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On AIDS - a painful experience and lesson

AIDS in North America is a gay disease. Gay man consist of more than half of the HIV-positive population in US and Canada. The superficial reason for this is simple, sexual conducts of many gay men were irresponsible and careless in the last few decades. But people's attitude is changing. And the history of the spreading of AIDS is more then just a result of sexual conducts.

The sexual misconduct of these gay brothers are not entirely their fault. Although they make the ultimate call on how they behave sexually, society's rejection of their sexually played a significant role in shaping how they make decisions.

Young gay men often fall into various degree of sexual obsession because of desperate emotional needs. Such needs exist in all people, only that gays' and lesbians' are repressed because of social intolerance. The need is not physical, since all of us know how friendly our own hands can be... The act of reaching out physically to other gay person indicates their need for social intimacy and acceptance. However misguided, it is also a way of expressing their right and validity. Society's rejection of homosexuals prevented male-male intimacy from developing healthily. Until today, many gay socialization is still underground and highly localized, making it unreachable for most gay people and relatively isolated from the rest of society. Such social setting is full of desperate and confused souls in seek of intimacy and validation. In guilt and desperation, they often go for the fastest way of relieve: one night stand. It is through such trend, that HIV spread.

Please note that the spread of disease does not imply a large population of promiscuous people. For example, the disease can be passed on from A to B to C in a linear manner. "B" only had sex twice, and he had already contributed to the process of the spread. All we need is a very small number of promiscuous individuals to dramatically branch out such linear spreading pattern, hence greatly increasing the number of HIV carriers. Gay HIV victims are not necessarily promiscuous people.

Shallow interaction between these men could have been prevented. Society's rejection have forced fear, guilt, and emotional pain on them. If gay people were accepted, the opportunity to explore and express their love and feelings openly can greatly promote a better kind of socialization. The gay community could have been built on open love, rather then hidden desires. Open dating provide a healthy outlet for emotional expression, therefore the need for shallow experience, such as casual sex, could have been greatly reduced. It also foster a better morale because they would have to become more responsible because of their visibility and validity.

Therefore, in many ways, the spread of AIDS is an indirect result of social intolerance of gay people. And it can be changed.

In the last decade, because of the epidemic, gay people have learnt to take physical responsibility regardless of how desperate their needs are. The complex political and social fluctuation the disease has caused have also lead may gays to re-examine their values and conducts. From safer-sex to opposing premarital sex, the gay population have learnt that we cannot wait for the public to accept us before we make intelligent and responsible decisions. We have became stronger and healthier as a culture because of this face off with this deadly disease. It was a hard and painful learning process.

AIDS had outted many of us and forced us to unite as a community in this last decade. We have raised money, educated and talked about the sickness, rejected stupid sexual conducts, exalted the spirit of care and love, heighten the sense of responsibility, and cared for the sick. The AIDS epidemic was almost like Israelites' 40 years of exodus in the desert: it was painful, but it created a new people: a stronger, wiser, freer people. We have sinned, like the Israelites. We cannot blame our pains on God. But we also have learnt through His staff of reality, and gained the courage to confront our own demons.

Sadly, heterosexual is now the fastest growing sector in the spread of this disease. The growth of HIV cases among gays has slowed down in recent years. Since disease growth pattern is somewhat geometric, a drop in the spreading rate of this disease indicates significant changes in gay people's sexual conduct at large. This means hope. The gay community has started to came around on its own strength.

As Christians, we should be compassionate, active, and positive on this issue. We should take care of the sick, council them, love them as Jesus would. Express your care in action. We should also positively encourage the growing new attitude on sex: less is a good thing, and it doesn't define who we are as gays. Don't view those who have fallen because of the disease as failures, but in all we do, express the glory and love of God. Although unfortunate, AIDS is part of the gays' experience, we ought to understand its pain and its lesson, through which we may understanding more about our calling as a gay Christian.

May our pain reminds us of our future.