You call me ‘promiscuous,’ I call you ‘dishonest,’ a poly person tells the average person who believes that monogamy is the only natural way to love.
You call me ‘denialist,’ I call you ‘believer,’ a dissident person tells the average person who believes that HIV is the only cause of AIDS.
When you call AIDS Dissidents by their own name you exercise leadership in the sexual freedom movement.
Alternative lovestyle communities ignore AIDS Dissidence at their own peril.
From private conversations
“What else happened around this book worthy of note? Anybody else extolled its virtues?” I asked as G and I continued our conversation.
“Well, Deborah Anapol, a founder of the poly movement, read the book and wrote a glowing review. That made me very happy. We published it in various places, and are still waiting for Loving More Magazine to live up to the challenge of publishing it also on its pages, perhaps with a disclaimer about the views on AIDS expressed in the book itself.”
“Seems fair. Anything else?”
“Yes, a few days ago I found a review of the book on Polyamory in the News. It was scathing. The usual accusations of ‘denialism’ compounded with a whole bunch of personal attacks. I was described as a fallen public figure that had become ‘radioactive’ in poly circles after Greensocks and that was now an ‘embarrassment’ to the poly community and movement.”
“Ouch! How did that feel?”
“Awful,” G said.
“I bet. Did you respond?”
“Well, by that time I had learned what kind of strength I had to muster to stand behind my statements. Besides, I now knew that when a reader’s mind was open, the book made its positive effect. I responded to the accusations and waited for the owner of the website to post my comment.”
“Right on!” I cheered her.
“The comment was not exactly gentle. Yet he posted it.”
“How did that feel?”
“Felt good. I realized that now the ball was rolling. That there was a dialog, a conversation, a debate, an open way to deal with the intellectual/ideological conflict that has been dividing the community. I know that many polys question the government’s narrow views of AIDS and of public and personal health in general. However, the current poly leadership--perhaps in an attempt to posture as more ‘respectable’--wishes to keep this under wraps. Finally, the whole thing was unwrapping--unfolding itself. More comments came, that defended me from personal attacks and pointed to the subtlety of my theoretical perspective as well. I was happy. ”
“Good for you, G,” I commented. “That’s the nice part of being poly, no? Polys typically accede discussion--once you get the ball rolling, they flock in, they are so gregarious, so symbiotic’,” I commented.
“Yes, that’s why I insisted in playing the game. Others told me to leave them alone, move somewhere else, change niche audience altogether.”
“Didn’t you want to do that?”
“Part of me did. I felt so ostracized, so unheard. Why would I be telling my friends these things if not because they’re important? But at least on the East Coast the government’s view definitely prevailed. A regional divide is there, and I did feel a pull toward the West Coast, where I always feel more at home.”
“Is ‘denialism’ more popular there?” I asked G.
“Wait a minute,” G said, “why are you still calling it ‘denialism’? That’s the problem, remember? Dissidence,” and her voice got more passionate as she asked that question.
“Right, what’s in a name? Can things change just because they’re called by another name?” I asked.
“Think of Lani and Loraine’s book, Bi Any Other Name?”
“Oh yeah, I remember it” I said, “it started the bisexual movement back in the 1990s.”
“Correct. How did it do that?”
“By calling bisexuals by our own name,” I replied.
“By our own name . . . “ G reflected. “What’s in a name? Very simple: a name allows a discriminated against, a marginalized, an invisible group to define itself on its own terms.”
“Ok. So what I hear is that we need to call dissidents dissidents because that’s how they call themselves?”
“Exactly!” G exclaimed.
“I get it,” I continued. “It’s a bit like calling polys polys and not promiscuous persons.”
“Yes, calling gay men gay men and not ‘faggots.’ Italian-Americans Italian-Americans and not ‘dagos.’ African-Americans African-Americans and not ‘niggahs.’ Using the dignified, self-respecting names marginalized groups chose to describe themselves, instead of the insulting words that injure and silence them.”
“So ‘dissidence’ and ‘denialism’ are not the same, even though they are two different ways to describe the same movement?” I asked G.
“Well, if you are poly and somebody calls you promiscuous, aren’t you going to feel silenced, offended? What if someone called the polyamory movement the ‘promuscuity movement’? Would you feel comfortable being part of that?”
“No. I would respond by saying that we, polys have a right to define ourselves in our own terms. We cannot accept a definition based on a negative social stereotype.”
“Well, the same applies to the AIDS Dissidence Movement, doesn’t it? Don’t you think that dissidents have been marginalized enough to want to be called by their own name?”
“Ok, ok. I get that. But how would you define Dissidence then?”
“Dissidence is a political--an ideological form of resistance to an institutionally imposed silence on the questions science hasn’t answered yet. It is a form of science in itself: it produces knowledge that moves in the direction of the paradigm shift we need to create if we want to make peace with our generous hostess, Gaia, the Earth,” G said in a passionate, vehement tone.
“But then some compare what they call ‘AIDS Denialism’ with denial of the Holocaust. Suppose it turns out there is really nothing else to AIDS than an infection by a virus called HIV--which for some reason cannot be neutralized by a vaccine or an antibiotic. Suppose it’s just as simple as that. Then, wouldn’t they have a point?” I asked G, by now a bit impatient, nervous.
End of Part Six, G Tale # 5
Disclaimer: This Tale does not constitute medical advice in any way. Readers are invited to consult their own healers and health care providers.
References: For scholarly and scientific references to contents and theories referred to in this dialog, refer to Gaia &the New Politics of Love, whose bibliography lists all sources involved.