Nothing makes one appreciate the good times more than remembering the difficult trials that have been endured. While Atlanta Pride has evolved into a celebratory and gleeful event, the annual Pride AIDS vigil commemorates a time when our community was overwhelmed by loss and despair.
“I think it’s a crucial part of any Pride festivity,” said Josh Noblitt, minister of social justice at St. Mark United Methodist Church, which hosts this year’s AIDS vigil Oct. 5.
“In addition to celebrating, in addition to partying, there must be a time of remembrance,” he said. “There must be a time of remembering those who have come before us, those who we lost along the way, and celebrate their life as well as grieve their loss.
“I think that really helps us appreciate the celebratory aspects of Pride even more,” Noblitt added.
The theme of this year’s vigil is “Compassion, Commitment, Community — 30 years of AIDS.” Recent data has revealed that three decades into the epidemic, HIV/AIDS continues to affect gay men in large numbers. However, the progress that has been made in making HIV a treatable and manageable disease leaves room for celebration, and the current epidemic is many miracles away from the darkest period in gay Atlanta history.
“There was a time where weekend after weekend after weekend that there were funerals at the St. Mark sanctuary,” Noblitt said. “And so that space is just a really sacred space for many in our community because that was where they had services for many of their friends.
“St. Mark has a long history of being one of the first churches in the metro Atlanta area that really stepped out and welcomed folks who were dealing with HIV/AIDS, and their partners and their families,” he said.
Top photo: Rev. Joshua Noblitt (file photo)