Monday, March 30, 2009

Don't call us MSM's we're GAY!!!


Don’t Call us MSM’s..We’re GAY!


I recently attended the US Conference on AIDS in Ft. Lauderdale. This wonderful conference was sponsored by the United States Minority AIDS Council. Over 3,000 educators, doctors, social workers and people with AIDS attended. For three days I attended workshops, manned the Project Inform booth with a close friend, and spoke with dozens of new and old friends. Something was missing. The word GAY.


I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but everyone from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and many federally funded AIDS Service Organizations (ASO’s) have recently removed the word “Gay” from their articles, charts and reports and replaced it with the more politically correct “MSM” (Men who have sex with Men.) This was done to reflect the growing population of men who do not identify themselves as gay but still by choice or fleeting profession, have sex with other men. Since J. L. King’s book, “On the Down Low”, there was a sudden awakening to the general public that many more men were having sex with other men.  Of course this came as no surprise to us in the gay community.  Many of us have heard sex partners, sometimes in the heat of gay sex, tell us they are not gay and we say to ourselves, “If you aren’t gay what are you doing with my penis in your mouth?”


On a more serious note we understand why this happened. Over the past few years more and more heterosexual men and women have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and what was once the “gay plague” had crossed the line into more mainstream America. We do understand that the message needs to be addressed to the heterosexual population, but we are different in our language, visual attractions and even sex acts. While ten years ago ads for prevention and condom use had scantily clad gay men, they are now presented in a watered down version that is as bland as seat belt or littering advertising. When you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.


To call gay men MSM’s is to define us by one thing only; with whom we have sex with. It denies us the connection to our rich history and heritage of civil rights advancements, acceptance, and religious awakening. "MSM" is a sex act, but "gay" refers to a
community. And HIV prevention takes a community. The Gay Community offers an incentive to stay free of HIV, a responsibility to the community to not spread HIV to others, and to keep our community healthy. “MSM” offers nothing like that, as it ignores and negates our sense of community, and relegates us to acts of sex. That is one of the aims of the right-wing in our country, and the term "MSM” plays right into that.


The statistics reflect the fact that slightly more than half of the new cases are now people of color and heterosexual women. Many of these heterosexual women have been infected by men on the “down low.” In our opinion this is part of the gay HIV disease.  Was it a shortcut that government agencies have substituted ‘MSM” for ‘gay”, or was it a concerted effort to make us invisible again? We believe it was the latter. MSM’s did not picket Ronald Regan’s inauguration. MSM’s did not chain themselves to the doors of the Food and Drug Administration demanding more research and faster access for HIV drugs. It was our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters who knew that if they didn’t do it, no one else would. MSM’s who do not identify themselves as gay can serve in the military, get secret CIA and FBI clearance, adopt children, inherit tax free, and do not have to have the special arrangements we do to visit loved ones in the hospital. 


Our prevention programs were successful decades ago but have fallen flat in the gay male community lately with the largest increase in gay HIV cases being in young white men. In Broward County, American Red Cross HIV educators cannot use the word “gay” or “homosexual” during public school information sessions. According to statistics from the state health department twenty five percent of all new HIV cases in Florida are men under the age of 22.  When the target group is ignored, there is no way you can hit a home run or even score.


Put the “GAY” back in AIDS, and keep our heads high and fight together with MSM’s, PWA’s and others and be there for cure.

Have a peaceful week.


Nate Klarfeld

Monday, March 23, 2009


What We Choose to Follow in the Bible


Yesterday Ft. Lauderdale, FL celebrated Pridefest. After a great day of seeing old friends and meeting new ones, I left the War Memorial only to find a group of anti-gay protesters complete with bullhorns shouting Bible verses at me. They condemned me with notations…and to them I pray for their hate and ignorance to be healed by the light. Here are a few quotes for the protesters.


Genesis 19:32-36

“Come, Let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him, that we may maintain life through our father……” (Noah’s daughters …they got their father drunk, had sex with him and he impregnated them to carry on the



Deuteronomy 21:18-21

“If a man has a wayward and defiant son, who does not heed his father or mother and does not obey them even after they discipline him, his father and mother shall take him to a public place….. and shall stone him to death.”


Leviticus 11:7

“and the swine – although it has true hoofs, with the hoofs cleft through, it does not chew the cud: it is unclean for you. Eating baby back ribs after condemning homosexuals is like killing for Jesus.


Deuteronomy 23:2

“No one misbegotten (offspring of adultery or non marriage) shall be admitted to the congregation of the Lord; none of his descendants, even in the tenth generation, shall be admitted into the congregation of the Lord. With the illegitimacy birth rate reaching 50% in the African-American community this one alone could empty out most churches.


Leviticus 18:22

“Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abhorrence” The Old Testament would have said the same of spandex in the plus size department of WalMart.




1 Samuel 18:1-3


“And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.” Interpret that one at your own fantasy.


Deuteronomy 21:15-16

“If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons but the firstborn is the son of the wife he does not love, when he wills his property to his sons, he must not give the rights of the firstborn to the son of the wife he loves in preference to his actual firstborn, the son of the wife he does not love.” Seems like the DEFINITION of marriage used to be one man and as many wives as he could afford. THEY changed the definition of marriage… not us.



 from “The Tanakh, The Holy Scriptures © 1985



Our capacity to love will outshine ignorance.


Have a good week


Nate Klarfeld

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Free Yourself From Guilt

Free yourself from guilt

1. Work out the cost

For this step you will need a pen and paper. Make a list of what guilt has cost you. What has it prevented you from doing that you otherwise would have done? In what ways does it hold you back? How has it affected those around you? Who or what would you be today if you hadn’t been paralyzed by guilt?  Try to spell out the costs of your guilt in as much detail as possible.

2. Imagine

For this step, you will need to use your imagination. Try to do this somewhere quiet and calm, where you won’t be disturbed. Still yourself. Calm your thoughts. Concentrate on you breathing,  and then take time to imagine how your life would be different if it were free from guilt. What would you look like if you ditched the guilt? How would you relate to those around you? How would you look? How would you walk and talk? Imagine yourself speaking to a close friend in this new ‘body’.  What sort energy do you give off? Try to see this image in as much color and detail as possible. Enjoy the vision you have of a life free from guilt, and tell yourself that such a life is possible.

3. Decide 

This step is the key step. You have established what the cost to you of guilt has been. You have seen how your life could be different without guilt. Now is the time to make the change. Make a decision that from now on you will live without feeling guilty.  This can feel false at first, but the more you practice this, the more it becomes a natural part of who you are, and how you think and behave.

4. Act

You need to get into the habit of acting and behaving in a way that demonstrates to you, and the world, that you have truly dropped the guilt. Stand tall. Believe in yourself.  Look others kindly in the eye. Look yourself as kindly as well.

5. Keep going

It’s important to be kind to yourself if you find you are slipping back into old ways of thinking and behaving. If you find yourself feeling guilty again, remind yourself of your decision to think and behave differently. Keep on going in the knowledge that it is worth it. Look at the time you’ve had without guilt, and believe that you can have it again. You are not going towards perfection..just progress. With truth, integrity and perseverance your imagined guilt-free life will become real.  Our brain does not know the difference between a really vivid thought and reality.

With practice it is possible to lead a life that is free from guilt. Enjoy the changes that ditching the guilt bring. And let the light of the new guilt-free you shine! 

Have a peaceful week 

Nate Klarfeld



Sunday, March 8, 2009

When Enough Became Too Much

When Enough Became Too Much


“Daddy what were you doing when it all fell apart?”


Thomas Friedman, the NY times columnist recently hit the nail recently saying; “We have created a system for growth that depended on our building more and more stores to sell more and more stuff made in more and more factories in China, powered by more and more coal that would cause more and more climate change but earn China more and more dollars to buy more and more U.S. T-bills so America would have more and more money to build more and more stores and sell more and more stuff that would employ more and more Chinese ...

We can’t do this anymore.

I am not an economist or business major. I ran a dental practice for 25 years then taught high school for a few years then moved to volunteering and capacity building for non-profits. What I do know is that something just doesn’t feel right when I hear or see a mega project going up; whether it is retail shopping or residential towers; I can’t keep saying to myself...” Well that’s progress, grow or die, that’s what they say in MBA school.”

So now Mother Nature and Father Wall Street have had their fill. Our air and water, our banks and homes are all in disarray, and it is our own doing. We built and built and borrowed and speculated never looking back at what we did and how we did it. I am as guilty as the next, being in my third condo in FL and seventh home ownership in my short 58 years on Planet Earth. Seven real estate deals, seven mortgages, seven times remodeling, seven times selling.  The cost in carbon footprints for just my moving around must be in the tons. I am just one of eight million baby boomers; do the math.

My son, Adam inherited three shares of GM stock from his great-grandfather who was a janitor in a GM BOP (Buick Oldsmobile Pontiac-for history’s sake) Plant in Kansas City, MO. This morning his morning latte cost more than the three shares are worth. Meanwhile in his lifetime we have depleted our ‘natural’ stocks; water, hydrocarbons, forests, rivers, fish and arable land. We can’t go on doing this..both the earth and the markets have dealt us a wakeup blow that I believe is more than just a slump or recession.


I believe that 30 years from now we will view 2008 as hitting the Great Wall of Excess. I do not believe politics, the economy or health care will look the same in 2039 as we look at them today. The people we trusted to run the country, the banks we used, the doctors and hospitals we were treated by will all be curious footnotes in thirty years. I think that sustainable, renewable growth will be our mantra from here on. It’s not going to be “less is more” but “less is best.”

 Our children will ask us “What were you doing when it all fell apart?”  Our answers today will speak to us for years to come.


Have a peaceful week.

Nate Klarfeld


Sunday, March 1, 2009

How To Write Your Elevator Speech

How To Write Your Elevator Speech


For three years I was privileged to be the Board Chair of a great non-profit, The Stonewall Library & Archives. Anyone who has come in contact with me for more than a few minutes has heard about the library. To say I am passionate about the organization is an understatement. From a great collection that nobody had ever heard of we grew the library into a national showplace, now located in public space adjacent to a public library.


I encouraged my Board of Directors to learn an elevator speech about The Stonewall so that in meeting people either casually or professionally, they would be able to convey the core values of the institution and make people want to know more about it.


I know that at this moment, you are wondering what I’m talking about. Who gives a speech in an elevator anyway? What I mean by an “elevator speech” is a short description of what you do, or the point you want to make, presented in the time it takes an elevator to go from the top floor to the first floor or vice versa.


The idea of an “elevator speech” is to have a prepared presentation that grabs attention and says a lot in a few words. What are you going to be saying? By telling your core message, you will be marketing yourself and/or your business, but in a way that rather than putting people off will make them want to know more about you and your organization.


We have been embedded since childhood to ‘shortcut’ our first impressions by certain key words. One example from my own childhood is introducing a new young friend to my father. While I was interested in how many good new toys he had or if he played baseball, my father would usually ask, “So what does your father do?” How many times do we hear cues like “I just parked my Mercedes” or “I live on the Beach” or “I just broke up with a boyfriend from hell” and we make a snap picture of that person. Imagine if you prepared your first impression to really tell people who you are.


Here is an example of just one of the many Stonewall Library Elevator Speeches


I’m on the Board of the Nations Gay Library; The Stonewall Library & Archives. It is a publicly accessible cultural and educational resource that preserves, interprets and shares the heritage of the LGBT community. We have over 20,000 Gay and Lesbian books in our circulation collection, over five thousand collections in our Archives; and present writing workshops, author readings, and national touring exhibitions. We just moved into a new location at 1300 East Sunrise Boulevard along with the Broward Public Library and Art Serve.


This would be a great speech if you ran into someone that didn’t know much about the community. Another approach to an Elevator Speech to a person who might be more familiar with the gay community would be:


I work with an organization that is telling the story of Gay and Lesbian life by preserving our literature, music, and motion pictures; The Stonewall Library & Archives.  Who better than us to tell that story? We recently partnered with the Broward Library system, and Art Serve to build a new facility more accessible to not only the Gay and Lesbian Community. Through our national touring exhibitions, author readings, and circulating collections, we are preserving and communicating our rich and expanding culture. Our motto is; “If we don’t do it.. who will?”


So why does everyone need an Elevator Speech?  When you meet someone at a party, attend an event, a conference, a convention, or some other type of meeting with networking opportunities. You will notice that one of the first questions people ask is, “And, what do you do?” “Oh, I’m a lawyer … or an accountant … or a consultant … or an artist…” It doesn’t matter because they will often say, “Oh, that’s nice,” and that is it. They immediately label you in their mind with all of the stereotypes they perceive those occupations carry with them. However, if you turn your message around and start with an answer like, “I work with small businesses that are grappling with computer problems,” right away — especially if they own a small business — their ears will perk up and they will want to know more. The reason I suggest working on this speech and memorizing it and replacing “What do you do?” with your Elevator Speech. We tend to think of ourselves as “What we do?” rather than “What is our purpose in helping people?”


Here is an example of a work related Elevator Speech highlighting what I’ve said so far.


YOU: Hi, my name is Betty Joiner. I'm responsible for this country's future.

ELEVATOR RIDER: This I've got to hear about.

YOU: I'm a teacher! I love shaping the minds of the next generation, but I'm also interested in getting into corporate training.


Whether you are a salesman, doctor, lawyer, or speed dater crafting a good Elevator Speech will help you focus your conversations and have people asking you for more.


Have a peaceful week.


Nate Klarfeld