Friday, December 01, 2006

Red ribbons and World Aids Day

Earlier today I received the following e-mail:

Hi there GB,

Leadenhall Market, City of LondonStanding in Leadenhall Market at lunchtime waiting for my lunch companion, I was struck that I was the only person I saw wearing a red ribbon for World Aids Day. I wonder to what extent this is because people still interpret the red ribbon as a likely signifier that the wearer is gay, rather than that the wearer is simply a supporter of HIV/AIDS research and care? I must admit to being guilty of this myself, especially if it's a man wearing a red ribbon, which I guess is why I was watching for them today. I suppose if others are like me, then that's probably an inhibitor for people who might otherwise want to show their support for AIDS causes - whether they're gay or not - if they assume that they'll either be outing themselves or wrongly be assumed to be gay themselves.

The Red Ribbon is the global symbol for solidarity with HIV-positive people and those living with AIDSWhat do you and others think? Has the red ribbon just become too overused? Is World Aids Day a cause that people are embarrassed to support (or don't know about in advance)? Or is the red ribbon still assumed to be a coded gay identifier? Are there gay men in the City or elsewhere reading your blog who thought about wearing it but decided against it?

Interested... I would have expected to see a few more ribbons today.

A reader

For my part, I've known from the outset that the red ribbon isn't meant to be a gay male symbol. But in practice, I think it probably is. I've also known for ages that 1st December is World Aids Day, because it coincides with a family anniversary so I had reason to remember what is associated with that date.

Red poppy for 11th NovemberBut I hadn't occurred to me until I got this e-mail that one should wear a red ribbon on World Aids Day in the same way that one wears a red poppy on Armistice day. I do occasionally support these charitable causes with donations, but perhaps it would help if I also supported them visibly too.

Do any readers have any thoughts on this subject?


Anonymous said...

I wanted to buy a red ribbon today but I couldn't find them anywhere! Could this be why so few people are wearing them today?

I've always know what the red ribbon stands for but I still think there is a stigma attached to wearing one :-(

GBD xxx

muse-ic said...

i saw loads being worn today

yani said...

I didn't see them being sold anywhere either... I ended up not getting a ribbon anyway, but one of those rubber bracelet things (like the yellow Livestrong ones for cancer) from my local AIDS Council. said...

GB - comparison to the Poppy Appeal is common. Here are a few ideas, relayed to a previous employer...

GB said...

Thanks totallygone, but I think you meant to leave this link!

GB xxx