Thursday, 1 December is World AIDS Day. There will be many things to do to commemorate the day in Indianapolis and across the world. In Seymour, Indiana, about one hour south of here, the local chapter of PFLAG together with a group of sponsors, headed by the Indiana AIDS fund, will host Dr Anil Mangla, Epidemiologist for the Indiana State Department of Health, in a town where the hospital still refuses to refer people who ask about a support group for people living with AIDS to the PFLAG chapter, the only group in town that cares for such people. Such professional misconduct is still far to frequent, and far to smug, in this state.
Although I am honored to be the secretary of the chapter, I do not think I reveal bias in reporting that my colleagues have demonstrated remarkable imagination, courage and devotion over the years in all that the chapter does. Because it is the day after Thanksgiving, let me say that one of the things I give most thanks for is my association with this remarkable group of people.
Only a handful of years ago, a small group of PFLAG members and friends celebrated World AIDS Day in Seymour, shivering in the cold on the library lawn, warmed only by a few candles that they held in the wind and the generosity of their hearts. Since then, the event, with the continuing support of the Indiana AIDS fund, has grown, and last year, the event, now indoors despite the refusal of local Christian congregations to allow the use of their churches, earned front page coverage in the Seymour Tribune with headlines across the top of the page, which was almost entirely devoted to the event, including photographs. That story led a distraught mother of a young man who had recently died of the disease to the support that the hospital heartlessly denied her a few months earlier. Visibility for our community is still a struggle and visibility matters to the well being of our friends and loved ones.
This year, the event will be bigger, with an important speaker and more sponsors. When you are deciding what to do in remembrance, please consider that your presence in Seymour will mean a lot in the struggle to persuade this part of rural Indiana to accept the realities of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and their sons and daughters. Besides although we remember those we have lost, we look forward with optimism to a better future and the fellowship is warming on a night that may be cold outside. I hope to see many of you there.
Directions & Invitation follow: