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Ronald Reagan and AIDS

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Thomas B. Bowie, Jr.

I wanted to talk about this subject over Christmas Holidays with the next generation of my family graduated/ing from college and their 1st generation Irish American grand parents, aunts and uncles. The present day talk shows were a subject an I so wanted to talk more about those programs that try to explain the historical truths and those that promote an agenda. Learning through watching Ken Burns new documentary on the Prohibition and the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The combination of KKK, Christian Right and Corporations that backed the Prohibition and why. The main bi products of this was organized crime an our individual federal tax. 70% of our federal budget came from the tax on booze prior to the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution. I have to take note that as a 22 1/2 year survivor after being diagnosed with HIV. Getting involved as a consumer, a volunteer, a paid educator, a nominated, appointed an elected co/chair of a Ryan White Title One Planning Council. I have studied an experienced the truth in governing health care and what could have been a fiscally responsible approach to AIDS but failed. When asked by students in middle school, high school, college and within the criminal justice system when speaking to them on HIV/AIDS. I have been asked many times "am I angry with the person who infected me". My first and continued response to this question has been to ask the group "have you ever watched And The Band Played On". I speak about the calendar running in the corner of the film. This is when I first realized that my elected officials. My President I voted for the first time before I understood the truth of his policies on helping Americans live a higher quality of life. I understood that this man alone by his failure to demand education to all Americans immediately as if Little White Girls were the number one group infected. President Regan's Failure resulted in me not having the choice. I was infected before education. I didn't have the choice to protect myself when engaging in sexual pleasure. My president sent me into battle without any instructions as to how to use my weapon against this new invader to our shores. The policies of Ronald Reagan and closing down VA and other institutions that helped the mentally ill led to higher and more expensive crime rates. But, no then who is it that profits from the building of jails? Yup...large contributors to Republican candidates. The drug companies that profited. The Democrats and the Catholic Church are as much to blame. No Democrat could speak over President Reagan at the time for fear of the Catholic Church from it's pulpits coming down on any candidate that would talk about condom education. When simple latex was both a major weapon against HIV infection and was an incredible ice breaker to any conversation on the subject of STD and HIV education. My point is proven by the immediate response to finding so much HPV in the blood supply after September 11, 2001. Little White Girls were at risk due to how many white men had HPV in their blood donations after September 11th. A response by candidate Perry of Texas was a killer for his journey to presidential candidate. My god the first thing George W. Bush did after getting elected was to take the vote away from any HIV positive individual who was on the board of directors, a volunteer who had oversight of a Ryan White Funded position in an AIDS or Health Care organization, or the HIV positive individual that was employed by an organization that was funded by Ryan White Care Act Funds. I know I was at the initial Ryan White Conference in Washington, DC in the spring of 2001 and spoke out about it at a forum that was taped. The Clinton Administration, Democrats and progressive Republicans had spent over a decade training folks to participate in the process of using Federal Tax Dollars to address a major health crisis in the United States of America. George W. Bush needed to satisfy his religious financial donors to his election/appointment to President. To do that you have to get rid of the people who know the truth. What better way than to take a person's vote away. Sort of like now with the 2012 Presidential Election and the powerful Republican Agenda of making it harder for some Americans to vote. Wake up America it is all connected to the quality of life and how much it cost and who is in power. Not the common good but what is my best interest is how many Americans have used their vote. Please learn the truth before you vote.

December 27, 2011

Ronald Dennis Dennis

The Elisa test that detects HIV exposure, became available in 1984. 1981-1984 my generation watched our gay friends whither away, suffer greatly and then die from HV/AIDS. GRID as it was termed back then, "Gay AIDS Related Immune Deficiency Disease," was our killer. Panic abounded everywhere in America. What is this disease? The medical community was doing a mad scramble to find answers. The sight of men horribly gaunt from wasting away was everywhere and one could easily see who was living with HIV/AIDS. My community of Broadway was being decimated from men dying left and right. Our government did little to nothing to help find answers. Thus ACT UP', was born out of angry, frightened and just plain fed up gay men needing and wanting medicines to help keep me and others alive. BROADWAY CARES EQUITY FIGHTS AIDS, was the companion voice to the street protests of the brave and loud voices from the mostly, the men of ACT UP. I took that Elisa Test in 1984 while on the road tour of "La Cage Aux Folles" during our Baltimore, Maryland run. One week later, Positive! Now what? Receiving news of male friends dying from AIDS was the sad norm during that two year tour and my theater community was the one that never shunned or hurled more hate upon the men with HIV/AIDS. I DO NOT RECALL, President Reagan ever mentioning AIDS in public. EVER! Christian's were saying that we deserved what we got for being homosexual. The black community, also my community, was saying that it was a white gay male disease, what's the worry? The world knows fully now. Broadway was changed by the loss of so many men to AIDS and I am one of the few lucky men whose body and personal determination to fight and hang on was set and in 1996 my life turned around when the medicines to keep people like myself alive arrived and i was returned to 'normal' health. Last October I hit year 67 of my birth and I am living a senior life. "A CHORUS LINE" in which I played "Richie" in the original cast, ran from 1975 to June 1990 on Broadway, the year and month that the show closed I was hospitalized for the first time of many stays with full blown AIDS. I've lost count of the men who been in that show over the years who died of AIDS before 1996. Michael Bennett, our director was an AIDS casualty, brilliance gone too soon and fast. Nicholas Dante who brought the idea of this story bout dancers to Michael. Name a Broadway show from that era and you will find AIDS=DEATH as the T-shirts and signs read was manifested in memorials and fundraising long before Magic Johnson announced that he too was HIV Positive. I remember Ronald Reagan with no love of him like that of Mr. Sullivan. Perhaps Mr. Sullivan was too young to remember the details of that hell. Not me. We did not know the causes of AIDS then, now we do and people are still becoming infected, ie; Mr. Sullivan. Ask a senior survivor of those days. Look up POZ magazine from the early 1990's and my still living mug and story was written about a few times as one in battle with AIDS. Lucky or a simple messenger? I am no fan of the late Ronald Reagan, Be it his attack on those on welfare as "welfare queens" or queers with AIDS. President Ronald Reagan cared little about either. I still do not get anyone identifying as a gay Republican or a black American one, but I do get AIDS, from the dark years. Ronald Dennis

December 22, 2011

Greg H.

It is my "belief" that Reagan felt that AIDS was killing all of the "right" people, so the less done the better. I have a video recording of him saying that the gay movement is not about civil rights, but to promote a perverted "lifestyle." He also stated that homosexuality was "an unfortunate illness." This is the man that Sullivan wishes to deify. It's rather ironic that Republicans worship at the alter of Reagan, who shed his blood for us all, yet the man was far too liberal to be elected as a Republican these days. The fact remains, that Reagan did as little as possible for AIDS. Little funding, little acknowledgment . C. Everett Koop on the other hand brought to words "condom," and "anal sex" into the dinner hour news. I hold greater respect for THAT conservative than I do for Reagan. Keep in mind though, Reagan was a propagandist in WWII. He also described himself as a former "FDR Democrat" (the most "socialist" president we've ever had) so perhaps Sullivan should have said that FDR was the greatest 20th century President.

December 22, 2011


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