The Art of AIDS
BY Benjamin Ryan
November 18 2010 5:00 AM ET
Then suddenly it seemed all his rich aesthetic pursuits—and quite possibly his life as well—would come to an end. In 2005 he was in a dance class when he felt a numbness in the big toe of his right foot. The numbness spread over the right side of his body and affected his vision. He was soon diagnosed HIV-positive, and subsequent tests showed he was suffering from a typically fatal nerve-degeneration disorder known as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. A biopsy identified a lesion on the left hemisphere of his brain that has caused widespread numbness and paralysis on the right side of his body to this day.
Initially given a short time to live, he was in the hospital for a year and a half and spent nine days in a coma. But he managed to speed by the stop sign before him, Rollerblades or not. When Gore was well enough, a friend took him some art supplies. Using his left hand (Gore is right-handed), he began to experiment with watercolors. Now living on disability, he’s remade himself as a fine artist and, in doing so, has found his voice. HIV, he says, is the best thing that ever happened to him.
“It appeared that I had everything in the past: traveling the world, being able to acquire whatever I wanted. But there was some sort of void inside me. I just decided that once I came out of the coma and I realized that I was alive, I asked God, ‘What is it for me to do?’”