78 year-old, white gay man Gary ÒLeeÓ Lawson at home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Lee is single, retired and a biker. Behind the scenes photography and video and assistant: Juan Pablo Ampudia, juanpablo@cuartocreativo.com. Phone +52 1 55 8676 5741. Photography by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 29 March 2019

Gary “Lee” Lawson /

“Paul and I were friends and partners for about 7 years, we were both gay, motorcyclist and traveled around a lot. He traveled in his work & both of traveled together and separately. Chicago, Milwaukee, St Louis, Minneapolis , Indy, Nashville, KC, MO +++

In fall of 1983 he got pneumonia that turned out to be AIDS, of course nobody knew what it was in those days, they put him into isolation, sealed him in a hospital. Dr. and nurses come and went in this isolation suits so they wouldn’t catch the disease, his pneumonia was cured in about 3 weeks and Paul was released. Maybe a month he was sick again with an opportunistic infection and started at 6’ 3” and 102kg, he passes in July of 1984 and weight 42 kg.

In the spring of 84 he got hick ups for 6 weeks every 10 minutes he hic-hyped day and night. When he first got sick I assumed I would get sick also and stopped having sex so I wouldn’t spread AIDS. There were no tests and no drugs to treat HIV.

In January of 1985 the company I worked for 19 years closed most of his plants, I was one of thousands of factory workers without a job. I tried selling home improvement products, solar heating systems, and encyclopedia. I sold 73 sets but costs were too high to make money.

Finally had a friend in Milwaukee who said I could live there. I took my m/c and clothes and ended with 5 part-time job all at once. A
different job every day of the week.

1) Did floors at Kmart maintenance company
2) Tended bar wed and Sunday happy hour 2hrs each day
3) Assembled displays at Kmart on Tuesday night
4) Assembled jungle gyms for kids Mon & Thursdays
5) Worked as a security guard at good will stores Friday to keep away the poor people from stealing.

Finally got a job in St Louis working for army aviation system command negotiating contracts to purchase parts of helicopters

Hired back by the remnants of my original company “ Navistar Int.” in Indianapolis where I worked for another 14 years.

In 1992 I decided I wasn’t dying of AIDS so got tested. I was negative but might have Hepatitis C. Further tests in 93+94+95 were negative for Hep C.

By then I had not had sex for 10 years but then men were dying by thousands. In 1990 I started volunteering in Indy for 14 years doing a lot of jobs for them and received Indiana Star Award for volunteering in 2000.”

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