‘I’m Still Standing and I Shouldn’t Be Here Today’: Elton John at The International AIDS Conference
I don’t think a HIV/AIDS conference would be complete without an address from Sir Elton John. John, who started The Elton John AIDS Foundation nearly 20 years ago, spoke passionately about his battle with drugs and alcohol and the self-destructive lifestyle he led before he became sober 22 years ago. He shouldn’t be here today.
Giving the most personable speech thus far, he says,
“By all rights I shouldn’t be here today, I should be dead – six foot under in a wooden box. I should have contracted HIV in the 1980s and died in the 1990s, just like Freddie Mercury, just like Rock Hudson. Every day I wonder, how did I survive?”
Speaking about that troubled time 22 years ago, John recalls,
“This young man hit absolute rock bottom. His life was a mess, he was spiralling out of control. He should have died. To be honest, he nearly did.”
Elton John reached me; he understood the difficulties we face and I understand the difficulties he faced, as I’m sure a lot of you do. His story is important and real, not like some of the other celebrities who spoke at the conference. They’re definitely caring and working towards an end of HIV/AIDS, but Elton John has a deep, unwavering mission that he is hell-bent on completing.
Continuing on, John talks about what needs to be done:
“We have to replace the shame with love,” he said. “We have to replace the stigma with compassion. No one should be left behind.”
“All it takes is a bit more funding and a bit more understanding,” he said. “All it takes is dialogue and the power of words to change actions.”
He’s not what you’d call a Hivster, but he sure as hell has our mission down,
“We need people to say it’s OK to be HIV positive,” he said. “We need to move forward in that respect. We need to embrace each other.”
So, I’m making him an honorary Hivster. Here’s to Sir Elton John, the only knighted Hivster in the world — make sure and check out The Elton John AIDS Foundation. Get involved because,
“ Everyone, everyone, everyone deserves love,” Elton John, July 24th, 2012