I knew David well. He was the first person who articulated to me what a gay sensibility is, and to recognise what parts of the subculture were unique. He did these rainbow aphorisms right at the end of his life when he was dying of AIDS. He made them on a computer because he no longer had enough energy to do large pieces. They are provocative and have a very dark humour to them – he was facing death, but doing so with a kind of bravado.
‘Girlfriend’ is a term of intimate address between gay men that David started using when he came back from New York in the early 1980s. David and I had travelled the same path, the same city, the same parties, the same friends. We saw Mardi Gras together. We saw AIDS together. Looking back, that was almost like living through a war because people were dying around you and there was fear in the air. We saw all this through the lens of Sydney.
I think that his late work about AIDS is his best. I like the rainbow aphorisms because they
are pithy, witty, and they reject self pity. When I saw David, just before he died, he was upset that he wouldn’t be able to keep working, because that’s all he wanted to do – to keep making art.