Everybody always goes, “Why do you walk with a cane?” I’ve been known to say, “Oh, I have a slight case of AIDS.”
I got my test results April Fool’s Day 1988, one month before my 25th birthday. Back then, I was a mohawked punk rocker. And I was a fighter. I had been fighting since I was eight years old. When your dad kills your mother, it makes you pissed off.
Those first two years of being HIV-positive were mad years. I had unprotected sex with several different women, and I didn’t tell them. I figured, I was damned by somebody, so I was going to damn the world. After that I came to my senses and realized I was wrong and I had to tell those girls. Of course I got smacked, I got told I was going to be killed, and I just told those girls, “You know this shit’s out there. Go get tested. If you feel the same way after you test, then do what you got to do.”
I prayed to the great artist up in the sky that if he let those women be healthy and safe, that I would give him ten years of celibacy. They all came back negative. I kept my promise. In those ten years I educated a lot of women. I called it “working the bar circuit.” I’d go out and meet women who were ready to go home and get busy, and I’d tell them I was HIV-positive.
I have a hard time walking now, because it’s crippled me. I’ll never have any kids, I’ll probably never have a wife. But I love women. Everybody thinks Ralph likes big boobs. Ralph likes all kinds. Whatever clicks. They come and they go, though. So maybe one day one will come and stay. If I get that lucky.
I live in the high desert now, to breathe some fresh air and exercise. I’m trying to get my lower end to come back. I woke up one day, went to turn on the stereo, and I collapsed. Turns out I had developed a neurological disorder on account of my HIV. When they told me I was going to be in a wheelchair, I was like, “Cut my legs off if they ain’t going to work.” They said, “No no. We don’t have to do that.” Good thing, because I got myself out of the wheelchair. I’ll run again.