December 1st, 2006
That’s right. Fifty years — and that estimate is on the low end. And here you thought AIDS was “only” twenty-five years old.
In 1986, Dr. A.J. Nahmias, writing in the journal Lancet, reported on testing that had been done on blood samples taken during a 1959 malaria study in Kinshasa, in what was then the Belgian Congo. When those preserved samples were tested in 1986, one sample tested positive for the HIV virus. Other stored blood samples from Central Africans taken in 1960’s and 1970’s tested positive as well. According to one expert:
If the prevalence detected in those collections is at all representative, several hundred or several thousand HIV infections may already have existed in Kinshasa in 1959 and 1970, several tens of thousands by 1980, and tens or hundreds of HIV infections in (the Zairian province of) Equateur by 1976…
Doctors in Europe were baffled by a mysterious disease that they were seeing in wealthy Africans who were going to Paris and Brussels for treatment in the late 1970’s. This new disease was similar to diseases that some European doctors were themselves suffering and dying from — doctors who had served several years meeting the medical needs of poor villagers in the Congo River basin under primitive conditions in the 1970’s. This new disease was also similar to one that suddenly started appearing among Haitians, after thousands had returned to that island after working for several years in civil service jobs in the newly independent country of Zaire. And later, this strange new disease was similar to diseases that were striking otherwise healthy gay men in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami.
It was easy for AIDS to go unrecognized in Africa amid impoverished conditions, poor nutrition and hygiene, and social upheaval. But we now know that AIDS began spreading through Africa some fifty years ago. (Some believe it may have started in the human population in the 1930’s.) But it wasn’t until gay men in America started dying of the disease that the world took notice, and the world noticed it as a “gay plague”.
Today is World AIDS Day. AIDS is likely more than fifty years old, but the stigma surrounding it dates to June 5, 1981, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its first report on the syndrome. Today, we remember those millions who died here in America and around the world. And just as importantly, we honor those who survived and cared for the dying and the living.
The word “family” has a very strong resonance in the gay community — in a way that few outside of the community know about. When someone wants to ask whether someone is gay or not, the question most often asked is “Is he family?” That’s not a rhetorical question; “Family” is an honorific that the gay community has earned through twenty-five years of hard work and determination. As those with AIDS were cast out of their own homes and natural families, they turned to those who stepped in and filled the rightful role of family in their lives. The gay community has reinvented the family, not in imitation of what others think a family should look like, but in response to the life-and-death need for all of us to be “our brother’s keeper.” AIDS, more than anything, awakened a realization in the gay communities that nothing is more important than family. And today’s drive for gay marriage was born from this realization of how very essential family is to each and every one of us.
In Opportunistic Infections, I discuss how the stigma of AIDS has shaped the gay communities in America, and how the gay communities have risen to meet the challenge when no one else would. AIDS was the conflagration that forged a new sense of community and determination that never again will we be marginalized in such a cruel and heartless fashion. And never again will we be denied the simple dignity that is due to everyone who is born a child of God.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.