A week's worth of gay and lesbian news, that's what this column is about. And I work hard to deliver on that promise. What's the promise of the Democratic party? Inclusion they say. Yet this week a shock of cold bath water in our faces as a draft of the Democratic National platform excluded the words gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Most gay leaders lamented the weak support the document offered. Where it mentioned gay support, it did so in unusually broad terms. In its support for gay marriage, the document offers a scant: “We oppose the Defense of Marriage Act and all attempts to use this issue to divide us.”

Cindi Creager, Director of National News at Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), commented on the group's blog that Democrats were simply being cautious not to use language that could be exploited by anti-gay forces.

Still, she called on the media to “hold the parties accountable for clarifying positions rather than tiptoeing around them with vague, linguistic maneuvering.”

Creager might have had a different reaction to the document had she read Christie Keith's Gay-Baiting '08 on AfterElton.com where pundits and politicians discussed the role of gay baiting in the 2008 presidential election. The story highlighted the fact that gay fear mongering has lost much of its punch since the 2004 election.

I think people are thinking about it, evolving on it and I don't think it has the scare factor, culturally, that it had,” political commentator and MSNBC The Chris Matthews Show host Chris Matthews said. “You know, look at the Larry Craig story – it was so sad that it made a lot people say, 'Wait a minute. If you don't respect individuals, they're not going to respect themselves.' And I think that's a very good conservative argument for [gay] marriage.”

“I think the air is substantially out of this balloon,” openly gay Congressman Barney Frank said.

Feverish optimism tied to a record number of GLBT people expected at the Democratic National Convention had fueled high hopes of greater inclusion in the Democratic platform – making its hushed tones a bitter pill to swallow. The National Stonewall Democrats announced they expect 358 gays & lesbians at the convention, making it the gayest ever. Additionally, the gathering will include the appointment of Diego Sanchez of AIDS Action, the first-ever transsexual committee appointment.

A report by UNAIDS claims the AIDS epidemic has stabilized, but at least one expert, former UNAIDS epidemiologist Elizabeth Pisani, disagrees.

On the blog www.wisdomofwhores.com used to promote her book The Wisdom Of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels, and the Business of AIDS, she questions the numbers published by the organization, calling them “confusing.” Compiling reports from previous UNAIDS data, Pisani estimates the report is off by nearly 1 million people.

The report was released just days before an AIDS conference in Mexico opened to a protest. Activists at the conference staged the first International March Against Stigma, to demand the end of discrimination against people living with HIV.

“Homophobia – in all its forms – is one of the top barriers to ending this epidemic, worldwide. The fight against the epidemic is entering a new phase, and if governments and NGOs and international organizations like my own do not take up the fight for gay rights, and the rights of all people with diverse sexuality, we will not end AIDS,” said Peter Piot, a UNAIDS founding director.

The conference started with the remarks of a 12-year-old HIV-positive Honduran girl – Keren Dunaway Gonzalez. Gonzalez said HIV-positive children like herself in Latin America need help with medicines and acceptance in schools. She received a standing ovation that lasted long after she left the stage.

Discrimination against HIV-positive people like Gonzalez is increasing. Some countries have criminalized the disease. In India sufferers routinely lose their jobs, are denied treatment in hospitals and children are thrown out of schools. An Indian couple, after finding out they were infected as well as one of their children, decided to poison the children and commit suicide by hanging themselves from a ceiling fan.

And it was our own Gay Entertainment Report that brought me news of a transgender woman and an openly gay man competing to work for Sean 'Diddy' Combs on VH1's I Want To Work For Diddy.

That's enough from me for this week.

Walter Weeks is a writer for On Top Magazine and can be reached at ww@ontopmag.com. The Gay Slant pops in most Saturdays at On Top Magazine.