December 1, 2013
This post is for World AIDS Day 2013. It is in honor of those who call me, or make appointments with me to finally disclose your status, for those who read my blog posts on TheBody.com, and reach out to me. It is a post for all who are contemplating coming out from wherever you are. You are loved and supported!
I love this song, and as I think about this being the 25th year of celebrating World AIDS Day, I think about Warren, my deceased husband ... I think about stigma ... discrimination ... and fear.
I don't think I would be as verbal as I am today, if it were not for Warren (tear sting -- I WILL NOT CRY!) ... and how silence, shame and I am sure, fear consumed him. I refused to be consumed by this disease in that way.
I have had several friends come out this past year. From where? Some closet. It doesn't matter which one: They were living with some sort of fear, were living in painful silence about who they were -- or the diagnosis of being HIV+. I watched them be brave, and it made me so happy! It made me happy because I could see and know how freeing it was for them to do so!
Remembering those who have died in silence ... who suffered because to be brave would've cost them their friends, their relationships ... would've cost them their jobs, their insurance. To be brave cost some their lives. We give thanks for their bravery.
"Innocence your history of silence
Won't do you any good
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don't you tell them the truth?"
Thirty-two years later ... there is still stigma, still discrimination, still fear -- but for the most part, many are telling the truth, and finding the freedom that comes from letting go of that which binds us. And sadly there are others, who are not able to. To do so would still cost them their jobs, their relationships, their family, their insurance ... for them, it is up to the activists to be brave for them.
If you cannot say what you wanna say ... we will say it for you!
It is my hope that if you feel safe enough, if you have a good support system, if you are tired of holding on to that burden -- if it doesn't put you in jeopardy ... that you will ...
"Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave!"
And if you can't be brave right now, we understand and love you anyways! (In memory of Warren Ingram -- my "Mr. Rogers".)
Rev. Andrena Ingram (also known as "Pastor Andrena" or "Pastor Ingram") is a strong advocate for those living in the margins, as she once was. She is the pastor of St. Michael's Lutheran Church on Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia, Pa.
Read Pastor Andrena's blog Is the Ribbon Enough?