World AIDS Day: A Reflection and In Memoriam

December 1, 2012
Category: Wellness
World AIDS Day ribbon

We've spent quite a few posts discussing HIV/AIDS this year. It's been forever linked to our community, but this year more than ever the dialogue has opened up and gotten more attention than ever in more hopeful ways. From the addition to prevention methods such as PrEP, as discussed by our very own Carl Sandler in the Huffington Post, to moving documentaries about the beginning of the epidemic like How to Survive a Plague, to more media attention to archaic HIV Criminalization laws (and the advocates fighting to repeal them) HIV/AIDS has had a year with a bit of hope. And yet, the news that young people ages 13 to 24 account for 26 percent of all new HIV infections, according to the report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, still means we have a lot more work to do.

Today, on World AIDS Day, we first want to take a moment to encourage everyone on here to know your status and practice safe sex, but also to reflect on those we lost. While we may be making progress, if it weren't for the friends, family, and lovers we lost along the way, those steps forwards may never have happened.

Please take a moment to post in the comments section a note, story, or just a name, of someone you've lost to HIV/AIDS so that their lives and deaths will not be forgotten.

Tags: HIV/AIDS, World AIDS Day
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Post written by RobHeartsDH (View Author Profile)
About this author: Rob lives in Manhattan with his black pug Riley. When he’s not thinking about daddies, he enjoys writing, eating burritos, watching copious amounts of television, and thinking about his next meal.
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Some of the best people I knew died of AIDS. My first real lover, Tommy Parks. A good friend of ours, Ricky Anderson. The three of us lived together at one time, and they fought. It was funny, looking back. I still have Tommy's picture on my bedroom wall and Ricky's coat in my closet. Ricky was naked in his casket at his funeral, with just a sheet over him.

Kenton, Marcellus, Tony, Donovan

Tonight i sang at a World Aids Day event and held a candle for my relatives and friends who died of it and for those who are living with it. It was great.

I attended the Holidays and Hope concert performed by the newly organized KGMC (Knoxville Gay Mens Chorus) on FRI NOV 30 at the TVUUC (Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church). Many of the pieces performed were directly related to Individuals with AIDS and World AIDS Day. I lost my Best Friend of over Twenty Years to this Horrible Disease in SEP of 1995......His name was Sam Dillo Mount, Jr.

I know that people wont like this, but in one way I can understand why these laws were made as there are people who have knowingly and deliberately set out to infect others. These people infected both men and women for years. If one doesnt tell some one of their HIV+ POSITIVE STatus AND SOME ONE UNKNOWING GETS INFECTED, THE GUILTY PARTY SHOULD BE SENT TO JAIL for the rest of their remaining lives. They gave their victims a virtual death sentence and from what a few who have AIDS have told me, not every one can always afford the necessary medications, due to the high cost. Those who for what ever the reason, dont tell any one before hand of their OF THEIR HIV+ POSITIVE status has no conscience, no scruples and no morals and they must really hate every one including themselves. If they love any one, they should warn the person regardless of what happens and give the other person the choice of whether they wanted to take the risk with proctive sex or not. Also condoms are not 100% full proof and can easily break or slip off, hence the other person should be told of some ones status. I also know for a fact from when I did a medical terminology course, that it can take up to 10 years before the AIDS virus could show up in a blood test, so there is no gaureentee that a person is ever safe. Also its to costly for blood banks to boil the blood for an hour minimum to kill off the AIDS virus and most of what the blood would be destroyed and very little can be salvaged for blood products which would be needed any way. Regardless, the Red Cross can never give a 100% gaurentee as to the safety of their blood supply, not only for AIDS, BUT FOR OTHER DIESEASES ALSO. Regardless of all the precautions, there will always be those who will pick up AIDS or other STD's including hepatitis A, B, C, ect. I shall always stand by what I have said, Regardless and I dont care what ever any one else says.

Not the time and not the place!! Around World Aids Day, we're trying to respect the memories of our friends and acquaintances and the people who cared for them - a short time each year to think back to darker times; not to get on the soap box and attack others who don't agree with you. Save it for the next post.

I had a dream I was standing at the edge of the sea one foggy morning, and out of the mist emerged a ship. And there on the deck of the ship was Jack (the first love of my life),and Eugene, Joseph, and Tom. I got very excited, and waved to them all, so happy they were returning. Beautiful men, each of them.. Like them, I had my day in the sun of youth and sexual passion; I never dreamed I would be the one to survive as we were all "out there" when the epidemic started. Now I write, and they would be happy to know that 'cause back then I just talked about wanting to write; I live in the now, but I wish they were here as well. They are my never forgotten.

A memory that burns in my brain, even now, 25 years later, on this World AIDS Day:
Following the March on Washington in 1987 (I believe it was that year), several of my friends and I, having flown down from Boston, were in a festive mood. It had been a massive, boistrous, declamatory parade -- "We're gay; we vote!" -- and we had been a part of the Massachusetts delegation as proud, out gay men and lesbians.
One of my friends said offhandedly: "We should walk over to the Mall and see the quilts," referring to the Names Project exhibit of those thoroughly American artifacts that celebrated the many who had died in the seven years since the crisis had begun.
So, without thinking about what lay in store, we headed to the Mall -- and were thunderstruck by what looked to be several football fields covered in material -- odd cloth gravestones hugging the ground, in every color, etched with sometimes whimsical, sometimes formal, but always personal details about somebody's lover, son, daughter, father, mother, uncle, aunt, teacher, friend.
Up and down the lanes created for easy passage for the many thousands at the site, we slowly walked and looked, walked and looked, staring at the names on these rectangles, birth dates, quaint embroidered images -- a teddybear, a sailboat, a sports team's logo, a patch -- a glimpse into someone we didn't know but suddenly cared about, who was no longer where he or she should have been -- having fun in the Nation's Capital, with his or her own kind.
The celebratory feelings of earlier in the day were a faint memory. We witnesses to a national tragedy were too stunned by the meaning of this display -- the enormity -- even to speak, as we took in these cloth memorials made with love and grief
. The only sound that could be heard was sobbing.
As I think back today, I also remember that many of the people with me on that day didn't make it to this World AIDS Day -- some were to have quilts of their own.

Fr. Neil Lingwall, my first lover, who died of AIDS on June 20, 1984.

There was a news article last night - medical scientists in PHL are using HIV to cure cancer.

The world needs to step back and rethink the stigma associated with HIV.

I can be joyous and say that I know of no one personally who has died from AIDS although my best friend is HIV positive. But, here's an interesting thing I'd like to bring up that I experienced lately. I'm a teacher and the school I work at was having a red ribbon day to remember "something" ( I don't recall), but what I do recall was when I brought up to the teacher in charge that the red ribbons represented AIDS awareness- I was quickly hushed and it was brushed under the rug.

I had a friend or 2 that passed away where I wasn't intimate with them as tehy had other relationships going but it feels bad to see someone vanish and then sit at the service in a hospital chapel because the ones involved can not pay the high fees demanded by professional services which is another example of how common folks deserve to have same respect as a Kennedy service gets.

A very important event for sure just as it is for people to try to be safe whenever possible and not totally lean on the idea that medicine is the total solution for a better world with more understanding about stuff matters more than a quick moment as it can add up and then research has to struggle to keep up with the pace of casual activity. We can do our part by not drinking to excess and then shuttling around to different houses not remembering who was visited last year. Have nice day for sure.