Dec. 1, 1988. I was in London, at a performance of The Secret of Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke. At the curtain call, Brett made a speech about that being the first World AIDS Day. The ushers passed around collection buckets for donations to AIDS service organizations in London. What a concept, I thought: the whole world thinking about AIDS.
Over the years I’ve spent World AIDS Day conducting fundraising events, attending religious services, discussing issues. Tonight I’m leading a conversation on women and AIDS – how women were treated at the beginning of the epidemic and where we are now – at Women & Children First Bookstore in Chicago.
Today is also the launch of my crowdfunding campaign for Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community.
Though I’d written about my own experiences in the early days of the epidemic, it wasn’t until February of last year that the idea for this book popped into my head. I was listening to the “Women of ACT UP” panel at the New York Public Library and all I could think was “their stories need to be told.”
Why a crowdfunding campaign? Writing nonfiction requires research and interviews, the associated costs absorbed by the author. This book, even more than the Friend Grief books, expands those needs. Since not all archives are digitized and not everyone Skypes, travel is required to create the most comprehensive book possible. In 2016, the stories of these women will take me to the East Coast, West Coast and London. I’ve already been offered interviews with amazing people, but I have to travel to get to some of them.
So on this day after Cyber Monday, I’m asking you to partner with me on this book. I think of everyone who’s already offered support so far – members of ACT UP/NY and other AIDS service organizations, Facebook friends I’ve never met, women on the front lines of today’s battle against HIV and AIDS – as partners. I’m asking you to join them.
No writer truly succeeds on their own. We rely on readers, editors, designers, agents, reviewers, librarians, teachers. We rely on people who believe in what we do, who share our passion for sometimes unusual subjects…like straight women in the AIDS community.
I was – and continue to be – one of them, but this book is not about me. It’s about women around the world who for over thirty years have made a difference in the AIDS community: as advocates for themselves and others, fundraisers, researchers, caregivers and friends. Their stories are unique, sometimes painful, often funny and inspiring.
The crowdfunding campaign runs until Jan. 15, and thanks to fiscal sponsorship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, your donation is tax-deductible. Yes, those of you already thinking ahead to April 15 now have an added incentive for supporting my book.
You also have two options for partnering with me: make your donation directly to NYFA or through RocketHub, where I’m offering gifts. (Please be aware that if you donate on RocketHub, your tax-deduction is the amount over the fair-market value of your gift.) Either way your donation is tax-deductible and deeply appreciated.
I hope that you, my readers, will continue to support me in this new project. You can keep up to date on my book by following its Facebook page and through my newsletter (just sign up in the upper right hand corner of this page). There will still be one more Friend Grief book coming in early 2016, but for the next two years my heart, my time and my energy will go towards making Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community a book that will do justice to amazing women.
So, as the tenth Doctor Who was fond of saying, “Allons-y!”