I Remember…

I remember every tear, every minute of howling despair, every hour of rage, frustration and hopelessness. I remember the name and face of everyone I lost. The years I spent working my pumps till my toes would bleed to raise money for hospice and outreach projects. Then progress came – not a cure, but treatment to manage the living hell. Things got better, at least a little. Then the combination therapies and things got a little better still. And I started to hope. And then I saw what I feared most – that the young wanted to push it all into the darkness of history. Thinking as we once did, that they were 10 feet tall and bullet-proof.
And the monster came back out of the shadows… and again, the cycle repeated. Now so many live a dual mindset to HIV/AIDS – part of them accepts that the disease is a fact of life, something that will never go away… but they prefer not to think about it, nor confront the behaviors that keep the plague going. Another part of them refuses the disease, and rejects those stricken by it no matter how healthy they are otherwise. They live in denial, squeezing their eyes shut tight, putting their fingers in their ears, and shout the latest Gaga trype to drown the voice of those of us who do not want them to endure this hell.
We’ve endured enough of it for generations to come, yet we do not want your pity. We do not want your empty platitudes, nor hollow memes. We want you to learn from our torment, our mistakes, our losses. Learn, arm yourselves, and fight beside us. For 30+ years I have fought, the last 25 years as a positive person and long-term survivor. I do not want your tears, nor your anger, your empty praise nor your well-meaning but missing-the-point “respect.” All I want is for you to take my hand, stand beside me and make this the last generation to bear this burden.
Survivors of the 80’s AIDS Crisis

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