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WHO IS ANTONIO DI GIOVANNI DI SAVOIA?


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"When you leave this earth, if a tombstone is the only thing you intend on leaving behind, then don't bitch about the conditions while you're here." HG 'Armond Gi Giovanni Di Savoia


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From the day I entered this world, it has been an uphill battle. Robin Williams once said to me, "… if you face the other way and walk up the hill backward, at least you can pretend you are going in the other direction!" He was right. Better yet, I never knew what lay ahead for me because I was looking the other way; consequently, when I ran into something, I just dealt with it. Then I moved on.

However, despite everything that has happened to me, I have been extremely blessed. I have had two incredible loves in my life, and I contracted AIDS while working with HIV patients in the early 80's. So although others think money is the answer to all their prayers, AIDS was the answer to all of mine. It enabled me to look at the world quite differently, especially because I never knew what day would be my last. Thus I never took anything for granted.

The only thing I regret is that being born gay: it didn't help matters. Its not the discrimination I have experienced from the heterosexual community that that has ever made me regret that i was gay -- it is the discrimination from the members of my own "family," that has been difficult to endure, especially when I am persecuted because I was exposed to AIDS. All I can say in response is "Hey guys, I didn't even dinner afterward!"

However, the problems that have plagued me most of my life have also been the very factors that enabled me to better understand the plights of the catastrophically and terminally ill, especially when it came to children.

After being raped and molested for a considerable number of years by pastors, priests, football players and police in my youth, with Robin's help I was able to find a place to escape: the neighborhood hospital where new lives were being brought into the world every day, and with those new lives, new found hope. The joy of each new birth was intoxicating. So intoxicating that when a parent revealed to me that his health insurance was going to deny his son treatment because of a "clause" in his health insurance policy, I fought back. With the help of a family friend and attorney, I was able to help the man battle the insurance company and win. So if I could do it for one man, why couldn't I do it for more. That is how I became an advocate. Like my twin, my "gift" was the ability to play a mean game of checkers against health insurance companies that believed all it took to win a case was baffling the judicial system with bull****. Since that time, with the help of my friends, we haven't lost a patient or a case -- almost thirty-five years later.

Would I have preferred to be Anderson Cooper, Andy Cohen, or Mario Lopez. Heck yes. Especially because the better looking you are (in the gay community) the better chances you have of survival. But then I realized that when they die, who is going to remember them? What contributions will they have made to the world that will have an impact on the world? Or will people just drive by their homes and point and say, "Anderson Cooper used to live there." And then in ten years, will they even remember Anderson Cooper, Andy Cohen or Mario Lopez.

My Father taught me that the world is like a home: once you occupy it, you do everything you can to make it comfortable. You look after the needs of its other inhabitants, and do everything you can to make it a place that all will find peace. And yet we do not apply this same principle to our existence on earth. Change.org illustrates the countless atrocities that the world is perpetrating against one another in order to achieve what?

Every week I spend at least four (4) hours at a skilled nursing facility visiting patients. At Christmas I try to donate as many clothes and other things these patients need and want. Could you imagine if i had Anderson's 11 million a year salary how many clothes and things I could give to these people who have often had very little their whole lives?

My point? How much space does one person need to occupy? I would imagine if you are not very happy, probably a heck of a lot of space. But if you are truly happy, isn't the whole world your home? Everywhere I go, I am proud to say each and every person -- whether it be a waiter, a check out clerk, a pharmacist or a receptionist -- will go out of their way to go that extra mile for me. What more could I possibly want or ask for? And its not because I am Anderson Cooper, Andy Cohen or Mario Lopez.

So what is it I want: just The Robin Williams Memorial Medical Center and Museum. I'll leave fame and fortune to Anderson, Andy and Mario. So long as it makes them happy, then I am good.