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AIDS speaker urges students to value life

JACOB KONST/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Heather Lobenstein, a journalism junior, left, has a copy "AIDS, Love and the Secret Lives of College Students" autographed by the author, Scott Fried, Saturday morning at the UofA Bookstore.
By Dana Crudo
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday November 24, 2003
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Scott Fried wants people to see each other for who they are.

To make his point, Fried took the time to look each member of the audience in the eyes after he delivered a speech Friday night at the Hillel Foundation.

"I just want to see you. Everything I said was just words; what really matters is this moment together," he said.

Fried, an AIDS educator and motivational speaker who has been HIV positive for 16

years, spent two days on the UA campus, speaking to students about one's own sacredness, using AIDS as a metaphor.

"HIV is more than a disease; it's also a metaphor for anything in life that helps you remember how valuable life is. And above all things and all times, every one of us is sacred. And to embrace that fact is the first step to a life of self-acceptance and healing," Fried said.

He said that students must care enough about themselves and their bodies in order to not put themselves in bad situations. He said that he slept with the man who eventually infected him with AIDS because he hated himself.

"Who among us doesn't want to hear ÎI love you' and believe it, even if you know they're not going to call the next day," he said.

Even with an aching ear from his plane ride, Fried was able to give the two-hour-long speech and answer questions from the audience afterward.

About 50 students attended the event, which was exactly the amount Shana Metzger, ASUA Speakers Board director, said she hoped would come.

Fried also spoke at the union the previous night.

"This is great; I wish more people came last night, but I'm looking around now and no one fell asleep. And everyone was intent on taking in what he had to say," Metzger said.

Students who attended the speech said Fried's words were powerful.

"It was extremely powerful; of all speakers, he comes with what he has to say, as opposed to what he wants you to hear," said Avi Margolin, a political science sophomore.

Metzger, who first heard Fried in New York, said his lectures have always had an impact on her.

"I'm kind of speechless," she said. "I've heard him speak now to three different audiences, each are the same message, but I've learned a new thing each time."

After the speech, students asked Fried a wide range of questions concerning how he overcame obstacles in his life.

He shared the moment in which he broke the news to his parents that he was gay and HIV positive.

"Your parents are mine, they want the same things for us, they loved you long before they knew you, they had a lifetime of loving me to deal with and lose."

Fried also discussed love, homosexuals in the military and how homosexuals are portrayed on TV.

"Getting in love with someone is having the chance to hurt them. It's dangerous and wonderful. Be aware of who you are when you fall in love," he said.

He also said he couldn't have been happier to be at Hillel with the students.

"I need nothing else but this moment; you are enough," he said. "You have always been enough."

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