Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day. I was a deeply closeted fundamentalist Sunday School teacher during the worst days of the AIDS crisis when gay men were dying left and right and when Ryan White was chased from his home and aroused national hatred and threats.

I was not living a secret gay life. Rather, I was earnestly striving to be a Christian. But that meant living like Jesus would, didn't it? There was absolutely NO QUESTION what Jesus would do in my situation. So I volunteered for the AIDS Council, first as a buddy and then also as a hospital volunteer. I held lots of hands, wiped lots of brows and vainly tried to provide comfort to dying people with the disease. I added a second buddy to my schedule. When my fundamentalist church heard what I was doing, they forbid me to continue. When I declined to obey, they removed me from my position teaching teenagers in Sunday School.

But I had seen too much, way too much to turn back. Not only the suffering and dying, but the hate-filled speech and actions of those who called themselves Christians. I eventually had no choice left but to leave the church altogether. At first I helped start a local MCC, but for me even that was insufficient.

I know now that the country has grown more tolerant and compassionate, but not nearly enough. I also see the rise of a monstrous brood of Conservatives who would take us back to the evil 1950s when gay people were fair game for any abuse and injustice. I see people still dying of AIDS today.

That's why I am writing this rant. AIDS is still with us and real living, breathing, loving human beings are suffering and dying. The name of Christ is being used as a bludgeon to cause more suffering and injustice. This is World AIDS Day and I want the world to take notice. Writing this isn't much, but it's one thing I can do now.

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