I was honored to be asked to make an image on the behalf of the Red Hot Organization and the Treatment Action Group to benefit their organization by making a painting of the great Doctor Fauci, who they were honoring this year—this is a pastel rendering of the same image.
Dr. Fauci, before he became newly famous as the voice of serious truth and reason during the Covid 19 pandemic, had, years before, when the AIDS crisis was at its peak, the voice for the National Institute of Health when he was appointed Director back in 1984. I remember him from these years—in fact, I participated in ACT UP when I was just out of college in NYC and went to their infamous Storm the NIH protest on May 21, 1990, which proved to be effective. There had been only one hapless drug that had been approved to use for patients, AZT, and the Treatment and Data Committee part of ACT UP was demanding the federal government and the pharmaceutical industry to research and produce more treatment options. The creative protests proved to be effective, and Dr. Fauci was willing to meet with members, including leader Mark Harrington, and within weeks of the protest, the agency changed its regulations to speed up the drug evaluation process. Dr. Fauci, once a foe for ACT UP became its friend and trusted colleague, and together with so many others, helped to bring the solutions that, while not curing HIV, have made it a livable disease and not the intense killer it once was.
Dr. Fauci, according to the NIH site, “oversees an extensive research portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat established infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis and malaria as well as emerging diseases such as Ebola and Zika. NIAID also supports research on transplantation and immune-related illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies.” He has “advised six Presidents on HIV/AIDS and many other domestic and global health issues. He was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program that has saved millions of lives throughout the developing world.”
For me, as with so many others, has been such a hero as he has been one of the only people in the tragic Trump period of the Corona crises, the only one to trust amidst so many lies and deceptions. Watching the briefings, it was akin to watching a steward on a plane when it is under extreme turbulence—if they seem calm, perhaps everything might okay. While everything has not been or is okay with this pandemic and how America has handled it, at least Dr. Fauci has been the voice of reason, science, truth, and sanity that we could rely on to give us the straight story. I’m so glad that Biden has asked him to be the chief medical advisor for his administration and giving him the full respect he deserves.
Mark Harrington, now the leader of the Treatment Action Group, is friends with Dr. Fauci, and thought he might appreciate this image, as it depicts Fauci wearing the mask we all desperately still need to wear, but also it is emblazoned with the logo of his favorite baseball team, the Washington Nationals. I also think this works as a symbolic metaphor—it has been Washington that has, heretofore now also stifled, and sought to undermine Dr. Fauci’s voice and agency, as he threatened Trump and the divisive, wrong rhetoric and actions this administration has taken (or not) that have helped America to be one of the leading countries of the deaths during the pandemic. But Fauci’s bright eyes shine through, his spirit and energy and great efforts have helped to try to steady the ship—thank God this administration is now over and there can be others along with Dr. Fauci in charge, with Biden and Harris and Dems in charge that will finally give some antidote and reprieve to the millions who are suffering and hundreds of thousands who have lost loved ones.