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The Red Ribbon

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[00:00:01] I suppose it's sort of [00:00:09] it's about remembering. [00:00:17] And [00:00:19] reminding, essentially, [00:00:24] it's, it's nice when I meet other people who are also wearing them [00:00:29] as sort of [00:00:31] part of a club, I guess. [00:00:34] At home, I still got a lot of reminders of running around. Sometimes I'll turn up something that's got his handwriting on it. And [00:00:50] little knickknacks that he had [00:00:55] still there with [00:01:03] Roderick, who's the other friend who died. [00:01:10] So reminders aren't quite as frequent with him, but if I hear mention of, say, a play that I connect him with, and maybe saw him in, or an opera or a singer that we talked about, then you'll come to mind, oh, yes, I talked about that with Roderick. And he thought this or he said that, or [00:01:42] I have lost several friends to HIV, including XX. Some of these times when I was living in Australia, between 88 and 91. But many died, since there was a pretty particularly bad period in 94. Okay, we had 10 people die within a period of three months. So it was the same people who are turning up the same funerals, Time after time after time, I suppose [00:02:18] the ribbon symbolizes that it needn't happen, [00:02:23] essentially. [00:02:26] But it is, in fact, it's needless. [00:02:31] I mean, that's what it means to me personally, and politically. And it's sort of like a thing about safe sex and about responsibility that goes with the grip of sexual freedom is that it's actually done, it didn't happen. It didn't have happened if people had Nolan. [00:02:47] And a need and certainly didn't happen now. [00:02:50] 15 years in, I mean, I've got some good ideas about why it does happen. That is to remind people that it could end that it does, and that it has, [00:03:01] in 1991, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation started using the red ribbon as a symbol of care and compassion for those living with HIV AIDS, and it has spread from the right around the world to indicate support of those living with HIV AIDS, [00:03:21] when you actually live with someone with HIV. [00:03:28] You realize what the [00:03:33] what a lot of the public misconceptions are, [00:03:38] you know, what, what you can do and what you can't do. [00:03:43] And [00:03:46] for actual day to day living, I mean, everything is pretty much just ordinary. Now, you don't have to wear rubber gloves to wash the dishes or, you know, stuff like that. [00:04:01] And, in fact, through [00:04:04] through him, and the dealings we had with the health service, and the application to head into the brochures, that was really useful, I learned an awful lot. [00:04:20] Matter, there are [00:04:22] some people who are positive who do not want it to be known. [00:04:27] Which must make it quite hard on them. [00:04:34] Because [00:04:38] the whole issue of coming out again, and things like that, who do you tell? Who do you not tell? Things like that? What are people's reactions going to be like, because unfortunately, there are some people, even within the gay community who will not speak to someone if they find out that they're HIV positive. And it's those sort of barriers that we do have to break down. We have there was a campaign that was run in Melbourne three years ago. positive plus negative is one community things and we do have to stress that point that yes, we are one community, we are on this together. Things we are at risk of things. And if we don't take the right precautions, more of us will become positive, [00:05:21] the sun will actually losing its strength, I think over time, fewer fewer people are wearing it. We've been trying I mean, now the Epidemics into its 15th year. So it's very hard to create, to politicize around the same issues for that long with the diverse community. But I mean it as a symbol, initially, it was extremely powerful, because it was the first time I'd ever been done like that. And that's been imitated quite a lot since. But, um, it was quite a strong symbol, even in its Hollywood use, I think it actually brought to a mass audience, people who liberals who were trying to make a point about their own community, the arts community, losing people, and I mean, in that sense, it was valuable. But personally, it's valuable as well. I mean, it's just one of lots of symbols that I mean, I will lots of other pages, I mean, from you know, someone who, who came out in the 70s, not long after Stonewall, I was it was a typical of the women's movement, the black movement and the gay movement to have symbols. And, and the red ribbon as at the end of that line of symbols were part of it progression. And it's just, it's one of many, and I also we are often with a red ribbon I were associated with, which is the condom honor, on an outline of a penis. And that is to me as as important as the red ribbon, the two go together. [00:06:45] After he died, when there was so many things that I had to sort out for myself, in fact, what I did was I, I sat down and and at the computer and wrote a whole whole lot of stuff, pages and pages, both sort of, like narrative of what would have the time we've had together, and also just trying to sort everything out. [00:07:14] I think that was very useful. [00:07:18] And, [00:07:20] of course, I sort of, you know, talked to quite a lot of the time to friends about it, but then it's funny, you know, life moves on. And [00:07:32] I sort of felt that [00:07:37] often, [00:07:40] you know, friends, even though they're very sympathetic, don't want to keep hearing about it all the time. [00:07:46] And, you know, life moves on to me too. But [00:07:50] you know, he's still very present. [00:07:54] So think about him a lot. [00:08:02] The bedside clock, [00:08:06] but he, it was his, he brought it. And then he moved in, and was always extraordinarily difficult to change the time, you know, at daylight saving was something, it was a real task. And I've still got it and I still struggle with it every know, every day like saving. [00:08:30] So there's lots of little things like that, [00:08:38] about history, [00:08:39] about pride. [00:08:43] And about love. [00:08:54] In fact, with with Ronnie was my partner was thought I was being really, you know, sensible, I was getting myself as it were mentally prepared for the fact that you know, at some stage, he would be [00:09:19] helpful health could really break down and [00:09:25] and then it didn't happen that way at all. [00:09:30] It all came. So [00:09:33] when it came to terrible shock, I wasn't prepared for it at all. [00:09:36] The worst time was during the 94. Period, that three months in 94, when he lost so many. And then it got to the stage where you were just so numb from going along, there's so many funerals, that it got to the stage that you weren't really taking it in. And it was sort of like who's at this time. And you were just overawed and overpowered by the whole thing. So many in such a short time. Some of them are a little bit older than me, some are a little bit younger than me, but they were all around my age made it particularly difficult. [00:10:29] I did a lot of talking, a lot of source action, [00:10:37] a lot of questioning [00:10:39] a very strange way I was sort of looking forward to be able to [00:10:46] help him [00:10:49] you know, come to the end of his life, I suppose. [00:10:56] Deal with see. [00:11:00] Now he's body breaking down and all those things that [00:11:06] I'd read about. [00:11:11] And so [00:11:18] when when he [00:11:21] he took his own life, it was just a [00:11:26] terrible blow. [00:11:34] Yeah, there was sort of [00:11:38] years that we could have had, [00:11:45] which [00:11:48] which were gone. [00:11:57] And he was in a in a terrible depression. [00:12:01] And [00:12:04] I didn't really know entirely what, what to do other than to try and get him to get help. To go and see the there was a psychiatrist who was sort of semi attached to the AIDS Ward at the hospital. [00:12:27] And [00:12:30] so he did finally agreed to go and see, see this man [00:12:36] and [00:12:38] make an appointment. But [00:12:47] the day of the appointment, [00:12:50] he [00:12:55] he got up and left us tend to brief her work and went to lay down on the railway tracks in front of a train. [00:13:05] And [00:13:15] I know you always ask yourself why [00:13:23] it wasn't a [00:13:27] it wasn't driven by passion or despair or anything like that it was he thought it out. [00:13:37] way this is all sort of separate from HIV, it's more to do with [00:13:44] dealing with depression. [00:13:50] But I'm sure the idea that [00:13:54] I think he saw what what the future held. And he was he was a man who was man, he really loved life. He was full of life and full of energy. And he loved people and [00:14:13] he hated being [00:14:17] having to be attached to a drip for hours on end or going for tests or swallowing pills or all that sort of thing hated that. [00:14:27] So maybe part of it was that he [00:14:33] he could see what was coming and didn't want to go through with it. [00:14:41] I get angry when I see people spreading hatred and lies about people who are HIV positive, whether that be in the form of videos that are put out through people who call themselves Christian, or whether it's through parental attitudes that they don't want their side have anything to do with the rest of their family because he's HIV positive, [00:15:04] uncaring attitudes like that make me angry. [00:15:08] attitudes of the government that say, well, we're throwing enough money at people with HIV AIDS to prove that gay men to prevent them from getting HIV AIDS. So let's concentrate in another aspect of the community. Another thing that makes me angry is when people who despite the best of intentions, and the best messages that go out specifically go out to get themselves infected. Maybe they don't mean it intentionally to get an effect. And maybe that was the wrong choice of words. But people who, despite all the best messages being pushed in their direction, about HIV and its transmission, and how to prevent that transmission, specifically go out the way to not listen to those messages, who continue to have unsafe sex in many in various different ways that they can have unsafe sex, [00:16:16] who [00:16:19] just don't care about themselves or other people's lives enough to take the necessary precautions that can prevent HIV from being sprayed. [00:16:31] It's politicizing [00:16:35] radicalizing, I suppose. A disease I mean, it's the first disease and has really have its own glossy magazine, which is called pause magazine, which is actually very good. And so it's, um, [00:16:47] it's trying to create [00:16:51] awareness or [00:16:54] it's trying to generalize the issue to everybody and make it applicable to them rather than, than it being isolated to some somebody else, there's always somebody else, regardless of what the event is. So essentially trying to bring it home. And I think that's a function of it. A lot of men distance themselves from their risk of HIV. And it helps them to remind people of the history of the disease and of people who actually do have it still, the fact that people are taking protease inhibitors and they will be there for longer doesn't mean that there aren't skinny little mean and hospitals, which there are and all of the people who are HIV positive or have AIDS or have died, symbolized by that ribbon, which is very simple. And that simplicity as part of its success, I think, [00:17:42] holding him [00:17:49] tightly [00:17:53] held them. [00:18:00] them [00:18:03] as they look to their fat made on the hospital bed dying. [00:18:09] I held them as they looked at their son [00:18:13] and his coffin. [00:18:17] I held them and let them know that I cared. [00:18:23] I held a couple, one of whom was dying, the other of whom was crying. [00:18:32] I let them know my care, I support [00:18:36] my compassion for them. [00:18:40] That I was there if they needed me. [00:18:44] I was there for them. [00:18:49] Quite frankly. [00:18:53] I supported her. [00:18:59] I held her right of compassion, right of care. [00:19:03] showing her the support that I offering for both her and her son. [00:19:13] I held him [00:19:18] skin felt soft. [00:19:21] Warm [00:19:23] up. [00:19:29] I helped him with care. I helped him with compassion. [00:19:37] I helped held him in sorrow.

This page features computer generated text of the source audio. It is not a transcript, it has not been checked by humans and will contain many errors. However it is useful for searching on keywords and themes.