Even as I, a recorder of our struggle for more than a decade, write this, a clique of white, gay, middle-class, HIV-positive professionals are declaring me as obsolete as Shirley Temple.
(Even though I too am a white, gay, middle-class, HIV-positive professional playwright.)
Even as you, newly diagnosed or long stuck in a bed, read this, they are declaring you as obsolete as Shirley Temple. Will those of you who do not find a miracle in protease inhibitors become an invisible minority -- never to appear on 60 Minutes or the front page of The New York Times? Have we come full circle? Will the wasting syndrome be a crime? PCP a sin? A low T-cell count beyond the pale?
Even as this magazine goes to print, it is declared as obsolete as Shirley Temple. The magazine of the future, predicated on the testimonies of all these reborn now-negative men will be called Undetectable. (No firsthand stories about fatigue, nausea, blindness, depression, insanity, or death, please. And, for sure, no photos of anyone, even famous, with KS.)
Protease inhibitors have not stopped my need for God's Love We Deliver. Nor my need for a part-time home aide. And certainly not ADAP. As all these professionals speak out on television and in print about new hope, going back to work, getting off benefits, what class of people do we as long-time survivors surviving in spite our damned debilitating symptoms become? Failures? Unclean? Tough-luckers? Poor?
Why am I not happier for these men? More optimistic about this "miracle?" Will I prove unfaithful to the more than 100 needless deaths I witnessed in the past 15 years? Am I jealous because the protease inhibitors probably came along too late for me? Because I am afraid of losing benefits during the time I have left? Yes -- but there is more.
Generations brought up on Carol Burnett's insipid rendering of Temple's coyness missed the whole point. Housebound, I have seen during the past year every picture the short-dressed, thigh-revealing, stomach-rubbing, puckered-lipped Lolita made. Her songs are incidental, though some will amaze you with their seductiveness. For what we see in almost every one of her films made during the Great Depression is a background of adults in terrible trouble.
I hope the protease inhibitors don't sing and dance so loud that the rest of us just fade out. God forgive me my history and my caution, but I don't think our "cocktail" is as perfect as a "Shirley Temple" -- nor are we on "The Good Ship Lollipop!
This article was provided by Body Positive. It is a part of the publication Body Positive.