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

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jon:
Hey Tim,

I dont think its quite as simple as You make it sound.  If a straight guy goes to a gay support group He's gonna get hit on.  Thats an unsettling thought.  If He goes to an "everyone affected" support group He's gonna get preached at. (Most of these are at churches.)

As far as straight people speaking out,... How many people are gonna gather round and listen to what the AIDS Junkie has to say?

ACinKC:
I personally take offense to NOT getting hit on at a gay function!  ;D AM I NOT ATTRACTIVE ENOUGH?!?!?!  When the fiance and I attend the gay bars I tell her I better get more attention than she does or there's gonna be DRAMA!

Straights, (and i am one) need to chill on the whole getting hit on thing.  It wont kill you.  And there is minimal risk of it actually turning you gay!  According to all the first-tiered peer reviewed scientific data!

jkinatl2:
Tim, I applaud you.

It really IS as simple as that.

If someone behaves inappropriately in a support group setting, then reporting them to the group moderator is in order. Support groups aren't dating services, gay or straight. Especially not during sanctioned support meetings.

Like this forum versus, say, the AM I INFECTED and OFF TOPIC forum. Certain topics, certain conversations, are encouraged here that are considered inappropriate in the other forums.

That is not discrimination, it's decorum.

As far as straight support, I submit that it is incumbent upon those who feel an unrecognized or unfulfilled need to seek out the solution, or make it him/herself. Will there be resistance? Maybe.

And a fracturing of the communities by race, gender, sexual orientation et al will only ultimately serve to reduce the possibility of learning something important, maybe life-saving,  about this illness.  That homo who hits on you might end up being your best friend, might end up knowing about drug interactions that the doctor never thought to tell you. That junkie who stood up to talk might know more about Hep C and it's treatment than most physicians.

I am absolutely against the segregation of HIV support groups. And I agree that unless you are starting a dating service, an exclusionary group is indeed discrimination.

We all have something to bring to the table. Collectively, we are stronger than the sum of our parts.

HollyStar:
Hi Tim,

Interesting thread! Personally, I don't see what straight-specific issue there would be to having a straight-only support group. I think that as HIV+ people, the same issues affect us all, no matter our sexual orientation. As for why straights don't stand up and be counted? I'm scared to even go to a damn support group let alone stand up and be counted. Horrible you could say. I think at some point we have all felt the stigma and sometimes some people try and make sure that they don't encounter it again. That could mean isolation, sitting down when we should stand up. I really have only felt the stigma a LITTLE bit, but it scared me. I just don't want people to know yet.

This is off subject a bit but it has stuck with me ever since. When I was in 7th grade we would have sex-ed classes. Well, one day our lady teacher brought a guest speaker. He was HIV+. He talked about the rashes he had had, among other things (which I know now to probably be a side-effect from meds). We were allowed to ask questions. I think one kid asked if he was gay or how he got it (can't remember exactly). The guy said something like "does it matter?" Some of the girls were crying and I can't remember what other questions were asked. This guy was interesting, but the only question I could think of was something like, "can you get it from monkey's or can monkey's get it? LOL. The class left the room and I was one of the stragglers. For some reason this guy interested me. I don't know if it was a connection or what. He shook my hand and held on. I actually wanted him to let go, I guess it made me nervous or scared, I don't know. But I find it interesting that years after, I would become HIV+. Obviously there is no connection (for you worried-wells) but it has always struck me.

I don't know if anyone got anything from that but you know, it doesn't matter how or where or why we have HIV. We just do. We all have HIV, but what is truly dividing us here? HIV? No. Sexual orientation? Sometimes, maybe. Fear? Maybe. Honestly Tim, I don't know how to answer your questions. A lot of my family is racist, homophobic, ignorant, but that way of thinking didn't stick on me. Every now and then a family member will make a stupid joke about AIDS. It pisses me off that someone could be so ignorant. Do I educate them? No I didn't. Maybe once or twice, I have said that you don't get HIV that way. Think they heard me? Probably not. You know, I've learned more on here about the history of AIDS among other things, than anywhere else. I do know that I agree with you Tim. We need more people like you. I hope that one day I will have the courage to stand up.

I hope that made sense.

DCGuy511:
Tim, you bring up a few different points.   I donít know the client that you referred to, the one who wanted straight oriented services.  Iím not sure what he wants. I know only what youíve offered and what was said in that other thread. Iíd like to focus on AIDS Service Organizations. I can also only speak to the environment here in the U.S., so my international peers, please be patient.

There are many different services offered by ASOs.  I think that most of the services are not gender, race or sexual-preference specific. For instance, at my ASO they offer testing, nutritional counseling, housing assistance and legal aid. Straights and gays provide these services to straights and gays alike. The ASO also offers health services and runs a medical clinic. Now, medical services are different.  Some people are uncomfortable going to a physician of the opposite sex. I donít think anything is wrong with that. I do not use the ASOís medical services, but I do see a private physician who is gay. I would not choose a straight male or a female primary care doc because there are issues that gay men have that I feel most comfortable discussing with another gay man.  Iím not heterophobic or sexist because I choose to see a gay male physician. Iím getting care in an environment that I am comfortable. My ASO also provides mental health services, including peer counseling, professional therapy and support groups. Here, I can see where maybe sexual preference or gender identity may come into play.  My support group was for the newly diagnosed.  In theory it was open to all, but in reality it was 20 gay white men and one African American woman. It worked. But I suspect there were times when the male members did not share as openly as they would have had it been all-gay.  And logically I would expect that she might have held some things back, things that maybe white gay men would not understand. The ASO has social workshops about dating and safesex, wouldnít it seem natural to separate these by gender or orientation? Some issues we deal with as poz people are universal, but being poz can affect each one of us differently because we are all individuals.  We donít loose our gender, racial identity or sexual preference when we get infected.  

I can only speak as an HIV+ man who lives in a big city.  We have a huge ASO here in DC, much of which is funded by the District and Federal governments. They provide services to all types of people. Iíve noticed a change over the years. At one time I would only see the ASO advertising in gay bars, gay publications, and around the gay neighborhoods, Iíve noticed over the past few years that the ASO is now targeting the African-American, Latino and Lesbian communities more.  Iíve also noticed where once these advertisements only pictured white men, they now show both genders, people of different colors, and seemingly both gay and straight individuals. I know that they have specific programs targeted to these communities and I donít think anything is wrong with that.  I donít directly benefit from a Spanish-speaking counselor or a dating /safe-sex workshop developed for straights, but I think we benefit as a community that those things exist. It is not Us versus Them.  We can co-exist and work together on behalf of our entire community.

It sounds like you live in a more rural environment. You have a smaller population base. In a smaller community, you may not be able to offer all of the services to all of the different people that an ASO in a big city may offer There is nothing wrong with that and an ASO needs to serve the community it is in.  Like I said, I donít know what your client wants. Maybe he is a homophobic jerk or  maybe he is asking for something that he feels he needs.? In general, I do not think that targeted services or programs are bad ideas.

Take care,
Steve

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