Tuesday, December 01, 2009

World AIDS Day, 2009: Online Immortality?

December 1 is World AIDS Day.

The GLBT History Archive in conjunction with the Bay Area Reporter is launching an online obituary archive here, which should prove painfully fascinating, helping us remember those we have lost by giving them a presence online. I google my lost friends every now and then, wondering if they are granted online immortality.

I came up with these two links yesterday, though they're somewhat oblique. My friend Michael Botkin was my roommate in my last apartment in Chicago. We joined the RSL at about the same time, and he was dating Joe Galanti/Alongi, one of the leading members at the time. Michael's experience in the League ended badly: he seems to have been summarily drummed out of the group, whereas I sort of wandered away. Anyway, in the 1980s Michael went on to write for the ground breaking subversive journal Processed World, which covered the experience of working for a living in a newly computerized world from a truly human--and humane--perspective. Writing as "Kwazee Wabbit," Michael tied his experiences in the RSL to this brave new world, and the results are an entertaining read, albeit a sobering one.

Here's one article entitled "Progressive Pretensions" in which Michael documents the rude awakening of discovering that the good guys aren't always the good guys. Here's another called "The Art of the Purge" in which he tells the story of being purged from both the RSL and from an academic setting. His obituary from Poz Magazine is here; he died in 1996. Sadly I don't have a picture of Michael and wasn't able to find one online.

Most of us who are gay do not have children to carry on our stories. With so many lives cut so tragically short by the ravages of this disease, it becomes doubly important for those of us who have survived the past era to carry on their stories--the stories of our beloved friends--to the future. Always remember.

(If you haven't read my story of Steve Rose, today would be a good day to do so!)

Update: thanks to the above referenced database (which doesn't seem to work in Firefox), here's an excerpt from Michael's obit, with a photo. Thanks to the BAR & the internet.


  1. Amiable dispatch and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you on your information.

  2. Thanks for posting. I was actually looking for info on Mr tabor and I ran across Mike's obit here. I used to see him on campus in 1981 and I believe I met you as well at a rally for a now deceased ex-Iranian President at Daily PLaza (vague memories of getting lunches tossed at us by ignorant white collar workers). I dropped out of college about that time and moved out of state (losing contact with everyone from that time period). The Internet has made it a small world and I have found a lot of old friends but alas some like Michael are gone. jim davis

  3. Sorry Jim for so belatedly acknowledging your comment. Your story/name definitely ring a bell! I'm not in touch with them, but Tabor and the last remnants of the RSL (after their trip through the now defunct Love & Rage) can be found here: http://www.utopianmag.com/