From Our Listeners
2:50 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Letters: Living With HIV And Violence In Your Town

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

It's Tuesday and time read from your comments. Last week, after the mass murder in a Colorado movie theater, listeners wrote and called in to tell us the lessons they've learned after a dramatic attack in their town.

Jay Walker emailed to tell us about a shooting in his hometown of Dekalb, Illinois, in 2008: I think the lasting thought even four years after the fact, the same question that I'm sure will haunt the people of Colorado is the why? I think as rational, well-adjusted human beings that respect other people rights to life, we can never understand this why. You can watch all the trial, read all the articles, listen to every editorial, but it is so unfathomable, so ludicrous, so very wrong that this why this mystery is what will always haunt us.

And many of you were divided over the Boy Scouts of America's decision to continue to ban openly gay scouts and openly gay and lesbian leaders. This Donald Gagnon(ph) in Franklin, New Hampshire: I'm an Eagle Scout in New Hampshire. I earned my award in 1982, and I'm still active in scouting as a Cub Master. While I deplore the national stand of having issue with homosexuality, I work to the best of my ability to counter this attitude at the unit level. This is a dangerous course as I could be barred from serving as a leader for this stand, but I feel it's important to work from within to change things. This is the scouting way.

Gary Thibodeau(ph) took a very different view: I'm an Eagle Scout. I approve of and am proud of the decision to not succumb to the pressure to allow gay members or leaders. This is a private organization who has the right to have membership criteria as it sees fit. What would be next? To eliminate God from the organization?

We also talked with Elton John last week about his many years as an advocate for those with HIV and AIDS. Many of you shared stories about the struggle of living with the disease.

One listener, who asked to remain anonymous, wrote about the challenges that continue even three decades later. I'm out as a gay man in my job and to my family and friends, but no one except my partner knows about my HIV status. I was diagnosed 10 years ago and have been on treatment for almost a year now. I'm in a very high profile job and can't call in because my voice would be recognized. I've even thought of running for the state legislature in the future, but I'm terrified that my status would be discovered. Somehow, I feel like a hypocrite because I'm a public advocate for education and for LGBT rights, ut I'm in the closet about being positive. The main concern is that I don't want people to look at me like someone that is dying, feel sorry for me, et cetera.

And finally, a correction. During the Political Junkie segment last week, I mixed up two Apollo astronauts, John Jack Swigert, also a former congressman, and a Russell Rusty Schweickart. I apologize for the mistake.

If you have a correction, comment or question for us, the best way to reach is by email. The address: talk@npr.org.

Tomorrow, Political Junkie Ken Rudin joins us. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.