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For World AIDS Day, let’s remember those we’ve lost to the virus but also remember that we all have an opportunity to fight it.

Today is World AIDS Day, a day that we use to remember those lost to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. It’s also used to remember that many more people are currently living with HIV and AIDS. For queer people, this day is especially important because it’s a reminder of what we’ve lost: an entire generation of artists, musicians, lovers, activists, and elders who had so much to give queer life and the world at large. Tens of thousands of queer people were lost to us. Every year, we end up uncovering or rediscovering art, writing, or music created by this “lost generation”, ever reminding us of the thousands of potentials that were so cruelly and violently lost to us. With that said, it’s important to not only mourn for those lost or lament the talents stolen from us. We also need to remember two vital things: one, the tenacity and ferocity with which queer people — both those with HIV and AIDS and those who don’t have it — fought and continue to fight against HIV and AIDS. We also need to remember that their work to get the US government to listen to their demands has been saving all of our lives, and will continue to as we discover new ways to treat and prevent the disease. One more contribution they gave, not just to people with HIV or AIDS or people at risk to it, but to all of us, was the development of the “right to try” principle. This principle essentially states that those who have an incurable chronic or terminal illness — such as cancer or multiple sclerosis — should have the right to try anything that can potentially extend their lives, treat their suffering, or even cure their ailments.

We’re here, we’re queer, and we belong.

By Linh Cao My heart was pounding in my chest. My breathing was ragged as I squeezed one of my hands with my sweaty palm. I had just come out to a good friend of mine as bisexual and waited patiently for her response. Odds are she wouldn’t reject me outright—we’re millennials in the Bay Area, both having graduated from UC Berkeley. Surely, she’d be open-minded about the whole thing, right? “Dude, that’s awesome!” Exhaling a sigh of relief, I laughed. “I had a girl friend go down on me once too,” she continued, “It was awesome.” I paused. Her reaction was definitely more positive than what the worst-case scenario could have been, but something about that last comment made my stomach churn. I didn’t know what to say so I responded, “So...are you bi too, then?” “Nah, when she asked me to go down on her, I said no, so I’m pretty sure I’m not bi. Vaginas scare me.” Here was a “straight” woman centering herself in the conversation during what I viewed as a pivotal time in our friendship. More than that, she was diminishing my identity as bisexual by comparing it to one hookup that she’d had in the past yet refused to identify herself as bisexual. My friend’s statement was incredibly rude because — and let’s forget the whole bisexual thing for a second—a friend is telling you incredibly personal and huge news—it might just be big enough to change your perspective on said friend or it might not. Either way, your friend is nervous as heck about telling you because there’s stories about people getting hurt when they tell their loved ones about their sexual orientation. Sure, reacting in a friendly way is a good start, but centering yourself in this? It can make your friend feel like you don’t really care about what they’re telling you and that all you care about is talking about yourself and how their news affects you instead of them.

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