25 May “My partner Steve Michael died on this day, May 25, 1998. We were both part o…
“My partner Steve Michael died on this day, May 25, 1998. We were both part of ACT UP Seattle but didn’t really connect until travelling to Washington DC for a march on the @whitehouse in September, 1991 targeting President George HW Bush. By December, Steve and I were inseparable and we learned that he was HIV positive.
After 12 years of Reagan and Bush, we knew that the best chance for ending the pandemic was to push the next President to make AIDS a top priority. We began a rollercoaster existence as part of the ACT UP Presidential Project, travelling to a dozen states from New Hampshire to South Dakota, sleeping on floors and showing up at campaign events with “What About AIDS?” signs.
We applied for a marriage license in Hope, Arkansas and were escorted out of town for our own safety by state police. We collected signatures and got Steve on the ballot for Washington State’s open Republican Presidential Primary. We aired a TV commercial blasting Bush on AIDS but fell short of the 15% needed for delegates to the Republican convention.
After the election, we moved DC to hold the Clinton Administration accountable for AIDS promises made, like ending the federal funding ban for needle exchange programs and launching an all-out research effort to find a cure. By 1996, we were back in New Hampshire, where Steve challenged Clinton in the Democratic Primary and once again aired TV ads, which were censored by WMUR.
Steve was asymptomatic for many years. Then he contracted cryptosporidiosis. He went downhill fast. After 3 weeks in the ICU, I gave the order to disconnect Steve from life support.
Steve wanted a political funeral, in keeping with a long-line of ACT UP funerals. Activists from all over came to DC. We marched his body to the @whitehouse and held an open casket funeral demanding action to end AIDS.
About a year before he died, Steve gave me a card:
“Love is something you and I must have. We must have it because our spirit feeds upon it. With it we are creative … with it, and with it alone, we are able to sacrifice for others.” – Chief Dan George.
I miss Steve every day.”— by Wayne Turner