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February 2012: A Tribute To The Play, “The Vagina Monologues”, by Eve Ensler: In A Time Of AIDS

We’re happy to present a review of “The Vagina Monologues” for this February, with our thanks to writer Todd Miller of Burlington.  As we learn more about local performances of this piece in Vermont, we’ll post and let you know!

A Tribute To The Play, “The Vagina Monologues”, by Eve Ensler:  In A Time Of AIDS

The month of February encompasses National V-Day which is a global movement to end violence against women and girls.  Through V-Day campaigns, local volunteers and college students produce annual benefit performances of “The Vagina Monologues”.  Performances of this play will take place this spring at the University Of Vermont, and the actual date and times are soon to be released.  Please check out local newspapers for the announcement of this production, or contact the University Of Vermont’s Women’s Center.

The play makes the assertion that women are sexually repressed.  It is read and performed as essential monologue: direct, poignant and profound.  The play is also metaphor for how the vagina has been used and abused in the repression of women as sex objects.  Eve Ensler writes tenaciously over the need for the vagina to be funny and sad both.  There is great wit and wisdom in the writing and the sharing of the play, as so.  The audience sees the strength of the play, the telltale heart for women to shape by.

These monologues advance the theory that objectification of women is a form of violence and hatred.  Women are and have always been sexual beings, and thus it is painful to see this treatment of womanhood.  Women in this play express frank pain and strength over the loss (and finding) of their own sexual identity.  The play reels with the image of the vagina as truth to the human condition of feeling that no end is in sight to the exploits of the vagina and to being a woman.

As I see it, there is also a need for humanity to put an end to the sexual repression of women, and make way for freedom of expression.  For instance, for me, as a gay man, writing this article.  Because that notion makes the threat of AIDS very real.  AIDS is often contracted through the kinds of sexual repression that women feel in “The Vagina Monologues”.  Women are then wrongfully exploited as sexual beings, and HIV is passed along, with harmful intent to do so.

People need to survive as healthy human beings, based on who they are and what they do with their lives.  The Vagina Monologues imbues for, and is testimony to, those beliefs.

There are alarming statistics on how women contract AIDS through exploitation.  The fight against AIDS is consistent with the rite of passage for women, as human beings and sexual beings alike.  Therefore, the AIDS epidemic cannot be addressed without the reality of AIDS being understood alongside sexuality and the imperative to value women fully.  Subsequently, the themes of “The Vagina Monologues” are to be lived out, and to be clearly understood as a life force for women to reckon with in a time of AIDS.


Getting Excited for 12/1/11 Reading of “The Normal Heart”

We’re getting really excited for next month’s reading of Larry Kramer’s famous AIDS play, “The Normal Heart.”  Dan Butler directs this searing, angry, beautiful play set in the first few years of the epidemic, and proceeds from the night benefit Vermont CARES and our colleagues at the HIV/Hepatitis Resource Center. 

One of our great volunteers, Todd Miller, read and review “The Normal Heart” for us.  We’ve excerpted his review below: enjoy, and feel free to comment!  (We hope to see you in Randolph on December 1st too!) 


    “An Uncommon Point Of View”:  Taking A Look At The Play, “The Normal Heart” by Larry Kramer

“The Normal Heart”, by Larry Kramer, was written in 1985, as a play of concern about the origins of AIDS in New York City.  I found it to be as fast moving, as it is readable.  This play, “The Normal Heart” is being put on for World’s AIDS Day, December 1, 2011, in Randolph.  Vermont CARES feels it will be of meaning and value to take a look at the play, with this review, as the uncommon view about the past, present and future of AIDS in America.

 When AIDS first hit New York City, back in the early 1980’s, very few cared one way or the other.  There were about a million LGBTQ people in New York City, and the threat of AIDS was real the world over.  The numbers were small and unexplained at first.  And since AIDS was already an epidemic, because it was real threat, spanning the globe, it was also unexplained as a social disease, by and large.

The play is fine-tuned to clearly show the cast of characters of the play:  young, successful, white, gay men living with AIDS. They also realize that AIDS is already an insidious epidemic, with a growth potential to match. The entire cast of characters of the play (which only includes one woman, the doctor of the AIDS clinic) specifically care about the political cause, for the need of medical concern and the prevention of AIDS. The fact that they have AIDS is important to these men, but the fact that they really having a bleeding heart for the lives of all people, given the threat of AIDS the world over, is of far more importance.

So this is not only a suitable play to go see, and really take home with you, on December 1, 2011, World AIDS Day, it really portends to be the uncommon point of view about the hard line about AIDS in the here and now:

“.  . . I spent fifteen years of my life fighting for our right to be free and make love whenever, wherever . . . And you’re telling me that all those years of what being gay stood for it wrong . . . and I’m a murderer.  We have been so oppressed!  Don’t you remember how it was?  Can’t you see how important it is for us to love openly, without hiding and without guilt?” (p.103)

 “The Normal Heart” is about the insurgence of AIDS as it started to affect the people of the world, not only the gay population of New York City in the 1980’s. Pregnant women, women of Africa, peoples of all color the world over had AIDS then, as they do now. 

Nobody knows why powers that be didn’t intervene to stop or slow the spread of the virus, as they do today. It is hard to know why AIDS was not an immediate and nationwide concern at the time of this play: therefore, as a theme, it is a very good question for the work to ponder over.  “The Normal Heart”, as a play, is the need for the uncommon point of view.  The play is also to resonate as the legitimate, uncommon point of view, over the real scare of AIDS today, in hope of someday finding a cure for this epidemic at long last.


Vermont Pride Coordinator 2012: Application Information

Vermont CARES is very proud to be partnering with other Vermont-based community organizations to sponsor Vermont Pride 2012.  To get our committee rallied, we are looking for a Pride Coordinator.  Position description and instructions below:

WANTED: Energetic, organized, dynamic individual to oversee the Vermont Pride Committee. Outright Vermont, RU12? Community Center, and Vermont CARES are teaming up to find a chair to help make Pride 2012 a successful event. A small stipend will be awarded.
Responsibilities include:  

  •   Oversight of the Pride Committee and facilitation of meetings
  •   Oversight and support of fundraising for Pride  
  •   Working with the fiduciary (Outright Vermont) to track the budget  
  •   Coordination with the City of Burlington and other venues to schedule and secure permits for Pride events  
  •   Management of publicity  
  •   Facilitating communication and organization of partners in Pride

Interested? Email a brief letter of interest and a resume to by Friday November 4, 2011.


Champ Ride 2012 Date Announced: June 9, 2012

Just a quick save-the-date for our supporters hoping to join Vermont CARES for our 2012 Champ Ride for HIV/AIDS, which this year we’re moving to Oakledge Park in Burlington, VT. This new venue – by request of many riders – will allow us to incorporate walkers, skaters, and others who want different ways to participate in this Champ event!

The date will be June 9, 2012, with the first routes estimated to start at around 6am; big picnic will start at around 11:30am. We will continue to update our website and Champ Ride Twitter feed as we solidify routes, start times, picnic sponsors, and possible training rides. We hope you can join us for our biggest annual fundraiser, and please email if you have any questions, want to learn more, or can volunteer to make this event a big success for our 25th anniversary.


Live & Silent Auction 2012 Date Announced: 3/10/12

Just a quick save-the-date for our supporters hoping to join Vermont CARES for our 2012 Live and Silent Auction, which this year we’re moving to The Essex Resort and Spa in Essex, VT.

The date will be March 10, 2012 from 7pm to 11pm. Other details will be determined in coming months, and we will be soliciting auction items through the coming seven months. We hope you can join us for our premiere fundraiser, and please email if you have any questions, want to learn more, or can volunteer to make this event a big success for our 25th anniversary.


More Developments in HIV Prevention Science

More updates in the science of how new HIV infections might be prevented: following up on earlier research that using anti-HIV medications daily can reduce HIV infection risk, this new pair of studies bolsters findings. Though there are many stories about this from multiple news outlets, we’re posting an interview here with Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH from NPR.

This seems a hard system to implement, but the potential impact could be significant. Vermont CARES advocates strongly any and all research into reducing HIV transmission, and reminds all Vermonters that our staff are available to discuss how you can reduce your HIV risks at any time, especially as part of an HIV testing session. Call 800-649-2437 to learn more.


EEOC clarifies HIV as a disability

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which defines and adjudicates workplace discrimination in the U.S., has clarified the Americans with Disabilities Act to include HIV as a defining disability for the workplace.  What this will mean locally is still to be determined, but it certainly simplifies federal guidance that workplace discrimination based on HIV status is illegal.  More info at this link:

Vermont has its own laws making illegal discrimination based on HIV, but the EEOC’s clarificiation is certainly welcome.  More on VT’s HIV discrimination law:

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