Elizabeth Taylor: A Moving Star to the AIDS Community

March 24, 2011

liz-poz.jpgElizabeth Taylor is a legend for a far more important reason than pretending to be someone else while being filmed.

In the 1980′s, when this country and her own inner-circle of friends were beginning to see the harsh realities of AIDS and it’s unbearable stigma, she spoke out.  Also, she never stopped caring about people whose lives had been shaken by HIV, even as others in Hollywood moved on to more fashionable causes in the late 1990′s.

No, Liz stuck by us.

As her own health was failing, she would attend fundraisers and give moving speeches about the issues of HIV/AIDS, such as discrimination and homophobia.  If AIDS were a physical entity- and I think it’s helpful to think of it as such since HIV’s power is living in the silence of shadows- then it certainly picked a fight with the wrong person when it targeted Liz’s friend, Rock Hudson.

Ultimately, it was her honest and moving reaction to the moral backlash associated with a sexually transmitted infection such as HIV that made Liz a friend to all of us who are living with HIV.  And we’re surely going to miss our beloved friend.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

Click the image above to read her 1997 interview with Poz magazine. Check out Sean Strub’s memories of how that interview came to be.

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Republicans VS. Planned Parenthood

March 4, 2011

One of the reasons why I’ll probably never be able to cast a vote for a Republican is because of their views on sex, whether it’s institutionalized homophobia (in which they obsessively cannot get the sexual imagery of homosexual acts out of their minds- hmmmm) or their opposition to open dialogue about safer sex.

Here, the Daily Show explains the most recent attacks on Planned Parenthood by House Republicans, who should just stay out of the way and let PP talk to their teenagers about sex since they refuse to do so.

The Daily Show
Tags: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook

WeekDaily Blogging and I Dream of Bieber

February 12, 2011

So I’m loving this daily blog stuff. I enjoy passing along interesting bits of news and random stories to fill in for the general lack of excitement in my own life. And really, that’s kind of what blogging and social networking has evolved into- more of a sharing of information as well as a way to express ones self which is how it started.

But, one conclusion I have come to is that I don’t think I’ll be able to keep up with 7 blog posts a week. I’d rather have a WeekDaily Blog than a Weak Daily Blog.  Of course, if anything urgent is happening or I have a particularly compelling dream on a Friday night that I must share, then sure, I’ll post something…

Like just this past week.  One of my favorite wrestlers these days, CM Punk, had an epic unplanned nosebleed on Monday Night Raw on live television.  The kind of gusher that took me back to my childhood with hemophilia.  He soldiered through it during the whole bit- which involved scrapping with Randy Orton (whose clumsy lunge caused the unintentional damage).  Well, that nosebleed made it into my dream, only it wasn’t CM Punk who was sporting it.  I was having a talk with another wrestler, Edge, when Justin Bieber turns up- with a massive nosebleed.

Strange, huh?

OK, so maybe I won’t be posting about my dreams on the weekend.

Anyway, I hope everyone is having a great Saturday afternoon.  Me?  I’m about to go get an iced mocha.  I know, big surprise.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

A big thank you to my weekend mocha sponsors: Joyce Anderson and Lauren Hoffman, who gave me a welcome home mocha on Friday after Gwenn and I returned from a trip to snowy Kansas City this week.  Thanks, ladies!

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In Depth Super Bowl Analysis (via Twitter)

February 6, 2011

twitter-superbowl-update.jpgFor more real-time musings and outbursts of anger, click on the tweet above and follow me on Twitter.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

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Would You Eat a Condom for a Good Cause?

February 4, 2011

Saw this on Bob Bower’s newsfeed over on Facebook, and just had to share the link.  “Demon Chef” Alvin Leung created a dish called “Sex on the Beach”, and it’s entirely edible, with proceeds going to an AIDS organization in Hong Kong where it’s available.  Read the article here: you gotta see it to believe it.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

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MegaPython VS. Gatoroid- Tonite!

January 29, 2011

It can’t be all AIDS, or all me, all the time on this blog.  Sometimes a light- even if it’s a pin light- must be shown on other things… and tonight, on the SyFy Network, something magical is happening.  1980′s teen pop icons Tiffany and Debbie Gibson are starring in… MegaPython VS. Gatoroid!

Don’t believe me? Here’s a sneak peak of the icons wrestling in the movie.

Oh yeah!

Gwenn doesn’t know it yet, but this is what we are doing tonight…

Positively Yours,
Shawn

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Black Swan and HIV

January 25, 2011

I finally managed to see Black Swan, which is one of those movies I was excited to see until it got overexposed, as if something popular somehow loses it’s ability to be any good.  That just isn’t true, but my subconscious movie buzz does seem to suffer if I hear too much about a movie before seeing it, or see too much when a trailer reveals every decent scene or character’s intention.

So, consider this sentence my spoiler alert.  SPOILER ALERT. There, that’s better.

Not much to spoil by now.  Black Swan is the tale of a dancer, Natalie Portman, trying to make the best of a wonderful opportunity as the lead in Swan Lake.  Since my blog really shines when I make everything about HIV, I’ll focus on why this movie is really about new HIV infections…

huh?

Portman’s character is a very sheltered young woman, probably in her early twenties.  She still lives with mom, has a lot of dolls in her room and even a little ballerina music box by her bed.  As she becomes obsessed with her new role and strives for perfection, she rebels against her coddling mother and her own self-image by cutting loose one evening with a fellow dancer.  Things get way out of hand, and Portman is left the next day with a hangover and wondering whether or not she slept with two men or her friend.

Or all of them.

Oh, and mom- she’s really pissed off, too.

Her character’s dramatic metamorphosis from sheltered girl to risk-taking party animal does provide a glimpse into how quickly a sexual awakening can occur.  In terms of HIV, there’s an assumption that the newly infected, particularly if they are under the age of 24, are all just wild party animals asking for trouble. But it only takes that one weekend of dropping your guard- or a pill into your drink as Portman’s character did- to put yourself at risk..

The movie made me think: a lot of parents lock their children up, thinking it will keep them safe from the world.  But you can’t lock a human’s own humanity out of them.  Those thoughts and a curiosity about sex are going to happen, and the best way to protect them is sharing important information at each appropriate place during their emotional development.  I can’t imagine it’s easy to figure out the right time to have the right conversations, but a gradual building of trust and a comfortable and non-judgmental attitude about talking about sex shouldn’t be as hard as it seems to be for a lot of folks.  The idea should be to create that trust, and hope the child comes to you with those questions instead of just firing out lectures hoping that one or two take.

There’s no follow-up on whether there were any consequences to that wild night in the movie, of course, but it did make me think as an HIV educator.  When sex education in public schools has been removed, and parents in general aren’t having the conversations they need to be having to fill in those gaps, what can be done to make people less inclined to engage in risky behaviors as a way of discovering the unnecessarily guilty pleasures of sex?  

The whole issue of sexual health isn’t a black swan, or a white swan.  It’s gray. And by sharing our own experiences (as positoids and negatoids, and also as parents who were once teenagers and need to remember that) we can help each other add some color to that dreary gray swan.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

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There She Goes, A Miss America Who Cares About AIDS

January 13, 2011

On Saturday night, Caressa Cameron will be passing her crown on to the next Miss America.  Caressa is unique in the world of pageants due to her understanding of HIV, and that it is a problem that needs to be addressed in- you guessed it- the United States.  The last time we had a Miss America that cared so deeply about this issue was in 1998 when Kate Shindle wore the crown.

I had a chance to speak with Caressa on the phone shortly after she won the title last year, here’s a link to the Poz interview.
caressa-cameron.jpg
In recent years, the Miss America Organization has partnered with The Children’s Miracle Network.  It’s a great and worthy cause, but that partnership along with some corporate responsibilities has made the year enjoyed by today’s crown-bearer much different than that of year’s past.  For instance, when Kate Shindle won, the title holder had a year to promote their own individual cause.  Kate caused a stir when she advocated for clean needle exchange programs to prevent HIV transmission.

I know Caressa would have liked to have done more with her “platform” during her year as Miss America. That’s what they call them in pageants, by the way, “platforms”, but in Caressa’s case it’s more than a word or a trendy cause.  HIV is something that touched her life on a personal level when she lost a close relative at a very young age.  It’s what inspired her to learn more and start educating.  She probably did more educating about HIV in the years before winning Miss America, when she was Miss Arlington, than she did as Miss America, which is a shame, because she could have extended the great work she did in the state of Virginia to the rest of the country.  Imagine Miss America drawing attention to, say, the fact that over 5,000 Americans with HIV are on drug waiting lists?

Instead, the Miss America web site has her national platform issue listed as being an Ambassador for Children’s Miracle network, and her real platform issue typed wrong: “Real Talk: Aids in America”.  Caressa would never spell “AIDS” using lower-case letters.  She knows it’s an acronym, and she knows it’s a serious, multi-faceted issue that needs to be discussed.

I’m hoping that now, with the hard-earned title of Miss America forever attached to her name, that Caressa will be able to address the topic and reach people she may not have been able to before.  I know that she wanted to, and I just can’t help but wonder- if she would have had more freedom to talk about HIV- how many lives would have been changed.

Positively Yours,
Shawn
Watch, Friend and Follow me on:
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Website: ShawnandGwenn.com Also check out
the lovely Gwenn’s
Fashion/Coffee Blog

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