Many gay men and women have a deep and complicated relationship with the concept of omission. The choice to leave out information about our sexual orientation can be a useful strategy when faced with the potential for an awkward, painful, or violent situation. It placates sensitivities, prevents discord, and in some cases it saves our lives. However, it also preserves the status quo.
With such compelling reasons to bite our tongues, many of us choose silence as homophobia takes its toll around us. Lips sealed and hands tied, we watch in quiet pain as abuses are inflicted on our more visible kin. We become unwitting accomplices to those who wish to erase us. Realizing the effects of our own inaction, more and more of us have come to feel that this path of least resistance is not worth the violence and injustice it allows – and we speak up.
As the world prepares for the upcoming United Nations High Level Meeting on AIDS, taking place June 8-10 in New York, country missions at the UN are faced with a strikingly similar dilemma. With HIV rates among gay men skyrocketing across the globe, UN member states must decide how to present men who have sex with men in the meeting’s final outcome document. They can appease anti-gay forces by omitting MSM entirely, or they can write MSM into their policies explicitly, no matter how polarizing the issue may be.
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