Holding Steady Without Screaming
This program opens with the filmmaker's personal involvement in documenting AIDS activism and with the The Denver Principles, the self-empowerment declaration of People with AIDS: "We are not passive participants in this plague."
The program documents the political landscape of AIDS, from the activist response to the Gulf War (and the Media's complicity) in how a country spends its resources; to Ronald Regan's lack of acknowledgment of AIDS until 1985 (where he equates AIDS with morality); through George Bush and up to Clinton's ("at least they expect me to do something") presidency; and to the state Governor and city's Mayor.
Activists target AIDS as a political crisis. "The decisions made on how a country's resources are spent are political decisions." Activism is about taking control of one's life and effecting change in society. "Activism is about not becoming a 'victim' to this disease."
Holding Steady Without Screaming
( I cant scream because I have to hold the camera steady )
I was born and raised in the Northern Great Plains. When I came to New York in 1976, I fell in love with the city and stayed. When I tested positive of HIV antibodies in 1990, I turned towards activism to learn all I could. What AIDS activism has taught me fundamentally was self-empowerment we are not passive participants.
I am supposed to talk about myself. And I am not sure how to pull it off. How on earth am I supposed to cram what I feel into a few minutes? Am I more than a virus? I guess not.
I am not the face of AIDS. I am not dead yet. But I do have enough of an imagination to realize if I am not run over by bicycle, or dead by a heart attack, or stabbed to death by any random violence against queers, I can imagine myself a collection of infections emaciated, grey skin, feeble, blind and incontinent. I dont like this picture.
And how many friends you see hear are dead now? Is anyone out there fighting AIDS? We have thugs controlling the city, the state, and the whole freakin country. We are in worse shape than we have ever been, and things are getting worse.
Instead of silence equals death, the lesbian and gay community took "pride" this year with the theme "From Silence to Celebration." This is what we are left with.
ACT UP is dead in the water [visuals from Aldyn McKean Political Funeral, Yokohama Bay, 1994 International AIDS Conference]. Film festivals have AIDS "retrospectives" -- as if the fight against AIDS is over.
I cant celebrate. And I dont feel part of any community.
I dont think very much will be done about AIDS for a very long time. I think it will be a very long time before threre's ever enough people mobilized to bring about any kind of change. I have probably been infected with HIV for almost 20 years by now. And I think my time is about to run out. I dont think I could take much suffering, illness, or hospitalization. I could see me burying myself in some hole in the woods and disappearing, or pouring a can of gasoline and lighting myself on fire in front of some government building, cathedral or bureaucrats house.
One World Screen Festival
XI International Conference on AIDS, Vancouver
Friday, July 5, 1996 9:00 pm
Judge White Theatre
800 Robson Street, Vancouver BC Canada