John Grisham Story: Gay, AIDS Make You Pariah

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I enjoy reading John Grisham, and I don't care what others might say. His books make for good yarns. They are engrossing. He usually writes full novels, but in the book Ford County, he wrote a series of short stories set in that county in Mississippi.

The last story in the book, Funny Boy, deals with a young man with AIDS who moves back from San Francisco to his hometown of Ford county. He is gay. It is set in the 1980s, when AIDS was new and little was known about it, especially among the average person. He is shunned, as if being too near to him would also give you AIDS.

That he is gay and different than the norm, of course, doesn't help. His wealthy family does not want him around and they give him to an older African-American woman to care for in his dying days. The secret she possesses is that she herself is gay. She, though, growing up in an even earlier time in Mississippi, could not act upon it.

Adrian Keene, the young man who has AIDS, is a reviled person in this town. This town where the residents since birth are taught to be devout and care about each other in the name of their god. I cannot help but think that if the character was not gay than their revulsion towards him would be different, or at least not so strong.

Homosexuality is still feared in many places of the deep South. Not so much as 30 years ago, but states like Mississippi and Alabama are still dominated by politicians who can still get elected by playing off fears and bigotries against gays. I believe one day in this nation there won't be hotbeds of such fear and loathing of our fellow man because of who they are, well, at least when it comes to sexual orientation. Maybe a new fear or bigotry will come along.


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