When I was a teenager I remember sitting around with my girl teenager friends talking about what we would or wouldn't do with a guy. All of them said that they would never suck cock. I always kept my mouth shut during these conversations because I couldn't say that I would never do one thing or another. I mean, how did they know that under certain circumstances that they would never put a guys dick in their mouths? Inevitably I'd always feel a little guilty or wrong for not agreeing with them. They all made sex sound like something you just did because if you didn't that boy would just break up with you for someone who would. They never discussed sex in a way that made you think that they would or had remotely enjoyed it. At the time of these conversations I didn't know one way or the other. I had yet to become the type of girl that boys found even remotely interesting. But maybe because I'd been left unsupervised with stacks of Danielle Steel and Sandra Brown during those formative years, I had an inkling that sex could be a rather fun and enjoyable experience. Lucky for me my first experience with sex was fun and enjoyable and even better was that was how things would be for about sixteen years. During these years I've been able to experiment with someone who was adventurous but also someone who was safe. I knew his sexual history. Now that I'm entering this new phase in my life, I can't be so sure of these things with my next partner. I had a good education though and I know how to keep myself safe. I am not so convinced that this is true for kids today. My education came when AIDS was the most talked about STD. Talking about AIDS grew into a whole conversation about STDs in general, a conversation that I feel has died. This worries me because I have a niece and nephews that are reaching or have reached that age of sexual exploration. I worry that they didn't get the kind of education about how to stay safe as I did. And as much as we don't like to think of these kids being sexually active, it is not something we can pretend isn't going to happen.
The tradition of the AIDS Walk is not just about remembering those who have died from this disease. It's a reminder that AIDS is still very present in this world we live in. It's a reminder to have that conversation. Money from the walk goes to so many things from care to research, but it also gets funneled into educational programs. And this is why I walk.
*This is my last fundraising push before the AIDS Walk KCMO takes place this Saturday. Just click on my fundraising page at the top of the blog. I am so grateful to those of you who have already shown their support.