"Dear Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty,
You say that people living with HIV are being "punished by God" for "immoral behavior."
Is that right?
You're not that creative, sir. We've heard all of this before, and worse.
In fact, I remember the first time my family experienced HIV discrimination years ago. From someone whom I trusted and didn't expect would "freak out" over it. I can still hear the indignation in the person's voice, can still recall their awful, hurtful words. I remember saying silent thanks that my daughter didn't know enough English to comprehend the verbal sewage being shouted as she stood next to me, although I could tell that she was alarmed by the heated exchange. I also remember mentally bracing myself in case I might need to duck, as I was fearful that the ugly exchange might turn violent. (Fortunately, it didn't.)
That was the first time. But it wasn't the last. Most weren't that bad, but they all hurt. Like being ostracized by people who'd literally been in my life since I was a toddler. Or being asked for my children and I to leave a birthday party. Or the dentist who refused to treat our family because of "transmission fears." Or the private bus service that wouldn't transport the 20 families I'd arranged to be transported to an event (for the play date group for HIV affected families that I used to run) because they didn't want "AIDS on their bus," cancelling mere hours before they were supposed to arrive - on a weekend no less. Or the times your children tearfully tell you that yet another classmate's parents have barred them from coming to your house to play - and you know exactly why that is.
You get used to it. But it still sucks.
For every bad story, there are many good ones too. Like the people who look you in the eye and tell you they don't care and love your family anyway. Like the co-workers, friends, family, and teachers who shower you with love and support. Like the church members who take up a donation for your AIDS Walk team every year. Like the virtual family you get a chance to connect to on social media who champion your cause even if it doesn't personally affect them in any way. Lots of people realize that HIV isn't a "punishment." Not from God, or from anyone or anything else. It's a chronic condition. No more, no less.
This is 2014, Mr. Robertson. And I don't know about YOU, but the God I serve doesn't hate people living with HIV. In fact, He doesn't hate - period.
You could learn a lot from Him.
Now excuse me while I go online to complain about your hate speech to your boss, A & E. After that, I need to go help my "immoral" children with their homework, cook dinner for my "immoral" husband, and then go wash my "immoral" hair.
(Friends, if you'd like to join me in speaking out about these discriminatory remarks, please visit the link below for the contact info for A & E:)
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