Tuesday, March 24, 2009

AIDS activism 2009

Blackheart 2, issue no 4, "the prison issue". a journal of writing and graphics by black gay men. A friend of mine produced the magazine. I found it in cleaning out stuff, sent him copy of the cover page. He has moved and much lost in the moving (as ever).

Interesting ...prison, gay men, AIDS, 1984, the social control. So much HIV has come through the penal system whatwith men locked up with poor system hygiene and certainly no protections. One could not have devised a better system to create an infection pool. The structural reality of racism, homophobia, social control.

was thinking of a piece by an AIDS activist complaining about the lack of HIV activism today. My sense is that once HIV got out of just the "gay" vector, the role of activism and advocacy changed. The Bush administration in particular funding so many abstinence groups having an orthodox religious perspective. The mainstream black church has never been the first to go to the barricades. Despite the myths, there have been few Bayard Rustin-like advocates in our world; it took a Martin Luther King, Jr. to step out of the comfort box! Today, the Roman Catholic pope sermonizes against condoms. In the real world it would be great not to have to use condoms but there is a reality.....

for me, HIV is a morass. The problems of so many systems as well as the psychological and social issues. I collapsed from working in-patient hospital with HIV patients and I am an educated person with diverse work experience. The lack of support, work loads, just exhaustion. 20% of my patients died and few cared. I bought the holiday presents as somehow the budget was spent on other things. I never met any AIDS activists, they were busy in the NYC life. The visitors were my friend the nun, the monsignor, monks, and people from a Baptist church giving out Bibles and asking patients to accept Jesus. Staff with good hearts but who lacked basic sexuality education..... mantras such as the orthodox line that all gay men have been abused. The second largest inhospital program in the US! Beyond sad...

jail.. whoa! 20% of the population is probably sociopathic. Police sweeps generally targeted in areas of visible crime and arresting those with few legal resources. Working with prisoners is a sad story as well. I have had my share of clients/patients. In real life, besides 2 of my siblings, I know 4 people with jail times well. For three of them, jail time was substance rehab time as they were out of control drugging in the streets! 2 of the guys have psychiatric issues. Jail is now the largest provider of institutional psychiatric care, another example of inappropriate social control. Of course, I know first hand the dangers in being the object of someone who is delusional, violent, and not taking one's medicine. Two of the 6 are basic sociopaths... endlessly looking to get over on anyone and ready to blame everyone else. Another morass....

thanks to the universe, there are progressive advocates, people with compassion, as well as basic social science researchers. the research is there on how to better the systems and to help people. In life it is always about engaging, educating, hoping to change ideological perspectives.

anyhow.. my buddy who did the Blackheart issues is still advocating! Big bravo to him for 30 years of engaging the world!

peace, hugs, compassion

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