I went to Gregg Bordowitz’s lecture “On Trying to Shut Up” this past Thursday afternoon at Scripps College. Something that Gregg discussed in his talk that was particularly meaningful to me was the idea that the people who were getting AIDS/HIV the most frequently in the early 1980s were people who were also restricted from healthcare. Included in this group of stigmatized people were gay men, women, people of color, etc. Gregg’s response to help the community was the join the forms of new activist media, so that they could show that these stigmatized groups were still part of the “general public” and deserved fair access to healthcare.
In his essay, Operative Assumptions, Bordowitz says, “the kinds of representations, or the lack of representations, addressing disenfranchised subjects within the field of dominant media can be a primary motivation for making video work,” Bordowitz, page 177.
Nowadays, many people who are dealing with AIDS have access to drug cocktails to counteract the effects of the disease, however the majority of people do not. Of the 35 million people globally who live with AIDS, only about 8 million have access to the cocktail that fights the disease.
Bordowitz discussed at his lecture that he lost one of his best friends to Aids in the early 80s. His response, one that continues to haunt him today is “why did he die and I didn’t?”, and this question is what drives Gregg not to be silent. Silence Equals Death was a common trend and media work during the AIDS movement, and it was a driving motivation in Gregg’s work to get involved with the GMHC. This continued to motivate Gregg following his work producing the “Living with AIDS” cable show, and he became a writer. He said he then would “write until I had no more questions”.