Monday, April 21, 2008

Derek Jarman: At Your Own Risk

"5th November 1991

Last night it was very cold, fireworks and rockets flaring in the sky. I went up to the Heath early because I was fed up getting in so late, I would be back before midnight which makes it easier to get up in the morning.

Two men had built a bonfire, others were standing round keeping warm. A young man stopped me. He very much liked Edward II. I thanked him and he introduced me to his friend.

'What are you doing up here?'

'Oh, I'm being shown the sights. I moved to London two months ago and my friend's showing me the sights.'

He seemed happy to meet me. We talked about film and then he told me his story.

'I'm a miner's son. It's been difficult coming down from the north to London.'

'Well, I know a bit about that. People are less friendly down here, aren't they?'

'Yes, that's certain.'

'What was life like up there?'

He laughed: 'I fucked all the boys in my school, every single one of them. They are all married now except for me - my father joined in! Isn't life strange?'

We talked for half an hour and then he said, 'I want to tell you a terrible story... I've got a boyfriend back home.'

'Yes, everyone up here has got a boyfriend. Who doesn't have a boyfriend?' I joked.

'Three years ago he was diagnosed HIV+. His doctor, who knew he was gay, organised a test for him. when he went back two weeks later for the results, he was told he had the virus. The doctor was a born-again Christian and he said my friend should give up his homosexuality and become a Christian. He didn't do that and we coped for three years. A month agohe was called up and asked to go and have further tests by the hospital. He was tested and then re-tested and called back to be told he never had the virus. They had been investigating the doctor, who had been giving young men who he knew were gay false positive results."

At Your Own Risk. A Saint's Testament (Hutchinson, London, 1992)

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