Jun 23, 2013

Bidding Farewell to Pam's House Blend - The Blogosphere Loses ANOTHER Great Voice!

Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry provides a moving tribute to citizen journalist, activist, Journey enthusiast, and blogger, Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thanks for all you have done, Pam!

Nov 26, 2011

Thinking about World AIDS Day - From the Perspective of a Person Living with HIV

So, it's been nearly two years since I have posted anything on this blog and nearly 6 months since I posted anything on my original blog, Black Sapience. 

Having said that, I'll be try to be concise as I can while I write this post. To put it bluntly, I am living with HIV and have been for some time now. Part of the reason I chose to write this post is because of World AIDS Day and the fact that I'll be volunteering in some activity to help PLWHA - myself being one of them. I was diagnosed in 1998 and for the last 13 years or so, I had been very fortunate to not need medication as my body's immune system had done a pretty good job keeping the virus in check. That all changed this year though; after many doctor consultations and discussions with friends who are HIV specialists, I elected to start HAART. I chose Atripla, which is one of the medicines that combines three classes of Anti-HIV agents into one pill. 

To state that this process of taking medications (which I will now have to do for the rest of my life) has been an adjustment period would be an understatement. It has required some lifestyle changes as well as some outlook changes. I am fortunate to have a pretty good working knowledge of pharmacology as well as close friends who are stellar physicians. As long as I continue to take care of myself and make my health a priority, there is no reason why I won't be able to live a productive life and accomplish all of the things I have purposed myself to do. This post is a bit cathartic in that it allows me to public declare my comfort with something that used to cause me much pain, angst and shame. It's almost as if it is a second coming out and one that allows me to be free from my own judgments about what I considered a shortcoming. It allows me to function in complete honesty and candor about myself. Such is the case with self-acceptance and for that I am completely grateful.

Another reason I chose to write this post and expose myself is related to the stigmatization that accompanies HIV disease. People still think of it as something that people get when their behaving badly and to some extent, those people may be right. However, the same can be said of lung cancer patients who are chronic smokers or the morbidly obese who suffer from hypertension and diabetes. Others see HIV as a disease that prompts an almost permanent relegation to victim status. They feel that HIV positive people shouldn't have to be held to the same standards as anyone else who lives with and trudges through adversity. Let me be clear though, I still believe in the need for programs that are dedicated to improving the lives of HIV positive people. However, I think that after 30 years of this epidemic, that the programs need to focus on improving the lives of PLWHA through reinforcing the right to self determination, depriving them of it. 

When I used to work in HOPWA housing too many people developed an over-inflated since of entitlement about many programs. As a result, those who truly needed the help had to be turned away because those who could lead more independent lives chose to do otherwise... and were convinced that they were consummate victims and that their HIV diagnosis precluded them from being contributing members of society. I resented them for it because I have lived with the same disease for over a decade. I managed to put myself through college, matriculated with a BS degree in Biology and a minor in Chemistry, worked full time, maintained my own apartment without assistance from any program and did so because I'd have felt guilty siphoning resources that were already scarce and need by someone else who desperately needed them. I have seen people lose housing vouchers for failing to pay their portion of HOPWA rent, abuse food stamps and food voucher programs, or lie about their income to qualify for resources that weren't eligible to receive in the first place. And whether you agree or not, these things reinforce HIV stigmatization more than any person's belief about the disease.

HIV can be a disabling condition, but it does not have to be. And my diagnosis as an HIV positive person does not abrogate me from my responsibility to society to do everything I was doing prior to getting infected - to be a contributing functioning member of my community. It also means that I take a special interest in trying to prevent the spread of a disease that has devastated the lives of  so many people. So while I commemorate World AIDS Day on Thursday, December 1, 2011, I do so hoping that HIV positive people take the lead in making changes to many of the programs that support HIV positive people by empowering them - not hobbling them by stigmatizing them as victims.

Aug 11, 2009

Racism and the Perceived Immunity of the Gay Community

HRC has decided to host a webchat addressing issues of race and racism within the Gay Community. *GASP* You mean gay people have the capability of being consumed with the same racist ideologies as their heterosexual bretheren? Of course they do... and in some cases they are WORSE than there hetero sexual bretheren. Take this letter to the editor of the Washington Blade for example in response to a qestion about if this country would ever get an openly gay Supreme Court nominee,

One of your readers said the country was run by “old white men” — but just where is the proof of that? We have a black president, a black attorney general, a female secretary of state and many cabinet chiefs or senior posts are filled by non-white males. Whites are now the minority in four states, including California.

In 20 years,17 states will be minority white. Most big city mayors are non-white male. As a gay male, even I know that those so-called “old white men”(read:straight) have passed many laws that have benefited minority groups. Ask yourself, can you honestly see a Supreme Court totally black, female and Hispanic? I shudder at the thought. What’s next? A chairman of the Joint Chiefs bringing his sheep to work? A few cross-dressing senators on the floor filibustering? A group of drag queen representatives in the House? A blind 747 pilot? A deaf music critic? Lifeguards who cannot swim? Why not, isn’t it their human/civil right? Just how far will the envelope be pushed before we implode?

As far as your reader who worried about “old white men,” he does not have to worry for long. The last real generation of whites are lying beneath the sands of Iwo Jima and Normandy. Now, most are pink with yellow stripes running down their backs.  Rome tried multiculturalism and look what happened to them. It’s only a matter of time. I would prefer straight whites making command decisions. Heaven help this country if we don’t.

Now, to this reader's credit I can understand his point about the ever increasing inclusiveness of the gay community. How many other letters will be used to ensure that every person who simply identifies themself as an abberation to the accepted social norm will we allow to be recognized? However, the reader's racism begins to rear its ugly head and all of his points disintegrate into a tirade that exposes his racial prejudices, heteronormative bias, AND - dare I say it, internalized homophobia )for which blacks gays are VILLIFIED in both mainstream and gay media)!

The following information can be deduced from the reader's letter:
  • He must have failed history because he completely ignored the preceding 389 years or so of systemic racial segregation, deprivation of equality, and legalized discrimination.
  • He assumes that one election of the FIRST black president in the 230-year history of the United States had more to do with timing than the influence of what I previously mentioned
  • He assumes that ONLY whites, particularly white men possess the temperament to make good decisions (dissmissing the fact that whites DECIDED to institutionalize the items mentioned in the first bullet)
  • He assumes that the playing field has been leveled by white men's "passage of laws that have benefitted minorities", while ignoring the fact that they selectively chose to ingore enforcing those laws - after all, how fast does one move when they are desegregating at "full deliberate speed"?
  • He feels entitled to the USA being his and whites' ALONE. No other people born in this country are as AUTHENTIC as the whites "beneath the sands of Iwo Jima and Normandy" (a POV commonly expressed by whites at McCain and Palin POTUS campaign rallies. More recently from the whites who comprise the BIRTHERS movement)
The rest is just too crazy to even put any thought into, but he definitely hates the fact the he's GAY.

I sincerely wish I could say that this letter represents an extreme POV on behalf of members of what is considered the mainstream gay community, but it doesn't. In fact, if you look at historical accounts of the Gay Rights Movement you'd be hard pressed to find any significant mention of the Black and Puerto Rican drag queens who were tired of being harrassed by the NYPD and decided to fight back by hurling whatever they could get their hands on at the officers.

When people think of the term "Gay" seldom do they think of the banjee boys made popular by James Earl Hardy, the Butch Queens Voguing in "Paris is Burning" or the hundreds of transgenders who compete in the Ms. Thailand pageant. No, the first image of what gay is that comes to mind is a well-dressed, witty, shallow, white male with a rich, bitch type female friend who lives in NYC, has no real profession of his own, but can afford to live in Manhattan in a FABULOUS apartment.

With gays who are a little less shallow and somewhat educated, Gay means a handsome gentleman who is typically white, professional, owns a remodeled home that he may or my not have completed himself, may be partnered, considering adoption, but DEFINITELY owns a dog or a cat. Again, you seldom see an image of gay that INCLUDES any person OTHER than a white male. Even if the image is female, she typically has taken on a gender specific look that isn't neutral. Gay - typically means white and male.

Look at the leadership of the HRC, GLAAD, and the NGLTF. The leadership is typically top heavy with white males. Ask yourself, was the National Black justice coalition and its predercessor the National Black Gay and Lesbian Ledership Forum formed out of necessity or opportunity? While HRC's National Conversation is a good idea in theory, I am not sure how effective it will be at reaching the people who need to be heard the most.

This post will be in TWO Parts.

Jul 24, 2009

Author E. Lynn Harris Dead at 54

E. Lynn died this morning during his West Coast Book tour. DEATH can be a very sad thing, but E. Lynn made money off of pathologizing black men who had sex with men.
Author E. Lynn Harris Dead at 54

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May 27, 2009

It's Not Unusual to be Loved by anyone... is it?

After having a conversation with one of my Aunts last night, sobering reality decided to stop tapping me on my shoulder for attention. Instead, it sucker-punched me and knocked me on my behind. Another holiday goes by and I have no one special (in the amorous/romantic way) to spend it with. It gets particularly rough for me during the holiday times of the year because I sincerely want to be in a relationship, but as many of you don't know (or you might), gay men can sometimes become weird creatures when approached about the subject of commitment.

I have been single for 7 years now and I'm starting to feel it. I have been on several dates with several different men and none have had that "spark". I am either more interested in them than they are in me or vice versa. Not willing to compromise my principles, I have resolved that I will probably be alone for the rest of my life. That prospect didn't seem so real until last night. My Aunt is in her 50's and has never been married. She is well-educated, well-off (although she started a second career to avoid boredom), and retired at a very young age. She has a sharp mind, is attractive, and is comfortable in her skin but she's single. As we talked at length last night, she reminded me that her rearing compels her to want to be married or at least be in a LTR. Mine, too. I want to share my life with someone who complements who I am.

I don't have a litany of requirements, no idealized type, and no deal-breakers (except for marriage or someone who is already in a relationship). So why am I single? Wish I knew the answers. Part of the reason I think, is my inability to become vulnerable to people early on so they can get to the real me. I mean, let me be clear, I don't hide my personality behind a facade, but I also keep my innermost feelings guarded. Emotional hurt is very real and quite painful. The other reason is that I haven't met a man that I have very much in common with. Those that I do, we typically become friends.

The one person who I do have so much in common with and we complement each other so well is one of my very best friends... a heterosexual woman! We even jokingly call each other husband and wife and our mutual friends agree. In fact, at a family reunion, some of my cousins (who apparently didn't get the memo that I'm homosexual) asked me when were we going to get married. I laughed, she laughed, but my cousins didn't get it. She and I could never be intimate (which is one of the ways love is expressed) because I am simply not stimulated by women.

It's also interesting to note that I have a number of friends who are in the same category as I am and while they are single, they aren't lonely. They at least appear to be happy with who they are at this point in their life and I admire them for it.

So, to all of my fellow single folks out there gay, straight, or other, I hope 2009 brings you all that you want, including that special someone to love.

In the meantime, continue loving yourself.

May 26, 2009

BET features new Black Gay Pride Section... No Verdict From Me Yet!!

I have a hate relationship with BET, their leadership, founder, and supporters. BET has single-handedly manipulated the aesthetic image of black americans for profit since its inception and NOT at all in a positive way.

The have debuted a new Black Gay Pride section this past weekend. View it here. I need to review the site a little more before rendering a verdict.

May 11, 2009

FLA. Teens Charged in Brutal Rape of 13-year old Boy

It seems that brutal gang rapes are a thing of normalcy in Florida. Many of you may not be aware of the Dunbar Village Rape Tragedy or the Florida Everglades gang rape. Tampa, not to be outdone by other Florida cities where rape and lawlesnnes. In Tampa, 4 boys kidnapped, physically restrained, beat, and raped a 13 year old boy with broomsticks and hockey sticks. The boys were 14 and 15 years old, hardly old enough to be that sadistic, unless of course you believe as I do, that people can be born without a soul. Some people are just born rotten and should be locked away to keep the rest of us safe.