Over One Thousand people gathered together Tuesday Night at Dallas Breathtaking New Winspear Opera House to take a look back at the thirty years since our community and our world was changed by the disease now known as AIDS. The best and the brightest of Dallas' Arts Community gently guided us down the road this community has traveled over the past thirty years since the onset of the Pandemic. It was an important reminder an albeit not all of the memories were easy ones, Winston Churchill once said, “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” There are amazing lessons our community learned from our fight against AIDS and it is so important that we never forget.
Through song, interpretive dance, ballet, poetry and spoken word we were guided through the past thirty years of the most significant contributor to our history. If it had not been for the struggle to save the lives of our brothers and sisters from this disease we would not have discovered the amazing strength and resilience that has lead us to where we are today. Prominent on television, in the halls of congress, in churches and even in some states legally married.
It took the blood of many before us, who I dare say didn't even know the contribution they were making to bring us to where we are today. The LGBT community of today enjoys a life and opportunities that we never had the audacity to expect just twenty years ago. We dreamed it, but I don't know that we expected it would be reality.
The fundraiser with One Hundred Percent of proceeds (over $60,000 and counting) benefitting AIDS ARMS, AIDS Interfaith Network AIDS Services of Dallas and Resource Center of Dallas was a non-stop evening of entertainment featuring such beloved Dallas Arts Luminaries as Denise Lee, Gary Lynn Floyd and The Turtle Creek Chorale.
Through songs like “Lean On Me,” “Seasons of Love” and “I Will Miss Loving You” we were gently reminded of those who have gone before us while leaving the world a better place because of their lives. At the same time there was hope throughout the program, reminders of the amazing progress that has been made.
Highlights included a reading from Larry Kramer's “A Normal Heart,” a chilling rendition of “Ave Maria” by John Holiday, “ a tear producing “We Shall Overcome” sung by Rachel Dupard and Damon K. Clark brough recreated all the emotion of the original version of Bette Midler's “I Think It's Going to Rain Today.”
It was also nice to see some of the people who have been in the fight with us. Former Mayor Laura Miller, Council Member Velleta Forsythe Lill and Fox 4 Anchor Clarice Tinsley were sweet reminders of those who while not a member of our community have allied themselves with us throughout these past thirty years.
Walking down that road again I found myself thinking of my friend Brian Bradley. Brian was an amazing man, with amazing energy and passion for the men and women of our community. I was very blessed to call him friend.
Brian was fired from his job as a scrub tech at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston when he came out publicly as HIV positive. Brian Filed suit against the hospital to be reinstated and preached the message well ahead of its time that all the hysteria surrounding this disease was unwarranted. He reasoned that in the sterile setting of an operating room “universal precautions” were always in use. Everyone in the room from the patient to the operating team were to be assumed HIV positive so that all were always protected. Today this is common practice.
I remember so many times being on the phone with Brian and he would have to call me back because there was a call from Time or 60 Minutes on the other line. His activism became a full time job and because of his efforts and the efforts of so many like him today HIV is a manageable disease, and in six states gay men and lesbians can legally marry.
It was the in your face take no prisoners attitude that has brought us to where we are today. In the days of Ronald Reagan, a President who didn't even mention AIDS until six years into the crisis, radical action was the only way we were going to get anywhere. The world was very different then, this was before Will & Grace, before Modern Family. In the Eighties there was one gay character on TV and Steven on Dynasty was Bisexual at best.
In the early days there was very little news coverage, there were no celebrities lining up to host fundraisers. Every dime that was raised was raised by drag queens pulling every dollar they could from our community at fundraiser after fundraiser in gay and lesbian bars all over the country. What was not raised by our own community we had to fight for from the government and drug companies and this was most often accomplished by outrageous and often ingenious activism.
I am very fond of the time ACT UP put a huge condom on the front lawn of homophobic Senator Jesse Helms home. There were many positive actions as well. On of the brightest was the creation of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. In June of 1987, a small group of strangers gathered in a San Francisco storefront to document the lives they feared history would neglect. Their goal was to create a memorial for those who had died of AIDS, and to thereby help people understand the devastating impact of the disease.
Today there are over 44,000, three by six foot quilted panels that have been sewn together by lovers, friends and Families to remind the world of the precious lives taken by this disease. The quilt has grown so large that the last time it was able to be completely displayed was on the National Mall in 1996.
As we get caught up in our day to day lives it is easy to forget where we've been but in remembering we find gratitude for where we are and that is an amazing blessing. The Gathering gave us the opportunity to reflect, respect, remember and I think most importantly be grateful.
I am grateful for Brian Bradley, who I am sure had no idea his fight for his job would lead to the fight for marriage equality. But it did. If not for his courage, his in your face activism then, today's activists would not have had his example to follow. I remember sitting in Brian's Living Room one night and he looked me straight in the eye and said, “If the neighbor's house is on fire, I will apologize later for breaking the door down to get them out, but I am going in.” He did and we are all better off because he did.
Comment by Thiago on 2012-09-14 18:53:42
Theoretically, yes. However, the risk of HIV transmission is aclatuly very low for most methods of transmission. The data shows that the highest risk for getting HIV from a single exposure to a person with a known, untreated case of HIV is to be on the receiving end of anal intercourse and that risk is only 2%. Sounds pretty low but considering the consequences of HIV infection it's still a considerable risk.The risk of getting HIV after getting stuck once with a needle used on an HIV positive person is 0.3%. I couldn't find specific data on drinking blood, but the closest thing I could find is that the risk of getting HIV from receptive oral intercourse with a male is 0.04%. Seeing as sperm has the highest concentration of HIV virus of all body fluids, followed by blood, I think the risk from drinking an HIV infected person's blood is somewhere in the neighborhood of a little less than 0.04%. It would also depend on how much they drank the more they drank, the higher the risk.Hopefully this has satisfied your curiosity.
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