Show Me Your Life

AIDS Bugs Crawling Up My Spine

Smash Street, Cinematheque Films and Real Stories Gallery are involved in the creation of a peer-mentored Video/Art program called Show Me Your Life where kids at-risk are given video cameras and challenged to go out into the world and film their lives. Usually, it’s a journalist who does this. But we never see these lives as portrayed by the people who live them. Inevitably, we are going to have kids who do sex work in a variety of countries (Thailand, Congo, USA, France, Brazil, etc). These kids are at risk for HIV and some of them are at risk for violence as they already have HIV.

The world is not necessarily Disneyland. Many of our video cameras have been returned to us by social service agencies who have articulated: “we did not understand prostitution would be included in your program. We cannot participate.”

We have always said that children who are at-risk are often at risk for prostitution. This is called survival sex. These children are making videos of their lives. Those videos are stunning. The violence children live surrounded by is extraordinary. We have just never wanted to see it. HIV/AIDS is not an abstract idea in Show me Your Life. It is an everyday reality. Children forced into survival sex is repugnant. Yet the issue must be met head on to understand how it works.

These children at-risk are in need of voices, too. They are all too often silenced.

Silence equals death.

We will continue to arm children with video cameras and we will continue to tell them: show me your life. It isn’t always pretty and it isn’t always acceptable. Until we can face and understand HOW CHILDREN ON THE PLANET REALLY LIVE THEIR LIVES, we will never meet the challenge of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

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