I wrote a column last year, and I think it’s still completely relevant- with only a few updates of statistics, geographic and demographic trends.
I’m not going to talk about the rash of new HIV infections among young men, nor am I going to write about my suspicion that 8 years of Bush era abstinence-only education is probably fueling this epidemic among our youth and twenty-somethings.
I’m not going to discuss the massive saturation of HIV in gay/bi men in this country. How we are not working to support each other in getting tested and getting into care and reducing the amount of the virus that can possibly be spread.
I’m not going to harp about the same old shit that gets ignored every year. About how HIV is crippling our communities, draining our resources, affecting our self-esteem and still causing death.
Instead I’m going to concentrate on a few good things that I think may have been overlooked.
I am grateful for the way the women saved us back in the eighties and nineties by stepping up as activists, caregivers and friends. I’m grateful for my lesbian and transgendered sisters/brothers who bravely stood in the face of obstinate refusal by the government to take meaningful action. They still inspire me.
I’m grateful for the medications that have stemmed the flood of funerals that carried away so many lovely human beings. I’m grateful for the drug side-effects that are still better for me than an early death. I’m grateful for the way that my illness has allowed me to prioritize my life, helping me put aside pride, fear and shame to live as honestly and with as much integrity as I can muster. HIV, ironically, has made me look at my life and create it more closely in the image of my true values.
I’m not writing the normal column this year. Instead, I’m going to put on a red ribbon and go to an AIDS Day service. I’m going to gather with other people and remember that we still have work to do. I’m going to remember some very painful moments-and some very beautiful ones. I’m going to bring to mind some people that I haven’t thought about all year and breathe a prayer of thanks for their place in my life. I’m going to hold the hand of a stranger, I’m going to light a candle and sing my gratitude and resolve to whoever it is that is listening.
And as I leave, I’m going to resolve to work harder this year to make life easier for people with HIV and to work harder so people won’t get HIV.
And I know I won’t be alone. That beats any column I could write.