In the wake of the death of conservative blowhard Rush Limbaugh and renewed criticism over the radio jock’s attacks on gay men, another conservative figure has come under fire for bizarre comments about the community: Pat Robertson. Video of Robertson claiming that gay men spread HIV through magic rings in 2013 has resurfaced on the web.
Our sister site LGBTQ Nation reports that the video of the Christian minister and host of The 700 Club has landed on the internet yet again. Though several outlets reported on Robertson’s words in 2013, the comments proved so incendiary video of the segment kept disappearing from the internet.
The segment in question shows Robertson fielding questions from a woman who learned a member of her church had HIV. The two had carpooled together at times, and the woman wanted to make sure she wasn’t at risk of the disease. She also changed churches following the revelation, as she felt the HIV patient should have disclosed his status to the church congregation.
“There are laws now, I think the homosexual community has put these draconian laws on the books to prohibit people from discussing this particular infection,” Robertson advised the women, falsely claiming laws existed that blocked patients from discussing their HIV status. “You can tell people you have high blood pressure, but you can’t tell anybody about AIDS.”
“I think people in the gay community, they want to get people,” Robertson continued. “They’ll have a ring, and you shake hands, and the ring has a little thing where you cut your finger.” Even Robertson’s co-host, Terry Meeuwsen, expressed incredulity at the statement.
“Really,” Robertson affirmed. “It is that kind of vicious stuff, which would be the equivalent of murder.”
Video of the exchange began to circulate on various websites, prompting criticism from outlets including The Atlantic and the TV news magazine Majority Report with Sam Seder. Robertson, however, claimed he was misunderstood.
“In my own experience, our organization sponsored a meeting years ago in San Francisco where trained security officers warned me about shaking hands because, in those days, certain AIDS-infected activists were deliberately trying to infect people like me by virtue of rings which would cut fingers and transfer blood,” Robertson claimed. “I regret that my remarks had been misunderstood, but this often happens because people do not listen to the context of remarks which are being said. In no ways were my remarks meant as an indictment of the homosexual community or, for that fact, to those infected with this dreadful disease.”
The renewed scrutiny of Robertson comes on the heels of resurfaced comments by Rush Limbaugh, a conservative ally of Robertson. On his radio show, Limbaugh featured a segment where he read the names of gay men who had died of AIDS set to disco music. Robertson, like Limbaugh, has also made a career in part by demonizing LGBTQ people.
With Robertson’s comments again in the spotlight, we have to wonder: why did we never get our special gay rings when we came out of the closet?