Please hear me out with Paul "Cubby" Bryant, national morning radio star, on my podcast. You get entertainment, laughs and some serious revelations. We bring it. I had a terrific time catching up with him again in New York City after his show.
Cubby and I met when we worked on Whoopi Goldberg's national weekday morning radio show. (Yes, Whoopi Goldberg had a radio show.) Cubby was pretty much the leading man to Whoopi, as I wrote in an earlier blog piece. He was the co-host to an international film star who has made Oscar history with a Best Supporting Actress victory.
Richard asked me out first. We'd met through a mutual friend. I didn't even want to go out but he was so charming and such a sweet guy that I felt "What can it hurt? It's just Sunday brunch at a nice diner." That autumn Sunday in 1992, we had brunch...and stayed together until the day he died. No one ever made me laugh as much as he did.
We were still in the early months of dating when he was hospitalized and diagnosed with full-blown AIDS. He was from a small town in Tennessee and had never been tested. Not even when he moved to the big city to start a new life and seek a career. WNBC's early weekend morning news show had just started to click. I could've cut off from Richard to focus on my TV career. But I didn't. Taking care of him brought me a closer connection to a Divine Force than any sacrament I've received so far as a Catholic. My spirit was changed, renewed. Our relationship wasn't easy. The horrors of his illness would come up suddenly, unexpectedly. Dealing with his illness was like riding a roller coaster at night with a blindfold on. You couldn't tell when the next turn or drop was coming. There was the pneumonia. And the lymphoma. And the medications. The reactions to the medications. I learned how to deal with hospital personnel to make sure he was being administered the correct medications. And there was the irony that the steroids he was given to battle his pneumonia bulked him up. He didn't undergo the severe weight loss associated with the sickness. To many, he didn't look like an AIDS patient. But he was most definitely ill. Many times, I went to work at WNBC in the pre-dawn hours straight from having slept sitting up in a chair by his hospital bedside.
I'm not a perfect guy but I believe I was perfect for him. We weren't married. But, in my heart, I had committed to doing my best to keep him comfortable, to keep him as free from fear as I could and to make sure he'd never feel alone and lonely. I kept that commitment. Richard passed away in June 1994. He was a great light in my life.
I didn't plan to get that real about myself. However, I hope it inspires people to realize what a positive force the embrace of diversity is. Cubby embraced it. That's one reason why it was so totally cool to work with him.
Please give us a listen when you have time: BobbyRiversShow.com. Leave me some comments.
AIDS Walk New York comes up next month. It benefits GMHC, the organization that was a major help to me when I was taking care of Richard. The crisis is not over. For info on the New York, San Francisco, L.A. or other walks...please go here: aidswalk.net.