Interfacing With Misfits | Letters | Chicago Reader

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To the editors:

As social service, medical, and administrative professionals working full time with persons with AIDS (PWAs), we read with interest Diana Spinrad's review of "Intimacies," Michael Kearns' production at the Halsted Theatre Centre (Reader, 12/8/89).

While we understand that Spinrad's commentary on the show is a review, and bound to be subjective, we were appalled at the obvious classism in her remarks, and at her ignorance of the AIDS pandemic and those it impacts.

We fear that if Spinrad has the ability to refer to fictional characters as the "stereotypical dregs of society," and "the AIDS victims who inhabit society's underbelly," she also has the capacity to say the same thing about the actual people the characters represent. Spinrad continues her compassionless discourse when she writes that "lots of loving, innocent people are dying of AIDS," implying that, somehow, "loving, innocent people" are superior to the "dregs of society," who deserve the virus.

But lo and behold! Then Spinrad tells us that the show may help us to "discover the prejudice within ourselves." Unfortunately, Spinrad's prejudice was left untouched because she goes on to write that "it may be insulting to anyone who has the disease to be linked with the true misfits and perverts whom Kearns portrays."

We work daily with prostitutes, IV drug users, gay men, children, and women who either have AIDS or are infected with HIV, the virus believed to cause AIDS. Some of us are also infected with the virus. It is not insulting for us, and we doubt that it is insulting for our clients, to be linked with these characters. Nor would we ever consider the people we work with and care for as "misfits" and "perverts."

We would also like to note that it is unfortunate that the Reader allowed this review to run with the phrase "AIDS victims," which Spinrad uses five times. Nine years into this crisis, it is common knowledge that the term preferred by those of us in the AIDS/HIV community is "persons with AIDS." The word "victim" implies weakness and helplessness.

Spinrad would be more than welcome to come spend the day with any of us, interfacing with people she believes to be misfits. Perhaps she would learn about compassion, strength, and hope from them, as we have.

Matt Badanek

Craig Miller

Tim Offutt

Jan Slager

Paul Winberg

Marianne Zelewsky

Carolyn Vianni


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