It’s a bit of an odd conundrum, I guess. On the one hand they know that I am doing good stuff, and they are clearly proud of it (even though I think they’d secretly prefer to be able to stick-it to Lord and Lady Wexford-Southerby-Smith by boasting that their son is clearing six figures a month), and yet on the other hand, if The Club ladies actually knew what I talk to people about all day long, and what I teach others to do, Ma’s reception at the first-Tuesday cake stall would be frostier than the top of Mrs Whitaker’s prize-winning lemon sponge.
Basically, the problem comes down to values. Y’see, Ma and Pa Donkey are strict Catholics, and I was brought up in the full traditions of the Church; Sunday mass, weekly confessions, love and respect for one’s neighbour, faith, hope and charity and, of course, not to touch oneself.
(With that knowledge finally out in the open, no doubt many of you will be nodding in satisfaction as the penny finally drops regarding why I am such an emotional and sexual cripple).
I was a pretty good religious sponge, too. I took on-board all of the various rules and teachings of the Mother Church, and like so many others, never questioned a thing. Unfortunately, the whole dogma of the Catholic Church is flawed, because to be “a good, young Catholic gentleman”, and to adhere to all the teachings, one ended up contradicting oneself.
The case in point was the one about providing charity, love and support to all those in need, or, to quote the Ten Commandments, that whole “do unto others as you’d have them do to you” thing. At about the time that I was struggling to do everything right, and trying to follow all that religious gaff to the letter, there was something going on in the world which was really throwing the cat among the religious zealots … that thing was called AIDS.
All of a sudden, from about 1984, there was this thing out there called AIDS that was killing everyone. It didn’t seem to matter whether it was wealthy tycoons in New York, movie stars in Europe or poor, peasant farmers in Zimbabwe – the pictures were the same; emaciated bodies, no hair and horrible pain.
Our Catholic upbringing went into overdrive to do something about all this – to help the poor, the afflicted, the helpless, and indeed there was a distinct half of the media who were urging us to do something. But oddly enough, in support of the other half, who were telling us to leave these poor wretches well alone, were our very own clergymen, and of course, head amongst them, none other than his Holiness, The Pope. Because, despite a couple of typically misguided reports from tabloid current affairs media that the disease was carried and spread by household cats, it soon became apparent that AIDS was getting around thanks to a world which had “suddenly” gone crazy for sex!
While thousands of gay men and drug users were dropping like flies, we, the Faithful remained firm; singing our hymns and saying our Rosaries. When AIDS moved-on from the streets of San Francisco and took hold in Africa, we looked-on and prayed for the souls of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. As the pictures on TV and in magazines got more graphic and the stories more personable and real, our spiritual leaders stood firm on their condemnation of condoms, and even began to spread lies about them.
By this time, however, some of us had snapped-out of the secure daze of ignorance. By this time, some of us had realized that to be a good Catholic was impossible, because you couldn’t just stand by and watch innocents suffer and die when something could clearly be done to prevent it –put simply, you couldn’t obey all the rules about sex and condoms AND help those who were in need. The two were incompatible.
So, poor, ol’ misguided Donkey had finally realized that there were more important things amongst the religious teachings than just a set of rules to be followed. He realized that humanity needed to be valued above the dictates of a faceless following; that a human life was worth saving from suffering, regardless of what the person had done or continues to do. In coming to this realization, I realized that the Catholic rules about sex and condoms were ridiculous – they were simply rules to be obeyed, and absolutely nothing to do with caring for people.
So nowadays I devote my time to preventing the transmission of HIV (which causes AIDS) and other nasties created by an individual inserting their dick into someone’s bum, vagina or other orifice, of which one or both of the owners are infected, or a used, infected syringe into an arm. I go out into the world, ramming condoms down people’s throats (not literally), and I tell them to use these all the time. I ask detailed questions of men who stick their dicks into each others arses, of young girls who sell sex for money or new clothes and of young men who sell their bums for money to buy drugs which they shoot into their arms with (hopefully, but not often enough) sterile needles. I work solidly to try to ensure that the people who are the least likely to be invited to Ma Donkey’s bridge games, namely sex workers, drug users and men who have sex with men can have the knowledge and resources they need to live for as long as they should, with minimal pain and suffering.
While some who sit along the pew from Ma and Pa every Sunday morning would not approve of the offspring of two of their number peddling the sinful, depraved wares of Asia’s latex manufacturers on a daily basis, I am convinced (and I think, deep down, so are Ma and Pa) that the Big Bloke Upstairs is nodding in approval at what some of us are trying to do, even if we are breaking a few of “his” rules.
It’s World AIDS Day again. Please go out and buy a red ribbon, and wear it proudly to commemorate all those who have died from, or who are living with AIDS. But most importantly, try to find out about the organization from whom you are buying that red ribbon – no doubt they’ll be the ones who are out there doing all the things that Ma and Pa Donkey’s Club friends would disapprove of, and that’s definitely an organization worth supporting.