.يولد جميع الناس أحرارا متساوين في الكرامة والحقوق. وقد وهبوا عقلا وضميرا وعليهم أن يعامل بعضهم بعضا بروح الإخاء‎
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Thursday, February 8, 2007

Amaechi, former Player in N.B.A., says he’s gay

In an announcement made yesterday in advance of a forthcoming book, the former journeyman center John Amaechi became the first N.B.A. player to acknowledge that he is gay.

John Amaechi was a center for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Orlando Magic and the Utah Jazz. He also played three seasons in Europe.

The news, first reported by on Tuesday, caused a small ripple in the N.B.A. world. Amaechi, in a book to be published next week by ESPN Books, “Man in the Middle,” wrote about his reluctance to disclose his sexuality in the homophobic culture of sports. The New York Times received a proof of the book.

Amaechi’s publicist, Howard Bragman, told The Associated Press yesterday, “He is coming out of the closet as a gay man.”

Amaechi, 36, said he has never defined himself as a basketball player.

He acknowledges another definition, one that he did his best to hide alongside teammates and opponents in the N.B.A.

“Coming out threatens to expose the homoerotic components of what they prefer to think of as simply male bonding,” Amaechi wrote. “And it generally is. It’s not so much that there’s a repressed homosexuality at play (except for a small minority), only that there’s a tremendous fear that the behavior might be labeled as such. Or, as I heard the anti-gay epithets pour forth that gay men in the locker room would somehow violate this sacred space by sexualizing it.”

Bragman is the publicist for the W.N.B.A. star Sheryl Swoopes, who came out in October 2005, and the golfer Rosie Jones, who came out in March 2004. Swoopes and Jones were still competing when they came out.

Five male professional athletes have come out after their careers ended: David Kopay wrote a best-selling book after he retired from the N.F.L. in 1972 and Esera Tuaolo wrote a book in 2002 when he retired from the N.F.L. The others were Roy Simmons, a former N.F.L. offensive lineman; and the former major league outfielders Glenn Burke and Billy Bean.

N.B.A. Commissioner David Stern told The A.P.: “We have a very diverse league. The question at the N.B.A. is always, ‘Have you got game?’ That’s it, end of inquiry.”

Amaechi said he was careful never to express interest in any teammate or opponent, so as not to ruin the “social fabric of any team” or, as he wrote, risk his career.

Amaechi, who was raised in England, was traveling in Europe yesterday and was not available for comment, Bragman said. Amaechi lives in Manchester, England.

After playing at Penn State, Amaechi joined the Cleveland Cavaliers as an undrafted free agent for the season. He then played in Europe for three years and returned to the N.B.A. in 1999 to play for the Orlando Magic for two seasons. He wrote he felt betrayed by Orlando the summer after he turned down a $17 million offer from the Los Angeles Lakers. The Magic did not re-sign him.

He went instead to the Utah Jazz, where he played his final game in the 2002-3 season. It was in Salt Lake City where, he wrote, he started to be more comfortable with his sexuality in a community that had a large gay population. But Amaechi wrote that he had a contentious relationship with the Utah coach, Jerry Sloan.

“I learned that great coaches do not make great human beings, though,” wrote the 6-foot-10 Amaechi, who averaged 6.3 points and 2.6 rebounds in 16.4 minutes a game during his five N.B.A. seasons.

He wrote that Jazz owner Larry Miller “made his antipathy to gay people clear.”

Amaechi, who was traded from Utah to Houston in 2003 but never played for the Rockets, wrote that he felt he had “been sent packing because Sloan couldn’t comprehend me, especially my sexuality.”

Sloan issued a statement yesterday that said: “John is 1 of 117 players I have coached in the past 19 seasons, and it has always been my philosophy that my job is to make sure Jazz players perform to the maximum of their abilities on the floor. As far as his personal life is concerned, I wish John the best and have no further comment.”

By the fall of 2004, Amaechi was an inactive player on the Rockets’ roster and was a throw-in when the Knicks exchanged Clarence Weatherspoon for Moochie Norris.

Amaechi never played for the Knicks, but he wrote that when he was in New York during road trips, he frequented a gay club.

He said: “All it would have taken was a single anonymous cellphone call from inside Splash to Page Six and I would have been toast. I was hiding, but in plain sight.”

He had become tired of hiding, though.

“Every year had been more and more of a struggle,” he wrote. “This was not my life. I was never a basketball player; I just happened to be really good at it for a while.”

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Resistant HIV reported in Seattle-area men

A hard-to-treat strain of the virus that causes AIDS has been found in four gay men in King County, and authorities fear it could spread to more.

There is no evidence that the troublesome strain of HIV is spreading rapidly, but its appearance underscores the need for renewed emphasis on safe-sex practices, officials in the Seattle-King County public health department said Thursday.

"There may be more cases we don't know about," said Dr. Bob Wood, the agency's HIV/AIDS program director.

"We are still working to learn more about these individuals and the virus they have contracted," said Dorothy F. Teeter, interim director of the department. "We are concerned for these individuals and their partners and are continuing our investigation."

The same genetic strain of HIV was found over a 15-month period in all four men, methamphetamine users who each had multiple partners, but none is known to have had sex with any of other three, officials said.

"That's highly unusual," said Dr. Peter Shalit, who treats HIV/AIDS patients and directs HIV/AIDS research at Swedish Medical Centre.

One possibility is that there is a new strain of multi-drug-resistant HIV that is spread more easily than previous drug-resistant strains, "definitely a scary prospect," Shalit said.

"There's no evidence that this has spread outside of King County," said Dr. Patrick Sullivan, chief of the behavioral and clinical surveillance branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

But the center also hasn't compared this strain with ones outside King County because the center studies disease from a population, not an individual, perspective, he said Friday in a telephone interview.

One man in New York, diagnosed with HIV in December 2004, was found to have a multi-drug-resistant type of HIV and he too had multiple, anonymous sexual partners, a history of methamphetamine use and had sex with men, according to the CDC.

Nationally, 2 percent to 3 percent of the HIV strains that people are infected with may be resistant to two to three classes of drugs, Sullivan said.

While at least 100 King County residents die of AIDS annually, there is evidence of declining condom use and other safe-sex practices among gay drug users especially, said Wood, who is gay and has medically managed his own HIV infection for more than 20 years.

"There's a lot of complacency," he said. "People need to know that some of these new infections may be impossible to treat."

Seattle was among the first metropolitan areas in the country to begin a surveillance program for multi-drug-resistant HIV in 2003.

Since then, doctors and other health care providers have been asked to test routinely for drug resistance in anyone who is HIV-positive and to report any indication of multi-drug-resistant strains.

Before Thursday, health officials had identified 12 cases of multi-drug-resistant HIV in the county, none as resistant to anti-viral drugs as the most recent four.

None of the four men has experienced any symptoms, Wood said , but experts fear that drug-resistant HIV could progress to AIDS much faster than typical HIV.

In addition, Dr. Robert D. Harrington, director of a Harborview Medical Center clinic for HIV patients, said treatment for those who are resistant to several types of drugs could cost more than twice as much as the $15,000 a year that is needed for typical HIV.

Copyright 2007 Associated Press.

Anti-gay blogger charged with inciting murder

The unidentified Frenchman whose blog advocates "death without exception" for gays faces up to five years in a Martinique prison and a $58,200 fine.

A French man accused of advocating the killing of gay people on a Web log has been charged with incitement of murder in the Caribbean island of Martinique, a prosecutor said.

The suspect, identified only as a 38-year-old man from Fort-de-France, surrendered to authorities Friday in Martinique and was held in jail for two days before being released, prosecutor Claude Bellanger said Monday.

Bellanger said the man told investigators that he created the blog -- which called for "death to (homosexuals) . . . death without exception" -- while on vacation in Atlanta.

The Web page also called for the killing of certain media personalities and government officials whom it alleged to be gay.

After learning about the blog, authorities in Martinique contacted the Atlanta police. An investigation in the United States led to his identification.

If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and a $58,200 fine. No court date has been set.

Martinique, a French island in the southeast Caribbean, is home to 436,000 people.
(Herve Brival, AP)

Copyright 2007 Associated Press.