Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Letter from a Reader that Makes it All Worthwhile

Hi All,

Below is a letter I got yesterday from a reader in London regarding my AIDS-era love story, CAREGIVER. More than money, more than fame, it's this kind of connection to a reader that really defines what I do and makes me want to go on telling stories that matter...

Dear Mr Reed

I wanted to write and thank you for your amazing story. It was just so beautifully written and also appropriate 30 years on from the emergence of HIV and AIDS.

I am a part time priest in the Diocese of London and an African woman. I am also a community activist on the issue of HIV, and on the issue of LGBT human rights abroad. Part of what I do is try to mobilise churches here in London to respond to HIV both here in the UK and home in Africa. Sometimes it can be an uphill struggle and it is books like Caregiver that encourage me not to give up.

I loved Caregiver because it recalls the days before anti-retrovirals. It is also a reminder not to take treatment for granted. In the UK today many people have forgotten the eighties and early nineties when people were dying of AIDS here. I think it is important not to forget and to use the pain and loss from the past to continue to respond to HIV and to push for access to treatment for people everywhere.

There was a particular part in the book at the end where Dan had written to Adam saying that if he had stayed alive a few more years he would have seen the advent of treatment. Whilst I was reading your book the analytical part of me kept saying 'if only he could have lived a few more years he would have made it.' I just had a real sense of loss as I read the book.

You also touched on a very important issue about the treatment of bereaved gay partners who were often overlooked by their partners families. In all the debates we have today about the decriminalisation of homosexuality and gay marriage you have touched something very important and it is simply about the humanity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. This is something I can hold onto.

I am not gay, but I am involved in the struggle for lgbt human rights in Africa and elsewhere because of this humanity. This is sometimes a very difficult path to walk as an African woman and as a member of the clergy. Holding on to the humanity of others helps me both to see and act.

I have so many friends who are alive today because of anti-retrovirals. There are many African women who are alive today because of the early struggles of white gay men. This might seem a controversial statement to make, but its true. African women are often invisible or not heard. We would have found it hard to struggle on our own. We have a lot to thank God for, and we still have much ground to cover and work to do.

You have told a beautiful story that reminds me that we must not take treatment for granted and that we must never forget those who were lost.

Thank you.

Ijeoma Ajibade

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  1. Excellent. Most excellent. Go forth, celebrate, and write more.

  2. Beautiful Rick, thats the only thing I can say, beautiful.

  3. It's great when you can touch a reader, even just one, in such a profound way. Congrats, Rick!

  4. How amazing to touch someone you've never met. Who was it who said strangers are just friends we haven't met yet?