The What, Where, & When of Gay Buffalo
Serving Western New York
Home To My Reviews
Since 1998
Publisher: Tim Moran







Mike Maffei
3/20/53 - 12/28/06
Reprinted from Outcome, January, 2007

Outcome mourns the passing of local singer/songwriter and AIDS activist Mike Maffei, who passed away on December 28, 2006. He was 53 and had lived for almost 17 years with AIDS.

Mike was a beloved figure in the local folk music/coffeehouse scene. Mike was diagnosed with HIV in 1990 before all the new medications. He decided from the onset to never give in to the illness, keeping abreast of all the latest research while also exploring holistic medicines and proper nutrition. For the most part, he managed to remain relatively healthy until a bout with cancer a few years ago seriously compromised what was left of his immune system. "Attitude plays a major part in survival," he told me when I interviewed him for Metro Weekend back in 1997. He always felt that performing enabled him to keep a focus in his life and firmly believed that giving up would only quicken the course of the disease.

His activism was widely admired. During the first year that Mayor Griffin was out of office, Mike (and others) were instrumental in organizing Buffalo's first Gay Pride Rally on the steps of City Hall. Mike often performed at Pride, and also at Pride Celebrations in Toronto, Rochester and Syracuse. At the drop of a hat he organized many benefits for local AIDS organizations.

For years, Mike counseled newly diagnosed clients at AIDS Community Services, and later with AIDS Family Services where he also donated his time to work with their Retreat Committee. He was awarded Volunteer of the Year at ACS in 1996. When asked what advice he had for those who were newly HIV, he said that they should "Get help. Don't try to do this alone. It's important that everyone know that there are a lot of people out there with HIV and they still have lives."

If you knew Mike in his heyday, you would have thought that he'd live forever. To know Mike was to feel inspired. Mike was not only a survivor but, in the words of his partner, he was also a "rescuer." Mike would do anything to help a friend and he always remained upbeat and positive.

When I first met Mike, it was his dream to record a CD of his original songs and he achieved that dream when Consequences of Desire was released in 2001. He enjoyed great respect amongst his peers in the local coffeehouse scene; his CD features numerous Buffalo folk legends including his musical partner Kim Kerns as well as Tim Baldwin, Cathy Carfagna, Kathy Moriarty, Leah Zicari and Allison Pipitone's band, The Cash Cows.

Mike is survived by his partner of 10 years, Kyle Meaker. Kyle, who was with Mike when he died, remembers Mike as a wonderful partner and loving husband with a terrific sense of humor, and says that their years together were the best of his life.

Mike was remembered at a coffeehouse memorial service at First Presbyterian Church on Symphony Circle on Friday, January 12 at 7:30.