Sometimes Y

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Point: Time to revitalize, not sterilize Cheshire Bridge

At a recent public hearing, a speaker describing Cheshire Bridge Road as “the most wonderful street in Atlanta” drew chuckles from the audience. That the comment elicited laughs sadly captures the disappointment many hold in how the corridor falls far short of its real potential.

Over a decade ago, nearby residents, businesses, property owners and city planners undertook a long, collaborative public process to design a vision for the area. Their work resulted in the Cheshire Bridge Road Study adopted by the city of Atlanta in 1999.

Six years later, the zoning changes corresponding to that plan were enacted, creating two neighborhood commercial (NC) districts along the street, but in the eight years since 2005, no more meaningful progress has been made.

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Counterpoint: Save Cheshire Bridge from Alex Wan and the gentrifiers

Cheshire Bridge Road: alluring, risque, diverse, authentic, vibrant, alive, and now... endangered because of people like Atlanta City Councilman Alex Wan, the openly gay official whose District 6 includes both Cheshire Bridge Road and Midtown.

Recently, we learned of a zoning effort to change the character of Cheshire Bridge by getting rid of restaurants, bars, clubs, and stores that were grandfathered in as part of a 2005 rezoning. Now Mr. Wan wants to go back and get rid of grandpa.

The legal aspects of this do not bode well for Wan nor for the neighborhoods he purportedly represents, as they have proposed an illegal “taking.”

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Viewpoint: Why I choose romantic solitude over resentful companionship

I feel like I’ve wandered into a romantic funeral any time people change their Facebook status from “in a relationship” to “single.” The front pews are filled with cyber mourners offering their condolences in the comments, someone might (mis)quote redeeming words from God and I can almost hear folks in the rear gossiping about the recently deceased union.

There have been specific break-ups where I knew how misguided it was for people to express remorse; anyone who actually witnessed the relationship would rejoice at the death of such emptiness and contempt. More generally, these online requiems fortify our instinct that two is greater than one, and that being single is being incomplete.

It’s a sentiment I hear when out mingling, or during small talk while getting dressed after an online hook-up and the guy asks, “So how come you don’t have a boyfriend?”

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Young black gay men, HIV and the future

Charles Stephens and Kenneth Maurice Pass

On Dec. 1, we commemorate World AIDS Day. Last month, we celebrated the 22nd anniversary of AIDS Walk Atlanta, perhaps one of the most enduring rituals of the local HIV/AIDS community.

These two milestones are part of a series of significant events over the past few months locally and nationally: The United States Conference on AIDS, also in October; National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in September; and the much anticipated International AIDS Conference held in Washington, DC, back in July.

Throughout these high profile events and activities, one message remains clear: We are at a turning point in the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

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It’s time to reclaim ‘homosexual’

I think it’s wonderful to be homosexual. I, for one, am a proud homosexual Atlantan. I am also a member of the gay community, or the LGBTQI community, or, you know, I’m “family.”

For many years I have advocated for the proud and unashamed use of the word “homosexual” in order to reclaim it as a positive word.

As news editor of Atlanta Progressive News, I have used the word pretty consistently and published an editorial policy statement about it in 2006. Over the years, I have had a lot of debates with friends and colleagues about it. Recently, I received a call from State Rep. Karla Drenner, who insisted she is not homosexual; she is a lesbian.

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Time to stop hurting each other

Earlier this month, our program hosted a discussion on sexual liberation. What started as a discussion about cultural taboos and sexual tastes, quickly became a discussion on how our LGBT community cannibalizes its own. It seems to come up in most discussions that I have with gay men – no one seems to be more critical and abusive of gay men than gay men themselves.

So, why do we do it?

Those who know me, know that I’m a huge fan of all things pop culture.  I love music, movies and television – and I can expound on this useless trivia ad nauseum. During the discussion, there was a voice that kept ringing in my head.  It was the somber alto of Karen Carpenter, and she kept crooning “can’t we stop hurting each other?”

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As a young man weighs his options, his mother does the same

Playwright and writer Topher PayneMy friend Barbara’s son has returned from his first year of college appreciably matured, and bearing a bit of intrigue: When asked for updates on the dating front, he announced he is “currently bisexual.”

“What the hell does he mean by currently?” she ponders. “If he’s gay he doesn’t have to dance around it. I’d be thrilled.”

I’m at the convenient midway point between Barbara’s age and her son’s, so I try to explain the current setup. Back in the day, claiming to be bi was seen as letting folks down easy. It was sort of a preview of coming same-sex attractions. For God’s sake, Boy George claimed to be bi, and he’s gay as a picnic basket.

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Three decades later, we must ACT UP again

“I check the mirror for spots, irregularities, telltale signs.” — from The Adodi Muse, “It Begins”

This is a peculiar anniversary that marks a generation, a span from birth to full grown, three full decades, since the onset of the greatest public health issue of our time.

Loss is what this commemoration signifies most. Loss beyond measure, rendered in memorial quilt snapshots of real lives lived, loss evoked in the chants of survivors who touched the untouchable, fed their beloved, wiped up the puke and shit, and were given neither a passing mention nor a place at the mourning table. I am 25 years old when I first feel swollen lymph glands. I have only just begun when “It begins.”

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King & Spalding controversy shows danger of basing our movement on marketing

Once upon a time, it was hard to get companies to support LGBT organizations. They worried they would lose their non-gay customers if they were open about wanting gay ones.

So we got smart: We showed how much discretionary income same-gender couples without kids had. Never mind that it was less than opposite-gender couple without kids, it was still a good argument.

Not only did it give the marketing teams cover, it had the added benefit of being true: We were a valuable target market. “The color of diversity,” we would say, “is green.”

As some of the big companies came out as supporters, their employees came out as LGBT. Then their friends and family members started coming out as LGBT-supportive. Visibility was shifting every landscape. Next thing you know, 20 years later, we not only have friends in high places, we have our own people there —running companies, winning election to Congress and hosting major TV news shows.

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Don’t fear progress in HIV prevention

The paid advertisement in this issue of GA Voice correctly reminds us that “there is no magic pill” to prevent HIV infection. Unfortunately, the ad is part of a campaign to convince the FDA not to review, and Gilead Sciences not to submit, data to support approval of Truvada for HIV prevention. (Truvada is now available by prescription to treat HIV.)

It is based on fear and speculation at a time when we need reason and research to guide us through scientific and policy issues raised by this new HIV prevention tool.

In spite of 30 years of fighting HIV, there will be an estimated 2.7 million new HIV infections globally in 2011, with 56,000 of these in the US, a number that has remained stable across a decade. Gay and bisexual men, especially men of color, will bear a disproportionate burden of these infections, as will women of color.