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Sunday, November 18, 2007

abysmal baptismal

image credit: kris pito

i have been working on two independent posts, just doing some research and tossing around ideas in my head. i then realized that they are completely the same topic- which is bug chasing of sorts, so i am going to post both of them together. i know that much is said in my circles about the concept of hiv being an inevitable in many young and older gay men's minds. i find this fact disturbing- which of course does not have any affect on said fact at all, but it is disturbing.

i think that condom use is not a realistic plan for all gay men. i'm sure it works and has worked for many. but i am also sure that there is something symbolically counterintuitive about getting close to someone else and placing a barrier to do so. this is not perhaps a "best thinking" direction, but i believe it has merit. there is also the "bad boy-rule breaker" school of thought which is a trait that many gay men find sexy, attractive, and irresistable in other men.

i wonder if we can open a new dialogue that would be more likely to address the concerns of today's gay men. the panic driven, one-option solution of the past is outgrown. i believe mircrobicide research, honoring your partner, fucking with a conscience, a return to pricktease, may be things that would reopen dialogue. these are only guesses though. i know i certainly would love to see gay men honoring each other much more visibly and much more sincerely.

here are the posts. they are titled-
1) abysmal baptismal .....
2)in love with dying .....
make sure to look for "ponch" in the 2nd vid .....

from wikipedia:
By analogy, the English word "baptism" is used of any ceremony, trial, or experience by which one is initiated, purified, or given a name.[2] See Other initiation ceremonies below.

is seroconverting to hiv positive a rite of passage for gay men? is it inevitable? is it almost something to surrender to?

Why Do Healthy Men Want To Be Infected?
There are some very strong beliefs at work among men who bareback looking for HIV infection.

No More Isolation
For some men, being infected is a way out of their isolation and loneliness. Social stigmas and prejudices add to an already strong feeling of isolation. The belief is that once infected, they will be welcomed into a supportive community where prejudice and stigma does not exist. For these men, HIV is a rite of passage into the gay community. Being positive gets you into the "family."

A Different Perspective
When asked about being infected, men who are seeking out HIV infection show little fear. These feel HIV is simply a nuisance that can be treated with a few pills; a small price to pay to be a member of such a close knit group. One gay man reported an incredible feeling of belonging when he learned of his positive HIV status. Just as a teen-age boy joins a gang to belong to a family, so does the gay man who practice barebacking in hopes of becoming HIV positive.

A Sense of Relief
Others who become infected feel a profound sense of relief. Some sexually active gay men grow tired of living with the uncertainty of if and when they will become HIV positive. Some are so troubled by that uncertainty that multiple HIV tests become the only means of dealing with what they feel is the inevitable. One man's face glowed with a sense of relief after his doctor told him he had been infected. He would never again have to worry if he had been infected because now he knew he had.

A Sense of Intimacy
Still others are longing for a sense of intimacy. To these men, anal sex feels better and more intimate without condoms. They feel condoms decrease sensitivity and spontaniety. Others feel barebacking is a type of sexual intimacy they equate with mating and infection is equated with impregnating. Some even go as far as choosing the man who will "father" their infection. One gay man reported the most incredible feeling of intimacy being united with other gay men through HIV. Another allowed his positive partner to infect him as a way to show how deep his commitment was. Oddly enough, as soon as he found out he was positive, the man and his partner began using condoms.

here is a bit of a post by knucklecrack:

Times have changed. Jay Dempsey runs the P.O.O.L. program for gay men at AID Atlanta, and begins each new group by asking attendees whether condom use is still the sexual norm among local gay men.

“The answer’s always no,” Dempsey said.
The change in gay men’s views toward condoms is often associated with the onset of highly effective anti-AIDS drugs in the mid-’90s, when the perception of the disease transformed from an automatic death sentence to an almost invisible, manageable illness. Experts agree that no longer seeing friends suffer or die from AIDS has affected how gay men approach safer sex, but other factors have changed as well.

"Lonely, Ashamed, Defeated"
(A recent post from the
"I Just Tested Positive" board)

I am in my early 20s. I've never had unprotected sex and am hardly out of the closet -- I've only had sex twice in the past year. ... But about a month ago I was diagnosed HIV positive. I'm going crazy trying to figure out how this happened and am constantly feeling depressed, defeated, and anxious. I've dreamt and prepared my whole life for a career that I can no longer pursue. I'm lonely and ashamed.

Worst of all, though, I'm afraid of dying alone and being unhappy until that day. I have a family who loves me very much, but they can never know about this. And my friends, well -- I have begun to push them away.

I know I can live with this for a long time, but I'm more afraid of life than death. And honestly, I don't have the courage to off myself -- I love my family too much to put them through anything like that. I would rather suffer quietly and just wait it out. I cry randomly throughout the day, and on weekends hardly get out of bed.


this letter was published at on october 18,2007


Java said...

This is so outside my way of thinking. But when you lay out the explanations like this I can understand the reasoning. I think they are wrong, warped, but I understand how one might come to these conclusions or decisions. You teach me so much about life. About the lives of others and about myself.

Wayward Son said...

I cannot tell you this post has me thinking in a million different directions—too many elucidate here which, I guess, is part of the complexity of the issue. And it is an issue.

Very thought provoking post.

Marc said...

The contradictions are mind-boggling, aren't they? Here you have guys who think nothing of becoming positive because "you just take a few pills" and then you have someone who thinks he cannot pursue the career of his dreams while acknowledging in the very same letter "that you can live a long time with this stuff."
I think the formula for a plurality and perhaps a majority of seroconversions is the craving for (an illusion of) intimacy that trumps the desire for safety, WHEN drugs, particularly meth, and alcohol are involved.
But the topic that I find most lacking is the TOXIC SHAME that still surrounds all things homosexual in this country, and therefore AIDS. I counsel one bi guy whose girlfriend found out he was with a man, and even though they'd both taken AIDS tests, was ready charge him with attempted murder. We need to start talking about the roots of the incredibly IRRATIONALITY that surrounds everything HIV, and most things sexual, in this country.

Anonymous said...

The only thing I can think of that sounds remotely sane is the relief argument.

The way it is going these days is so mind blowing.

Clearly these are people that have no concept of paying thousands of dollars of for side-effect producing pills!

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