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Posts Tagged ‘AIDS

For World AIDS Day, A Troubling Report

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I heard this report yesterday on the all-news radio station in my area, and it caught my attention.  With World AIDS Day coming up on December 1st, some sobering statistics were announced that I think we need to take heed to.  The first thing that grabbed my attention was this:

“More than half of young people infected with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. DON’T know they’re infected.”

Young people, between 13-24, account for more than 1/4 of all new infections.  If there are 50,000 new infections per year, which is what they’re reporting, that means that roughly 12,500 of those new cases are young males between the ages of 13-24.  That’s not a good statistic.  That means that we’re failing in educating young people on HIV/AIDS prevention.  How can that even be possible with a disease that has been around since the early 1980s?

According to Julie Steenhuysen, Health and Science Correspondent for Reuters, that figure of 1/4 being young males stems from high infection rates amongst LGBT young people, African-American, and, Latino males.  What makes this problematic is that a lot of these young people report that they “Haven’t really learned much about how to protect [themselves] against infection.”  And, again, the question, “how is this even possible?”, comes into play.

And, of course, there are some who report being subjected to a lot of shame because of their sexuality and the stigma attached to being LGBT.  Now, the picture becomes a bit clearer.  Shame and stigma.  That goes back to a huge cultural problem we’re facing in today’s society as it pertains to the LGBT community.  This is the year 2012.  There is no way we should still be dealing with prejudices and bigotry when it comes to something as intrinsic to our being as our sexuality.  Worse, here’s more evidence of the life-threatening harm that it’s causing.

When asked what she thought needed to be done to reverse this trend, Julie Steenhuysen added this:

Communicating to the community how important it is to support young people, no matter where they are [with their sexuality] so that they can at least stay safe. That could mean…to train leaders who are not LGBT, perhaps in the faith community and entertainers to be more sensitive to stigma, and help establish a healthy environment for these young men in which to grow and to learn about their own sexuality.

I was a young, gay man when the HIV/AIDS epidemic exploded on the scene back in the early 1980s.  Worse, I lived in San Francisco during that time.  “Worse” because a.) I literally watched a least one friend die from this epidemic on a daily basis; and, b.) it was easily the most frightening time of my life.  Being a young, virile gay man, myself, at the time, of course I was sexually active as I searched for my Mr. Right.  And, at one point, I even resigned myself to the “reality” of “well, if all of my friends are infected, I must obviously be infected as well.”  By the grace of God, that was not the case.  And, once I got myself tested and learned that I’d been spared of this devastating disease, I changed everything about how I lived my life.  I educated myself.  Educating oneself was very easy then, pre-Internet days; it’s much easier today because of the Internet.  And, education is 100% effective.

Gone are the days when we can feel invincible and just do everything, sexually, we want to do.  That half of these young people didn’t even know they were infected is all the proof you need.  The only foolproof way of avoiding infection is protection.  Yes, I know that there will be fundamentalists who will argue that abstinence is the only true foolproof way of avoiding infection.  But, perhaps, being more in tune with the reality that these young people are going to have sex, protection is key.  Education has to be a key component in protecting oneself from contracting HIV/AIDS.  It’s that simple.  It’s 2012.  There’s no way there should be anyone, anyone!, who doesn’t have access to all of the education necessary to prevent numbers like this report reveals from happening.

December 1st, as we remember those who have already died from this epidemic, we must also re-energize our efforts to prevent it from continuing to spread.  That’s going to take acceptance.  That’s going to take communication.  That’s going to take education.

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The Stacey Campfield Camp Responds!!!

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woke up this morning to the surprise of my journalistic life:  a direct response from the Stacey Campfield camp.  Actually, the unmoderated comment that was left is supposedly directly from Stacey, himself.  However, upon further inspection, and after checking the links provided, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he, himself, did NOT send me the response.  On the other hand, regardless as to who, in fact, sent it, it’s frightening to know that these are the “facts” these people espouse.  Worse, it’s detrimental that they seek to impose their terribly misguided “factual” beliefs on the public-at-large and, in particular, the LGBT community.  Allow me to dissect.

The responder started of for acknowledging my passion:  “While I apriciate (sic) your passion, here are some cold hard facts…”  Then, the fun begins.

On the issue of gay men having a decidedly shorter lifespan, this link was offered as their “proof”.  Their “documentation” turned out to be a far right-wing propaganda piece chock-full of the same old diatribe we’ve been hearing for decades.  In the first paragraph, it’s noted that “…evidence shows homosexuality to be a compulsion and lethal addiction, not ‘mainstream America'”.  It’s also noted that even without AIDS, “…homosexual persons will probably not live past their 40s…”  I can’t make this stuff up!  Read it for yourself.

As I suspected, and as I stated in the original article, At The Root of the Tennessee Madness, they are taking outdated information, in some cases from as far back as the late 70s!, and presenting it as today’s facts and reality.  How dangerous is that?  First of all, things that held true in 1978 obviously don’t hold the same validity in 2012.  But, more importantly, how dangerous is it to attempt to govern in today’s world using 1978 survey information?

Conclusion:

Study after study reveals that homosexuality, whether male or female, can take anywhere from 10, 20 to 30 years off of someone’s lifespan. With all the attention on smoking, which the National Cancer Institute says takes from 7 to 10 years off someone’s life, why not the same human outcry on homosexuality? Here’s a behavior that’s killing people 2 to 3 times the rate of smoking, yet nobody seems to care. In fact, we are encouraging and affirming individuals into the “gay” lifestyle. If you truly love someone, you would steer them away from self-destructive behaviors, rather than towards them, shouldn’t you? Homosexuals need our tough love, not blind love, the kind of love that is going to love them no matter what they say and do. We must extend that helping hand and say ” I think your worth saving, let’s work on it together.”

All of that, and I’m still only on the first link “he” provided.

So, where does his information supporting getting AIDS through “normal” heterosexual vaginal sex come from?  What’s his “scientific” proof?  Cecil Adams, touted as the world’s smartest human.  The world’s genius was asked, in December 1988, his opinion of how risky heterosexual sex was.  In 1988, the whole world was still trying to get a grip on what was really going on with the virus.  I know.  I was there.  I was in San Francisco during those days, watching my own friends die on a daily basis from a disease that we still hadn’t fully come to understand.  But, again, that was 1988.

So, to make sure this is very clear:  A U.S. Senator is taking someone’s opinion and presenting it to his constituents as “scientific fact”.  Worse, he’s using someone else’s opinions, masked as knowledge, in order to propagate his own bigotry and hatred towards the LGBT community, young and old.  Can I say again:  this is an ELECTED official!  I’m convinced that today’s elected officials have completely lost sight of the fact that, by virtue of our votes, we hired them to work for us.  They’ve got it reversed.  And, that needs to be re-examined.

And, finally, an attempt was made to justify his bill “Don’t Say Gay”, which forbids school administrators to say the word “gay” or even acknowledge their LGBT students as such.  The bill that, if not already implemented, could’ve potentially saved Phillip Parker’s life.

As for the reason for the interview (My bill on parental responsibility of teaching sexuality to very young children) Here are some points of view for you to consider.

 

-It is a parents responsibility to decide when a child is ready to grasp such a complex issue as sexuality and what they want to tell the child about that complex subject. Not a teachers.

 

- All children develop mentally at different rates. I do not feel a teacher with an agenda (Be it pro or con) is the appropriate person to decide “Now is the time” for an entire class of children just because they may think one way or another on an issue and want to espouse it.

 

-A teacher is not a trained child psychologist or psychiatrist and could do as much harm as good to a sexually confused child.

 

-I doubt many on the other side would want a teacher who said “Homosexuality is evil, dirty and wrong” just because they felt that it was what is appropriate, that it is what they thought the children needed to and were ready to hear. This bill ensures neutrality from teachers.

 

-Physically threatening behavior is what is and needs to remain covered for all groups. Not the sexuality of the victim. We already have anti bullying legislation passed in Tennessee (In fact I co sponsored it 2 or 3 years ago when it passed) so all children are protected from bullying in our schools. [this is in reference to the bill that would allow for bullying of LGBT students if done for “religious, political, or philosophical reasons”.  And, they still don’t get it!  No one is looking for SPECIAL protection.  And, we certainly don’t present ourselves as a “special class” of people.  Equality means we’re equal to every other person, not special.  In fact, THEY are making us that “special class” of people by singling us out to be victimized by discrimination in the job and housing markets and, frightfully, in the schools!]

 

-We do not need an un equal justice system that creates special separate classes of protected people that gets special protection under the law.

 

-Nor do we need to silence the first amendment rights of religious free speech of those in our schools whose family may hold different beliefs (as long as those beliefs are not physically threatening). [note to you, Rep. Campfield:  not only is it physically threatening to the LGBT students, it’s costing lives.]

 

-While there is a scientific and educational need to mention the basics of heterosexuality when teaching the basics of reproduction (XY chromosomes, etc.) there is no scientific need to mention homosexuality as homosexuals do not naturally reproduce.

 

-We are falling behind the rest of the world in math, science, and English amongst other things. Tennessee ranks about 46th in most areas. Social engineering is just one less issue teachers should have to worry about teaching as part of their curricula.

That someone from the Stacey Campfield camp thought enough of what I said to take time to respond is encouraging.  That they have this view of reality is mind-boggling.  That they are passing their myopic, unfounded, and outmoded views on the people of an entire state is very dangerous.  So, again, I strongly urge signing the petitions.  Too much is at stake to wait for “someone else” to do it.

Bill Clinton Responsible for Oral Sex-Related Cancers!!!!

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Sigh.  There’s no real purpose for posting such an incredibly foolish story other than to allow every breathing human being with even a shred of intelligence the opportunity to see for themselves the kind of mindset we’re up against in our fight for equality.  It’s important for everyone to understand the shear insanity that being spewed from so-called leaders.  And, it’s being spewed with absolute conviction.  I don’t know what’s scarier:  the fact that there really are people out there who believe and, worse, promote the nonsense that comes from their mouths, or the fact that there are REAL PEOPLE who accept their misguided words as gospel.

I’m reminded that “anybody can say, or write, anything they want, and there’s always going to be someone who believes it.”

From the man who brought us the breaking news last week that AIDS was primarily a homosexual disease, caused by gay sex and poppers!, and that rarely if ever will you find a case of AIDS where people are having “normal” heterosexual sex now comes the revelation that Bill Clinton is to blame for the recent spike in the number of mouth cancers.

I can’t make this stuff up.

According to Bryan Fischer (remember him?), because of Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky back in the 90’s, young people were influenced by his actions.  Using Bill’s now infamous (and, I’d bet, regrettable on his part) “it wasn’t sex” response, young people took his “advice”.  Oral sex increased, according to Mr. Fischer.  And, with it came an increase in the number of cases of mouth cancers.

So, what makes this important?  To my thinking, it’s important for all of us to know, and be constantly reminded of, exactly the type of insanity that we’re up against.  It’s equally important to understand that all of this opposition is coming from a very small faction in our country.  However, they’re in positions of power and persuasion.  And, they are quite boisterous in their fight against us.  Misguided, but boisterous.  However, for every person who follows them and their teachings of hatred, ignorance, and intolerance, there’s a hundred people who are against what they preach.

We need to continue to grow, daily, in numbers.  We need to continue to make our voices heard, very loudly and very clearly.  We need to be precise and concise with our message:  We will no longer accept intolerance against the LGBT community!  Lives are being lost daily because of it.  Zero tolerance means just that.  It’s time to stop saying it and start making sure it’s being carried out.

At The Root of the Tennesse Madness

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A couple things really bother me here.  First of all, how is it possible that one person as completely ignorant and out of step with the real world could be elected into a political position!?  Every single thing Stacey Campfield breathes about the LGBT community would be laughable if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s damaging so many lives.

Rep. Campfield is the author of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the bill that doesn’t even allow for the recognition of the word gay.  His logic and reasoning behind that predates Anita Bryant.  It might even predate the neanderthals.  Certainly, it’s not in step with 2012 and the real world.  He’s clinging feverishly to an old, outmoded myth about homosexuality.  Now, it’s fine if he has those views and strongly believe in them.  That’s his choice and, under our Constitution, he has that right.  The line, though, needs to be drawn decisively at the front door of his home.  As a politician, as a human being, and as an adult, he should not be allowed to let his bias, his archaic views of reality influence and harm other people.  In this case, particularly, the lives of young LGBT people are in the balance.  Tennessee has had two gay-teen suicides within the last 2 months.  How many more lives must be lost before Stacey Campfield is put in check?  Don’t lose track of the fact that it was also Stacey Campfield who authored the bill that allows for the bullying of LGBT youth as long as it’s done for “…religious, political, or philosophical reasons.”  Your son gets bashed in the face at school.  The attacker yells “Praise the Lord”, goes to the office and collects his get-out-of-jail-free card.

Mr. Campfield is a bonafide threat to the well-being of every LGBT person in the state of Tennessee.  From his “Don’t Say Gay” policy to his policy of allowing realtors and businesses to discriminate against members of the LGBT community, Stacey Campfield is truly a danger to the community.

His latest diatribe, though, was at least humorous.  He enlightened the world with his revelation that AIDS is an exclusively gay disease.  According to Stacey Campfield, it is “virtually impossible” to contract AIDS through “normal”, heterosexual sex.  Again, the question:  “how on EARTH was this man elected!?”  I’m not even going to comment on just how insane that series of statements are.  You can read it for yourself.  It’s great humor.  Well, not really.  It’s actually rather scary.  Never forget that this man is in a position of power.  He’s a shot-caller.  And, he’s amazing ignorant.  Bad combination.

Returning to my “power in numbers” mantra, if you haven’t signed any of the three petitions calling for changes in the Tennessee laws, here there are again:

Our army is growing by leaps and bounds daily.  Now, we need to put those numbers to work.  Talking about change is one thing; being proactive in helping to bring about that change is a whole different animal.

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