When I was young, I looked up to my Uncle Darvy, who happened to be gay.

I’ll never forget walking into the hospital to visit my uncle in 1988. My mom told me he had a rare disease and it had the potential to be fatal.

I wasn’t prepared for what I saw that day. My vibrant, physically fit 6’0 190 pound uncle was bedridden and had withered down to below 140 pounds. I knew when I saw him, it was going to be the last time I would see him alive. My uncle, shortly after my visit, died from AIDS.

My uncle moved to the Twin Cities early in his life because he wanted to feel more accepted. At the funeral, we heard story after story of Darvy lifting up others in his workplace, neighborhood and community. I was 20 at the time and I remember sitting in the church pew thinking it was a shame that Darvy felt he had to move to a different part of Minnesota to be accepted for who he was as a person.

We have come a long way since 1988, but we still have not reached our potential as a country in regards to our acceptance of people different than ourselves. Every person in our country has an opportunity to help make us a stronger and more unified country.

I want people to remember, that we are all in this together. Not just because it will make us a stronger country, but because of people like my Uncle Darvy.

With Respect,
Jeff Erdmann

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