Guest Author - Jason P. Ruel
Will I lose my dignity, will someone care? Will I wake tomorrow, from this nightmare? This affirmation is sung in the Broadway Musical and Motion Picture Rent. This is many peoples first exposure to the support group called Life Support.
HBO presents has released a new feature titled Life Support. According to HBO, the movie is “inspired by a true story, [and this film] uses a mix of actors and real people from the HIV/AIDS community to tell the story of an HIV-positive Brooklyn woman named Ana (Queen Latifah), who channels her energy and regret over past drug addiction into working for Life Support, an AIDS outreach group.”
The movie draws the viewer into the inner turmoil of life with AIDS. It also presents the different aspects of living life with AIDS. We see the homeless side of AIDS. We see the survivor side of AIDS. We see the “down low” side of AIDS. We see the youth struggling to live and find a place in the world side of AIDS. We see the different ways of contracting the AIDS virus. We also see the ways to protect yourself from contracting the virus.
This movie is truly inspirational. It shows that we cannot become complacent with AIDS and that just because we think it cannot happen to us, does not mean that it won’t. We cannot assume because someone doesn’t look sick means that they are not. We know the opposite is true. There is no “look” to AIDS. It reminds us that even when we seem to have control of the virus, we truly do not.
The movie shows us that life is tough. Living with AIDS is tougher. It also teaches us that the realization that one is already “sentenced to death” is not enough to place ourselves at risk. In the movie, Ana’s daughter Kelly has a friend Amare. Amare is a young teenager who is gay and has the virus. His parents are dead due to drug abuse. His sister was forced to raise him while still trying to grow up herself. They struggled in the “projects” and the attitude and destructive life of Amare (with drugs and his virus), he was forced to find some place else to live. He went from Kelly’s home to the streets. And the streets swallowed him up. He lost hope. He turned to the only “true” friend he had… drugs and sex. When he goes missing, and Kelly discovers he left his meds at her house, a struggle for life begins. The strained relationship with Kelly and Ana rears it’s ugly head, but in the hopes of rekindling love with her daughter, Ana sets out to find Amare. She embarks on a dangerous but necessary journey, and as she seeks to save one life and heal another, Ana learns a poignant lesson about loving and letting go.
In the end, we are reminded that our struggles in life are really nothing. In the end, AIDS claims us no matter what we do. It also reminds us that while the drug will claim it’s victims in the end, you don’t have to fight it alone. There is support, real support out there. We only have to be willing to reach out and accept the hand that is offered to us.
Watch the movie and challenge yourself not to be moved. It won’t work!
Jason P. Ruel
BellaOnline's Gay Lesbiand and HIV/AIDS Editor