Posts Tagged ‘community’

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Absent

April 27, 2009

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here on this terrestrial ball.  For me, writing is connected to spirituality, and lately, I haven’t felt very spiritual, or even like I have anything of value to say.  I know my pastor would say that I am going through the “valley of the shadow”.  I suppose this is where I find myself, but not in a despondent, depressed, or desperate situation.  Let’s say that I’m “in transition”.

Back in December, I wrote about my experience of leaving a job and church that I loved, the way in which that it appeared I was forced out by a new, and interim minister, and the betrayal I felt by the congregation.  I admit that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that experience.  I’m hurt that so many who greeted me warmly every Sunday morning do not care to know what is happening with me now, do not wish to understand what could have driven me away.  I keep asking myself “where is the love that they so freely professed?” 

I am reminded that this is not the first time I’ve experienced alienation from a group of Christians.  As a matter of fact, recalling the experiences of my parents, other ministers that I’ve worked with in my career as a church musician, and a variety of  tales that have been related to me by those who’ve been mistreated at the hands of Christians, I’d have to say that it is the natural condition of churches to destroy its own members, or at least to ostracize those who are “not our kind of people”.   Of course, this is done in spite of the clear command in scripture to Love One Another.

I’ve been absent from church services since December.  Oh, I’ve gone a few times, but you could count those on the fingers of one hand.  Two of those services were to substitute for an organist who needed time off after surgery. We visited a Unitarian church but didn’t quite feel like it met our spiritual needs.   I attended my husband’s church but found it lacking of any real substance;  it felt like they’d found something that worked at one time and saw no need to review it’s effectiveness.  Now they simply continue performing the same empty rites out of obligation. 

Where I’m not:  I’m not sad, depressed, or suicidal.  I’m also not lacking any interest in spiritual things.  Despite some snarky comments around Easter  in which I may have stated that we should reinstate the practice of feeding Christians to the lions, I have no contempt for those who find spiritual fulfillment in organized Christianity.  But I also think I am no longer one of those who can find fulfillment in the church pew.

 

So yes, I’ve been absent, from here at my blog, as well as at church.  Where have I been?  I’ve been hanging out with some people that most would consider as being on the fringes of religion, and others would say that they are just plain heathens.  That’s ok with me.  I’ve learned that those who have been persecuted, those who have lived through painful episodes in life, are the ones with deep insight and compassion.  I’m happy to be in their company, they tend to be wise people. 

I’m also no longer able to suppress my trust in my own intuition.  Since I’ve been paying attention to those subtle urges and thoughts that enter so quickly, I’ve noticed that they are becoming more accurate.  It is as if I am becoming more aware of the emotions, motives, and likely actions of the people around me.  This awareness gives me clues about how to act and respond in positive ways.  I feel as though I am connected to the whole of the universe, including the God that is omnipresent, and so much bigger than the God that is spoken of in the churches I’ve attended in the past. 

I hope that I’m not shallow, not trendy, but it seems that I may indeed be what is known as post-christian.  I can no longer participate in an organization that routinely does the opposite of its mission statement.  I’ve long hesitated to call myself Christian, but that does not mean I have discarded the teachings of Christ.  As a matter of fact, I hope I’m able to do a better job of following the great commandment than the Christians who stood silently while their new leader ushered me out the church’s door.

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Going to Church

January 23, 2009

I went to church last Sunday.  Big deal.  So did millions of other people.  It was a big deal, at least for me.  It has been over 3 weeks since I left my position as music director at a Disciples of Christ Church.  In the past 25 years, I’ve had very few Sundays in which I could experience church services that are outside of my own experience.  I’ve been employed continuously by churches since 1982, with the longest hiatus from music ministry being about 2 months.  One of the problems of being “in charge” of worship is that one rarely sees how others go about it.  This abrupt leave from my music job is the perfect opportunity to visit and make observations at other churches. 

 

The chosen destination for this past Sunday was my husband’s church, one which I’d never attended services at because I was always at the organ of my own church.  We loaded up the kids of our blended family that were with us for the weekend and headed out in the snow to the church in the country.  It’s part of a small, protestant denomination that tends to be traditional and evangelical.  They are awaiting the arrival of their newly hired minister, so it is understandable that this service may not have been a good example of what things are like there on a regular basis.  And that’s a good thing. 

 

The people were friendly and happy to see Scott.  They greeted me warmly and welcomed our children.  We took our bulletins and found a seat, taking a moment to arrange ourselves comfortably.  The organist began the prelude and I immediately got nervous.  I’m a musician, and a good one.  When I hear church musicians who are struggling, I become anxious.  This woman was having such a difficult time with her chosen prelude, that it took me quite some time to determine what she was playing.  It was an old evangelical hymn  Out of the Ivory Palaces. 

 

Which leads me to the next problem I had with the service: the lack of meaningful, timely hymns.  The hymnal, by my estimation, was at least 25% contemporary Christian music, or “praise choruses”  which I’d hardly call contemporary considering that they were at least 25 years old in most cases.  If a song has been around long enough to be included in a hymnal, printed, promoted, and sold to a congregation;  and the congregation uses the hymnal for a significant period of time, it’s difficult to consider the music “contemporary”.   The one “traditional” hymn planned for the morning worship service was an old Holiness Movement song “We’re Marching to Zion”.  It was sung at a slower pace than I’m used to performing it, and the musicians, both pianist and organist, lacked the skills to transpose it into a key in which most congregants could comfortably sing.  Imagine being out of breath and reaching for high notes.

 

When the ushers were called forward, I looked up to see 4 burly men walking forward.  I whispered to Scott  “is there a weight requirement?”  These guys were huge.   I said “what’s the minimum?  225?”  Seriously, I didn’t know if they were ushers or bouncers.  Of course, since this was an important job, handling the money, all of the ushers were required to be in possession of a penis. 

 

fat-preacher

 

The children’s message was delivered by a woman, which is generally thought of as acceptible in these patriarchal churches.  Caring for children is the woman’s domain afterall.  The woman talked about having friends but the point of her little message was lost on me, so I’m pretty sure the kids were as baffled as they looked.

 

We plodded through another pop-ballad hymn which was executed with technical accuracy by the instrumentalists, but with all the musicality of a horse counting to ten with its front hoof.  This song led us into a time of prayer.  I believe that the people who made their prayer requests known are genuinely concerned about those people named.  Some moved beyond the typical illness requests and made mention of current events and nationally known tragedies. In all of these honest, heart-felt concerns, there remained a sense of some unspoken desire, an appeal to magic.  That appeal to magic was reinforced by the prayer leader, who prayed extemporaneously, including all of the requests voiced moments earlier.  I noticed pretty early in her prayer that she had a favorite phrase, which was  “Dear Heavenly Father”.  She said it so much that I wrote it in my bulletin.  She kept saying it, punctuating each paragraph with 2 or 3 repetitions. So many Christians have this habit when praying publicly.  It is as if there is a mystical combination of “Blessed Jesus'” or “Loving Fathers” or even “Hail Marys”  that said in a specific quantity or order that will unlock heaven’s safe full of blessings.  When did prayer become the heavenly Powerball?  Jesus cautioned us of this in Matthew 6:7

 

And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

 

Sadly, the sermon, offered by a visiting minister, did little to hold my attention as a visitor.  I suspect that it was meant to encourage this congregation as they await the arrival of their recently hired Pastor.  The sermon began with the perfunctory joke and apologies for his shortcomings as a speaker.   Those who attend this church regularly may have heard some words of encouragement, but my mind wandered off.    After one more pop-song hymn, the benediction was pronounced and everyone bolted for the door. 

 

Now, I’ve certainly been critical and some would say downright mean with this post.  You might even tell me that the computer glitch that sent my first version of this post out into cyberspace, never to be found again, was a sign from above that I should turn from my wicked ways.  Let me reinforce this sentiment:  these people are good people, their intentions are noble and their desires are honorable.  Unfortunately, they found something that was successful at some point, decided that this is how they would do it from that point on, and mediocrity set in.  Their worship service has most likely morphed slowly to become the dry and irrelevant ritual that we experienced that morning.

 

Traditionally, people in this country have attended church for the spiritual encouragement they receive by participating in worship services.  There was a time when people attended church out of a sense of obligation, regardless of any spiritual or communal benefits that may or may not have been derived from attending.  I’ve heard complaints about the lack of commitment to the church and its programs.   My question, after visiting this church, is “what does this church offer that would encourage people to attend regularly and support their programs?”  In addition, for those who do attend, are their perceived or actual needs, physical and spiritual, being met?  And finally, are the people we meet in this or any other Christian church a reflection of the Christ they strive to emulate?

 

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.  Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

Mohandas Gandhi

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Blogging for LGBT Families Day!

June 2, 2008

Blogging for LGBT Families Day 2008

 

I’ve rewritten this first sentence a few times now:  I wanted to talk about how busy we’ve been lately, that being parents of school-age kids means that May has a hectic schedule.  Then I thought about the age range of our seven kids, 9-20, and realized that no matter what age they are, there is always something to command a parent’s attention regarding kids and school.  It starts when you enroll them in preschool and I guess I’ll have to let you  know when it ends. 

In the past month, we’ve attended band concerts, dressed one up for the prom as well as graduation, picked one up at college and taken her back for a spring course, then loaded the van to bring her home again.  We’ve planned a graduation party, arranged for transportation of another kid to school for a sports physical, and attended an awards ceremony for yet another son who did well in art class this past year.  There has been a dentist appointment, a job interview, a school picnic, Boy Scouts, a rock concert, and a road trip.  That sounds like a lot of fun, but the parents have been left out of the fun stuff, except for delivering the kids to some of those events. 

For most parents, I haven’t described anything unfamiliar, some may be wishing that their schedule was so light.  The difference is that this is a blended family, the children are sharing their parents and dealing with step-siblings.  Again, no big deal, a lot of kids do that, some better than others.  No need to write about that:  Been There, Done That, Wore Out the T-Shirt.  Our kids, though, are the offspring of our straight marriages.  I have three children;  two boys 19 & 9, and the only girl, 20.  My partner has 4 boys; the 18yo who just graduated, a 15yo, and 12yo twins.  We all live within 2 miles of each other, and although the mothers have physical custody of the kids, we all share in their care. 

Any problems?  Of course there are, children who find themselves in a new family dynamic that they didn’t choose will let you know when they aren’t happy.  At some point during the past 5 years, each kid has had their moment to let us know how they feel.  For us, the gay dads worried about how this will affect the kids, we’ve come to watch for certain indications that things are going well.  I like to watch for humor.  If the kids can joke about it, take a good-natured ribbing and turn it back on us with a snappy comeback and we all laugh about it, then I know we’re doing well. 

There are many voices from the religious right who would say that we’re destroying the American family, that if my partner and I would be allowed to marry, society would collapse, the children would become juvenile delinquents, and hurricanes would visit our great land.  They believe that a family is one man, one woman, and whatever children God sees fit to bless them with as a natural result of their physical intimacy.  While that may appear to be the paradigm, those who wish to enforce this on everyone by any means possible, including legislation by a civil government (not a theocracy) are ignoring one major issue.  There have always been families that do not fit.  These families exist now, have been around for a long time, and do not threaten to destroy our society. 

There are so many possible combinations that constitute a family:  single parents, grandparents raising kids, aunts and uncles taking in their nephews and nieces, extended families in one household, lesbian moms who have adopted, lesbian moms who carry their own babies, gay dads who became parents through a surrogate, gay dads like us who had their own kids through a straight relationship.  I know of blended families in which children no longer live with a biological parent because mom or dad have passed on after their divorce and remarriage.  They stay with the step-parent and are cared for by a loving new parent.  There are foster families and group homes, and probably many other arrangements that my mind can not conceive but those families work, in spite of varying from what some would declare normal. 

LGBT families are here, and have been for a long time.  If you’ve got a gay or lesbian family member, someone who is bisexual or transgendered in your own family, then you are part of an LGBT family.  Those LGBT people are living in their own nuclear families in a myriad of ways, and it is working.  It succeeds because of love. 

It is time for our country to stop bullying people into living lives that are dishonest.  The nuclear family of a man and a woman and a boy and a girl is a great example, but not the only example of what a family can be.  It doesn’t reflect the reality of our communities.  To write legislation into state constitutions that discriminates against LGBT people, preventing them from accessing marriage and the attending benefits and protections is not only wrong, but ignorant of what already exists and succeeds. 

Our family succeeds when I help my step-sons with their homework.  It succeeds when my partner helps my daughter move her belongings back home at the end of the college semester.  Love shows the way when one of my step-sons calls to say he’s lost and I get on google to find the street names he’s calling out and map him a way back home.  Family values guide us to sit down together for a meal and enjoy each other’s company.  Teaching those values to the kids cause my partner to involve my youngest son in a home remodelling project.  Those precious few “teachable” moments come when the twins need a haircut and money is short, so I get out the clippers and scissors and talk to them while I trim their hair. 

We already exist as a family.  To continue ignoring us, or to try to legislate us away, will not cause us to disappear.  That would only permit a certain group of people to feel good about their bigotry.

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I Love My Town

May 28, 2008

Scottdale is a small town, just under 5,000 people, and covering an area of about 1.2 square miles.  That’s slightly smaller than Central Park in NYC.  So you understand, this is a small place, a tightly knit community, and one that has a particular amount of pride, a sense of what is honorable, and an understanding about respect for each other as well as respect for traditions that hold a community together. 

 

This past Monday, we celebrated Memorial Day, like so many other towns across the nation.  Our veterans lead the parade followed by the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts, and our high school marching band.  This parade is not like the ones I marched in as a youth in a town just a few miles away.  Scottdale’s parade is not much of a celebration.  It’s a somber occasion, and one that the residents take very seriously.  The band does not play a selection, no rousing marches, no spirited patriotic tunes.  No, this is a solemn morning, a time for reflection.  The only sound is a funeral cadence. 

 

Many watch the procession, applauding the veterans, removing their caps for the flag, and wave to the firemen following the marchers.  As the firetrucks signal the end of the parade, most of the town follow them to the cemetary at the edge of town.  We gather quietly amidst the final resting place of our relatives and friends.  The Scouts stand at attention, the band forms in a clear area, and the local dignitaries take their places for the ceremony.  We are welcomed, and we begin the task of honoring our local heroes, thanking our veterans, and praying for those who serve in the military now.  This is the celebration, the band performs a few patriotic songs, an honored guest offers a speech, guns are fired in salute, and taps is played to honor those men and women who gave of themselves to preserve our freedom. 

 

I’m proud of the way our community celebrates this day.  These people show up for this solemn event.  They greet each other quietly, hold those who’ve recently lost a loved one, and honor not only those who have passed, but those veterans who served.  One can see on their faces the respect they have for each other, and as music plays, names and faces are brought to memory.  Single tears can be seen on the faces of the old and young. 

This was a beautiful Memorial Day, not only in the way the weather heralded the beginning of summer, but more so in the way this small town paused to commemorate this solemn holiday.  Before they fire up their grills, open their pools, or pack the picnic lunches and head for the lake or the state parks, these good people stop and remember, gather and build each other up, and honor those who make it possible to live the lives we have been granted.

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We’re Just Defining One Word

April 13, 2008

On Thursday, April 10th, I took a personal day from work to attend a Pennsylvania State Senate hearing in Pittsburgh, concerning SB1250, the Marriage Protection Amendment.  (appropriate groans can be made here.)  It was a long hearing, and I invested more than 8 hours in driving, walking, sitting and listening to more than 3 hours of testimony, having a beer afterward as I waited for traffic to clear, then heading home again.  I’ve waited a few days on writing this entry because I wanted to write about the things that stand out in my mind. 

I am struck by the argument from the religious right that their purpose, their goal in proposing a marriage protection amendment is to define one word:  marriage.  At least, that is what some would have us believe by their testimony at this hearing.  Is it even possible for a government to define a word, and hold everyone to that definition of that particular word.  How would it be enforced?  Who would be responsible if the meaning begins to change, the person using it, or the word itself? 

Proponents of the bill would like to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.  They claim that all other unions could be called anything else, just not “marriage”  which would be reserved for the union of one man and one woman.  It’s clear, from other information put forth by these conservative organizations, and from the wording of the bill itself, that they have something else in mind.  The intent is not to define marriage, but to exclude certain people from participating in marriage, and the attending civil benefits.  If it were not otherwise, there would be no need to include the phrase “functional equivalent of marriage” in the bill.  By adding this to the wording of the proposed amendment, supporters have guaranteed that gay and lesbian couples would never benefit from marriage, nor would they ever receive the blessings of civil unions. 

Words change.  Their spellings evolve, their meanings either change, or develop additional uses.  Think about a few words that have changed in the course of a generation or two:  smack is generally accepted to indicate a sharp strike with a hand or flat object; it has also come to mean a loud kiss, and an accepted term for the drug heroin.  Crack has developed in a similar fashion, acquiring the new definition of a form of cocaine in addition to meaning a fissure and at least 30 other concepts.  Awful is another word that has changed from something that is full of awe, to a word that has a negative connotation.  How many words have re-entered the language with new meanings with the advent of technology?  Words like backup, monitor, cell, download, hardware, virus, peripheral, and memory have taken on new meanings in the past 25-30 years. 

“Marriage” is one of those words that has changed.  In simple forms marriage indicates that civil or sacred contract between two individuals who are intent to spend the rest of their lives together.  It also indicates an intimate or close union, as in the marriage of vocal music and drama to create opera or musical theater for example.  At one time, marriage conjured up thoughts of the deals made by fathers as they negotiated the contracts dictated by arranged marriages.  Looking at biblical history, we can see that marriage could mean different things for the husband and wife, as the husband was considered of greater importance, while the wife could be just one of many women with a similar union to her husband.  Today when we think of marriage, we think of two people searching for that special someone, dating, building common experiences, and finally committing to each other.  Even “until death do us part” is optional.  Is it so hard to think that marriage is two people, either of different gender or the same gender, who have paired up, committed to caring for each other in a loving relationship? 

The bottom line for me, concerning the testimony given by William C. Duncan via Deborah Hamilton,  Randy Lee, Sharon Capretto, & Rita Joyce, is that they wish to legislate a definition of marriage that simply prevents a certain group of citizens from participating in a civil right that is offered only to those who happen to have been born as a heterosexual.  Some of those who testified in favor of the bill hid their agenda of religion-based discrimination behind convoluted explanations of the definition of a word, and how courts would then continue to define it.  Randy Lee even claimed it was a way of ensuring fair trade practices, and compared it to the labeling of canned vegetables:  businesses can not put a picture of corn on a can of peas.  In the same way, Mr. Lee claimed that calling a same-sex relationship marriage, is deceptive because marriage is reserved for two people of the opposite sex.  Sharon Capretto, and to some extent, Rita Joyce, were the most honest about their reasons for supporting SB1250.  They expressed their support for this bill based on their religious convictions, their understanding of scripture.  However, we do not live in a theocracy and no one’s religious views should be imposed on all of our citizens. 

Finally, in a dramatic testimony, Doris Cipolla of Erie, made a passionate, heartbreaking plea to defeat this amendment.  She pointed out that we are people, not cans of vegetables. Cans are man-made, vegetables, peas carrots or corn, come from the earth and are easily identified.  Sadly, Doris and her partner CharleneTanner lived their lives as a closeted couple.  it was only after Charlene’s death that Doris realized that she could no longer be silent.  She speaks with such a passion, that several times during the hearing we were moved to tears, or cheering, and spontaneous applause.  As she left the desk from which she testified, we stood to honor this woman who spoke so eloquently on our behalf. 

 

Doris Cipolla testifying against SB1250 in Pittsburgh, April 10, 2008

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Pittsburgh Blog for Equality Day

March 31, 2008

Blog for Equality Day

 

So I was out doing some tag surfing and discovered that today is Pittsburgh Blog for Equality Day, thanks to Irene over at Eleventh Stack.  I commented on her blog, and realized then that I needed to write something here today about marriage equality.  After all, my partner and I are in the thick of planning our own wedding.  (note:  we still don’t have a photographer; know anyone available on August 9th?)  I did a little more research and found that this event is being sponsored by The Pittsburgh Women’s Blogging Society, and though I’m not a woman, I do live near Pittsburgh and I certainly have an interest in obtaining marriage equality.  My partner and I deserve the same rights as heterosexual couples when it comes to getting married.

It is interesting that this topic comes up today.  A few things have happened that seem to feed into this particular topic.  First off, there is my procrastination on calling my state Senator, Richard Kasunic.  I had intended to do that on Friday morning, but somehow neglected to do so.  It’s been almost 2 months since I contacted that office trying to get an appointment.  The secretary was to call back when the senator was taking appointments, and of course, that never happened.  I need to get on this again, and soon. 

I’ve spent the past few days working on our wedding plans, calling the dj, thinking of the guest list, contacting someone who might have been able to photograph our event.  So the wedding is very much on my mind.  With that, comes the thought that this is a ceremony for us, and our friends to share in our joy, but we will gain nothing as far as legal benefits are concerned.  Not only are same-sex marriages illegal, or not civilly recognized, but there is currently a bill in the state senate to amend the constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. 

I stayed at work a bit later than usual today, and as I headed back to my classroom after having a long conversation with a colleague, I could hear my cellphone vibrating.  It was Scott, my soon-to-be-husband.  He was quite excited, words rushing out of him, and ideas all over the place.  I kept asking him questions and finally figured out what had happened.  It seems we’re the talk of our little town.  I’ll go with exaggeration on this point, but it does seem that word is out that we are planning our wedding.  An aunt took it upon herself to visit Scott’s mom and quiz her about our upcoming nuptials.  Mom didn’t offer much information because she doesn’t have all that much to offer.  She knows we’re planning a wedding.  She might know that it is in August.  The rest of the conversation was spent talking about mom’s disapproval of the wedding and how the “kids” are taking it.  We both have children from when we tried to “choose” heterosexuality and married women. 

I doubt this meddling aunt would have grilled Scott’s mom if this were another straight marriage.  Families can be strange systems, and sometimes relatives swoop in to cast their opinions on matters that don’t concern them.  I suppose dear auntie would express her dismay if Scott were marrying the crack whore who lives down the street.  I’m even willing to guess that when pressured, this woman would have glowing things to say about me;  she knows me, and always speaks to me when I meet her out in public.  There’s no reason to be concerned about Scott marrying a character like me.  So that leaves the gay issue, and the mistaken belief that heterosexuals can declare who is worthy of a marriage license based on the gender of the 2 people involved. 

Please, if you believe in equality, if you believe that marriage is good for individuals, couples, families, and children, contact your state senator and ask them to oppose SB1250, the Marriage Protection Act.  Marriage doesn’t need protected from loving committed same-sex couples;  it needs protected from heterosexual couples who meet no other requirements for marriage except that one of them has a penis and the other has a vagina.  Find out more at Equality Advocates Pennsylvania.

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MRSA Gay USA

January 17, 2008

It looks like it is time for hysteria, histrionics, tongue-clicking, and finger pointing.  What’s it all about this time?  It’s a multi-drug resistant methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus MDR-MRSA, for short. 

Oh.  Is that all?  MRSA has left the hospital and invaded our schools and the gym, and anywhere else humans happen to hang out.  What’s with the panic?

 Well, it appears that this particular strain of the bug is hitting the gay community, gay men in particular, pretty hard.  Reuters reports on the study that points the accusatory finger at those bad boys with the fabulous clothes.  The study says that certain geographical communities, and the health services in those communities that serve a relatively high population of homosexual men, are seeing an increase in the number of cases of the MDR-MRSA. 

It seems that the hysteria is premature though.  Numbers may be being twisted.  Careful reading of other reports, like this NPR news story, indicate that the placing of blame may be misleading.  The new strain of the infection is affecting only 20% of gay men who have contacted MRSA:

Among gay men with resistant staph infections, Diep says, about 20 percent in San Francisco and up to 50 percent in Boston “are infected with this more-difficult-to-treat form of USA-300.”

That is 20-50% of the population that has already contacted some form of MRSA has this new MDR-MRSA, and these numbers are from clinics that serve a higher number of gay men than other health clinics.  The CDC states that 12% of clinical MRSA infections are community associated, and that this number varies by geographical location and population.  This report from 2003 is already talking about MRSA moving out of the hospital, into the community, and into certain minority populations.  It also warns that “We should not think of MRSA as either some type of super-staph infection or as a specifically gay health issue.”  according to Kenneth Haller, MD, President of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. 

It remains to be seen if the study by Binh Diep, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, and reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine is politically driven.  However, it is clear that the religious fundamentalist groups with an agenda against the gay community are already latching onto this.  It won’t take long for more to jump on the bandwagon.  Even in the time it has taken for me to do the research for this article, the “news” articles from conservative and religious-based sources with anti-gay biases increases with each search I perform. 

Sadly, it appears that we are in a DeLorean, travelling back to the 1980’s.  The accusations of a new “gay” epidemic, and calls for quarantining the gay population are being raised once again.  This time, we are educated, strong, and powerful.  We will not let intolerance, bigotry, and homophobia wipe out another generation of gay men.