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Please help me with this one...............

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Moffie65:
I don’t really know where to start with this one.

I want to bring some issues up here that will be seen by some as incendiary, and some of the things I will offer, might be taken as such, if they are taken out of context.  That being said, I need to ask a few questions that I want thoughtful answers to, if you please.

What is stated here might piss you off, and if so, I would love for you to let me know and also why these words piss you off.  Now for those that don’t know me, please be sure, I am very capable of reading your words and not getting pissed myself.  I am not afraid of other people’s views, for only through their voicing opinions, do I learn.

I want to set the tone here by placing for your perusal, a copy of a post card I have from the mid 1980’s.  This postcard is hanging on my wall in the guest bathroom, and be sure, there are more straight people in my home at any one time, than gay people.  (Of course not counting my Sweetie and myself.)  My Sweetie and I, have over the last 20 years, been more closely associated with the Straight world, than the Gay world.  There are many here in these forums, who just like us, live in rural areas and don’t have a daily, weekly, or even monthly contact with Gay people.  I don’t know how to make columns here, so please read both of each number before moving to the next number.  OK, OK..  Here it is

 
WHEN YOU’RE STRAIGHT
                     
1.  You get your name in the paper for getting married.

2.  You get looks of admiration when you hold your partner’s hand.

3.  You get a tax break for being married.

4.  You get to keep your kids no matter how bad a parent you are.

5.  You get to stay in the military if you engage in non-consensual sex.

6.  If you get HIV, you’re an “innocent victim”.

7.  You have a life.

8. Standing up for your rights makes you a participatory citizen.

WHEN YOU’RE LESBIAN, GAY OR SEXUALLY DIFFERENT

1.  You get your name in the paper for committing sodomy.

2.  You get spat upon and jeered at when you hold your partner’s hand.

3.  You can’t get married.

4.  You get your kids taken away from you, no matter how good a parent you are.

5.  You get kicked out of the military if you engage in consensual sex.

6.  If you get HIV, you obviously “deserve it”.

7.  You have a “Lifestyle”.

8.  Standing up for your rights makes you a “Militant Homosexual”.

Now I know that some of you who are Straight, are going to be shocked that I should repeat some of these things, and you are probably under the impression that the world is more tolerant than projected here, but I protest that in fact these things are still very much a part of our existence in this country and on this world.  Only a few months ago, two very nice young men were publicly hanged in an Islamic country, for doing nothing more severe, and criminal than loving each other.  Think about that.  Being in your twenties and being hanged for loving another man.  How barbaric, but think about some of the things in your life you take for granted every day, that I am not even allowed to think about for myself.  Yet,,,,  I pay my 53% tax rate for being a single, and take the challenge and run with it. 

Look, I am not wasting my time here trying to start another flame war, but I want to really know why it is that for the last 15 years, I have heard this plea for “Straight Sensitive” service delivery.  Here I am, living in a high Arizona desert, in a town that has the distinction of being rated as having the highest per-capita income in the whole state.  This even higher than the very famous Scottsdale, and we don’t even have a fucking doctor out of the 100 or so, that will even give HIV services.  We wouldn’t want to disturb the sensitivities of our very wealthy patrons would we?  Straight Support Group????????  You must be fucking joking?  We have one client that has been complaining for five years that there are no specific Straight services, and he wants his and he wants it NOW!.  For the last five years, I have been fighting just to keep the funding we have, let alone worry about support groups.  AIDS Service organizations are either growing from gross mismanagement of funding, or they are crumbling from lack of funds from the Government.  How about a Medicare system that is breaking the bank accounts of HIV+s that cannot now afford the medications that will keep them alive, and the organizations charged with insuring their survival, are squandering their resources and killing people from neglect?  How about some medical care?  DUH!

I also am not so ignorant as to think that any of you from the British Islands and Europe, who are so very privileged to have public health systems in place that guarantee services of some sort; could possibly grasp the deplorable condition of HIV services in this country.  Many of our members here don’t have access to anything. 

Now, you knew there would be a point, and now here it is.

I want to know why it is necessary to have a separate “Straight Support” network?  In asking for this, are we not further dividing and separating ourselves, as HIV+s, from the people who are going to have to help us?

Does insisting on a “Straight Support” network, not perpetuate the assumption that this disease is a Gay disease, instead of a viral protein, and in doing so, do we not build that wall between us and them even higher?

Why do Straight people refuse to stand up publicly and be counted?  Why does anyone do this, when the direct result is the perpetuation of mistrust and hatred from the society as a whole?  Coming out publicly for anyone is “the taking of our power”, and then using it for the betterment of us all.  Hiding serves nobody, let alone us, and leaves those that would shun us with all the power.

There is a misunderstanding here, as to the nature and reasons that the Gay community banded together to start the early HIV movement.  What we did not do, is create a system of care because we “WANTED” exclusivity, no, it was for far more horrible reasons. The first thing was sheer survival.  When this pandemic entered this country, people were thrown out of their homes, couldn’t get a doctor to help them, fired from their jobs, shunned by most all of the medical community, shunned from restaurants, and food stores, and the list of horrors goes on.  No, we did it because, if not us, who?  Gay identified doctors and nurses were coming out of the woodwork to set up service delivery networks because nobody in the AMA approved network, was there to give any help at all.  Watching people die does get your dander up.

There are many of you on this forum, who are straight, and new to the Gay scene, and some of you type things here that to you seem harmless at best.  I want to make sure you understand that for us that are Gay; this type of attitude will be faced as Homophobia, and called out as such.  The reasons for the things you say, are not necessarily your fault, as your background has not given you any exposure to the Gay world, other than those ghastly snippets you see on the evening news.  Well, I would advise that from here on out, we need to keep our minds and hearts open to the needs of  “ALL THE HIV+ COMMUNTY”, and stop this wall building.  Please just accept that people who use both sides of the brain, are going to be different than the masses, and we are not going to be nelly, queenlier, sissies, or any other tag you would like to hang on us; we are simply people with all our foibles, that happen to be programmed to love those of our own sex.  Nothing more, nothing less.

I think it is time to steer this forum into a direction of unity and of common purpose, and the only way for that to happen is if the Straight community understands who we are and who we are not.  I guarantee that the Gay people here don’t have to spend one minute trying to figure out anything about the Straight community, as we have learned to live within it from before puberty.  Therefore the onus is on you guys to make the future inclusive, and one that will serve the needs of all of the HIV+ community.  I don’t care where in the world you come from, whether it is from the “White” south of the United States, or from any other part of the world where discrimination is part of the fabric of your world.

WE ABSOLUTLY MUST DO THIS TOGETHER FOR IT TO WORK.

Thank you for reading.

In Love and Support.

ACinKC:
I'm straight and I agree.  Don't segregate the disease, it makes no sense.  Only with a unified front will we eventually defeat it.  On a further note it INFURIATES me ALL PEOPLE arent allowed to love who they choose.  But I have to say the guy running for Governor of Texas summed it up best for me when he said..... "Gay marriage?  Sure I believe they should be allowed to be as miserable as the rest of us!" It's HIGH TIME for EQUAL rights in this damn country and I am ashamed of this administration and those that support constitutional bigotry!

But, thats just me......

penguin:
Hmm..
think its human nature to want to connect with people, someone, anyone who is the “same” as us…whole point of support groups, really.. to stop that breath-stealing stab of isolation + other-worldly distance. And yes, we all have the right ‘n need for support which respects & promotes us and our values/ faith /culture/ sexuality. Etc etc. 
That aside, aids is aids.
Kvetching about who got it how and where and why, and how their experience and needs is different, or worse, or more important, is just…well, daft. And this is coming from me, who knows about being minority + feeling like you don’t fit anywhere, not even in a very politically correct tick-box.
Possibly, I think, all this silliness stems from the just-under-surface guilt so many people still carry round, and the need to appease that just a bit by saying I am not the same as you, I’m special, unique even, + not “tainted” by whatever nasties the ownership of this virus implies…but newsflash, people, several million people does not an exclusive club make…
These forums prove that just throwing everyone in together, and getting on with it, does work. We don’t have separate forums for ethnic minorities, or gay men, or lesbians, or heterosexuals, or iv drug users, or mothers with babies…+ yes, if anyone has a specific issue, then they can go off to one side and sort that out. But all together, I think we muddle along quite well. Can we keep doing that, please?

Thank you tim
Kate
ps..move here...you can get married...

aztecan:
Tim, you have said a mouthful.

The more we compartmentalize and fragment ourselves, the more our power to act and affect change is diminished. It is that simple.

In some of the larger cities, this pigeonholing of people has reached ludicrous levels. This at a time when a lack of funding is threatening what little we have, such as housing assistance, ADAP and emotional support.

I read of others who don't like the doctor they have and deciding to find another. We have one doctor - period. If you don't like him, its a three-hour drive to find another.

Until this past month, there was no dental care for positives near me. People drove three hours to see a dentist.

Until a few months ago, we had no emotional support counselors here. Now, we have one and she is overwhelmed.

We don't have a support group here.

I see a dichotomy of services, to be sure. But it isn't gay-straight. It is rural-urban. Must people give up the homes they love in their rural communities just to access services?

This situation is bad enough. To further augment the problem by tossing in demands for "straight oriented" services would simply cause services to disappear altogether.

Luckily, that hasn't been too much of an issue here. The straight folks seem to get along OK with their gay brothers. We all work together to support each other because we must. If we don't, the chances are we would not have anything.

Many HIV services are or were gay-centric. The reason for this is in 1981, the gay community was the population hit first and hardest by this disease in the U.S.

The straight community either meandered on in blissful ignorance or turned a blind eye, because it didn't affect them or because they believed we deserved what we got and should all die. (I was told this once by a christian minister. And people wonder why I have such a low opinion of christianity.)

We banded together out of desperation. The government, the churches, the straight community in general, didn't care and didn't offer any help.

Now, the other shoe has fallen and the straight community has learned something we found out early on - this disease doesn't discriminate.

I still feel a certain amount of anger regarding the early reaction to AIDS in America. I probably always will.

But, that is the past. I can't change that. I can try to change the future. But I can't do it alone.

The gay community has become apathetic toward HIV. Much of the straight community still ignores it - especially in rural areas.

Congress hasn't fully funded AIDS-related programs since before Bill Clinton left office., yet the need hasn't diminished, it has grown, although the pressing needs have changed somewhat since the early years.

We don't have the luxury to fragment ourselves. People are going without medications. People are becoming homeless. People are dying from neglect.

These aren't gay issues. These aren't straight issues. These are human issues. We have to stand together because we are fighting for our lives.

OK, enough of my soapbox.

HUGS,

Mark

Matty the Damned:
Daddy Tim,

As usual you distill these issues perfectly. That person who has less than you should be foremost in your thoughts and actions.

May all of us take a moment to pause and consider what we say and do.

MtD

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