“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”
I was talking with my best friend Catherine this evening and at the end of the conversation I realized that we are odd.
Odd (in my world) is good.
My friend and I live unconventional lives. I think that many people living with HIV live unconventional lives, but we live them in tiny enclaves, hidden away from the world. Convention means conformity and “normalness”: hunting for picket fences and station wagons with the wood on the side. Convention means “fitting in” and while I’ve said that I don’t fit in, I’ll admit there was a certain internalized shame to that.
I’ve come to a different conclusion.
Fitting in is boring: boring and traditional and ultimately irresponsible.
The AIDS world (or industry) is bereft of non-conformists in my mind. More and more we are suiting ourselves into the cookie cutter molds imposed on us by funders. We no longer drive the agenda and voice what is required: we bah like sheep and we bend like reeds in a stiff breeze. We are not like water that finds the way around things and smashes through things: we are happily pressed against the dam of stigma and intolerance and we shut ourselves up lest we rock the boat.
We don’t “act up”.
We need more unconventional people. We need the sacred clowns to dance backward. We need the outlandish drag queens and kings and the loud-mouthed bitches and the chaining themselves to things-spitting on Premiers’ wives activists that once made this movement a movement.
The AIDS “movement” now, is imperceptible.
I put a book online. I am not Margaret Atwood, nor will I ever be, and I’m selling like I’m not Margaret Atwood. I write this tiny little blog once every few weeks and it goes unnoticed in the larger scheme of the AIDS industry. If there is no funding in it, we are not interested in it. If there is no sex in it we are not interested.
We are increasingly interested in the short term titillation of online sex blogs, fabulous diseases and whatever else is “au courante”. But that which is au courante is neither interesting in the long term, nor does it add to the vibrancy of the movement, if there is any movement left.
World AIDS Day is becoming another way to promote what the health authorities desire from us – we do not drive the car here: the health authorities and pharmas do that for us now. People living with HIV are impotent passengers and we’ve made it that way ourselves. We have given our voice to people who don’t know the grief and fear, and we’ve done it well.
We have ceased to be unconventional and that saddens me. There is so much left to be done and so little time in which to do it before we are swallowed whole and carried along with the tide like so much effluent.