As we observe World AIDS Day today, National Stonewall Democrats remember the many beautiful, talented, smart and wonderful people that we have lost to this horrible disease.
other disease in recent history has been as politicized and stigmatized
as HIV/AIDS. This stigma allowed millions of people around the world
to die because religious-based
bigotry and superstition. Even today, funding is hard to come by for
scientists who dare to talk about men having sex with men. It’s almost
like we have forgotten what it was like in the first, dark days of the
I haven’t forgotten.
I was living in
San Francisco when the scourge hit. Like countless other people, I
jumped right into the fray, alternating my energy between trying to get
the government to recognize the dreadful and ever-escalating dimensions
of the epidemic and caring for the sick and dying. Every day brought more death, more loss. There was barely time to grieve.
But even in grief, I banded together with others -- we made time to
fight government inaction and discriminatory laws and to educate
political allies who would work with us.
We cut our
political teeth by working to fight the ignorance, ineptitude and
sometimes willful disregard for human lives – lives of people I loved,
lives of people I miss to this day.
The bonds I
have with many of my fellow activists today were forged during that time
and I am deeply grateful for them, their drive and their commitment.
The actions we took laid the groundwork for the equality we will someday
soon achieve and those actions have been taken up and multiplied by
young people, non-gay allies and politicians who are fighting for us and
That time – the
early battles and the staggering loss – permeates my drive as a
Democratic political activist. I am proud to have pushed for legislation
locally and statewide, as well as nationally, through my involvement
with the National Stonewall Democrats. I’m proud that President Obama
has lifted the HIV travel ban and has dedicated tens of millions of
dollars to fight AIDS at home and abroad. We are fostering an
environment in the US scientific community that allows for appropriate
research of the epidemic.
Still, there is work to do.
On behalf of National Stonewall Democrats, we remember.
We recommit ourselves to work with our affiliates, elected officials in
Congress and the Administration to keep HIV/AIDS at the forefront of
the issues our community is working on.
Remember and recommit with me.
National Stonewall Democrats Board Member & Co-Chair of the Leadership Council