“I really want to do this for GLBT youth,” Louganis told me this morning. “Being on Dancing With The Stars is more than me being on the show, it sends a positive message- an ‘It Gets Better’ message. And that message is still important- kids are still losing hope. I want to do what I can for them.”
There have been gay men on DWTS before- Lance Bass, Carson Cressley and Louis Amstel- and Chaz Bono broke the transgender barrier last season, but if this bid is successful, Greg would be the first openly HIV+ contestant. And it’s about time, say HIV activists.
“In a generation that is trying to end AIDS, it’s great to have openly HIV positive sports figures like Greg Louganis in the spot light,” said Tom Donohue, founder and executive director of Who’s Positive, an HIV/AIDS advocacy and awareness organization. “Not only can his presence be a reminder for folks to be tested, his appearance on Dancing With The Stars can reemphasize how those living with HIV/AIDS can live normal and active lives.” Donohue is also on the board of directors for The National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA).
Time will tell if this Facebook movement will work- but if the producers are recruiting Tim Tebow– it seems only fair.
(Also Published on LGBTQNation) Janus was the Roman God of Thresholds, of transition, of beginnings and ending. He is often depicted with two faces, one for looking forward and one for looking back. January, the beginning month of the new year is named for Janus, and so, it’s natural that humans take this time to look back- and look forward- at the approach of the New Year.
As I take a look back, I’m very grateful for some amazing things that have happened this year in the U.S.- things that I never thought would happen in my lifetime- including:
But what I am finding amazing is the conspicuous absence or light mentions in the LGBT media about the dramatic advances in HIV treatment and prevention in the “best of” roundups this year. A year when there have arguably been more advances in treatment, prevention and scientific breakthroughs than in any other year in the 30 since AIDS was discovered. A year when top government officials committed time, money and policy to ending this disease. A year when Science magazine called the HPTN 052 Study the scientific breakthrough of the year.
Are we getting complacent about HIV? Are we in denial about the very real danger it still poses to our community? Do people understand that having HIV is difficult- creating financial, medical, emotional and social problems that can be devastating for people, families and communities?
It seems so.
I am, like I said, grateful for all the things listed above. I am grateful for Chaz and trans representation. I am grateful for relationship rcognition. I am grateful for advances in employment nondiscrimination. I am grateful that my government is taking LGBT rights seriously. I am especially grateful that the elected administration of this land is treating HIV like it should be treated- as a disease, a viral infection- and not as some Divine Punishment inflicted on the sexually and socially repugnant dregs of society. That is a big deal.
Forty years ago, the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities tumbled out of the closet at Stonewall, never to go back in again. Stonewall conveniently produced a replacement for the now-gone communists; after all, nothing unites people like a good ol’ fashioned enemy! Gay people became the new devil to be protected against. “Hide your kids, your church doors, your family values—here come the gays.” And, it worked. For a time.
Politicians, preachers and conservative groups all found that by building a storyline of the “radical gay agenda”, more people huddled together in fear and supportive wallets popped open. Small enough in number (only about 5% of the population), the gay, lesbian and bisexual communities became an easy target with benefits. But, dang it, they are no longer co-operating as child recruiters, family destroyers and Bible burners. We are starting to realize they are born gay, they love their partners and families and they can be Jesus followers.
Who, oh who shall be the next “enemy” in historical parade of foes: slaves, Nazis, Communists, gays . . . oh, there, looming on the horizon, there they are: the transgender community. Mark my word on this, it is happening. The reactions to Chaz Bono dancing across a stage on Dancing With the Stars with a beautiful woman in his arms will clearly reveal the next wave of brewing hatred from politicians, preachers and conservative groups. A familiar repeat of an old pattern about gays and lesbians but now targeting the transcommunity is already emerging: