Today is World AIDS Day!
I wasn’t around when AIDS was known as GRID (gay related immunodeficiency). I wasn’t around when hospitals were stacked with sick and dying bodies because no one knew what to do. When the president at the time chose to ignore how this epidemic was effecting a particular demographic of this country.
I live in a time where PrEP and PEP make HIV not a big deal. Where random hookups are okay and my sexuality and identity as a gay man can fly freely. Where I am not tending to a dying loved one with lesions all over their body.
We are liable to forget this history because of our privilege. Today is not just a day to promote HIV testing and “remember” the ones who have died. Today is a day to remember that people were here and gone too soon. That people fought even when they were too weak to live. That the gay community was left to die and that people (gay and straight) fought back.
Today we remember those that have passed and we recognize them and the fact that their stories ended before they ever got a chance to start. We remember those who fought for the right to give us a fighting chance. We celebrate that we did not let them put us back in a closet. We appreciate the medical advancements and the lives it has saved. And we work so that we don’t ever have this kind of loss again.
To my generation and the generations to follow, please do not forget. This is a part of our rich and powerful history.
John Yates, New York, NY