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From, about Glenn Burke, a 1970s ballplayer who died of AIDS:

What most people didn’t know was that Burke was gay. Following his retirement, in 1980, he became the first major leaguer to come out. Even though he tried to keep his sexuality a secret during his playing days, there had been rumors in the clubhouse. And as the 2010 television documentary Out: The Glenn Burke Story revealed, Dodgers executives scrambled to squash those rumors at all costs: In the off-season of 1977, team VP Al Campanis offered Burke $75,000 to get married. According to a friend, Burke rejected the marriage deal with a mix of wit and rebelliousness. He told Campanis, “I guess you mean to a woman.” 

It was around that time that Burke struck up a relationship with Spunky Lasorda, aka Tommy Lasorda Jr. Spunky was a lithe young socialite who frequented West Hollywood’s gay scene, smoking cigarettes from a long holder. A 1992 GQ profile of Spunky portrayed his homosexuality as an open secret. But his father was in staunch denial and remained so even after Spunky’s death, in 1991, from pneumonia. GQ reported that the death certificate said his illness was likely AIDS-related. “My son wasn’t gay. No way,” Lasorda Sr. told the magazine.
Burke and Spunky’s relationship didn’t become public until years later and remains ambiguous. Burke’s sister, Lutha Davis, insists the two men were just close friends. In his 1995 memoir, Out at Home, co-authored with Erik Sherman, Burke went out of his way to leave the true nature of the relationship unclear. “That’s my business,” he wrote. He also explained that Lasorda Sr.’s homophobia was something he and Spunky commiserated about. Burke described them turning up together at Lasorda’s house one night, done up in pigtails and drag, hoping to stage a kind of gay Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. They chickened out before knocking on the door. 

Whatever the case, Burke’s association with Spunky marks the point at which his big league career took an irrevocable left turn. Lasorda stopped being amused by the player’s dugout antics and, according to Burke, turned on him. “Glenn had such an abundance of respect and love for Tommy Lasorda,” says Burke’s sister. “When things went bad at the end, it was almost like a father turning his back on his son.” Early in the 1978 season, the Dodgers abruptly dealt Burke to the Oakland A’s — among the most lackluster teams in baseball — for Billy North, an outfielder past his prime. L.A. sportswriters described the trade as sucking the life out of the Dodgers’ clubhouse. A couple of players were seen crying at their lockers.
For Burke the trade had everything to do with his sexuality — though the outfielder sounded off to the press about it in only the most cryptic terms. “I never got a chance here,” he said. “I felt I was supposed to kiss ass and I didn’t.” 

After unproductive years in 1978 and ’79, Burke hoped for a fresh start in 1980 under new A’s manager Billy Martin. But the gay rumors followed Burke to Oakland. Martin threw the word “faggot” around the clubhouse and didn’t play Burke. Some teammates even avoided showering with him. Burke, accustomed to being the heart of the clubhouse, felt crippled by the discomfort he was causing. His unhappiness was compounded by a knee injury and a demotion to Triple-A. After playing just 25 games in the minors in 1980, he abruptly retired. He was 27 years old. “It’s the first thing in my life I ever backed down from,” he later said.
Burke started hanging around San Francisco’s Castro district. He became a star shortstop in a local gay softball league and dominated in the Gay Softball World Series. “I was making money playing ball and not having any fun,” he said of his time in the majors. “Now I’m not making money, but I’m having fun.” Jack McGowan, a friend in the Castro who has since passed away, once said of Burke: “He was a hero to us. He was athletic, clean-cut, masculine. He was everything that we wanted to prove to the world that we could be.” 

In the Castro, Burke’s creation of the high five was part of his Herculean mystique. He would flash his magnetic smile and high-five everyone who walked by. In 1982, he came out publicly in an Inside Sports magazine profile called “The Double Life of a Gay Dodger.” The writer, a gay activist named Michael J. Smith, appropriated the high five as a defiant symbol of gay pride. Rising from the wreckage of Burke’s aborted baseball career, Smith wrote, was “a legacy of two men’s hands touching, high above their heads.” 

By that time, however, Burke was struggling with a drug habit. It escalated in 1987, when a car plowed into him as he was crossing a street, breaking his right leg in four places and stealing his athleticism. He couldn’t hold a job. He went broke. He did some time at San Quentin for grand theft. Then, in 1993, he tested positive for HIV. He passed away on May 30, 1995, after a sharp and grisly decline.

I remember Glenn Burke from when I was an intense Dodger fan in the late 1970s. He struck me then as a useless waste of space any time he got into the lineup. Looking up his statistics, I see I was right: In his career, he had 556 plate appearance, or about one full season’s worth. His career stats in MVP form were .237 average, 2 homers, and 38 rbi. He got all of 22 walks in his career. His career on base percentage was .270 and slugging average was .291, for an OPS of .561. His OPS+ on a scale where an average big leaguer is 100 was 57. His career wins above replacement was -3.1, evenly split by being terrible on both offense and defense. The remarkable thing about Burke was not that his promising career was sidetracked by irrational discrimination, but they let him stay in the big leagues so long when there were better players in Triple A.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: AIDS, Sports 
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In “Stonewall at 40,” Frank Rich celebrates in the NYT the June 28, 1969 Greenwich Village drag bar riot that symbolically launched the gay liberation era:

On Monday, President Obama will commemorate Stonewall with an East Room reception for gay leaders.

Rich never mentions, and I suspect that Obama won’t either, that the catalyst for the riot was Judy Garland’s funeral the previous day, and that most of the rioters were cross-dressers.

Rich goes on:

After the gay liberation movement was born at Stonewall, this strand of history advanced haltingly until the 1980s. It took AIDS and the new wave of gay activism it engendered to fully awaken many, including me, to the gay people all around them. But that tardy and still embryonic national awareness did not save the lives of those whose abridged rights made them even more vulnerable during a rampaging plague.

Uh, I think a big chunk of history has been shoved down the Memory Hole here. The 1970s were not a time when gay liberation “advanced haltingly;” in reality, the 1970s were when all effective legal restrictions on industrial scale homosexual promiscuity were utterly ended in precisely those cities — e.g., San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York — where AIDS broke out most virulently in the early 1980s.

Gay liberation caused the AIDS epidemic.

What’s even more striking is that this huge historical event of the recent past has been so distorted that, according to Google, nobody in the history of the Internet has ever before posted the words:

“Gay liberation caused the AIDS epidemic”

Instead, we’re all supposed to believe AIDS was caused by discrimination against homosexuals in the military, the absence of gay marriage, and/or Ronald Reagan. Indeed, it’s precisely because the evidence for cause and effect is so overwhelmingly clear that the pressure to lie and to submit to others’ lies is so intense.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: AIDS 
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From the leftwing Independent in Britain, we see the admission from the World Health Organization that the Great and the Good have been, well, lying to us about AIDS for a quarter of a century:

Threat of world Aids pandemic among heterosexuals is over, report admits

A 25-year health campaign was misplaced outside the continent of Africa. But the disease still kills more than all wars and conflicts

By Jeremy Laurance

A quarter of a century after the outbreak of Aids, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has accepted that the threat of a global heterosexual pandemic has disappeared.

In the first official admission that the universal prevention strategy promoted by the major Aids organisations may have been misdirected, Kevin de Cock, the head of the WHO’s department of HIV/Aids said there will be no generalised epidemic of Aids in the heterosexual population outside Africa.

Dr De Cock, an epidemiologist who has spent much of his career leading the battle against the disease, said understanding of the threat posed by the virus had changed. Whereas once it was seen as a risk to populations everywhere, it was now recognised that, outside sub-Saharan Africa, it was confined to high-risk groups including men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and sex workers and their clients. …

In 2006, the Global Fund for HIV, Malaria and Tuberculosis, which provides 20 per cent of all funding for Aids, warned that Russia was on the cusp of a catastrophe. An estimated 1 per cent of the population was infected, mainly through injecting drug use, the same level of infection as in South Africa in 1991 where the prevalence of the infection has since risen to 25 per cent.

Dr De Cock said: “I think it is unlikely there will be extensive heterosexual spread in Russia. But clearly there will be some spread.” …

Aids organisations, including the WHO, UN Aids and the Global Fund, have come under attack for inflating estimates of the number of people infected, diverting funds from other health needs such as malaria, spending it on the wrong measures such as abstinence programmes rather than condoms, and failing to build up health systems.

Dr De Cock labelled these the “four malignant arguments” undermining support for the global campaign against Aids, which still faced formidable challenges, despite the receding threat of a generalised epidemic beyond Africa.

Any revision of the threat was liable to be seized on by those who rejected HIV as the cause of the disease, or who used the disease as a weapon to stigmatise high risk groups, he said. …

Critics of the global Aids strategy complain that vast sums are being spent educating people about the disease who are not at risk, when a far bigger impact could be achieved by targeting high-risk groups and focusing on interventions known to work, such as circumcision, which cuts the risk of infection by 60 per cent, and reducing the number of sexual partners.

There were “elements of truth” in the criticism, Dr De Cock said. “You will not do much about Aids in London by spending the funds in schools. You need to go where transmission is occurring. It is true that countries have not always been good at that.”…

One of the danger areas for the Aids strategy was among men who had sex with men. He said: ” We face a bit of a crisis [in this area]. In the industrialised world transmission of HIV among men who have sex with men is not declining and in some places has increased. …

The biggest puzzle was what had caused heterosexual spread of the disease in sub-Saharan Africa – with infection rates exceeding 40 per cent of adults in Swaziland, the worst-affected country – but nowhere else.

“It is the question we are asked most often – why is the situation so bad in sub-Saharan Africa? It is a combination of factors – more commercial sex workers, more ulcerative sexually transmitted diseases, a young population and concurrent sexual partnerships.”

“Sexual behaviour is obviously important but it doesn’t seem to explain [all] the differences between populations. Even if the total number of sexual partners [in sub-Saharan Africa] is no greater than in the UK, there seems to be a higher frequency of overlapping sexual partnerships creating sexual networks that, from an epidemiological point of view, are more efficient at spreading infection.” ….

But the factors driving HIV were still not fully understood, he said.

“The impact of HIV is so heterogeneous. In the US , the rate of infection among men in Washington DC is well over 100 times higher than in North Dakota, the region with the lowest rate. That is in one country. How do you explain such differences?”

How do you explain such differences between North Dakota and Washington DC? It’s a conundrum, a quandary, a puzzlement. Dr. Cock and the rest of the worlds’ AIDS experts are stumped, apparently, and if they can’t figure it out, with all their lavish research funding, then nobody could ever possibly puzzle it out. Some things we are just meant never to understand.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: AIDS 
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From the New York Review of Books:

How, and How Not, to Stop AIDS in Africa

By William Easterly

The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS
by Helen Epstein

Epstein’s view is that the cause of the AIDS crisis in Africa is what has now become known in AIDS jargon as “concurrent” relationships. Africans have about the same number of sexual partners as anyone else; they are just more likely to have more than one long-term partner at a time. Crucially, both men and women have multiple partners, in contrast to other poor societies where men may often stray but women’s monogamy is jealously guarded. Western men and women are more likely to practice serial monogamy or engage in one-night stands. To oversimplify a little, Africa’s AIDS tragedy is that it combines greater Western-style sexual equality for women with social norms that permit simultaneous long-term sexual relationships for both partners.

Multiple long-term relationships are prevalent in Africa for many reasons. In southern Africa (where the epidemic is concentrated), one of the few opportunities for gainful work open to men is to become long-distance migrants to the mines. Both husbands and wives may have other long-term partners during the months when they are separated. The African tradition of polygamy (described by historians like John Iliffe as a cultural response to maximize fertility in what used to be a lightly settled continent) has given way to modern relationships between older, well-to-do, gift-bestowing men and multiple young girlfriends. This is not so different from the successive trophy wives of American fat cats, but much more widespread since Africa’s poverty often makes it a matter of survival for African young women to have a rich (older) boyfriend. The desire of young women for young boyfriends can be accommodated on the side.

For many reasons, concurrent, long-term sexual relationships are much more dangerous for the spread of AIDS than serial monogamy. When both men and women have concurrent relationships, they are part of a huge web of sexual partners by which the HIV virus moves through the population. Long-term relationships are much more likely to spread AIDS than one-night stands because of the low probability of a single sex act spreading the virus. Since the HIV-positive are most contagious soon after they themselves become infected, a long-term partner who has just become infected in another relationship poses much more risk than a prostitute who has been infected for a long time. Serial monogamy in the West kept the virus largely trapped within single relationships, a fact Epstein nicely illustrates with some clever graphs. Her explanation based on concurrent relationships has gained broad acceptance and has been confirmed by mathematical modeling and by surveys of sexual habits in various countries; but one still wishes the evidence was a little more extensive for such a critical issue. At this point, however, it looks like much stigma, denial, and inaction took place simply because of lack of understanding of African sexual behavior. …

To illustrate the role of political agendas, Epstein discusses the famous success story by which AIDS infection rates in Uganda decreased as a result of the ABC campaign—”Abstain, Be Faithful, and Use Condoms.” Epstein damns both the Western right and left for their misuse of the lessons of Uganda. The religious right played up the “Abstain” part because it happened to fit their particular moral preferences. People on the left, who had different sexual morals, said just use condoms. The “Be Faithful” message, precisely the one in Epstein’s story that was critical in Uganda (led by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who called for “Zero Grazing”), was a political orphan, disdained by both left and right. …

When well-conceived efforts to improve prevention do exist, they often run afoul of the aid industry. Epstein observes that there was already a huge international bureaucracy devoted to combating population growth by distributing condoms. When suddenly condoms became marketable for preventing AIDS as well as pregnancy, this presented a huge new growth opportunity for family-planning organizations (which had been losing foreign aid market share as people realized that population growth was not as scary as originally thought). The condom bureaucracy did what it does best, which is flood countries with condoms. Alas, supply does not create its own demand. Condom-saturated countries like Botswana have made little progress in reducing new AIDS infections, since people there don’t like to use condoms and are not yet convinced that they are at risk of HIV infection if they don’t. Meanwhile, the “Be Faithful” message was neglected because it was not of interest to the bureaucracy concerned with AIDS. As Epstein muses acidly: “Zero Grazing” had “no multimillion-dollar bureaucracy to support it.” …

Epstein argues that it violates both common sense and the evidence to put much faith in vague, happy-sounding messages about self-esteem and safe sex. During visits to Africa I have often seen the ubiquitous donor-funded “AIDS prevention” billboards, featuring beautiful young couples who are meant to convey—well, what exactly? Epstein (backed up by an epidemiological study of the Uganda prevention success story) argues that the prevention campaigns could use less sexiness and more fearfulness. What worked in Uganda, she writes, was the “ordinary, but frank, conversations people had with their family, friends, and neighbors—not about sex—but about the frightening, calamitous effects of AIDS itself.”

This is Epstein’s “Invisible Cure.” … One still wishes that the evidence for what works was a little more substantial than one Ugandan success story that lasted a few years, but Epstein is such a persuasive storyteller that she earns a serious hearing. To illustrate what’s needed, Epstein draws an analogy to the medical activism of women’s groups in nineteenth-century America. Once they understood the germ theory of disease, they were able to spread habits of hand washing, covering your mouth while coughing, not spitting in public, etc. This successfully reduced disease even before the invention of antibiotics.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Africa, AIDS 
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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