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I Feel Like Saying "Kaddish"
My former co-anchor of "The 10% Show" for Gay Cable Network, Earnest Hite, is dead. I expected to write that sentence years ago. More often than not, the gay friends I made in the late '80s died of AIDS.
I'm trying to remember if Earnest was HIV+ or not. Many guys I knew then were. I'm trying to recall Earnest's day-job, or if he was independently wealthy. I'm trying to recall whether or not he lost his handsome, hirsute partner to AIDS.
They founded a group for African-Amercan gay, young men, and I imagined their serving as lovely role models for the guys.
I don't know that either of us had had prior TV experience, but I'm pretty sure we wanted our version of the same thing: late-eighties visibility for our people, including the Black and Jewish among them.
Once, I crewed for a segment that Earnest did, featuring Robert Ford, the editor of a Chicago-based literary 'zine called "Thing." We went to their apartment to do the videotaping. I can still see Robert Ford's face and body, sitting on his couch: If E. Lynn Harris had been writing then, Robert Ford would have seemed like an anti-character -- he had a close-cropped, yet patchy beard and writerly-rumpled clothes over his lanky frame.
Earnest, with his well-kept beard and frequent smile, dignified presence and lucid questions, always was flattered by the camera. How ironic that I never saw his obituary all these years from AIDS, and instead, I had to read of his death in a car-crash. God is odd.