Category Archives: Health

Uncommon Sense…


Killer Gay Sex!

by Tony Valenzuela

The clueless tabloid and public health hysteria over man-on-man sex may be hindering HIV prevention efforts. From an imaginary "super strain" of HIV to the sci-fi MRSA superbug: What is it about Gay sex that makes U.S. health officials want to play Chicken Little with AIDS prevention and public safety?

In February 2005, a New York man with a multidrug-resistant strain of HIV and a crystal meth dependency became the source of the most reported AIDS story of the decade, but he had never, until now, spoken about his trying ordeal.  A slew of chilling claims was made about this man – that he carried a new, more virulent strain of HIV dubbed a "supervirus" that progressed from infection to AIDS in as little as two months; that his meth-induced promiscuity would instigate a deadly epidemic potentially undoing a quarter century of progress against HIV; that he signified what many in the Gay community had been dreading would occur, given that Gay men—stubbornly, recklessly—refused to give up their uniquely nefarious brand of promiscuity.  It is, then, no less remarkable that these allegations that gripped the world with renewed fears of Gay plague proved comprehensively false, yet the cycle of alarm that equates Gay men with disease—as seen once again this past January in San Francisco with a drug-resistant "Gay staph" scare—continues unabated to this day.  By the time the man with the "supervirus" disappeared from the headlines, those still paying attention would learn he did not have a never-before-seen strain of HIV nor did he set off a new epidemic.  Instead, he carried a very rare and difficult-to-treat multidrug-resistant virus that is today fully suppressed as he adheres to a complicated regimen of antiviral medications.

In Paris, the same year the "supervirus" story broke, the late Gay-rights pioneer and scholar Eric Rofes declared to an audience of international activists, "The pathologizing of Gay men’s communities and cultures and spaces is the most powerful challenge we face to promoting Gay men’s health."  Three years later, this man’s story lays bare how far too many who work and report on Gay health narrowly imagine the sex lives of Gay and bisexual men inside a realm of disease and dysfunction. 

This article continues at

The Millennial Memory…

I was going to defer this commentary until after Dan posted his commentary and addenda to the bowdlerized PBS Whitman hagiography which, while it was a nice attempt, proved once again how subtly Gay people and beautiful same sex love can be written out of history…no sin but omission. But I can’t wait…and since we offered Father John McNeill’s views on things, I feel moved to share my own point of view of this…

The Pope is in America…and everyone is so worked up and excited.

Bush_and_pope Your first clue that this stinks is George Bush is receiving him at the White House. Church and State, once again, cozy at the highest levels. We live in an age of hypocrisy and perhaps the only way to be able to get out of bed in the morning is to at the very least, call it what it is.

I’m particularly taken with the media coverage of it all that, while reminding folks of the “controversy” — that is corporate media’s Mother’s Milk (ka-ching!) — it still manages to gloss over with what is bewilderingly called “balance” these days, with the moony-eyed musings of the “faithful” contrasted with the last seething furious gasps of the thousands of men and boys who have been molested, as though they have equal merit. And somehow they manage to leave out the part where this Pope, in his former job as head of what was the office of the Inquisition in another time, instructed those in charge…those responsible for protecting children (hello Texas!) …to play it out for time so the statutes of limitations would take effect. Bill Maher nails this one beautifully in his recent “Rules.”

But what I am reminded of as we watch the flash and the dash, the pomp and the circumstance, the gold and the satin, the grandeur and the theater of it all, of the Papacy paraded before us as though this was some moral model, is something I was told when I was, years ago, the Parish Council Chairman of Holy Trinity Parish on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

One of my closest friends in those days was a Franciscan priest who was living at the parish (not diocesan, in other words). He shall remain nameless here, because he continues to be a priest…a Gay priest, I might add, who loved his cocktails a little too much…and if reports are true, now the Pastor of a parish in one of the bigger primary states. I loved Michael, and still do, even though I haven’t seen him in years, and I would never want to cause him any embarrassment. Michael was a good friend of the “Saint of 9/11” Mychal Judge, and is the reason I meet Father Judge many years ago.

Anyway…probably the most interesting idea Fr. Michael passed along to me was the idea of the “institutional memory” of the Roman Catholic Church. His point was this: the Church views time in a different way than the rest of the hoi polloi.

I was all ready for some mystical take on time and eternity and what-have-you. But no. WhatGalileo_facing_the_roman_inquisitio  he meant was the Church and its hierarchy view time in a “millennial view.” That was the term he used. A millennial view.  The very long millennial view. In other words: these things shall pass. A century from now, who will remember? Who will be around to remember? The Church will still be there, of course, but generations of regular folks come and go…and they die. They forget. All that is remembered after a while, say a generation…maybe two…ok, three… is the flash and the dash, the pomp and the circumstance, the gold and the satin, the grandeur and the theater of it all. So…a hundred years…a mere blink of an eye, if that, to an institution like the Catholic Church…200 years…what is 200 years to an institution that has been around in cozy bed with the powers of the world for 2000 years? The one thing this millennial view affords is priceless: people will forget. Who remembers the Inquisition? Who, nowadays, even cares? Who remembers what was done to American Indians in the name of Christianity?

Bushcardinallaw And who…a thousand years from now, will remember the hundreds of thousands of boys who were molested, abused? And how the Church worked not to wash it clean with the cleansing light of day, but to hide it away until the secular laws ran out the clock? How does an institution pull off something like an Inquisition and still maintain the illusion of moral probity? How does an institution pull off something like not only the on-going molestation and abuse of thousands of children, but covering it up and paying people off for years…

Sleepy…you’re getting sleepy. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about these matters.

Father will take care of it for you. Rest your head in his satin-covered lap as he bathes you in incense and architecture and unctuous oils and candles…the flash and the dash, the pomp and the circumstance, the gold and the satin, the grandeur and the theater of it all…

And soon you will forget…

Gay Men’s Leadership Academy 2008 – West Coast edition

Academy_2008Not to brag or anything…but we were a busy Institute this weekend.

This weekend was also the fourth Gay Men’s Leadership Academy, a sponsored program of White Crane Institute.

We alternate the academies between the west coast and the east coast to make attendance and subsequent networking easier. And, you know…we get bored easily.

East coast academies are held at Easton Mountain and the west coast academies are held in Guerneville at the Wildwood Retreat Center. Both beautiful facilities. Add handsome men, cute young guys and a multitude of bright minds…and you’re talking AWE & WONDER!

We invite you to visit the GMHLA blog set up by the Academy alums. And even more importantly, consider attending. We’re moving Gay Men’s Health into the 21st Century.

Be Aware. Be Alert. Be Well.

Aesclepius_and_his_cadeusis A lot of people are sending us the Lawrence K. Altman article in the NY Times about a new MRSA-related bacterial infection. The S.F. Chronicle is doing its usual sensationalized coverage, as well.

This is why White Crane has a regular columnist, Nurse Daisy (aka Jeff Huyett) who writes the Owner’s Manual health column (it’s also why White Crane sponsors the Gay Men’s Health Leadership Academy.)

I’ve asked Daisy about this. Here’s the general sense of it from Daisy’s professional perspective:

I deal with one to two MRSA abscesses a week in my work as a nurse. Some ain’t so bad, some are so large a patient risks losing a limb or an ear.

The media almost always sensationalizes Gay health issues. Who’s suprised! But, there is an important kernel of worry that should be attended to. These infections can be really nasty and tend to grow really fast. Thus, "waiting to see how it looks tomorrow" can be the difference between a few minutes of inconvenience and losing a chunk of your nose to this serious bacteria. Gay press often isn’t much better in helping us sort health concerns presented in the press.

Too often, queers have shame and guilt connected to their health issues and may delay having something assessed. These articles further stigmatize our sex and our people. But you should be alarmed at this health issue. Treatment for MRSA should not be delayed. If you have a big pus ball larger than a grape, it
almost assuredly needs to be drained to slow the infection spread.

Here are my suggestions:

     1. Take good care of your skin inside and out. Drink plenty of water, moisturize your skin, consider humidity in your apartment if it’s dry.

     2. If you’ve been a greasy pig over the weekend and had lots of sex with lots of people, wash with soap and water, moisturize, monitor. Nurses aren’t too keen on frequent anti-bacterial soaps.

     3. MRSA’S start like a painful, small pimple and within 48 hours can grow into a huge pus ball. If you think you have a MRSA starting, use hot compresses to soak the area to improve circulation. Apply mupirocin (Bactroban) twice a day. I’ve seen some help with Tea Tree Oil

     4. Seek help if one of these blossoms and becomes large. There are antibiotics that typically work but one needs to be aware to cover for MRSA and not garden-variety skin infections.

     5. If you get an abscess, make sure your provider tests for MRSA if possible.

Take care of each other by mentioning health issues that someone may be letting slide. Sometimes our emotional health prevents us from activating or our drug use dulls our response time. MRSA is one thing that requires some quick thinking.

[The image is Asclepius with his rod, which not a "caduceus," but an ancient Greek symbol associated with astrology and with healing the sick through medicine. "Asclepius’ rod" consists of a single serpent entwined around a staff. Asclepius, the son of Apollo, was practitioner of medicine in ancient Greek medicine.]

Queer Spirit in Utah

Fellow_travelers_poster_sm From our friend and partner, Jerry Buie:

Recently I announced the birth of Queer Spirit as a reflection of a prayer and vision of bringing queer men together in community to explore the essence and nature of who we are in relationship to Spirit, stepping into new stories and creations of vibrant and magical living. During the birthing of Queer Spirit and with each month I am impressed how amazing and in what manner this vision has unfolded. It touches me deeply and moves me in a profound way that I want to share with you what has taken place.

We have a beautiful website that is growing and expanding with new articles and information: and a slick short video (with music by Moby) that is getting a lot of attention.

Three retreats have been held with another one scheduled in January 2008, and a strong possibility of a documentary/reality story about the retreats. We have monthly activities averaging about 12 men, with many new interested people at each event.

We are delighted to be in partnership with White Crane Institute which has been supportive in many ways, including making it possible for us to bring the Fellow Travelers Exhibit to Salt Lake, with photos by Mark Thompson. This exhibit is a celebration of gay history and the magic makers of today and yesterday. As a bonus thirty men attended a "Gay Soul Making" workshop with Mark Thompson.

This essence and spirit of Queer Spirit here in Utah is becoming a community movement and shift in community processing. It is nothing short of amazing, considering the social and political climate here. It really has been a process of turning it over to Spirit and following that intuition.

It is my continued prayer that this process and movement will continue to grow. That my queer brothers will show up hungry to embrace balance, spirit and community in a loving and intimate manner.

A Lesbian Pioneer

Jane_rule_2 Author Jane Rule has died at the age of 76.

Jane Rule’s books, including "Desert of the Heart," and the film version ("Desert Hearts") were, in 1986, pretty much some of of the first truly Lesbian affirming literature and film. It may be hard to believe now, but twenty years was an Ice Age ago in terms of media, culture, and Gay people. If you grew up seeing stuff like The Children’s Hour (the message being that if you are a female and realize you are in love with another woman you need to hang yourself), Desert Hearts was way more than a breath of fresh air, it was revolutionary.

And how’s this for an exit? From The Globe and Mail: "Ms. Rule retreated to her bed in the middle of November with a bottle of Queen Anne whisky and a bar of good chocolate on her bedside table, hundreds of love letters from friends and admirers and a circle of friends and family who cared for her physical needs."

The Globe and Mail has a lovely tribute and obit.

Gay Men’s Health Leadership Academy – East Coast – 2007

Bw_institute_egg The third Gay Men’s Leadership Academy, a program of White Crane Institute, was completed this weekend, the second one we’ve done at Easton Mountain.

The men who attended created a wonderful blog and some videos put together by our fabulous photographer friend, Peter Lien. Here’s one below…and there are more at the Gay Men’s Leadership Academy blog. Check it out…there are individual blog entries and lots of videos. The Academys, now in their second year, are held in California and New York to enable attendance by a greater number of people from all over the country.

The west coast Academy will be in March at the Wildwood Retreat Center. More information here.

Follow Up Fridays…WNYC-FM – The Brian Lehrer Show

OK…I almost forgot about this, and it was so cool, it’s something that needs to be shared. Earlier this week, Dan and I posted our thinking about the Larry Craig debacle [see below]. Or at least some of the thinking, there’s a lot to this story (not all of it negative: entrapment, the perils of the closet, the importance of not thinking in simplistic binary terms, "public" sex, MSM, "down low" — and why is that usually only applied to African American men…isn’t Larry Craig "down low"? — and bisexuality among the more interesting ideas).

Anyway, as I sit working at the computer every day, I am, invariably, listening to New York Public Radio Station, WNYC-FM, and one of my favorite shows is the Brian Lehrer Show. Next to Terry Gross, on Fresh Air, I think Lehrer is one of the best interviewers in the business.

So I was perturbed, when Brian was discussing the Craig story, that both he and his guest commentators, continued to refer to Craig as "Gay" and talking about "other Gay men" in the same breath as though just because at some point in time some men share a physical attraction to, and seek out sexual contact with other men, that all men who do so are ipso facto "Gay." So I wrote a letter. This is what it said:

Dear Mr. Lehrer, I am a huge fan of your show, listen daily and support WNYC on a monthly basis. I beg you, please please please stop referring to Larry Craig as "Gay" as though this was the problem. 

He is sexually confused.  At best, Larry Craig is bisexual or homosexual. But the problem with Craig is, plain and simple, his hypocrisy and the effect that has on innocent people’s lives. It is the issue with his constituency; it is the issue with his colleagues and it is the issue with the LGBT community. The LGBT community, and Gay men specifically, have worked long and hard to establish the term "Gay" as opposed to the medically derived "homosexual." This was to distinguish it as a sexual orientation as opposed to a medical diagnosis. "Gay" specifically has connotations of pride, self-worth, self-respect and integration of one’s sexuality with one’s life. It is a difficult thing to achieve…coming out to one’s self, as well as to one’s family and loved ones. It is harrowing. And those of us who identify as "Gay" deserve to make a distinction between us, and closeted, dishonest, confused, homosexuals who have real psychological issues.

Gay_freedom It is extremely disheartening to be lumped into the same category as this man. And it confuses the issue. Homosexual hypocrisy is the issue here. Self-loathing is the issue. I hope you can finally come to understand…and share with your listeners, that there is a world of difference.

And as for the behavior in the bathroom, it is classic closet behavior. Bathrooms aren’t being plagued with prowling, predatory "Gay" men. But they are probably frequently filled with closeted men looking to connect with other closeted men. It’s what almost every closeted homosexual man I ever knew did before he discovered he was not the only one, not sick, and could live a healthy, happy and fulfilling life…as a Gay man.


Bo Young


White Crane Journal

The Journal of Gay Wisdom, Spirit and Culture.

Well…imagine my surprise on Friday, when the show does a segment they call "Follow Up Fridays" on stories of the week that continue to call for comment, Brian Lehrer starts talking about the difference between "Gay" and "homosexual" and asking listeners to call in! I just about fell out of my chair when he gets to the segment, and without identifying me personally (or more importantly, alas, White Crane), proceeds to read my letter…verbatim. I was kvelling.

Mostly people responded positively. A woman called in and said she hadn’t been able to put her finger on why the story had been bothering her until she heard this. One gentleman called in and accused me of trying to "hijack the language for political purposes"…well duh!  A "professor" (of …I don’t know what) called in and quibbled with my description of "homosexual" as a "medical term" averring, correctly, that homosexuality is no longer a diagnosis in the DSM. Again…well duh! But it was, at one time. It was only taken out of the DSM as a diagnosis in 1973, thanks to the tireless efforts of Barbara Gittings, Judd Marmor, Franklin Kameny and "Dr. H Anonymous" who later turned out to be Psychiatrist John E. Fryer, and the origins of the term are, in fact, from the medical community, and the origins of same-sex sexuality being pathologized. Knowing  history is important. Claiming it is imperative.

We have a few questions for you about your butt…

                                         ANAL SEX!Life_lube_1 

There…now that we have your attentionAnalchili_2

AIDS Foundation of Chicago, one of three national organizations in the new Sexual Health Xchange (SHX) collaboration has partnered with AIDS Project Los Angeles and Boston’s AIDS Action Committee to expand the range of sexual health education resources available to men who have sex with men. And together, they’re all doing some really smart work.

This last Valentine’s Day, SHX launched a new sexual health site at The site promotes a healthy, holistic and integrated gay sexuality that goes beyond HIV and STDs to embrace body, mind, and soul. They’re striving to build connections between and among gay and bi men toward a healthier, nurturing, and more vibrant community.

One of the fun things they’re promoting now is a survey on lubricants used for anal sex – in 6 languages – linked right on the homepage. Dick_cleaners

Smart Sex is Safe Sex…and Safe Sex is SEXY!

                       Please check it all out!

French AIDS Cartoon

Frenchaidsfilm This is nothing short of amazing. 

A witty and very honest little animated film about AIDS and prevention and leading a good healthy gay life.  Survival and overcoming are the central themes.  This French PSA is the work of filmmaker Wilfredo Brimo.

Wish I had seen something like this when I was coming out.  It’s both funny and realistic.

Brilliant and touching too.

Watch it and enjoy!.