In the middle of the second great pandemic of my lifetime I am once again posting a blog entry that first appeared here in 2006 – 25 years into that first pandemic. AIDS had been largely ignored during that period. By 2005 the powers that be had begun to pay attention to a virus that had to that point claimed the lives of 20 million people – 1.7 million in the previous year (2004) alone. Now it was being seen in the general population rather than in just a marginalized section of society. Despite progress that pandemic is still going on: in 2019 over 1.7 million people became newly infected with HIV and 690 000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses.
Christopher at Everything is Not Real was a upwardly mobile London party boy – if his posts were to be believed – who wrote frequently about his escapades on the town. Every once in a while he would write a post that cut through the frivolity and hit at the heart. This post did that on December 5, 2005 and continues to do fourteen years later.
December 1, 2005
I have lottery fantasies.
I dream about being able to buy fast cars and designer clothes until they come out of my ears. I want houses in London, New York, East Hampton and Rio. I want to be able to travel first class and work out at The Third Space and get reservations at Annabel’s just because of who I am. I want to be able to take hot dates on tours of the National Gallery. When it’s closed. Because I’m one of it’s biggest benefactors.
Needless to say, twice a week, I am disappointed.
This morning, on the way to work on the tube, I was reading a Times article, written by Annie Lennox, about the millions and millions of people in Africa who are suffering with HIV and AIDS, and dying, and how the governments of the richer nations, such as the one I live in, have pledged support over an eight year period. And how they absolutely must stay committed to this goal.
One of the kids she spoke to on a recent trip to Africa was dying of AIDS. But before he got sick he lost his mother, father, brothers, sisters and pretty much everyone else he cared about to the same disease. He was totally alone in the world. With no hope. And certainly no dreams of fast cars or a nice comfortable house, anywhere. And that shit isn’t even near the important stuff.
There are approximately 6,450,000,000 humans on Earth.
Most of them are not 33 year olds who have careers which afford them access to guest lists to the best clubs and bars the city has to offer. They don’t have friends who will stick with them no matter what (and slip them Jil Sander dress shirts every now and then). They don’t have housemates who have Thai cuisine prepared and ready to eat when they arrive home. They don’t have comfortable beds to sleep in at night.
When I think about it I kinda did win the lottery.
Christopher – Everything Is Not Real
Each time I prepare this entry for posting I am reminded of how many of us have won the lottery. And perhaps this year it has an added meaning with this current pandemic. I am relieved to say that I only know two people, out of the many I know around the world, who have contract COVID-19.
I only wish that I could say that of the AIDS pandemic.
In those first bleak years I lost and wept for colleagues, former lovers, friends and friends who were as close as family. Other loved ones contracted the virus but fought and survived, not an easy fight in those early days. Some of those fighters finally lost that fight but other continue their fight and have vowed to live to 100.
I wonder if the world had taken notice or cared then the way they are doing with this new pandemic how different things would have been. But that is idle speculation – past conditional – and perhaps even given the current situation an unfair comparison. What unsettled me today was what seems to be a return to indifference towards the AIDS pandemic. Nowhere on the news today – radio, websites even the Google doodle – could I find a reference to today being World AIDS Day. A day when we should be bringing attention to and education people about a pandemic that has devastated families, communities, and the world for the past 40 years. Yes I received reminders from several AIDS organizations and Broadway Cares but from the mainstream not a word. Have we become so complacent about it that AIDS no longer merits consideration. And yet it continues to spread – there has been an increase in cases of 25% in the last four years in Canada alone. We cannot allow indifference and complacency to diminish the seriousness and impact of a disease that has infected over 57.7 million people and killed upwards of 32.7 million. Because we have won the lottery does not mean we can forget those who lost.
As always this is in memory of those loved and lost: Gary, Brian, Lawrence, Doug, Bill, Andrew, Pierre, Jim, Don, Billy and so many others. And for those who have lost the lottery but fight the battle with our help and love.
The word for December 1st is:
Indifference /inˈdif(ə)rəns/: [noun]
1.1 Lack of interest, concern, or sympathy.
Late Middle English (in the sense ‘being neither good nor bad’): from Latin indifferentia, from in- ‘not’ + different- ‘differing, deferring’ (from the verb differre ). Extended sense of “apathetic, no more inclined to one thing than to another” first recorded early 15c.; that of “neither good nor bad” is from 1530s, on notion of “neither more nor less advantageous,” but since 17c. it has tended toward “rather bad.”