A controversial poster by the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center to try to focus attention on the rising rates of HIV among the gay male population in the region.
The mainstreaming subject came up when recently challenged someone’s comments that was “tired” of HIV being linked to gay issues. This extended to funding all the while saying things such as “Well it affects everyone now.”
Had this been an ordinary private conversation, I would have left it. Instead, it was very public, and this person is the executive director of an NGO that is supposed to represent the gay community.
The basic summary is that some folks out there in our community resent the resources and attention being diverted to HIV in the gay community, and try to use the mainstreaming argument of the 80s to support it.
This is why comments such as “Gay guys [with HIV] have it so easy.” It used to be in the 80s we fought to be recognized by the outside world such as government, and no we are fighting within our own community.
It feels as if we are a mere once-a-day pill away from becoming invisible. I hadn’t realized that we have become so mainstreamed and marginalized. So much so that we have come full circle fighting for our place again.
After having worked in Rwanda, I personally have seen, and have friends who struggle with HIV and abject poverty. Yes, for those of us who have access to resources, we are privileged, nonetheless, our path are not easy relative the context of our lives.
Lest not forgot that many in Canada also live in poverty. Anyone without a proper disability will live thousands of dollars below the poverty line. Depression is depression, stigma is stigma, discrimination is discrimination, no access to the right drugs is no access, side effects are side effects, lack of housing is lack of housing, and so on.
In Kigali, it was amazing on how much we did have in common, even though gay men do not exist (in their culture) in that part of the world.
Initially the only way we could get attention to HIV was to make it mainstream. Gay men didn’t matter. It took Reagan five years to even say the word. We’ve moved passed this now. Decades later gay men remain at greater risk, and there is no getting around it. All risk is not equal within the Canadian population.
My view is that HIV is touching so much of us, and I didn’t put my face in the media twenty years ago, having my father find out my status on TV, so that others sweep us under the carpet of mainstreaming.
Taking ownership of this issue 25 years later is not the same as claiming it our own along with the other sub-epidemics back so many years ago.
Probably those who are negative see this as an integration of positive guys in the gay community. But really it’s, in my view, it’s a comfortable invisibility for those who wish to not see us.