When Kevin McIntyre, 34, an actor living in Queens, told his boyfriend of two years he wanted to perform in drag, David Fisk gave his blessing. He accompanied McIntyre, a.k.a. “Charmaigne Aultra,” to the clubs, serving as a bodyguard of sorts. Fisk watched as Charmaigne, wearing only a bra, shorts and heels – along with four pounds of foundation and a wig – danced, lip synched and teased other men.

But when Fisk got cancer, it became McIntyre’s turn to take on a supporting role.

To say his boyfriend’s illness was a roadblock to McIntyre’s career sounds callous, but it’s also inaccurate. McIntyre decided to treat Fisk’s diagnosis like a pebble in his pumps – something that needed simply to be dug out, with time and care. He insisted on maintaining as normal as possible life for himself and Fisk. McIntyre initially kept up his weekly drag performances at the Barricuda in Manhattan. He needed the break from the hospital routine to revive him.

McIntyre, know by friends for his optimism, recalls days at the hospital that were actually fun: He and Fisk played board games, watched TV and he shared the gossip from the “girls” at the club. On Fisk’s worst days, McIntyre knew to “turn off” the charm and just be present. Fisk needed McIntyre’s big heart and his patience – and he was ready to share them.