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14 July 2014

Comments

Taylor

Great topic. About to read it now. Congratulations Rod!

Greg G

Good stuff. Thanks for writing this and continuing to report on HIV.

TrueWords

HIV SHAMING DOES NOT WORK

The truth is many gay men (this is true for gay black men even more so which has been my experience) have secret lives within secret lives within secret lives within secret lives. There are some deep conflicts within family and church. I have a friend that is not out to anyone in his family or even friends...the reason why I know is that he tried to push up on me years ago. So he occasionally brings women around to cloud the issue with others. For far too many many it is like peeling an onion. We wear these happy faces but we do not share our lives with even our most trusted friends. Too many gay men still in 2014 compartmentalize various aspects of their lives. But once you test HIV+ and you are a black male your world is even smaller your sexual options are EVEN smaller and this is where the downfall happens with HIV shaming and/or stigma.

1. Some gay men are not out (for a variety of reasons to friends, co-workers, family, etc.). For all of this push that we are normal we tell ourselves that our world will collapse if the wrong person/group found out. It is an understandable thought however it is the first crack in our facade. I recently had a conversation with a fellow co-worker (who is gay but hides it) after I started wearing my wedding ring. He said sharply, “Why make that announcement?”. I said it is my life and I am proud of, it took me a long time to get here with someone so I am not backing down. When you are doing things in the dark you are bound to have more risky sex over fear of getting caught.

2. Some gay men are HIV positive (because the truth is unless you are having sex with that person…it is not your business). Also we have lost the idea that it is SAFER sex. We think the ONLY way to get HIV is bareback sex. Unforeseen mistakes (condoms break, impaired judgment and the killer of misplaced trust). YES bareback sex is probably the highest reason today in 2014. I can’t tell how many friends have shared they trusted someone who lied about their status and their need to keep the relationship going for a variety of reasons. Also I can’t ignore the acceptance and endorsement of high gloss muscled bareback porn (Sean Cody and Corbin Fisher) vs. the stigma crushing Treasure Island Media; we are more polarized than ever. Also the drugs of today do not create that identify look..coupled with the sensation that “I should have known better” many are silent about their health to other partners.

3. Some gay men are drug users (oh yeah the dirty little secret of party drugs, steroids, viagra and a entire array that no one talks about). We have the most talked about movies (“Weekend and Keep the Lights On”) in the past two years in the gay press “showcases” drug use with NO downfall. You still get the beautiful guy (he will even stay with you for 12 years), keep your job, all of your friends, remain pretty, get any guy you want in a back room, pay for escorts and most importantly still remain HIV+ and/or disease free no matter how many dark rooms you visit…THAT IS IMPRESSIVE!!

4. The latest films (The Normal Heart, We Were Here, The Dallas Buyers Club etc.) out there are all dealing with AIDS providing a history lesson but the truth is HIV is happening now and the conditions are changing of how gay men are acquiring it. Many gay men do not see HIV as a “death sentence” and therefore it is manageable in their lives but rest assures there are many issues that are present with this diagnosis.

5. Some gay are sex addicts (because the greater gay culture is designed to exploit and enhance that). I see this even amplified in the black gay community where the sex is promoted to be more risky and more secretive. It is acceptable that you hook up with someone who you think you can not have for that one time HIGH. But seriously go ahead and look at your phone and/or computer see all the hook up apps or sites you have visited in the past week. How about your memberships and/or visiting of sex clubs/ circuit parties yeah because they raise money for HIV/AIDS research while promoting it at the same time…

6. Black gay men are not likely to get tested on a regular basis due to their fear of the following:

a. If I do not know then it can't harm me

b. not trusting the system to keep things anonymous and/or discreet

c. NOT having access to these programs on a regular basis...HIV clinics are more than likely to open one month and close the next and/or consistently going

d. the need to believe the other person because they look fine, said they have been tested, the sex is hotter, the list goes on and on and on and on

As always be encouraged!!

Eddie

It's a really good article, Rod. Thanks so much for bringing up gay-on-gay stigma and shaming. Much needed discussion.

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