December 3, 2011 Leave a comment
Here I am with musician/lead singer Dan Gillespie-Sells of band THE FEELING who attended The LONDON AIDS MEMORIAL LOVE LETTERS Launch on 29th November 2011.
Lucky me! Such a supportive guy.
This year 2011 has been my 10th World AIDS Day as one of the survivors of this wicked ugly disease. I went a long time undiagnosed, flying under the radar so to speak but this disease even then unknowingly of my own status has had a massive impact on me. Not in the sense that I had lost anyone close to me, I’d never met anyone Positive until I was diagnosed. But I watched as many others on the TV the sad deaths of Rock Hudson, the papers reporting that Freddie Mercury had AIDS in those big scary letters filling the headline of the paper and the next day when it was reported that he, too, had died, I felt like I had lost someone. I didn’t know Freddie Mercury on a personal basis, but he had given me the Music through my childhood into adulthood which I have passed onto my son. I remember seeing ‘Queen’ in concert, it was the most wonderful experience ever and even now when I think about it I remember the adrenaline rush as the music started and the lightshow, the trepidation of everyone around me. We all for that concert had so much in common which was our admiration for These Rock Gods, as I like to call them. I loved the showmanship, the glitz, the glamour.
I think myself in some ways that not being diagnosed sooner has in some way been kinder for me as had I’d been diagnosed all those years ago, I would have come into contact with lots of Positive People and would have been bonding friendships and sadly watching this disease take these people from me. As I see and hear from other people I know when they talk about their losses and the many Funerals they attended and how frightening it was to call anyone as worried that they too may have died?
Yes, I have been spared these painful memories but I can relate and feel that we have to Honour all of these people. This is why I have gotten involved with The London AIDS Memorial as I think it’s long overdue. We need somewhere that we can go to remember that this disease has taken so many lives, all different Races, different Genders, different Sexual Orientations, different ages, different backgrounds. This Memorial is not only for the Dead, but extremely important for the ones still trying to survive this cruel disease and a constant reminder to Raise Awareness that HIV/AIDS is still out there and doesn’t discriminate…Anyone can be Infected, Anyone can be Affected!!!
This week has been busy; I spoke to a group of people at a club off Leicester Square in London about ‘The Red Ribbon Dress Project‘ and how important this Legacy piece is. I have already had a few dedications through the post, which is quite upsetting to read the heartfelt messages. I bought two large books yesterday that were images of ‘The Names Project’ with images of the panels from the Memorial Quilts and sat reading it on the train as I travelled back from London. I loved the camaraderie that this devastating thing did in the way it brought so many people together, the network of the Quilt stitching party, the donations from companies supplying materials/sequins/needles and thread etc etc, the donation of people’s time. Some of these people didn’t even know any of the people that were suffering but wanted to do whatever they could to remember them. It was also difficult to read how some people didn’t want their Surnames on the Quilt as they feared their families would be ostracized or victims of hate crimes!!!
This is why I am reminded of what I do and why I do it, I feel very privileged to have survived and be able to talk openly about this disease. I am a Face of HIV who also happened to have had an AIDS diagnosis all those years ago. I know that I am here to Raise Awareness, to Educate further generations and hopefully change stigma and discrimination. It’s a big job and an even bigger responsibility, but I will do what I can.
I have attached an image of a piece of work I completed a couple of months ago. It resembles a Quilt panel and is made up of 24 images and information of qell known people that have sadly died from HIV/AIDS. There are only 24 images as I can only work on a small scale at the moment as lack of space. I wanted to represent the people who were larger than life in my childhood. People I admired. People who made me laugh. People who gave me the Music. People who gave me the love of Glitz and Glamour.
There are also People who I became aware of through all the research on becoming Positive myself. Ryan White/Elizabeth Glaser/Alison Gertz.
I thank all these people for enlightening my life.
This is for them.
We are not aware of the many People that are still dying every day/getting diagnosed Positive on a personal basis but the RED RIBBON DRESS IS FOR EVERYONE….
Art is Life, Life is Art
MANDY WEB is Pop -Up Arts Curator for The LONDON AIDS MEMORIAL
This article first appeared on *a girl like me – a program of the well project http://girllikeme.org/2011/12/02/unashamedly-positiveworld-aids-day/