With the passing of another International AIDS Day, Robert Levithan reflects on his experience.
It’s always interesting to realize that certain people wish me dead. It’s not personal. They don’t know me.
The Cossacks who raped my great, great grandmother and the hooligans who killed my great grandfather in pogroms didn’t know them personally. They did however get my family to this country, and I do have very blue eyes, but it wasn’t personal.
International AIDS Day is a day of remembrance. I remember. I remember sitting in an auditorium in Santa Fe; we were a couple of hundred scared men and women discussing how to survive what was consistently described as an “always fatal” condition.
Most of us died along the way. Some folk didn’t mind that at all. The vindictive prayers of the righteous were not in our favor.
When we do know someone personally, the perspective seems to change. Dick Cheney, my leading candidate for Devil Incarnate, supports Gay Marriage because he has a gay daughter. If President Reagan had a child with AIDS, some of my friends might be alive. The Christian Right, the fundamentalists of all persuasions, don’t hate me; they hate my sin.
When the Dalai Lama was on one of his early visits to the US, he met with a group of philosophers and Buddhist teachers. When asked about Tibetan Buddhism’s perspective on self-hatred, he was flummoxed; it took about 20 minutes to explain the concept to him. In his worldview, we are all born with Buddha nature. How could we hate ourselves? We are Buddha—somewhat different than original sin.
I have declared myself a Free Range Buddhist in order to be free to embrace my Buddha self. Therefore Buddha is gay, HIV-positive, and ethnically Jewish. Go know …
—Photo Jayel Aheram/Flickr