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Recovering from heart surgery, John Idris Jones finds himself remembering painful scenes from a life lived in the shadows cast by religious fundamentalism, bigotry, and misunderstanding. When the psychologist at the cardiac rehab clinic suggests that these forays into the past may hold the key to becoming reconciled to the reality of coronary heart disease at such an early age, John embraces the memories. From a Victorian asylum in rural Wales in the early 1970s to the radical politics of HIV in Liverpool during the late 1980s, John's is a journey in search of meaning and identity through the territory where sexuality, religion, and culture collide. San Francisco's gay community during the early 1980s offers a vibrant backdrop to John's emergence from the shadows, but AIDS begins to cast a more sinister darkness.