Saturday, January 22, 2011


GayAmericaBlog Backs
Hanging HIV Poz Man?

Permit me, as a queer man living with AIDS, to state my bias upfront: I adamantly oppose the death penalty. Be it execution by hanging, electric chair, firing squad, stoning, lethal injection or other method, I'm against it.

On Thursday, over at AmericaBlog's gay section, John Aravosis got my attention with a heated post about an HIV poz military man just convicted of not telling his sex partners about his sero status.

My first instinct is to hang the man. I just find it despicable, if you have any contagious life-threatening disease (hell, I'd add STDs in there too), and you sleep around and don't tell your partners. Now, there are valid concerns about furthering the stigma around AIDS, about creating a climate in which people are afraid to seek medical help. But still. You are literally putting people's lives at risk. I just am finding it very hard to have pity on this man. How about you? ...

John's opening sentence was dog whistle code, IMO, that scares me. Maybe I'm reading too much into his provocative opening, after a week of concern that Iran may have been set to stone to death two young gay men, so I sent off a few questions to John:

Could you clarify for me if you are saying you would actually support hanging an HIV poz person? Do you really think execution of this guy might do some good? Why do you raise the specter of hanging at all and at the outset of your piece? Are you trying to further stigmatize all poz people? Do you fear your piece could have an indirect impact on poz people? What are you views on the death penalty? Sure would appreciate hearing your feedback.

Despite two attempts to get some answers, John has not replied and I find that disappointing, but that's his choice to not further explain his views.

I get nervous when anyone, much less a gay advocate, in any way appears to endorse hanging a person with HIV or AIDS, even as a rhetorical idea and for whatever reason. Personally, I have seen too many people die from AIDS and think there's been more than enough death associated with the disease, and it is never my first instinct to think that more death is a solution to any HIV problem.

The silence of John Aravosis as to whether he would back hanging the convicted HIV positive military member or endorses capital punishment, is quite strange given that he usually loves igniting hysteria and basking in the attention he generates.

In year 30 of the AIDS epidemic in America, we do not need any gay man even rhetorically suggesting hanging an HIV poz person.

4 comments:

NG said...

it is strange and disappointing, but then this is what happens you allow activists and bloggers the freedom to make hate and disparaging comments about people, look the other way, and absolve them of accountability and transparency.

Anonymous said...

This is really typical of the direction gay culture has been trending. I'm seeing more and more HIV- gay men make these sorts of extremist statements, probably part of some zeal to distance themselves from an even more marginalized group and absolve themselves of the need to act responsibly. Look online at the comments of any mainstream gay site that addresses HIV, you can you practically hear the crackle of torches. They've bought into the notion that other people should be more concerned about their health than they are, and they've created a system that dissuades anyone from disclosing or even getting tested. Currently, at least 1 in 5 gay men is poz, with the lifetime liklihood of infection hovering at around 50%. Things are going to get much worse.

sfmike said...

Good catch. I haven't been able to read John A. for years. His mix of hyperbole and sanctimony is laughable, and his conservative sheep in a liberal wolf's clothing has always been sort of sick-making.

Clinton Fein said...

John Aravosis comment about hanging a man for failing to disclose his status is simply lacking in intelligent forethought, and provides fodder for those who make it their business to regulate sex and morality - usually hypocrites. (Aravosis seemingly has no qualms about the military convicting the man on charges of adultery, despite his wife being a willing participant.) Worse, however, he seems to think that those of us who are HIV negative are unable to assume responsibility for our own choices. If you're fucking multiple partners at a swingers party, the onus is on you, the participant, to make certain assumptions, weigh the risks and act accordingly. Don't then turn around and blame someone else. It's ridiculous. Is it a perfectly good driver's fault if you choose to dart across a busy road? Not all of us need a Nanny State to govern our behavior or how we engage sexually.