30 years of AIDS: who do you miss? what do you remember?

To commemorate 30 years of AIDS, I want to share a great piece by my dear friend Charles Clifton:

The Past, The Present and The Future

By Charles Clifton 1959 – 2004

I’m tired from “tops” who believe they can’t contract HIV. I’m tired from “bottoms” who continue to roll the dice. I’m tired from irresponsible HIV-positive barebackers. I’m tired from irresponsible HIV-negative barebackers. I’m tired of the belief that barebackers are always gay men. I’m tired, because it ain’t true. I’m tired of condoms. I’m tired for everyone waiting for the results to come back from an HIV test. I’m tired.

I’m tired for intravenous drug users who share contaminated needles. I’m tired for men who refuse to use a condom. I’m tired for the women and men forced to have sex with men who refuse to use a condom. I’m tired for sex workers who can’t use a condom. I’m tired for young people who don’t have sex education. I’m tired of prevention that doesn’t seem to work. I’m tired.

I’m tired from individuals who promote conspiracy rather than care. I’m tired from those who don’t believe in re-infection. I’m tired from medications that make people sick rather than well. I’m tired from people who could, but don’t, adhere. I’m tired for everyone in America, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe who would adhere, but can’t. I’m tired from a system that profits from homelessness, hunger and mental illnesses. I’m tired from illiteracy. I’m tired.

I’m tired from some that believe women and children, the incarcerated and drug users don’t deserve our attention. I’m tired because some believe that gay men don’t deserve our attention. I’m tired from blacks that blame whites. I’m tired from whites that blame blacks. I’m tired from men who blame women. I’m tired from women who blame men. I’m tired from MSMs, SAMs, “trade” and “on the downlow.” I’m tired of categories. I’m tired.

I’m tired of incompetent negatives. I’m tired of unqualified positives. I’m tired of bureaucracy. I’m tired of cynics. I’m tired of the hypocrites. I’m tired of the dishonesty. I’m tired because I don’t know what to do. I’m tired of being stressed, depressed, and overwhelmed. I’m tired because I don’t have time to do more. I’m tired because I don’t feel like doing more. I’m tired.

I’m tired from Slavery. I’m tired from Emancipation. I’m tired from Jim Crow. I’m tired from Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, Gay/Lesbian Rights and now Healthcare Rights. I’m tired from prejudice and hatred. I’m tired from ignorance. I’m tired that mistakes from the past continue to be repeated. I’m tired.

I’m tired from John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy and my father. I’m tired from the events of September 11, 2001. I’m tired for this nation. I’m tired for this world. I’m tired for everyone who has ever lost someone to a senseless act of violence. I’m tired for everyone who will lose a loved one in the coming days, weeks and months.

I’m tired of grieving. I’m tired of remembering. I’m tired of wondering. I’m tired that I still grieve the death of Antonio, who died 15 years ago on October 8th. I’m tired of marking the anniversary of his death. I’m tired of wondering of what might have been. I’m tired of hoping. I’m tired of coping. I’m tired of dates that always remind me of how tired I am. I’m tired of wondering what’s next, who’s next. I’m tired of this road.

I’m just tired.

Charles E. Clifton

1959 – 2004

Charles Clifton & Susan Forrest

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