you back.

.

Kris:

It’s killing you. The alcohol

and your relationship with

your mother. I can’t

determine one from the other.

.

Anthony:

But I don’t really have a

relationship with her.

.

Kris:

You speak with her nearly

every day and you fall for

her guilt. [Kris mimics

Anthony’s mother.] “An-tho-

ny, why do you speak to me

that way? You know that I’m

not going to live for very

much longer.”

.

Anthony:

I don’t want to call her,

Kris. I call out of respect.

.

Kris:

Respect? What about self-

respect, Anthony? What about

boundaries?

.

Anthony:

I love you for your mind…

.

Kris:

[Interrupts.] Focus.

.

Anthony:

… and I love you for your

good looks.

.

Kris:

Focus!

.

Anthony:

You inside me is heaven!

.

Kris:

Jesus Christ, will you focus!

.

Anthony:

I was in love with you. I am

in love in you. And I think…

.

Kris:

[Interrupts.] You think what?

.

Anthony:

…You have no idea do you?

.

Kris:

What?

.

[Anthony doesn’t respond]

.

Kris:

What?

.

Anthony:

That you’re a bitch.

.

Kris:

And you? What are you? Sober?

What’s best for you is

sobriety.

.

Anthony:

What’s best is you on top of

me.

.

Kris:

I did love you. You don’t

believe me. I’m as fragile as

you are.

.

Anthony:

There’s no one else for me.

.

Kris:

I hope you find…

.

Anthony:

[Interrupts.] God, you’re hot.

.

[Kris hangs up the phone.]

.

Anthony:

Kris? Kris? I love you, Kris.

Come back. Please come back.

.

[Fade to black]

.

Anthony:

Don’t fucking call me again.

[END]

 

About the Author:
Kevin McLellan is the author of the chapbooks Shoes on a wire (Split Oak, forthcoming) runner-up for the 2012 Stephen Dunn Prize in Poetry and Round Trip (Seven Kitchens, 2010), a collaborative series of poems with numerous women poets. He has recent or forthcoming poems in books and journals including: 2014 Poet’s Market, American Letters & Commentary, Barrow Street, Colorado Review, Horse Less Review, Kenyon Review Online, Sixth Finch, Western Humanities Review, Witness and numerous others. Kevin lives in Cambridge MA, and sometimes teaches poetry workshops at the University of Rhode Island in Providence.

 
 

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