cars without one.) So commonplace has the ribbon becomernthat the very gay activists who endorsed it have begun denouncingrnit as “meaningless.” (The last straw was the homelyrnmodel who had the ribbon tattooed over and over, all the wayrndown her spine—perhaps an attempt to endear herself to designers.rnIt worked.)rnThis presents a problem for me, too, this “devaluation” ofrnthe AIDS ribbon. You see, I thought it was virtually meaninglessrnall along, even when only a select few choreographers,rnmuseum donors, and fag-hags were sporting the little doodad.rnWhat exactly did it mean to declare that you were against arndeadly disease? Did it imply that everyone else—unribboned,rnperhaps scapulared—was for it? Did the ribbon signify that yournhad a special concern for the health and well-being of well-off,rnpromiscuous homosexuals—over against the health of Vinnies,rnPatricks, and Marias? Or did it mean (as I suspect) that yournwanted everyone who saw you to know that you were sympatheticrnto the plight of one of the most influential, tightly knit,rnand well-funded social groups in America—that you werernboth socially conscious and socially connected, perhaps byrnclose acquaintance to some Pulitzer-winning playwrightrnwho was even then languishing in Maui?rnNow, with the universalization of the ribbon—I see it evenrnin Astoria, where there are 102 video rental shops and no bookstoresrn—it has indeed lost this primary meaning, this social cachetrnit used to carry. There is nothing bohemian about AIDSrnnow; plenty of skanky hetero drug addicts have caught it, andrnits rate of spread has slowed among homosexuals, many ofrnwhom wised up just in time. The AIDS movement has foundrnits Leni Riefenstahl in Jonathan Demme, whose brilliantlyrnmanipulative Philadelphia taught the masses how to weep onrnA common ground wherernFundamentalists, Catholics,rnand Orthodox Jews canrnstand together and fightrnthe State Malignant!rnAttacking bubble-headed liberals isn’t enough. WernA rational, plausible, uncontradictable alternativernfrom the Big-Bang to Evolution must be arnThere is such a philosophy, and it’s in CrnBaptists, Fundamentalists, Orthodox Jews are right:rnTruth. The World was created, fossils and alrnHOW?rnHe made it out of 3-D Fractals. In the BeginningrnFractals are the echoes! Fractals, building blocks ornWHY?rnCatholics are right; Creation HAD to be made irnthat we could never prove or disprove that FrnHow else could he give us FREE WILrnySe ca FBsae^onrrnleed a philosophy,rnfor everythingrnvailable.rnRATS!rnThe Bible is Literalrn, in 7 days.rnwas the Word,rnf building blocks.rn1 such a wayrnE made it.rnL?rnTo order CRATS!, call Old Drum Publishing at 1-800-OLD-DRUM (653-rn3786). Remember OLD-DRUM if sometbing you see prompts you to orderrnit later. VISA/MC. Or send a cbeck for $9.95 (includes postage and handling)rnto Old Drum, Box 401, Portersville, PA 16051. Two copies, $18.00rn(includes postage and handling).rncommand. AIDS compassion is fast becoming a populist sentiment.rnNo longer must the “gay” movement worry about its constituencyrnbeing “scapegoated” for the arcane African diseasernthat they made an epidemic, spreading it to millions throughrna wave of promiscuity almost unprecedented in human history.rn(I refer to the 70’s, the “golden age” of random, impersonalrnrestroom sex still celebrated by such writers as the nostalgicrnEdmund White.) Mention of these dirty facts is deemed uncompassionaternand forbidden. By now, the existence of AIDSrnhas become a positive political benefit, a marketing edge, forrnthe “gay” movement. Unable to get techniques of sodomyrntaught in ordinary classrooms as “sex education,” “moderate”rngroups such as the Gay Men’s Health Crisis teach these activitiesrnto 12-year-olds in public schools in suburban New Jerseyrnunder the rubric of “AIDS avoidance.” (Perhaps the next steprnis to invite drunk drivers convicted of vehicular manslaughterrnto teach Driver’s Ed: “And here’s how to accelerate withoutrnspilling your drink .. .”)rnBesides breaking down residual squeamishness about sexualrnperversions, the phenomenon of AIDS has done forrnqueer activists what Bull Connor and his attack dog did for therncivil rights movement—turned them from apparent aggressorsrninto apparent victims. And there is nothing Americans lovernmore than victims, those sweet litde substitute Christs. Whenrnwe look at weak, fading celebrities such as Rock Hudson andrnLiberace, we forget all, seeing only wasted cherubs whose sinsrnhave been washed in their own blood, sacrificial lambs whornhave suffered passion and died, spiritualized martyrs for carnalrnlove. AIDS is no longer an issue of sexual politics or even publicrnhealth. It is an extension of popular religion.rnThis fact has been noted by the most radical queer activists,rnthe jackbooted members of ACT-UP, who singled out conservativernChristians (especially Catholics) for attack. Assemblingrnoutside churches, disrupting Masses, showering newly ordainedrnpriests and their aged family members with condoms, stealingrncommunion Hosts and trampling them into dust, the “gay”rnmobs accused mildly orthodox cardinals such as Bernard Lawrnand John O’Connor of “murder” for their unwillingness torngrant religious approval to sodomy and dispense condoms to juniorrnhigh school students. Waving enormous signs that saidrn”Stop the Church,” they stormed the gates of cathedral andrnparish nationwide—never troubling the gay bathhouses andrnporn pariors where the disease was in fact being spread.rnIrrational, you say? Nonsense. These activists knew exactlyrnwhat they were doing, just as St. Boniface did when he cutrndown the sacred groves of the Cermans. They realized onrnsome level that their cause is not sexual but religious; they arernthe partisans of a new faith—a kind of infertility cult—whichrncenters on the “sacred” mysteries of sexual initiation. Wheneverrnits Genesis occurred (perhaps with Margaret Sanger andrnHavelock Ellis), this cult found its Exodus at Stonewall, itsrnPromised Land in the 70’s, its Golgotha and Easter with the onsetrnof AIDS. The movement we are witnessing now, with thernelevation of AIDS to a sacred form of suffering and sign of conquest,rnthe little red ribbons scattering everywhere like so manyrntongues of fire, is the new religion’s Pentecost.rnNow perhaps all of this is a natural development, the finalrnunfolding of the poisonous logic of romantic love as diagnosedrnby Denis de Rougemont, the last revenge of Sodom andrnGomorrah on a culture that embraced Tristan and Isolde as ex-rn24/CHRONICLESrnrnrn