Reflections on The Missing Generation
I would first like to open by thanking Sean Dorsey Dance for coming to Burlington for an incredible week of arts and love, and the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts for hosting such incredible performers to share their passion with us and our community. Another round of thanks is in order for the countless people out there working at AIDS Service Centers, survivors of previous generations, and the generations to come that will continue this incredible work for years to come.
Before Sean Dorsey Dance arrived in Burlington, my experience with stories, survivors, or connection to the AIDS Epidemic were extremely limited due to my upbringing; and I especially did not realize how transformative this experience would be for me. I grew up in a small town in Upstate New York during a time where accessing information or stories of the epidemic was still considered shameful on top of the geographic and societal isolation of queer people made the whole issue taboo; so, with those two barriers, my scope or sense of the struggles of my community during that time of desperation were severely narrowed. After breaching what felt like the surface when I finally made it to college, I was exposed to the histories of my community but only through channels such as reading articles or watching historical films; I was closer to finding this connection or understanding, but there was still a crucial missing piece I would remain unaware of until after moving to the Burlington area. I was unaware just how profound the week of Sean Dorsey Dance would impact me. At Generations Positive, I was able to hear from the people who experienced this crisis which started only a few decades ago. Listening to these stories of grief, resilience, and progress in person and witnessing a performance that portrayed an entire generation’s plight in person was eye opening to say the least. Listening to these stories and seeing the performance helped me understand the gravity of what went on only a few decades ago and why these stories were so important. Being present in the face of these experiences resonated with me to an even deeper level because I was there in person and helped lighten their burden by being present in the same space, just listening
The stories and performance impacted me so much I recognized that the work I am able to do for my community is wholly in thanks to the pioneers, the missing generation, the storytellers of the AIDS epidemic. This experience also allowed me to reorient myself in the sense of how much work there is left to do in HIV/AIDS prevention, intervention, treatment and services; whether they live with the virus or not. After attending such a powerfully moving week of sharing our most intimate selves with community members and strangers alike, my gratitude for the work I am able to do has grown tremendously because of my being present in a space I was unfamiliar with and to my predecessors fight to live and be heard. Thank you.