Category: LGBTQ

HIV/AIDS, Marriage, and Bedfellows

Today I share a guest post written by Brad Ogilvie. He shares personal insights about how HIV/AIDS activism by some players has specifically overlooked LGBTQ people at home and abroad.  He considers how HIV/AIDS is being used to export homophobia.

HIV/AIDS, Marriage, and Bedfellows

by Brad Ogilvie

"Die-in" during the 6th Annual AIDS Conference in San Francisco. June 17-24, 1990.

“Die-in” during the 6th Annual AIDS Conference in San Francisco. June 17-24, 1990.

As we celebrate the approval of gay marriage here in the US, it is important pay homage to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, those who have died from AIDS and the early HIV/AIDS activists. This isn’t just to give credit where credit is due. It is because they helped fuel and speed up the gay rights movement here in the US, and ignoring this is also ignoring how HIV/AIDS is being used to export homophobia. What is most troubling about this is that the collusion is coming not only from expected places like Evangelical churches and social conservatives, but also people like Bono, Bill Gates and Bill Clinton whose AIDS focus on women and children provides cover for the anti-gay pipeline.

Bono and HIV/AIDS awareness in African countries

Bono and HIV/AIDS awareness in African countries

Starting in the late 1990’s, political, social and theological conservatives such as Senator Jesse Helms and Congressman Henry Hyde caused mini-tremors by starting to advocate for AIDS funding, but with a laser focus on Africa. Senator Helms had long been vocal in blaming gays as the cause of the AIDS pandemic, and he led opposition to funding for HIV/AIDS programs through much of the 1980’s and ‘90s.  But he led the way for others of his ideology to enter the “global” HIV/AIDS fight. Bono took it from there, starting with his December, 2002 tour calling attention to AIDS in Africa. Evangelicals such as Rick and Kay Warren joined forces. Bono made it not just comfortable but chic (i.e. “The Red Campaign” t-shirts) for many to jump on the HIV/AIDS bandwagon. This paved the way for George W. Bush to create PEPFAR, and this opened the flood gates for much of the conservative faith community to engage. The focus on women and children in sub-Saharan Africa provided a comfort zone but does little to get ahead of the transmission.

I was at Wheaton (IL) College the night Bono came to town. I was running an AIDS housing program in Wheaton. I was running an AIDS housing program as well as being an HIV+ and gay Wheaton resident. To see Bono energize a community that had been silent and even scornful of anything related to HIV/AIDS afforded me a somewhat unique perspective on what has transpired since then. I was able to build alliances and life-long friendships within the Wheaton College and Evangelical community that continues to move me and inspire my work.

But the focus on women and children in Africa continues to allow people to homophobically engage in AIDS work. Among the messages I heard in meetings were “People with AIDS in Africa are victims, whereas people in the US deserve it” and “We choose to do our AIDS work in Africa because we don’t have to deal with homosexuality”. Former Congressman Henry Hyde went so far as to tell me, “I don’t want to hear about AIDS in (my district); I only want to talk about Africa.”

Franklin Graham who promotes gay conversion therapy founded Samaritan's Purse to provide aid in Africa.

Franklin Graham who actively crusades against gay rights founded Samaritan’s Purse to provide aid in Africa.

Franklin Graham and Samaritan’s Purse offer a clear example of how this continues to play out. Samaritan’s Purse, which pays Graham handsomely, provides “Biblically based programs to strengthen the international Christian response to HIV/AIDS (in 42 countries). This ministry encourages individuals to seek counseling and testing, supports AIDS orphans and vulnerable children, and empowers churches overseas to teach their communities about the disease and promote choices that will keep young people out of harm’s way” (from their website). Graham, meanwhile, lines his and others pockets as he crusades against gay rights, including supporting Vladimir Putin’s stance on gay rights and pressuring World Vision to reverse a policy that allowed the hiring of married gays and lesbians. Apparently, providing help to “hurting people” does not include those Graham deems unworthy. Others, such as Scott Lively, blatantly support anti-gay efforts, while people like Rick Warren do double-speak – denouncing anti-gay legislation while denouncing homosexuality.  It is where people share the “HIV in Africa” message while ignoring the homophobic mechanisms that the harm happens.


Keith Haring’s iconic art from the early HIV/AIDS Crisis

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent on the things that matter.” – ML King

When will the likes of Bono speak up? The HIV/AIDS pandemic will not end in a culture that creates blindspots, criminalizes and stokes fear and hatred towards people that are most vulnerable. The real work to end the pandemic has to be all-inclusive – not just gay men in the West, and not just women and children in Africa. Gay people exist in Africa and their status as pariahs impede HIV prevention efforts.  But it’s not just Bono. All of us who are reaping the benefits of those who worked on our behalf because of AIDS need to speak up for those who are now suffering.  We need to recognize how the HIV/AIDS pandemic that helped advance gay rights here is creating deadly alliances elsewhere.  Our silence is killing them.

Brad Ogilvie has been living with and working in the HIV field for over 20 years. In the earlier years, he worked in an alternative health clinic when treatments were marginally effective, and then running an AIDS housing program. Observing phenomenal changes in treatment and progress, he marveled at institutional resistance to change that persists to this day. He currently lives and works in DC, developing education and service programs as well as maintaining a counseling practice. He also serves on the HIV Prevention Planning Group for DC and the Community Advisory Group for HPTN 065.

Brad Olgive

Brad Ogilvie

Wow I am Super Gay Married! Now What?

After a long day of meetings in preparation of lobbying, my husband, Glen Retief, takes a little cat nap.

After a long day of meetings in preparation of lobbying, my husband, Glen Retief, takes a little cat nap.

Yesterday as I joyfully toiled away at editing episode 29 of Climate Stew, the Supreme Court of the United States passed down a ruling that made marriage equality the law of the land in all 50 states. When I emerged from my study, my husband, Glen Retief, turned to me and said:

I can’t keep up with the anniversary list! June 24, meeting at Friends General Conference. July 21, Quaker wedding. April 23, domestic partner contract. September 13, legal wedding in Lake Huntington. And now finally June 26, all 50 states.

I suggested loved ones can help us continually celebrate our various anniversaries by signing us up for Harry & David’s Fruit of the Month club.

I stood in front of the Supreme Court this week knowing that the court was about to rule; I assumed good news. It is about time–past time. So much energy, money, time, effort has gone into this moment. I am very very grateful to all of the people–LGBTQ activists, straight allies, affirming church folk, lawmakers, and those in the media who contributed to this moment in history. Rejoicing and thanksgiving are in order.

Just like our Capitol building here in the USA, LGBTQ rights and issues still need a lot of work.

Just like our Capitol building here in the USA, LGBTQ rights and issues still need a lot of work.

But once the confetti settles and we wash off all the glitter, then what? This is a huge win, but marriage discrimination has by no means been the only issue making life hard for LGBTQ people. We still have work to do. To name a few:

  • LGBTQ youth homelessness

  • Employment non-discrimination in all 50 states

  • The plight of transgender immigrants and inmates

  • LGBTQ senior citizen issues

Then there is the Queerest Issue of them all: Climate Change. No seriously, I see Climate Change as an issue that desperately needs attention from LGBTQ people, in part because of how we can think outside the box. We also have a unique set of skills to face crisis and experience in doing so. We also need to consider that LGBTQ not only are affected by climate change, but in some ways are affected more than non-LGBTQ people. I know it sounds weird. But the way the world is set up it almost seems that climate change is racist, sexist, classist, and possibly even anti-LGBTQ. So there is work to do.

Here I stand in front of the Supreme Court musing over my own person queer agenda and my next steps as a super married gay man.

LGBTQ Family Values in Action

Usually the term Family Values is another way of saying Anti-Gay (and anti-bisexual, transgender, and lesbian). Just like some groups believe they have exclusive rights to God and Faith, some of these same groups act like they have the monopoly on family, values, and the potent patented formula of family values. Hang on. LGBTQ people for ages have carved out for ourselves our own self-styled families–chosen families.

Have you heard about Casa Ruby in Washington, DC? Started by Ruby Jade Corado, a transgender immigrant from El Salvador, Casa Ruby provides housing for transgender adults and youth. I learned about this amazing project through a recent NPR story: Casa Ruby is a ‘Chosen Family’ for Trans People Who Need a Home.

Lately I have gotten some people’s attention when I say, I’m not an environmentalist, but I am concerned about climate change as an LGBTQ issue. They are like–Wait, What??? How is global warming a queer issue? Wow, there are lots of ways, I respond including the plight of LGBTQ homeless adults and youth during a disaster like Super Storm Sandy or Hurricane Katrina. These are folks who often stay as far as way as possible from traditional shelters that make like miserable for gender non-conforming folks and openly gay folks.

This week on the Climate Stew Show, I look at LGBTQ homelessness and seniors in the light of our climate crisis. There is important community building work for us to do. We have skin in the game.

Here is a clip where I talk this issue (transcript below)

And using some imagination, I look back from the year 2165, 150 years from today, and introduce the world to the Queer Family Alliance and their amazing work in providing safe and loving shelter for LGBTQ people (transcript below)


Now I guess it is my turn. What is a reason to respond to climate change? Well as a long time LGBTQ activist, I think of climate change as a very queer issue, one that directly affects LGBTQ people. Right now in most cities in the US there are people living on the streets, including youth. Up to 40% of these homeless youth are transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer, genderqueer. Many times they don’t feel safe in traditional homeless shelters where people are forced to go to either all male or all female spaces with little regard for gender identity and presentation. Often shelters are run by churches where it is unclear how welcoming an LGBTQ young person might be especially if they are gender non-conforming. As a result, they often avoid shelters. For the same reason transgender adults who live on the streets also steer clear of the shelters.


So what happens in a time of extreme weather? When we have Superstorm Sandy or Hurricane Katrina, what happens to the folks living on the streets? What happens to these LGBTQ young people? Similarly what about the many LGBTQ senior citizens, many of whom live alone without supportive family nearby. Many do not have children checking in on them.

As I think of the projections for more storms, more extreme heat, more displacement, I wonder about the role of LGBTQ community centers, of religious communities that seek to be open and affirming, of cities that have anti-discrimination policies when it comes to employment but may not take into consideration the needs of transgender, bisexual, genderqueer, lesbian and gay people who need shelter and temporary housing or during a time disaster relief. A reason to act on climate change is for the homeless and elderly LGBTQ people in their time of need.

Now your turn. What about you? Now that you heard some people share their thoughts, what are reasons beyond polar bears and other species and regard for future generations, that we should act. Send me an email info@climatetew.comthat’s or share your thoughts in the comment section of this podcast at climate stew dot com or let me know over at the Climate Stew FB page or on my Twitter feed. Let me know if I can share some of your thoughts with listeners.

That Day in Climate History–The Queer Family Alliance

Ruby Jade Corado

I am Timothy Meadows. It is Saturday, June 1st 2165 and time for That Day in Climate History. By the year 2020 the increase and intensity of extreme weather events created chronic crises for cities globally. The disaster especially affected those people without homes or reliable housing. In the early 21st Centuray, transgender, gender queer, bisexual, lesbian, and gay youth comprised up to 40% of all homeless youth in most major US cities. In  addition many transgender adults were unemployed, underemployed, and homeless. Because of strict gender policies in both public and religious run homeless shelters, many transgender, gender queer, and queer homeless people found these shelters unwelcoming and unsafe. During times of heatwaves, flooding, blizzards, and dust storms, many lost their lives.

As a result the Queer Family Alliance formed. Inspired by the work of Casa Ruby, a collection of alternative housing for homeless transgender, gender queer, and queer adults and youth started by Ruby Jade in Washington, DC, a group of activists in 2021 decided they needed to expand this type of work to other cities. In their mission statement the Queer Family Alliance proclaimed, “Since some of us could no longer find shelter with our families, we sought out a chosen family. In providing safe, loving, and supportive homes for LGBTQ adults and youth, we are demonstrating our family values.”

In coalition with community centers, affirming faith communities, and transgender, gender queer, bisexual, lesbian, and gay organizations, the Queer Family Alliance established over 250 homes and shelters in 50 cities throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. In addition to shelter, they provided assistance in obtaining employment, permanent housing, health care, and healthy food, much of it grown in Queer Family Alliance community gardens. It is estimated that by the year 2060 over two million people found temporary and longterm shelter through the Queer Family Alliance.

On this day in 2165 we remember That Day in Climate History.


Climate History is brought to you by Exxon-Mobile Renewables—proud sponsors of the 2165 Arctic Games.

Lessons from LGBTQ exterminations and extinctions

Marvin Bloom knows a thing or too about crisis. Like me, he spent many years trying got de-gay himself for Jesus before coming to his senses and coming out. He is now happily married to his partner, Tristan. Having grown up Jewish in Long Island, Marvin has learned a lot about from Tristan, who is originally from Jamaica and is very open his history of transitioning from female to male.

The only known photograph of Marvin Bloom

The only known photograph of Marvin Bloom

Making up for lost years, Marvin spends time looking at LGBTQ history, studying his ancestors. With warmth and attitude Marvin reflects on the creative ways LGBTQ people have responded to possible exterminations and extinctions. He draws lessons from Nazi concentration camps, HIV/AIDS activism and considers the issues plaguing us today–racism, classism, and growing turmoil. His musings may just inspire you.

The Homosexual Agenda vs. the Fossil Fuel Lifestyle

We have been distracted  from reality these past 30 years. Conservatives and Liberals have been caught up in skirmishes about what happens in the bedroom and who has the legal right to be there together. We have fought on the front lines over identity, having to stand up to protect what hold dear. For Conservative Christians it’s been the fear that something valuable and traditional might be lost bringing about horrible consequences. For LGBTQ people its been real loses over and over. As a result we demanded that our basics need be met, the rights to be full citizens with the same legal rights as everyone else, to live openly as who we are with the one we love without retaliation in our homes and families, on our jobs, or in the streets. Fear breeds conflict, and for over 30 years we have lived in a whirlwind of fear soaked cultural wars.

All the while, as we have attacked and counterattacked and strategized and raised money, the planet has changed under our feet. LGBTQ Rights are important, no doubt. People need safety, security, and the same rights as everyone else. We need to continue the fight for transgender rights and consider the urgent needs of LGBTQ teens and seniors as we also take part in the global struggle for LGBTQ human rights. But in light of Global Warming, we also need to work together, laying down our arms against each other–Conservatives, Liberals, Radicals, Heterosexuals, Cisgender, and LGBTQ folks, to address the current and growing climate crisis. We all come to the table with lots of skills and experience, some of which we developed as we fought against each other. Now we have to come together to face a common foe, one of our own making. We got ourselves into this mess, and we are going to have to work together to to get ourselves out of it.