Jan 19/09 How does it affect you?
I’ve been a bit remiss about keeping up to date with my posts. Truth be told, even with all the suggestion that we’ve had, I feel a bit of a writer’s block.
But let’s give it a collegial try as I’m going to put this post on Twitter. Originally when I heard about Twitter, I hated the idea. However, once nudged to try it, it has been a great way to disseminate bits and pieces of information to a wide audience. It, I learned, is called microblogging.
Since I’m inviting a new audience, perhaps I’ll use this venue to explain what I’m doing as it relates to stigma.
It seems in this day and age, within the gay community, as HIV positive gay man - I do not profess to speak for everyone, for more points of view go through the site - feel marginalized and hidden.
For example, the Executive Director of one of the Gay and Lesbian human rights organizations told me that she was tired of HIV dominating the scene and getting “all the money, and that it affects everyone now.” So we are being mainstreamed out of the picture now.
We are made to be invisible, and if we are not such as myself, then the attributed “AIDS” label is enlisted, and then shelved in the appropriate box. Why is it that my blog is never looked at for “Queer blog awards” It’s a personal pet peeve to always be put in the “other” box. I could care less about the award, it’s the otherness that bothers me.
Many complain about complacency and how HIV is no longer given the attention it merits given the amount of barebacking, rising infection rates, sero-sorting resulting in risky behaviour and so on.
Once I read a comment saying, “gay guys with HIV got are easy.” Well, I’ve been to Africa to work, and yes it is shocking over there, but by that logic and standard then anyone who has running water pretty much has it easy.
HIV negative guys were shocked in focus groups leading up to this campaign to hear that we, the positive, feel stigma. The fact that we have to hide our status, always assess situations, deal with rejection, hide in our work places, fight for access to appropriate treatment and then suffer the side effects, unable to work, loss of direction and depression, poverty, and on and on it goes.
There are ASOs right?
I’ve been a long time activist who has turned to his, what has often been described as “sick”, sense of humour to make my presence known.
I will not succumb to stigma and discrimination (and this is by no means a criticism who are not out about their status). As I write in my blog, I will not allow others to define me as dirty, unhealthy, diseased, or anything else UB2.
Many HIV negative individuals believe they can be judgmental, discriminate, or whatever else they may fancy without anybody challenging them because we are supposed to be too afraid to be identified. Now, granted there are many who put out their status on profiles etc.
But I’m not so sure many are used to someone using the Diseased Pariah News inspired sense of humour. There’s a little history lesson of our pioneers back in the day.
I’m on Twitter as a D-List AIDS Celebrity (a statement about the stratification of the HIV community) with my own make a wish to meet Kathy Griffin. After meeting a young guy who lost one of his balls to testicular cancer in Australia, and was sent on this trip by the Make A Wish Foundation, I figured that was ageism, and when do I get to make my wish?
My “When Karen Calls: HIV Holiday Tips” gave all my tips I’ve amassed while enduring horrible anti-retrovirals while attending dinner parties.
OK, enough of being self-indulgent. The point is that you got to friggin shock people these days, and if I have to be the John Waters of AIDS to do it, so be it.
I also have to admit I live in a bit of a bubble as a result of creating this world where I’m completely out.
People are still being disowned by their families, discriminated in the workplace, prosecuted, rejected by their communities, and dealing with homophobia by proxy.
I welcome those who do not live in a bubble to share their experiences and unwrap stigma here.
I’ve heard that many do not disclose, and I honour that choice. But what I’d like to know does it feel to have this running in the background where no one can see it? How do you feel when you meet someone new? How do you feel with family? What is it like at work? How do you feel with you see clean UB2.