I love real rainbows. And rainbow symbols, when they stand for inclusion.
My cold (heavy duty cold) since Saturday has started to lift just in time for my downtown job tomorrow. (And I am not taking my 80 mg Geodon tonight. I'm not doing that again. I'll take the lower-dose ones during the day, and deal with the energy roller-coaster. But I want to sleep tonight, and wake up in the morning, and go to downtown work, and play normal for a day.)
I did something very bipolar today after being bed bound for three days. I started the process of running for a city council position (the San Francisco HIV Services Planning Council), in vernacular, the Care Council.
I had a good phone interview today with the council's training manager. The role wouldn't require more work than the board of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, which I handled well for six years, several years ago. I can't regulate enough to keep up with any consistent day-to-day work, and I feel worse mentally now, but I do have abilities, and a lot of relevant experience, although I would be a minority voice in the extreme since I'm not in line with any women's HIV groups that I have found, but I believe what I have to say matters and isn't being said anywhere, and not speaking is making me sick, maybe sicker. And have been in the past capable of pulling it together for intensely involved brief spans of scheduled time, and this would require one three hour meeting a month, and one two hour committee meeting a month plus retreats - same as the Foundation's requirements. It is more public in that the three hour deliberations are open to public audience (whereas the Foundation had private meetings with scheduled public commentary), - but this would be less public, in that it wouldn't require media representation, formal public speaking, and fundraising schmoozing with way too many, way too important people - which was as exhilarating as it was confusing and destabilizing at the Foundation.
I don't know if I am up to the kind of involvement I threw myself into when I thought I was dying (years ago). But it also may be that I need that kind of parsed intensity of involvement for my well-being, like Jenji's quoting Hellen Keller in yesterday's comments that "true happiness comes through fidelity to a worthy purpose." It is my nature to do things in the extreme or to retreat in extreme. I need to be able to coordinate my "natural" or "ill" rhythms with fidelity to worthy purpose, to be at peace. I thought writing here was to some degree a worthy purpose I could maintain fidelity to, but am still affected by the criticisms I was offered that what I write is just self-serving. Even though others have said otherwise.
I was emailed a five page application to fill out to bring to the Care Cousil's next meeting which I am to witness on Monday (at the LGBT Center which does not feel appropriate to me, although they are generous with their space to other groups as well, including women with HIV/AIDS regardless of sexual orientation), (but this is usually in a city building in the Civic Center) - and I don't even have a printer.
I am running to raise awareness of demographic discrimination and to "fight for" -[my Lent - my Love]- "work toward"- inclusiveness in HIV mental health, social support services, and community building for people who do not already have communities - for (ultimately) creation of an HIV/AIDS community of inclusiveness of every single human body with HIV in it.
I believe in discrimination. I don't believe "discrimination" - meaning to be discriminating, is a bad word - and I believe it is appropriate, necessary, and right for epidemiological prediction, and prevention programs and outreach to target specific groups. But once a body of any human kind has HIV in it, I do not believe it is alright to exclude them from human need services on the basis of not fitting a demographic category of a group determined to have your needs in more number.
And for, specifically and personally, a UCSF AIDS Service Organization (AIDS Health Project) funded to serve HIV+ PEOPLE to deny a person coming in for an HIV test without even offering her individual risk assessment, because she doesn't fit the highest group risk demographic no matter what her risks may have been, when a possibly low risk gay man is offered the medical procedure he seeks no matter what, is unethical and unconscionable, - and blamed, along with other things seeming like problems to me, by the agency, on the Care Counsil which determines allocation of funding to the service agencies. So if I don't have the leverage of at least being an effort on that council my words are ineffectual at that agency (which just, over the Christmas holiday removed the women's restroom. There is now a unisex/disabled restroom where the men's room used to be, and a men's sign on the door of the women's room I have gone to for years to collect myself after hard appointments before facing the outside world. I'm sure, now, that there were practicalities involved in that decision making, but at that day, coming in from a storm to wipe of my face before an appointment, in a restroom that rarely had anyone in it, a kind of unintended sanctuary space for years, and to be told, "No," from down the hall, "Wait you can't go in there," by the receptionist, and see a big brightly colored men's sign in my face, was kind of a last straw. I'm not going to say what I did.
I am not being pessimistic. My Lent - my Love. And AHP has supported and stood up for me on personal terms more than any other agency has. And provides valuable services to the people it provides them to, including psychotherapy and psychiatry to me.
What I mean is (to continue in non-negative tone is): HIV testing and counseling service programs at "non-exclusive" AIDS Service Organizations could be redesigned and expanded such that funding be allocated to advertise testing and test counseling to highest risk groups, as they are, but such that no woman is denied and referred away who comes in anyway and walks up to the front desk and says, "I need an HIV test" without at least assessing and counseling her first. Maybe she has more than good enough reason to think she's infected. Maybe she's never going to work up the nerve to go ask for a test again someplace else. - But will keep on thinking it. - Will quit going to doctors altogether. Take her while you have her.
I am the only HIV+ woman I've ever heard of who doesn't care about segregated (always to be lesser here) women's services, although I respect the preferences and needs of women who do. For whatever healthy or repressed, angry, stubborn, too hurt, or random reasons, - what I am passionate about is inclusiveness of HIV services that do pertain to human needs indiscriminately. And I better stop here with that.