Some Final Words…
This is going to be my last posting since the website is soon ending its interactive life. We’ve covered a lot of ground, from experiences in the baths and people’s reactions when poz people “come out,” to the etiquette of asking and telling, how stigma, pozphobia and (recently) criminalization produce silences, and the different assumptions that poz and neg guys bring to sex in the middle of that silence. Finally, we mused about poz pride as a strategy to fight pozphobia, and there was a discussion about whether talk about poz pride and attention to poz guys might make being poz cool — and therefore encourage people to want to seroconvert.
I happened to be reading the Denver Principles as a result of some other work I was doing. They were written in 1983 and were the first time poz people spoke out with our own voices and demanded that we not be treated as victims, and that we be respected and included in all aspects of the fight against the epidemic. When I read down past the stirring opening paragraphs, however, I came across the statement that is often overlooked, that all poz people have an ethical responsibility to disclose to their sexual partners.
Some of the reaction to this discussion and especially discussions around criminalization has been that poz people are projecting themselves as victims in order to cover “irresponsible” behaviour. That in fact we are avoiding the responsibilities that come with the rights the Denver Principles demanded. We have countered that pozphobia and discrimination often make it difficult to disclose. Sometimes our arguments have made me feel uncomfortable. I think that we have to reaffirm our responsibility to “come out” if anything we are doing puts someone else at risk. What’s more, I think this debate has also made clear an added responsibility for poz people — to fight against pozphobia, to ensure the risks and consequences of disclosing are not so great as to prevent anyone from doing it.
I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this discussion, and I encourage all of you to continue with your friends, families, and fuck buddies.