AIDS Groups walk away from gay men

It is time for AIDS Walks across Canada.

Each year the walk continues, each of the last few years the numbers of walkers and funds raised is lower.

Here in British Columbia the numbers of gay men becoming infected with HIV is rising as many of us predicted three years ago. Look at these numbers...
  • 2000 - 144 positive test results
  • 2001 - 153;
  • 2002 - 160;
  • 2003 - 159;
  • 2004 - 180 gay men testing positive for HIV

These numbers should be going down. We live in a modern developed country. Why are they rising? The answer to that is not difficult to come too. The provincial government has failed to deliver funds despite a plea from gay men working in gay men's health. We have shown an increase in unsafe activity in data collected from the sexNow survey over the last four years.

There is an increasing movement of AIDS organizations to focus on other population demographics to detriment of gay men. Instead of acquiring more funds to do this work, the current funding has been moved out of gay mens health and prevention.

A few token efforts remain. Gayway in Vancouver is a promising program for gay men yet is being starved for prevention dollars. Their efforts are confined largely to one prevention campaign per year funded largely by Health Canada for a national effort. The money is ridiculously low. It amounts to about $150,000 for cross Canada development, production and distribution. It is amazing they get anything done at all.

The interest of AIDS organizations including those in BC has been to shift dollars to First Nations, injection drug users and women. This effort is driven in part for a need to place some emphasis there, but also to "de-gay" HIV/AIDS.

AIDS Groups are becoming institutionally homophobic in order to survive. This despite a number of gay men involved at or near the top of many of these groups. BC's three largest AIDS organizations are guilty of this and smaller ones have always been wary of being defined for providing services to gay men.

AIDS Vancouver Island and AIDS Vancouver both operate gay mens health programs. Both programs are well down the agenda of the organizations. Yet in both Vancouver and Vancouver Island, the number one group living with HIV is gay men. The number one group being newly tested with HIV is gay men.

Both these organizations were established by gay men and run by them for years, are failing the gay men that fought so hard to establish them.

Here are some examples of those failings, neither organization provides gay male case workers that gay men can relate too. They have very few if any HIV positive staff or membership on their boards of directors.

You would be hard pressed to find a time recently when their executive director spoke out about gay men and HIV in the media. Listen next time you hear them speak. They will refer to the growing numbers of new infections among women and first nations and concern for immigrant and youth. If they mention gay men it will be at the end.

In my work within AIDS organizations and I have worked with and or volunteered with eleven of them in BC, I have found internal resistance due to a lack of funds or other priorities moving to the forefront.

It has not been a healthy situation for gay guys. As the real numbers of gay men contracting HIV continues to rise, AIDS Organizations sit quietly back and hope the problem goes away and or some benevolent government or funder may drop some dollars in their pockets to address the problems and causes of increasing infections among gay men.

I know that the Aids Organizations maybe quiet as they are afraid of offending the provincial government. They are like every other group out there reliant on dollars from the government to operate and they have seen this BC Liberal government's mean spirited approach to those that dare criticize them. There is one difference here. These organizations in BC were started by gay men in the face of the same kind of government indifference years ago.

The largest number of people living in BC with HIV/AIDS are gay men and the fastest rising rate of new infections are gay men.

I wonder what those brave gay men, many living with AIDS, would think of the groups they started if they were around today. Would they say the AIDS movement has been taken over by a bunch of do gooders intent on survival? Would they think they were serving gay men well? Would they believe it was possible to see the number of new infections among gay men rise?

I suspect they would not be amused.

Read more in Xtra West!


What the "Attack on Marriage" Really Means

The following post was originally sent out on the gay politics yahoo list by an HR consultant in San Francisco. It is used here with permission. You can reach the author directly at this email address: asterix773@yahoo.com

What the "Attack on Marriage" Really Means

The press release posted on the website for James Dobson's Focus On the Family screamed it's headline, "Focus on the Family Denounces Attack on Marriage". I had to shake my head. Always when the subject of equal rights for gay and lesbian couples is part of our national discourse conservative evangelicals always claim it is an "attack" on marriage and the family. So I decided to look up the word `attack' in the dictionary. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines it as:

Pronunciation: a-'tak
Function: verb
Etymology: Middle French attaquer, from (assumed) Old Italian estaccare to attach, from stacca stake, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English staca transitive senses
1 : to set upon or work against forcefully
2 : to assail with unfriendly or bitter words
3 : to begin to affect or to act on injuriously
4 : to set to work on
5 : to threaten (a piece in chess) with immediate capture intransitive senses : to make an attack
6: the act or action of setting upon with force or violence

Hmmm… to set upon or work against forcefully huh? Ok, so if we take the argument of Dobson and company seriously, to give gay couples the same rights as straight couples, not more rights, not any new rights that straight couples do not currently have, but only the exact same rights, would injure, damage and potentially even destroy heterosexual marriages and families.

Wow. I guess I only have one question then. How? Would gay marriage mean that straight couples would lose any of the 1,100 federal benefits and protections that they currently have? Would legal gay marriage mean straight couples couldn't file joint tax returns, have, adopt or raise children, pass on social security survivor benefits, or make medical decisions for each
other? Would the legalization of marriage for gays and lesbians mean that straight people could no longer marry and those who were married had to get divorced? Would the marriages or families of any heterosexual change in any way?

The answer of course is no it wouldn't. When faced with these facts , fundamentalist Christians generally fire back with three arguments. The first, is the claim that God says being gay is
sinful because the bible says so. This might make sense if the United States was a theocracy where church ruled the state. Then divorce would be a criminal offense. The fifty percent of
heterosexual couples that avail themselves of divorce I am sure are thankful this is not the case.

The second argument is even more fun. Allowing gay marriage will lead to polygamy, bestiality, pedophile marriages, and who knows what else. Yet civil marriage is and has only ever been
about two and ONLY two consenting adults of no direct family relation. Find me the person who truly wants to marry their dog, and for that matter, find me a dog who is over 18 years old, can
read and then sign a marriage application and can then say the words "I do". Then this argument might be worth taking seriously.

The third argument used against gay marriage is actually a bit more honest on their part. Conservative evangelicals say that gay marriage cheapens or lessens the value of the institution of marriage in the eyes of society. But since none of the marriage rights or benefits that straight couples have would change if gays were able to marry, what opponents of gay marriage are really saying is that letting gay couples marry cheapens their straight marriages in their eyes. Letting gays and lesbians get married means they now have a right that only heterosexuals had. And that makes them mad. It's not just that Dobson and the like want to prevent gays and lesbians from having equal rights, they want make sure that gays and lesbians have as few rights as possible, if any at all. They see equal rights for everyone as an attack on them.

That's interesting. Even though James Dobson's marriage clearly would not change in ANY way, he firmly believes that his marriage would lose value, status and might even come to an end, if gay couples were able to marry. It suddenly occurred to me there is another word for someone who is irrationally fixed on the artificial preservation of inequality that they feel is in their favor. Merriam-Webster's dictionary has the same word for it.

Pronunciation: 'bi-get
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French, hypocrite, bigot
1: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices

This small group of even smaller minds, who out of fear of losing what they feel is their superiority, want to take their religious beliefs and codify them into civil law, then force them on the rest of us.

They are bigots. And it is long past time we said so.

Yahoo! Group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gay-politics/


GEORGIE PORGY pudding and pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry.
And when the boys came out to play,
He kissed them too 'cause he was gay.

Anyone else have an old nursery rhyme out there. I found this one on a list I subscribe too. Re-work it and post away!