AIDS: Conflict and Crisis
I know that you may choose to write me off as one of those “difficult” gay leaders, but I hope that you will consider my remarks [re: “AIDS: Seven Days In The Crisis” and “Editor’s Page, ” March} as an attempt to share a perspective that is based on several years of involvement in the AIDS crisis.
1. The [March] cover-I understand that you chose to feature a woman with AIDS in order to make the point that AIDS is not a gay disease and to inject a little motherhood and apple pie into the crisis. Although I ap- preciate your attempt to involve the entire community in the issue, your choice does great disservice to the 97 percent of AIDS patients who are homosexual or bisexual men. That percentage may change bit by bit, but the overwhelming majority of cases will continue lo be gay men for years to come.
2. In the first sentence of your editorial, you say that Ann Ellison fell in love with the “wrong man. ’1 In what way was he the “wrong” man? What does love have to do with an unknown illness?
3. You refer to “projects manned by the gay community for the gay community’-I know of no such projects. There are three gay-identified AIDS agencies in Dallas and none of the three discriminates based on sex- ual orientation, In fact, all of those agencies have served heterosexuals whenever asked to do so. While it is true that most of their clients are gay, it is only because most of the cases in Dallas, I repeat, are gay men. Also, my feminist conviction would never allow me to refer to our programs as being “manned. ” Such language denies the impor- tant and valuable commitment and contribu- tions of our female volunteers and staff.
4.You tell us to work within the system-I used to believe that, too. But take a look at the system, Texas is forty-ninth in funding of Health and Human Services. Working with- in that system accepts an unacceptable start- ing premise. You tell us that we should not file a lawsuit against Parkland. Take a look at history in Dallas. How do we desegregate our schools? Lawsuit. How do we deal with prison reform? Lawsuit. The public sector will do nothing to help misfortunate, needy people in this city unless it is forced to take action.
5. You also refer to the AIDS ministry at St. Thomas Episcopal Church (whose min- ister, you take pains to indicate, is heterosex- ual) as being the largest AIDS ministry in the city. How do you suppose they feel at the Metropolitan Community Church (the gay church), where they have had a highly effective ministry and where they had an education program long before it was fashionable and long before it meant having estates bequeathed to a building fund? Once again, you slight the gay community. Is it any wonder we become “difficult”?
“Victims’-It is inconceivable to me how your staff could have spent any time talking to and about persons with AIDS without someone mentioning that “victims” is an inappropriate and offensive term for that population. Beginning with the Denver Principles in 1982, PWAs have asserted that they have control of their lives and are not to be considered victims. You may slough it off as semantics, but how could you not be aware of such an issue considering the sup- posed depth of the research for this article?
You write, “The disease that we once could say was someone else’s problem- gays, IV drug users-is suddenly our disease. ” This sentence reveals a conde- scending, patronizing, heterosexually biased, insulting, demeaning attitude and it pervades the entire article. Do no gay peo- ple read your magazine?
If we are frustrated, can anyone blame us? But we will continue to do what we must to assure quality and compassionate care for PWAs and to educate the public on how to protect themselves from infection. I don’t think that your article will help us any-but we have gone on without help before.
Dallas Gay Alliance
The opinion of William Waybourn of the Dallas Gay Alliance that the caseworkers of the AJDS/ARMS Network are nine-to-fivers who lack sensitivity is patently untrue! If Waybourn is in touch with his staff he knows this, for his staff spends much time both nights and weekends working with AIDS/ ARMS Network caseworkers to help those with AIDS. Each caseworker has more than forty cases, possibly twice as many as ideal, and works long, difficult hours to meet their needs. If in the course of this activity they must tell the truth about available communi-ty services, finances, food, housing, or explain about medical prognoses, they do so gently but forthrightly. They cry at the lack of available help, at the death of their clients, and for the families and friends left behind.
More to the point, I think it is Wayboum’s and the DGA’s express desire to manage all funds coming into the community” to help with this crisis. Could the expanded power base supplied along with these funds be Waybourn’s and the DGA’s real goal?
Having talked with leaders in other AIDS organizations on this issue, I know they do not agree with the position taken by Waybourn. He owes the caseworkers at the AIDS/ARMS Network an apology for his remarks; he owes D Magazine and the community an apology for misleading them as well. Finally, it is important to remember that the Dallas Gay Alliance’s AIDS Re source Center is but one cog in a rather large wheel. The media has in the past relied far too much on this biased source for their stories. Your much broader scope is welcome indeed.
Today my mail consisted of a letter informing me of the death of a friend from AIDS, and your magazine. I am sad, numb, and angry. Skip Hollandsworth’s article was masterfully written and touched my heart. Jim Owen
A Tuna By Any Other Name...
We take exception to one item mentioned in your review of Jonathan’s restaurant that appears in the March issue. That item is your comment about our “fresh tuna salad. ” We never intended, or thought, people would interpret the word “fresh” as you did: i. e.. to mean “a salad made with fresh tuna. ” We use fresh to mean freshly made by ourselves, as opposed to using premade, prepackaged salads as many restaurants do. Believe us when we say that if we made our salads out of tuna we poached ourselves, we would definitely make this known by not just writing “fresh” tuna salad on the menu. Rather we would say something like, “salad of fresh tuna. ” As you can see, this use of the word “fresh” now carries an entirely different meaning and would not describe the salad we sell. Your literal interpretation of the word “fresh” is as incorrect here as interpreting fresh in “fresh tomato fettuccine” to mean using fresh tomatoes.
Carswell: The Wrong Stuff?
Your story about the B~52 bomber crews at Carswell Air Force Base [“Death From The Sky, ” March] was colossally stupid and anachronistic. It’s the sort of macho story I expected to read in Life magazine in 1956.
If your writer really thinks that the B-52 crew is the “latest generation of a breed that has captivated the 20th-century American psyche, ” he’s been hanging around the wrong kind of people. And if he thinks that threatening to vaporize the planet is a practical way to deal with political adversaries, he’s as loopy as that Col. Cole who allowed himself to be photographed in eerie purple light.
AIDS: Conflict and Crisis