December 1, 2018, World AIDS Day, I attended an art exhibit opening at which I for the first time I publicly announced my being HIV+. After posting the speech and its backstory on “L’s X-Ray Vision,” I decided that I was going to make of series out of this reveal. For one, learning they are HIV+ is a journey. It’s more than just them discovering that they have seroconverted.
So in this case, I thought I’d address how I accepted my HIV status, and how I treated sex within that acceptance.
After hearing the words, “Your HIV test came back positive,” many have a moment of denial. Some never recover to the point that they never seek treatment, and keep an HIV diagnosis as the death sentence it once was. And since misery does love company, they use sexual conquests as a means to us sex as a weapon motivated by envy with the intent to infect someone else. With that being the case, bareback sex is a must. Luckily with the advent of PrEP, this plan should not be as easy to execute as it once was.
I must admit that I myself had a moment of denial, one that quickly turned into asking God a series of “Why me and not him?” The “hims” being guys I was once involved with who turned out to be jerks. My feeling was that I treated them like gods, and this was the thanks that Fate gave me. Making me HIV+.
Then I accepted the truth. Fate didn’t make me HIV+. I did. I’m the one who had 2 rare moments (at the time) of unprotected sex between my last negative reading and learning I was positive. That was me, and I had to accept the consequences of it. In fact, it was through those encounters that I learned of the spontaneity of sex, thereby making me try to instill in my writings how to not fault people for those moments unprotected sex may happen. Nor do I hold either of those sex partners responsible for knowing or not knowing or disclosing if they knew their status. I could have still suggested using a condom, but I didn’t. So this result is on me. If more people did that, then the criminalization of HIV would not be so many people’s go-to excuse across the globe.
For sexual chemistry is a powerful thing; powerful enough to sometimes not make the best judgments, even when we hear the safest choice screaming in our minds.
A sexual encounter with an HIV+ person within my first year of coming out and becoming sexually active without a doubt helped in my quick resolve. For facing HIV head-on like that made me see HIV+ people as human. Years before I became positive myself.
And before a Negative Nancy ready to think the worst of him goes there, we played only that one time, and it was with condoms.
My point is not to suggest that every “HIV- person” must have sex with an HIV+ person in order to be humane to an HIV+ person. My point is that in 2019, we still have HIV- people who act on the negative stigmas, all to treat their HIV- status as a sign of sexual superiority. Hence why, unlike me, when the day comes that their error in judgment makes them become positive, they can’t handle it. They become the aforementioned. Not only using sex as a weapon for their jealousy. But also using drugs and alcohol to cope.
As stated in my original post announcing my HIV status, I came forward because the gay community needs a healthy medium to dark-complexioned man of color to be a healthy face & body of HIV. One who is not only HIV+, undetectable, and in all other ways healthy. One healthy to the point of looking better at his age than many white/light HIV- and HIV+ faces that gay media, nightlife, and porn shove in our faces who I am eyewitness to at bars and sex parties to not living as healthy a life as has been propagated. Thereby being one who counters the negative imagery of Black males gay media tells with their “statistics.” Stats that still paint us as the main spreaders of HIV, and the ones seeking the least treatment.
Now, I am an HIV+ man who prefers bareback sex but is okay with a condom being used if my playmate prefers. I have the utmost respect for sex, which is why I am so anti-substance, anti-drug, and anti-alcohol. Unfortunately, this is not the case of many living with HIV, but this is mine. And I hope my openness and honesty as to what led me to this point inspires others to do the same.