When the economy tanked last year five months before our major event, the first thing I worried about was not the global economy but rather who would buy the custom Armani suit at our upcoming auction. It sucks, but that’s the truth. We had a lot of money to raise and without it a lot of homeless people with AIDS were going to stay homeless. Unlike the Fortune 500 CEO’s who could get a parachute out of hell, I couldn’t ask for a bailout because no one had money to bid on lunch with Tim Gunn. Just imagine me marching up to Bernanke shaking my Tim Gunn bobble head doll at him and demanding a cool million!
Like the heads of most AIDS organizations, I am shameless in my quest to raise as much money as we need to get the job done- get people living with HIV/AIDS into housing, healthcare and services. Survival depends on it. And so does national HIV/AIDS policy. Yeah, that’s right: some of us are changing from our activist drag into our red cocktail dresses and blond wigs — oh wait that’s another party — I mean some of us are changing from our activist drag to our black suits and heels and going to the White House to talk to the President’s men about National HIV/AIDS Policy . It only took 29 years but I guess we should be grateful for any change, even one that came with a price tag of 30 million deaths globally.
Hey, isn’t AIDS over? Can’t we focus on normal stuff like getting married and serving in the army? Some things change but still stay the same … until we get it right. With 56, 000 new HIV infections strong and still coming each year, we still have a lot to do. Perhaps a paradigm change, since who gets infected and dies has changed since 1981. One third of young gay men of color are infected every year. AIDS is now the leading cause of death of black women ages 24-40. More gay men over 50 are getting infected now than ever before. And when the numbers are counted here in the US, there are a lot of LGBT bodies on the line. Still.
In the next few weeks at the height of the economic depression, the war on Afghanistan and the vote on healthcare reform, thousands of HIV/AIDS advocates are meeting with the Obama administration and at town meetings around the nation to craft a strategy to end AIDS. Ending AIDS will take courage. Ending AIDS will mean controversy. It will mean talking graphically about gay sex, injection drug use, sex work, and transgender people. Ending AIDS will mean being willing to fund syringe exchanges, comprehensive HIV/AIDS housing and legalizing sex work. Ending AIDS will require us to create healthcare access and decrease health disparities, create and implement comprehensive a no holes barred (excuse the pun) HIV/AIDS curricula in every school district in America. Ending AIDS will piss off the right, “vulnerable” politicians and anyone else willing to sacrifice human life for political correctness. If you thought healthcare reform debate was vigorous, wait till they start talking barebacking on Capitol Hill.
Image Credit: LizaWasHere