DON’T WITHER

Oh what a sad and woeful tale full of ignorance and self-loathing Paul Highsmith (10 Things I’ve Learned About HIV, SSO 713) managed to weave.

When I first read it I, as a person who has been positive for nearly 20 years, was offended. I do not consider my identity defined by a virus I have contracted. The reason I am involved with the support network that I have built about me is not because I can’t cope without it, but more because it enables and empowers me to cope very well. It helps me to explore the many options available to positive people.

On second reading, I realised that rather than feel offended, I felt a deep sadness for the poor person who wrote the article. Some of his points were realistic but this man, who chooses to feel so negatively about being positive and has built a closet in which to ensconce himself so firmly, is in obvious need of assistance. Otherwise he may find his virus creeping over him and claiming him as it has so many others who only see negatives. They have withered away in shame, despair and denial.

-” Ian J. Thompson, via email

WHOSE VALUES?

If Rodney Croome is going to continue to speak on behalf of the NSW GLBT community, then he needs to improve both his political analysis and his knowledge of NSW.

Values education that truly teaches tolerance and respect for diversity is of course a good thing. But when a chief of staff to a federal minister describes our communities as unnatural and disease-ridden, in the context of values education in schools, the week before a budget announcement about values education in schools, then it is a clear message to conservative teachers and administrators that the new funding may be used to teach intolerance.

Rodney suggests instead that community groups should work with schools to get good results. Let’s ignore for the moment his suggestion that this is a new idea when ACON, the Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby, the Anti-Violence Project, Family Planning Australia Health and others have been doing it for years, and instead focus on the difference in size. I am assuming that Rodney will be providing some of his excess resources from Tasmania for us to visit the 3,141 schools, 60,000 teachers and 754,000 students in NSW after he has finished working with the 281 schools, 8,879 teachers and 36,405 students in Tasmania.

-” Stevie Clayton, Sydney

BLACKMARKET DOPE

Mr Carr has announced, yet again, he wishes to set up a medicinal cannabis trial in NSW but he does not want to see people grow cannabis in their backyard or buy it on the black market.

Well, I have news for the premier: tens of thousands of patients currently grow their own or buy it on the black market. Not their choice but the result of the inaction of his government.

Last May’s words still echo: The complexity of an issue does not provide a licence to walk away while ordinary people suffer -¦

Come on, Mr Carr, it’s now 12 months since you promised the patients of NSW a sensible, commonsense and compassionate approach to the medical use of cannabis. At this rate, my next legal smoke will be my cremation.

-” Justin Brash, Surry Hills

WARNING TO VOTERS

With recent revelations in the media detailing attempts by extreme right-wing Christians to stack Liberal party branches, we must realise that there are elements actively organising against our community in preparation for the next federal election.

The Liberal party already has many prominent anti-gay Christians as sitting members in federal parliament. Any election win that boosts their numbers will result in these factions being able to push their agendas even further, blocking and curtailing our rights as citizens in this country.

I ask that those in our community who support the Liberal party please think very carefully about how they vote in the next election.

Let us not forget that 1920s Berlin was at that time the safest place in the world for gay and lesbian people. That period gave birth to a vibrant gay cabaret scene and the first serious scientific research into homosexuality as a normal part of human behaviour rather than aberration.

Look at what happened only 10 years later.

If we do not continue to be vigilant we may see everything we have worked for over the last 30 years taken away from us. When you vote in the next election please vote for parties that have made strong public commitments to our rights. If you are not registered to vote, then do so. The fines you may have to pay will be a far lesser price than the cost of letting this element control the destiny of this country for the next four years.

-” Andrew M. Potts, Newtown

THANKS TO MAG

A very big belated thank you to Justice Kirby for giving up his time to talk to those who attended the MAG gathering on 24 April. The talk was a very perspicacious and inspiring insight into His Honour’s opinions, with many in the audience feeling quite privileged to have been present that evening. An equally big thank you to Steve Ostrow and his team at MAG who successfully pulled off this logistical feat to ensure the night ran like clockwork, and for allowing two young uni students to attend the esteemed event. We deeply appreciate your time and effort, and the crowd that was present would certainly agree with me when I say that a slice of the final applause goes to the team at MAG and ACON.

-” Stephen, via email

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