Thursday, April 14, 2011

HIV/AIDS: Homophobia and Disableism

The following image apparently came from the Daily Sunday Star .  Apparently there is more to rags than trying to discern whom celebrities are sleeping with and which one needs rehab.


I don't know about you, but I am really sick of the suggestion that gay people are walking diseases.   Recently, when make up artist Dariel Pulliam died, Sandra Rose wrote "wrap it up," suggesting that the man had died of AIDS, even though she didn't know the cause of death.  When it was later revealed that he had died of a staph infection, she didn't feel the need to apologize.

As part of the cycle of life, people are born and die everyday and yet AIDS is constantly deemed the cause of death of gay men.  This is not 1980's, and HIV/AIDS is not a gay disease.  This suggestion, is just another way of stigmatizing and oppressing the LGBT community and it needs to stop. It's not funny and it's not cute; it's homophobic as all hell.

It seems to me, that socially people ignore that straight people can contract HIV/AIDS,  'cause when straight people have sex, it's just pure clean fun, but when people of the same sex engage in sex, it's all dirty and icky -- so of course they are walking carriers of disease.  This is built up on the fact that gay men are constructed as promiscuous sex crazed individuals, who will do anything to get it on.  Along the way, we have to forget that straight people have plenty of sex and yes, sometimes it is anonymous. Over and over sex is treated with a good/bad binary, in which anything involving people of the same sex is seen as decidedly bad. 

When Sandra Rose suggested that Pulliam had died of AIDS, the post actually trended on twitter for awhile, with people calling her out on her homophobia.  It was very heart warming to see, but the fact is, the suggestion that gay men all die of AIDS is pervasive, and it will appear again in the media, and it will appear in our everyday lives.  I personally had to defend my friend who was ill, because the community assumed that he had AIDS.  He was harassed and belittled and this was based on the fact that he is gay and that people who have HIV/AIDS are stigmatized.  We all know that just being in a room with someone with HIV/AIDS is not going to make you contract the disease, but that does not stop people from making up facts to justify their bigotry.

HIV/AIDS is a very serious disease, but it is not the killer that it was in 1980's, and people are living full and active lives with it.  I fail to see how or why people don't see the constant demonizing of people with this disease as diableist as all hell.  That's right, disableist.  HIV is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  This need to stigmatize comes from the understanding that anyone whose body functions differently is an "other."  People have no right to go on the attack and belittle anyone, and they further have no right to make assumptions, unless they are privy to someone's medical records. Despite all the time that has passed since AIDS first appeared, and the attempts to educate the populace, people still walk around with the most ridiculous ideas.  It seems to me, that they have become just another group for people to stigmatize and oppress at will.

The connection between the LGBT community and people with HIV/AIDS is about more than the fact that AIDS first appeared in that community, and this is especially true when we factor in that the straight people who have died and are currently gravely ill from this disease are ignored.  For bigots, HIV/AIDS represents the perfect storm, in which they can marry two stigmatized bodies together for the perfect storm of oppression.