AIDS Walk DC: Thank You to Our Sponsors
September 30, 2010
Against the odds, Gwenn and I made our fundraising goal of $2000 for the AIDS Walk in DC this year, which is this Saturday. I really didn’t think it was possible, partly because of the recession, partly because I didn’t feel particularly inspired hitting people up for money this time around…
But, after sending out some emails, having a permanent link on the blog and posting messages on Facebook, we did it. This money will be helping people living with HIV in one of the hardest hit areas in the United State, the capitol of our country, where decisions are being made to cut funding for HIV/AIDS. That means that ADAP Waiting Lists (“Death Lists”, as fellow Poz blogger Larry Bryant and other activists rightly call them) will continue to grow, putting lives in danger when life-saving medication exists. Make no mistake, these are difficult times. (Photo below posted by Larry on his Facebook page during a recent rally for ADAP funding.)
That means we can’t lose our focus. I am proud to do what I can, and I am deeply grateful for having the good health that enables me to participate. And each time the Walk rolls around I think about it deeply and remind myself why I care and who it is that I walk for… I walk for those who need the support of incredible places like the Whitman-Walker Clinic, I walk for those we have lost to AIDS, and I walk for those we will continue to lose.
THANKS SO MUCH to all of our sponsors and walkmates in Team Supersnack!
Chez and the Stuarts Draft High School Leadership Class, Gayle Slifka, Jodi Perelman, Mark and Putra, Jim Richardson, Steve Henry, Riki, Lauren and Evie Hoffman, Katie Chiacchia and Andy Deane, Bob Geise, Tom Donohue, Ben Banks, Chris Reyrouck., Cynthia Neff, Irvin and Laura Santiago, Mitch and Hannah Larson, Renee Glisson, Sara Bodie-Schick, Byron Harris, Dan Veraldi, Duane Bandel, Janet Lafoon, Jenna Levine, Josh and Jenny, Beth-Anne and Bob Vieira and the kind anonymous donors as well.
Happy Birthday to a Hero in HIV/AIDS
September 26, 2010
A big ol’ birthday wish to Angela Hamilton. She’s the brainchild of the AIDS Walk team that Gwenn and I walk for, Team Supersnack. We met Angela in 2000, when she- like Gwenn- were involved in the Miss Virginia Organization as scholarship contestants. Though they are both beautiful in spirit and body, I wouldn’t dare to call either Angela or Gwenn “a pageant girl”.
We reconnected with Angela when she invited us to join her and a bunch of her friends from college in New York City for the annual AIDS Walk several years ago. By organizing a group of people who care about the issue, Angela (with Team Supersnack) has helped raise over $100,000, all of which has gone to serve the needs of people living with HIV. So, what do you get the girl who has done so much good for positoids? Well, you raise more money. And that’s what I hope to do.
The AIDS Walk Washington is this Saturday. Gwenn and I are well short of our fundraising goal: so any donation small or large is welcomed. Plus, I have swag to give away (CDs, DVDs, books, P. Decker Fungi napkin drawings) for any donation over $25. I don’t think I’m wearing the LemonAIDS costume again, but who knows? Gwenn has tentative plans to go as “The Condom Fairy” if we reach our goal. I could bring the lemon out of retirement, at the risk of being expected to be LemonAIDS every year.
So help us wish Angela a happy birthday by donating because, really, not much makes her happier than helping people with HIV and watching those Team Supersnack totals go up and up. Plus you could, if you act now, get Get a Life the TV series on DVD, or a napkin drawing of Ric Flair. Or that new Chicken Soup for the Soul book that I have a story in.
What’s better than helping people and getting cool shit?
On a more personal note: Angela, we are very thankful to know you, call you a friend and are humbled by you dedication to the Team every year. We love ya, and hope you had a great birthday! – Love, S&G
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Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell. Don’t Bother?
September 26, 2010
Last week another kick to my soul nuts was delivered by the Republican filibuster in regard to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Of course, many other benefits to troops were also put on hold due to the rampant homophobia of folks who’d never serve themselves (McCain and a select few aside, of course).
I say if you vote for multiple wars, you damn well should stand out of the way of capable Americans willing to put their lives on the line to fight them.
As for McCain, I wish Cindy McCain could have removed her NOH8 duct tape from her mouth and talked some humanity into her husband, who once fought so bravely to protect our country but, this year, is fighting hard to protect his job. It’s an election year, and he has a base to appeal to. Can’t get frisky on the issues, not now… not ever. I gotta think if a gay Rambo had busted in to save his ass in ‘Nam when he was a P.O.W., he wouldn’t have filibustered that.
Am I in a particularly salty mood? Yes. Because I’m beginning to realize that whether the Republicans are in control (my entire 20s were spent educating about HIV, condoms and sexual health under a federally mandated, Bush-stamped abstinence only agenda) or the Democrats, I will be upset by what’s happening in the world of politics. It’s enough to make one want to curl up and just ignore it all until someone else- or simply time itself- corrects the problem.
Do I think DADT will be repealed? Yes, especially since the majority of voters support the repeal of this discriminatory and oft-abused measure: namely the Don’t Ask part of the deal…
I know I can’t personally fight the wars: I have a bleeding disorder and, quite frankly, I’m a wuss. But when I can do is voice my disapproval. Wuss or no wuss, we should all do the same. Because the wars of ideology at home are just as important- if not more so- than the wars we fight abroad. This is for the heart of our country, and if the only casualty is ignorance then the eventual victory is definitely worth fighting for.
A ridiculously humorous take on Gays in the Military by the Onion. Please remember that this is a spoof, it’s fake, it’s comedy.
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O’Donnell: If You Can’t Beat It… Join ‘Em?
September 22, 2010
I haven’t been blogging too much lately. Maybe it’s because I’ve been in a fetal position, pacifier in my mouth crying for a Mother Earth to explain some things to me. Like how an anti-masturbation advocate can be one election away from a Senate seat? Or how a majority of Americans can support the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, yet Republicans can still filibuster it right off the table?
Right now I’m going to focus on Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell. It’s a state election. I get it. It’s Delaware’s business whom they ultimately elect to represent them. Of course, money can come in from anywhere in elections, but the people decide who represents them with a push of the button in November. In the primary, O’Donnell’s camp claimed her Republican opponent Mike Castle was cheating on his wife with men en route to the upset win. Again, I don’t know anything about Delaware or whether that cheap shot helped or not.
Thus far the polls show that O’Donnell is trailing against her Democratic opponent, whose name escapes me because it does not inspire the rage that O’Donnell does. I don’t know if that lead will hold up, but I hope against hope that she doesn’t win or become some folk hero in defeat in the same manner that pay-for-your-own-damn-rape-kit Gov. Sarah Palin has. What’s even worse is that O’Donnell made a name for herself as an anti-masturbation activist. And now, for once, I know how the gun rights advocates feel. Charlton Heston famously said that they could pry his gun from his cold dead hands. Well, O’Donnell can pry my penis from my cold dead hands should she outlive me.
Another thing about O’Donnell that has bothered me is her claim that abstinence is the only sure-fire way to prevent the spread of HIV. Well, for single folks I call masturbation “abstinence with a smile!”, and as an educator I give it the 100% safety seal of approval. And for those in relationships, nothing eases sexual tension like rubbing one out. It’s a lot cheaper than couples therapy, too.
All jokes aside, she has also stated publicly that condoms don’t prevent the spread of HIV and told Bill O’Reilly that it is “anti-human” to promote condom use. Really? Damn, I’ve been spending the entirety of my adult life promoting condom use, and also enjoying its benefits in protecting my wife partner, Gwenn, from HIV… for ten years running! How championing the prevention of HIV, a virus that can and does kill humans, is anti-human is beyond my realm of thinking apparently.
I know that people can say just about whatever they want, and that the price is usually ridicule. That’s why, as a sex educator, it’s so baffling that Christine O’Donnell has been rewarded with a major party’s nomination for a Senate seat. If she wins, it could be the first step towards something bigger… perhaps the road to the White House?
In preparation, I’ve decided that, should she win in November and become a state senator, I really need to change my ways. No more condom talk, mocha drinkin’ and liberal views (equality for all, social security for seniors and the ability for kids with cancer to keep their health insurance) outlook. I’m going to dial all that back, get really paranoid about other things and not worry too much about a whole lot of nuthin’. In Wal-Mart I picked out a hat just in case O’Donnell wins and I have to make good on this.
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“No One’s Pleasure” Condoms by The Onion
September 19, 2010
Even though this article on a fictional Trojan condom was posted by The Onion in July, I just found out about it last night when Gwenn read it to me: hilarious stuff. The condom is called “No One’s Pleasure”, and it’s for embittered, resentful couples… enjoy!
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Chicken Soup… For the Positoid Soul?
September 13, 2010
I submitted a story for the Chicken Soup series a while back, detailing my journey with HIV and how I coped and survived pre-meds. Some of it was luck, some of it was an innate idea and the teachings of my parents that being down would only harm my immune system’s attempts to protect me.
Well, the book is being published on September 28! It’s called Chicken Soup for Soul: Think Positive. My story kicks off the Health section, and is entitled “I’m Positive… Really.”
With the distribution of this series, I’m happy to know that this story will reach some newly diagnosed people who might need a pick-me-up, one I am honored to provide. I also hope that by being included in such an omnipresent series, my take on life with HIV will open some minds as to the struggles (social, not medical) that some of us encounter.
Hope everyone had a great weekend!
The Chicken Soup folks sent me a handful of copies. The next person to donate $50 or more to my participation in the AIDS Walk Washington next month gets a copy!
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“Cuffing” and HemAware Magazine
September 10, 2010
The folks at HemAware, a magazine that is to the bleeding disorders community what Poz is to the AIDS community, are working on their next issue and they are looking for the following:
- acupuncture- anyone who gets these treatments for their hemophilia/bleeding disorders pain, or any acupuncturists who work in the hemophilia community
- Tai Chi- anyone who teaches this in the BD (Bleeding Disorders) community, or anyone with a BD who does tai chi.
- Pseudotumors- anyone with hemophilia who has had a pseudotumor.
- Depression in Kids- any parents willing to talk about their child or teen’s depression related to their bleeding disorder, or young adults willing to discuss the depression they suffered in their teens years as it relates to their bleeding disorder. Using a pseudonym is a possibility if people are uncomfortable “outing” themselves or their children.
If you fit any of the above and are interested in contributing to HemAware, contact Melanie Powers.
In terms of my own bleeding disorder, which fortunately doesn’t give me too many day-to-day or week-to-week problems, I have come to a great realization lately… see, I have somewhat of a bum ankle, which I believe I injured playing a game I invented called Pool Two-Bounce back in 1995… but that’s a stupid story that doesn’t need to be shared at this time.
What is important to share is that my ankle gets sore after a night of shooting pool, just simply walking around a table, leaning, walking, leaning. All that adds up after a couple of hours and then the next day or two I’m limping around when it’s the roughest. I also like playing tennis, and that is really rough on the ankle. Well, it used to be.
I just started using this thing I have called The Cryo Cuff. It’s like a water cooler attached to a bootie. You fill the cooler with ice water, and a little tube to the bootie keeps cold water on your ankle- it feels really nice. I call the process of using this “cuffing”… kind of like “huffing”, but not stupid like inhaling deadly fumes for a cheap buzz. In fact, it’s the opposite, cuffing for 30 minutes or more, which can be done while watching TV or playing video games, has helped me with the post-game limping.
And when you play to win like my tennis alter ego, Boris Decker, it’s nice to have the ability to make a victory lap (or a trip to the coffee shop) the next day without wincing in pain.
Hope everyone has a nice weekend!
The Harry Potter Alliance & Magical Thinking
September 8, 2010
A couple of months ago I posted a request to help The Harry Potter Alliance win a 250k grant from Chase Morgan… and they won! I choose to help them out because they fight for the little guy, advocate for GLBT issues and are just an incredibly awesome and motivated group of do-gooders.
So I was very happy when they pitched in to help get me and Gwenn some votes for the Pepsi Refresh grant, in which my little positoid pecker is currently being knocked in the dirt in terms of our ranking. Pleaaaaaaaaase, vote. Links below. Here’s what I posted over on the Harry Potter Alliance web site, it’s an introduction and explains why winning this grant is so important to me.
Hello! My name is Shawn. The kind folks at the Harry Potter Alliance have graciously posted my bid to educate 50,000 teenagers in all 50 states about sexual health through the Pepsi Refresh Project. So I thought it would be a good idea to tell you a little bit about myself, and why I think the HPA rules.
My friend, Andrew Slack, told me about the HPA. I was inspired to spread the word via my Poz Magazine blog when the HPA
was in the running for the Chase Morgan grant, and was thrilled when you guys pulled off the victory because I knew the money would go to many great causes that I believe in. I met Andrew years ago when we were both attending a college speaking conference, he as a member of a comedy troupe (The Late Night Players) and me as one half of an HIV/sexual health educating duo (with my wife partner, Gwenn). We all became friends, and years later Andrew told me about the work that he was doing with the HPA, how a group of people inspired by the Harry Potter books banded together to create magic in real life… off the pages, and off the big screen…
Where it counts.
I’m no stranger to real life magic, and I’ve needed a lot of it.
The reason why I educate about safer sex and HIV prevention is because I was diagnosed with HIV when I was 11 years old, having been infected through tainted blood products used to treat my hemophilia. I was the victim of discrimination as a result, and was even kicked out of my 6th grade class when my status became known. When I was diagnosed with HIV in 1987, effective medications for the virus were about a decade away… my parents were told that I probably had two years to live. My imagination and the ability to distract myself with it is probably one of the ways I was able to survive. Now, at age 35, I still carry around those same qualities- that part of me was frozen at my diagnosis. In some ways, that aspect of my diagnosis was a gift.
Since the age of 20, when I opened up about my HIV status, my life’s mission has been clear: do my best to prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections while giving those who are already living with an STI hope that they can find love… that they can cope and have a life filled with meaning and joy. You know, some modern day magic.
It is possible. When minds and hearts are open, and we look out for the best interests of others, realizing that we too will benefit from their sense of happiness and health, then anything can happen. I know this from my own journey, and I love to share that sense of peace with others.
So, if you have a little magic dust left in your wands, it would be much appreciated if you could vote for me and Gwenn in the Pepsi Refresh Project. You can vote every day, via online vote (Facebook has a Pepsi Refresh application that is very convenient) and also via text. Our goal is ambitious, it would be a lot of work but I know we could reach a lot of people. We are trailing in the votes, so every click counts. To learn more about us, you can visit our website, Shawn and Gwenn We are also on http://facebook.com/shawnandgwenn
WAYS TO VOTE DAILY: (you can vote twice daily, once online and once via text)
On the Pepsi Refresh site: http://refresheverything.com/shawnandgwenn
Via text message: text 102299 to PEPSI (73774)
Sign up for Shawn and Gwenn’s daily email reminder:
VOTING ENDS on SEPTEMBER 30!