It happened here. It happened in this country and it isn't a page out of book or a film in a vault. It is actual and it is ours. We own it and we have to look at it.
There are rows of dead bodies piled up in the memories of a lost generation. There are too many bloody sheets and wasted lives and emaciated corpses of young gay 20-somethings crawling through the heart spaces of those of us who remain. And there are not enough remembrances, or red ribbons or benefits or human experiences to begin to add up to what we went through burying people and dumping their bodies on the backs of an uncaring and disengaged government.
No one heard us and no one cared. My Trans family and I lived a life of secrecy and shame and unbridled horror. For an entire decade.
And so if you're under educated or simply misinformed about what happened, I understand. I want to help. I don't want to berate or blame you, I want to help because you see, I have AIDS and I'm still standing and I can speak about it and I want to help. But if you speak from a place of ignorance or hunger for power or manipulation as a tactic, I move away. Because you see, I cannot relive it, if you do not acknowledge it. And in order for us to come to common ground, I have to manifest this plague. It is not something that comes easy for me, and so the explanation costs something. And I will not go through it again if you are listening for political gain.
President Ronald Reagan didn't utter the word "AIDS" until 1987. That's a fact that can be checked and double checked. Death had become commonplace and my closet bulked with black dresses. And recently, at the funeral of Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton decided to rewrite history and thank the former President and his spouse for "early research" in the epidemic. And then, within moments of the internal blow up in cyber space, Mrs. Clinton issued a standard apology letting us all in on the fact that she "misspoke". She did not misspeak. She lied. When you say someone's coming over for dinner to be part of the surprise birthday party, you misspeak. When you quote a belief and pretend it's a fact, you lie. And therein lies the difference. And therein lies the problem. Clinton lied. Whatever the reason, she lied and she has yet to own it. There is a difference between an Apology, and Ownership. Clinton has only said "I'm Sorry" and that is not enough for the millions we buried and the many still here. Not near enough.
And just so we're clear: Saying someone misspoke about the Reagan's involvement with the AIDS plague is like saying the Holocaust was a darn shame.
The fact that the Reagans did nothing as they lost friends from their own lives to a disease that was malignant and lethal, is not political ideology. It is historic fact.
I believe in forgiveness, as I have been forgiven often. I believe in ownership, as I continue to take it on as I make many mistakes and continue to say hurtful things I do not mean. And I believe in tribal communion, for it is because of that that I have survived. But I will not stand for unadulterated, purposeful, ill intent. I say with this with heaviness and regret, but I can only stand in the Light of those I still carry, and I can only ask the Divine for guidance as I move through my own rage and vengeance, trying to find the freedom of clarity and truth. In the mean time, I cannot bear witness to those who are deaf. And I will not support ignorance in those who claim innocence.
For now, I live with the history of the fallen, and I will continue to thrive in the present of those still here. I support the allies who's courage breeds honor and who's voice rings true, no matter what the political climate. For those are the warriors. Those are the protectors of democracy and history. Those are the chosen who still hear the fallen. And that, for me, is the prerequisite of the person who I want to lead this country.
Because it happened here. And it can never happen again.