Wednesday, December 28, 2016

PrEP for HIV may benefit from big advances soon; rates of HIV still higher than I had thought; HIV may have been in NYC by 1970

I have covered anti-HIV medications but I don’t think I’ve mentioned the drugs that prevent HIV infection from occurring at all.

NBC News has a detailed story that an investigational drug could be injected every 60 days and prevent HIV infection for those at risk.  There is a related Facebook group    The technology is called PrEP, or Pre-exposure prophylaxis. The pills available now (Truvalda) are expensive.  Any health care (Obamacare) reform package would have to consider how to pay for this, as it is obviously a sensitive issue from more than one viewpoint (“moral hazard”).

Even now (Obamacare before Trump) it is difficult to pay for these meds, according to a 2015 Daily Beast story.

PrEP medications are often advertised in gay publications, often with pictures of attractive male models.  I don’t think anything should be inferred if you recognize a particular model.

NBC linked to several other important stories.  One says that gay or bisexual men have a 30% infection rate in some southern cities (including Atlanta but not Dallas). Another says that black gay men have a 50% infection rate.  The population as a whole has a 1% infection rate.  My own observation in my own circles would suggest that the infection rates are much lower.  There is another story which says that HIV may have entered New York City as early as 1970, and moved to San Francisco in 1976.  But Randy Shilts (in “And the Band Played On”) had suggested that HIV could have arrived in the US about 1976 and the Tall Ships bicentennial celebration in NYC that Independence Day.

I moved into New York City in September 1974 and left for Dallas in January 1979.  In 1978, I started hearing stories of some unusual illnesses.  Until then, Hepatitis B was well known, and I was vaccinated for that in 1982.  Syphilis and gonorrhea were well known. Hepatitis A was also common.  In New Jersey and a few other US locations, there were some mystery clusters of Hodgkin’s lymphoma that some doctors thought had been virally transmitted.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Detailed story on Aleppo and LGBT people

The Washington Blade offers a front page detailed story by Michael K. Lavers, “Tales from Aleppo: Former LGBT residents of besieged city talk horrors of war,” link here.

The article gives the detailed journey of a young gay male resident of western Aleppo, controlled by Assad, to Turkey, leaving family behind.

Aleppo apparently did not have gay bars or an open gay community before the civil war started.  Everything was “under the table”.

But Aleppo now is probably pretty far removed from most LGBT Americans, and it is hard to see whether it will lead to an increase in asylum seekers.
Wikipedia attribution link for Syrian destruction, FICO link

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Palm Center researcher counters Family Research Council's attack on Obama's advances for LGBT in military after Trump election

Aaron Belkin, of the Palm Center in Los Angeles (I visited him there in February 2002), reports that the Family Research Council has been trying to capitalize on Trump’s election (and particularly on some of his proposed opponents) by suggesting that military readiness demands rolling back the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and even return to the absolute ban, possibly in response to some abstract theories in Mattis’s book (“Warriors and Citizens”).   The FRC also has a paper criticizing the Pentagon over the transgender policy, here.

Aaron Belkin, of the Palm Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara, wrote this piece in “The Hill”, “LGBT inclusion holds all US military to same high standard”.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

NC fails to repeal its "bathroom bill plus" out of Brexit-like attitudes, jeopardizing future job growth in the state

North Carolina’s legislature has failed to repeal its notorious HB 2, which drove McCroy out of office. This is the so-called “bathroom bill”.

Yes (to quote gay libertarian and Trump supporter Peter Thiel), the world may have bigger issues than bathroom use. And yes, some of it could have been reasonable if there is a reasonable procedure to change one’s stated gender as a matter of legal record (although parental consent is needed for minors).  But some transgender people say they can’t use any public bathroom at all.

But the bill went further, banning communities from passing their own anti-discrimination ordinances.  One attempt to broker a deal had meant a 6-month suspension of any local ordinances.

German Lopez on Vox has an op-ed “North Carolina Republicans just chose anti-LGBTQ discrimination over jobs for their constituents”.

Indeed, sports events and concerts have been canceled.  North Carolina has been a tech hub, especially around Charlotte and around Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill (with all the universities like Duke and UNC).  This attitude almost sounds like “Brexit” of “Trump-xit” inasmuch a substantial, largely rural population, resents the hyper-individualism and secularism of modern life coming to the South.

In retirement at 73, may downsize in 2017, and I have thought about Charlotte or Raleigh-Durham as possible areas.  But I wouldn’t consider it with such an anti-business, anti-modern attitude surfacing.

Update: Dec. 25

NBC explains how gerrymandering contributes to maintaining the fanatical, job-destroying socially conservative extremism in post-Jesse Helms North Carolina, here. Conservative legislators vote this way "because they can" get away with it. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

NBC offers disturbing analysis of the proposed "First Amendment Defense Act", as a ruse

NBC News offers a disturbing analysis  by Mary Emily O’Hara, of the proposed "First Amendment Defense Act"  introduced by Paul R. Labrador (R-ID).  Trump appears to support this bill.
The bill would allow private entities to discriminate against individual consumers on specific religious grounds: (1) that marriage is between one man and one woman (2) that sexuality should be contained within heterosexual marriage, where there is openness to procreation.  Some state laws, like Mississippi’s, as proposed or passed, are similar, but may add the idea that people’s behavior must conform to their birth biological genders (which as a matter or medical science is not always absolutely clear-cut).

The bill might be arguably unconstitutional (ironically in First Amendment terms) because it favors one or more specific religious beliefs (found with conservative branches of most faiths) over others.

O’Hara gives a link to another NBC story that socially-based discrimination is bad for most mainstream businesses.  Indeed, that is so.  This sounds like something that happens on the fringes.

I don’t think it would affect mainstream workplaces (or regular commercial businesses operated as public accommodations).  Already, people who work specifically for churches can be compelled to behave personally according to church doctrine (as we witness the firings of some Catholic school teachers).  Well, maybe not.  Look at this new litigation in Georgia over a firing of a Catholic school teacher over gay marriage.   Jamie Manson weighs in on the moral dilemma a Catholic school in Philadelphia felt over another case, but it felt it needed to protect its religious identity, here. This is a little bit personal.  I am not Catholic, but sometimes play in chess tournaments ("Chess for Charity") hosted by a Catholic school near Tyson’s Corner.  I’ve known people who said they hard worked for parochial schools and got fired for being “found out”.
The bill would seem to “protect” faith-based organizations that get public funds.  Would the Boy Scouts of America, or Boy Scout troops, start discriminating again?  If they get public funds, they’re not completely private (as in the 2000 Supreme Court case).

More to the point, is to ask why groups want to do this?  As noted above, some people see beliefs about sexuality and marriage as part of a religious or tribal identity, an idea that seems intellectually shallow to me.  More disturbing is the idea that a group that promotes exclusion of (younger) gay men or teens, in particular, thinks it is pandering to the idea that parents want as much lineage (as many grandchildren) as possible.  That’s what happens in Russia, where Vladimir Putin exploits the idea that public homosexual speech discourages marginal boys (the old fashioned idea of “waverers”, as disturbing as it sounds) from wanting to have children, and Russia has a big population implosion (“demographic winter”) problem.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Families of Orlando victims file suit against social media companies, maybe a major free speech test

I have already reported today on my main (“BillBoushka”) entry on Blogger about an important lawsuit filed by the families of at least three of the victims of the Pulse Nightclub attack by an ISIS sympathized Mateen on June 12 in Orlando, against Facebook, Twitter, and Google.

The Orlando Sentinel now has an even more detailed story by Gal Tziperman Lotan.

At issue is the way Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act is interpreted, and I’ll be delving into this in more detail on Wordpress soon.  This could be a very important case for testing free speech on the Internet (since it has to be “hosted” somehow), aside from the specific issues for the LGBT community and the victims.
I understand that the owner wants to rebuild the club on the same site rather than build a memorial and move the club.  I visited it in July 2015, and a good friend (from the West Coast) had visited it two weeks before the attack.  I have other social media contacts in Florida who often come into the Orlando area and would visit the club.  Any one of us could have been victims.  The nearby theme parks, by Disney and Universal, do have some comprehensive security.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cindy Brady gets sacked for homophobic remarks: Milo rises

When I got to the Arlington AGLA party last night, I was also told about Susan Olsen aka Cindy Brady’s (from “The Brady Bunch”) homophobic rant, described here in Papermag, for example.   She had hosted “Two Chics Ralkin’ Politics” and had apparently perturbed openly gay actor Leon Acord Whiting.

So LA Talk Radio severed its ties with “Olsen”.  The angry interchange is rather entertaining and silly.

Here's a rundown from the Daily Beast on other infamous celebrity homophohic rants.

Bad boy and dreaded Breitbart “faggot” Milo Yiannopoulos has a posting, “OSU remembers attacker as victim of police violence,”.  That refers to Abdul Razak Ali Artan, who stabbed some students at Ohio State University Nov. 28 before being shot by a campus policeman.  And his rampage is believed to be inspired by ISIS.
Milo is indeed a real life Shane Lyons.  Most of his posts seem to be legitimate attacks on mandatory political correctness, groupthink, and identity politics – not on people.  “Most people walk in the direction they’re headed.”

Milo also writes how "Donald Trump made it cool to be gay again", on Breitbart, here. Like be subversive.  Or always get what you want (the way Shane does, especially if what you want is "Danny").

Update: Dec. 22

Olsen has reportedly apologized, Blade story.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Kristin Beck (Lady Valor) speaks at AGLA Christmas party in Arlington VA

AGLA in Arlington VA held its annual Christmas Party Tuesday night, Dec. 13, 2016, at 6 PM at Freddie's Beach Bar south Arlington.

Kristin Beck, author of "Warrior Princess" (Books, Dec. 2014) and subject of the CNN film "Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story" (Movie reviews, Nov. 25, 2014) spoke tonight after receiving an award. (Apologies for turning the cell phone around).

There were many "presents" for the raffle, and donations for the Arlington food bank.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Local DC gay paper assesses "threat levels" of Trump's choices; "Milo" throws kerosene on the military issue (maybe)

The Metro Weekly has a story by John Riley, which reads online, “Every LGBT person should be terrified of Trump’s administration”, which in print (Dec. 19), reads “Threat Levels”.  These range from “Scorched Earth” (Jeff Sessions) to “Sparks” (Mattis). Call the last level "Fireflies", like the song.

 Yet when you read the individual pieces, most of the scenarios are about fringe-like situations that don’t occur for most LGBT people.  So even Milo might have fun with this one.

But there is a nasty undertone to some of this.  That is, when HIV-infection is regarded under the umbrella of chosen behavior and personal responsibility, a lot of times the politics do not turn out well. Moral hazard is a touchy subject, which, you could say, tends to divide people.

There is still a slim possibility that legal challenges (involved with the Russian hacking) could prevent Trump from becoming president -- but then would he be Pence?
Update: later today

This post by "bad boy" Milo Yiannopolous may be disconcerting;  it refers to letting women serve in combat.  But there are individual women quite capable of serving in combat, just as there are individual transgender people, even if infrequent.

The post literally would not apply to gay men, who have the same biology as far as strength and metabolism as straight men (most of the time).

I think it's inevitable that Major League Baseball will see a transgender player eventually, probably a pitcher (especially relief pitcher).

In the meantime:  is Milo the real-life incarnation of the character Shane Lyons from "Judas Kiss"?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Detailed report on LGBT immigrant detainees at detention center at Eloy, AZ

The Washington Blade has a stunning front page story by Gtreg Marzullo, a special to the Blade, “LGBT detainees describe harrowing life inside Eloy”

 The booklet-length story is not as visible on the website as in print.

Eloy is described as a privately run detention center in Arizona run by CCA.  The state has stricter than usual laws on detaining undocumented immigrants.  Furthermore federal law requires detention of many at the border if they are not sent back.  Actually, I had been under the impression that every asylum seeker detained at the Mexican border is held until a relative, private individual (unlikely if not known to the detainee already) or social services group agrees to support him or her.  Who pays for the health care bills or HIV treatment if necessary?

The story is detailed and requires a lot of study for its implications.

Wikipedia attribution link for Public domain photo by Zlatevksi.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

US Center for Transgender Equality issues devastating report for 2015

The U.S. Center for Transgender Equality has published the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, with summary and details, here.

The report notes the 29% live in poverty compared to 14% for the general population.  15% report being unemployed.   10% have experienced violence from family members.  54% have faced physical assaults.

Vox has an explainer and detailed story on the report by German Lopez here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Intersex is not the same as transgender

CNN’s Sanjay Gupta covered the subject of intersex persons this morning, who are not quite the same as transgender.  He presented an intersex singer living as a woman.

There is an earlier article in July on CNN, about someone who could not get a gender-neutral passport approved by the State Department.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Mattis might want to undo progress on gays and transgender in the military, according to a new book

Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst, has a column today "Inside the mind of 'Mad Dog' Mattis" about the likely Defense Secretary's views, and some of these views could affect advances made in the military in recent years regarding "LGBTQ people."

The comments concern a recent book "Warriors and Citizens" from the Hoover Press (published August 2016, edited by Karl Schakey and Mattis) with an essay by Mattis, "The Mattis Way of War".

Mattis is concerned about the relationship between the civilian world and the military which serves it.  But Bergen's piece notes a criticism of social goals, which include repealing past bans on open gays in the military and now transgender soldiers and sometimes the use of women in combat, as disregarding the "atavistic" nature of the way the military regard war, especially with an enemy that has less concern for human rights than we have.  So we have to be better than that.

I have downloaded the book on Kindle (the print copy is out of stock on Amazon) and will review it soon.

Update: Dec. 10

The Washington Blade reports in an article by Chris Johnson, "Fanning: Trump team uninterested in undoing LGBT military service." Eric Fanning is the openly gay secretary of the Army. 

Friday, December 02, 2016

Price as HHS secretary seen as problematic for LGBT people

The Washington Blade reports, in an article by Stephen Forsell, that the appointment of Tom Price (R-Ga) to be secretary of HHS, is bad for LGBT people, article here.

His history is that of opposing repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, voting against ENDA, and supporting a constitutional amendment to support what George W. Bush had called “the sanctity of marriage” in 2004.  There is fear that he could support funds for conversion therapy.  There is a sensation that he is anti-science and many of his ideas don’t concur with modern medical thinking.

One could wonder (on World AIDS Day, especially) if the funding of prescription protease inhibitors for people with HIV could be an issue.  Medical advances have made the side effects of protease inhibitors much less problematic than in the past.

Of great concern, too, is not only repeal or a take-down of “Obamacare”, but also a gradual replacement of Medicare with premium supports for seniors to buy private insurance.

Update: Dec. 3

I'll put a negative story about HIV that I saw, regarding a VA doctor who could have infected up to 600 people with HIV, Hepatitis B, or Hepatitis C (both of which can be asymptomatic in people with stronger immune systems but possibly lead to liver cancer later in life), for reusing the same instruments, which may have been his name, McClatchy story here.

This reminds me of the Kimberly Bergalis case with a dentist in Florida in 1989