What Larry Kramer, inspired so profoundly by Hannah Arendt, demonstrated is that the importance of our voices -- of speaking our minds and our truths, of organizing, of acting up and out -- can mean the difference between life and death. Which brings us to the situation in Russia.
"Did I ever tell you about the night that Emil died?" my brother Richard asked me. It was 1992, and AIDS had taken Richard's lover a full three years earlier. The death ended a love affair that had lasted more than a decade.
Most of my young gay friends are uninterested in the history of my membership in ACT UP, but a few, like Jake, are curious, even insistent. I answer their questions and try to explain what it was like to be 25 in the East Village in 1989.
Spencer Cox's death triggered an awareness that remaining unconnected (and silent) was no longer effective in dealing with the trauma and sorrow of the AIDS crisis. So former members will converge on a Greenwich Village club to reconnect -- and perhaps settle on a strategy.
I reached out to both those who directly faced the onslaught of HIV/AIDS and those who are younger who have never known a world without it, to find out how 32 years of HIV/AIDS have affected their lives. Here are 32 voices on the 32nd year of AIDS.
Some were there to thank the San Francisco AIDS Foundation or the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. Some were there to support a family member, friend or co-worker who is battling HIV/AIDS. Others were there in remembrance of lives lost. All ride all in solidarity to raise funds to end the epidemic.
On Friday, I have the honor of moderating an incredible panel discussion on the progress that has been made to understand AIDS, how that was accomplished, and what it will take to finally end the AIDS epidemic.
Many of us AIDS-generation survivors in some way have unprocessed grief, or guilt, or an overwhelming sense of abandonment from a gay community that turned its back on us and increasingly stigmatizes us, all in an attempt to pretend that AIDS isn't its problem anymore.
Recently I attended a forum titled "Is This My Beautiful Life?" It focused on the veterans of the front lines of AIDS: activists and survivors. Like veterans of Vietnam and Iraq, many have not fully recovered. I seem to have. However, there's a deep grief that fills my heart.
All of us who were in the trenches of the AIDS war are today dealing with the grief and the survivor guilt. Many are grappling with deeper scars and something akin to post-traumatic stress. But unlike for veterans of other wars, there isn't any built-in support system for us.
In my upcoming book, The AIDS Generation, I share the life stories of 15 remarkable gay men who bravely navigated the pioneering days of the AIDS epidemic, a time when many of us had very limited understandings of the disease and few viable options for fighting the virus.
This is my call -- from a poor nation to history makers -- to be the generation who can change the course of history. Let's march mercilessly against TB, HIV and malaria. In an age of vaccines, antibiotics and dramatic scientific progress, these diseases can be brought under control.
When I hear that phase I'm more likely to think of a service that wasn't on Easter, a funeral for a guy who died too young and had insisted that no matter when death came, we were to sing "Jesus lives!"
In med school, future physicians are trained to look for the prosaic horse -- not the exotic zebra -- when making diagnoses. So I've been told, variously, that I'm a migraineur, a hypochondriac, a schizophrenic. But I'm none of those: I'm a zebra.
Those of us who tackled the AIDS epidemic head-on are facing a new plague -- the one that likely killed Spencer Cox. As yet unnamed, it manifests in aimlessness, depression, broken relationships, substance abuse, unsafe sex and suicide.
Recently I sat down with designer Michael Bastian, who received this year's Style Vault Award from my organization, Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), for his generous support and for his exemplary talent in the fashion industry.
On Saturday, Dec. 8, we bore witness to our "angels in America" -- our continuum of GMHC families. First stop: the Harlem Children's Zone, the location of the annual holiday party for families that GMHC works with who are living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.
Often the love between gay men is not romantic or sexual but the love of brothers. I have had that many times, and in one case in particular, it was with a man I consider my my spiritual and emotional twin.
Scientific advances and their successful implementation -- as well as the leadership of the United States -- have brought us to the brink of an AIDS-free generation. The last 10 years have seen tremendous progress and millions of lives saved -- and we can't stop fighting now.
As we observe World AIDS Day, I find it perplexing that few seem willing to embrace or even mention the epidemic that so greatly affected and altered the LGBT community. What is it about that era that frightens us so?