Sometimes Y

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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.”