The disincentives kinda slap ya right in the fotch, don't they?
But on the other hand (the good hand, the one that always does the right thing, the smart, ethical, moral hand) I was muy mucho thrilled to make the trek as I had been invited to present on New Prevention Technologies to the college-aged conference attendees. Nothing gets me more excited than vaccines and microbicides. Okay, there's at least one thing. But what a fantastic opportunity to deliver information on the future of HIV prevention to these young faith-based AIDS warriors that goes beyond Abstinence and Being Faithful.
After all, we know that the number one risk factor for HIV transmission among women around the world is MARRIAGE. How do abstinence and being faithful apply to these women? We all desperately need more prevention tools and I couldn't wait to convince my audience of such, help them to glory hallelujah in the promise of vaccines and microbicides. Just the mere fact that this topic was on the agenda was encouraging. After all, new prevention technologies are for the sexually active by design.
"World Vision is an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God." -- World Vision International mission statement.
Planning for this presentation went on for months. There was a bunch of paperwork, and a lot of coordination with my lovely vaccine colleagues who helped with the development of the PowerPoint presentation. I had to sign something for WVI saying I would never do nuttin' bad to the children, that I loved the children, etc. And while this made me feel a little weird, I mean, I aint never wanna hurt the children, ya know? I love other people's children, ya know what I'm saying? As long as they're quiet and don't sass. So I signed, sealed and delivered that statement, sent in my bio, provided a description of the presentation and jumped through whatever hoop that needed jumping. Spent some real time coordinating my logistically daunting travel, which involved flying to Indianapolis and then getting picked up for a couple hours drive to Lord-knows-where.
A couple of days before I was to leave on that jet plane, I was all set. The only thing I had left to do was pack my wigs and heels. The hat boxes had already been shipped. And then the call came in.
"We've gone online and read some of your work Mr. Pickett. And we've determined that you don't fit the vision or the ethos of World Vision International and for that reason we are withdrawing our invitation to speak at our conference this weekend."
What the fffffffudge?
No, it wasn't that I was a big gay ssssssuper fag, they assured me, cuz I asked, it wasn't my identity, oh no, it was that I used graphic and obscene language in my columns and they were real concerned that if one of the attendees Googled me and read the filth I pander in they would think WVI endorsed me and my potty mouth.
What kind of sugar is this? First of all, my little PowerPoint had not one naughty word. They could have asked to see my slides, but they didn't. They could've asked me if I was gonna try and do my Fairy Dance, which I would've assured them that I wasn't. While I had no intention of hiding my identity, I was planning to provide a clear, concise and technical introduction to vaccines and microbicides, and being that I am a recognized "expert" on the topic, I was gonna do it real good. I'm a professional, baby.
No, they said, they had no concerns about the quality of my presentation, or my credentials. They knew I was an "expert" and would undoubtedly deliver a superior presentation on new prevention technologies. No, they said, it was "guilt by association" and so I could stay my fat can at home.
While my first reaction to the initial phone call was stunned and stammering, as the day drew on I channeled Mommie Dearest, beginning with the scene whene Joan is told by an adoption official that she isn't suitable parental material, to the axing of the rose garden, to the "do you call this clean?" bathroom scene, to "no more wire hangers" to choking Christina in front of a reporter from Redbook to "DON'T FUCK WITH ME, FELLAS!"
I love you, Mommie dearest.
How dare they? I am not suitable to address the participants of their conference because I write like a truck driver? And it has nothing to do with the fact that I am an enormous homosexy FAG?
Well, you tell Jesus that half, half, HALF the epidemic in this country is made up of GAY MEN, not "innocent" women and children. While women and children and straight men and injection drug users are certainly impacted by this disease, it is GAY first. And there are GAY MEN in Africa and everywhere else who are impacted by HIV/AIDS, and you can't do this work in the Christian context or any other without acknowledging and addressing the fact that GAY MEN are disproportionately bearing the burden of this GOD AWFUL fucking epidemic that has wiped out so many of our friends and lovers and FAMILY, and our tears continue to burn, our hearts continue to get ripped apart from the loss, and that GAY MEN have been at the center of the WAR from the very beginning, and continue to fight the homophobia and stigma advanced under the guise of "faith" that are central to the death and devastation of AIDS.
A bunch of do-gooder "Christians" with a selective, murderously hypocritical understanding of what it means to do the work of Christ will not stop this FLAMING, VULGAR QUEEN from putting everything on the line to fight for human rights, social justice, and an end to AIDS.
"We maintain our Christian identity while being sensitive to the diverse contexts in which we express that identity." -- World Vision International.
I'm not sure what Jesus would do, but something tells me that perpetuating ignorance and discrimination weren't on his agenda.