I am a African American, straight female who has the joy of working as the Minority HIV Prevention Program Specialist for an AIDS Service Organization. While I don’t have the virus I work with those in my community that are infected and I work even harder to keep others from being infected. I’ve been called names, had assumptions made about my sexual orientation and HIV status all as a result of where I work. I feel that the work that I do every day is me fulfilling my purpose in life. I know that you don’t have to be infected with the virus to be affected and I will continue to fight for those who can’t and speak for those who feel they have no voice….because I give a damn!
Why do I give a damn? I watched my dad’s partner Randy die of cancer because of a lack of health insurance.
My dad and Randy were in a committed relationship for 12 years. My “stepdad” was one of the most wonderful men I have ever known. When he was diagnosed with cancer he wasn’t able to work and his insurance quickly ran out. Since they weren’t “married”, my dad’s insurance wouldn’t cover him. After about a year of fighting, Randy lost his battle on May 17th, 2007. Saying goodbye was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
Nobody knows if he could have been cured with proper health care, but it would have definitely relieved some of the stress he and my Dad experienced that year.
I give a damn for Randy, my dad, and everyone out there fighting for equality.
At many points in my past, I thought Oprah was following me with a secret camera: “On today’s show, gay partners of gay marines”, “Today, we’re talking about men and women who lose everything and end up on the street because they have no property rights or equality when gay relationships end”, “Have you been fired from a job simply because of your sexual orientation?”, “Have you been accused of sexual harassment from a normal conversational exchange just because the ‘victim’ hated gays?”, “Are you excluded from society just because you’re gay?” Yes, Oprah…I have.
I’m a traitor to “them”. I don’t have a gay accent. I don’t appear gay. I don’t have Lady Gaga tee-shirts (but, I’m going to get one). When straight men discover “my secret”, which is no secret AT ALL, friendships die, attitudes drastically alter and I’m the one left alone, lonely and drowning in a world where so very few men are like me. I live in Jacksonville, FL – as red as it gets!
The following is a story by FOX59 in Indianapolis:
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I am the parent of a transgender gay adult. I love both my boys the same. I am heartbroken that I live in a country that has made me have to fight for the right of my child to access health care that the rest of us take for granted. One of my sons has access to all the care and kindness our health care system has to offer, the other has to fight just to gain access, and then has to educate others to obtain fair and equal and respectful care.
How can this be right?
So if you know and love someone who is gay or trans or whatever, show you love them, fight for their rights in public. Education breeds understanding, and understanding breeds respect and fair treatment and love. I love my boys, Chris and Phil-they are my world and they make this world a better place.
I am the girl kicked out of her home because I confided in my mother that I am a lesbian.
I am the prostitute working the streets because nobody will hire a transsexual woman.
I am the sister who holds her gay brother tight through the painful, tear-filled nights.
We are the parents who buried our daughter long before her time.
I am the man who died alone in the hospital because they would not let my partner of twenty-seven years into the room.
I am the foster child who wakes up with nightmares of being taken away from the two fathers who are the only loving family I have ever had. I wish they could adopt me.
I am one of the lucky ones, I guess. I survived the attack that left me in a coma for three weeks, and in another year I will probably be able to walk again.
I am not one of the lucky ones. I killed myself just weeks before graduating high school. It was simply too much to bear.
We are the couple who had the realtor hang up on us when she found out we wanted to rent a one-bedroom for two men.
I am the person who never knows which bathroom I should use if I want to avoid getting the management called on me.
I am the mother who is not allowed to even visit the children I bore, nursed, and raised. The court says I am an unfit mother because I now live with another woman.
I am the domestic-violence survivor who found the support system grow suddenly cold and distant when they found out my abusive partner is also a woman.
I am the domestic-violence survivor who has no support system to turn to because I am male.
I am the father who has never hugged his son because I grew up afraid to show affection to other men.
I am the home-economics teacher who always wanted to teach gym until someone told me that only lesbians do that.
I am the man who died when the paramedics stopped treating me as soon as they realized I was transsexual.
I am the person who feels guilty because I think I could be a much better person if I didn’t have to always deal with society hating me.
I am the man who stopped attending church, not because I don’t believe, but because they closed their doors to my kind.
I am the person who has to hide what this world needs most, love.
I am the person who is afraid of telling his loving Christian parents he loves another male.
The following is an excerpt from a story by The Bozeman Daily Chronicle:
“A civil rights advocacy group filed a lawsuit Thursday on behalf of seven gay couples demanding the state provide them the same rights married couples have in making decisions affecting their family’s health care, finances, inheritance and other matters.
“The American Civil Liberties Union claims in the lawsuit that the state is violating the Montana Constitution by denying those rights to gay couples in committed relationships.
“The 14 plaintiffs aren’t challenging an amendment to the state constitution that bans same-sex marriage, the lawsuit says. But they want the state to acknowledge that gay couples have a constitutional right to equal protection under the law.
“ACLU of Montana legal director Betsy Griffing said at a news conference that the plaintiffs, seated behind her, are ‘14 highly accomplished individuals who are your neighbors, your co-workers and your community members.’
“‘The guarantees in the Montana Constitution of equal protection, privacy and dignity require the state of Montana to afford them the same legal rights and benefits as couples who marry.’
“Montana Department of Justice spokeswoman Judy Beck acknowledged her office received a copy of the lawsuit but said she could not comment until state attorneys have reviewed it.
“Among the rights married couples have that gay couples do not, according to the lawsuit:
* Inheritance rights, and the ability to make burial decisions and receive workers compensation death benefits.
* The right to file joint tax returns, claim spousal tax exemptions or take property tax benefits.
* The right to make health care decisions for a spouse when that person cannot.
* Legal protection in cases of separation and divorce, including children’s custody and support.
“The lawsuit does not define what constitutes a “committed” same-sex relationship, Griffing said.
“Possible models for statutory changes can be found in Vermont and New Jersey, both of which changed their laws regarding the rights of same-sex couples after lawsuits were filed, she said.
“…The plaintiffs are asking…to declare the state’s exclusion of same-sex couples from the protections given married couples a violation of the Montana Constitution. They also are seeking a judicial order that requires the state to give gay couples the legal status and statutory framework that gives them those protections.”
“Two plaintiffs, Stacey Haugland and Mary Leslie, a Bozeman couple who have been together for 12 years, say they want to be sure they can help each other in an emergency.
“‘I want to know that if I die, Mary can stay in our home and have access to our retirement funds. I want to know that if I get sick the person who loves me most, Mary, can make medical decisions for me,’ said Haugland, 44. ‘I can’t be sure of any of those things, and that’s why I’m a part of this lawsuit: I want to protect my family.’
“Leslie, 47, said she learned firsthand the lack of rights given to gay couples when her previous partner of eight years, Erika Pancow, was killed in an accident in 1996. Because she was considered a ’stranger in blood’ to Pancow, Leslie was one of the last people informed of her death and had no say in how she was buried, Leslie said.
“Pancow’s estranged family took half of the couple’s mutual funds and Pancow’s workers compensation death benefits, and they were allowed to enter the couple’s home to take Pancow’s possessions. Leslie said there was nothing she could do legally to stop them, but added she sympathized with their loss.
“‘I lost my life partner, I lost my financial security, I lost many of the items that allow a household to run,’ she said. ‘It is impossibly hard to lose the one that you love. No one should have to cope with the violations of person, home and physical well-being that I was subjected to.’”
The following is an excerpt from a story by The Washington Post:
“The White House will unveil the first formal national HIV/AIDS strategy on Tuesday, a plan that aims to reduce the number of new cases by 25 percent in the next five years, officials said.
“Noting that the number of new infections in the United States has been static — and that the number of people living with HIV is growing — the new policy would direct more resources toward African Americans and gay and bisexual men. Latinos and substance abusers should also be a priority, the report says, stating, ‘We must reorient our efforts by giving much more attention and resources’ to those four groups, who are the ‘populations at highest risk.’
“The announcement comes as President Obama faces pressure from gay rights advocates to do more for their community, including hastening the repeal of the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military. The new HIV/AIDS policy has been summarized in a 60-page report that credits the Bush administration for its efforts to address the disease but also laments the country’s general lack of concern. ‘The public’s sense of urgency associated with combating the epidemic appears to be declining’ since the days when infections first emerged, the report says.
“In addition to slashing the infection rate, the strategy calls for increasing patients’ access to care so that 85 percent of those infected will receive care within three months of being diagnosed, compared with 65 percent who do so now. It says that 90 percent of all people who have HIV or AIDS should know they are infected, up from the current 79 percent. A further goal should be to reduce the HIV transmission rate by 30 percent.
“The report says the twin aims of cutting new infections and increasing the number of patients who receive care will advance Obama’s goal of making the United States ‘a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination.’ The strategy does not call for a massive spending increase.”
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Hi, my name is Kelli. I have experienced discrimination in many emergency rooms, as soon as I disclose I’m transgender.
Even though no one would know just by looking at me. I experience them calling me – he, Mr., sir – regardless to the fact that I look completly female and consider myself as such.
I have also experienced ridiculous personal questioning which has nothing to do with my medical condition, as well as delayed service or being completely ignored! When I tell them it’s none of their business, they are offended. They act like I owe them an explaination! I certainly DO NOT! Which leads to even more anomosity towards me!
Anyway, thanks for you time and concern!!!
Today, I found out that my friend’s mom’s gay friend was told he couldn’t give blood because he was gay. Shouldn’t this be a granted human right, such as marriage.
It should be. And that is one of the reasons why I give a damn.
Get informed and get involved. Register to join the campaign and let us know you give a damn about equality.
Spread the word about equality. Watch our damn videos and share them with the people in your life!play
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The following is a story by FOX59 in Indianapolis: GET INFORMED, GET INVOLVED Learn more about Health CareAuthor:
Our health is one of the most important things in life. But when it comes to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans, our nation’s health care system can involve little “health” and even less “care.”