About John

AIDS Hospice Opening A Symbol That We Care

by Morris Dalla Costa, LFP October 1992

The John Gordon House in London would have pleased the man for whom it is named.

Grace Gordon, John’s mother, has a pretty good feeling about what John will be doing Friday.

“He’ll probably be dancing,” she said.

There’s little doubt that wherever he may be, he will be celebrating the culmination of a dream he fought so hard to make real, his heart bursting with happiness.

And wherever he is, a part of him will be with his mother and with everyone who steps through the door of the John Gordon House as it officially opens Friday. The purpose of the house is to provide dignity, love and hope for people living with AIDS.

John Gordon knew he might not live long enough to see an AIDS hostel built in London.

He died in January after a six-year struggle with the disease, a disease he sought to give a face, a body, a reality by becoming the first person in Southwestern Ontario to openly admit he had AIDS. Until he died, Gordon worked tirelessly as an advocate on social issues. He cared.

On Friday between 4 and 6 p.m. Grace Gordon will officially open the home named after her son. Dignitaries will be in attendance at the eight-bed hostel, which will become a haven to people living and dying with AIDS.

It is not yet financed, other than by community donations. Financing is expected to eventually come by way of government agencies.

It may take a while.

The dignitaries will make speeches, cut ribbons, shake hands and mingle. Meanwhile, the real dignitaries will be listening and watching. Those include the volunteers who spent thousands of hours creating the John Gordon Home, the various committees that have asked city hall for support and were turned away so many times and those who have fought a continuing battle to eliminate the phobias of some local politicians. The most important dignitaries attending will be the ever-increasing community of men and women with AIDS, men and women who have not only lived with the disease but lived with the fear of dying without dignity.

“When I first went through the house, it was a very emotional time,” said Grace Gordon. “You could almost feel his presence there. This was his dream. There were some very difficult times, especially when he came out, but he kept telling me, ‘Mom, it’s extremely important that people with AIDS have the chance to die with love and dignity.’ He never gave up on that even though he knew he wouldn’t live to see it.”

“This house was built with love. This is just the kind of place he wanted. It looks like a home and it feels like a home. I feel his joy here.”

It took great courage and conviction for Gordon to go public in 1986, But this is 1992.

More and more people have been educated about the disease and its far-reaching effects.

But how far have we actually progressed?

Not as far as we should have.

There is ignorance and fear about AIDS, hospices are few and far between, and the disease is not considered a priority. We still read and hear far too often about the perversion of homosexuality as if AIDS is specific to one group, or how AIDS is God’s punishment for homosexuality.

It’s amazing how often we bring God down to our level. He is not that cruel.

When the John Gordon Home opens Friday, it will be much more than a home for those living with AIDS. It’s a symbol that people care, people want to help and people understand. It has provided a guarantee of respect, help and dignity for the future.

Yes, indeed, somewhere John Gordon is dancing.