"On Friday, June 5, 1981, the Centers for Disease Control Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published what would be the first report on the epidemic, based on the Los Angeles cases of pneumocystis that Drs. Michael Gottlieb and Joel Weisman had seen in the previous months."
-- Randy Shilts
And The Band Played On
I won't even bother trying to describe the mess of emotions I feel as we approach this dreadful anniversary. No doubt every long-term survivor and every longtime activist feels the same. I remember cutting that clip from the MMWR and tacking it to my bulletin board 20 years ago. I remember all my friends and lovers who died. I remember the street battles, the funerals, the bigotry, the betrayals, the courage. I remember it all.
In a few weeks we'll all be remembering, as the nation and the world pauses -- however briefly -- to note the 20th year of the pandemic. How we choose to mark this tragic milestone has been the subject of discussion around the country and observances are being planned by AIDS organizations in every city. In my opinion, the last thing we need is a month of self-congratulatory black-tie galas, fundraisers for the AIDS bureaucracy, or sentimental ceremonies.
While our hearts may be filled with many emotions, there are only two worth expressing at this perilous time: grief and rage. Grief for the millions who have died and the millions who are dying. Rage at the indifference, greed, and stupidity that permit this grotesque calamity to continue. We should cancel the cocktail parties and awards banquets and start the month of June in the streets of Washington, DC -- screaming bloody murder.