It's World AIDS Day.
It's scheduled at a weird time of year, isn't it? Right in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, this day dedicated to one of the deadliest plagues to beset modern humanity is often overlooked. There's shopping to accomplish! Who is really going to take a break to talk about HIV?
It's sort of a problem cropping up in recent discourse when dealing with the AIDS epidemic. The majority of visible American media is satiated on the idea that HIV is no longer deadly, a circumstance exacerbated by the white supremacist and classist notion that HIV-treatment options are available to all, an idea repudiated by the realities of racism and poverty. With all this static and all this dissonance about the nature of HIV and its consequences, it's easy to see why an ongoing scourge, which slowly murders people globally, can fall out of the public eye.
It is no longer cool nor widely acceptable to talk about HIV and AIDS in the terms that they deserve nor with the sense of urgency that the epidemic requires. Poverty-stricken indigenous South Africans are wasting away in the suburbs of Cape Town, while the advent of PrEP has convinced white middle class gay men in the United States that HIV is No Longer A Big Deal. The priorities are clear: as long as those most privileged among us (like myself) can survive, the disease is manageable.
It. Isn't. If you think it is, please talk about it with someone newly infected living in Namibia, in Chad, in Alabama... Or on the street you live, sleeping behind your dumpster.
While you gear up for the holidays, please understand that there are some that will never see the holidays again. Please understand that there are those of us who lost an entire generation of elders to this disease, leaving us bereft of wisdom and historical perspective. Keep in mind that there are those among us who miss loved ones who died too soon, too young, too... dead.
Why do we not talk about this anymore? American mainstream gay culture is busily divesting itself of its urgency in talking about HIV, while American mainstream straight culture is divesting itself of any interest in the topic whatsoever. As funds for treatment and research slowly but steadily dry up, things are beginning to look bleak for those not advantaged enough to access prevention and treatment. What do we do? What do we do while people are dying and no-one cares enough to do something about it?
The next step forward, whatever the oligarchic ruling class may tell you, is clear to anyone with a sense of logic (or compassion). The de-stigmatization of HIV is paramount to education. Education about HIV is a necessity to prevention. Prevention is necessary to saving lives.
I hope for a cure someday during my lifetime; with avid desire I wait until I'm able to stop taking these pills, these little pills that rule my little world. Until then, I hope to stay alive, and I hope that others live through this, and I know that some of the people infected don't have a chance in hell, and I'm really fucking sad about that. Capitalism and the state and AIDS have ensured their demise. I hope they pass in comfort.
I know they won't.
As long as people are more obsessed over the day after Thanksgiving than December first, AIDS will exist and will continue to kill people. Thousands of them, globally. As long as people care for profit margins and gift wrapping and the American status quo, people will die victims of narcissistic negligence at the hands of the most wealthy society in human history.
Happy World AIDS Day.
The videos here were taken on Sunday. Below in italics are the direct words of the woman who took the video. She is the woman who Ian Awesome, aka Ian Finkenbinder, assaulted on Saturday. Ian has supported violence publicly in the past.You can find the entire statement here.
Ian Awesome aka Ian Finkenbinder.
Imagine my surprise... because I wasn't even there. I didn't even know about the conference until the controversy erupted. At the time of my alleged assault, so effortlessly placed right next to allegations of rape threats (I'm absolutely positive they're not trying to accuse me of being a would-be rapist, right?), I was having dinner with five other people. On my deck. In Seattle. A three-hour drive away.
Well, my burrito-throwing arm must be a lot stronger than I thought...
I can't imagine what these people are thinking. I took place in the online debate, to include telling these disgusting human beings how horrible their politics are. However, I was nowhere near the conference, and am a distinctive-looking enough person that it would be hard for people to mistake someone else for me. I can only conjecture that they started looking for queer anarchists who appear in the media, grabbed a picture from an interview I did over a year ago, and decided to lie about who I am and what I do.
To be frank, this is an attempt to intimidate and harass voices who speak out against them online. That's cool. It doesn't work on me, and I don't know anyone who these lies would sway.
So I'm not going to get into a debate of what violence is or isn't, or what I have supported in the past (no, I have never ever stated support for violence, if you click on the link they provide I say nothing of the sort), but I would like to discuss violence and radical response to it, and how transphobia rightfully enrages those it affects.
Because let's be real, transphobic politics actually feed a larger culture of violence and destruction against trans* people. When we deny someone's identity and essentialize them to the sum of their body parts (IE, the "every person with a penis is a man"), we are actually reducing them to something less than normal, less than human. Tell me, are you more likely to assault a human? Or an inhuman object of ridicule?
In essence, the stance DGR takes against trans* folk actually and actively increases and empowers a culture that enforces gender assignment, victimizes them on the basis of their identity, and results in real-world physical, state, and institutionalized violence. Their politics aren't a difference of opinion-- they are a literal assault on trans* people. Frankly? A marker to the hand and a burrito to the head are not an immature response to a difference of opinion. It's a legitimate expression of rage, it's resistance to the violence these politics engender, it's a BASH BACK, and a humorous one to boot.
Dear DGR: Not only are you losing focus-- who the fuck even talks about your environmental work anymore? Do you even do any?-- but you're lying. I wasn't there. I didn't throw a burrito. I didn't deface anything, much less anyone's hand. The weakness of your position is frankly leaving you grasping at straws, attacking anyone you can for whatever you can make stick. What next, are you going to call the cops on me, as your bullshit group of people is so fond of doing?
While I'm owed a serious apology (sticking my picture next to allegations of rape threats is fucking disgusting, you creeps), I'm not bothered about the mischaracterization of myself as offering resistance to this bullshit.
Do I support that resistance, though? Do I support a lone, airborne burrito? Do I support bashing back?
Left comments on both the website that initially published this statement and on Cathy Brennan's website, which reblogs the statement with my picture, and thus far I have been ignored in requests for retraction. The original post, in fact, did not allow my comment with this piece to go through moderation.