22 07 2014

New Melbourne music

22 07 2014

So excited for the new Kimbra album!

22 07 2014

22 07 2014

AIDS 2014

22 07 2014

Coinciding with my visit to Melbourne was the city’s hosting of the AIDS2014 summit, a meeting of ten thousand doctors, researchers, public health workers, advocates and activists from all over the world, dedicated to combatting AIDS. The terrible “crash” of the MH17 flight, which had been carrying 100 passengers bound for the conference, cast a pall over the event and wellwishers left flowers and notes at the foot of the large sign the city had erected for the conference over the city’s main bridge.

Inside the convention centre meanwhile, a “global village” had been set up with stalls from NGOs from all over the world, sharing their strategies and their concerns. There were groups for HIV-positive women in Kazhakstan, men who have sex with men in East Africa, indigenous peoples in the Pacific, sex workers, drug users and countries ranging from Pakistan and Egypt to Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Brazil, China, India, and of course (sadly) a heavy African presence. Visitors included the Indonesian Minister for Health, Nfsaih Mboi, who spoke powerfully:

It was also interesting to see the different approaches different countries have taken to combatting the epidemic, from Australia’s recent “Our team” self esteem-building campaign, a stark departure from the notoriously scary (if effective) early “Grim reaper” advertisements (below) to Thailand’s cheeky “suck, f#ck, test, repeat” message.

Holding the Man: A Melbourne AIDS love story

22 07 2014

The AIDS2014 conference reminded me of one of the great Melbourne books, Timothy Connigrave’s “Holding the Man”, since made into a play featuring the actors above.

It is the autobiographical story of two teenage Melbourne boys who fall in love in a private school in Kew, coincidentally very close to the area in which I grew up.

Against all odds, their love story continues over their whole life and is only ended when the narrator’s boyfriend dies after a long and terrible battle with AIDS. Shortly before the book was published, the author himself also died.

Its a beautiful story – not at all as mawkish or emotionally manipulative as it may sound  - full of honesty about what its like to grow up gay, naive and innocent at first, frank in other parts and in the end, brutal.

I was a wreck for days after reading it at the tail end of my teenage years – but few books since have affected me – or many others – so powerfully.

Museum of AIDS in Africa: Too late for some

22 07 2014

One of the most touching exhibitors at AIDS 2014 was the Museum of AIDS in Africa, an “online memorial” (although a concrete home is to follow, housed in Johannesburg), to commemorate the horrific consequences of AIDS in the area where it has hit hardest, Africa. The museum does this in a very personal way, by asking visitors to fill out a postcard describing the person they wish to remember, the nature of their relationship and the date and circumstances of their death. I found it brave and sad and beautiful.


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