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Thursday, December 1, 2011

World AIDS Day: Do Ask, Do Tell

It's been thirty years since a rare cancer was noticed in homosexual men, and on this World AIDS Day I think about the loss many people in my generation don't feel because they didn't see their friends dropping dead left and right. Neither did I for that matter, but I've done many things to inform myself of what happened back then, and I devoted several years of my life in service to the HIV/AIDS community both as a volunteer and employee.

Because I LOVE music and harbor a secret desire to be a transgender singing sensation, I always find myself imagining what the world would be like if AIDS had not taken Sylvester from us. I remember being a teenager and staying up late to watch HBO because that's when the more "mature" content came on. There was a clip of a troupe of drag queens in New York dancing to a song that I found so captivating, which turned out to be "You Make Me Feel Mighty Real". The image of them dancing freely and being themselves etched itself in my mind, and at the time I had no clue who sang the song.

Years later, I of course found out all about Sylvester and what happened to him, and in the process discovered other artists, such as Klaus Nomi, who were enormously creative and also taken from us by this dreaded disease. I can never imagine what it must have been like in those early days, but I am glad that I have taken the time to honor those who were around then and ask them for their story. My generation of GLBT folk benefits from what they went through and the pain they felt that sprung them into action.

Today I will celebrate those who have left us, be thankful for those who are still with us, and most of all, and honor those who have fought and are fighting this dreaded disease.

So, in celebration, here is one of my favorite clips of Sylvester

And here is a clip from Frontline: The Age of AIDS chronicling those early, early days. You can also watch the whole program online, and it is well worth it.

If you don't remember those days...ask somebody. If you do remember those days, don't let the rest of us forget.

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