April #34 : Mourning Becomes Montero - by Paul Harris

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Table of Contents

Faith, Hope and Monica

Vintage Gallo

Silence=Deaf

At the End of the Pier

Mourning Becomes Montero

Baby Love

Chris Crossed

Faith Healing

Do Tell

What This Means: Have Mass, Will Travel

Money: Fine Whines

Less is More

POZ Picks: The Complete Bedside Companion

POZ Verse: Fever

At the End of the Pier

Coming soon to a theater near you

Daytime Trauma

Even Good Boys Do Fail

Relishing Our Time

Killing Me Softly

S.O.S.

Obits

Say What

Shalala Infections

The Fraud Squad

Reefer Badness

Brain Gain

Pipeline Dreams

Virtual Activism

Fruit Loops

What's Cookin'?

United Way

La Bomba

War-Torn Nation



Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle

Shingles

Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV


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April 1998

Mourning Becomes Montero

by Paul Harris

Know your last rights

I knew in second grade that I wanted to be a funeral director," says Larry Montero. "My grandparents lived next to one, and I was fascinated by the caskets on racks. When a body arrived, the undertaker would call me and I would run out of the house to watch him embalm." Montero goes on to describe the fun he had playing funeral with the undertaker's daughter the way other kids play doctor. "She'd play the organ and I'd conduct the funeral using a cardboard box as a casket."

Thirty years later, Montero's childhood fascination has become his adult career: He owns Infinity Cremations in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "It's a calling for me, just like being a priest," he says. "My boyfriend doesn't understand it. I lie in bed at night looking at catalogs of caskets, urns and funeral supplies."

Montero, 38, was diagnosed with HIV in 1984 -- the same week his lover died of AIDS. Simultaneously, he experienced a gruesome example of AIDSphobia. "The funeral director for whom I worked wouldn't embalm my lover's body, so I had to do it myself," he says.

As a result, he started a funeral service geared to people who have died of AIDS. Like many "event" businesses -- think catering, theater, party planning -- the funeral biz attracts many gay employees, but that doesn't stop discrimination against PWAs. According to Montero, it ranges from blatant (as in his lover's case) to more-subtle instances where prices are doubled for PWAs. Not at Infinity Cremations: Montero's contribution to his community was recognized on World AIDS Day, when he won a South Florida AIDS Network "Care" Award, beating out American Express.

Despite his almost-daily contact with death, Montero is anything but morbid. After a year on AZT, 3TC and nevirapine, his CD4 count is over 600 and his viral load nearly undetectable. The drugs may be helping him, but they're definitely hurting business -- not that Montero's minds. "I'm grateful to see the number of AIDS deaths decline," he says. "Who knows? Perhaps I'll wind up burying gay men because they die of old age."




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