25 ways to fight AIDS

Today, December 1, is World AIDS Day.

Wait! Before you click the ‘next’ button or scroll down your news feed hear me out: The LGBT community has been living with AIDS for three decades now. For people of my generation the message to get tested and use condoms has been stated and restated so many times that it has faded into the background with the result that, all too often, people do not take the steps they need to to protect themselves. Harris County is responsible for 30% of the new HIV/AIDS diagnosis in Texas and men who have sex with men account for 64% of newly diagnosed men statewide. The threat is not over, the fight is not over, AIDS still endanger the LGBT community.

But I don’t want to just talk about just condoms and testing (as important as they are). Fighting HIV/AIDS is easier than you might think. I present to you 25 ways, in no particular order, to fight AIDS in Houston.

25. If you’re over a certain age talk to a young LGBT person about how your life has been affected by HIV/AIDS. You might be surprised how eager we are to hear your stories.

24. If you’re under a certain age listen to an older LGBT person tell you how HIV/AIDS has affected their lives. I know you aren’t eager to hear their stories, but listen anyway. You may find that learning the history of your community is more empowering than you’d expect.

23. If you are a sexually active gay man or transgender woman participate in the Baylor College of Medicine’s HIV Vaccine Study.

22. Ask your local public or school library to put books about HIV/AIDS on the shelf, not just in the back room where they have to be requested. Access to accurate information is crucial in fighting the spread of the disease.

21. Post HIV/AIDS stories to facebook.

20. Ask your clergy person what your community of faith is doing to fight the pandemic.

19. Sign up for action alerts from the Texas HIV/AIDS Coalition at texashiv.org

18. Actually follow through when the action alerts from the Texas HIV/AIDS Coalition arrive in your in-box.

17. Volunteer for organizations that deal with communities at high risk for infection: high school dropouts, victims of sexual assault, the poor, the homeless and sex workers. Fighting AIDS means fighting the injustice in our society that all too often contributes to new infections.

16. Say AIDS out loud.

15. Ask political candidates what they will do to continue funding to fight HIV/AIDS.

14. Once they’re elected, ask those candidates why they aren’t doing more to continue funding to fight HIV/AIDS.

13. Remind yourself that it’s OK to be tired of hearing about HIV/AIDS.

12. Thank a person who volunteers their time to the fight.

11. Take a moment to remember the people we’ve lost.

10. Take a moment to think of the people we may loose if this pandemic isn’t stopped.

9. Take a HIV/AIDS healthcare worker to dinner.

8. Wear a red ribbon.

7. Recognize that wearing a red ribbon isn’t enough.

6. Work with communities other than your own. HIV/AIDS effects us all.

5. Get angry.

4. Get over your anger.

3. Donate to an HIV/AIDS Charity.

2. When you pass a mobile HIV testing center, thank the workers.

1. Don’t pretend the fight is over, and don’t let other people pretend it’s over either.

—  admin

Putting our children at risk

David Webb
The Rare Reporter

Child sexual abuse a concern for everyone, especially LGBT parents

Most people would probably agree there is no resource that a society cherishes more than its children. So it is hard to fathom how sexual predators manage with such apparent ease to carry out horrendous, undetected assaults on children practically under the noses of their families and others who are charged with their protection.

As horrific as the crime of child sexual abuse is, there are no firm estimates of its prevalence because it often goes undetected and is seriously underreported, according to agencies that study child abuse.

Less than 100,000 crimes of sexual abuse are reported each year because children fear telling anyone, and adults who become aware of the activity are often reluctant to contact law enforcement agencies, even though there is usually a legal requirement to do so.

With so many LGBT households now raising children, it is obviously vital that all parents be aware of the tactics used by sexual predators to seduce children without arousing the suspicion of their families, and aware of the symptoms victims of child sexual abuse exhibit.

The critical need for sustained intervention into child sexual abuse recently gained national attention following a grand jury’s indictment of retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on 40 counts of child sex abuse involving eight victims over a 15-year period. The victims reportedly came into contact with the now 67-year-old, married Sandusky in connection with the Second Mile, a children’s charity the former football coach founded.

Although Sandusky denied, this week in an NBC interview, engaging in any type of sexual activity with the pre-pubescent boys, he acknowledged showering and “horsing around” with them after exercise. He also admitted hugging young boys and putting his hand on their legs when they sat next to him.

His admissions shocked viewers and confirmed in many minds what was already suspected — Sandusky is most likely a pedophile that has taken advantage of young boys with the unwitting complicity of their families.

It is a devastating scandal that will likely rival the one that rocked the Catholic Church a decade ago when it became known that untold numbers of Catholic Church priests sexually abused young boys and violated the trust of their families.

If the charges against Sandusky are true, the accounts by the victims portray a classic pattern of enticement and betrayal practiced by the former football coach in his pursuit of the young boys. Likewise, the lack of action by those who knew about Sandusky’s alleged criminal activity parallel what often happens when the abuser commands power and respect in a community.

Much of the difficulty in combating child sexual abuse can be attributed to its relative youth in terms of public awareness about the crime. The first studies on the molestation of children began in the 1920s, and the first estimate of the prevalence of the crime was reported in 1948.

In 1974 the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect was founded, and the Child Abuse and Treatment Act was created. Since then, awareness about the problem has grown dramatically, and much more is known about deterring the crime and assisting victims of it.

Children’s advocates have identified “red flags” to help parents and others protect children from sexual predators. They warn parents to be wary of someone who wants to spend more time with their children than they do, who attempts to be alone with a child, who frequently seeks physical closeness to a child such as hugging or touching, who is overly interested in the sexuality of a child, who seems to prefer the company of children to people their own age, who lacks boundaries, who regularly offers to babysit,who often gives presents or  money to children, who frequently walks in on children in bathrooms or locker rooms, who frequents parks where children gather, who makes inappropriate comments about a child’s appearance or who likes to photograph children.

Signs of possible sexual abuse in children include a fear of people, places or activities, reluctance to undress, disturbed sleep, mood swings, excessive crying, fear of being touched, loss of appetite, a drastic change in school performance, bizarre themes in drawing, sexually acting out on other children, advanced sexual knowledge, use of new words for private body parts and a reversion to old behavior such as bedwetting or thumb sucking.

Aside from the moral responsibility to protect children and other weaker members of society that all people share, it is essential to intervene in child sexual abuse because of the long-lasting psychological damage it usually causes. The problems can include feelings of worthlessness, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and distorted views of sexuality.

Also, victims of child sexual abuse tend to become sexual predators as adults, making it a crime that begets more crime.

The Sandusky scandal will undoubtedly lead to devastating repercussions for Penn State, for the Second Mile charity with which the former football coach is no longer affiliated and for law enforcement and university officials who became aware of concerns about the former football coach’s activities and failed to act on them.

But the real tragedy — if the allegations are true — will be the lasting impact upon the victims.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.        

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 18, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Blade on military’s recoupment penalties it charges gay DADT victims

This is the issue Joe and I wrote about a week or so ago, and about which we posted this open letter to Defense Secretary Gates, that now has over 5,000 signatures – please add yours.

Chris Johnson in the Washington Blade:

For Sara Isaacson, separation from the University of North Carolina’s Army ROTC program because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” comes with a price tag of $ 79,265.

Isaacson told the Washington Blade she understands the U.S. military wants to protect its investment in training her, but she hopes to repay her debt by serving in the armed forces as opposed to paying the expenses out of pocket.

“I have always said the goal is still to serve my country and I want to be able to fulfill my commitment by serving in uniform,” she said. “The military right now is not allowing me to do that, so I don’t think it’s fair that they’re asking for the tuition back.”

Isaacson, 22 and a lesbian, said she hasn’t yet graduated from college and doesn’t know how she could pay the money that the U.S. military is seeking.

“I’m a few classes away from graduating and I don’t have $ 80,000 to repay the military,” she said.

Nicholson said he’s been “hounding” White House officials on the recoupment issue even prior to signing of repeal legislation.

Part of the reason for keeping the practice in place, Nicholson said, was that the Obama administration didn’t want to take action before the Pentagon working group published its report on implementing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.

“Obviously, we realized when that report came out that it was not something they addressed, so we obviously started hounding them again on this,” Nicholson said.

Noting that current law gives the Pentagon discretion over whether or not to collect recoupment fees, Nicholson said ending the practice would be a “simple fix” because it would only require an order from President Obama.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  David Taffet

Daniel Hernandez Speaks At Memorial For Victims Of Tucson Shooting

Openly gay student intern Daniel Hernandez delivered a terrific and humble speech tonight at the memorial for the victims of the Tucson shooting. He may disavow all the accolades, but the president later said it for all of us: “Daniel, we’ve decided. You ARE a hero.”

(Via – AmericaBlog)

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Video: Minnesota ‘family’ guy to bullied victims: Just nicely ask them to stop, duh

What does the National Organization For Marriage’s partner in Minnesota, the Minnesota Family Council, suggest bullied LGBT students do to combat their situation? Well, MFC leader Chuck Darrell thinks the vulnerable kids should just march right into that school and tell the bullies to stop making their lives and a living, lunch money-deprived hell:

You know, because that’s how it usually works. It’s not that the kid is picked on because he or she is smaller or different or in some way more susceptible. No, no — it’s because the victim simply hasn’t stood up enough. That was totally your experience in the American school system, right? [::eye roll, head shake, murmuring of word that starts like 'bully' but ends in 'it'::]

Convenient logic, Mr. Darrell. But here’s what we think: We think that LGBT students would literally, tangibly, demonstrably experience a change in their tormented, “kick me”-d state if groups like MFC and NOM would stop launching television campaigns against gay people’s simple right to love and would instead start focusing on how grown adults can instead steward a civil realm where all citizens are equally protected. Kids internalize these messages. Even younger children who may not be savvy enough to understand political complexities hear the messaging, either directly or from the parents or family members or acquaintances who have adopted it. And it’s completely obvious and sadly understandable how and why some who hear such hostility proceed to interpret it as a pass. A pass to write off certain people as different or abnormal. A pass to tease these people as if they are animals in a zoo. A pass to taunt kids who are perceived to fit a certain mold. A pass to vote, if not yet with a ballot then with a mean-spirited prank instead.

So you want the bullied LGBT kids of Minnesota to drive over to a responsible party’s house and confront a root of the antipathy? Well then: What’s MFC’s address again?




Good As You

—  John Wright

WH adviser Valerie Jarrett refers to gay bullying suicide victim’s ‘lifestyle choices’

Oy.

This post isn’t about playing an “I gotcha!” with Valerie Jarrett, who ironically just spoke at HRC’s “No Excuses” dinner. The poor woman, for better or worse, is being used by the White House to show how pro-gay Obama really is. And that’s the problem. The closest voice to the President on gay issues is a straight woman who uses language to describe gays that is not only outdated by nearly 20 years, but it’s also supremely offensive.

If there were any senior advisers to the President who were gay, and to our knowledge there aren’t, they would know not to use phrases like “lifestyle choice,” especially when talking about a kid who killed himself after being bullied – he wasn’t killed because he made a choice (it’s not a choice, thank you) and he didn’t have a lifestyle, he had a life, past tense. (Her use of the phrase is about 4:30 into the video I link to above.)

Again, the point here is not to play “I gotcha” with Valerie Jarrett. It’s to point out the simple fact that the people advising the President are political novices when it comes to gay civil rights (though I have to say, we’d better be hearing something from the White House pronto about how it’s not a choice). And the people he has on staff as unofficial gay liaisons (since they have other non-gay jobs too), aren’t senior enough advisers to make a difference.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Assault Victims Won’t Back Down

Two men, who were brutally assaulted, speak out against hate crimes in Staten Island.
Daily News

—  John Wright