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.