Marquette Prioleau tries to raise awareness of...

Marquette Prioleau tries to raise awareness of AIDS

Marquette Prioleau tries never to cry in front of the children, but sometimes when they ask a question like Are you afraid of dying? or Why did God give you AIDS? his brown eyes fill with tears.


For the last two months, he has worked through that sadness. At schools, libraries and recreation centers, he uses poetry and conversation to encourage youngsters to protect themselves against a disease that will most likely kill him.

He became serious about writing poetry in 1987, three months after learning he had the virus that causes AIDS. Within a year, he had his first reading at his alma mater, the University of Baltimore. And his self-published collection of poems, "The Glamour Is Gone," is due out next month.


One of his first poems, "Can You Forgive Me," was a response to relatives who blamed him for contracting the disease.

"Basically, what you start to want is forgiveness for not knowing the ramifications of the lifestyle you lived," says Mr. Prioleau, 36, who is gay. "Whoever thought your sexuality was a way of dying?"

Such attitudes caused the Bolton Hill resident to join Positive Voices-Positive Choices, a city school-sponsored group that strives to raise AIDS awareness. (He will be speaking at the Pennsylvania Avenue branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library at 6 p.m. Tuesday.)

"I don't want to die anonymous," he says. "I want people to know I lived and how blessed I've been."

When he's not tending bar, playing golf or rooting for the Orioles, Jim O'Neil tries to end world hunger.

He's started small -- by organizing two benefit concerts for the Maryland Food Committee. The second, Rockers Against Hunger -- Summer Jam '92, featuring nine progressive musical acts, takes place at 8 p.m. tomorrow at Christopher's nightclub in Cockeysville. (Admission is $5.)

"It's July. People are thinking Orioles, they're thinking vacations. This is my little wake-up call: 'Hey, hunger is still here,' " says Mr. O'Neil, 31, who lives in Middle River.

He first became interested in the issue after talking to his sister, who runs the Catonsville Emergency Food Ministries.


With friends in the bar and music business, he figured a concert would be a natural way to raise money. His first event in January brought in $8,100.

There's only been one drawback to his efforts. Between mixing drinks at the Sunset Grill in Towson and organizing the benefit, he's had no time for romance.

"Maybe through this," he says optimistically, "I'll meet someone."