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Saturday, November 22, 2008


image credit kirby sattler

i have been asked to emcee the world aids day remembrance in denver this year on december 1. it's a mixed bag for me. firstly, i would be blind not to realize that the problems that stem from aids are so much more daunting in other parts of the world. africa, india, cambodia, thailand just to name a few. the poverty levels that are part of the local cultures there exacerbate any of the ingrained issues of an hiv diagnosis. folklore, customs, traditions, belief systems, lack of education all lend themselves to help fuel an atmosphere of both internalized and external judgement around a diagnosis in many parts around the globe.

here in denver, there are no obviously visible signs of this. at least that we bother to look at. but there still is stigma here. and go outside denver, and the environment is completely different in rural colorado. in all of america i would presume. the passage of the anti gay-marriage legislation that has just taken place in four or so states around this nation attests to the fact that although fear and ignorance may not carry the day in metropolitan areas, they are alive and well around the rest of the country. and this creates an environment of nonacceptance, judgement, and fear for an hiv diagnosis.

you must be gay.... or bi.... or shoot drugs are perhaps the first thoughts that come to mind when it is disclosed. and i think those thoughts come to mind for the persons who are infected. this must be a punishment for my actions. i am evil.... i have been tainted.....i am not lovable.

these thoughts- and i believe they are real in people who are living with the virus- kick start a state of denial, secrecy, and ultimately the perpetuation and spread of the virus.

now i know that none of this is news. this is not an earth shattering post. i guess my question, as we approach another world aids day, is "what are you doing to stop the perpetuation of this environment of discord we have in our own backyard?" how do we resist the ease and comfort of letting it be someone else's problem? how do we help to unlock the shackles of guilt and judgement for the increasing numbers of minorities and impoverished americans who are undergoing seroconversion? how do we include this issue in the package of gay and lesbian civil liberties and become proactive and inclusive. how do we start to wrap ourselves in a rainbow flag and actually embody the concept?

i guess it starts with me.....

today's sound choice is definitely one of my alltime favorite artists... here is laura nyro performing "will you still love me tomorrow"

thanks to richard kearns at aids-write for the heads-up on this vid.



lyr said...


i didn't knw you were a laura nyro devotee. it makes sense. i am too. nearly dropped my teeth when i heard her voice on your site, though i think my all-timer is "save the country." the novel i'm working on and off again is :psalms of captain saint lucifer." guess where that came from.

love & namaste


lyr said...

one more note---

"will you marry me bill?" is one of my faves at the moment too.


Marc said...

I personally refuse to feel stigmatized, even if I am in the minds of many. I think the more people who treat their own diagnosis in a matter of fact way, who don't go out of their way to conceal or even omit it, who talk about it no differently than if they were cancer survivors, then others will be inspired to view their own status as a fact of life that in and of itself means nothing. HIV has no inherent meaning. It's just a virus trying to propagate.
I won't participate in the stigma campaign because I think it helps perpetuate it. We must act unstigmatized, and we will slowly be treated as such. If anyone reacts to my status negatively, I let them own it. It has nothing to do with me, it is completely about their fear, their ignorance.
It's actually a great way to figure out what's important in defining who you are, and what's not. Maybe I should start an "Poz is just another adjective" campaign.
Good post, though. Well said.

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