Archives for posts with tag: Africa

Just Like You

Listen, I want you to know something about me.  I hate condoms. I hate wearing them. I love fucking raw. I love it. I don’t do it. I can’t do it.  I wanted to fuck my lover without a condom.  I want to cum inside you.  I love you.

This is what HIV looks like in 2013:

Brandon, he’s 22… he wants to be hog tied and fucked in the mouth and ass. He wants to meet me.

He wants me to ‘take control’ he wants me to beat him and fuck him.  He wants ‘verbal’. He enquired if I preferred him to call me daddy or sir.  I’m interested. This daddy loves an obedient boy.  We talk on the phone, he’s upbeat and sweet-natured but after we agree to meet he texts me:

‘Before we meet. I’m Positive. And I’m honest about it. Thoughts?’

I wait a moment. Restraint of pen and tongue.

I text him back. ‘Can we talk?’  I explain why I can’t meet him. I tell him that I’m scared and I don’t want to risk an infection. I’m too old to get infected. I lived through the AIDS catastrophe. I didn’t get infected.

The conversation I had with Brandon is not common. Usually when I say that I can’t have sex with someone who is HIV positive they spew vitriol.   They tell you that it was a ‘mercy fuck‘ anyway, that I’m ugly , that I’m ignorant… of course… I know what they are really saying.   They usually get what they want when they want it and woe-betides anyone who fucks with their plan.

Some HIV poz men feel that by being honest I will feel equally warm and fluffy and my respect for their honesty will translate into a fuck.

Let me tell you what I remember when someone tells me they are HIV positive.

I remember the gaunt, yellow faces of formerly beautiful young men crying because they don’t want to die. I remember men hermetically sealed from the world in plastic tents. I remember the smell of piss and shit.  I remember the quiet sobbing of newly widowed men.  I remember all of that and I cannot go there.

More controversially… when you tell me you are HIV positive I am confronted fair and square with your sexual history.  I imagine other men cumming inside you.

I just do. I can’t help myself.

That’s why I can’t sit facing the toilet when I am in a restaurant. Imagining people pooing and wiping their asses. It puts me off my dinner.

There are two communities. Two gay communities. The HIV negative and the HIV positive.  I have no interest in interacting sexually with the latter. I will be damned for writing that.

Brian says: ‘Duncan, someone who knows they’re positive and is on treatment can easily be less infectious than someone who doesn’t know that they’re positive and happens to have a high viral load, and is therefore very infectious.  That could be the issue of ignorance of which they speak. I agree no one has the right to go off on you for not wanting to play, but the issue is more complicated than pos/neg.’

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The issue is NOT complicated for me. I don’t want to be HIV positive.

The community with HIV is very eager to diminish their responsibility and guilt those without HIV into thinking it’s all ok just because they describe themselves as ‘healthy’.  They still have HIV and they can infect you… however low their viral load.  They claim they are ‘undetectable’ which means they have a very low viral load.

Undetectable is a big problem.  It is used incorrectly by many people to make others feel that the sex they have is safer than with those who are not undetectable.  Undetectable people are still HIV poz.  The condom breaks. You are now a slave to toxic chemicals.  A slave to big pharma.

Who are these undetectable people? These invisible men? Gay ghosts. Scarcely there.   Leaving behind just the whiff of AIDS.  HIV is totally avoidable in 2013. Yet, we still go on being the largest group of new infections in what is still an epidemic.  I don’t want to talk about Africa or straight people or intravenous drug users.

I want us to take some responsibility.   Especially those of you who are transitioning from the Neg community to the Poz community.  Those of you who make the choice… who made the choice last night to take a risk.  Those of you who thought, or did not think, as he came inside you… that you would risk the consequences of HIV.  You are packing your bags, you are moving to the other side. To the other gay community. The undetectable gay community.

Finally, one last nail in my gay coffin.

What’s this crap about gay men and shame? We can’t shame gay/bisexual men into wearing a condom?  Because they are gay or bisexsual and have shame about their sexuality?

We can’t shame gay men or bisexuals into making better choices for themselves?  Like we do smokers?  No… because the gay community must be shameless at all cost. We are gay! We live without shame.  We’ve been shamed ENOUGH.

Huh?

I say… shame those who knew they were HIV poz and took away the neg status of others by lying.  This really happens.  I know a few good men who have had their good health stolen from them by unscrupulous gay men.

There are two gay communities. One of them is HIV positive. The other is not.  Those who are not positive are described as elitist by those who are.  Those who are HIV positive scoff at those who are not… because the implication is: they weren’t pretty or handsome or desirable enough to get infected with HIV.

I am scared of getting HIV. Like some people are scared of snakes.

I am happy that I am HIV negative. In fact… I am proud to be HIV negative. Does that make me elitist?  Well, yes… if elitism means that I mostly took care of myself.

That I don’t have to buy costly drugs every month to stay… undetectable.

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The first time Joe ever took me to Fire Island Pines I was immediately convinced that something I had always hankered existed: a place where gay men and women of all ages could live together, experience life together and express themselves without shame.

I have heard from black friends who traveled to Africa for the first time that they experienced a sense of truly understanding how it might be to live an unfettered life.

There are exceptions.

I have just finished reading A Black Man Confronts Africa.

From 1991 to 1994, Keith Richburg was based in Nairobi as the Africa bureau chief for the Washington Post. He traveled throughout Africa, from Rwanda to Zaire, witnessing and reporting on wars, famines, mass murders, and the complexity and corruption of African politics.

Unlike many black Americans who romanticize Africa, Richburg looks back on his time there and concludes that he is simply an American, not an African-American. This is a powerful, hard-hitting book, filled with anguished soul-searching as Richburg makes his way toward that uncomfortable conclusion.

I am a gay (adopted) American.   I do not belong.  The laws of the land preclude me from being truly equal.  The streets are periodically mine but not consistently.  Really?  I thought things had changed for the gays?  Strangely, post Will and Grace things have not changed.  I urge any one of you (gay or straight) who think things may have changed for gay people in contemporary USA (and I have said this many times over):  Try holding your same sex friends hand in a street anywhere other than NYC or LA.

See what happens.

Returning to Fire Island this summer for the first time in a decade I am excited to see how things have evolved since I lived there and if the idyl I first experienced still exists.

The beautiful beach, the beautiful boys, the sunset and sunrise…no cars.   Dinner prepared by groups of men who sit down together and share.  Share being the operative word.  What ever share you may have in the house you are renting…doing things collectively is the modus operandi.

Have I idealized my memory of this slim sand bank set at the edge of the Atlantic?  Have, within a decade, my memories been burnished?

I wonder.

Firstly, finding a house to rent has been quite hard.  I guess my demands are not normal by gay Fire Island Pines standards.  When searching for a house I made it quite clear to the realtor that I am sober.  I do not drink and I do not take drugs.  I told him that I was not interested in the big gay beach parties (drug festivals).  That I am going there to write.

Almost every house that I looked at was a ‘party’ house.  Almost every person I spoke to told me that they wanted to have fun…read that as excessive drinking, drug taking and sexual unmanageability.

Having a sober person around might mean curtailing the ‘fun’.

I have heard that The Pines has become quite trashy.  I have heard that they have ruined the ambiance.

The über gays have long since deserted The Pines for The Hamptons.  Aping upper-class American straight people rather than investing in the peculiarities of The Pines.

What is it that draws me back there?  What is it that I loved so much?

Well, Joe and I had a wonderful time together in our pretty little house.  It was the nexus of gay culture and me.  For the first time in my life I saw both old and young gay people going about their business (during the day) just like common people.  Fetching their shopping on small, red carts.  Dressing up, holding hands, not dressing up…alone.

For the first time in my life I felt as if I owned the space around me, that I could not be judged in this place.

Until I got there I believed those things to be true but I had been kidding myself.

Just getting there from Manhattan was an adventure.  The car to Sayville.  The ferry ride from Sayville to the island,  the palpable excitement of the passengers.  The great piles of supplies and dogs and suitcases.

Thank you Joe for taking me there.

The first man I saw when I scrambled down the gang-plank was an elderly man with a stick walking slowly along the board walk.  It delighted me.  “Is everyone gay here Joe?”  I thought to myself that there was indeed a place where I could be free when I was his age.  I knew even then in my late 20’s that being old and gay was going to be difficult.  My premonition has come to pass.  Being old and gay is going to be horrible from what we found out when researching The Scarlett Empress.

Unless, of course you have a spare $160, 000 to buy a surrogate child who might look after you.

I had thought about going back to Whitstable in my dotage but not even Whitstable holds much allure to me.  Being the old gay man in town…I have seen the way we are treated.

When I arrived at The Pines I understood how life might play out.  The options.  I looked around and even though the bars were full of very drunk gays (I was one of them) the look on their faces was different.  They looked relaxed, they looked happy.

We went to gay bingo, we involved ourselves with the gay fire department.  We had opinions about dune reclamation.  We walked barefoot to the beach and watched the beautiful naked men play ball and walk their dogs.  We paid for limousines from JFK for our friends and delighted them with our house, our gay lives.

Our routine rarely altered.  Watching the sunset, hanging out on the dock to see who would get off the ferry.  Buying expensive food at The Pines Pantry…the store was just like any store but crammed with fancy queens buying $100 steaks.

When I got sober the AA meetings were quite small on Fire Island…now they are huge.

I really have no idea what it will be like to live out there once again for the summer.

I am excited at the prospect.

Of course there are other places where one might feel free, where YOU might feel free.  Perhaps you have already found your very own utopia elsewhere.

The Fire Island Pines experience is short-lived.  In September this utopia is disassembled.  The grand houses are shuttered, the store closes, the ferry comes but once a day.

There are other places for us to go.  Unless we vanish.  Those of us who look kindly upon our strange ‘culture’ can find our tribe elsewhere.

Not until I got to San Francisco did I have that sense of belonging once again.  Where the streets were mine.  The neighborhoods belonged to us.  Where fear and shame were banished.

Like Keith Richburg I am aware of the anthropological problems but still happy to have experienced the adventure.   Let me for a moment love it all without criticism, let me love what we have carved out for ourselves both good and bad and celebrate our difference.  Celebrate.

Today I am staying at the house all day.

An Australian friend may come over but if he doesn’t it’s no big deal.

I like being here.  It’s a beautiful spring day.  The garden is blooming.  Sadly, the HUGE agave planted just as you enter the main part of the garden is beginning to send out it’s once in a life time flower spike which means that after it has bloomed it will die.  I am going to miss it.  It looks like a huge spear of asparagus.

The twins are out all day.  Robby is at an audition and darling Miles has a job interview with a production company.  I am so proud of them.  They work so hard, they are both so focused on making their Hollywood dream come true.

As much as I didn’t want the role of mother hen I actually quite enjoy nurturing them both.  Cooking, washing etc.  In turn they make me laugh and insist that I jump in the car and go with them when ever they go on an adventure.

This morning Miles and I walked to the PCH down the new road and had breakfast.  We met a couple from Carbon who had lost their dog.  My heart wept for them.

We earned our breakfast with that exhausting 5 mile walk.

Yesterday I watched Dorian Gray with Toby at his home in Hollywood.  I am thinking of recutting it.  We are going to recut it.  Parts of that film are so clever, mostly the parts Joel Plotch cut.

We ate lunch at Joan’s on Third with Miami Henri.  Roast chicken and grilled vegetables.  We ate some very unpalatable mushroom salad.

After lunch I sat with John who I had not seen for a month or so.  Not for any other reason that he has been on a long family holiday.  I have been in NYC.  We had a great deal to catch up on.  I told him about my session with Jill on Monday.  I found seeing her very rewarding.  I had forgotten just how a therapist can take the sting out of ones tail.

I told him what was going on in NYC with The Penguin, he looked very pleased with himself.  “I told you so.”  He never ever liked The Penguin.   The Penguin knew John didn’t approve.

Yet, for all of his self-congratulation he was compassionate and kind.   He doesn’t/didn’t want to see me suffer but equally he could see what was going on from the very beginning.

I talked with Jill about this next touchy subject and shared it with John.

Can I mention the touchy subject?

Nope.

Apart from the touchy subject Jill called me a ‘late bloomer’.  She said that my heart had been broken.  We talked about love addiction.  Making a person your higher power rather than God.  We talked about going into Pine Grove and getting my power back.  I talked about having no consequences…or at least any that scare me.  We talked about nihilism.

I don’t know if I can mention the touchy bit.  It is so freshly revealed.

I can’t.  All I can say is…it’s about grieving.

Dan called to tell me that the shelves I designed for his apartment look spectacular.

I was in bed by 10.30.   Up at 5.30 this morning.

We must be the first generation ever where the option to freely migrate has become almost impossible.

Humans have always fought for their freedom; whether religious, political, racial.  Finding themselves and their ideas in conflict with the majority, no longer able to live with their fellow man or persecuted and driven from their homes.

In recent times the minority were able to emigrate, find sympathetic others or start their own like-minded group in fresh pasture or foreign lands.

Sadly this is no longer achievable…singularly maybe as a political refugee but no like-minded group can move as one and find virgin territory to freely express their differences.

Migration has always been key to human success and innovation.  Stifling this primal desire to up sticks and move is patently detrimental to the human race.

We are tribal by nature and proudly so.  Most are happy with the tribe they were born into.

By fixing communities in one place the negative effects are plain to see.  Dissatisfaction reigns.

I have never been a proponent of integration.   I am a loner but my adopted tribe, the gay tribe, has enthusiastically created comfortable ghettos where they feel safe and valued.  The same can be said of Asian communities in Northern England, Hasidic communities in Brooklyn, Posh people in Gloucestershire etc.

Where we are trapped together in unhealthy union fights between opposing tribes become not only more frequent but also more relevant.  Forced to share increasingly limited space, integration and multiculturalism become the buzz words for panicked community leaders and governments all over the developed world.

Remember the Rwanda genocide?  It is no coincidence that before the genocide Rwanda had more humans per square meter than any other place on the planet.

There was no more room.  Nowhere to run.

One tribe hacked the other tribe to death.   It is what we do.

In Thomas Hardy‘s desperate last novel Jude the Obscure, there is a small boy nick named by his Father, ‘Young Father Time’ an anxious little thing who murders his siblings then commits suicide upon hearing that his Mother is worried at how they might all be fed.

He hangs himself with this tragic note pinned to his vest:  “Because we are too many.”

Genocide may be a valuable part of the human story.  It maybe a very healthy part of our story, as unpalatable as that may sound.

If we are unable to migrate we are unable to evolve.  Our ideas become increasingly inward looking,  we become prone to mysticism, religion and superstition.

At this moment in the history of man we are all, unfortunately, Native Americans forced into reservations, like Inuits and aboriginals obliged to accept the limitations of an over crowded and over regulated world.

Bedouins, gypsies, nomads no more.

I have always felt separate from everyone.  Separated by class and circumstance, by wit and intelligence, by impatience and sobriety.

My tribe of one has found his place in acres of rolling scrub overlooking the Pacific.   The tribe of Me walks safely in my own home town.