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A GIF of one of the opening shots from Janet Jackson’s music video for “Together Again”.

December 1 was World AIDS day. And AIDS wound up being something I found myself speaking about on Twitter that weekend. Not because it was Worlds AIDS day specifically. But due to a strange discourse around Beyoncé’s Renaissance film. (The film is great by the way. Go watch it). And amidst this I mentioned Janet Jackson’s “Together Again”, which then unearthed a whole bunch of things and memories for me. And then I got to thinking, what better song to spotlight for a Flashback Friday on World AIDS day than “Together Again”?

Yes. We gon’ pretend I posted this on December 1st and not a whole seven days later.

“Together Again” was largely responsible for me learning about what AIDS was. I recall Janet speaking candidly during the press tour for “Together Again”, about what the song was about and who she had written it for. I had “Together Again” on CD and can still vividly remember the jewel case featuring a take on the AIDS ribbon, which was designed to look an infinity sign and the knot of a rope. Because, duh. I didn’t know what AIDS was at that age or the history of it. And I also didn’t think much of how big a deal it was for Janet to tie AIDS awareness so much to a song of hers. It was only as I got older that I realised the impact of each of these things.

“Together Again” is a great pop record in its own right, which just happens to be one of my favourite Janet Jackson songs. But “Together Again” spoke to me profoundly, because it reframed loss in a way which made more sense to me as a kid, as somebody who didn’t equate their own grief to just being upset. It was one of the first times I’d heard a song about reflecting on the passing of somebody with joy; choosing to celebrate their life and the happiness they brought to yours. And because of how non specific the lyrics were, it made the song easy to identify with, no matter who you lost and how you lost them.

With the way folk got on Beyonce’s case for not explicitly saying ‘MY UNCLE DIED OF AIDS’ in her Renaissance film, they probably woulda got on Janet in the 90s too. Could you imagine if the hook to “Together Again” song was…

Everywhere I go, every smile I see
I know you are there smiling back at me
Dancing in moonlight, wit’cho HIV
And I can see your star, shining down on me

Y’all want specificity, but it isn’t always necessary and doesn’t always serve the purpose you think it does. You can honour somebody and acknowledge work needs to be done around what took their life, without reducing their entire memory down to the thing which took it.


It shouldn’t be the work of Black women to shoulder the responsibility of stopping a stigma which is upheld by gay men these days. But that’s a WHOLE other conversation.

For now, let us talk about how smooth and weightless Janet is as she dances in the video. How this music video still holds to this day. How “Together Again” is the still the jam. How great it is that HIV is no longer a death sentence for people.

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Flashback Friday: Janet Jackson – Together Again