May 2, 2011
HIV drama-writing queen (Bitter Fruit, for example), positive for 26 years.
June 5, 2011, marks 30 years since the first published accounts of what
became known as AIDS. For this anniversary, we asked 31 long-term
survivors who’ve appeared in POZ what moves and sustains them and
whether they think they’ll live to see a cure. Why 31? One for each
year, and one more for good luck.
What’s the most helpful thing anyone has said to you over your years living with HIV?
“Something shared never gets lost. It finds its way returning to you.”
This reflection was a reminder of something said to me by someone special: “The profound should never get lost in the questions. Dreams reflect the surreal, and the beauty of something never escapes.” I think of the song “Imagine” by John Lennon.
When beauty is expressed—as with art, articulated authenticated—unexpected, minute moments can affirm human understanding.
What is your refuge from thinking about and dealing with your health?
Sports—especially the Lakers! Rare and whimsical splashes of nature—wildlife species, pink ambient delphiniums, a cup of native naturals. I am fueled by memories of places and things like my favorite, the Chelsea Hotel, and winter at 20 degrees in New York City. The music of Fela and Minnie Riperton and so many others.
One main source of inspiration for me is socially responsible designers and artists.
What one thing has most aided your survival, and how difficult is it to overcome
Stigma has a different appearance today, as it is even more complicated by race, gender, class and all the factors that impact identity. But I believe we are starting to see some shared similarities in our lives. If so, this is a shift that will help us return to human growth and advancement for social causes.
Do you think there will be a cure in your lifetime—and if so, will
you benefit from it?
Science, biology and the natural world might surprise us. We should all dream, but that is not the only reality; it is complicated by the dispossession of those who have been and are historically oppressed. But change will impact each of us for generations to come.
What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed?
“What gives you meaning? How do you see this working for you even when it might not appear to be? Are you willing to understand and accept life as you have been born into it?”
I’d also say, “We have to sort through the imperfections in our lives. Always feel the beauty resonate within.”
to read this article as it
appeared in the June 2011 issue.
read more of our "30 Years of AIDS" coverage.
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