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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Enter AIDS – the Perfect Storm

Drudge links to a Reuters article on a study that claims the AIDS virus first entered the United States in about 1969 through an infected Haitian immigrant. I read the article but didn’t try to look up the study.

Let’s assume both the article and study are accurate. This would mean that AIDS hung out in the United States, spreading slowly for about a decade until it virtually exploded onto the national consciousness in the early 1980’s. In 1969 I was 11 years old, and by 1976, when I was 18, I had a number of friends that were at least partially open about their homosexuality. I didn’t frequent the gay scene but I was aware of it, and had been to gay bars and parties attended mostly by homosexuals. I thought myself quite enlightened, urbane, and sophisticated about my gay friends, and certainly would never be so provincial as to judge their behavior in terms of morality or even common sense.

(From the mid-1970’s through the late 1980’s, a significant percentage of my friends were gay. In 1990 my wife and I moved from the Ghent section of Norfolk, VA, to Anaheim Hills in Orange County, CA. We did not plan to withdraw from our gay friends. We simply moved to a neighborhood and life-style that just didn’t tend to include open homosexuals so I mostly lost touch with the community.)

What I witnessed, beginning in the mid-1970’s, was an increasing openness in the gay community, and an increasing general acceptance (or at least decrease in open censure) of that community. This increasing acceptance was undeniably accompanied by, simply put, increased promiscuity among gay men.

So AIDS, a disease that is very difficult to spread through casual contact, but easily spread by, well, sodomy, enters the society at exactly the same time that sodomy – and promiscuous sodomy at that - goes from being completely socially unacceptable, to being acceptable, and finally, to being vigorously and publicly defended, and, I would argue, even somewhat glorified.

The perfect storm.

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