It’s almost Thanksgiving, and for the first time, I’m spending it in New York. I decided to combine a research trip for my 2017 book Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community with a chance to cross something off my life goals list (sounds better than bucket list, doesn’t it?). So on Thursday morning, I’ll be watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person with my family. That opportunity has me thinking about what else I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving, related to my writing.
I’m grateful for research librarians. I’ve always loved school and public librarians, but research librarians are a special breed. Since early last week, I’ve spent time at four different research libraries: the New-York Historical Society, NYU Library (Fales), and the New York Public Library (Brooke Russell Astor Reading Room and the Performing Arts Collection at Lincoln Center). The librarians helping me have been patient and helpful, often making terrific suggestions.
I’m grateful for book launches. I like to support other writers by attending their book launches and I was able to attend one on Sunday night at Bureau of General Services/Queer Division. You’ll be hearing more about Benjamin Heim Shepard’s Rebel Friendships right here when I share my review. I can already tell you it’s fascinating.
I’m grateful for people who are generous with their support. Some have bought my books (thanks!). Some have promoted my books with online reviews and personal recommendations (thanks again!). Many have done what several did last week at the ACT UP meeting. While researching at the University of Chicago library, I found an ad from the early 1990s that was headlined “Women don’t get AIDS. They just die from it.” But I couldn’t find any attribution or provenance. I got up at the meeting to ask if anyone remembered it. Immediately five or six people answered; one gave me his phone number and said, “Call me. I can give you more information.”
Last but not least, I’m grateful for all of you reading this now. There are plenty of days when I wonder if I’m writing in a vacuum, if anyone is reading, if anyone cares. But then I read an email or a comment, and I know that I’m not alone.
December 1 is World AIDS Day. Rosa E. Martinez-Colon and I will be at Women & Children First bookstore in Chicago. We’ll talk about the history of women and AIDS as well as the terrific work of her organization, CALOR, which provides HIV/AIDS services for Latinas. If you’re in the area, here’s the link with more information. I hope you can join us.
Also on that day, I’m launching a crowdfunding campaign to support the research necessary to tell the stories of straight women who have been a part of the fight since the beginning. You’ll find out all the details here next Tuesday, but there will be incentives for your support that I think you’ll like. And for those of you already thinking ahead to April 15, thanks to my partnership with the New York Foundation for the Arts, there will be a special bonus for supporting my campaign: a tax deduction.
All that and more is coming next week. But for now, let’s try to be a little less fearful about the world around us and focus on the things and people that make us thankful.