One Twelve Zero-Zero

Today is World AIDS Day, dedicated to the continuing awareness of AIDS. The observance of World AIDS Day has spawned the Day Without Art, dedicated to raising AIDS awareness through artistic means (including, as the name implies, refraining from art). The Day Without Art, in turn, has spawned the Day Without Weblogs, a day in which participating weblogs "go dark" for a day, or feature a day of exclusively AIDS-themed content.

Today, the Laboratorium isn't featuring a DW^2 banner. It's not turning black. It's not deleting all the "regular" content. It's not running a long series of links to AIDS news, stories, and commentary. In short, the Lab today is just like the Lab any other day, except that today I'm writing about AIDS. The Lab, as it has come to understand itself, is a place for discussion and commentary, a way for me to say things that I think need to be said. For all the symbolism of silence, my contribution to the world here at the Lab has always been communication. And that's what I think the Lab's contribution to AIDS awareness can and must be: to keep talking, to not just shut up about things we already know about, but instead to try and pull AIDS into the context of everything else we talk about.

This approach harbors a political point about AIDS, too. The public history of AIDS in the last two decades has been a refusal to talk, an unwillingness to make connections. AIDS has been the Other, a disease affecting Them. And when They died, well, their voices went silent and something went missing. So We fall silent too, for a moment to commemorate Them, but when the conversation resumes, Their voices are gone from it and if the conversation is otherwise unchanged, then we have truly lost and AIDS has won. Awareness isn't just about commemoration. It's about medical research. It's about people continuing to live their lives HIV+. It's about Third World public health crises that transcend AIDS itself. It's about speaking to misinformation and fear. It's about the living, continuing, conversation, about learning what can and cannot be done and at what cost.

Silence is a powerful symbol. But I think its greatest symbolic power is to remind us of the necessity of speech.

Keep talking. Speak to me. Speak my language.