Thursday, December 01, 2005

Remembrance

It's December 1, World AIDS Day. Since its recognition in 1981, more than 25 million people have died. Last year, the UN reported approximately 3 million worldwide died of AIDS-related illness, and approximately 4 million became infected with HIV, the virus believed to cause AIDS. I don't want to be maudlin, but there is a serious situation -- AIDS has become the deadliest illness in history.

The face of AIDS changed through the years. When the New York Times first reported a mysterious occurrence of fatal rare cancers, they were seen in White homosexual (that's what we are in the papers) men. When I first had my own introduction to it, it was in 1983, with the still taboo death of one of my favorite cousins, Mickey. As far as we all knew, Mickey wasn't gay or bisexual. He was married with two kids. Mickey weighed about 300 pounds at his lightest. When he was buried, he weighed about 125. And although I knew lots of men who died soon after we learned of their HIV status, I was deeply affected by a woman who died. Doctors didn't immediately figure out what she had, even though her won-through-sobriety honesty made her share that she had been an IV drug user. My partner could tell you many sweet stories about the final years of her cousin's life, a woman infected by a cheating, drug-using husband.

Many of my friends live with HIV through medication. A few could stand to clean up their act; stop drinking so much and doing so many drugs, using a condom every time they have sex, especially bottoms. And many are negative.

Judgment around AIDS has changed some. Referring to a widowed partner of many years as a "close friend" or ignored altogether doesn't happen that much. Blaming the victim from the pulpit during the obituary doesn't happen that much.

I won't be maudlin, and I won't be sad. Sure, I've lost friends. A young man who was part of my wedding is gone. An old choir director is gone. Gifted writers, activists. Talented singers. People who made me laugh. People who lived life to the fullest.

And here in New York, December 1 has been declared Rosa Parks Day. In honor of her bus action on December 1, the seat behind the driver is supposed to be left empty (which has already been ignored on my morning bus ride). Although slightly disappointed that neither World AIDS Day or Rosa Parks Day will get their full attention simply because they both deserve pointed recognition, I'm comfortable blending the two. Mrs. Parks couldn't know that her simple act would be the one (as there had already been arrests of Blacks who sat in the front of the bus) that became the catalyst for change, and that it would take place on a day that would become the one day that we each can think of how a simple act such as protecting ourselves during sex or drugs can become a catalyst for change.

In memoriam and honor, below are the names of just a few people I want to remember.

Winston Michael Mendez
Roger Carroway
Dwayne McKinley
James Moody
Tony Teal
William Cox
Bert Hunter
Rory Buchanan
Craig Harris
Debra DeSeane Isom
Betty King
Jaysane Wright

2 Comments:

Blogger It's Me, Maven... said...

Amen!

4:26 PM  
Blogger It's Me, Maven... said...

PS: Did you see that article in the NY Daily News regarding some British *cough BE-OTCH!!cough!* who, when she was informed she had parked her kiester in one of those seats marked as a memorial to Ms. Parks, she refused to leave her seat? Shit like that makes me want to do an impersonation of a pigeon, and go to the UK and do a high-speed-full-force-rectal download on Big Ben.

Disrespectful cunt!

Oh my, did a little bitterness just slip out? My baddddd...

3:20 PM  

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