After getting back on his feet as a construction worker, Kindman returned to the world of alternative newspapers, this time doing low paid small-circulation hard news for a leftist neighborhood journal called the Grapevine. He threw himself into covering a local election, endorsing progressive candidates and weighing in on a land dispute involving a commune of anti-war protesters, all while levying charges of bias in favor of local businesses at the area’s establishment paper before burning out. Then, after deciding to part ways with his longtime girlfriend and throw himself into a gay lifestyle, he began writing for the Radical Faeries’ newsletter.
The book ends, heartbreakingly, with Kindman’s declaration that while his HIV has blossomed into full-blown AIDS at the height of the crisis and before the advent of retrovirals, he refuses to believe the end is near.
“I continue to feel like a survivor and an optimist, and identify strongly with the viewpoint that AIDS need not be universally fatal,” he announces on the last page of his memoir. “Having made it through so many setbacks and disappointments, I feel committed to making it through the epidemic as well.”
Kindman died in 1991.
While Kindman learned the hard way during the course of his life, primarily through Lyman, to look at others with a jaundiced eye, the most enervating aspect of his memoir is that he never turns that eye on himself and his own actions. While he finally sees the Fort Hill “family” for the hypocritical clique it is, he brushes off his own admissions that, while he says he admires feminism, he was physically abusive toward at least two of his girlfriends, one on Fort Hill and one long after he had left and could no longer blame the group’s hypermasculine aura. In a letter to Lyman some years after his banishment from the cult, he accuses his former hero of being “as addicted to being followed as we were to following,” but never wonders why he followed so eagerly, or kept being drawn back to Lyman years later. And even after decades spent writing and editing for leftist publications, he never looks back and asks what the alternative press is trying to accomplish, or whether its supposed independence from the establishment makes it any more valuable in the quest for truth and change.
Kindman’s decades of experience in countercultures and subcultures could contain a treasure trove of lessons for future generations inside and out of the alternative press. Just don’t count on Kindman himself to teach them.
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