Scott Fried informed an Angell Hall auditorium filled with hundreds of people last night that if they were expecting to learn about AIDS, this was not the right lecture. Fried spoke to a room filled with mostly teenagers about the value of life and the sanctity of the soul.
“If you want to learn about life, stick around. This is the place to be,” Fried said.
Fried has lectured in more than 50 cities in the United States and some other countries as well, speaking to people everywhere about the importance of valuing everyday life. He emphasized that although he is living with HIV, he does not believe he is more eager to be alive than any other individual.
“It takes a lot of courage to stay alive. It sometimes takes more courage to stay alive than to die,” Fried said. He noted that he does not like to be referred to as a “victim” of AIDS. He prefers to focus on his life in the present.
“I am more concerned with what I can do with myself now. I encourage young people to do the same, to enjoy such things as the conversation with a friend in line at the movies and not to be so worried about deciding what they want to be when they grow up,” Fried said.
Fried said he does not believe it is his business to tell teenagers not to engage in sexual activity. “I’m not the sex police. I just want to help people recognize what is sacred and holy about themselves,” he said. “Sex is not just in the genitals. It’s in head; it’s in the heart.”
Fried emphasized that teenagers should have sex for the right reasons and truly value intimacy. “Teens need to realize that true intimacy is learning about yourself in the presence of someone else.”
He spoke candidly about his relationships with both males and females — and the eventual realization of his homosexuality. “During high school, I didn’t even know if I was straight or gay. All I wanted was a good SAT score.” He said he was never concerned with contracting HIV. “In college,” he continued, “I was an ordinary guy in a fraternity. At that time, I believed that AIDS was the disease of risk groups.”
LSA junior Renee Safra, who helped to coordinate the event, first heard Fried speak when she was a sophomore in high school. “I walked out of the room feeling inspired, in awe and left in tears,” Safra said. She said she was pleased with the number of people in attendance. “I wish, however, that Scott could touch everyone on this campus,” she said.
LSA junior Brian Pappas said Fried’s message can apply to anyone. “He stays on an equal level with the audience. He’s very personable. You can tell that he really lives what he teaches,” Pappas said.
“His presentation was inspiring,” LSA junior Caitlin Klein said. She added that she found Fried’s message touching. “The hardest part about what he says is actually putting things into action. It’s easy to hear this stuff, but to really live every moment to its fullest is more of a challenge,” Klein said.