The discovery of HIV 30 years ago this June, the unjust vilification of ‘patient zero’ as a result, and the often ignored contribution that colonialism and colonial abuse played in helping HIV spread; it’s hard to know what to do with such a complicated, and painful anniversary.
In the last 30 years, almost 30 million people have lost their lives due to AIDS-related illnesses and 34 million are infected. (That death toll is a lot higher when you remember that HIV is a lot older than 30. HIV most likely came to North America in the 1970’s, and is thought to have originated in sub-Saharan Africa, where it transferred to humans in the late 19th, or early in the 20th, century.)
So much has already been written about the 30th anniversary of HIV, the topic explored heavily here on PositiveLite.com by Viral Load Warrior and others, that I debated writing nothing. But to not make note of it seemed amiss. So for every person that has lived through the last 30 years, for every care-giver, and activist, to a generation of queer men I’ll never know, and to every HIV+ queer man that I do, thank you. I can keep going because of all of you.
Now, to mention the 70th anniversary of Wonder Woman’s creation in the same post as mourning the 30th anniversary of the HIV epidemic may seem distasteful to some, but given the choice between the two, I know which one I‘d rather celebrate. And while HIV has taken much from me over the years, it’s Wonder Woman who has helped to give me the tools to fight it. Her colourful comics helped me learn how to read as a child, her quest for equality helped make me a feminist, her athleticism and skill inspired my first forays into gym culture, and the dichotomy of a warrior diplomat no doubt subconsciously influenced my activism. I had other role-models as a kid, but none fought as hard, or won as often, as the Amazon Princess.
Role models who inspire you to persevere and to be a better person can come from unexpected places. Her creator, William Moulton Marston, was the inventor of the polygraph (the predecessor to the magic lasso) and was moved by his wife, and Olive Byrne, who lived with the couple in a polyamorous relationship, to create a “superhero who would triumph not with fists or firepower, but with love.” It’s said the jewellery worn by both women inspired Wonder Woman’s tiara, and bracelets. One suspects the two beautiful, intelligent, and unorthodox women may have also inspired the repeated bondage themes found in Wonder Woman’s earliest comics.
There is no word yet about how, or if, D.C. Comics will celebrate Wonder Woman’s 70th birthday (which technically is in December) but I hope we’ll see the milestone saluted and discussed in the coming months.
As for the 30th anniversary of HIV, let’s hope it does not exist long enough to see it’s 70th anniversary as Wonder Woman has. Perhaps one day instead, we can celebrate the anniversary of a cure, and perhaps somewhere out there is a little boy or girl moved by the example of heroism set by Wonder Woman who will find it.
P.S. “Hello Daddy!/ Hello Mom!/ I’m your ch-ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!” Check out Wonder Woman, Zatanna, Batwoman, and Black Canary re-imagined as the 1970’s all girl rock band The Runaways below!