I am looking forward to 2014. I am surrounded by loving and supportive friends and family. My health is good. The criminalization reform advocacy work I have been immersed in over the past five or six years has made great progress and I know we’re going to see even more advancements this year. The President and the Pope both seem to be focused on addressing economic inequality, and they will be a potentially powerful combination if they really mean it.
Most of all, 2014 will be special because my book, Body Counts, A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival, will be published in two weeks (January 14) by Scribner. Actually, I understand a few bookstores already have it on their shelves.
I’m proud of the book, of course, but I’m also excited to see how readers react to Body Counts, what they learn from it, what conversations it might prompt about the epidemic and, ultimately, how it could potentially advance the advocacy for people with AIDS that is so urgently needed.
There is something egotistical about writing a memoir because it starts from the writer’s assumption that others might be interested in his or her life. As book reviews come in, and as I prepare for an extended tour and many events around the country, I’m going to be conscious of not letting all the attention go to my head. I’m sure there will be plenty of critics pointing out factual errors, disagreeing with my conclusions or perhaps just dismissing the book entirely. That’s part of the process as well and I’m looking forward to hearing from them nearly as much as from those who enjoy what I’ve written.
When I produced the play The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me and when I founded POZ, I welcomed the great press coverage and reviews. But I also tried to take it all with a grain of salt; in order to keep the painful (and sometimes, on-target) criticism from hurting, I couldn’t put too much stock in the praise. A skeptical distance is protective and it also helps me continue to think, advocate and write with the independence I treasure so greatly.
For much of the early part of 2014, I’ll be traversing the country, talking about Body Counts, organizing HIV criminalization reform advocacy and meeting with people with HIV and their allies.
When I emailed Gloria Steinem to thank her for providing a blurb for Body Counts, she wrote back, “I’m so glad you're doing a book tour — there is some empathy and understanding that can only come in person.” I agree and I look forward to the Q&A sessions, conversations and discussions with friends, people with HIV, activists and interested readers all over the country. For the most up-to-date schedule of my appearances, check out www.SeanStrub.com. Happy New Year to all.