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COUNTERPUNCH LETTERS : Red Ribbons of Awareness

October 03, 1994

As the West Coast chairpersons of the Ribbon Project, we must comment on Michael Kearns' Counterpunch about the 46th annual nighttime Emmy Awards ("Take the 'A' Word Out of the Closet," Sept. 19). We know and respect Kearns and even agree with him that the word AIDS was conspicuously missing from the broadcast. However, this is no reason to bash the red ribbons, and certainly no reason to bash the people who wore them.

I'm sure it is true that there are some celebrities and production personnel who wear the ribbons without thought for their meaning and without doing anything else for the cause. However, we believe this is the exception, not the rule.

The fight against AIDS has been going on for more than 13 years, and very little has been accomplished in the way of a cure. To stop wearing the ribbons now would send a message of defeat. Remember, we are not wearing these AIDS-awareness ribbons to impress each other; we are trying to reach the public around the country and the world.

Every time a ribbon makes someone think about the disease, make a donation, volunteer time or even have some compassion for a person with AIDS, then the ribbon has accomplished its goal.

But, Michael, don't bash Angela Lansbury, who has donated countless hours to this cause. Don't bash Aaron Spelling--he got "And the Band Played On" on the air . And don't bash Faye Dunaway, who arrived wearing her ribbon without having to be reminded.

And please don't confuse the issue of AIDS awareness with the issue of gay rights. Both issues are extremely important but completely separate. To combine the issues negates all the work we've all done making the public understand that AIDS is not "the gay disease," that AIDS does not discriminate by race or gender or sexual preference.

We applaud the people who still wear a red ribbon at a public event, and we ask those who have stopped to please reconsider. If the award-show producers are not going to "say the word," then the ribbons may be all we've got. We must all imagine, demand and work for a cure.

DAVID MICHAELS

and SUSAN A. SIMONS

West Coast Chairpersons

The Ribbon Project

Los Angeles

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