Fear.

Is lessening.
Because.
We aren’t listening.
We, the LGBT+ community, aren’t listening to our own history. We’ve been distracted by the progress made, medically, the advancements made, scientifically, and the benefits resulting, from the research. These are things to celebrate. They are things that have been life giving, life sustaining and life extending. They are modern miracles created in labs by people of determination. We, the LGBT+ community, fought for this, fought for our survival, and to the extent that these are available, we’ve begun to feel like we’ve won. But.
Fear.
Is lessening.
Because.
We aren’t listening.
We are not listening to our history. We are not listening the the lessons learned from the dark times. We are blinkered by the hope of better medications and new scientific breakthroughs. But the history of this disease isn’t only a history of scientific inquiry. It is also a social and political history.
It is a history of abandonment.
It is a history of our disposability.
It is a history of hatred.
People didn’t care. Remember that? People just didn’t care. We were dying by the thousands and people didn’t care. Our lives mattered only to us. Our community was devastated both by disease and by the indifference of others. AIDS became a joke attached to our community. Remember those ugly one liners? Remember the laughter. We were dying and they were laughing.
Punishment. They called the disease a just punishment. For the sin of loving. For the sin of forbidden touch. Our world was falling around us. We couldn’t keep up with the deaths. And we were told it was our fault. We were unnatural. We were singularly sinful. We were hated by a just God who finally was taking his wrath out on us. We were dying and they were delighting in our deserved fate.
Research and resources were made available grudgingly. “Let them all die,” was the angry response to spending dollars to find a cure or a way to extend life after diagnosis. We had brought it on ourselves with our filthy lifestyle and dollars shouldn’t be spent that would end up just encouraging more of that behaviour. The behaviour of loving.
It was the behaviour of loving that galvanized us to fight back. Activists took to the streets. People living with and people dying of AIDS became spokespeople, advocated with a strength that astonished everyone. We took each others ungloved hands, and we marched forward. The behaviour of loving is an amazing force.
Fear.
Is lessening.
Because
We aren’t listening.
History tells us that attitudes towards us can turn on a dime. We may have pride parades, we may have become a consumer group, we may be able to marry – but all it takes is a crisis. Of any sort. And the hatred is back. Hurricanes his Florida? Gays caused those. Earthquakes shake the west coast. Gays cause those too. We even have the power to cause freezing cold weather.
The hate isn’t gone.
It’s just parked.
It’s just waiting to be mobilized.
It’s waiting for our complacency.
But the lessons of our history, remembered today World AIDS day, are important. We need to remember the strategies of resistance, the methods of channeling outrage into change and the ways of coming together. We need to remember the feel of our hands joined together in community. We need to remember those that were lost, those we are still losing, and we must remember them in context of the times in which they lived. The time of laughing and hatred and blame. They died, many of them, to the scorn of the world.
We must remember their scorn.
We must remember their hatred.
We must remember their cruelty.
Because it’s coming again.
Fear.
Maintains vigilance.
When.
We’ve listened.
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