Op-Ed

World AIDS Day is always a grim memorial. The day marks another year of stultifying numbers of people infected with HIV/AIDS. Another year of stigma not yet lifted and denialism still entrenched. Another year of surviving all those who did not survive.

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On World AIDS Day 2019, ACT UP Philadelphia, the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, recognizes 31 years of direct action and civil disobedience. ACT UP membership reflects the AIDS epidemic. AIDS is a non-crisis crisis, now that the disease is impacting primarily Black and Brown people. The majority of infections still come from men having sex with men. Transmissions of the virus are also generated by homelessness, poverty, addiction and stigma. These issues mirror reasons Black and Brown people are disproportionately incarcerated — the only difference is that the racist war on drugs caused those incarcerations.

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This year, to commemorate World AIDS Day, Action Wellness (formerly ActionAIDS), a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization serving individuals living with HIV and other serious chronic illnesses since 1986, wants you to know about one of the many innovative ways it is working to bring about the next “AIDS-free” generation in Philadelphia.

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Thanksgiving is all about sharing with others and being grateful. The November holiday heralds the season of giving — Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice or just the year’s end tax credits. Thanksgiving is when people begin to open their wallets.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 133 million Americans have chronic illnesses — diabetes, asthma, HIV, cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases. At more than 40 percent of the U.S. population, that’s a huge demographic and expense.

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Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA) was among the wave of women and LGBT people elected to Congress in the 2018 midterms. Endorsed by former President Barack Obama, Hill trounced the Republican incumbent in a district that was solidly GOP for 30 years, and did so while rejecting PAC money — only accepting money from small donors. Her campaign was the subject of a Vice News documentary that highlighted her left political positions and called it “the most millennial campaign, ever.”

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We don't talk much about the unique threats to lesbians when we discuss LGBTQ rights issues, either domestic or foreign. The pandemic of corrective rapes and honor killings of lesbians rarely make the news. Yet they impact American lesbians as well as lesbians in other, less democratic and/or theocratic countries as case after case has shown. The Texas honor killings of Britney Cosby and Crystal Jackson, the Texas corrective rapes of Mollie Olgin, who was also killed, and Kristene Chapa, who was permanently disabled, made headlines. But many other cases do not.

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As an undergraduate at Temple University, I was a student member of the committee that founded the women’s studies department. It was an exciting time as feminist academics “dis-covered,” in the words of lesbian theologian Mary Daly, our herstory. The group from Temple — two students and two professors — flew to San Francisco for the founding conference of the National Women’s Studies Association. The conference was — outside of the bars — the most lesbian place I had ever been, filled with lesbian academics talking about a new herstorical canon.

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The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards brought the plight of women and LGBTQ into the limelight with some powerful speeches by beloved stars.

When Billy Porter was announced as winner of the Emmy for Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series, he ran up onto the stage. Porter stars in “Pose,” which details life in the Black and Latinx ballroom culture in New York City in the 1980s and 90s during the AIDS pandemic. Reprising his role of Pray Tell, Porter said, “The category is love y’all, love.”

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