I was always working on my music. That was a part of who I was. I was practicing instead of going out to play baseball or do sports. That was in Birmingham, Alabama. And I left Birmingham when I was sixteen. Graduated Wheaton College with a Bachelors of Music degree and in piano. I finished the PhD and went off to Germany as a Fulbright scholar and stayed in Germany for 18 years. Where I performed, taught. I had my first engagement in the Wiener Volksoper and Kammeroper in Vienna.
I suppose that my living in Europe allowed me to really become aware and accepting of my status as not just a heterosexual but as a bisexual. And that was, of course, after marriage, after a son… and then divorcing.
The chorale was my last attempt at anything professional. It really was an incredible and exciting time, making a difference in the lives of others, as well as in my own life. To inspire men who had the virus and give them an outlet for their talents. And I think it also helped in the healing and the well-being of each individual.
And the sound was just incredible—mature voices, and they were all spirituals. It was so emotional and inspirational… But we didn’t get very far. I had to actually disband the chorale because I had become ill. Again… One illness after the other. One bout with this or that. Cancer, skin cancer, pneumonia… It has ruined my life for the last 15 years.
I lived more than a year and a half with measurable two T-cells. I heard all from ‘he has another year,’ ‘he has another month,’ ‘if he lives this month out, he’ll be lucky’… But today I feel like, that is certainly not the case any longer. And even if I were to die tomorrow or the next day, I don’t have that sense of doom and destiny. I really learned about my body. Not only scientifically, but also being able to listen to your body. I think meditation is a part of how I keep my center. With all the pills and all the drugs and all the radiation and all the stuff that I’ve gone through, I’ve always used a certain amount of alternative aides that were not a part of the normal HIV routine. I think that’s one of the real main reasons that I’m still alive today. Fifteen years later. Somewhat healthy, which is pretty cool. I have more energy… and bouncy, and perky, and running and ripping, and doing things I have not been able to do for a very long time.
Now it is about living for me. It is about happiness. It is about trying to experience as much of life’s beauty that I can experience in the next… in the rest of my life. It would be also about companionship, about sharing with someone. And I believe it will happen. I’m at that crossroads at the moment. And it’s a beautiful time in my life.
*** Robert recently celebrated his 75th birthday – happy birthday!