|Photo of a scene from "Dancing with the Clown of Love" courtesy of Pat Mezzara|
We have come far over these last two years, working together, learning to trust each other, learning to create together, and learning to trust ourselves, and most especially our own voices. We are a group of a dozen or more women who came together in the name of solidarity with the struggle all women face with the disease called AIDS, and taught others who needed to know that stigmas are made to be broken. That life continues after diagnosis. That pain can be shared, lifted and released through the power of movement, voice, song, love and acceptance.
We cannot express all of the feelings of deep joy we feel when we see each and every one of us grow in creativity. We've witnessed women who have found their voices and are writing stories, songs and poems that fly in the face of the terror of this disease. Women whose very existence and thriving while living with the disease stand as living testament that fear can be conquered.
All of us who worked and performed at the recent event sponsored by State Senator Mark Leno in October came to a realization about how important our participation in this work--this theater project that is a living, breathing force for hope--is also so very crucial to the lives of others. Performing before a group of 200 high school women from the San Francisco Unified School District was a revelation for audience and performers.
What was supposed to be a ten-minute Q & A after our twenty minute show was stretched to 45 minutes out of necessity. What started out to be an audience of sometimes distracted teenagers turned into a rapt audience wanting more. Tears were flowing, long-held secrets, pain and fear were opened, ready to be let go. To their great credit, young women exploring their sexual lives are extremely interested in finding out more about the risks of sexually-transmitted disease in this day and age. That we were there, along with our physician-consultant and collaborator Dr. Edward Machtinger from UCSF's Women's AIDS clinic was more than a great resource. Many of us felt afterwards that we conducted an intervention. Hopefully, just in time.
The realization that our voices matter, that our stories are not horrible secrets but truths that can liberate us and our audiences is what we came together for, and what we continue to do. We need to continue telling stories. We need to continue singing, praying, and dancing with the love of life, not the clown of love. We need each other to fight this disease and the stigma attached to it like an army. An army of poets and dreamers ready to engage.
So, to all the women of the Medea Project's HIV Women's Circle, we send this out to you with love and the deepest pride and joy. Happy holidays.