World AIDS Day
Today is the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day, something I never imagined living to see. My partner and most of my gay friends are dead. I know more dead people than living.
I observe a ritual on this day. Twenty-five or more years ago, an AIDS charity offered silver bells for sale, raising money for the AIDS quilt. The handle is a replica of the AIDS ribbon, and the bell is engraved with these words: "Till It Ends." We all bought bells. The creators of the bell asked that it be rung only once a year, on World AIDS Day. So today I polished the tarnish off of it, and I rang it—for all those I loved, who are gone; for all those I miss every day; and for all those I never knew who died before there were treatments or for whom the treatments failed. I wish I could have grown old with them.
On November 20, I began my 27th year living with AIDS. In the last couple years, there has been talk of a cure, after decades in which experts believed there never could be one. I was reluctant to get my hopes up: to allow myself to believe that I might live long enough to be cured of this before I died. I was right to remain guarded. The Trump presidency is set to slash AIDS funding; it is also filled with people who hate gays, like Mike Pence, who believes that money should not be spent on AIDS research: but, instead, on curing gays of being gay. Perhaps the Germans or the French will find a cure for AIDS, as it seems unlikely that America will continue looking for one, at least for now. Twenty-seven years ago, I dreamt that Mother flew with me to Paris so that I could be cured, but Mother is gone now, too. I would still fly to Paris if the Pasteur Institute announced a cure, but it would be a lonely place to go to and a lonely journey.
I will not post a song today. I will, however, post a recording of the bell. I am having trouble with my recorder, so it may be a day or two until I post that recording.
I created "Here Life Has Death for Neighbor," the image above, in 2007. It is based on Mandelbrot fractals. The title is from Algernon Charles Swinburne's 1866 poem "The Garden of Proserpine":
Here life has death for neighbour,
And far from eye or ear
Wan waves and wet winds labour,
Weak ships and spirits steer;
They drive adrift, and whither
They wot not who make thither;
But no such winds blow hither,
And no such things grow here.