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    What I learned from The Independent today:

    Apparently, Tracey Emin’s fifteen minutes aren’t blessedly over as I’d thought. Sheesh.

    There’s also this (via Gay News and leading to an interview that’s summarized in the original publication here) a piece on a former minister under the conservative UK administrations in the ’80s:

    Francis Maude, the chairman of the Conservative Party, has said that the homophobic attitude of the Thatcher government contributed to the death of his brother from Aids.

    Mr Maude, who served as a minister under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, said he regretted voting for the now-repealed Section 28, which banned councils from promoting homosexuality. [He explains a little further later on: “Some local authorities were actively promoting homosexuality to school children at a time when gay sex under the age of 21 was illegal.”–SRK] “In hindsight a mistake, I voted for it, I was a minister,” he said.

    “The gay scene in London in the 1980s was quite aggressively promiscuous and I think if society generally and the government I served in had been more willing to recognise gay people then there would have been less of that problem.”

    He added: “A lot of people like my brother would not have succumbed to HIV and lost their lives.”

    I’m always of two minds when people say stuff like this. On the one hand, yes, people whose moral code says that gays should be outcasts have to behave as they believe, but then they’re not exactly in a position to point to statistics about self-destructive behavior and trumpet that they show something inherently screwed-up about homosexuality. Cutting people off from civilizing institutions and social structures is hardly a way to find out whether they’re capable of civilized behavior.

    On the other…Maude is a powerful politician, not just a prominent private citizen who misses his brother, and I wish politicians were able to display more of a sense of context about these things. We’re talking about the aftermath of the Sexual Revolution, the promiscuity of which caused plenty of problems for straight people, too, despite their being accepted by society. Besides which, immoderate behavior is hardly an inevitable response to being reviled–whatever happened to “living well is the best revenge”? I want more acceptance of gays, obviously, and I find Maude’s change of heart on the topic very moving. It’s just that using AIDS to argue for it always seems to have, hovering in there somwhere, an implication that straight people need to be especially nurturing and gentle toward us because, you know, look what we went and did when they weren’t the last time. That’s not the way you talk about people you regard as adults and equals.

    5 Responses to “Ministering”

    1. Alan says:

      Speaking of which, I’m not sure if you’ve seen it, but Ace of Spades found a really cool article about not just a potential new AIDS killer, but a superdrug that could take out pretty much anything.

      Sounds too good to be true, really, but I hope that’s not the case.

    2. Janis Gore says:

      It’s hard to factor what happened in the ’80’s to gays because that was when AIDS hit the streets.

      Most of the people I know or know of, and that runs to about three dozen, who died of AIDS contracted it during a time when the danger was hardly known.

      In the US, AIDS hit in about, what 1983? Many people were exposed before they knew much about what it was.

      Sure promiscuity was a factor. I’m not proud to say that I ran some risks, too. But not after the general alert.

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      Alan, thanks for the link. Certainly looks promising at this stage.

      Janis, I know that I run a risk by opining about these things when I wasn’t around. Well, I was around, but I was in secondary school. Anyway, I know that AIDS wasn’t known to be an STD until ’83 or so. At the same time, a lot of people gambled with immoderate living. There are people who screw themselves and their families over with too much booze, too much betting on horses, or too much overtime at the office. Over-indulgence in any one of life’s satisfactions tends to get you into trouble; that’s why traditional wisdom in every culture I’m familiar with stresses moderation.

      I’m not condemning people. It’s tragic that so many guys didn’t know, in concrete terms, what risk they were taking. But they made unconventional choices and took the consequences like free adults. I think it’s a little demeaning to say that if society had just loved them more, they would have behaved differently. That’s not possible to know.

    4. Janis Gore says:

      I’m supporting your point.

      It was a generally immoderate time of living. Many people ran risks in many ways. My husband’s ex-wife slept with his best friend in that era. Not before he had run out on her with some girl whose whole name he can’t remember. That led to divorce in 1984. We all were physically and psychically screwed up.

      It was a period of liberation and we didn’t know how to handle it.

      Much as the minister might mind now, all of us were awry.

      When all comes down to the ground, I can’t be more lucky or happier than to have my brother coming to help celebrate my birthday tomorrow.

      He should’ve gone, too. He happened upon the man he loved in 1982.

    5. Sean Kinsell says:

      Oh. I read your first comment two or three times and couldn’t decide whether you were agreeing or gently chiding me for being such a hard-ass.

      Happy birthday, BTW.

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