Thursday, March 25, 2010

Start Today And Make A New Ending

I fear the unknown...I seek for the obstacles that stand constantly before me...I look at life now and do not sweat the simple things...I cry at the hopes of a different more knowledgeable tomorrow...I seek a world not afraid to discuss those things that scare us.

Todays quote:

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Marie Robinson

I was shocked to read Rich Tafel's findings on the sad and rapid spread of HIV/AIDS throughout the United States...and how it is more evident that the American society is silenced by this disease. We must be convinced in our efforts to make a difference and help! Who is on board? Will you be?

Take the first step with us and say something - if you are interested in helping us during our endeavors over the next year, no matter where you are at. Please email us at

Thank you in advance!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why The Sudden Silence

Why the Sudden Silence

By Rich Tafel

Rich Tafel was the founding Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans. He also served as Director of Adolescent Health in MA. Today, he is President of RLT Strategies offering policy and leadership strategies to cutting edge social entrepreneurs fighting for world change.

There’s a sudden silence in our society around HIV AIDS and based on what I’ve watched over my entire life time silence around AIDS is never a good thing.

My coming out as a gay man corresponded pretty directly to the explosion of AIDS cases in America. I lived in Boston at the time and remember the silence in the great culture around the deaths of young gay men. I also remember we in the gay community discussing various theories such as you can get it from the whirl pool at the gym, poppers or even people preparing food.

The silence around AIDS was so profound that the first really effective motto of the AIDS movement used by ACT UP was “Silence=Death”. Public elected officials seemed to be saying that as long as this disease is killing gays and drug addicts, it wasn’t worthy of a response.

My tendency in life is to overcome my fears by steering right into them. It was this motivation that led me to become and AIDS Buddy in 1986. This meant that you were trained to meet the weekly needs of your dying AIDS buddy and to attend your support group on a monthly basis. My years as an AIDS buddy had and still have a profound impact on me. My first buddy, Richard, shocked everyone living for six months.

During each weekly visit I got to observe all the failed remedies we had to offer people living with AIDS. For me the silence was giving away to a horrible awareness. Each week another 30 something gay man you’d know was listed on the obituary page of the local gay press.

Though the silence in the gay community was falling away, there still persisted a silence among the general public. AIDS simply wasn’t talked about.

In 1991, I became head of adolescent health programs in Massachusetts. The same silence I’d experienced seven years early still persisted within the Department of Public Health. I was appointed by the governor at that time as an openly gay man and in my first meeting with my the new team I was told, “Now we know you’re gay and you’ll want to push a gay agenda and work on AIDS stuff, but we don’t have the resources to address those issues and the issues we’re focused on now. So get any ideas out of your head of trying to put those issues on the agenda.”

More silence on AIDS and this time from health officials. Fortunately, they didn’t get their way and Massachusetts went on to pioneer AIDS education among teens with a specific outreach to gay youth. There were those who broke the silence. T head of the AIDS Department at that time, John Auerbach, was a tireless champion on the issue. Today, he’s the commissioner of all public health in Massachusetts.

During my years as the founding executive director of Log Cabin Republicans I once again encountered silence around AIDS issues. A large portion of my time was consumed with lobbying on behalf of AIDS programs often to a Republican controlled Congress. I remember the look on staffers faces as I requested to meet with them to discuss the Ryan White Care Act or other AIDS funding issues. Most had never discussed this topic. Again I found myself breaking the silence around AIDS.

In the early 90’s I was able to play a small role in insuring AIDS treatment was provided to patients in Africa. What struck me most about my visits to people living with AIDS there was that death had become so prevalent for so many families that finally silence had been broken and there was openness to treatment and education. Silence still played a key role in infection where many wives felt they couldn’t speak out about their own health concerns to husbands who they feared might infect them. As horrible as it was attending funerals in the 1980’s, my trip to AIDS programs in Africa left a whole new level of impact. When you see lots of child sized coffins for sale by the side of the road you never forget it.

Following the success of drug companies creating amazing HIV drugs the issue of HIV has gone silent again. There’s little to no discussion that the rates of HIV infection are climbing among gay men under 30. Once again we’re silent.

This silence is having devastating impact. In the city where I live Washington DC our nation’s capitol, 1 in 30 adults are infected with HIV a rate higher than Ethiopia, Nigeria and Rwanda. In New York City 1 in 10 men who have sex with men are now infected with HIV. In communities of color these rates are dramatically higher. In some of the leading US cities, HIV rates are 30% practically double that of South Africa. This and more dire data was published in the February 10, 2010 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine entitled “AIDS in America — Forgotten but Not Gone.”

Silence has always been AIDS best friend. To remain silent is to participate in its conspiracy. A new generation of leaders has to break the silence on this horrible epidemic here at home.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Be In The Know

Your personal and individual life is too important to waste. Go alone or go with a friend and get tested. Be an example. If you do not know where to go I suggest you check the following website out!

Be in the know on your status whether positive or negative.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why Should I Care About Myself At All?

Blinding, hidden, secret, non-existent, bad, gross, private, forbidden, desperate, needy, wanting, can't have, turn away and walk away. All of these words are words that I often feel as I have walked through life.

Ever since I found out I was diagnosed with HIV I sensed a need to be secretive about who I was and the disease that I now have to live with. Sure, I did this to myself and don't necessarily have a reason as to why. Maybe it was out of desperation to feel wanted or a need to run from my over-religious life. Perhaps it was a way for me to hurt myself more than I felt others were hurting me even though they didn't realize the pain they were causing me. Maybe I did it to myself knowingly...maybe I was looking for myself...and figured this may give me purpose.

Currently in a relationship, I have come to value myself worth a lot more and realize I am not so crazy. This has given me reason to question my behavior and the behavior of those who were around me during that time. It also gives me answers on how to help others who may have these feelings of uncertainty of who they are and help those around them learn to support them. Each of us is valuable in this world and as we come to realize that things can change in our lives and others. Being gay and religious has its ups and downs...and as one who believes in a greater is important that those who may not have the same sexual beliefs as least know how to speak to those like me and build them rather than hurting them. Whether you are gay or not - or HIV positive or not - or have Cancer or not - or Diabetic or not. When one is learning of one's sexual orientation or disease it is important that all who surround them take the time to learn what it is and accept them for who they are. The worst thing we can do as human beings is place judgement on anyone...judgement will cause an individual to feel hurt and run in a direction that is harmful to I beg of you to reach out and accept all who are around you.

I think the most damage I have done in my life happened due to a lack of acceptance in me...and if those I were closest with couldn't accept me...than why should I care about myself at all. a valuable lesson in this life...many have a difficulty in doing just that...truly accepting other people and their ways of life.

My one hope from this message is that those who read it give value to who they, their brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, cousins and friends are...and pull away the list of words from above...and simply accept all in your lives.


One Who Was Damaged