Clean 2-8-14 #knowyourstatus REALLY?

20 years later…
What have we learned about science and hate?

Clean 2-8-14  #knowyourstatus

Want me to get scientific [on you]…and explain why having HIV is dirty?

I can fully explain it to you.  Chemistry and biology.

It’s a bacteria infection.  Which is not clean.

Your being mad at the world…is not gonna get rid of your HIV brother.  I promise that.

This is an online profile and part of a text conversation with a 21-year-old tonight in the early to mid 2010’s.

AIDS is God’s judgement on homosexuals.

This was from a phone conversation I had with my mother in the early 1990’s.  She had a master’s in microbiology.

I’m not sure which scares – or hurts – me the most.  Judgement and hate from my flesh and blood family, or judgement and hate from my family of choice.

At least my mother grew in her understanding and compassion over the years — along with the scientific understanding of this very manageable health condition.  When I eventually contracted the HIV virus in 2012, she no longer spoke in such an uneducated way.

I only wish this “SomeHotDude” from the millennial generation  learns some things about health, compassion and acceptance.

Anger, sadness and fear…oh my!

Am I mad “at the world?”  I’m mad at a choice I made to relapse in December 2011, which put me in a situation where I had unsafe sex in a careless way that showed little self-respect.  It’s a choice I made to use, and from there…my addiction wanted me dead.  So yes, I’m mad at myself and my addiction.

Am I mad and saddened and hurt by my dead grandfather, who 20+ years later I find out wrote me out of his will because I’m gay?  Yes, I’m mad at his narrow-minded bigotry that excluded me simply because of whom I love.

Am I mad at this cocky 21-year-old who verbalizes things I thought about people with HIV/AIDS for 20+ years, because of my own fear, prejudice and insecurity?  Yes, I’m mad and sad at seeing myself in him, mad at him for openly expressing his prejudice while I at least had the maturity along the way of keeping my fears and insecurities to myself.

Are the decisions or actions we’ve both made any different?  No.

Am I frustrated that our society continues to marginalize, label and push people who are different down into the gutter — whether it be based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, health condition, age or some other “class” we use to describe one another — rather than seeing one another as human beings?  Yes.

And let’s be clear – I’m part of that society, and have some of those same prejudices, so I hope this doesn’t come across as self-righteous.  I’m human, not perfect…just trying to learn and grow with what life experiences I have.

The question is: while we all may have these thoughts, do we let them influence our actions?  Or do we instead ignore the “pre-judement based on a stereotype, label or generalization” and choose acceptance, compassion, understanding?   Do we look past the societal labels, and seek to get to know the person in front of us?  In front of me…

Am I curious about that person, who they are and what they believe?   Do I think critically about the information I’m presented as I listen?  Do I show compassion, even in the face of fear, differences, insecurities?

It’s not always easy…believe me!  But that’s how I aspire to live, at the age of 45.  I only wish I knew at 21 what I now understand more fully…

Clean 2-8-14  #knowyourstatus

So yes, it scares and saddens me that this 21 year old is growing up comfortable about being gay, but judging people in our own community because he is afraid.

So my responses to his blindness were:

Clean 3-17-14, HIV+ March 2012

What does cleanliness have to do with status?  HIV status has nothing to do with being clean or dirty.

Do you like it when gay people are all labeled as perverts?  Then why would it be acceptable to label all HIV+ people as dirty [because people who are HIV- are instead clean]?

Perversion has nothing do with sexual orientation, just like cleanliness has nothing to do with viral status.

So yes, I’m clean and HIV+ — as if those two “labels” are really the antithesis of each other.  (I’ve been on medication since I was first diagnosed, and my viral load has been undetectable since January 2013)

One has to do with bathing habits, or language usage (for fuck’s sake…), or perhaps how tidy one keeps one’s house.  The other is a manageable health condition.  Two very different concepts.

This isn’t the 1980’s folks…get educated.  (Or for any millennials reading this, it’s not the 90’s. )

I hope this 21 year old never contracts the HIV virus and has to eat his own words…like I’ve had to re-evaluate my thoughts and beliefs…or like my mom had to re-evaluate her religion.

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I see life as full of possibilities and the world full of beautiful people possessing unique and often untapped talents. I’m a learner and connector, seeking ways to leverage the abundance in this world through strong community.

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