Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-12-08



Tales of War
by Sanford Gaylord

This article shared 3339 times since Tue Jul 1, 2003
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

I am a United States citizen, born in the South and raised in what has become known as the world's richest nation and only superpower by the start of the 21st century. Although I am a U.S. citizen, all of my life I have heard about rumors of war, been taught about war in school, seen it first hand and been part of war. In my childhood and youth I was instructed what to do in case of nuclear war, while coming of age during the Cold War.

One can never really understand the tragedy, horror, or the impacts of war unless you have been affected by it, lived it or were unfortunately a casualty of war. It can leave you riddled with scars mentally and physically that seem as though they will never go away. It can destroy relationships and haunt you into a grave.

Within the last two decades of the 20th century, we saw war televised live as the world was informed about HIV and the threat that it posed to humankind. The Persian Gulf War and Operation Desert Storm gave us minute-by-minute details of war 24 hours a day. Although that war was declared over in record time, I think that it kept simmering for another 10 years as sanctions were placed over Iraq.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks caused a rippling effect throughout the U.S. and the world. Complacency and denial were shattered on that day, as well as the lives and households of many Americans and others across the globe. It was a time where testing positive had a new meaning. In America, for a brief moment in time, we went from AIDS to Anthrax, although we had been at war with HIV for 20 years. With both diseases, we learned how it is transmitted. Many people were wearing latex gloves because they feared HIV the way they wear masks in Asia to combat and protect themselves from SARS today.

At nearly a million dollars a missile and approval of funds to fight Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan was bombed daily since America struck back and declared a global war on terrorism. Afghanistan was already a war-devastated country and we still are not sure where Osama Bin Laden is to date. During this conflict, my concern grew that we might have lost focus with a war at home on U.S. soil that many of us in the trenches have been fighting since the very beginning.

There were severe thunderstorms here in Chicago the night that special broadcasts announced in all forms of media, throughout the world, that the U.S. and its Coalition was at war with Iraq. War ignited again this year due to alleged weapons of mass destruction. Thousands of million-dollar cruise missiles were launched on Iraq. Operation Iraqi Freedom began at the cost of our own civil liberties and freedom we may take for granted.

Iraq is allegedly liberated now, in part because of another round of million-dollar cruise missiles and hundreds of millions of dollars spent for the campaign. The conflict is over but now Iraqi citizens and others who have been affected by the war will have to try to rebuild shattered lives. The world still waits to see evidence of weapons of mass destruction and if Saddam Hussein is alive or has perished.

The war that haunts me is the war with HIV. The bloodiest war for me is this one, because it is constant and there is no foreseeable end. As a young adult, I was drafted into a war that was declared on humankind more than 20 years ago. I was placed on the frontline more than 13 years ago when HIV invaded my body. I saw the tragedies of war as I lost one friend after another to HIV and attended tearless funerals that had brimstone overtones from the pulpit. I have gone from youth to middle age with HIV inside of me. A daily war that rages within that has me fighting for ground mentally and physically.

War is not a pretty thing. When you are at war, the last thing you would want to concern yourself with is being attacked by your allies or within your ranks. Under the Clinton Administration, we were given tools that combated homophobia to a degree and at least funds and acknowledgment that HIV/AIDS had become a critical issue. It took years after the discovery of the virus that we know as HIV to be acknowledged under the Reagan Administration.

Flash back with me for a moment. Do you recall how it wasn't long after George W. Bush took the office of President, that Chief of Staff Andrew Card informed U.S. society that the Office of National AIDS Policy, that was created under the Clinton Administration, would be closed? The announcement sent a message to the American people that AIDS was over and that was far from the truth, especially within communities of color.

George W. Bush, through his Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer, released a statement expressing that the office would continue under the Bush Administration and that Mr. Card's statement was made in error. I never stopped wondering how much truth there was in the initiative to close the office in the first place. I also wondered what would have happened if activists hadn't gone on red alert and raised hell about the statement and implications behind such a move from a president with a Fundamentalist Christian ideology.

This spring, individuals working in HIV/AIDS prevention and research talked amongst themselves and online about rumors of old McCarthy-era tactics and witch-hunts. The news eventually made The New York Times and other forms of media but we cannot forget about this particular attack because it has the potential to take us back to the dark days of the 1980s when HIV declared war on humanity.

Many organizations that are involved in a variety of HIV Prevention Research and Social Service Programs targeted to educate and prevent the spread of HIV are, in essence, under attack. Many of these organizations rely primarily on funding from the federal government. When you apply for federal funding, you have to be very specific and be able to produce data.

In the reports from The New York Times, the American public was informed that if you correspond with the National Institutes of Health you shouldn't use words or phrases like like men-who-have-sex-with-men, anal sex, gay, lesbian or transgender without the risk of possibly being audited or failing to gain grant funding. How can you apply for money when you can't be specific about the population that is most affected? Must we live in gilded cages of shame?

All of war, with its major loss of life, dignity, justice, and civil liberties, affects all of humankind. Is this a nightmare? Posttraumatic Stress Syndrome, propaganda, or the truth shattering the denial that is thrown constantly at us to keep us numb and in some cases dumb? People of color are now at greatest risk globally for HIV/ AIDS. I pray my nightmare about the end of races of people does not become a reality in my lifetime. There is no country on the planet that has reported a case of HIV that can say that they have stopped the spread, only slowed its advance on humankind.

Since the second war in Iraq concluded, the office of Homeland Security raised its terror alert to the second highest level because of renewed risk of terrorist attacks. What about having a security advisory system on HIV/AIDS? If there were, it would be at the highest level. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control indicates that there are close to 950,000 individuals living with HIV in the U.S. and that a quarter of those may not be aware of their HIV status.

There are also an estimated 40,000 new infections a year and in these days, how many people don't know of at least one person who has been infected or affected by HIV/AIDS? What do we do as a superpower when we don't have men or women to fight for our freedom, our lives, and those of our children? What do we do when we need to liberate some oppressed people or continue the war on terrorism and can't because we've lost men and women with the War on AIDS on our own soil, maybe by our own hands?

All Americans, all of humankind needs to be united, not only against terrorism. We need to focus on the fact that we have already been engaged in a war for 20 years with HIV. We need to learn from our past to protect and insure that there will be a future for all of humankind.

This article shared 3339 times since Tue Jul 1, 2003
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Gay News

Lambda Legal issues assessment of Biden-Harris administration's work for LGBTQ+, HIV communities
-- From a press release - Washington, D.C. — Lambda Legal released a new comprehensive report that assesses the Biden-Harris administration's first year with respect to its impact on the LGBTQ+ community and everyone living with HIV. While the report identifies significan ...

Gay News

Gilead: Patients received fake HIV drugs
Gilead Sciences Inc said an unauthorized network of drug distributors and suppliers sold pharmacies more than $250 million of counterfeit versions of its HIV treatments over the last two years, endangering patients, Reuters reported. The drugmaker ...

Gay News

AIDS Foundation Chicago cancels World of Chocolate due to COVID-19 surge
-- From a press release - CHICAGO — AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) has made the difficult decision to cancel its World of Chocolate event, the organization's largest winter fundraiser, due to the recent Omicron surge across ...

Gay News

NATIONAL California report, AIDS foundation CEO, QueerArt, intersex bill
California law enforcement officials conduct body searches on Black and transgender people more often than on white and cisgender people, according to a new report from California's Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory (RIPA) Board, LGBTQ Na ...

Gay News

FDA approves injectable PrEP
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Apretude (cabotegravir extended-release injectable suspension) for use in at-risk adults and adolescents weighing at least 77 pounds for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to ...

Gay News

Legislation to address disparities facing LGBTQ+ seniors, people with HIV/AIDS
On Dec. 16, Pride Action Tank, OUTreach and Equality Illinois hosted a virtual "breakfast" to discuss issues facing LGBTQ+ seniors and persons with HIV/AIDS as well as legislative policies created to address them. "Advocating for Change" ...

Gay News

CDC study shows Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ men remain most affected by HIV/AIDS
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed Black and Latinx gay and bisexual men continue to be more affected by HIV/AIDS than white members of the LGBTQ+ community. Howard Brown ...

Gay News

World of Chocolate fundraiser returns Feb. 11, benefits AIDS Foundation Chicago
--From a press release - After a two-year hiatus, AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) is proud to announce the return of its famed World of Chocolate fundraiser taking place on Friday, Feb/ 11 at Union Station, 500 W. Jackson Blvd. Inspired by ...

Gay News

HIV AT 40: Longtime advocate Gregg Gonsalves talks activist roots, Larry Kramer and COVID
When it comes to dealing with HIV/AIDS, few people have been on the front lines—in the areas of activism, research and instruction—like Gregg Gonsalves. Gonsalves, a MacArthur fellow, is an expert in policy modeling on infectious ...

Gay News

AIDS Garden Chicago supporters, CDPH official commemorate World AIDS Day with event
AIDS Garden Chicago supporters and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) commemorated the 34th annual World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 at the Belmont Yacht Club with a sneak preview of the garden. The 2.5-acre ...

Gay News

Director Paris Barclay talks about virtual reading of 'The Normal Heart'
The seminal Larry Kramer play The Normal Heart—which focuses on the rise of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York City in the early 1980s, through the perspective of the character Ned Weeks—is the subject of a ...

Gay News

State Rep. Greg Harris not seeking re-election
Illinois state Rep. Greg Harris—the first openly gay and HIV-positive state leader in the General Assembly—announced that he won't seek re-election and will leave the House when his term expires in early 2023, The Chicago Tribune ...

Gay News

Five Worth Finding: World AIDS Day, 'Benedetta,' books, wine in a can
—World AIDS Day event at Belmont Harbor: —The Chicago Parks Foundation will hold a World AIDS Day event on Dec. 1, 9-10:30 a.m., at the Belmont Harbor Yacht Club. Antonio King, LGBTQ health and outreach liaison ...

Gay News

Virtual reading, Q&A of 'The Normal Heart' with mostly LGBTQ+ and/or BIPOC cast on Dec. 4
ONE Archives Foundation, in collaboration with Invisible Histories Project, announced today that a brand-new Q&A will follow an encore and final presentation of the historic virtual reading of Larry Kramer's Tony-winning play The Normal Heart. The ...

Gay News

World AIDS Day events on tap
World AIDS Day takes place every year on Dec. 1. During this year—which marks the 40th anniversary since HIV was officially discovered—here are some of the events taking place (locally, regionally and nationally) on, before and ...


Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.