Monday, July 09, 2007

It Ain't Over Till It's Over

A couple of weeks ago, Andrew Sullivan wrote a very disturbing article that proclaimed what so many people falsely believe - - that AIDS is over.

It was a follow-up to an article he wrote in 1996 entitled "When Plagues End."

As Mr. Sullivan describes...

It was easily the most offensive thing I ever wrote, as far as the AIDS establishment was concerned. I was flayed alive for saying the obvious: that this was a huge deal, an end to AIDS-as-plague. And yet, 10 years on, everything in it was right. And the refusal to acknowledge that at the time, while understandable, was sad. We never got our moment of celebration. We never got that day on the beach in 'Longtime Companion'. We denied ourselves the relief that we deserved.


For those of you who have never seen LONGTIME COMPANION, the final scene of the movie has the three remaining survivors of a large group of friends standing on the beach when suddenly, everyone they lost to The Plague comes rushing onto the sand for a party.

Everyone hugs. Everyone kisses. Everyone dances. It's what I now think of as Heaven - - time spent not only the ones that AIDS took away, but everyone that I have loved and lost.

That perfect day when all of the people I love come together to dance and laugh and celebrate the joy of being with each other once again.

It's the day I get to laugh with Mark and Lemmie again. I get to kiss my grandmother and grandfather again. I get to hug and sing with MaryBeth again.

Mr. Sullivan went on to say...

In my view, we should establish a celebratory day to remember the year we turned the corner, to commemorate the lost generations, to recall the awful price paid for the era of total liberation. The corner was turned in part because gay men and lesbians heroically rescued themselves, funded research, demanded change, cared for each other, and refused to take any more shit from the powers that ignore. I do not miss AIDS, but I miss the passion and love it spawned. It was a terrible, terrible time—but it was also our finest hour. We need our own armistice day, to honor those who helped make it happen, to mourn those who never saw the dawn, and to recall the moment when the terror ended, and life began, again.


I would love to celebrate the end of AIDS, Andrew - - and I will...

When it's over.

But as long as my friends and entire continents of people are dying from this virus, it ain't over.

I could go on and on, but Alexandra's response to Mr. Sullivan's article says it best. Read it all. Right now. Here's just a small piece of Alex's post to prove to him and to everyone else that AIDS is not over. This is what Alex goes through on a daily basis...

The stomach aches, the 4 series of drugs I’ve been on that stopped working for no reason whatsoever, the fact that I have to eat fat like it’s crystal meth, and yet watch my cholesterol so I don’t drop dead of a massive stroke. The debilitating diarrhea that can kick in at any minute. Ever walk into a Starbucks, order a coffee, and then have to scream for the bathroom key because poop is running down your leg and into your flip flops? And these are only some of my symptoms that these miracle drugs have left me with. I’m living the life of an 80 year old in a 43 year old body. And the Plague is over? I wish someone would tell my bowels that.


It's not over. AIDS is not over. The rate of HIV infection nationally and globally is frightening. Protease inhibitors do not cure people living with HIV and AIDS - - I don't care what Magic Johnson says. I may be going to significantly fewer memorial services than I did 10 or 12 years ago, but people are still dying.

And people are still incredibly stupid about how the virus is transmitted and what being HIV-positive means.

Case in point, this is from yesterday's news...

A couple says their vacation was ruined when an RV park owner told them they weren't welcome after discovering their 2-year-old foster son had the HIV virus.

Last week, Dick and Silvia Glover went to the Wales West RV Park in Silver Hill, Ala., with their foster son Caleb. When the boy was banned from using the pool and showers, the Glovers said they were offered an uncomfortable and painful choice: They could either keep Caleb out of the water or leave.




The park's owner, Ken Zadnichek is quoted as saying...

"We weren't sure if somebody could get the virus if the child upchucked on them or from blood or what.

"I'm not responsible for their feelings. I'm responsible for the well-being of everybody in the park. If their feelings got hurt, I'm sorry. That's the way it's got to be."


Now, before you even begin to think that Mr. Park Owner's argument is logical and well thought out, let me say this...

We're 26 years into this virus and a question like, "Can I get it from swimming in a pool with someone who has AIDS?" is still being asked?!?

As David Little, director of South Alabama CARES, an AIDS education and outreach organization that serves 12 counties in south Alabama, says...

"There's absolutely no way you can get HIV from a pool or a shower casual contact using the same facilities. It just doesn't happen."


Wow, Andrew. Seem like a whole lotta hoopla for a Plague that no longer exists.

The article about Caleb goes on to say...

The Glovers said they chose the location because of their son's love of trains. Wales West features steam and diesel locomotives -- similar to ones used by the mining industry in Wales -- on a railway that circles a small lake.

The Glovers said Caleb is a happy child who they just wanted to please because his life expectancy is only seven years.




Only seven years to live.

Wow, Andrew. I guess Caleb didn't get the memo that it's over.

9 comments:

Master Aaron said...

And THIS is why I always keep a box of latex gloves in the house - just in case I have an opportunity to slap the Mr. Sullivans of the world, repeatedly "and that without remedy." (I love to throw in The Bible whenever possible.) Now, Mr. Sullivan might THINK that I'm gloved because I'm worried about HIV transmission during the world-class slappage he has coming, but I was raised right, and my momma always told me that stupid could rub off on 'ya if you weren't REAL careful... None of us that are still alive enough to be even vaguely aware are unscathed by AIDS, no matter our personal status, as long are there are those living in the daily tumultuous throes of this disease. I'll quote momma again, "I'll slap a face on him to wreck a freight train!"

Stephen Rader said...

Master Aaron - Your momma and you against Andrew Sullivan.

Andrew doesn't stand a fucking chance!

Palm Springs Savant said...

That guy must be certified as insane. Or just plain stupid. Or an idiot. Or a...ah, you know what I mean.

just me said...

Where in the world have these people been living? Or have they been walking around all this time with their heads up their asses? The only thing that will kill the people in the pool is all the piss and chlorine. I'm sorry if that sounds obscene, but, damn, Mr. Sullivan does need a good slapping.

Stephen Rader said...

Palm Springs Savant - I would say he's "All of the Above" and add "psychotic" to the list.

Just Me - You don't sound obscene at all! "Obscene" is preaching that "The Plague is over" and giving young gay men the idea that they don't have to concern or protect themselves from it anymore.

David said...

But Stephen, ask any of the boys shaking their asses in the clubs- AIDS is over. All you have to do is take some pills if you test positive. You know, like forever.

Stephen Rader said...

David - "Some pills" is the understatement of the decade! I wish those young'uns understood that.

Shirley Heezgay said...

That last scene in Longtime Companion has always been incredibly impactful for me as well.

Stephen Rader said...

Shirley Heezgay - That last scene is truly incredible.

And by the by, I just checked out your blog and IT is incredible, too!