Dear Editor – The Advocate (World’s Leading Gay News Source),
As a resident of San Francisco and member of the gay community in 1980, I personally witnessed the tragedy of HIV/AIDS unfold with some of my dearest and closest friends being the first to pass away from the disease. As a Christian, I believe in the sanctity of life. All life is sacred and deserves to be celebrated. I am confident my stating I am a Christian has probably struck a nerve given the odds at which the gay community and the Christian community frequently find themselves.
Therefore, permit me to extend an apology on behalf of those in the Christian community that have not yet learned to look past a disease and see a person. That said, I continue to believe the Church can be a powerful tool in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS and ministering hope to those infected. Every person knows or will know at least one individual infected by HIV. That means every church in the United States and around the world will come face-to-face with the on-going tragedy. It has been said, “Give me one good reason why I should care?” With regard to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, there are millions of reasons to care.
“For Many Gay Men, We Must Come Out Twice,” an article offered in the October 11, 2012 issue of The Advocate, a chilling depiction was offered of where things remain regarding HIV/AIDS. The article presented “We must acknowledge the hard reality facing gay men in this nation, especially young gay men. Evidence suggests that those who come out and live openly as gay men are more likely to become HIV-positive. Young gay and bisexual men are the only group in which HIV infections are increasing.”
The regular “Health” section of The Advocate clearly presents in graphic detail where things are and remain with HIV/AIDS. Within the gay community, it seems little has changed since 1980 except for the wonderful advancement in medications now available to sustain the HIV/AIDS person in life. Now 2014, how is it that many still do not understand that to dramatically change or bring a halt to the on-going HIV/AIDS crisis requires people changing their behavior?
In January of 1993, I was diagnosed HIV-positive. Like a multitude of others, I know the familiar reality of combatting a disease that never subsides and never goes away. It is with you 24/7. For the past 21 years of living with HIV, I have from time-to-time wondered what different course life might have taken if I had known and been willing to conduct my life according to God’s plan, will and purpose and if someone had been willing and courageous enough to share the facts and truth with me. Knowing and having “all the facts” just might have initiated and propelled a much different journey in life.
Yes, it is an undeniable fact that God is love. Indeed, God has given each and everyone of us free-will choice. Without free-will choice there simply could be no such thing as true, pure, undefiled love. However, our present reality continues to dictate that when we exercise our free-will choice, we do not get to choose the consequence that may come our way as a result of our bad choice. There is great reward in living our lives according to God’s plan.
I offer the above out of a deep concern. Why is it the truth of where we stand regarding HIV/AIDS is not being presented or shared in mainstream media? In other words, “Why isn’t anyone talking about this?” In my personal travels to churches of all denominations, when I share where we remain in the global crisis with regard to HIV/AIDS, those in attendance are shocked to hear present day facts. I, for one, will continue to hope and pray that Christians will play a more vital role in turning back the tide of this pandemic. I truly believe, in this moment, God has called us to respond. God has given us Biblical principles to halt HIV infections and to bring hope to those whose lives have been devastated by this deadly disease.
When someone we know finds out that they are HIV+ or have AIDS, we may feel inadequate to help, but at this crisis moment of their lives, they will need someone more than ever. Indeed, “What would Jesus do?”
Pastor Phillip Lee
His Way Out Ministries