August 16, 2008

Rather Be Me

Never thought I'd live to see a time in my lifetime where dying of AIDS was not front and center in every gay man's brain.

Never thought I'd live to see a day in my life where gay men would turn on each other and treat one another with so much spite, hatred, ill will and negativity.

As a young adult in the 1980s, I was shocked and horrified when I read magazines and encountered the countless personal ads that warned: NO FATS, NO FEMS.

As a longtime survivor of HIV/AIDS in the 21st century, I'm even more shocked and horrified when I surf the net and read the countless personals that warn: CLEAN & DISEASE FREE, UB2.

As a lifelong “colored, Negro, black, African-American,” the racism of gay men who prefer WHITES & LATINS ONLY strikes me as nothing short of an astounding disease of epidemic proportions.

As if many of the authors of those ads are not themselves fat and fem. As if unsafe sex can keep you disease free. As if your great grandfather's membership in the Klan doesn't have something to do with your cultural preferences. As if being any combination of fat, fem, HIV-positive or black means a person isn't worthy of love and affection. As if enlightenment and compassion are but a dream.

We can't expect every man who has sex with other men to be a perfectly well-adjusted citizen of the homosexual nation, the self-hate in total remission, the personal traumas completely resolved. Even this citizen wouldn't be guaranteed to make that cut.

But we can do better than this. I personally can do better than this. I'll try to have patience and compassion for those who shock, horrify and disgust me, for those whom I could hate for pre-judging me.

I'll try to remove their ill will from the front and center of my brain. I'll give it my best shot at surviving with dignity and integrity in a world full of both good and evil, ignorance and enlightenment, love and hate, negativity and positivity. But when all else fails, and I promise I will fail!, when all else fails I will do my best to remember the following:
  • I'd rather be a person who's fat and fem than a person who goes around using those shameful words.

  • I'd rather be a man who's dirty and disease-ridden than a man who goes around calling himself clean and disease-free.

  • I'd rather be a black man than a person who goes around dismissing an entire race of men, claiming it's just a preference, nothing personal.

  • I'd rather be me for as long as I live. This much is true.