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'Angels in America'miniseries about AIDS(Roy Cohn,Reagan,Mormons,gay fantasia)
The News Tribune ^ | Friday, December 5, 2003 | DIANE DE LA PAZ

Posted on 12/05/2003 4:38:06 PM PST by fight_truth_decay

You know you're in for a grand odyssey when you embark on "Angels in America." The epic six-hour flight is composed of two parts, the first showing on HBO at 8 p.m. Sunday and the second set for Dec. 14.

The first view is intoxicating. You sail above cotton-candy clouds drifting over San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge; it feels like heaven, until the clouds clear and we're staring down at the gray Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City. We cruise next past the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and end up in New York City, where we meet the five people with whom we'll become intimate over the next three hours.

They take us into hell with them: The hell humans create on Earth.

It's hot, it's humid and it's irresistible. Tony Kushner's adaptation of his Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play is easily the most absorbing story to hit any screen, big or small, in a long time. Director Mike Nichols deploys a dream team of actors: Emma Thompson as the Angel, among other characters; Al Pacino as the devil, specifically Reagan crony Roy Cohn; Mary-Louise Parker as Harper, a Valium-gulping Mormon housewife; Patrick Wilson as her porcelain husband, Joe; and Meryl Streep as his Mormon mama. In a concurrent plot line, Justin Kirk and Ben Shenkman are Prior Walter and Louis, lovers ripped asunder by the AIDS virus. Jeffrey Wright also mesmerizes in two roles: Belize, a nurse and friend of Prior Walter, and Mr. Lies, a figment of Harper's hallucinations.

The movie is about AIDS in 1985, closeted gay men and the currents of hate swirling around them. Though set during the Reagan years and subtitled "Millennium Approaches," the story is not stale. That's because it is also about the power - and the necessity - of unconditional love.

"Angels" is a seething masterwork of political drama, but it works on an intensely personal level. By the halfway point, we care about the two couples as if they are family. To say they're dysfunctional would be an understatement - but that's what makes us relate to them deeply.

Kushner's characters, like most of us, struggle to live their lives according to narratives they had all mapped out: If I do this, then this, then this, I'll be happy. I've found a life partner, we're doing our darnedest to make it work, so we deserve some peace.

In come the forces of intolerance. The world's going crazy around us, in ways we couldn't have anticipated. Power-ravenous people such as Roy Cohn and Ronald Reagan - according to Kushner - rewrite the rules to fit their appetites. They poison the environment, placing their personal clout above any kind of human connection they might have created with family or life partners.

Pacino is by turns terrifying and pathetic as the Reaganite with AIDS. His opposite is Joe, the beautiful blond Mormon who believed he could quash his homosexuality if he prayed hard enough. The camera drinks in his and Harper's faces, until we're swimming in their tormented eyes. That's something television can do that theatrical productions of "Angels" cannot: The extreme close-up that provides a look inside a character's soul.

Kushner's dialogue devastates even as it howls with humor. Certain bits summarize the scenes, while relieving the gravity of the situation like magic pills.

"We're happy enough," Harper says to Joe. "Pretend happy; it's better than nothing."

In Prior Walter's hospital room, nurse Emily (played by Thompson) asks Louis, "Are you his, uh ...?" He replies, deadpan, "Yes, I'm his uh."

Kushner has his characters sum up his recollections of the Reagan years: Cohn's doctor (James Cromwell), says, "Sometimes the body even attacks itself," while Cohn himself is more blunt: "This is not a good world," he tells Joe, in an effort to bring his protégé down to his level.

Joe, by rejecting his true nature, already put himself in his own region of hell. So has Louis, by abandoning his lover. He says he wants to be with Prior Walter, but can't summon the strength to stay at his side.

Meantime, Cohn carries on as a ringleader in the Reagan circus. We can only imagine how the current Bush administration, with its unfulfilled promises of help for AIDS-afflicted Africa and its stance against gay marriage, would fare if Kushner unleashed his wrath upon it. The playwright recently told The New York Times that he's determined to put Bush out in 2004.

The movie makes use of grand pullbacks over New York City, periodically widening our perspective. By contrast, the interior scenes, such as one inside Joe and Harper's kitchen, wrench us into the characters' inner anguish.

There's Harper, desperate to get past her husband's prim facade. She rattles around the apartment all day, leaving the refrigerator and oven doors open. Joe comes home and closes them carefully, trying to defuse the household's imminent implosion.

Then we come around a corner and see the characters transcend, for a moment, their earthly suffering. They do it by connecting with and accepting each other. Prior Walter, in one such moment, stops writhing in his sickbed long enough to have his role as a prophet affirmed by a pair of ancestors. It is at these points of acceptance, of comprehension, that heaven comes down, like a shaft of light, to Earth. When an individual understands his connection to the universe, that's the moment at which the Angel appears.

Overwrought? Yes, oh, yes. "Angels in America" is refreshingly high drama. It's nothing less than a trip to heaven and hell, with a motley and fascinating crew of travelers.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: aids; angelsinamerica; catholiclist; grids; hbo; homosexual; homosexualagenda; kishner; mikenichols; morman; ronaldreagan; roycohn
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"...for the right-wing pundits to bar the front door in outrage against The Reagans while allowing Angels to sneak in the back is further proof they couldn’t smell injury if it were a squirting skunk"-Angels on high,by CAROLYN CLAY
1 posted on 12/05/2003 4:38:08 PM PST by fight_truth_decay
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To: fight_truth_decay
Ah, yes....the deification of the homosexual AIDS sufferer. And, they try to tell us that it isn't a "gay disease."
2 posted on 12/05/2003 4:44:44 PM PST by Paul Atreides (Is it really so difficult to post the entire article?)
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To: fight_truth_decay
I saw two of these plays in the series at the Kennedy Center a few years back. I walked out of them and got so tired of their many queer shows there that I cancelled the subscription I'd had for years.
3 posted on 12/05/2003 4:50:05 PM PST by expatpat
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To: fight_truth_decay
"To say they're dysfunctional would be an understatement - but that's what makes us relate to them deeply."

This might be a statement about the author's family, but it's odd how she universalizes it.
4 posted on 12/05/2003 4:50:10 PM PST by Steve_Seattle ("Above all, shake your bum at Burton.")
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To: expatpat
I'm also becoming sick and tired of the media's obsession with homosexuality. I thought it was supposed to be nobody else's business.
5 posted on 12/05/2003 4:51:11 PM PST by Steve_Seattle ("Above all, shake your bum at Burton.")
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To: Paul Atreides
Lord knows it can't be their own fault. Then it might be their own responsibility.

In the Lib 'noble victims' culture, personal responsibility is a no-no.

6 posted on 12/05/2003 4:51:17 PM PST by keithtoo (DEAN - He's Dukaki-riffic!!!! - He's McGovern-ous!!! - He's Mondale-agorical!!!)
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To: Steve_Seattle
According to them, they don't want to be judged by their sexual preferences, all the while bashing us over the heads with it.

Get ready, the next group to receive victim status will be pedophiles.

7 posted on 12/05/2003 4:54:16 PM PST by Paul Atreides (Is it really so difficult to post the entire article?)
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To: fight_truth_decay; GatorGirl; maryz; *Catholic_list; afraidfortherepublic; Antoninus; Aquinasfan; ..
Get involved! It is your positive moral obligation.
8 posted on 12/05/2003 4:55:13 PM PST by narses ("The do-it-yourself Mass is ended. Go in peace" Francis Cardinal Arinze of Nigeria)
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To: keithtoo
Who knew that billions of dollars, millions of condoms, billions of pamphlets later, all it took to eradicate AIDS is to allow homosexuals to marry.
9 posted on 12/05/2003 4:55:58 PM PST by Paul Atreides (Is it really so difficult to post the entire article?)
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To: Paul Atreides
all it took to eradicate AIDS is to allow homosexuals to marry.

Um. And forbid them to divorce.

10 posted on 12/05/2003 5:01:47 PM PST by Eala (Sacrificing tagline fame for... TRAD ANGLICAN RESOURCE PAGE: http://eala.freeservers.com/anglican)
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...this is one of the most extraordinary pieces of work ever to be shown on American television — guaranteed to offend absolutely everyone. If you think CBS’ "The Reagans" upset American conservatives, this will send them into apoplexy. But it is an equal opportunity insulter. Nothing escapes Kushner’s savage eye: America, liberals, conservatives, Nixon, Reagan, Jews, Mormons, African Americans. You name it, he nails it.-The Jewish Journal
11 posted on 12/05/2003 5:02:49 PM PST by fight_truth_decay
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To: Eala
No need to forbid them from divorcing; everyone knows they are monogamous. Only those neurotic hets commit adultery. The only time a homo couple splits is because some Republican made their lives hell.
12 posted on 12/05/2003 5:03:47 PM PST by Paul Atreides (Is it really so difficult to post the entire article?)
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To: scripter
Ping
13 posted on 12/05/2003 5:05:16 PM PST by EdReform (Support Free Republic - Become a Monthly Donor)
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To: fight_truth_decay
Nothing pleases these people more than to degrade people who are trying to live good lives.
14 posted on 12/05/2003 5:09:03 PM PST by lady lawyer
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To: fight_truth_decay
I saw a huge two-page ad for this sicko movie in the USA Today newspaper this morning.

The fawning over this perverted lifestyle and its out of control fudge-packin adherents is pathetic and disgusting.

The AIDS plague would end overnight if these perverts would stop doing the sick things they do.

15 posted on 12/05/2003 5:11:55 PM PST by Walkin Man
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To: fight_truth_decay
After Nichols took wife #4, Diane Sawyer, to the first screening of his six-hour HBO film; she said, "I know what this is about. It’s about being Jewish."


Al Pacino(Roy Cohn)and Meryl Streep(Ethel Rosenberg) in
“Angels in America.”
Photo by Stephen Goldblatt

16 posted on 12/05/2003 5:16:12 PM PST by fight_truth_decay
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To: fight_truth_decay
I must say, after reading his plays and seeing one on stage and hearing Kushner give two public addresses, he is very tiresome. He has a rapid-fire manner of talking, linking one phenomenon to another so quickly, that is at first hearing hypnotic and attractive; but after a short while (maybe 30 minutes) one realizes that this man is not a serious person. He engages in the art form of the theatre in order to advance an ideological agenda; but he does not have the intellectual self-discipline to actually learn the facts of the issues. But since he is an artist, he can dismiss any criticism by appealing to the first amendment or to artistic license, as if he can say whatever he wants because, of course, it's just art. Ars Gratia Artis ("Art for the Sake of Art") protects him from the criticism that he really deserves. He wants to affect the social and political realms but does not want to be held accountable in truth to any of his assertions.
17 posted on 12/05/2003 5:16:21 PM PST by Remole
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To: fight_truth_decay
Al Pacino as the devil, specifically Reagan crony Roy Cohn;

Could someone explain to me the link between Reagan and Cohn? Reagan was in CA during the early years of his political career, while Cohn spent his life in New York City.

18 posted on 12/05/2003 5:17:48 PM PST by ikka
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To: Paul Atreides
Ah, yes....the deification of the homosexual AIDS sufferer. And, they try to tell us that it isn't a "gay disease."

Yes, and all those AIDS benefits aren't for upper class single adult males suffering from overindulgence, they're for kids in Africa, see . . . .

19 posted on 12/05/2003 5:19:05 PM PST by JoeSchem
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To: JoeSchem
Right, thats it, "for the children" uh huh...
20 posted on 12/05/2003 5:20:46 PM PST by Walkin Man
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To: fight_truth_decay
The playwright recently told The New York Times that he's determined to put Bush out in 2004.

Bring it on Mr Kushner! The ability of certain people to blame all their problems on the president, while taking absolutely no personal responsibility for their actions, is astounding.
21 posted on 12/05/2003 5:21:22 PM PST by Rummyfan
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To: ikka
Roy Cohn was the chief aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy. President Reagan hadn't even been thought of back in those days.

But perhaps there is a connection via the Hollywood blacklist, to which RR is said to have been sympathetic.....

22 posted on 12/05/2003 5:22:03 PM PST by tracer
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To: Steve_Seattle
This was a play, won a Pulitzer...it was during a time that EVERY play on Broadway was about Homosexuality. I guess it still is. I wouldn't watch this if you paid me.
23 posted on 12/05/2003 5:23:15 PM PST by Hildy
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To: Rummyfan
The playwright recently told The New York Times that he's determined to put Bush out in 2004.

Uh sure he will, as soon as he gets the gerbil out of his...

24 posted on 12/05/2003 5:23:40 PM PST by Walkin Man
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To: fight_truth_decay
"while allowing Angels to sneak in the back"

Freudian slip, peewee?

25 posted on 12/05/2003 5:26:22 PM PST by Pietro
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To: fight_truth_decay
"The sensibility is Jewish, gay and urban."

Troubling.

26 posted on 12/05/2003 5:40:35 PM PST by truthandjustice1
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To: fight_truth_decay
Yuk.. all TV and movies have become is propoganda. Just as Christians were worried about Harry Potter saying the problem was witchcraft .. there is a more insidious message in those movies.
27 posted on 12/05/2003 5:44:51 PM PST by Zipporah
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To: Eala
"lovers ripped asunder by the AIDS virus."

This decades "All in the Family"

28 posted on 12/05/2003 5:46:57 PM PST by truthandjustice1
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To: JoeSchem
I just did some interesting and quick research on the web IDB, offered by the U.S. Census Bureau.

I set my parameters for child mortality and population as a whole, in Sub-Saharan Africa, from 1960 to the present. Since AIDS is such a highly reported epidemic over there among the kiddies and adults, the death trend should be reflective of said disease d' jour. What do you think I found?

That's right, no increase in child mortality at any time, just a decrease. There was likewise no reduction in population at any time, just a constant increase.

So, will someone tell me how such a mass killer is so ineffective? Maybe, just maybe, the AIDS epidemic is only a political reality. Since you can't justify billions of dollars in international welfare to a skeptical public, you can justify the looting of the taxpayer by saying (over and over again) ...it's for the children of AIDS parents ...AIDS isn't just for homosexual men spreading the virus through the thin, easily-torn membrane of the colon, African heteros get it too ...if we don't stop it there, we'll be next ...these people aren't suffering from ignorance, poor sanitation, immoral lifestyles, environmental pathogens, poverty, drugs or internecine warfare, AIDS IS KILLING THEM.

But in my bias & ignorance, maybe someone can enlighten me as to how an epidemic grows a population in all categories and leads to longer life expectancy in all age groups?

29 posted on 12/05/2003 5:47:21 PM PST by Thommas
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To: ikka
The gay media want to lay the thorn of crowns of the aids epedemic on Reagan. They failed in the Reagan movie, they'll try again in this POS failed Broadway play made large.
30 posted on 12/05/2003 5:55:45 PM PST by truthandjustice1
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To: Paul Atreides
The only miracle drug for AIDS is Trinoasitol.
31 posted on 12/05/2003 5:56:14 PM PST by sheik yerbouty
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To: Rummyfan
Trent Lott endorses murder. He knows that discrimination kills. Pope John Paul II endorses murder. He, too, knows the price of discrimination, having declared anti-Semitism a sin, having just canonized a Jewish-born nun who died in Auschwitz. He knows that discrimination kills. But when the Pope heard the news about Matthew Shepard, he too worried about spin. And so, on the subject of gay-bashing, the Pope and his cardinals and his bishops and priests maintain their cynical political silence. Rigorously denouncing the abuse and murder of homosexuals would be a big sin against spin; denouncing the murder of homosexuals in such a way that it received even one-thousandth of the coverage his and his church's attacks on homosexuals routinely receive, this would be an act of decency the Pope can't afford, for the Pope knows: Behind this one murdered kid stand legions of kids whose lives are scarred by the bigotry this Pope defends as sanctioned by God. None of these kids will ever be allowed to marry the person she or he loves, not while the Pope and his church can prevent it; all of these kids are told, by the Holy Catholic Church, and by the Episcopalians and Lutherans and Baptists and Orthodox Jews: Your love is cursed by God.-Matthew's Passion from The Nation, 11 November 1998)by Tony Kushner
32 posted on 12/05/2003 6:01:15 PM PST by fight_truth_decay
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To: fight_truth_decay
"Wright is the only holdover from the Broadway cast, and he is silky beyond words, a one-time drag queen draped in a regal, compassionate hauteur stitched by Kushner out of language and sangfroid."

Sangfroid? Who talks that way?

This is a gay, sicko play, symptomatic of the larger homosexual problem: they're dieing, and no one cares.

33 posted on 12/05/2003 6:13:17 PM PST by truthandjustice1
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To: truthandjustice1
This decades "All in the Family"

Was that the one with "Archie Bunker?" I never saw more than a couple minutes of that... TV as entertainment was quickly waning for me even then.

34 posted on 12/05/2003 6:15:00 PM PST by Eala (Sacrificing tagline fame for... TRAD ANGLICAN RESOURCE PAGE: http://eala.freeservers.com/anglican)
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To: Steve_Seattle
I'm also becoming sick and tired of the media's obsession with homosexuality.

Well thats just too bad because it seems that Hollywood is going to insert some sort of gay agenda into anything you watch on tv or see in the movie theater. Furthermore, more and more stories will appear on news shows, like this morning's show with Diane Sawyer, deifying gays. And if you don't like it shoved down your throat, then you are inseeeensitie and must join some sort of government ordered diveeeersity class.

If can't see the sarcasm, I am sick of it as well.

35 posted on 12/05/2003 6:15:51 PM PST by KC_Conspirator (This space for rent)
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To: Remole
"A Republican president with a Republican Congress will destroy this country. These people are insane.-Tony Kushner coming out as a socialist interview
36 posted on 12/05/2003 6:25:48 PM PST by fight_truth_decay
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To: fight_truth_decay
As a lifelong Mormon, I have no doubt that this play is as nasty and inaccurate a caricature of our lives as The Reagans was of Ron and Nancy's real lives.
37 posted on 12/05/2003 6:29:41 PM PST by lady lawyer
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To: lady lawyer
To these people, any remaining twinge of conscience and morality is "hell on earth."
38 posted on 12/05/2003 6:30:25 PM PST by lady lawyer
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To: truthandjustice1
"The sensibility is Jewish, gay and urban."

Troubling.

I daresay very few Americans will be interested in watching this program. I mean, how representative of America is it?

39 posted on 12/05/2003 6:31:14 PM PST by Siamese Princess
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To: Paul Atreides
Boston Public even has AIDS and a discrimation theme tonight on FOX.
40 posted on 12/05/2003 6:52:29 PM PST by fight_truth_decay
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To: truthandjustice1
My basic take. Since they cannot get away with a falsified historical account, they must go with "art" and make any simile, metaphor, connection they want without scrutiny.
41 posted on 12/05/2003 7:14:35 PM PST by Ruth A.
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To: fight_truth_decay
The commercial says nothing about this being an AIDS propaganda show. Hollywood needs to purge the leftists.
42 posted on 12/05/2003 7:42:10 PM PST by longtermmemmory (Vote!)
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To: Hildy
TOny Award winner for 2003: Take Me Out, a play about a gay baseball player.
43 posted on 12/05/2003 7:44:48 PM PST by Rummyfan
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To: truthandjustice1
Perhaps the two were supposed to work in tandem. One creates the lie, and the second reinforces it.
44 posted on 12/05/2003 7:45:35 PM PST by longtermmemmory (Vote!)
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To: sheik yerbouty
The only miracle drug for AIDS is Trinoasitol.

LOL!
45 posted on 12/05/2003 7:47:27 PM PST by Rummyfan
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To: Rummyfan; dead
TOny Award winner for 2003: Take Me Out, a play about a gay baseball player.

Mike Piazza? Roberto Alomar?

46 posted on 12/05/2003 8:52:44 PM PST by Clemenza (East side, West side, all around the town. Tripping the light fantastic on the sidewalks of New York)
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To: Steve_Seattle
Actually I have no idea if this 2 part event is any good, but to be sure, this writer is awful. This reads more like a press release - her consistent over-the-top fawning hurts her credibility in a big way.

She probably graduated topps in her journalism school, though, so what do I know?
47 posted on 12/05/2003 9:01:43 PM PST by HitmanLV (I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.)
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To: fight_truth_decay
There are gays called bug chasers who intentionally seek out HIV positive sex partners so they can catch AIDS.

And I'm supposed to be moved by this movie?

48 posted on 12/05/2003 9:47:44 PM PST by 3catsanadog (When anything goes, everything does.)
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To: Steve_Seattle
I'm also becoming sick and tired of the media's obsession with homosexuality. I thought it was supposed to be nobody else's business.

Doncha love how they scream "what we do in our bedrooms is our business" and then proceed to plaster what they do in the bedroom all over the TV, in parades, to our children at school, and on and on, ad nauseum.

49 posted on 12/05/2003 9:50:08 PM PST by 3catsanadog (When anything goes, everything does.)
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To: Paul Atreides
The only time a homo couple splits is because some Republican made their lives hell.

NOMINATION FOR QUOTE OF THE DAY!!!!!

50 posted on 12/05/2003 9:51:47 PM PST by 3catsanadog (When anything goes, everything does.)
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