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May 4th, 2010

What it feels like for a Mom

“A boy’s best friend is his mother.”
– Norman Bates, “Psycho”

Theater of BloodI was standing at the ticket counter of the movie theater and couldn’t believe my ears. They were telling me that “Theater of Blood,” with the great Vincent Price, was rated “R” and they were not letting me in without a parent. I was a horror-movie obsessed boy of 12, and was inconsolable. “I won’t look at any sexy stuff,” I remember pleading, “I just came for the gore!”

With visions of decapitations fading like an old blood stain, I made the long walk back home and exposed my broken heart to Mother, who made one of the grandest gestures of my childhood: she took me back for the late show. On a school night.

MotherIt wouldn’t be the last time she had my back. Over the years she proved a trustworthy ally, and this was never more true than in the 1980′s, when gay men often lost their mothers — hell, their entire families – when an AIDS diagnosis was revealed.

Mom never abandoned me or my gay older brother, Dick (is there no gayer name than Dick King? Did my parents consult the Falcon Video Book of Baby Names?). I tested positive in 1985, and Mom immediately went to work educating herself on HIV.

DickMark - CopyMy brother was spared HIV infection but suffered its cruelty nevertheless: his lover of 13 years, Emil, died of AIDS in the early, scorched-earth years of the epidemic. This photo of Dick (left) and me was taken the year Emil died.

In this special Mother’s Day episode of my ongoing video series “My Fabulous Disease,” I sat Mom down to find out things I’ve never asked before. What did she really feel when she found out I was positive? Did she believe I would die? Do mothers have a right to know? What advice would she offer other families? We also talk about the loss of Emil and the repercussions from it we still feel today.

Mom is no expert. She isn’t an AIDS researcher and she doesn’t march on Washington. She just loves her kids and tries to understand what is happening in their lives and how she can help. If your mother is like mine, we have a lot to celebrate (or remember) this Mother’s Day weekend.

Enjoy the video, and please, stay well.

Mark

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12 Responses to “What it feels like for a Mom”

  1. tony Adams Says:

    May 5th, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    wonderful

  2. Steven Says:

    May 5th, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    I am so happy for you and you should cherish that you have a wonderful Mom! I wasn’t as fortunate when I told my parents. Though I never doubted my Mother’s love, it was never talked about much unless I told them how I was doing. They would never ask; even though I do have a Gay brother, he isn’t close to me and neither are the other siblings I have. I am the baby of 9. I feel very alone in my situation and have been living with HIV for nearly 20 years. I do have a few friends that care. But, that’s about it.
    My Mother just recently passed away at the age of 82, March 31st, on her twin son’s 49th birthday, and though the last years of her life we became very close. I loved her no matter what and still do.
    We seem to have a lot in common, as I believe I saw that your Mom lived in Louisiana. So did my parents, in North Louisiana.
    This was a nice video and you are lucky to have her with you in your fight. Keep it going! Best wishes!

  3. Birdie Says:

    May 5th, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    “There’s so many of us.” Truer words were never spoken. :)

    This is just right for Mother’s Day. Thanks for posting it.

  4. Jane Dunn Says:

    May 5th, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Mark – just read your blog. My sister & I did not have a happy childhood because of an alcoholic father & it was our Mother tht did the parenting – she has always been there for the two of us, no matter what the circumstances. Mark your blog, made me cry with it’s eloquence & love for a mother that loves her children no matter what.

    Jane xxxxx

  5. The Subversive Librarian Says:

    May 6th, 2010 at 8:25 am

    I lucked out in the mother department, too. I’m grateful every day for that, but I do still miss her a lot.

  6. Zach Juno Says:

    May 6th, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Mark

    I always love it when Mrs. King makes an appearance. Love your blog and hope you’re well.

    Much Love,
    Zach

  7. Lain Benjamin Says:

    May 6th, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Mark,
    My tears are dripping onto my computer. I absolutely fell in Love with your wonderful mother. Thank you for sharing her with us. The two of you will certainly help many people struggling with disclosure. Happy Mother’s Day to Mom King!

    Lain

  8. Robert Meek Says:

    May 6th, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I so admire you for having the wisdom to interview your mom, Mark. I’ll grant that your mom being your mom make it easier to do, and more desirable. (Mine never took to my being gay, but this isn’t about me, here. Suffice it to say that I was glad my HIV diagnosis came after she died. I couldn’t have coped with her, and it, both, at my diagnosis.)

    I am glad you interviewed her, because there are so many questions we have, but fail to ask. These days, only one of my aunts remain, a sister of my mother’s. Everyone else is gone, who could answer some of my questions.

    I don’t know why I didn’t ask when I could have. Sister did, interviewed her, wrote it down, and even did a VCR tape about it. (This was pre-DVD days, and computers, although in existence, weren’t up to today’s standards.) For someone who did not have a professional background, like yours, she did it pretty well, too! I had a copy of that tape. She gave it to me.

    I was thinking about it a while back, wondering what ever happened to it, and have no idea at all. It’s just gone.

    So much lost. That’s why I admire you for interviewing your mom. You shan’t lose what I did in family history.

    Plus, as always, you did an inspirational job in the “sharing it” department, too.

  9. Brian Barber Says:

    May 6th, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Thank you , Mark
    You have a Beautiful Mother. You’re truly Blessed.
    Makes me miss my Mama so … she transitioned in 1991.
    I follow your blogs. they have taught me alot . My partner is hiv poz & I negitive,.by the grace of God. Thank you.And God Bless , Always
    Brian

  10. thomas delorenzo Says:

    May 6th, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    once you tell your mother, its all downhill from there. congrats on this mark!!!!

    thom

  11. Steve Nurkin Says:

    May 6th, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    Hi, Mark –

    You are truly blessed to have such a wonderful mother. And the rest of us are blessed to be able to learn something from her. Thank you for sharing her with us!

  12. Carole Ann Says:

    May 8th, 2010 at 12:21 am

    The video is a very special gift to your mother and I am certain not the first of special gifts from you to her since the day you were born. I like your mother!!

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