Wednesday, December 5, 2018

George HW Bush and Other Thoughts

Today they laid to rest George HW Bush. I had mixed feelings about the late president 41. As an HIV/AIDS activist, I feel he let those affected and those at risk down. Not only did he stand back and do nothing as countless Americans died, but even victim blamed during the presidential debates when asked about what he was doing about the crisis.

The Bush family, father and son, have always been historically anti-woman and homophobic. Not only did they support abstinence education but gave federal funding to these programs. They were not only pro-life, but gave money to faith based organizations. They supported sentencing drug and alcohol offenders to the 12 Steps, which while they work for some recovery is not a one sizes fits all approach. Their policies affected those not only living with HIV, but those enduring domestic abuse and the horrors of addiction.

I had some ACT UP comrades blast the late president, particularly those who took place in the Ashes Action, where those who lost someone to HIV/AIDS dumped the ashes of their loved ones on the White House lawn, celebrate his death. Others half jokingly said he died on World AIDS Day to stick it to the community once more.

Yet on the same token, Bush was a memory of what had left The White House. He served his country, nearly dying in combat. The late president, like my grandfathers, was fighting true evil in the South Pacific. Bush also pushed the Americans with Disabilities Act, which ironically has been used to help those living with HIV/AIDS, addiction, and in some instances those suffering from domestic violence.

In attendance at that funeral was a sitting president who used his family's wealth to get countless deferments due to "bone spurs" while countless young men who did not have his privilege died. Under this same sitting president, the Nazis are rising again, an evil that would make my grandfathers and great uncles roll in their graves and foam at the mouth in the afterlife. This same president wants to gut the Americans with Disabilities Act, The Ryan White Care Act, and any protection given to those suffering from addiction and domestic violence. And while he has pledged to fight the heroin issue, he is criminalizing a disease.

Bush never verbally attacked people he disagreed with. He never made his attacks on his opponents personal. Bush always disagreed with ideas and not people. Even at his worst, George Bush would have never made fun of a physically disabled reporter. Tragically, the same cannot be said for Trump.

Bush could take a joke and even shook the hand of Dana Carvey. Trump refused to attend the White House Correspondence Dinner and is still lambasting Michelle Wolf.

Bush's legacy was far from perfect and so was the man.. But in that same room was Bill Clinton. Politically he was a friend to women, blacks, and LGBTQ. But we cannot ignore that he was a sexual abuser who assaulted countless women. We also cannot forget how he sold the LGBTQ down the river with Don't Ask Don't Tell and Defense of Marriage Act. We cannot forget that while Clinton truly loved the American people, his frat boy ways brought disgrace to the highest office in the land. And with Three Strikes and Hillary referring to blacks as "super predators" maybe he wasn't such a friend to the black community.

I am sure this is going to offend, but we must tell the truth if history is to be accurately represented. So today, we are not just mourning #41, we are mourning the loss of an adult in The White House. And as an activist, I will continue to honor those lost to HIV/AIDS and laws who didn't protect victims of domestic abuse by fighting harder. And I will honor his legacy by telling the truth about him both good and bad.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Heat of the Moment (Asia)

The other day I was feeling low. This was after several days of feeling unbelievably good after a rather shitty fall. A clip of mine aired on television. I was a show I filmed as I wasn't feeling particularly good and it seemed everything was imploding around me. It was God throwing me a bone. Then I found out I was receiving an award. More on that later. Both seemed good.

But then there was that one thing I couldn't do. That one thing I haven't gotten.

I have been on television a gazillion times but have never managed to get a reoccurring role let alone have my own show. I have published two books but have never managed to snag a bestseller. I have pitched shows but never sold an idea. I have done modelling assignments but have never had a centerfold. I have done some great sets but I am not a headliner who regularly packs them in. I have known resident acts on the strip and have performed there but have never been a resident act.

I have a whole list of almost but nevers.

It's not good. It's not bad. It just is.

Grad school is going well. I was divided as to go and when as I did undergrad in three years. While I am glad I saved my parents dough I always felt like I rushed through. I also did some college as I did high school and life always seemed like a treadmill to the next place and I could never be where I was and enjoy it. I told myself if I did grad school I wanted to enjoy it and now I am. I wish I would have gone sooner but now I am.

Yet I always feel like I am juggling and sometimes dropping. There are times these last few months where my plate has felt so full I cannot digest what's in front of me. I know I am not the first woman to get a masters and to work. Yet it feel like somehow, there is never enough time or money or this or that.

My advocacy has been keeping me busy. I took part in an event for World AIDS Day, or at least the week of. It was a panel where we talked about Crystal Meth and HIV in the black/Latinx gay community. The panel was rewarding and I felt pumped about the dialogue around recharge.

But I couldn't contribute as much because I was lead editor for a contest, in two plays, staging my show for a festival, and partaking in a project I eventually quit because the director was a dick. But I was working and performing and then there was school. Yet I wasn't there more and I let AIDS down.

I got a job and couldn't march on World AIDS Day, and I had promised I would be there. To me my word is everything. Again I felt like I let AIDS down.

These thoughts raced through my mind today and then I remembered the Asia lyric from the song Heat of the Moment, "Teenage ambitions you remember well......"

The truth is, I had always dreamed of coming to NYU and performing. I wanted to be bicoastal in Vegas and LA and now I am. I am getting the masters I always wanted to. I wanted to write and I wrote two books. RENT was one of my favorite soundtracks and not only did I live in the East Village, but I am an activist as well as an artist and am becoming with ACT UP.

My almosts and nevers could change. There is still time, I am not dead. I am more adult as a grad student, and we have to grow to learn to be where our feet are. I am involved not only with ACT UP, but have marched against Trump. It is in part because I have known people affected by HIV/AIDS and his policies would hurt them as well as women, children, and any other vulnerable population. I didn't fail AIDS. I just had to pay my rent. Did I say RENT......heh......

I also know there are people who never expected me to make it this far. There are some folks who I will not name because they do not matter who wrote me off. As I wake up each day and fight the good fight, I know I haven't failed.

Sure, I am hard on myself, but the important part is that I haven't quit. Did I mention Legally Blonde was a good movie? Yeah, I think I need to watch more comedy.