It’s been way too long since I spent part of a Saturday morning composing one of these posts about a news story that I learned about after already assembling this week’s Friday Five. Let’s just hop in:
More than one person I saw online (most of them either queer themselves or presenting themselves as allies) made a joke about the reason that so much of the LGBTQ community in the U.S. have rushed to get our vaccinations is because we’re all just dying to get out there and start hooking up for sex again.
And I know that is a sentiment many had expressed. Or that they missed going to bars or concerts and so on.
But I’m sorry, the friend I quoted in the caption of the graphic above has hit the nail on the head identifying not just why many of us got the vaccine as soon as we could, but also why most of the queer communities in various U.S. towns and cities, canceled 2020 Pride events mere weeks after the first lockdowns were announced.
For a lot of us, this isn’t the first time we have lived during a deadly epidemic.
In May of 2020, there was one of the Fox /(Propaganda/) network talking heads who tried to get a viral thing going about how all the queers and their liberal friends would stop supporting the idea of lockdown once late June rolled around at Pride Parades were cancelled.
She instead was dragged on social media and news sites with the fact that we’d already canceled the Pride Parades, on our own at least a month previously. I remember just weeks into the first lockdowns that on several queer forums people had already been posting, "We’re canceling in-person Pride events, right?"
I know I’ve told the following story on this blog and else where before: but there was one month in the early nineties where 12 people that I knew personally died from complications of AIDS. In a couple of cases, my late husband, Ray, and I had to decide which of the memorial services we weren’t going to attend. And that was after years of watching vibrant people we knew deteriorate before our eyes and die. It’s not that that was the only time a bunch happened close together, it just happened to be the worst.
For years we watching our neighbors, friends, acquaintances, community leaders, and more suffer and die with virtually no help from government health agencies. There were exceptions. Dr. Anthony Fauci famously (incognito) went to bathhouses and some other places queer men went looking for sex to get a better idea of the cultural reasons that a disease which could be transmitted sexually had spread so quickly. But most responses were like this:
The headline on that particular article at the site doesn’t mention what I think is a crucial aspect of those chilling recordings: most of the laughter you hear at the very idea that the government would concern itself at all with a deadly disease that was perceived as killing gays were members of the so-called liberal media.
In the early years hospital staff didn’t want to treat AIDS patients. What treatments that were offered were anti-viral medications most of which had been developed a decade or so before under military research grants because we were afraid future soldiers would face biological weapons in the field during conflicts. They actually hoped to develop a drug that would allow every soldier to be issued a few pills along with their other equipment and if they thought they’d been hit with a bio-weapon, they could take the pills and keep fighting. Didn’t quite work out.
But they were the only thing that seemed to slow down the virus, even though there were often some pretty severe side-effects.
In the early 90s someone came up with the idea of putting patients on not just one anti-viral, but three or more that each attacked different parts of typical viral replication process. By 1995, the so-called "antiviral cocktails" were approved for general use.
The result was startling.
It seemed like a miracle. Some people who were already very sick and looked like shadows of their former selves seemed to rejuvenate in a matter of months.
Unfortunately, those anti-viral drugs are very expensive. If you need three or more in combination, that makes things even worse. So the cocktails have only performed their apparently miracles in countries that have reliable health care.
And note that it isn’t a cure. It’s not really a miracle (unless you want to talk about the insane profit margins of the pharmaceutical companies). Because in order to stay alive and healthy, people infected with the HIV virus have to take those very expensive drug combinations (which still often have wicked side effects) every day for the rest of their lives.
We don’t have an HIV vaccine. Forty years into the epidemic that still kills hundreds of thousands of people world wide every year doesn’t have a vaccine.
Queer people younger than me, who don’t have the same personal memories of the worse part of the HIV epidemic, still had their lives overshadowed by the disease. Because despite the fact that most new infections in the U.S. these days are straight people (that’s right!), and most of the people who are dying in the so-called developing world are straight women and children, the perception is still that AIDS is a "gay thing." I linked a year or two ago to a poignant story a young cartoonist posted about how when he was 15 years old and had never had sex with anyone, he went to an anonymous clinic for an AIDS test–because all he knew about the disease was the gay people got it. Nothing he had been taught in school or seen in the news or what very few media portrayals of people dying of the disease there were at the time, had conveyed two very important facts: 1) any human can get infected by the virus that causes AIDS, 2) it is most often transmitted sexually.
And part of his story is talking about when he came out in in twenties and started meeting other gay people, virtually all of them approximately his age had gone through a period in their teens where, after realizing they were attracted to members of their own sex, they also assumed that meant they would die young because of AIDS.
My point is, that once these younger queers do find out that his horrible specter which was part of their trauma growing up queer and closeted is a disease that was ignored for decades? Well, their attitude about health issues is a lot like us older queers.
And so that is the real reason that so many of us rushed out to get vaccinated. We know what happens when a health crisis is ignored. And we damn well refuse to take part in ignoring this one.
It’s been a while since I did a post using a bunch of the memes, cartoons, and similar graphics that have been accumulating on my hard disk without finding their way into a blog post.
I also have a few stories that I don’t want to wait until Friday to comment on.
Ed Buck Guilty of All Charges Against Him, Will Likely Die in Prison This guy got away with preying on homeless men for far too long. The short version: rich white bastard who donated lots of money to local elected officials over the years, had a fetish about watching black men take a lot of drugs until they passed out, then he fucked them. Two that we know of died in his apartment, and based on the videos he took (and assuming that he was doing it for years before recording it became so easy), he’s probably responsible for a lot more. Anyway, yeah, I hope he rots in prison.
Metro Atlanta spa shooter agrees to guilty plea deal in Cherokee County shooting, gets life without the possibility of parole This is only the first case. He faces more charges in another county. If you don’t recall, this is the idiot who shot up some day spas because looking at asian women made his dick hard, and he’d been taught by his fundamentalist evangelical church that being horny was a sin worse than murder. So he murdered a bunch of strangers. Again, I hope he rots in prison and dies behind bars.
"Trump Man" Guilty In Serial Pooping Spree – Ohioan, 70, targeted gay neighbors for ten years Besides the fact that he was only sentenced toe 20 days and to write a letter of apology, his letter is obviously a big lie. Why is that? Well, he insists in the letter that he didn’t target these neighbors for harassment because they were gay. No, it was because they were Biden supporters and he’s a "Trump Man." Other than the little fact that Biden only became the Democratic nominee a year ago, and Trump wasn’t running president until a bit over five years ago — but this guy has been doing this to his neighbors for at least 10 years. Long before he could have become a Trump man. He’s a liar and a homophobe, and I wish the judge would hold him in contempt for the letter…
That’s enough for those sorts. Let’s close with:
Miss Piggy was aggressively straight, yet it took decades to acknowledge the existence of Muppets who aren’t straight
I first began following Matt Baum when he was posting regular video news reports on what was then the fight over civil unions vs full marriage equality for queer people. A few years later he branched out into other topics, and over the course of those years I came to realize that we had a bunch of mutual acquaintances. And yet I still have never met him.
One of his projects is producing videos where he analyses ways the queer people and queer issues were handled in popular media, such as situation comedies of the ’70s, ’80s, and beyond. This week, he tackles one of the pivotal people behind the Muppets, who happened to be a gay man, and how that influenced and eventually changed the Muppets.
This isn’t the first I have hear of Richard Hunt and his contribution to one of my favorite media properties, but Matt weaves in video clips and quotes from people who worked with Hunt that I have never heard before. So give it a watch.
I probably should mention that a couple parts of the story made me cry. But I am a really big softie who is very easily moved to tears:
Assuming you’ve watched it, I want to expound a little bit on the topic that I put into the headline. It isn’t just that for many years the corporations controlling the Muppets as well as important performers from the troupe would insist emphatically that, for instance, Bert and Ernie were absolutely not gay. They would (Sometimes angrily) insist that because the Muppets were puppets, they could not possiblye *have a sexual orientation.
Despite the fact the Miss Piggy wasn’t just obviously heterosexual, but she was aggressively so from the nearly her very first appearance. A Piggy wasn’t the only one. Lots of female Muppets had (usually off-screen) husbands and boyfriends. A smaller number of male Muppets had wives and girlfriends.
Yes, technically, puppets don’t have a sexual orientation. But it is exactly equally true that they don’t technically have voices, either–those are provided by the humans operating them. Just as the personalities are provided by the operators and the script writers.
I’m glad that the people currently running the Muppets have finally begun embracing the truth the queer people are everywhere and that we’ve always been here. A lot of the world still doesn’t understand that when someone identifies they are gay, it is not about sex. Just as when a conservative businessman introduces people to his wife, we aren’t "shoving out sexuality down your thoart" — we’re just telling you about ourselves and at least one of the people we love.
I will be working on the next Friday Five tonight, and skimming through my news bookmarks I realized that there has been several of these stories in the news lately, and I’d rather not make a whole category for them tomorrow.
I suppose giving them their own post isn’t much better, but since I’m putting the topic of pastors committing sexual abuse in the title, I hope people who don’t feel like getting any of this imagery in their heads can skip this post and tomorrow read more general news and such.
Former Maryland Youth Pastor Don Martin Charged In 30-Year-Old Rape, Police Search For Other Victims He was a youth pastor at the time of the assault, and the victim was underage. They bury that in the story. I’m leaving the "former" in the headline here, but want to note that at the time of his arrest while he was no longer a youth pastor, he was still an active pastor.
New Albany assistant youth pastor arrested on child pornography charges I took the word "former" out of this headline because he wasn’t fired from his position as a youth pastor until after he was arrested. I really wish that news outlets would stop putting the word "former" in the headline in those situations. I will say that I’m happy the church at least acted this quickly. It is more often the case that the church refuses to believe the pastor is guilty and don’t fire him until the legal case moves forward past arresting and charging.
National Guard chaplain, youth pastor among 18 arrested on human trafficking charges I didn’t have to remove any words from this headline. This was actually a sting. Law enforcement placed an ad about having sex with a 16-year-old, and these 18 men answered the ad, got directions to the location, and arrived each expecting to have sex with a minor. I suspect that more charges may be applied if any victims of molestation come forward.
Florida youth pastor arrested for 3rd time; accused of hiding camera in church bathroom Hidden cameras in church bathrooms. One of them specifically in the boys’ bathroom of the youth hall.
Vernon minister arrested for sexual assault of 15-year-old – Cops Say TX Pastor Charged Church For Motel Room Where He Smoked Meth, Had Sex With Underage Girl I’m not sure how to respond to this tidbit: "The girl told police they continued to meet at the church for counseling and he continued to offer her methamphetamine." That’s a very unusual counseling method…
Florida Megachurch Pastor Charged With Molestation- SBC megachurch ‘shocked’ ex-pastor arrested, accused of grooming, molesting 12-y-o girl Note that this is a different Florida pastor than the one arrested for planting cameras and recording people using the restroom. Anyone, this guy started sexually abusing the girl when she was twelve, and continue to do so for five years.
The next story is from March, but it illustrates a point I made above and have mentioned many times before: Catholic Church Opposes Colorado Bill That Lifts Time Limit On Lawsuits Against Accused Child Molesters
Lots of states have a statute of limitations on child sexual assault (many also have statutes of limitations on rape of adults), which just makes no sense. Adult sexual assault victims are reluctant to come forward in part because statistically they are very unlikely to be believed when they do, but also because society conditions us to blame the victim in such situation. Multiply that by at least 1000 for children. The kids are often groomed by the abuser to believe that they deserve what has happened to them, and to believe they will be punished by family, their church, and so forth if anyone finds out.
So most of these cases wouldn’t come to light until years later. For example, when we learned that former Republican Congressman Dennis Hastert had molested numerous teen-age boys back in the days he was a high school wrestling coach, he couldn’t be charged with any of those crimes. What he was charged with was violating financial laws as he sought to pay-off some of his former victims to keep them from talking.
One of the main reasons we have statutes of limitation of child sex abuse is that organizations such as the Catholic Church have lobbied for them. And then they lobby against appealing them. Gee, I wonder why?