20/02/08

Honest gays and gloating Christians: an unpleasant spectacle

A week ago, the outgoing executive director of the US’s National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Matt Foreman made a great speech in which he called for proper equality for all Americans, regardless of who they sleep with. He also said this:

“Today, right now, more than 45 percent of African-American gay and bi men in key urban areas are infected with HIV, with a 33 percent increase in new diagnoses among our brothers under age 30 over the past six years. Today, right now, African Americans are nearly 10 times more likely than white people to be diagnosed with AIDS. The response — internal to our community and external — is appallingly racist. Internally, when these numbers come out, the “established” gay community seems to have a collective shrug as if this isn’t our problem. Folks, with 70 percent of the people in this country living with HIV being gay or bi, we cannot deny that HIV is a gay disease. We have to own that and face up to that.

This simple statement of fact has reverberated through the blogosphere ever since. Notable amongst the commentators have been Christians of all denominations (see here and here, for example, and some of the good, old-fashioned gay-bashers here (although inexplicable silence from the Traditional Values Coallition, authors of the absurd The Agenda: The Homosexual Plan to Change America). Most of these commentators are gloating, as if Foreman had said “Most HIV transmission is among gay men, therefore gay men are wicked and should be struck by lightening”. Of course that’s not what he said, and it is unseemly and childish to imply otherwise.

There’s been some understandable indignation on the part of gay rights groups. But some disingenuity, too. The usually sensible Good As You says:

While AIDS is not exclusively a gay problem and claiming it is one is EXTREMELY dangerous, we are the community that — for reasons unknown — were hit earliest and hardest.

For reasons unknown?! Please! Has basic scientific education really sunk to such a level in the United States? (Given this recent, much e-mailed piece about the dumbing down of America, perhaps it has.) If any readers need a refresher on the risk of HIV transmission in anal sex in a period of high viraemia, i.e. in communities where multiple partnerships within a two month time frame are common (and on top of that in which it is physically possible to switch between insertive and receptive roles in sex), please feel free to get in touch.

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This post was published on 20/02/08 in Ideology and HIV, Men, women and others, Pisani's picks.

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  1. Comment by G-A-Y, 20/02/08, 07:07:

    Elizabeth: I’ll have to say that I find the comments you made about us in the post unnecessarily hostile, and even offensive. You say in your post:

    ***
    “There’s been some understandable indignation on the part of gay rights groups. But some disingenuity, too. The usually sensible Good As You says:

    ‘While AIDS is not exclusively a gay problem and claiming it is one is EXTREMELY dangerous, we are the community that — for reasons unknown — were hit earliest and hardest.’

    For reasons unknown?! Please! Has basic scientific education really sunk to such a level in the United States? (Given this recent, much e-mailed piece about the dumbing down of America, perhaps it has.) If any readers need a refresher on the risk of HIV transmission in anal sex in a period of high viraemia, i.e. in communities where multiple partnerships within a two month time frame are common (and on top of that in which it is physically possible to switch between insertive and receptive roles in sex), please feel free to get in touch.”

    **
    But you completely took the quote out of context! We were not speaking about the reasons why HIV spread through the gay community. We were talking about the reasons why HIV ENTERED into the gay community in the first place! Folks like Matt Barber seriously consider it to be God’s punishment for gays. Our comment was meant to diffuse this idea.

  2. Comment by elizabeth, 20/02/08, 07:36:

    I didn’t mean to offend; I obviously misread you. The “God’s punishment” argument is so clearly absurd that I’d like to think it doesn’t need countering. though that’s clearly not the case. But I DO think that we need to recognise (and deal with) the physiological reasons that HIV spreads more effectively in some communities than in others. And not being able to state them stands in the way of doing what would be most effective. In Asia, we’re still struggling to make lube available, for God’s sake, because policy makers don’t want to hear the details about why it might reduce trauma and therefore HIV transmission in anal sex.

  3. Comment by G-A-Y, 21/02/08, 02:30:

    I don’t disagree. However, that was not the topic being discussed in the post.

    No offense taken.

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