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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"Erroneous and offensive"

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2006 at 11:44 AM

In response to the October 4 article "Friends as Enemies": Upon my initial read, I noticed there was no discussion of the larger public-health messages surrounding bathhouses. The article alludes to the difficulties explaining the purpose and functions of a bathhouse, but does nothing to address the inherent public-health and civil-rights issues. Furthermore, it threatens the relationships that can ensure the bathhouse is a safe addition to the community. As an HIV educator, activist and openly gay man, I found the portrayal of local AIDS service providers erroneous and offensive. To suggest that Earl Pike was using "the media's titillating approach to gay sex" to force Charles Fleck's wallet open implies that Pike and the reputable agency he leads are superficial and exploitative. The AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland has consistently been recognized, on a national level, as an exemplary service provider — praised for its dedication, accountability and compassion. Articles that jeopardize the agency's reputation are not merely unfounded; they discourage community members to access otherwise absent services. The article goes on to imply, in an insidious way, that Earl Pike uses homophobia to his advantage. Knowing Mr. Pike personally and professionally, I am severely taken aback by this claim. Mr. Pike has led the AIDS Taskforce to become one of the most LGBT-friendly organizations in the city. Nationally, his reputation as an advocate encompasses more than HIV/AIDS — he's a leader on civil liberties, workplace discrimination and sexuality education for young people. Mr. Pike is an invaluable asset to Northeastern Ohio. Your reporter is remiss to suggest anything otherwise. Nathan Schaefer Cleveland

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