Gay Men Going To the Far Right In Germany; Gay Men Afraid To Hold Hands In Public; Louise L. Hay, Gay Men, AIDS, and "Kitsch Spirituality"

Gay Men Going To the Far Right In Germany

Here’s a piece about something that’s been going on in Germany that rarely makes headlines in the US, not even in LGBT presses.

It’s about two gay men who suffered a violent attack that has changed everything about them…right down to their core beliefs.

Police identified the attackers as two locally known Muslim extremists. They were never arrested and later fled to Syria. After demanding answers from local prosecutors and the mayor’s office and not getting a response, Karsten turned to Germany’s far right party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD).
“I don’t like everything they say,” Karsten says, “but this is too dangerous for gay people to live openly here, if we get attacked like that. We need a party that’s talking openly about this.”
Gay Men Afraid To Hold Hands In Public
This is happening in the UK, but I think it could probably happen anywhere. There was a survey taken and more than half the gay men in Britain feel unsafe holding hands in public. And it gets into other hate crimes with other groups that fall under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. 
Stonewall said the UK had much to do before all LGBT people “can feel safe, included and free to be themselves”.
While hate crime was more effectively recorded than in the past, the charity said there had undoubtedly been “a genuine increase” in incidents since its last major survey in 2013.
Louise L. Hay, Gay Men, AIDS, and “Kitsch Spirituality”
This is actually a difficult one for me because I did follow a lot of the principles and techniques of Louise Hay, and I never knew any of this.  But I followed Hay in a very general sense, and at the time I was very, very young and I wasn’t as heavily invested as some people were. 
Evidently, now that she’s dead people are speaking up about Hay and how she affected a generation of men. 
Many AIDS survivors and caregivers have testified to the tragic personal cost of Hay’s philosophy, and what some have called her brutal dismissal of actual people with AIDS, including the poor and people of color, as well as her willingness to profit personally through the pain of the sick, the psychically unsettled, and the terminally ill. Activist and filmmaker Peter Fitzgerald saw Hay in action with his desperately ill comrades. After her death he said,  “I understand that she providedd hope at very dark times to a great many people, I also know all too well that her clay feet were deeply mired in the guilt of being an AIDS profiteer, a disloyal friend and purveyor of false hope. Namaste, bitch.”
It’s a long piece, that you can find here at this link. They refer to Hays and what she taught as “kitsch spirituality.” I really don’t know enough about it to make any specific comments.   
Said With Care

A PG Rated Gay Romance

Not All Gay Books Have Sex
In Their Prime by Ryan Field

Pope Francis, Again; Gays Donating Blood; Openly Gay Cast Member In SNL Not Included; Meadows Are Not Forever

Pope Francis, Again

Many seem to be up in those cliched arms because Pope Francis recently compared transgender people to nuclear weapons.

He said this:

Pope Francis has compared trans people to nuclear weapons, saying both do not ‘recognize the order of creation’.

The argument could be made that if transgender people are, indeed, part of the order of creation then the Church and society are more like nuclear weapons than anything else for judging and going against this natural order. The trans people I know did not choose to be trans, they were born that way. If you believe in God, then God created them. No one manipulated them.

He also said this:

‘Let’s think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation.’

This could also be argued in more than one way. For one thing, if the Pope’s argument held truth than fire, the wheel, and penicillin wouldn’t have been created. It’s all science related, so how do you choose one against the other?

You can read more here about what the Pope says. He also wears a white maxi dress and a matching white hat. With all due respect to the Pope, would you take any advice from a strange elderly bald man on the street wearing the same outfit?

Gays Donating Blood

I’ve posted about this before…gays donating blood and organs. You can read more about that here.  As you’ll see below, it’s not a simple matter.

Tony winner Alan Cumming has a big problem with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) blood donor deferral policy for gay and bisexual men. 

‘If you’re gay and you want to save lives, the FDA will let you. You just can’t have sex for a year,’ Cumming points out in a video released today to raise awareness about the policy.

In a mocking video, Cummings offers suggestions about how to abstain from sex for one year.

The 31 year old ban dates back to the first days of the AIDS crisis, when people were infected because of contaminated blood that had been donated by people with AIDS…without knowing it. Back then no one knew much about AIDS and it took years to figure out the concept of safe sex alone. I was young, but I do remember hearing about it all.

But the FDA wants to replace the policy – enacted during the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the US – with a one-year deferral that would only permit gay and bisexual men to donate blood if they have not had sex with another man in the past year

Many are considering this discrimination, and count me among them. You can read more here.

Openly Gay Cast Member In SNL Not Included

Recently, there was a 40th reunion of Saturday Night Live (SNL) and you would have thought the heavens opened up and God came down from straight heaven if you were on Twitter that night. Twitter is like that whenever there’s an award event or something straight people just can’t seem to get enough of. Personally, I never watched SNL more than once or twice in my life because of the straight humor. I found myself yawning and the time just didn’t pass quickly enough.

In any event, I obviously didn’t watch the 40th reunion either so I didn’t know about this until just now. It’s a form of passive aggressive homophobia I post about often. Evidently, a gay cast member from SNL, Terry Sweeney, wasn’t recognized on the reunion show and now there’s talk about why.

Sirius XM Radio talk show host Frank DeCaro was among those outraged by what he considered a slight. 

‘Leaving Terry Sweeney — the only openly gay male cast member in the forty-year history of Saturday Night Live — out of the anniversary special doesn’t sit well with me,’ DeCaro wrote in a Facebook post. 

‘His Nancy Reagan impression could easily have been included in the political clip montage.’

Up until 2012, Sweeney had been the only openly gay cast member ever on the show…notice I emphasize the word openly here. But this isn’t all there is to the story.

According to a 2012 Gawker article entitled He’s Not Chevy, He’s an Assole: A History of Chevy Chase’s Horrific Behavior, Chase suggesting that Sweeney star in a sketch where they weighed him every week to see if he had AIDS. 

‘So then he ended up having to apologize and actually coming to my office,’ Sweeney says in the article. ‘He was really furious that he had to apologize to me.’

The one redeeming aspect of this article is that Lorne Michaels of SNL was very supportive of Sweeney during a time when gay people were dealing with all kinds of discrimination because of AIDS. That’s called going down on the right side of history.

You can read the rest here. 

New Release: Meadows Are Not Forever

I have another new release out today, Meadows Are Not Forever, that’s a contemporary gay romance with all classic romance elements. I didn’t waver on this one because I wanted it to be a romance. Right now it’s up on Smashwords, and I’ll post more links when I get them.

Meadows Are Not Forever 

Matt Bomer In Time; Foot Cream Kills HIV; Paid Reviews

Matt Bomer In Time

For those who’ve been disheartened by Matt Bomer not getting the part of Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey, I recently came across the film, In Time, where Bomer plays an interesting character that basically sets the stage for the rest of the film.

It is the year 2169 and humanity had been genetically engineered to be born with a digital clock, bearing a year’s worth of time, on their forearm. At the age of 25 a person stops aging, but their clock begins counting down; when it reaches zero, that person “times out” and dies. Time has been turned into the universal currency; one can give time for products or services, as well as transfer it to others. The country is divided into time zones based on the wealth of its population. The film focuses on two time zones: Dayton is poor, with a populace that has learned indifference to the timed-out bodies on its streets; and New Greenwich, the wealthiest zone where inhabitants enjoy the benefits of their immortality and wealth, but are constantly surrounded by bodyguards and spend their time worried about accidental death.

You can read more here at Wiki.

I’m not the biggest fan of this genre, however, this film is excellent. The concept will make you stop and think about how you’ve always thought about time. And Bomer is great as always. His part is small, but you can’t stop thinking about what he did throughout the entire film. Of course Justin Timberlake holds his own, too. I feel a little guilty, as if I’m betraying the gay guy here, because I do like Matt Bomer. But Timberlake is the man of which all dreams are made.

Foot Cream Kills HIV

Whenever I see something like this I like to post about it because it creates a continued sense of hope that one day, hopefully in our lifetimes, there will be an end to HIV/AIDS. Now there’s evidence that a common foot cream might be beneficial to those with HIV.

In a study performed at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, not only does the drug Ciclopirox completely eradicate infectious HIV from cell cultures, but unlike today’s most cutting-edge antiviral treatments, the virus doesn’t bounce back when the drug is withheld. This means it may not require a lifetime of use to keep HIV at bay.

If this is accurate, it’s highly significant for anyone who is HIV positive and is now taking HIV meds. HIV is looked upon as a chronic illness, and in order to keep the virus at bay expensive drugs that have multiple side effects have to be taken daily. It’s a very difficult lifestyle that requires constant blood work and monitoring, not to mention discipline. And if they can come up with something to keep the virus at bay millions of lives will be vastly improved.

Paid Reviews

There are some very strong opinions on the web about authors paying for book reviews. And a few things I didn’t know…like google can penalize you if you get caught buying reviews for your books or any product you’re hocking to the public. This article covers all businesses on the web that depend on reviews. But from what I hear, it includes authors, too.

Google states that they have methods in place to automatically remove reviews that they believe may have violated their guidelines. They also pre-apologize because they know they might incorrectly remove some perfectly valid reviews.

I can just hear the free speech zealots harping on that one.

In this next article the blogger is adamant about authors who pay for reviews. Adamant to the point of stating it as bluntly as possible so there’s no misunderstanding.

Paying for reviews is stupid from a marketing perspective. As an author the only feedback you should care about is honest feedback. And you’ll never know if you’re getting honest feedback when you pay for that feedback. Even if you don’t insist on a positive review, not all reviewers going to tell you what they really think. They’re too afraid of how you’ll react or they’re afraid others won’t pay them for the same. There are ethical paid reviewers out there. But you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. And you can’t improve your product or your marketing strategy based on a bunch of bullshit.

I actually posted about this dude in August 2012. He started out with the best of intentions trying to market and promote authors. However, he found out there’s an easier way to make a buck.

Suddenly it hit him. Instead of trying to cajole others to review a client’s work, why not cut out the middleman and write the review himself? Then it would say exactly what the client wanted — that it was a terrific book. A shattering novel. A classic memoir. Will change your life. Lyrical and gripping, Stunning and compelling. Or words to that effect.

In the fall of 2010, Mr. Rutherford started a Web site, At first, he advertised that he would review a book for $99. But some clients wanted a chorus proclaiming their excellence. So, for $499, Mr. Rutherford would do 20 online reviews. A few people needed a whole orchestra. For $999, he would do 50.
I don’t see the paid for book review issue disappearing. It’s part of our culture now, and unfortunately retail web sites promote the behavior. I just wish they would be a little more discreet about it, is all. I’ve discussed this with other authors I know in private and we all agree that when you see a book being released by a relatively unknown author and the very next day after the release that same relatively unknown author has over fifty five star reviews on Amazon something’s rotten in Denmark and it’s not the cheese. And no matter how many times they swear on their moms, dads, kids, and dead dogs, that they aren’t buying reviews, once the red flag is up there’s no turning back.
I’d like to see the FTC getting more involved.  

7,000 Dental Patients Take HIV Test

At least 7,000 patients of the Dr. Scott Harrington Oral and Facial Surgery practice in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have been alerted after one patient tested positive for HIV and Hepatitis C. However, when tested again this patient tested positive for Hepatitis C and not HIV. The 7,000 have been encouraged to be tested for HIV and Hepatitis C as a precaution.

Even so, a complaint filed by the Oklahoma Dental Board cites Harrington for an array of safety and health violations that created contamination risks for his patients. He is scheduled to appear before a dental board hearing on April 19 and has voluntarily closed his practice and surrendered his license.

I read this here.

And this article goes into more detail:

Inspectors found a number of problems at the doctor’s clinics in Tulsa and suburban Owasso, according to the state Dentistry Board, which filed a 17-count complaint against Harrington pending an April 19 license revocation hearing. According to the complaint, needles were reinserted into drug vials after being used on patients, expired drugs were found in a medicine cabinet and dental assistants administered sedatives to patients, rather than the doctor.

I’ve also checked out a few other places and basically I found the same information in a simple search. The reason why I’m posting about it is because I saw it on TV earlier and I was left wondering more about the story. The alleged needle issue is scary. But you can’t get HIV from expired drugs and sedatives administered by dental assistants.

I’m also posting for another reason. When a friend of mine was discharged from the hospital a few years ago for an HIV related issued, I took him to the dentist about two weeks after he was discharged and found the dentist more than apprehensive to work on him. He basically passed him off to a “specialist,” for something basic. I found that not only insulting to my friend, but to all people with HIV. And I let the doctor know how I felt before I left, in private, so my friend wouldn’t hear me and get embarrassed. It was evident this dentist was terrified to treat anyone with HIV.

That same day, after my friend was rejected by that one dentist, I called another dentist who is also local and she saw my friend the next day. There was no issue whatsoever with her. The second dentist was a professional and she knew what she was doing. Not a single issue. And, my friend has been going there ever since. NONE of her other patients have contracted HIV as a result.

In an unrelated TRUE story, Tony and I had good friends who lived in New Hope about ten years ago. One was a dentist, however, at the time we became friendly with these two guys the dentist had stopped practicing altogether. I couldn’t help but wonder why. He was only in his early forties at the time. So I asked him and heard yet another horrible dentist/HIV story.

Back in the late 1980’s, my dentist friend had a growing practice. Although he was gay, he was also married with two kids at the time. One thing led to another, he met his gay partner and fell in love, and he ultimately left his wife. As a result, “someone” started a rumor about him. This “someone” spread lies about him being gay and having AIDS. At that time, HIV wasn’t as commonly used as a term as AIDS. And, also at that time, those who tested positive didn’t have HIV drugs and AIDS was basically a death sentence.

The rumor about my dentist friend spread rapidly, which ultimately killed his dental practice and put him out of business. To make an involved story short, my dentist friend filed a civil suit against the “person” who started the rumor, he sued for defamation, and won a three million dollar settlement. Of course he wasn’t HIV positive and he had no problem proving this in court. He also had eyewitnesses to testify on his behalf.

Unfortunately, this changed his entire life; guilt by association because he was gay. He stopped practicing for years and went into a small business. He eventually moved to Palm Springs and went back to school to become a licensed dentist in California, and started a thriving practice there which lasted until his recent passing from a heart attack.

And whenever I see something HIV/AIDS related to anything involving dentists, I’m always curious about all the information, not just a piece of it. If I find out more about the story above, I’ll post a follow up to this.

New York Times Koch Obit Creates Outrage Over AIDS

Yesterday I posted a short piece about the death of former NYC mayor, Ed Koch. I mentioned how he’d ignored questions about whether or not he was gay, and how he became almost vicious and defensive whenever he was asked about being gay. As a side note, I’ve heard more than my fair share of Koch stories over the years through the proverbial grapevine in and around NYC that you won’t read about in Huff Po or anywhere else, stories that would leave you speechless. But I’m only sticking to facts right now because it’s all hearsay.

According to this article, the NYT actually revised the Koch obit to include AIDS because so many people started tweeting and ranting over the fact that nothing at all had been mentioned. You have to remember this was the mayor at the beginning of the AIDS crisis in NYC and a lot of people didn’t think he did enough…if anything. To ignore something like AIDS during that time period completely makes no sense at all. And more than thirty years later we’re still dealing with AIDS all over the world. 

 Legendary writer and activist Larry Kramer called Koch “a murderer of his own people” because the mayor was widely known as a closeted gay man.

@MarkHarrisNYC Posted this on Twitter:

In its epic-length obit of Ed Koch, the NYTimes completely omits any mention of his (non-) reaction to the AIDS crisis.

Koch wasn’t the only one who ignored AIDS back then. They ALL ignored it. Even The President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, ignored it.

The article to which I’ve linked has more comments with more outrage, and it’s hard for me to say I blame them. I’ve seen what AIDS can do to people first hand, up close and in person, and I find it difficult to understand how anyone can ignore something so serious. But the fact remains that Ed Koch had always maintained a firm stand on not speaking publicly about his sexuality, or anything that would link him to being gay. It was a different time and a different place, and he came from a generation where it was normal to hide being gay. If Koch had been open about being gay I doubt he would ever have been elected mayor back then. I doubt he would have had any political career at all.

However, the NYT really should spend a little more time getting the facts right, because this comment was just insane. Even I remember this back then, and I was just a kid.

Hundreds of New Yorkers were desperately ill and dying in a baffling public health emergency…

You have to wonder what these people get paid to do at the NYT, and who the hell hires them, because there were a hell of a lot more than “hundreds” dying.

The saddest part of all this to me is when I think about what a wonderful legacy Koch would have had if he’d done things differently. And now all I’m seeing are cries of outrage. But this obit in the NYT is very classic of they way the mainstream media always covers up all things gay in what I guess they feel is a politically correct lame attempt to protect people from the fresh hells of all things gay?

AIDS Silent History: Act Up; We the People; Ed Savitz; Lynne Abraham; Jerry Sandusky

When I posted about Matt Bomer starring in the new HBO film, “The Normal Heart,” by Larry Kramer, I mentioned I would write something else about AIDS that people may or may not know. A large part of what I recall as a kid had to do with a group called Act Up.

Although this topic could be a non-fiction book, I’m only linking to a few articles I found. And the photo above is one of my first pieces of published fiction that I wrote for a group called “We The People,” in Philadelphia that I’m linking to below. I couldn’t find much about the group and I don’t think they are around anymore. A lot of these organizations were run on strict budgets, and a lot of the people who started them are no longer around for obvious reasons. The piece they published for me was a running series in a newsletter that contained excerpts from a novel I’ve never actually had published anywhere else. It wasn’t erotic romance or erotica. It was more LGBT literary mainstream fiction, and I never found a market for it. Publishing LGBT fiction twenty years ago was virtually impossible. I still have the novel in hard copy in my files. Maybe one of these days I’ll revisit it and think about self-publishing it as a novel about AIDS during the height of the crisis. In my novel the mc didn’t focus on having AIDS. It was more about the fear of getting AIDS.

This first link leads to the Act Up Philadelphia web site. This one is still around and they are still working for the cause. They used to be more controversial, which I’ll post links about below.

ACT UP is an all-volunteer organization, and we rely on your support to campaign for the rights of people with HIV in Philly and worldwide. Please support us with a donation today.

Just to show there was a group called “We The People,” I’m posting this link. But it doesn’t seem to lead anywhere, which is why I think WTP isn’t around anymore. If it were, I’m sure there would be more info out there. A lot of these groups started pre-Internet, and they weren’t mentioned in the mainstream media as often as they should have been. So what you get now are bits and pieces of what they once were, without getting a complete image. I was surprised to see there’s even a map on this link, to what looks like where their offices used to be on South Broad Street in Philly. We didn’t submit electronically then. I usually just dropped my fiction off at the front desk.

Here’s a link to a web site with a photo and a bio/obit of a young man named Ted Kirk. He actually worked with “We The People.” I may have met him, but I’m honestly not certain now.

Thomas “Ted” Kirk, one of the city’s leading experts on AIDS and mental illness and a former board member of We The People, died of complications from the disease on October 26th. He was 31 years old.

A memorial celebration will be held for Ted at Keystone Hospice, 8765 Stenton Avenue in Wyndmoor, on Sunday, November 22nd at 1:00 p.m.

Born in Atlanta, Ted was informed of his HIV infection at the age of 18. But “he never stopped fighting,” according to Pam Ladds, director of WISDOM. “He was a gentle person, but very tough on the inside. Ted empowered himself and others through his activism. He fought as long as he could.”
Ted obtained his Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1992 from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. On coming to Philadelphia, he became involved with Philadelphia AIDS Coordinated Therapy Services (PACTS) and Philadelphia HIV Mental Health Services, which at the time were the only mental health programs in the region specifically for people living with AIDS. As a clinician at those agencies, Ted provided therapeutic counseling and other services to several hundred people with AIDS over the next three years.

In general, it looks like an interesting web site. It’s Gay History Wiki.

Now this next link will take you to an article that’s all about a man named Ed Savitz. This was a huge story in Philadelphia. Ed Savitz, AKA “Uncle Ed,” was a wealthy businessman who lived in a very expensive Philadelphia neighborhood. His hobby was bringing young men to his home and performing unusual sexual acts with them. He died of AIDS related complications in prison.

But in a news conference yesterday, she said that the man and his lawyer, who was also not identified, had agreed to allow the authorities to release his nickname, Uncle Ed, and a general description in publicly notifying people who may have had sex with him. Abraham identified him as a white man, about 50 years old, who lived in downtown Philadelphia.

“The purpose of this announcement, which is made with the defendant’s knowledge and consent, is not to create a panic,” she said, “but is instead made with the express purpose of advising those young boys and men who may have had intimate sexual contact with this defendant that it is in their interest to take appropriate steps because of the fact that this defendant has AIDS.”

Although no official information was made available on the name of the man arrested, the Associated Press carried a report yesterday giving his identity as Ed Savitz, 50, a resident of an apartment building in downtown Philadelphia.

Abraham said yesterday that the man was being charged in the cases of two minors with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual abuse of children, indecent assault and corrupting the morals of a minor.

The authorities said they believed there were a number of other sex partners, but they declined to provide any details. They said the man had had AIDS for at least a year and that he had carried HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, for at least one or two years before the onset of the AIDS symptoms.
I thought this article was important to add not just because it was such a huge local story back then, but also because of the fact that we didn’t know that much about AIDS, there weren’t HIV drugs like we have now, and because “Uncle Ed,” did have AIDS. In the years following this story, I have yet to see it mentioned again, aside from when Ed Savitz died. So there’s not much more I can add about what happened to the young men involved with Savitz.
This next link is also about Ed Savitz and Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham. I mention Abraham specifically because every time something happened AIDS related it seemed to me as if she was involved. I even remember a news clip of people from Act Up throwing condoms at her on the steps of city hall. I can’t find much about all that anymore, but I think it’s important to mention her because since then she’s gone dead silent with regard to anything AIDS related in Philadelphia. She’s still around, too, and active in Philadelphia politics from what I gather.  

“I think Dr. Ross’ naivete about the political process did not serve him well in this case,” said David Fair, president of the activist organization We The People Living With AIDS/HIV.

“By lending his credibility to Lynne Abraham’s sensationalist distortion of the whole thing, he really set the clock back in terms of basic public health principles. The real impact was to scare people away from getting tested,” Fair said.

I do remember David Fair. I also remember the panic and sensationalism Abraham created. Enough said. If you lived in Philadelphia today, you’d never think any of this happened.

This next article shocked me because I didn’t know there had been an association with convicted child sex abuser and rapist, Jerry Sandusky and Ed Savitz. In fact, I live in New Hope, Bucks County, PA, and I never once heard the name Ed Savitz connected with Jerry Sandusky once during the entire Penn State sex scandal. And there was plenty of this in the news around here. Interesting.

Bucceroni says he accompanied Edward Savitz, a well-known Philadelphia businessman, Democratic political booster and advocate for at-risk children, to a fund-raiser “somewhere past Harrisburg.”

The event was to raise money for the recently established Second Mile foundation, and Bucceroni says he remembers meeting the man everyone referred to as “The Coach,” Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who founded Second Mile in 1977. Bucceroni says Savitz and Sandusky knew each other through The Second Mile and political fund-raising events.

Notice how this was published in the NY Daily News, not in a Philadelphia newspaper.

Since then, Second Mile Foundation has gone defunct. Whether or not Sandusky and Savitz were connected with regard to sexual abuse remains to be seen. And we might never know for certain.

This final link leads to a web site that talks about what it was really like back in the late eighties and early nineties with regard to protests and making people more aware about AIDS. The article was originally pubbed on June 1992.

It was a defining moment. For five years Act Up – the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power – has been rewriting the rules of public protest with just such repulsive tactics. Whether by crowning ultra-conservative North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms’ house with a giant condom or confronting Archbishop Anthony J. Bevilacqua in the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul with a shower of Trojans and insulting slogans – “Bevilacqua, He’s a mess! He’s a Nazi in a dress!” – this determined band of rude, irate, inspired radicals are the shock troops of AIDS activism.

Unfortunately, it seemed the only way to get attention back then was to create all kinds of drama to get the attention. No one would pay attention otherwise. And it’s really that plain and simple, and Act Up did what it had to do. I remember. I was there. I also find it interesting how they mention a confrontation with Archbishop Bevilacqua. This, of course, was years before all of the sex scandals that rocked the Catholic Church.

One of those edging away is Philadelphia’s new district attorney, Lynne M. Abraham, who has had her own run-ins with the group. She was appalled.

“It was typical of them,” she says. “They poured, what, clam chowder or oyster stew all over 16th Street? The truth? I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. Political activism is one thing. These people. .. I don’t know, they’re just so rude! “


Notice how Lynne Abraham is mentioned yet again in this article. You have to love her quote. Clearly, she didn’t get it. And I would imagine she still doesn’t get it today. But Act Up did what it had to do, and it made people aware of something the mainstream media wouldn’t have touched unless there was some kind of grand-standing happening. AIDS just wasn’t important enough to be mentioned otherwise. It was discussed in LGBT papers, but rarely in the mainstream. This is something I remember personally, too.

From the gay perspective, life was good in Center City Philadelphia. There were more than 20 bars openly catering to gays within four blocks of Broad and Spruce Streets. The center of the action was the Allegro, four stories of wall-to-wall flesh on weekend nights, so hopping that the party frequently spilled out to the streets. Caught up in the swirl was a whole generation of gays who had never known the closet, who were cheerfully tearing down centuries-old sexual barriers. They were the avant-garde of cultural revolution, widening definitions of human rights, demanding acceptance, shouldering their way into mainstream popular culture. They were loving each other openly, goosing convention and trying to redefine concepts of marriage and family.

Then gay men started dying. Word of a gay plague started spreading in the late Seventies.

“The gay press was following it early,” says Tucker, “and people were asking questions: What’s going on? What does it mean? The government wasn’t doing its job getting the word out. “

And just that fast, how you looked at things became a matter of life and death. The epidemic made that elegantly clear. Self-righteous heterosexuals saw the hand of God in a deadly disease transmitted primarily by anal intercourse, and their self-righteousness bred inaction that meant death. Social qualms about teaching sex in schools meant death. Families that refused to disclose the nature of a loved one’s fatal illness preserved an ignorance that meant death. Church prohibitions against contraception and frank sexual counseling meant death. Government policy, no matter how well-intentioned, that delayed the mass availability of a promising treatment until exhaustive trials were complete meant death. Travel restrictions imposed on those afflicted with AIDS that impeded the vital exchange of information and ideas, meant death. …

Physically, the disease was catastrophic. Intellectually, it was oddly clarifying.

“Basically, the idea of (anal intercourse) drives a lot of Americans bonkers,” says Tucker, who believes he would not have contracted the disease if health officials and the press had acted more aggressively in the early 1980s to inform the public of AIDS, and how to avoid it. “An act which I consider one of the most beautiful in the world is obviously an act which a lot of Americans find absolutely disgusting and abhorrent. In fact, to a degree that they think I should die. I find that really interesting. “

There’s a lot more to the article, and I recommend reading it in full to get the full impact. It was a very interesting time, and it’s still not talked about nearly as much as it should be. So when I see films like “The Normal Heart,” coming out, with openly gay men (heroes) like Matt Bomer, I find a little comfort in knowing all that terrified us back then wasn’t just in our imaginations. It really happened, and the saddest part is that it all could have been done so differently.

I’ll be posting excerpts from my unpublished novel, “I’m Over It,” that I’ll take from the We The People Newsletter. I’d like to see that online where it will remain.

Matt Bomer to Star in Larry Kramer’s "The Normal Heart"

According to this article, Matt Bomer is scheduled to star in Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart” on HBO. It’s going to be directed by Ryan Murphy (Glee), and will also star Julia Roberts and Mark Ruffalo.

In this case, I have a feeling it’s going to be authentic with Murphy as the director. He tends to get a bit too political sometimes, but in this case, with this film, I don’t think it’s possible to get too political…or rant and scream too much about. If that is what he intends to do.

Although I was only a kid at the time, I can still remember how AIDS was ignored back then. The President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, never used the term once while he was in office…as I recall personally. There was panic, protests, and emotional events that helped define the next generation of gay men. Things were never the same again.

I’m going to do another post about this either tomorrow or Monday, with links to what it was actually like in Philadelphia, and how the fight still continues.
In the eighties and early nineties not a week went by without hearing something Larry Kramer related in gay newspapers.

Kramer’s play debuted at New York’s Public Theater in 1985. The 2011 Broadway revival garnered five Tony nominations, winning for Best Revival, Best Featured Actor and Best Featured Actress.

For those who know nothing about Larry Kramer or the play, this is from Wiki:

The Normal Heart is a largely autobiographical play by Larry Kramer. It focuses on the rise of the HIVAIDS crisis in New York City between 1981 and 1984, as seen through the eyes of writer/activist Ned Weeks, the gay Jewish-American founder of a prominent HIV advocacy group. Ned prefers loud public confrontations to the calmer, more private strategies favored by his associates, friends, and closeted lover Felix Turner, none of whom is prepared to throw himself into the media spotlight. Their differences of opinion lead to frequent arguments that threaten to undermine their mutual goal.

Here’s something about Larry Kramer:

Larry Kramer (born June 25, 1935) is an American playwright, author, public health advocate, and LGBT rights activist. He began his career rewriting scripts while working for Columbia Pictures, which led him to London where he worked with United Artists. There he wrote the screenplay for Women in Love in 1969, earning an Academy Award nomination for his efforts. Kramer introduced a controversial and confrontational style in his 1978 novel Faggots, which earned mixed reviews but emphatic denunciations from the gay community for his portrayal of shallow, promiscuous gay relationships in the 1970s.

Both wiki articles go more in-depth and both are interesting to read.

I’ll be looking for this film, and posting more about it in the future. I honestly don’t see how they can go wrong with Matt Bomer. And I admire any actor or writer who wants to take something like this on. I don’t like to write about AIDS or anything AIDS related because I’ve experienced some of the more intense situations you can imagine with AIDS. And I’m still involved with AIDS related organizations to this day. While I’m not afraid to revisit some of the worst things I’ve seen, it’s not something I choose to go looking for either…at least not right now. And I applaud those who do.

I only wish there were more of these things, and that it didn’t take over 30 years to get a film like this out there. I know there have been others…as few…and they’ve been done well. But I don’t think it’s possible to have too many films about what it was like during the height of AIDS. On the other hand, maybe a lot of people feel the way I do: we just don’t want to go back there because it’s so hard to do.

In any event, I have harped on this before, and I’m doing it again. John Irving’s most recent release, “In One Person,” has the best account, and the most accurate detailed narrative, of what it was like back then I have ever read before. From the AIDS related illnesses to the medications they used to treat them, Irving nailed it in a way that I don’t think has received nearly enough recognition as it should be getting. I can’t emphasize this enough. Read Irving’s book. It’s long, but it’s worth it.