PSA: If You’re Offended By The #BlackLivesMatter POZ Cover Then You’re Stupid
January 22, 2016
I noticed some blowback on POZ’s Facebook page after the recent issue went up, which features the cover story “Black Lives Matter”. Here’s a sampling of what was written in the Comments section on Facebook:
“Really POZ??? Why not do the front page with all lives matter!!! HIV does not care what race you are and you shouldn’t either!!!!”
“All lives matter . This is racist . I’m so over this “black lives matter” . #AllPozLivesMatter“
“Offended I am All lives matter May stop reading POZ”
There were some supportive comments, too. But I couldn’t help but wonder how many others were offended when they saw the cover story? HIV has disproportionately affected communities of color for decades now. As a white guy, I’m not offended by the “Black Lives Matter” movement because I support a reduction in unnecessary abuse (lethal and non-lethal) by law enforcement. As someone with HIV, I recognize that it was the courage of the gay community and the bleeding disorders community- both minority community’s sans the inclusion of HIV- that has given me the opportunity to simply be here today.
So anytime a community speaks out in protest of a genuine threat to their existence, I feel a kinship.
With the HIV community, I start at a default sense of comradery. I know the many diverse struggles we face, medically and socially. It bonds us. But there are also aspects of living with HIV that I can only empathize with from afar- there are compounded struggles that I will never face based on the fact that I was born to a middle-class white family. And knowing about those struggles makes me a more informed member of the community.
If you’re offended by what you’ve just read then, well, you’re stupid.
#MartinShkreli: From Checkmate to Inmate?
December 17, 2015
Santa Poz has bestowed a wondrous gift upon us this holiday season. This week Martin Shkreli was arrested on charges of fraud unrelated to the Daraprim price hike that delivered Martin into our public consciousness with all the warmth of a fart in a crowded elevator on a hot summer’s day.
A cocksure Martin tweets in happier times in November.
If the charges stick, then the pharma badbro and morning-after-pill poster boy should make a cunning rival for future shuffleboard opponents in federal prison. And, if others on the inside learn that he was the guy who bought the single-album release by the Wu Tang Clan, Marty McFly (Your Private Jet Into a Mountain) could be the victim of having his socks purposefully mismatched by jealous inmates…
Whatever his ultimate fate may be, let us all celebrate in this magical moment of Martin Shkreli’s misfortunes.
Magnetic (Serodiscordant) Couples on TV
December 9, 2015
As someone who is HIV positive and in a relationship with someone who
is HIV negative, I was excited to hear that a serodiscordant
(“magnetic”) couple was going to be included in season 4 of Shuga, the fictional series based on real world experiences with HIV. Femi is HIV positive. His girlfriend, Sheila, is HIV negative. I want to share my reaction to what these characters face, episode to episode, and share some personal stories about what my own experiences have been.
Hope you find this insightful!
Episode 1, Season 4
Sheila has planned a family dinner as a way to inform her family of
Femi’s HIV status. Femi is naturally nervous about how the news will be
received and Sheila attempts to alleviate his concerns, promising that
everything will be fine. But when an ignorant HIV comment from her
uncle is greeted with supportive laughter from her parents, Sheila and
Femi decide not to disclose his status…
It’s a heartbreaking scene because Sheila expects so much more from
her family; only to discover that her lifelong support system has a real
hang-up when it comes to HIV. In their final scene in episode 1, Femi
consoles Sheila and their love for each other is quite clear,
particularly in how they treat one another in difficult moments.
THE MAGNETIC COUPLE ISSUE IN THIS EPISODE: How and when to disclose the positive person’s HIV status to the HIV negative person’s family.
WHAT THIS WAS LIKE FOR ME: In my relationship with
Gwenn, her mom knew my HIV status before we started dating. Also, I was a
new person in her life and we lived 8 hours away. Like Sheila, Gwenn is
an independent and strong person. Her mom was concerned, but also knew
that Gwenn was an HIV educator. Still, her mom didn’t know a lot about
transmission, so I’m sure that there was still some worry.
When I met Gwenn’s mother, things changed for her- I became a real
person, no longer overshadowed by a daunting medical resume. Meeting
Gwenn’s mom in person helped a lot. She got to see me and Gwenn interact
in person and could tell that we were really in love. Her concern after
meeting wasn’t so much that Gwenn would become infected, but how she
would react if I got really ill. A legit concern, because I was just
starting HIV meds at the time and in the process of regaining my health.
A few months after that first meeting, I had my first family dinner
(Thanksgiving) with Gwenn and her family: and everyone was aware of my
HIV status and welcomed me- and most importantly, us- with open arms.
#DoingIt for #HIV Testing
December 7, 2015
Gwenn and I are proud to take part in the CDC’s Act Against AIDS campaign, “Doing It”. This is all about HIV testing- to have a healthy relationship, each partner should know their HIV status. The only wrong result when it comes to an HIV status is a “?”.
So get tested! (click on the above above to get more information!)
The Secret Sex Lives of Emojis- EXPOSED!
December 1, 2015
This World AIDS Day, MTV Staying Alive has exposed the secret sex lives of emojis in this shocking video: VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.
Before I Die
November 30, 2015
Before I die… before I die I want to experience something I never have: life without hemophilia. I had a decade without HIV, and I’d like to enjoy as many years as possible on the tail end of this journey without it as well.
As I stood in front of this wall in Charlottesville, I recognized and related to the goals written in chalk by teenagers. I was proud to stand in front of that wall, holding an image of myself in the midst of those teenage years, and realize that I have accomplished a lot of those dreams after three decades of life with HIV. From finding love, to seeing the world…
Some of those goals I can’t reach, but I can live without having made a proper dunk in basketball. I guess I’ll just have to settle with those childhood experiences of dunking my cousins in my grandparents’ swimming pool. Living in Tokyo seems unlikely, but that city does seem pretty cool… never say never I guess.
But ultimately, I am just deeply thankful to be here. My friend Steve Schalchlin, who was saved by HIV medications in the mid-90s, has labeled his time from that point on as “The Bonus Round”. Like him, I have a lot of gratitude for the dumb luck/good fortune of having access to medication when I needed it. In 1999, my journey would have surely ended had I not started taking HIV drugs.
And here I am: still dreaming after all these years. If I don’t meet the goals listed at the beginning of this post, then I’ll certainly die as a happy man. I am content in the skin and spirit that was shaped in large part by the challenges presented- and friendships gained- by living, truly LIVING, with these medical conditions.
So get out there and live.
Thanks to Tristan Williams for taking this picture at IX Art Park. If this post inspires you, please consider sharing it. World AIDS Day is December 1st every year.
That pic I’m holding is from a Make-A-Wish Foundation meeting with my favorite band, Depeche Mode, in 1990. This year, to celebrate 25 years since my “dying wish”, I’ve made a cover album called Shaking The Disease: An Unlikely Tribute to Depeche Mode to raise money for my friends at the MTV Staying Alive Foundation.
You can get the album or listen to it here: http://synthetic-division.com/
Shaking the Disease: An Unlikely Tribute to Depeche Mode
November 19, 2015
This month’s issue of POZ Magazine is all about long-term survivors. And this year marks a special occasion in my own long-term journey as a positoid…
25 years ago, I met my favorite band, Depeche Mode, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Back in 1990, the prognosis wasn’t good. But I’ve been fortunate- I had access to great medical care when I got really sick in 1999, and HIV medications not only bailed me out of a scary health situation, but they have afforded me a level of health I never thought possible. So I wanted to do something special this year as a way of giving thanks: record a Depeche Mode cover album. And do it to raise money for my friends at the MTV Staying Alive Foundation, who provide grants to youth-based HIV prevention efforts around the world.
Every little bit helps!
If you’re interested in helping out, you can purchase the Limited-Edition CD at my music site (Synthetic-Division.com) for $25. Only 120 will be available for purchase. On December 1st, World AIDS Day, the album will be on iTunes.
Enter the… Blood Mirror!
October 27, 2015
It’s Halloween season- and that means that a lot of fake blood is being used for cheap scares. But what shouldn’t be scary? Blood donations from the gay community.
And that’s exactly why the art exhibit, Blood Mirror, was created. Using nine blood donations from gay, bisexual and transgender men, the interactive art display is a visually stunning protest of the FDA’s ban on blood donations from non-celibate gay and bisexual men.
Presented by the Visual Arts Committee at Trinity Wall Street, the Blood Mirror will be on display at the Trinity Church (75 Broadway, New York, NY 10006) from November 2 through December 1 (World AIDS Day).