We are our pride – Kushaba Moses Mworeko

It was June 5, 1981, when the first cases of HIV were reported (

Yes, in the USA, this was referred to as a gay disease and to some people it still is. But to a person like me who comes from a place where the disease was and is heavily among heterosexuals, I have to disagree.

As years have gone by, education and awareness campaigns and research on this disease have helped to dispel the myths. It has taken years for Africans to understand that a witch doctor’s diagnosis and prescription of expensive sacrifices for this disease were not only hurting the patient but the whole family, culture, and tribe. On this other side of the world, in North America, where technology flourishes, people have come to understand that HIV/AIDS is a non-discriminatory disease and is not a curse deserved by sexual minorities because of alleged deviant behavior.

While attending an HIV/AIDS conference in South Padre, Texas, two years ago, I shared the impact of this disease on me, and practically everyone on this planet. Everybody has either been infected, knows someone who is, or been affected in one way or the other. Some may argue there has been no personal effect on them personally, but consider that by just going school and hearing about or being taught something about HIV/AIDS, or just listening the nightly news makes an impact on each person’s attitude.

Now that we are no longer pointing fingers at each other, whether straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, young, old, educated, uneducated, upper-class, peasants, white or people, what do we know and what don’t we know still about this disease? How do we feel about ourselves now? Yes, progress has been made in our knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and advancements in technology, research, and medicine, is that all? Are we done?

Definitely NO, people are still getting it and dying, so what are we missing here?

Yes, there must be something missing because in spite of advancements in treatment there has been a RELAPSE. People need to wake up and look at this disease afresh, fear it as if were back in the 80s. Take precautions and use preventative measures at all time. Take medication as prescribed. And, TALK about it.

Last week on Thursday, June 2, 2011, I watched a documentary Messengers of Hope about a gospel choir from Oakland, California, that engages African American churches in conversation about HIV and AIDS. This whole concept of this documentary is a new strong voice about the importance of speaking out, especially in religious organizations where finger pointing remains common. The film goes a step further in urging pride in who we are, one of the choir members saying, “This is what HIV looks like; strong people, people of faith, black people.”

One thing I have noticed after coming to America is that people have taken for granted the privileges and rights that come with being an American. I am talking about the freedom, the liberty, the equality, the power . . . all this is taken for granted.

I was reading Ida B. Well’s (1862-1931) autobiography, Crusade for Justice (University of Chicago Press 1970) and came across this statement, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

Ms. Wells argues that although the United States does have some ‘wonderful institutions’ to protect our liberty, we have grown complacent and need to be ‘alert as the watchman on the wall.’” I totally agree with her because it is still so relevant today, not just regarding the end of slavery, but all human rights.

Last weekend was Black Pride, and this weekend is Capital Pride in Washington, D.C. We must ask ourselves hat are we proud of?

Pride can be one of the times throughout each year we remind ourselves of our rights, human rights that we are born with, not man-made. We should embrace them and ponder what we have and what we have been denied.

Pride reminds me of the unforgettable occurrence of the pneumonia that was found in these gay men 30 years ago. It reminds me of the resistance that people have put on fighting this terrible disease.

It’s time to show the world that LGBT people are great people, with great potential. If gay men exit the church . . . there wouldn’t be any services. If we decided not to pay tax the states would file for bankruptcy. If we didn’t enlist, there would be shortages in the military. We are everywhere . . . we are not silent and never will be.

With Charlie Sheen’s “Winning” mantle still echoing in our ears, we say too,” The only thing I’m addicted to right now is winning.” Recently it seems like everyone is addicted to winning.

The White House launched a new page in concert with D.C.’s Pride Month 2011 called
Winning the Future: President Obama and the LGBT Community.” During its launch, the President said, “We’ve got a lot of hard work we still have to do, but we can already point to extraordinary progress that we’ve made . . . on behalf of Americans who are gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender”

I strongly believe that, we are going in the right direction to WINNING. I am talking about WINNING THE FUTURE.

Let us not be afraid or ashamed. Let us embrace who we are…it is our PRIDE.

— Kushaba Moses Mworeko, independent global LGBT and HIV+ rights activist, guest blogger, and Editor of VenusPlusX’s Global Sexual Freedom Annotated Bibliography.