Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-01-17
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

VIEWS Words have consequences
by Robert Garofalo
2018-01-03

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Words matter in science—and in politics. We recently heard deeply troubling stories about the possible censorship of words at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ). For many of us in the HIV/AIDS community, this is not the first time words have been used to marginalize and divide us. In 2003, I was a new faculty member at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago ( then Children's Memorial Hospital ). I had just submitted my first grant application to the National Institutes of Health ( NIH ) to study the health risk behaviors and HIV prevention needs of LGBT youth, specifically young gay men. At that time, very few people were doing NIH-funded work in this area.

I recall sitting at my desk when the phone rang. It was an NIH Program Officer. "I am calling to help you," they said, but refused to identify themselves. "If you want to get your grant funded you will remove the words 'LGBT' and 'gay,' and replace them with something less controversial." When I asked why, they hung up.

I followed the anonymous voice's recommendation and replaced the words with the term, "vulnerable/" NIH approved the grant, and my career and my grant ( Project Q ) moved forward. To this day I have no idea who called me, but I think back to how courageous it was to make that call. I owe that person a great deal of thanks for their courage, even though they remained anonymous.

Soon afterward, in April of 2003, an article in the New York Times shined a light on censorship in NIH grant applications. The article discussed how scientists were being advised to avoid certain politically "controversial" or "sensitive" terms. One researcher had been told his application needed to be "cleansed" of such words as "gay" and "transgender" if he wanted to win approval. I knew I was not alone.

And let's not forget the early years of the AIDS epidemic, when the Reagan administration was virtually silent for much of the 1980s. The President himself refusing to even say the word "AIDS" and Republican congressmen's demonizing of words resulted in the federal government failing to respond to the greatest public health crisis of our time.

So when I heard that the Washington Post reported on possible censorship—this time at the CDC—it was triggering. This time, though, the censored words included "transgender," "fetus," "evidence-based," "science-based," "diversity,"—and yes, "vulnerable." It brought me back to that moment in 2003. Except this time, it is the words themselves that warn of a bigger story—of a bigger problem. For in 2017, it is not simply a cultural war on HIV/AIDS or on those of us who are LGBT, but an assault on the entire scientific community and the scientific process.

Those were scary times. While I had no voice or power back then, I do now. Although it remains unclear to what extent the censorship story is true or widespread, we will NOT go back to being silenced. Words shape policy, which affect all of us. We will NOT go back to being silenced and forgotten. Whether in the 1980s, in 2003, or today, we must be willing to fight back for all those who are "vulnerable" and against those who would use words to justify their actions and to deny who we are.

Robert Garofalo, MD, MPH, is a noted doctor and researcher specializing in HIV medicine and the care of gender non-conforming children and transgender adolescents.

He is the editor-in-chief of the academic journal Transgender Health. Garofalo is also vice chair of the board of TPAN, a community-based HIV/AIDS service organization in Chicago. These are not the opinions of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine or Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.


facebook twitter google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

GUEST COLUMN I Don't Mind Your Asking 2018-01-17 - This question, again, was asked of me recently. Good naturedly, with love, and with sincere caring ... but always unexpected. It caused me, ...


Gay News

King's dream of 'the beloved community' extends to yours, too 2018-01-17 - KThis year is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It's a painful and necessary anniversary ...


Gay News

VIEWPOINTS Putting it to the test, 23andMe 2018-01-10 - More than 2 million people have taken part in genetic testing by 23andMe, a company founded in 2006 by CEO Anne Wojcicki. The ...


Gay News

MOMBIAN 2017: Good news, bad news for LGBTQ families 2018-01-03 - Was 2017 a good year for LGBTQ parents and our children? The political situation in the United States was grim, but we also ...


Gay News

GUEST COLUMN Are you tired of male sexual privilege? #metoo 2017-12-27 - In 1978, I left Temple University's PhD program after I had an interaction with a professor on my orals committee. "I want to ...


Gay News

For Black women, being Dems' 'backbone' is no compliment 2017-12-27 - Black women voters in the recent Alabama U.S. Senate race are being thanked for "saving" the state from Republican candidate Roy Moore, a ...


Gay News

The fairy gardener 2017-12-26 - There was snow on the ground here in Chicago in early December. Did you get all your bulbs in? If not, pot them ...


Gay News

VIEWPIONTS The New Jim Crow targets LGBTQ Americans, too 2017-12-20 - Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case—which has many of ...


Gay News

A Different World: Why We Owe the Cosby Accusers an Apology 2017-12-15 - "The sins of the fathers. They just fucked it all up. We had the best family. We had it all. We had it ...


Gay News

Net Neutrality is worth fighting for now 2017-12-08 - Net Neutrality is the principle, and current FCC regulations, that let you a ) get access to The Windy City Times, Advocate.com, Grindr ...


 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.