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Counterpunch

Red Ribbons' Message of Awareness

March 29, 1993|DAVID MICHAELS and SUSAN SIMONS | Michaels and Simons are the West Coast chairpersons of the Ribbon Project.

We are distressed that the Calendar article about red ribbons turned out the way it did ("The AIDS Ribbons' Tangled Message: Why Some See Red," Calendar, March 24). The headline and early portions of the story stressed controversy, particularly the suggestion that some people use AIDS ribbons as a "cop-out" to avoid doing more in the fight against the disease. In fact, as the balance of the story clearly indicates, hardly any controversy exists concerning the red ribbons.

We want to make sure that the point of wearing a red ribbon is clearly understood. When a celebrity wears a ribbon on an awards show--as many surely will tonight at the Academy Awards--it sends a clear message to anyone watching that we must constantly be aware of the AIDS epidemic. It sends a message to people with AIDS that they are not alone. It will hopefully inspire a fan of that celebrity to make a contribution to an AIDS organization. It will hopefully remind someone to use a condom when having sex later that night. It stands as a symbol that this is not a disease that affects only one type of person. It reminds us that we are all living with AIDS.

The ribbon is a message of awareness. Yes, it is a politically correct statement, but not a hollow one. Anyone who wears a ribbon is spreading AIDS awareness. If a certain celebrity does nothing else but spread that awareness, then he or she will have done something good and important with the power that comes with being famous.

Naturally, we would hope that everyone does a lot more, and we know that wearing a ribbon is not enough. A red ribbon doesn't feed or clothe someone. A red ribbon will not help find a cure.

But it is a first step that brings AIDS out of the shadows and makes a breach in the wall of fear that has paralyzed so many. The ribbon inspires us and reminds us that we all must do all we can both financially and physically and that we must all imagine, demand and work for a cure.

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