Keep the Faith
The preacher asked me to raise my hand. There were thousands of us there wearing Christmas colors and feeling crazy in our Christian fever. Black, white, Asian, and Latin together, singing 'Hallelujah' with wide white eyes and spittle-covered lips. And he was talking to me. He had never spoken to me before. I'm not sure I wanted to be seen; I was high on bliss and lost to the opiate of the masses until he called on me to raise my hand. 'Is there anyone here suffering from AIDS?' he asked.
The fear gripped me instantly. The church grew quiet, and it began to snow outside. The spirit of God filled the room, but still I was afraid. Whatever'I raised my hand anyway. I had been through more challenging things than being the only queer in a church of Pentecostals who may be rabid and thirsty for blood'I had been dead before: sprawled out lifeless on dirty bathroom tile with a needle of crystal beside me. I could take down this guy if he wanted to make a show of me. But no one even blinked. No judging eyes turned to stare at me, no whispers came to silence me, and no one moved away. It was my fear, not theirs, that surrounded me. They simply began to pray. A chanting filled the room: mystic spells, centuries old, began to condense in the wind. The woman next to me wept as she gently put a hand across my back. The preacher asked, 'Do you believe you can be healed?' I lowered my head and began to cry. I couldn't lie in church. But then something happened that had never happened before. I asked myself the question, Why not? He looked at me from his stage, standing in a single spotlight. He smiled and said, 'God can do all things, and a miracle is on its way. I pronounce a cure for AIDS is yours if you want it. All you have to do is believe.' And for that second I did. For a brief moment of a moment, I believed. And then time moved on. The snow stopped, the music began again, and we went back to our silly songs.
After church, the lady next to me told me her name was Allison. She was from Sweden, and with her thick accent she said, 'Anything is possible, you know.' The next day on the news it was announced that German doctors claim to have cured an American man of his HIV infection through a stem cell transplant. Coincidence?
Saucier is a writer, blogger, and performance artist based in Los Angeles.