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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    World AIDS Day should inspire solidarity

    Today is World AIDS Day, and to bring awareness to the fact that 33.4 million people are living with HIV worldwide today, I’ve thrown a red ribbon avatar on my Twitter account, posted a red ribbon on my Facebook profile and am writing this article. It’s my small part to focus attention on this global pandemic.

    Passive, perhaps, but our generation has seemed to latch on to activism defined by Facebook causes, fan pages and “”retweeting”” messages that fall in line with our beliefs and values. A product of 1985, count me in. I conveniently have both Facebook and Twitter applications on my BlackBerry for urgent ranting sessions and immediate awareness campaigns aimed toward my bubble of friends and followers.

    Not disillusioned by the power of traditional grassroots organizing, thanks in large part to a few years of political activism and a job which is empowered by it, I’ve embraced this new form of activism. I’ve sent my fair share of mass invites to events promoting what I stand up for. I’ve abbreviated into 140-characters, posts applauding moves to advance certain positions.

    Mark Harris wrote in the summer issue of New York magazine of “”The Gay Generation Gap.”” I was intrigued by the piece initially in large part because I’m not one to hide from the fact that I’m gay and work to advance our movement. I was secondly piqued by how he opened his article; noting that “”Forty years after Stonewall, the gay movement has never been more united,”” but asked, “”So why do older gay men and younger ones often seem so far apart?””

    Sure I have salt and pepper hair, a few more lines than I probably should, and am often mistaken for an age I’m not, but I still consider myself a Millennial. Point being, I’m one of the “”younger ones”” Harris referred to and I wanted to hear his theory on this supposed great gay divide.

    The piece was reflective of a summer rich with movement for our movement. Pride festivals were giving color to the dog days honoring the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots, President Barack Obama’s campaign messages promoting equality were still on everyone’s mind, and we turned to Lady Justice to heal our Proposition 8 wounds.

    Harris also shed more light on a community, or communities as he noted, facing this common cause and our common enemy. Using the Pride festivals to promote a tone of compromise, the self-identified graying Harris wove a thread of understanding from his generation, urging more vocal middle-aged gays to more actively connect with their younger counterparts.

    Today seems like a good day to promote a similar message. As Harris puts our generation: with “”unflinching supportive parents, buddies who cheer their comings-out on Facebook, high schools with gay-straight alliances,”” we must fully realize and appreciate we live in a world that is finally beginning to look like the one Harris said is one our ancestral brothers in arms wanted to create for us.

    What Harris and his generation can do in return, in addition to sharing the wisdom and knowledge of their struggles, is to be cognizant of the fact that our shared struggles may come in the form of marches reminiscent of past World AIDS Days, but our messages may be more optimistic and hopeful than “”What do we want?! When do we want it?!””

    Call me naïve, but it seems to me that the means in which we go about it differ, but the end we’re working towards is the same. In simple idiom, “”To each their own,”” because if there’s anything I’ve learned since I came out to my family in my junior year of high school and to my close friends in 2006, I’ve learned that each of us in this gay movement, and in any movement anyone belongs to, has their own means to the end.

    My means to achieving equality is through education via storytelling; in changing hearts and minds. It’s proven helpful at times when I’ve sat and talked with extremely conservative legislators in explaining why I would work on a transgender project to incorporate more inclusive gender neutral restrooms on campus. Fruitful in the instances, I’ve told new Wildcats my relatively blissful “”coming out,”” in which I sent a text to my close friends during The Fray 2006 concert at Centennial Hall citing their song lyric, “”Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.”” And it’s been productive as I engage with my new colleagues on Tucson’s Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in sharing my insight into how we can regain lost health care benefits for state employees.

    So as we honor those in this global fight against AIDS and give thanks for those who spent their own youth striving for the political and social gains obtained for us as Harris wrote, tell your story and do it in your own way. Perhaps then we will learn that there are bigger battles to fight and many more reasons to unite in our struggles. I can think of 33.4 million.

    ­— David Martinez III is a UA alumnus and currently serves on the City of Tucson GLBT Commission. To contact him, email dm3@email.arizona.edu.

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