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Ignorance and Homophobia Hamper AIDS Discussions

TO THE EDITORS

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

I'd like to respond to the October 17th opinion piece, "Quilts and the Moral Fabric," by Christopher McFadden. This piece represents a throwback to the initial homophobic response to the AIDS epidemic by resorting to moral pedagogy about the homosexual "lifestyle." Not only is McFadden creating statistical generalizations ("AIDS funding levels suffered no real decrease...in the past two years," "the handful of cases...from using infected needles or blood transfusions," "the 99.9 percent of Americans [who die from other reasons than AIDS]," etc.), but he manages to confuse again and again the two issues of homosexuality and the AIDS epidemic.

AIDS is not a gay disease. Anyone can become infected. "Abnormal sexual behavior" is not the cause of AIDS; ignorance and inadequate sex education might be more appropriate enemies. It is ridiculous, uneducated and extremely homophobic to ally the two issues of AIDS and homosexuality. The AIDS Memorial Quilt is not about homosexuality; it is about mourning remembrance and grief. Viewing the quilt, one can see a piece in remembrance of an infant next to one remembering an 85-year-old grandmother next to one remembering a 26-year-old Chicano man.

Is McFadden saying that those who have died of AIDS are not worthy of being commemorated? The AIDS epidemic is a pandemic; quoting the Commemorative Program from the AIDS Memorial Quilt, "18.5 million adults are living with HIV." We cannot marginalize those affected by AIDS any longer.

Moralizing about the homosexual lifestyle is a second issue, and one to which I would also like to respond. Living in a morally pluralistic society, we need to allow various belief systems the space to operate and exist. McFadden compares the "right" to practice sodomy with the "right" to play checkers, an absurd comparison on many levels. Expressions of sexuality are essential aspects of our human lives, and there are as many different kinds of expression as there are humans.

I am ashamed that McFadden could write such an ignorant piece addressing the AIDS epidemic without any knowledge of contemporary statistics, historical context and actual facts. --Diana Adair '98

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