Some years back, I wrote a piece to the infectious and still omnipresent HIV disease.
There is no logical reason for anyone to become infected.
We are not dealing with logic. We are dealing with people.
We are dealing with human beings whose only concern is : who will love me? Am I worthy of love ?
If what we're confronted with is either unprotected sex and possibly being alone or literally diving in and hoping for the best, we often take the leap and hope for the best.
Anybody who has ever been sexually active has had interactions wherein the strategy was one of hoping for the best.
Hoping that you are both monogamous or at least if you aren't you are the only one that this person is having unprotected sex with.
I blame the shame and our collective refusal to address our sexual concerns and what it is we really require.
I am sex positive.
I understand many people choose abstinence which is avoidance at its most extreme.
People who only have this one option are limited when situations present themselves that require more than saying "no".
Another option us old timers (myself and anybody who was around during the first and most devastating round of fear mongering and stupidity that was 1983)like to indoctrinate younger folks into is the condom/protected sex for every encounter with someone unless you know their sexual history.
We must create a new set of tools to deal with the concept of staying uninfected and strategies to cope with new infections should they occur.
I am shocked and pissed off when the only strategy is one that is mired in drama and upset instead of real world solutions to real world problems.
The most devastating thing that HIV/AIDS has done is not death, sickness or even suffering and prolonged misery among those infected.
HIV's most riveting and far reaching devastation has to deal with the amount of fear and shame it created and the stigmatization of those infected.
Those of us who have who have remained uninfected feel vindicated.
As an out black gay man who has lost boyfriends, professors etc to this disease, it was my ignorant assumption that at a certain point (middle age) I would no longer have to think about or navigate HIV and its presence in my life.
Some of my friends have taken drugs(for two decades) that vary in their effectiveness regarding the ability to manage their illness .
In Long Beach, California , a large portion of our community has been infected and everyone continues to scratch their heads in lieu of having real conversations and coming up with real action to make some serious changes.
What prevents us from reinventing the real type of sex we are having and not the kind we are taught to like and or the type we are telling our friends we are engaging in?
Many of us live in and interact from a place of shame when we have to admit our love for the dick, getting fucked, our sexual partners nuttage or the joy and pleasure that comes from distributing a good pounding to a willing ass.
If I can't admit and own my desire how in the hell can I adjust and rethink my personal type of pleasure?
My own personal way to give the finger to HIV is to date and fuck and love those who have been infected.
I have not always felt this way nor interacted in the most humanistic and loving way when someone has shared a positive status with me.
Part of my willingness to participate in making the infected "the others" was an awful experience I had more than two decades ago with a few select assholes who made their sexual appetites more important than being honest.
I willingly chose to stigmatize others and feign shock when I met folks who were determined to remain sexually active.
I assumed that HIV infected people should give up sex.
When people shared with me that they were not only being sexually active but were also not apologetic about it, I got pissed off.
My assumption was that they were lying to someone somewhere and that they were undoubtedly putting all of us "good, follow the rules" people at risk.
This thinking was challenged at age 40.
Meeting and talking with so many infected individuals changed my heart and my mind.
HIV and AIDS is not the problem.
Lies, a refusal to be honest and an overriding commitment to being right and stupid at all costs, these are the real issues and barriers to ripping HIV Stigmatization from our collective conscience.
What are you willing to let go of to claim more of your humanity ?
A family member suggested that my Nephew could not stay with me and my white partner because he liked to "stick with his own".
I was mortified.
Putting racist,nonthinking aside, it was clear to me that people get hurt and miss out when interactions are either not made or are not deepened.
Most of us like to construct our relationships with people who look and think like us.
For many people, this is an easy existence and one that requires little to no effort.
In world that is rife with two minute meals and the need to be connected to everyone all the time, it is little wonder that we are uninterested in building relationships.
We are encouraged to consume and rely on stereotypes to develop and then discard our friendships.
Men who want to do things differently are often confused about how this will look and most definitely how it should begin and continue in ways that rely on true heart to heart connections.
Using my "secret" attraction" to you or the belief that I will save you via my infinite pool of wisdom and insight means I have already dehumanized you and in the process myself.
Men should enter relationships with a collaborative aim.
What can we do together to care and nurture one another?
I often struggle with explaining to men that I love the depth of love and concern I have for them even though we are not sexually intimate.
Homophobia knows no bounds and touches all of our lives.
While I can be extremely thoughtful, kind and considerate with other gay males regardless of the extent of our relationship, my straight male allies are often met with harsher tones.
My fears of being bullied or made fun of often keep me in defense mode which often leads to name calling and ribbing as our initial interaction.
Building healthy, non exploitative relationships and interaction takes a great deal of time and commitment.
When men decide they want a better world for everyone, there are few things more productive than building alliances across differences.
I am often amused by folks who say they are not racist yet have no black or brown friends or they have interaction with dark folks that is based in servitude and entertainment.
When white males are pressed about their lack of friends of color much silence and bumbling explanations occur.
The same thing takes place when black folks are put in the same position.
In the great movie Lorenzo's Oil, community is formed based on improving and saving the lives of children.
Several people band together (despite race, class and socioeconomic differences) to ensure that children are not suffering.
While it was a typical Hollywood movie in most parts, the idea of people bonding and building using only their internal resources struck me as radical and innovative.
My very good friend Carlos and I struck up an interesting friendship almost ten years ago.
As my immediate supervisor, it was his job to keep all of us on task and deliver results for the corporation that employed us both.
We developed a rapport that quickly became a solid friendship with us advising one another on everything from relationship problems to ways to eat healthier and invest money.
When there was a misunderstanding that caused us to not speak for weeks, we restructured our relationship when he told me that I was one of few people he trusted with taking care of his new, then unborn first child.
This statement meant the world to me and changed the nature of our interaction in ways that still provide close connection even though he lives in Brooklyn and I live in Los Angeles.
On a daily basis, we are all provided with tons of opportunities to change our minds and the ways we interact.
Men who are interested in transforming the world don't deny their fear nor allow it to paralyze them.
Men who want to change the world change themselves first.
Men who are secure and choose to fight for the inclusion of all ensure that they find, create and nurture connections in ways and places that may not be obvious.
Men who are secure understand that attraction, homogeneous alliances and safety are not reasons to connect or dismiss another.
I know several people who have decades long interaction with people they don't like or respect and then wonder why they feel so unfulfilled in their personal lives.
Gay men it is time that we recreate our relationships with other gay men and let go of this ridiculous, teenage way of building relationships based on another's "hotness".
Gay men it is time we let go of the straight male seduction fantasy.
Straight men it is time to let go of the idea of being so irresistible that all queens can't wait to drop to their knees and will risk all manner of good sense and self respect to bed you.