Monday, December 03, 2007

Gay guy furious we reported he was HIV-positive

I got an e-mail today from a very angry man who is HIV-positive.
He was mad because we put his name in a story.
"He had no right to disclose legally protected information," he wrote about our reporter.
Then the HIV-positive man demanded I fire the reporter and advised me to contact our lawyer.
Well, here's the problem. I don't think we did anything wrong.
You see, we included his name in the story because his mother was talking about him during an event to mark World AIDS Day. We covered the event.
What his mother said was compelling: She said she had trouble dealing with it when her son told her 15 years ago that he and his partner were HIV positive. She also said she was shunned by some of her friends.
"I couldn't believe it. I walked out of the room. I couldn't talk to him that day," she said. "I had to learn to love him, accept him and not point any fingers."
We named her and her son in the story because she named her and her son at the event.
I e-mailed the son a response to his note.
"At the event, several people spoke about their loved ones," I wrote. "Our reporter wrote down what was said at the public gathering and then wrote a story about it.
"If I was at a public event such as that – and I am a longtime journalist – I would assume that anybody whose name is mentioned has given the person mentioning it permission to do so. Why would a reporter think otherwise?"
The son phoned me before he got the e-mail.
The only non-hostile word he spoke was "Hello, my name is ..."
And then he started yelling. Not a good approach when you are trying to get a point across.
And then he called me "sweetie." Not a good thing to call a stranger you are trying to convince of anything.
Then he called the reporter the OTHER f-word, the racial slur for homosexuals.
I threatened to hang up on him and he settled down.
He asked to have his name pulled from the story that was online.
I agreed to do it -- without reservation. I understand the situation it put him in.
I also understand that when we cover an event or a meeting, it is our job simply to report what we saw and heard there.
And the more specific we can get, the better.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like the son has more of a beef against his mother than The Chronicle.

Anonymous said...

Homosexuality is not a 'race' as you have described, although clearly, exteme partisans such as yourself would like to it treated as such.

Liberals enjoy segmenting people by class, apportion government supply based on same, and then call for us not to be divided as a Nation based on race and color.

Liberals are bigoted like that - or should I say racial because the terms seems to be used interchangable at the C-T.