#CelebrateQPOC - Dominic D’Souza. Today I say his name. Society has almost always given a white, U.S. American face to #GayRights activism. It has largely ignored the #POC freedom fighters around the world or diminished their work by focusing more on the supposedly extraordinary intolerance of their communities than on the *extraordinary efforts* of those freedom fighters to dismantle the systems of oppression that create intolerance (often reinforced by those one-sided portrayals of queer identity and #LGBTQ activism). The fact that many of us have never heard of this man but have clear preconceptions about India’s relationship to #queer identity speaks to how insidiously storytelling, representation, and the media affect our world views. So today I say his name.
Dominic D’Souza was the first person in Goa, India diagnosed with HIV. In 1989, his blood was tested without his knowledge, and when he was found to be positive, he was arrested and quarantined in an old tuberculosis sanatorium for 2 months under the Goa Public Health Amendment Act.
His gift to us all was his response to his circumstances. With his lawyer Anand Grover, he fought the Act and secured not only his freedom but the amendment of the Act. When he was freed, though he lost his job due to stigma, he dedicated his life to #activism and founded Positive People, an HIV/AIDS advocacy organization. On his deathbed, he asked his lawyer Grover to promise to continue fighting for people with HIV. Grover fulfilled his promise and 25 years later helped draft and pass the landmark HIV/AIDS Bill in #India to protect the rights of those with HIV.
HIV can be a chronic illness rather than a death sentence today because of men like Dominic who used their last breaths to ensure that those who came after would LIVE. And in India today, people living with #HIV have greater protections under the law because a young #Indian man named Dominic D’Souza used his last breaths to ensure that. This is who we are. In our darkest hour, remember this.
At his request, Dominic’s obituary read: “Dominic lived with AIDS, but he lived not to be ashamed.” Ashé.
#qpoc #activist #worldpride2019 #loveislove #Stonewall50