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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Notes for a Young Activist

By Aless Piper

October 28, 2011

This summer I had an awesome experience. Back in early 2010 I decided that when I got on permanent at my day job I wanted to go on a real vacation, something I had never been able to do in my adult life. So this year when it was a "sure thing" I e-mailed Olivia from TheBody.com and said, "Can we meet?!" To which she replied, with her characteristic enthusiasm which has been so valuable to me since I started blogging for TheBody.com, "Of course!"

And the months dragged by until finally I was signing an e-mail, "See you Friday!" By which I meant in three days' time, which of course caused me to get really nervous. As Edward predicted, however, everything was fine. We met for lunch at a little place that promised good food, an opportunity to talk, and aloof wait staff, and it was all kinds of awesome to sit and chat with someone I had this part of my life in common with. After that she took me back to the office and I got to meet and chat briefly with more people.

Afterwards, while in TJ Maxx with my family, I jotted down a note in my phone for this article. It says "& I looked around & thought: these people are like me." It was one of the most amazing feelings.

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What I want you to know most of all is we are out there. It's not easy, and sometimes it takes a really long time to "get better," but we need you. We need your passion, we need your voice, we need your ideas.

The thing is, you may run into a lot of opposition. Some people have this idea that activism and the pursuit of friends don't go together. And some people have very specific ideas of who can and should be a part of this movement, and if you don't fit in, tough luck. But that's bullshit.

I've been there, so whatever you do, don't give up. You will find friends who share your interests. And if you have something to say, keep saying it because someone will listen. Regardless of what the naysayers may say, young activists are the future of any movement. You are needed, and more than that, you are wanted.

My advice?

  • Talk about it. Talk about it with your teachers (you may be surprised at the opportunities your teachers can come up with), your family, your friends ... everyone. I talk politics, equality and HIV/AIDS while in the chair getting my hair done (have I mentioned my hairstylist is an incredible human being?). So rule nothing out.
  • Contact your local organization. If they're not online, consider helping them out. I follow loads of American and Canadian ASOs on Twitter and Facebook and I have to say, the ability to do so has become invaluable, and ASOs are not alone in maintaining a strong online presence.
  • Start writing about it in your school paper or in a guest post on your best friend's blog. Better yet, start your own blog and give everyone the link. Encourage debate. Get your thoughts and ideas out there. My friend Haley tells me wordpress.com is great for niche blogs.
  • Consider podcasting. I can't imagine doing it myself, but I subscribe to countless podcasts and they are an awesome source of inspiration and ideas.
  • Tweet. Participate in Follow Friday, it's some of the easiest networking you'll ever do. Share articles you find interesting (this one maybe? ;-) ) and retweet comments made by other activists. If so inclined, you can follow my tweets.

Finally, if you see something you really want in on, e-mail! The worst they can do is say no, and if they do, keep looking!

All movements need fresh voices to keep moving ... young Larry Kramer wannabes to scream about the injustice anew. Get out there. Together we can make a difference.

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See Also
10 Black HIV/AIDS Advocates Who Are Making a Difference
More HIV Activist Profiles and Personal Accounts

 

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Aless Piper

Aless Piper

Aless Piper is a 20-something office assistant by day, world-changer by night. She is a voracious reader, and addicted to iced caramel correttos from her favorite coffee shop. She has been reading TheBody.com for more than half her life.

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