Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-05-27
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



AIDS: Dick Uyvari, Surviving the AIDS wars
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Dick Uyvari is emotional, teary-eyed when talking about the gay Chicago bowler, "John," who was in the Lincoln Park Lagooners league during the fall of 1980. The league used nearly all of the 40-lane house with its 200-plus bowlers, playing on Thursday nights.

"John" was tall, handsome, muscular and very personable, Uyvari said.

In October of that year, about a month or so after the league started, "John" was suddenly absent.

"We noticed [ that he wasn't around anymore ] , but didn't think much of it at first, as people often would come and go in the league," Uyvari said. "Weeks later, we learned that he was sick and went to stay with close relatives in Arizona."

A few months later—in February, 1981—Uyvari and the rest of the bowlers learned that "John" had died, even though the friend they knew was, on the surface, "a perfectly healthy guy, in fact the very epitome of health," Uyvari said.

"Word spread that he had gotten some type of fungus, and dropped from 180 to 90 pounds, having just wasted away. Doctors weren't able to do anything for him. We were shocked.

"In retrospect, it's pretty obvious what happened: he had died from AIDS."

That was Uyvari's earliest memory of HIV/AIDS, a disease that, well, few people have been impacted by more than Uyvari, now retired and living in Uptown.

Uyvari said the local gay bowlers of the 1980s started hearing about HIV and AIDS by 1981, mainly from cases of the disease that had struck on both the East and West Coasts, but not really in Chicago, yet.

By the beginning of 1982, some of the Chicago bowlers and others locally started getting diagnosed with what would become known later as HIV and AIDS, Uyvari said. "By [ the end of ] 1982, that's when it really started to impact Chicago."

Uyvari quickly realized that HIV/AIDS was hitting friends—and within a couple of years, it was close friends, some very close friends, and even his older brother Bob, a well-known artist.

When the International Gay Bowling Organization ( IGBO ) held its annual tournament in Chicago in 1983, there were 576 bowlers from across the U.S. and Canada participating. During the tournament, Uyvari spearheaded a fundraising campaign—a raffle to help the AIDS-related wing of the Howard Brown Health Center. The event raised about $3,800, a sizable amount at the time.

Uyvari said the local scene continued to worsen in the mid-1980s as the HIV/AIDS vice grip intensified. "Everyone was thinking, 'Am I next?' because we didn't really know how it was being transmitted," said Uyvari, who watched his brother die on June 4, 1986—about a year after he was diagnosed.

Despite the tears, or perhaps because of them, Uyvari was aggressive on the fundraising trail to battle HIV/AIDS. He co-founded the Strike Against AIDS fundraiser at the now-closed Marigold Bowl in Wrigleyville. The annual fundraiser, held from 1985-1993, raised about $500,000.

Uyvari, who was the director of several local gay bowling leagues at the time, also started a 50/50 raffle in 1984—which is still part of Chicago's gay bowling scene. The winning ticket holder won half of the night's sales and a chance to win the other half by rolling a strike.

Over the years, the 50/50 raffles through Chicago's gay bowling leagues and tournaments have raised about $600,000 for HIV/AIDS and other charitable causes.

"I feel good about [ the funds raised over the years, ] " said Uyvari, though sadness is ever-present when Uyvari reflects back over the past 30 years.

In April 1988, for instance, one of his closet friends died from AIDS.

In June 1993, his very best friend died.

Uyvari himself learned he was HIV-positive in 1991.

His life partner Joe La Pat, who died unexpectedly in 2008, also was HIV-positive, although his death was unrelated to HIV. Both La Pat and Uyvari were inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2008.

"It was just a scary time because, from 1981-1996, there really was no hope for long-time survival. For most people [ diagnosed ] then, it was a death sentence. In the early-1980s, it absolutely was a death sentence," Uyvari said. "When you heard someone had AIDS then, there was no question they were going to die. Sometimes [ in ] weeks, sometimes [ in ] months, but nearly always within a year.

"Talking about HIV/AIDS from the 1980s is like talking about 9/11, it's so emotional."

The disease wasn't just affecting bowlers, but rather, everyone—writers, politicians, tradesmen, literally everyone. "It cut across the entire gay community, and literally entire [ bowling ] teams were decimated," Uyvari said.

Take, for instance, Uyvari's first Lincoln Park Lagooners team from the 1980-'81 season, which had six people including Uyvari. The other five all died from HIV/AIDS.

Or, Uyvari's first bowling team at Marigold Bowl during the 1980-'81 and 1981-'82 seasons, which had seven bowlers. Five are dead; one Uyvari has not heard from, or about, in more than 20 years, and then there's Uyvari.

"Whole teams from that era died," Uyvari said.

Uyvari and his longtime partner Joe La Pat had been together since 1969, though Uyvari admits it was an honest, open relationship.

"I cried the day I learned I was HIV-positive.I thought I was going to be dead within a year or so," he said. "I think one thing that helped was that I was very healthy. I didn't smoke, drink or do drugs."

Uyvari started taking medication in 1996 and still does to this day. He's living with HIV fairly well, with the disease being undetectable in his system, he said.

Just a lot of horrible memories.

Starting in the mid-1980s, for instance, Uyvari compiled an annual list of the approximate 800 bowlers in the various LGBT leagues in Chicago. By 1992, 115 of those had died from AIDS-related causes—one of every seven bowlers.

"Thirty years," Uyvari said, pausing, "I just think it's a horrible set of circumstances. One of the things that made gay life unique was our ability to separate sex and love. So, you could have a sexual encounter with someone, without necessarily falling in love. We had that sexual freedom.

"That all changed in 1981-'82 because you didn't know if the person you were with was HIV-positive, and whether or not HIV was actually transmitted by sexual contact. It wasn't until the mid-1980s that the correlation was certain and that safe sex became the norm."

Uyvari recalls how known HIV-positive men, especially those with full-blown AIDS, were often shunned—by many in the straight community and even some in the gay community. Some people were even afraid to touch someone who was HIV-positive.

"I don't think HIV ever will be eliminated completely. I think it will be like diabetes, a controlled medical condition—which it is for most of us now," Uyvari said. "I've seen, heard and read about so many things over the years, things that are billed as, 'The next breakthrough to cure HIV/AIDS.' But no cure has ever been found.

"The thing I'm expecting somewhere down the line is a vaccine that will prevent you from getting HIV in the first place. But to cure HIV/AIDS, or eradicate it, I don't really see that happening."

Uyvari thinks about the 30 years of HIV/AIDS at least three times a day—when he takes his HIV medications. He also thinks of those who have died, be it in the past year, five years ago, 10-, 20- or even 30-plus-years ago. And he's been to countless memorial services over the past three decades.

"If I had to describe HIV/AIDS in one word, it would be: insidious," Uyvari said. "It really is an awful disease—the way it has impacted, and continues to impact, so very many people."

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


WORLD New HIV news, Catholic event, conversion therapy, Hungary anti-trans bill 2020-05-27
Lambda Legal holding HIV/COVID-19 event June 4 2020-05-26
Chicago House forum looks at coronavirus, HIV overlaps 2020-05-23
Registration open for AIDS Run & Walk Chicago 2020-05-15
Harris, Robinson to talk intersection of COVID-19, HIV epidemic, marginalization 2020-05-13
Planned Parenthood opens new center in Lake County 2020-05-12
AFC adopts new logo, brand identity 2020-04-29
IL Lt. Gov, Comptroller online roundtable: COVID-19, HIV epidemic, LGBTQ+ marginalization 2020-04-21
WORLD HIV+ Ugandan men, employment lawsuit, Chilean rejection 2020-04-20
NATIONAL Trans students, HIV+ men released, LGBTQ judge, centers, Joe Biden 2020-04-20
NATIONAL Virginia's pro-LGBTQ moves, trans teen, Dr. Fauci, AIDS Quilt 2020-04-14
HIV leadership gets focused COVID-19 news to people living with HIV 2020-04-10
Open Door may close amid staff firings, possible loss of funds 2020-04-04
Advocates: LGBTQs face additional complications in pandemic 2020-04-01
NATIONAL Lesbian bishop, iconic activist dies, military lawsuit, drag legend passes 2020-03-31
International AIDS Conference to go digital 2020-03-28
AFC head details coronavirus response 2020-03-25
Stop comparing coronavirus to early HIV/AIDS. Just stop. 2020-03-17
Williams Institute: Florida's HIV criminal laws undermine public health efforts 2020-03-12
Chicago House looks into alleged theft of agency funds 2020-03-01
'Love Out Loud' ball Feb. 8 2020-02-05
Conference on AIDS changes name to Conference on HIV 2020-02-04
Season of Concern has new board president 2020-01-29
WORLD Swiss votes, HIV+ pilot, Indonesian raids, Dutch beauty expert 2020-01-21
NATIONAL Presidential candidates, HIV news, Seattle LGBTQ bars, Tom of Finland 2020-01-21
IDPH welcomes new HIV section chief 2020-01-14
Federal court upholds injunction preventing discharge of HIV+ airmen 2020-01-10
Mayor, CDPH announce decline in HIV diagnoses 2019-12-23
AIDS Garden Chicago supporters celebrate Keith Haring sculpture installation 2019-12-20
Community turns out for World of Chocolate 2019-12-10
CCH HIV chief discusses prevention and treatment efforts 2019-12-05
Panel faces legal challenges for trans and HIV-positive service members 2019-12-03
Podcast Plague, Untold Stories of AIDS and the Catholic Church launches World AIDS Day, Dec. 1 2019-11-29
World AIDS Day events happening in Chicagoland 2019-11-27
AIDS Garden to unveil Haring sculpture 2019-11-26
HRC calls on Trump to apologize for vile HIV and AIDS tweet 2019-11-26
Youth urged to take quiz before World AIDS Day 2019-11-26
AIDS Quilt moves to National AIDS Memorial, archives to Library of Congress 2019-11-21
Brewery has Nov. 22 event with Chicago House 2019-11-17
New AIDS Garden Chicago to unveil 30-foot sculpture, Self-Portrait 2019-11-14

Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.