Actual Reality! Act Up! Fight AIDS!

aidsday.jpg

Just back now from P’s.  I braved the weather to Downtown and back, and it was totally worth it; it always is.  I chose to take the bus, and I must say it was a very good choice.  

Today is World AIDS Day, which made for exceedingly interesting conversation around the water cooler at P’s.  By which I mean the smoking balcony, of course.  

And now, a cri de coeur.   

When he found out that I have a degree in politics, E and I got into a heated discussion.  Actually that’s not true…. E got into a heated monologue and I just smiled and nodded and took in what he was saying.  By the time he was finished and we went back inside, we were both shaking.  Me from the cold, E from an impassioned rage.  I don’t agree with everything that he had to say; in fact, I don’t even agree with the entirety of the following statement.  But I’m going to try to quote it verbatim anyway, because it hit home (pardon the pun), and reminded me of something that I think we all need to consider this December 1.  AIDS is not so far away.  Vancouver is home to some of the very best HIV/AIDS research on the planet, and it is also the city with the greatest number of IV-drug users in the Western World.  There are implications.

    “Every year on AIDS Day, all you hear is ‘Africa, Africa, we need to help people with AIDS in Africa.’  Well, people need to stop being so blind and take a look around them.  You don’t have to go to Africa to see AIDS… just look out your ****ing front door.  We’re right here.  I’M right here.  At least in Africa you can die where it’s warm.  What the **** are people supposed to do when they’re dying of AIDS in the ****ing Downtown East Side and it won’t stop raining and snowing?”   

Here’s my wish, then: Let’s be aware… let’s be aware of what our brothers and sisters are enduring in Africa, and let’s allow ourselves to be moved by that.  But let’s also be aware of what’s happening just down the road from where we live, in the places where we work and through which we travel.  I sometimes feel like linking AIDS with Africa is a way of keeping it at a ‘safe’ distance.  Well, baby, I hate to break it to you, but there is no distance.  So be aware, be moved… be uncomfortable with all of this.  And then go from there.

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