adj. proud•er, proud•est
1. Feeling pleasurable satisfaction over an act, possession, quality, or relationship by which one measures one’s stature or self-worth:proud of one’s child; proud to serve one’s country.
2. Occasioning or being a reason for pride: “On January 1, 1900, Americans and Europeans greeted the twentieth century in the proud and certain belief that the next hundred years would make all things possible” (W. Bruce Lincoln).
3. Feeling or showing justifiable self-respect.
4. Filled with or showing excessive self-esteem.
5. Of great dignity; honored: a proud name.
6. Majestic; magnificent: proud alpine peaks.
7. Spirited. Used of an animal: proud steeds.
My name is Aaron Matthew Laxton. I am a lot of things but above all else I am proud. I am proud of my successes and I am proud of surviving failures. I am a proud queer who finds nothing wrong with being termed a queer. I am a leather-man who isn’t afraid to wear my leather and gear anywhere and everywhere. I am a proud International HIV/AIDS activist. I am a person who is living with HIV and I proudly, without shame make that known. Pride for me is about having a self-respect and not allowing anyone to take that away. Friends cannot take it away, families cannot take it away, religious institutions cannot take it away!
You see, I am proud and over the last two years since I was diagnosed with HIV I have gotten the amazing chance to talk with people from around the world who are newly diagnosed. I have gotten the chance to talk with LGBTIQ brothers and sisters from around the world who out of fear and stigma cannot live their lives out loud. This makes me sad for them and it motivates me to help change things.
Each time I talk to a newly diagnosed person, whether it is a young person or an adult, the message is the same… Your life is not over. On June 6, I celebrated 2 years since I was diagnosed with HIV. Since that time I have had ups and downs but through it all I can say that I am a stronger person. As I travel to Washington, D.C. regularly I proudly proclaim that I am Aaron M. Laxton throughout Capitol Hill.
As we take a moment to celebrate pride month, let us look inward and examine what we truly are proud of. Yes there are parties and parades but this should also be a time of reflection what where we have came from as well as a look forward to where we want to go. Although we live in a Country that seemingly is on the tipping-point regarding marriage equality, we also must recognize that globally discrimination against those who are LGBTIQ still exists. The fight must continue.
We have never been closer to a CURE for HIV than we currently are however the education and determination of the LGBTIQ communities must continue. As a community we must continue to press the Congress to fund programs such as Ryan White and PEPFAR to address the global AIDS Epidemic. We must also continue the fight against stigma against those living with HIV/AIDS. While HIV/AIDS is not exclusively an LGBTIQ issue, this community has been disproportionally impacted and bore the brunt of the losses over the last 30 years. As a community we must also continue with vigilance our fight against bullying, so that no child should ever feel as if suicide is the only answer.
In the words of Woody Woodruff, IML 2012, “What is your song?” What are you proud of and why?
Until my next blog…Do something positive!