Happy St Patrick’s Day…

or, as a friend says, “Amateur Night.”

Be safe out there.

Demands

Can I sit?
Don’t ask me to,
I want to do it myself.

But if I sit,
Will I lose the
Dignity of standing?

Is it dignity
To stand or is it
The stance of power?

And power can be
Non-corrupt.
Loaves and fishes, yes?

And that seated,
Powerful people both
Create and destroy, no?

Yes, I will sit, thank you.
No apocalypse or miracles, though.
I just want to rest.

~D Gregory Smith

Maybe This Will Work

The stats from my previous post seem to be slowly hitting the blogosphere- still no mention from all the other mainline LGBT bloggers or organizations, but I’m optimistic- it’s gradually happening.

We’re getting some amazing and thought-filled comments on the post over at Bilerico.

It has been reposted by Brody Levesque to help round out the discussion on his site.

LifeLube has an excellent post trying to make sense of it all.

Cross your fingers and do your part. We’re in trouble.

U.S. Gay Men’s Astonishing HIV/STD Rates

New CDC data for 2010: (My commentary now on Bilerico)

March 10, 2010
Contact: Julie Scofield (NASTAD)202.434.8090 or 202.455.2558

Contact:  Bill Smith (NCSD) 202.550.2546 or

Murray Penner (NASTAD) 202.434.8090 or 202.725.6762

Groundbreaking Analyses Reveal Astonishing Rates of HIV and STDs
Among America’s Gay Men

Washington, DC–  Today, at the National STD Prevention Conference in Atlanta, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data that underscore the nation’s ongoing struggle to halt the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the United States (U.S.).  The data indicate that rates of HIV infection among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are more than 44 times higher than rates among heterosexual men and more than 40 times higher than women. Rates of syphilis, an STD that can facilitate HIV infection and if left untreated, may lead to sight loss and severe damage to the nervous system, are reported to be more than 46 times higher among gay men and other MSM than among heterosexual men and more than 71 times higher than among women.

“These rates, when coupled with existing data indicating that gay and bisexual men make up the majority of new HIV and syphilis infections, are further evidence that prevention for gay and bisexual men of all races must be our highest priority at all levels,” said Julie M. Scofield, Executive Director of the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD).  “It is time to value the lives of gay men in our communities.  They are fathers, brothers, sons, uncles, colleagues and friends, and it is time to fight for their lives,” continued Scofield.

Despite the high rates revealed in the data released today, federal support for HIV and STD prevention has faltered.  Over the last decade, federal funding for domestic HIV prevention to health departments has  been cut by $23 million and STD prevention efforts, when adjusted for inflation, have 22 percent less funding compared to seven years ago.

“This new data is a clarion call to deal with the persistent neglect of the health of gay and bisexual men across the country,” said William Smith, Executive Director of the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD).  “Thankfully, the President has recognized the situation and called for increased resources for HIV and STD prevention efforts for MSM.  Now it is Congress’ turn and they need to expand upon the President’s request.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, men as a whole are less likely to use the health care system than women and often seek care when they are experiencing critical health problems.  In gay communities, men who do not access health care may not know they are infected with HIV or an STD, thus compromising their own health status.  The persistence of stigma and homophobia compounds the situation still further.

In this time of economic decline, health departments and their communities are bending under the weight of these public health crises.  NASTAD and NCSD call on policy makers across the U.S. to provide leadership to stop the unnecessary spread of HIV and STDs by ensuring all gay men have access to preventive services, know their status and, when positive, are linked to quality care and treatment.

Founded in 1992, NASTAD is a nonprofit national association of state and territorial health department HIV/AIDS program directors who have programmatic responsibility for administering HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis health care, prevention, education, and supportive services programs funded by state and federal governments. For more information, visit www.NASTAD.org.

Founded in 1996, NCSD is a nonprofit national association of state, territorial and local health department STD program directors who have programmatic responsibility for administering STD prevention and control programs funded by state and federal governments.  For more information, visit www.NCSDDC.org.

Autonomic

Eden, dead.
Utopia, a dream.
Moment by moment
The slip into the future-
The banana peel of the now
Sends us landing on the butt of a cosmic joke.
This one, like all jokes,
Hiding truth in its funny sleeves.

There is no future.
This is the hidden truth.
The truth that is deflected-
Dismissed as evil,
As hopeless,
As ridiculous,
Godless,
Pathetic.
All lies.

There is no future.
It is sleight of hand.
It is the distraction
From this moment,
This breath
Which is absolute Truth.
And the future would have you miss it,
Damned to what never comes.
Never.

And working to make us miss
what will never come again,
The promise of the future leans seductively
In the doorway to nowhere-
Beckoning,
Hypnotizing,
Handsome and pretty and empty.
Watching lustily as we step closer.
Preciousness wasted,
Drop by drop,
Breath by unconscious breath,
Behind us.

~D Gregory Smith

The Walking Wounded

Andrew Sullivan, a man I don’t always agree with politically, but who’s sensible, sensitive and compassionate work impress me, has written an article about the humanity of gay people in today’s Daily Dish. Very well worth reading.

We’re all wounded, people. (put the comma where you like.)

Bring It Back

A new Scooby Mix has arrived! His mixes are my favorite workout music- high energy and yet not all that garbage-can-chainsaw-screech that all too often seem to mean high energy to some people….

Give it a try! Download the continuous mix or track-by-track.

Previous Scooby Mixes and track list here.

“Everything Happens For a Reason”

I’ve heard it a lot- especially from people who are trying to find something comforting to say in the face of tragedy or bad news. I’ve heard it said to me at times when I was facing some of the biggest challenges of my life. I’ve heard it when I was feeling down about a breakup, a job loss, or some painful moment of friendship- perceived betrayal, hurtful comments or just bad feelings. I heard it a lot when I told people about my HIV diagnosis. I know when people say it, they are trying to be kind.

Here’s my confession: I don’t believe it.

First, it goes against all of the things I believe about free will and my own power in the world. Do I determine my own fate? Not totally, no. As much as I can, yes. I do this in my decisions, my attitudes and my approach to life. We all do. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t spend so much wasteful time in regret. “What if I would have said/done…?” “If I had only…”

Second, it says to me something about people’s religious faith or spiritual understanding. When someone says the phrase, It says they believe there’s a deterministic force moving us all toward an intended goal. Like sheep. The irony of the consistently Gospel metaphor is not lost on me, but I don’t like that image of God as Sheepdog. I am a person of faith, but not that kind.

Third, it really denies my creativity. When presented with a problem, should I just wait until the solution presents itself, fully formed at the end of my life? That seems like existential laziness. Should I look at a situation, try and wrap my brain around it and treat it like it the opportunity it is? That’s what I try to do. I prefer to face reality squarely, sizing it up honestly and moving forward with integrity. When I can, or, at least when I don’t forget.

I want to be clear, I am not saying that we shouldn’t have hopeful stances of faith or belief in the face of crisis. I am saying that the sort of Theistic Determinism exemplified by “Everything happens for a reason” doesn’t make me feel better. It makes me feel like a pawn. Or a sheep. And, as someone who’s spent a fair amount of time around sheep (I know, I know), I’m not that interested in being compared to one.

I believe that reality is reasonable, generous and kind. I have a lot of proof. I spend a lot of time looking for ways to see difficult situations in this light because I know it to be true in my life and in the world I see around me. I work at honing my vision. In meditation, in my work with others, in my dealing with friends and with myself. I want to see everything as it is- not with a deterministic hazy sort of vagueness of “a reason”, but with an optimistic understanding of my own voice, vision and ability to interpret the world in a way consistent with my heart. And I want to see the possibilities. All of them. I don’t want to look for a reason, I want to look for reality.

My worldview doesn’t insist on a reason for everything happening- but with it, I’ve come to see that I can make sense out of almost anything…..

Apologies to Buddha…

.
“The only thing constant is change- and the human hatred of it”
~D Gregory Smith

“Why does it feel awkward to offer help?”

That was a question I got from someone recently, and I have to admit, it made me stop and think. I came up with several reasons.

  • I could be rejected and it will hurt.
  • I could look like an ass because the other person will think I have ulterior motives.
  • I could be rejected and it will hurt.
  • I could feel incompetent or unqualified if my offer is not accepted or acknowledged.
  • I could be rejected and it will hurt.
  • I could fail and not be of any help at all.
  • I could be rejected and it will hurt.

I know- but that’s how it works sometimes in my head.

I spent quite a lot of my life working to make life better, both for myself and for others. When it happens together, it becomes an amazing experience that energizes me and gets me through the times when it appears nothing much happens. The operative word is “appears”.

I have learned that my willingness to help, by just showing up and providing the offer of a shoulder, a hand or an ear does something not immediately recognizable outside of my own feeling of usefulness- it creates a grounding for me, much like it does with electricity- it keeps me connected. Sure, there’s a worry that someone will not understand my motives or feel uncomfortable accepting, but that’s not the point. The point is that I do this just as much for me as for them. It’s practice- practice in moving beyond my fears of rejection and hurt to do good simply because I think it’s good. Just because that’s the person I want to be- and even am, sometimes…. Just because offering help is an offer of self.

And really, what could that hurt?