Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist

Friends Helping Friends

Untitled design (3)As promised last week, I have another new announcement related to my new book project, Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community.

Last week I unveiled a new Facebook page dedicated to that book. Yeah, I know: the book itself won’t be out until 2017. I figure it will be about a year before I finish research and begin to write. So why open up a new page now?

Well, as I’ve found here in this blog and other social media platforms, people are interested in the process of writing a book. Sometimes they’re readers who are curious about what goes into writing a book. Sometimes they’re writers who are curious about how other writers tackle a new project. All are welcome

And then there are those who are simply interested in the topic. Maybe they already know a lot about it. Maybe they want to learn more. They’re welcome, too.

All of them will find something to like on that page. I’ll be profiling women – famous and not – who are likely to be included in the book. I’ll introduce organizations founded by some pretty amazing women, many of whom carried the AIDS virus themselves. And I’ll share the process of creating this thoroughly intimidating book.

Now back to the headline: “Friends Helping Friends”.

Because of the sheer size of this project, I knew I needed help. I used to be – and still am, to some degree – a person who not only didn’t ask for help, but didn’t take it if offered. That meant I reinvented the wheel on an almost daily basis and sadly, pushed people away. But when I started writing in 2009, I decided business as usual wouldn’t work anymore.

A few weeks ago I started publicly asking for help. Could anyone point me in the direction of relevant archival collections? Could anyone help me identify women to interview for the book? As a member of ACT UP/NY, and a veteran in the AIDS community, I already had a base of knowledge. But I knew I had a hell of a lot to learn.

Immediately – and I mean within five minutes of posting requests in various Facebook groups – I had answers. I had information on archives in the US and UK. I had information on the role of women in the AIDS communities in South America. I had offers of introductions to famous women and their families. And the truly stunning part is many of the offers were from people I’ve never met.

More importantly to me, especially when I was talking about the book at the US Conference on AIDS, was the reaction of other straight women. The first one I talked to laughed out loud and said, “Honey, that’s my story.”

We’ve been silent, many of us, for a long time; too long. And it appears that they’re ready to share their stories. The fact that they trust me – and ultimately, you – with those stories is humbling. Yesterday someone likened it to holding a Faberge egg: you’ve got something precious in your hands and you want to protect it. That’s how I feel about these women and their stories.

This week, there will be two announcements. One will come in my newsletter tomorrow, so if you haven’t already signed up in the upper-right hand corner of this page, now would be a good time. The second will be announced this weekend on the book’s Facebook page. It’s not about the book per se, but related to it.

Friends helping friends.

Friends helping friends they haven’t met yet.

This project is pretty damn amazing already.