Trip to Italy/Italia


B.Michael visited with partner John, who had lived in Italy during college and maintained close friendships, together with dear friends John and Haftan. (Scroll to photos entitled “Italy, 1995” here.)

Their ten-day sojourn, roughly outlined above, included landing in Venice/Venezia, passing through Bologna (the city where John had studied) on their way to Florence/Firenze and Pisa in the region of Tuscany/Toscana. Then to Rome/Roma, back to Bologna, with a hop to the Adriatic coast, before departing from Milan/Milano.

Aurelio Font + The Flirtations

Bert had a special connection with Aurelio, whom he most likely met through Queer People of Color organizing in New York City in the late 1980s. Aurelio was a member of Hispanos Unidos Gays y Lesbianas (or HUGL, roughly referred to as “HUH-gull” in English) and would often rep HUGL at coalition meetings.

Aurelio also had a beautiful singing voice to accompany his activist heart, both of which he brought to The Flirtations. Here in this clip, Aurelio anchors an impromptu performance of “My Boyfriend’s Back” at a political demonstration, sometime between 1987 and 1993.

On Apple Music, Will Grega writes: “The Flirtations gained national prominence in the late ’80s as the only openly gay, positive a cappella group. It helped that they had tremendous voices and chose outstanding material. In a few short years, these media darlings became everybody’s group of choice as ambassadors of homosexuality for the world. Little could they have known that within five short years of their first Greenwich Village street performance in 1988, they would have appeared on The Phil Donahue Show, Good Morning America, Nightwatch, MTV News, and National Public Radio; gathered rave reviews across the country; and that they would actually be making a living doing what they love most: being gay and singing about it.” They also performed “Mr. Sandman” for the soundtrack of the Academy Award-winning film Philadelphia.

Bert saved these clips from the February 1991 issue of Angles, a queer publication out of Vancouver, Canada.


^^^ Though hard to see, the caption in purple reads: “One of us had the same lover for eight hears. One of us was in the closet until he was 37. One of us was entrapped, arrested, handcuffed and beaten by police. One of us was an M.P. [Military Police] in the U.S. Army. One of us had been fag-bashed with a two-by-four. One of us has AIDS.”



Aurelio sent this postcard, dated March 18, 1995, which Bert received just three months prior to Aurelio’s death from HIV. The book he thanks Bert for is Sojourner: Black Gay Voices in the Age of AIDS, which Bert served as Managing Editor.