How the AIDS Quilt Changed My Life

The Washington AIDS quilt turned 25 this month. It was started in 1987 to commerate 40 victims and today honors 93,000 people.
Truth be told I have only known 1 person with the dreaded disease, and have had no exposure to this issue. Yet the quilt has had a dramatic impact on my life. One morning in the early 90s I was up early and watching TV to pass the time before everyone else was up (well played insomnia, well played). A newspiece about the quilt aired and my inititial thoughts were ones of disgust. “Why do we have to waste time commerating a bunch of druggies and sexual perverts,” I thought to myself. The news moved on, but sharp sense of agitation stayed with me. It was then that I swear I heard the voice of our Lord speaking to me (one of only a handful of times I have experienced this event). “How dare you think ill of people I love,” the voice seemed to be saying, “If I sent my son to die for them, then the least you can do idly mourn their passing.”
I repented of my unconscious and inherited (in retrospect I was parroting the party line from the conservative radio hosts of the day) bias, and committed myself to taking better stock of the mix of voices in my head.
But more than that I learned a couple of valuable lessons that morning. First our God is for the least of these. His word describes his followers as those who seek to heal the sick and bring comfort to the dying. Second there is no value in dehumanizing others, even or especially those living lives differing from one’s own. Truly these are people made by God, and loved by him.
If you are one of those bemoaning the liberalism of my later years, you should look to that moment as one of the key events leading to my slide to the dark side. That was the moment I purposed in my heart to never let homophobia dwell in my being (which led to similar resolves about racism or sexism). That was the moment I decided to love and accept first, trust Gid’s ability to speak truth into the lives of his people, and let others sort their morality out for themselves.


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