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Ribbon rot

Thinking Positive

November 1998

A guy named Art once asked me to go out with him on a Dec. 1.

I told Art that seeing him on the first of December would be impossible. Dec. 1, I explained, is World AIDS Day and World AIDS Day, as we know, is a Day without Art.

Later, I agreed to go out with him on Dec. 1 on the condition that he wear a black shroud over his head. Never heard from him again.

Today, I'd go out with a guy named Art on World AIDS Day. (Heck, in my state of desperation, I'd go out with a dog named Art on World AIDS Day.)

That's because when it comes to observing traditional AIDS holidays, I am no longer a practicing orthodox PWA.

This may be seen as heresy, but after 11 annual observances, I'm feeling a bit let down by the promised pageantry of World AIDS Day.

I realize that it can take centuries for a holiday to catch on, and that sometimes intervention from a deity is even required to goose some life into any particular day. But nothing really happens on World AIDS Day, and I am afraid that the 1998 observance will be no exception.

World AIDS Day 1998 has been heralded with a promotional campaign from the American Association for World Health to call attention to the AIDS tragedy.

What's truly tragic is that someone may have been paid for coming up with the 1998 World AIDS Day slogan:"Be a Force for Change."

I've given the "Be a Force for Change" slogan a chance. I've spent time staring in a mirror, telling myself over and over to "Be a Force for Change," placing emphasis on different syllables and using pauses to create drama.

"Be ... a force ... for change."

"Be a force ... for change."

"Be a force for ... change."

Each time I sounded like a bad impression of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Then I went up to three strangers and urged them to be "Be a force for change." Two of them said that I was a loon, and the third thought I was panhandling.

But it's not only the World AIDS Day slogan that's lame.

The official poster associated with "Be a Force for Change" depicts a mob of Lilliputians raising what looks like a piece of pasta twisted into that tired red ribbon shape. I don't know what the Lilliputians in the poster intend to do with the red ribbon but I hope that hurling it off a cliff is under serious consideration.

So I'll be sitting out this World AIDS Day. Maybe I'll call some guy named Art. Maybe I'll be a force for change after all, using my television remote control.

By the way, as a demonstration of the Clinton administration's commitment to halt the spread of AIDS, the White House will go dark for 15 minutes on Dec. 1.

I bet I know whose idea that was. I'd keep a night light burning in those windowless hallways.

This article has been reprinted at The Body with the permission of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA).

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This article was provided by AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is a part of the publication Positive Living.