Aids Memorial Day 2010

Yesterday it was Aids Memorial Day and in Amsterdam people gathered in the Dominicus Church to commemorate those who died of aids. There were several hundred people, gay, straight, transgender, from all kinds of cultures and nationalities. For the first time there was a speech by a muslim, Emir Belatoui of the gay muslim organisation Secret Garden. He spoke about the problems muslim people face when they are diagnosed with hiv/aids, often dying in loneliness, without being able to tell their family. Quilts were all over the church and in the middle was a big red ribbon where everyone could light a candle. It was very moving when the lights were dimmed in the church and hundreds of names were called out, of those who died of aids now and in the past (in The Netherlands there are still about 2 people each year who die of aids). This was followed by everyone standing and singing the moving aids hymn The Rose. We then walked in a parade from the church to the Torensluis bridge at the Singel, carrying white balloons with names of those who died on them. My lover Eric headed the group in his Scottish uniform, playing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes. Eric was diagnosed with hiv in 1987 and after several years of illnesses was saved by the medication that came available in 1996. He has been very lucky and we’re very happy he is one of the longtime survivors. At the Torensluis we let the balloons fly up in the air. The memorial day was like every year a moving social event.

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