Thursday, November 29, 2018

World Aids Day 2018: What Does It Mean?



Saturday, December 1st is the thirtieth anniversary of World Aids Day.  While scientific advances in HIV/AIDS research have resulted in anti-retroviral drugs like Prep and more awareness about safe sex contribute to a health problem that is not thought of as the alarming death sentence of the 80’s, AIDS is still a world-wide problem. It’s nothing to be complacent about.

It is estimated that 35 million people have acquired the disease. The symptoms don’t show up initially.  In fact, many people don’t even know they have HIV.  AIDS is caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection which is primarily a sexually transmitted disease.  However, you can also succumb from contaminated body fluids such as sharing needles or even blood transfusions.

Because stigma and discrimination still deter people from taking a HIV test, they often don’t test until they feel symptoms. Often, they are initially too scarred to know the truth.  The disease compromises your immune system and makes your body more prone to various infections such as pneumonia.

The purpose of World AIDS Day is to raise awareness about the importance of knowing your status from testing and to remove all barriers to accessing HIV testing. You will see interested people at United Nations agencies, governments and civil society, including schools joining to campaign around #WAD2018.  They wear red ribbons and brooches to signify their support.

At present, the countries worst hit are Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, South Africa and Nambia.  CIA WORLD Facebook reports that 27.2% of the population in Swaziland is carrying the disease. According to a Joint U.N. Programme on HIV/AIDS in 2017, 940,000 people died from related illnesses.  This is the raison d’etre to know your status. It’s important not only for your own health, but also the health of others.

This same joint U.N. Program launched in 2014 contains the 90-90-90 agenda.  The goal was to diagnose 90% of all HIV-positive persons, provide antiretroviral therapy (ART) for 90% of those diagnosed and achieve viral suppression for 90% of those treated by 2020.

To find out where to get tested and what tests you need in a fast, free, confidential setting near you, visit https://gettested.cdc.gov.





Monday, November 26, 2018

You Can't Pray The Gay Away!

If you’re a religious parent who believes that being LGBT is a choice, think again!  As of August 2018, fourteen U.S. states, District of Columbia, some counties and municipalities in the U.S. have passed laws banning the practice of conversion therapy on minors.

The American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association opposed conversion or reparative therapy years earlier. Homosexuality has not been regarded as a disease since 1973 when  the American Psychiatric Association took it out  out of their diagnostic tool, the DSM manual.

In 2012, Robert Spitzer, M.D. denounced his well-known study on gay culture and reparative therapy; the study didn’t conclude that conversion therapy actually worked. Not only was conversion therapy ineffective, it can cause depression, guilt, and even suicide!

It is estimated that 700,000 minors have been subject to conversion therapy. One such individual was Garrard Conley, author of the memoir, Boy Erased, upon which the movie, directed by Joel Edgerton, was based.  If you want to see what it is like in these brainwashing, indoctrination  programs in Christian “camps,” go see the movie.

Jared, played onscreen by Lucas Hedges, is gay and confesses his sexual orientation to his Baptist preacher father Marshall, played by Russell Crowe, in Arkansas.  His wife Nancy, is played by Nicole Kidman and she goes along with her husband’s wishes to place Jared in a gay-to-straight “Love in Action” facility to cure Lucas of his attraction to boys and supposedly make him more masculine.

At first, Jared, feeling guilty because he feels he has sinned and disappointed his parents, agrees to go to the facility.  However, once there, questions the whole program.  A friend in the facility, Cameron, feels trapped:  he is beaten with Bibles by his family at “Love In Action” and realizes he can’t go home.  He commits suicide. Another friend, Gary,  played by Troy Sivan, tells Jared to not question the program but fake it until he completes the assigned time.

Along the way, Jared has a college crush (Joe Alwyn) who rapes him, then calls Jared’s parents to out him.  Jared leaves the facility with his Mother’s support (but not his father’s) and ultimately goes to New York where he becomes an author.

At the end of the movie, we are told that Victor Sykes, the gay conversion therapist at "Love in Action" played by Joel Edgerton, leaves the camp and  is in a same-sex marriage. So is Garrard Conley.  So much for the effectiveness of conversion therapy!

 


Thursday, November 15, 2018

LGBT Couples Are Told They Can't Adopt



It’s been three years since The Supreme Court first recognized gay marriage.  You would think with legalized same-sex marriage in the U.S., LGBT couples would automatically be able to adopt.  Not so!

It is estimated that 8-10 million children are being raised in gay and lesbian households.  As of 2016, LGBTQ adoption was made legal in fifty states yet restrictions were put on couples this year.  By allowing publicly funded adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples because of the agencies’ religious beliefs or convictions, they deny placement to LGBT couples.  Ten states currently allow this denial.  At least three states (Kansas, Oklahoma, and Michigan) have pending lawsuits against The Department of Health and Human Services.

Same-sex couples are six times more likely than heterosexual couples to be raising foster children.  LGBT +couples are four times more likely to have an adopted child than heterosexual couples.  Yet, the couples are turned away from agencies that receive taxpayer money because of their moral or religious convictions.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Children’s Bureau reports that the statistics for foster care have risen annually since 2012.  Yet, the efforts of same-sex couples can be stymied by the whims of the religious, not unlike the Colorado baker who wouldn’t bake a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding.

The policy, like others, is not LGBT-friendly. Couples, whether straight or LGBT, have to prove that they are worthy of adopting and providing a good home.  They are interviewed, reveal their financial status, have home studies where a social worker comes to your home to ascertain if your home is safe, clean, whatever.  And you wait until you are chosen.

You have to really want to parent to comply with adoption agencies’ rules.  We all know straight parents who have given birth to a surprise child.  Those parents are not put through microscopes and had their motives for wanting children questioned.

Consider the benefits of Same-sex adoption:

Married same-sex couples tend to have higher incomes.  The income of male couples was more than that of straight couples and female couples.  –
NBC News, March 5, 2018
According to UCLA’s Williams Institute, a think tank for research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, same-sex couples who adopt children are more diverse in socio-economic status and ethnicity.
The Review of Research Prepared for American Sociological Association Amicus Brief in U.S.: Studies reveal that children raised in same-sex parent families fare just as well as children raised in different sex parent marriages.
A University of S.C. Study concluded that kids with lesbian or gay parents show more empathy for social diversity are less confined by gender stereotypes, e.g. Zach Wahls raised by two lesbian mothers in Iowa.  He is now a Democratic Senator in that state.

With over 400,00 children in foster care and LGBT couples willing to adopt, why humiliate and discriminate against the non-straight couples?  The foster kids deserve love and the LGBT couples deserve to love them.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

The Ever-Increasing Alphabet of LGBT+. What Does It All Mean?



Chances are if your child comes out to you, he would most likely use the term gay, bisexual, lesbian, queer or trans.  But as a parent, how do you keep up with all the other terms and know their definitions, particularly if you don’t have a knowledge of Latin?  What is the + in LGBT+?

Here’s a primer:
Allosexual:  people who are attracted to at least one gender.
Androsexual:  people who are attracted to masculine gender presentation.
Asexual:      people who don’t experience sexual attraction
Bicurious:   people who are open to experiment with genders that are not only their own, but do not know if they are open to forming any sort of relationship with multiple genders.
Cisgender:      people whose personal identity and gender correspond to their birth sex.
Cishet:              people who are both cisgendered and heterosexual.
Gender-fluid: moving between genders or having a fluctuating gender identity.
Gynosexual:   people being attracted to feminine gender presentation.
Monosexual:  people attracted to only one gender.
Pansexual:      people who are attracted to all genders
Polysexual:     people attracted to many genders.
Queer:              A reclaimed term for anybody in the LGBT+ community or who do not identify as cisgender and/or heterosexual/heteroromantic.
Non-binary:   an umbrella term for genders that fall somewhere in the middle of the gender spectrum and are neither strictly male or female.  i.e. genderqueer.
Transsexual:  people who have had Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS) to change their sexual organs that they were born with to that of a different gender.
MtF:  When somebody who is assigned as a male at birth identifies as a female.
              HtM:  When somebody who is assigned as a female at birth identifies as a male.

There are many more terms, but this vocabulary will get you started.

For a good reference, look at http://www.Gender: Your Guide: A Gender-Friendly Primer on What to Know, What to Say, and What to Do in the New Gender Culture by Lee Airton, Ph.D.