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Michael Yoder

Michael Yoder

Michael Yoder currently works with POZitively Connected, a project of Vancouver Island Persons Living with HIV AIDS Society. Positively Connected provides social connection and support to gay/bi men living with HIV. He has previously sat on the board of directors of the Canadian AIDS Society (CAS), and has been involved in the HIV/AIDS movement since 1987. He worked with CAS in development and writing of the One Foot Forward Series of self training modules for people living with HIV and other work. Michael is always available for writing work, workshop development/presentation as well as public speaking.

Michael's social media connections are @michaely1961 on twitter and on Facbook here.

Feb18

Beige…

Wednesday, 18 February 2015 Written by // Michael Yoder Categories // Activism, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Michael Yoder

Michael Yoder sees “a beige pall descending over the AIDS industry. Down to zero, Stop AIDS, Treatment as Prevention and other campaigns that focus on the mechanics of HIV seem to have robbed us of any imagination and life.”

Beige…

“…the bland leading the bland.” 

Murray Schumach 

It may just be me (it often is), but I sense a beigeness to things. It could be my age – at 53 I don’t have the same “oomph” I did when I was a cherry-cheeked youth full of piss and vinegar, and I’ve talked with others my age who are going through the same mid-life crisis. We’re questioning what our roles are, what our identity is in just about everything and with just about everyone. And we have no answers. 

Everything seems bland and beige. 

I also sense a beige pall descending over the AIDS industry. Down to zero, Stop AIDS, Treatment as Prevention and other campaigns that focus on the mechanics of HIV seem to have robbed us of any imagination and life. It’s pragmatism versus the colourful ways the soul wants to express itself. 

Perhaps the “movement” is being driven completely by bland necessity. But in that creeping blancmange there is little real “life” – take your meds, protect your partners, get your blood work done, eat well, reduce stress, exercise, take more meds, and on and on. Depressingly average days followed by more depressingly average days. 

It’s like The Blob slowly but determinedly consuming the old guy (the movie reference dates me). It could be that governments of all kinds have created this jelly monster that sluggishly devours our collective brilliance, but it’s a slow death from which we’re not running. 

"It would seem that the more independent we are, the more of a threat we pose."

The DSM has now labelled free-thinking and non-conformity as mental illnesses. It would seem that the more independent we are, the more of a threat we pose. And threats to power are never tolerated. More bland thinking is in order, more beige conformity as we trod through the work creating ever more mind-numbingly dull campaigns that parrot the other campaigns that lead us like cattle with rings through our snouts to the places where “they” want us to go. 

And we do it with happy shiny smiles on our faces. 

How can we shift away from the ordinary and back to the extraordinary? I’m not certain. Being in the place where things feel bland, injecting colour seems like impossibility. We need a sea change to remake who we are, what the “movement” is and does and direct instead of being directed. Sea changes are hard to come by when we’re faced with the prospect of rejecting what we’re fed and the potential of being rejected by the hand that feeds us. And so, we don’t rock the boat, we don’t rattle the cages and we let the sleeping dogs lie. 

We can rename the colours – what was beige can now be “mushroom”, “taupe” or “fawn”. That might make us feel a little more alive, at least for the moment. But at some time we will open our eyes after a fitful sleep and the cell walls will still be beige…

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