Troy Boyd and George Choy
Troy Boyd, originally from Mississippi by way of Connecticut, was born in 1960. He got his start in activism at the age of 5 when he became the first African American child to integrate the public schools of Meridian, Mississippi in 1965. He has lived in the Bay Area for 25 years and currently lives with his partner in Berkeley.
George Choy was born in 1960 in San Francisco and attended Mission High, then San Jose State University. He was a board member of Gay Asian Pacific Alliance (GAPA), a member of ACT UP and an activist for AIDS awareness. One of George’s lasting legacies was persuading the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to pass a resolution for Project 10, the counseling program for LGBT teens in public high schools.
From George Choy’s Archive
“My letter is a thank-you to George, a reflection on life as a Gay African American male in admiration of how George stepped out of the shadows and pushed for change. He made a full commitment to fostering partnerships, understanding, and awareness about AIDS, LGBT Youth, ACT Up Japan and their affects on Gay Asian and Pacific Islanders in America and around the world.
“I feel enlightened, saddened, afraid and hopeful when I look at George’s life. I have read his emails, cards, letters and random thoughts and looked at pictures of his young adult life. George faced his fears in the midst of a struggle to live. I am inspired by his curiosity to know those different from himself. George reminds me what it means to fully commit to what you believe in, to take the risk to explore the unknown through self expression while coming to understand who he was and the purpose of his life.” -Troy Boyd
It is difficult writing this letter to you; how do you admit that you are attracted to someone who died over ten years ago? But there it is: I was immediately drawn to your physical beauty. Is this sick or flattering? I say it is what it is. As I reviewed your life, your Mission High yearbook class of 1978 – which happens to be the same year I graduated from high school on the east coast – it made an instant connection for me. When I looked further, I came across your senior picture; you show such confidence in your senior picture that does not show in my own. Then I thought, San Francisco, the 1970′s, what a great time to be young and starting your life in such a strong gay positive environment.
The environment I grew up in Connecticut was not as positive as San Francisco. I remember watching the news of gay rallies and marches in San Francisco. I knew this would be the place where I would spend a large part of my life, as it has turned out to be. It must have been exciting as a young teen to know you had a place to go like the Castro or Polk Street to discover who you are. That did not exist for me. All I had were books, magazines, and the occasional peep show where I showed a fake ID to see two men, maybe three or more, having sex with each other. That all changed when I left home for Boston to attend college and a whole world of self discovery opened up to me besides my education.
I continued through your archive looking for journal entries to learn what you were experiencing in your life; but sadly, you did very little recording of events in your life. On the other hand, you did record your life in pictures, which intrigued me very much. There are flyers of your involvement with GAPA, ACT Up, and the LGBT Youth and a draft of a speech you gave during a special event. You started your speech: “As a gay Chinese American living with AIDS,” but then you crossed out, “living with AIDS”; I wonder why you deleted that statement. Maybe you were not ready or someone suggested you remove it? I’m just wondering. Your pictures show a transformation that words cannot describe. They show your insecurity with an AIDS diagnosis. They also show the strength you found within yourself, especially after your trip to Japan, which seemed to be life changing for you. This all culminated for me in your ACT Up poster campaign to fight the ignorance surrounding AIDS. It showed a strong, self-assured, determined individual finally comfortable in his own skin. I would like to thank you for your openness.
What I am trying to say is, you left a roadmap for many to follow, to take the reigns and continue to work towards better medication for AIDS patients, pushing for the San Francisco Youth Project 10 which is needed in every school in the United States and around the world (wishful thinking). You left such a powerful legacy that the George Choy Memorial/Gay/Asian Pacific Alliance Scholarship is highly sought after every year. Thank you for your openness and for challenging me to look deeper into my life, to reflect on living my life as an open and honest Gay African American male who meets the challenges facing the Gay community today.
In Loving Spirit,