2 min

Egale ED “tired” of HIV as a gay issue

I'll use whatever words I like to describe myself

Last night I headed out to the Xtra-sponsored political panel discussion at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Truth be told I wanted to hear from Chris Reid, the former gay Conservative candidate who had to drop out of the race because of his blog.

But it was what happened after the discussion ended that really shocked me.

I joined a small group of people chatting about some of the themes that had been raised earlier in the evening. I mentioned Aids Community Action Program (ACAP) funding cuts and this older dyke — who I found out later is Helen Kennedy, executive director of the gay, lesbian abcdefghijklmnopqrstwvwyz rights organization Egale Canada — looks at me and says, “Well it’s just not a gay thing anymore, it affects everyone and I’m tired of gay rights being linked to HIV.”

I gave her an incredulous look. I began to say that there is a silent worldwide, HIV epidemic killing MSM (men who have sex with men). Suddenly she cut me off, telling me I shouldn’t use the term “MSM.”

“Don’t tell me what language to use,” I replied. “If I choose to say this, I will. You don’t have to like it but don’t correct me.”

Then she patronizingly went on to explain that the term doesn’t properly represent latinos, blacks or the rest of the alphabet.

I was becoming very upset. She kept repeating, “I’m sick of having HIV connected to gay rights and I’m sick of it always being linked to fundraising.”

This built up over a few minutes. One young woman could see this was not good and kept saying, “Let’s talk about something else.”

I was very upset and in shock. I had to walk away. I was shaking as I was saying, “You try living with it.”

I once respected Egale but no more. Helen could be one reason why people don’t seem to want to become as politically active as they used to. Oddly enough, I left having more respect for the Conservative Chris Reid than I did for anyone else.

We all deserve the right to be able to discuss ideas respectfully without shoving down someone’s throat what they believe to be acceptable or not. Chris was at least calm, did not shut people down and debated the ideas. Even if I disagree with him I would much rather have that discourse than with a bitter lesbian who is basically saying this horrible HIV gets in the way of her agenda.

Oh yeah and Kennedy may want to check out my website since she is so completely ignorant on HIV issues. A global forum of gay men have reached consensus on the language, including the use of “MSM.” There are some who don’t agree but there will never be 100 percent agreement. MSM makes no ethno-cultural reference as is claimed by the perpetually offended Kennedy.

It’s homophobic to de-gay the language used to describe HIV. I can understand it when people reject that argument but it’s appalling that the Egale spokesperson would.

How dare she push her condescending and patronizing views down my throat, especially when she purports to represent the interests of gay men.