Yesterday, a friend sent me the following:
"Today I saw this headline:
West Nile Outbreak Largest Ever, 41 dead
and it made me think of this:
Rare Cancer Seen In 41 Homosexuals
...and wondering about what makes a disease a crisis versus a judgment. The number of victims was the same."
And to further the irony, the famous speech given by Mary Fisher to the Republican National Convention in 1992- 11 years after the rise of "gay cancer" was highlighted in a feature by the New York Times today.
TWENTY years ago this month, Mary Fisher took the stage of the Republican National Convention at the Houston Astrodome and delivered a 13-minute prime-time speech that was seen by many as a sharp rebuke of her party's negligence in the face of the growing AIDS epidemic.
Mary Fisher in 1992 made what is considered one of the best American speeches of the 20th century.
Ms. Fisher, a mother of two young children who had worked in Gerald Ford's White House, addressed the delegates as someone who was H.I.V. positive herself. "Tonight, I represent an AIDS community whose members have been reluctantly drafted from every segment of American society," she said. "I am one with a black infant struggling with tubes in a Philadelphia hospital." She added, "I am one with the lonely gay man sheltering a flickering candle from the cold wind of his family's rejection."
It was a speech that was both surprising and poignant. Few, including Ms. Fisher herself, expected that she would survive a disease that had already killed more than 150,000 Americans by the summer of 1992.
But Mary Fisher is still alive -- and still taking issue with her political party.
As she should. The discrimination and loathing that prevented government intervention is still with us. It's made itself known in issues of women's health, gender inequity, transgender rights and the House defense of DOMA.
However, West Nile will probably not become the epidemic that AIDS did. Because mosquitoes don't discriminate.
They bite everyone.