My book “truth be bold—Serenading Life and Death in the Age of AIDS” (Finishing Line Press, 2017), was taught this semester by Patrick E. Horrigan to an English honors class, Art and Literature in the Age of AIDS, at Long Island University Brooklyn. All readings were paired with chapters from David France’s monumental book about the epidemic and ACT UP, “How to Survive a Plague.”
It was a great honor to be invited as a guest speaker. On Nov 27, 2017, I met with the class through Skype to answer their twenty seven plus questions.
Professor Horrigan said, “After twelve weeks of intensive reading all over the map about the history of the epidemic, and the art, music, and literature that have flowed from that ongoing human disaster students were ready for a different approach to the material and Julene really delivered.”
I framed my talk by reading a couple of my poems (“The Addition of Audience: A Meditation” and “Snake in Paradise”), at the beginning and the end of our time. Addressing their questions I spoke about my work as a writer, counselor, survivor, and the intensive eighteen years I was an AIDS case manager and adherence counselor. A few issues evoked in our discussion included: secondary trauma, drug use and it’s impact on the spread of HIV, disclosure of status and it’s ramifications, the development of boundaries, and death with dignity or physician-assisted dying.
As World AIDS Day is coming up on December 1, 2017, I invite you to remember the many lost through this plague and to do what you can to support those working to find a cure, to support the survivors who still need services, and to take the test and know you are not one of the 20% who do not know their positive status.
The photo of me was created for Positive Affirmation Day on December 2nd. Positive Affirmation Day is celebrated as a Facebook Group, which states: “How we speak about and describe the virus can limit us and perpetuate the negative associations we make. World Aids Day is an opportunity to remember, to honour the past, so Positive Affirmation Day is a time to be present, alive and joyful. On the 2nd of December we can affirm that living with this virus does not prevent us from loving, contributing and creating a greater world for future generations.”