Friday, December 09, 2005

Christian Homophobia

In Holland, with the general anti-islam tendencies in society, a lot of right-wing people seem to be lying waiting for an act of homophobia done by Muslim people to publish it and start condemning Muslims. Fact is that homophobia has been and will stay in most societies. In some cases done by young men trying to proof their virility, in other cases by sexist men trying to own the sexuality of women in their surroundings, and in other cases it is condoned by religion. The three monotheist religions all condemn homosexuality, and people for different reasons will be aggressive towards homosexual people. In some cases people will be killed because of their sexuality. This happened this year a couple of times in Iran, which was given big exposure in the Dutch (gay) media. But December 1st this year for the second time this year an active gay men, Steve Harvey, has been killed in Jamaica, by people claiming to be Christians. Steve Hardy has been working in the HIV and Aids field in Jamaica.
Vey often, the murderers in Jamaica use the same arguments homophobic people in Muslim societies do: our religion doesn’t accept that and that gives us the right to kill a homosexual person. It is wrong, in all cases. Normal thinking people, like me, would say that each person has the right to live his life the way he chooses. And religious people that read the Holy Books should know that ‘thou shall not kill’ is also a very important passage in the same book.

Mr. Harvey, thanks for your courage and good work during this life. May God and all saints receive your spirit!

More information at Christian Aid

UNAIDS Condemns Killing of AIDS Activist in Jamaica
Geneva, 7 December 2005 -- UNAIDS condemns the recent killing of Lenford “Steve” Harvey, a Jamaican AIDS activist who, since 1997, worked tirelessly with the Jamaica AIDS Support to contribute to the response to the AIDS epidemic.
Steve Harvey’s death is a profound shock and loss not only to the AIDS movement in Jamaica and the Caribbean, but to the whole world. UNAIDS expresses its sincere condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

Steve Harvey will be remembered as an extraordinarily brave and committed activist, who, irrespective of the dangers of his work, represented the interests of people living with HIV and those at risk of infection. His courage was inspiring and his capacity to reach out to those in need outstanding, providing them one on one counseling, and access to HIV and AIDS information and services.

UNAIDS is confident that the Government of Jamaica will investigate Steve’s death to ensure that those who committed this hideous crime are brought to justice.
UNAIDS reiterates its support for the strengthening of efforts by the Jamaican government to address homophobia and other causes of stigma and discrimination, which are fuelling the spread of AIDS not only in Jamaica but across the Caribbean.

Legal and policy reform have an important role to play in ensuring that human rights of all are respected, and also in helping to change broader social values and in setting standards. It is freedom from fear and discrimi­nation that will finally empower individuals and communities to act, to mobilize their resources, and to respond collectively and positively to the AIDS epidemic.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

How I got to know Aids

On May 22 1997, during the "3rd International Conference on Home and Community Care for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS, Amsterdam, 21-24 May 1997" I had a retransmission of the radio program I was doing called Global Perspective at the local lesbian gay radio station MVS. Due to that reason, my colleague Andre and I decided to have the program in English and invited a participant at the conference as our studio guest. I had a personal column each month and for this special retransmission I wrote my column about how I learned about Aids as a teenager in Curacao. A couple of days later I do my share for the World Aids Day.

How I got to know Aids
It must have been during the ‘school vacations’ in July, when school closes for six weeks in Curacao. The year must have been 1983 or 1984. My cousin Sharela was spending the holidays with us. While all of us, my brother, sister and me, were young and innocent and just leaving primary school, Sharela was already at the ‘big children school’. She knew about things like sex and masturbation. And about how to get pregnant, or preventing that of happening. One night I was reading the evening newspaper and saw a picture of a man in a hospital bed. Another man was holding his hand. Sharela, our big cousin, read the article with the picture and lectured us in her way: ‘Oh, that man there is dying of Aids. He got ill!’

I asked Sharela what Aids was. She told me: Aids is a disease man that are homosexuals get!’ We put the newspaper away and continuing dancing, at the beat of Michaels Jackson’s Billie Jean. At the age of thirteen I was more interested in trying to imitate the dance moves of the video clip of Billie Jean then in a ‘disease man that are homosexuals can get’.
I didn’t know at that moment that the fact I loved watching other boys in swimming suits made me a homosexual. Aids became familiar to me before homosexuality did.

Maybe one year after the newspaper incident the Aids prevention campaign of the Curacao government started. A cartoon was published in the newspaper picturing a man and a woman flirting. At the end the woman says to the man that she would only do it with a condom. Because of Aids. Later the famous youth band Name made a song about it: Para Sida, e ta kibra bo bida/ Stop Aids, it ruins your life.

( Gabriello Cruz, singer Name)

I got acquainted with the disease, and the fact you could get it through sex.

It must have been years later, maybe after my migration to Holland in 1989, that I heard about risk groups affected by Aids etc. I became a homosexual and became sexually active and learned to use condoms. Sometimes I still remember the newspaper incident.
It is funny to see at this moment, that in my voluntary work, I’m working with the black gay group Strange Fruit, trying to set up a support group for black and migrant people infected and affected by HIV and Aids. The support group has started with social meetings and is called Together We Live!. Strange Fruit organized it together with the Amsterdam section of of the Dutch HIV Association.

I know now that Aids is not ‘a disease man that homosexuals are get’. But any way, Sharela, the cousin who knew it all, later became pregnant at a moment she didn’t wanted it. Even people that knows a lot, have more things to learn. So do I.

May 22 1997