Monday, August 25, 2008

San Fran it ain't

I am facilitating a workshop on HIV right now in Juba which is completely exhausting and boring and I'll be thrilled (THRILLED) when it is done. In the course of this workshop, I have to talk a lot about men having sex with men, since this is a major risk group for HIV worldwide. It is not, however, as you can imagine, a popular topic with Sudanese who tend to be a a skooooosh on the homophobic side.

There I am, talking about how, in an emergency, you have to work with health staff so they don't discriminate against gay men. This extremely dignified Dinka man, in a lovely suit with tribal markings etched across his forehead, raises his hand and says "But why?" "But why, what?" I ask, clearly confused.

He says, in the most reasonable, matter of fact, trying to be clear to someone who is clearly slightly mentally challenged voice, "Men who have sex with other men are sick and diseased and they must die. I would not waste the precious resources on this person who is cursed anyway."

I look up from my notes so that I can catch looks of horror on everyone's face (most of whom are expatriates, like me, though they are all expats from other African countries) and instead, there is a sea of thoughtful, nodding faces in front of me, all clearly relieved that the obvious and right thing has FINALLY been said.

Not much coming back from that, really.

1 comment:

Caz said...

Check out report on the Today programme on Radio 4 (28.08.08) which had interesting outline of situation of Juba and surrounds....but no interview with our favourite aidworker!! X