Marianne Williamson’s stride in the presidential race has been a slow burn, but in recent weeks it’s seen a surge of attention from the Hollywood elite. Actress and activist Alyssa Milano, who’s been playing coy on who she will endorse for the 2020 election, announced that she’s attending a fundraiser for Williamson.
"I know. I know,” Milano wrote on Twitter. “But she’s the only candidate talking about the collective, soulful ache of the nation & I think that’s an important discussion to have."
Williamson’s calm and slightly unpolished demeanor places her in a position to be the “anti-Trump,” according to some pundits. Even Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon had a go at impersonating Williamson, which for many is a clue that she’s triggered the attention of voters.
In recent weeks, researchers have been investigating her work in the HIV sphere and, according to Williamson, have fabricated the message.
One of the loudest criticisms is that Williamson’s view on healing goes against scientific facts, accusing her of suggesting that prayer and meditation is an adequate replacement for medication.
In a May 1 tweet, she responded:
Furthermore, journalist Lindsay Beyerstein accused Williamson of telling “gay men dying of AIDS that they should learn to love their virus,” sharing a story from StateAndCityNY.com about her activism as it pertains to the book A Course in Miracles.
Last month, however, Williamson acknowledged the misconception that she’s told people dealing with AIDS complications to opt for prayer and meditation instead of their meds, tweeting:
A staunch HIV and LGBTQ activist since the 1980s, Williamson founded Project Angel Food, which in 1989 started delivering meals to homebound people living with HIV. As she told Plus, it was LGBTQ folks and people living with HIV who helped "establish my career."
“When I began speaking in 1983, I was at a place called the Philosophical Research Society in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles,” she explains to Plus. “Now, today, that's a kind of hip and happening neighborhood but in those days it was this far off, weird place… Not long after I began speaking, the AIDS crisis burst onto the scene… Organized religious institutions, for their own reasons dealing with their own issues, were profoundly silent for quite a while. In Los Angeles, it was so hard hit by [AIDS] and there was a young woman, myself, who talked about a God who loved us no matter what, and who works miracles. So, people affected by the virus, particularly gay men, began flocking to my lectures. And that was simply the river that flowed to my door.”
At the time, Williamson's sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer. "There was so much suffering, death, illness around me that the idea of starting a nonprofit organization that would provide nonmedical support services to people with life-challenging illnesses, when I first did it, I wasn't even thinking about AIDS specifically. But, at our first fundraiser, when I saw who showed up, who gave the party, who did the work, I looked around and I went, 'Oh my god. This is the AIDS community.' I knew that the organization was theirs."
She continues, "When we started, there were lectures and support groups three or four times a week. But, I thought it was an outgrowth of my lecture on A Course in Miracles. I wasn't thinking of this only for the people who were ill. I was thinking of this as much for the people who were not ill. There were so many people affected who were members of the entertainment industry... its heart was so expansive around [HIV]. There was so much pain, and so many tears.... At that time, for some of these young men, telling their parents they were gay was as traumatic as telling their parents they were dying. So it was like being in a war zone, and all we had was love for each other. It was a very profound experience. You're marked forever by something like that."
She adds, “Americans are very good at showing up for each other after a tragedy has already occurred, but we need to show up with greater love for each other so as to prevent many tragedies from occurring.”