31 Years

Submitted on Jun 28, 2019 by  DawnAveritt

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Each day we make thousands of tiny decisions that impact our day, our week, our year, and maybe even our life. When to wake up, what to wear, exercise or no, breakfast or no, smile or no… Ultimately, some or all of these can lead to a seminal event, something that changes our lives in some dramatic way: births, deaths, weddings usually make the list. For me, the day I was diagnosed with HIV was a seminal event, the moment my life changed in ways it would take me years to begin to understand. Today is the anniversary of that day.

Although I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, I just discovered that the Stonewall Uprising which is widely regarded as the real kickoff to the gay rights movement began after an early morning police raid of the Stonewall Tavern in Greenwich Village on June 28, 1969. I knew about Stonewall and often cite it as the initial spark that would later fuel the gay community's response to the HIV epidemic – but I didn't know the details…or the date. Today is the 50th anniversary of that incredible historic revolt. I was 6 months old when it happened. Nineteen years later, on that same day in June of 1988, I was diagnosed with HIV. For 31 years, June 28th has carried a dichotomous significance for me, both triumphant and painful. But today, it seems appropriate to celebrate this day for so many reasons. I'm still here. I am 50. I am healthy. I am a mom. And I'm married to the woman I love. A hard-won right I have because those who came before me stood up to bigotry and hate and discrimination. This feels more important to me now than ever because the world we live in, and more importantly, our very own government is systematically attacking so many of the rights we have fought so hard for. We can not allow our government, our society, or our communities to go backwards. And we are the only ones who can stop this from happening. Stonewall taught us what we can do when we come together. Whatever your political affiliation, I am addressing your personhood. Your heart, your soul, your humanity. I believe we are all here for a reason. As we gear up once again for another election cycle, please don't turn off. I need you. My family needs you. My daughters need you. Your voice, your effort, your engagement is essential now. Every phone call to elected officials, every conversation you have with friends and family, every dollar you can direct to important causes or fights, and every vote matters.

To my family and friends, thank you for all you have done to support me and fight with me for 31 years. Our work is not done. I love you all.

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