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My Life

Oct 12th, 2010 02:10 PM By Tracy

I am a middle aged lesbian that lives in the bible belt with my partner of eleven years. I am fortunate enough to work at a place that allows me to have her on my health insurance. We have home and life insurance policies, checking and savings accounts that we both are named on. However, I still fear the “what ifs.” Will she be taken care? My bottom line in this issue is I want to know that she will have the right to “pull the plug” if it comes to that.

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Older Couple

Oct 12th, 2010 02:02 PM By Janet

I dream that one day my partner and I are entitled to the same rights that any straight couple is entitled to – like social security benefits. I hope that my family would recognize her right to share in important decisions regarding my health/life issues, she is not protected by law as of yet…therefore, I give a damn…Janet

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My Life as a HIV Young Guy

Oct 12th, 2010 10:47 AM By Felipe

My life was like any other guys life I think. I had my friends, my family, my boyfriend and my job. I never really liked very much the job that I had but I went along with it because after all I needed to work. Everything was fine then, but in September 2009 my life changed in a way that I never thought it could. After being sick in bed for 10 days, I could hardly walk, it was horrible, the doctor gave me a 7 day break and a strictly diet.

So, I followed the diet and I stayed in bed, after that I came back to my work and in that very same day I felt all sick again, so the next day I went back to the doctor and he told me that I HAD to go for the HIV test, so I did it that same day. Seven days later I went to pick up the results and the girl in the front desk told me that I should go on Monday to have ‘em. I felt so nervous and uneasy, but I went on Monday and the nurse told me that my exam has been positive and I had to go for a second exam to reassure that result.
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My Story…The Real Me

Oct 12th, 2010 10:33 AM By Tracey

Hey Everyone,

First of all I would like to introduce myself…my name is Tracey, I am 31 years old and I am gay (Lesbian).

The reason I am posting this is because I CERTAINLY GIVE A DAMN as I have lived my life (up until last year) like a movie…I have had to play many different characters to many different people in fear of not being accepted or being shunned by society…afraid to be me.

I have come across many, many people who think that there is a certain ‘look’ for gay people and when they have found out that I’m gay they say “Oh but you don’t look gay..I would never have said that you were gay.” I have had people, who I thought were my friends, that have found out about me or who I have confided in that don’t even speak to me anymore just because I love or have loved someone the same gender as me. Why do people have to judge each other just for who they love? They don’t seem to at least think that I have feelings and that on the whole I am a good person, respectable, I work hard, I care about other people, I’m loyal and honest…I guess that none of these qualities matter!
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International Volunteers with HIV and the Changing World

Oct 12th, 2010 10:15 AM By Carlton

I have been learning to live with HIV for a while now. It has caused me to reflect on my life in some significant ways. I have had both good and bad experiences sharing my status with others. There is much misinformation regarding HIV and this has impacted how people react. During the past few years,I have traveled to many parts of the globe and have seen first hand the devastating effects HIV has had on many different kinds of people and in many diverse communities. I have spent significant time in South Africa, Russia, Hungary, France, Guatemala, Peru, Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia,UK, Mexico,Tahiti, San Francisco, Portland, and the South Bronx, yet I have a special place in my heart for Cape Town.

For a few years I helped administer a program focusing on human rights, The International Human Rights Exchange, where I would bring 40 South African students and 40 Americans together in Cape Town to explore issues, one of them being HIV and human rights. It was during this time, I discovered I was HIV positive. In fact, I found out only a short time before having to go from New York to South Africa to run the program and consequently had my first HIV support meeting with strangers at The Triangle Project, an LGBT focused NGO in Cape Town. It was surreal to go from running my academic program in one part of the city to my HIV support group across town. As you can imagine I was the only American in my support group and it was not easy. I was not taking medication at that time, so my sense of being limited by HIV laws for travelers was not at the peak of my awareness. Now that I do take meds, I am painfully aware of my potential vulnerability to border guards and immigration officials. I have wondered what these meds, and unfair laws, might due to block my aspirations of being a global nomad. It is an ongoing process of education as rights keep shifting.
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The Son I Thought I’d Never Have

Oct 11th, 2010 02:30 PM By Randall

I’m a 45 year old single gay male who has been HIV+ for 13 yrs. I will also add that I’m a recovering alcoholic/addict who has been clean & sober for over 4 years now.

I’m extremely grateful to say that I was granted full adoption of my now 6 year old nephew 2 years ago after the passing of my sister from pancreatic cancer. He is bi-racial (mother=white & father=black) and his father is a married man (not to my sis) who signed off on his parental rights.

I was present at his birth and have been the primary male role model in his life. He is an extremely well adjusted boy and I have explained in detail about all of our “special circumstances”. He has attended countless gay A.A. meetings, HIV+ support groups & prevention/education classes with me. He has even been involved in my advocacy/lobbying efforts by being by my side while I spoke in front of our city council. He is well loved by all and has been dubbed “the poster child for diversity”.

Words could never describe my pride and how grateful I am for such a wonderful network of extended family. I’m joining Give A Damn to do whatever I can to ensure that my son and especially those children without strong representation don’t have to suffer from the hate and prejudice of others. I myself remember what it felt like to be teased. My family was poor, espeacilly so after my mother came out as a lesbian when my parents divorced at age 11.

While my experiences were nowhere near as bad as what others have had to endure, no child should ever have to go through anything remotely close to it.

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There Are No Resources Here

Oct 08th, 2010 11:57 PM By Sandra

There are no resources in my area for the youth who are kicked out, abused or shunned by their families. It makes me sick. Our young people are forced to live in the closet until they are old enough to leave this town, and who knows what happens to them then. Some go to college and live freely. Those who cannot afford higher education, or choose not to pursue a degree, just disappear. Why?

Because I give a damn, I have involved my mother, my kids and myself in promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in this backwards town. My kids are bullied and called names, but we continue in our fight to bring equality to all, no matter what the personal cost because we are free to openly love, marry, join the military and make medical decisions for our family.

Until there is liberty and justice for all, we do not say the Pledge of Allegiance. We have shelters for the homeless, disaster victims, victims of abuse and foster children. Why can we not have one for our LGBT youth? They deserve a safe, loving place to live. I take these young people into my home if they come, but if they are under the age of 18, I can be arrested for harboring a runaway if parents choose to press charges. I wish more people in my area gave a damn, but they don’t.

With Liberty and Justice for All

Oct 08th, 2010 08:22 PM By Justin

As a high school teacher in a fairly well-to-do district of DuPage County just outside of the city of Chicago, my health care coverage is a benefit that I enjoy. It is also a benefit that the spouses of my colleagues enjoy. Unfortunately, it is not a benefit that my partner of 9 years can enjoy. While I followed my passion for teaching and pursued a career that allowed me to do what I loved to, he did the same with his passion, and started his own business.

Several years ago, when we were married, I explained to him that everyday I worried with the uncertainty of him not having health insurance, and so he purchased some. Since then, the price he pays per month for his insurance has gone up 234%, while his deductible, in order to remain at a manageable level, has gone from $500, to $1000, to $2000, and finally, on his last birthday, to $5000. He is a perfectly healthy man, who does not smoke or drink, has no illness or disease (knock on wood!) and has only seen the doctor once in nine years for a very minor issue. He now pays more for his individual insurance coverage than my colleague who is married with 8 children.

While my union claims to have fought in the last contract negotiations to include the extension of benefits to same-sex partners, the only concession related to the issue was to include a statement in the contract that reads:

[Section] 8.08.13.A.9 The Board will offer domestic partner benefits when the State of Illinois recognizes same-sex civil unions.

In a callous move, the school board of the district that I love teaching in shifted all of the blame related to this issue from themselves, to the state of Illinois. Instead of being a pioneer district to lead the way, my district spit in my face and the face of all of the other GLBTQ staff members who help to make the district so strong. Shame on them for allowing it. Shame on the state of Illinois for allowing it. Shame on the United States for allowing it. Shame on all of society for allowing it.

I realize that there are many other problems much more pressing for the GLBTQ community, than the equality of rights for same-sex couples. And I realize that the GLBTQ community is and has always worked very hard on these kinds of issues. But I surely hope that people with power, REAL political power, start to “Give a Damn.” For until straight people start standing up and explaining how GLBTQ rights are important to ALL people, I fear that the Damn I Give will flow into an empty reservoir and remain stagnant.

Every morning during 2nd period, I lead my class in pledging my allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. That pledge I take every day ends with the words, “with liberty and justice for all.” Yet neither my district, nor my state, has provided me or my family with liberty. And in doing so, justice has not been extended to all.

I pray for the day this will change.

A Future Health Care Provider

Oct 08th, 2010 08:19 PM By Shanna

I’m originally from the Bay Area in California and went to school in Santa Cruz, so it’s probably safe to say I have a somewhat unique opinion in support of equality. For me, I grew up in a place where it was just an accepted fact that some of my friends were gay and some were straight. How they identified themselves was never an issue for me or other people in our circle of friends. Whenever I hear about someone being abused or denied rights just for being who they are, it bothers me to no end. For me, it’s not hurting some stranger out there who is different from me, it’s something that targets my friends and people I love.

A year ago I moved to the east coast for graduate school. It’s actually kind of surprising that the mindset I grew up with isn’t shared here. I don’t think any of my classmates are outright prejudiced, I think they just lack the exposure I had. But when I hear one of them say, “oh, my professor for such-and-such class told us she was gay and I felt so uncomfortable sitting in the front row,” it really opens my eyes to the biases people hold. I know that in the bigger picture, those thoughts are somewhat mild, but we’re going into the health care profession. It makes me wonder what other health care professionals think or do when they encounter a patient with a different sexual orientation or gender identity than their own. I was shocked when I read the issues here on the site regarding health care services. It’s appalling to me that anyone should receive less or no care solely because of their identity.

I just want to say that I greatly appreciate people on this site sharing their stories, it’s a powerful thing to do. As I move on through my career I will certainly keep these issues in mind and strive to provide a safe environment for all my patients.

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Kicked Out At 15

Oct 03rd, 2010 01:04 PM By Michael

I had a friend who was like a brother to me. He told me that he was abused by his father from 9 months to 14 years old. Then when his parents found out that he was gay, they kicked him out at the age of 15. He had nowhere to go and this was in the early 50s. So, there weren’t any places for him to go.

He lived on the streets of Boston and he had to sell himself to survive. One of the guys he had sex with had HIV and he got infected. Now, he is living in Idaho and is 54 years old. I was really pissed off at his parents for doing that to him, and none of his family would have anything to do with him. I find that so bloody stupid.

I hate it when I hear things like this and how a family would abuse their child for so long and then kick him out of the house because he is gay. Well you know what, it’s their loss that they didn’t get the chance to know that he is a wonderful man. His father, the abuser, died years ago from Lou Gerig’s and too much drinking.

About his parents, they are Christians that lived by the bible and were told you can’t have a gay child living in your home. If they lived by the bible, his father wouldn’t have abused him and his mother would have protected him.

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