recognizing our fears…

First of all, thank you to everyone who took time to read my post on digital identity and bigot-shaming and/or education, as you all pushed this blog over 2K all-time views, a milestone I’m very proud of, because this is by far my most successful blog attempt ever, and I really hope I can continue to add to conversations and posts my baking fun on here.  So thank you everyone!

Hopefully everyone has a good weekend this last weekend, relaxing or invigorating.  Eugene and I had a busy Saturday, where we drove up to Salem, went to the Salem Witch Museum (which was almost the same, parts of it at least, as when I went there with my dad and other family members about 10 years ago during a trip to Boston for a Red Sox series against the Brewers), and had lunch and walked around Salem.  We then went a bit further north to Alfalfa Farm Winery for a quick tasting, which was fun (6 bucks for 5 tastes and a free etched wine class), and included a yummy Mulled Wine.  We signed up for their email list, which they said means we will get offers to come and volunteer for their traditional grape stomping/mashing/etc.  We then went shopping and bought our Christmas “tree,” which is really just a tiny, foot high, cute thing, which is perfect for our apartment and our decorating ambition.  So, a good weekend.

The thing that I wanted to post about here though, was a moment and exhibit from the Salem Witch Museum that I thought was really, really interesting.  One of the things I’ve been sort of struck by, at small random moments, here in Massachusetts, was the mainstream recognition of the GLBTQ community, that we could be talked about in public as an equal community without anyone batting an eyelash.  That has not happened for me, living in Ohio or Texas, and it’s an interesting dynamic of living in Massachusetts, which was the first state to recognize equal marriage.

There was an exhibit at the Salem Witch Museum that talked about witch hunts, and they offered an equation for witch hunts, which was: Fear + Trigger = Scapegoat.  For the Salem Witch Trials, the equation was Satan/Witches + the name of the first accuser of witchcraft (I can’t remember it, sorry) = 150 innocent Salem residents.  At the bottom of this list, which also included the Red Scare and McCarthy, was the following equation: Infection (Fear) + AIDS (Trigger) = Gay Community (Scapegoat).

I was stunned.  This period in American history (granted, it is still young, we are talking the early 80s mainly) is largely covered up and never talked about, the demonizing of the gay community around the outbreak of the AIDS crisis.  A time when our only voice was ACT UP, against a tide of silence and hatred, when Ronald Reagan effectively allowed the spread of this disease because he was too scared to face it and we say signage and statements from fellow Americans that was a precursor to the things Westboro says today, along the lines of “AIDS is the Gay Cure” and so on.  So,  this recognition of that time period, that stigma, and that profound crisis within the gay community was a striking moment.

It was only fitting, as I reflected on seeing that in an unrelated site, the Witch Museum, that it was December 1st, World AIDS Day, where as a human community, we should be recommitting ourselves to the continued and ongoing fight against AIDS and the stigma it still holds in our society.


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