Though AIDS doesn't make the news every night like it did back in its hellday, there are still over 33 million people living with it worldwide. One and a half million of them here in North America. We know how to prevent it (keep your fluids to yourself), yet ex-president George Bush writes an op-ed published in the Washington Post today about the state of AIDS and doesn't even mention condoms.
Today, for World AIDS Day, I thought we could take a moment and remember some of the brilliant minds we've lost to the disease. Most of the people we've lost didn't leave legacies on YouTube or even Facebook, but here are some of the folks who did.
David Wojnarowicz was a brilliant artist as well as being a fanfuckingtastic writer. If you haven't read it, please pick up a copy of Close to the Knives. Here's a piece that Choire Sicha just ran on The Awl--apparently that thug Bill Donohue convinced the National Portrait Gallery to remove this video Wojnarowicz did with AIDS activist/amazing diva, Diamanda Galas, from their collection, claiming ants crawling on a cross constituted hate speech. (NSFW)
There will never be another human like Klaus Nomi.
AIDS didn't just kill men, it also took (and continues to take) many women. Cookie Mueller was an artist/writer/actress and she died in 1989 when she was only 40 years old. This is a portrait Nan Goldin took of her.
Everyone's heard of Robert Mapplethorpe, but if you want to feel like you know Robert Mapplethorpe, pick up Patti Smith's riveting memoir of their relationship, Just Kids.
The sports world has also been affected by AIDS. Magic Johnson shows us how effective the right drugs can be (for those lucky enough to afford them), but unfortunately they came too late for tennis great, Arthur Ashe, who passed away in the early 90s.
Fucking Freddy Mercury.
There are so many more, I could keep going all day--the fabulous Leigh Bowery, sadly closeted Rock Hudson, evil Roy Cohn (hey, not everyone who died of AIDS was worthy of tears), artist Keith Haring, and millions of others nobody's ever heard of.
If you want to help with a donation of time or money, here are some worthy organizations:
The Seattle-based Lifelong AIDS Alliance provides food and support to people living with AIDS and can always use your donation.
Gay Men's Health Crisis provides education about prevention, care and support for PWAs.
The YWCA offers a peer-support group for women living with AIDS in Seattle called "Babes Network."
People of Color Against AIDS Network is in Seattle, Tacoma and Yakima.
Rise 'n' Shine
Rise 'n' Shineprovides help to teens and children living with AIDS.