World AIDS Day

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This morning I got to speak at Wheaton College for Mosaic Initiative’s World AIDS Day breakfast. Here are a few thoughts I brought up:

Within broader culture there needs to be both micro and macro pushes by the Christian community to make a culturally relevant impact on individual people as well as larger people groups.  When we are willing to step out and do something different, miracles happen.  But just how far are we willing to step?  In today’s church culture one of the hottest topics gaining a lot of momentum is AIDS in Africa.  A good friend of mine, Dr. Becky Kuhn who is an HIV/AIDS physician and President of Global Life Works, always says

“Churches can’t handle the AIDS issue unless they are willing to breach the topic of gay sexuality first.”

This has never been more applicable for the church because in our nation’s capital, Washington DC, the per capita rate of AIDS (5%, or 1 out of every 20 people) is higher than or comparable to 27 African countries including Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Ghana, Ethiopia, Tanzania – and is not far off from the 6.1% estimated rate for all of the Sub-Saharan region of Africa! 

In February 2008 Matt Foreman, the outgoing executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said at the National Conference on Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender Equality that HIV is “a gay disease” in the United States as “men who have sex with men account for nearly three quarters of men living with HIV.”  Although scientific data can quantify numbers, it can’t quantify how shame, stigma, isolation and political agendas each perpetuate the exploding growth of this spreading disease in our own country.

As wild as this may sound, I strongly believe that when it comes to HIV/AIDS in the GLBT community, Christians can stop the spread of this pandemic.  Faith can stop the spread of HIV/AIDS by helping make a new culture by positively influencing the GLBT-religious relationship. 

If religious shame is replaced by Christians who know how to productively bridge the GLBT community, and cultural stigma is replaced with a loving Church that provides eternal hope wherever the person is at, I am convinced that high risk sexual behaviors will also die alongside the isolation and pain felt by gay men and lesbian women who can only feel the negativity and clash of the pervasive cultural issues that dominate and overwhelm their entire existence.  

The problem is that the Churches’ exodus to Africa to treat a disease that devastatingly affects the one community that already feels ostracized by the church has left many in the GLBT community wondering why Christians continue to go across the world and ignore what’s at home. 

They feel the only answer is that it is easier to deal with people who are helpless rather than work hard enough to reach and understand the “enemy.”  Is that true?  The direct connectivity from HIV/AIDS to the GLBT community in America once again advances the cultural stigma that they already feel because Christians have cast off their disease as abhorrent, and Africa’s as worthwhile for the sole reason that the #1 infector is not through gay men.  I am not saying that churches should stop doing great things in Africa.  But as Brad Oglvie, a colleague of mine and a gay man living with HIV as the executive director of an HIV prevention organization called the Mosaic Initiative says,

“AIDS work doesn’t have to mean either/or, but rather an and.” 

The issue is that churches have made it an either/or; except the “or” never seems to include tangibly learning how to productively build bridges with GLBT community for Christ.  Now is the time for Christians to begin to lessen the stigma, and change GLBT culture by making culture.

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

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About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • http://www.thediscipleproject.net Paul Turner

    Good words bro. Hey, when is the next chat? Need some advice. Thanks.

  • Kurt

    If you are going to work on stigmas and bigotry between Christianity and the LGBT community, it might be helpful if you didn’t spread them. While it may be true that AIDS in America spread first and most devastatingly through the gay community, The truth up until recently has been the exact opposite in Africa. From its inception in Africa, AIDS devasted first the heterosexual communities before it ripped through the gay populations.

    It is only recently, because of Western bigotry coupled with the need for scapegoating in African cultures that the LGBT community in Africa has now become the focus of this disease. One truth about AIDS is that with just a bit of cursory research, the very noticeable trend that AIDS spreads like wildfire through ostracized communites first and foremost before moving into the wider population of any place it has devasted should not be lost on anyone. Or is it just easier to believe that God has an agenda that starts with gays and then blacks and then women?

  • Kevin

    Paul- The next live chat is this Thursday Dec. 3rd from 3-5pm CST

  • http://ad-dominum.com Thom

    Thanks for bringing this up. I was very disappointed to find last night that the only AIDS Day resources on the website of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops was in the African Church section.

  • http://www.naytinalbert.blogspot.com Nathan

    Love this:
    “The problem is that the Churches’ exodus to Africa to treat a disease that devastatingly affects the one community that already feels ostracized by the church has left many in the GLBT community wondering why Christians continue to go across the world and ignore what’s at home.”

    More of us need to realize that, change, and act.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Yes, many of us would like to see a real emphasis placed on outreach or compassion to those with HIV/AIDS here in the U.S. The Church needs to redeem its poor response. In doing that, we must not overlook the reason so many have focused on ministering to Africans: Vast numbers of children have been orphaned or are infected themselves. We don’t have that travesty here in the U.S. Here, HIV infections are still tied in large measure to the gay male population. So, we are faced with a different kind of compassionate outreach. Many of our “victims” have volunteered for their pain. Moreover, they are well-off and have lived luxurious lives compared to third-world standards. A growing number of them are women and children of color living in relative poverty. Still nothing like Africa, however.

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    I know that there’s a sad portion of gay men who actively seek out HIV infections for a variety of reasons, but that number is very small. Most gay men don’t volunteer to become HIV-positive.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    Kurt – I will pretend that you just didn’t say that I am furthering bigotry and stigma. That’s ridiculous, yet you’re entitled to your opinion. That statement is so far off base I can hardly give a response.

    Nevertheless, I said absolutely nothing about African HIV/AIDS being a gay disease. In fact, I referenced the statistic about out how IN AMERICA 3/4ths of all infected people are gay men. The rest of my post focused on HIV/AIDS from an American perspective—church and culture. Hence, I said this right after talking about gay men in America with HIV/AIDS:

    “Although scientific data can quantify numbers, it can’t quantify how shame, stigma, isolation and political agendas each PERPETUATE THE EXPLODING GROWTH OF THIS DISEASE IN OUR OWN COUNTRY.”

    And the rest of the post built off of that statement about “our own country” which is America. Try dropping the name calling and read the post more carefully.

    Debbie – You bring up a great initial point, however I agree with Jon. In my life I have known three HIV positive men who told me they got infected on purpose. But in no way, shape or form do I ever think that 99% of infected persons purposefully try to get infected.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Guys, when I used the term “volunteer,” I did not mean in an intentional “bug-chasing” sense. That’s a form of insanity, is it not? I meant the term in the sense that we in the counseling field use it — as opposed to being a victim, which might be someone who was raped. Anyone having unprotected sex with anyone who is not a faithful partner in marriage is volunteering for whatever the consequences might be. And STDs are a big consequence.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Oh, I guess I need to point out that a faithful partner can be victimized by an unfaithful one. Men having sex with men (who may have had myriad partners in their life) certainly ought to know in this day and age what the risks are.

  • Kristi Kernal

    Andrew, I posted a similar “complaint” about the church jumping on the anti-sex trafficking bandwagon for other countries, while virtually ignoring (thru silence) the sexual abuse of children right here in our own nation!! One person’s response was that it’s easier to see it as “not OUR problem” when it’s in other countries. If we look at the problem here, we’ll have to face the fact that we are part of the problem, and thus, part of the solution.

  • http://www.annastudenny.com Anna Studenny

    Andrew,

    Can you help me understand a little more about two things? Why did those people intentionally become HIV-positive? And what are the consequences when we communicate that HIV/AIDS in America is a gay male disease? There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer, but the way we communicate disease has very powerful consequences. Thanks for your assistance in helping me understand this more.

    Anna

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    I’m not Andrew, but some gay men actively seek to become HIV-positive for different reasons:
    *Because they view it as an eventual part of the “gay life experience”;
    *Because they might qualify for certain governmental benefits if they are HIV-positive.
    *Because of loneliness — i.e., seeking the support of those who reach out to those with HIV, but otherwise ignore the social needs of HIV-neg gays.

    Once again, it’s a very small number of do this.

    That said, I would argue that viewing AIDS as a gay disease limits others’ compassion towards those living with it. Afterall, infected gay men are reaping the benefit of their sexual behaviors, according to many religious leaders and church members.

    Churches like Saddleback have been treated like revolutionaries for reaching out to people with AIDS in Africa within the past couple years, despite the fact that AIDS has been actively present both here and there since at least the very early 80s. How sad is that?

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    Jon, thanks so much for your thoughts, which you have more right to speak on than I :)

    Anna – Here are my experiences in answering your questions:

    1. In 2 of the situations the men fell in love with people who were HIV positive, and these two men committed their life to these other men who were positive and made the choice to become positive spending their lives together.

    In the other situation Jon hit it right on target – he was a lonely, and young, kid who since coming out had bad experience after bad experience trying to find a group to connect to…so he thought the easiest way to include himself into a tight nit community was this way. I didn’t meet him until years later when he was very sick. His situation happened in the late 80′s when the explosion of HIV was happening, so to him in that context he thought it was going to be inevitable anyway, and it provided him a close group of friends.

    2. We’re not communicating that in America HIV is a gay disease; HIV is a pandemic, and in America statistics show that gay men are the most infected population of people regarding this disease. So, it’s not a “disease” that is because of gay people; it’s a disease in which gay males have the highest infection rate.

    I hope that helps! Let me know if you have more questions. Thanks for asking! :)

  • http://www.annastudenny.com Anna Studenny

    Andrew and Jon,

    Thank you for your responses. I am humbled and sad to hear that these men are ill by choice. Yet, I can certainly understand how the healthy person in the partnership would risk contracting HIV. As someone with a disease that can be sexually transmitted, particularly when it still in-treatment or has been under-treated, I have had to consider what I would be asking my future partner to do. But when i think about it, I suppose marriage and partnership requires sacrifice in one way or another, which may include exposure to disease.

    As for the man you felt the only way to connect with a group of people was to expose himself to HIV, wow, I don’t know what to say. I guess the only response I have is to apologize for the Church’s failure to be a safe and inviting place for him. I would love to hear where We went wrong and how we could remedy that for him?

    One thing that I want to be careful about, though, is to keep from judging these men’s decisions. I mean, I just caught myself thinking, “Disease is an awful thing to go through,” and it is (I am sick myself), but in the words of Victor Frankl, we have to allow people to establish the meaning in their own lives. I think it’s easy to approach people with a disease as those who need to be fixed. But, I don’t want to be fixed. I mean, I would like a cure to Lyme Disease, but having a disease is not the end of the world. In fact, it’s been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I have experienced God in ways I never imagined, I have met all kinds of people I would otherwise not have met, and I have experienced a life transformation. I am way more patient, easy-going, and full of life.

    When we go to Africa or Cambodia or even if we remain in our own neighborhoods, are we seriously confronting our own stereotypes and judgments? Do we see the people we serve as people who equally have something to contribute to us? Do we enter a community with our ears or mouths open? A gripe I have about missions is that there seems to be this requirement that missionaries report back about what progress they have made (i.e., number of people “saved,” number of attendees at a conference, etc.) In reality, progress is made over a generation. And progress has got to be self-sustaining: it must be led by the people who live in the community. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a missionary report that said, “I have two new friends this month and I am learning this and that about them. Stacy has gone to every concert by such and such band and Bob tells us all about his experiences at war.” Period.

    I am glad you cleared that up about HIV/AIDS not being a “gay disease,” but you quoted Matt Foreman as saying that, so that’s why I asked. Anyhow, I agree that we have to talk about gay sexuality. Actually, I think we need to approach the general topic of sexuality.

    OK, I’ll stop here. Feel free to respond/push back on my comments. :)

    Anna

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    Many of our “victims” have volunteered for their pain.

    Your comments from that point forward went pretty much downhill, Debbie.  I’m not sure there is a way to overstate the devastating effect of such statements.  And you confound me with the frequency with which you make them.  Clearly, you must have some interest in the work Andrew does, but in other venues you present yourself as more of the problem than the solution.  I am speaking frankly here, not with any malice — why do you seem to vacillate between two worlds?  What makes you peak out from time to time from comments like this  from last year, "The World AIDS Day Sham":

    Have we forgotten where AIDS originates? Seventy percent of those infected with the HIV virus are gay men. AIDS cases soar to the stratosphere in the gay ghettoes, those urban areas where most homosexuals congregate and where gay bathhouses still operate with impunity. These are also the enclaves where intravenous drug use abounds.
    Yet, the gay PR machine has succeeded in convincing much of the world that all of us are at risk and that women are the greatest victims today. Women who choose to have multiple sex partners, some of whom are bisexual, are indeed elevating their risk of contracting the HIV virus. That is a long way from all of us.

    to invest time in a ministry that has so little in common with the way you see the issue?  Because, while this may seem harsh, I don’t think this effort can succeed with double-minded people. 

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    And why, David, must you continue to present yourself as someone who insists on exposing sentiments I have expressed in the past, which you now clearly know I have moderated and even renounced? And I renounced that older commentary you quote above at Ex-Gay Watch recently, as well as on my own blog! Now, you must give an account of yourself. I will allow you to set the record straight and quote my other statement, if you find you have the wherewithal to do it. What is your motive here?

    Do you dare to take exception to the fact that children in Africa are devastated by AIDS as innocent victims in great numbers? Are you saying that our poverty is anything like theirs? That our AIDS cases are not predominated by gay men? That they are all victims on the order of African orphans? What? Why?

    Does it bother you that the same Christians you see as anti-gay hypocrites are actually giving of their time and treasure (yes, we are all wealthy by third-world standards) to help those hapless children and others in Africa? That one of the greatest outreaches is the one by World Help, founded by Vernon Brewer, a close personal friend for many years to Jerry Falwell?

    You can’t just dismiss us all, David, and keep crying “unChristian!” You, sir, are the divisive one. And your comment above is dishonest.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    For reference I submit the entire thread in which your "AIDS Day Sham" comments were brought to light (and only after which you removed this one instance from your site).  It serves as an excellent illustration of the mindset that concerns me — one that thinks it is good to say things like many of our “victims” have volunteered for their pain in a forum dedicated to bridging, not widening the gap.  I referenced your comments of last year because what you said here seems to build on them, deleted or not.  No one is dismissing you — quite the contrary.  I fear the impact of such thinking on an effort like this could be quite harmful.
    That said, my original question to you is the same.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Still waiting, David. Ball’s in your court. Meanwhile, here are the links that discredit your deception (for the benefit of those here you deceived), since you’ve failed to step up and provide this information yourself:

    http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2009/11/love-won-out-birmingham-alabama/#comment-34348

    That one is comment #97, the final one in a thread at Ex-Gay Watch, from Nov. 16.

    http://theformers.wordpress.com/2009/11/17/a-matter-that-needs-clearing-up

    That one’s my blog post from Nov. 17.

    Got any other blanks in your drive-by gun? Might as well fire them all now. Confession is good for the soul.

    Maybe you could get your buddy, who made the allegation that led to my Nov. 16 comment at XGW, to stop by here, as well. Or maybe you could get him to provide the Uganda mystery person contact information I asked him for that I never got. You’ll note that I took him at his word (wrong or right), a courtesy you will never again receive from me.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    I see David’s comment was posted just as I was attempting to post mine, which is awaiting moderation for some reason.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    “Clearly, you must have some interest in the work Andrew does, but in other venues you present yourself as more of the problem than the solution.”

    Would you care to provide some substantiating documentation for that claim? It is your opinion, David, that I have some sort of “devastating effect” on the kind of work Andrew does. Most curious. You don’t like the truth of my assertion that most people suffering from STDs have “volunteered” for their pain. Would you please state for the benefit of others, and me, how I am wrong?

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    I guess the thing we can take from this is that our words remain, especially on the internet. Some statements are very hurtful and, fortunately or unfortunately, require repeated amounts of clarification, repentance, and humbleness.

    As to whether or not people with STDs have volunteered for their fates… Well, sometimes we choose certain words that could be stated with other, less inflamatory terms. I might ask if you would you the same terminology if you were face-to-face with someone living with AIDS. I’d also wonder what kind of response you would expect when you asserted to that someone that he volunteered for a life with AIDS.

  • http://exgaywatch.com David Roberts

    Got any other blanks in your drive-by gun? Might as well fire them all now. Confession is good for the soul.
    Maybe you could get your buddy, who made the allegation that led to my Nov. 16 comment at XGW, to stop by here, as well. Or maybe you could get him to provide the Uganda mystery person contact information I asked him for that I never got. You’ll note that I took him at his word (wrong or right), a courtesy you will never again receive from me.

    Is this all just a game to you, Debbie?  The person grantdale mentioned is IN FEAR OF HIS LIFE IN UGANDA.  They specifically told you they would not share their contact information with you or anyone else.  Would you really want that?  How many times you will take him at his word for this is between you and God.  I do not understand you, but more of this back and forth is unlikely to help and it isn’t appropriate here.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    “I guess the thing we can take from this is that our words remain, especially on the internet.”

    Yep. I’m sure some of those reading this are silently thankful some of the things they have said in the past are not in a public forum somewhere. It’s a beneficial humbling we get when words we’ve long since forgotten about are brought back to us. Those who have read Andrew’s book know that he referred to some of his own inglorious statements about gays in the days prior to his friends’ coming out to him. We live and learn, hopefully.

    Andrew has built a ministry around bridge-building. He is no less aware of God’s truth in that effort than am I. He knows my efforts intersect with his, but I am not called to be him or do just what he does. That is his distinct calling. He is unfairly criticized and misunderstood by folks on both sides of the debate. But he is not savaged for being ex-gay. He will never walk in my shoes and I will never walk in his.

    When a person chooses to ignore the arc of another and seeks to dwell only on where that person once was to bolster his own status, I believe those events will speak for themselves as to how disingenuous the detractor is. Some things need to be called what they are, to be examined in the light of day. I was shown an error needing to be corrected, and I humbly did that. But it ought to be evident that no amount of even outright groveling will ever satisfy someone out for blood. Even if that person claims to be a bridge-builder.

    Jon, would you actually believe that I could tell somebody suffering from AIDS, gay or straight, that they were just getting something they deserved? It is one thing to seek to condemn another person and quite another to point out a truth that might apply to their circumstances in being an apologist for morality or addressing a societal ill. Were it not for Christ, we’d all stand condemned.

    If we can’t step back and examine Word AIDS Day from all angles, then what are we here for? We have to own the whole truth or we will be navigating going forward from a faulty compass reading.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    “Is this all just a game to you, Debbie? The person grantdale mentioned is IN FEAR OF HIS LIFE IN UGANDA. They specifically told you they would not share their contact information with you or anyone else.”

    When and where was that information disclosed to me, David? The alleged person evidently did share his contact info with grantdale. How else did he know about it? Why was I not allowed to have honest gd transmit my personal message to that person? A game? Hardly.

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    “Jon, would you actually believe that I could tell somebody suffering from AIDS, gay or straight, that they were just getting something they deserved? It is one thing to seek to condemn another person and quite another to point out a truth that might apply to their circumstances in being an apologist for morality or addressing a societal ill. Were it not for Christ, we’d all stand condemned.”

    People with AIDS read this blog. I’m not sure how each of those folks might’ve internalized the notion that they volunteered to become infected with that disease.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    “People with AIDS read this blog. I’m not sure how each of those folks might’ve internalized the notion that they volunteered to become infected with that disease.”

    People with AIDS are all over the place. And they represent a cross-section of experiences. Given that AIDS first surfaced here in the U.S. as a public health problem — a gay male one initially — how many folks do you think are totally ignorant today that it is sexually transmitted except in rare cases? Now, let’s separate out those who have been raped or molested by an HIV-positive person. Then, let’s take those faithful ones who may have been infected via a philandering partner (past or present), followed by those who contracted the virus through a blood transfusion or a medical worker or being born to an infected mother. Did I leave anyone out? I am talking about AIDS in the U.S., to be clear.

    Of the remaining cases, how many chose to have sex, likely with multiple partners, knowing but denying the risks involved? The pill became the perceived magic bullet that allowed men and women to believe they could eliminate the consequences from sex-as-sport. Except — oops — STDs are still on the rise, including HIV. No magic bullet except ABC — in descending order, abstinence, be faithful and condoms. How much money is spent to educate people about the risks of unsafe sex? Why don’t they get it?

    No, Jon, people don’t willingly volunteer for HIV or any STD. They are, nevertheless, responsible for their sexual misbehavior. Try as we may, we will never change that inconvenient truth.

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    Debbie: Here was my AIDS message yesterday: http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/2009/12/no-h1n1-vaccine-for-jon.html. Basically, avoid the disease by waiting for marriage, remaining faithful, and otherwise practicing safe sexual behaviors.

    All I’ve suggested to you above is to be mindful of your terminology. How many times do you need to have people provide feedback about the way you say (or in this case, write) something? We can go rounds and round and round on this topic, but you’re apparently wedded to repeating that people with AIDS volunteered for their infection, having to repeatedly explain what you really mean.

    Go to your local AIDS service program and tell those American gay men that they volunteered for their illness. Then watch and listen to their reactions. And then re-explain what you really mean when you say that they volunteered for their illness and that you’re really not talking about other populations affected by the disease, but just them, but you’re just trying to point out their irresponsible behavior. See how well that goes.

    Or you could’ve just come out here and originally promoted your message of abstinence before message and protection. But that would’ve negated your desire to separate the volunteers from the real victims of the disease.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    “We can go rounds and round and round on this topic, but you’re apparently wedded to repeating that people with AIDS volunteered for their infection, having to repeatedly explain what you really mean.”

    Jon, your responsibility to hear clearly is no less than is mine to speak clearly. There is an entire record of what I have said and continue to say that speaks for itself. You seem to be insisting on selectively hearing me.

    And why continue to paint such an absurd picture as this:

    “Go to your local AIDS service program and tell those American gay men that they volunteered for their illness. Then watch and listen to their reactions. And then re-explain what you really mean when you say that they volunteered for their illness and that you’re really not talking about other populations affected by the disease, but just them, but you’re just trying to point out their irresponsible behavior. See how well that goes.”

    Are you still trying to make people here believe I would ever do such a thing? This is a dishonest tactic.

    Here’s a news flash for you: I did not volunteer for the pain that came from my being molested at age 8 or from my dad’s abandoning of our family. I did volunteer for my divorce and for the near-dissolution of my current marriage because of my unfaithfulness. And I volunteered for my own (undisclosed) STD. Had I contracted HIV/AIDS instead of the other incurable disease, I’d have still been a volunteer. And you could get in my face and tell me that, thought I would not do it to you or anyone else in similar circumstances. I put myself in the blank, first and always.

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    I never suggested that you do that. I’m asking you to choose kinder words. Enough.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    “I’m asking you to choose kinder words.”

    The kindest words don’t always sound kind. Suppose we had it within our power to prevent a great travesty from happening, but we did not because we were afraid the truth that would instruct might sound too unkind? Is a parent more concerned with sounding kind or instructing a child? Kindness is not always gentleness. Younger generations are leaping off cliffs with no parachutes. Are we afraid to stop them? Will we “kindly” allow them to go on doing it?

    “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
    A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
    A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
    A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
    A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
    A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
    A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
    A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

  • http://www.williampennhouse.org Brad Ogilvie

    Thanks, Andrew, for the posting and for being at the breakfast. A few comments:

    We need to start talking about “sexual networks” vs. serial monogamy. Sexual networks are more prevalant in Africa among both genders. Men who have sex with men (MSM) are also having sex with women. Newly infected are the most potent for spreading HIV.

    MSM are far more likely than any other group in Africa to get HIV (according to recent UN data), but because it is illegal to be gay in many nations here, this will not easily emerge to the level needed to really address it.

    About bug-chasing, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, when we offer more services or greater compassion for those with HIV (including acceptance, housing, food, medical care) and focus less on the prevention side, HIV will spread because these institutions are funded to keep the caseloads full.

    Beyond this, it really is a matter of humanity. These gay/straight/male/female boxes only create barriers that HIV refuses to comply with. I maintain that we are all being challenged to find greater love for all as the key to this.


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