Wednesday, March 29, 2006

First Confusion, Then Silence, Action, Ribbons and Silence

I've been inspired by the response to my OpEd that was published in the Blade this past Friday. I am still a bit exhausted from the "fun" I had last night, but I wanted to at least continue the dialogue a bit more. The 750 word constraint that the OpEd page puts on a writer really limits what a writer can express.

I think I am disturbed, but not shocked, by the reaction of young people to the OpEd. You always are taking a risk and guessing a bit when you make sweeping generalizations about a population in a piece you write, especially when you don't have the data at hand to back up the generalization. So, I am disturbed that my generalization that young people are not hearing or talking enough about HIV/AIDS today is actually true.

Yes, I was too young to be around for the AIDS-scare of the 80's and 90's, but I was around for the ribbons. Red ribbons everywhere. People were talking about AIDS. The radical activism had pretty much died down, but the silence that had existed around AIDS in the early days was not around anymore. Now we seem to be back to the silence, but for different reasons. Before people were afraid to talk about AIDS, now people are sick of talking about AIDS.

Well, just because you are sick of talking about it does not mean that AIDS stops making people sick. When did it become uncool to wear the red ribbon? When did it become uncool to wear a condom and talk to your partner about status? Why are young people accepting the silence and why are the older and wiser generations letting them remain silent?

We really all have to start speaking up again about this issue. More importantly, we need to again let our ears listen to the people that are screaming about AIDS every day. These people are still out there, believe it or not. We've just all gotten so good at ignoring them.

There is obviously a lot more here to think about in terms of how we are going to again lift the silence on AIDS in our community. I plan to have sporadic thoughts posted on this blog about this issue in the future. This is what I am thinking about now though, here in the nation's capital where the HIV/AIDS rate is about as bad as it can possibly get.

Maybe the tipping point of this disease is already beyond our grasp. God, I hope not.

(Please feel free to post interesting articles on this issue here or send them along to me via email.)

I was in a Cave

So, apparently I was in a cave for all of last year. I am just now finishing up Thomas Frank's "What's the Matter with Kansas". I actually avoided the book, because I did not get the metaphor of the cover's graphic. I simply thought it was a conservative book after seeing the large elephant stomping on the donkey. Yes, I judged a book by its cover.

Well, as I am finishing up the book I was lucky enough to come across a column by WaPo's Dana Milbank that was published today and perfectly summarizes Frank's main points. Both the book and the column exemplify how fantastic the world that conservatives live in is and how fanatically immoral their leaders truly are. Did you know that they actually believe that Tom Delay lost the post of Majority Leader in the House of Representatives because he is a Christian? Huh. Funny. These same people overlook the immoral activity of Delay. In fact, the even ignore the fact that a country their administration supposedly liberated, Afghanistan, actually does persecute people because they are Christian.

But reality is beyond the realm of reason for these people. Their reality is one of willful immoral ignorance. Yes, these are the people that rule our country. Sad.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Antigays Attack Gay Television

While watching the gay television channel TLC, I was attacked during the commercial break by an antigay group manipulating religion. The commercial was made by the Arlington Assembly of God and contained the usual and tired so-called "ex-gay" rhetoric. You know how it goes: "I was gay, lonely, and then I found Jesus and I can now fuck women. You can too if you believe!" Yeah, and if you cut off your balls and plug your ass.

I am not worried about well adjusted gay people like myself seeing this crap, but I am worried about the kids out there who are exposed to this evil. They should be able to watch gay television in peace as well!

Please do me a favor and tell the Assembly of God to go to hell. Contact them:

Friday, March 24, 2006

OpEd in Blade

The Washington Blade ran an OpEd I wrote today:
My HIV/AIDS reality check
I thought I was living in a ‘post-AIDS’ world until I met someone with HIV. Sugar won’t help those meds go down.
Friday, March 24, 2006

A FEW DAYS ago I found myself at another Washington, D.C., gay political event with another open bar. The crowd was typical: older adults who the event was designed for, and the younger guys there for the booze. I was part of the latter group.

I was downing my second apple-tini, which for me is about one and a half–tinis too many, when one of older attendees struck up a conversation. Being the young and gracious freeloading drunks we often are at these events, we were polite and engaged the fellow in what we assumed would be light banter.

As it turned out, he is a city official from a small gay-friendly city in California. I am not sure how the conversation veered, but we soon learned he is living with HIV/AIDS and has been since 1985.

I am not sure why he felt compelled to disclose his status to us. Perhaps he wanted to correct me after hearing my irreverent remark to my roommate about how you can always spot an alcoholic at open bar events. (I had seen the official drinking water.)

Or maybe there was something unique about us that made him comfortable enough to disclose his status. Or maybe he is just very open about it to everyone. Whatever the reason, we now knew.

I WAS A BIT taken aback by his admission. The only other people I have ever heard be open about their HIV/AIDS status were speakers at school assemblies or activists at rallies. Weren’t these the only places that people with AIDS went?

Even though I know HIV is out there, to me the virus feels theoretical. I know how you can get it and all the precautions I can take to prevent from getting it, but my reality with the disease stops there.

No one I know has died from complications related to AIDS. No one I know is on a regular drug cocktail. And no one I know has to drink water at an open bar event to keep his viral load in check.

I came of age in a gay white male post-AIDS reality. The only people I see dying from AIDS are in the movies or on the television when Bono shows people dying in sub-Saharan Africa.

I had grown comfortable in my post-AIDS theoretical fantasy bubble, and here was this man laying a load down upon my shoulders that was heavy enough to burst even the strongest bubbles.

It was a heavy dose of reality that would have been even more shocking had the liquor I had been pleasantly consuming not taken some of the edge off.

THE REALITY OF the situation woke me up. Suddenly HIV/AIDS was real. It is real. Theories be damned, this is a fact.

My memory of the exact conversation I had with the official is hazy. I barely remember getting home that night. What I do know is that it is a conversation that will stick with me.

I learned that people living with HIV/AIDS aren’t just theoretical people you only read about and see in the movies, but that they are real and are living with and dying of HIV/AIDS, no matter where they are or what they happen to be doing. That post-AIDS reality I was led to believe exists never really did. Ever.

I have grown up in a world where people with HIV/AIDS are living with the disease through the aid of modern medicine. I made the awful discovery at the open bar that night that, like most of my peers, I have grown up in a fantasy world where pills solve everything. Ignorance is certainly bliss with a price.

Sometimes reality twists her ugly head around and stares you straight in the eye. For too long, I have not had to face the ugliness of reality when it comes to HIV/AIDS. Pills and silence have kept me away from it.

Sugarcoated desires and theories have allowed me to become distant from the reality of living as a gay man today. And while sometimes we need some sugar to get through life, when it comes to HIV/AIDS, I think we younger guys have used a little too much to help the medicine go down.

It is time we get real about HIV/AIDS.

Friday, March 17, 2006

UPDATE: Explanation of NYC Position

Just some clarification for everyone...

This is what most people think of on St. Patrick's Day:

He's cute, he's happy and above all EXTREMELY GAY!

This is (apparently) what New Yorkers think of on St. Patrick's Day:

He's ugly, he's scary and boy does he hate the gays!

St. Patrick's Day Not for Gays

New York City = Gay Mecca...right? I mean, really...where (except maybe San Francisco and the townhouse the PoliBois habitate on Capitol Hill) is gayer than NYC? Not exactly the place you would expect to find discrimination, but lo and behold, NYC hates the gays too!

For the 16th "straight year" (gotta love the WaPo's play on words!) the gays are banned from marching in the city's St. Patrick's Day Parade. Kudos to Christine Quinn, openly gay City Council Speaker who will be boycotting today's parade (and really... why not just get drunk at home like the rest of us?)

NYC hates the gays

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Raskin for MD Senate

Based on the amazing and logical quote in the post below (which apparently is very real), we totally support Jamie Raskin for MD State Senate. We just found out he is running in Silver Spring and Takoma Park.

Check out the campaign site and tell your friends:

The Bible is Just a Hand Rest

I cannot find an article that has the quote below (but did not search very hard at work), but whether it is what was truly said or not does not matter. The "quote" is so accurate and amazingly on point:
On Wednesday, March 1, 2006, in Annapolis at a hearing on the proposed Constitutional Amendment to prohibit gay marriage, Jamie Raskin, professor of law at AU, was requested to testify.

At the end of his testimony, Republican Senator Nancy Jacobs said: "Mr. Raskin, my Bible says marriage is only between a man and a woman. What do you have to say about that?"

Raskin replied: "Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You did not place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."

The room erupted with applause.

Sometimes Bible-thumping politicians need to be reminded to thump the Constitutions they pledged to upheld. Sad, but true.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The AIDS Stigma?

A report today in the Washington Post pointed out that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) may require governments that receive HIV/AIDS funding to begin collecting data on new HIV infections using a name-based system. While some governments already do this, some (including the District of Columbia) use coded systems to protect the identities of HIV/AIDS infected individuals.

Those in favor of the name-based system believe that it will allow health officials to better track the disease and provide information about new medications to those living with HIV/AIDS. Others fear that if the names are not handled properly, confidentiality could be breached.

Which begs the question: Is there still an HIV/AIDS stigma? Should the idea of a name-based system really be alarming, or are relics of the fight against HIV/AIDS not up with the times?

I believe the stigma is still alive and well.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

New Gay Recruiting Effort in Full Effect

A lesbian at Hood college has a creative way to get that toaster oven all of us gays strive for. You know, the one you get after recruiting 100 breeders to the gay dark side.

Jennifer Jones, a lesbian and college senior, recently won the title of homecoming drag king at hood college. While Jones claims that her winning king represents progress towards equality, we all really know she had her eye on the queen all this time. How did that homecoming king and queen dance finish Jonesey?

Way to go Jones! You win the PoliBois "Recruiter of the Year Award 2006".

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Seacrest is Out!

Did Ryan Seacrest finally expose his gayness to the public last night?

I don't know about you, but I felt kind of queasy watching American Idol last night when Ryan Seacrest started stripping one of the male contestants. Even Simon Cowell asked him to stop. The victim was Will Makar, a very cute contestant. We commend the pick Ryan.

Welcome to life after the closet: Seacrest Out!

Intelligent Design Exemplified

(Wanted to post on this a few days ago, but Blogger was down. Bad Blogger, bad!)

Conservative parents in one New Jersey community are freaking out that a 71 year-old transgeder woman wants to substitute teach and the community's school district is letting her. Why anyone would want to substitute teach is beyond me.

Really, we think that the conservatives are completely missing the point here. Finally a prime example of intelligent design presents itself and they turn their back on it. How stupid can they be?

Sheesh! I guess some people are never happy.