Celebrate Pride 2004
Complacency is all around us, perpetuated within our own community by the very sensibilities which made it possible.
HIV is the most visible example; we can hardly afford, as the minority that has suffered the most from this insufferable virus, and upon whom for years its very existence was blamed (and initially, for whose sins its perpetuation was theorized to be divine retribution) to tempt its terrible realities. We have seen two decades of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Twenty million people have died. More than sixty million people have become infected. The majority of those newly infected today are under twenty-five.
Beyond these simple statistics lie recent research studies proving that the perpetuation of this disease is accomplished in no small part by a small handful of infected individuals who do not protect their casual sex partners. More troubling is the generational "gap" of carelessness - those who did not witness the horrible early years of the disease in this country and have germinated the erroneous construct equating AIDS survival with managed care. The medical community did not create this myth; we did. And we invented our own complacency through misinterpretation, ignorance and determined blindness.
Complicating the issue is an American government that has operationally succeeded by developing an intellectual culture of remarkably similar misinterpretation, ignorance and determined blindness amongst the American population. The Bush Administration has levied unimaginable costs upon this country’s reputation and economy even while they invent indefensible justifications for them - a war against terror in which a preemptive strike against a non-aggressive country at tremendous cost of human life is validated loosely, conveniently through fait accompli in the wake of reasonable intelligence; a deficit spooling once again into the indeterminate future exculpated by tactical politics whose short-sighted goals include the padding of $300 in the pockets of taxpayers at incredible long-term cost to both social programs and the economy at large: in effect, a return to the "trickle-down economics" that generated unimaginable debt and endangered the very health of the union in the 1980s.
And this month we celebrate Gay Pride. Already the aged jades are out on the catwalk; so far I have heard this event described as "a waste of time," "pathetic," and yet worse. As a culture of socio-political warriors, we are losing our teeth at the very moment when historic greatness lies within our grasp. We owe this year’s victories in Massachusetts and around the globe to those very few in our community who stand up for us and refuse to not be heard on our behalf, and not to a general culture of acceptance or a rallying of our kind which could and should echo the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The same cheapened appreciation haunting this country’s armed forces in the wake of Iraq now threaten our own fighters: those in our community who have not succumbed to complacency in the wake of a few major victorious skirmishes.
We should be proud. And we should be visible. Intolerance is the direct result of ignorance; ignorance is the direct result of unfamiliarity. Hiding our identities makes it easier for that determined blindness of our neighbors, our government and even ourselves to fester into hatred and socio-political warfare. This week we celebrate our refusal to accept second-class citizenship, and our continued mission towards worldwide acceptance of our rights as human beings, no matter who we love.
Celebrate Pride. Play safe. And don’t forget to vote.