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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

starting a conversation

We are a people who do not want to keep much of the past in our heads. It is considered unhealthy in America to remember mistakes, neurotic to think about them, psychotic to dwell on them.
Lillian Hellman

brian finch from acid reflux has participated in an outreach project which is designed to address hiv stigma in the gay community. he forwarded the link to me, and i have been kinda blown away, because i live in a small city which hosts a culture where hiv stigma actually thrives.

in my city, hiv is simply not discussed openly. if it is brought up, people will either change the subject, turn away, or even more disheartening- walk away.

i know thia fuels internalized self-hatred on the part of poz men and it also fuels an atmosphere that inhibits testing and safer behavior discussions during hook-ups. people make safety decisions based on hunch and appearance.

the website that hosts this approach to a healthy conversation is hivstigma. i encourage you to poke around it and see some of its offerings. there are several recorded interviews with gay men both negative and poz. i don't hear conversations like these often and i find them heartwarming.

here is a clip of brian's interview.

my fingers are crossed today. i am hoping quietly for a change in the direction i would prefer.

and steven todd has submitted a new post at prison's a bitch

and of course today's song choice is a live version of sade's sweetest taboo..


1 comment:

Marc said...

Do you notice right off the bat that he says "I never know when to tell them because if I do it right off then they say "so what?" or I do it later and then they say I haven't been honest" WHOA! He just said the reaction he gets if he says it right off the bat is "so what?" Why is disclosure a problem then? Isn't that what we want them to say?
I'm not saying there isn't real stigma out there, but so much of it is what we carry in ourselves. I'm a 100% open about my status, and if someone gives a shit, that's their problem. If they don't want to sleep with me, that's their loss. It is up to me not to internalize their fear, just as it is up to me not to internalize the homophobia out there.
Am I against stigmatization and homophobia? Of course. But I can't control it. I can control my level of internal agreement with it. If someone rejects me for being poz, it is up to ME to smile and say I understand. It is not, after all, an irrational decision to not sleep with someone who knows he is positive, even if it may be a risky one to have sex with someone who just thinks he's negative. I know many men who stayed negative for a long time sero-sorting. It's Russian roulette of a kind, but it's not without rational basis.
Rejecting the stigma means rejecting the idea that we define ourselves based on what others think of us. I refuse to take HIV personally, but I accept that disease of any kind causes a lot of nervous discomfort in people. Ask anyone with cancer. This is human nature. The best thing I can do is to be so comfortable with my status that I withhold any energy from the fear of others. And be willing to confront and educate on a dime. But I serosort also--for Pozitives only. I can't judge the negs for doing the same, even if I think they might be a bit more diplomatic in expressing their preferences.

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