Those We Hold Close
Few viruses have been quite as disruptive, and quite suddenly so, as HIV. When it was first named as such in 1981, many individuals were already dying. In the ensuing years, informal networks of friends, nurses, and activists emerged in response to this sudden onslaught of human casualties. These individuals provided emotional support, authorized medical care when society at large was afraid to get close to those dying, and advocated for changes in government funding for research that ultimately saved a countless number of lives. In these instances, we can see examples of a beloved community – where people acted with a sense of reciprocity despite the inherent risks.
In this talk, I will look at key examples of this beloved community beginning in early 1980s into the present day, from Ruth Coker Burks to the activist organization ACT UP to the documentary work of films like We Were Here. In the process, I will paint a picture of the successes adaptive communities had as well as the challenges that went into sustaining the idea of mutual benefit when so many participants in this movement were dying. In the process, I will reveal how messy the notion of a beloved community can be through the anger, grief and fear so many of the participants encountered. But I also will show a sense of hope – as a new generation, myself included, looks at how technology can facilitate new forms of community building in 2018 when we still so desperately need it.
Power Point is available here.