Re: “Open-minded church marking 60 years,” News, Aug. 29.
In 1994, my HIV infection progressed to full-blown AIDS. I could no longer work and was informed that I had less than two years to live. I was advised to make final arrangements.
At the time, there was no support or services for those of us in Richmond who were HIV positive.
We had no choice but to relocate to the West End in order to be close to St. Paul’s Hospital.
Our Saviour Lutheran Church provided a safe place of refuge for me during that very difficult period.
I told the pastor, Ken Harris, that I refused to leave Richmond and was going to push for and help initiate AIDS infrastructure here.
He told me, “Go and get them, John!”
I was the first person in Richmond to publicly come out as being gay and having AIDS.
I started an AIDS support group and brought together others infected and affected by AIDS. We worked together to establish AIDS services in this community.
I am forever grateful for the support and encouragement provided by Pastor Harris and his church. Pastor Harris did, however, ask me how I acquired AIDS. I told him, “it was immaculate infection.”