As most of you know, June is Pride month. A time to celebrate the histories, legacy, and lives of queer people. June is about more than remembering the Stonewall Uprising or the Compton Cafeteria Riots. Those brave individuals that stood up for their right to live unburdened by their identities gave us the power to respond to a national epidemic, fight for employment and housing protections, demand access to quality healthcare, and have relationships recognized as legitimate under the law. The LGBTQ community and the HIV epidemic have always been closely linked. Gay and bisexual men and trans women suffer the greatest burden, and their lesbian, bi, and trans brothers and sisters have often cared for them as they shouldered it.
It’s no wonder, then, that there are so many milestones in the epidemic concentrated in Pride month.
- June 1981 – The publication of the first documented cases of what would come to be known as AIDS. Millions of lives were lost and so many more affected.
- June 1996 – International AIDS Conference, the world learned about the success of triple combination anti-retroviral therapy; a breakthrough we still use today. Highly active antiretroviral therapy has allowed us to change the game, turning a death-sentence into a manageable chronic condition with near-normal life expectancy and little chance of further transmissions.
- June 2001 – The United Nations announced the Global Fund to support countries and organizations in fight against HIV by funding prevention, treatment and care, eventually distributing hundreds of millions of dollars in support year-after-year.
- June 2010 – President Barack Obama released the first National HIV/AIDS Strategy, a roadmap to end the domestic epidemic that included promoting effective prevention strategies such as Treatment as Prevention, and (now) PrEP and PEP.
We must continue to remember and share the histories of LGBTQ people, celebrate our progress, and double-down on our shared principles. Collectively, our organization and our unified voice can impact lives in Ohio through care, prevention, advocacy, empowerment, and hope.
As the festivities, events, and brunches begin, we encourage you to reflect and remember those whom we lost too early thanks to the domestic AIDS epidemic; an entire generation of artists, thinkers, leaders, and activists silenced in a matter of years. And to remember those still here, still fighting, and still writing our histories, now right alongside of us.