So much has changed since then. And not enough has changed.
I was living in NYC, when people started “getting sick” and ultimately dying. Even in writing this, it reveals the depth of my collective sadness due to so much unnecessary loss, heartbreak, ignorance and fear.
In every crisis, there is the opportunity for people to reveal the best of themselves.
Crisis can help us dig deep and give with an open heart, to show one’s fierceness in the face of ignorance, ones vulnerability & resiliency in the shelter of community.
AIDS has impacted every corner of the world, there is not one country or group of people who has been left unchallenged by this epidemic.
For years, I had a FT gig as an HIV Prevention Educator in school systems for students, parents & teachers, I spoke to over 20,000 people. There were/are thousands of us around the globe providing facts as pathways to safety & sanity when shame was being heaped on like quicksand.
There were amazing things happening in our larger community, which became integral doors to opening our own minds & hearts to struggles within our own communities and the larger world.
Transformation thru crisis is never easy!
It can be a big messy rolling ball of raw emotions and soothed by the fierce tenderness & the compassion of others.
Moments of heartbreaking beauty like the AIDS Quilt, the bold audacity of ACT UP! the bad ass fire eating Lesbian Avengers, standing arm in arm with our trans communities along with the knowing that the small acts of tenderness, marches, demonstrations, conferences and the insistence in being heard and seen has rippled thru the world, leaving no corner untouched.
Yet, there is still so much to do.
Over 40 Million people have died from AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic. That is more than 1 million people dying every year from this epidemic.
Of course, we know the number is higher, due to stigma around how HIV is spread. Not everyone has access to preventive precautions, or life saving medications which continues across the great divides of race, gender, socioeconomics, access to bias free healthcare, religion and where in the world you live.
On this 30th annual World AIDS day; how can we bring our tenderness, our fierceness and our hard earned lessons to light and make a difference?