He was high, homeless and in and out of jail in S.F. before Pelosi, Breed and others hired him

Most individuals who’ve interacted with the charismatic, upbeat Gary McCoy as he’s climbed San Francisco’s political ladder — working for then-Supervisors Scott Wiener and London Breed, in addition to Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi — by no means would have guessed he practically died on town’s streets as his drug habit ravaged his physique.

For 10 years, he slept wherever he might discover a non-public patch of pavement or dust — behind a pump home in a Chinatown park, within the bushes in Buena Vista Park, beneath an overhang at Beck’s Motor Lodge within the Castro.

He couldn’t shake his habit to methamphetamine, and he and his associates would rating free medicine by serving to sellers inject safely or by buying and selling intercourse for them. He ignored his HIV analysis, skipping his prescribed remedy as a result of it ruined his excessive.

Abscesses coated his pores and skin, and Kaposi’s sarcoma lesions — the purple spots frequent amongst AIDS sufferers — coated his arms, torso and even the within of his esophagus. He shrank to 110 kilos. He had simply 4 T-cells.

“I needed to kill myself, however I didn’t have the power to leap in entrance of a automotive or off a bridge,” he stated. “I hoped that the following time I used can be the time I killed myself.”

Fortunately for McCoy, his husband, the bosses who rave about him and San Francisco itself, he dodged a deadly overdose — the destiny that’s killing two people in the city every day, however which hasn’t grabbed the eye of town’s leaders prefer it ought to.

McCoy reached out just a few weeks in the past asking whether or not he might share his story with readers. He’d talked about his homelessness and drug habit, however he’d by no means publicly shared that he’d been out and in of jail all through these terrible years.

However now, he stated, he needs to disclose the entire story. Partly as a result of he doesn’t wish to preserve secrets and techniques anymore. Partly as a result of he has a brand new, not-so-political job because the director of public affairs for HealthRight 360, which runs residential substance abuse remedy applications within the metropolis. And partly as a result of he has concepts for the way San Francisco can start to tug itself out of its depths of despair.

Gary McCoy went from being an addict on the streets to working in City Hall to helping provide residential substance abuse treatment.

Gary McCoy went from being an addict on the streets to working in Metropolis Corridor to serving to present residential substance abuse remedy.

Yalonda M. James / The Chronicle

“Individuals are pissed off,” stated McCoy, 42. “As a metropolis, we haven’t tried every part but — we actually haven’t. Numerous issues have been placed on maintain.”

McCoy grew up in a conservative household in a conservative place, Norfolk, Va. He was closeted as a youngster and frolicked with an older crowd to attempt to slot in. He dabbled in heroin, and it shortly turned an habit.

“I didn’t care,” he recalled. “It helped numb numerous ache that I used to be going via.”

He’d shoplift objects, return them and use the money to purchase medicine. On one such escapade at Walmart, a good friend tried to steal a pc, and police arrested each of them. McCoy was charged with grand larceny.

He bought three years’ probation, however stored failing to indicate up for the required checks and drug screens. That finally led to a yr in jail. When he bought out in late 2001, he headed to San Francisco in hopes of beginning recent, however life bought even worse. Inside months, he developed a meth habit and an HIV an infection. He stated medicine are simple to seek out anyplace when you’re determined, however they’re particularly simple to attain in San Francisco.

And he shortly bought picked up by police — once more — for drug possession. He was diverted to drug court docket, however once more struggled with the required check-ins. He stated drug court docket might have helped him if it had promoted hurt discount, however the deal was abstinence in trade for wiping his document clear, and he couldn’t handle it.

Years of homelessness, habit and distress adopted. In 2005, he was recognized with AIDS. Lastly, when his T-cell rely plummeted to 4, he advised a caseworker at San Francisco Basic Hospital’s famed Ward 86 for AIDS sufferers that he was able to enter a remedy program so he might begin taking his HIV drugs once more.

“That was my solely purpose,” he stated. “Simply to get right into a routine the place I used to be taking my HIV drugs.”

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