Thursday, May 13, 2010

Larry Kramer: For Obama,

Gays & PWAs = Shit

(Protesters demonstrated tonight in Manhattan against President Obama's sloooow course of action on HIV/AIDS issues. The sign reads "Obama to People With AIDS: Wait to Die.)

Like so many other AIDS activists, I applauded President Obama when he overturned the terrible U.S. travel and immigration ban on HIV positive people, but I am have a difficult time thinking of other significant steps he has taken on AIDS issues.

A fine example of the administration's good intentions is the loooong process the White House Office of National AIDS Policy is employing in developing the National AIDS Strategy. Here we are, more than 16 months into the Obama tenure, countless discussions and meetings have taken place to create the strategy, and all we have to show for it are promises for more talking.

Let me remind the Obama administration and all the AIDS Inc orgs that are not raising their voices demanding a National AIDS Strategy forthwith -- people with AIDS are still fighting for our lives. We'd like some old-fashioned passionate and public advocacy.

Well, tonight thanks to members of ACT UP/NYC, ACT UP/Philly and HealthGap, including many people living with HIV, there was a serious effort to deliver a message to Obama to move his butt on our issues.

Writer and longtime gay and AIDS activist Larry Kramer was at the protest, and he sent around his comments, which I'm reposting in full. Maybe, just maybe, Obama's senior advisers and AIDS Inc leaders will find some inspiration in Larry's remarks, and will end the silence about failed presidential leadership.

The time for the National AIDS Strategy from Obama was yesterday.


Obama is not my president. Obama is not your president. Obama does not like AIDS. Obama does not like gays. Now what are we going to do about it? Because we continue to sit on the sidelines while our world is denied us, yes, our world, which is as much our world as anyone else’s, is denied us. Our rights are denied us. Our love is denied us. We are even denied the right to fight for our country. How long must we be denied all of this before we truly rise up in united anger!
Why is it always so hard for us to fight back? This man does not like us. When someone does not like you, you fight back. This Obama who is not my president and not your president obviously does not like us. It is not a secret. Day after day and week after week and month after month he tells us he does not like us. He tells us! He does not keep this a secret. His government does not like us. His chief of staff does not like us. His Attorney General does not like us. His Department of Justice does not like us. His Generals do not like us. His Department of Health and Human Services does not like us. This is not a new situation for us.
President after President have treated us so badly. Ronald Reagan. George Bush the first. Bill Clinton. George Bush the second. Barack Obama. They have all treated us like… shit. Like little pieces of shit that they can step on with their heels and grind into the ground. Obama is treating us just like that. Like little pieces of shit he can grind into the dirt with his heel to make us go away. I wish you could see that. I wish you could see what he is doing to us for for what it is. He is manipulating us into invisibility. He HAS manipulated us into invisibility. Our people in Washington live in a never-never cloud cuckoo-land, thinking that this man likes us, not responding as, little by little, he take bits and pieces of us away. That is how they control us. Can’t you see that? Why can’t our people in Washington see that? They give them a dinner as they take away another right.
How long are we going to allow ourselves to be treated with such disdain, to be cast way in such an unwanted and disposable and ignoble fashion?
We forget what miracles we once were able to accomplish. Every single treatment for HIV/AIDS is out there because of us. If they are out there because of us, why can’t all the people waiting for Ryan White meds get them? Why can’t over 90% of the rest of the world get them? We did not fight for them just for ourselves. So many dead young men fought as activists for those drugs to save the world and this Obama will not let them save the world. Little by little he takes away our Ryan White drugs in America and our PEPFAR drugs for the rest of the world and our AIDS organizations and clinics everywhere so he can grind even more people with his heel into the earth like little helpless smelly pieces of shit. Yes, this man, like all his rotten hateful predecessors treats us like shit.
I am so tired of being treated like shit.
I wish you could realize that my words and my language and my vocabulary are not too strong. They are not strong enough!
I beg of us all. Re-assemble! Re-unite! Fight back once more with the passion and honor and truth and unity and brotherhood as we once did. We once accomplished miracles. Why do we not recall our glorious fights and build anew upon them? They treat us like shit because we let them treat us like shit. When will we get that into our heads and hearts and fight back?
How effective and fierce and unstoppable we can be when we take action together. The only reason we got those drugs is because of direct action, mobilization, fighting back. That is the reality of what we have been able to accomplish. We are alive, for those of us who are still alive, because we saved ourselves! When we fought back rudely and together, we were able to achieve miraculous victories. I take these victories, as do many of you, every morning with my breakfast.
This Obama president made a commitment to ensure that America does its fair share to fight AIDS, in Africa, in America, and around the world. He has broken that promise. He, like Clinton, has lied to us. He does not like us, this president, as the other presidents did not like us. We are not a part of their American People. He does not want us to get married, he does not want us to fight for our country, he does not want to end the plague of AIDS.
We must have the presence of mind and the force of character to insist that he and his society are wrong and we are right.
Do you need to know any more than this? This is all you need to know. And that once upon a time we accomplished miracles.
Can we do it again? Oh, please, can we do it again?


Anonymous said...

as it was in the beginning in the end and ever shall be.... the gospel according to Larry Kramer are the words that will save our lives if we will only listen and act upon them!

gil kudrin
nightsweats & t-cells

Will Kohl said...

I totally agree

AndrewW said...

LGBT people are not going to "rise up" and "protest" or "demand" because we've GROWN UP. It's 2010. The world has changed.

Larry Kramer, David Mixner and others in the "business" of LGBT "advocacy" have nothing to offer but "keep on fighting." It is foolish. We are much smarter than simply complaining, and demanding and shouting.

This pre-arranged "call-to-action" is part of the GetEqual strategy of starting a movement based on anger, demands and inconveniencing people. It has been a complete failure. It has been a waste of $500,000 from Jonathan Lewis (Progressive Insurance). After the first few childish stunts, most have gone un-noticed.

These "childish, stupid" publicity stunts DO NOT change any minds. They DO NOT create any sympathy or support. But, Kramer, Mixner and others are simply stuck in the Past. This isn't an effort to win - because these efforts don't change any minds - they are simply trying to continue to romanticize the idea of being an activist. It is very easy to complain in the streets and make "empty demands," especially while your fellow protesters are patting you on the back. GetEqual has become a carnival "side-show" keeping us guessing "what stupid stunt is next?" It is embarrassing.

Wake up - these so called "direct actions" are NOT helpful. Nobody cares if YOU are angry. Nobody will change their minds because YOU are angry. ANGER isn't enough - we need SMART. We need to figure out how to get people to join us, NOT avoid us.

The GetEqual strategy of demanding (while hoping to make the news) is fading even faster than Equality-Across-America and Join-The-Impact. This isn't your Grandfather's America. Robin and Kip (and others) who think "bitching" or "slapping people in the face" is effective need to grow up. We suffer disappointment all the time - we get discouraged - but, crying like babies doesn't create any progress. GetEqual will be out of business by July.

It's a shame to see the silly waste of a half a million dollars, but maybe people are finally understanding why these self-serving "activists" are not helping our movement. The evidence is NOBODY is participating and NOBODY is contributing.

We've grown up. We know we need to be smarter, not louder. Kramer and Mixner should either grow up (too) - or shut up.

Anonymous said...

I kind of agree with Andrew. Just demanding something or yelling is useless. We need things like our own radio station that can broadcast all over the country. We need gay activism that actually affects people, the way Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity do for their cause. We need openly gay radio talk show hosts that have 10-15 million weekly listeners, including many heterosexuals. That's where our money should go