I really hate the term "AIDS." If I had my way, it'd be done away with like the dinosaurs. You may be thinking, "that's a very bold statement." Allow me to explain.
The opening number about the struggles of paying rent and avoiding eviction, ends with: "'Cause everything is rent." In the case of Rentboy.com, that line takes on new dimensions. For so many LGBT individuals, sex work is a necessity, in order to pay for rent and food, healthcare and so on.
I join Lambda Legal Defense, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National LGBTQ Task Force, and activists like Justin Vivian Bond and Peter Staley who all support Rentboy.com. Mostly, I support the rent boys themselves--I stand with sex worker.
What exactly will sex between men look like after HIV is effectively contained or eradicated? How will it affect gay male culture? And is that the goal of safe sex education and advocating for the use of PrEP?
So little attention is paid to HIV/AIDS nowadays, one might be forgiven for thinking it has been cured. But has it?
"If you are HIV+, how can your wife and children be HIV-?" This is the question I am most frequently asked. There are several aspects to this question that need to be broken down.
In 2010, New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) quietly cut the most important and effective tool we have to end the AIDS epidemic --namely, HIV testing.
A lack of formal gay sex health education has left behind a large population of people who are reckless and misinformed. We know they're making poor decisions because condom usage rates are dropping and HIV infection rates are skyrocketing.
The Black Lives Matter protest was disruptive, loud, tense and passionate. The first thing that came to my mind was ACT UP, a group I was a part of, which engaged in similar kinds of protest and disruption, including against Democratic presidential candidates. The urgency of the protest was similar as well: People are dying, and no one in power seems to be doing anything to stop it.
I didn't read comic books as a child. It seemed all they had to offer was a lot of aggression, which was scary to me back then. I was wrong, of course...
John Oliver's brilliant piece did a marvelous job laying out many of the problems in the abstinence-only approach, from its emphasis on shame and ineffectiveness in preventing unplanned pregnancy or STIs to its harmful neglect of the needs of LGBTQ teens.
If you're a member of any group that's been shut out, pushed aside, forgotten or made fun of, you'll never change anything by following the rules. The rules are what marginalized you in the first place. You've got to break a few of them if you want to make history.
I know HIV has a negative stigma, but it doesn't have to and I want to help change that. It is a treatable disease and you can live a normal life with it. I am proof of that. There are many miracles in the world and I believe my life is one of them.
Society desperately needs to see a fresh image of HIV. Despite the fact that the people with HIV can live healthy, normal lives, the negative stigma around people with HIV is incredibly powerful and prevalent.
Gay men should heed the call at once and come to the defense of women, all women, and their liberty. I not saying we need to take charge or "mansplain" anything to anyone. But where are we gay men in their struggle?
From personal experience, I know how easy it is to let caution fall by the wayside. HIV is a throw of the dice -- you can have unprotected sex once, or a 1,000 times and not contract HIV or an STD. Don't assume that you are immune though, as I unfortunately did. This year, the same way many of us use a checklist for travel packing, let's include a pre-vacation sexual health checklist.