I met Mike Miller on a very cold day in 2016 when we shared the first of many conversations that eventually blossomed into what is today ptownie. It was a privilege and a blessing to have been invited to write for the publication then—and it continues to be one today. I’m honored, in addition, to be writing the Publisher’s Letter for this beautiful issue.
Over these years, Mike has challenged me to stretch my thinking and my compassion; he has almost invariably been a wise, moderating, and thoughtful influence on both my work and my life, and a true friend to me. I always have something to learn from him, and I know that if you follow ptownie, his outlook and his optimism have probably influenced you as well. And we need that optimism now more than ever.
“Provincetown has changed.” That sometimes seems to be the only opinion with which everyone here can agree. And it’s true. It has indeed changed, and will continue to change, and while we can mourn what has slipped away, we don’t have to forget it. We don’t have to forget the colorful personalities who walked these streets, the since-demolished house that used to stand on that particular corner, the practices and priorities that have shifted or disappeared. I believe both in honoring the past—and in learning from it as we move into the future.
It is in that spirit of remembering that I wrote this issue’s focus article, Rising to the Moment. No one wants to go back to the horror and devastation of the AIDS epidemic, but every moment, no matter how appalling, gives us an opportunity to examine our common humanity and to celebrate courage and generosity. It’s the only thing, really, that can inspire hope as we now face a different yet equally frightening challenge to the well-being of our communities.
I must issue a caveat: I probably missed something. If you or someone you love was an integral part of this story and that name didn’t come up in my research, I am truly sorry. Historical records are never complete, and people and events tragically slip through the cracks. My hope is that this article is the beginning, not the end, of a conversation about these people and the truly phenomenal things they accomplished.
As much as I enjoy my work with ptownie, I am still primarily a novelist, a storyteller, someone free to create her own realities and people them with characters of her choosing. I wish I could choose a world without illness or hatred, without discrimination or pain. If I could, I would choose it for you, every one of you. I can’t. But I hope these stories of courage and compassion and generosity inspire you to embrace those same virtues in your own lives, and live them in your own communities.
AIDS may be under control, but the fight goes on.
Yours in solidarity,