If Winter Comes tells the story of LUKE, a young, gay, black man recently diagnosed with HIV in the 1990s who drives to Vermont to see for one last time his college lover, CHAD, now a committed, fundamentalist Christian with a wife and child.
This page lists events (some in the real world, some of them fictitious) and when they happen relative to the flow of the narrative. I’ve included this to remind myself of what was going on and when so that the story is–if not rooted historically–at least not playing fast and loose with the events of the past.
1964. CHAD is born Christopher Chadwick Ford, III, to parents living on the Main Line outside of Philadelphia.
September 1965. LUKE is born.
August 1982. CDC recently coined the acronym AIDS for acquired immuno-deficiency syndrome.
Fall 1983. LUKE and CHAD meet freshman year at Princeton at the Princeton Evangelical Fellowship. LUKE notices that CHAD is handsome but serious looking, almost sad. CHAD notices that LUKE has a big smile. They are both members of Rockefeller College.
Fall 1984. LUKE and CHAD become roommates sophomore year as part of a four-man suite with GARY and another evangelical Christian in Blair Hall.
September 1985. LUKE and CHAD room in a triple with another guy (GARY) who is also an evangelical Christian but he is an engineer and spends all of his time away from the room.
LUKE and CHAD acknowledge their deep, emotional bond.
October 1985. Rock Hudson dies of AIDS.
LUKE and CHAD go skinny dipping in LAKE CARNEGIE.
GARY almost catches LUKE and CHAD in flagrante delicto. They claim they were wrestling… in their underwear. GARY notes their erections but says nothing.
May 1986. The virus causing AIDS was officially named HIV.
Fall 1986. LUKE and CHAD move into a double room senior year.
LUKE and CHAD have sex for the first time.
March 1987. AZT becomes available to treat AIDS.
May 1987. LUKE and CHAD graduate from Princeton.
May 1987. LUKE and CHAD have sex for the last time before CHAD leaves to go home to his family.
September 1987. CHAD enrolls in Seminary in the Midwest.
CHAD meets MADELINE. Madeline notices that Chad always seems so serious, sad and lonely, and all she wanted to do was put a smile on his face.
May 1991. CHAD graduates from Seminary with an M.Div. MADELINE graduates from Seminary with a MCE (Master of Christian Education).
June 1991. CHAD and MADELINE are married.
March 1992. JAKE is born.
LUKE is infected with HIV when a trick claims he is using a condom but slips it off when it makes him go soft. Alcohol didn’t help.
LUKE is diagnosed with HIV during a regular checkup.
Day 1. September 1994.
Afternoon. Outside the house of CHAD and MADDY. A bright Indian summer afternoon. LUKE arrives at CHAD’s farm. He pulls up in the blue Mustang hatchback he has had since college. CHAD laughs at it.
Evening. Master Bedroom. MADDY asks CHAD about his and LUKE’s relationship.
Evening. Guest Bedroom. LUKE lies in bed, wondering what he has done.
Day 2. Saturday, September
Morning. Guest Bedroom. LUKE wakes up in the guest bedroom. He smells a sumptuous breakfast. I wonder when Sunday is. I need to figure out when Sunday is so they can all go to church at the right moment in the story. I think the neighbors visit after church. Right after church.
Morning. Kitchen. LUKE enters the kitchen. Everyone is assembled. They wondered when he was going to get up. I’m sorry. Why didn’t you eat without me? Don’t worry, we weren’t going to starve. I was getting ready to send CHAD up to get you in a minute.
Day 3 and following
Day 3 and following…
September 1996 (?). The first combination drug therapies for HIV are introduced.
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