SOUNDBITES — “The gay community was always a part of my life. I had gay friends since high school, and then I majored in musical theater in college. I had four people who were at my first wedding in 1987 who have since died of AIDS. So, I’ve been affected by gay issues. I also grew up in New York and my mother and father had gay friends. There was never a switch where I said, ‘I’m going to speak out for gay rights.’ It’s always been natural, organic.” —Vanessa Williams on her life-long commitment to The Gheys, to Out magazine
And her thoughts on Carrie Prejean: “I’m surprised at how much this story has gone on and on. My personal opinion is really, “Who cares?” She’s not running for a government position that could make an actual change in policy, so who cares? Let it die. … Who cares! Really, who cares in the grand scheme of things?”
AIDS is not a gay issue. And I truly resent celebrities who use AIDS to prop up their credentials with the gay community. I find it patronizing and in poor taste.
If AIDS was a gay issue, it would be the first condition in history which discriminated on the basis of sexual feelings. No condition or disease is able to discriminate thus.
You are ridiculous.
Ms Williams has always strongly supported the GLBT community, whether it be in real life or in her fictional portrayals (e.g. employing an openly gay assistant on ‘Ugly Betty’).
@jason: It may not be to you but for a generation of people (like her) that saw the gay population die in mass and for years no one would talk to them or help them and they were discriminated and people thought it was a gay disease and then turned on all gay people it is and in their memory will always be a gay issue. Look at any of the fanatical anti gay people and they will quote numbers that say our life expectancy is lowered because of our lifestyle and aids.
AIDS is not a gay disease. It is true that diseases do not discriminate, and your point is taken in providing a new discourse. But AIDS IS a gay ISSUE. When it was initially hitting gay people, when people saw 2/3 of their friends die, when the U.S. government did not intervene because it was “just” faggots dying, when the Western gay community created “Safe Sex” as one of the most rapid, successful mass behavioral changes in human history, yes, it is a gay issue.
She is talking about 4 people in her own wedding party who died. Highly personal anecdote, Hardly lip service. Do not let your resentment blind you to an ally.
Um, AIDS IS a gay issue. It was deemed our fault from the beginging in the 80’s, thus permanently attaching the stigma that GAYS were the cause of the disease. Of course we now know that AIDS is more widespread and includes all walks of life, but there are still people out there who blame all gays for the hellish disease that has spread throughout the world. It is still an issue within our community. For her to have experiences with gay friends with the disease and her continually support our cultural fights says a lot about her character. I love me some Vanessa Williams. She is a wonderful human being.
Oops…I think Jason is going to regret stating anything about this article.
@jason: Jason I understand where you are coming from and your right it isn’t an issue just to be pinned on us. That said, I don’t think her comment was meant to do that. But we are a community that has suffered greatly from the disease, it had a huge effect on our history. Because it so greatly affected us in the 80’s many saw it as a way of “cleansing” us from society and chose not to be concerned about it. That attitude is still to this day more common than I want to believe. I think Vanessa was just saying that she has been on our side through thick and thin and never chose to stand with those who saw us as the new Lepers of society. It took a lot of courage at one time for anyone to stand beside anyone with aids and all she meant, in my opinion is she never abandoned us.
Not a gay issue?
I don’t think politicians and bureaucrats would be shying away from supporting AIDS prevention, education and research if it only affected people who got it from blood transfusions in hospitals.
They don’t see a pandemic; all they see is the fear their image might be tainted by association with queers and drug addicts.
Our ignorant fucking bonehead of a PM was too scared to even show up at last year’s international AIDS Conference, and the only thing preventing him from shutting down our safe injection site is a court order.
And it’s not the first one. Syphilis, gonorrhea, all the venereal diseases branded their sufferers as whores and lowlifes, even though many people got it from their partners, or contracted it when they were born.
I get your point about celebrities jumping on bandwagons (not to say she is one), but I think that statement was a bit overboard.
Not a gay issue?
Maybe Jason wasn’t around in the early 80’s, when it was called the “Gay Cancer”.
I love Vanessa Williams, I dated a very close friend of hers. She has been a true friend to the LGBT Community from day one. She loves gay people. She is kind, talented and smart.
Sadly, in the U.S. of A. HIV/Aids is still a gay issue. It is now also an African American issue as well. Ms. Williams is a true friend to the LGBT Community. She has never been less than fully supportive. Add to the list Annie Lennox, Madonna and Cyndi Lauper.
Jason is clearly too young to understand what some of us have lived through. Sad. Jason should learn more about our history.
During those early years, people like Vanessa were few and far between.
Jason, drop her a note and apologize.
Yes, AIDS does not discriminate but it certainly is a part of our gay history and continues to be a very relevant issue to our community.
I think we will look back one day and see that AIDS actually was responsible for kick-starting the stunning advances in gay rights and visibility we have seen in the last two decades. AIDS pulled millions of people out of the closet that never would have come out in that era… and watching your family, or all your friends die a really agonizing gruesome death (yes, literally watching virtually all your beautiful friends shrivel into skeletons, go blind, become crippled, with sores all over their skin, and die, try imagining it for a few minutes if you didn’t live it) makes you really mad and willing to take risks to protect the ones you love. Remember “silence=death”? It was not a metaphor. It was (and is) a very hard truth.
Silence=death today when people won’t speak up about barebacking, and promoting safe sex has somehow become irrelevant and old-fashioned. Condoms can be hot, remember the first time you got your hands on a condom and put it on your boner and jerked off? That was hot! C’mon, guys, exposing yourselves and/or your partners to HIV is just ignorant and naive. Protecting yourself and your partner is what’s really hot.
Jason: As others have noted, it is a gay issue. Or at least, was. The global fight against HIV does not have much of a gay focus (MSMs are only a highly vulnerable group in Western countries, for the most part).
And trust me, for anti-gay bigots, AIDS is one of their number one talking points when they decry the “homosexual lifestyle.”
Moreover, you only need to look at the HIV data we have compiled in the US to realize that it is a gay issue in a far more concrete way. Anal sex between males still accounts for the majority of new cases. Saying AIDS isn’ a gay issue is like saying sentencing reform isn’t an African American issue, or breast cancer isn’t a woman’s issue.
As for Vanessa Williams, she’s a very good friend to the gay community. And for her it obviously comes naturally, and has for a very long time. And her parents sound like they were also ahead of the curve.
As has been repeatedly pounded into you, AIDS is a gay issue.
Did you know that Gay men or women are not allowed to give blood? This isn’t just in America either. The Red Cross controls the blood supply world-wide. They specifically include in their blood donor questionnaire your need to declare your sexual orientation. If you indicate that you are homosexual, they will refuse to take your blood and send you home.
AIDS is very much so, world wide, a Gay issue. And sadly, it will remain that way for a very very long time.
Jason should go on Free Republic and read the comments whenever a gay issue comes up and Mr. and Mrs. Rightwing america talk about “disease-ridden queers” and “the diseased lifesyle.”
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