Happy Birthday, America! This long weekend has been delicious.
Started the day off yesterday by B-Cycling to the gym and doing some weights. Afterwards, I came home, showered up, then over to a law school classmate’s place for some jello shots, beer, burgers, dogs and good company. Also used a selfie stick for the first time!
It was a little rainy last night, so we skipped the Folsom Field show, but we still got to see it without the crowd…all we had to do was go to our apartment parking lot! Pays to be near campus (sometimes)!
Slept hard and woke up with the mildest of hangovers. Nothing that a hot and sweaty 4 miles couldn’t cure. 88 DEGREES, folks. Novio came with me and pushed me to run more and walk less. The heat was rough, but I’m happy I did it.
it really seems like (especially younger) lgbtq+ folks don’t quite understand the impact that aids had and continues to have on lgbtq+ communities. i’ve seen a lot of posts out there trivializing the aids crisis, from the zombie apocalypse fantasy to comments like “a few gays died of aids.” please please please read about this extremely important part of our collective history. please please please educate yourself about how it is still a huge problem today. please do all that before making flippant remarks about one of the most horrific tragedies in lgbtq+ history.
a good place to start doing this would be the film “how to survive a plague” which documents the beginnings of the aids crisis from the perspective of the lgbtq+ folks affected.
another excellent source of info (extremely extensive, but also very very long) is randy shilts’ book and the band played on. it’s a chronicle of the aids crisis, focusing on the effects in communities across the us, as well as the deliberate ignorance of the epidemic shown by homophobic and racist officials in washington.
‘By the early 80s, I had what I would consider a really large circle of friends and acquaintances and once the epidemic really started to hit, it was not uncommon to find out three, four or more people you knew had died each month. We set up informal and formal support groups to look after our friends who took sick. Feeding them when they would eat. Changing them. Washing them. Acting as go-between with families who “were concerned” about their sons, nephews, brothers, etc., but wouldn’t lend a hand to help because AIDS was, you know, icky.
'After they passed, there were memorial services to plan with no real time to grieve because when one passed, you were needed somewhere else to begin the process all over again.
'I kept a memory book/photo album of everyone I knew that died of AIDS. It’s quite large to say the least. Who were these guys? These were the people I had planned to grow old with. They were the family I had created and wanted to spend the rest of my life with as long as humanly possible but by the time I was in my late 40s, every one of them was gone except for two dear friends of mine.
“Cuba has one of the lowest HIV/AIDS rates in the world with a 0.1 percent infection rate. In contrast, the US rate is six times greater. All HIV treatment, related drugs, medicines and care are free.”
Rachel Evans, ‘Cuba Leading the Way in Rainbow Rights’, teleSUR
I'm so angry today. Heard someone blaming gay men for the blood donation ban saying its "not discriminatory or homophobic. Its their own fault. They are more susceptible to HIV/AIDs because they're stupid and don't use protection". I'm sorry, I hate violence, but I really want to punch this person in the fucking face.
I don’t blame you, I probably actually would have punched them, but for future reference, here’s a story for you to tell anyone who says anything like that.
AIDS was first recognised in 1981, and, due to its association with gay and bisexual men, or MSM (men who have sex with men), it was originally called GRID (gay-related immunodeficiency disease), but this was changed in 1982 because ALREADY cases had been identified in people outside of that demographic. There were an increasing number of cases every year, but support from the governing bodies of the UK, Ireland and the USA was dismal.
It wasn’t until cases were identified among heterosexual people (which happened later in the UK than it did in the USA , as AIDS was far more widespread in America) that Margaret Thatcher put funding into research and facilities. This funding was fairly substantial, but in 1987 she made this lovely speech:
This was the Conservative party’s campaign slogan that same year:
The campaign was successful and Thatcher was to remain Prime Minister until her resignation in 1990, and in 1988 she introduce the UK’s first anti-gay law in over 100 years, Section 28, which banned the “promotion” of homosexuality, outlawing access to sex education for gay and bisexual students. This law remained in place until 1993. Meanwhile, a woman called Mary Whitehouse was running a campaign called Clean-Up TV (read: “deny oppressed groups representation”) with substantial success, cutting off another avenue of information for gay and bisexual people. Meanwhile, the “information” about AIDS that was being circulated largely consisted of inaccuracies and fearmongering. The situation was bad enough in England and Wales, where homosexuality had been decriminalized in 1967 - it remained a criminal offence in Scotland until 1980, Northern Ireland until 1982 and the Republic of Ireland until 1993.
Meanwhile, in the USA, Reagan did not say the word ‘AIDS’ publicly until 1985, and despite claiming that it was America’s number 1 health priority, awarded it less than 1% of national healthcare funding. At the same time, the FDA failed to make adequate adjustments to testing methods despite the assistance of HIV positive people and their supporters, and education was equally as a atrocious:
It wasn’t until 1996, 15 years after the beginning of the AIDS crisis, that a safe and effective form of medication was developed, and it was still unaffordable for poor Americans.
The Catholic Church also launched a campaign at this time to ban condoms, a blatantly homophobic attack on a vulnerable group of people.
“There does have to be a really, sort of, you know, thorough sort of sex and relationship education that deals with HIV, with Hepatitis C - I doubt that it comes up in school sex education?”
“It’s supposed to. I put my hand up halfway through this pig long talk about pregnancy and Chlamydia and said “What about anal sex?” - obviously being an openly gay 15-year-old at school - and they said “Oh, well we don’t recommend that.””
And alongside all of this, blood banks have to test blood for HIV ANYWAY, and searching ‘blood bank urgent appeal’ on google brings up millions of results. We could be saving lives, but instead we’re writing off any man who’s sexually involved with other men because they apparently can’t be trusted to have safe sex when the reason unsafe sex occurs as often as it does between men is because they are not being taught how to have sex safely.
Blood bans are the face of the third decade of a viciously homophobic attack on vulnerable people, and they are a truly perfect example of bigoted societal and legal hypocrisy.
David Flanagan recently biked from San Francisco to Los Angeles as a part of the LifeCycle fundraiser in honor of his son Joshua, who passed away in 2013 at the age of 28 after being diagnosed with HIV.