two views of Barcelona

The Barcelona AIDS Conference can be seen as the latest, problematic worldwide attempt to come to terms with what is expected to be the worst epidemic in human history*. Unfortnately it can also be seen through the demented eyes of
those who have condemned themselves to the sickness of ignorance and hate.

Most people, even in the United States, are blissfully unaware of the extent of the pure hatred and viciousness which has always been thrown at queers and, in the last twenty years, at those who have been perceived as representing HIV disease (for these fools' purposes, the two groups are indistinguishable), but even after the death of tens of millions, this particular horror, produced by the hatred which arises from our lowest instincts, remains.

Distinct from the vituperation hurled at what is thought of as "The Other" is that cast by some gays and HIV positive people themselves at those whom they consider impolite or impolitic troublemakers.

Upon returning from Barcelona this month, one member of ACT UP found in the group's mailbox an avalanche of emails revealing a perverse literature produced by blind hatred. I have seen some of the messages themselves** and they are incredibly sick, and the "stack" includes messages from gays as well.

Here is another ACT UP correspondent's take on the phenomenon, written in response to an email distribution of the message texts:

So very, very sad. These poor ignoramuses have no idea what AIDS [activism] has done for patient empowerment, for public-private cooperative community-based interventions, for basic virology, for holding drug companies accountable and causing them to change their course, for getting research spread across several institutes of NIH integrated....

Of course, the unifying thread in all these letters is homophobia. I
don't think I have heard as many variations of stick it up your ass
since I went to a conference on anal-genital neoplasms. It's
interesting. These horrid, hateful people were always here, but they
seem to have dropped the "...and the poor babies" bit.

Based on what I infer of these authors' intelligence and compassion
after reading these letters, I would say pissing them off was a sign
you're doing the right thing.


[my apologies for the length of these two texts, but they were simply not available as links, and I thought it important to somehow include them here]

* an item from the Chicago Tribune


July 26, 2002

Viewed as a whole, the global AIDS epidemic is a calamity so immense it
likely will leave you feeling powerless. You're tempted to turn to other,
more manageable problems. It defies the imagination.

As of the end of last year, approximately 40 million people worldwide were
living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and 22 million more had
died of the disease. At the present rate of growth, the number of infected
people is likely to rise to 100 million by decade's end, according to the
latest batch of grim statistics released by the United Nations earlierthis
month. Add the collateral damage--children left without parents, economies
without workers, countries without futures--and the AIDS epidemic takes on
apocalyptic proportions.

But surrendering to AIDS by not mounting an effective global response
amounts to virtual suicide. The answer lies in breaking up the challenge
into more comprehensible pieces and acting accordingly, as participants at
the recent International AIDS Conference in Barcelona attempted to do.
essential elements:

- A strategy has to be both global and coherent. This is a challenge
custom-made for the UN if there ever was one, and Secretary General Kofi
Annan's initiative to develop a global fund to coordinate money-raising,
determine priorities and collect reliable information about the scope of
the disease is the right place to start.

- Money--in the tens of billions of dollars--will be needed. Annan has
set a
yearly target of $7 billion to $10 billion, also targeting malaria and
killers. Depending on who's doing the arithmetic, the U.S. has contributed
as much as $1 billion or as little as $200 million.

The real number is probably somewhere in between--and not enough. Annan
would like the U.S. to contribute $2.5 billion yearly. The size of the
American economy--and the economic and security implications of AIDS in
Africa and of the exploding number of cases in Russia, China and India--
Annan's number a good down payment on what the U.S. ought to contribute.

- The debate over prevention versus treatment in developing countries is
past. Both are needed: Treatment of those already infected is an integral
part of the process of preventing additional infections.

- Beating up on the big bad pharmaceutical companies is self-defeating-
are the ones coming up with new treatments. Instead, international
dual-pricing agreements ought to be established to maintain the financial
incentive for further research while making drugs affordable to poorer

- At this juncture, proven and blunt prevention methods--distribution of
clean hypodermic needles, condoms and sex education, among others--have
take precedence over moralizing. In Russia, the number of cases is nearly
doubling every year. Most of the victims are drug addicts who use dirty
needles. In the U.S., clean-needle distribution has repeatedly been
by some conservative groups despite its effectiveness. That is not an

- Local leadership is essential. While some underdeveloped nations have
ravaged by AIDS, Brazil has set an example of how head-on strategies of
treatment, prevention, education and other interventions can begin to
the rate of infection. Global efforts cannot bear fruit amid local apathy.

The UN fund to fight AIDS deserves both active American participation and
dollars. Doing otherwise flies on the face of fundamental human compassion
and our clear national interest.

Copyright (c) 2002, Chicago Tribune

** the hate mail to ACT UP

[interesting that the action which shouted-down Secretary Thompson was actually the work of GMHC, not heretofore known for in-your-face activism, and not that of ACT UP]


I don't think we serve society by hiding this ugliness:Do you now,or did you ever think that in the ongoing stupidity of the human
race,that instead of sreaming at politicians,homophobes,and everyone else
you think is involved in some way of not coming up with a solution,that
maybe,just maybe,the answer starts with the peaple spreading the disease?

Act-Up - have you ever heard of maybe, acting mature? Your arrogance knows
no bounds. Let me educate you a little since you seem to fail to realize the truth: most Americans don't give a fuck about aids and never will. In fact, the more you idiots "act-up" like a bunch of assholes, the more you alienate your cause.

To counter your irrational activism, I've recently started a grass-roots
action group to end tax dollars expenditures on aids research. We have a
petition signed by hundreds of citizens already and we are completely
commited and totally motivated towards ending this total waste of our money.

As far as I'm concerned, the more of you freaks that die from aids, the
better off this world will be.

Why should we give your organization any more money? You people who are
irresponsible take funds away from Breast Cancer research. You are saying
that Bush administration is killing people with aids. Why don't you homos
who practice butt sex be more responsible and wear your rubbers, better yet, the only safe sex is no sex. You are the ones killing yourselves. In the Bible it talks against homosexuality, you should read it and get saved.


My first impression was to tell your organization to go fuck itself. But
before you give me the racist homophobic bullshit blowoff, I'd just like to
let you in on an obvious fact.

You guys are your own worst enemy and you will ultimately bring yourselves

You guys are fascist idiots and only hurt our cause.

You know, I for one am sick and disgusted and tired of the homosexual
community, period. You participate in risky behaviors and then, when you
come down with AIDS you want the taxpayer to foot the bill for your illness.
Here's a unique concept: Stop Fucking

While it is absolutely your right to demonstrate, I have just got to tell
you that many of your organization's tactics "stink". Please don't classify
this as "hate" mail...because it isn't. As a former NYer, I have been
watching ACT UP act up in public for quite a while, and I often wonder what
the response would be to a conservative group -young, loud, and hip- who
used the same , some would say harrassment, methods to demonstrate

If you FAGS quit puttin' it up your INFECTED asses, aids would be under
control. More money??? HELL NO!!! You want to reduce aids in the US? drop a fuckin' h-bomb on SF...........for starters.... Homo-sexual activity IS the problem...I really dislike your kind and this organ-ization.

Does it really prove anything to act like a bunch of unevolved cave men,
when people are there and trying to help you?.What a bunch of moorons, in
the good old days they would have shot ass hole groups like you on the white house lawn. What if you all lived in Egypt, would the Government take care of you any better, if you feel it would, then get the hell out of this country....The Old addage holds true, God helps those who help them
selves....So quit blameing others for your downfalls, and quit expecting
true Americans to bail your asses out.....But being the typical liberal
lovers you are I doubt that will happen....give me give me give me.....when
u should think , more like how can I help my self.....

I listened to the news reports of your actions to silence Secretary Thompson at the AIDS confernece. Free speech is guaranteed in this country. Your should be ashamed of your behavior. Your malady is preventable, particularly in the developed world. It is a self induced problem. I will write my representatives to divert the US's 40% fundingto the war on terrorism. I believe under that definition, you may become a target yourself.

Freedom is earned, not granted. Free speech is a right not to be taken
away. Despots have learned that the hard way. Perhaps you did not listen
well in you history classes.

In Light of todays development in Barcelona and your actions regarding
Secretary Thompson, what can you tell me, a straight, right wing, Republican who nevertheless has compassion for all suffering people, that will cause me to take up your cause, keeping in mind that you will need me and millions like me to lobby congress in order to help YOUR CAUSE ? No matter what you do or say you guys ( Gays , Queers , People that think your OK ) are a minority and you need the rest of the country in order to help your cause , so will you keep aleniating us to the point that we say fuck it let them rot; i dont want to do this but this is were all your attitude is leading me to, what can you say to convince me to be sympathetic to your cause ?

You should be ashamed of yourselves. Taking resources from the whole of
humankind for your pitiful disease which has a cure. Taking research money
from diseases like cancer for a bunch of fools who can't keep their clothes
on, is perhaps the most abhorant manifestation of selfishness known to the
world today.


Hello - I read today that your organization took part in the protesting
durring Tommy thompson's speach at the AIDS conference in Spain. The article said that Mark Milano from ACT-UP New York, and others,argued that "U.S. funding to fight AIDS remains inadequate."
I would like to know why your organization wants me and other tax payers
to pay for preventing and treating a disease that is 100% preventable through actions of those not infected. It doesn't cost anything to avoid AIDS through sexually transmitted avenues. The cost to better screen blood before blood transfusions would be minimal and I don't believe the tax payers should have to pay for it unless they use the services. I am very interested in your response and will share it with those I work with. Thanks for your time.

I've been trying to be empathetic with your organization and the search for
a cure for the AIDS virus. Your endorsement and/or condoning of the
silencing of Secretary Thompson after being invited by the Barcelona
Conference today has certainly gotten my attention. I will no longer ever
consider supporting an organization which does not believe in free're killing yourselves! I'll now write my congressmen and tell
them to take our 40% funding of the World's Aids fight and put it toward the War against Terrorism, which by the way, you may be added to that infamous list...

I read a UPI story today about the demonstrations at the 14th International
AIDS Conference and how Sec. Tommy Thompson was kept from making his speech. In particular I read with disgust the statement by Milano Mark organization: ³He was going to tell lies and we shut him down." How mature. We don¹t like what someone has to say so we are going to act like children having a temper tantrum and shout them down. Very productive. I think the technical term is CENSORSHIP.

As someone who is battling with HIV, I find your organization and its
members totally reprehensible. You are nothing more than a bunch of
ignorant anti-American radicals doing your best to destroy America. Do the
country a favor and go get a real job. Those of us with HIV don¹t need you
or ACT UP.

I pray and work daily for the destruction of your organization.

I just read an article about you crazy whackos and the way you treated our
Commissioner of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson. Again you people
show what you are really all about, and that is causing mayhem and trouble.
What possible good can it do when you are complaning that the US should pay
$10 billion to treat the AIDS crisis worldwide to spit in the face of the
man who has a large role in getting the funds you are fighting for.
Wouldn't it make more sense to listen and try to work together. By the way
why is it the job of the US to pay for other countries problems? why is it
all out job to take care of everyone else? do you have a sensible answer for this? I know you don't so don't even try. Your organization is a joke and your members are crazy finatical lunitics who will never do any good for anyone engaging in the tactis you use. So why don't you all get a life and try to help someone in your own neighboorhood and forget about some guy in Africa who refuses to use a condem.
You are Pathetic,

Are you proud of the actions taken by your delegates
in Spain? I think it is a disgrace to speak over a
person, especially a person in a leadership position
at a meeting of this nature. There are ways to get
points across, but I really think you missed the boat
on this one.

[the names and email addresses of these items have been deleted, what, to protect the innocent? No, to make the problem, and our enemy, less personal]

I get the impression the senders of all this "hate mail" don't really have a clue as to the incredible complexities of the world wide AIDS situation. Their messages are self centered and for the most part, ignorant.

I would love to hear them go face-to-face with my brother Mark Milano. When it comes to the facts, he will blow any of their simplistic arguments out of the water.

Dean, I know Mark, and I couldn't agree with you more!

About this Entry

Published on July 27, 2002 1:20 AM.

previous entry: public service announcement

next entry: the call of the wild