Mike Barnes, who has lived in Chicago since 1983 and had three long-time partners each die from AIDS, died unexpectedly himself on Monday, Dec. 10.
Barnes, who was profiled in the Windy City Times last January in the AIDS At 30 series, was a pharmacist at the Lakeview area Walgreens since 1993. He was 56.
On Dec. 5, Barnes posted on Facebook that he was having an emergency colonoscopy the next day at the hospital. He wrote, "They found blood in my stool and nothing showed on the upper GI." He also wrote, "But hopefully I can go home tomorrow. I miss my house my boyfriend and our dog!!!!"
On Dec. 9, he wrote on Facebook, "Home from the hospital. No idea what is wrong. It all happened again this morning and I am sick of it."
On Monday, Tom Luce of Portland, Ore., wrote on Facebook: "My best friend of 32 years, Mike Barnes, passed away unexpectedly today."
The flood of condolences continued from across the country.
Barnes was with his first long-time partner, Donald Hendricks, from 1984-'89. Hendricks was diagnosed with HIV in 1986 and died in 1989.
Barnes was then with Sky Bixby from 1989-'97. Bixby learned he was HIV-positive in 1995 and died in 1997.
Barnes started dating Bart Rarick in 1999. Rarick had been HIV-Positive for more than 22 years and died earlier this year.
"Everyone always wonders why they're here in life. After Sky [died], I figured that must be my lot in life: I'm here to take care of HIV guys," Barnes told the Windy City Times earlier this year. "There are not a lot of mid-50-year-old gay men, because so many of them died in the 1980s.
"HIV/AIDS has been devastating over the past 25 years, but also has brought me joy because I feel, at times, like I have been able to beat the virus."
However, in April 2011, Barnes himself learned he too was HIV-Positive.
Barnes was a bowler in the local gay leagues since the mid-1980s.