Wednesday, April 29, 2009
EQUALITY DAYS: ARE WE NOT ALL PART OF "OUR COMMUNITY"?
Recently a historical event happened IN THE LV and the state of Nevada. The very first Equality Days happened in our capitol of Carson City.
A great group of politically and socially active folks from here IN THE LV went up to Carson City to support our own State Senator David Parks in his efforts to get our equal rights written into out very own state constitution.
I could not attend.
I'll tell you why.
One of the bitches about our current healthcare system in this country is that there just plain and simply isn't anything approaching affordable medical coverage. That is bad enough when you're healthy, but, when you have HIV it's not only bad, it keeps you locked in a socioeconomic hell whether you are healthy enough to work or not. Well, I live on $856 per month. I would love to put my skills to work at something, hell, anything. However, because a single bottle of ATRIPLA which from what I understand keeps me alive, costs pretty much my entire monthly income, I can't work until I find someplace that's willing to pay for my healthcare.
I'm not looking for sympathy, I'm stating facts.
As badly as I wanted to go to experience a bit of Nevada LGBT history I just couldn't afford it. I applied for a scholarship to go, however, I felt that there had to be someone else who wanted to go even more than I ,so, I removed myself from consideration.
Many of you don't know that I am known in the non LGBT world as a writer. I write columns monthly for I LOVE LAS VEGAS MAGAZINE where I am the Night Life Editor and the defacto Travel Editor.
I also write proposals for my friends businesses that can't afford them. In addition I write my own blog that has chronicled my adventures since becoming a delegate for Hillary Clinton way back when. I am extremely proud of my blog, DEREKS BIG FAT DEMOCRATIC ADVENTURE. My blog is my platform to inform the world about what's going on in my life and the LGBT world around me.
I am proud of it and had hoped to use my blog to tell the stories of the great group of people who made the journey to Carson City to represent the LGBT community of Nevada.
A community that I thought I was a part of.
I was told by my dad (who died recently) that if a person was upset enough with you to demand an apology, you must offer a sincere one and try to not repeat whatever the behavior was that caused the other person to be upset.
Cut flash forward.
I sent a rather congratulatory email out to as many members of "OUR" community as I could think of that had made the trip to Carson City asking if they would be so kind as to send me there recollections and pictures from the trip.
You would have thought it was me and not a Dingo that ate the baby for the reaction I got.
I was informed by a leader of our community that I had overstepped my place and gone ROGUE by not asking first of the powers that be before I had the temerity to push send.
I was told that I had no right to ask these questions as I had not served on the Equality Days Planning committee nor had I attended AND FURTHERMORE, HOW DARE I USE THE WORDS "OUR COMMUNITY"?!? Even worse I had asked about "OUR EQUALITY DAYS". It seems since I wasn't a part of Equality Days, I had no right to think of myself as being part of the community.
I offered an explanation and a very sincere apology to "Our Dear Leader" and immediately sent out an email letting people know that they could (please!) disregard my email and that an email would come from the members of the planning committee forthwith.
I thought that was the end of it.
An email then went out along with nasty text messages that called me out by name with the following:
And I'm too much of a gentleman to call the person who sent these things out by name.
Too bad she isn't.
A gentleman, that is.
THIS IS THE EMAIL WITHOUT THE OFFENDING (SIVE?) PERSONS NAME ATTACHED:
To the Equality Days participants,
Please disregard the email survey sent out by Derek Washington. He is not involved with the planning or in any way a participant in Equality Days.
We will be sending out an official Equality Days survey to you from www.surveymonkey.com Our survey is to collect your ideas, suggestions and comments in order to improve the event for the future.
I apologize for any inconvenience or confusion. It is Stand OUT For Equality’s desire to connect to our participants in an honest and open fashion for the benefit of the LGBT statewide community. Our desire is to improve this event and to prepare for the continued quest for equality.
Was it really important to call me out by name and imply that I was doing something dishonest? Btw, the parts that mentioned me were "bold" and underlined as if to insure that no one would gather I was anything less than a monster and dishonest to boot.
Listen and listen good.
I spent two years begging GOD to kill me because I couldn't take another day of being so weak that I had to sleep on my moms couch because I was too weak to climb the stairs to my room.
Or being in Hospitals where the high point of my day was waiting for the Jello to arrive at 3pm.
Or how about when I would wake up and my mom would be sleeping next to me with tears running down her eyes? Tears she only cried when she thought I was asleep because she didn't want me to know how bad my having HIV was affecting her.
Listen, when I got well enough the first thing I did was march myself off to Reno for the Democratic convention where I told everyone who and what I was and I GOT ELECTED as a delegate to go to Denver to represent this state. AS A MAN. AS A BLACK MAN. AS A GAY MAN. AS AN AMERICAN MAN. AS A GAY BLACK AMERICAN MAN.
As a member of this community.
Since I returned from Denver, my entire life has been to serve this community.
I have held clothing drives where I went downtown and by myself handed out donated clothes and food.
I took pictures and live blogged from our Equal Rights Rally THAT I HELPED PLAN. When Wanda Sykes came out at our little rally, my laptop was up and running and sending out the news AS IT HAPPENED. "OUR" rally made the news that night. All over the world.
I have worked tirelessly for Democratic candidates to ensure that "OUR" community had representatives who would fight for "OUR" rights.
Just two weeks ago I helped host Congresswoman Dina Titus in my role as the LGBT OUTREACH DIRECTOR of the DEMOCRATIC BLACK CAUCUS.
I'm not listing what I've done for glory. I have NEVER asked for any sort of recognition.
I don't need it.
So, now I'm being shunned and serving some sort of exile and am the butt of nasty jokes and innuendo.
Because someone felt their personal fiefdom was threatened.
I know why I help "OUR" community. I help because at my lowest, GOD didn't kill me and a whole lot of people helped and gave me and my mom love and support.
I am trying to get the Nevada Care Program refunded because I never want an innocent kid to beg GOD to kill them or for their mom to fall asleep crying.
I have to ask these self appointed guardians of "OUR" community why do they help?
Is it because of the glory that they hope to receive for what to be works that should be done from the heart?
I know without a doubt that my exile will only get worse after this is read.
I don't care.
I will not allow anyone to question my motives or integrity without answering them.
My mom said that she didn't want me to do that.
I will suffer through whatever you have. Even if you won't sit next to me at recess.
Do you really think you can do anything to me that's worse than seeing my mom cry?
Friday, April 10, 2009
Please help refund Nevada Cares! It's only $350,000 and it saved over $12million for the State of Nevada!
I HATE getting unsolicited email about this cause or the other but I would not be worth the air I'm allowed to breathe everyday if I didn't do everything possible to fix the following situation. So, indulge me. Please read and pass this email to your friends and family. This is not an issue about anything but saving babies from a horrible life full of HIV/AIDS hell.
Please help refund The Nevada Care Program. I think you'll agree with me that it is a worthy program that saves the State of Nevada money in these troubling economic times while actually saving babies from a life of HIV/AIDS hell. The program was run by an amazing immigrant from Nigeria, Dr. Echezona Ezeanolue. I can't pronounce his name either, we call him "Dr. EZ."
Nevada Care is a program that cost the State of Nevada only $350,000. It SAVED the State of Nevada over $12 million dollars in only TWO YEARS!
Richard Whitley helped to end the program. I include his and the Director of The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Department, Michael Wilden, salaries to show you just how close we could be to restoring this program and saving the State of Nevada over $12 million dollars every two years just by eliminating their job costs.
Of course, doing that makes just about as much sense as eliminating The Nevada Care program which saved the state millions because "..of a projected increase in both medication costs and clients utilizing services."
In other words, people might use the program to save babies from having HIV/AIDS passed on to them by their HIV positive mothers.
Yes, you read that right. The program is being eliminated because people might use it to save their unborn babies from a life time of HV/AIDS related Hell.
RICHARD WHITLEY ADMINISTRATOR HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT $106,150
MICHAEL WILDEN DIRECTOR OF DEPT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
firstname.lastname@example.org 775 267 3278.
PLEASE CALL AND EMAIL THESE MEN AFTER YOU READ THE HORRIBLE REVIEW JOURNAL STORY LINKED BELOW AND TELL THEM THEY MUST REFUND THE PROGRAM!
Thank you so much in advance for your help!
Thursday, April 9, 2009
At 20 months of age, Yordanny Zier could not know that her mother was a crackhead, a woman who says she spent much of 12 years in Las Vegas whoring for a fix.
And Yordanny could not know that her mother exposed her to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
She lies in her crib, a dark-haired beauty drooling on her pretty blue outfit. Her eyes never leave her mother. She makes no effort to get up, does not cry or whimper or giggle or smile as a visitor enters the room.
Quiet. She is so quiet.
Adriana Zier, who said she's been off illegal drugs for two years now, picks up Yordanny, pointing out that doctors tell her that she is about five inches shorter and nine pounds lighter than other children her age.
"It's not my daughter's fault or any other kid's fault when they're brought into this world by parents who are screwed up," the 41-year-old Zier said as she sat in a living room of a small apartment off Maryland Parkway and Karen Avenue. "I can't imagine how a program that can give innocent children a chance at a normal life can be killed.
"I know many people hate those of us with HIV, but don't take it out on babies."
Zier said the medical treatment she and her daughter have received at the University of Nevada School of Medicine's Nevada Care Program has given her hope that her daughter won't develop HIV.
But the program, which largely works to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission through targeted antiviral drug therapy, has been eliminated by the state Department of Health and Human Services. Citing a possible $1.2 million shortfall in funding for HIV/AIDS related programs next year, state officials terminated the $350,000-a-year program as of today because of a projected increase in both medication costs and clients utilizing services.
The program was the most severely affected by cuts directed to six HIV/AIDS programs in Southern Nevada.
When the program began in 2006, there were four cases of infants with HIV in Clark County. Since the program's services began, however, there have been no new cases identified, although 40 infants have been born to HIV-infected mothers.
Dr. David Gremse, head of the School of Medicine's pediatric program, said under guidelines set by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no determination is made of whether a child is positive or negative for HIV until the age of 24 months. So doctors won't make a finding on Yordanny for four more months.
Zier was in the county jail in July 2007 on a drug charge -- she said she has been incarcerated more than 60 times for either drugs or prostitution -- when she learned she had HIV. Less than two months later, she gave birth at University Medical Center.
"I am so lucky that Yordanny and I got AZT (an antiviral drug) right away," she said.
According to Dr. Echezona Ezeanolue, the director of the Nevada Care Program, the best care for an HIV expectant mother and her newborn involves three uses of the drug AZT, which often prevents HIV transmission to an infant.
Ideally, he said, the mother receives AZT during pregnancy, then AZT alone during a Cesarean section delivery.
Vaginal fluids can increase the chance of HIV transmission.
The newborn then receives AZT for six weeks along with a strong antibiotic. That antibiotic, bactrim, is continued until the baby is four months old.
"Yordanny's mother only got the AZT during delivery because we didn't see her during her pregnancy, but that is much better than her not getting it at all," Ezeanolue said. "And then Yordanny got the AZT and bactrim."
In a recent letter to Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., in which he asks for help in finding funding to continue the program, Gremse said killing Nevada Care doesn't make financial sense.
"The prevention of potential transmission of HIV infection to these 40 infants who were born to HIV-positive mothers through the Nevada Care Program's efforts resulted in the program saving the state $12,124,000 over the past two years based on the cost of providing medical care to these children had they become infected," the letter states.
Berkley said Friday she was "hopeful that the financial resources will be found to keep this important program in place."
Ezeanolue isn't shy about saying what he thinks the program's death will do.
"For unborn children especially, this is a life-and-death decision that will have consequences far greater than the state has obviously considered," he said. "These children, who would otherwise have a 98 percent chance to be born without the HIV virus, will more likely be born with the virus."
Gremse said Ezeanolue helped ensure the success of the program by reaching out to medical officials in the Las Vegas Valley and having them refer HIV-infected expectant mothers to him.
Ezeanolue said that although drugs for an antiviral program for expectant mothers and their children will still be available after the budget cut, the office space where he treats them near University Medical Center won't be. Nor will his four medical assistants.
"The bulk of the grant money goes to the space," he said, adding that women wanted privacy because of their situations.
Gremse said that Ezeanolue's team of assistants has also been critical to the program's success. He said they contact Las Vegas hospitals regularly to ensure that the mothers get proper treatment.
"With those being let go, it will be difficult to ensure that other hospitals handle these cases in the right way. In the past these cases fell through the cracks," he said.
Zier said "Dr. Eze's" caring attitude "has made me feel better about the future," and that she is doing all she can now to be a good mother. She only goes out of her apartment, paid for through funds supplied by the Aid For AIDS of Nevada agency, when either she or her daughter has to visit the doctor.
"I'm afraid drug dealers might want to come after me for ripping them off," she said.
She has a teenage child who lives with grandparents.
"I adopted my 5-year-old out," she said. "I want to give them as good a life as possible. I'm only getting $300 a month from welfare and a little over $200 a month in food stamps."
She said that after she learned she had HIV, she underwent a tubal ligation that ensured she could not have any more children.
Often, she said, she must deal with the dizziness, nausea and diarrhea -- side effects of the drugs fighting off HIV, which is usually acquired through unprotected sex or sharing of needles.
But that doesn't bother her as much as knowing that her daughter could develop HIV.
"I pray that doesn't happen," she said. "I hope what Dr. Eze has done is enough. I know he's done all he can."