Oscar Wrapped with Ribbons
Red carpet attendees may have a new accessory this Sunday at the Academy Awards, a knotted white ribbon showing support for marriage equality. On the Grammy red carpet, Dave Stewart and the Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl sported the symbol, while Ann Hathway wore one at Inaugural events. Hathaway will be wearing the ribbon at the Oscars along with some of those involved with Milk says Frank Voci, who created the WhiteKnot.org campaign.
But what has happened to the red ribbon signifying support of HIV/AIDS awareness and treatment? Karen Ocamb, news editor of the magazine IN Los Angeles told La Figa:
Every year during the 80s and early 90s–when we were powerless to stop the daily dying of our friends and lovers–we would watch big public events like the Academy Awards to see if and who was wearing a red ribbon, a symbol of HIV/AIDS awareness. With the government blatantly refusing to see gay men as human beings worth saving–and a society scared of "catching" AIDS–those red ribbons were like pin-pricks of light in a very dark storm.
Red ribbons are not seen so much now at events–though the Gay Men’s Chorus wore them when they performed during the Inaugural opening ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial–but that storm of HIV infection continues. The CDC recently revised their annual estimate of new HIV infections upwards to 56,000, and the problem is especially acute in the Black communities. According to the Black AIDS Institute, in 2006:
Black Americans represented 45 percent of people newly infected in 2006, despite being just 13 percent of the population.
Men who have sex with men accounted for 53 percent of all new infections in 2006, and young Black men were particularly hard hit.
Black gay and bisexual men between the ages of 13 and 29 accounted for more new HIV infections among gay and bisexual men than any other race or age group. And more than half, or 52 percent, of all Black gay and bi men infected that year were under 30 years old.
Voci is hoping the white ribbons make an impact and keep marriage equality in the public consciousness. To Karen Ocamb whichever color ribbons chosen will represent recognition and human rights:
This Sunday, the world will tune into the Oscars and hopefully see several celebrities wearing white ribbons–symbolizing the struggle for marriage equality. This, too, is important given the blatant denial of gay and lesbian humanity by stripping away the fundamental constitutional right to marry through Prop 8. Straight people don’t seem to realize that refusing to recognize our love for each other kills us a little bit inside.
And this is the point–whether the red ribbon or the white ribbon–we are clamoring for the basic right to be seen and treated as human beings.