Nancy Reagan died over the weekend.
Please do not give her the ‘glory’ you all think she deserves.
You are hearing this from someone who was there…
Her anti-drug campaign was a fallacy based on an off-hand, dismissive comment that did not even begin to address the factors that young people faced in their every-day, working-poor lives. She flippantly told her handlers to “well, tell them to just say ‘no.'”
When AIDS reached our country, she, and her husband, the White House, the Nation, laughed and turned their backs as my friends died in droves, our communities decimated in a matter of months. No one deserves the lack of sympathy she and her husband showed us.
They left us out there, alone, because those homosexuals were not worthy of their concern.
I speak not just of the gay men whose deaths left holes in our hearts, but as a health care professional who honestly did not know if we would contract and die of AIDS simply because we touched the men who came to us, dying before our eyes so quickly, in days, weeks, and for reasons that we could not counter with any of the knowledge and medicines we had available to us at the time.
We did not know, but we touched them anyway, through gloved hands, our faces masked, our bodies covered with paper gowns that may, or may not, protect us.
My first AIDS patient was an eleven-year-old boy who had contracted the disease through a blood transfusion for a clotting-factor disease. His mother asked if she could touch him, hold him, as he lay dying, scared that she may contract the disease as well, but even more afraid that he would die alone, without knowing that she was there with him. And I honestly did not know, she knew that, but I said ‘yes’ anyway, knowing that he was all that she had and that neither of them deserved to be apart from each other in that moment.
It was a huge risk at the time, and she knew it, but she took it anyway.
She held him as he died, her tears falling on his face, risking her own health so that he would not die without her.
I will never forget that.
I will never forgive her, them, this Nation, for their callous indifference.
So please, do not glorify her. None of them deserve it.