January 29, 2010

Semper Poz

Once upon a time, I was a 23-year-old boy who had 12-18 months to live.

That was the best guesstimate science gave anyone living with HIV/AIDS in 1985, the year I was infected with the "deadly disease," as it was known in the media.

Sadly, the disease proved deadly to many a lost soul. Gone but not forgotten.

Gratefully, some of live to tell, in a world that may not be perfect, what with its "disease-free-UB2" mentality; but we live on just the same. And we dream on, existing as something once thought of as impossible: long-term survivors.

Semper poz.

January 26, 2010

Must Be Exactly Like This!

You see it on Internet profiles: only into blacks; only into whites; must be 21-33; no one older than 40; sorry, not into fat guys, poz guys, fem guys, old guys, and on and on.

When I see those kinds of messages, the message is clear to me. It's like a person saying: I'm so close-minded, only (FILL IN THE BLANK) are attractive in my book. What's more, it's all about me and my feelings, so I'm just gonna tell the whole world: if you're not that type, back the fuck off! No blacks! No whites! No fats! No fems! No whatever! All you's peoples, don't even waste my time! I'm so narrow-minded, I don't even have time to reject all of you on an individual basis. I've got to put up signs to keep all y'all out. Got it? Now here's what I really need in my life ...

The message is clear indeed: anyone who puts up those kinds of barriers is probably not the one for me.

January 25, 2010

Scent of a Buddy

Take a whiff, if you're Ripe for Funky Pits.

January 23, 2010

Living with AIDS Happily Ever After

I once dreamed I met a man who was intelligent enough to know that he could fall in love with me, regardless of my HIV-positive status; and that we could have a lifetime of intimacy and great sex without ever transmitting the virus, because two men can do that with safe sex.

Could my dream happen? It's certainly possible, Will it happen to me? I don't know, but either way: I'll be living with AIDS and living happily ever after.

January 22, 2010

To White Guys Seeking Black Mandingos

If only I had a dollar for each time a white guy asked me to be his “big, black, dominating, Mandingo top.” Below is my recent response to such a request:

I'd rather you find out who I am, what I think, what I feel, what kind of sex I want to have than have you write me three long emails detailing your fantasies for All Black Men.

What you described doesn't make me feel special. It's not about me; it's about my skin color. It also sounds like you're telling me what to do, setting up the scene, inviting others without my consent. Who's in charge here?

Being your Mandingo is a role that could be played by any black man. I'm not just any black man, in or out of bed. I need someone who's gonna make an effort to see what's on my mind and how I feel.

What else can a black man become to you besides a “big, black, dominating, Mandingo top?”

January 21, 2010

Delirious Dance of the Disease-Free

In the Internet dating game, many gay man post their HIV-negative status along with the date they were tested, as if that makes them a better, more desirable catch.

HIV-negative as of January 21, 2010. Super clean. No STDs. No bugs. No diseases whatsoever. Exceptionally clean. Disease-free and clean. UB2, and on and on.

The word “clean” alone is losing its potency. Trends indicate, it's no longer desirable to be simply “clean.” One must be “super clean,” or “ultra clean,” or “super duper times XXX clean as of [a certain date and time as close to the present as possible).

And then there are the “I've got no STDs!” declarations. No STDs whatsoever. Completely bug-free. STD-free. Does anyone ever admit to having gonorrhea, syphilis, or any STD other than HIV? Super duper rare. Why the need to tell the world you don't have these STDs when no one in the world admits to having them in the first place?

Stop the madness! None of this makes anyone any safer. Only taking responsibility for your own health makes you safer. Your health is not in the hands of others. Your future does not depend on how many warning signs you put up, telling HIV to keep out.

The best way to avoid HIV: arming yourself with knowledge about what is and isn't safe sex, as determined by reputable health sites like the CDC, then practicing that safe sex with everyone each and every time you have sex, regardless of their HIV status.

Some HIV-negative veterans of the AIDS epidemic put it this way: I have safe sex with everyone as if they're HIV-positive. That way, I'm safe either way.

Any other method of protecting yourself is not truly protecting yourself. It's taking a shot at somebody else's confidence game. It's putting your life in someone else's hands. It's simply you not being at your best, no matter the result or date of your last HIV test.

January 20, 2010

There Must Be Some Buddy

I keep telling myself: there must be somebody in this world who wants to be my buddy. Somebody who looks at me and thinks, I'm so lucky to be with him.

I've been telling myself there's someone in the world for me since I was a little boy. So far, I haven't found that special someone. Never had a boyfriend. Never had a partner. Never known true love, not even for one pissant little second. I've only known a couple of two-week, getting-to-know-you scenarios where, after two weeks, one or both of us was no longer interested in getting-to-know-you.

It's not easy looking for love in a world that mostly fears black people, gay people and people with AIDS, a world where most people see you as a triple threat, not a potential soul mate. But I'm going to keep dreaming my dreams. There must be some buddy who wants to dream with me.

January 16, 2010

Black Man with HIV Worth a Look

For years I've created positive affirmations for myself, little slogans to keep me going, expressed on everything from notebooks to notepaper to, in recent times, a computer monitor in the form of my personal screen savers.

In a world that doesn't pause to consider the point of view of someone like me--black, homo, living with aids--I need all the help I can get reminding myself that I, too, am worthy of dreams come true.

It started out as plain, handwritten notes, as far back as high school. THE BEST IS YET TO COME. BELIEVE IN YOUR DREAMS. YOU CAN DO IT!

In my early forties, those little promos evolved into my screen saver affirmations. Those, too, started modestly, simple phrases over a simple background.

Now, in my late forties, I'm much more evolved, and so are my screen savers (see photo). In a world that rarely pauses to consider images of someone like me, I need all the help I can get affirming that I, too, am beautiful and worth looking at.

January 15, 2010

Thankful for My Tongue, Too!

My tongue got jealous. Recently on my author blog, I told the world I was Thankful for My Teeth. And my dear, sweet tongue said: what about me?

I'm thankful for you, too, little buddies. You give me so much pleasure and joy. You allow me to taste and savor what's good and spit out what's not, all according to you, my dear, sweet tongue.

Through you I love the world and the world loves me back. Why else would there be so many odes to my dear, sweet tongue on my oh so funky blog?

January 13, 2010

To Be or Not To Be HIV-Positive

Will my buddy be HIV-negative or HIV-positive?

Hard to say, since I haven't met his ass yet. Or even know if he exists in the world beyond my dreams. But I do know this about my buddy: regardless of his HIV status, my buddy will accept my HIV status.

My buddy will realize that I am much more than a medical term. My buddy will realize my having HIV is no judgment on me or my life, merely a fact we both accept and deal with, a fact that makes me and my journey all the more amazing and worth knowing. My buddy will also recognize the following truths:

If you're having SAFE SEX with everyone, it doesn't matter if your sex partner is HIV-negative or HIV-positive.

If you're having UNSAFE SEX with anyone, regardless of HIV status, you're not taking responsibility for your own health.

My buddy will be smart enough to know better, just one of the ways I'll know I've found a truly great man.

Is there a truly great man out there dreaming of being my buddy?

January 9, 2010

Being Junior

Growing up, my family called me Junior. I hated that name with a passion. It was often shouted with contempt, blame, distain. Junior is a bad name to have when someone is angry at you.

On top of that, I was a junior of a crazy-ass name, unheard of in any corner of the world. Impossible to Pronounce, Jr., that's who I was growing up. I associate Junior with an unhappy childhood.

They never called me Junior in school, just some random variation of Impossible to Pronounce. That is, until the Day I Died in 9th Grade Gym Class, fictionalized in my second novel, Bridge Across the Ocean, and re-fictionalized in my fourth novel, Walt Loves the Bearcat.

At age fifteen, I became Randy. Some family members have never gotten used to my new moniker, but I refuse to respond to Junior. In my early 40s, I gave those stubborn family members another choice: J. R., as in the initials, as in the Man.

Nowadays, I like marking my personal pictures with J.R., my way of owning who I am.

January 2, 2010

Oh, Those Good Ole O-Os

See why the last decade, also known as the first decade of the 21st century, was the best decade ever, at least for a decade, right?

Grab your iPod, your iPhone--and all those other crazy gadgets of the last decade--and take a special trip down memory lane in I Love the O-O's!, now on my author blog.