Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Love Really Is The Cure
This book is not your usual celebrity written, self promoting money spinner - this is a book about life, loss and the end of AIDS. AIDS is the key theme in this book, and so it should be. Elton uses his star power to draw global attention to the often hidden and suppressed epidemic that is killing millions, unnecessarily throughout the world. It also highlights the shame surrounding governments and institutions that have failed to support humankind through love and compassion and instead segregated and essentially killed population groups through a lack of treatment and awareness.
Love is the Cure opens with Elton's most personal and poignant narrative to date. Why he became sober and why he started the Elton John AIDS Foundation. It all started with Ryan White. 'Ryan's life was a miracle' says Elton. Irrational fear haunted Ryan throughout his life, 'it seemed like a modern day witch hunt and Ryan was to be burnt at the stake'. It was this thirteen-year-old boy that spurred the momentum for Elton to not only change his own life but the lives of countless others.
'When his eyes closed, mine opened. It might be my deathbed next. The truth was how could I help others when I couldn't help myself.' When he looked back over the footage of his performance at Ryan's funeral, Elton couldn't help but think ' I looked liked a piano playing Elvis Presley', the pivot point of his entire existence came when he sought treatment for his drug, sex, food and alcohol addictions that had spiralled out of control.
'When I think back to the 80's, I recoil in horror.' The stigma and fear was palpable. The current Mayor of Houston was quoted as saying at the time 'one way to curb the AIDS epidemic would be to shoot the queers'. Elton knew that the face of AIDS needed to be a respectable one - someone like Rock Hudson - someone like me. His goal in creating the EJAF was not to be a 'rock star with a hobby' but to treat everyone with dignity and compassion. His dear friend Ryan White established a law that provides more than $2b in AIDS treatment and prevention annually and this spurs Elton do even more today in the fight against AIDS and the stigma surrounding it.
'It's not nerves that I feel anymore when I go out on stage, but the thrill of performing and the excitement of the audience. The most nervous I have ever been was when I testified before the US Senate. Shaking Ted Kennedy's hand was like touching history'. Although Elton has met everyone who is anyone, he connects personal stories and facts in a touching way. You will be surprised at how much you learn about AIDS and how much you learn about the stigma that exists in the world. This book is a fantastic opportunity to help reduce stigma and get the unspeakable spoken about.
George W Bush
'I found George W Bush's worldview to be totally warped. I found his rhetoric against gay marriage to be deeply harmful and homophobic.' However, President Bush's decision to take aggressive action against AIDS has, 'without question, saved millions of lives'. 'My encounter with G W Bush reminded me not to rush to judgement about people. We need allies in this fight, not enemies'.
Pope John Paul II
'I hold Pope John Paul II personally responsible for all those who died as a result of heeding his advice, or who couldn't access condoms due to his ill-founded and immoral decree...his words resulted in genocide. I will never forgive him for this.'
' My godson died several years ago, when he was only four years old. I would not have Zachary but for my friendship with Ryan White. I would not have Zachary but for my decision twenty years ago to make it up to Ryan and those I had let down because of my addictions and indifference. I would not have Zachary but for the creation of EJAF. I would not have Zachary but for Love.'
'We can only love one another if we understand one another.' When we aren't afraid to confront it, information spreads. Compassion spreads. The cure spreads.
Love is the Cure available now in stores
Reviewed by Paul Jelicich