Art As The Medium For Messages
Thank you for your contribution to HIV disclosure to sex partners.
Why can’t we articulate and deliver messages concisely, without obsessing on the avoidance of discomfort? Change involves discomfort, as we move out of our safe zone and take risks, while learning something new. Change in public perception of people living with HIV is needed and discomfort is a necessary component, if we want to end the status quo.
As it is now our messages do not get conveyed adequately and this is why: Organizations listen to direct messages by people living the HIV experience, they then, with our permission, mold and reproduce the messages into what they deem is gentle, acceptable and tolerable for public viewing and the public’s delicate ears. In this process the messages become vague, confusing, get lost in translation, or simply misinterpreted, leaving those living the experience not clearly heard or understood. As these altered versions are reiterated to the general public through various means, the general public, and people living with HIV, believe the altered messages, as this is the point of any public service announcement. The messages, to date, have always translated into blame, shame, silence and criminalization, which are all symptoms of oppression.
People living with HIV, along with our allies, need to continue to tell our stories, in various forms, to inform the public of what is going on to invoke change. We are united and will resolve the communication problems, through our daily actions and interactions, beginning with stating our direct messages and not complacently relying on others to do this for us, even if the messages are not always soft and soothing. This involves risk taking and commitment on many levels from everyone in the HIV community, including our support for those in the HIV community who are unable to mobilize themselves. More importantly it involves the public getting ready to receive our direct messages, feel discomfort and act on the messages accordingly.
We need to convince those in the most powerful and strategic positions to assist us as we disseminate our messages directly, bereft of manipulation and soft marketing strategies. Artists who use their talent, skills and influence in taking risks to express direct messages, be it through music, film, theater, writing and any other art form, to speak out against human rights violations against people living with HIV, will continue to create discomfort.
The direct message, simply stated, is – As people living with HIV we will not be stigmatized. We will not be criminalized. We will not be marginalized. We will not experience fear or be on the receiving end of behaviour induced by fear. We are equal and expect to experience intimacy and sex in the same way that everyone else does. We will continue with the message until it is heard, understood and accepted in every artistic form available to us.
Poz People and Our Supporters