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02/15/2008

Pete & Matt: Brothers in Demonization

by Jeremy Hooper

200802150921If you follow the gay "culture war," you know that whenever Matt Barber or Peter LaBarbera form an anti-gay opinion about something, the other of the duo will be behind to back up their bro.  They're like the Matt and Ben of the anti-gay movement.  A pair of pals who may not share a brain, but who certainly share a common mindset vis-à-vis gay people's role within the spectrum of society.

Well yesterday we showed you how Matt Barber had pulled one line out of a lengthy speech that was recently delivered by NGLTF executive director Matt Foreman, so that he (Barber) could use it to claim Foreman was blaming gays for AIDS.  And just like clockwork, Peter LaBarbera rushed to get himself on the same page of the queer-hostile handbook, with Pete writing a snarky piece in which he too tries to make it look as if Foreman was somehow admitting something by acknowledging that MSM (men who have sex with men) still account in this country for heighten rates of HIV infection.  Pete says, in part:

URGENT ALERT TO HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVIST ”FACT CHECKERS”  AND “ANTI-HOMOPHOBIA” BLOGGERS EVERYWHERE [Editor: Pete linked to this site for the "Anti-homophobia bloggers" part.  Thanks for the link, Pete]: somebody straighten out homosexual activist Matt Foreman, outgoing executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, who had the temerity to admit the obvious: “HIV is a gay disease.”  Next thing you know, Foreman — who is actually one of America’s most strident anti-Christian bigots … er, “gay” leaders — will be acknowledging that men and women practicing homosexuality can leave the lifestyle and lead contented lives outside the “gay” fold.

Oh, isn't that cute?  Pete's trying to take it Matt's nonsense a step further by acting as if there is even a tenuous connection between addressing the AIDS crisis and dignifying the scientifically unsound, faith-based "ex-gay" notion.  And he's trying to make it sound as if Matt Foreman had some sort of revelatory diarrhea of the mouth, when in actuality, he simply addressed the need for the gay community to raise their consciousness about the disease and the effects it's had on our people. 

But here's the thing: While folks like Pete, Matt, and Gary Glenn of the AFA of Michigan are falling over themselves to make it seem as if they have caught our movement in a slip of the tongue, what they are failing to see is that NONE OF US have ever really denied that AIDS is a gay problem.  Sure, we have said things like "AIDS is a people problem."  But we are not being duplicitous when we say this -- we are being factual.  AIDS does not discriminate, and it can be acquired in a number of ways.  And in other countries, it is not a disease that affects the gay population in higher numbers.  It is a virus that can affect us all, and one with which we all must contend.  It IS a people problem.  And to deny this would be to put the population at risk!

Nobody knows why in this country, HIV/AIDS hit the queer community earliest and hardest.  We do know that it was greeted with negligent non-concern by both laymen and government officials, which exacerbated the situation.  And we know that some Christians have been casting stones at the gay population ever since that first NY Times story ran in July of '81.  And we know that these sorts of mindsets have never helped anyone, but have hurt many.

By telling the gay community that we need to all again raise our levels of concern regarding this horrible disease, Matt Foreman was being responsible.  He was warring against a disease by mobilizing those who have suffered so dearly.  But by taking those words and using them against the gay community, folks like Pete and Matt are being downright cruel.  They are not only unfairly connecting sexual orientation in and of itself with a virus that can be caught in an instant for a multitude of reasons, but  they are also trivializing the threat that AIDS poses to all people by acting as if it is simply God's punishment for homosexuals.  The disease is a killer, but ignorance is a co-conspirator.  We who value humanity can fight the former by unanimously opposing the callous bullies who embody the latter! 

AFA-Michigan, AFTAH Welcome Gay Task Force Admission: ‘HIV Is a Gay Disease’
[AFT]

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Your thoughts

As if AIDS would cease to exist if all gays did somehow turn straight. If anything, even though this is extremely hypothetical, that would just spread the disease into the greater part of the heterosexual population because it would still remain an epidemic. They seem to get a lot of self-satisfaction by thinking they hold a simple and convenient solution to this problem and that this is something that would never happen within the heterosexual community (where STDs of all sorts are equally rampant.)

Posted by: Eric | Feb 15, 2008 11:09:30 AM

I see that not much has changed in 25 years with AFA. There doesn't appear to much difference between Matt Barber's tirades than this from a 1983 fund-raising letter by David Williams of the AFA:

"Although AIDS is carried primarily by immoral homosexuals, AIDS can be transmitted to healthy moral Americans like you and me. Homosexuals don't care if innocent people die as a result of their grotesque disease. Yes, homosexuals are only concerned with themselves and maintaining their sick, disgusting lifestyles."

- "Conduct Unbecoming" by Randy Shilts, p. 445

At least back then they weren't so coy in hiding their bigotry.

Posted by: John | Feb 15, 2008 5:05:59 PM

Obviously, these guys have never paid attention to news reports about what is going on in Africa...

On a side note, and I may be wrong, but I always thought AIDS hit the glbt community first here because people are probably more likely to use protection to prevent a pregnancy than because they are worried about STDs? Honestly, many of my het friends - and I've lectured them about this - go on the pill and then drop the condoms because they trust their partner when they tell them that they are disease-free. One of them got something this way and never even knew about it until she had a blood test done for a different reason. They're only really worried about getting knocked up... so why should we be any different? If there is no risk of pregnancy, then we probably have a lower rate of protection usage, no? I don't have any stats, but that's what always seemed the logical reason to me.

Posted by: Wren | Feb 18, 2008 6:26:13 AM

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