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World AIDS Day 2010

Timothy Kincaid

December 1st, 2010

Today is World AIDS Day, a time to reflect, to refocus, and to address the continuing global epidemic of HIV/AIDS. This day always brings remembrances for me, and I thought I’d share some.

But I’ve sat here and written and revised and amended and started over, and I’ve found that I simply cannot share my personal thoughts on this. I’ve been devastated by this disease, but I’ve also been astonishingly lucky. I’ve lost some very dear to me, but considering that I lived within 50 miles of the Castro for all of the 80′s, my loss is nothing, nothing at all, compared to others.

But regardless of the extent, I find that I can’t personalize AIDS on this site. And yet I can’t just write some impersonal analysis, today. HIV/AIDS is personal, intensely personal to gay men of my age.

It has always been a part of our lives, a backdrop to socializing, romance, love and sex; always an issue, always present. It has been the filter through which we have been demonized, the focus of compassion, the impetus for our activism, and the basis of our shellshock. It’s built bonds between gay men and lesbians and parents and churches. It exposed the world to the existence of gay people outside of “the big city”. And it killed many of our best and brightest – some of whom we loved.

I am encouraged about recent studies – and we do discuss them here – and about the statistics regarding longevity and continued effectivity. But AIDS is not statistics, it’s stories, and that’s where I stumble. You’d think after enough time it would become easier, yet there are still things I don’t talk about.

But maybe you can. Perhaps you have stories to share.

Or perhaps you want to reflect on a future, the increasingly likely hopes for both a prevention and a cure. Or to discuss the international consequences of a disease that is ravishing some parts of the world.

If so, here is a space for your recollections and thoughts.

Comments

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Gregory
December 1st, 2010 | LINK

I have found that there are so few role models for me, a queer young adult, because so many have been taken by this epidemic.

Regan DuCasse
December 1st, 2010 | LINK

I remember…there was a time, the issue was somewhat abstract for me. I was a young adult in the 80′s. I thought it strange that no one close to me was infected. I didn’t know anyone personally who was, nor had anyone died who was.

It was strange. I had gay friends. It was impossible not to. My entire professional life was in song and dance. Musical theater and political activism.

But that didn’t stop me from getting educated, and fast. Volunteering for APLA.
The seriousness and gravity of it all, I knew. Once at APLA, that’s when I started meeting infected people who’d become ad hoc activists themselves. I told them outright, how could I have not been able to see anything first hand before being in the trenches with them?

One time, I met a beautiful young man who was a friend of a colleague at the art museum I worked in. He just happened to sit and chat with me for about ten minutes while he waited to see her for lunch.
He was SO handsome, like a movie star. Charming and bright eyed. He was 23.
Two months later, my colleague came to work with red eyes, crying and exhausted. She told me he’d died. Of AIDS related pneumonia.

That was like a punch in the face to hear that. I held her hand, held HER, gave her as much comforting words as possible. But I was sad, SAD…for weeks after that. It was so cruel and wrong!

Since then, ten years ago I heard that a talented singer from the show choir we’d been in as teens had died of the disease. His brother told me.
And it had been two years prior that it happened.
Then two years ago, I heard another boy from our same show choir had died of AIDS about 16 years ago.
He had been 32 years old.

I was saddened all over again by this news. These were guys I’d lost track of in our young adulthood, and all this happened while I didn’t know them.

I know people with HIV. But not AIDS, right now. Lifestyle changes (like not smoking, drinking, or using illegal drugs and safer sex), and drug therapies are keeping them alive. They are in their 40′s and 50′s and 70′s.
They are at normal spans, but at ages at risk more for heart attack and cancer, rather than AIDS.

Black women were mislead by their churches and social networks into thinking that AIDS was a ‘gay disease’. And sometimes fell victim to their own illogical conclusions and denial.

All too easily were they told that the infection rates in their ranks was because of deceitful gay men, rather than the deceitful straight men who didn’t disclose their relationships with other concurrent partners, how many and who refused to use protection.
And a lot of black women bought into that to their own peril.
Black folks sometimes love a conspiracy theory, but are hard pressed to be accountable for something they had the power to prevent in the first place.

Being one of the high risk demographics as a black woman, and a participant in the Black Woman’s Health Study for over twelve years, I AM keeping up with the pulse and progress on this issue.

It concerns us so much. Africa was the foundation of this terrible plague and many in leadership of several African nations are complicit in keeping their people in the very denial, misinformation, myth and poverty that exacerbate it.

I tend to jump into a fight, whether it affects me or not. That’s why it didn’t matter if I actually knew and loved someone who had HIV/AIDS, what mattered was helping to fight it because it’s terrible, CAN be fought and should be.
It’s a GOOD fight. THAT is the point.

Peter, Leon, Rick…you touched me… You are remembered…

Gus
December 1st, 2010 | LINK

Sometimes I hear a song and it triggers a memory. I wonder were so-and-so is now. Oh, damn…

anteros
December 1st, 2010 | LINK

may a cure be found… and may the virus be eradicated… in our lifetime.

Pintuck
December 4th, 2010 | LINK

House of Numbers.

Timothy Kincaid
December 5th, 2010 | LINK

NY Times:

Couched as a “personal journey” through the history of H.I.V. and AIDS, “House of Numbers” is actually a weaselly support pamphlet for AIDS denialists.

Rife with fuzzy logic (most people with AIDS live in poverty, therefore poverty causes AIDS) and a relentless fudging of the difference between necessary and sufficient conditions, this willfully ignorant film portrays minor areas of scientific disagreement as “a research community in disarray” and diagnostic testing as a waste of time.

In short, “House of Numbers” is exactly the sort of bogusness and evil lies packaged as science that this site is dedicated to exposing and refuting.

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