Saturday, December 02, 2006

december 1st

So, another World AIDS Day has come and gone. This year I took my time to decide whether I would volunteer to sell red ribbons or not. On Wednesday I emailed my friend Jon to say I had decided against selling ribbons, but I'd like to go to the candlelight vigil with him. About half an hour later I changed my mind and was on the phone to ACON (AIDS Council of NSW) organising a four hour stint in Hyde Park North - selling red ribbons. I had a choice of shifts and chose 3-7pm. I'm glad I did it...

Discovering (admitting?) I am gay came at a time when there was much hysteria surrounding HIV/AIDS. It was the mid 1980s. Had I come out any earlier (just a matter of one or two years), I wonder whether I'd be here writing this post.

At some stage I remember reading a comment from someone who said it's all well and good to wear a red ribbon, but what are people really doing to help the cause. This made a pretty big impact on me and led me to an experience I wouldn't change for anything. In 1994 I volunteered to join the VAC (Victorian AIDS Council). I went to an information session and ended up on a care team. At the time I had just returned to Uni and moved to Thornbury (one of Melbourne's northern suburbs). Being on a care team meant I was put in touch with someone living with HIV/AIDS in my local area. For me, that meant Steph, a gay man in his early 50s who had been diagnosed HIV+ quite a few years (at least 10) before we met. At the time he really defied the odds - it was very rare for anyone to live this long with the virus. Steph's home was within a short walking distance of my place and I vividly recall that first journey from my place to his. It was a journey I made many times over the next few years. Mostly I'd just sit with him and he'd talk (and talk and talk). Originally from New Zealand, he had no family in Australia, few friends and as his health declined he rarely went out.

Then in 1997 I moved across town to Elwood and without a car it made the journey to visit Steph much longer. That didn't last for long. Steph ended up in hospital in Prahran, closer to where I'd moved to. He was in hospital for a long, long time until his death on December 1st. With impeccable timing he left us on World AIDS Day that year. I had the privilege of being with him as he left.

This post does nothing to describe the good that continues to come out of having known this man. It was an unconventional friendship, but one of the most valuable I've ever known. I recognise this almost daily. I was going to write about my experience of selling ribbons today, but that feels insignificant right now. Perhaps another day...

I just want to finish by thanking anyone who bought/sold a red ribbon or wrist band, attended a candlelight vigil or took the time to remember in some way or other


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Nash,
First, the comment before this is called a “blog bot”. I received three of them a month ago, and TotalChaos explained to me that they’re computer generated and should be “trash canned” as soon as possible……

Your post stirred my emotions very deeply. It managed to convey without melodrama how important it is that the entire world address the AIDS crisis, both physically and psychologically. Selling red ribbons or wrist bands and attending candlelight vigils are all super ways to show support for World’s AIDS Day, but we need to remember HIV/AIDS everyday and try to put an end to this dreadful epidemic.

This is a beautiful tribute to Steph on the anniversary of his death ten years ago today. Tomorrow I’ll shop at my local AIDS resale shop and think not only of you but everyone who’s doing their part to help eradicate this dreadful disease

December 02, 2006 11:05 AM  
Blogger nash said...

Thank you Miss Litzi,
Your comments mean a lot to me. What sort of stuff do they sell at the AIDS resale shop?

As for the blog bot - good riddance. I've had them before, though not for a while. I'll use 'word verification' from now on

December 02, 2006 11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Nash,
The AIDS resale shop is undoubtedly the finest “used” store I’ve ever shopped in. It’s obvious that the people who manage/run it are selective in the kind of merchandise they accept and very talented in creating lovely vignettes to display the items. The selection varies from day to day, but there’s always great antique furniture, china, glassware, jewelry, lighting fixtures, art work, clothing, etc. It’s an excellent place to pick up old books, as well as new ones for a fraction of the regular price. With the high turnover, I can go there a couple of times a week and see lots of great new “stuff”!!

December 02, 2006 12:45 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Locations of visitors to this page
web site traffic tracking
Matchmaking Services