It didn’t even take one week on the new Twitter account for representatives from the Child Support Is the Enemy of The Black Man™ contingent of Twitter to make its way into my mentions with this mess:
First of all, if you’re referring to HIV as “the finisher” in 2017, you have no room in these conversations. It’s been commonly known, for years, that HIV, when diagnosed and treated early, can yield normal life expectancy. Never mind that it’s probably AIDS that you’re thinking about, not HIV. For that matter, if you still don’t know that HIV & AIDS aren’t the same thing, you should also have a few seats. Also, people who imply that HIV+ people “deserve” to die because of “sexual deviancy” are their own, special brand of evil.
Second, I see this kind of rhetoric from cishets regularly. It plagued my mentions on @angryblackhoemo, and will likely follow me, for as long as I have a social media presence, in general. But let’s be perfectly clear: this has absolutely nothing to do with “concern” or HIV prevention. This 100% a combination of sex-shaming and homophobia (particularly, homophobic sex-shaming). These kinds of criticisms around how I choose to practice my sexuality have absolutely nothing to do with caring about the spread of HIV. It’s largely homophobes being uncomfortable with the fact that a Gay man is unapologetically owning his sexuality. Additionally, being unapologetic enough to openly own my preference for a sexual practice that’s far more common than most will admit.
Fact of the matter is, a lot of people don’t use condoms consistently (if at all). Cisgender men, by and large, are seemingly only tolerating condoms, at best. And on top of that, cishet men aren’t commonly getting full-panel screenings for STI’s…I know this because it’s only just starting to become a remotely common practice among Gay/Queer men, in the age of PrEP & TasP. It’s not uncommon for me hear from women (who sleep with men) about how often men will push condomless sex on them, or be shady when said woman introduces a condom into the encounter.
So, given all of this, why are cishets continuously insisting on trying to vilify me for simply being honest about the shit that they commonly do, themselves?
In my opinion, people are still desperately clinging to outdated ideas around HIV & AIDS, as they provide an easy out to continue pathologizing Gay men’s sexuality, and attempting to shame and police those of us who embrace a more liberated attitude around sex (while they’re so afraid of the very possibility of an STD, that they won’t even go get tested). We live in a society of people who largely love similar kinds of sex, but are afraid to admit it, stay willfully un/misinformed, and will shame those who know better and/or keep it real. Folks care more about upholding some kind of “moral” superiority over people like me. And they do this even if it’s indirectly at the expense of their own sexual health. And this absolutely is at the expense of their sexual health:
The [World Health Organization] cites fear of stigma and discrimination as the main reason why people are reluctant to get tested, disclose their HIV status and take antiretroviral drugs.
One study found that participants who reported high levels of stigma were over four times more likely to report poor access to care. This contributes to the expansion of the global HIV epidemic and a higher number of AIDS-related deaths.
An unwillingness to take an HIV test means that more people are diagnosed late, when the virus may have already progressed to AIDS. This makes treatment less effective, increasing the likelihood of transmitting HIV to others, and causing early death.
How fucked up is that?
And, despite what many love to claim, I’m not anti-condoms. I personally prefer not to use them (like most other sexually active people). There’s a very clear difference, there. Thing is, when men ask me to use condoms, I comply, and make it a point not to shame them for it. I also don’t manipulate them into bareback, or violate consent by attempting to “stealth” the condom off (unlike hella cishet men). At least with me, a sexual partner:
- knows about my HIV status, upfront, as I disclose it in my profiles (which, frankly, I don’t even really have to, since undetectable folks are actually among the safest to sleep with),
- knows I’m open about routinely being tested for STI’s (most recent screening was less than a month prior to this post, by the way), and
- can see the container of pills that I take, everyday, to ensure that I minimize any possible issues around HIV.
Also worth adding that this isn’t even necessarily 100% cishets. Some Gay men internalize these attitudes around their own sexuality and will spew the same bullshit. Internalized homophobia is a helluva drug!
As I’ve discussed before, STI’s and HIV/AIDS are real issues that we need to address critically. But we also need to address them in a real and honest way. Fact is, most people don’t truly enjoy using condoms (and many don’t use them consistently, if at all)…so, now what? You can shame folks, all you want, but that’s not gonna magically make condom usage increase (it hasn’t over the last few decades). So, again, now what? While I’m 100% for encouraging condoms, loudly and widely, we also need to accept reality as it is, and proceed, accordingly.
So, perhaps climb off your high horse and get real with yourself and the situation, at hand. The sooner we can collectively admit that condoms aren’t as popular as many of us like to pretend, the better off we’ll all be…especially if we can stop shaming Gay Buttsecks™ in the process.
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