Author Brent Hartinger has created The Real Story Safe Sex Project, a non-profit effort designed to spread information and awareness about HIV/AIDS and safe sex for gay youth and men. My contribution, available free of charge, is the short story Giuseppe and Me.

Giuseppe and Me

Alessandro Lupo (Alex) is a sixteen-year-old gay foster child who has been moved from "home" to "home" in New York City. Isolated by circumstances and by the protective shield he's surrounded himself with, he wanders the streets of the West Village and gravitates toward Stonewall Inn, where the 1969 riots planted the seeds of the gay civil rights movement. Having been raped at his previous foster home, he worries about HIV and about ever being able to enjoy sex.

Alex, whose parents had both been Italian, feels his lack of family keenly. As he wanders the city's streets, he scrutinizes people who might also be Italian. Alex is short for Alessandro, which means defender of men; Lupo means wolf. But Alex feels fearful most of the time—fear not just of the bully Derek, the other foster teen at his current home, but also of life in general—and begs for the courage of his 19th century countryman, Giuseppe Garibaldi, with whose statue in Washington Square Park Alex has imaginary conversations.

Then Alex meets two people who represent polar opposites: one who validates the low opinion Alex already has of himself; and another who helps him see himself in an entirely new light and teaches him that his life is worth more than a few minutes of anyone's pleasure.

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