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Friday, 31 December 2010

BBC, our existence doesn't have to be BALANCED by hatred

Elton John and David Furnish have a baby. In general, this isn’t something that’s top of my “do not care” pile so I noted the news, shrugged and moved on.

Then I saw the reporting…

I think a prize has to go to the BBC for this obscenity

See, the BBC decided that to report on Elton John and David Furnish having a child they needed to interview Stephen Green of Christian Voice.

Stephen Green, for those who don’t know, is a rabid homophobe who despises our very existence and spoke out in favour of the proposed genocidal Ugandan law to have gay people executed. He is one of the most virulent anti-gay bigots in Britain. I will not link to his site, I don’t gave hate groups page views.

Note that the BBC didn’t for one second note what kind of man Stephen Green was, why he was being interviewed or his history. They didn’t mention his virulent history of homophobia, picketing pride parades, comparing a gay singer to Jeffrey Dahmer, referring to battles against anti-gay bullying as “promoting sodomy in school children”

Gods I could go on for hours. The BBC didn’t go on for minutes on this man’s bigoted history. Like Channel 4 before them they treated this bigot as an expert and an authority – while completely glossing over his history and the extremity of his views.

The BBC’s belated excuse for this? It’s necessary to interview a bigot when talking about Elton John and David Furnish’s family in the interest of…. balance

Really? BALANCE? I’m sorry, I didn’t think the existence of gay families had to be balanced by interviewing someone who wants us dead? Shall we apply this to other celebrity couples? Next time a famous straight couple have a child shall we interview someone who thinks those parents should be executed? Will this be “balance?”

Hey didn’t Jamie Oliver have a child in 2010? I seem to recall he did. But I’m pretty certain no-one felt the need to interview people who wanted him and his wife dead. Let me check the BBC… hmmm… no, no need to interview people wanting the death opf Jamie Oliver specifically or straight people in general. Why, it seem that no children of straight people ever required the interviewing of bigots in response. Now, why do we think that is, I wonder?

But with gay couples having children we have to interview an extremist, a bigot, a man who wants us dead, in order to “have a debate”?

I am sick of this. I am sick of such virulent hatred being presented as reasonable. I am sick of people who advocate genocide of us being treated as rational, serious people. I am sick of our lives and our families being shit on by some of the most respected institutions in the country.

But hey, at least they have company in the homophobia front:

We have the New York Post deciding that David Furnish is Elton’s “wife”

And we have this… thing from a Taiwanese news programme… I have not the words

Gods above I hate the straight-lead world sometimes. (Ha, sometimes?)

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

White Knights, Concern Trolls and Fierce Allies

This piece originally appeared at Womanist Musings where Renee has very generously allowed my random musings to appear on her excellent blog

I have seen a lot of various stripes of allies who fit into all of these groups that I have seen raging here and there and everywhere – and I think that’s good because these need some severe attention – especially when it comes to working through the thorny issues of allies and supposed allies and the various problems that can come from various people wearing/using the label. Which is good, I think there’s a lot of things that have been badly glossed over for a very long time. But I also think in some cases we’re creating confusion and reactions from the first 2 may be causing problems with the last. So, I’m going to ramble! (You know I have to)

Concern Trolls

Concern Trolling annoys a great deal. Sometimes it’s a legitimate, albeit ignorant, and well intentioned but foolish response. And sometimes it’s just prejudice with a flimsy cover.

The problem is that Concern Trolls tell marginalised people how they should think and feel and act – and often comes with paternalistically telling marginalized people what they should do (even acting against marginalized people’s interests for their own sake).

I’ve seen Concern Trolls tell GBLTQ people not to push for rights for fear of backlash. I’ve seen them argue against removing DADT because it will expose gay troops to bullying. I’ve had Concern Trolls tell me where I should go, how I should dress, cut my hair, to be more “butch”, not to babysit my little nieces, a thousand things I should do – all for “my own sake.”

Marginalized people know their own lives best. Marginalized people do not need instructing how to navigate the isms they face. Marginalized people do not need to be patronized and controlled. They do not need shepherding or parenting by privileged people who think they know their lives better.

The White Knight

I will always remember the wonderful straight friend in an online computer game leaping all over someone for their homophobic statements. After all, he knew that I approached the arena with no small amount of trepidation because of the ubiquitous nature of open homophobic slurs – and he strode forwards to strike down the dragon for me.

Except… I didn’t actually see anything wrong with the statements he was fighting. I didn’t see any homophobia and I wasn’t offended. I’m now presented with someone proud of himself for defending me from an attack that wasn’t and someone else who is deeply confused, who has been reamed for non-offensive offensiveness.

And it’s not unique. There have been more than a few occasions when some badness has happened, I’ve moved forwards… only to not get an word in between the straight people rallying to protect me… which, yes, can be nice – but if there’s lots of people discussing how a homophobic comment will hurt gay people and the only gay person there can’t actually get a word in? And there’s lots of people saying how I feel and what hurts and what doesn’t… and they’re not actually getting it right and some of them are blundering around clumsily and throwing in their own sporks.

I’m glad I have such friends, such allies that they want to stand forward when they perceive me under attack and who care enough about issues that touch me that they are passionate about it – but it’s almost amusing to have a crowd of people talking so vehemently about how silenced and rendered invisible gay people are – that the gay person cannot be heard. And the issues I think are important to me are lost in a wave of issues the straight people think I should care about – and what actually hurt me is ignored, while the straight folks address a problem I never even saw and still don’t understand.

It’s great to be an ally – but if you’re overwhelming the people you’re “helping”, leading the charge when you should be supporting and telling the marginalised how to manage their marginalisation – well, this help isn’t very helpful?

The Fierce Ally

The flip side is, of course, that a lot of them time I’ve felt like no-one’s got my back at all. In my current on going family badness, I despair of the fact that most of my totally-not-homophobic-honest straight family are firmly keeping their mouths closed. I would love a show of support from them and it’s not coming.

And it’s not the only situation, there are many times when I’ve spoken and almost heard the echo and there’s a whole load of straight faces looking at me with expressions ranging from irritation, exasperation round to contempt and anger. And I want to slink away, I want to drop it, I want to brush it under, bite my tongue and go hide somewhere. And I have lost count of the times I have felt so extremely alone in trying to be me.

And, yes, I admit the weakness, I don’t always want to take point. I don’t relish in the face confrontation, I largely dislike leading anything, I’m not a leader by nature. There are times when I’d love someone to defend me, to fight for me, to pick up the torch and batter back the barbarian hordes. Yes, it may make me pathetically dependent but when some arsehole has run his mouth off, or some fool has thrown a bottle at my head or even some epitome of clueless has rambled on – I like it when a friend and ally stands up and says “it’s ok Sparky, you finish your drink, I got this one.”

Because sometimes it feels like being on guard all the time. And damn do I feel guilty if I let something slide – because I know that silence in the face of this shit IS consent, is enabling and does perpetuate it. So I feel I have to, I feel obliged even when tired and worn and sporked and even scared. And that’s aside from the fact my anger will rarely allow something go past unchallenged without rupturing something.

The flip side is, sometimes I’ve been a room full of straight folks who either haven’t seen me or haven’t realised I was gay and the homophobia has come out. And I’ve felt very… uncomfortable – sometimes outright unsafe – speaking up and saying “guys, I’m right here, could you not?” I’m much more comfortable knowing that some of the straight people there will back me up, will support me – that if I speak up and object I won’t be doing so to an empty room

And if one of the straight people there speaks up against it, I’m even happier. Because sometimes I’m not there. And that matters.

Why? Because I need to know this. I need to know that the anti-homophobia campaigning isn’t something that only happens when we’re watching. I need to know that when the straight folk are alone, they don’t say “phew, the homos are gone, let us now express how much we think they should all burn in hell, crackle crackle crackle.” Is it desperately insecure? Maybe…

But haven’t we all been there? You’re in a circle with a lot of people who are privileged in one way and they say something you know is 10 kinds of shit – but no-one says anything? The group of white people who relish the sudden freedom from the DREADED PCNESS! The group of men who are merry and joyous with their sexist humour and the gatherings of straight folks who think no-one’s watching so it’s time to let the homophobia fly. We’ve been there, we’ve seen it.

And that’s a problem. I think hate speech and the basic passive acceptance of prejudice in society is a major problem – it is considered acceptable. “PCness” is seen as a burden, not the norm. All the dehumanising language, all the devaluing jokes, all the dismissive and insulting comments are considered normal discourse is all the norm – which you are forced to deviate from when one of those whiny minority folks is around. And this is the foundation on which hatred is built.

And the marginalised? Can’t fix that. Well, I guess we could, we could have stealthy operatives infiltrating various privileged gatherings with hidden cluebats ready to deploy at a moment’s notice – but it’s probably not practical. Cool, but not practical.

Privileged folks need to be the ones that say that marginalising language is not ok. Privileged folks are the only ones who can say “no, this is always wrong. Even when they’re not around, it’s still wrong. Cut that shit out.” When the straight people gather and let the homophobia spill out, it has to be a straight person who calls them out. When the men gather and decide that sexism is a-ok, it has to be one of the men to say “no, it’s not.” When white people congregate and the racism abounds, it has to be a white person who speaks up. Because the marginalised people aren’t there – and so long as the shit continues whenever our back is turned it will always continue.

So yeah lots more rambling (you know I like to ramble) and I’m not sure entirely what the point is – probably somewhere around “we need you, our allies, but we need you on our terms, to be our supporters, our fierce advocates and our staunch defenders – but we don’t need you to be our voices, our decision makers and our instructors”

Yeah, that sounds good, we’ll run with that for a time.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Anita Blake Series - Pro gay?

Ok, now it seems someone has read one of my less-than-flattering posts about Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series and has protested, protested most mightily indeed!

In particular, it is protested, I shouldn’t be so hard on a series that is so pro-gay. Should I not be supporting that?

Well, first of all, I have to say that pro-gay drivel would still be pro-gay drivel. And it’s several kinds of desperate that anything positive should be fawned over even if it’s tripe. Tripe is tripe and no amount of rainbows will make it anything other than tripe.

But mainly I have to GAPE at the idea that the Anita Blake series is pro gay. Seriously? I consider it pretty homophobic. Yes there are inordinate number of GBLTQ characters in her books – but simple number of characters does not make it positive by any stretch.

Let’s review some of the badness that leaps out of me (and this is form memory, were I to bring myself to re-read them I’m sure more would come).

I am going to cut this for spoilers in case any of you haven’t read the series and wish to do so. I also pity you, yes yes I do.




First of all, GBL characters ARE OVER-represented in one, maybe 2 fields in the books. Villains and victims. Lots of villains and victims.

The Villains:

Asher, bisexual – was a villain but was redeemed to the good guys by the sweet love and gentleness of Anita (behold the power of a straight woman’s love!) Its bitter, implied sadistic and now confines 99% of his sexing to Anita. Has noted that Anita’s presence even stops him being coupl-y with Jean-Claude

Raina, bisexual. Sadist, rapist, murderer, torturer and generally not a nice woman. Also rapes straight women. Is portrayed as “perverse”.

Gabriel: Bisexual, sadist, rapist, torturer, pimp and generally not a nice man. Rapes straight men. Is also portrayed as “perverse” especially in reference to his extreme masochism

Chimera: gay or bisexual. Sadist, rapist, torturer (are we seeing a pattern yet?)

Belle Morte: Bisexual, rapist, makes straight people have sex with their own gender for her amusement.

Traveller: Gay. Uses his power to possess straight men so he can have sex in their bodies (i.e. rapes them).

Niley: Gay, rapes straight men. And tortures them. Bonus points, deals with daemons and is actually looking for a holy relic to defile it.

The Werehyenas

These need a special mention because there is so much fail here that it’s almost breathtaking.

The leader of the werehyenas is Narcissus. He is constantly referred to by the male pronoun so I’ll use that. He is intersex, seems to present as a gay man and dresses as a woman. He won’t have any women in his clan because a “real woman” would threaten his leadership. He is captured and tortured by a male lover until he is rescued by Her Straightness Anita and His Straightness Richard.

The werehyenas are made up nearly entirely of gay men. About 600 of them. Big muscle bound, sexy gay men as well. Wearing leather (LKH really needs to start typing with both hands). They are taken over. Taken over by a force that seems to number about 100… at most. They are taken over because they’re not “real fighters” or “real muscle” and they just roll over and give in (and can’t fight properly anyway)

They are rescued by the werewolves (read – the real mens). Narcissus learns his lesson and recruits soldier types (apparent heterosexuals since they’re happy to leer at Anita – real mens!) and now, Rafael of the were-rats FEARS the Hyenas (because now they have real mens) when he didn’t fear the pack that outnumbered him 3:1 before.

Other problematic elements

Most Ulfrics are men because they have to win a drag out fight with the previous Ulfric. Ulfrics and Ulfric candidates are men because they’re big and strong. Oh and Sylvie was a contender for Ulfric – is she a man? Nooo, but she’s a lesbian. Well, she was a lesbian. In later books LKH FORGETS. But not before she is raped by a man and a woman and has to be rescued by Anita (saaaave us straightness, saaaave us!)

Nathaniel: repeated implied bisexual. Is a victim and a victim and a victim and a victim and a victim and always a damn victim. He’s a poster child for victimisation

Byron – looks pre-adolescent, vulnerable, weak. He actually comes across as more fragile and weak than Bartolom√© and Valentina. Oh and he lets us know that Jean-Claude, though bisexual, doesn’t REALLY like men, just Asher. Careful, he’s a leading man!

Faust: introduced, a gay master vampire. Then disappears, bye bye. At least he wasn’t tortured/raped

Augustine, oh Augustine. Straight vampire makes a play for Anita. Jean-Claude establishes his power over him by… having sex with him and having him bottom! Dominance is established, the bottom is the “lesser man”. The trope here really can’t be ignored but aie I cringe, I cringe I do.

Y’know this is just what I came up with with a few moments reflection from memory – no re-read or anything and it’s been a while since I re-read these.

So, gay characters? Yes. Positive? No, I would say not, yes yes I would.

And they’re still poorly written porn. With lots of “humpa humpa”

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The World Cup

The World Cup in 2022 is going to be held in Russia and Qatar.

Normally the World Cup is something that hits my radar largely because television, advertising et al becomes consumed by lots of men playing with balls in a way that is not nearly as sexy as it sounds (alas) but I did a double take on this one.

See, when we’re looking at homophobia in sports and how they’re finally pushing to make it slightly less omnipresent (and even acknowledging it’s a problem!) and there’s actually supposed to be some kind of movement here – we have Fifa picking countries to host the world cup that literally risk life and limb for gays to go and support. Qatar in particular still considered being gay a crime punishable by imprisonment or flogging. Flogging, I kid you not.

Really I shouldn’t be surprised, Fifa doesn’t even include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy and with the UN deciding that killing us is all fine and dandy, you can hardly expect Fifa of all organisations to give a damn whether we’re considered human or not.

It’s just depressing as hell to see yet again the straight world giving us a big fuck you. Again, straightness confirms that our lives are worth bugger all.

Unsurprisingly, Gay groups are hella pissed about this. Because it gets tiresome when the straight powers that be yet AGAIN make it clear that stomping on your head is just fun and games and totally ok

The Gay Football Supporters Network is boycotting the games. They very rightly point out that while Fifa wants to bring the game “to the whole world” it apparently doesn’t include gay people. We’re not part of the world it seems, according to straightness. Or maybe they just wish we weren’t.

And, of course, those silly gays objecting to the devaluing contempt and dehumanising hatred of the straight world are over-reacting. Why, as journalist Mehdi Hasan tells us, we’re over-reacting, I mean Qatar only occasionally flogs people, what’s the problem?! Why it’s QATARPHOBIC to object on such piffling grounds. This straight guy just wants us hysterical types just calm down

Of course, it’s hardly alone. I’m amazed at the number of people jumping up and down every where I’ve seen this reported. And losing their ever loving shit that anyone would DARE criticise Qatar for extreme homophobia, including liberal spaces. Well I guess we know where we stand in their eyes – and how much value our lives have

The president of Fifa, Sepp Blatter, hearing complaints, predictably dismissed them by telling gays – “just don’t have sex” I kid you not. Faced with a gay people who are concerned about a nation that flogs, imprisons and deports gay people, this is the response from the straight authorities. Because it’s totally our fault, right? I mean if we’d just not be icky gays then all would be fine, right, Mr. Blatter? It’s all about sex, right? Icky nasty gay sex?

But hey, he’s concerned about prejudice – well, every prejudice but homophobia. And we’re just dealing with another culture! Screw the gays! They don’t want racism. They don’t want prejudice because of politics. They don’t want prejudice because of religion. Prejudice because of sexual orientation? Oh, he doesn’t mention that – and doesn’t give a damn about it, it seems. He’s sure there’ll be no trouble – not that the laws are changing or there are any guarantees. But hey, the straight guy is sure there’ll be no trouble!

He wants to open the game up to everyone of all culture. Just not to gays. Gays don’t count, don’t matter and our lives mean nothing. Not surprising, but infuriatingly typical. The joys of living in this straight world continue.

And you know what? This isn’t just about football or the damn world cup. This is about the world, AGAIN, saying that persecuting gay people is ok. This is about the world, AGAIN, validating and supporting homophobia. This is about the world, AGAIN, telling us that imprisoning and torturing people for being gay is OK. That’s not about football, it’s not even about one country – it’s about the whole straight world saying how irrelevant and unimportant the persecution of gay is even when taken to the utter extremes – in the straight lead world, our lives do not matter.

Monday, 20 December 2010

UK government censoring internet porn

So the Tories and their mini-mes are looking at censoring all the nasty porn from the net for the sake of the children.

They wish to block all “sex sites” for everyone in the UK and rather than opt out of them, force you to opt in to them if you wish access.

First of all, I don’t recall either of these parties campaigning on controlling what media I consume. I’m pretty sure absolutely no-one voted for that. But I expect little else from the Tories and their sidekicks.

I’m going to put aside the whole issue of the fact that if parents are really hair-on-fire terrified of their little 7 year olds surfing the web and looking at the nekked sexing then maybe, just maybe, they would want to take precautions themselves

I’m even going to put aside the idea that kids are so utterly traumatised by the porno because I’m not convinced on that one either, to be honest.

No, I’m going to look at these web filters and what nasty, poisonous things they are.

These filters filter out sex. And STDs. And sexuality. And gays and lesbians and bisexuals and trans people and anyone else who is LGBTQ. Want to find information about testicular cancer or breast examinations? Hmmm could be difficult. These filters are often so grossly wide that even “it gets better” videos are being censored.

In fact, anyone following my constant bad news round ups will see that there has been a repeated theme of net providers, libraries, mobile phone providers, wireless providers and even Amtrack in the US blocking completely non-pornographic websites if they presumed to include anything GBLTQ related – including sites like Pink News. Gods, there’s a current kaffufle now because Google was having a snit about adverts for “Queers in History”A series of completely non-sexually graphic biographies – because they’re not “family friendly.” Yeah, guess how pornographic they are?

I do not trust the UK government or the technological gurus behind the ISPs, even remotely, to implement this in a way that won’t censor huge swathes of the GBLTQ internet to say nothing of the various other sites on everything from health to sex education.

And no, allowing people to “opt in” to porn will not cover this problem. People shouldn’t have to opt in to pornographic content in order to access blogs by gay people, news about gay people or adverts selling books about us. We’re not something obscene to censor, damn it and our lives do not belong in brown paper envelopes.

And, even aside from the principle, the kids who need this info, who need to find the gay community, who need to reach these sites, this information should not have to go to their parents and ask for access to hardcore porn to do it!

I do not for a second think that this law could be brought in without doing severe harm to us – nor do I think bigoted Equalities Minister Theresa May or her Igor, Lyn Featherstone would realise or care about the damage or act upon it.

In short, this law is going to be a trainwreck and, worse, it’s one of those laws that is likely to pass as everyone wails about the children and those nasty nasty pornographers.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

On the “Not Ashamed” Campaign

Christian Concern (BLECK you know with a name like this no good will follow) has launched the “Not Ashamed campaign” (AKA the “let’s totally rip off gay pride to pretend Christians are oppressed)

Lord Carey is the ex-archbishop of Canterbury and very much still a homophobe and general arsehole and he supports this campaign. No surprises, the man’s an arsehole and former head of a very homophobic church.

The premise of this campaign is that Christians are being pushed out of society, are oppressed and persecuted by the oh-so-mean secular state and how Christians are made to be ashamed and need to embrace their pride.

Yes, this is my not amused face. Because this shaky premise is based on this spectre of “persecution.” And what is that persecution, people? Why it’s not being able to tell foster children that if they’re gay they’re going to hell. It’s not being able to rearrange your job so all those icky gays never come anywhere near you. It’s refusing to do your job if there’s a possibility of the icky gays nearby. It’s not being able to proselytise to sick and bed ridden old folks when you’re supposed to be their medical carer.

I’d go on, but tethys89 has already written a wonderful post on how wrong this is.

There’s also the usual whining that ZOMG people are saying Happy Holidays! And there are cards with SEASONS GREETINGS written on them! Seasons Greetings! Do you not know that everyone in the country must worship Jesus at this time of year or the Christians are being oppressed?! How dare 2 non-Christians choose to send a non-denominational greetings card to each other! THE OPPRESSION! THE PERSECUTION! Won’t someone PLEASE think of the Christians!?

It’s almost funny.

Almost.

Except it’s so revoltingly offensive it’s hard to laugh at it.

You are not oppressed, Lord Cary, by being unable to oppress others. You are not censored when your hatred is questioned. You are not persecuted when we reject your bigotry.

And, really – if the inability to discriminate against a minority hurts you so badly and if the idea of some of us celebrating a winter holiday at the same time as you is SO DAMNED HORRIFIC then you need to get over your selfish, egocentric, small minded self.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

World AIDS day

Today is World AIDS day. Now normally I don’t have much truck with special days for various reasons (which I will get into another time), but like in many things I am driven to talk about this because of anger.

To me, AIDS is very much a thing of anger. It’s a thing to be utterly enraged about beyond all reason.

AIDS is a story of human failing. It’s a story of human prejudice and bigotry and callousness and ignorance and dogma and cruelty. It is a story of how humanity failed.

When AIDS first arrived it appeared in marginalised areas. It spread in Africa which has never managed to hold the west’s attention for any great lengthy of time, it was written off as one trouble among many troubles, not worth any special attention.

And in the west it arose among drug users and gay men. People who, let’s be brutally frank, the powers that be were merrily happy were dying in droves.

And as the infections spread and the death count mounted the powers that be didn’t care. Because they didn’t care about who was dying. Because they were happy they were dying. Because it was something to celebrate, because it was a social cleansing. Because it made the world better that these people were dying. And the ignorance and the fear and the loss continued and the powers that be, in their prejudice – didn’t care.

And, of course, it raged beyond what anyone could have imagined. Encouraged by ignorance, unrestrained by any kind of real intervention, suddenly we had an epidemic, a pandemic, an oh-shit-what-is-this-emic.

But it was too late. We’ve let bigotry and ignorance reign for too long. Now any attempt to combat AIDS was seen as a “gay issue” and was fought by the usual suspects – people who found hatred and prejudice more important than saving lives or stopping an ever increasing plague. It is clear we’re still very stuck on the idea of AIDS as a gay disease. Various blood banks around the world still refuse blood from gay men – regardless of their circumstances, because gay = AIDS while straight = safe. We still have such luminaries as the head of the Catholic church in Belgium calling AIDS “justice”.

The rhetoric of AIDS = gay is so ingrained in our discourse that it’s impossible to see a straight person with AIDS without looking for a gay man to blame – even when we talk about soaring HIV infection rates among black women we’re looking for a gay man who is causing this! Because it’s easier to believe that isn’t it? Easier to blame someone, easier to pretend you’re safe because you’re straight, easier to make it a gay issue and part of the “special rights” easier to shuffle it under the rug

Of course, fighting HIV/AIDS in the gay community is repeatedly hampered by the undying homophobia that is still happening – so long as people feel the need to hide, so long as people feel the need to lead double lives, so long as people are afraid to go to clinics or to doctors for fear of being outed or for fear of people learning, so long as people are driven into the shadows and the corners of the world and so long as people are repeatedly told that their lives have no value, can there ever be any cure?

And around the rest of the world, dogma and ignorance and cruelty still rules. The Catholic church has the blood of untold millions on their hands for their stance on condoms – a stance they are only now, grudgingly, weakly stepping away from (now becoming the poster child for “too little too late”). Again, ignorance and prejudice abounds, in countries with genocidal policies where being gay carries a prison sentence or worse, you inevitably end up with an under-society that is ideal for spreading disease, with no support or education or help. Scam artists are marketing everything from vitamin C as a cure for AIDS, to sex with a virgin (gods there are still no words for how awful that is). The plague has reached such proportions and such panic that there is even actual denial of the causes and realities of it, doubts that it’s linked to HIV, the peddling of fake cures, anything to stick the head in the sand a little longer and pretend this isn’t happening.

How much of this would have been dispelled if, when the disease first became apparent, there had been a very real effort to examine and educate it? How much of this ignorance and foolishness would have lasted if our prejudice and arrogance hadn’t caused us to ignore it?

Just what kind of golden opportunity did we shit all over in the past?

And further, people living with HIV/AIDS have to deal with the fallout – not just of health, but of attitude.

It enrages me that still today HIV/AIDS is seen more as a failing than as a disease. It enrages me that the language of talking about HIV/AIDS is still the language of blame and stigma. It makes me wonder that if the disease in the west have broke out among a privileged group – or, let’s be frank, if it had been straight western people who were seen dying in such numbers – we would be saddled with this language of blame and shame and shunning?

People living with HIV/AIDS are treated like modern day lepers, despite their having every chance of lead long, fulfilled and wonderful lives. The stigma has lead to treating them like walking bombs, weapons just waiting to go off, a threat to everyone around them

I can’t talk about HIV/AIDS in anything like a calm, rational manner, it is just a subject of so much rage. It is one of the grandest stories we have of human failure in the world today