I haven’t written much about HIV/AIDS on this blog for a few reasons. First, I don’t feel like I have the knowledge to write helpful posts on the topic. Second, while this is an important topic, it hasn’t been a particular focus at New Direction. And third, I do not want to perpetuate the stereotype that HIV/AIDS is a gay disease. Hopefully most people recognize by now that HIV/AIDS is transmitted in a number of different ways and is a risk that crosses all social, economic, racial and orientation lines.
But we received an email today that offered the opportunity for me to respond:
“I have used your resources in the past when my brother came ‘out’ to my parents. I am SO thankful for your organization! My brother was recently diagnosed as HIV+ and I wondered if you can direct me to any resources that deal with this? Not so much the medical side of things, but questions like, ‘Why is God punishing me?’, ‘Why did God allow this to happen to me’, ‘Can I be forgiven?'”
When I read an email like this, a number of things flash through my mind. I remember the first time I heard about AIDS. I was in a phys. ed. class at my Christian high school. It was the mid-eighties. A video clip was shown in which a gay man was talking about his illness. One of my classmates burst into tears and rushed out of the room. The man in the video was her uncle. She did not know that he was gay or that he had, since the video’s release, died of AIDS. She’d been told he died of cancer. I can remember the shock going through the room. And I remembered at the time how angry I felt that this girl’s family had been too embarrassed to be honest with her and tell her the truth. I didn’t know that much about homosexuality back then, but I knew enough to be outraged that someone’s family would be so ashamed of them as to lie.