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World Aids Day 2013

Today December 1st is World Aids Day. Since 1988 it has been a way to talk about a subject that no one likes or wants to talk about. The purpose of World Aids Day is to talk about the state of HIV/AIDS in the world. A day to reflect on the history, a day to look back at all that we have learned, a day to take stock and acknowledge the failures and successes to ending the HIV epidemic.

What we know: As per the CDC –

Only certain fluids—blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum), rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk—from an HIV-infected person can transmit HIV. These fluids must come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the bloodstream (from a needle or syringe) for transmission to possibly occur. Mucous membranes can be found inside the rectum, the vagina, the opening of the penis, and the mouth.

In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by Having unprotected sex (sex without a condom) with someone who has HIV. Anal sex is the highest-risk sexual behavior. Receptive anal sex (bottoming) is riskier than insertive anal sex (topping). Vaginal sex is the second highest-risk sexual behavior. Having multiple sex partners or having other sexually transmitted infections can increase the risk of infection through sex. Sharing needles, syringes, rinse water, or other equipment (works) used to prepare injection drugs with someone who has HIV.


I am passionate about HIV activism. I have seen HIV’s effect on individual lives, families, and communities. I remain dedicated to the fight because I see it being something we could accomplish, (an end to HIV) as individuals we have the ability to make a huge shift. We just need to refocus our attention, and readjust our intentions.

HIV has a wealth of stigma attached to it. Contrary to popular belief, now or in the beginning, HIV is not a gay thing. Or a black thing. Or a poor people thing for that matter. It is a people thing. But unlike any other serious illness, we see HIV as a punishment for some bad behavior. We don’t say to someone who is sick with cancer “see that’s what you get for smoking” but we do think the worst of a person who is recently diagnosed with HIV. It has to be scandalous. Oh the salacious details abound.

Really it’s just about sex. The fact is most of us have or will have sex. We all do it. There now that is out of the way, let’s acknowledge that when it comes to sex we all make mistakes. WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES. Human relations is a tough and murky field. which is why there are still more questions than answers. Sex is complicated.

30 years and HIV is still going strong. The most recent numbers aren’t really all that shocking. The trend continues. However now the world is starting to notice that it affects everyone. It isn’t narrowly linked to any one group. It is a human problem, connected to something that makes humans uncomfortable to talk about – Sex.

A disease that no one wants to talk about, with the connected behavior that makes people uneasy to talk about. Quite a recipe for disaster. That is exactly what we need – To Talk About It! We need to have an honest dialogue both within ourselves and within our social groups.

My point is not to scare you but to get you to ask some tough questions. To start a conversation. The more honest we are about HIV the better equipped we are to addressing the needs of those affected and to prevent new infections until we find a cure or vaccine.

With the Thanksgiving holiday almost over, in those moments when you reflect on your life and the lives of those you love, remember that sickness and disease is something that we are all at risk of. We all face health challenges. Let’s address HIV as a health challenge, and not a punishment, or repercussion for some bad act or naughty behavior. Let us move away from the sex shame attitudes, to a more compassionate understanding of the serious health threat facing our brothers and sisters in this world.

HIV is a virus. Just like any other virus. We certainly don’t shame people for catching the flu. Any virus can disrupt the body, the life, and community of any one of those of us who are blessed to breath. A virus doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care about skin color, gender or sexuality. Then why I ask do we treat HIV differently than we would any other virus?

amfAR- Getting to Zero

I don’t have the answer to that question. You do. Each individual is important to the fight. Get tested. Know your status. Be empowered. Help find a solution to a solvable problem. This is something that you can do. Be proactive. Use condoms. Support community non-profits. Engage your peers. Talk! Speak Up!

Now Get out there and change the world.

For more info




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So sad but so true. We dropped the ball and its getting worse.

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When did you choose to be straight?

As a LGBT people we are asked this mind numbing question. What clever turn around for insightful perspective Bravo!

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From Russia with hate



You may have heard. Russia essentially outlawed homosexuality. Outlawed the act. Outlawed talking about it. Enshrined outdated notions of gender and masculinity into law. It’s pretty sick.


Today I watched a handful of videos on YouTube of the consequence of these laws. It was horrifying. However I couldn’t turn away. For me, I need to see it. What I saw was inhumane. Behavior that is vile and evil. All condoned by these anti-gay laws in Russia. The perpetrators are mostly young men. Never are they punished, because as Russian culture see’s it, its not a crime. Tragically in Russian culture it is perceived as a social good to punish gay people with as much cruelty as possible.


In every videos the assailants jeered the victims. These victims are labeled pedophiles. They are humiliated, beaten, and some face even more unspeakable acts of cruelty. Recently a young man was kidnapped tortured, had urine poured on him, and he was sodomized with a beer bottle. He died a few days later. No charges we filed. In fact there is a word for it in Russian culture. It’s called “Safari” – luring and attacking a gay person. Sick yet?


Furthermore the behavior is pretty much condoned by the Russian government. Rarely are criminal charges issued against the evil people who commit these unspeakable acts.


Recently popular gay personality Dan Savage suggested and promoted a boycott of Stolichnaya (Stoli) Vodka. There have been photos and news stories about Gay bars and gay bar patrons pouring out bottles of the liquor to stand in solidarity with those LGBT Russians who live with this evil everyday. While its a nice gesture, its completely idiotic. Not drinking Stoli does absolutely nothing to stem the violence and persecution Russians face from these anti-gay laws. In fact all its really does it hurt a company that is only Russian in name. In fact the company is located in Latvia not Russia. The Stoli boycott is just misguided and incredibly naive.


I have a better idea, one that we can apply in our own communities. Be better to each other. Treat our LGBT brothers and sisters kinder. Judge each other less. Refrain from that childish behavior we often get caught up in. These days there is no excuse for the contemptible way we treat each other. Our struggle is shared. We are human but often times we don’t treat each other that way. In fact sometimes we are selves are the bullies we hated as children. It just needs to stop. Period.


We face our own struggles here in America, but consider what others in the world face for being LGBT. We are lucky. Maybe even privileged. We face violence and harassment too. We are even killed just for being, but not to the extent that our LGBT brothers and sisters face in other parts of the world.


We should be an example. We should be a shining light to the rest of the world. Our cooperation and love of one another could be extraordinary. Think about it our Community’s momentum to affect change here at home has been remarkable. It wasn’t too long ago that we too were persecuted and hated. We had enough and we changed that. Considering the time frame, what we accomplished is impressive. We still have a lot of work still to do, but what we do here can be an example to the rest of the world. Maybe even Russia.

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Great article on Huffpo. The author Mark Brennan Rosenberg nails it. Articulated much better than I could. Reposted in full because it needs to be read!


A few days ago my friend Carl posted the following as his Facebook status update: “God, gay people are the worst!” Carl, a 21-year-old transplant from Nashville, is a friend of a friend, whom I was told to keep an eye on when he moved to New York. Seeing his status, the mama bear in me came out immediately, and I asked him via direct message, “What’s the problem?” He told me that he was fed up with his gay friends in New York. That evening he had gone out with four gay friends, one of whom had left him to hook up, while the other three had gossiped about people who weren’t there rather than enjoy each other’s company, leaving Carl fed up. I chalked it up to age and told Carl that he was probably just in a bad mood, but he insisted that he was tired of the catty remarks, the bickering between friends and the behind-the-back tittle-tattle that consumed their Friday nights out. All this had prompted his anti-gay Facebook status, even though he himself is gay.

A few days later, a piece I had written for a magazine was released. It was a very tongue-in-cheek look at how straight people view gay sex. It was never intended to hurt anyone; however the reception that it received was lukewarm at best. People were angry at me, as if I were specifically targeting them by name and calling them out, when in reality I was attempting to break down stereotypes in a humorous way. Hours later, my Facebook fan page was flooded with nasty remarks regarding my piece. However, instead of criticizing what I had written, people told me that I’m “ugly,” that I “look like a monkey” and that I “need a face lift.” Low blows, but fortunately for me, after 30 years of being alive, things like that roll right off my back. However, I didn’t understand what any of this had to do with my piece. Upon further inspection, I found that the people who had left those nasty remarks about my looks were all gay men who, coincidentally enough, didn’t show their own faces on their Facebook profiles, just pictures of landscapes or their pets. I never feel the need to defend my work, nor do I engage in any type of back-and-forth with strangers who have nothing better to do with their time than criticize others under the veil of anonymity. However, it did make me think of Carl and his anti-gay Facebook status. While I have no proof of this, I am relatively sure that if a straight man dislikes something that another straight man has written, he’s not going to comment on that man’s looks. Gay people are really mean to each other sometimes.

One of the wonderful things about the world we live in is that homosexuality is becoming more and more accepted every day. What’s more, Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign has had incredible success. Mr. Savage and his allies continue telling LGBT youth that the anti-gay bullying and mistreatment that they often experience will end once they leave high school. However, bullying within the gay community is very rarely discussed. Having lived in New York for nearly 13 years, I’ve found that not much has changed for me as far as bullying goes. When you walk into a gay bar on any giving weekend, there are still bullies; they’re just drinking cosmopolitans instead of juice boxes. They may look like you and like the same things that you like, but they’re not necessarily your friend, and if you don’t look or dress a certain way, there is a good chance that they’re going to say something bad about you behind your back. Sometimes going out on the weekend really makes me wonder whether gay men are a gay man’s worst enemy. Being bullied because of your sexual orientation is certainly wrong, but being bullied by the people who are supposed to be accepting of you is a total mindfuck. There’s so much competition between gay men that sometimes it almost seems as though we’re not a community banded together at all but a group of people in constant competition with each other for no good reason whatsoever.

When I moved to New York City in 2000, the social climate was a bit warmer. Being gay wasn’t nearly as socially acceptable as it is nowadays and the bar and club scene was focused more on having fun and less on being seen. In fact, many people who frequented clubs at that time didn’t want to be seen at all, because they didn’t want anyone to know they were gay. What was wonderful about being gay at the turn of the century in New York was that you were still surrounded by the cavaliers who had paved the way for my peers and me to be able to go to gay establishments and not be harmed. These men had survived the ’70s and ’80s; they had lived through real oppression and the horrifying AIDS crisis, which saw many of their friends die for no reason and with little to no help. There was always a sense of camaraderie with them. Sure, they jabbed each other and made the occasional snarky remark, but for the most part, they were a loving group that welcomed me to the city with open arms.

Nowadays, when you walk into a gay bar on a Friday night, it’s less open arms and smiles and more death stares and ugly comments. This generation of gay men, who may have been bullied in high school and who may have had a hard time coming out, still did not have it nearly as bad as their elders. It’s almost as if we’ve forgotten the struggles that the generation before us had to deal with to make it easier for us today. Granted, things still aren’t perfect. Why are we so mean to each other when we are supposed to be a community of people fighting for the same goals? It’s not uncommon to be out and about and hear a group of gay men, all over the age of 21, say negative things about what someone is wearing or how he looks or gossip about their friend in the bathroom. What does that tell the poor gay kids in middle school and high school who are being bullied every day? That bullying simply takes a new form after they get their diploma? Moreover, how are we honoring the legacy of the courageous men and women who literally went to battle so that it would be legal and safe for us to go to a gay bar on a Saturday night? The gaps in the generations are so clearly drawn. I can’t say that I’ve never said anything negative about someone, but I have been making a conscious effort not to. It’s so much easier to be nice than it is to be a bitch, and it sets a much better example.

As I ponder Carl’s Facebook argument and the words of the disgruntled readers who decided to call me “ugly” instead of simply saying that they didn’t care for what I wrote, I ask myself again: Are gay men a gay man’s worst enemy? Are we so busy judging others and gossiping that we can’t see the bigger picture? Or, in caring about what others say about us or how they look at us, are we our worst enemy, in a sense? We can blame others for what they say, but how we react to it is solely up to us, so why let it get to us? There may be certain standards for how we are “supposed” to look and how we are “supposed” to dress, but we are a group of people who push boundaries and change the game, so why not dare to be different? We’re different, but we are all human, and that is precisely the point that the generation before us was trying to make. We can’t let what others say and do, whether it be in the hallowed halls of a high school or in the shadows of a crowded gay bar, affect how we think about ourselves. I think it’s time that we all start thinking a little bit more highly of ourselves and our peers and say nicer things about others, so that we might set a better example for the younger generation of gays.

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