Labtest Contest X: Win Body Counts By Sean Strub

February 21, 2014

BE SURE TO VOTE AT POZ.COM ON SHAWN’S BLOG THERE! HERE!
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The Labtest Contest is back! And the grand prize has never been better- guess closest to my t-cell count and win a signed copy of Sean Strub’s incredible new book, Body Counts! The rules are posted below… be sure to follow them and good luck!

But before we get to the rules, I need to inform you of a slight change. For the first time ever, I will be competing in the contest. The prize is just that good. Sure, I already have my own copy of Body Counts, which I adore, but it isn’t signed.  Think of it as an extra challenge, or an AIDS-y version of Win Ben Stein’s Money…

labteststrubtest.jpgThe competition will undoubtedly be stiff. And I’m not guaranteed a win by any means. In fact, my own doctor, Greg, is venturing a guess for the first time, too.  To make sure my guess and my doctor’s are seen, I’m going to dramatically increase the font size.

 

Shawn’s Guess: 422
Shawn’s Doctor’s Guess: 670


Previous Champions…
March-July 2010: Charles Oliff (guess: 567 actual count: 565)
July-December 2010: Aimee Lee (guess: 516 actual: 511)

December 2010- March 2011: “Satan” (guess: 666 actual: 662)
March-July 2011:
Sharon Paul (guess:
520 actual: 508)
August-January 2012:
Justin Starkenburg (guess: 570 actual count: 579)
February- June: Bob Geise (guess: 595 actual count: 590)
July-September:
Sahara Frog (guess: 515 actual count: 512)
September-January 2014: Scott Anderson (guess: 620 actual count: 620)
February-October: Mary (guess: actual count:585 actual count: 583)
NOVEMBER RESULTS: 538 (No Contest)

Official Rules

1. You have to post your guess (between 400 and 700 t-cells) on my Poz blog Comments section

2. Relatives are allowed to guess! Bribes accepted!

3. Closest guess wins- if it’s a tie, the closest guess that DID NOT go over the actual count wins.

4. One vote/guess per person. Must have a valid email address.

5. Deadline is Friday, February 28, 2014 12:01 am EST

 

Body Counts by Sean Strub

January 14, 2014

POZ-sean.jpgSean Strub’s memoir, Body Counts, hit stores yesterday, and Gwenn and I were fortunate enough to get to our local bookstore just in time to nab the last three copies: one for us, one for my mom (who is a huge fan) and one for a future Labtest Contest prize.

But, don’t wait around for me to get labwork done in March for a chance to win this book, if you have any interest in the history of the gay community, the politics of sex and the realities of living with HIV- you’ve gotta get this book. Click on Sean’s face to read an excerpt of Body Counts in the latest issue of Poz.

Sean has been one of the most influential people in my life as a positoid. Without him, I really have no idea what I’d be doing right now. In 1996, after nearly a decade of living with HIV, I decided to speak out about being positive for the first time; I was 20, still living with my parents in Waynesboro, Virginia, and had just put up a website chronicling my thoughts on living with HIV. My doctor fed me a few issues of Poz Magazine and I was stunned that a magazine solely about HIV existed. I poured through its pages and loved what I read. I sent a fan letter to the editor-in-chief, Sean, and shared where I was at in my own journey with HIV.

A month or so later, I was watching wrestling and the phone rang. “Shawn, telephone!”  My dad/secretary called out through my bedroom door. My beloved Ric Flair had just lost his World Title; I was bummed but took the call anyway. It was Sean. He invited me to NYC to be interviewed for the magazine and shortly thereafter I started writing my Positoid column.

body-counts-sean-strub.jpgWhen I learned that my original godparents had broken ties with my family in the 1980s after my diagnosis because their church said AIDS was God’s punishment against gay people, I asked Sean and Steve Schalchlin (another beloved mentor) to be my surrogate Godparents. They both readily accepted.

All of that personal history and admiration aside, it was hard to tear myself from Body Counts to post this blog- it really is an incredible book and an honest, forthcoming account from someone who has a truly unique set of experiences to draw from.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

Operation AIDS Elves

December 19, 2013

So I’m somewhat remiss in not posting a blog entry on World AIDS Day. Which got me to thinkin’- how can we extend the magic that is World AIDS Day deeper into the holiday season?

And that’s how Operation AIDS Elves was born.
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It’s a simple, fun way to spread some HIV/AIDS awareness during the craziness that is the holiday season… so, if you have a few extra red ribbons lying around, put them to good use! Here’s my friend and all-around good positoid, Rob Quinn, working his AIDS elf magic during a visit to NYC. And that’s me sneaking a ribbon onto a tree at the coffee shop and one onto the tree on the downtown mall.

Regardless of how you are or aren’t celebrating the holiday season, I hope this message finds you happy, healthy and at peace with yourself. There is no greater gift in this world than self love and acceptance- and that’s a gift that we are all truly worthy of.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

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Post-Show Attack of the Hemophilia!

August 12, 2013

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Me with Andy, Tony and Gopal of Bella Morte moments after the show (photo by Angel Miranda)

 

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At the Infusion Center at UVA, about a week after the show. (photo by Gwenn)

So the big show on August 3 with my friends went well… very well! It was unbelievable how many people showed up- close to 400. There was such a great energy, it was by far the best show I’ve ever played or have been involved with.

The venue was very surprised by the turnout, too- we are all local (Synthetic Division, Lauren Hoffman and Bella Morte), but had quite a few in attendance who traveled great distances for the show. One couple drove from Massachusetts to Virginia. So many friends and strangers, from far and wide, made the night an unforgettable one. Included were my good friends from AIDS Services Group, who were kindly on hand to give out free condoms at the Synthetic Division merch table.

I got choked up a couple of times during the night- once on stage. The third song of our set, “Borrowed Time”, is about the notion of not knowing how long you have left… I wrote it about ten years ago, and as it started I thought about friends I’ve lost… and how lucky I was to be standing on that stage. There have been a lot of times in my life where things could have gone the other way.

The next time was during Bella Morte’s set. I scrambled up close to the stage and stood on the right side with my shoulder resting against the wall. This was Gopal’s first show in seven years with the band he helped found. As I watched him play, a memory came back of one of the first times I saw them play in the basement of Tokyo Rose. I went there sick, by myself, in my pajama bottoms… and leaned against the right-side wall. When that memory hit, tears just started to flow, and I let them.

Another unforgettable moment- the last song in my set was “Close To Me”, a cover of the Cure’s song. My goddaughter, who is almost 5, loves my version. Whenever the original comes on and Robert Smith starts singing, she asks. “Who’s that? Where’s Shawn???” It’s too cute. She was in attendance at the show, and I dedicated the song to her- which I kind of botched. After we were done, I heard that when the Cure song started my goddaughter- who was wearing protective headphones- tore off her headphones and listened to the whole song without them.

There are so many moments that were great, but those are just a few and I have to get to the aftermath at some point, so….

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About five days before the show I bumped my side. It’s embarrassing, as many hemophilia-related injuries can be… I was out to eat with friends, there were five of us, and I got to the booth first and slid in… I didn’t see that there was a steel beam coming down from the wall into the booth and I slid right into it. It hurt like hell, but only momentarily. I knew it would leave a mark, and the next day a small bruise appeared.

After a couple of days I forgot about it.

A few days later was the day of the show, which includes hauling equipment out of your house, into the car, and into the venue. Then the show itself- which I hopped around onstage for and even engaged in a pratfall where I gingerly fell to the ground before leaping to my feet just in time for the last chorus. Later that night, when my goddaughter was ready to go, I helped carry her to the car…

Anyway, the day after the show my side was killing me. And that little bruise? Now it was huge. I ended up treating it with clotting factor at home- which I quickly ran out of. Then when I went into the hemo clinic to show my hematologist, she kind of freaked out over it. It’s been quite the adventure, not only treating this wound but also trying to get the mail order pharmacy to actually send me more clotting factor. So, this week I have more treatments lined up…

Which begs the question: was it worth it?

Abso-fucking-lutely. A little reality check after an unreal night seems cosmically appropriate, and I’m okay with that… the only thing I’d change is how the injury started. Sliding into a booth is pretty damn lame.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

 

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The night before our big show, Josh and I pose with Lauren before taking in some Yacht Rock
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The view from the Infusion Center. I turned my bleed into a skyscape.

Never Forgetting Sean Sasser, 1968-2013

August 8, 2013

Sean Sasser, whom many of us were introduced to through our televisions in 1994 via The Real World, has passed to spirit at the age of 44. My heart goes out to his friends, family and partner, Michael Kaplan.

Sean was one of my heroes. When The Real World: San Francisco aired on MTV in 1994, I had a year’s worth of high school diploma under my belt but no real plan about what I wanted to do with my life, which made me not too much different from most 18-year olds. I was a fan of the reality show, The Real World, and loved the previous season set in Los Angeles. When episode one of San Francisco came on, I quickly realized that I was in for an entirely different experience…

Pedro Zamora, one of the housemates, was HIV positive. He began dating Sean Sasser, who was also HIV positive. Pedro was an activist and educator, and Sean had a quiet, calm demeanor. I fell in love with both of them. They offered a glimpse into a future I desperately wanted- the ability to talk to friends about HIV (something I had not yet done at age 18) and finding a partner that I could share my life with.

That season of the show was a game changer for me. But before I could even process how the show had impacted me, Pedro Zamora passed to spirit. I was devastated. Just as I’d learned about a life that could be possible with HIV, I was also reminded of something that I feared…

When Sean Sasser was introduced to us, there weren’t any truly effective combos. As people with HIV, there was a sense that we were ticking timebombs. Yet, there was Sean Sasser, a year later at a televised Real World Reunion, calmly discussing he dearly departed partner. Stupid producers cut short Sean’s speaking time- hey, he wasn’t a roommate!- but once again I was moved by him. Judd Winick, one of Pedro’s friends and roommates, called for people to do something about HIV…

I sat on my bed, but I wanted to jump out of my skin and do something about HIV- not as me, though, as someone else. A few months later, I finally opened up. The impact of Sean Sasser and his Real World alum has never been lost on me. Before any of us could crack a laptop or iPhone and search “living with HIV”, there was that group of young people dealing with HIV, conveniently bringing the topic into our living rooms.

I needed that. And so did a lot of other people.

So thank you, Sean, for giving me hope that “poz Seans” can find love and comfort in their own skin.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

In 2009, I shared a personal story on this blog about meeting Sean Sasser. You can read it here.

Labtest Contest IX: Win A Rise Above HIV Shirt!

January 29, 2013

labtestcontest-logo.jpg(REMEMBER TO VOTE ON MY POZ BLOG COMMENTS SECTION! Link below with the other rules!)

It’s that time again- time to guess my t-cell count for the chance to win a fabulous prize! So what is the prize this time around?  It is a Rise Above HIV t-shirt, designed by my friend and Synthetic Division bandmate, Josh D’Elia, and modeled by my lovely partner, Gwenn, below…

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This time around everyone is up against the first champion to ever guess the exact count, Scott Anderson.  He is someone I’ve known since we were teenagers and he is a steadfast competitor who has no intentions of being a one-time champion.  Feeling lucky to take him down?  Then take a guess for a chance to win! Post your guess on my Poz blog Comments section- see the official rules below.

Good luck!

Positively Yours,
Shawn

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CURRENT CHAMPION:
SCOTT ANDERSON (GUESS: 620 ACTUAL COUNT: 620)


Previous Champions…
March-July 2010: Charles Oliff (guess: 567 actual count: 565)
July-December 2010: Aimee Lee (guess: 516 actual: 511)

December 2010- March 2011: “Satan” (guess: 666 actual: 662)
March-July 2011:
Sharon Paul (guess: 520 actual: 508)
August-January 2012:
Justin Starkenburg (guess: 570 actual count: 579)
February- June: Bob Geise (guess: 595 actual count: 590)
July-September:
Sahara Frog (guess: 515 actual count: 512)

Official Rules

1. You have to post your guess (between 300 and 800 t-cells) on my Poz blog Comments section

2. Relatives are allowed to guess!

3. Closest guess wins- no Price is Right logic applies.

4. One vote/guess per person.

5. Deadline is Monday, February 4, 2013 12:01 am EST

VLOG: Happy Thankful Day

November 19, 2012

For me and Gwenn, Thanksgiving is all about taking a step back and realizing what we are thankful for.  I am thankful daily for having a healthy relationship, for living through the fearful years of my HIV diagnosis- the years when I was too afraid to ask questions.  In this vlog, we talk about how we met, and why that encounter is what we are most thankful for.

I give a special shout out to Ryan White for making it happen.  Watch and find out why.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

8 Years Ago Today

October 23, 2012

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May everyone be so fortunate to find a loving partner in this crazy life.  And may everyone have the same right to marry them.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

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