The Force Awakens


by David Waggoner

David Waggoner[dropcap]J[/dropcap]ust when you thought it was safe to return to the Internet after recovering from the holidays (or those unplanned hospital stays that often drop into our lives like an unexpected and unwanted guest), someone goes and spoils Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Don’t worry—I won’t spoil it for you, if you haven’t seen it.

Though in some sense, it’s already been spoiled for us. It’s a Hollywood movie, after all—not an independent or European movie, with their tricky, sometimes ironic, endings. We know the broad strokes as we munch our popcorn at the multiplex. In the stand-off of good vs. evil, evil never wins, not permanently. Heroes will rise…I’m starting to sound like that famous voice-over actor who lends his deep tones to the movie trailers.
Of course things work out in the movies because the stories are a way for us to imagine what could be; it’s a way to give us hope that what is could change. We know that some battles are long, and that sometimes the odds are seemingly forever in the opponents’ favor. But we also have proof that justice can prevail, in great measure, in some small measure, or maybe not even in our lifetime. Why we despise spoilers for an anticipated movie is not because we don’t know what will happen. We despise spoilers because there’s a part of us that delights in not knowing how it will happen, or who will rise to the challenge.
And that love of welcomed surprise keeps us forward-looking, toward the good things that may come to pass. That’s what January is all about, the future. And, optimist that I am, I’m going to give away some spoilers for the coming year. You will achieve more balance in your life. You will find the support network that you need. You will find the time and energy to take better care of your health. But I have no idea how this will happen, and neither, perhaps, do you.

Our cover story interviewee, world-famous photographer Greg Gorman, certainly had no idea that when he borrowed a friend’s camera to take a few concert snaps he would eventually establish a career behind the lens. Photography chose him, he says. He had no idea that the man who would launch his career, Robert Hayes of Interview, would be among the first of his friends and colleagues to die of AIDS. As he tells A&U’s Alina Oswald about his current involvement in the Elton John AIDS Foundation and why he is inspired, “I think a big part of it is what Elton’s organization is so focused on, and that is educating people [about] AIDS awareness. [HIV/AIDS] is not over by any stretch of imagination. Just because there are good meds [available] and you’re seeing statistics in many areas drop, it does not mean that this is the time for people to be clueless or careless.” Despite years of loss, Gorman is still looking toward the future.

With this issue, we invite you to look toward the future and make your resolutions, or as George M. Johnson, one of our newest columnists calls them, New Year’s revolutions. Along with George M. Johnson, columnists Heather Arculeo, Tyeshia Alston, Justin B. Terry-Smith, and Robert Zukowski all offer advice about how to prepare our action plans for 2016, whether it means starting or expanding our advocacy efforts for individuals living with and affected by HIV/AIDS or trying out new alternative/complementary therapies.

For myself, I am emboldened by a future farther away than 2016, one that includes the end of AIDS. Whether that means increased acceptance and implementation of PrEP (see Chip Alfred’s article in this issue about straight-identified couples using the new prevention tool); more efficacious AIDS meds or a working HIV vaccine, as Chael Needle and Jeannie Wraight discuss in their columns, respectively; the steadfast involvement of advocates like Maria Davis and Rae Lewis-Thornton, both featured in these pages; or something no one has yet thought of, I know the end of AIDS will happen and I am happy to be surprised about how it will happen. So, let’s raise a glass of leftover egg nog to our daily efforts toward self-care and AIDS advocacy. In a world…ravaged by stigma and indifference…heroes will rise….


David Waggoner is Editor in Chief and Publisher of A&U, the first national HIV/AIDS magazine in the U.S.