Belinda Mason: In “Belinda,” a video by Appalshop Productions, Belinda Mason tells why she was the perfect poster heroine for persons with AIDS: “I have a family. I’m white. I come from the South…easy to respond to…I look right. I got AIDS the right way. Most people with AIDS aren’t like me. I’m palatable, like mashed potatoes and gravy, I figure.”
Her statements reflect her commitment to furthering the understanding that all persons infected with the HIV virus deserve the same treatment. Best known as an eloquent and forceful spokesperson for those living with AIDS, Belinda Mason in the late 1980s lent her writing and speaking skills to the cause of securing more humane treatment for the thousands of Americans infected with the HIV virus. She co-founded the Kentuckiana People with AIDS Coalition, was elected president of the National Association of People with AIDS, and was appointed by George Bush to the National Commission on AIDS, the first person with the disease to occupy a seat on the commission. Mason worked with her father, the late Kentucky Representative Paul Mason of Whitesburg, to sponsor legislation to protect the rights of Kentuckians with HIV infections. HB 425 mandates AIDS education for health professionals and legislates against discrimination on the basis of the disease.
Before contracting HIV in 1987, Mason had begun a career as a fiction writer. Her stories appeared in literary magazines and in the anthology A Gathering at the Forks. In addition to short fiction, Mason developed a one-act play, The Gift of the Spirit, with Roadside Theatre, and began work on a second play.
Like their creator, Mason’s characters are rural and small-town Kentuckians, who confront questions of meaning, values, perceptions, against a backdrop of kitchen tables and vegetable gardens. “I grew up believing that being a Kentuckian was a special blessing. Now that I have traveled, I know that what I believed all along was true.”
- Anne Shelby
Visit Appalshop's Web site to find out how to order a copy of Belinda Mason, an Appalshop film directed by Anne Lewis.
Read more about Belinda Mason.
For more information about HIV/AIDS and an extensive list of links, visit the Center for Disease Control’s Web site.
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