CAI is thrilled to bring you a new multi-part blog post. For this series of posts, we are stepping away from our traditional commentary on HIV/AIDS. We will look at HIV/AIDS through the lens of the art and words of Outsider-Kansas City artist, Bruce Burstert, and his former partner Robert Smith, long ago claimed by AIDS. This is the first in a new series of blog post looking at HIV/AIDS through the micro lens of other artists.
Have you ever had someone tell you that they have contracted HIV? We were sitting in the parking lot of a liquor store when he told me. It was surreal; even after all the interviews, all the talks, and information I had around HIV/AIDS, I still found myself speechless and scrabbling to try and not say something dumb, something I knew was not the truth, like, “everything’s going to be okay” because most likely it is going to be okay, but do I know that for a fact?
To elaborate—I thought, for this blog, we might talk less about HIV/AIDS and more about community engagement/social practice art, along the socioeconomic/racial divides. Each one of those subjects is very heavy, and many scholars still ponder them today. So, like in my past posts, I plan on only covering my thoughts and trials that pertain to the Contracting An Issue project.
I won’t lie: I had some trepidation about working closely with, sleeping next to, and caring for a bunch of sick kids in the beginning. Yes, at that time I’d been longtime wonderful friends with many, many poz adults. Perhaps I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to care for the kids in the way that they needed. And perhaps I was a little scared that I could, and that I would really grow to love them.
People are no longer dying in droves large enough to make the evening news: I doubt any teachers are screening the movie Philadelphia with their students as they did when I was in high school. Also, it seems like you never really hear of anyone getting to the stage of full-blown AIDS anymore. We are no longer afraid to have “poz” friends for fear of contracting it from a hug. While I know very few HIV-positive people, it seems like the burden of prevention has shifted back to gay men, even though they are not the only ones affected.
Tomorrow is World AIDS Day, and as long as I can remember, AIDS has been a big part of my life. As I headed to bed one night this past week, I gazed upon the bedroom wall at a grid of family portraits my father painted. One of the paintings caught my eye. I saw something I had not seen in years, something I maybe never really noticed in one of the portraits...
In light of the recent discussion circulating around news articles and social media on Zachary Quinto and his comment in an interview where Zachary is quoted as saying: there is a tremendous' complacency towards HIV awareness in the LGBT community. To me it seems very interesting to read, and try to understand why people are offended. I get that HIV activism has not completely been silenced, and that many men and woman, old and young still pursue HIV/AIDS awareness, and more. I would like to think I am one of them. But it is hard for me to deny that Zachary Quinto is completely wrong. I wonder if so many have found his comment offensive because it is true?
The article “Please Don't Infect Me, I am Sorry,“ written in 2012 by Rich Juzwiak talks about HIV/AIDS from a prospective not often heard. I would say it resonated with me, and was my main inspiration and the source where I derived the concept for the title of this project-